home >Pastor’s Desk>2016>January 30th>Spiritual Medicine

SPIRITUAL MEDICINE

spiritual-medicineOf course, when I say “medicine” I’m not just thinking of the stuff that pharmacists supply in bottles of packs. The medicine I’m lauding is simply that which the unwell well. And with the greatest respect to all my doctor friends, the best medicine frequently consists not of carefully composited chemicals, but words.

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
Psalm 107:20

Yes, it’s true that Jesus healed many people with just a word (Matt. 8:16), but the medicine I’m testifying on behalf of is not the miraculous kind but it is still none the less therapeutic. And like many medicines, its taste is inversely proportional to its effectiveness. In other words, the stronger the medicine the worst it tastes! I guess this is the reason why so many people deny themselves the very cure this medicine would provide for their ills.

I know of pastors who won’t take their medicine. A colleague who cares offers them advice that requires them to learn a new skill or adjust the way they preach or train their leaders, but this medicine tastes strange and is difficult to swallow. I know husbands who won’t take their medicine and wonder why their wife has become withdrawn from them. I know of friends who have friends who are desperately lonely yet when they have offered the very medicine their friends are craving, it is refused.

As a pastor I try to dispense spiritual medicine each Sunday to those God has placed in my charge. But it’s not just Sunday when the spiritual medicine cabinet is thrown open. I dispense often more potent medicine in my office throughout the week to ones or twos whose spiritual pain is similarly more intense. Perhaps only another pastor might understand the heart-ache I have experienced when such life-saving spiritual medicine has not been received by a soul or a union of souls. It hurts to be a pastor in those instances when you see those you care for hurt longer than necessary. But I thank God that I have discovered His medicine cabinet in such times of pain.

THE MEDICINE OF WORDS

he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.”
Proverbs 4:4

Ravi Zacharias often says that despair does not result from adversity and hardship but more often from pleasure and ease. We in the West have enjoyed unprecedented levels of comforts, pleasures, and amusements over the past few decades. What we today find uncomfortable, difficult, or grievous reveals how far removed most of us now from genuine hardships. It would seem that Dr Zacharias’ assessment about the origin of despair has been vindicated over and over again when we look at how many of us in the West are afflicted with despair resulting in various kinds of mental anguish. But there is a medicine for this affliction. It is the worship of God.

I don’t mean the kind that gets called ‘worship’ and promises the believer that if they do it right they can coerce their Maker and Judge to give them whatever they ask. Rather, I mean that kind of worship that reminds the worshiper who the Saviour and Sovereign actually is and expresses deep gratitude that this is the case and deep gratitude to Him generally. After all, none of us deserves what we have and none of us has yet been been given what we truly deserve. This should cause every worshiper’s heart to gladly sing in gratitude in the midst of the congregation each Sunday. This is strong medicine for any soul.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 16:24

When we worship together in the House of God we are not just singing. We are worshiping with words that come from our hearts and minds. And I’m sure I’m not the only preacher who regards the preaching of God’s Word as an interactive act of worship as well. And this too is strong medicine for any soul.

 HOW GOD’S MEDICINE IS DELIVERED

God has designed the right medicine for your soul. There might be times when you are spiritually unwell. You may be blighted by discouragement and feeling unappreciated. The Great Physician has a medicine for your soul. But it is a medicine that must be delivered by a few not just a one. This is why Jesus gave the blueprint for His Church to consist of both the ‘Temple’ (the weekly assembling of the congregation) and ‘homes’ (the regular gathering of believers in each others homes). It is in the small group where a believer learns to trust a few brothers or sisters who can then be used by God to administer spiritual medicine in the form of encouragement, correction, advice or reminding. In these deeply therapeutic moments we are reminded by our brothers and sisters of how God has indeed previously used us to bless them and others. Their gentle reminders to focus on God rather than ourselves helps to heal our souls. It may initially hurt us to hear this but just as a knife can either wound or heal depending on who is using it and how and why it is used, it does us far more good than harm.

A knife in the hand of a surgeon can be an instrument of healing

But this kind of soul medicine is too frequently avoided by those who need it most. I know how reluctant I am to be around people – even those people whom God may use to bring healing to my soul – when I am down and discouraged. But I remember what the Scriptures say to my soul for just these moments-

¶ Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation.
Psalm 42:5

Or as the writer to the Hebrews put the same idea-

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.
Hebrews 10:24-25

Legana 2016, Jan 17 Have you ever considered that God wants to use you to administer His spiritual medicine to those who are spiritually unwell? Perhaps ask the Holy Spirit to use you to strengthen another believer. But maybe you’ve been spiritually unwell yourself. The natural tendency is to withdraw and isolate ourselves from the very thing that God has ordained to make us well again. Your words of worship can be medicine for your soul and the words of your brothers and sisters can be strong medicine for your soul. See you at the Medicine Cabinet this Sunday.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. Karen Dickson

    Thanks Andrew….

    Reply

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

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It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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