2019 03 03 Gordon Green THORN

2019 03 03 Gordon Green THORN
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Create DateMarch 5, 2019
Last UpdatedMarch 5, 2019


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What is Your Thorn?

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Redhill. 3 March 2019. Presented by Gordon Green

Words for the song "Under Pressure by Queen

Mmm num ba de

Dum bum ba be

Doo buh dum ba beh beh


Pressure pushing down on me

Pressing down on you, no man ask for

Under pressure that burns a building down

Splits a family in two

Puts people on streets


Um ba ba be

Um ba ba be

De day da

Ee day da- that's okay



Are you feeling pressure pushing down, pressing down on you? Pressure in the home, pressure at work, pressure on the roads? If there was one man who knew all about pressure it was Paul. He wrote “I’ve faced many dangerous situations: I’ve… gone through many sleepless nights…. and besides painful circumstances, I have the daily pressure of my responsibility for all the churches, with a deep concern weighing heavily on my heart for their welfare.” We’ve just recently been going over Acts 19, 20 and even there we read about the Jews plotting against Paul and Paul  imprisoned, beaten and stoned, Paul faced many pressures. But he kept on going.

But how did he do it? What was the key to his life?  What enabled him to handle pressure?  He wrote “I have learned to be content in whatever happens to me.” How? I believe the key to handling pressure is found in 2 Corinthians 12. In it Paul writes about a thorn in his flesh which was most likely false teachers. Most pressures are caused by people – annoying people, selfish people, difficult people, jealous and envious people, needy people, people who won’t leave you alone. Thorns hurt, cut, dig into your flesh, distract you, stop you from doing what you need to do.


We have the “before” and “after” Jesus spoke to him.


He begged God to remove it. “This is too much pressure!” Most of us get to this level. Often what we’re also feeling but often not saying: I don’t like feeling pain, hurt, uncomfortable, I don’t like feeling weak, inadequate etc. Pressure makes us feel what we don’t want to feel.How did Jesus answer?  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God says “No Paul I’m not going to take away the people that are causing the pressure, pain, annoyance in your life. But I’m going to show you something far better than you are asking – far more than you ever dreamed of “


“Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties because when I am weak, then I am strong.” What’s happened? This is a transformed Paul. He is content. He is boasting about his weakness. He is happy with weakness because he knows that when he is weak, he is strong

5 Observations


Grace is the imparted energy of God. Grace is divine enablement for the moment. Titus: “the grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self controlled upright and godly lives….”   When you are under pressure God’s imparted energy, his divine enablement is available for you. It is sufficient. It is always there.



He doesn’t say when I’m weak God takes away the trouble (he does sometimes) or weakness. But “when”. When I am weak Gods power is released. “Your thorn is the arena in which my grace is brought to its fulfilment (that’s what “made perfect” means) It is made perfect. God is saying “That’s what I was after from the very beginning. My grace, power, strength shows up the best in the pressure, trouble. My grace becomes complete in the trouble. My grace is in the pressure, trouble.


What Paul is saying doesn’t make sense. We don’t like what he’s saying. But if I want to see God’s power in my life I need to admit that I am not self-sufficient. I am not independent but totally dependent. And Paul is not embarrassed about it. He doesn’t hide his weakness. He says he will boast gladly about his weakness. Pressure takes off the mask.

Weakness, helplessness is a prerequisite for the display of Christ’s strength.  When I am weak the grace of God comes, and I am strong in his strength. So admit your weaknesses. So this is what Paul discovered. I have to come to see and admit, embrace my weakness and in so doing discover this power that is the very life of Jesus Christ available now through me, by me, to me, in me as me.


What does that mean? “Rest upon me” literally means “so Jesus Christ’s power may rest on me like a tent.” The idea is of his power coming upon us like a tent. The only equivalent in the bible is the cloud of glory that covered the Israelites and led them through the wilderness. In other words; “When I feel my weakness, helplessness then there comes upon me a tenting of God’s glory.” That’s God’s  imparted grace. (See Wuest translation).He walked in the aura of grace. He walked in power and said “All I’m going to boast about is a thorn that made me helpless enough to receive it.”


10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. In Philippians Paul said he had learned to be content. I believe that this is how he learned to be content. That when he was weak he was strong. It’s not a gift but it’s something we learn. And this is the lesson Paul learnt. He was convinced that Jesus Christ was in the midst of his life every day, pouring his power into him. How could he be content with unpleasant things like weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles? “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” That is the key to this section and it is the key to your life – the key to handling pressure. He is content because he is saying “I love it when Jesus shows up in my weakness as my strength.”

What is your thorn? What is your pressure?

Questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Have there been moments in your life when you were so frustrated/irritated/angry with people that you were tempted to ask god to remove all problem people from your life?
  2. Did you honestly think that was a prayer god could answer? Did it dawn on you that god might want to change you so you can live victoriously in the midst of imperfect people?
  3. Do you know of anyone who never has problems with people? Since you will have to deal with imperfect people as long as you live, what kind of changes need to occur in you so you can live in peace with others and stop losing your joy all the time?






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