Posts Tagged ‘Infectious Disease’


I don’t believe we fully understand how bad off Job was. I have been with many people who were suffering from the pain of cancer, of burns, and it is horrible. Thank God they were always on morphine or some other drug to keep them comfortable. Most of us know what pain is, even constant pain, but Job experienced something that I don’t think we can begin to relate to.

Job 2:7-8 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.

Most people think he had some skin disease that resulted in pussy sores or boils (Hebrew word sehiyn). But I believe it was much more painful and deadlier than that. Hezekiah had šehiyn’s and he nearly died from just one. The Lord told the physician to put figs on the šehiyn and he was healed[1].

If Satan is given permission to mess with your body, I don’t think he throws any punches. He had a whole arsenal of diseases, and I think he picked one we call MRSA. Have you ever had MRSA. It’s a horrible bacterial infection. MRSA not only attacks your skin, it can get into your bloodstream, heart or lungs, even your urinary tract It can produce:

Chest pain, Chills, Cough, Fatigue, Fever, General ill feeling (malaise), Headache, Muscle aches, Rash and even Shortness of breath.

Study Job and you will find he displayed all of those symptoms. If you ever had a MRSA boil you know you can try and get it to pop, but the infection can go down so far, nothing relieves the pain and the burning. Imagine one big MRSA boil being able to torment your life and cause all those symptoms, and even causing your death. Now imagine 200 or 300 of them all over your body. I don’t think we can even begin to imagine the pain he was in. I mention this because as bad as some bacteria infections are, they don’t begin to compete with the pain and the damage caused by the DSCR virus.

The CDC doesn’t want you to know it, and it is kept out of the press for fear of inciting public outcry and fear, but the DSCR Virus is on the verge of being a pandemic.

You never heard of the DSCR virus? Let me tell you about it.

Once upon a time the devil decided to have a garage sale. He did it because he wanted to clear out some of his old tools to make room for new ones. After he set up his wares, a fellow dropped by to see what he had. Arrayed on a long table were all the tricks of his infernal trade. Each tool had a price tag. In one corner was a shiny implement labeled “Anger—$250,” next to it a curved tool labeled “Sloth—$380.” As the man searched, he found “Criticism—$500” and “Jealousy—$630.” Out of the corner of his eye, the man spotted a beaten-up tool with a price tag of $12,000. Curious, the man asked the devil why he would offer a worn-out piece of junk for such an exorbitant price. The devil said it was expensive because he used it so much. “What is it?,” the man asked. The answer came back, “It is discouragement. It always works when nothing else will.”[2]

Yes, the DSCR virus is cause of that ancient malady, discouragement. It is the Devil’s favorite way of destroying Disciples, of rendering them powerless, and yes, even causing their death.

We all know from hard experience how the devil uses the DSCR Virus to keep us from moving ahead. When anger won’t stop us, when lust can do us no harm, when envy finds no foothold, discouragement always works. It is the devil’s number one tool.

Free Dictionary defines discouragement as “the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles[3].  Wordreference.com says to discourage is to “Cause (someone) to lose confidence or enthusiasm”.

The opposite is encourage, which is to put courage, confidence and enthusiasm into someone. Discouragement is anything that takes the courage out of someone. DSCR is a dangerous virus. It literally sucks the spiritual vitality out of you.

The DSCR virus causes your heart to be weaken and calcify, and then it messes with your eyesight and finally moves to destroy your soul.

Let’s look at what it did to David…in 1 Samuel 27

J Vernon McGee wrote this about this chapter in his “Thru the Bible Commentary”

Here is David — discouraged, despondent — doing something he should not have done. He leaves the land of Israel and goes to live among the Philistines. There is nothing in this chapter that would reveal that David is a man of God.[4]

That is his only comment on this chapter in his commentary. There is nothing more to learn, so he moves on. I believe 1 Samuel 27 is rich in application for Disciples. Look at the first verse:

1 Samuel 27:1 Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”

1. David Settled.

David Said in his Heart…I shall perish by the hand of Saul…There is Nothing Better for me…

This is not the David I know. I can see why Dr. McGee wanted to skip ahead.

I see David as a Confident Leader:

  • Psalm 7:9-10 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.

I see David as the picture of Braveheart:

  • Psalm 37:30-31 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.

“tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!” MY FEET WILL NEVER SLIP AWAY FROM YOU O GOD!

I see him ALWAYS Trusting in God:

  • Psalm 61:1-4 Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah

But Discipleship is hard. It is a constant battle. You can never let your guard down, because there is an epidemic of DSCR going around. It is highly contageous. Just one case of DSCR can break out in a church and drag the whole church down.

Discouragement can be caused by a lot of things. Rick Warren says there are four major causes: Fatigue, Frustration, Failure and Fear.

David had been on the run for over 8 years now. He had experienced major victories in his life and walk before God. He had spared Saul’s life once in the cave at En Gedi (I Samuel 24). Then he had spared Nabal’s life when Abigail interceded (I Samuel 25). Then he had very recently spared Saul’s life again when he crept into the camp and found Saul sleeping (I Samuel 26).  You would think that he was unstoppable, that he was a Spiritual Giant. But he was a man like you and me. He was vulnerable to the DSCR virus.

Certainly he could have grown weary from the constant pressure, he could have grown frustrated by God’s seeming inactivity, he could been in one of those moments where it seemed he had failed, he could have finally given in to the fear that certainly was warranted by his circumstances.

But I think David was Discouraged because he let his circumstances lead him to SETTLE.

We hear all the time: “HANG ON, HANG TOUGH, HANG IN THERE” but God never, never settles. He never never hangs in there! God is an Overcomer and He wants us to be Overcomers! Overcomers never settle, never hang in there, they always move forward to Victory!

God practices and delights in Righteousness. The Key to being Righteous is the Focus of your Hope. Who you are counting on for your righteousness, who are you allowing to live through you. Simply because we feel we are not righteous, do we give up and accept our sin and failures? Do we give up praying to God because He never seems to answer? Do you give up on a son or daughter simply because they seem so set against God?

Do we say, “well that’s the way it always has been, so why fight it”? Do we give up hope and settle for our circumstances?

Remember the little widow lady?

Luke 18:1-8 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” There is a direct connection between FAITH and your heart!

Faith Never Settles. Faith Never accepts an Adversary. Faith is Always Praying. When Faith fades, we lose heart, we become discouraged. We have settled.

When you Settle instead of Struggling, your immune system gets weak and the DSCR Virus can take hold. It seeks out your HEART!

Listen to David as the DSCR virus takes hold of his heart:

  • Psalm 38:10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
  • Psalm 40:12 For troubles surround me— too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.

When you can only focus on your sins instead of focusing on His forgiveness, you know the DSCR virus has infected your heart and caused you to feel defeated.

David became discouraged!

Psalm 69:1-21 Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. … Rescue me from the mud; don’t let me sink any deeper! Save me from those who hate me, and pull me from these deep waters. Don’t let the floods overwhelm me, or the deep waters swallow me, or the pit of death devour me. Answer my prayers, O LORD, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful. Don’t hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble! Come and redeem me; free me from my enemies. You know of my shame, scorn, and disgrace. You see all that my enemies are doing. Their insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. If only one person would show some pity; if only one would turn and comfort me. But instead, they give me poison for food; they offer me sour wine for my thirst.

God seemed distant to David. His faith could not take God’s silence, and so it became weak, until He gave up on God doing anything. He gave up believing God’s Word. He settled. He said “this is my life, Saul will kill me, and there is nothing I can do. My life is over, God has left me, I might as well do the best I can”.

WOEME

His Heart had become infected by the ‘WOEME’ disease that results from the DSCR Virus invading your heart. “WOEME” disease is deadly. It slowly attacks a person’s heart, soul and eventually their strength.

Symptoms can appear gradually, or all at once.

Faith is attacked and grows weak. God seems distant, uncaring. His Word is dry and uncomforting. Circumstances seem to careen out of control. God shrinks and circumstances grow. You react by relying on counsel from friends, or doing what seems rational, or what brings you the most comfort and safety.

2. David Skews

David said, “I shall escape out of his hand.” Wasn’t that what God had been doing for 8 years now? Why all of a sudden did he think God couldn’t protect him? Why? Because David’s vision was skewed to look only at his circumstances without the benefit of God’s Promises. WOEME Disease blinds our spiritual eyes.

  • I shall escape out of his hand…

Circumstances are distorted, and become the main influence upon your life. Not only is your life affected, but your family and friends can become infected. Your House is affected because you are reacting to God’s Design.

  • Bad Focus will cause you to lose sight of God’s Discipleship Ways
  • Bad Focus will cause you to react to God’s Lessons, and He will stop teaching you His Paths!

Psalm 25:4-5 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

David settled for his own path, because he stopped learning from God.

Discouragement is a Disciple Killer!

Now, if you asked David if he was discouraged, he would shake his head and say “no, not at all”. I still love God and follow him. I just think this is best for all of us. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. (Flashback: You did try it and it didn’t work too good)

Most Christians will tell you they are not discouraged either, they are just doing what’s best.

I hear them all the time. They have excuses for not going to church, excuses for not reading their Bible, excuses for working on Sunday, excuses for gossiping, excuses for dishonoring authorities. But what is at the heart of our decision to go our own way and do what is best for us? Could it be that mistrust of God has allowed the DSCR virus to take hold of our heart?

Think about it.

  • ENCOURAGE vs DISCOURAGE
  • IN GOD vs DISTANT FROM GOD
  • IN THE COURAGE OF GOD vs DISTANT FROM THE COURAGE OF GOD
  • CONFIDENT IN GOD vs CONFIDENCE IN SELF
  • OBEDIENCE TO GOD vs OBEDIENCE TO SELF
  • IN THE WORD vs IN THE WORLD
  • IN vs DIS

Do you see it? The DSCR virus attacks when we are DISTANT from God! The DSCR virus can develop into much more than discouragement, or “WOEME” disease.

Look at all the other side effects:

  • Disheartened by obstacles, failure, or criticism
  • Distressed and fearful, lacking courage and confidence
  • Disillusioned, losing hope for the future
  • Disinterested, apathetic, lacking initiative
  • Doubtful about the value of certain actions
  • Down on himself/herself, with a poor sense of worth
Bottom Line

 It develops into estrangement from God’s Word and justification for a selfish course of action.

Let’s Examine David a little Closer. What was the result of his heart sickness that led him to think he had to settle and move to Philistia for protection.

A. David’s Perspective was SKEWED

Skew is :1350–1400;  (v.) Middle English skewen  to slip away, swerve.[5]

It all begins when David starts to think about his situation. For nearly nine years he’s been running from Saul, Doeg, Ziphites, Abner, 3000 trained killers, fools, you name it, David had encountered them.

  • He chooses to focus on what might happen instead of what has happened.
  • He chooses to focus on his own resources instead of God’s promises.

David writes God out of the picture. He thinks it is all up to him, and he has to do what a man has to do. After all God helps them that helps themselves! No, that is a lie of Satan. That statement alone is used to justify actions that are not dependant upon God, but dependant upon man. It is a fleshly statement, a worldly philosophy that will lead you away from God and into the arms of Satan.

B. He Made a Dumb Decision.

1 Samuel 27:5-6 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes”

He sought the approval of an ungodly enemy.

Have you ever made a dumb decision? At the time you made it it seemed the best thing to do, but later on you realize what a dumb thing to have done. Thankfully God forgives us of our dumb decisions. God allows us to learn from our dumb decisions, and become mighty disciples. In fact, those dumb decisions wake us up to the fact that our life is out of whack with God. It’s important that we not hold those dumb decisions against a repentant heart, which David later had.

C. His Decision Led to Compromise.

1 Samuel 27:6-7 So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months.

The children of Israel were not to mix with the surrounding nations. Over and over the warning was given and every time somebody tried it, disaster resulted. David knew all that and he did it anyway. I’m sure if you had asked David as he led his band toward Gath, “Are you deserting God?” he would have said no. He probably would have been insulted by the very question. “Me, desert God? Are you kidding? I believe everything I always believed.” “But David, these are not God’s people.” “It makes no difference. I’m going to go live there for a while until the pressure is off. It’s not a big deal. I can have my quiet time in Gath just as easily as I can in Israel.”

We always have an excuse when we compromise. Some of us are doing it right now. We are involved in some things that would shock anyone if they knew the truth. We said something, we’ve done something that we normally wouldn’t do, but we feel we have a good excuse. You know you are compromising when you have to explain away some command of God in order to justify what you are doing.

You can be singing louder than anyone this morning, writing a big check for the offering, and be a compromiser. When the lights have faded, friends have gone, you are laying in bed thinking about your life, you have to ward off the discouragement with music or pills or alcohol.

Achish gave the city of Ziklag to David and his men and their families.  Ziklag is a variation of Zahaliku, which means downward slopes[6]

Taking your eyes off God and His Word, and then depending upon yourself or other people to do what’s best for you, often leads us slowly downward until we end up doing things we  never dreamed we would do. What starts as a fleeting thought or reaction becomes a plan, a plan becomes a commitment, and eventually a commitment becomes a lifestyle. We cope with our weaknesses by settling down and living with them as friends.

3. David Stews

1 Samuel 27:8-11 Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish. When Achish asked, “Where have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, “lest they should tell about us and say, ‘So David has done.’ ” Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines.

David got in to a stew of lies, deception and murder. He and his men found safety, but at what cost. David was like Lot who chose the well watered plain, and whose soul became tormented because of the sin surrounding him. Compromise often leads us to a stew. Have you ever heard the idiom: “stew in one’s own juice”? It means to suffer the consequences of one’s own actions. “Stew” comes from a Middle English word from the 1350’s “stewen or stuwen” –  to take a sweat bath!

Oh, I’m sure David justified his actions. After all, God had commanded Joshua to kill all the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. I’m sure he thought he was actually doing God’s Will!

