Day 25 Devotional Before United Prayer: (about 1:59 min reading)
Thorns in the Flesh
This truth is presented when Paul describes his struggle with the “thorn” in his flesh.
And 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. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And 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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Many things can be thorns in the flesh. Paul lists some of his; infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses. Paul prayed for God to remove his thorn. God said no. Why? God’s grace was all Paul needed in order to deal with the thorn.
God also gave a very important truth when He said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” The weaker we know ourselves to be and the sooner we stop trying to exert our puny strength to overcome a thorny temptation in our lives, the sooner we will begin experiencing God’s mighty power in our lives. Our own exertion of effort to overcome a temptation actually gets in the way of God’s power to deliver. You see, when we do that we are looking to our strength and ability to overcome even though we think we are also depending on God to “help” us. God wants to do much more than “help” us. He is the victory. Christ is our deliverance from temptation. When we back away from such efforts and get ourselves out of the way, then Christ can begin manifesting Himself in and through us. You have probably heard the saying, “Let go, and let God.” This is what that saying means.
The prophet Isaiah understood the importance of recognizing our utter weakness in order to experience God’s power.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (Isaiah 40:29)
- J. Waggoner described the futility of the sinners’ efforts to obey God.
We have heard many people tell how hard they found it to do right; their Christian life was most unsatisfactory to them, being marked only by failure, and they were tempted to give up in discouragement. No wonder they get discouraged: continual failure is enough to discourage anybody. The bravest soldier in the world would become faint-hearted if he had been defeated in every battle. Sometimes these persons will mournfully tell that they have lost confidence in themselves. Poor soul, if they would only lose confidence in themselves entirely, and would put their whole trust in the one who is mighty to save, they would have a different story to tell. They would then ‘joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Says the apostle, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.’ Philippians 4:4. The man who doesn’t rejoice in God, even though tempted and afflicted, is not fighting the good fight of faith. He is fighting the poor fight of self-confidence and defeat. (Lessons on Faith, 2 – 3)
How clearly Waggoner stated the truth of those who struggle for victory, “Sometimes these persons will mournfully tell that they have lost confidence in themselves. Poor soul, if they would only lose confidence in themselves entirely, and would put their whole trust in the one who is mighty to save, they would have a different story to tell.” Yes, lose confidence in yourself!!! Yes, put your whole trust in Jesus!!!
This is why the Lord will leave some thorns of temptation in your life. I am sure you have prayed for God to remove these thorns of besetting sins. They have brought such discouragement and defeat in your life. However, God leaves them because He wants you to learn the lesson that His strength is made perfect in your weakness. When you begin experiencing Christ’s deliverance in you, then you along with Paul will declare, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Day 25 Prayer Focus: Pray for
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- Revival for yourself and the church
- God to lead the church to understand and experience complete victory over temptation through faith in Christ’s righteous obedience in your life
- Those on your prayer list
Day 25 Going Deeper Discussion Questions: (based on pages 83 to 86 of “Righteousness by Faith” by Dennis Smith [pages 103 to 106 of the PDF version])
- What was the reason given by Paul for the thorn in his flesh? See 2 Cor 12:7-10 (Page 103)
- Paul lists as the thorns in his flesh infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses. What are some thorns in your flesh? Why do you think God has allowed them in your life? (Page 103)
- For God’s mighty power to act in our lives, what efforts, if any, are needed on our part? (Page 104)
- Why do we need more than the “help” of God in overcoming sin and temptation? When you ask for help of God, what are you really asking? (Page 104)
- What does the saying “Let go, and let God mean to you? How would you describe Christ’s role in your everyday life in gaining victory over sin and temptation? (Page 104)
- “Our efforts to fully obey God are futile.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? (Page 104)
- Why should losing confidence in ourselves be our ultimate goal? (Page 105)
- Read Philippians 4:4. What method does the Bible give in fighting the battle of self-confidence and defeat? (Page 105)
Day 25 Heart preparation/challenge:
- Throughout the day ask God to remind you what He is speaking to you in today’s reading and going deeper discussions and to help you to apply them in your life.
- Read “Righteousness by Faith” by Dennis Smith pages 86 to 91 (pages 106 to 111 of the PDF file) in preparation for Day 26.
- Prayerfully answer Day 26 discussion questions in preparation to share on Day 26 Going Deeper segment of united prayer.