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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

II Corinthians 12:9

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

For further study - II Corinthians 12:1-10

As we come to our reading today, I am eager to share several thoughts with you about the experiences of the Apostle Paul. These experiences in the life of Paul will give us insight into biblical principles that we each can appropriate for ourselves.

Let me remind you that Paul was a brilliant man. Some scholars have said he was one of the five greatest minds that ever lived. His writings are masterpieces of literature, from a worldly perspective.

Paul tells us that in order for him to not be exalted above measure, above what he should be. The Apostle Paul was given, by God, a "thorn in the flesh", verse 7. We don't know exactly what the "thorn" was except that it was something physical, a physical ailment of some type.

Verse 8 tells us that Paul went to the Lord in prayer to request the removal of the "thorn." It is with this backdrop of weakness that God's divine power is displayed. Just think of the awesome statement from God to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

Even as I wrote God's statement I had to pause to think about it. This philosophy is opposite to what the world, even some elements of the Church, believe is for today. We are told all you do is pray and God will heal you. That was not the case with Paul. God's plan for Paul was to make manifest in his life the power and strength of God in his weakness, his physical ailment.

Notice in verse 10 that Paul says he took pleasure in his infirmities because it was for the "sake of Christ" that this was happening to him. In weakness Paul knew he was made strong. This is such a blessing to each of us as we face everyday with our own weakness. His grace is, indeed, sufficient.

But now look again at the beginning of our reading for today, verses 2-4. Paul writes that he knew a man who about 14 years earlier was caught up into heaven, the “third heaven”. Let me explain the three heavens.

The “first heaven” is where the sun and the clouds are located. The “second heaven” is where the stars and galaxies are located. The “third heaven” is where God and Jesus are today. You see the first heaven “by day”, the second heaven “by night” and the third heaven “by faith”.

Paul spoke of himself as "a man in Christ" and not as one of great worthiness or as one who had achieved spiritual excellence. Paul was "caught up" into the third heaven in the will and plan of God. By the way, the phrase used here "caught up" is the same phrase describing the "Rapture" in I Thessalonians 4:17.

Paul experienced the "Rapture," the event that he had explained to the people in Thessalonica. Remember Paul's last words in II Timothy 4:8, he was looking forward to a "crown of righteousness" as he eagerly looked for Jesus to Rapture the Church into heaven.

He had the experience of the Rapture and wanted to go to heaven in that way, instead of by death. I want that also, don't you?

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help me to understand Your strength through my weakness and also eagerly await Your call for me to join You in heaven.