Friday, April 16, 2021

Step by Step

     Recovering from knee replacement surgery is not for the faint of heart.  It requires determination, effort, and following the rehab plan.  This is my third knee surgery in less than a year so I feel like I am well acquainted with many of the exercises.  The discomfort is something that no one enjoys but it goes along with the process.  In many respects, the Christian life is very similar.

     God begins a work within us when He calls us to be His own.  He removes our stony heart as stated in Ezekiel 36:26:  "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."  We were once dead to God and alive to sin until the Great Physician gave us a new life in Christ.  Talk about major surgery!   God made us a new creation unto repentance, and just like physical surgery, it takes time to grow in this new way of life.

     With knee surgery, they get you up the same day as your surgery and have you begin moving.  Of course, it is supervised and I took baby steps.  No instant marathon runner here...it will take time.  In much the same way as a new Christian, we need someone to come along side us and help us to grow.  This is where church fellowship, teaching and discipleship are critically important.  Being a babe in Christ is both exciting and a little scary too.   My husband and I were blessed when we became new Christians to have this kind of support to help us grow in the Lord.

     Of course, we all progress at different rates whether it is recovery from surgery or in our growth in Christ.  After knee surgery, I had two weeks of home therapy, and went from using a walker, to a cane and now walking independently.  Going to rehab appointments three times a week helps to strengthen the weak muscles and even though it tests my limits of discomfort, I know I need to rebuild flexibility so I can enjoy walking again.  It will take time, and as my doctor reminds me, I could have some stiffness for
up to a year.  However, what I will not have is the bone on bone pain I had endured before. 

     Following heart surgery under the mighty Hand of God will also require some stretching and changing.  Old habits must die, the sin nature no longer holds us captive, and our desires will be transformed as well.  Some of this process can be uncomfortable or even painful.  Co-workers, family and friends may not understand the difference in us.  This may cause a number of them to walk away from us.  Jesus said in Matthew 19:29:  "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life."  Yes, we may lose some cherished relationships but in return, we will gain a family in Christ to walk with us.

     Our Lord clearly said that we will face tribulation in this world, but we can be of good cheer because as He has overcome the world, we also will overcome through His power.  We must be willing to invest our time and effort to grow just like I am currently doing in my rehab with my knee.  I want to get full function back, and it requires my participation in less than comfortable exercises.  So I keep my eye on the goal and that is what we must do if we desire to grow in Christ.  Let us keep pressing forward towards the goal as the Apostle Paul told us...keeping our eye on the prize that we may win the crown and hear our master say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant..." (Matthew 25:23).  Press on dear friends....we are almost home!  Selah!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Sweetness of Coming Home

     There is nothing like the sweetness of coming home again after being away for a vacation or some other event.  No bed feels softer, no food tastes better and no surroundings seem as welcoming as those of our own home. The same can also be said for our spiritual home.

     Over this past year, many of us found ourselves separated from our church homes due to the Pandemic.  We could, of course, watch services online, but it was not the same as being there in person.  Just within this past month my husband and I finally had the chance to return to in person worship. There are no words to describe the great joy we felt being with other saints, hearing the Word of God proclaimed, and singing the hymns of our faith. Yes, we could watch all of that take place online, but the intimacy of the worship experience is missing on the screen. The Psalmist was correct when he wrote these words pertaining to God's House:  "For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness"(Psalm 84:10). Sadly, it is often true that we do not realize the blessings we possess until they are taken from us.  While the virus could not take our faith away, it did manage to keep us from meeting together for a while.

     Indeed, King David loved to be in the House of the Lord and expressed this in Psalm 27:4:  "One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple." How precious these words are in light of how long we were away from the House of the Lord!  A year seems like forever. The worst part has been the inability to partake in the Lord's Supper.

     Unfortunately, with recent surgery, I am now homebound for a time and will once again, miss this meal of grace along with the celebration of Easter in person. Truly, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

     This past weekend, we watched a church service online as they received new members.  Among the people being received, many were students and younger elementary aged children.  My heart burst with joy as I saw these new believers come into the fellowship of the church, and tears streamed down my cheeks.  Did they realize how blessed they were to be together in person?  I pray they never lose that desire for fellowship.  Then, when the church celebrated the Lord's Supper, I prayed for that time when we will also be able to join in once again in remembrance of our Savior's sacrifice for us.

     Having gone through this Pandemic has not been easy for any of us, but of this I am certain, we must never take for granted the ability to worship the Lord together and to take to heart the admonition found in Hebrews 10:24-25: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."  Yes, the Day of His return will come, and we will be ready when we remain in fellowship in the House of the Lord.  Selah!   Have a blessed Easter for HE IS RISEN!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Living Without Fear

              Living Without Fear

                              By

                               Barbara Thayer

 

    Ever since the first lockdown took place in our nation over a year ago due to the COVID19 virus, many of us have experienced anxiety over the unknown as we heard about people dying from this terrible disease.  It seemed like reports changed daily as to how to avoid it, how long it would last, and when it might be safe to re-open businesses.  For us, the isolation ended as we returned to home group and finally worship services once again just recently. This was a high point for us after the months of remaining at home. Oh, we still take precautions, but we refuse to let fear dominate our lives as we follow the Lord’s guidance in matters.

    We all will acknowledge that fear is a paralyzing emotion.  When it takes hold, we cannot use our reasoning abilities given to us by God.  Unfortunately, Satan knows this very well, and tries hard to feed us with things that cause us to doubt God and His power. This is how sin first came into the world as Satan caused Eve to doubt God’s good will toward them.  He made it seem to Eve as though God did not want her to have the knowledge of good and evil.  God was holding out on them; so the woman took matters into her own hands.  As a result, both she and her husband disobeyed God and fell into sin. Now they lived in fear of His judgment.

    While we don’t have Satan whispering in our ear as he did in the Garden with Eve, we do have many other tools he can use that can pull us away from trusting in God.  For example, we have to be careful of misinformation spread on the internet, in the news or over the air waves.  In my own situation, I belong to a number of social media sites so I can interact with friends.  However, one of the drawbacks comes from people spreading questionable information about conspiracies, vaccines, and groups of people.  If all these things were to be believed, we would never leave our house, never seek medical treatment, and have little to no contact with other human beings.  Yet, this is not what God has called us to do.  2 Timothy 1:7 tells us:  “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a self-control.”  Paul was trying to encourage Timothy in this passage to stir up the gift within him and not be overcome by fear.

    In another letter to the Roman church, Paul wrote this about fear:  “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” Here Paul is reminding his fellow believers that the spirit of slavery is our fear of death and final punishment. However, we have been set free as Christians from this fear and can draw near to God intimately.

    Another letter written by the Apostle John ( I John 4:18) proclaims the freedom we have from fear when we know the love of God:  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Through Christ, we have salvation and the outpouring of God’s love through forgiveness. This casts out all fear so why do we get entangled in it?

    Let me suggest that we turn off that T.V. and social media for a while.  Quit listening to the opinions of others.  This world is full of different persuasions on any subject.  We are called to live by faith not fear.  Seek the Lord and His wisdom and understanding on issues of importance.  Don’t spend time running from one opinion to another or you will find yourself in a knot of anxiety. God has given us a sound mind with which to reason and His Holy Spirit to teach us in His Word. He has also given to us godly men and women that can pray with us for discernment. Most of all, let us lean upon the Lord Jesus who told us not to worry in Matthew 6:25-34. Remember that fear puts a wedge between God and us when we yield to this form of slavery. May we pray instead:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).  Selah!