July 3

In spite of the thorn in my side…..

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7b NIV

The old man’s medicine cabinet

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV

I remember when my medicine cabinet contained not much other than toothpaste, shaving cream, and deodorant. Most of that is still in the cabinet in the bathroom. This one actually hangs in my bedroom, and the vast majority of what you see is related to my allergies.

There are inhalers and eye-drops, nasal sprays, almost every allergy medicine known to man, creams to combat the Rosacea that seems to have blossomed as a result, tablets to get rid of mucus – well, you get the idea.

My thorn.

A BIG thorn.

A thorn that has grown so big as to require a second round of steroids to combat the wheezing and congestion that has been wreaking havoc on my body since early March. This second round is nearly triple the dose of the first round and, as a result, I have a touch of insomnia, which is why I am sitting here writing this during what normally would be my last couple of hours of sleep.

A thorn that has grown so big that the rest of the medicine sits on top of the cabinet you see and wouldn’t fit in the picture.

A thorn that has grown so big that riding my bicycle up the hill from work at Central Union Mission is an arduous, panting, wheezing affair when I can muster the courage and the strength to ride the bike rather than drive or take the bus.

A thorn that has grown so big as to cause me to need to use an inhaler after the simple act of climbing up the ladder to my loft bed.

But I am not complaining.

Yes, I know. It sounds like complaining, but it’s really not. You see, although I would rather be totally free from the thorn of my allergies, God has placed me where I am to do what He has called me to do. I could be allergy free in Southern California, where my daughter lives, or in Bend Oregon, where my Son lives, but I am in Washington, DC which, as it turns out, is the worst possible place for my allergies.

But the best possible place to serve the Lord, so I am not complaining.

Rather,

I am grateful for every wheezing breath I take, for I was lost but have found my way again.

I am joyful for each new day that is a gift from God and brings with it new opportunities to serve Him and glorify His name.

I am humbled by the constant stream of hard working, hard serving Christian men and women working to help the neediest of God’s children every day.

I am thankful for each and every individual whose life God allows me to touch in some small way.

And it is with a grateful, joyful, humble, thankful heart I bring you today’s devotion:

Today is…

an excellent day to take nutritional advice from Jesus.

“But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.”  John 4:32 KJV

When the disciples returned from the village with food, they tried to get Jesus to eat, which is when He gave them the above response. The disciples were confused and they asked Him if someone had given Him food while they were gone.

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34 KJV).

Of course Jesus was talking about spiritual nourishment, but the point that He was trying to make was that this type of nourishment is more important than physical nourishment, for what good is a well-fed body if the Spirit is starving to death?

Jesus was trying to teach that not only does our spiritual nourishment come from the Word of God, it also comes from doing the work of God. For Christ, the work was to develop a following of individuals who would teach the world about the gift of salvation that was given to us all when Christ completed His work and gave His life on the cross.

Each one of us is charged with continuing God’s work while we live.

In order to do God’s work we need nourishment, so for our spiritual sustenance we have not only the Word of God, but the work itself. Telling others about the promises that will be theirs when they, too, accept Jesus Christ as their Savior will nourish us by filling us even more full of the Spirit of God. It also reveals to others how they can begin to become spiritually nourished as well.

Before Jesus was betrayed and arrested, He prayed for Himself: “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began.” (John 17:4-5 NIV).

Jesus also prayed for His disciples, but before completing His mission, He prayed for all of us: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message.” (John 17:20 NLT).

Jesus obtained spiritual nourishment through the Word of God and completing the work of God. He encourages us, through the disciples to obtain the same nourishment for ourselves.

There are numerous sources of advice how to properly nourish our bodies, but there is only one source of advice on how to obtain spiritual nourishment. That source is Christ, and we would do well to follow His advice.

And having done so, we will find ourselves anxiously awaiting dessert!

*******

Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

About Tony Casson

" For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
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