Healing

Tuesday Devotional: John 9

bibleRead John 9

John 9:31

“We know that God does not listen to sinners.  He listens to the godly man who does his will.”

 

Why does God engage with us?  When we are so are egregiously out of line in our defamation of His holy name.  When we are so frustratingly obstinate in our refusal to obey his will.  When we so easily dismiss the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ in order to justify our own self-righteousness and promote our own self-worship.  Why does God continue to engage within us?  What does a Holy God have to do with sinners?

Bacteria and a sterile environment cannot coexist.  Darkness cannot mingle with the light.  Sinfulness is a direct affront to holiness.  Why does God engage with us?  What the healed blind man spoke is true.  God in his righteous majesty is not expected or required to listen sinners like us.  Yet he does.  Why?  He listens to THE godly man who does his will.  And who has ever done his will in a way that honors the holiness of the living God?  None but Jesus.  Without the sacrificial lamb you have no chance.  There is no hope.  It is finished resulting in your eternal separation from the Father.  Yet, because of his wounds and by his blood it is finished resulting in an entirely different and far more miraculous way.  The condemnation of your sins is finished.  The punishment for your iniquities is finished.  The fear of death is finished.  Hallelujah!  It is by Jesus you have been saved, transformed, healed, welcomed back.  There is none but Jesus.

 

Spiritual Gifts: Healing

gifts

For the next four weeks, we will examine the role of spiritual gifts in our Christian walk. Just as the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been debated throughout church history, the nature of spiritual gifts has also been a topic of much debate. This reflection series will outline four of the most debated spiritual gifts that often follow a baptism by the Holy Spirit. There are other gifts, such as prayer; however, for the moment we will only discuss four. The four spiritual gifts are:

  • Teaching
  • Tongues
  • Prophecy and Vision
  • Healing

All four of these gifts have a core purpose in common but as we will see they are unique from each other in the way they are used. This week, we reflect on healing.

In the same way that Prophecy and Vision come with stereotypes and judgments on the part of those outside of the Church, the idea of “healing” has also gone quite misunderstood. The gift of healing, like Prophecy and Vision, was a major part of Jesus’ ministry and the Apostles’ teaching and was well represented in the early Church. For us to dismiss it as something done in the past but not available to our present Church is illogical.

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. -Matthew 10:7-8

The gift of healing is for us in the Church to possess now, not simply to reflect back to in nostalgia as something done by our forefathers. While some are gifted with the gift of healing in dramatically physical ways, most people go their entire lives without seeing an actual physical healing in person and assume the absence of frequent resurrections and blind-to-sight healings as proof that the gift of healing simply does not exist anymore.

To assume this is to completely misunderstand the purpose of healing taught by Jesus for His Church to exercise. The purpose of the gift of healing is to express the impact of God. This impact is a visible, public transformation from old to new. However, this transformation from old to new cannot be reduced to simply the transformation of the physical body. In fact, Jesus Christ was adamant that our physical body means very little. The purpose of the numerous physical healings that Jesus conducted in the Gospels was not to discourage or intimidate by comparison. Those healings were conducted for Christ’s ministry and the people of that time, to fulfill the prophecies that illustrated the nature of the Messiah’s return, which would be characterized by physical transformation:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor. -Isaiah 61:1-29

While physical healing and transformation is still present in the Church today and some are gifted in this area, the true healing available to all those professing faith in Jesus Christ is of a different nature.

Jesus Christ was clear that healing is impossible without his presence and his word. In his Word lies the power of God to transform and save the lost.

2When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” -Mark 9:25-29

While most will never see a dead body raised physically, the sharing of God’s Word to someone outside of the presence of God is more powerful than physical resurrection. Anyone raised from the dead in this world still faces the challenge of sin. However, sharing the Word of God that results in a life born anew and a new creation in Jesus Christ represents the ultimate healing. There is joy in this world when a dead body is raised. However, according to Jesus, there is immeasurable rejoicing in Heaven at the resurrection of a life dead in sin, reborn and resurrected with Christ and transformed in his image.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. -Luke 15:1-7

Physical healing means absolutely nothing as long as the sin within the body is unaddressed. The priority of Jesus’ healing targeted sin, not the body. Finding God in the words of Jesus Christ and His gospel is the true pearl, the true prize, the true goal. In this way, the Church today has been blessed with the privilege of spiritually raising the dead to life through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. -Philippians 1:18-26 

Tuesday Devotional: 2 John

bibleRead 2 John

God never desires partial healing.  The healing of the Lord is complete and all encompassing.  There is sickness in this world, and Jesus Christ came to overcome and conquer it.  Jesus Christ did not come to redirect or guide the world into a better way of living; he came to completely restructure the world into a new way of living.  When the healing power of the Holy Spirit enters into this world there is no remnant of the passed life with him.  What remains are faint and distant memories of a former way of life that hold no place in the present.  This healing power is so unprecedented that the only natural instinct upon receiving it is to share it with anyone and everyone you come into contact with.  Upon receiving healing from the Holy Spirit there is no “I have to” share the gospel out of duty or obligation.  There is only “I have to” share the gospel because the world needs this power and healing I have also graciously received. 

However, one must constantly be aware of what is actually being shared.  All we can share is Jesus Christ alone.  He is the power.  He is the healing.  In nothing else is there the power for transformation and change that is in the name of Jesus Christ.  If the gospel is shared in power and in truth there is an unequalled healing in store for the entire world.  The gospel shared in power and truth will change lives completely and will unmistakably yield good fruit.  However, if the gospel is misrepresented, healing will be overpowered by suffering and pain.  Good cannot win because the good news was not preached.  The gospel cannot and will not be effective if it is not received as it was established, in truth.  Anything short of the truth in the gospel is dangerous and will not result in healing.

As one seeks to share the gospel out of a desire to heal, one also learns to avoid those who share a gospel of lies that will only prove to destroy and prevent healing.  Christ is all and is in all, and when sharing the gospel there is no message other than exactly what has been lived and shared before. The reason for the stable and consistent nature of the gospel’s integrity over the years is that it is only in the natural state of the gospel that the world has experienced its healing effects on the suffering of this world.  After experiencing the healing truth of the word, the choice to dilute or weaken the gospel for any reason whatsoever becomes completely ridiculous. The gospel of Jesus Christ is truth and the healing it promises is real.  Clinging to his truth will result in the truth of complete healing, whereas being distracted or overcome by falsity will only result in progressive sickness and pain.

Reflection: The Consistency of the Power

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re discussing how we can trust the Bible as the inspired Word of God. 

The Christian belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is rooted in four aspects of the Bible.

  1. The Consistency of the Message
  2. The Consistency of the Effect
  3. The Consistency of the Power
  4. The Consistency of the Promise

This week, let’s look at how the power of the Gospel helps us trust the Bible as God’s Word.

Humans have an innate desire for answers that corresponds with a desperate need to ask questions. Human history reveals that our accepted ideas about the world and its people vary drastically according to where and when we live. Depending on the culture we were brought up in, we develop certain expectations of ourselves as well as certain limitations. We all are raised aware that certain things are not possible and beyond our reach. The goals that evade us can be personal goals we strive to attain, but are limited by our natural and limited physical or mental ability. Or perhaps these goals could pertain to certain physical or mental obstacles that seem impossible to overcome or change, such as a physical or mental handicap.

While medicine and therapy are limited in their power to change, the miraculous characteristic of the Word of God is its consistent ability to create change where no change was possible. The Word of God has always been able to make a way where we humans confidently proclaimed no way existed. The Word of God makes the blind see, the lame walk, and broken receive restoration. The explanation for this power is that it comes not from the mind of humans with limited knowledge of the problem, but that it comes from the creator himself. The very One who created paradise, witnessed the Fall, brought forth the redemption for the Fall and has never removed his hand from what he loves. We humans are blessed with enormous knowledge and ability. However, only God can know all problems of all people in all nations throughout history. Only God can know the precise way to bring about the needed change in all of these strangers, uniting them in a common mission to heal the world in the power of his name and with the power of His Word. While the human heart is deeply self-absorbed and boastful, to suggest that man, rather than God, is somehow orchestrating the healing power of the Gospel seen in our world since the 1st century would surpass our most exaggerated heights of self-worth.

Tuesday Devotional: Mark 1

bibleRead Mark 1:21-28

The world is a mystery that has inspired and driven humanity, from the scholar to the young child, to question and ponder the difficult questions it poses.  In seeking answers, we all develop our own understandings or reach our own answers to satisfy our curiosity, no matter how unreasonable they may be.  Our many questions lead to comparatively much shorter list of answers. In a landscape so barren of sure foundations, to adopt a position of authority and confidence on any topic is received with suspicion and criticism.  Unless, that is, the answers to our questions are accompanied by both power and undeniable truth.

As Jesus began to speak in the Capernaum synagogue, both of these elements were present.  His teaching came with an authority that confidently knew, not a presumptuous attempt spurred by curiosity.  He spoke with an understanding of a time before any of our problems existed.  More convincingly, his teaching came with the power to reverse the problems of this world that demand our attention and inquiry.  In his being was simultaneously the answer before the problems and the answer to the problems.  The teachings of man cannot access the before and after, and thus are left in infancy.  The teachings of philosophers and religion can begin to understand, but are left far short of the ability to confidently explain and resolve.  The synagogue of Capernaum was filled with certainty.  The God of the ages was present. There was no doubt for those watching and listening that this was new, this was different.  This was not of man.  When the Holy Spirit is unleashed in the minds of men there is nowhere else to look.  The work of the Holy Spirit demands attention, and receives it, because the power and truth of almighty God always comes with healing.  The fear of the Lord does not terrorize, and the people in that synagogue were not feeling terrorized.  Their fear of the Lord was that of awe and amazement.  In the presence of something so supernatural there is no other reasonable human response.

Candles, Cakes, and Prayers: Heard Before Spoken

prayer_sunset

source

The act of prayer is always attached to the need for something. Praying to God firmly establishes the foundation that we are in need or in want of something that we cannot attain on our own.  This means that prayer is often “option B,” where we toss our desires into the hands of someone who might, possibly, achieve the impossible.  When we pray we are praying for miracles that are clearly beyond our reach.

When we think of miracles as beyond our experience, our faith in the impossible becoming possible is limited.  Likewise, our understanding of our prayer life is limited.

We see it around us every day: in the world, impossibility is limitless.  We expect the expected and doubt the unexpected.  When we take inventory of the problems we decide to pray about, we see numerous problems with very few answers.  We see limitless obstacles with limited solutions.  With this outlook, when we do pray, we find only enough faith or hope to pray for one or two things at one given moment.  Although God claims to be the healer of the broken and the achiever of the impossible, we buy into the idea that only a few impossible things are possible even for him.  Thus, our prayers, and what we feel the need to pray for, are limited along with everything else.  We might be completely aware of something that needs healing, however, our limited view of possible solutions limits our petitions and we withhold our request.

The Gospels display certain characteristics of the healing nature of Jesus.  While grace and love are constant, we must also consider the foreknowledge he always possessed of the problems he faced.  Jesus always desired more healing than any one person expected, and always thought ahead of the person requesting help.  Even before meeting a particular person face to face, Jesus had already set in motion a chain of healing events that would line up perfectly with one particular person.  Jesus always desired more. When he healed he always achieved more than people expected.  Even more than the person asking for help, Jesus always saw where the healing was most needed and how to maximize that healing in the person’s life, and in the lives of those around them, in ways they would have never expected themselves.  It is then no surprise that this desire of Jesus is a constant trait in the character of God from the beginning.  Being the creator God that he claims to be, he has more knowledge and understanding of our situations than we could ever attain.  This larger effect of healing is similar to the way medication works its way through the body.  As the medication enters the bloodstream and rapidly flows throughout the body there emerges a widespread sense of “healing,” not only restricted to the particular area of pain, but throughout the entire body.

God wants to work in a similar fashion.  We might have one prayer that we most desperately wish to be answered, but God has twenty more that he desires to answer, if only we would have faith and simply trust that he in fact does desire for us to be completely and thoroughly healed.

Our culture makes it easy to take on a limited view of prayer.  While this attitude is understandable, it is not scriptural.  The scriptures do not portray a world of limitless problems and limited solutions.  On the contrary, the scriptures describe a God that came into our world to eradicate the “problems” we face, bringing us into a life of limitless healing.