The Ultimate Prescription
Do I love the Lord enough to trust Him In every circumstance? If the answer is yes, then through the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, you have achieved a relationship with your Saviour that is the cure for success in the Christian life. With that relationship secure I simply present these prescriptions to maintain your spiritual health in the days to come.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).
As you awaken each morning, your first thought should be a commitment to God, one that mobilizes every fiber of your will in God’s service for the next 24 hours. We must understand that the Christian life is often a battle. Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth, reminds us that in this “warfare” our weapons come from God (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Danger lurks just ahead for the Christian who, because things are currently going well, starts to believe that everything will continue that way. But reality is the exact opposite. Life is full of problems. If we are free of them, we’d better ask ourselves, “Why?”
Daniel understood the problems of the Christian and presents a good role model. “But Daniel purposed in his heart” (Daniel 1:8). He made up his mind and did not consider sin negotiable. The record of his life supports the fact that he held fast to that commitment.
Years ago the Indianapolis Times said, “A will of your own is more likely to help you succeed than the will of a relative.” A Chinese proverb states, “Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes.” We will not gain heaven on wishes. Only by a will guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit can we repel the enemy. Longfellow succinctly sums up the truth of the will. “To will what God wills is the only science that gives us rest.
We must commit our will to God as our first act each day—for the rest of our life.
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up (Psalm 5:3).
You may have missed it, but prescription 1 takes place while you are poised on the edge of your bed. Now that your feet are on the floor, it’s time for devotions.
An advertisement in a leading Christian magazine promoted a two-minute prayer book. That is exactly what I don’t have in mind. How much time is always a question, one that you must decide between you and God. The time spent in devotions must be enough to prepare you for the day and enable you to cope with life’s problems. Each day the problems vary, the needs of others for whom we pray will change, and the victories we must achieve differ. Therefore, our time on our knees will not always be the same. But whatever that time might be—it is not two minutes.
Books on prayer fill libraries, and it is not my plan to tell you how to pray. Instead, I simply want you to pray! I want you to realize that prayer is the prescription that the enemy dreads the most. John Bunyan said, “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” But devotions are more than prayer.
In my medical office we have established standard procedures (protocols) for dealing with each disease. It helps us not to forget when things get stressful and busy. If we establish protocols in our business life, why not in our spiritual walk? I know you may accuse me of recommending a ritual. Not at all. I realize that a fine line exists between protocols and rituals, but let me explain what I mean by a spiritual protocol.
Our devotions must be individual, personal, and done alone with God, though we must not forget the family altar, where the family comes together—maybe in the evening—to share the day’s activities, problems, and joys. Then everyone will go to the Word of God and have prayer, seeking God’s blessing as a family. While it may be trite, it is still true—the family that prays together stays together, or as another saying goes: a family that prays together does not prey on each other.
“If you are swept off your feet, it’s time to get on your knees” (Fred Beck).
I can’t stress it too strongly—the greatest prescription given to human beings is prayer.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Assembling together is not only good advice; it is essential. As human beings we need one another. We must share with one another the problems, joys, frustrations, and miracles of the past week. It is necessary for us to understand that the problems of “our” past week are pretty much like “their” past week. The devil does not pick on “only poor little me.” It is encouraging, and sometimes educational, to hear how others cope with life. Furthermore, the book of Hebrews continues by reminding us that we need the fellowship of one another more and more as the second coming of Christ approaches.
Often people come to me and ask, “Do you mean to tell me that I can’t be saved unless I go to church?” I simply say that it may be possible to be saved without church attendance, but it is rather unlikely. It goes against all logic to believe that we can remove ourselves from spiritual culture and still remain spiritual. Such behavior is contrary to the way the human mind works. Usually I mention the illustration of a blazing fire in the fireplace on a cold wintry night and then ask, “What happens to one of those blazing logs if you remove it and lay it on the hearth?” Of course, they have to admit that the fire goes out—and so they get the point.
We need the spiritual heat from each other to keep ourselves burning for Christ. Remember—if nothing burns, we cannot have light.
