Transformation Garden - Feb. 22, 2012

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Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O (your name here), and he that formed thee, ‘Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name: thou art mine.”
Isaiah 43: 1
King James Version

Today’s Study Text:
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
II Corinthians 12: 7
N.I.V.

EXPLORATION:

“A Buffeting Thorn”

“The furnace of affliction is a good place for you, Christian; it benefits you; it helps you to become more like Christ, and it is fitting you for heaven.”
C. H. Spurgeon

What problem or situation is “afflicting” me at this time and “buffeting” me?

If I were to look at this affliction from the light of heaven, how do I think it would appear?

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
II Corinthians 4: 17
K.J.V.

INSPIRATION:

“You can advance farther in grace in one hour during this time of affliction than in many days during a time of consolation.”
Jean Eudes

As a young girl, spending time in the state of Arizona during the scorchingly hot summer months, our family often took time to go to several of the lakes formed by dams along the Salt River. Often I helped my dad launch our small boat and usually my job was to secure the boat to a wooden plank while my dad pulled the boat trailer out of the water and found a parking spot.

It was at this time when I got a good lesson on what the word “buffet” means from the waves caused by other boats, literally pushing our boat so hard, it was as if the boat had been struck or hit. The word “buffet” is used in the King James Version of the Bible to describe how Paul felt because of the thorn that was in his flesh. Our study text, II Corinthians 12: 7, uses the word, “torment,” in place of “buffet.” And if we look at Webster’s dictionary this word means, “to strike a crude blow.” To add to this definition, I checked the New Testament Greek and the meaning of buffet is to “rap with the fist.” This gives me a visual image of Paul’s thorn being something that punched him. And a punch in the face or gut could really knock a person down. This was how Paul portrayed the affliction which hit him. Obviously, it wasn’t something he enjoyed.

But if you note the first part of II Corinthians 12: 7, Paul states that this thorn was given, “to keep me from being conceited.”

I found this passage somewhat perplexing until I read what S. D. Gordon insightfully wrote about the Apostle Paul.

First, when Paul was a young man, he was trained in the finest Jewish school, tutored by the highly respected Jewish Pharisee, Gamaliel in Jerusalem. He was not like some of the “humble” fishermen unschooled and unlearned. He had what some call an “international outlook.” As a citizen of Rome, he had command of both the Hebrew and Greek culture including history, religion, philosophy, poetry, science, and music. With this background, the young man, Saul, was identified by the Jewish Sanhedrin as one of their up-and-coming “stars”! Present at the stoning of Stephen, Saul assisted in this brutal act, we are told in Acts 7: 58, when “witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.” Let’s just say that Saul served as the “keeper of the coats.” But he got more than he planned for as he witnessed the mighty Stephen asking his Father in heaven to “fix not this sin upon them (lay it not to their charge)” (Acts 7: 60). Like Jesus Christ, the Son of God, words of forgiveness were on Stephen’s lips and burned within his heart.

This memorable moment was one the young Saul carried with him until a day on the Damascus road when confronted by his Savior – and from this time on, the Apostle Paul became a servant of Christ’s.

However, like so many of us, he still had those places in his life that “took over” and led him in a direction other than where God wanted him to go. Paul was strong-willed and at times, did his own thing. As S. D. Gordon notes, “With much reverence, God (had) a hard time getting Paul to work always along the line of His plans.” Even as Paul wrote, “So I won’t get all puffed-up and arrogant about all these prophetic revelations that have come my way, I was “given” a thorn.” Here’s what struck me about the word “given” in the Greek. It means “to bestow” or “to minister.” The thorn in Paul’s own eyes became something that spiritually ministered to him. It was a ‘bestowed” gift, from Paul’s perspective.

I just love the way S. D. Gordon wrote about Paul’s perspective of the thorn:

“I can see old Paul one night in his own hired house in Rome. It is late, after a busy day…He is sitting on an old bench, slowing down before seeking sleep. One arm is around Luke, dear faithful Doctor Luke, and the other around young Timothy, not quite so young now. And with eyes that glisten, and utterance tremulous with emotion he is just saying, ‘And dear old friends, do you know, I would not have missed this thorn, for the wondrous glory-presence of Jesus that came with it.’”

Whatever this thorn and its prick, whatever the torment Paul endured, we find that in the end, Paul recognized the fact this buffet, this punch in the face or gut, this wrenching annoyance, was bestowed upon him in order that he might minister to others. In Paul’s own words to his friends in Corinth, “God (who is the Source) of every comfort, who comforts us in every trouble, calamity and affliction, so that we may also be able to comfort those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted, (consoled and encouraged) by God.” (II Corinthians 1: 3,4, Amplified Bible).

As you look at your own life, and the thorn that perplexes, that pains, and that pursues your life, I pray you will, like the Apostle Paul, come to view the “thorn in the flesh” as a gift of ministry and service to others. George MacDonald so eloquently expanded on this thought when he penned these words:

“No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in a wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through the fire. The greatest poets have ‘learned in suffering what they taught in song.’ In bonds Bunyan lived the allegory that he afterwards wrote, and we may thank Bedford Jail for the Pilgrim’s Progress. Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.”

Keep trusting, though afflicted by a thorn. God certainly has something special for you to do for Him!

AFFIRMATION:

God Leads Us Along

“In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow,
But God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.”

George A. Young
1903

Your friend

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

P.S. Just to let you know, Transformation Garden is now on FACEBOOK. Please come and see us and share the garden with your friends. The Daily Devotional is posted everyday, Monday through Friday on Facebook, too. 

My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian.  You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-281-1508. 

For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.

 
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