Day 147 Bible Reading Plan

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When the pain remains in your life, how do you handle it?

We are finishing the book of 2 Corinthians 11-13 today and in it Paul reveals the struggles he went through—even “boasts” about them, but not in a way we would think of as boasting.

Paul boasts of his weaknesses and of his struggles—not because he is a martyr, but so those he is serving are aware. He sacrificed so the Corinthians could know the truth. This is part of the fight for our faith. We have to adhere to and hold up truth or we will be deceived.

Faith is a Fight.

Faith is not passive. And we will all have to fight our own fight of faith, through the struggles we each face. But Paul is not too worried about his struggles. He is concerned with and for those he is trying to reach.

2 Corinthians 11 opens up with Paul sharing his concern for the church at Corinth that they would lose their pure devotion to Christ by being pulled away by false religions.

2 Corinthians 11:2-3 “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Know Your Faith to Live it

Just as we have cults today that stray from the pure Gospel and the true identity of Christ, there were Gnostics, cults, false religions, and false prophets back in the time this book was written.

Today there is political correctness added into the mix that makes it difficult. We are purportedly in error if we say one way is right. Everybody has to be a winner and every faith has to be right.

But if every way is right, then no way is right.

Jesus said there was one way that leads to Heaven. (Matthew 7:13-14). In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”

Some see this as exclusive; others recognize the grace in being able to hear the truth so they can know. God is so kind to have an absolute. We have a target for how we should live. We can know God and know how we are to worship Him and what we are to believe. Even when we believe correctly, true faith will be tested.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes this incredible supernatural experience he had, but he does not admit it is him who had it. Man tends to praise man when it is God who does things in our midst.

When the Pain Remains God is at Work

Paul resorts to talking about his struggles because this keeps him in the right place or the “sweet zone” of remaining humble. We can forget that everything we have and are able to do is given to us by God.

And sometimes pain is our tutor. And when the pain remains, our faith is tested.

We have talked about this here. Is God still good when life hurts or is hard? Yes, friends. This brings us to the Scripture verses of the day:

Scripture of the Day: 2 Cor. 12:6-10

“If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul’s takeaway

Paul recognized that the incredible things God was doing in him could lead to pride. But a thorn in his flesh, a suffering of some sort, humbled him. I have wondered about the possible shame or discouragement Paul must have felt and had to battle that he could pray for other’s healing, but not be healed himself.

But Paul discovered a secret in his weakness and suffering. It made him abide in Christ. It taught him humility. Weakness became strength as he recognized that God alone was his strength.

My Struggle with Pain that Remained

I was diagnosed with a pack of autoimmune diseases in 2001 and greatly discouraged because it made it very hard to function. And the thing about autoimmune diseases is on the outside everyone says you look fine, but on the inside, you are suffering greatly. One night, while attending a small group bible study, God whispered to my soul, “ask me to heal you.” Friends, I had been asking God to heal me. I had even written songs about it.

But this time was different. God was initiating something. And He spoke to my Spirit what he was going to do. So I asked the small group to please lay hands on me and pray for me—that God was going to take away what was too difficult for me, but a remnant of my suffering would remain to humble me.

When Healing Comes

I understand this flies in the face of the “name it, claim it” faith healers, but friends, I don’t believe we are called to tell God what to do. I can only humbly ask. He can do anything, but His purposes and ways are so much higher than mine. The question is, will it bring Him glory? This matters more than my comfort, which can easily become an idol.

And in that room many years ago now, God moved. He healed me. The muscular pain that had crippled my existence was gone. In a moment. But a remnant of that suffering has remained to this day.

I am a stubborn one, friends. Maybe you are, too. I still suffer physically, but I have learned to cry out to God and to trust Him in that place. I have discovered what Paul has said is true: His grace is sufficient for me. His grace is sufficient for you. ❤

When the pain remains

Our faith is tested. Will hardship cause us to doubt that God is with us?

When the pain remains

God is still good. Hard places in this life do not mean that God is not kind.

When the pain remains

God is breaking chains. It takes an irritant to make a pearl. Our desire or a pain-free life is not a good desire. Pain gets our attention and reminds us how we should live.

When the pain remains

God is shaping our character. He is molding us into His image.

When the pain remains

We learn to abide in Christ and His strength, not our own.

When the pain remains

Perhaps God wants us to comfort others with the comfort we have received. This also helps us to focus on others instead of ourselves. Suddenly our pain is put in a different light.

Paul challenges us in 2 Corinthians 13 to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Trials test our character and faith. Will we still worship Him when pain remains, as Paul did? What is it in your life, friends, that you wish would go away? What pain remains for you? And can you see God’s goodness and purposes in it?

Application:

  • God’s law is not just rules to govern our sin but to change us from within.
  • When we have a question for God, He has a question for us.
  • When Christ is LORD, then we change to His view, and lay down ours.
  • God’s blessings are higher than any blessing in this world.
  • The truly blessed life is blessed because of Christ’s sacrifice, not the world’s blessings.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #146:Luke 6-8

Scripture of the Day: Luke 6:8-9

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Luke.6

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