II Corinthians 12:8-9 ” Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Few if any of God’s people have ever been free from some kind of hindrance – whether physical, emotional, or oppositional. And here Paul beseechs the Lord three times for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. But instead, the Lord allowed it to remain. And in doing so will show Paul that despite it remaining, God’s grace will bring to perfection & accomplish His divine purposes in Paul’s life. This promise gave Paul tremendous strength & encouragement. For as he wrote in Philippians 4:11-14, he realized he had to solely rely on Christ’s power, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content…For I can do all things through Him that strengthens me.” Paul was able to face all circumstances that came up regardless of his hindrance…desiring to impress on his readers and us the same lesson.

John 5:6 ” Jesus asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ “

What is hindering your Christian walk from being sound, healthy & vital? It might lie in your answer to Jesus when He asks you, “Do you want to get well?” You may (like the invalid in this story) blame others for your current situation, or blame past circumstances that were beyond your control…thus leading you to be stymied & stuck…but definitely not your fault! Maybe you will make excuses, refuse the request, or defend why you can’t… in what boils down to be plain old apathy & laziness. This is clearly described in the Parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:16-24 when those invited started making flimsy excuses why they couldn’t attend the Banquet. Finally, when Jesus asks, “Do you want to get well?” you may not be willing to put forth the effort needed to change…or you want someone else to do it for you. But Philippians 2:12 tells us we need to work out our own Salvation…no one else can do it for us. For if we truly want to have a healthy Christian Walk, we have to put in the work, stop the excuses, and be obedient.

II Peter 1:3 ” His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

Every night we pray for people we know. Friends going through tragedies, illness, loss, & suffering. We don’t know all the details of each person…but we don’t need to…for God does. So we pray God’s unique divine power & Will over each one, knowing His Will is perfect. For just think about it…God is bigger and greater than anything we can imagine. There is nothing that is beyond His ability. For if God has the divine power to create & sustain the entire universe…how can we think that it’s insufficient to more than handle the pain and suffering we see in others?

II Thessalonians 3:11-12 ” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.”

Paul, Silas, & Timothy had gotten wind of a group of Believers in the Church at Thessalonica that believed that Jesus was coming back at any moment…and so working for a living, they thought, showed lack of faith. This erroneous expectation was actually addressed by Paul in his first letter to the Church, (I Thessalonians 4:11) but the problem didn’t go away, and was only growing worse…so here in his second letter, Paul makes it clear, idleness only leads to an undisciplined & lazy life. He exhorts those with this chronic conduct to start behaving themselves in a more Christ-like way…becoming responsible Believers and thus glorifying God in the process. But this wasn’t the only place that Paul warned against idlers. He admonished Timothy to not place any widow younger than 60 on the Widows List for Church Assistance…citing that without anything to do, they could easily become idlers, gossips, & busybodies, “saying things they ought not to.” (I Timothy 5:13)

Ezekiel 11:19 ” I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel recognized that this new heart & spirit God was promising were gifts from God and not products of anything we could do on our own. (Ezekiel 36:26) God wanted to change His people from the inside out, giving them an devoted heart of loyalty to the Lord and a new, responsive spirit in place of their rebellious & dead heart. Hebrews 8:8-13 goes on to speak of this…the new heart and new spirit promised here in Ezekiel to God’s Old Covenant people now received by His New Covenant people – all those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for Salvation. For as we are renewed, God enables us to put off old ways of disobedience and put on new acts of faithfulness to Him, (Ephesians 4:22-24) as we are being changed from the inside out.

Matthew 15:22 ” A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.’ “

Jesus had traveled to the Gentile region of Tyre & Sidon, when this Greek woman approached Him shouting. At first, Jesus ignored her…but she persisted, calling out all the more. Finally, Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel…first let the children eat all they want, for it’s not right to take the children’s bread & toss it to their dogs.” The derogatory term of dogs (or little pets) wasn’t meant to demean the woman but rather for Jesus to explain the plan of Salvation…namely that Salvation is from the Jews. (John 4:22) And it seems that the woman is well aware of this, for she doesn’t take offense, but nor is she deterred by Jesus’ implicit reminder of Israel’s special covenant with God. Instead, in all humility & hopefulness she replies, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” With faith-filled confidence the woman is telling Jesus that His power & mercy is more than enough to fill up not only the Jews, but the Gentiles as well… overflowing the boundaries between them. This type of courageous trust & belief impresses Jesus and He replies, “Woman you have great faith. Your request is granted.”

Ephesians 1:16 ” I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

The Apostle Paul constantly show gratitude for God’s work of grace in others. In his letters to the Churches, it was usually the very first thing he wrote about. (I Corinthians 1:4, Philippians 1:3, Colossians 1:3) He was truly grateful for their faith & love for one another, and he wanted them to know this. In Romans 1:8 Paul wrote, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” When was the last time you thanked someone for their encouragement during a tough time in your life? It’s easy to just sit & receive encouragement, hope, and inspiration from others…it’s much harder to focus outward & show that same gratitude to others…that’s because suddenly we’re not the center of attention anymore. But an attitude of gratitude builds people up, and lets them know how God is using them for His glory.

Obadiah 3 ” The pride of your heart has deceived you…”

The Book of Obadiah is the shortest Book in the Old Testament, and centers around the hostility between the Edomites, (the descendants of Esau) and the Israelites, (the descendants of Jacob). Judah lay in ruins, defeated by the Babylonians…while Edom gloated & stood by apathetically, watching with malicious delight as Jerusalem suffered. But within this Book, Obadiah not only reassures the people of God’s triumphant justice at work for them, but he also warns Edom of the imminent judgment coming their way because of their arrogance. All the while showing that ultimately God’s righteous purposes determine history, not the evil wills of men.

Proverbs 15:29 ” He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

This may sound farfetched, but God really does pay attention to your prayers. If you profess Jesus as your Lord & Savior, every prayer you offer up is heard by the Father. Or as John 9:31 tells us, “We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His Will.” But nor is prayer some Spiritual “exercise routine” we only do occasionally when we feel like it. Prayer is life-giving as much as blood pumping through our heart or oxygen flowing in & out of our lungs are. Jesus never spoke of unanswered prayers…for He had unlimited certianity of knowing that our prayers will always be answered. “Everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8) Yet we stutter, “But…but…it doesn’t always happen that way!” God answers our prayers in the very best way via His Perfect & Divine Will…not just sometimes, but every time.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word of God is living and active…”

Maybe this has happened to you. You’re in a very familiar passage of Scripture, one that you’ve read a gazillion times, when suddenly the light bulb goes off in your head & the once cryptic passage now stands crystal clear. Or you’re sharing with an unbelieving friend a few of your favorite verses from the Bible, when they promptly announce they want to follow Jesus too. Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God’s Word goes out, not returning empty until first accomplishing what He desires & achieving His sovereign purposes. Foremost being, His lasting & enduring Word is used by the Holy Spirit to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 1:23) God’s Word is alive, powerful & infallible…or as Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “The more we dig into the Scriptures. the more they seem to us an endless mine of truth.”

%d bloggers like this: