VIDEO The School of Sickness

My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Samuel Lane Loomis, a minister of yesteryear, said wise people learn by God’s grace to consider sickness a school where one can learn great lessons; a battlefield where one can win great victories; and a garden where one may pick beautiful flowers and fruits. 

Many Christians who contracted COVID look back at the experience as a time when God spoke to their hearts and deepened their lives as never before. The psalmist said, “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever” (Psalm 73:26, NLT).

Through our sicknesses, we can trust in the promises of our Father. He will never leave or forsake us. The apostle Paul concluded: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Do you feel badly today? Ask God to turn sickness into His school, His battlefield of victory, His garden of peace. And may He do it!

My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain. John Henry Newman


God Is Good, Psalm 73 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Love That Disciplines

Do not despise the Lord’s discipline. Proverbs 3:11

When I took a family studies class in college, we were asked to write a “family history”—a record of the key events that make up one’s childhood. This included the patterns that characterized typical family life and the methods of discipline we experienced. We all had at least one instance of a parent misapplying discipline and leaving an emotional or physical scar. Understandably, traumatic experiences like these may affect the way we interpret our heavenly Father’s discipline.

In Proverbs 3:11–12, the wise teacher invites readers to accept God’s discipline. The word discipline could be translated “correction.” As a good and loving Father, God speaks through His Spirit and the Scriptures to correct self-destructive behavior. God’s discipline is relational—rooted in His love and His desire for what’s best for us. Sometimes it looks like consequences. Sometimes God prompts someone to point out our blind spots. Often, it’s uncomfortable, but God’s discipline is a gift.

But we don’t always see it that way. The wise man cautioned, “Do not despise the Lord’s discipline” (v. 11). Sometimes we fear God’s discipline. At other times we misinterpret bad things in our lives as God’s discipline. This is far from the heart of a loving Father who disciplines because He delights in us and corrects because He loves us.

Instead of fearing God’s discipline, may we learn to accept it. When we hear God’s voice of correction in our hearts or experience conviction when reading Scripture, may we thank God that He delights in us enough to lead us to what’s best.

By:  Daniel Ryan Day

Reflect & Pray

How do you recognize God’s discipline? How do you sense the love of God in the midst of it?

God, help me to recognize Your discipline so that I can discover the freedom You offer

More Than a Savior

Hebrews 1:1-4

Who is this Jesus? It’s a question that has been asked by countless individuals for more than two millennia. And, to be sure, it is the most important question that can ever be asked and answered. After all, it’s how we begin our journey toward salvation.

So it’s essential to answer that question by saying Jesus is indeed our Savior. But He is also more—Scripture refers to Him as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). No one has ever looked upon the face of the Almighty. In the Old Testament, some people found themselves in His presence, but they were never able to look fully upon His glory. However, when the Son came down from heaven, veiled in human flesh, He bridged the gap between the Father’s perfect holiness and mankind’s sinful condition. That’s why Jesus could say, “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

The way we come to know the Father is by knowing the Son, who is the only full expression and explanation of God. Everyone who through faith trusts Jesus as Savior receives forgiveness of sins and Christ’s imputed righteousness. What’s more, believers are given divine insight into God the Father as well.

The Hand of the Lord

“This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.” (Ezra 7:6)

Neither Ezra, who was a scribe, nor Nehemiah, who was apparently a butler, had been prepared by either study or experience to supervise a great construction project, rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem and the wall of the city, both of which had been destroyed many years before by the armies of Babylon. Yet God called them to these ministries and led them and protected them as they carried them out.

They were both careful, then, to give God the credit for what they had accomplished. No less than six times in Ezra and twice in Nehemiah they reminded their readers that God’s hand had been upon them as they supervised the work (see Ezra 7:6, 9, 28; 8:18-22, 31; Nehemiah 2:8, 18).

There had been many difficulties and much opposition, but as Paul would later say: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

We also need to be careful to give God the credit for anything He enables us to accomplish in His service. Even such a great and useful Christian as the apostle Paul had to say: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

We remember, however, that the hand of the Lord can be a chastening hand as well as a guiding and providing hand. When a certain false prophet tried “to pervert the right ways of the Lord,” Paul said: “The hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind” (Acts 13:10-11). And so it was. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). HMM

“I Am the Life”

John 5:39-40

IN an earlier article, we spoke of how men look everywhere for life and few find it. It is possible for one to search the Scriptures and not know the life presented there. The reason is stated by our Lord: “[Ye] search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).

The true and eternal life—which is the only worthwhile ideal of life—is not found in a philosophy or a principle but in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He expressly declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). God is the One Source of life, and Christ is the only way to God. He further declared: “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent” (John 17:3). He came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). The book of John was written in order that, believing in Christ, we might have life through His name (John 20:31).

