Apostle Paul’s Thorn in His Side

About 2 years ago God gave me a revelation regarding the Apostle Paul and how he suffered in his spirit as spoken of in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul says, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The question, however, is: was Paul talking about a sickness? A physical injury? Was he speaking of the physical injury he had suffered at the hands of his jailers or possibly those who had beaten him? And God never healed him of that sickness or physical wound? I think not.


For the purpose of understanding let’s look at other examples of similar uses of “thorns” that carry an element of suffering in God’s Word.


“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live.” Numbers 33:55


We find in Joshua 23:13, “Know with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you.”

A thorn in your eyes or sides is a thorn in the flesh. In both Numbers and Joshua God was referring to a group of people, not infirmities or an actual physical wound. These were godless people that the Israelites had to deal with once they entered their promised land of Canaan.


In the book of Judges, once again the Israelites had disobeyed the Lord’s command to destroy all the altars of the foreign gods in the land. Because of their disregard for God’s commend, He allowed the Israelites to again be corrupted and fall into Satan’s trap. God warned them because He knew they would no be able to resist the lifestyle of these ungodly people and they would fall to their ways. Destroying their altars would drive any remaining foreign people from the land. Judges 2:3, “Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.”


“And there will be no more for the house of Israel a prickling brier or a painful thorn from any round about them who scorned them; then they will know that I am the Lord God.” Ezekiel 28:24, here the prophet Ezekiel speaks of how God’s protection will break the torment spiritually and mentally the children of Israel have been under.


Now, let us return to the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 12, where Paul was talking about the “thorn in the flesh”, and the “messenger of Satan” that tormented him. The King James Version uses the word “buffet” meaning to continually strike. How did this demonic force continually strike Paul?

Traditionally it has been taught that it was with sickness, and the thing that made many accept that is the use of the words “weakness” and “infirmity” in verses 9 and 10. Infirmity definitely does mean sickness when it is used that way in 1 Timothy 5:23, but that is not the only meaning of the word. The number two definition is any lack or inadequacy. For instance, Romans 8:26 says, “the Spirit also helps us in our weakness (KJV-infirmities).” In this case, the context makes it clear that it is not speaking of sicknesses but rather not knowing what to pray for. Our finite minds are an infirmity, or an inadequacy. It is in our minds that we are continually tormented by Satan with our own battle with selfish desire or our history before knowing Christ. Our past sin, our memories play a huge part in how the devil brings his brand of torment which is spiritually suffocating. It is here that revelation came.

Paul’s life before Jesus transformed him supernaturally was one of righteous violence. He was Hebrew, studied in the synagogue, a pharisee who with the permission of the religious leaders fervently sought out followers of Jesus, he personally beat, killed or imprisoned them. This is part of Paul’s spiritual battle, his torment described as a “thorn in the flesh”.


James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We must resist, or actively fight against, the devil and the things he brings, to see them flee.


Paul’s ministry was amazing, the churches he started, the people whose lives were changed forever because of his sharing of the gospel, disciples trained and sent out, Paul personal transformation set the stage for an all-out attack from the devil. Now even imprisoned Paul’s faith and perseverance grows. I do not believe that Paul had an issue of pride, I believe his past life and the truth of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice kept him humble. Paul leans into God and everything God has promised to his believers.

Paul’s words at the end of 2 Corinthians 12:7. He writes, “to keep me from exalting myself.” The words “exalted above measure” written at the beginning of verse 7 are taken from the Greek word huperairo, a compound of the words huper and airo. These two Greek words are compounded to form the word huperairo, it speaks of a person who has been supremely exalted. This is a person who has been magnified, increased, and lifted up to a place of great prestige and influence. Although huperairo could be used to express the idea of a person who has haughtily exalted himself, this is not the idea Paul has in mind when he writes this verse. Rather, this is a person who has been greatly honored and recognized due to something he has written, done, or achieved. Paul knows that there are many people looking to him for encouragement and direction, yet he stays humble…knowing that God is who has orchestrated all that is happening.


