2 Corinthians 11-13, Psalm 4
We must all ask ourselves, "what do we trust in?". In medical school, residency, and the early part of my career as a physician I put my trust in medicine and absorbing everything that I could from the journals. I felt especially good when I could directly quote the literature in everything that I did in patient care. Over time, I realized that the journals were biased and not as objective as I thought; I realized that there was a large undercurrent of influence from the government, the editors own political ideology, pharmaceutical companies, etc. This became glaringly obvious when I realized just how pro-abortion those in power are. The editors will never allow any article against abortion to be published. Any article against abortion will only be relegated to those journals that no one ever reads. To emphasize this point one featured article in our most prestigious journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology (also called the green journal), by one of the more influential physicians in 2012 was titled, Abortion Safer Than Giving Birth. Though I must stay current on trends and new findings, I depend on God in how I see and treat the entire person much more than my ability to quote the most recent article. In college, I was a college swimmer, now at age 57, with two damaged shoulders from swimming and hips that are not what they used to be from running, I have learned not to depend on my physical strength any longer.
Paul starts off with his humble description of the time that he actually was in heaven or Paradise. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:4, "how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." Most feel this occurred 14 years earlier in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20), after being stoned to death. After this experience, we understand why Paul had no fear of death, living every moment for Christ to the fullest as he said in Philippians 1 :21, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Paul realized that if he were able to and in fact described heaven in detail, people would put him on a pedestal and think more highly of him than they should. Paul then goes on to write a very important portion of Scripture for all of us to ponder and remember in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
We all have nagging thoughts, ideas, temptations, problems, illnesses, etc. that plague us. As Paul did, we pray for deliverance from these areas that are contrary to God's Word. But as was the case for Paul, sometimes the answer to prayer is, "No", because God wants us to stop relying on ourselves and instead He wants us to lean on and strengthen ourselves in Him. When we pray it should not be just that He might give help to us, but that He might give Himself to us. When we realize that life is not an earthly playground but a spiritual battleground, our prayer life will be more properly focused. So we must ask ourselves what and who do we trust in. Every gift or blessing from God if used by us to garner our own strength rather than help us lean on Him eventually becomes a curse rather than a blessing. These gifts could be our intellect, our position, our strength, our ability to speak, our looks, our money, etc. Each of those gifts if used to glorify and draw attention to ourselves rather than God become curses rather than gifts. Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." If you are plagued by thoughts, illnesses, problems, etc, pray for deliverance but during the process rely on God's grace and grow closer to Him in the process.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: