I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.
Leonardo da Vinci
2 Corinthians 12:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The literal translation of this verse adds a startling emphasis to it, allowing it to speak for itself with power we have probably never realized. It is as follows: “Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, being insulted, experiencing emergencies, and being chased and forced into a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, I am “dynamite”.
The secret of knowing God’s complete sufficiency is in coming to the end of everything in ourselves and our circumstances. Once we reach this point, we will stop seeking sympathy for our difficult situation or ill treatment, because we will recognize these things as the necessary conditions for blessings. We will then turn from our circumstances to God, realizing they are the evidence of Him working in our lives.
George Matheson, the well-known blind preacher of Scotland, once said, “My dear God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked you a thousand times for my roeses but not once for my thorns. I have always looked forward to the place where I will be rewarded for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as a present glory itself. “Teach me, O Lord, to glory in my cross. teach me the value of my thorns. Show me how I have climbed to You through the path of pain. Show me it is through my tears I have seen my rainbows.”
Our Savior does not cast us off
Because we fail or turn aside;
He will forgive when we repent,
Then in His love will abide
Champions of faith are people who have learned from their failures. Lift your voice and say “My God is awesome”.
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
“We will face the reality that although we are fruit trees by the grace of God, we still have thorn bush responses to life. The THORN bush represents the fact that, as sinners, we all tend to respond sinfully to the circumstances of life.” Confessing our inward faults and sins is the beginning to change. Fumbling around what our sins are only keeps us in the deception mode and bound by the enemy. I am elated that God has increased me past this deception.
I have been taking a look at how it is that God changes our lives, and shapes us into the identity that is ours in Christ. Because of His death, and His subsequent presence in our lives, we have been changing into His image in a process that He does in our lives through our every day circumstances. We are literally “New creations” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Note the process in the above verse. The point is, God is using the “HEAT” in our lives to shape us into the people He wants us to be. We need to be sensitive to that, and open to change. Is your identity being defined by your circumstances then they are by the grace of Jesus Christ? It is important to realize that you are a “New” person in Christ, complete with a new heart that is able to be transformed, and act in obedience to God and His word. Change, however, begins in understanding that the thorns still are present. We still act out in anger, we still numb our spiritual senses with work, possessions, substances, we still take our identity from the things we do and the things that people say, and we still find our joy in everything except God.
Today is my start to take a real look the at the thorns in my life because it is in taking this hard look at myself that I am able to see what God wants to change in my life. We could all benefit from meditating and praying Psalms 139:23-24 on a daily basis. We are called to an “Ongoing recognition and confession of our ‘thorny’ responses to life.” How do you respond to the daily heat in your life?
1. Our sin is worse than we can imagine, but God’s grace is greater than our sin!
2. God is concerned about transformation at the heart level, not the behavior level.
3. We should benefit from our relationship with Christ here and now, and in eternity.
4. God calls us to grow and change.
5. Our Christian life is a lifestyle of Repentance and Faith