By Pastor E. A. Deckard
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times
“I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous Presence.”—Christopher Columbus
Forward Thinkers, the Bible warns us that our life span would be short but full of trouble. This idea of a life full of trouble could easily cause us to live in fear, depression and hopelessness but in the midst of it all God promised His grace and mercy would be sufficient enough for us to enjoy an abundant life.
Forward Thinkers, we must remember there is a constant battle going on between our flesh and our spirit. Our flesh fights daily to dominate our spirit and have us operating with a worldly attitude. This battle within puts us in what I call the “Pressure Zone” but thank God for grace and mercy. Grace and mercy gives us what we need to win this battle and even protects us in the midst of the battle.
Definition: Pressure— The force that is produced when something presses or pushes against something else, the continuous force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it.
Pressure in Greek: (thlipsis) Persecution, affliction, to rub against causing to feel confined, without options, hemmed in, no way to escape.
Pressure opposes your faith. Your faith says, “I can do, I am victorious, I have overcame, I will win, I shall prosper, I’m wealthy and I’m healthy.”
Pressure comes along and says, “You’re hemmed in, stuck, defeated and you’re going to die.”
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, the Apostle Paul gives us insight on dealing with the pressures of this world and encourages us that God’s grace and mercy is always sufficient:
“…or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
To keep me from becoming conceited
Forward Thinkers, to win this battle with our flesh we must address self-centeredness vs. Christ-centeredness. Our flesh will have us thinking too highly of ourselves instead of thinking with the mind of Christ. The flesh can never be satisfied, therefore; when we live in self-centeredness we become conceited and dysfunctional. Forward Thinker whenever our flesh puts pressure on us to think too highly we must remember it was the Lord that gave us success, wealth, and the ability to achieve upward mobility.
I received great revelation
Forward Thinkers, the Apostle Paul received great revelation and warn us that with great revelation comes great pressure. When the unknown becomes known that’s revelation and revelation brings elevation. I’ve discovered with every level of elevation there is a new level of pressure waiting.
Forward Thinkers, everything you need to succeed and prosper already exists somewhere and revelation reveals where it’s located. Now the only question is do you have the faith to go get it?
Forward Thinkers revelation also produces transformation. Remember in the bible the Apostle Paul was not always Christ-centered. Saul (the Apostle Paul’s name before transformation) received revelation on Straight Street and became Paul. Revelation produced transformation causing Paul to become a brand new person. Yes, Forward Thinkers, you can become a brand new you in 2014.
I was also given a thorn in my flesh
Forward Thinkers, I’ve heard many sermons on the thorn in Paul’s flesh. I’ve heard some define the thorn as poor eyesight. I can’t accept this theory because when Paul received revelation on Straight Street the Lord touched his eyes. It’s hard for me to accept the idea that God-the healer would leave Paul with poor vision. God does not half heal so I’m more under the understanding that Paul had 20/20 vision.
The other popular theory is that the thorn may have been arthritis. This is also hard to believe because the Apostle Paul took many mission trips which required miles of walking and he was once shipwrecked and had to swim miles back to shore. Arthritis would have prevented Paul from walking and swimming miles.
So what is the thorn? When in doubt on the Word I’ve discovered to seek the Word for revelation on the Word.
The first mention of thorn in the Bible is Genesis 3:18:
“It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.”
This took place after the fall of Adam and Eve meaning the world would no longer be perfect.
The next two times the term thorn in flesh is mentioned is in Numbers 33:55:
“But 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 in the land where you will live.”
“Then 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, until you perish from this good land, which the LORD your God has given you.”
They were told to get rid of everything not connected to God and whatever remained would become a thorn in their flesh.
Forward Thinkers, thorns are there to keep us straight and thorns are there to remind us we need the Lord to stay focused. Therefore, I conclude the thorn in Paul’s side is the pressure that comes from this world.
Times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me
Forward Thinkers, Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to remove the pressures of this world from his life. The Lord said no but was the Lord really saying YES. I’ve discovered pressure has a purpose. If the Lord removes the pressure we miss out on the benefits. It is because of pressure on the wings that an airplane remains in the air and only under great pressure is a diamond formed.
Forward Thinkers, instead of focusing on removing the pressure let’s focus on the revelations found in the Book of John. In this world we will face great pressure but The Lord has empowered us with the ability to overcome this world.
In conclusion, the Lord promised Paul that His grace and mercy was sufficient and today Forward Thinkers I encourage you in the face of great pressure that The Lord’s grace and mercy is still sufficient.
Pastor E. A. Deckard is tsenior pastor/Founder of the Green House International Church located, 16711 Ella Blvd. Houston, Texas, 77090. Contact Pastor Deckard at www.ghic.net or via Facebook.