SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 20130602: "The Thorn Of Pain" This page streams the audio-only sermon, when available, in downloadable SWF flash format. 

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It’s been more than thirty years since I heard a person give full voice to their pain. I was visiting a friend in a nursing home when two attendants pulled the curtain that separated the beds in a double occupancy room. I saw fear on the face of the sweet-faced old lady who was in the next bed.
The air was disturbed by a high pitched scream that sounded like a wounded animal. I heard great distress in the scream of agony. It pierced the ear and imbedded itself in the primal part of the soul. The agony of it attacked the abdomen, nearly doubling me over in sympathy.
When the curtain was pulled back, one of the attendants said to me as she passed by,
“She has bedsores and hates it when we attempt to medicate her.”
What is pain? Is it the scourge and enemy of man? Is there any possible use or purpose in pain? Today’s medical technician is very concerned about relieving their patient’s pain and suffering. They too quickly sometimes write their scripts for “Percocets” and “Oxycodones.” (Perkies and Oxies)
It’s too easy in today’s medical environment to become what I call “Prescription Drug Junkies.” This family of pain killers is known for creating life-long drug dependencies. Technically, they are synthetic opiates.
There is an old story in the Greek historical chronicles of a soldier under the Greek General Antigonus. The amazing warrior had a disease, an extremely painful one, likely to bring him soon to the grave. Always first in the charge was this soldier, rushing into the hottest part of the fray, as the bravest of the brave. His pain prompted him to fight, that he might forget it; and he feared not death, because he knew that in any case he had not long to live.
Antigonus, who greatly admired the bravery of his soldier, discovering his malady, had him treated and cured by one of the most eminent physicians of the day. There was a problem after his healing. From that moment the warrior was absent from the front of the battle. He now sought his safety; for, as he remarked to his companions, he had something worth living for–health, home, family, and other comforts, and he would not risk his life now as he did before.
Often, we are driven by the very pain we hate to step out in faith in the service of our God. When we have nothing else to gain in this world, we become driven by the hope of the world to come. It’s easy to humble yourself when pain has already humbled you.
            God has to break your heart and shatter your worldly ambitions in this life before He can use you in His Service. Pain is often God’s teacher to bring us to our absolute need of Him. This sermon explores Paul’s pain and how God used it to transform into the bold apostle to the gentiles.
Pastor Phil  <><<







June 2, 2013 – Pastor Phil Roland
Sheepfold Ministries

2 Corinthians 12:1-9
“I was 29 years old when pain began its relentless work in my life. My youth died one night when I came to realize that I would not be exempted from pain and suffering. In that time of brokenness and relinquishment I submitted to the plan that God had for my life: His plan of humility and maturity.”               Pastor Phil   <><<

THORN = σκόλοψ  = SKOLOPS
“A sharp Point, Thorn, Pointed Stake

”And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”   
          A. Pride is the basic problem of all who follow Jesus
                        1. Pride brings Arrogance and a Sense of Entitlement
                                    a. Easy to become self-centered
                                    b. Insensitive to the Needs and Pain of Others
                        2. Saul of Tarsus is struck down and blinded by the Holy Spirit
                                    a. He was left blind, helpless and dependent
                                    b. God restored his physical and spiritual sight
                        3. Physical Pain entered his life from that day forward
          B. God humbled him with the Thorn of Pain – v. 7b
“. . .a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to
 buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”
                        1. Unknown exactly what Paul’s Thorn was
                                    a. Created Being: Man or Demon
                                    b. Infirmity – Physical Sickness or Disease
                                    c. Eye Problem causing puffiness or swelling
                                    d. Spiritual Temptation or Weakness
                        2. We do know the EFFECT of Paul’s Thorn of Pain
                        3. Lived with the constant discomfort of pain
            C. God uses Pain to help us hear His Voice – Hebrews 12:6-8
For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He
 receives.”If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for
 what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without
 chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate
 and not sons.”
1. Did God SEND Paul’s Messenger from Satan?
                                    a. Pain from Chains
                                    b. Pain from Whips
            2. This is UNKNOWN as well, but God is on record as using
    Israel’s enemies to punish them for their disobedience
THE THORN OF PAIN, cont., p.2

