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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poured Out? Content?


Do you ever feel this way?

Poured out?

Ever feel like you just have nothing to give, as much as you might wish it to be otherwise?

That's how I feel tonight.

I know that's not the truth. I know that if the Lord called me to a task right now, He would give me all I needed to complete it to His glory.

It's just that I'm dealing with my thorn right now. Thorns are miserable, aren't they?!

They hurt, for goodness sake!

I remember when I was a little girl, and my family had gone to the lake for the day. (I think I was about 4 years old.) Well, my Momma told me that I could run and play, but not to go near the sticker patch.

It was a BIG one too...everything's bigger in Texas, you know, even sticker patches! :)

So, I obediently ran off to play. But, before long, I landed myself RIGHT in the middle of that huge sticker patch! They were ALL OVER ME! I had stickers in my hair, in my feet, in my hands...EVERYWHERE!

My mother thought it was so funny! I still remember her laughing at me, which made me even more miserable!

I'm sure she dealt with my outright disobedience so much that when it caught up with me from time to time, she had to enjoy it! I know, I've got one just like I was! I feel your pain, Momma! :)

She found so much humor in it that she took a picture of me screaming my head off, just to share with me when I got older. (I wish I had it to post for you!)

Well, that's how I feel today. I want to scream my head off because I'm so sick of dealing with this thorn. It's exhausting. It's miserable. It hurts. It stops me dead in my tracks!

Do you know how the apostle Paul talked about his thorn in the flesh?

Here's what he said...

2 Corinthians 12:7
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 Cor 12:8
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
2 Cor 12:9
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.
2 Cor 12:10
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.

I concur with Paul. My thorn is truly a messenger from Satan, too. And you can bet your bippy that it keeps me humble! It keeps me from exalting myself, for sure!

Yet, I see so much room for improvement in how I deal with it. I too, have begged God to remove it. He hasn't chosen to do so. So, I beg again. Still He says "no".

I see now that I really do need to learn to handle it the way that Paul handled his. I need to learn to be CONTENT with this difficulty.

I find it pretty amazing that Paul didn't say WHAT his thorn was. If you pick up 100 different commentaries, you may find 100 different thoughts on what it was. I don't think it really matters what it was. I'd go so far as to say I think that it's by God's own plan that we don't know, for not knowing allows this passage to be so much more applicable to all of us.

I think the point is HOW Paul handled his thron.

He trusted that God had a purpose in allowing it to remain.

He trusted God.

He listened to God.

He relied on God.

The other thing that's so clear in this passage, is that this thorn was a messenger of Satan.

Yep. I'd classify mine as the same. No doubt about it. It's right from the pit of hell!

Satan tries so hard to use it in my life to divert my focus.

He tries to get me to feel sorry for myself.

To get angry.

To blame.

To shut down.

To isolate.

OOOOOOOOOOOh...and my flesh WANTS to do all of those things!

I don't see Paul doing that, do you?

I want to learn to be well content with my thorn. I want to learn to thank God for my thorn.

I want to learn, even, to cherish my thorn because it truly does remind me of how insufficient I am, and of how very sufficient my Lord is!

I want to trust God's sovereign purposes for allowing even pain into my life.

It's hard to have the attitude that Paul did, when we're in the midst of the distress...but clearly, it isn't impossible.

It all boils down to where we're putting our focus. Is it on God, and His complete power and sovereignty, or is it on ourselves?

I sure would cherish your prayers this week. Prayers that I would keep my focus on the Almighty.

It's clear to me that the enemy isn't very happy about what God is doing in our little corner of the globe, so he has launched the attack this week. I take comfort in knowing, however, that even the evil one's attacks must first be approved by my God.

So, there must be something that the Father wants me to learn from this. Otherwise, He wouldn't have allowed it.

We're having our first Precept leader monthly area training on Friday. Four other women who have been trained as Precept leaders (and 1 who will be soon) are meeting in my home in order for us to come together to discuss how God wants to use us in this community for His glory. We'll be really looking at how to get the message of inductive study to as many new groups of people as God may draw.

I'm going to do my best to share with them what I learned at the Precept Leader Retreat, and each month we're going to be learning more skills for leading.

It's FOCUS time here. It's time to let God cast His vision for us, and time to seek Him for His plan of action to see His will implemented in our community.

We're about our Father's business. We are HUNGRY to see lives transformed by His Word, and we're ready to get to work!

It shouldn't surprise me that the enemy of our lives is on the attack! He hates it when God's people are getting busy for the Kingdom!

Please pray for us...we want to be faithful, and we so desire to see lives forever changed by God and His Word!

In His Great Love,

Jes




6 comments:

Stephanie said...

The way you share is so inspiring. Praying for you and all the ladies. :)

D.L. White said...

Thank you SO much for your post Jesica. I really identified with you over your struggle with your thorn. I knew this passage, but had never thought about it before, in application to my life. I suppose it's because the last time I studied it I felt like I was "doing okay" and couldn't identify any thorns in my life. Silly me.

Also - I really appreciated your comment about how not knowing what Paul's thorn was actually helps us to focus on the message than on his particular issue (which, if we knew it, might have distracted us). Great insight!

Thanks for everything you do for our Bible study group. I'll be praying for you and the gals on Friday, that your time together is sweet and productive. :) If anyone takes notes - could you kindly ask them to e-mail them to me or make me a copy?

janan said...

Praying for you ladies on Friday and Jes, I'm praying for you particularly about your pain.

For some reason, I always feel stumped when I read that Paul asked God three times to take his thorn away. I wonder why three?

Do you think if he had prayed four times, God would have taken it away? Do you think God told him the third time not to ask again?

Then I find myself thinking really hard what "the thorn" could have been. He received it after he had the revelations, right?

I have often wondered if the thorn "hurt" - not emotionally, but physically. I don't think it did, because it sounds to me like his thorn WAS a messenger of Satan which was given, or sent, to torment Paul.

Wasn't Martin Luther tormented also? I remember in the movie, entitled Martin Luther (which was an excellent movie), that while he was locked away translating the Bible into German, he suffered greatly and thought for sure he was going crazy! But this being a movie, I don't know the accuracy of it.

janan said...

Hi, it's me again. I have been thinking very much about your precept training tonight, how you all with be gathered around your table to press forward with an agenda given to you by God.

Doing things like this require extra strength, extra courage and perserverence, with the goal planted firmly in your mind. Remember in the daylight what God has given you in the dark.

A radio sermon just talked about how when great things are being done for the Name of Christ, the "war" will get greater. As a business owner, I think of Satan asking his angels to "work overtime" on this special project at hand.

Expect it. Look for it. Put on your armour and go to battle tonight, for there will be war!

Wear you helmet of Salvation - not only will it protect your head, it will tell the world which team you're on!

Bucle your belt of Truth around your waist: "Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist." Isa. 11:5

This symbolic "belt of Truth" is referring to the Messiah - character, not brute force, wins the battle, just as in the case of the Messiah.

Fasten firmly your breastplate of Righteousness. It not only covers your vital organs, but symbolically, again, it describes God Himself when He goes forth to bring about justice: "He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head..." Isa. 59:17

Get your feet fitted with Readiness - wear that protective and supportive footgear - so they will not be struck down as you share the gospel of peace.

As you head out the door, grab your sheild of Faith - you will need it to hide behind as those flaming arrows come shooting forth! Remember there is a war - the arrows WILL come.

Whatever you do, DON'T FORGET the sword of the Spirit, which is God's WORD - memorize scripture and read the Word daily! Perhaps you ladies can memorize a scripture which you will use every time you meet as your motto - your battle yell!

One of my personal favorites is: First Samuel 17:47 - (David speaking to Goliath) "All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give all of you into our hands."

Oh, one last thing. After you are dressed and out the door, remember these three things:

- Pray in the Spirit
- Be alert
- Always keep on praying

Love you Jes - be strong!
Nan

(Just to prove my point above, while writing this email,my phone rang twice, and my keyboard has broken and now has to be replaced soon.)

janan said...

Hi, it's me again. I have been thinking very much about your precept training tonight, how you all with be gathered around your table to press forward with an agenda given to you by God.

Doing things like this require extra strength, extra courage and perserverence, with the goal planted firmly in your mind. Remember in the daylight what God has given you in the dark.

A radio sermon just talked about how when great things are being done for the Name of Christ, the "war" will get greater. As a business owner, I think of Satan asking his angels to "work overtime" on this special project at hand.

Expect it. Look for it. Put on your armour and go to battle tonight, for there will be war!

Wear you helmet of Salvation - not only will it protect your head, it will tell the world which team you're on!

Bucle your belt of Truth around your waist: "Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist." Isa. 11:5

This symbolic "belt of Truth" is referring to the Messiah - character, not brute force, wins the battle, just as in the case of the Messiah.

Fasten firmly your breastplate of Righteousness. It not only covers your vital organs, but symbolically, again, it describes God Himself when He goes forth to bring about justice: "He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head..." Isa. 59:17

Get your feet fitted with Readiness - wear that protective and supportive footgear - so they will not be struck down as you share the gospel of peace.

As you head out the door, grab your sheild of Faith - you will need it to hide behind as those flaming arrows come shooting forth! Remember there is a war - the arrows WILL come.

Whatever you do, DON'T FORGET the sword of the Spirit, which is God's WORD - memorize scripture and read the Word daily! Perhaps you ladies can memorize a scripture which you will use every time you meet as your motto - your battle yell!

One of my personal favorites is: First Samuel 17:47 - (David speaking to Goliath) "All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give all of you into our hands."

Oh, one last thing. After you are dressed and out the door, remember these three things:

- Pray in the Spirit
- Be alert
- Always keep on praying

Love you Jes - be strong!
Nan

(Just to prove my point above, while writing this email,my phone rang twice, and my keyboard has broken and now has to be replaced soon.)

Jes said...

I love you Nan...thank you so much for your encouragement...I wish you could be here to meet these precious women that I have the great blessing of studying with!

You would love each one of them like I do!

Thanks Steph and D for your comments too.

Thanks for your prayers, Steph, and D, thank you for ALL that you do for our group!

XOXO,
Jes