Many reasons exist to go to church:
“Some go to church to take a walk;
Some go to church to laugh and talk;
Some go there to meet a friend;
Some go there their time to spend;
Some go there to meet a lover;
Some go there a fault to cover;
Some go there for speculation;
Some go there for observation;
Some go there to doze and nod;
Some wise go there to worship God.”
But the best reason of all is to join with others in the worship of God.
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
One of my favorite writers makes the statement that 90 percent of all the problems in the church result from a tongue out of control.
Be honest. Most of the times you have offended someone else or been hurt by others, it was because of things being said that should never have been spoken. Afterward you always wish you hadn’t said those words. Make it a habit to talk less. I have learned that too often much of what I say could have been left unsaid. Even though I’m a slow learner, it is starting to pay dividends in peace. The advantage, as I see it, is that the less you say, the less you give others to repeat.
James tells us that “the tongue is a fire” (James 3:6). The one who can control the tongue can therefore control the rest of the body.
” “The boneless tongue so small and weak
can crush and kill,’ declared the Greek.
‘The tongue destroys a greater horde,’
The Turk asserts, ‘than does the sword.’
“The Persian proverb wisely saith
‘A lengthy tongue—an early death,’
Or sometimes takes this form instead,
‘Don’t let your tongue cut off your head.’
” ‘The tongue can speak a word, whose speed,’
Says the Chinese, ‘outstrips the steed.’
While Arab sages this impart:
‘The tongue’s great storehouse is the heart,
“From Hebrew with the maxim sprung:
‘Though feet may slip, ne’er Iet the tongue,’
The sacred writer crowns the whole:
‘Who keeps his tongue doth keep his soul.'”
Solomon sums it up well in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” So you want to repel the enemy? Control your tongue. This includes gossip.
Don’t forget the words of the wise man: “A soft answer turneth away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). A controlled tongue will make your life more tranquil.
“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26).
Solomon here tells us what we should observe and see. Job, on the other hand, warns, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” Job 31: l, NIV). While Job focuses on the specific issue of sexual desire, I am positive that he could have also made a covenant with his eyes for many other reasons. Certainly there must have been many other varieties of evil in his day that he chose not to view.
Today we live in a world in which we can see almost anything and under almost any kind of circumstances. Naturally, the material that concerns me is that which feeds human drives. Maybe some of you can remember back to “the good old days” when if you wanted to see some sordid movie, you had to sneak out under the cover of darkness to a movie house. Not so nowadays. Pornography in all of its ugly forms enters your own living room and practically every hotel room in the world. It tests our character when no one can see us.
Recently I read of a group of businesspersons who made a covenant with each other to place a towel over the TV while traveling. I think that would be an ideal way to handle the TV in our homes too. But it involves more than television. Nowadays even the respectable women’s magazines are full of nudity. Recently when I visited a large church, one of the pastors shared with us the fact that he had requested his wife not to bring home such magazines anymore. He recognized his weakness and was instituting a “prescription for success” in his life. In case you think I am talking only to men, nothing could be further from the truth. Women today have magazines that play to their temptations. They along with Job and all men must “make a covenant with their eyes.”
Consider other reading material we choose. How much time do you spend with the newspaper? I have found that 5-10 minutes is about all it takes to know what’s going on in the world. The sordid stories of rape, murder, incest, divorce, theft, and crimes of all kinds repeat themselves day after day. How many rapes and murders does one have to read about to grasp the fact that we live in a ugly world? Like it or not, immersing ourselves in accounts of such sins only leads to a greater tolerance of them in our own life
Fuller writes, “Our eyes, when gazing on sinful objects, are out of their calling, and out of God’s keeping.”
“A wanton eye is the messenger of an unchaste heart, (Augustine of Hippo).
“The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15).
Solomon admonishes us to use our ears wisely, but do we? What we listen to greatly affects us. Music is a problem for many. Ask yourself, “Would this music be appropriate to listen to while reading the Bible?” If the answer is no should we continue to make it part of our lifestyle?
