Saturday, November 12, 2011

Trusting God and Dealing With Sickness

9The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness: 10I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years. -Isaiah 38:9, 10 (KJV) 

As I write this I am battling one of the worst head colds / flu sort of things I have ever had in my entire life.  This has been nagging at me for nearly two weeks and the other day I began to feel a little better.  I even began to feel kind of self-confident and was making plans to visit my favorite Chinese restaurant and enjoy the buffet.  You know, sort of a reward for two weeks of stuffy head, runny nose, persistent cough and sinus headache.  Sadly, this little infection had other plans.  Late in the day this past Friday my cold came back with a vengeance.  The next day, at the urging of my wife, I went to a local urgent care clinic and was found to have a fever of 102.4!  I don’t think I have had a fever that high since I was a child. 

Later one of my sons found out about my temperature and said, “Wow dad; you could have wound up in the hospital in a coma – your brain was just frying you know.”  “Gee, thanks son.”  I replied.  His comment was honest, yet not too reassuring.  Now, about that fever; the doctor immediately placed me on a powerful antibiotic and recommended rest, fluids, and chicken soup to keep up my strength.  So, here I am trying to shake off this bug or whatever it is, and get on with my normal life. 

I went back and read in Isaiah 38 about the illness of King Hezekiah of the Old Testament.  He was a good king; he didn’t worship idols, he led the people back to the worship of God, and by all accounts he sought to be a good man who kept his faith.  And then he was stricken with a sickness.  In fact, Isaiah the Prophet confronted him and told him this sickness would lead to death and he would not recover (Isaiah 38:1).  We don’t know the exact nature of the king’s sickness, yet it had the potential to be fatal.  Earlier today as I lay in the bed, groaning, sweating, and aching all over, I couldn’t help but wonder about good King Hezekiah and his illness.  For a while there I wondered if this is what it feels like to be in the throes of death.  Was God getting ready to call me out of this world?  I began to wonder, for as I said this was as sick as I had been in my life. 

Hezekiah did not give up.  The Scripture says he prayed and asked the Lord for healing.  God answered the king’s prayer and granted him 15 more years (Isaiah 38:2-5).  What a relief to begin to feel better.  Once I am over this illness I intend to throw myself back into my ministry with a new sense of gratitude for my health.  Who knows when any of us might be called out of this world?  Let’s be sure to make the most of life and every opportunity the Lord gives us.  May we ever be faithful with the time we have.   
In the meantime I am waiting for the antibiotic to take effect in earnest.  What is needed is more rest, so I am going back to bed now.  See you next time. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Greater Treasure

6Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.  -I Peter 1:6, 7 (KJV)

The headline, “Guatemala's trash 'miners' risk lives to find gold” got my attention.  In the country of Guatemala numerous people make their living by daily sorting through toxic trash in search of anything valuable.  They daily risk disease, drowning, and serious injury in search of various metals found in landfills which can then be sold for a profit far exceeding average income.  In a country where the average wage is around $270.00 a month, finding valuables in a toxic landfill becomes extremely tempting. 

The article reminds me of the story I heard many years ago of a man in a third world country who found a shining object in a landfill and brought it home.  What he didn’t know was that it was radioactive material and he unknowingly exposed his entire family to harmful doses of radiation.  This tragic story reminds me of the devastating power of sin and ungodliness in the world today.  The things people view as treasure will often bring to their lives trouble instead of hope and happiness.

The Scripture speaks of faith in Christ as being more valuable than gold.  When our faith is tested it is like a refining process in which our faith is made more pure and perfect.  The encouragement we find in God’s Word is to stand firm and not despair in the face of life’s trials.  Instead know that our faith is being made stronger and purer.  No doubt you are going through some situations which are testing your faith.  When we trust the Lord in these circumstances we do not grow weaker, but instead we grow stronger. 

Faith in Christ, which for the believer is a priceless treasure, is one which will bring us good and not harm.  The treasure of faith is meant to be shared with everyone around us.  They will see the power of Christ in us and will hopefully come to receive Him as Savior.   Do not lose hope and do not give up.  There is hope in the Lord.  Stand firm, for your faith will indeed grow stronger.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

He Fills us up with Good Things (God Things)

4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.  6The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. -Psalm 103:4-6 (KJV) 

A couple of weeks ago I was typing away on a sermon I planned to preach when my fingers began to get ahead of my brain.  It seemed that anytime I attempted to type the words “good things” I inadvertently typed “God things.”   After several episodes of this I sat back in my chair and thought, “Okay, Lord; what are you trying to teach me here today?” The answer came in a quiet conviction of how during those times when we experience the Lord’s power it becomes a “God thing.” The good we experience, whatever the situation, can indeed be Christ’s leading in our lives. 

This isn’t to say the Lord will only work in the good which comes our way; far from it.  Romans 8:28 reminds us “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  Be sure to underline this important word “all.” This includes all we experience whether good, bad, or somewhere in between.  What begins as a frustration or trying time may be one of those “God things” in which we will be challenged and strengthened in our faith. 

Consider also that through the process of having our faith strengthened comes a wonderful development of personal growth, peace, and wisdom.  You may not have seen the elephant just yet, but every succeeding trial can result in a strengthening of the total person we are intended to become in Christ Jesus.   

Going through a rough patch right now?  Do not despair or give up.  Look at it as a God thing.  Is your life in a good place?  Be thankful and be watching for the God thing to come about.  The Lord will being blessings, peace, joy, and grace, even in the most trying times.  Claim this blessed promise today.