Covid-19 Devotionals

Dents and Thorns

There is an old saying: “Everything he touches turns to gold.” This is definitely not applicable to me! Our house is rather old and it seems every task is far lengthier than my time allocation. Over the last year, we used all bedrooms as our American children visited. Due to having the rooms set up for guests, I placed my desk in our bedroom. You are right … that is a strict no, no! It is unlikely that we will use all rooms soon, so we decided to remove the double bunk in the small room and place the desk there. This bunk was pushed up against a wall which has a shelf protruding from one side of the room to the other. This needed to be removed, and after a struggle it was off the wall only to find another problem.

Some of the knotty pine wood that covered the bottom section of the wall had been attacked by termites. The previous owner had the house treated for termites a few times, the last being just before we moved in. The termites were eliminated, but the damage they caused was evident. So, we had to remove all the knotty pine wood.

Although the termites were dead, I decided to cut the wood into smaller pieces and burn it. In removing this wood, I needed to remove the skirting board and a retainer beam. Removing the skirting board nails and the retainer beam raw bolts left holes in the wall. I cleaned up the mess and prepared the holes for filling and the wall for painting. Even though the termites have been removed and are no longer active, I purchased a very expensive termite killer and applied it to the previously infected area to make double sure this activity will not recur.

Before a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, we tend to gather many bad habits (rather, scars from our sins). As an example, I have a scar under my lower lip caused because of sin. This is with me for life. In a way, it is a constant reminder of the past! When at Bible school, the warden of George Whitfield House, David Streater, used to say “some dents you carry for life.” That is, the effects of our sins could, in some cases, always be a “thorn in the flesh.” Paul spoke of a thorn in the flesh:

2Co 12:7 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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Many have suggested what this thorn was to Paul. I tend to feel it could have been an eye disease, but I have no proof. Here is the point … that “thorn” (Paul) or “dent” (David Streater) could be a messenger of Satan, to torment you … to humble you, bringing you back to trust and depend upon God, preventing arrogance or boasting as you achieve or make advances, be it in the secular world, home or even spiritually. It is then that God’s statement, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”, will apply to you.

So how does this work? Well, remember the termite invasion was treated with poison a few times, years apart. That sorted the termites out, but what they damaged was not sorted out because it could not be seen behind the knotty pine wood. From the outside looking at the wall, it looked pretty decent. It gave the wall a focal point of attraction … yet behind was the damage … wood that had been eaten into and smeared with larva. It’s much like having a dirty body covered with clean, nicely ironed clothes. People see you and you look smart, yet your body is filthy … or perhaps like the man I saw in hospital. He sat on the bed looking so well-groomed and handsome. I said, “You’re looking so well.” He was about to go to theatre for a major stomach operation.

He responded, “Don, I am not coming out of that theatre alive” … and he did not … but he said he had total peace as he trusted Jesus.

Before salvation, you gather those dents and thorns. Once you trust Jesus’ substitutional sacrifice, you are not just pardoned, you are cleansed. You are not just redeemed, you are justified. You are not just set apart for Jesus, you are sanctified. When God the Father looks at you, He sees the perfection, loveliness and holiness of the Lord Jesus. He does not only accept you as a citizen of glory, He sees you as an active member of the eternal heavenly host. He does not consider you a number, He knows you by name. To Him you are precious because His beloved Son’s blood purchased your soul. He loves you passionately. That is why God the Spirit works in your conscience, spurring you on towards practical holiness.

Yet as you strive towards that goal of being Christ-like (Rom 8:29), the effects of some of the previous life’s sin might press you and bounce you and torment you into thinking you are not God’s own; or that you need to do something to gain a better standing with God; or that you need to appease God in some way. On the other hand, the previous life’s dents and thorns might reappear in the shape of anger or jealousy or gossip or bitterness. No one sees any of these things. They are like the back of the knotty pine boards damaged … unseen, but there! All that sin which caused all these dents and thorns have been pardoned and cleansed, but in your heart they stick their ugly necks out time and again.

So what ought you to do? As I reapplied the poison, so you return to the Lord Jesus. Go over the fact that you have asked for pardon, been forgiven through His blood and settle the matter in your heart … “I’m forgiven!”

Dear God, thank you for being so loving and caring. Help me through those moments when I’m weak. Amen.

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