Is the Apostle Paul the Patron Saint of the Suffering?

“Because of these surpassingly great revelations, lest I should be exalted above measure, I was given a thorn in my flesh, an “angel” (ἄγγελος) of Satan to buffet (κολαφίζῃ) me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Others might read something else into this verse, but as a sailor and a person who sometimes gets the big head, the fact that God blessed Paul with great revelations points to a good God — one who blesses — not one who brings sickness and affliction.

It’s clear from the way many twist Paul’s words that they wish to paint God’s chosen servant to the Gentiles as the Patron Saint of Suffering. Paul knew and understood the Old Testament better than many who read the Bible today. So when Paul speaks of a “thorn in my flesh” those who heard would have recalled passages in Numbers, Joshua and Judges.

“If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become BARBS IN YOUR EYES AND THORNS IN YOUR SIDES. They will give you trouble!” (Numbers 33:55)

“You may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become SNARES and TRAPS for you, whips on your backs and THORNS IN YOUR EYES.” (Joshua 23:13)

“I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’” (Judges 2:3)

Jesus warns:

“In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world (John 16:33).”

You’ll note that Jesus does not say, you will be blessed by my Father and then be given affliction to keep you humble. A God who blesses with the right hand and slaps us down with the left would be defined by today’s standards as an abusive father.

Instead Jesus says:

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Healing is a gift. Health is a gift. Life is a gift. Our daily provision is a gift. Contentment is a gift. Which of us would wish chronic pain, suffering, sickness, or death upon our child? If we, though we are evil would not wish these things upon our children, why would we think God would wish them upon us?

What Paul experienced is what all can anticipate when they seek to do God’s work: retribution from the enemy.

Prompted by Paul’s great revelation a demon-angle sent from Satan attacked Paul the way winds might buffet a boat. Buffet means to “strike sharply, especially with the hand, strike with telling force, strike repeatedly, to drive, force, move, or attack relentlessly.” This word indicates an outward action of one force against another, not an inner force beating to get out.

Paul goes on to say that he boasts in this weakness. He views his weakness as beneficial “so that Christ’s power may rest on me. I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Nothing in verses 9 and 10 suggests a disease or affliction. Rather weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties all reflect external circumstances coming against Paul.

In Scripture the Greek word ἀσθενείᾳ can mean “ill” (as in John 5:5) or “sickness” (as in John 11:4), or “weakness” (as in Romans 8:26). When we are weak, He is strong. Weak does not mean sick. Weak can simply mean worn down, extremely tired, malnourished, or recovering from an injury.

This messenger from Satan attacked Paul wherever he went and constantly stirred up trouble against him. Paul pleaded with God to remove this individual, but God declined. We get hints in Paul’s writings of others who buffeted him or turned on him. Demetrius the craftsman, and Alexander the Coppersmith are two. There were others in Jerusalem who conspired to kill him. All such individuals did the work of the enemy.

Paul may have endured sickness sometimes, but this passage regarding Paul’s thorn in the flesh isn’t that. At least not the way I read it. I leave you with these words from Jesus. Decide for yourself who you wish to believe.

“If you remain in my and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish — and do not doubt — and it will be given to you.” (John 15:7)

“If you believe and do not doubt, you can say . . . and it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21)

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)

“If you have faith as small as a seed, nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20-21)

“My Father in heaven desires to give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

“My Father desires to give you the Holy Spirit, so ask for my Spirit.” (Luke 11:11-13)

“As you believed it would be, so it will be done for you.” (Matthew 8:13)

“Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

“I am willing to heal you.” (Matthew 8:3)


Through Faith in The Son We Be Shielded by Skipper’s Power

Finding Jesus — 1 Peter 1:2-7

Arr, may grace and peace flow in abundance ter ye who be chosen by the foresight of God the Father. The Spirit’s sanctifying work has marked ye as obedient ter Jesus Christ, with his blood sprinkled upon ye.

Dear Mates, we be Skipper’s chosen, the ones marked by the Holy Ghost of Truth. So, in all things, live in obedience ter Skipper’s Son.

