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July 2020

August 2020

A year ago . . . I was in trouble

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Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. (James 5:13, NIV)

Is anyone among you in trouble? . . . I was.
Last month I had my yearly physical and it reminded me of my medical check-up a year ago (2019). At that time I was in trouble. I felt horrible and every day was getting worse. All my self-help efforts (better diet, more sleep, vitamins, more carbs, more protein, lots of water, … you name it) were futile. My brain wasn’t working (I was getting lost while driving), and my body wasn’t working (at one point I couldn’t walk)—I was sick.

My family physician ordered tests, made referrals and the gauntlet began. The doctors had no idea what the problem was, and I had no idea what lay ahead. It was a struggle, concern, frustration, inconvenience, and strangely, something that I initially left God out of in my life. I fell for the lie that I could handle it on my own:

Satan’s main strategy with God’s people has always been to whisper, “Don’t call, don’t ask, don’t depend on God to do great things. You’ll get along just fine if you just rely on your own cleverness and energy.” The truth of the matter is that the devil is not terribly frightened of our human efforts and credentials. But he knows his kingdom will be damaged when we lift up our hearts to God. –Jim Cymbala

Thankfully, in the midst of my pride and foolishness, the Holy Spirit mercifully nudged me with James 5:14, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” So that is what I did.

Let them pray . . . I did, and so did many others
I shared my need with my church, my family and my friends and they all prayed for me . . . and they kept praying for me. I’m so glad they did. My medical diagnosis was a rare condition (found in only five out of every one-million people) and it was unknown territory for the local doctors and medical specialists that were caring for me. Over the months following my diagnosis I had three major procedures to address the problem and all three failed. Then came the frustration, the anger, the medical bills, the questions and the doubt. All the while, people were praying—they were calling upon the Lord on my behalf.

Is anyone happy? . . . I am
People were praying and God was working . . . in my circumstances and in my heart. He had saved me from my sins forty years earlier and in my distress and struggle he saved me again—from myself. I was barely hanging on. Yet in the midst of my struggle, He made a way. I was sinking in despair, and He lifted me up. In my weakness, He gave me strength.  And when it seemed that all hope was gone, by God's grace and help, I found myself at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

After two trips to Minnesota and seemingly endless tests, needle pokes, scans, and a failed experimental procedure, I was scheduled for pancreatic surgery. All the while, my church, my friends and my family were continuing to call out to Jesus on my behalf. Thankfully, they kept praying.

Let them sing songs of praise . . . I will
In January, Dina and I made our third trip to Minnesota and I had pancreatic surgery. The doctor was able to remove the problem and I was physically healed! God made a way—He used the surgeon, the doctors and the hospital—and my health was restored. I am so thankful to the Lord for His help and healing. Every good gift comes from the Father above.

Here I am, free of the sickness and the struggle that plagued me a year ago—but it is bigger than that. True freedom began when I surrendered my all to Jesus and trusted the Lord with every step of the journey. I was in trouble and I obeyed God’s Word—I prayed and asked others to pray with me—and God helped.

A year ago . . . I was in trouble. But now I'm happy. Jesus has been so good and faithful to me. In the midst of my struggle He showed His hand at every point in my life, and I am thankful to say that through the challenging ordeal God gave me His peace, and my faith in Him has grown deeper and stronger. It was a test, but now I have a testimony. Along with the psalmist I can truly say, “In my distress, He has enlarged me,” (Ps. 4:1, KJV).

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

Please take five minutes and check out the video below. It is a worship song that perfectly expresses my heart unto God. He is due Every Praise!

 


you are the keeper of the house

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In Matthew 21:13 Jesus said, “My house will be called a house of prayer.” But what if, due to Covid19 concerns or other things, we haven’t been in church for awhile?

Can we still pray?…connect with Jesus?…draw near to God? . . .  Absolutely!

In the gospels we read that Jesus [God] became flesh and blood, walked and lived among us, died upon the cross for our sins, defeated death, gave us new life and now lives in us via His Holy Spirit. Jesus inhabits our heart.

The Apostle Paul said it this way,

“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

In other words, God’s new (and desired) residence is in our hearts. We are His house.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)

God no longer inhabits tents or buildings—He lives in people.

We are His temple, and God’s “house of prayer” is our heart. And you are the keeper of the temple . . . the house . . . your heart. Through Jesus, you are the priest and it is your privilege, opportunity and duty to make it a house of prayer. But how? Check out Psalm 141:1-2:

I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
   hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
   may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Call out to God! You and I don’t need a priest, a church service, or a building to pray, connect with and draw near to the Lord. Through the cross of Christ we have access to God, right here, right now. Jesus is ever knocking at the door of your heart. Let Him in. Call upon the Name of the Lord!

As the keeper of the house (which is the heart) you and I need to live a life that is continuously fragrant with the incense of prayer, rising unto the Lord day and night. We must look to and revere the Lord continuously, praising Him with worship that is bold and abandoned, costly and consecrated. 

And we must follow Jesus, keeping our eyes and hearts focused on Him. We must live holy and humble; eager in the spirit of sacrificeno matter the cost, and unwavering in service to others and Christ the King.

In these stifling times, can we still pray?…connect with Jesus?…draw near to God?

Absolutely!

Let Psalm 141 be your guide as you look to the Lord.

Your heart is Christ’s home. Make it a house of prayer!