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Old 03-24-2007, 10:29 PM
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What was Paul's Thorn? What's yours?

From Max Lucado: In the Grip of Grace

Paul's Plea: Remove the Thorn


To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Cor. 12:7–9


Paul knew the angst of unanswered prayer. At the top of his prayer list was an unidentified request to which he gave the code name: "a thorn in my flesh." Perhaps the pain was too intimate to put on paper. Maybe the request was made so often he reverted to shorthand. "I'm here to talk about the thorn again, Father." Or could it be that by leaving the appeal generic, Paul's prayer could be our prayer? For don't we all have a thorn in the flesh?


Somewhere on life's path our flesh is pierced by a person or a problem. Our stride becomes a limp, our pace is slowed to a halt, we try to walk again only to wince at each effort. Finally we plead to God for help.
Such was the case with Paul.


You don't get a thorn unless you're on the move, and Paul never stopped. If he wasn't preaching he was in prison because of his preaching. But his walk was hampered by this thorn. The barb pierced through the sole of his sandal and into the soul of his heart and soon became a matter of intense prayer. "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take [this thorn] away from me."

This was no casual request. Nor was this a superficial prickle. It was a "stabbing pain" (Phillips). Every step Paul took sent a shudder up his leg. Three different times he limped over to the side of the trail and prayed. His request was clear, and so was God's response, "My grace is sufficient."

What was this thorn in the flesh? No one knows for sure, but here are the top candidates:



1. Sexual temptation. Paul battling the flesh? Maybe. After all, Paul was a single man. He describes the temptress like one who knew her firsthand. "I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them. I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do" (Ro. 7:18–19, NCV). Is Paul asking God to once and for all deliver him from the thirst for forbidden waters?


2. Foes. Perhaps the problem was opposition. The passage hints at this possibility. "This problem was a messenger from Satan" (2 Cor. 12:7, NCV). Paul had his share of opponents. Some questioned his apostleship (2 Cor. 12:12). Some undermined his message of grace (Gal. 1:7). By the way, when Paul wrote that this messenger of Satan was sent "to beat me," he wasn't exaggerating.


I have been near death many times. Five times the Jews have given me their punishment of 39 lashes with a whip. Three different times I was beaten with rods. One time I was almost stoned to death. Three times I was in ships that wrecked, and one of those times I spent a night and a day in the sea. I have gone on many travels and have been in danger from rivers, thieves, my own people, the Jews, and those who are not Jews. I have been in danger in cities, in places where no one lives, and on the sea. And I have been in danger with false Christians.
2 Cor. 11:23–26, NCV

Could anyone fault Paul for asking for a reprieve?


3. Personality. There were those who thought Paul deserved every lash, which leads us to a third option. Some think the thorn was his abrasive nature. Whatever he learned at the feet of Gamaliel, he may have dozed off the day they discussed tact. Before he knew grace, he had killed Christians. After he knew grace, he grilled Christians. "When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong" (Gal. 2:11). Written like a true diplomat. In Paul's view you were on God's side or Satan's side, and should you slide from the first to the second he didn't keep it a secret: "Hymenaeus and Alexander have done that, and I have given them to Satan so they will learn not to speak against God" (1 Tim. 1:20, NCV).

Everyone within range of his tongue and pen knew how he felt and knew when to duck.


4. Physical weakness. A case can be made that Paul's thorn was his body. Remember his words at the end of one of his letters? "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand" (Gal. 6:11). Maybe his eyes were bad. Could be he never got over that trip to Damascus. God got his attention with a light so bright Paul was left blind for three days. His clear vision of the cross may have come at the cost of a clear vision of anything else. He wrote of the Galatians: "If you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me" (Galatians 4:15).
It's hard to travel if you can't see the trail. Not easy to write epistles if you can't see the page. Poor vision leads to strained eyes, which leads to headaches, which leads to long nights and long prayers for relief. "God, any chance I could see?" It's hard to impress the crowd if you're making eye contact with a tree thinking it's a person. Which brings to mind one final possibility.


