Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thorn in the Flesh

In 1993, I was gathering firewood, in the rough, off the edge of my lawn. Eventually, in reaching down, I would get a pricker in my finger. Tough as I am, a few of those by the end of the day caused me to not ignore them. After extracting them, I thought, so small a piece of wood, lodged where it ought not, caused so great a discomfort.
I knew God had a prophetic message concerning this beyond the wisdom of wearing gloves though I was unable to articulate it.

2I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

3And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

4How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

5Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

6For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

"Of such an one I will glory . . .(v. 5a)"

This is where I run into problems: Thinking too much of myself, even glorying in the work God has done in me leaves me open for the attack of the enemy. I must quickly catch my error and focus on the Mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Paul catches himself and writes, ". . . yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities (5b)."

Paul was caught up into the third heaven and, no doubt, saw glory, perhaps his own. Consider how unthinkable it is for a man in Christ to utter such things. The glory of Christians to come belongeth not to us now. What belongs to us now is life on this terrestrial plane while seeking Him who is Immortal, invisible, God only wise, In light inaccessible hid from our eyes.

Should I seek after my own glory, comfort and gratification, I should, in God's infinite mercy, become more aware of the weakness of the flesh as the discomfort of something of the world lodged therein.

Things of the world have no place in my flesh. Seeking the glory, gratification, and comfort of the world have no place in the life of the spiritual man.

We will be glorified. That is a promise. We are to seek not our glorification but the glory of God. In seeking God's glory, we begin to see His goodness. We begin to see His mercy and everlasting kindness.

Though the flesh desires to glory, we are always brought back to the weakness of it in comparison to the goodness and mercy of God. That is our place as we learn to reign with Him. We are with Christ in the School of Prayer (I refer you to the work of Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, 1887) as long as we stay on the mercy seat.

The cross! The place the Prince of Glory died. 'Twas there my sins were crucified. Then buried He with all my sin. From the grave He arose leaving thence my sin. The cross and mercy seat are the place where I receive mercy and grace to help in a time of need. Over the mercy seat, with wings out stretched are the cherubim that cover.

Should I depart from the mercy seat, it would be to glory in my flesh. Yet I am purchased by God and will be brought back to the mercy seat, if indeed, by the messenger of Satan. The lesson is painful, a thorn in the flesh, yet because of God's grace I may return to the mercy seat and abide under the covering of His wings.

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