“This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 NLT
Paul thoroughly reproved the Corinthian believers for their folly. They had listened to the wrong voices and had been led astray in their thinking of Paul. He had to clarify his call, character, and commitment. Throughout 2 Corinthians, Paul makes his case for apostolic authority over the church. He doesn't do so to boast, he does so to help the Corinthians understand that his involvement and interest in them was a call from God. He had their best interest at heart. He only wanted to see them know Christ and grow in Christ. Anything or anyone who stood in the way of that happening was going to be dealt with in reproof and rebuke. Paul loved these people. He had literally given everything he had to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. No one had served Christ any more devotedly than Paul. He stands out in history as one of the most influential men in the world. His service to Christ and His Church is remarkable. He was used by the Holy Spirit to write 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament.
Here in Chapter 12, Paul refers to an experience with God that had imparted divine revelation to him. He had been given a special call and specific message to proclaim to the New Testament church. Let us remember that this man was once a Pharisee, the most devout observers of the Law of Moses. He was the valedictorian of his religious ranks. Only God Himself could have changed this man's heart and mind concerning the truth. This is exactly what happened in Acts Chapter 9 when he encountered Jesus personally. From that day forward things would never be the same for Saul (later to be known as Paul). Even during that experience God told Ananias that Paul would suffer many things for His sake. To say that Paul suffered for Christ is not an exaggeration. He did indeed. In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 he lays out the specific ways in which he suffered as proof of his love for Christ and the churches.
Now, in chapter 12, he shares how his special revelation from God had resulted in a continual satanic attack on his life (referred to as "a thorn in the flesh"). This kept him from becoming prideful in his flesh. Paul asked Jesus to remove the thorn three different times. Jesus replied that His grace is sufficient. God did not remove the trial, but He certainly sustained Him through it.
God's grace is sufficient for all of us who are His children. He is with us and will sustain us.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me to know with assurance that I am walking with You. May I trust that in all things, Your grace is sufficient!!!
Rev. Curtis Norris