Rev Dr Malcolm Tan, 17 May 2020
Watch the video recording of the service and sermon here.
SERMON NOTES BY ANITA FAM
KEY VERSE: 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
We are looking at the life story of the apostle Paul today.
There were seasons of the dark valley in his life.
⁃ He had a thorn in the flesh.
⁃ He had Satan constantly torment him.
Life has its high and low moments. There will be times of dark valley, and green pastures and quiet moments. We must be prepared for both.
See v. 7
⁃ There was a God-given reason for Paul to go through the dark valley.
⁃ God allowed it to happen to prevent Paul from developing conceit and arrogance in his heart.
⁃ God always has a higher purpose for those hard times in our lives.
See Deut 8: 2-3
⁃ There was a purpose for Israel to go through the wilderness.
⁃ The desert experience where life is hard, barren and dry.
⁃ 3 purposes were mentioned here: To humble her, to test her to see whether she would keep the Word or God, and to teach her important lessons that man does not live by bread alone.
There are therefore three purposes why we go through dark valleys.
⁃ They are to humble us, to test us which will help us understand ourselves and to teach us important lessons.
For Israel, there was the Promise of the promised land, the Problem of the wilderness, but there was always the Provision. Similarly for us, there is divine Pattern.
⁃ There is always a God-given reason for the trials that we go through.
Paul went through similar bad times. He had Satan who was the thorn in his flesh as his tormenter. But there was a God-given reason. It was to teach him humility lest he be conceited.
Paul’s experience of the dark valley was almost unbearable.
⁃ See 2 Cor 12:8
⁃ It drove him to desperate prayer where he pleaded with God three times to take away the trials that he was going through.
⁃ Though we may go through bad times, we will not stay there and will eventually come out of them. See Psalm 23:4.
When prayer doesn’t take away our tears, and pain, He will give us His strength.
⁃ We must learn to pray ourselves into the will of God so that we can pray in the will of God. We must not maintain control of our lives and maintain our own sovereignty. Instead, we must recognize God’s sovereignty over our lives.
⁃ Like Jesus’ prayer: “Father, not my will but yours be done.”
⁃ Paul learnt to submit to the will of God.
There was a divine answer. God gave Paul a very unexpected answer.
⁃ See v. 9 where God’s grace was sufficient for Paul as His power is made perfect in weakness.
⁃ We can go through anything in life which God permits so long as we continue by the grace of God.
⁃ But there is a qualification. See Hebrews 12:15. The grace of God will not be enough if we have bitterness in our hearts. We must therefore make sure that our hearts are tender before the Lord and that there is no bitterness in us.
See v. 9
⁃ God humbles us so that His power in us becomes complete. Only then will we have the power of God in that hour of difficulty.
⁃ We trust in God more when we discover our weakness. Our trust in God is rooted and strengthened and we will then look to Him more. We will then have His power for the hour.
⁃ We need to submit ourselves completely to God.
God opened Paul’s eyes so that he could see a perspective to his troubles.
⁃ See v. 10
⁃ The insults and hardships were a reality in Paul’s life.
⁃ Paul delighted in these troubles for the sake of Jesus Christ.
⁃ May we learn to delight in Christ no matter what we are going through in life so that we learn to become strong in Jesus no matter what our weaknesses are.
When life becomes difficult and hard to cope, we must remember that God will help me survive through it all.
⁃ By the grace of God, I will survive. I will not be destroyed.
⁃ God will not allow my difficulties to destroy me. See 1 John 5:4.
Not only will we survive, the Lord will teach us to bear fruit and flourish even in difficult times.
⁃ I will flourish because of the grace of God as He will give me to wisdom and strength to do better as the days go by.
⁃ See Psalm 1: 1-3
⁃ See Jeremiah 17:7-8. We need to hold on to these verses during this time.
⁃ May we hold on to the promises of God and see the fulfillment of His Word.
By the grace of God, I will not sin in the midst of my difficulties and will continue being sanctified in Him. May we then walk in the light where He is also in the light.
⁃ Many times we use our difficulties to go against the ways of the Lord.
⁃ God, help me not to sin so that the favour of God will not be withdrawn from me during this time. Please give me the strength so that I can lead a life pleasing to you.
⁃ But do not forget the warning in Psalm 66:18. If I have any iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.
⁃ We must remember the promise in Jude 1: 24-25.
His grace is more than enough for us in our life’s journey.
What is God’s Grace?
It is His kindness towards us even when we don’t deserve it. We receive His kindness because of His mercy and grace.