Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The Lord is my Shepherd to feed, guide and shield me, I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in fresh, tender green pastures: He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life, myself.”
Psalm 23: 1-3
Today’s Study Text:
“And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted.”
II Corinthians 12: 7
“A Messenger of Satan”
“The godly have some good in them, therefore the devil afflicts them.”
Have I ever blamed God for some of the troubles which have come upon me when in fact it may well have been a “messenger of Satan” seeking to discourage and dishearten me in any way possible?
“I beg you then, do not misconstrue your sufferings of body and mind -- they may be tokens of mercy; they certainly are not indicators of any special wrath.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“No matter how many pleasures Satan offers you, his ultimate intention is to ruin you. Your destruction is his highest priority.”
Erwin W. Lutzer
If there is anything that annoys me, it is reading over an insurance policy where certain horrific disasters are referred to as, “acts of God.” Obviously, in the commercial and secular world, the idea that Satan , as Jesus’ disciple Peter describes so vividly in I Peter 5: 8, “That enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring (in fierce hunger), seeking someone to seize upon and devour,” is someone who actually exists seems to be a notion without a basis for truth, for sadly, there are some people who don’t believe there are good and evil forces at work on planet earth.
Yet, we are reminded in Genesis in the Old Testament, where Satan is called the wily serpent, to the very last book in the New Testament, Revelation, when we are promised that the devil will forever be destroyed, that this crafty, evil being is capable of trying every trick in his book to crush us emotionally, physically and spiritually. If you don’t find this statement credible, then I encourage you to take a few hours and read the entire book of Job. What a testament to the lengths the devil will go to destroy us. How thankful I am, though, that the book of Job also shows us, that the power of our heavenly Father is far greater and much stronger than the power of evil!
This brings me to a passage in II Corinthians 2: 11, where the Apostle Paul, the man with the “thorn in the flesh,” who called his personal torment a “messenger of Satan,” also instructed his friends in Corinth to, “Keep Satan from getting the advantage over (you); for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.” In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “devices” is used in place of “wiles,” which in the Greek means: “intellectual perception” or as we can define this, the devil’s mental capacity for insight on how to act or behave to try and bring us down!
Even the great writer, William Shakespeare, acknowledged the lengths the devil will go to when he noted that: “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” As Charles Finney correctly advised, “If you don’t believe in the devil’s existence, just try resisting him for a while.” And I’ll add that the evangelist D. L. Moody acknowledged that his belief in the existence of the devil was based on two facts: “The Bible says so; and second, I’ve done business with him.”
It is this same “Satan,” who the Apostle Paul says brought the “thorn” to him. This was a “messenger” or as the Greek meaning states, “One who brings tidings.” I find this to be an important detail which is critical in assisting you and me during the “thorny” times of life so that we will draw closer to our heavenly Father and become “better not bitter.”
I don’t know about you, but I find it all too easy, when troubles crash around me, to think like the Pharisee’s in the New Testament who claimed that physical illness was a blight of God heaped upon some poor unsuspecting person as a result of something evil in their life.
In the book of John, Chapter 9, there is a story recorded which begins with these words, “As He (Jesus) passed along, He noticed a man blind from his birth. His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?’” Jesus noted that it wasn’t because the parents or man sinned. And then Jesus went on to tell how the “works of God” would be shown through the life of this precious man. A “thorn in the flesh,” yet down through history, this blind man’s story has borne witness to each of us that God’s power is greater than any suffering, any pain and any heartache we might have to bear.
Whatever Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” it could have rendered him bitter and angry. The “messenger of Satan” came to defeat the Apostle who was called of God, to bear witness to Him, especially to the Gentile world. However, instead of allowing himself to be defeated by the torment of the thorn, this “splinter” drove the Apostle Paul to his Father from whom we all receive our strength during hardship and adversity. In the heartening words of Augustine of Hippo, “In all trouble you should seek God. You should not set Him over against your troubles, but within them. God can only relieve your troubles if you in your anxiety cling to Him.”
No matter what the evil messenger brings into each of our lives, our Father’s power to do His “perfect work” in all of us is greater than any thorn we face. How thankful I am for this knowledge everyday!
“No pain, no palm; no thorn, no throne.”
God Our Help
"With floods and storms thus we be tossed,
Awake, good Lord, to thee we cry.
Our ship is almost sunk and lost.
Thy mercy help our misery.
Man's strength is weak: man's wit is dull:
Man's reason's blind. These things to amend,
Thy hand, O Lord, of might is full;
Awake betime, and help us send.
In thee we trust, and in no wight:
Save us as chickens under the hen.
Our crookedness thou canst make right
Glory to thee for aye. Amen."
“He found (her) in a desert land, in the howling void of the wilderness; He kept circling around (her). He scanned (her) penetratingly. He kept (her) as the pupil of His eye. As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young. He spread abroad His wings and He took them, He bore them on His pinions. So the Lord alone led (her).”
Deuteronomy 32: 10-12
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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