To bring the meaning into these often spoken and interpreted scriptures…Paul makes this simple, yet profound statement found in verse 9 “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”


God’s GRACE is ENOUGH…His forgiveness will see you through when you can not forgive yourself. Paul struggled with his past, yet Jesus gently offered him peace and forgiveness. This how Paul was able to continue, he understood the truth of Jesus Christ, the cross and resurrection.

Verse 10 adds yet another tactic of the devil, “Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul had many who thought to destroy his reputation if not the person. Think about these opponents, most definitely some were believers and others Jewish leaders that knew Paul before his transformation, in their eyes how could they trust him. As the devil used Paul’s past to offend, people reacted. Paul also mentions difficulties; all you need to do is read Paul’s prison epistles to see that these young churches were being attacked spiritually as well. These precious letters speak truth about how the devil will use our offenses, ego, and pride to tear down the truth of Christ and bring discord into the church.

If you survey the types of ordeals Paul endured, you will see that many of them were orchestrated by these people who wanted to get rid of him. The Jewish leaders sought to discredit him, they hated him because he was once one of them, now they fiercely opposed Paul, the gospel and the truth of Jesus Christ. Do not be fooled, the devil was using their actions as a constant irritant that he had to deal with on an almost daily basis.


You see, Paul’s thorn in the flesh wasn’t sickness or epilepsy or any other physical malady; it was the people. Paul never complained of physical injury or his conditions in the jail as anything more than an opportunity. The devil thought by using people again and again, he could keep Paul so distracted with spiritual pain, HOWEVER, Paul knew better! He knew “God’s GRACE is SUFFICIANT!

This is the revelation clearly imparted to me. I identify with Paul, sometimes we have a past only God can forgive, only the saving Blood of Jesus can wash clean, only when we daily claim His GRACE…can we pursue Jesus unhindered, taking each thought captive and obedient to His TRUTH! 2 Corinthians 10:5 Don’t let the “thorns” satan would place in your flesh impede you! Join me today and let God’s GRACE be SUFFICIENT!


The word “revelations” is from the Greek word apokalupsis. It refers to something that has been veiled or hidden for a long time and then suddenly, almost instantaneously, becomes clear and visible to the mind or eye. It is like pulling the curtains out of the way so you can see what has always been just outside your window. The scene was always there for you to enjoy, but the curtains blocked your ability to see the real picture. But when the curtains are drawn apart, you can suddenly see what has been hidden from your view. The moment you see beyond the curtain for the first time and observe what has been there all along but not evident to you — that is what the Bible calls a “revelation.”


A special thanks to Phillip Chidavaenzi, Andrew Wommack, Frank Viola and Rick Renner for their insights during the writing of this article.

Murdered Innocence

 

 

 

 

 

“The devil…he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
James 8:44 NASB

Today we live in a sex fueled world…in culture that does not value sexual integrity and purity. Instead, it values instant gratification and pleasure at all costs. Throughout history and today women are exploited for sex. Men have used women to satisfy their sexual desires without regard for the women they prey upon. Teenage men today are caught up in the age-old game of how many notches (sexual experiences) they have on their belt is as prevalent today as it was yesterday. The young women who become their victims are spoken about and many times unknowing shared by a group of young men. Each time they have sex with her they take a part of her soul. This begins a cycle of shame for most young women.

The dating world gives way to sex before marriage making it as common going out to a movie or having dinner. While you believe this is part of dating the reality is its sex out of marriage. Sex outside of marriage breaks down your ability to express the highest form of physical love created by God to build intimacy between one man and one woman. You will carry those pre-marital experiences into your marriage. Innocence dies through these experiences.

The Big Lie:  Women today believe the only way to receive and feel love is by giving their bodies over to men through sex.  Sex is fun and not meant exclusively for marriage between one man and one woman.

