Friday, July 27, 2012

Genesis 9:8 – 17; The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost; July 29, 2012;

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston, Iowa;

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”” (Genesis 9:8–17, ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today, I'm going to tell you a story. By a story I don't mean something that is fiction. This story is absolutely true and happened exactly as the Bible tells it. This is the story of the great flood that destroyed all the Earth except for the seven members of Noah's family that were safely tucked inside the ark. One of the things I want you to understand from this story is that it is not a cute children's tale. Instead, it is a story of God's anger and wrath over sin. For us it's tainted by children's pictures of cute animals going into the ark two by two. When we see it that way we miss the depth of God's anger and his righteous judgment over sin.

It needs to be understood, the world was completely corrupt. The Bible says

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5, ESV)

It says, that God was "grieved" that he had made man. At this point, I think you and I should shudder. For the people that covered the earth at that time were really no different than what we are. They were people living their lives according to their own thoughts and desires. This is indeed what we so often do. Here I want you to think about Psalm 51:

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:3–5, ESV)

And although we find it hard to believe, God was completely justified, "blameless in his judgment." As we have talked about so many times all sin comes from our inability to live in a perfect relationship with God. The inability to love God with our whole heart our whole soul and our whole mind.

And yet, God is always gracious. In the midst of the promised destruction God saves Noah and his family. The Bible says Noah was a "righteous man and walked with God". That doesn't mean the Noah did not sin. It simply means that his outward character was completely different from those surrounding him. Noah was publicly known to worship Yahweh. God commanded Noah to build an ark. In the ark God would save two of every creature of the Earth. Every animal that had the breath of life in it. Noah faithfully obeyed God. He built the ark. According to God's command the ark was to be 450 feet long 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. If you go the whole length of our property along Sumner Avenue, and go from the street to the first window here in the church, and twice as high as the church from the basement floor to the peek of the roof, that's the size of the ark. Rather than looking like a boat, the ark was probably more like a big box with the slanted roof and an open slot for air and light all around the top. In it God would save Noah and his family and every "kind" of animal that lived on the earth. And when all were inside God sealed the door and sent the flood to the earth. It was a disaster. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. The water came from everywhere. It covered the whole earth to 15 feet over the highest mountain. The terror of our spring tornado is nothing compared to the terror of those people on whose God judgment fell. And make no mistake it was God's judgment.

[God] blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:23, ESV)

When the judgment was over, and the land was able to sustain life again, Noah and his family and all the animals came out of the ark. Then standing there on Mount Ararat in the aftermath of God's judgment over sin, God made a promise. Never again would all creatures be cut off by a flood over the whole Earth. And as a reminder God set against the darkness of the clouds the bright colors of the rainbow. It was a sign, not to the people, but a reminder to God himself that he would never again destroy the earth in such a way. When you see a rainbow, instead of thinking about Judy Garland, leprechauns and gay pride parades, you should fear and love God for he is gracious and merciful slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. It is the visible sign of his grace and mercy. Listen to Martin Luther:

Our merciful God always placed some outward and visible sign of His grace alongside the Word, so that men, reminded by the outward sign and work or Sacrament, would believe with greater assurance that God is kind and merciful. Thus after the Flood the rainbow appeared in order to serve as a convincing proof that in the future God would not give vent to His wrath against the world by a similar punishment…To us in the New Testament, Baptism and the Eucharist have been given as visible signs of grace, so that we might firmly believe that our sins have been forgiven through Christ’s suffering and that we have been redeemed by His death. (Luther’s Works (American Edition) 1:248. This connection between the rainbow-sign and the sacramental signs of baptism and Eucharist is common in Luther: LW 2:144; 20:67–8; 35:86; 36:174; 37:135; and 54:56.)

The rainbow is God's visible sign that he will not destroy the earth with water again. It stretches from horizon to horizon. It reaches up into the menacing clouds as a reminder to God and us of God's far-reaching mercy.

So to, God gives us the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion as visible signs of the forgiveness of sins that Jesus Christ won on the cross for us. But unlike the rainbow these are not just signs. Through these gifts, these visible gifts, God brings to us what Jesus Christ did for us. When we see our sin, and are well aware of the just punishment for our sin, that is eternal death, we are comforted by the visible signs of the Sacraments. Just like Noah and his family were comforted by the visible sign of the rainbow. The sacraments we have are also God's promises to us. Baptism is the flood that drowns our old sinful nature and cleanses us from sin. The whole earth was cleansed by water from sin. In Baptism God makes promises to us individually. All that Jesus did his life, death, and resurrection are ours. So also, we have the visible elements of bread and wine in Holy Communion that feeds us during our life journey, just as Noah fed the animals on the ark, during their journey. Sacraments are our pointers back to Jesus Christ and all that he is done for us. The rainbow was Noah and his family's pointer forward to God's grace in Jesus Christ. God promised not to punish the world in this way for its sin. Instead God himself would come in human flesh and bear the whole world's sin on the cross.

The Bible does speak of a second worldwide catastrophe at the end of history. Jesus himself says that this is "coming soon". All will be surprised at the coming "just as it was in the days of Noah" (Luke 17:26). And in fact, in the medieval days of the church, there was a common image of Christ the stern judge enthroned upon a rainbow. It was a reminder that he would come again to judge the whole world, the living and the dead. But because of God's gracious promises in Jesus Christ, shown to us in the sacraments, and the image of the rainbow, we have God as our gracious Lord. Because Jesus has indeed taken our sin to the cross and suffered the punishment for all of that. Te need not fear the judgment at the end of time. For Jesus is our judge, but he is also and more importantly our Savior. Again listen to Luther:

“Therefore we who come to Christ want to have him as a gracious Lord. The rainbow on which he sits enthroned does not terrify me; it appears for my salvation. We do not look upon him as a judge. He will call for us. He will not reject us.” (Luther’s Works (American Edition) 23:61)


The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Curriculum Vitae

Rev. Jonathan Charles Watt
2017 West Hwy 61, Grand Marais, MN
Mobile: (515)462-0566
(updated June 30, 2019)
Master of Divinity, (2001)
    Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri
Bachelor of Arts, Computer Science, (1997)
    Concordia University Nebraska, Seward, Nebraska
Successful Completion, (2011)
    International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism, and Human Rights
    Strasbourg, France

Professional Experience
Sole Pastor (2018-Present)
     Life in Christ Lutheran Church, 2017 W Hwy 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604
School Bus Driver (2018-Present)
     Cook County ISD 166, 101 W 5th Street, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Store Employee (2018)
    Casey's, 302 N 5th Ave E, Truman, MN 56088
Assistant Store Manager (2016-2018)
    WalMart Supercenter, 1250 Goemann Rd, Fairmont, MN 56031
Sole Pastor (2008-2016)
    Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston & Mount Ayr, Iowa
Emergency Medical Technician, Basic (2007-2008)
   Union County, South Dakota
Sole Pastor, (2006-2008)
    St. John’s Lutheran Church, Howard, South Dakota
Sole Pastor, (2001-2006)
    St. John’s Lutheran Church, Burt, Iowa
    Our Savior Lutheran Church, Swea City, Iowa
Technical Consultant, (1991-1994)
    Personnel Data Systems, Blue Bell Executive Campus, 470 Norristown Road, Suite 202, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
Computer Operator, Computer Programmer, Systems Analyst, (1983-1991)
    BryanLGH Medical Center East, 1600 South 48th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska

Watt, J. C. (2007). Planning Your Funeral, The Lutheran Witness, 126 #8.
Watt, J. C. (2008). Through the Ages..., Seeing, Hearing, Touching Jesus (Bible Study), The Lutheran Witness, 127 #3.
Watt, J. C. (2009). Not Three, Not Two, but One King (Bible Study), The Lutheran Witness, 128 #1.
Watt, J. C. (2009). We Have Seen His Majesty (Bible Study), The Lutheran Witness, 128 #2.
Watt, J. C. (2009). Greetings, O Favored Ones: The Lord Is with You  (Bible Study), The Lutheran Witness, 128 #3.
Watt, J. C. (2015). A Building or a Pastor, Reaching Rural America For Christ, March 2015.

Professional Activities
Chairman, Fall 2007 South Dakota District Pastor’s Conference, (2006-2007)
Education, Board for Parish Services, South Dakota District, LCMS, (2007-2008)
Emergency Medical Technician, Basic, Certified, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (2007)
President, Board of Directors, Habitat for Humanity of Union County Iowa (2012 – 2015)
Vice President, Board of Directors, Habitat for Humanity of Union County Iowa (2011-2012)
Manager, Stage Tornado Relief Distribution Center, Creston, Iowa (2012)
Circuit Visitor, Southwest Circuit, Iowa District West (2012-2016)
Pastoral Advisor, Southwest Circuit LERT, (2014-2016)
Chair, Creston Crisis Pregnancy Center Exploratory Committee (2014)
President, Parent Teacher League, Martin Luther High School, Northrup, MN (2015-2016)
Vice President, Parent Teacher League, Martin Luther High School, Northrup, MN (2014-2015)
District Life Coordinator, Iowa District West, (2014-2016)

Other Activities
Web Page Manager for the following nonprofit organizations in Creston, Iowa:
  • – Trinity evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston, Iowa*
  • – Habitat for Humanity of Union County, Iowa (Including Facebook Page)
  • – Union County Ministerial Alliance
  • www.Crestonbands.orgCreston High School Bands, Creston, Iowa (unofficial)
  • – Creston Middle School Bands, Creston, Iowa (unofficial)
God's Word for Today, Daily 2 Minute Broadcast Devotion. KSIB Radio, Creston, Iowa. Pirate Christian Radio, Internet Radio Station.
Streams of Living Water, Weekly Sermon Broadcast, Pirate Christian Radio, Internet Radio Station.

References available on request

Friday, July 13, 2012

Amos 7:7–15; The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost; July 15, 2012;

This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, “ ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’ ” And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” (Amos 7:7–15, ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Every summer, with the exception of this one, my daughter Hannah and I have been able to go to the zoo. It's a trip, I look forward to every year. Personally I like the elephants. But, there's always those big cats, especially the lion, the King of beasts. When you stand outside his cage and look and see that big, powerful guy, he is usually laying lazily. He's got those big paws and sharp teeth and when he looks at you, he looks at you like dinner. I, for one, am glad that he's in the cage and I'm out of the cage. If there's one thing I know for sure, after visiting the zoo and seeing the lion. I want to keep the lion in the cage.

This is what the King Jeroboam, and his priest Amaziah want to do. They want to keep The Lion in the cage. The book of Amos is about, the Roaring Lion. God has called an unlikely prophet, Amos (previously a shepherd and a vinedresser) to be his voice and roar out with charges against the people of Israel, and especially the King Jeroboam. Listen how the book of Amos begins:

The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And he said: “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.”” (Amos 1:1–2, ESV)

God gives Amos the vision of the plumb line. He standing beside the wall which is Israel and the wall is all out of kilter. The people of Israel have strayed from who God wants them to be and how he wants them to be his people. Corrupt judges rule among the people. They are easily bribed. The poor go without what they need. Immorality of all kinds is rampant. So God roars against Israel. The people are worshiping false gods. High places have been set up for the gods of the Canaanites. And the King Jeroboam, he forgot who is really in charge. Israel was not like the other nations. The King was not supreme, it was to be God. So, God says. You will not escape my justice. I have warned you before. This time destruction is coming. The sword will be raised against the King. God is no small voice here. He's no tame kitty cat. The Lion is coming out of the cage.

But Amos is inviting God's people to be God's people and to live in a different way, God's way. If you're tired of the way things are you are invited you to a new way of life. Where everything is backwards and upside down the last are first and first are last. Where the poor are blessed and mighty ones are cast down. This is the same kingdom that Jesus proclaims when he comes. He says "the kingdom of God is at hand." Think of Mary's Magnificat that we sing through our evening service of Vespers.

His arm now baring,
His strength declaring—
Sing the greatness of the Lord!
The proud He scatters,
Their rule He shatters—
Sing the greatness of the Lord!
Oppression halted;
The meek exalted.
Full are the hungry;
Empty, the wealthy— LSB 922

Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection brings about this radical kingdom. Amos is talking about Jesus here and the new life that he brings through the forgiveness of sins.

The King and his priest Amaziah want to keep the cat in the cage. They don't like what Amos is preaching. They see the prophet as a troublemaker. They're not going to change their ways. They can't believe that Amos' words were God's words. So, Amaziah warns Amos, "Get out. Take your words against the King and go away."

And here we too stand. God's word accuses us of these very things. We care more for ourselves than the poor. We set up our false gods of our money and our family and our security and our country. We sit quietly in our churches all neighbors all around us go without hearing God's word forgiveness for them in Jesus Christ. And while they suffer under the load of the problems of the world. Amos invites us too, to a way of life that is radically different. A life where the first are last and the last are first. A life where we live for others instead of for ourselves. And sometimes we even tell God to get out. "I don't want to hear your word against me."

Amos refuses to give in. God's word must be heard. He stands in a long line of prophets, Moses and Daniel and Elijah and Elisha and Isaiah and of course he stands before the great prophet Jesus. Jesus is the end-all of all the prophets who stand before the high priest and make the good confession. He does that. He calls everyone into a new life in him, a new life in God the father. A radical life where forgiveness reigns. A radical life that is lived for the sake of others. A new life that he, God himself in human flesh, brings. They couldn't believe that Jesus was God in the flash come to speak his word directly to them. Jesus told them so and they killed him for it.

But in Jesus death on the cross forgiveness of sins is made. He suffers and dies for all the selfishness of the world. Because of his sacrifice we can live a life that is radically different. Through faith in Jesus life death and resurrection we have forgiveness of sins. We have a right relationship with God. Our sins are forgiven, we need not be concerned about our relationship to him. We can live that radical life where we put ourselves last and others first. Where we show God's mercy and love in time of need. And even more so, proclaim the forgiveness of sins in the cross of Jesus Christ for all people. This is the victory won for us by the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev ). This is the new radical way of life we are called to through Holy Baptism, our connection to Jesus Christ and his life his death and his resurrection for us.

Amos, like the prophets before and after him, stands to make the good confession. He speaks God's word to the needy and dying world. He says what must be said. Sinful people deserve God's anger and wrath and punishment. But God is gracious and merciful slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Repent and believe in God's forgiveness.

We stand here in Creston Iowa, and make the same confession. Here we are called by God's Word to bring God's love and mercy to this community where God has placed us.

There is a old evangelism method it uses the question "If you were to die tonight and God were to ask you, "Why should I let you into heaven," how would you answer?" Imagine if we went around knocking on our neighbor's doors. We might say something like this. "Hello my name is Jonathan, I'm from Trinity Lutheran Church, if we died tonight would you care?" The answer to that question may indeed tell us how we're doing and living God's radical new life for us.

But this is exactly why we gather isn't it? We gather to hear of God's grace and mercy to us. To receive in word and water and bread and wine God's forgiveness. Especially forgiveness for being self-centered and not caring about the people around us. And for not being the church that he has called us to be. Not bearing one another's burdens, let alone the burdens of the people who live around us. But we are the body of Christ. We are here to bear one another's burdens. Jesus makes it so in his presence through the work of the Holy Spirit. Martin Luther said about the Lord's supper, "When you go to the sacrament you lay your burden on Christ and the community gathered. When you leave you pick up the burdens of one another and so fulfill the love of Christ." (Martin Luther via Rev. Matthew Harrison). It is the wonder of that gift that enables us to bear the burdens of the community around us. To show God's mercy in their deepest need. And especially to bring them the Good News about the forgiveness of sins one through Jesus Christ on the cross. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Friday, July 06, 2012

2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Sixth Sunday after Pentecost; July 8, 2012;

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston, Iowa
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
It’s a good thing to be strong, isn’t it? In fact, the world is made up of strong people. Politicians, professional athletes, steel workers, firefighters, etc. The world is built by strong people. In fact if you want to get ahead in the world you’d better be strong. If you have a goal you’ll never reach it if you’re not strong enough to do whatever is necessary to accomplish it. You’ve got to push aside every obstacle (thorn) that gets in your way. When bad things happen you’d for sure better not show any weakness, because the wolves out there will pounce on weakness. Don’t get bogged down like weak people who always need a hand to get along. Keep moving forward toward your goal. Be strong.
Strong people are necessarily self-confident. You can’t be successful if you’re not confident in your self and your abilities. You hafta know that you are better than anyone else. Of course that sounds a little conceited, so instead of that let’s call it confidence. You’ve gotta be confident that you are better than other people, stronger than other people. Having faith in yourself is the strength you need to succeed. It is the height of weakness to lack self-confidence and depend on anyone else to do things for you. That only leads to failure. Failure is for weaklings.
And worst of all, the most important thing to remember is this. There is no room in the world for grace. That’s having good things happen for you that you don’t deserve. Of course people win the lottery, or inherit a house, or even get lucky in love, but they don’t appreciate what they’ve got. They waste it. Most of the time it’s quick fortunes are mismanaged and lost quickly. Grace is really a crutch used by people who aren’t strong enough to make it on their own. Weak people depend on grace because of their weakness. You can’t depend on grace either. It’s rather gullible to sit and wait for something to fall into your lap.
But wait a minute… that’s not exactly what this text seems to be saying is it? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Paul was a weakling. He was constantly under attack, beaten, stoned and left for dead, jailed for years at a time, shipwrecked, struck blind, abandoned, and misunderstood. It’s a pretty strong person who undergoes such punishment… who takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’, as the old commercial used to say. It’s pretty easy, after all to make Paul out to be Super-Apostle. Bullets of false teaching seem to bounce off of him as he confronts his enemies. We imagine him walking all around Greece preaching boldly everywhere he goes. He seems strong and sure of himself. Paul even confronted Peter one time. Didn’t that take a great deal of strength? To stare down one of Jesus own disciples in public! That took a certain kind of strength, don’t you think?
You know, it’s easy to look at Paul’s life and see that strength. But the text for today paints us a very different picture. Paul writes these words himself:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10, ESV)
It’s that last phrase that is the most interesting to me. “…when I am weak, then I am strong.” How can weakness ever be strength? How can a weak person be strong? And does Paul really mean it when he says, “I delight in weaknesses?” What in the world could Paul be talking about?
First of all, we should look at Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Over the years lots of people have tried to decide exactly what it was, what kind of malady Paul suffered from. But he never tells us, in all his writings, this is all that we are told. I could make a list of possibilities but it really doesn’t matter what it was. Paul himself tells us what is important about it. He tells us that it had a purpose. “To keep me from becoming conceited.” What ever it was it had the ability to knock Paul down a peg, and keep him humble… and more than that he says it makes him weak! Paul the Super-Apostle, the human being responsible for founding the Christian Church was really just a weak man.
What did Paul know that we don’t? What did he have that we don’t have? How was he, weakling that he was, able to do all those things that he did? Paul tells us that, too. Well actually Jesus tells us that through Paul’s pen. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Paul knew that with out the Grace of Jesus Christ, he’d be nothing, just a lost and condemned person. He knew that the work God had planned for him to do was at its best when Paul was weak and Jesus Christ was strong. When Paul was leaning on the crutch of Jesus Christ, when he was depending on Jesus to get him through, that’s when Jesus was most clearly seen in Paul. You see; Paul was a weak man who depended on someone else. In God’s economy of life there’s no room for conceit, or pride. What Paul is saying here is that, he really didn’t have anything to do with all that he did. With God, weakness and dependence is strength. With God, his undeserved love, his grace is sufficient for his people.
That doesn’t match up with how we are told life works, by the movers and shakers of the world. Dependent Paul was a weakling. But it shouldn’t surprise us that the world thinks that way. After all in the worlds estimation the crucifixion of Jesus is the epitome of weakness. People don’t see strength in humiliating, bloody, horrible public death. A strong person would never allow that to happen to himself. But the reality of it is that in all of human history no one has ever shown greater strength. It was in the suffering and death that Jesus brought salvation and release to sinful, prideful, conceited human beings. His suffering and death brought salvation to you and me!
Our problem is just like Paul’s… it’s just like everyone. We want to be strong and self-reliant. We want to make it on our own. If we look at our lives we can find lots of things to be boastful about. Our success stories are always me centered. Look at what I did to solve this problem or that problem. Look at the kingdom I’ve built for myself. I’m something special because I’ve beat the odds and become successful. We put ourselves ahead of God and trust our own resourcefulness to get us through our troubles. What we forget is that without the grace of God we wouldn’t even be here. Putting ourselves ahead of God makes him our enemy. We deserve death and hell for it. And the worst of it is that we can’t help it. That’s who we are, and how our mind’s work.
That was Paul’s issue, too. So God gave him a thorn to remind him who was really in control. He gave him a thorn to make him dependent. When Paul’s thorn made it impossible for Paul to function on his own, he turned to Jesus. When Paul was down and out, when he was weak, Paul turned in faith to the One he knew was strong. That’s what faith is. Depending on Jesus’ strength and now our own.
Got thorns in you life? Of course you do. They overwhelm you sometimes. We’d like nothing better than to have them gone. Paul asked God to take his away, too. But he rejoiced in his weakness because of what happened when he was weak. So, thank God for your thorns! Especially those that seem to be more than you can bear. It’s the big ones, the ones that take you down a peg, the ones that leave you desperate, and out of control, it’s those that push you to Jesus. When you’re riding high you don’t think about Him much at all. When trouble stalks you you’re constantly in prayer, just like Paul. When you are weak and depending on Jesus, that’s when His power is being made perfect in you. That’s where your faith is growing. It’s where the ‘rubber meets the road’ you might say.
God’s grace was sufficient for Paul. God’s grace is sufficient for us. But don’t think that God’s grace is a little thing, or of small account. God’s grace is sufficient because it is… well huge. The thorns we bear in our lives are nothing like the thorns Jesus bore on the cross. While he wore a crown made from them, he suffered the pain and death of all the world’s sin. The necessary punishment for your pride and conceit, the punishment for your climbing the social ladder on the heads of others, your self-dependence, were the thorns that pierced him on the cross. His death took it all away from you. It was undeserved. That is God’s grace. That He punished His only Son in your place. That’s God’s grace for you every single day. Pride isn’t in control. Selfishness isn’t in control. God’s grace is big enough that it covers them up.
So, it’s a good thing to be weak isn’t it? Weakness brings you to Jesus and His all sufficient grace. The thorns are there, they will be your whole life. So when the stick you rejoice and turn in faith to Jesus for help. That’s why they are there. Because when you are weak, then you are strong. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.