Devotion Day 82 – through the Bible in 90 days

Day 82 – 1st Corinthians 15:1 – Galatians 3:25 (I’m going to strive to read all of 2nd Corinthians and all of Galatians.)

In 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18 Paul says; 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Then later he speaks about a thorn in his flesh; “or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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.” (2nd Corinthians 12:7-10)

I lift up these two passages to point out how God can use our physical infirmities as we trust in God. As we get older, we’re simply not able to do all the things we once did. I used to be able to backpack in Colorado. Backpacking in 70 pounds of gear and hiking back into the back country 10 to 12 miles, sometimes up some pretty steep terrain. Today, I’d want to go in with a pack mule or horse, letting them either carry me and all the goods or simply carry all the gear. I’m still in pretty good shape but not in as good of shape as I used to be and I know as I get older different body parts will begin to show their wear and tear. What I hope is that as I do lose the ability to do some things that I can trust in God, fixing my eyes on what the unseen and eternal, instead of the seen and temporary.

No scholar has been able to deduce what Paul’s thorn in his flesh exactly was. Some think, a speech impediment that made it hard for him to communicate. Some think even an addiction. I did a quick search about Paul’s thorn in the flesh and came to realize it may not be a physical infirmity at all, but be all those false prophets and persecutors who were following him around or appeared in every city he went into. (When a person says they have a pain in the neck, they are often talking about a person not really a pain in their neck.) In looking at the whole passage and chapter 11 that precedes it, this is the picture I end up with not a physical infirmity but people sent to persecute Paul and hinder his teaching. In all this he had to trust in God’s grace and as a friend of mine once said “keep on plowing”. That is a great saying that came out of her Oklahoma growing up days.

In Galatians we hear the following.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Today, I invite you to focus upon living in God and enjoying the fruits of the Spirit. As we do this we will find life, real abundant life.

O God, help us trust in you in all things. As we live, difficulties of life will come our way but you are sufficient to help us through them and as we focus upon you, we’ll have the strength to endure all the difficulties life throws our way. Amen.

Next readings: Day 83 – Galatians 3:26 – Colossians 4:18 (I’ll be reading all of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians)

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