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Gone Too Soon
Jan 31 3:17 AM

Gone Too Soon

Jan 31 3:17 AM
Jan 31 3:17 AM

David had not yet been crowned king when he heard the news that both King Saul and his dearly beloved friend Jonathan had been killed in battle.

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Day 24
Jan 24 12:03 AM

Day 24

Jan 24 12:03 AM
Jan 24 12:03 AM

As you read today's devotional, play "GREAT IS YOUR MERCY" from the Sacred Whispers Playlist.

Spiritual

HEAVEN’S HEALING

By Marlin D. Harris

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

One of the saddest and most difficult moments that I have ever had in ministry happened many years ago when I was just a young pastor in my early 20’s.  I had gone to one of the local hospitals to visit one of our members who was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  I walked down the long corridor to the wing of the hospital that housed the ICU.  I have never gotten comfortable seeing the cold, sterile, lonely environment that most hospital ICUs are characterized by.  The nurses were busy going from room to room checking patients’ vital signs and other machine readings and you could hear the distant beeps of heart monitors and the vacuum pumping sounds of breathing machines.  I looked at the sides of each of the glass-enclosed units trying to find the cubicle number of the patient that I had gone to see.  As I passed by cubicle after cubicle I saw people laying in their beds who looked so helpless and weakened.  Some were with their families and some were alone by themselves.  Finally, I came to the room of the church member I had gone to pray for.  She was lying in the hospital bed with breathing tubes in her mouth and depending on a ventilator to keep her alive.  She was alone. There was no one in her room with her.  No family members, no friends, no flowers, no cards, no joy.  The only sound I could hear was the slow beeping of her heart machine monitoring her signs of life.  I held back my emotions and called out her name and laid my hands on her forehead.  She was unconscious, so she couldn’t hear me, but I made every attempt to speak to her calmly in the event that somehow this conversation was getting through; even if only to her heart.  I told her how much God loved her, and that He was a healer and restorer of broken bodies.  Then I laid hands on the sides of her head and prayed for her to be healed as earnestly and sincerely as I knew how.  Then I took a sheet of notepaper and left her family a note letting them know that her pastor had come by to pray for her healing today.

As I said goodbye to this dear lady, I turned and walked out of her room.  I could still hear the beeping of her heart machine in the background amid the quiet and near motionless ICU wing.  It only took me 10 steps and that’s when I heard it.  That’s when I heard that long, continuous beep of a heart monitor that had just flatlined.  The sound caused my heart to skip a beat and I felt this feeling of dread come over me.  I saw nurses running past me heading to the room that I had just left.  I turned around and looked, and there they were, trying to revive this precious lady who I knew had just passed away.  This was my first close experience with death as a pastor. 

I sat down in the waiting room, called their family members, and waited for them to arrive.  While waiting, I literally found it extremely hard to pray.  I was confused; I was hurt, and I felt lost.  Why didn’t God hear my prayer for her healing?  I spent all of that time talking with her and reassuring her that God was with her and that He was a healer.  I prayed out of a pure heart and kept the faith that God would hear me.  No one should have to transition from this life alone like that.  While I sat there and prayed, I sensed in my heart that God answered me back – even though my prayer was filled with bewilderment and even a little anger.  When I said to Him, “Why didn’t you heal her, Lord”, He quietly said back to me, “I did”.  I felt Him saying to my heart, “I was with her before you got there, and I am still with her now.”  I learned a valuable lesson that day.  God’s healing doesn’t always come in the way that we imagine, or even desire.  Sometimes, He saves the body; and then sometimes He allows the body to die and saves the soul. Because death is – in and of itself – a Healing.

If you are grieving at this moment in your life, or have ever grieved the loss of a loved one, I pray that you will find comfort in today’s devotional.  We often think of death as an ending, without fully realizing that death is actually a beginning.  Yes, it is an ending to this life, but it is a beginning to another life.  A life that is forever lived in the presence of God; forever experiencing His love and His glory in ways that you and I on this earth could not even begin to experience.  That family member, or dear friend whom you loved so dearly, and prayed for so earnestly, is now standing in the presence of an indescribable God.  They have been raptured in the wonders of heaven and are surrounded by the rush of a thousand angels’ wings.  Their eyes are beholding a glory that their hearts can hardly contain.  This is the beauty that they have longed for and worked for all those many years.  This is the wonder that they have prayed for those countless number of nights upon their beds.  This is what the scriptures mean by the word ‘reward’.  There are no doctor visits, medicine regimens, or dialysis machines.  There are no more breathing ventilators or chemo appointments.  The burden of illness no longer weighs heavy on their hearts, and the discomforts of pain no longer afflicts. They are no longer reminded of sins or taunted by guilt.  Their minds no longer worry about the burdens they have borne and their hearts no longer bleed over the injuries it has endured, because now they are finally free. What an amazing healing!  They are beholding the One whose hands and feet are still pierced, and whose brow still bears the marks of His thorns.  They are bowing at the throne that is occupied by a Majesty that words would fail to describe.  The joy they taste will never be emptied, and the love they are surrounded by will never end. This, dearly beloved, is Heaven.

We who believe in Christ, experience a foretaste of heaven here on the earth, though our life here is so deeply limited.  We are limited by a flesh that is contrary to the Spirit.  We are limited by a body that gets ill and often diseased.  We are limited by a heart that can so easily be broken and by a soul that is often downcast.  We are living, but not at all like we were created to live.  But there we look for the day when our “God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither…any more pain: because the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).  So yes, there is a healing that your loved one experienced on the day they drew their last breath.  It is one that we all have yet to experience.  It is a perfect healing.  This healing is too great for the body, it goes much, much deeper than that.  This healing is for the soul.

I have a Grandmother who has experienced that healing, a Mother-in-Love who has experienced it, and an Uncle who has just recently experienced it also.  Since that fateful day in the ICU all those many years ago, I have presided over hundreds of funerals of men, women, and even young children who have all experienced that healing. The healing of the earth is at best temporary, but the healing of heaven is eternal.  I have come to learn that for the living there is something so very sad about death, but for the dying believer, there is something so very sweet.  How sweet it must be to finally get your healing.  Your real, true healing.

The best death that man has ever known did not come in the heat of a battle, or in the halls of a hospital, or in a bedroom surrounded by friends and family.  The best death that we have ever known came on a hill called Calvary; on an old rugged cross.  What made this death so beautiful, was not our Lord’s actual death itself, but it was the beauty of His life.  It was the way He cared for the hurting and the mercy He showed to sinners.  His death was beautiful because His life was beautiful.  When our loved ones die, let’s not just focus on the tragedy of the death, let’s spend our time focusing on the beauty of their life, and all of the wonders of their life hereafter.  And then let each of us lock away this truth in the treasure chests of our own hearts –  that the day is still yet to come, when we too will experience ‘Heaven’s healing’.

--------------------

I can only imagine what it will be like,

When I walk by Your side.
I can only imagine what my eyes would see,

When Your face is before me.
I Can Only Imagine,
I Can Only Imagine.

Surrounded by Your glory what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You Jesus, or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees, will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I Can Only Imagine,

I Can Only Imagine.

Bart Millard of MercyMe


Physical

CLAIMING TRUTH: BREAKING HABITS

By Sabrina Botts

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Research shows that habits are both mental and physical. In fact, they are formed by the biology of our brains as well as the psychology of our mindsets. We can’t change our brains, but we can definitely change our mindset, which in turn is essential to help us change our behavior.  What is important to remember is that habits don’t form overnight, but instead we form them slowly over time. Therefore, changing bad habits can only be successful when we work towards new habits consistently over time, beginning with simple small steps.

James Cleary notes, “Each time you repeat an action, you are activating a particular neural circuit associated with that habit. This means that simply ‘putting in your reps’ is one of the most critical steps you can take to encoding a new habit.”[1]

Here is a guide to follow: 

1. Tell the truth about the situation- Name the habit you want to break and why.

2. Claim the truth that God offers for the situation.

3. Confess it to God and ask for his help to change it.

4. Get accountability. Share with someone the issue that you want to change.

5. Make a simple small change towards the behavior you desire to see.

Here is an example:

MY TRUTH:

In my past, I have misused food, especially sweets to meet my emotional needs. I have used food to soothe me when I am stressed, cheer me up when I’m sad, and occupy me when I am bored. The problem is that God gave us food as a good gift to enjoy and to nourish us.  When I use food this way, I am misusing the good gift that he has provided.  Furthermore, I am using food in the place of him in my life.  I know that sounds extreme, but only God is the one who can really comfort and give me peace, not food.  When I use food this way, it’s an idol.  Also, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  When I eat the wrong things or too much of anything, it can affect my health.  It compromises my ability to live out a full life meant to glorify God and serve him and others.

GOD’S TRUTH FOR ME TO CLAIM:

- Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body - 1 Cor 6:19-20

- So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God - 1 Corinthians 10:31

- Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live - Romans 8:12-13

- …I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10b

- “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare”. - Isaiah 55:1-2

ACTIONS TO TAKE:

1. Confess to God the negative habit and ask for his help to change.

2. Confess to a friend the issue that I have had with misusing food and ask her to hold me accountable and to pray for me.

3. Take a baby step on the road to change- The cue to eating junk food is stress at work. When I feel that cue I will admit that I want the chips but ask God to help me with my stress instead. I will then do deep breathing for 5 mins.

This simple change interrupts the neural pathway of the previous habit, making it a little easier to do something different.  With consistency over time, a new habit will be formed where the old one used to be.

Resources:

Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction- Asheritah Ciuciu

Atomic Habits- James Clear

The Healthy Free Life Podcast [https://healthyfreelife.com/podcast] - Katrina Sequenzia

[1] James Clear, Atomic Habits, (New York: Avery Publishing), 144.

 


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