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Experiencing God in Challenging Times

July 5th, 2017

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5 NIV)

Dear friends and readers,

Many of you know what is going on with me in these last few weeks, but also many are unaware of the physical challenges we have been facing in the last few days. We believe that the Lord will ultimately heal me completely and restore me to being fully engaged in ministry. But for the last few weeks it has been difficult to function and write these studies daily – I will explain. So my silence has just been due to a physical problem, and I will be back on the net soon.

For several weeks now I have been planning to have knee replacement surgery, and it was performed here in Stuttgart, Germany, 20 June, at an excellent orthopedic hospital. The surgery went well and my initial recovery progressed fine.

However four days after the surgery I suffered a seizure. The doctors will be studying the reasons for this – perhaps they will find something, or perhaps not. But it means that my brain was deprived of oxygen for a very brief time, but long enough to send me into this seizure. I woke up in the emergency room at the hospital completely confused and unable to remember what I was even doing in the hospital – I remembered my name but that was about it. Within hours full consciousness was restored.

In the following days they discovered I had also experienced a pulmonary embolism – or a blood clot in my lung – and also had pneumonia. Due to a heart attack three years earlier, I sustained some minor damage to my heart – nothing that would prevent me from functioning normally but no marathons! So all of these things are being considered together and we are praying and trusting the Lord for healing, as well as for a full restoration of my health and ministry – and full restoration in our life together, my wife Lana and I.

I stayed an extra week in the hospital treating these problems and on high doses of intravenous antibiotic for the pneumonia. After two weeks they were able to send me to the rehab I was originally scheduled to be in. I lost some ground on knee recovery due to more serious concerns. Orthopedic doctors know (or should know) that when it comes to make a decision for the benefit of a patient that the heart, brain, and lungs are more important considerations than the knees. But hopefully I am not too far behind – my knee should recover just fine.

Currently, due to my knee pain, it is very uncomfortable for me to sit in a chair. Lying down or reclining are much preferred. This means that I will not be writing much for the next couple of weeks. But I did want to rejoice in the salvation of the Lord and to invite you to pray for me and for my recovery.

I often read “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman, and have really been blessed by these devotions the last few weeks. Today’s, July 5, especially spoke to me. Perhaps it will be an encouragement to you as well.

I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness…And I will give her her vineyards from thence (Hosea 2:14-15).

A strange place to find vineyards–in the wilderness! And can it be that the riches which a soul needs can be obtained in the wilderness, which stands for a lonely place, out of which you can seldom find your way? It would seem so, and not only that, but the “Valley of Achor,” which means bitterness, is called a door of hope. And she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth!

Yes, God knows our need of the wilderness experience. He knows where and how to bring out that which is enduring. The soul has been idolatrous, rebellious; has forgotten God, and with a perfect self-will has said, “I will follow after my lovers.” But she did not overtake them. And, when she was hopeless and forsaken, God said, “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.”

What a loving God is ours!

We never know where God hides His pools. We see a rock, and we cannot guess it is the home of the spring. We see a flinty place, and we cannot tell it is the hiding place of a fountain. God leads me into the hard places, and then I find I have gone into the dwelling place of eternal springs.

In these past days I have discovered many hidden pools of God’s grace that have restored my soul. What matters most in life is not whether we are getting our way, but whether we are experiencing God in whatever way He has provided for us.

Thank you in advance for your prayers. Blessings in Christ to you and yours!

Evening Devotionals, Healing for Today , , ,

Power Over Every Disease

December 12th, 2014

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

Matthew 9:35

There was no disease that Jesus could not heal. Whether it was leprosy, palsy, a mysterious fever, a deadly infection, or any other disease, Christ could heal.

But what is God’s purpose in giving us this information?

He tells us this NOT so we may be healed physically: God can, of course, heal physically today. I mentioned Sunday in my church that I believe in divine healing, but not in divine healers – when someone announces that they are divinely gifted to heal or holds a “miracle healing crusade” I am of the opinion that the person is a fake. But I do believe that God heals, and that His healing power is in response to the prayers of God’s people. I have seen first hand His healing touch.

