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Humility On Display

"30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, 33 and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands." 

Good Morning Beloved,

Welcome to worship, we're so glad you're here with us.

As you know, we have been studying the book of II Corinthians, today, we're still in the eleventh chapter. Some of the Scripture, is of course, is intensely doctrinal. Dealing with great, important issues like the character and nature of God and of Christ,  redemption, the work of the cross, the resurrection, and other great theological themes. While other Scripture, has to do more with practical matters of life, how we are to conduct ourselves, how we are to live, how we are to deal with the issues of life and the issues of ministry.

The Bible is the Word of God; it is without error, it is the authoritative ruling power in our lives, which we have learned to love and to trust, to submit and obey to God’s Word with the greatest joy because it brings with it, such profound blessing upon our lives.
As I have stated previously, there really aren't any doctrinal instructions or profound truths, it is a more practical doctrine. It does however, provide us with tremendous insights and benefit, as to how a godly man, conducted himself, it the face of extreme hostility and great opposition.

Paul had written four letters in total to the Corinthians, two of which, which have been said to be not inspired, were, however, very personal and important letters, which are not included in the New Testament. This is the fourth of those letters written to them.
Lets bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
We give You thanks for this beautiful day we're been blessed with, for the wonderful opportunity to gather in fellowship, in worship of You. Thank You for this rich and wonderful Word we've been given today. Thank You for the valuable lesson of humility and of weakness, in which Your strength is perfected. 

Thank You for this incredible reminder, that when we come to the end of our resources, confidence in ourselves, and our abilities, we become useful to You. Thank You for Christ, our redeemer, through Whom we receive salvation. Thank You for preserving these powerful truths, and the Holy Spirit, to guide us as we walk in Him.
In Christ's name we pray
Today's Message: Humility On Display
I invite you to open with me your Bibles to the II book of Corinthians chapter eleven. I have heard a number of Christians over the years, ask why these letters, having no significant doctrinal value, no great theological instruction, have been included in the New Testament. And, that is a valid question. I would imagine, that is at least, in part, a factor, as to why so many pastors, teachers of the truth, have avoided teaching it. I know that many Christians have asked "What does this have to do with us?"
The short answer is, it has everything to do with us! It has everything to do with us, in the sense that Satan’s tactics are not any different today than they were then. He still seeks to infiltrate Christ's church, with a doctrine, that will ultimately will lead people away from Christ, and the true Word of God!

However, as I'm sure you are aware, that's not what I do here. It is my belief, that all Scripture is important, holds significance, therefore, is of great value to the hearers. And so, I go through the entire Bible, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and allow God through His Holy Spirit, to speak to us, and reveal what He wants us to gain from it. I do not believe, myself or any teacher of the Word of God, is qualified, or has been given the authority to determine for ourselves, what is relevant for teaching or valuable for instruction. I also, believe, those who choose to make the decision, will one day, have to give an account for their actions!
If we are being honest with ourselves, as 21st Century American Christians, we cannot easily identify with Paul's physical sufferings as many of our international brethren can. Those who are being persecuted for their faith. However, in this success oriented culture, in which we live, we can identify with the inter-stress the apostle Paul speaks of here. Paul's stress though was not over worldly success but over spiritual concerns. Paul's stress came from his deep devotion to Christ and His church.

