Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Threats to Spiritual Health

Monotony, loneliness, fear, and doubt. Four horsemen with considerable power to damage one's spiritual health. They damage joy, corrode trust, and render faith a weak and pitiable thing. They are the children of sloth and having too much time one one's hands. I know them all intimately, especially since September. Work, prayer, Scripture reading, worship, and fellowship are needed to repel these foul invaders. Work is never appreciated until you are forced to retire or are set aside by illness or unemployment. How I long to preach! How I long to do those things I used to grumble over just a few months ago. I would lead a consistory meeting with joy today. When Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the desert, those forty days must have seemed like a lifetime. At least I do not have to contend with hunger and thirst. Jesus coped, and emerged triumphant and ready for his ministry. May that be so of us, and may we contend with the spiritual forces of wickedness with the spiritual weapons fashioned for our weak and feeble hands. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

"Redeem the time," is Paul's injunction (Eph 5:16). Remain busy, prayerful, biblical, and trust not in one's own faith, but in Christ alone. I read this morning about the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42-43). He called Jesus "Lord" (in the King James version), recognizing Jesus' divinity and power to save. If I trust in my own faith, my own strength, I am doomed. The four horsemen will trample over me. But if I look to Christ as Lord, then the promise is given to me as well: "you will be with me in paradise." After all, God is glorified in our weakness, and so Paul can say, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).


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