Yet quite often people overestimate physical healing, as though it is really something special, the greatest thing imaginable. It clearly is not. And to present it as if it were is to misuse the Bible. For example, Paul prayed for healing and it was denied, so that a great purpose of God could be achieved, namely the humbling of Paul’s heart, so that he would not become proud of the great revelations he received (2 Cor. 12:5-10). So clearly, revelations, usefulness, our spiritual maturity are more important than physical healing.

Also death itself for the Christian is greater than healing. Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). He went on in that passage to explain his desire to enter into eternity, but he had accepted that God left him here on earth to be of further use to His work. Isaiah 57:1-2 says, “The righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace, they find rest as they lie in death.” So death for a believer is much preferable to the best life imaginable here on earth, because through death we enter into life. Death of our bodies is necessary, in fact, for we also read, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). When a believer dies, if we sense his work on earth is unfinished, if he has left children or a young wife, we will recognize a sadness about it. And we miss our loved ones who pass away. But let’s not imagine that for the believer himself that he is disappointed, that life on earth is preferable to life in glory with God in heaven. It is not!

Hebrews 11:13-16 says of those Old Testament believers who passed away understood that they were “foreigners and strangers on earth,” not truly at home here: “Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” At death our lives have just begun! We will have left the land to which we were strangers – this world – and entered into our true and eternal home!

There is a false teaching going around in the church of today, masquerading as the truth, that anyone who has faith can live to be seventy or eighty years, and to die before then shows that there is something wrong spiritually with the person. That is utter nonsense, based on a misinterpretation … no, an intentional misreading and and abuse of Psalm 90:10. This misuse of the Word of God has caused much pain in the church, condemning people who die young, falsely blaming wives for their husband’s deaths, undoing the legacy of honest people who served God faithfully, judging people who were innocent. The timing of the death of a Christian is a matter that is held in the hand of God. Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” And if God decides to bless a believer with an early trip to heaven who are we to judge? Though death can be due to some judgment for sin (1 Cor. 11:30), it is not necessarily the cause, for people of great faith have died early deaths due to martyrdom, hardship, and overwork for the Lord. The Psalm 90 passage is only a statement about the normal limitations of our life spans, about our mortality, that the most we can hope for is 70-80 years, and though medical science and physical constitutions have altered that a bit, it is only a bit, and the fact of our looming deaths remains unchanged.

Just a few months ago I was lying in the intensive unit of a hospital having survived a heart attack, but I had amazing peace. Fear was the furthest thing from my mind and I felt myself entirely in the hands of God. I thought that if this is death, then it is a wonderful thing, and though I survived, I realized that eventually I will be right back there again, as will we all. Do not fear death, but trust your life into the hands of God that He knows the days He has given you, and for the believer that moment need not be a time of fear, but of peace. God will not be ashamed to bring you into your eternal home, or into your eternal inheritance. And you and I will not be disappointed either.

He tells us of Jesus’ healing power so we might have peace no matter the cause of our death. Regardless of how we die, whether disease or accident or violence, it will not change the ultimate victory of God over death for the believer. So we need not fear the way we die. Though unquestionably, we would all prefer to go painlessly, or relatively so, the glories of heaven are of such a nature that whatever we endure exiting this earth will be quickly forgotten in heaven. But if cancer destroys our bodies piece by piece, that means nothing to God and will not affect our resurrection one iota. We shall rise when He calls our name in bodies that are incorruptible, whole, completely well and healed. If a terrible accident consumes our bodies in a fire, till all that is left are ashes, God will still be able to give us a new resurrected body, beautiful and perfect. If our bodies are torn asunder, and the pieces buried separately from one another, it will not matter to God. He who created the universe out of nothing, who assembled the elements to create physical life, to Him it is nothing to pull all the separated parts together and make them into the incorruptible form He will give us in the next life.

There is no disease that God cannot heal us from, that is undoubtedly true, but neither is there any type of death that will prevent the hand of God from resurrecting us with incorruptible bodies, fit for eternity. We may also realize that there are no wounds in our souls that God cannot heal us from also – for healing also includes soul-healing. So do not fear death nor worry about the afterlife. God is not ashamed to be our God. He will resurrect, heal, make whole our souls, and fit us for eternity.

Encouragement, Gospel of Matthew, Grief and Loss, Healing for Today , ,