In this portion of Scripture, Paul now changes direction. He goes from the outward sufferings that he was called upon to endure as a minister of Christ, to the daily pressure of concern that he bore for the churches and their leaders. These verses are the climax to the catalog of his ministerial suffering for his external difficulties seem insignificant when compared to the concern he has for the churches.
Paul was deeply devoted to Christ, he worshiped and served Him, and to the ministry to which Jesus had called him. He not only was devoted to winning people to Christ, but to seeing them grow in the nurture and admonition of the true faith in Christ. 
Paul had deep seated faithfulness to his responsibility concerning the eternal outcome of each life. He knew they would not grow and reach others without the God’s truth and Spirit transforming lives. These and other eternal realities caused him to experience tremendous stress. 
I believe, that we also must not take lightly our ministry responsibilities, but find strength in our weakness to care about the outcome of others lives. May we too live for the glory of God and diligently work for the transformation of lives, that also live for the honor and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul could have easily gone on with what he suffered to take the gospel to the world, however, here he chooses instead to describe the largest burden he carried. It is difficult for us to comprehend the pain Paul must have felt from these physical afflictions and deprivations. But the spiritual struggles of his ministry were an even greater burden. 
I know, first hand, how much effort, energy, love, care, prayer, work, burden, stress, studying, waiting, worrying is involved in the caring of a flock. I cannot personally fathom, the enormous amount of pressure, the apostle Paul had upon him with all of the churches he started and ministered to. And he deeply cared for each one.
There was something far greater, far deeper than outward affliction and privations which Paul is called upon to endure as a minister of Christ. The suffering Paul has been forced to mention in order to silence his opponents, are merely externals, however, he considers them to be incidental in their significance.
I invite you to follow along with me, as I read to you this rich portion of the Word of God. II Corinthians 11:30-33.
As Matthew 13:9 teaches us, "He who has ears, let him hear."

"If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands."

Daily the apostle Paul is spiritually pressed with grave concern for all the churches, many of which, he had founded. That his concern was not lack of faith is shown over and over again by serious problems, defections and rebellions, which occurred so distressingly in the various churches and which necessitated his visits, his frequent letters and his constant prayers. This concern was not based solely upon the disturbing reports, which often reached his ears, but on his knowledge of the savage craftiness of Satan, the enemy of souls, who is always attempting to overthrow the saving work of the Gospel. To see Christ's name dishonored, within the church of all places caused Paul the most acute grief. 
When the flock of Christ is ravaged by wolves the under-shepherd cannot stand by impassively as though uninvolved in what is taking place. It is his duty to immediately come to their aid and drive away the marauders both for love of the flock and for the honor of his Master the Good Shepherd, in whose strength he acts and to whom he is answerable for the work entrusted to his hands.
Paul was concerned for the individual in the churches he served. The concern which he experienced for persons was not generated by lack of faith but by compassion. Paul so identified himself with them that he could not detach himself from their lot in life. He could not hold himself aloof at a distance from his people’s problems for the compassion of Christ compelled him to care. He felt the weakness of any member as his weakness. Their frailty as his frailty.
If anyone was led astray into sin, he not only "burned" with indignation against the responsible party, he also experienced the grief and shame of the one who stumbled and longed for restoration. Those with infirmities of faith, wisdom, and walk could find compassion with Paul.
Paul lived and breathed his words in I Corinthians 12:26, which say, "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."

And this should also be true with every faithful shepherd in Christ's flock. He should lovingly identify himself with those who have been committed to his care, showing himself deeply concerned and resisting everyone and thing which entices them away from the simplicity of their devotion to Christ. This compassion is not of man; it is the divine compassion of Jesus Christ Himself, burning in the heart of His servant, blazing forth in love to reach and to bind the heart of those to whom he ministers to the One Bridegroom.

Beloved, this is why consistent devotional times are so critically important. They are not to earn brownie points with God. He already loves us completely. However, if we fail to stop and sit, to meditate and pray, to listen and worship, our eyes become dry, our hearts become callused and we refuse to fully invest ourselves in the struggles of others.

However, there is a price to becoming involved in the struggles of others, whether artistically or spiritually. Paul experienced this price in his work of sharing the gospel. When we enter this spiritual struggle as we deliberately identify ourselves with God's interests in other people, we find to our amazement, that we have the necessary power to keep wonderfully poised in the center of it all.

Paul realized that God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. Jesus paid the greatest price to be involved in our world, and He strengthens us as we share in His love for others. And as we obey God's calling, He will provide the strength required.

In verses 30, Paul says "If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness."

In other words, and if you’re still not satisfied by what I’ve gone through on your behalf to prove my commitment I will continue. Paul had given of himself so completely, so intently to the ministry that he walked in weakness, but in this weakness as a poor earthen vessel he had encountered the strengthening of God. 

Although boasting is still clearly distasteful to Paul he would rather boast of his familiarity with the infirmities and sorrows of man, as Jesus did. Many of us find it easy to glory in God's power, however, are we able to glory in our weakness? For it is in weakness of sorrowing and suffering where our greatest deeds of God occur. You need look no further than the cross to understand the greatest work wrought in weakness. In the weakness of the cross, God displayed His greatest power.