5. Poor speaking skills. We assume Paul was a dynamic speaker, but those who heard him might disagree. "His speaking amounts to nothing," he overheard them say in Corinth (2 Cor. 10:10). The apostle didn't argue with them. "When I came to you, I was weak and fearful and trembling. My teaching and preaching were not with words of wisdom that persuade people but proof of the power that the Spirit gives" (1 Cor. 2:4, NCV). Translation? I was so scared that I stuttered, so nervous that I forgot my point, and the fact that you heard anything at all is testimony to God.
Let's tally this up. (I don't know how you envisioned Paul, but that image may be about to change.) Tempted often. Beaten regularly. Opinionated. Dim-sighted. Thick-tongued. Is this the Apostle Paul? (Could be he never got married because he couldn't get a date.) No wonder some questioned if he were an apostle.


And no wonder he prayed.
__________________________

1. Which of these, if any, do you think was Paul's thorn? Why?

2. What is your thorn?
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  #2  
Old 03-24-2007, 10:32 PM
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You.......but God's grace is sufficient........ J/K

Do you really think anyone you've exchanged broadsides with is going to tell you there weakness?
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Psa 119:165 (KJV) 165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

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Old 03-24-2007, 10:35 PM
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I personally think Paul's thorn was either a demon or a sickness, Rev.

As for me ... I think my abrasiveness can be my thorn.

What's yours?, Pastor [by faith]
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  #4  
Old 03-24-2007, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by RevDWW View Post
You.......but God's grace is sufficient........ J/K
Dude... you beat me to it.


Love ya Danny Boys (bo't uh ya ovah'deeah).
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  #5  
Old 03-24-2007, 10:38 PM
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Neck Neck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Alicea View Post
From Max Lucado: In the Grip of Grace

Paul's Plea: Remove the Thorn


To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
—2 Cor. 12:7–9


Paul knew the angst of unanswered prayer. At the top of his prayer list was an unidentified request to which he gave the code name: "a thorn in my flesh." Perhaps the pain was too intimate to put on paper. Maybe the request was made so often he reverted to shorthand. "I'm here to talk about the thorn again, Father." Or could it be that by leaving the appeal generic, Paul's prayer could be our prayer? For don't we all have a thorn in the flesh?


Somewhere on life's path our flesh is pierced by a person or a problem. Our stride becomes a limp, our pace is slowed to a halt, we try to walk again only to wince at each effort. Finally we plead to God for help.
Such was the case with Paul.


You don't get a thorn unless you're on the move, and Paul never stopped. If he wasn't preaching he was in prison because of his preaching. But his walk was hampered by this thorn. The barb pierced through the sole of his sandal and into the soul of his heart and soon became a matter of intense prayer. "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take [this thorn] away from me."

This was no casual request. Nor was this a superficial prickle. It was a "stabbing pain" (Phillips). Every step Paul took sent a shudder up his leg. Three different times he limped over to the side of the trail and prayed. His request was clear, and so was God's response, "My grace is sufficient."

What was this thorn in the flesh? No one knows for sure, but here are the top candidates:



1. Sexual temptation. Paul battling the flesh? Maybe. After all, Paul was a single man. He describes the temptress like one who knew her firsthand. "I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them. I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do" (Ro. 7:18–19, NCV). Is Paul asking God to once and for all deliver him from the thirst for forbidden waters?


2. Foes. Perhaps the problem was opposition. The passage hints at this possibility. "This problem was a messenger from Satan" (2 Cor. 12:7, NCV). Paul had his share of opponents. Some questioned his apostleship (2 Cor. 12:12). Some undermined his message of grace (Gal. 1:7). By the way, when Paul wrote that this messenger of Satan was sent "to beat me," he wasn't exaggerating.


I have been near death many times. Five times the Jews have given me their punishment of 39 lashes with a whip. Three different times I was beaten with rods. One time I was almost stoned to death. Three times I was in ships that wrecked, and one of those times I spent a night and a day in the sea. I have gone on many travels and have been in danger from rivers, thieves, my own people, the Jews, and those who are not Jews. I have been in danger in cities, in places where no one lives, and on the sea. And I have been in danger with false Christians.
—2 Cor. 11:23–26, NCV

Could anyone fault Paul for asking for a reprieve?