Not only is David living a lie, but now all the men and their families are involved as well. David had to keep trying to please Achish by lying about his raids, and hope that no one ever escaped or witnessed what they were doing. If David had any conscience at all, it must have been tormenting him like crazy.

When we compromise, we’ll always end up in a stew. Not only us, but we often take others with us. Our lies and selfishness can hurt a lot of people. The saddest think about taking our eyes off God, and spreading the DSCR virus, it quenches the Holy Spirit. It can even remove the Blessing of God.

4. David Stinks

1 Samuel 27:12 And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”

David didn’t think he stunk. In fact, he thought, I’ve done a good thing. I am ridding the land of foes of old, more mighty men are coming to me, the Philistines think I’m with them, I don’t have to sleep with one eye open, the men are spending time with their wives and having babies. Life is good. King Saul is a distant worry. Verse 4 says Saul stopped looking for David, and vs 12 says Achish was very pleased with David.

The Devil stopped pursuing David and the world was OK with him.

If he was a good Southern Baptist he would be standing up and saying “look how God has blessed me!” Things were going well. He gets up in the morning about nine, reads the Ziklag Gazette, goes down to the gym to work out with the boys, in the afternoon he raids a nearby village, and in the evening maybe there’s a feast. Not a bad life. Disobedience often results in a temporary lessening of pressure. But God always has the last word, and David was about to come face to face with God!

5. Disciples Seek

After the Israelites heard the report of the spies, they became afraid, their faith in God’s Word went to nothing, and they decided not to trust God and depend upon Him to conquer the giants. At that point the message of God came to the people through Moses. Moses pronounced the judgment of God upon the people, that they would all perish in the wilderness and never enter the promised land. They reacted by trying to go ahead and enter the promised land.

Deuteronomy 1:41-42 “Then you answered me, ‘We have sinned against the LORD. We ourselves will go up and fight, just as the LORD our God commanded us.’ And every one of you fastened on his weapons of war and thought it easy to go up into the hill country. And the LORD said to me, ‘Say to them, Do not go up or fight, for I am not in your midst, lest you be defeated before your enemies.’

The people went anyway, and were defeated, and lived the rest of their lives in the wilderness. They settled, they skewed, they stewed, and eventually they stunk as rotting corpses in the desert. O, they still went to church, they still enjoyed their grandkids, but they were walking as defeated corpses, defeated because they failed to trust God when it counted.

Moses Fell Down Before the Lord

When God was giving the two tablets of stone to Moses, a great noise came to his ears from the base of the mountain. God told Moses to hurry up and get down there, because the people had corrupted themselves.

Deuteronomy 9:12 And Jehovah said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people that thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.

This word shāat[7]was used before as God described why He destroyed the earth in the flood:

Genesis 6:11-12 And the earth is corrupt before God, and the earth is filled with violence. And God seeth the earth, and lo, it hath been corrupted, for all flesh hath corrupted its way on the earth.

God’s world became corrupt because the people took their focus away from God and placed it upon themselves. The Jews became corrupt when they removed their focus from God and placed it on themselves, corrupted by the thinking of the fleshly Egyptians.

Once again, at that point, God told Moses that He would destroy those people, and Moses could start over with an uncorrupted group of people.

Moses pleaded with God, and then fell on his face before the Lord for 40 days and night, neither eating or drinking, and God relented of His plan.

DISCR anything-discourage, disenfranchised, discord, disheartened, disillusioned, distant is all dangerous, because it comes from a heart that had been corrupted by wrong influences, wrong thinking, wrong focus and wrong people.

If we want to keep wandering around as stinking corpses, we will not change. But if we want to experience victory, grow in faith, grow in Jesus Christ, grow to the point where we are seeing people saved, we are seeing Disciples grow and develop, then we need to fall on our face before the Lord. We need to confess our sin, we can’t settle, we must keep coming before our Father against any adversary and let Him know that we still have Faith we still believe His word.

James 4:4-10 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “sehyin”.

[4] J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “CHAPTERS 26 AND 27”.

[7] James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “7843”.


Coming alongside those who suffer.

The Good Samaritan gave us an example of caring for the Weak and the Powerless, even when they are strangers. We need to look at our responsibilities when it comes to those in the world who are hurting because of disease and sickness.

Jesus twice sent out his disciples with very clear and concise instructions. Those same instructions apply to us as His servants:

  • Matthew 10:8 – Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
  • Luke 10:8-9 -“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’

Heal: Therapeúō – attendant, servant. To voluntarily wait upon, minister to, render service, heal. Pictures the physician’s watchful attendance of the sick and man’s service to God. Therapeuo means to serve as therápōn.

Therápōn-denotes a faithful friend to a superior, who solicitously regards the superior’s interest or looks after his affairs, not a common or domestic servant.

Therápōn approaches more closely the position of oikonómos, manager, in God’s house.[1]

One who heals the sick is a friend who closely watches over one he considers his superior. One who heals the sick is actually functioning as a manager in God’s house!

The reason this is so important is the actual meaning of the sick that Christ sent them out to minister to.

SICK: asthenés: “Without strength, powerless, weak, without physical ability. By implication, meaning afflicted, distressed by oppression, calamity. In a moral sense, wretched, diseased, i.e., in a state of sin and wretchedness[2].

Our attitude toward sickness and disease reveals the state of our heart-whether we are fit to be managers in God’s House!

The Role of the “Watchman”

Ezekiel explains the Code of the Watchman. God sets some people up as Watchmen over His people. They are to warn the people of impending danger.

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, 3 and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. Ezekiel 33:1-7

Now at this time both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah had already been taken into captivity. Both nations had gone on a massive sinning spree – worshiping false gods and graven images and turning their back on their one true God time and time again.

Isaiah had prophesied over 100 years earlier, to the Nation of Judah who had witnessed their brothers to the North taken by the Assyrians. They thought they wouldn’t be captured because THEY were so religious, beloved by Jehovah. They were proud of their “RELIGIOUSNESS” and wondered why they were having trouble with the Assyrians too! They were trying everything to win God’s favor and support. They were even fasting. But here is what Isaiah said:

Isaiah 58:3-12

3 “Why have we fasted, but You have not seen? We have denied ourselves, but You haven’t noticed!” “Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast, and oppress all your workers. 4 You fast ⌊with⌋ contention and strife to strike viciously with ⌊your⌋ fist. You cannot fast as ⌊you do⌋ today, ⌊hoping⌋ to make your voice heard on high. 5 Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord? 6 Isn’t the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh ⌊and blood⌋? 8 Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard. 9 At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer; when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you get rid of the yoke among you, the finger-pointing and malicious speaking, 10 and if you offer yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday. 11 The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose waters never run dry. 12 Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the foundations laid long ago; you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live.

The people of the Southern Kingdom thought they were being religious, thought they were being “Good God-fearing Jews”, yet God through Isaiah revealed their selfishness. He revealed how they were neglecting the poor, the hungry, the afflicted. Their hearts and their purse strings were closed to the needs of those around them.

But God said that if they would share their bread, bring the poor and homeless into their home, see to the needs of the afflicted, then recovery would appear quickly. The Lord’s Glory would be their rear guard. When they satisfied the afflicted ones, their light would shine in darkness, the Lord would lead them, satisfy them and strengthen them. They would be called the repairer of the broken walls.

Obviously, as God promised, Israel was judged for its sin. The people did not heed the warnings of Isaiah and others. The watchmen failed to turn the people to the Lord, and to doing what pleased the Lord.

In a way, Israel had “died,” when she went into captivity, and now she would need to be reborn and restored to her rightful place as a healthy and whole nation before God. Ezekiel said if that was to happen, the watchmen would have to assume their proper place. The people would have to heed the calls of the watchmen.

The church age has come along now, and we are to prepare a bride for our Savior. This world is dying, the people are ignoring the sound of God’s trumpet, and instead of being WATCHMEN, many of us have closed our eyes and said there is nothing I can do. Is that the excuse you want to give Jesus?

Jesus warned His disciples:

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36

The way that we can stand before Jesus is by heeding His commands to manage God’s house. Note what Jesus warns:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46

Many parts of our world—including, much of the bottom half of the continent of Africa—have been decimated and “put to death” by serious but treatable diseases.

1.  Respiratory infections

  • Death toll: More than 4 million people each year.
  • Mostly pneumonia and other diseases of the lungs, windpipe or bronchial tubes,
  • Most victims are under five.
  • Often associated with AIDS.

2.  HIV/AIDS

  • Annual Death toll: More than 3 million deaths
  • Infection rate: Some 39.4 million people in the world live with HIV.
  • Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans.
  • Child Impact
    • Currently, less than 10 percent of HIV-positive children in need of treatment are being treated.
    • Each day, 1,500 children worldwide become infected with HIV, the vast majority of them newborns.
    • Less than 10 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women receive drug therapies to prevent the transmission of HIV to their infants.
    • Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS.

3.  Malaria

  • Death toll: Between 1 million and 5 million each year.
  • Facts: In Africa, 3,000 children die every day from the preventable disease.
  • Ninety per cent of deaths are in Africa, home to the most deadly form of the virus.
  • Less than five percent of people at greatest malaria risk have insecticide-treated mosquito nets to sleep under.

4.  Diarrhea

  • Death toll: Kills around 2.2 million people each year.
  • Caused by dysentery, cholera and a host of lesser-known scourges – is a symptom of infection from bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms like microscopic worms. Most diarrhea-related deaths, particularly in children, are due to dehydration.
  • How is it spread? Contaminated water and food.
    • Each year more than five million people die from water-related disease.
    • Every 15 Seconds a child dies from a water related disease.
    • 84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0-14.
    • 98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.
    • Poor peoplel living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people lving in the same city.
    • At any one time, more than half the poor of the developing world are ill from causes related to hygiene, sanitation, and water supply.
    • Eighty-eight percent of causes of diarrhea worldwide are attributed to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygien.
    • Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation–one that ensures hygenic separation of human exreta from human contact.

5.  Tuberculosis

  • Death toll: Two million people die every year.
  • Infection rate: About 2 billion people are infected with TB and over 8 million new cases develop each year.
  • TB is a frequent killer for people with AIDS. African states suffering from the HIV pandemic have experienced an annual 10 percent rise in TB cases.

Jesus called the hurting “His Brother’s”. When we look after the sick, we are looking after Jesus. It is time to see those villages, cities, nations, continents … entire people groups … brought back to life.

This is where you and I come in.

It’s time we open our eyes and look after them like watchmen of the Lord!

Much like Ezekiel, we, as followers of Jesus Christ, bear the responsibility for sounding the horn and alerting all who have ears to hear that the only way rebirth and restoration can occur is if we help to stop the hurting that is taking lives even as I talk. What does it take to be a Watchman for the Hurting and Sick?

Choose to look.
Choose to see.
Refuse to look the other way.

In his newest book, The Hole in Our Gospel, World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns tells this compelling story of a trip he made to Uganda just over a decade ago:

His name was Richard, the same as mine. I sat inside his meager thatch hut, listening to his story, told through the tears of an orphan whose parents had died of AIDS. At thirteen, Richard was trying to raise his two younger brothers by himself in this small shack with no running water, electricity, or even beds to sleep in. There were no adults in their lives—no one to care for them, feed them, love them, or teach them how to become men. There was no one to hug them either, or to tuck them in at night. Other than his siblings, Richard was alone, as no child should be. I try to picture my own children abandoned in this kind of deprivation, fending for themselves without parents to protect them, and I cannot. I didn’t want to be there. I wasn’t supposed to be there, so far out of my comfort zone—not in that place where orphaned children live by themselves in their agony. There, poverty, disease, and squalor had eyes and faces that stared back, and I had to see and smell and touch the pain of the poor. That particular district, Rakai, is believed to be ground zero for the Ugandan AIDS pandemic. There, the deadly virus has stalked its victims in the dark for decades.

Sweat trickled down my face as I sat awkwardly with Richard and his brothers while a film crew captured every tear—mine and theirs. I much preferred living in my bubble, the one that, until that moment, had safely contained my life, family, and career. It kept difficult things like this out, insulating me from anything too raw or upsetting. When such things intruded, as they rarely did, a channel could be changed, a newspaper page turned, or a check written to keep the poor at a safe distance. But not in Rakai. There, “such things” had faces and names—even my name, Richard.

[Back in Uganda,] two crude piles of stones just outside the door mark the graves of Richard’s parents. It disturbs me that he must walk past them every day. He and his brothers must have watched first their father and then their mother die slow and horrible deaths. I wondered if the boys were the ones who fed them and bathed them in their last days. Whatever the case, Richard, a child himself, is now the head of household. Child-headed household, words never meant to be strung together. I tried to wrap my mind around this new phrase, one that describes not only Richard’s plight but that of tens of thousands, even millions, more. I’m told that there are sixty thousand orphans just in Rakai; twelve million orphans due to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. How can this be true? Awkwardly I asked Richard what he hopes to be when he grows up, a ridiculous question to ask a child who has lost his childhood. “A doctor,” he said, “so I can help people who have the disease.”

“Do you have a Bible?” I asked. He ran to the other room and returned with his treasured book with gold-gilt pages. “Can you read it?”  “I love to read the book of John, because it says that Jesus loves the children.”

This overwhelmed me, and my tears started to flow. Forgive me, Lord, forgive me. I didn’t know. But I did know. I knew about poverty and suffering in the world. I was aware that children die daily from starvation and lack of clean water. I also knew about AIDS and the orphans it leaves behind, but I kept these things outside of my insulating bubble and looked the other way.[3]

Under Rich’s leadership World Vision now serves more than 100 million people in nearly 100 countries, demonstrating God’s unconditional love for all people all around the world. Indeed, God did have a job for Rich to do, and he has a job for you and for me as well. But first we must be willing to look at the tough issues. We must be willing to see—really see—the effects on people’s lives. And we must refuse to look the other way.

The Church Fulfilling the Watchman Role

We, as Christ’s followers, have the opportunity to be known as “the people who came alongside,” the people who patiently suffered with those in need. This is our call, friends. This is our mission—to love people in practical ways so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father, who is in heaven.

I want to mention three truths about who we are as the church of Jesus Christ before we move into this week’s personal application.

1. The church is the greatest dispenser of hope that the world could ever know; it has the hope of heaven, where no one will be afflicted by disease.

Let these words of life wash over you today:

Romans 8:22-25 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. innisbrook For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Colossians 1:5: “The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.”

Hebrews 6:17-20 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

It is because of faith in Christ that we have this hope. It is a hope that our government cannot provide, our academic institutions cannot provide, our corporations cannot provide, and even our families cannot provide. Rock-solid hope is only found in Jesus Christ, the One who overcomes all trials and all tribulations, including death. And including, certainly, sickness and disease. Don’t keep the hope of glory to yourself. Dispense your hope! This is why you are alive today.

2. The Church Is The Greatest Dispenser Of Healing That The World Will Ever Know.

Someday there will be no disease.  That will be the same day that there is no more sin. Disease is a manifestation of the effects of sin. First Peter 2:24 assures us that Christ carried our sins to the cross so that we could be freed to live the right way. In this sense, his wounds became our healing. As a result of Christ’s work on the cross, we have direct access to the Great Physician, the One who alone by his own power can heal.

23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 24 News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon-possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. Matthew 4:23-24

Are there people in our world today who need that same type of assurance? It is our job to dispense this divine access to healing to those who are sick. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for their salvation. Pray for their healing. Pray for their lives to be freed from the bonds of disease and used for God’s glory. We possess what no medicine can provide: the ever-ready power of believing prayer.

3. The church is the most credible watchman for the World.

The church must blow the trumpet of warning alert all people that we’re officially at war with these diseases.

We have enough information about HIV and AIDS—as well as other pandemics like malaria, cholera, and others—to speak up. And because of our knowledge and our role as the church of Jesus Christ, we have the responsibility to act on behalf of those who are suffering with no voice.

PERSONAL APPLICATION

Consider whether you are using your resources and influence for the eternal good of others or for the temporal good of yourselves.

Brian Carlson is a youth leader at a large church in Colorado Springs who decided to get off the sidelines and take action on behalf of those suffering with HIV and AIDS in Africa. Here is how it happened, in his words:

God began drawing me to a defining moment in 2003. I was unexpectedly broken as I attended a Promise Keepers event for pastors in Phoenix. I arrived there expecting to be challenged and refreshed as I connected with others attending the event.

However, when speaker Bruce Wilkinson took the stage, my view of God and of the world was turned upside down. Through his teaching my heart grasped the horrific fact that 33 million people were dying worldwide from HIV and AIDS; 22.5 million were infected in sub-Saharan Africa alone. But what grabbed my heart most of all were the millions of children left vulnerable and in utter poverty due to the death of one or both parents.

Dr. Wilkinson then began to share his dream for Africa and how God had done surgery on his own heart. He said that God had “ripped open his chest, pulled out his heart, dug a hole in Africa, threw his heart into the hole, and filled in the hole with dirt.” In other words, his heart was no longer his own, and he must follow wherever God took it.

As the weeks went by, I returned to my safe, comfortable view of God. I was no longer ignorant of the AIDS pandemic and the millions affected, but its importance and relevance returned to the lowest rung on the priority ladder of my heart.

Three years later, while attending the 2006 Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit, God rekindled the fire in my heart and led me to a second defining moment. Bono, the lead singer of the band U2, became the conduit of God’s calling. In an interview with Bill Hybels [senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church], Bono challenged the church to rise up and truly become the body of Christ. Bono questioned: “Why isn’t the church responding to the greatest social crisis of our day … why has the church been slow to the dance? The church has always been behind—racism, apartheid. Why is it that way? … The church has been very judgmental about the AIDS virus. [They say that] these people have been living sexually irresponsible lives. If there’s a car crash with a drunk driver, do you drive on? Christ won’t let the church walk away from the AIDS emergency. It’s the leprosy of our age.[4]

Brian found himself at another crossroads that day: would he continue living a safe, comfortable life, or would he use his resources and his influence to engage?

It’s the same question I have for us today.

Each of us has been gifted by a very gracious God with resources, capabilities, capacities, talents, ideas, and influence. Will we use those things for eternal good? Or will we waste them on toys and trinkets that certainly will not last?

Brian introduced The Third Project. This was a challenge the middle school students attending Woodmen Valley Chapel to practically respond to the AIDS Pandemic in Africa. We challenged students to live with “God first, others second, and me third.” This taught students to see that just because a child is born in Africa to a mother dying of AIDS in a hut, she is no less important than I am. In fact, biblicaly speaking, she’s more important. “God’s first, this girl is second, I am third.” As a result students raised over $44,000 for AIDS orphans in Africa in six months. They truly caught what living third is all about.

Realizing that he now needed a place to invest those funds, under the guidance of church leadership, Brian partnered with a local organization that was doing work in Africa. He also went on a trip to Swaziland to visit a ministry leader named Pastor Themba and a local community of Christ-followers who needed help supporting the more than 150 orphans in their immediate area. Brian’s middle-schoolers had just the funds Pastor Themba’s congregation needed.

“Changing the lives of 150 orphans may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the millions of people around the world affected by HIV and AIDS,” Brian says. “It would be easy to become discouraged or disillusioned in the face of such a crisis … but Jesus Christ came to serve, rather than to be served … Then he told us to go and do the same.”[5]

Probing Questions

1. “When you hear the terrible statistics associated with HIV and AIDS, do you consider that part of that number is you?” – that part of that number is brothers and sisters in Christ half a world away and even in our own backyard? Do I?

2. “What might need to shift in your life so that your initial reaction to global pandemics is the realization that those statistics include your brothers and sisters in Christ, people for whom we as believers are accountable?”

  • Perhaps it’s a shift in perspective—HIV and AIDS are not reserved for those who have been sexually irresponsible.
  • Maybe it’s a shift in priorities—God does have a role for you and me to play, but he won’t force his agenda onto our lives.
  • Or it could be that what’s needed is a simple shift in pace—some of us are so busy doing good work that we are missing the great works God wishes to accomplish through our lives.

What shifts in your mind and heart might allow you to become an advocate, an activist, for one person who is suffering from a terrible disease? I hope you’ll carry that question with you this week.

Determine a Place to Start

The point I want to make is that the institutional church can do nothing to solve the disease problem in the developing world. This world is under the curse of sin and we need King Jesus. But Christ-followers who rally together and choose to invest their resources and influence wisely can make all the difference in the world. We are the greatest dispenser of hope and healing the world will ever know. All we must do is choose to start.

I want to invite you to do just that this week. I want to invite you to start. Here’s how I’m going to issue that invitation: I’d like for you to take some time after this service—this afternoon, or sometime this week—to think of someone in your sphere of influence who is struggling with a physical illness. Maybe it’s as severe and life-threatening as the diseases we’ve talked about today, or maybe it’s a chronic condition that compromises their quality of life in more subtle ways. Write down that person’s name, and then consider these three questions, before God:

  • What needs do I see in this person’s life?
  • What can I pray on his/her behalf?
  • What action can I take to help?

I hope you’ll accept that invitation. And I hope that many of you will share with me what God did as a result of your willingness to serve!

Becoming a Good Samaritan journey began last week, and for the next four weeks we will continue to discuss ways that we as a Christ-following community can become Watchmen for the hurting, the weak, the forgotten and the oppressed of the world.

The St-Hilaire train disaster

The St-Hilaire train disaster was a railroad disaster that occurred on June 29, 1864 near the present day town of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. The train, which had been carrying many German and Polish immigrants, failed to acknowledge a stop light and fell through an open swing bridge into the Richelieu River. The widely accepted death toll is 99 persons. The disaster remains the worst railway accident in Canadian history.[1]

The Grand Trunk train carrying between 354 and 475 passengers, many of them German and Polish immigrants, was travelling from Quebec City to Montreal.

At around 1:20 a.m. the train was approaching a swing bridge known as the Belœil Bridge over the Richelieu River.[4] The swing bridge had been opened to allow the passage of five barges and a steamer ship. A red light a mile ahead of the bridge signalled to the train that the crossing was open and it needed to slow down. However the light was not acknowledged by the conductor, Thomas Finn, or the engineer, William Burnie, and the train continued towards the bridge.

At 1:20 a.m. the train came onto the bridge and fell through an open gap. The engine and eleven coaches fell through the gap one after another on top of each other crushing a passing barge. The train sank into an area of the river with a depth of 10 feet. 99 people aboard the train were killed and 100 more were injured.

The engineer, who had only recently been hired, claimed that he was not familiar with the route and that he did not see the signal.

This world is on an express train headed straight to Hell. On this train are the weak, the sickly, the powerless. How is that train going to stop if we don’t signal them. How is that train going to stop if we are not swinging the Light of the Gospel.

4 You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. 5 So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. 6 They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them. 7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve. 9 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. Ezekiel 34:4-10

Are you management material? Are you willing to be a Watchman in God’s House?


[1] Complete Word Study Dictionary, The – New Testament.

[2] Complete Word Study Dictionary, The – New Testament.

[3] Rich Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel. Thomas Nelson 2009.

[4] Brian Carlson, “I am Third,” as published in The Woodmen Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, June 2009, pp.17-18. http://www.woodmenjournal.com.

[5] Ibid, p. 19.