In his vast mercy, Skipper grants us new birth into a living hope. This hope springs from the Son’s resurrection, though he ventured down ter Davy Jones, Skipper raised him from the dead. As ye well know, once a feller sinks ter a watery grave, he ne’er swims up alive. But the Son did. We ‘ave the testimony of them who says as much.

Through faith in the Son, we be shielded by Skipper’s power until the coming rescuing of all his chosen ones. Now Skip’s protecting power don’ mean all be smooth sailing. Fact ’tis, sailing and living in obedience ter Skipper and his Son ‘ill bring more squalls than days of smooth sailing, the prince of demons. The devil himself, ‘ill see ter that. Sailing and living in obedience ter Skipper and his Son ‘ill bring howls of mocking laughter from them who ‘ave tha devil’s spirits in ‘em. The protecting power of Skip be of a kind that preserves our faith and that be of greater worth than preserving our body and life. Our faith in the Son be our guarantee of a new full life that ‘ill ne’er end.

Right now, many of us may ‘ave ter suffer grief in all manner of trials aboard hard ships. This be happening so each feller’s faith may prove genuine and result in praise, glory, and honor ter the Son.

Buck up.

Hold fast ter Skipper’s words and what ye know be true and right in his Code of Conduct.
Obey the Son in all things.

Ye ‘ill know ye ‘ave new birth through the Holy Ghost of Truth if ye be absolutely certain that ye be in good standing with Skipper.

If ye not absolutely certain that the living hope which never dies be inside ye, drop ter yer knees this second and confess all the vile sins ye ever done. Don’ jest confess, but turn from doing ‘em. Ask the Son ter put his Holy Ghost of Truth in ye. Then go off and be baptized in water as a public confession that ye ‘ave died ter yer old self and now have the Son’s life in ye. Ask some righteous fellers and lasses ter lay hands on ye and anoint ye into the Son’s Holy Ghost of Truth. Once ye done all this, ye be in Skipper and Skipper be in ye, of this ye can be sure.

The Living Stone of Skipper Be Our Sanctuary

Finding Jesus — 1 Peter 2:5-11

1 Peter 2-7-5-11

Now ter you who believe, this stone is precious.

The Living Stone of Skipper be our sanctuary.

Only ter them who reject the Living Stone, such a holy tomb causes folks ter stumble and fall. They stumble on account of they disobey Skip’s message. This be also what they whar destined fer.

But you be a chosen crew, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Skipper’s special possession. Declare the praises of him who called ya out of darkness in ter his wonderful light. Once upon a time ya be not a crew. Now ya be Skip’s crew. Once upon a time ya not receive mercy. Now ya be covered in Skip’s mercy.

Since ya now ‘ave yer stripes and orders, abstain from all desires of the flesh. Such longings war against yer soul. Skipper ‘as warned us ne’er ter follow the teachings of folks who build on any foundation other than the Living Stone that went in ter a tomb dead and come out alive.

Doth not fear what other folks fear. Fear be the child of doubt.

Doth not dread what folks without Skipper’s Holy Ghost of Truth dread. Dread be the child of dead faith.

Regard Skipper as holy. He alone be the one ter fear. He alone be the one ter dread.

Fer us, Skipper be our holy captain. In Skip’s Living Stone we find sanctuary and safety fer our soul. Let us rush in and take a load off our weary bones.

Though We ‘ave Not Seen The Son in All His Glory, We Love Him

Finding Jesus — 1 Peter 1:8-12

1 Peter 1-8-12Though we have not laid eyes on him, we harbor love fer the Son.

Though we haven’ gazed upon him in all his glory, we hold a deep affection fer him.

Though we ne’er heard his audible voice, we put our trust in him.

Though we haven’ touched the nail prints in his hands or felt the wound in his side, our hearts be filled with a joy that surpasses understanding.

Because we believe, we be receivin’ the goal of our faith: the salvation of our souls.

What ye believe ‘ll shape the course ye sail. What ye believe ‘ll determine whar ye end up.

Some scallywags be demandin’ proof before they ‘ll believe in the Son. Seekin’ facts may be wise most days, but gatherin’ facts be not the same as gatherin’ faith. A soul who’ll only believe what he spies puts limits on whar he sails. More importantly, it constricts whar he ends up. Such skittish sailing be like refusin’ ter leave port ’cause ye cannot spy what be over the horizon. A scallywag like that never finds true treasure.

