Thursday, August 2, 2012
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I don't know if the espionage field is as exciting in real life as it is in fiction, but it sure makes for some great adventure plots - TV shows, novels, and movies. And I love spy stories! Let me tell you, they're pretty exciting! Now, in many good spy stories you'll find at least one character that they call a double agent. That means he's a spy who works for both sides, and you hope he's working for our side on this one. Of course, not all double agents are CIA types. In fact uh... you might know one intimately.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Double Agent In Your Life."
Now, there are many phrases from the Bible that people use all the time and they don't even know it's from the Bible. One of those is, "My thorn in the flesh." Well, that's out of the Bible and it's our word for today from the Word of God, 2 Corinthians 12:7. Paul says, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me."
Now, literally that word torment means to keep beating me up; to beat on me. Now, we don't really know exactly what the nature of the thorn was. There are a lot of different theories; it could have been something physical or emotional, but that's not important. I think God didn't let us know so we could apply this thorn idea to our own lives.
You see, God had a message for Paul, and so he was given this thorn in the flesh. This thorn was God's means of delivering the message to Paul. In fact, the book of 2 Corinthians really recounts Paul's battle to learn to depend totally on the Lord. We're talking here about a guy who was very skilled, persuasive, influential, and highly educated. He had to battle to learn to depend on God, not on himself.
The simplicity of what we learned when we were little kids, "Jesus loves me, this I know." Remember the part that says, "They are weak, but He is strong." We have to spend a whole lifetime learning that we are weak and He is strong. That's what 2 Corinthians is about. The one thing that makes humility tough is being used mightily by God, and Paul was.
You know, the tendency to take the credit for what God has done through you. You probably know about that. In a sense, when you've been a great worker, well, you need a great "weakener" to bring about balance. Paul's thorn was an agent for God saying, "You really need me, Paul." But it wasn't just God's agent; it was also a messenger of Satan. "It was given to him," it says, God gave Satan permission, in a sense, so it came from God indirectly, but it was a messenger from Satan to beat on Paul. It was a double agent. The Devil was using that same problem to say to Paul, "Give up, man! Do your own thing!"
Now, if God has really been working in your life; if God's really been using your life, you've probably got a thorn in your life. Maybe it's a physical limitation, or financial, family, relational. And you know what? As painful as it is, you needed it, and so do I. It's the thorns that keep us desperately depending on the Lord, and it's depending that makes us strong. That means that there's just a little of me and a lot of Him because of what I'm going through. But, see, the Devil wants to use this thorn for his purposes. So, the enemy taunts you with that problem. He tries to get you out of God's will; out of God's power. Yeah, that thorn is a double agent in your life; potentially working for both sides.
So, you have to decide whose agent your thorn will be. It's a powerful messenger. Don't let it work for the Devil - the destroyer. Listen for God's message in the thorn, and be sure you're letting Agent Thorn work for the winning side.