Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Health and Prosperity

Over the past months, my family and I have endured many hardships. Between setbacks in my medical treatment and the financial burden that goes with the extraordinary medical care that was needed to save my life, we find ourselves questioning God almost daily. However, when we start going down that path, we quickly realize that God has provided for us. We still have a roof over our heads, food on our table and the ability to continue to pay our bills and financial obligations. I am not going to say that it has been easy, but God has provided us with our daily bread spiritually and physically. Although I am still recovering from the ravages of one of the rarest and most horrendous diseases to trouble humans, I am still thankful for my health.

The doctors and the specialists who took on my case when others would or could not have all said the same thing, “You should have been dead by now.” But, they all agree that I joined them in beating this. Whatever they asked me to do, I did without question. I gave it my all even when I just could not go on. My wife and daughter both saw me breaking down and literally on my hands and knees weeping from the pain and mental anguish of the treatment and the disease. It was only through God’s amazing grace that I was sustained and given the strength to meet the challenges of another day. He provided, and continues to provide, for our needs. 

As I was preparing for today’s message, I read a passage from Psalm 41 that really struck home and gave me something to really think about. “1 Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. 2 The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. 3 The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.

As I meditated on this passage, I began to see exactly what David was talking about. It is not our place to demand things from God. We can ask Him for help and the desires of our heart. God will provide the things we need in accordance to His will. However, we have the responsibility to serve Him by doing His will in the world. As we help those who are less fortunate, we gain a great joy knowing that we are serving God’s children. God sees that and will reward those actions by protecting, prospering and nursing back to health those who do His will on earth. God already knows what we need and provides for those needs daily. 

I began to reflect on this and remembered the times when I was in the hospital for three weeks and working to survive not only devastating damage that the disease was inflecting on my body but also the medications that were given to save my life. I took medications that were “treatments of last resort”. Instead of being the last line, those treatments became the first line of defense as a horrible battle raged inside my own body. The list of side effects for some of the medications read like a horror story. The side effects seemed worse than the disease, but I had to have the medications. The healthcare team worked together to make sure that I did not die from the medication and the damaging effects of the disease. It was a very fine line that we all walked hourly as we fought together to save my life.

During this entire ordeal, I was given opportunities to talk with other patients and the staff at the hospital. I professed my faith and continued to remain faithful even when things got harder and harder. During my first night in the hospital, I met a young nurse, Devin. We shared our faith with one another and she told me that she did not want to come into work that night, but something in her heart told her to go.

As I shared with her my faith and walk with the Lord, she told me that she originally did not want to come into work and was going to call in and ask to be excused. But, she felt something moving in her heart and a small voice told her to go to work. That same voice told her that she would be rewarded with something wonderful. The Holy Spirit gave her God’s message. She had felt her faith being challenged in other areas of her life. By sharing my faith, her faith was strengthened and renewed.

While in the hospital, I helped the nurses and staff wherever I could and did not stay in my bed. I worked closely with the doctors and the healthcare team to make sure that all the information about my care was communicated with everyone. In fact, one doctor even mistakenly called me, “Doctor”. As I told many, I am here to serve and not to be served. I had learned the lesson of Christ Jesus. 

In Mark 10, Jesus tells his disciples, “42 You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

When we help those in need, we demonstrate Jesus’ lesson of serving. We serve God not because we expect Him to reward us for it. We serve Him because we love Him and realize that He loved us even when we were sinners and did not deserve it or His wonderful gift of salvation. The key to this is that we must be willing to obey God in all aspects of our lives not just during the times of plenty. We must be prepared to endure great woe. It is part of living. Paul tells us in Romans 5, “3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Even though we may not see the bounty that God has provided us daily or the joy of having the blessings of breath and the next heartbeat, we should always remember that He loves us and has given us health and prosperity each and every day of our lives. There are those that will tell that God is like a magic genie and is there to serve us when we need or want something. God does hear our prayers and provides for our needs. It would be so easy for Him to just have someone knock on your door and hand you a briefcase full of money. Do not get me wrong. I firmly believe that God can do all things even if it means someone gives you money. The rub is when you do not receive exactly what you desire. How do you handle that? Are you disappointed with God for not giving you what you wanted?

There were many nights when I prayed for a miracle healing so that I would not have to go through all of the pain and suffering of this horrible disease. I was so tired of the medications and what they were doing to me. I wanted it all to end quickly. I prayed for God’s healing touch. Each morning, I found myself with the disease and all of its problems still present in my life. But, I also found the health and prosperity of God’s love in my life. I had the blessing of another day to serve Him and His children. I had the prosperity of being able to buy groceries and meet my financial obligations. He took care of those things and showed me that He loves me daily. Each day is truly a blessing and a day of abundance. In Jeremiah 29, the Lord addresses His chosen who are in exile in Babylon, “10 You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you. I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.

When we seek Him wholeheartedly and seek His will in our lives, we can rest assured that we will enjoy health and prosperity. He will restore us and nurse us back to health. He will provide for our daily needs and will protect us. We have nothing to fear or worry about. We must learn to endure so that we develop that Christ-like character that will strengthen our hope in His salvation.

As you continue to go through this week, I ask you to read Psalm 23 and ask the Holy Spirit for God’s message. The first verse provides me the truth about God. “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” Once you truly understand those words, you will quickly see that you have your health and all of your needs met. With that firmly planted in your heart, you can stand firm in His grace.  

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

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