The prophets of old placed greater value on faith than facts.

Those prophets trusted Skipper’s words more than the words of men.

The prophets of old knew they were charting a course not only fer themselves but fer future generations. Even the angels longed ter grasp the things those old prophets blabbered ’bout, but the Skipper kept ’em from seein’ and knowin’.

Only now, through the Holy Ghost of Truth sent from heaven, we know the route and Skipper’s grand plan fer us. We’ve been told of these things by those who preach and teach the good news of the Son.

The question be, will we believe, love, and live in the Spirit of the Son? Or will we remain in port, refusing ter take a chance on what lies below the horizon. All go ter Davy Jones, ye may lay ter that. Why not set sail with the Son and see fer yerself if thar be not treasures and paradise greater than any ye can image?

What say ye?

Ye Have Been Born Again With Imperishable Seed

Finding Jesus — 1 Peter 1:13-25

1 Peter 1-13-25You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. – 1 Peter 1:23 (1 Peter 1:22-25)

Tha word of Skipper stands fer all time. Through tha living and enduring word of Skipper, ye ‘ave been born from imperishable seed. And if ye ‘ave been born anew with tha seed that comes through tha living and enduring word of Skipper. As such, behave as sound crew.

  1. Ready yer minds fer action, me hearties!
  2. Be self-controlled, like a savvy sailor in the midst of a storm.
  3. Place yer hope fully on the grace of the Son. His grace ‘ill steer ye through treacherous seas.
  4. Don’ be shaped by the evil desires ye had when ye whar ignorant. Back then ye be like a ship lost without a compass. Know ye know the Son’s ways, so set yer sails as such.
  5. Be holy in all yer doings, me hearties! When ye need a good rinsing, pray this prayer:

    “Lord, when I’m not holy, have yer Spirit point out where I be fallin’ short. Change me ter be holy. Give me yer mind. Reshape me into yer image. Amen.”

  6. Live in reverent fear of Skipper. He made the heavens and earth, sea and stars. He made fellers in his image. Ne’er ferget: he gives life and he takes life. He can sweep us overboard with the flick of his finger or a gust of wind.
  7. Obey the truth, fer Skipper’s words are as true as the North Star. The Son is Truth. When ye obey the truth, when ye honor and believe Skipper’s word.The truth in his words purifies ye like a deep dip in the sea and a fresh scubbin of lye soap.
  8. Love all in Skipper’s crew deeply. Love from yer heart. Be real in love. If ye find it hard ter show love ter a feller or lass, pray this prayer:

    “Lord, I’ve been born again by yer imperishable seed. This was done through the living and enduring word of you. Yer word stands forever. Yer words are life. I do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from yer mouth. Place in me the love fer others that you ‘ave fer ’em. Amen!”

Ne’er ferget: ye whar redeemed from yer empty life by tha precious blood of tha Son, a lamb without blemish. Tha Son ne’re broke a one of Skipper’s commands. He be perfect in all he done. Through his Holy Ghost of Truth we kin also live a full life and be perfect as Skipper be perfect.

This be our charge from tha Son: “Go! Be perfect through tha indwelling power of my Holy Ghost of Truth.” (Matthew 5:48)

Go, then, and grow from a holy seed in ter that perfect character of tha Son.

Advent — Day Eight

When Jesus Whispers

Advent Day - Eight

Advent !!!  I Am Coming Soon!

Come to me so I might give you great blessings. When you trust in me, you will be blessed.

I will do marvelous things for you. My mercy knows no limits. My grace reaches to all who trust in me.

I scatter the proud. I bring down rulers and exalt the humble.

The hungry I fill with abundant goodness, while the rich and proud I send away empty-handed.

Ask me to bless you and watch over you … to shower you with my grace and mercy. Ask for my face to shine upon you, radiating my warmth and favor.

I help those who put their trust in me. I Know the names of those who seek my help. Ask, wait, and put your faith in me.

My gaze is turned toward you. I offer you peace for your heart and soul. Allow my blessings to overflow in your life. Experience the fullness of my loving presence, provision, and protection. — Jesus