In addition, it is just as much our duty not to listen to gossip as it is not to spread it. Simply suggesting to the one who is about to share a juicy tidbit that they should desist would, I believe, soon stop most gossiping. It takes tact and discipline to let others know that you are not interested in listening to tales. Those three little monkeys were right after all.
See no evil.
Speak no evil.
Hear no evil.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).
God wrote us three books that we as created beings should become well acquainted with. The first is the book of nature. How fortunate we are if we have parents who point us to a Creator who, in His love, gave us the birds with their songs, the flowers with their perfume, and the brook with its gurgling sounds. All nature proclaims organization and order. God’s creation also pleads with us to honor and worship the one who established the laws that point us to the supreme mind.
The second book is the Bible. As we read it, it seems natural that we should progress from seeing the creation to reading about and learning to love the Creator of it all.
Without argument, both books are the greatest, but we must also read a third book, one entitled How the Lord Has Led Me in the Past. This book is [or should be] in the process of being written by yourself.
I have to admit that many times when the Bible just did not seem to give me answers, contemplating how God has led me in the past did. We human beings like answers that are relevant, recent, and vivid in our memory, and that is why God’s miracles in our behalf give us courage to meet the future. So many times we get in a tight spot that seems to have no good solution (or so we think), and then we remember a similar problem from which the Lord extricated us in the past. Falling on our knees, we tell God how sorry we are for doubting Him, and peace floods our soul. And true to form, He delivers us from an “impossible” situation again. In my opinion, this is one of the most powerful prescriptions for spiritual growth in existence. I probably should have made it Prescription 1.
Please, start writing your book now!
“We live in the present. We dream of the future. But we learn eternal truths from the past” (Madame Chiang Kai-Shek).
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago” (Psalm 77:11, NIV).
If we will remember past miracles, we need never fear the future. God speaks to us in creation, in His Word, and in our lives.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6, NIV).
Companies make millions selling medication to neutralize or decrease the amount of acid in one’s stomach. Such excess acid leads to ulcers and sometimes hemorrhage, perforation, and even death. Why? All because of worry. But if we would heed Paul, we would avoid many such problems.
Medical science has proven that worry causes many of our ailments today—more than just ulcers and their complications. Worry never solves problems. Instead, it leads us to doubt a loving God. When doubt creeps in, faith falls. The devil smiles when you worry. But you can repel him with a petition to God.
An author I read daily makes the following comment about worry: “Worry is blind, and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing” (E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 330).
Worry, like a rocking chair, will give you something do, but it won’t get you anywhere—so don’t worry!
“All worry is atheism, because it is a want of trust in God” (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen).
“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any. . . . But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, 26).
Ringing in the ears of all those searching for a healing prescription should be that phrase from the Lord’s Prayer—”Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). That prayer makes it Incumbent upon a child of God to forgive quickly.
Years ago a rumor came to me that a woman in the church felt that I had offended her. When I heard that, I went to her house, asked her forgiveness, had prayer with her, and left, assuming that all was well. Eight years later (which was just last week), I heard again that she was not satisfied with the manner in which I had asked forgiveness, so again I went to her and requested forgiveness. It was slow in coming. She said, “When you came to me, you said, ‘If I have offended you, I ask you to forgive me.’ Well, let me tell you, you did offend me, and I didn’t think that was a very good apology.”
I then said, “Obviously I have offended you. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” She granted my request.
The point I want to make is this. Eight years ago I did my biblical duty (I still don’t know what my offense was), and having done so, I went away happy and forgiven. But she sadly had let it eat at her for another eight years. Further, how was God dealing with her prayers for forgiveness in the meantime? I repeat, forgive quickly! When a problem arises between you and a fellow human being, then Satan has an entrance into your mind as well as the other person’s.
Forgiveness is more than the remission of penalty—it should mean the restoration of a broken relationship.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
Have you ever known a person who always looks on the dark side of everything in life? How did you feel after spending an afternoon together? If you are like me, you wanted to get out of their presence. Depression can be contagious. It behooves us to avoid it at all costs.
