Saturday, January 8, 2011
I've been going through a difficult time as I wait for a surgery date. One of the surgeons has not been definitive so everything is on hold. In the interim, I'm battling another UTI and taking two antibiotics. My body is in pain and all around not happy with me. I'm bedridden most of the time and eating is a chore. Water and peppermint tea are the beverages of choice. To ease the pain, I lay on my side, I read the bible, mainly the Psalms. Recently I downloaded the NIV Dramatized audio bible from zondervan. You can get it from amazon for free with a 30 day trial membership to audible! I know it will com in handy as I'm recovering. There is nothing like reading an encouraging poem, someone who has felt suffering like you, but is comforted because of their trust in your Lord. It is our nature to depend on ourselves when things are going well. But when disaster hits, we immediately ask God to help us. When we have to depend on him for sustenance, that's when we recognize who holds everything in place. Despite everything, I am very very lucky I have the food, shelter and medicine I need. Many people don't and I try to keep that in mind when I feel overwhelmed. I still have my Voice of the Martyrs poster on the wall, detailing countries that persecute people for their Christian faith. You can see a similar map here. I think about those people who are barred from even having the Bible or worship together in peace. Christian converts are physically harassed by the police, tortured, and their churches are burned. Their pastors are killed. These problems were once only periphery to me at best, but since taking up my cross and following Jesus, the unfailing love of our God to reach down to us is what I cling to and suffering is at the forefront.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Richard did a very poignant and heartfelt sermon last Sunday on just the first two verses of Romans 12, speaking of not conforming to the world, but to renew your mind according to the mind of Christ:
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2
You can listen to the sermon here titled "Conformers or Transformers."
In light of the fact that God has saved us from our sins, that He is ever merciful, we should thank Him with our lives:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service." (verse 1)
another verse is: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14
God wants us. Not necessarily our time or our money but for us to to worship him in spirit and in truth. Not rituals. Not Garbs. Not in what we eat. Jesus said, "Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." (Matt 15:10-11) See also Isaiah 1:13-17
We can give money till our hearts content, go to church till our hearts content, but if we do not repent from the things which we know God doesn't want us doing then it is in vain. All of us struggle with our flesh wether it be pride or lust or envy, anger, strife, etc. The way to deal with it is to combat it through the Word of God. Reading it exposes us for who we really are, tells us what we need and why:
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. John 3:18-21
It is no wonder that people now despise the Bible. That they joke about Jesus. People squirm when I mention it, the thought of being accountable to a divine law that is holy makes people outright defiant. I sure was! I thought since my dad initially wasn't the greatest and he was a Christian, why should I put my faith in God? I gave in to temptations of lust and walked away from God. Instead of being a transformer, I became a conformer.
How does one transform to the image of God? By seeking him. To seek comes from the Greek word eraunao to search or examine:
"Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [that should come] unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." 1 Peter 10:10-11 Daniel the the prophet sought God with prayer, fasting and searching the scriptures. God reveals Himself through His Word as it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is there where one finds truth, comfort, guidance, rebuke and spiritual and practical understanding.
As a person who is bed bound often, I lean upon God's promises to get me through most days. It's not always easy! I can get distracted by my pain or by my roommate's television. But consistency helps, a willing heart definitely helps as well as different methods of getting the Word in. I use worship music and pray to that, since there is so much noise here. I recently purchased a CD called "No storm too great!" focusing on Psalm 91. Jeannie Rose prays different portions of this psalm along to soothing beach background that solidify the promises God gives for the listener. I like it because it is soothing and I can block everything else out in the nursing home. It also helps remember scripture and pray it. This can be applied to any verse/story in scripture to reassure yourself of God's blessing in his Covenant through Jesus. The rest of the world would rather we waste time in entertainment, partying, and selfish gain but just as in the days of Noah, God will save the righteous and destroy the wicked (Luke 17:26-27). Where are you today?