Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2 Corinthians 12

Continuing his defense of his Apostleship, Paul speaks of his spiritual journey.

Two things stand out:
     One is the reference to being caught up "into third heaven (2)". In the first century the people believed in a tri-layered heaven -- hence three heavens. The first heaven is where the birds fly around and is the air we breathe. The second heaven is where the sun and the moon and the stars are and the third heaven is the throne room of God. So, being caught up into the third heaven is simply another way of saying he was caught up into the presence of God. It sounds like quite an experience.

     The second is the whole account of the "thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan (7)." We do not know what Paul's infirmity was. There has been much speculation based on other things he has said but this is all speculation -- there really is no way to know. What is clear is that the infirmity was obvious and occasionally debilitating. The lesson for us is the progress of Paul's prayer. He says "three times I appealed to the Lord (8)." So, on three separate occasions Paul went to pray to ask God for relief from this infirmity and for healing. God's response was the same: "my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness (8)." So, Paul seeks healing and God says no, this is something you will have to live with. Notice what happens next. Paul prays "So, I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness so that the power of Christ may dwell in me (9)." In other words, when God speaks to Paul and tells him his circumstance will not change, Paul's prayer changes.

     The principle for us to learn in terms of our prayer life is simple: Pray until one of two things happens. Either 1) God answers your prayer; or 2) God changes your prayer. Most of us, when we pray, we give up way too early and way to easily.

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