Today's Bible Readings
     II Samuel 7
     II Corinthians 1
     Ezekiel 15
     Psalms 56-57
      “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.'' (II Corinthians 1:9-10)
      My friend, Stephen Olford, and friend to pastors everywhere has written a book entitled, The Sword of Suffering.
This book is based upon Dr. Olford's struggle with cancer and some of the things that God taught him during that struggle. Since I am currently in a fight with cancer, and I am presently dealing with some of the treatments that Dr. Olford faced, the book has been a unique blessing to me.
      As one struggles with this disease, there are times of great despair, and there are times when you literally feel like praying to die. Now don't feel guilty if you have, indeed, prayed to die. You are in good company. Moses, Jonah, and Job all prayed to die. In our passage today, Paul confesses to ''a despair unto death." But each of these men of God learned how to approach trouble and pain God's way. That is what this passage is all about - approaching the pressures and tribulations of life God's way.
      I have often been blessed by the life of Joseph.  It has served as a source of inspiration to me many times. Joseph learned some things through incredible adversity. He was separated from the family he loved, and sold by his own brothers into slavery, unjustly thrown into prison and falsely accused of a crime he did not commit. Joseph was faced with a choice to become bitter or better.
      Why do people become bitter? It is because they do not see God at work in their lives. Bitterness will disappear when people see the hand of God at work in every detail of their lives.
            My Father's way may twist and tum,
            My heart may throb and break,
            And yet my soul is glad to know.
            He makes no mistake.
      Jesus Christ lives inside of you in the Person of the Holy Spirit. It is often only in times of despair that the power of His life is released to bless others. I have discovered if a servant of God is going to bless, he must bleed. It is only as we go through the refiner's fire that we come out pure and unalloyed as a fit vessel for service. It is God who arranges the process for breaking us. He targets the area of resistance - anything we depend on more than Him. He then arranges circumstances to bring us to absolute dependence on Him. God then chooses the tools to break us. We may not like what He uses, but it is for our ultimate good.  That is why Joseph could say to his brothers, ''You meant this for evil, but God meant it for good."
      So, even in the midst of despairing of life itself, Paul realized that God was teaching Him. Paul and Joseph had something in common. They had the wisdom to learn from these strange ministers, the Rev. Dr. Trouble & Pain. They would benefit greatly from the brokenness the Father was bringing into their lives. So will you.
Our prayer focus today should be on some specific needs in the Republic of Cameroon. There are some who have said that Cameroon is the most corrupt nation on earth, but probably the greatest need is a spiritual poverty of the churches. This is the country’s greatest tragedy. Nominal Christianity is a bigger problem in this land than in any other in Africa.  Pray for three specific needs:
·      True Christians with integrity must be raised up to lead the nation.
·      There is a great need for freedom for a national consultation that paves the way for a new era.
·      There is a great need for committed and God-fearing Christian leaders to play key roles in national decisions in the public area.
''I never like people to tell me secrets, for I cannot keep them."
Charles Spurgeon