October 30

Psalms 119:67, 71 (NIV) 67Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.

71It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

There are times when we need affliction, be it physical, mental, or emotional. If it is indeed good for us, as the psalmist here declares, we should be careful not to ask to be delivered from it too soon. We are to pray for the healing of one another, yet we need to discern God's timing for that healing. Some would consider all afflictions the work of Satan that must be rebuked and immediately healed. There are times when Jesus healed all, that is, all that came to Him. There are other times when He walked through a crowd of sick folks to pick out one person that was to be healed.

When we are afflicted we should look for the lesson to be learned, or the insight to be gained. We learned from Job that even though Satan may bring the affliction, God uses it to reveal Himself to us. It may be a time of stretching your faith, your trust in God. It may be an opportunity to be still and learn in what ways your decisions have varied from God's plan.

In this passage, the psalmist implies he was not obeying the word of God. His illness was due to his straying away from God's word. So when we are ill, we should look to see if our lives are lining up with the word of God. In the second verse, he said the affliction was good for him, because through it he learned what God had decreed. Our lives often get in such a busy state that we tend to run on autopilot. An affliction stops us in our tracks and shows us that life goes on even when we stop our busyness. If we are too busy to hear, God may, in His mercy, stop us with affliction, so that we will take the time to get His direction. Which would you prefer, a week of the flu, or a fatal head-on?

Remember: Next time you are afflicted, first ask what God wants to work in your life through the affliction. Recognize it is good for you. Then, after you have heard God's answer, pray for healing.

October 30

2 Timothy 1:6-8 (NIV) 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 8So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God...

We have an insight into a special experience between Paul, Timothy and the Holy Spirit. At some time, Paul had laid hands on Timothy. It may have been when he was ordaining him to be an elder. At that particular moment, God gave Timothy a gift. Paul does not say what it was. I would guess it was to teach, preach and evangelize. Just because the gift was given, does not mean it automatically comes forth. Just as you fan coals into a flame of fire, Paul encouraged Timothy to work at stirring up his gift.

It sounds like Timothy was a shy person. It is not natural for a shy person to testify to others, or to preach to a crowd. There is a natural fear of doing so. Paul says that God has not given us the spirit of timidity, or fear. Instead, we have been given a spirit of power! Fear implies weakness. In Christ Jesus, we are strong! We have the power to stand up to those who would oppose the gospel. We also have the spirit of love. If we love them, we cannot keep silent. We must share the only hope they have of eternal life. And we have the gift of self-discipline. We can discipline ourselves to say "no" to our old nature and "yes" to the Spirit.

What is the worst the listener can do? They could have you thrown in jail or cause you to suffer for Christ. What an honor! Then Timothy would have joined with Paul in suffering for the gospel. Only the power of God can enable us to suffer for Christ, but He has given us that power.

Do you lean toward timidity? I do. Yet, I know that when the Spirit prompts me, if I will just open my mouth and speak what He gives, that He will see me through whatever follows. God loves to work through those who are timid, so that people can see Jesus and not man.

Consider: God wants you to fan your gift into a flame!