3. Hebrews 12 suggests God uses pain to discipline us as his
    beloved children

”Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  Vs. 8,9
        A. God’s Grace is all we need -
                1. GREEK: cara = KA-RA = Exalt, Joy, Boastful, Be Proud
                2.  carisma = KA-RIS-MA = Grace
                3.  carismata = KA-RIS-MA-TA = Gifts
B. God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense
                1. Grace Is God’s Unearned. Undeserved Favor
                        2. He has given us His Mercy when we didn’t deserve it
        C. God’s Strength is fully developed through our weakness
                        1. David confesses God’s Goodness in Pain - Psalm 119:71
                        “It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
  That I may learn Your statutes.”
                        2. Paul Found His own weakness makes way for God's Power                           "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame
                         the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to
                         shame the things which are mighty;" 1 Corinthians 1:27
                        3. Paul saw Power and Weakness thru the Cross  - 1 Cor. 1:18
                        "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are
                         perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."



2 Corinthian 12:1-9
12 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—
4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.
6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.




During the American Civil War fought between the years 1861 - 1865, over
600,000 soldiers from the South died, but a heartfelt prayer that survived
was the Prayer of the Unknown Confederate Soldier, a soldier’s unrequited but unsurpassed prayer:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey...

I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity that I might do better things...

I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty that I might be wise...

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God...

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things...

I got nothing that I asked for- but everything I hoped for,
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am among all men, most richly blessed.

Joni Eareckson Tada

When Joni was 17 she suffered a severe spinal injury from a diving accident that paralyzed her from the neck down and left a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. She is a popular motivational speaker and speaks about her life of pain, limitation and discomfort.

"In a way I wish I could take to heaven my old, tattered Everest and Jennings wheelchair. I would point to the empty seat and say,
"Lord, for decades I was paralyzed in this chair. But it showed me how paralyzed You must have felt to be nailed to Your Cross. My limitations taught me something about the limitations You endured when You laid aside your robes of state and put on the indignity of human flesh."
At that point, with my strong and glorified body, I might sit in it, rub the armrests with my hands, look up at Jesus, and add,
"The weaker I felt in this chair, the harder I leaned on You. And the harder I leaned, the more I discovered how strong You are. Thank you, Jesus for learning obedience in your suffering...You gave me grace to learn obedience in mine."
                                                                            October 10, 2008

3. USE YOUR THORNS – when I am weak, then I am strong

The first beacon of the Eddy Stone Lighthouse for the English Channel off the coast of Plymouth was placed there over 250 years ago to warn ships of the dangerous reefs. Winstanley, the architect who built it, was so confident of it’s strength that he had written on the cornerstone "Blow, O ye winds! Rise, O ocean waves! Break forth ye elements and try my work!" They were foolish words. Less than 3 years later a violent storm destroyed the lighthouse along with Winstanley and others who were doing repairs on it at the time. In 1756 John Smeaton, an early leader in civil engineering, rebuilt it. He found a new sight and dug down deep into the solid rock. He was a Christian, and on the cornerstone he wrote the words, "Except the Lord build the house it’s builders labor in vain". Since then it has stood every test and it stands there today. It was built on the rock.

When Jesus gave his beatitudes in Matt 5:3 he started by saying " Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." In other words, blessed are those who have realized their own helplessness and who have placed their complete trust in the Lord.

The world teaches us to despise all forms of weakness – but the Bible tells us to embrace our weaknesses for only then do we let go of our self-reliance and look to the source of true strength in our lives.

When we accept our weaknesses we become gracious people and we become dispensers of grace. Remember the parable of Jesus about the 2 people who owed money and their debts were cancelled. Thorns remind us of our need and the debt of love we owe Jesus.

Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven -- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.

Philip Yancey told the story of the woman who was getting married and planned a huge wedding banquet. It was going to held at the Hyatt Hotel and cost $13,000. After everything had been planned and paid for the groom dumped her. When she tried to cancel she could not get her money back because the food had already been bought. She decided to go ahead with the party. Years before she had gone though a difficult time and had lived in a homeless shelter. Now she would invite the down and outs. For the dinner they served boneless chicken – in honor of the groom. Homeless people were served a fancy meal on fine china with the band playing. That is good picture of the church and the kingdom of God. A person who used their brokenness to bless.

When we accept and own our thorns we look at the world differently.

Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then doing good in your world shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Everyday you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God. -- Phillips Brooks

When it comes to thorns Jesus was our example. On the cross Jesus wore a crown of thorns. He bore our thorns on himself for us. He made himself weak enough to suffer and die so that His power could be made perfect in us.