Too Many Voices in his Brain

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Afraid to Forgive

Tormented, grieved, forsaken. Oh, what pain he felt inside,

Beset by views of ugly news, from which he could not hide!

He knew he should dismiss past hurts still screaming to avenge

The wrongs that so besieged his heart, but he desired revenge.

 

“It’s closure I must have,” he said. “That is the path to peace.

For only then can I enjoy the fruit of sweet release,

And satisfy the anger which has locked me in this cage.

To free myself from prison, I must first appease my rage.”

 

Such thoughts, like sharp two-edged swords, clashed wildly inside his mind;

Chaotic clangs, with violence tinged, set to a beat unkind.

He did not see the torturers whose pitchforks, dipped in fire,

Stirred coals of shame inside his heart to magnify his ire.

 

“It’s not your fault,” they told him, “for the way they treated you.”

“Your hatred’s justified. Those were such awful things to do!”

But still the guilt kept hounding. He could not escape the blame.

“You too have sinned horrifically, and ridiculed God’s name.”

 

Fear gripped his heart with condemnation he could not ignore.

If God was mad at him, then there was nothing to live for.

He knew he must forgive and must forget but was afraid

That he’d get stolen from again and never be repaid.

 

He didn’t trust the sovereign Lord to care for all his needs,

But bought the lie that debt forgiveness rests upon good deeds,

He said, “I’m doomed to earn my bread by my own toil and sweat,

Let him who owes me foot the bill. Let him repay the debt.”

 

But what a yoke to put upon an ordinary man!

He knew it wasn’t right, and yet he had no better plan.

His blood pressure was through the roof, he wasn’t feeling well.

Then suddenly a light shone in the darkness of his cell.

 

The Son of God was standing there. His glory filled the room.

“I paid your debt in full,” He said. “Why all this gloom and doom?”

“I thought you were a hard man, Sir,” replied the man, amazed.

“I thought I must fend for myself, for that’s how I was raised.”

 

“But now I see it isn’t so. There’s no cause for alarm.

For, though you’re greatly to be feared, you’d never do me harm.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus. “All I ask of you is to believe,

In my unfailing goodness trust, and of my grace receive.”

 

“Remember how I shed my blood to wash away your sin.

In me, there’s life. In man, there’s death. Stick with me and you’ll win.”

“Why ask a man to pay you back for all the things he stole,

When, by my stripes, you can be healed?  For I will make you whole.”

 

And the moral of this poem is that forgiveness involves trusting God to pay back what the enemy stole from you, instead of demanding that some fallible human being supply your need. Yes, God can use people to provide for you, but they’re just tools in His hands. Our trust must be in Him, for He alone is faithful to the end.

 

 

Continue reading “Afraid to Forgive”

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Killjoys

Once upon a time there was a boy named Roy. He liked to read his Bible, especially stories about Jesus and the miracles he did. He read it like a child and believed every word. One day he was sitting under a tree, reading the passage in John where Jesus said, “He who believes in me will do the same things I do, and greater things.” Roy got all excited.

“Maybe God could use me to heal people too,” he said excitedly. “I could even open blind eyes, and raise the dead.” There seemed to be no limit to the miracles God could do through him if he believed.

Unknown to Roy, two men in black suits were standing by a fence nearby, listening to him talk and plotting. They sneaked up on him with a balloon and popped it in his face.

Roy was so startled, he dropped his Bible. “What’s going on?” he said.

“You’re taking the Bible too literally,” they replied. “God doesn’t do miracles anymore, so stop acting like a fanatic before we really make you jump.”

“How? With more balloons?” asked Roy, shocked beyond belief.

“No, but as God’s thought police, we’re here to correct you,” said the first man. “God frowns on having fun, you know. To follow Christ, you must take up your cross.”

“You mean, like, ‘Nose to the grindstone’?” asked Roy.

“Yes, you have to strain your brain to do God’s will,” said the second man. “Don’t expect to be suddenly empowered by some unknown tongue or prophecy from above. God dispensed with things like that a long time ago. Today He’s given us much more mysterious ways to His will, through mind-boggling inventions such as television, telephones and the Internet.”

“Raw human intellect is His current tool for reaching the masses,” added the first man. “He doesn’t need to use signs and wonders anymore.”

Roy hung his head. He felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under him. To think that God didn’t do miracles anymore made him so depressed, he stopped reading his Bible. Soon he found himself attending the balloon poppers’ church, which had many rules for pleasing God. You had to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, and if they happened to stop by your house you had to entertain them while they inspected every room. Any hint of dust or clutter earned you a sharp rebuke. Strict obedience to one’s “shepherd” was required. Any hint of rebellion was a sign that you weren’t saved. To “honor those who reign over you in the LORD” was the main law. To attend a different kind of church was to be branded a heretic, and to promote the free exercise of spiritual gifts earned you the title of “false prophet.”

That was why Roy was so afraid to leave the church. He feared that if he did, he’d go to hell, but he couldn’t stand to stay because the regulations were killing him. Then he remembered a book he’d read one time about praising God amid the worst of circumstances. Desperate to reconnect with God, he began to do just that. As he was searching for things to rejoice over, he happened to find his Bible. He opened it up and found himself staring at the passage in Matthew 7:15, which warns believers to beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, “but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

The next verse said, “You will know them by their fruits” (meaning the results of their teaching). Roy cross-referenced that verse with the passage in Galatians 5:19-22, which compares the works of the flesh to the works of the Spirit.

According to verse 22, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is “love, peace, and joy.”

Roy realized he hadn’t experienced much love, joy, or peace in a very long time. All he felt in his church was fear, but Jesus promised comfort to his followers through Holy Spirit whom He said would teach them “all things.” (John 14:26).

The fruit of his church’s teaching, which was that spiritual gifts were no longer relevant, had made Roy very sad, but he knew God didn’t want him to be sad.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full,” Jesus told his disciples in John 15:11.

To the lukewarm church in Revelation 3:14-21, Jesus said in verse 20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

In other words, it was all about having a personal relationship with Him, not about obeying man. Roy also read the scripture in Hebrews 13:8, which says that Jesus Christ “is the same yesterday, and today and forever.”

If so, then He hadn’t changed His mind when it came to doing miracles, Roy decided.

His original disciples took Jesus at His Word and bore good fruit. The wonders they did in His name caused many people to be saved.

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (I Corinthians 2:5)

The moral of this story is that, when in doubt about any sort of teaching or statement, you should examine it in light of God’s word and look at the results (fruit) of it. For example, if you have been taught that God doesn’t do signs and wonders anymore, then ask yourself what has been the result of that teaching in your own life. For many of us, such teaching has been extremely discouraging, but when we discovered that God still does those things our faith was built up and our confidence in Him was restored.

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Oh, Be!

When Jesus says “Obey,” I hear “Oh, be,”

As in, “Behold the lamb, Abide in Me.”

“Sit in my presence. There, my child, you’ll see

What all I have designed for you to be.”

 

“It’s not about your own ability,

But finding your identity in Me.

To walk by grace requires humility.

To do God’s will means to believe in Me,”

 

“So listen to my voice, know I am He,

And lay your will down voluntarily.

For many busy buzzing bees there be,

But rare the heart whose eyes stay fixed on Me.”

 

“Submitting your desires unto Me

Is THE best way to find security,

To break the chains of strife, I hold the key.

God’s only Son will gladly set you free.”

 

 

 

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Sickness: a Crutch, not a Cross

I don’t know about you, but it’s easier for me to serve Jesus when I’m well. When I’m sick, depressed, or down-in-the-dumps, I don’t have energy to do anything for Him. Contrary to what some may teach, sickness is not a cross. At least, it was never my cross. It was my crutch. Much as I hated being sick, I loved the sympathy. When I was sick, no one expected me to be strong or do exploits. They expected me to take my meds and rest in bed.

When I was in first grade, I was very short and very shy. The teachers were mean and school was traumatic. I hated it so much, I would use any excuse to avoid going. Sickness was a great excuse. I got sick to protect myself, not to glorify God.

That’s why, when I see people equate “suffering with Christ” to being sick, it makes me want to gag. It certainly wasn’t the case with me. Besides, it isn’t Biblical. The lame man healed in Acts chapter 3 is a case in point. The way he walked and leapt and praised God drew an awesome crowd. Then Peter gave a sermon and about five thousand men get saved. Was it “suffering for God by being sick” that persuaded them to trust in Jesus? No, it was a miracle, done in Jesus’ name. Did it involve suffering? Well, any time you tell someone they’re healed in Jesus’ name, you take the risk of being wrong. To do it, I’m sure Peter and John had to die to themselves. Peter had to “take up his cross” by yielding to the Holy Spirit, who gave him words to speak to heal the crippled man. Afterwards, they both suffered persecution for preaching through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

There are many instances throughout the book of Acts where the apostles and those associated with them suffered persecution for the Word. After all, not everybody likes a healing, or any other type of miracle for that matter. Those sorts of things are too convicting. They get people saved.