This means far more than that Jesus Christ preached eternal life or gave a philosophy or even lived it. It means that the very life of God—not that physical existence which we all share, but the eternal life by which God lives—was incarnate in Christ and through Him is communicable to us. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). If He were only a teacher of life, we would still be in our hopeless condition. But He embodied the life He taught, and we through faith in Him can share in it.

Even this is not enough—that He was that life incarnate, the Word made flesh, God with us. It was necessary for Him to die as a man that His life might be available to all men! In the twelfth chapter of John, He emphasizes that. Certain Greeks had come to see Him (John 12:20)—doubtless, men of a philosophical mind—who hoped to find in His teaching an “open sesame” to truth and life, but the Lord Jesus, when notified of their presence, began at once to speak of His approaching death (vv. 23-33). Here lies a profound truth: Sin has cursed the human race, and sin hinders men from knowing life, so that the natural man cannot receive life or the truth about it. But the Lord Jesus Christ met the problem of sin for us, although He knew no sin. For as Moses lifted up the serpent that men might have life for a look, even so was Christ lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish but have eternal life (John 3:14-16).

Of course, such a truth involves great mysteries. It is the fashion of the times to sneer at the idea that any one person has ever known, to say nothing of his having been, the secret of life eternal! So men still chase speculations and vain philosophies. And they will not come unto Him that they might have life.

Colossians 3:4 calls Christ “our life.” When we believe in Him and yield ourselves to Him, God gives us a new and eternal life which is His own shared with us. It is not merely that we set out to live like Jesus. No, He becomes our very life, so that we can say “to me to live is Christ,” not simply “like Christ” nor “for Christ.” He is life itself. We are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4) and, therefore, of the divine life.

The Elements of Prophecy

Because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.—Romans 4:21

Prophecy is a revelation of God to humankind. It will take place at exactly the right time: “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie” (Hab 2:3). The time for the fulfillment is fixed by God, and it will come to pass at the exact moment that God foreordains.

Yet another element is that of foretelling the future. Here again, some Bible teachers object to this and say that prophecy is forth-telling rather than foretelling. It is quite true, of course, that prophecy is a form of teaching and therefore contains an element of forth-telling (speaking out the truth), but the true nature of prophecy lies in the fact that it is predictive. God told Habakkuk things that would happen long before they came to pass.

The last element of prophecy is that it will be fulfilled: “Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets … For the vision is yet for the appointed time” (vv. 2-3). The events God foretells are certain to take place—and in God’s time. The revelation may seem to be delayed, but nothing can prevent or frustrate its fulfillment.

How does all this relate to the more practical aspects of daily Christian living? Let me put the answer in the form of two questions: Has God given you a word or promise that is yet to be fulfilled? And does the delay cause you to wonder whether or not He has forgotten His promise? Then take heart—there are trains on His line until 11:59. What God has promised, He will most certainly perform.

Prayer

O God, I bring to You my doubts and uncertainties for You to put them to rest—forever. Today I want You to burn deep into me the conviction that nothing can ever stop Your Word from being fulfilled. Nothing. I am so thankful. Amen.

Further Study

Mt 5:1-18; 1Kg 8:56; Ps 111:7-8; Ezk 12:25

What did Christ promise concerning God’s Word?

Reaffirm your trust in His ability to fulfill His promise to you.

Those Pop Quizzes

Romans 14:11-12

School was usually good, except for the dreaded pop quizzes. It was like the teacher had radar, for she always knew when we were most unprepared.

“All right, class. Put away your books and take out a piece of paper. We are going to have a pop quiz.”

“It’s not fair. We aren’t ready. We haven’t had a chance to study,” we’d moan.

“You are supposed to know the material and be ready whether we have a test or not.”

Since there was no reasoning with her and there were only so many times we could tell the school nurse that our malaria was flaring up again, all we could do was take the test and pray that we remembered the work.

It is important to be prepared, for living is one test after another. Some are multiple choice (good, better, best) while others are more true/false, right/wrong. Some are judgment questions—if a tractor trailer is doing 65 mph on the interstate and I have my old Chevy van with zero acceleration power, can I make the merge without being demolished? How can I relate to our teenage kids and still keep my sanity?

Still others are essay questions that test how well you know yourself and know the Lord as your Savior and guide. In those tests of integrity, when no teacher is looking and there is no answer key, it is important to be prepared. We will not receive a grade but will be called to explain what we have done with our lives on the final exam of life.

Scripture tells us that, “Every knee will bow before Me [Jesus] and every tongue will confess to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:11-12). And for that test, we never know the time or the day so we can’t wait until the night before and cram for it. We must be ready at all times.

It also tells us that we should be ready to offer answers to those who are searching. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15). The hope that we have is in Jesus as our Savior and friend who saves from sin and has changed our lives. And if you ask me why, I’ll tell you.

A. Kenneth Wilson, The War Cry