Fact:  A healthy woman usually only gives her body to someone she thinks of night and day and with whom her heart and spirit have already connected (unless there is dysfunctional or addictive behavior involved). And when she gives her mind, heart and soul, her body usually follows right behind. The four are intricately connected.

Fact:  Men use the words “I love you” to get sex. A male can enjoy the act of sex without committing his heart or bonding spiritually with the object of his physical desire. While a man needs mental, emotional and spiritual connection as well…his need to gratify his physical desires leads the way while the other needs follow behind.

 

Truth: Intimacy can best be defined by breaking the word into its syllables: “in-to-me-see”. This connection with your husband or wife is a longing to be seen and accepted for who you really are deep down inside, as well as to see the other person deep down inside so that you truly know each other. God created the act of sexual intimacy as a gift to give a husband and wife a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bond with pleasure beyond description.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become on flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:24-25 NASB

Ok, so where does this truth leave you? Let’s look at where you are now in your life.

1. You are unmarried and still holding on to your sexual integrity. If this is you…fantastic! Hold on to that! Find other like-minded Christians to help you stay accountable and pure. In the book, “Every Young Woman’s Battle”, the following is a glimpse of what an amazing gift is waiting for you in marriage.

Imagine what it is like when two sexually pure people get married. He has guarded his heart and she is the only naked woman he has ever seen. And she has never been held so intimately that she knows the smell of any man’s skin but his. She has no one to compare his gentle touch and caress to. No comparison. No disappointment. No guilt or shame. Their sexual intimacy is shared  between two bodies, two minds, two hearts, and two spirits that unite to become one-flesh union. When this level of intimacy is experienced within the commitment and safety of a loving marriage, it can be one of the most earthshaking experiences this side of heaven.

2. You are the parents. Pray for God to give you the strength and courage to set boundaries, speak freely and honestly about your mistakes. Get together as the mother and father and discuss how you will approach your children about dating and intimacy. Don’t just go with what you did…today we must take steps to keep our young people safe from the pressure put on them. Make sure your home leads by example in every area by setting a godly standard in your personal life, as well as music, movies and social media. Ask the difficult questions or if necessary seek out a trusted Christian mentor for them. Make sure they have accountability with others of the same-sex i.e. woman to woman or man to man.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NASB

3. You have blown it. You find yourself sexually compromised and like a broken record you just keep going around and letting the scratch or crack hang you up. There is hope! Jesus paid the price at the whipping post and cross for you! You can bring all those past experiences before the Lord ask Him to forgive you. You also need to take that extra step and lay down your pride and confess with your mouth to another Christian. Those experiences can either anchor you to the past or thrust you into the future. Start today by renewing your mind daily in the truth found in the Bible. The closer you draw to God, the more you know Him, He will reveal and heal your mind and body. Take steps to become accountable for your life.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NASB

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 NASB

Do not lose hope it may take time. There may be residual physical damage, however, it is God’s desire that you live a life of joy and peace walking in His love and grace.

I hope these words are of encouragement to you. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you can ! Simply ask Jesus to come and dwell within you bringing His Holy Spirit to guide you and ask forgiveness from the sin in your life. Acknowledge the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for you and that He is the son of the one true God.

Be Blessed,
Laurie

The Crying Corner

When does sadness, loneliness, stress, and for some anxiety step over the line and become depression?  I have suffered with varying degrees of depression for most of my life and have dealt with it in many different  ways from doctor prescribed medication, counseling, suicidal thoughts, self-help book reading, excessive drinking, shopping, sleeping, and binge eating.  None of the before mentioned methods had lasting results let alone were they healthy.  I’m excited to share what I’ve learn and how my life has changed.

I know and believe with all my heart that Satan is at the core of depression.  Satan has the ability to twist true feelings and situations into dark places.  I’m no stranger to abuse, loss, physical illness and financial worry.  Satan’s twist makes you feel failure, guilt, anger, worthless and hopeless…your feelings out of control cause you to begin spiraling down.

