Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Four Things We Learn from Being Sick

I absolutely hate being sick. I hate feeling unproductive. I hate feeling weak, miserable, and generally "icky" (that's a highly technical medical term).

For whatever reason, God has chosen to leave difficult things like sickness in this world, even though He could easily end all sickness. So what might be His good purposes in allowing sickness to continue? I can think of four things I have learned from times of sickness.

1) When I am weak, He is strong. In my pride I may think I can do it all by myself. Sickness reminds me that my own strength has limits. This means I need to rely even more on God, who has no limits to His strength. The Apostle Paul explained this lesson in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

2) Rest is a good thing. Our tendency is to drive ourselves 24/7. I have a hard time going to bed at night because I still see so much that needs to be done. I'm not very good at consistently taking a Sabbath, either. But God designed us for rest, and commanded us to observe the Sabbath. God designed us for work and also for rest; we harm ourselves if we neglect either of these.

3) This world is not my home. When I am sick, I cease to be comfortable in this temporary body on this temporal earth. I begin to look past the temporal to the eternal: for me as a Christian, that means eternity in heaven, where there is no more sickness (see Revelation 21:4). Being sick jolts me out of my comfort zone and I begin to long for heaven, my real home.

4) Sin has widespread consequences. I'm not saying that I get sick because of my own sin, but in general terms, sickness is in this world because of sin and its global consequences. Sin is serious, and when we see this, it helps us be more determined to say "No" to sin. We are all touched by the worldwide effects of sin, including sickness, pain, and ultimately physical death. Again, this helps us long even more for heaven and the end of the power and presence of sin. We have a glorious future ahead of us when we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death (see 1 Corinthians 15:53-57).

When I am sick, I try to focus on wonderful truths like these. I encourage you to do the same.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy New Day!

I don't get excited about New Year's Day. I don't make New Year's resolutions. That's because, with the Lord, every day is a "New Day." Every New Day offers a fresh start.

We read in Lamentations 3:22-23: "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

We read in 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Every day holds new opportunities to choose against sin and choose for God. Every day is a New Day.

* If I didn't spend enough time with my kids yesterday - today is a New Day!
* If I didn't love my wife very well yesterday - today is a New Day!
* If I blew my chance to share the gospel with someone yesterday - today is a New Day!
* If I trashed my diet and ate a bunch of junk yesterday - today is a New Day!

"One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-13).

Happy New Day!

Monday, January 7, 2013

His Story

He faced an unplanned pregnancy. The woman he was going to marry was now expecting a child. This was not in his plans.

He was shocked. He was scared. He worried about what people would think.

He considered all his options, but he didn't really like any of his alternatives. He finally decided to do the most loving thing he could: he would just leave quietly. Indeed, this would have been a life-altering decision. Really, no matter what he did, it would affect his life (and her life) forever, but this one option seemed to be the the most reasonable choice with the least painful consequences.

Then an angel appeared to him. "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (See Luke 1:18-25.)

Have you ever thought about the Christmas story from Joseph's perspective? Have you considered the tremendous courage he had to exercise in following God's plan for his life? As a skilled worker in a small town, Joseph would have been known by nearly everyone. But nobody would believe the truth about a miraculous conception and two angelic appearances, so (as far as we know) he did not tell anyone. He simply had to press forward with following God's will, knowing only a tiny portion of the larger story you and I can read in the Bible now.

I am thankful for many people in the Bible who endured hard times and found God's faithfulness helping them through. Noah, Abraham, David, Ruth, Esther, Joseph, Mary, Simon Peter, Saul/Paul - and most of all, Jesus Christ. As I read about God's faithfulness in their lives, I am encouraged to trust Him in all of my daily circumstances too.

Hebrews 12:3 reminds us of Christ's example: "Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted."