Fundamentals of Christian Growth Part 4

Over the years I’ve met many Christians who seem to be more focused on their circumstances or symptoms than on the Word of God. Some fear a condition will lead to death.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

I understand it is considered “normal” to fear death. Christians should never allow themselves to follow suit. Paul tells us that death is “gain” for us!

My father passed several years ago. He had numerous physical ailments and suffered from near-continuous pain. This was not God’s will or plan for him and I do not know why he was unable to receive healing. One night my mother called my wife and me at approximately 3 am. We knew something was bad to have the phone ringing at that hour. She told us that he had a stroke and was in the hospital. Our first reaction was to jump out of bed and prepare to drive eight hours to see him. It was obvious that this was a dire situation but the Holy Spirit put a check in my spirit and I knew we were not supposed to go. This was a hard decision. 

The next morning I went to work as usual. Hospital staff told me that morning that I needed to get there if I wanted to say goodbye. I knew this was the end but also knew the Holy Spirit was directing me to stay put. My brother and sister both came in from out of state. The family gathered at the hospital to say goodbye while I stayed put and finished out my workday. We planned to drive overnight after work but as I drove home after work it became clear that we were not to leave until at least the next day. This did not make sense from a natural perspective but we are not called to walk by our senses.

I went into a time of prayer as soon as I was home. It was not easy to do what God was directing us to do. As I prayed that evening, the Lord provided me one of the greatest gifts. My father passed during the time of prayer and I was allowed to be with him when he arrived in heaven. This was not something I asked for or even imagined but it was why the Holy Spirit had directed me to stay put. Paul tells us that death is gain. This was very evident for my father. He looked like a twenty-something-year-old man and had a vibrancy I had never seen!  His parents and his twin brother who had passed at age five were waiting for him with Jesus. My grandparents had passed when I was young and so I have no natural memories but I knew them and I knew my uncle whom I had never met. Jesus embraced my dad and welcomed him to heaven. Dad truly experienced gain on his arrival in heaven!

The thought of heaven has always excited me. My experience was just a small taste of what we will find there and I wonder why people cling to this life. The goal is to finish the course God has before us in this life which will be the shortest period of our existence. We sing songs about going to heaven and then cry when faced with a sickness that looks as if it will send us there. Each one of us needs to gain a revelation of Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21! This fear of death that clings to us will hinder our spiritual growth if we do not break free of it.

Please understand that I am not saying we should be immune to feelings. I grieved my father’s death but it was because I missed him. There was peace though because I knew how much better off he was. Christians do experience emotion and there will be battles to fight through. We do not have to react to them the way our unsaved neighbors and family members do. The key is to have our minds stayed on God’s Word.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3

The Word of God will bring us through any situation if we have given time to meditate on its truths until it becomes revelation knowledge. 

“But I can’t have peace because of a chemical imbalance.”

I’ve heard people say things like this. They do not understand that everything is rooted in the spiritual realm. There may be a chemical imbalance but the Word of God is much more powerful. 

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
Proverbs 23:7

Our lives will follow our dominant thoughts. We may not be specifically thinking “chemical imbalance” but if our thoughts are dominated by natural things and our humanity they will open the door to sickness into our lives. 

There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
Psalms 91:10

The Psalmist tells us that plagues will not come near us. I’ve heard many people quote this verse who have gotten sick. In most cases, the reason is they are missing the qualification given in verse 9.

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation.
Psalms 91:9We make the Lord our habitation by dwelling in His Word. This is is what Isaiah meant with the phrase “whose mind is stayed on thee”. Christians are far too passive. We do our own thing and allow dust to collect on our Bibles until a tragedy strikes. If we will seek God first, He will show us things that are coming and how to prepare for them (John 16:13). Psalms 91 is for every child of God. You have a right to claim its promises if you are a Christian and if you are keeping your mind focused on the Word of God. Many people have read the Psalm but were unable to appropriate its promises because of religious tradition.

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