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Five Months of Torment

Torment may involve mental or physical suffering. Those who have endured torment experience extreme circumstances. This is usually associated with a previous accident, battle with illness or ongoing medical condition. My personal torment lasted twenty years of coping with a severe stutter that crippled my ability to share what was on heart or on my mind. Every time I opened my mouth as a child, I was fearful of embarrassing myself like that reading circle in first grade.

Then out of the smoke locusts came forth on the earth, and such power was granted them as the power the earth’s scorpions have. They were told not to injure the herbage of the earth nor any green thing nor any tree, but only [to attack] such human beings as do not have the seal (mark) of God on their foreheads, Revelation 9:3-4.

According to one of his letters to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul dealt with his own inner demons. Paul describes this condition as a thorn in his flesh, likely an infected splinter, 2 Corinthians 12:7. According to Paul, a messenger of Satan came to torture and torment him for an extended period of time. Despite these circumstances, 2 Corinthians 12:8-12 reveals the valuable spiritual lesson Paul learned. Whatever your situation, the weaker you are opens the door for Jesus to become strong.

They were not permitted to kill them, but to torment (distress, vex) them for five months; and the pain caused them was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings a person, Revelation 9:5.

Luke 16:19-31 tells a parable of a man suffering in hell. This eternally condemned rich man asks if he can return to earth to warn his living family. Yet, Abraham denies his request as individuals must repent on their own. Today’s passage speaks of a physical torment in the last days on earth. Creatures from the Abyss which are a hybrid between locusts and scorpions were sent to torment mankind. The pain of being stung would linger for up to five months. May this glimpse of future events help you appreciate the little blessings in life.

by Jay Mankus


Drifting Back Into Church

For a decade I stood in front of teenagers as a Bible teacher informing students of the importance of attending church. At the time, one of my close friends was a famous author who wrote books on Church Growth and Spiritual Gifts. When I was able to teach a couple of elective courses, I began to implement this material into my curriculum. Thus, I challenged juniors and seniors to ascertain their spiritual gifts. Once discovered students were encouraged to apply these talents within a local congregation or youth group.

But sin, finding an opportunity through the commandment [to express itself] produced in me every kind of coveting and selfish desire. For without the Law sin is dead [the recognition of sin is inactive]. I was once alive without [knowledge of] the Law; but when the commandment came [and I understood its meaning], sin became alive and I died [since the Law sentenced me to death]. 10 And the very commandment which was intended to bring life, actually proved to bring death for me, Romans 7:8-10.

As Easter Sunday approaches I find myself in an awkward predicament. Due to a strange sleep schedule, working nights, my body has become lazy, like the sluggard described by Solomon in the book of Proverbs. After attending church in January, other priorities have replaced church resulting in a three month absence. A rationalizing mind hides behind the two movie scripts I have been working on due May 1st. Despite pulling all nighters writing each weekend, there is no excuse for abandoning a body of believers. Thus, I find myself as a casual attender, like the Christmas and Easter crowd who will flock to mass this weekend.

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! – 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Within two chapters of the Bible, the apostle reveals some sort of secret sin that haunted him. Romans 7 hints to times in life when Paul wanted to do right, but the sinful nature caused him to do that what he despised. Every Saturday night I have intentions to go to church on Sunday, but my flesh has become too weak snuffing out the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the passage above, Paul reveals a physical ailment that hindered his daily life. This pain was a messenger of Satan attempting to steal Paul’s joy. If everything goes as planned, I will be drifting back into church Sunday. However, unless I tame my flesh like 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, I won’t become the man of God the Lord desires.

by Jay Mankus

Three Times O Lord

In baseball, 3 strikes end an at bat, as long as the catcher does not drop the third strike.  Three outs end each half-inning with a mercy rule added to little league games to teams trailing by 10 runs or more after the fourth inning.  While basketball allows 4 and 5 fouls in college and the pros respectively before a disqualification occurs, soccer has just 2 cards, a yellow and red card with the ejected player’s team forced to play the remainder of the game one man down.  In life, sometimes God needs to intervene, like a boxer’s trainer who throws a towel into the ring, officially ending the fight.

According to 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, the apostle Paul was pleading with the Lord on 3 different occasions to stop the pain inflicted by a messenger of Satan.  This thorn in the flesh suggests some kind of physical ailment, yet byproducts like anguish, depression and mental fatigue were likely also present.  Paul’s occupation as a tent maker could have led to arthritis, carpel tunnel like symptoms or various aches and pains.  Based upon the details of chapter 12, Paul appears to have begged God for a period of time before receiving a message from Jesus.

Maybe I am alone, but I have come to a point where I can’t handle any more bad news.  Like a roll of bounty paper towels, humility has absorbed the mess I am now living in, tapped beyond its cleaning power.  Thus, I have reach my pain threshold, unable to endure any more disappointment.  As I wrestle with the Lord in my thoughts and prayers, I am spent, emotionally drained by a burden of failure.  Therefore, my only hope lies in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, waiting on the grace of God.  Though I don’t quite fully understand verse 9, my strength is sapped like a power tool lacking juice.  May the Holy Spirit provide the boost for me and anyone else coping with similar circumstances.  Three times O Lord, come to my rescue and to those also experiencing torment from messengers of Satan.

by Jay Mankus

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