3. Personality. There were those who thought Paul deserved every lash, which leads us to a third option. Some think the thorn was his abrasive nature. Whatever he learned at the feet of Gamaliel, he may have dozed off the day they discussed tact. Before he knew grace, he had killed Christians. After he knew grace, he grilled Christians. "When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong" (Gal. 2:11). Written like a true diplomat. In Paul's view you were on God's side or Satan's side, and should you slide from the first to the second he didn't keep it a secret: "Hymenaeus and Alexander have done that, and I have given them to Satan so they will learn not to speak against God" (1 Tim. 1:20, NCV).

Everyone within range of his tongue and pen knew how he felt and knew when to duck.


4. Physical weakness. A case can be made that Paul's thorn was his body. Remember his words at the end of one of his letters? "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand" (Gal. 6:11). Maybe his eyes were bad. Could be he never got over that trip to Damascus. God got his attention with a light so bright Paul was left blind for three days. His clear vision of the cross may have come at the cost of a clear vision of anything else. He wrote of the Galatians: "If you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me" (Galatians 4:15).
It's hard to travel if you can't see the trail. Not easy to write epistles if you can't see the page. Poor vision leads to strained eyes, which leads to headaches, which leads to long nights and long prayers for relief. "God, any chance I could see?" It's hard to impress the crowd if you're making eye contact with a tree thinking it's a person. Which brings to mind one final possibility.


5. Poor speaking skills. We assume Paul was a dynamic speaker, but those who heard him might disagree. "His speaking amounts to nothing," he overheard them say in Corinth (2 Cor. 10:10). The apostle didn't argue with them. "When I came to you, I was weak and fearful and trembling. My teaching and preaching were not with words of wisdom that persuade people but proof of the power that the Spirit gives" (1 Cor. 2:4, NCV). Translation? I was so scared that I stuttered, so nervous that I forgot my point, and the fact that you heard anything at all is testimony to God.
Let's tally this up. (I don't know how you envisioned Paul, but that image may be about to change.) Tempted often. Beaten regularly. Opinionated. Dim-sighted. Thick-tongued. Is this the Apostle Paul? (Could be he never got married because he couldn't get a date.) No wonder some questioned if he were an apostle.


And no wonder he prayed.
__________________________

1. Which of these, if any, do you think was Paul's thorn? Why?

2. What is your thorn?
My thorn is always thinking why would anyone want to listen to me....

So I go day after day and miss opportunites.

I want to get things done for the Lord.

Then I miss out over and over again.

It is a burden that needs to be broken....
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Alicea View Post
I personally think Paul's thorn was either a demon or a sickness, Rev.

As for me ... I think my abrasiveness can be my thorn.

What's yours?, Pastor [by faith]
My thorn? Man I've run into the brier patch.
Procrastination has laid some mighty big scratches on me at times.
Avoiding conflict when what was needed was a good fight.
Just to mention a couple. Lately I've been overcoming both, not that I have obtained but I'm pressing toward the mark.........
__________________
Psa 119:165 (KJV) 165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

"Do not believe everthing you read on the internet" - Abe Lincoln
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:43 PM
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Felicity Felicity is offline
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I know what one of mine is. I've prayed and prayed over the years for God to remove it. It hasn't happened. I've just had to depend on His grace and lean on Him in spite of it.

I've told the Lord so many times that I could be so much more effective for Him if I didn't have to deal with this thing in my life. He apparently doesn't agree. LOL.
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Smiles & Blessings....
~Felicity Welsh~

(surname courtesy of Jim Yohe)
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by RevDWW View Post
My thorn? Man I've run into the brier patch.
Procrastination has laid some mighty big scratches on me at times.
Avoiding conflict when what was needed was a good fight.
Just to mention a couple. Lately I've been overcoming both, not that I have obtained but I'm pressing toward the mark.........
Bro ... I am a master procrastinator!!!!!!!!!

I have problems saying "NO" too.
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:45 PM
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My thorn is always thinking why would anyone want to listen to me....

So I go day after day and miss opportunites.

I want to get things done for the Lord.

Then I miss out over and over again.

It is a burden that needs to be broken....
I think you have lot's of great ideas and insightful things to say ... NECK ...

I always enjoy your point of view.
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  #10  
Old 03-24-2007, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel Alicea View Post
Bro ... I am a master procrastinator!!!!!!!!!

I have problems saying "NO" too.
I used to be real bad about not being able to say no, now it's not so much of a problem.
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Psa 119:165 (KJV) 165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

"Do not believe everthing you read on the internet" - Abe Lincoln
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