Spiritual Hypothermia (4-8-18)

Medical experts have determined that a healthy human body, on average, has a core temperature of  approximately 95.0° Fahrenheit (F).  According to their extensive research, the body sustains this core temperature via a process identified as thermoregulation.  The function of thermoregulation is to keep the human body within normal temperatures, especially when the surrounding external temperature drops or rises.  Thus it becomes evident that when a person’s temperature rises or lowers, the body is communicating a warning that something is attacking its immune system.  When the body exudes more heat than it absorbs this deregulates its core temperature and doctors  suspect this to be a symptom of hypothermia.  In other words, hypothermia takes place when the body becomes very cold because not enough heat is being produced to accommodate for the heat being lost.  A classic case of hypothermia can be provoked by either exposure to extreme cold, or any condition that lowers heat production and increases heat loss, or impairs thermoregulation (such as the consumption of alcohol).  One of the most common ways a person can become hypothermic is by being immersed in frigid waters for too long.  If the body is in waters of 50° F or less, that person can die within an hour (or as quickly as fifteen minutes  depending on how cold the water may be).  Hypothermia is accelerated in water because heat is lost much faster than in air.  For this reason when a person falls into frozen waters and is rescued, their body must be immediately covered with thermal blankets and given hot beverages to help increase the production of internal heat.  Indeed, to know that such a threat to our bodies exists, once more puts into perspective just how fragile we truly are.  Curiously, the same threat to our inner man exists that we must beware.  The apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, warns “Do not quench the Spirit” (1st Thessalonians 5:19, emphasis added).  Thayer’s lexicon reveals that the Greek word interjected in this pericope is sbennumi and it is interpreted as to literally extinguish fire or things on fire or metaphorically to suppress, stifle Divine influence (Thayer, G4570).  To further validate the inspired scribe’s intended use of the word, he writes right after this verse, “Do not despise prophecies” (1st Thessalonians 5:20, emphasis added).  It is incredible to witness how our God consistently uses examples from our human lives to teach us Divine lessons in order for us to fully comprehend Him.  Unquestionably, with these words Paul is wisely cautioning against becoming spiritually discouraged.  Observe that like literal hypothermia, a metaphorical hypothermia can be a consequence of our surroundings, or what we delve our minds in to.  It is why the apostle exhorts his readers not to “despise prophecies.”  To do this is similar to a person who was pulled from the frozen waters that rejects the hot beverage meant to produce internal warmth.  Paul reveals that a person can become disinterested in continuing to live a spiritual life, but he also manifests what “blanket and hot beverage” must be used to produce spiritual heat.  Therefore, it is valuable to understand that to “despise prophecies” can be done in several ways other than not listen to the preacher’s sermon.  For example, it is no secret that a tell tale sign of spiritual hypothermia can be seen in a person’s lack of attendance to worship.  The disheartened Christian begins to lose interest in the assembling of the saints and starts to question the logic of being present every Sunday.  Notice how this begins to “quench the Spirit” and leads a person to “despise prophecies.”  Their questioning of God’s commandments is produced by their absence that has become customary, unbeknownst to them. Evil thoughts of self-justification for neglecting worship become the symbolic cold, cold water poured upon the flames of spiritual zeal for God and the brethren.  Due to their discouragement they do not realize that the more they forsake worship, the further away they place themselves from the burning coals that can replenish the lost heat of their souls.  Hence the Divine exhortation from the Hebrew writer, “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25, emphasis added).  God’s Holy Word demonstrates one of the blessings of saints worshiping together to be the action of “stirring up” one another.  In Greek Koine, the word utilized is paroxusmos and is defined as inciting or to provoke (Thayer, G3948).  The phrase is meant to ignite in our mind’s eye the image of a bonfire burning with firewood stacked one over the other.  When the bonfire begins to die down, one must stir the firewood to feed the flames and keep the fire burning.  The same is true when Christians congregate to worship God in spirit and in truth.  The inspired Hebrew poet exclaimed “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!…For there the Lord commanded the blessing – Life forevermore” (Psalm 133:1, 3b, emphasis added).  In a Psalm written to illustrate the harmony that worshiping God produces in His people, David also describes how this blessed reunion becomes a consolation for everyone present.  He does so by speaking of “the dew of Hermon” (Psalm 133:3a).  Geographically, Mount Hermon is located in an arid part of the world where the heat can reach extreme levels and plants and trees suffer greatly.  Yet despite the extreme heat, their leaves remain green.  This phenomenon is possible due to the refreshing and rejuvenating dew that descends from the summit of Mount Hermon during the night.  The plants that endure the harsh heat of the day, are renewed by the cool dew of the night.  Thus, the comparison is that we are the trees that live in an arid world where life can become burdensome upon us and often make us feel isolated.  Yet, when we congregate we may discover that there are others who are being scorched by the same heat.  There are others who understand what we are experiencing, and through them we can learn how to triumph; this should renew our resolve and comfort our soul.  Paul and David echo the truth God spoke from the very beginning, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18a).  It is wise to accept that the solution to spiritual hypothermia is to come near the assembled logs burning in the bonfire to produce heat in us.  To turn away from our brethren is to “despise prophecies” for it is written “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor…if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 11 emphasis added)?  Behold the question that exposes the folly of absenteeism; how, indeed?

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