Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 15 No. 2 February 2013
Page 7

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

The Bottle of Spiritual Tranquilizers

Marilyn LaStrapeWhat do you do when your whole world is rocked by an unexpected truth that slaps you in the face? What do you do when your whole life is changed in a matter of seconds? Who is it, or what is it, that has you by the throat and is seemingly choking the life out of you? What do you do when you thought that a medical issue had been dealt with and solved only to be told it had returned with a vengeance? What do you do when you are told the only hope is radical treatment and surgery is not one of your options?

The Book of Psalms is the answer that God has provided as the spiritual tranquilizer for our lives. Psalms is unique in the sense that it speaks to every human experience – good or bad. However, God’s tranquilizer is too often looked upon as a last resort, if at all. This tragic mistake brings mental anguish upon untold millions as they struggle with the overwhelming traumas.

Robert R. Taylor, Jr. wrote Studies in Psalms. In the first chapter under one of the subheadings he wrote, “It is a proper usage of Psalms to go there for strength in weakness, for comfort in sadness, for understanding in times of confusion and for greater faith in times of crippling disbelief.” Under his heading “Points to Ponder” he wrote, “Psalms touches the chords of every emotion of the human heart. Psalms is a spiritual oasis to every soul that hungers and thirsts for God and His righteousness.”

In his book, Know Your Bible, Frank J. Dunn wrote, “No other portion of the Bible so splendidly portrays the majesty and glory of God or so clearly expresses the power and excellence of His word as do the Psalms.” He lists several reasons why we should cultivate the habit of regularly turning to the Psalms for reading and meditation. In one of those reasons our brother in the faith states, “Psalms must have been Christ’s favorite book because He quoted from it more than any other book, even while on the cross (Matthew 27:46).” The Psalms are indeed most profound!

Matthew 27:46 reads, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” There are no words in any language that could ever adequately describe what agony Jesus endured at that precise moment as He cried out those words! No human suffering ever endured mentally or physically can ever touch the hem of the garment of His suffering on the cross!

Virtually all of us have had to submit to the regiment of taking prescription medications. Years and years ago, there was a commercial with the tag line, “Medicines can’t help you if you don’t take them right.” We know that, or do we? This medical fact is lost on some of us because we expect to get better, even if medications are not taken right. Some of us even have the audacity to complain to our doctors when our condition does not improve and in some cases, gets worse.

Since medications must be taken right to improve and maintain our physical well being, what about our spiritual well being as we must face life as it is? People and circumstances may bring us to the brink of collapse, but God provides the strength to continue.

If we are facing a grave medical condition, no matter what kind it happens to be, turn to God. His spiritual tranquilizer: “Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments. He will not be afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD” (Psalm 112:1, 7 ESV).

If we are facing threats of physical safety, turn to God. His spiritual tranquilizer: “Blessed be the LORD, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation. Our God is the God of salvation; and to God the LORD belong escapes from death” (Psalm 68:19-20).

If we are facing the turmoil of broken relationships, turn to God. His spiritual tranquilizer: “You pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation” (Psalm 118:13-14).

If we are facing the heartbreaking loss of a loved one, turn to God. His spiritual tranquilizer: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

If we are facing the fear of the unknown, turn to God. His spiritual tranquilizer: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

The only lasting and reliable answer to living and its myriad of problems is turning to God. Any and all other reactions are a total waste of precious time, as well as a draining of mental and physical energy. To help us face and accept the traumas of life, the first tranquilizer we need to reach for is the Bible.

This World Is Not My Home!

Bonnie Rushmore

Bonnie RushmoreOccasionally, Louis and I are approached by church leaders with concerns that the members for which they are responsible do not appear to be studying their Bibles or serving God as they ought. These individuals are looking for Bible class material to motivate the members or programs that will encourage the members to become more involved in the Lord’s work. These elders are concerned about the spiritual health of the flock over which God expects them to watch (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:2). They are looking for advice and help to lead Christians on their journey to Heaven.

As I ponder their concerns, I must admit I do not have a solution as to how to motivate Christians to be active servants of our Lord, but I believe I know the root of the problem. We, especially in America, have forgotten that this earth is not our home. We are just pilgrims passing through! When we convince Christians that our lives on earth are temporary, that Heaven awaits those who faithfully serve Our Lord and Master, then Christians will put God first in their lives! The difficulty elders’ face is convincing Christians of this fact.

Perhaps, we need more Bible-centered lessons from the pulpit and in the Bible class – lessons on Bible characters such as Enoch who walked with God and did not suffer physical death (Genesis 5:24). Enoch certainly was a man who understood God first and enjoyed spending time with our Lord.

Abraham realized that our lives on earth are temporary, and he willingly left his home in Ur of Chaldees to travel throughout the promised land with no place to call his own. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob acknowledged that they were “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:8-16). Christians should follow the example of these men and focus on our home in Heaven rather than focusing on our possessions on Earth.

Lessons on the life of Peter can encourage one to be faithful to God. Peter was not perfect – the Scriptures show his shortcomings as well as his strengths. When we see that even God’s faithful servants had moments of failure, we can use their examples to help us to understand that we can overcome our sins.

Maybe lessons on the wonders and glory of Heaven compared to our home on Earth will help Christians overcome their infatuation with earthly possessions. Jesus stated, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Our focus and attention concentrates on what is most important to us. If our earthly possessions are more important to us than our service to God, God will have second place in our hearts.

One of the ways we worship our Lord is through song. Maybe we should pay attention to the words of the songs we sing and only sing them if we mean what they say. Consider the words from the following songs:

“Earth holds no treasures but perishes with using, However precious they be; Yet there’s a country to which I am going, Heaven holds all to me.” – Heaven Holds All to Me

“Here we are but straying pilgrims; Here our path is often dim; But to cheer us on our journey, Still we sing this wayside hymn.” – Here We Are But Straying Pilgrims

“I am a stranger here, within a foreign land; My home is far away upon a golden strand; Ambassador to be of realms beyond the sea, I’m here on business for my King.” – I Am a Stranger Here

“On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye, To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where My Possessions Lie” – I Am Bound for the Promised Land

These are considered older songs, and many congregations pass over these songs for more popular ones. Perhaps, the members no longer believe these words and do not wish to be reminded that our time on earth is only temporary.

I believe the answer to every member of the Lord’s church being an active servant of God is each Christian realizing that life on Earth is only temporary – that we are pilgrims traveling toward a heavenly reward. When we remove the attitude of the importance earthly possessions – elaborate home, fancy car, chic clothes, etc. – and focus on an attitude of pilgrims just passing through, then we will focus on serving our God and not attaining and caring for our earthly possessions.

Most Christians will say, “I love God and He is first in my life.” However our actions speak louder than words. Are your actions showing that school grades, school activities, sports, work, recreation and possessions are more important? Do you forsake the assembly for these activities? Do you fail to study your Bible because these activities are first on your to do list? Do you excuse yourself from serving God because these activities are already on your schedule?

I know that sometimes work and other activities interfere with serving our God, but what is your attitude when you must miss worship and service activities because of work? Making good grades is important to a good education and a good job, but when God is first in our lives we will manage our time so that we are at Bible class and worship, and we will complete our classroom assignments, too. When parents have God first in their lives, they will train their children from birth onward that God is first – Bible class, worship, service opportunities – and the children know they will not participate in school activities and sports that interfere with serving and worshiping God.

Where is your heart? What do your actions show?

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