Good Medicine

medicine

“A joyful heart is good medicine,
    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22, ESV

We have from ‘King Solomon’s mines’ a truth regarding joy. Whether we acknowledge its truth, or not, we find its effects on us to be binding. “A joyful heart” is like medicine for our souls. There are many issues that afflict us, many things that trouble us. I find within myself a veritable zoo. But there is a sure and ready relief.

“Worry, fear, distrust, care-all are poisonous! joy is balm and healing, and if you will but rejoice, God will give power. He has commanded you to be glad and rejoice, and He never fails to sustain His children in keeping His commandments. Rejoice in the Lord always, He says. This means no matter how sad, how tempted, how sick, how suffering you are, rejoice in the Lord just where you are-and begin this moment. The joy of the Lord is the strength of our body, The gladness of Jesus, the balm for our pain, His life and His fullness, our fountain of healing, His joy, our elixir for body and brain.”

A.B. Simpson

 

For those among us who struggle so, we find a  treatment plan that will work. There is an active ingredient within a joyful heart that heals and protects our souls. Real joy— applied frequently to our aching souls— provides something quite  like medicine to someone quite ill. I’m no snake oil salesman. Nor am I into herbs and vitamins. (I suppose I could be a little more aware.) But I know that this principle is true.

“A crushed spirit dries up the bones.” We know first-hand that this is true. There is a ‘crushing’ wound that can breakdown our spirits and bodies. We are simply overwhelmed by life and we experience a crumbling and mashing of our personalities. We are as sick in our ‘bones’ as we might be physically. Now there is a huge difference between a physical illness and a spiritual one, but the factual principles are the same. The pain is different, but is it not similar?

A joyful heart is the pharmaceutical of choice for treating diseases of the personality and spirit. Sometimes we are unwell because we ignore the prescription.  “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  (Nehemiah 8:10) Joy in the deepest part of us is almost always:

  1. transforming,
  2. God-honoring, and
  3. contagious.

If this is true, then we do well to ‘give it a whirl.’

“The joyless Christian reveals himself by having negative thoughts and talk about others, in a lack of concern for others welfare, and a failure to intercede on others behalf. Joyless believers are self-centered, selfish, proud, and often vengeful and their self-centeredness inevitably manifests itself in prayerlessness.”

John MacArthur

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

 

Always Like Little Children

10655442_942646442419124_796925139067660080_o

 “About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Matthew 18:1-3, NLT

I used to think that maturity meant sophistication, something to out-grow. Applying it to spiritual matters was a natural fit. I tried very hard to accelerate things and attempt to move beyond basics of the faith. Jesus’ cadre of disciples needed this lesson. They were given very specific and pointed instruction:

One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him.Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

Luke 18:15-17

“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven. ”  

Henry Ward Beecher

Jesus makes a special effort to get his followers to see their need. He voices the dictate that they must become children again; that they must learn that the basics are the core. Real faith remains childlike even as it gets old.  As we see the children that are in our midst, we should see in them the pattern for us as we connect with the Lord, and with each other. It’s a paradox, but we mature as children, and this doesn’t ever change. Jesus told us that the Kingdom belongs to those whose faith is childlike.

Childlike faith seems to have three focuses:

  1. Areas of intimacy, in the presence of the Lord as sons and daughters,
  2. Areas of relationships, between each other as brothers and sisters
  3. Spiritual warfare,  facing the daily battle with sin and darkness.

Holding a child’s faith works its way into us in deep ways. At its essence is a humility (mixed with brokenness) that shapes how we move through our lives. There would be many embarrassed people if they were suddenly clothed in nothing but their humility. (I think we should make more of it then we do.)

Becoming a person of childlike faith will take a lifetime, that is why we should start now.

“God created the world out of nothing, and so long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.”  

Martin Luther

bry-signat (1)

 

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

“O My Dove,” a Thought from A.B. Simpson

cleft
O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret places of the stairs,
let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice;
for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.

Song of Solomon 2:14, KJV

“The dove is in the cleft of the rock”—that is, the open side of our Lord. There is comfort and security there. It is also in the secret places of the stairs. It loves to build its nest in the high towers to which men mount by winding stairs for hundreds of feet above the ground. What a glorious vision is there obtained of the surrounding scenery.