If you believe in God and with that I mean Jesus Christ our Savior who has given us His Word “The Bible” you must also believe in Satan.  Understanding and believing this TRUTH is key in fighting depression.  If your reading this post and do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior I strongly suggest you seek out the truth found in Christ and make a commitment to Him.  You can find answers and help at a local church.  A small aside…make sure the church you chose teaches from the Bible in its whole and believes in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, some churches have fallen away from these core beliefs and have become lost serving man instead of Jesus Christ.

For more than 40 years I struggled with depression without lasting help.  Only through my personal relationship with Jesus is Satan losing the battle of holding me in darkness.  So what happened simply put I started turning every thought I had over to Jesus and measuring those thoughts by His Word to determine whether  they are true.  Though scripture I’m able to look at my feelings, thoughts and circumstances.  Jesus helps me find truth and I’m able to separate the lies Satan would have me believe about myself and any circumstance.  I wish I could tell you this is an easy process but your past has a toll on your beliefs.  Destructive past experiences and possibly your life at this moment can contribute to holding you in darkness and giving Satan the fuel to keep you depressed.  Jesus gives strength, clarity and most importantly freedom from Satan’s grip.

The best way for me to explain what I mean is by example.   During those long years of fighting depression without Jesus I have found myself in what I call “THE CRYING CORNER”.  This feeling is crippling, I found myself very emotional many times in my bedroom down in the corner weeping uncontrollably.  Most of the time it was life circumstances that brought me there.  In my mind NO WAY OUT was  consuming me.  Trapped in a marriage with a man who mentally and physically was abusing my sons and me.  My self-esteemed destroyed by Satan though this man and my childhood.  I thought I deserved where I was in the “crying corner”.

Day to day life became a struggle.  I performed my duties as a mother and wife with a deep depression just below the surface.  I missed many opportunities for joy and I let those I cared about down.   One such day I had been asked by a dear friend I had know for years to be maid of honor in her wedding I was so lost the day of her wedding I just didn’t show up.  She never spoke to me again.  How could I have done that?  My life on that day and the days leading up to it were dark.  I was being manipulated by Satan through my husband which made me unable to leave my home.  Days like this were common.

Then I was introduced to Jesus and His Word in a new way.  You see the Bible is not an historical account of God’s people nor is it bedtime stories.  Every Word is for you today and everyday.  Salvation is not just for “getting into heaven”.  Salvation by definition is “Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil.”  What Jesus did for me by dying on the cross was deliverance.  

The Bible became my go to place in battling Satan and depression.  Through scripture, prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit my life began to change.  I got involved at my church and began praying for the Lord to show me what changes I needed to make, those changes began with surrendering my life to Christ.

I began with these scriptures:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12 NIV

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8 NIV

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Jesus wants to set you free.  He died for you so that you would no longer be trapped by the world but would have the power through him to set yourself apart from Satan’s destructive ways.

My prayers are for you!  Discover your own scriptures, build a army of God’s Word to fight against evil.

Laurie

Fathers are an Unforgetable Influence on Our Life

I had the privilege of receiving an amazing message from Pastor Rick at Palm Valley Church in Mission, Texas this past Sunday. Usually Father’s Day messages tend to be about how today’s dads are not doing a great job.  Many times in the media and in society dads are depicted as stupid, inept, or absent in their families lives.  Contrary to conventional thought Pastor Rick shared some great thoughts on just how much fathers have the ability to speak truth and love into their children.

Fathers have a tremendous influence on us and on shaping who we become as adults by their words and actions.  As children we yearn for their love and approval in all we do.  Our father’s moments of interaction with us become records we play and replay over and over again in our mind throughout our lives.  Words are powerful and a child’s spirit can be either built up by dad’s encouragement or broken when he speaks untruth and negativity.

