Too Humble to Believe in Miracles?

“‘Miracles aren’t for today,’” complained the Sadducee.

“To say they are is to deny God’s holy sovereignty.

If it’s God’s will that we be ill, then miserable we’ll be.

And don’t you dare compare me to some hard-nosed Pharisee!”

 

“They are too wise in their own eyes, and far too proud for me.

They think they can turn stone to bread, which I have yet to see.

I’m sick and tired of their ‘name, claim, blame’ philosophy.

How they can be so haughty is a total mystery.”

 

“To claim it’s still God’s will to heal decries humility.

I’d rather die a cripple than to live self-righteously.

Don’t call me rich. I’d rather glory in my poverty

And waken others to the stench of harsh reality.”

 

“Though I do not possess a Master’s in divinity,

I know what I do not believe. To me that is the key

To living free from guilt and rampant authenticity

And staying safe from what is rumored to be heresy.”

 

“I have a nose for news and can discern false prophecy.

I don’t need to see signs. God’s Word is good enough for me.

Although I do not read it much, I have sincerity.

So, enough of all this ‘health, wealth talk’ and ‘positivity’!”

 

“Though some may call me critical, I think it’s plain to see

We must throw out the baby, from that bath water to be free…”

 

Why Haven’t I Been Healed Yet?

“Why haven’t I been healed yet?”

I believe Job asked that same question, and for good reason. He’d lost his business, his employees, his children, and his health. Was there ever anyone as miserable as he? He was wounded in every way.

Sometimes when people are in mourning, there’s nothing you can say to make them feel better. So, you do as the scripture says. Like Jesus did at Lazarus’s tomb, you weep with those who weep. That’s what Job’s three friends did. They came to comfort him and offer their condolences. But after hearing what they had to say, Job called them “miserable comforters.”

Why was that? Job was in pain. He hurt so bad inside, he wished he never had been born. He hoped his friends would sympathize. Instead, they threw solutions at him, loaded with false accusation. To summarize and paraphrase:

Eliphaz basically said, “Practice what you preach, bro. You saved others. Save yourself. If you’re good then God will bless you, but if you’re bad He’ll stress you. This tragedy and sickness is God’s discipline in your life, for failing to keep your promises, stealing clothes from the naked, doing nothing to help the hungry or the thirsty, or the naked, and for breaking the arms of the fatherless” (see chapter 22, verses 6-9). “Because of these secret sins I know you did, God has punished you.” Eliphaz seemed to think that God was very hard to please. He falsely accused Job of committing sins he wasn’t guilty of.

Doing Eliphaz one better, Zophar called Job a liar. “You say you’re so great. God’s out to get you. He is swift to take revenge. Feel His wrath! Stop sinning. Do what’s right and you’ll be blessed.”

Bildad basically said the same thing as Eliphaz: “Bad guys will get punished, but if you’re perfect, you’ll be fine.” In other words, “Snap out of it, Bub. You’ll get no sympathy from us.”

Have you ever felt blamed for not getting healed quickly enough, suffering financial loss without immediate compensation, or for failing to hear from God for something you’d been praying about for an excruciatingly long time?

Job’s friends seemed to think he should be able to heal himself. “If you say and do all the right things, God will reward you. Instant compensation!” They were quick to point fingers at Job for his failure to prosper and be in health. Unlike the Apostle John in the second verse of his third epistle, they didn’t seem to want Job to prosper, and were doing all they could to keep his soul from prospering – by condemning him for his sin and encouraging him to rely on a works-based righteousness that never could save (or heal) anyone.

Job didn’t understand why they were persecuting him (according to chapter 19, verse 22) and tried to defend himself against their false accusations. But at the same time, what he really needed and cried out for was an audience with God. He didn’t want solutions. He wanted answers only God could give him. Thankfully, Elihu, the last person to speak to Job, encouraged him to look past his pain and consider the greatness of God. “I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker” (chapter 36, verse 3).

It was after God revealed Himself to Job that he was healed (at least, we’re certainly led to believe he was). First he had to pray for his three friends, who hadn’t spoken what was right about God. After this, God began the process of restoration in his life and gave him twice as much as he had before. He was prospering in every way!

So, what can we learn from Job? Well, sometimes healing seems to take a while, especially when you have friends like he had, but one encounter with God can change all that.

“Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any (especially guys who persecute you – i.e, give you a hard time, like Job’s three friends persecuted him): that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)

Sick or Simply “Suffering for Christ”?

In my travels throughout the Christian world and throughout cyberspace I have discovered some disturbing philosophies concerning true Christianity and what it means to suffer for the Lord. It is the idea that physical disease and handicaps are part of Christ’s sufferings in which His followers are called to participate. But what does the Bible say about suffering?

The Old Testament book of Job is frequently mentioned when it comes to the idea of physical pain and suffering. If you read the first two chapters very carefully, it is evident that while God allowed Job to suffer, it was Satan who afflicted him with sickness, and it was a works-based mentality based on fear that opened the door. In the first chapter, we see that Job was worried about his children, so he sacrificed for them continually, thinking “What if they cursed God in their hearts?”

Does such thinking fall under the category of “serving God,” or did Job have a problem with his thought life?

“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:23) The vast majority of us have physical eyes with which to see, but I believe the eye can also refer to the imagination.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

What does it mean to be pure in heart? Well, what do you imagine God to be like?

Job was worried about his children. Was he trusting God with them? What kind of God did he think he was serving?

“Lord, I knew thee, that thou art a hard man,” the servant told his Master in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:24). If this is our attitude toward God, then we will live in fear, not faith. Now, if you want to call that “suffering,” then fine. But is it really suffering for the Lord? In the talent parable, the servant feared his master, but not in a good way. Instead of using his talent for good, he hid it. Did the Master reward him? No. He took the talent from him and gave it to the ones who used their talents. They were men of faith, not fear.

Were they better than Job? No. According to Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

If Job could have been justified by works, then it seems he would have been.

“Hast thou considered my servant Job?” God asked Satan. “… there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:8

If anyone could have made it to heaven by their works, it probably would have been Job. But if he fell under the category of “all have sinned,” then he obviously had some deeper heart issues that disqualified him.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Christians are immune to suffering. While sickness can help us understand what suffering is like, I wouldn’t call it “suffering for the Lord.” I believe sickness is part of the curse that causes death and which came upon man as a result of the fall. Sin, whether outward or inward, is what invites Satan to attack us.

But by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

 

Health and Wealth

Based on the story in Luke 16:19-31

Health and wealth – right or wrong? Oh dear, what can I say?

To be politically correct or to accept a worthwhile pay?

Are people really down on wealth or are they down on greed?

For wealth is what you do with it, it’s where you sow your seed.

It isn’t what you have on hand,  it’s where you place your trust.

Faith’s father, Abraham, was rich but he was also just.

Justified by faith, he was a man who welcomed strangers

And fought to save  his nephew Lot from very frightening dangers

God blessed him for his faith, you see, he had a soul that prospered.

He must have been in good shape too, for much, we know, he wandered.

He wasn’t chasing money, he was following after God.

Though far from perfect, in obedience his feet were shod.

He had health, but wasn’t lazy. He had wealth but no big barns.

Poor Lazarus was comforted in this man’s welcoming arms.

Unlike the rich man who refused to share his food with others,

Abraham was glad to treat his fellow men like brothers.

So is it wrong to have good health? Is it wrong to be rich?

It is if you are selfish, if you do not care a stitch

To help your suffering neighbor when you see that he’s in need.

Wealth isn’t wrong, it comes from God. What’s wrong, my friends, is greed!