Some might say that I’m stubborn. Those that know me best would say that there is no “might” to it...I am stubborn.
Case in point: for the past several weeks, I have hacked and coughed my way through my sermons and Bible classes and sleep at night and office hours in the day. I just figured it was allergies.
Shortly after this started, I took Jamie to see Dr. Ezra Cole about her wrist. In his office I had a coughing fit. He looked down my throat and, I believe I’m quoting him directly, said “YUCK!” He told me to try some things (no plug for OTC medications here) to get rid of the “yuck”.
Well, the things didn’t work. So finally I went to the doctor on Monday...a “grown up” doctor...or a doctor that treats adults...ummmmm...a non-pediatrician.
My lungs were clear, but my sinuses were not: I had/have a sinus infection. So the doctor prescribed an antibiotic (no plug for pharmaceuticals here) and, now, two days later, I’m feeling a little better...except for the side effects of the antibiotic.
So why didn’t I just go to the doctor when I started coughing? Because I’m male? Because even the co-pay is high? Because, “It’s just a cough”? Because, “It’s just allergies”? Because, “It’ll last two weeks if I go to the doctor and 14 days if I don’t”? Because I’m stubborn?
A more important question is when we are spiritually ailing, why don’t we go to The Great Physician? Is it because we think we can take care of it ourselves? Is it because the price is too high? Is it because we think it is just a phase we are going through? Is it because we believe our friends will think less of us? Is it because we are stubborn?
Jesus knows human nature (since He created humans and then became a human). He knows it is human nature to be stubborn. This stubbornness, though, is not pleasing to Him.
In Mark 16:14 Jesus rebuked His disciples for their stubborn refusal to believe those He had sent to them with the message of His resurrection.
When we are sick, hurt, ill, or just plain not feeling well, we don’t need to let it go on for four weeks before seeing a doctor. When we are spiritually sick, hurt, ill, or just plain don’t feel spiritually well, our first inclination should be to call up The Great Physician.
Sometimes His prescription is filled just by taking the time to pray about it for our self. One indicator of ailing spiritual health is that we let our private devotional times slip.
Sometimes His prescription is filled by the shepherds of the local church. In James 5:14 James writes, “Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
We’ll save a discussion of anointing with oil for another time. The important thing is that when we are sick (physically and/or spiritually) one of the best things we can do is call the elders and ask them to pray for us.
Sometime His prescription is filled by the prayers of our fellow Christians. James 5:16 tells us to, “...confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
We need to be doing our very best to live a righteous life so that if someone comes to us and asks us to pray for them we can pray powerfully and effectively. We also need to understand that if they ask us to pray, we are to pray and not share with everyone we know.
And here’s the clincher...He doesn’t even require a co-pay! So the next time you’re “just not yourself” spiritually speaking, call up the Great Physician...He always has immediate appointments available and He always has the cure for what ails you!
Once every four years there is a time unlike any other. Once every four years people suddenly become VERY opinionated (OK, for some it is more than just once every four years). 2016 is one of those years.
For some time now, the news has been dominated by those who would like to be President of the United States. There have been debates. Every form of media has been employed by the different campaigns to tell anyone who will listen why So-And-So should get your vote.
Tuesday, March 1 is the date of the Arkansas primary elections (early voting is now open, FYI). I want to encourage you to engage in the political process and vote, even though it is “just a primary election.”
I would not presume to tell you for whom to vote (or whom to vote against). I will not endorse one political party over the other (publically anyway)...not even on Facebook. That is not my place as your minister.
I would presume, however, to urge you to be an informed voter. Today, a candidate’s voting record is little more than a Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. search away. Go to the campaign’s web page and see what they believe about the issues that are important to you.
Mostly, though, I would encourage you to investigate where the various candidates stand on issues of Biblical significance.
If the Bible plainly teaches that something is wrong and a candidate believes that it is right, OK, or even debatable, how can we consider voting for them?
If the Bible plainly teaches that something is right and a candidate believes that it is wrong, questionable, or even debatable, how can we consider voting for them?
Admittedly, some issues are “bigger” than others and some of the most “pressing” political issues in this election may not be directly addressed in Scripture. But we can find principles to help us make a choice.
And it doesn’t matter if the person is running for President or Dog Catcher...our standard should be the same.
Having said that, I realize that we are left with imperfect people running for office. So what do we do? We pray for guidance: that we can vote for the one who will do the best job leading our nation, state, county, city, school board, etc. as God would have us led.
And then we go to the polls and, based on our convictions, we vote!
When you look at the above picture, what do you see? Do you see a vase? Do you see two faces, looking at each other?
There is some psychological term for this type of vision test: do you look at the black or white first and what that means about you.
But I wanted to use this picture to illustrate the importance of perspective. How you look at something can determine what you see. You see that what you see above is two faces, looking at each other and it is also a vase...it all depends on your perspective.
When you are determining if something is right or wrong, there are two perspectives we can take. One perspective is the world’s perspective. If “everybody else is doing it” then why should I deny myself? If it is so “wrong” why do so many people do it?
The other perspective is God’s perspective. When we look at something in light of what the Bible says about it, we are looking at it from God’s perspective. When we make decisions based on if something is going to draw us closer to God or push us further away from God, we are looking at it from God’s perspective.
In the above picture, both answers are correct. Some choices in life have two (or more) right answers. But other choices God speaks clearly about in His Word.
When God’s Word is clear, we must always choose His perspective...no matter what the world says. When God’s Word is clear, we must obey God rather than man (see Acts 5:29): there is a right and there is a wrong.
I was doing my daily Bible reading this past week (one that take me through the New Testament in 60 days) and I had an epiphany. Definition 3 on dictionary.com for epiphany reads: “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”
I was reading about Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison in Acts 12. King Herod had killed James, the brother of John. This pleased the Jews. So, perhaps in a politically motivated move, he arrested Peter. It would seem that Peter’s fate was sealed.
What was Peter’s mindset the night before his “trial” (the night that was very likely the night before his execution)? Acts 12:6-10 tells us Peter was sleeping peacefully between two guards when an angel woke him up and led him to freedom.
But what was the church doing while Peter peacefully slept in his prison cell? Acts 12:12-17 records Peter interrupting a prayer meeting on his behalf at the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark.
Peter slept. Why would he sleep? Because he trusted in God! He knew Jesus had said he would “grow old” (John 21:18), perhaps he had grown as old as he was going to get. Perhaps he knew that whatever happened God would be glorified...whether he lived or died.
The church prayed. Why would they pray? Because they trusted in God! For what did they pray? We don’t know. We can surmise they were not expecting Peter to be released (either miraculously or otherwise) - notice their disbelief of Rhoda in verse 15.
Peter was likely going to be executed the next day. That night, Peter slept and the church prayed. Two totally different responses to a stressful situation, but both showing complete trust in God.
When the stresses of life are at a full boil, how should you respond? When it seems like things cannot get any worse for you, what should you do? Pray...and sleep. Fully trust that God has everything under control and that whatever happens will bring glory to Him!