It is a picture of ascending life. To reach our highest altitudes we must find the secret places of the stairs. That is the only way to rise above the natural plane. Our lives should be ones of quiet mounting with occasional resting places; but we should be mounting higher, step by step. Not everyone finds this way of secret ascent. It is only for God’s chosen.

The world may think we are going down. We may not have as much public work to do as formerly.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Matthew 5:3

It is a secret, hidden life. We may be hardly aware that we are growing, until one day a test comes and we find we are established. Have you arrived at the place where Christ is keeping you from willful disobedience? Does the consciousness of sin make you shudder? Are you lifted above the world?”

~~A.B. Simpson

flourish14

simpson-abAlbert Benjamin Simpson, (December 15, 1843 – October 29, 1919)

FOUNDER OF THE Christian and Missionary Alliance, Albert Benjamin Simpson was born in Canada of Scottish parents. He became a Presbyterian minister and pastored several churches in Ontario. Later, he accepted the call to serve as pastor of the Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. It was there that his life and ministry were completely changed in that, during a revival meeting, he experienced the fullness of the Spirit.

He continued in the Presbyterian Church until 1881, when he founded an independent Gospel Tabernacle in New York. There he published the Alliance Weekly and wrote 70 books on Christian living. He organized two missionary societies which later merged to become the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

 

 

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

Cleaning the Stables

Twelve_Labours_Altemps_Inv8642
The Twelve Labors of Hercules

 

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,”

Titus 3:4-6, ESV

Within the Greek mythology, about 600 B.C. we’re introduced to Hercules, who is given 12 impossible labors to perform as penance.

For the fifth labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean up King Augeas’ stables. Hercules knew this job would mean getting dirty and smelly, but sometimes even a hero has to do these things. Then Eurystheus made Hercules’ task even harder: he had to clean up after the cattle of Augeas in a single day. It was really meant to humiliate Hercules, and ‘show up’ his weakness.

Now King Augeas owned more cattle than anyone in Greece. Some say that he was a son of one of the great gods, and others that he was a son of a mortal; whosoever son he was, Augeas was very rich, and he had many herds of cows, bulls, goats, sheep and horses. Hercules went to King Augeas, and without telling anything about Eurystheus, said that he would clean out the stables in one day, if only Augeas would give him a tenth of his fine cattle.

Augeas couldn’t believe his ears, but promised. Hercules brought Augeas’s son along to be a witness. First the hero tore a big opening in the wall of the cattle-yard where the stables were. Then he made another opening in the wall on the opposite side of the yard. These stables had not been cleaned in over 30 years, and over 1,000 cattle lived there. (Just imagine the piles.)

Next, he dug wide trenches to two rivers which flowed nearby. He turned the course of the rivers into the yard. The rivers rushed through the stables, flushing them out, and all the mess flowed out the hole in the wall on other side of the stables.

By diverting the rivers, Hercules had easily done the impossible. The rivers blasted away the filth, and Hercules had won his bet.

Jesus is like Hercules, only infinitely more so. We are the Augean Stables. The slippery sludge and piles of excrement have choked us for far too long; we have a long history of living in our disgusting waste. But the Lord has come, and in one fell swoop, washed our sins away. Perhaps many have tried to clean the hearts of men; we have great philosophies and religions that have tried. The human condition remains unaltered. None can do what Jesus has done. What Hercules did– Jesus has done far, far more.

Jesus Christ is the conduit of spiritual salvation. He comes by his spirit to the worst, and completely cleanses us. Our piles of filth are washed away. Nothing can side-track or nullify what he has done. There maybe a small mountain of toxic sludge, but it will not stand. We hate the filth that we have become. Our responsibility is to ask for help, and then to let Him work. He has promised to flush us clean.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Romans 5:6-8

No sin is too great; no sinner is too far gone.

Sometimes we forget what has been done for us. We forget how bad it once was, (or maybe still is.)  Ask him to work in your heart, you need not fear about being ‘taken for a ride.’ But if the truth be told– you really are helpless and hopeless. Without the ‘super’ heroism of Jesus, you will be lost in your sin. Come to him and be cleansed.

 “So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 5:21

bry-signat (2)

flourish9