NT Fire Starters – Day 255: 2 Corinthians 12:1-21
READ: 2 Corinthians 12:1-21
THINK: Many people are preoccupied with what they perceive to be their inadequacies, flaws and weaknesses– the things they would change about themselves if they could. While there is nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself, God doesn’t intend for you to obsess over your apparent imperfections. In fact, these present the greatest opportunities for God to work through you in ways that honor Him alone. If you know Jesus, think of yourself like a fragile container with God’s brilliant light inside. Now consider what you feel are your obvious flaws and weaknesses, and think of them as holes or cracks in your container. When you’re placed in a dark environment– like the spiritual condition of the world around you–where in your life will God’s light shine out? Is it not through those cracks and flaws? What may appear to be your greatest imperfections are the very aspects of your life from which God intends to shine the most, revealing His glory and making your life a thing of beauty for His honor.
RESPOND: Who is the “man in Christ” (v. 2) who saw a vision of heaven? (See 12:2 first note.) Why do you think God gave Paul this revelation? What is “the third heaven”? (See 12:2 second note.) What is “paradise”? (See 12:4 note.) What was one thing that kept Paul from becoming conceited? (See 12:7 note.) Why do you think the Bible never specifically identifies Paul’s “thorn”? What does God’s response to Paul indicate about the way God sometimes answers prayer? (See 12:8 note.) What was God teaching Paul by allowing the “thorn” to persist? (See 12:9 note.) Why did Paul delight in his weaknesses? How is God’s “power made perfect in weakness”? In what way has God shown His strength through one of your weaknesses? In what ways is Paul an example to all Christian leaders in how he demonstrated love for people? (See 12:15 note.) Why is harsh and hurtful speech such a serious offense among Christians? (See 12:20 note.) Even when the church must be firm in confronting its people, what attitude should be evident in those who offer the discipline and correction? Why should true Christians and their leaders grieve over those in the church who refuse to turn from sin? (See 12:21 note.)
PRAY: Think of something you’ve persistently prayed for God to change or take away. Instead of asking God once again to spare you from this difficulty or hardship, ask Him to make you more dependent on Him and to reveal His power in a greater way through your weakness. Ask God to help your speech be uplifting and character-building.
ACT: If there anything that’s been a “thorn” and challenge for you to endure–something you did not bring on yourself by sin or disobedience to God? Consider how this can make you more reliant on God. Ask Christ to honor himself through this weakness. Then let God use you in a way that defies your fear and insecurity and reveals to others Christ’s grace, message and power. Also, if you’ve hurt someone with your words, confess any wrongdoing to God and ask for His forgiveness. Then apologize and seek forgiveness from the person you offended.