So often today, we complain about our weaknesses, however, to Paul they were a reason to boast. Through these tough circumstances and his weaken state came the power of someone else, namely the power of Christ. If this were not so, how is it that Paul could have continued on through difficult encounter after encounter? Therefore, Paul boasts in his sufferings that show his weakness which made him contemptible in his adversaries eyes, but useful to Christ.

No, everything does not go easy for you when you are in Christ, or if you serve Christ. But there is proof, for who else but a true servant, one who is sustained by Christ, who would go through all these occurrences. Only one who truly believes and is empowered to go on with God no matter what. His boasting turns therefore not to what he has done but to what God has done.

Paul was aware that his reliability was suspect among the Corinthians because of the slander and backbiting of which he was the focus, that's why in verse 31 he asserted that he does not lie. "The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying."

The obstacles and challenges Paul suffered and endured, were so monumental that some might think that no one would willing go through that for themselves much less for anyone else. To testify to these trials authenticity, Paul takes a solemn oath. There is no name or person to whom Paul could more solemnly appeal as a witness of his truthfulness than the One before whom all life and hearts are open and no secrets hidden. So the apostle Paul calls upon God to witness that all he has said and will say is truth, that there has been no inaccuracy or nothing over-stated. Calling God the Father of the Lord Jesus is appealing to the special covenant relationship that all believers have through redemption into eternal life. 

Verses 32 and 33 recount Paul’s narrow escape from Damascus as one more example of his weakness and vulnerability. "In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands."

Paul now mentions his escape from Damascus, one of the oldest known cities to man. King Aretas, ruled Arabs from 9BC to 40AD, was the father in-law of Herod Antipas. They hated each other because of Herod's unfaithfulness to his daughter whom Herod divorced in order to marry his brothers wife, Herodias. Aretas even declared war on Herod. Josephus tells us that during the reign of Nero and therefore, in the time of Paul's Apostleship, no less than ten thousand Jews were massacred in Damascus within a single hour.

This escape is recorded by Luke in Acts 9:22-25. The ethnarch placed a guard, phrouros -sentries, to watch the city’s exits at the instigation of Jews who constituted a numerous section of the city's population, and who assisted in the watching. It was not unlikely that the ethnarch was himself a Jew and that the guard appointed by him was mainly Jewish.

Ethnarch literally means a ruler of a race or tribe and was commonly used to denote a deputy governor or subordinate ruler responsible for a particular racial section of the population. This passage's statement under Aretas the king helps date Paul's conversion and the commencement of his ministry to 37-40 AD, for Aretas died in 40 AD. After a short time in Damascus Paul, after his conversion, went into the Arabian desert for nearly three years to sort out his dramatic transformation. He returned to Damascus and proclaimed for many days in the synagogue that Jesus is the Messiah. Paul then spent seven more years ministering before he started his missionary journeys. It would be fourteen total years before he returned to Jerusalem.

He was hunted by both Jew and Gentile alike but delivered by God through the agency of fellow Christians. He was saved by being ignobly lowered in a basket, probably used for fish, in the dead of night through a window in a wall. This window was probably part of a house built upon the foundation of the City walls. This was the way the spies fled the city of Jericho in Joshua 2:15 and the way David escaped Absalom in I Samuel 19:12.

What great humbling the apostle Paul experienced from the once arrogant Jewish persecutor and blasphemer of Christ to the persecuted and blasphemed. These false apostles bear a strong resemblance the unconverted Saul far more than the apostle Paul.

In Closing....

One cannot read these verses with having an admiration for this beloved apostle, who through many trial which greatly impacted his life, never deterred his service to God and his commitment to Christ.

May we never take for granted the sacrifices that Paul and others have made, so that we might enjoy the blessings of the Gospel today in our great nation..

Our utmost diligence and services seem unworthy of notice or mention, when compared with Paul’s, and our difficulties and trials somehow appear far less significant. May the evidence of his faith lead us to inquire whether or not we are truly followers of Jesus Christ. 

What suffering to spread the gospel could you share as evidence of commitment to Christ? If we are truly His, there will be evidence of our what we have suffered for our faith and attempted for God’s glory.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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