Sunday, July 28, 2019

Thorns Or Roses?

Temple Baptist Church - 7-28-2019
2 Corinthians 12:1-10


A.  There is much controversy about what Paul’s “thorn” was.

1.  Some believe that it was a physical suffering because of his eyesight - Galatians 4:15  Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

Galatians 6:11  Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

2.  Some believe that it was a spiritual suffering because of his persecution. – 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

3.  Some believe that it was a mental suffering because of his past - 1 Corinthians 15:9  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Galatians 1:13  For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

4.  I believe that the Bible is clear within the context that it was a personal devil that followed him with the power to attack Paul in some way – “the messenger of Satan to buffet me.”  (Messenger in the Bible is a reference to an angel.  “Messenger of Satan” is a reference to an evil or fallen angel.  As the Lord lifted the “hedge” in the life of Job, He also lifted the “hedge” in the life of Paul.)

B.  Regardless of your position on the subject, we all realize that life is full of hard spots.

1. There is the possibility of complaining to God.  Everybody loves the “rose,” but nobody likes a thorn!  Life has more “thorns” than “roses.”  Paul did not enjoy suffering any more than we do.  Even our Lord asked that the cup be removed from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane!

a)  Paul’s initial reaction to the thorn:  “besought…thrice”  Verse 8

1)  His prayer was rightly directed – to God and not to man.

2)  His prayer was earnestly directed – thrice.

3)  His prayer was specifically directed – this thing…it.

b)  Paul’s ultimate reaction to the thorn:  “gloried…took pleasure”  Verse 9-10

1)  The thorn brought glory to Paul’s God.

2)  The thorn brought the power of God in Paul’s life.

2.  There is the possibility of thanking God.  Paul thanked God for the thorn.  It is easy to give thanks for roses but not for the thorns!

C.  God’s answer to Paul’s prayer was:

1.  Unexpected – God answered contrary to Paul’s request.

2.  Purposed – our faith must surpass our feelings.  “A thorn is the stem upon which the flower of divine glory is to bloom!”

3.  Assuring – it was for Paul’s good (Romans 8:28) and for God’s Glory (Galatians 6:14).

D.  Paul’s reaction to the “thorn.”

1.  He Gloried in the “thorn.”  (To ascribe honor!  He gloried in what the Lord was doing.)

2.  He took Pleasure in the “thorn.”  (To think good or to be pleased!)

3.  I wonder how we would react to the “thorn?”

1 Peter 1:7  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 4:12-13  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:  (13)  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

E.  I believe that the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, allows us to see into the personal lives of some of God’s greatest men.

James 5:17  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

1.  God’s men had problems like everyone else.  Some, God removed while others, God allows to remain.

2.  God’s men were men of like passions as we are.  Ups and downs in life.

3.  God’s men often had problems of their own making.  Paul’s was the potential of glorying in self.  MANY OF MY PROBLEMS ARE SELF INFLICTED!

4.  What is my problem this morning; what is my thorn?  What is yours?

F.  Paul thanked God for the “thorn?”


1.  Thorns Teach Us To Lean Upon Christ – Philippians 3:3  For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

1 Peter 5:7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

2.  Thorns Teach Us That God Is Greater Than Our Problems – 1 John 4:4   Ye are of  God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.  (Not God over came them, but we overcome them through grace and strength.)

1 John 5:4  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Romans 8:37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerorsthrough him that loved us.

Ephesians 6:10  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

3.  Thorns Teach Us About God’s Sufficient Grace – 2 Corinthians 12:9a And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 4:15  For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 3:5  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

4.  Thorns Teach Us That God’s Strength Comes At The end Of Ours – Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

2 Corinthians 3:5  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

5.  Thorns Teach Us To Praise God In The Bad Times – 1 Thessalonians 5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Ephesians 5:20  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Job 1:21  And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

6.  Thorns Teach Us About God’s Power To Do God’s Will – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

7.  Thorns Teach Us To Appreciate The Roses!

Conclusion:  A man once said, “How beautiful the rose that blossoms out of a stem of thorns!”

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