Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brave by Angela Thomas – Session 3

Homework: This week’s homework was a bit of a let-down. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this weeks’ study, but I’m not one of those people who have absolutely “suffered a thorn”. In fact, this is one of those Christianese expressions that I don’t really understand. I suppose what I would have liked was a short explanation of what a thorn really is. By the end of the homework, I still struggled with the idea that a thorn can be a malady or a relationship or a hardship. I looked at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and Angela’s teaching on the barbs of a thorn to measure the characteristics of what I think might be thorns in my life.
The criteria of a thorn according to Angela and Paul is this: It cannot be removed by my own power. Its originator is Satan. It torments with pain and doubt. It weaves discouragement into my life. Its piercing produces weakness. God decides when to remove it. It kept Paul from becoming conceited.

What I determined is that my thorns are not what anyone looking at my life from the outside would imagine them to be. My cancer was a gift from God that shook up my life, changed my perspective on many things and has drawn me closer to Him than I’ve ever been. My challenging relationships have put me on my knees before the throne so often that they have helped me to develop my relationship with God. My financial messes are of my own making – I won’t blame the devil for making me buy this dress. My hardships have taught me to look for God’s activity in my life and have helped me to see how generously He blesses.

I started to develop the misconception of this being an illustration of a rose that has thorns. So, I looked up the Strong’s number and definition of this Greek word (skolops) which actually means a pointed piece of wood, pale (a stake or picket, as of a fence; an enclosing or confining barrier, enclosure; an enclosed area; limits, bounds), stake or splinter. That’s a far cry from a rose.

So now I have a picture in my head of Satan coming after me with a pointy stick. But I’m no closer to discovering what my thorn is – if I have one.

Video: The teaching for session 3, “I Am Suffering a Thorn,” comes from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Again, I was disappointed in the video guide being almost a direct copy of the homework lesson titles. But I did notice that, when I took my focus off of trying to fill in the blanks and just listened to the teaching, several nuggets of wisdom were presented. Such nuggets included: Contemplating what “all-sufficient grace” means. The thorn’s purpose is evil, to make us doubt. God allowing the thorn is not a punishment. I should boast in my weakness so Christ’s power will rest on me. God wants us to boast and delight. God uses humility to keep me grateful. Our thorns bond us and help us minister.

Angela Thomas has a genuinely compassionate and loving heart that appears on her sleeve when she teaches. And her warm disposition oozes Christ.

Class Activity/Discussion: We had another passionate class discussion as we identified what might be thorns in our lives as well as those we know without any shadow of doubt are thorns.

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