Spiritual Intelligence: No Rose, Without A Thorn

A thorn can be defined as a stiff, sharp-pointed woody projection on the stem or other part of a plant.

With this in mind, let us consider it’s application as a metaphor in Paul’s letter to friends in Corinth:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In scriptures this metaphor was sometime used to describe the nations round about the Israelites. By way of background, the Israelites had been fearful to dispossess all the nations in the area designated to them by God, as a result there were still pockets in the fringes that were inhabited by enemy nations. These nations became a thorn in their flesh, eventually leading to their demise as a nation. In God’s foreknowledge, He inspired Joshua to address this issue in his valedictory speech, with a view to warn the newly established nation of the impending dangers of spiritual, political, and social assimilation with their neighbours. In his words:

Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations—these that remain among you—and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.

Needles I say that his warning wasn’t heeded, like cancerous cells they ultimately led to the demise of the nation. But, we find hope dear friends in Ezekiel’s prophetic journal, shaped in these words:

And there shall no longer be a pricking brier or a painful thorn for the house of Israel from among all who are around them, who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord God.

So, with another look at Paul’s statement in our first set of verses, we understand that he was contending with something prickly, sharp, thorny…, that had a place rightfully or not, on the same stem as a beautiful rose. Something he so badly wanted to get rid off, but simply couldn’t. I don’t know about you, but I am not really bothered with what exactly Paul’s thorn was; I’d rather find hope and consolation from his interpretation of the situation, and the response he received from God after seeking deliverance thrice. First, a look at Paul’s interpretation:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

He saw it as something that kept him in check, something if you like that made him dependent on God’s grace and not in his strength or ability.

Then, God’s response:

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness

Hmmm… Indeed, no rose without a thorn.

Friends, it really doesn’t matter what our thorn really is, what matters is where we turn to when we feel those sharp prickly pains. In Paul’s case he turned to God, and he found reasons for thanksgiving.

So! Allow me to close this thought with the refrain from an old gospel song by Charles A. Tindley, entitled, We will understand it better by and by.

By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home, we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome, for we’ll understand it better by and by.


~ Sabali

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Spiritual Intelligence: Patriot Missile

Patriot (Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept On Target) is a surface-to-air missile system. It is designed to detect, target and then hit an incoming missile that may be no more than 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) long and is typically flying at three to five times the speed of sound. The upgraded Patriot system can also destroy incoming aircraft and cruise missiles.

Good morning friends. The call to faith is a call to serve humanity. It is a call to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength; and, I hasten to add, to love our neighbours as ourselves. I don’t know about you, but to me, this is a super patriotic call to duty.

Sadly, in recent times the word patriot has been reduced to political gimmicks and shallow ideologies based on people’s fears and selfish interests. Opportunistic politicians and civil servants play on the masses’ anxieties, exaggerating issues, misrepresenting or misinterpreting data, and claiming to have the antidotes – all in the name of nationalism. They battle it out among themselves, using policies aimed at feeding the fears of the people. Therefore words like: we will protect, we will defend, we will provide, we will fight; become prevalent in their lexicon, deployed as sound bites in political broadcasts and campaigns to provide false comfort to citizens.

But friends, a true patriot is one who serves the heavenly king and loves all humanity regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, background or creed. In the words of Paul on this very interesting subject, he said to his audience:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

With this in mind, allow me to redefine the word patriot:

One who vigorously supports God’s kingdom (His will and purpose for planet earth), and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors (dark spiritual forces).

We have the perfect example in the life of Jesus, which He articulated to His audience using this analogy:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep

To further strengthen this thought, let us now press the rewind button to the very beginning of time, to the book of Genesis and pause at the point humankind was created. God’s instructions to our ancestors was:

Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

Dear friends, anything invented or created has a purpose. Without a clearly defined purpose, the creation or invention is likely to be unfit or not fit for purpose; as a result it is discarded. We are spiritual Patriot Missiles: designed to detect, target and then hit any incoming missile in the spirit realm. Called to consecration. Called to stand in prayer, stand in the word of faith, and stand with righteous decrees.

In one of His last words to those closest to Him, He said:

Occupy till I come!

And this we will do until the return of the King of kings, and The Lord of lords!


~ Sabali

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Spiritual Intelligence: Harvest Raiders

Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.

Good morning friends. I just love the stories of the bible! They are packed with deep insights into human nature like no other book known to man – it should be a recommended text for all students of anthropology.

In our opening verses, we are introduced to a band of raiders who formed an alliance, and their strategy was to encamp around their enemies, target and destroy their livestock and farm produce. This led to economic and political instability, and ultimately poverty. Very odd, I can hear you say, but similar strategies are still at play in global politics and economics. For instance, there are still evidence of unfair trade, aggressive policies aimed at disrupting or derailing countries; with a view that they remain underdeveloped, indebted and reliant on foreign aid. Multinational firms avoiding much needed tax in developing countries. Poor resources and infrastructure, leading to poor harvest yields, crop diseases, and food waste.

Spiritual forces over people’s lives that hinder them from progressing to the next stage or phase of their destinies. The phenomenon is known as Near Success Syndrome. Just at the brink of that business turnaround, just at the brink of signing that major contract, just at the brink of that promotion, just at the brink of exchange of contracts for that property, just at the brink of that wedding date, just at the brink of that award, just at the brink of that pregnancy, just at the brink of that graduation – something major happens and it turns to dust. It all becomes a pipers dream.

Dear friends, there is a day that hallmarks a new beginning and you are witnessing one of those days now. Today, I take authority over every earthly or spiritual force assigned against your purpose and destiny. I destroy their plans, I frustrate their efforts, and I put an end to their raids on your harvest in the name of Jesus! In the words of the psalmist:

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Your morning of favour is here, and it’s here to stay!


~ Sabali

*If you enjoy my posts, then help make it happen for my new book: Echoes of Mercy, Whispers of Love … @indiegogo
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