Happiness is also contagious. Here again, have you felt down in the dumps until someone dropped by to spend a few minutes and their happiness left you feeling great? It works both ways, and it is incumbent on us to present contagious happiness to the world and, In the process, to write a prescription for happiness.
So what is happiness, anyway?
Webster defines it as “a state of well being characterized by relative permanence by dominantly agreeable emotion ranging in value from mere contentment to deep and intense joy in living, and by a natural desire for its continuation.”
While such a definition Is good, it still sounds changeable and transitory. I like a more stable type of happiness described in a book by Ellen G. White called My Life Today: “Here is the secret of content and peace and happiness. . . . The true Christian . . . seeks to live a life of usefulness and conform his habits to the example of Jesus. Such a one will find the truest happiness, the reward of well-doing. Such a one will be lifted above the slavery of an artificial life into the freedom and grace of Christlike simplicity” (p. 169).
What better way to repel the devil than to live a Christlike life and get happiness tossed in as a consequence! Solomon reminds us that happiness can, in fact, be constant when he says that “the cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15, NIV).
Mother Teresa explained that “joy is a net of love by which you catch souls.” Anne Frank, who had more troubles than most, said, “Whosoever is happy makes others happy too.”
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Have you ever noticed how kindness and forgiveness go together? How can you be kind without having a forgiving spirit, and how can we refuse forgiveness when we recall how Jesus has forgiven us? The kindness that Jesus has shown each one of us should make us tenderhearted toward one another.
At the end of the day, after my prayers and Bible study, and while my head is resting upon my pillow, I like to take inventory of the day’s activities. Sometimes I realize that I have said things that were not as kind as they should have been. How about you? Have you ever had a telephone conversation after which you had to admit that because of the way you talked, the person on the other end of the phone would never realize that you are a Christian? Sometimes I am ashamed of myself for my phone attitude. At those moments of self-incrimination the devil likes to remind me that “it’s just not worth trying—you can’t live a Christlike life after all.” But we need to send him on his way and determine anew that the next telephone call (with God’s help) will be kind. Dr. Henrietta C. Mears writes, “Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.”
A kind sinner is surely an oxymoron. So repel the devil with kindness to your fellow human beings regardless of their station in life.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 1:1).
Regardless of how good your life is or has been, times will inevitably come when you will need greater faith. What is faith? Webster states: “The act or state of wholeheartedly and steadfastly believing in the existence, power, and benevolence of a supreme being, of having confidence in His providential care, and being loyal to His will as revealed or believed in.”
I believe that it is a better definition than I have heard from some theologians. Did you notice that Webster gives us two points to consider—believing in a supreme being, and having confidence in that being. It is such confidence that makes faith a most potent prescription. Such confidence helps us realize that regardless of all the fiery darts that the enemy fires at us, we will survive while protected in the hands of Jesus. That’s faith! He has never failed me. How about you?
One Christian writer gives the following short definitions of faith. Faith is:
The arm for laying hold of divine power.
Clasping Christ’s hand in every emergency.
The hand that appropriates Christ’s merits and remedies for sin.
The hand that grasps salvation.
The hand that lays hold on Christ.
The hand that reaches upward to grasp God’s never-failing powers.
The hand that accepts God’s offer of grace and mercy.
The hand that takes hold of infinite help.
The hand that touches infinity.
The key of knowledge.
The living power that overrides all obstacles.
The power that presses through every barrier.
The soul’s lifeblood.
Simply taking God at His word.
The means of laying hold of Christ’s merit.
Augustine of Hippo connects his definition of faith with a reward. “Faith is to believe on the Word of God, what we do not see, and its reward is to see and enjoy what we believe.”
“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17, NIV).
Frequently in life’s daily activities we encounter questions regarding right and wrong. Here Jesus makes an amazing promise. If we choose His will, He will show us truth.
