Meditations from the Hospital Bed - 3

God's Gift of Discipline: For My Spiritual Edification

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him.
For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives."
~ Hebrews 12:4-6

Spiritual discipline seems to be a long forgotten practice in the evangelical churches of today. Many churches no longer practice church discipline, and in doing so, have invited goats among the sheep [Matthew 25:32-33, 41] to worship the Lord of Hosts, the LORD God Almighty. Naturally, inviting those who are not truly converted disciples of Christ; those who are have not been born again, through repentance and full trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, causes us to be guilty of the sin of desecrating our offering of praise to our God if we knowingly bring those we know are not born of His Spirit to worship at His altar with us, just so we can boast of numbers and check off our list of spiritual accomplishments [Malachi 1:6-11].

We need to go back to the times of the great reformation and renew our spiritual fervor [Romans 12:9-13] as we love one another according to God's word and not according to the comforts of our flesh and in conformity with the ways of the world. We need to return to revering all of God's commandments and His holy ordinances. It seems in many evangelical churches, we have lost what it means to fear God and all that He has commanded to be holy, including worship and ordinances such as the Lord's Supper.

In the original tabernacle, there was a curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (where the Ark of the Covenant was placed). No one was allowed to enter through the curtain of the Most Holy Place, except for the Priest and even so, he was only allowed to enter once a year to make atonement for his sins and the sins of all the people. But as we know, all the things here on earth are but a shadow of the eternal things to come [Hebrews 10:1].

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His [Christ's] flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
~ Hebrews 10:19-22
I am so thankful to God for His wonderful gift of our church family where we practice biblical church discipline. Church discipline is necessary, not only because it is commanded by God in Scripture, but our compassionate heavenly Father has commanded it for our benefit, not our harm. When we are members of a God-fearing, God-loving church that adheres strictly to God's word rather than our evil culture, then every member of that church benefits in the abundant grace of God that is poured out onto such a fellowship of believers [Acts 4:33].

Personally, I've benefited greatly due to this biblical training of spiritual discipline from our church family and our wise and humble leaders. I've learned to make it a practice to examine myself and approach the throne of God's grace with a true heart, a teachable heart, and a repentant heart that desires more to seek the face of Jesus, rather than to seek the wicked desires of my flesh. In doing so, God has revealed to me one of the main reasons why I was in the hospital and have been recently afflicted in my body: for my spiritual edification.

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
~ 1 Corinthians 11:28-31
Please don't take me wrong. I am not saying that every Christian who suffers in their body, is suffering because of a sin in which they have not repented. I am fully aware that many of our bodily afflictions occur because we live in a fallen world and the sin that dwells within our flesh is the most dangerous and fatal disease that has struck all humanity; therefore, there is no one who can escape death and illness that comes upon our bodies. What I am saying is, it is not for us to judge one another in this matter, but as the Lord God commands us in the above passage, it is for each of us to judge ourselves; soberly [Romans 12:3-5]. We are all called, as children of the Most High God to examine our own hearts; fervently requesting of the Lord who knows our hearts, to search them, test them and lead us in the Way [Psalm 139:23-24]. We are to ask with sincere love, that God forgive us and reveal to us (so that we might repent) of all our daily sins; both those that are obviously visible to us and those that are not [Psalm 19:12-14].

***By the way, I am in no way including bodily afflictions that come upon a person due to persecution for the name of Jesus. As we know, all this is for the glory of God to be displayed in the lives of those who suffer this way and no personal sin is ever the cause [John 9:1-3].***

In God's compassion, He delighted to show me that I have been guilty of hidden sins in two areas of my life:
  1. Pride in intercessory prayer
  2. Contending with supremacy with God in my sons' lives
We all suffer from pride and struggle with this wickedness within us all. One of the awful things about pride is it creeps into areas we would never suspect. During my recent bodily affliction and hospital stay, God was so kind to reveal these hidden sins to me. Of course, not hidden to Him, but only to my own heart that had deceived me for all these years. The Lord, in His mercy showed me that when I approached His throne on behalf of another, I would often only do it if I deemed that their prayer request was important. When God showed this to me, I felt sicker than I already did with all that I had already been stricken! I was so disgusted that I would dare to presume whether or not another person's prayer request was worthy of taking to the throne of God's mercy and grace. Personally, I've never heard of such a preposterous thing! Oh, what a wretched woman I am!

If that were not enough, the Lord also revealed to me that I had not only been lying to myself all these 16 years, but to my sons as well. I've raised them, telling them that Jesus should always take preeminence in their lives; that He should always be the most important Person to them, even before my Favorite and I. But in my heart, the Lord revealed to me that I didn't really believe this. God showed me that I wanted to be the most important person in their lives! Can you believe that?! As if my the first sin God revealed to me was not disgusting enough by itself, He then, with great mercy reveals this lie I've been telling myself and my sons all their lives! If there could be found, a more wretched woman than myself, I would be surprised as I am sure there is none that has, does or will ever exist. In all this, the Lord showed me how I have contended supremacy with Him. This sin is nothing short of satanic as this is the very sin that overtook Satan.

God was so kind to allow me the opportunity to immediately pray on another's behalf, without partiality and to confess my sin to my sons and ask for their forgiveness.

With gratitude, I gave thanks to my God for allowing me this light and momentary affliction [2 Corinthians 4:16-18] to be used for my spiritual discipline, for my edification that I might be all the more conformed into the likeness of His Son, my Lord Jesus the Christ; that in every way, I might repent of my sins and live a life worthy of His name.

For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me...As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!
~ Psalm 40:12, 17
Do I believe God's spiritual discipline for my personal edification was the only purpose for my recent bodily affliction and hospital stay? No. I know assuredly that it was only one of the many reasons. The other purpose in which I am aware of is for me to have the privilege to declare the glad news of deliverance; to be bold in speaking of God's faithfulness, righteousness, and salvation to all those who entered my hospital room, or met me during my daily walks. As for the any other purposes - well, I'm sure there are many, but I am not aware of them, and am satisfied to know of the two God was pleased to reveal to me. There are so many things that the Lord Jesus works in our lives, I am sure that while we desire to tell of them all, they are too many to declare, even through eternity [Psalm 40:5, John 21:25].

Quick update on my health:
I was released from the hospital, Tuesday, June 16,th only because I am stable enough and was found to be able to sustain myself for the last two days of my hospital stay. They agreed that if I could do this, I could go home, but must agree to come back if any symptoms return, continue all requested testings on an outpatient basis and if my future blood tests reveal I must return, I agreed that I would. Many of my blood work is all over the country at places like the Mayo Clinic as they are very specialized testings. The following are the results (thus far) from biopsies, CT Scans, etc.: I have several indeterminate nodules in my right lung and one in my left; although on the surface it seemed my colonoscopy and endoscopy proved to be clear, the biopsy reports returned with signs of severe inflammation within the tissue of my esophagus and stomach; my white blood cell count (specifically my eosinophils) continue to fluctuate; I am still on a strict diet, no meds and very weak.

I have a hospital follow-up and recheck of my CBC with my family doctor next week, and a visit with my hematologist (from the hospital) to discuss my results (they should return in a couple of weeks), and a follow-up with my gastroenterologist after that.

I know this might sound a bit crazy, but although my prognosis, so far doesn't sound very good and all my doctors are concerned, I'm not. It's not because I'm in shock or even nuts. It's because I'm so grateful that the Lord has delivered me from these hidden sins which I just shared; that through His mercy and kindness, chose to reveal them to me, that I might repent of them and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips, as You know, O LORD.
I have not hidden Your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness from the great congregation.
~ Psalm 40:9-10