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Our Response to God's Calling Can Affect Our Health

A sermon delivered at
The Dormansville United Methodist Church

and
Trinity United Methodist Church
Coemons Hollow, New York
16 January 2000

Frank L. Hoffman, Guest Preacher

Scripture References:

1 Samuel 1:1-18
1 Samuel 2:12-17
1 Samuel 3:1-11, 19-21
Psalm 139:13-14
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

John Wesley believed, as do I, that much of our physical health depends upon our spiritual health.

If we are reborn, we have the ability to see beyond the problems of this world and trust in God's promise of a better world to come, and for His intervention in our every day lives.

We also have the assurance of being redeemed and forgiven, because we have died to our own pride and lusts, and now live to the Glory of God.

When all this happens, we are filled with love, joy, and peace, which in turn causes our brains to produce endorphins and other chemicals, which have a natural healing effect upon our bodies, or at least that's the way it should work.

If it should work in this manner, then why doesn't it happen all the time?

It's because we also have a free will, and we don't always choose to respond to God's call or change our lifestyle.

Let's look at a few examples of God's calling to us. 

The first is about two interwoven stories at the beginning of 1 Samuel.

Eli was a priest of God at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:9), but his sons didn't follow in his footsteps.  They also chose not to follow God's ways, and Eli had no control over them (1 Samuel 2:12-17).

Hanna used to come to Shiloh every year with her husband and his other wife.

Remember that having more than one wife was not in God's will.  It was only in the will of the men, who dominated the society.

The other wife, Peninnah, would taunt Hanna because Hanna had no children, and Hanna listened to these taunts and became ill and could not eat (1 Samuel 1:1-8).

If Elkanah, Hanna's husband, had listened to God's call and will, he would not have had two wives and thus Hanna would not have become ill in this way, since she would have been the wife of another man, or Elkanah wouldn't have married Peninnah.

But when Hanna finally chose to rise above the taunts and cruelties of this world, and sought God's intervention in her life, her life began to change and she no longer made herself ill with worry over the things of this world (1 Samuel 1:9-18).

Hanna received the answer to her prayer through Eli and Hanna believed him, and she was no longer sad, and she ate and even had children.

It was her young child, Samuel, who responded to another call from God and because of that response, he helped heal Israel, spiritually, at least those who responded to God's call from him, as his mother had responded to God through Eli.

Let's take a look at what took place beginning at 1 Samuel 3:1.

1    The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli.  In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

2    One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.

3    The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

4    Then the LORD called Samuel.   Samuel answered, "Here I am."

5    And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."  But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."  So he went and lay down.

6    Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."  "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."

Take note of how responsive this child is each time he hears the call.

He doesn't pretend not to hear.  He has a sense of responsibility, even at his early age, a responsibility that many adults don't have.

And irresponsibility is not only aggravating to other people, it is disheartening to one's own soul, too.

And such responsibility has nothing to do with our fully knowing God, as we are told next.  It has more to do with answering the unction of the Holy Spirit in our conscience.

7    Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

This is a Hebrew way of saying that Samuel was not yet born again, or that he hadn't undergone a heart change where the word of God becomes an integral part of a person's being.

Nevertheless, Samuel was obedient to God's call even though he thought it was from Eli.

8    The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.

9    So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'"   So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10    The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"  Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

11    And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.
(NIV)

We adults don't always accept the fact that God calls our young children and even gives them responsibilities that He wouldn't give to most adults.

Why?

Because, as adults, we learn to many ways to avoid responsibility, and to knowingly avoid anything from God is aggravating and disheartening and thus not good for our soul.

And as John Wesley said, "If our soul is ill, so is our body."

Note what we are told in verses 19-21:

19    The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.

20    And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD.

This is a very important statement of the truth.

Everyone knew the truth of his position and that he spoke the word of God, but as we know from reading the Bible, not everyone responded.

21    The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
(NIV)

Through Samuel, the Lord brought spiritual healing to Israel, but only those who responded were healed. 

The others were not sanctified.

And if they were not sanctified, they were not perfected in love.

Listen to how Wesley put it:

The love of God, as it is the sovereign remedy of all miseries, so in particular it effectually prevents all the bodily disorders the passions introduce by keeping the passion themselves within due bounds.  And by the unspeakable joy and perfect calm, serenity and tranquility it gives the mind, it becomes the most powerful of all the means of health and long life.

And Wesley said this nearly two hundred years before the advent of modern medicine.

Modern medicine does not cure the spiritual malities of heart, soul, mind and body.  Only our response to God's call can do that with the perfect love that follows our response.

Listen to what Paul says about contaminating our body with ungodly things (1 Corinthians 6:19-20):

19    Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

20    you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
(NIV)

This can apply to ungodly spiritual things as well as unhealthful food and drink.

God has called us to keep our bodies healthy.

If we have clogged veins, a heart condition, or high blood pressure, and our favorite meal remains a bacon-double-cheese-burger, fries, and a milk shake, we will remain ill, even if we pray to God for a healing.

This is not because God doesn't want to heal us, it's solely because we are not responding to what God has told us is good for us.

This is an example of knowingly contaminating the temple of God.

Smoking is another example.

Drugs are another.

And just as Jesus cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem, so ought we to cleanse the temple of our bodies from all ungodly things, even thoughts.

A lack of spiritual response to God, can lead to an irresponsible physical act and bring a physical illness upon ourselves.

I believe that we need to truly pray about our attitudes in the light of how we respond to God.

We so often fail to understand our body in terms of God creative love as the psalmist tells us in Psalm 139:13-14.

13    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
(NIV)

Our understanding of this is part of our response to God's call to us.

Just as Hanna and Samuel believed God's call to them through Eli, so should we respond to God's call to us through Paul and David's writing.

If we knowingly abuse our bodies, we are in essence cursing a gift of God.

It's time that we all become proactive in matters concerning both our spiritual and physical health for they are interwoven.

Let us pray...

Amen

Your Comments are welcome

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