Monday, April 25, 2011

SPIRITUALLY SLUMPING & STUMBLING–Part 1 of 2

spiritually slumping and stumbling

Luke 13:10-13 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.  (11) And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.  (12) And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.  (13) And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

A patient in a doctor’s waiting room heard a scream from within the doctor’s examining room, and saw an elderly woman come out and quickly depart in a state of agitation. “What happened?” asked the waiting patient. “I told her she was pregnant,” replied the doctor. “You couldn’t be serious,” remarked the patient. “Of course not,” he answered. “But it cured her hiccups.” (1001 More Humorous Illustrations, pg 156)

There is a lot for us to learn today from this short account of a healing given here in our text. God has the ability to heal all our infirmities. Our timing is not always God’s timing, but in His time He will heal and abolish all such infirmities as we encounter in our life. The question tonight is this – do we have the faith, and the patience of faith, to trust Him, even in the most difficult of situations?

In these two blog posts, we will look at two aspects of this woman’s infirmity, and how Jesus healed her:

SHE FOUGHT SUSTAINING TROUBLE

The first characteristic we notice with this sustaining, or continuing, trouble was that her infirmity was unending. She suffered from her ailment for 18 years! (Parents of teenagers would understand this better!). That is a long time to suffer.

Sometimes, it is God’s will for people to go through extended times of suffering and sickness. Think about Paul:
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Paul suffered from what he called a “thorn in the flesh.” What exactly this was, we are not sure. We know that Paul was imprisoned and beaten many times. So maybe this was a lingering aftereffect from this. It could have also been the eye sight problem that he references in other letters. But Paul understood some truths about this thorn:
  1. God allowed Satan to inflict physical harm on him, just as God allowed it on Job.
  2. God gave it to him and allowed it to keep his pride in check.
  3. Paul prayed three different times, and the answer was always God’s grace, not God’s healing.
  4. The more Paul struggled with this thorn in the flesh, the more he had of the power of God.
Despite what all the false prophets tell you on TV – it is not always God’s will to heal you. I heard a commercial recently with Gloria Copeland saying it was God’s will for you to be healed. Someone should have told the Apostle Paul that!

The woman in our text dealt with this infirmity for 18 years; yet she never stops attending church (synagogue). Your faith is only a valuable as what you allow to stop you. What do you allow to keep you out of church? If absence makes the heart grow fonder, a lot of folks really love their church! – (1001…, pg 69)

The second characteristic we notice was that her infirmity was unpleasant. Think about it – it was difficult for her to walk, sit, sleep, etc. When we are want to complain, maybe we should stop for just a moment and consider the fact that others have it much worse than we do? There are people suffering all around us – and many are not as noticeable as this lady was.

Reminds me of this illustration I recently read - A man was shopping at a grocery store. His young son followed closely behind, carrying a large basket. The father loaded the basket with one thing after another until another customer began to feel sorry for the boy. She said, “That’s a pretty heavy load for a young fellow like you, isn’t it?” The boy turned to the woman and said, “Oh, don’t worry. My dad knows how much I can carry.” In the same way, God knows out limitations and gives to us no burden beyond what we can carry. (1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, pg 380)

It may be unpleasant, but If God gave it to you the He gives you the strength to make it through – Don’t quit!
The third characteristic we notice was that her infirmity was upsetting. One of the not so obvious ways that this was so upsetting was that she always had to look down. God made man to look up, that is why we don’t walk on all fours!

She saw dust all the time – which is a characteristic of death:
  • Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
  • Psalms 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
She was never able to look up and see the stars – a characteristic heaven and the future of the saved:
  • Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
  • Deuteronomy 1:10 The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.
  • Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
While this woman had no choice but to always look down – we have a choice today. When trials and troubles come your way, are you looking down or look up? We would do well to have the same outlook as the psalmist did in Psalm 121:1, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”

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