2 Corinthians 12

Greetings!   This morning I thoroughly enjoyed reading the 12th chapter of Corinthians. Speaking of the Scriptures, in the early days of Christianity, many saints probably had none, or just a few, of the holy writings….and, it is estimated the majority could not even read.  Not to worry, God always makes everything a level playing field….somehow, their spiritual needs were provided for without the scriptures.

Paul had quite a trip….going to the 3rd heaven! In those days, the 1st heaven was the earth’s atmosphere , the 2nd the starry sky and the 3rd was God’s abode. Paul got a taste of just how unimaginable it  is what God holds in store for us….”eye has not seen nor ear heard  the glorious things that await those Whom He loves”.

But, Paul had to pay a price for his visit. Even someone of Paul’s spiritual statute needed a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to keep him humble because of what he experienced…this really amazes me! Nevertheless, he was able to delight in his infirmity after God’s reasoning was revealed to him.

Paul prayed 3 times concerning his infirmity, with no relief, and Jesus prayed 3 times during His trial, also with no relief. There is probably a lesson here.

Concerning Paul’s affliction, this reveals how God wisely uses Satan’s antics (he was the one who brought the infirmity to Paul) for His  eventual Holy purpose and our benefit. Satan can do nothing without God’s permission (as illustrated by Job’s trial),  and it always results in our benefit.

How encouraging it is that we are actually at our ‘prime’ to be used by God when we are at our weakest.   God does make the wisdom of this world look foolish with His mysterious ways.

Even though the Corinthians were the notorious  ‘wild bunch’ with all their problems, Paul loved them dearly….a disposition made possible only by his having the Holy Spirit. But, he could administer ‘tough love’ when the occasion required it.

Until later, take care in Him.

Fred

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Mark 6

This morning I enjoyed reading Mark 6 again.  It reminded me of how many signs and miracles the Lord performed, especially the healings.  And yet, where were these ‘grateful’ recipients when Jesus was crucified!

Sadly, the influence of signs and miracles, even if administered to us personally, have a way of  fleeing from us when difficult times arrive. I recall reading where Teresa of Avila…..a well-known mystic who experienced numerous visions and such….said when the torrents of suffering overwhelm us the recollection of the ecstasy and wonderment of the visions and heavenly revelations seem like far away  dreams (paraphrasing here), and offer little or no strength.

The remaining 11 apostles are another example. After witnessing the most amazing miracles and wonders for about  3 years or so, and even themselves empowered to perform the same, at the end, when human confusion set in at Jesus’  arrest, they all fled…..all the past signs and miracles offering them no strength in the time of adversity.

Our strength lies in developing our spiritual life. Yet, how many came to Jesus and asked that He ‘heal’ them spiritually…..giving them the ability to love more, exercise more patience, pursue the things of God more, empower them with spiritual fortitude, etc?  You guessed   it…..zilch, none! Their focus was on the physical.

And, the chapter reminded me  of what a  difficult  time John the Baptist had during his last days. He was accustomed to roaming freely in the unspoiled beauty of the wilderness, enjoying his delicious wild honey as well as (however he fixed those) locusts!  Wholesome fresh air, the appealing sounds of nature.  Now, here he was in what had to probably be a disgustingly foul cell of some sort and having to eat what probably had to be one of the worst of menus…..just the opposite of what was customary for him.  Greater still, he was confused about what was going on and even wondered  if  Jesus was really the Messiah. My guess is that he came out just fine, and may very well have been magnificently closer to God at the time of his murder than ever before.

I have read of saints who gloried in heavy trials and were brought closer to God and Christ in an unexplainable, spiritual way during these times…..surely a testament of  the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul and Silas are a wonderful example.  In Acts 16:25, they are found singing hymns and praying to God  at  midnight….AFTER having received ‘many blows’ with rods, open wounds still probably stinging quite painfully  with every movement, thrown into the  farthest interior of the jail (i.e., the nastiest) and having their feet in stocks. Now, either they were on some heavy drugs or strange mushrooms…. or, the Holy Spirit empowered them to have this disposition.  It can for us as well.

At times, God brings our greatest trial to us at the end.  We need to be striving to develop the spiritual strength (faith) needed for whenever it may appear …..so that our victory in Christ will be pleasing to the Father, and give Him glory.

Take care.

Fred

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