The greatest gift God gave us is the power of choice. We make hundreds of decisions every day. Some have become so routine that we do not even realize that we make them. They may be as simple as the kind of toothpaste we select or the way we comb our hair. Then we have more significant choices, but ones that still have no spiritual ramifications, such as what house or what car to buy. While such decisions involve the ease and comfort of our daily life, it is the choices that have eternal implications in which I am vitally interested.
Probably one of the most important choices we are called upon to make is that of a spouse. It has eternal ramifications. Those we select for friends often determine what we do in our spare time. Remember, influence for bad is easier to come by than influencing someone for good. Choose carefully those with whom you will spend your leisure hours.
Be certain all your unseen choices are honest. For example, no human being may know whether you cheat on your income tax. But God will! I urge you to choose to be honest. You don’t have to tell all the problems with your car when you go to sell it. The law doesn’t require it. But choose to be honest. Your salvation depends on it as well as your peace of mind.
How about your choice when the person says “If you do that for me, I’ll just pay you under the table”? We all know the implications of that statement. What’s your choice? Here is where the rubber meets the road. What kind of decisions do you make when no one is looking? When traveling alone and you have a 24-hour layover in a distant city or at a motel—what choices do you make there? Our day-to-day decisions constitute our lifestyle, and that shapes our future. Choice, not chance, determines human destiny.
Remember: God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1.8)
While many who read these verses may have questions about them, I believe that Solomon is stating a simple fact that we should have balance in our life in every activity of life. But few people have such a balanced life. In my medical practice I have the opportunity to counsel many people with physical and/or mental problems. After listening for a while I frequently draw a simple diagram to share with my patients
To have a healthy body and mind we must have balance in each of the six areas. Obviously, nutrition is part of the picture, but I’m assuming for the sake of this chapter that nutrition is good (though that is rarely the case).
The most common complaint in medicine is “Doctor, I’m tired.” As I question my patients, the following picture evolves
Work—12 hours per day.
Play—no time for it.
Love—only a few minutes for the family.
Worship—”I don’t believe in God.”
Nutrition and sleep—marginal.
No way can a person whose life is as unbalanced as this be happy, I need not diagram every possibility, for I’m sure you get the idea. Analyze your life and try to get it balanced. It is the unbalanced life that makes you easy prey for the devil. Whether you have been treading the Christian pathway for a short time or for many years, you soon learn that the devil does not fight fair. He attacks you when tired, discouraged, hungry, or sleep deprived. Satan challenges you when you have had a spat with the spouse or kids. You are vulnerable when you have neglected or just plain ignored your spiritual/worship life.
To function best we must make a balanced use of our brain, bone, muscle, body, head, and heart. Jogging won’t do it alone, nor will study by itself. We must have a harmonious relationship between all aspects of the person.
The devil will do all he can to mess up this balance. Then he will attack. Use the little diagram to evaluate your life— then get it in balance.
“And he [Jesus] said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31).
God the Creator knew from the beginning that the human race would need to rest on a regular basis, so He gave us the Sabbath day. It is a time to lay aside the worries, burdens, and cares of the week and to rest in Him. A time to reflect on and communicate with our Creator. The observance of the Sabbath is a mighty prescription from the Great Physician Himself.
In addition to the Sabbath and the verse above, the Bible gives us additional suggestions for “taking a break.” Luke 9:10 says, “And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.”
The episode in Luke is the same as that mentioned in our opening verse. I’m certain that inspiration has placed it twice in the Gospels so that it would not escape us. The Great Physician does not want us to miss the fact that occasional change brings relaxation and imparts renewed vigor.
Make your vacation or retreat just the opposite of the usual. If your work is highly physical, then just lay down on the beach and relax. And if your daily work is mainly mental—lay aside the books and relax the mind.
Afterward you will return home ready to go at it. And more important, you will be all the stronger. I’ve had many patients come info my office and say jokingly, “Give me a prescription for a two-week vacation.” Well, I just did. Enjoy! But some vacations may put you in the pink but leave you in the red. Beware!