Paul’s Thorn & God’s Grace

ThornSunday 05/26/19

Series: Walking the Talk

Message – Paul’s Thorn & God’s Grace


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Paul’s Thorn & God’s Grace

If you’ve been following along we have been going through the book of Colossians looking at the encouragements and admonitions of Paul to this persecuted early church.

We’ve been allowing it to supply examples of “doing business until I return” as was the metaphor used in the parable of Christ Jesus concerning what the church was to occupy itself with until He returned.

As we have journeyed through this book we have come across Paul’s encouragement to relying upon Jesus for our maturing into His likeness rather than upon our own fleshly efforts. This has had us reference 2 Cor. 12 twice.

The 1st was in last weeks message entitled “Boasting in our Weakness“, which could easily have served as the title of this weeks lesson as well. However, while we reviewed those truths we also examined a different part of Paul’s teaching in 2 Cor. 12 and that took most of our time together.

The specific part I am referring to here is when Paul said he would now take pleasure in his weakness.

The word translated as “take pleasure” is a compound Greek word eu – dokeo. Dokeo means to think well of something because you now understand it as right and good. The prefix eu adds the meaning of willingly and freely resolving yourself to this truth.

So Paul was saying that God’s reply that He would NOT remove the enemy’s opposition and attack He WOULD supply an AMPLE amount of His influence over Paul’s heart so that he might be unified with God in His strength to overcome and stand triumphant over the enemy’s attack – IF Paul would not endeavor to overcome this by his own strength, but rather by embracing his weakness in humble surrender to God’s power which was being make available to him. God assured Paul that His “grace” was MORE than enough! So, Paul made an alteration in the way he dealt with his personal weakness and moral frailties. Rather than despise his weakness – seeking to hide them or overcome them through self-discipline – he would now take pleasure in them! He would now embrace his weaknesses – which were readily expressed in his moral frailties in the humility which James tells us invites the grace of God.

“…for God resists the proud but give grace to the humble.” – James 4:6

James goes on to tell us that such humility and surrender to God would eventuate in His “lifting us up”…the very thing satan sent the messenger to Paul to hinder him from being – exalted (a.k.a. lifted up). While it is true that this word “lifted up” as used in 2 Cor. 12 CAN have a negative meaning of PRIDE – it is NOT it’s primary meaning and it is cannot be what it means in this passage because being lifted up in pride goes before a fall – which satan would have been keen on ENCOURAGING in Paul not discouraging!

There was much more to the recording, but since this teaching was completely ad lib I have no notes from which to draw and so those I’ve have supplied here are simply from memory.

I hope this will serve to encourage you as well, to not be discouraged by your weakness but rather to embrace it in order to discover God’s readily available grace in your time of need and humble surrender!

God Bless!


I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been shepherding in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!