Four Phrases from Dad that need to be the Top Recording in His Child’s Mind

  1. “I love you!”   A child has to know they are loved by dad.  They need to hear it.  That love has to be expressed unconditionally, (not limited by conditions; absolutely), and irrationally, (without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason).  It must confirm who they are and backed with action.  Everyone receives love differently.  Some require the spoken words accompanied by quality time spent together.  Others need physical affection through touch and to some love is demonstrated through the giving of tangible gifts.
  2. “I’m Sorry!”  When dad makes a mistake he must admit it and ask for forgiveness.  There is no room for side stepping truth or making excuses.  Dad, let your child know you are not perfect.  Humility brings freshness and hope to relationships.  Dads need to model repentance through their words and actions.
  3. “I believe in you!”  Your child’s self worth is formed by your affirmation in the smallest of things.  Affirmation motivates your child to try harder.  Affirmation empowers your child and it influences their lives by creating in them strong and healthy self-images.  Tell them “You’re Awesome!”  Acknowledge even their smallest victories and successes.  As they grow and mature they will replay that record repeatedly whenever faced with a difficult life challenges.
  4. “I’m praying for you!”  Dads let your child know that you are praying for them.  Let them know that you pray for their future, their education, their friendships, and their future spouse. They need to hear your words, your prayers, and your open conversation with God.  If they hear you talking to God they will talk to God and they will know that their life is important because, “dad prays for me!” 

  

Here are three generations of men I love dearly.  Grandpa Doug has passed his legacy of love to Andrew who became a new father on June 5, 2015. 

Seek Peace

Scripture: Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 NIV

Observation: This is a good follow-up to yesterday’s SOAP. If we will seek peace we will stop doing evil. We will not delay justice and we will no longer call good bad and bad good.

Application: As I desire to allow God to reign I will automatically seek peacefulness with others and justice will result.

Prayer: Father, help me to desire your will for my life so that evil will not prevail. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Let God Reign

Scripture:  When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.  Ecclesiastes 8:11 NIV

Observation:  When justice is delayed, injustice becomes the order or more precisely disorder of the day.  All we have to do is look at our society and see the truth in this scripture.    Delayed justice has led to a complete flip-flop and the inmates seem to be running the asylum.  Isiah 5:20a says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…”  We have forsaken our Lord and his truth and our upside-down world is evidence of that!

Application:  I must pray for God and his justice to reign in my life and our world today.

Prayer:  Father, we have caused there to be great injustice in this world. I must take responsibility for my part in allowing it to happen. Reign in my life and help me to be bold in the face of injustice and to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Love God, Not Money

Scripture:  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  1 Timothy 6:10 NIV

Observation:  The conventional usage of this bit of scripture states, “money is the root if all evil.”  This is a misstatement of the real scripture. It is the “love” of money that is the root of all evil.  I believe that the scripture is actually stating that elevating money to god status is the evil. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8 NIV  God is love!  If a person loves money, their god is money and that is evil.

Application:  We must realize that money is a tool and it can be used for good or for evil. Money must be kept in its proper place and viewed in the proper perspective. Love God by using your money to further his kingdom.

Prayer:  Father, it’s been a while since I  wrote of you or of your word. I’m sorry. Help me to focus on you in my daily reading and help me to remember today’s truth. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Help Me to Know

Scripture: If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:23 NIV

Observation: I remember having this piece of scripture given to me before. It must mean that God really wants me to understand this truth. It’s pretty powerful and comes with a lot of responsibility. Through the power of the Spirit, we can or cannot forgive sin.

Application: I’m not sure how to apply this truth. I know that it’s not to be taken lightly. If anyone can help me with this I’d appreciate it.

Prayer: Father, help me to know. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Be Humble

Scripture: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 NIV

Observation: This proverb instructs that the arrogant fail and fall.

Application: Take it from me, arrogant people get humbled. It’s not a source of pride for me to admit but I’ve dealt with this myself. I pray for humility from God so that he never has to humble me again.

Prayer: Father, help me to be humble and consider others before myself. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Consider Others First

Scripture: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” Philippians 2:3 NIV

Observation: Consider the welfare of others more important than your own welfare.

Application: The observation is the application. We must consider others before ourselves.

Prayer: Father, help me to consider others first. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug