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Encouraging Power

And  Jesus answered Paul as follows: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”  2 Corinthians 12:9

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 And most anyone who understands the gospel would explain that grace is God’s free gift of eternal life. 

Webster’s definition of Grace is God’s unmerited favor. Those who believe in Jesus Christ receive eternal life unconditionally and eternal forgiveness and salvation is not as a result of being a good person.

The apostle Paul further clarifies God’s grace when he writes:  “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” Romans 11:6 

In other words, being a good person or doing good deeds is not a condition to receive God’s free gift. This is where the conversation usually begins and ends. People either accept or reject this eternal Truth.

 “the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” 

In Jesus, “dwelt among us” means: to tabernacle with us or to encamp with us. And what does it mean when the Bible says that Jesus dwelt with us and that He is full of grace and truth? He surrounds us with His grace and truth. This is the perfect balance between Truth and Grace.

When we begin to think that Jesus is not answering our prayers, we can be encouraged that he is dwelling with us moment by moment. And that He is truth, and will always guide us in the eternal truth and in the way which is best for us eternally. Although quite often our prayers are regarding our life here and now in the flesh, and run contrary to that which is eternal.

The eternal truth is always known to Jesus … His grace will cover us when our desires are contrary. In any and all times of trial, sin, affliction, or if we come under spiritual attack – His grace is sufficient for us.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

It is clear that the power of God’s grace applies to all of our problems here and now. Paul says that he has come under attack by a messenger of Satan, and he prayed three times for God’s deliverance from this thorn in his flesh.

And Jesus answered Paul as follows: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”  2 Corinthians 12:9

We can learn much more about the fullness and power of grace from the answer that Jesus gave to the apostle. Jesus did not remove the thorn and the ongoing attack from the messenger of Satan.

Paul explained; 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! 2 Corinthians 12:7

God allowed the enemy to continue tormenting Paul in order to help Paul not become filled with pride, and to allow for Paul to receive God’s power and to have this unlimited power become perfected in him. 

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” Luke 12:48

Does the power of grace rule over our sins as well as our afflictions? Here is an exciting point. Most likely Paul did not clearly describe this thorn so that it would become clear to us that no matter what the thorn is; that the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient for each of us as well.  The grace that will be provided if the problem is not removed will be of greater value to the individual than the desired answer to his prayer would have been.

So what does this mean? If I do not see the answer my prayers, should I stop praying and just believe in His sufficiency? No, we should continue to pray understanding that he not only is with us and hears us; but that he will always provide what is best for us. Continue to pray for God’s help and while at the same time giving thanks for the sufficiency of grace that He provides as well. Pray that the Lord will make His reasoning clear to you as He answers your prayer; and that He will disclose the ways in which His power is being perfected in you.

Yes, I understand the free gift of eternal life provided by grace through faith; but what is the benefit of grace here if my problem remains? That sounds like a good question … don’t you think?

This is where faith enters the picture. If we have faith in the promises of the all knowing, ever present, all powerful Creator of all things … His power becomes our power. From a human perspective, Jesus reverses the order of things. Power is perfected in weakness. And when I am weak, then I am strong. This is a Paradox Principal. The daily affairs of man are no great challenge for Jesus who created all things, walked on water, and raised Himself and Lazarus from the dead.

Now think about this. God has promised you His unmerited favor in regards to whatever it is that you are praying for. Have you ever made decisions that turned out to be wrong for you? Of course you have. 

Well Jesus knows the difference between right and wrong for you in each and every circumstance.

If we have faith in Him he will lead us down the perfect path. Can you imagine what would happen if everything turned out for your best for the rest of your life? How great would this be? We have all heard: If you were to start with one dollar and double it every day for thirty days you would have $536 million dollars. I know that in our human context this seems impossible, but it is clearly not impossible. Even from an atheist perspective, there are many atheists who have become billionaires without calling upon the all knowing omnipotent power of God. Now if we considered multiplying measures of spiritual wisdom instead of dollars, how rich in wisdom could we be?

Jesus’s best for you will always win out. The question is: will we see His best for us, or become doubtful and lose faith when we don’t get what we want from a worldly point of view? For us to lose faith is the goal of Satan, our enemy.

How wise and powerful will you be in the eyes of everyone around you as you walk in tabernacle with Jesus, full of His Grace and Truth? Jesus who knows the beginning and end and everything in between at every moment is talking here about His power becoming perfected in you. Now while we are still here the power of His Grace is beyond measure. This gives clarity to why The Apostle Paul said:

“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Paul was fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ, what good could come from this ongoing attack? In Paul’s case possibly his greatest danger was pride. Here was a man who had literal conversation with God. Paul was clearly prideful prior to meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus blinded him in order to get his attention, and then gave back his sight so that Paul could complete His mission. Pride is subtle, and much more deceptive than lust. There are many ways a Christian can become controlled by pride.

But in the case of this thorn, we are told “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.” 2 Corinthians 12:7

Paul had been allowed to see the wonders of heaven. There was always the danger that his many followers may set their eyes on him rather than Christ. But here we know that Paul was in danger of elevating himself as well. And if anyone was a target of Satan, it was Paul.

All sin will fall within two categories lust or pride. Paul was in special danger. He was a natural candidate for the false adulation of others and to become puffed up due the special mission and revelations God was continually giving him. We do not know the nature of the attack; but pride was at the heart of it. This could have been someone else teaching a contrary gospel, and who was leading some away from the Messiah. Many others think it was a physical affliction.

What was this thorn in the flesh that God allowed Paul to continually struggle with? Was the attack a literal messenger of Satan?

On a personal level, I have come under literal personal demonic attack. This attack was visual, verbal, and physical. Needless to say – I was frightened. Although this attack happened over thirty years ago, I remember it as if it were today. I seldom mention this because it is unbelievable for many people, and I do not want to give an unbeliever a reason to doubt or disregard my teachings.

I can only say that the words that I yelled at the top of my lungs brought me instant deliverance and relief. The words; “you have no power over me, in the name of Christ begone” came into my head and out of my mouth, and the three way attack ended instantly. This was surely a clear testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit for me.

But the enemy is deceptive, and we must be careful to not see a demon under every rock. We do not want to appear foolish to skeptics. Subtle attacks of the enemy are much more likely than the one I experienced. It is more likely that Paul was being attacked by someone who was influencing others away from the gospel and revelations that Paul had received.

 In closing, there is one clear message from Jesus that we must never forget … it is this: 

For a growing Christian – weakness will most likely be a way of life.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”  2 Corinthians 12:9

Grace and Peace to you my friends,
Bob West – Geezerdust©2020

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