I attended church service today and the Pastor shared a story that speaks to God’s love and how we should share His love with others.
A friend of the pastor’s visited the countryside in Ghana where he was on assignment at a government hospital. He noticed from his office window that daily the sick passed the government hospital to travel on foot to the missionary hospital which was many miles away.
He watched people take the trek to the missionary hospital for a week and finally asked his friend why they chose the missionary hospital instead of the government hospital that was better equipped.
His friend replied that the medicine is the same. The people chose the missionary hospital because the hands were different.
In effect, they felt the hands of God upon them in every nook and cranny throughout the missionary hospital. They knew they were well cared for because God was present. The government hospital was medically far superior, but the atmosphere in the hospital was sterile and loveless.
My question is – are your hands different? How do people see you as a Christian? Do they feel the love of God emanating from you? Are you warm and welcoming, or cold and remote? Do you reflect God in your actions? Do you love as God loves you? Do you reflect Christ’s love, compassion, and strength in your convictions, or do you represent the emptiness of a sterile government hospital?
Scriptures and scripture images (Biblestudytools.com)
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.” James 5:13 NIV
Dissecting the Scripture
When we suffer hardships, we are afflicted by our circumstances. Affliction is broad and covers all trials, circumstances, and situations. The answer to affliction is prayer.
Biblically, happiness is the state of joy, the absence of anxiety and fear that tears at your soul. Singing praise is a form of thanking God. Praise is appropriate when you are happy, not fearful, anxious or depressed. Praise is a state of joy, not earthy joy, but joy in your soul. Praise is also appropriate when you are struggling. In those moments it is important to become laser focused on something that is working in your life no matter how small or transitory. When you praise God for that small thing, He offers a place of calmness and peace.
Prayer and praise are forms of connection to peace. We find peace when we are connected to our Lord. God’s ears are always inclined to our cries, our shouts of praise, and joy. Our relationship with Him can overcome the afflictions of this world if we pray. We must focus on Him and not our circumstances to allow His peace to enter our souls, where we can rest in the comfort of His arms.
“pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 https://bible.com/bible/59/1th.5.17-18.ESV
Our Lord is all truth and the truth is, God loves us and is in the center of our prayers and our praise. He is at the center of our life. Once we accept His place in our lives and we accept being dependent upon Him, our life begins to change and we begin to pray and praise as part of who we are, children of God. Praise God for being our father.
To quote John McArthur (biblereasons.com): “The more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path. The more you know Him and commune with Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. The more you are like Him, the better you will understand His utter sufficiency for all of life’s difficulties.”
The only way we can reach God is through prayer, praise and worship. And, when we do so, we find God in the center of our lives orchestrating our path according to His will and His way. The path will not be smooth, but more like a dirt road with crooks, crannies, pot holes and mounds. However, with GOD at the center we can continue to move forward. Prayer and praise are the resources we need to strengthen our relationship with the Lord and rely on His truth that will set us free.
Image: KCIS 630 Radio, Google Images; Biblestudytools.com
We know so many partial scriptures and tend to recite them in daily conversations, but part is never the whole. Let’s dig deeper into Psalm 118.
We will begin with Verse 1, “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, because His mercy endures forever.” Psalms 118:1 MEV https://bible.com Each morning we are to give thanks, why, because the Lord’s mercy endures forever. That means everyday until the end of time.
There is so much to unpack in this scripture, it would become a thesis, so let’s focus on verses 1, 24, 27, 28, and 29 today.
“This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Palm 1818:24. It is the day the Lord has made and, yes – we are to rejoice in it. But as we read further we find that Paul is encouraging Christ’s followers to thank God for this day and rejoice in it. You see it doesn’t matter what you have lived through. It doesn’t matter who you were before Christ entered into your life. It doesn’t matter the crowd you followed, all that matters is that you are now a child of God and should be thankful for all of His blessings.
Verse 27 stresses that God is Lord, and He has given us “light”. Christ is the light. His light is nestled inside us and radiates out to those around us. The light much like a beacon, is a guiding light drawing in the lost bringing them closer to our Lord. They poise the question, what is it about you that makes you different? Our acts should represent the same characteristics as Christ. Our behavior should emulate His. Our language and disposition should reflect what we are told in Galatians 6. We should walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. We should demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in our walk, and it begins with recognition of the new day as a gift from God.
Being like means that on dismal days, do we present a grey attitude or do we rejoice in the day? This day too was created by our Lord and we should rejoice. Often, I find myself complaining and have to reflect restructure my thinking to rejoice in the day, Why? It is simple, He loves me, woke me up, and gave me new mercies. I should be glad in it and rejoice. My focus should be on the things above and not on the earth which is full of sin. If I reflect on the things of this earth, it changes my inner atmosphere by giving over to the present evils.
When we look at the news, do we grumble and sink into the malaise of the day, or do we focus on the Lord? Do we get lost in the thoughts of negativity, or do we, instead, rejoice in the fact that no matter what is going on around us, our Lord is still King and remains on the throne? Do we praise Him for who He is, or cower down to the evil, consumed by what we see, experience, or feel?
Verses 28 and 29 refocuses our thoughts on our purpose. We are to continually give praise and thanks for the day, knowing that in the best of moments and the bleakest, God is still in control.
“You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” Psalms 118:28-29 MEV https://bible.com
When digging deeper we see we are blessed to awake to a new day. We are to give thanks, rejoice, and be glad (grateful). We are to recognize who God is in our life and behave in a way pleasing to Him. We are to look for God in all things and reflect on them and not what we lies before us. The Lord is the lamp that guides us through this life. We are nestled in His love and His mercy endures forever.
There are times in our lives when life is just out of our hands, and we cannot anticipate, control, or direct the path away from the madness or malaise of life. Our path is out of our hands. We find ourselves lost, focusing on self, independent of God. But it is also the time we realize our dependence upon God is more than a thought or perspective. We are in a synaptic gap, and it is time to jump. How? We knowledge our dependence on our Lord and Savior and begin to focus more on Him than the problems. The jump requires complete faith in God’s outcome, whatever it is. Our dependence causes us to cry out to our Lord, and hand Him our situation, praying for Him to take over and lead us out into the light.
It is during these times we can be confident in knowing that God hears our prayers. He knew what we would go through long before He blew breath in our lives. He knew of our challenges, the directions we would take in life, straying off the path, the influences of others, poor choices, being in the wrong place at the wrong times, and thinking we are more than who we are.
“In this, you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV. https://bible.com/bible/59/1pe.1.6-7.ESV
Given His knowledge of our existence, which He created, we should look to Him for love, peace through the storm, direction, and support. His love is greater than the things of this world, and when we begin to see the bigger picture through His lens, we can see hope even when we can barely see a glimmer of light in the distance.
Our Lord always provides directions to bring us and our family members through. These challenges may not evaporate the moment we begin praying, but they are heard, and everything occurs within God’s timing. Sometimes that feels very harsh, but in looking back through the stories in the Bible, we see desperate people in desperate situations come through storms that many cannot imagine. The distortion is so great we cannot see beyond the chaos and confusion.
The truth is, not all of our experiences are bright and cheery. There are seasons of gray, canceling out all of the colors on the color wheel of life. The reality is, that we are in a battle between good and evil, and not all things are bright and cheery. There is loss, devastation, annihilation, and setbacks, and yet we can hold fast because His people always bounce back according to His will and His ways. We survive the odds. He is the master of making ways out of no way. He brings light to darkness and quells the waves that well up in the storm.
“ The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”