Hardship or Safety?

Today I saw a Cardiologist here at UVA.  I really don’t go to the dr. very often because after 8 years of living with Dysautonomia I’ve pretty much exhausted the different medications/treatments offered.  Not to say that new ones don’t come along but when they do I usually hear about them through Dr. Grubb in Toledo.  Sometimes it’s hard to go to the dr. and not get any helpful advice or any sympathy.  I realize it’s not a dr’s job to give sympathy but I’ve gotten used to the bedside manner of Dr. Grubb who comes in the door with and warm hug and a “how are you doing?”…and he really wants to know.  So when I see a dr. that doesn’t seem to “care” about anything except how fast my heart is beating I somehow feel let down. 

Today was a good reminder that my hope is not in medicine, a new dr., or even health and energy.  It’s in Christ.  Even if I live the rest of my life fatigued and lightheaded, He will provide everything I need to live life unto Him.

Last week Keith was giving an overview of Genesis during our family gathering at church and mentioned that Israel’s time in captivity in Egypt was actually a place of “safety.”  He was refering to how when Israel was held captive in Egypt they were actually protected from other nations and allowed to multiply and grow into a stronger nation in many ways.  I’ve been thinking about this daily and about how sometimes our trials and hardships are actually God’s protection of our heart/soul.  Who knows where I’d be Spiritually today if I hadn’t had to fight for joy and learn more about finding contentment in difficult circumstances.  Sometimes when life is easy we let our guards down and just kind of “float.”  I can become discouraged and discontent or I can look at the bigger picture and see how God has mercifully allowed me to struggle and in so doing has kept me following hard after Him.  Some days I must confess I am myopic and loose sight of the bigger picture.  God knows me better than I know myself and knows how to keep me from wandering.  I pray I will remember this tomorrow…

Psalm 138

” I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
   before the “gods” I will sing your praise. 
  I will bow down toward your holy temple
   and will praise your name
   for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
 for you have so exalted your solemn decree
   that it surpasses your fame. 
When I called, you answered me;
   you greatly emboldened me.

  May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,
   when they hear what you have decreed. 
May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
   for the glory of the LORD is great.

 Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
   though lofty, he sees them from afar. 
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
   with your right hand you save me. 
The LORD will vindicate me;
   your love, LORD, endures forever—
   do not abandon the works of your hands.”

Prayer and the Soul

I have been overwhelmed lately by the power of prayer.  No matter our circumstances, prayer to the Almighty God is the answer to a settled soul.  I’ve been finding myself praying often and praying out loud – and it’s powerful to the troubled soul!

I ran across this quote by JC Ryle tonight – a beautiful picture of prayer and growth in Christ…

“Prayer is the one great secret of spiritual prosperity. When there is frequent private communion with God, your soul will grow like the grass after the rain; when the communication is infrequent, everything will come to a stop, you will barely keep your soul alive. Show me a growing Christian, a strong Christian, a flourishing Christian, and I am sure, that he is one that speaks often with his Lord. He asks much, and he has much. He tells Jesus everything, and so he always knows how to act.”

Prudence – Concerning the Soul

I recently came across this quote by Jonathan Edwards while reading his sermon titled “Pressing into the Kingdom of God.” It served as a great reminder that each day and every circumstance is an opportunity given to me by the Lord to enrich my soul. I was reminded that even trials are opportunities to “Press into the Kingdom” with all my might. I was convicted as I reflected on my shortcomings and often nonchalant/selfish attitude about my day. I pray this quote would do the same for you.

“If you would have spiritual prosperity, you must exercise prudence in the concerns of your souls, as well as in outward concerns, when you seek outward prosperity. The prudent husbandman will observe his opportunities; he will improve seedtime and harvest; he will make his advantage of the showers and shines of heaven. The prudent merchant will discern his opportunities; he won’t be idle on a market day; he is careful not to let slip his seasons for enriching himself; so will those that prudently seek the fruits of righteousness, and the merchandise of wisdom, improve their opportunities for their eternal wealth and happiness.”

“thoughts of our rest”

As we face the uncertainties and difficulties that life brings, continual meditation on the promised land is sure to bring you joy and peace. Because our hope is sure we can live abundant lives despite our circumstances.

Richard Baxter seemed to understand the weight of the Christian’s hope when he said, “Our liveliness in all duties, our enduring of tribulation, our honoring of God, the vigor of our love, thankfulness, and all our graces, yea, the very being of our religion and Christianity, depend on the believing, serious thoughts of our rest [heaven].”

1 Peter 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

2 Peter 3:13 “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

Gratitude and Grace

I was recently challenged through reading this quote to examine my heart and look for signs of gratefulness.  In his book, “Ruthless Trust,” Brennan Manning writes:

“The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness.  Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all life as grace–as an undeserved and unearned gift from the Father’s hand.  Such recognition is itself the work of grace, and acceptance of the gift is implicitly an acknowledgment of the Giver.” 

Colossians 3:15-16  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

Psalm 69:30 “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Everything we need – Part 2

After meditating further on 2 Peter 1:3 I began to ponder a significant implication. Since God has “given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us” physical health isn’t an actual earthly need. This doesn’t mean that our heavenly Father didn’t originally create man in a perfect state and that health isn’t a true blessing, but it does mean that despite sin’s destruction of our earthly bodies we already have everything we need in this life (through Christ’s redeeming work on the cross).

We can in fact be Physically Healthy and Spiritually Sick. Please understand this vital reality – if you have not acknowledged your sins before God and begun a new life in Him you are wasting away. On the other hand if you are physically weak but are a follower of Christ you are strong, full of hope, and bound for the eternal kingdom. In the eternal kingdom you will have a new, strong and perfect body.

I urge you to consider your Spiritual Health today as this is truly all that matters in this life.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”