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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!
–Crumbs

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.
–Selected

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 , , ,

Thirsting for God

December 12th, 2016

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

We will from time to time be entrusted by our God with periods in spiritual deserts. We will journey through them and feel the absence of God’s presence and thirst for Him, just as a man traversing a vast wasteland will thirst for water.

We must learn to find nourishment through faith alone, based upon the witness of scripture, for there will be no cool breeze of the Spirit in those places, no refreshing bounty of the Spirit’s outpouring. We must learn to experience God in circumstances that are contrary, yet we must never become accustomed to the spiritual desert. We must live in this world, but we are never to be too comfortable with the world. It is not our home.

David wrote this psalm while in the wilderness of Judah, and he refused to be comforted with anything other than God. God was his God, and he would have no other. He rose early in the day to seek God, and early in the crises he sought God, early in the processes of trying to figure out what he would do, how he would live, how he would survive as Saul continued to seek to have hm killed.

He had sought the face of God as the first Source of strength and help and deliverance, but God gave him only His promises and the remembrance of His past faithfulness. Yet, as we read the entire psalm, we learn that this was enough for David, for he was a man of faith. David longed for the comfort of the sanctuary of God, for the temple that in those days lay in Shiloh - an experience that was lawfully and rightfully his, but he was deprived of it through the treachery of Saul.

Lesser men and women have sought comfort in the world itself, and given into the dryness of godlessness, hoping to find some help to get them through. God can use any part of the world to sustain us, as He sent the ravens to feed Elijah, and we may often be surprised as the manner in which God sends physical relief to His children. Yet we can never be satisfied with what satisfies the lost world.

We immediately want to ask why God would allow any of His children to undergo even a morning without the sense of His presence. The complete answer to questions like this waits until the end of the age when we stand before God and He in His love and mercy wipes all tears from our eyes. But until then we must simply be comforted with the assurance that it suits His purposes to allow us to undergo these trials from time to time.

in the midst of these, however, we seem to gain new understandings of the ways of God and of what should be the priorities of our hearts. David, for example, came out of the wilderness experience with a desire to build a new temple for God, and though God did not allow him to, he did purchase the land for the temple mount and collect materials for its construction. Daniel and John, each experiencing exile in their own ways, received great visions of the future from God during their journeys in the wilderness. And we may trace the path of many in the Bible and many from Christian history and find that in the wilderness they were strengthened, and learned more how to walk by faith and to lean on divine power for the tasks God gave them.

I believe another thing that happens to us when we go through a wilderness or desert experience, is that we learn to separate God from the trappings of religion. We can easily confuse nostalgia for Christian music, for example, for God. And not only music, but church architecture, cushioned pews, the atmosphere of a friendly church, church programs, and even the sights and sounds of church potlucks and other church things. In the wilderness we learn that we are not to thirst for those things alone or mostly, but for God first and last.

I was blessed today in reading a quote from C. H. Spurgeon in Streams in the Desert, that spoke of the commonness of problems and tribulations for Christians. He wrote:

Would you like to be there and see yourself pointed at as the one saint who never knew a sorrow? Oh, no! for you would be an alien in the midst of the sacred brotherhood. We will be content to share the battle, for we shall soon wear the crown and wave the palm.

If God has entrusted to you in these days a desert-like spiritual experience, if, even after you have confessed all sins, you still feel nothing of His presence, then by faith trust in His promises. Let Him achieve His purpose in your heart during your wilderness experience. Keep your eyes focused upon Jesus, “looking unto Him the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He will guide you through it all. Desire Him and Him alone. Remember His faithfulness in the past and rest in Him. The day will come again when suddenly you find yourself in the fullness of His presence.

Evening Devotionals , ,