Once I began to grasp the truth about God’s healing power, I stopped getting sick so much. When it comes to believing God, I’m making progress. Granted, I don’t always have perfect faith for healing. But I know that when the perfect comes – the “perfect” being Jesus when He comes back for his church – that what is imperfect will pass away, for He makes all things new.

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Cessationism and the Charismatic Church

Those of us who long for revival, for the fire of God’s presence to revolutionize our lives and for souls to be saved aren’t content with the current state of the church today. To many of us it has become lukewarm, like the Laodicean church mentioned in Revelation chapter 3. It doesn’t stir the heart or excite the soul. Perhaps that’s because spiritual gifts such as prophecy, tongues, miracles and the like are largely lacking. Some denominations, in fact, preach against such things. The number of anti-charismatic sites on the web is  astounding.

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, considering how many people have abused spiritual gifts, with prophecies that lead people astray or heavy-handed exhortation that puts people in bondage. Some cults masquerade as Christian but have no more to do with Jesus than the man in the moon. Spiritual counterfeits are everywhere, but Satan can’t counterfeit things that aren’t real.  That’s one reason I don’t believe in cessationism, the idea that so-called “charismatic” or “Pentecostal” gifts aren’t for today. I mean, read the gospels and the book of Acts and ask yourself: Would the devil be for or against the use of true spiritual gifts within the church? I mean, look at the fruit of such gifts. When the Holy Spirit came with fire and people spoke in tongues, it resulted in the salvation of some three thousand people at one time. After Peter healed the lame man in Jesus’ name, some five thousand people got saved.

I think most Christians are familiar with Matthew 7:23 where people boast of prophesying, casting out demons, and doing many wonderful works (miracles) in Jesus’ name. But He tells them he never knew them. Why did he never know them? Not because spiritual gifts such as prophecy are forbidden but because these people practiced iniquity (lawlessness). Like Judas Iscariot, they had no true heart conversion. Does that mean they weren’t called to do miracle healings, cast out demons and raise the dead? Well, as one of the twelve, Judas was called to do that too. But he wasn’t a true believer. He might have felt remorse after he betrayed Jesus, but the scripture gives no indication that he repented of his deed. Jesus knew all along that he was a thief. And what does the thief do, according to John 10:10? Steal, kill and destroy.

The greatest thief, of course, is the devil, who works to steal our hope, kill our joy, and destroy our faith. He wants these things to cease, so he takes the good stuff from God’s Word and replaces it with conditions God never put there. Consider the passage in I Corinthians 13:8, for example:

“As for tongues, they will cease” (I Corinthians 13:8). Some claim that tongues have already ceased, so that all speaking in tongues is of the devil. If so, then that’s a shame in light of how international our world has become! We constantly meet people from foreign countries. But if we don’t speak their language, then how can we effectively share the gospel with them? The early church waited for Jesus to baptize them in the Holy Spirit and he enabled them to speak in tongues that other people understood. How then can we say that the gift of tongues (or interpretation of tongues) is not for today?

“As for prophecy, it will pass away (same verse)” Well, if prophecy is no longer needed, then we sure are missing out on the purpose of it, which is to edify (build up), exhort and comfort. Do today’s believers really not need those things? Think of the suicide rate among teens. Think about the Christians you know who are depressed. Wouldn’t a word of prophecy build them up? Wouldn’t it comfort them? I Corinthians 14:24-25 explains the usefulness of this important gift: “But if all prophesy and there comes in one that believes not, or unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all. And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.”

If more people operated in the gift of prophecy, maybe our churches would see more people get saved. Perhaps those who come forward to answer an alter call will submit their lives to Christ with all their hearts instead of paying mere lip service to the gospel. It seems to me that if there’s any time in history when true prophecy is needed, it is now.

Oh, and let’s go back to I Corinthians 13:8 once more. Here Paul states that “As for knowledge, it will pass away.”

Well, if knowledge has left the church, then we’re really in trouble. How can we possibly stand for the cause of Christ if we have no knowledge?

“Don’t mind me, I’m just a dummy for the LORD. Durned if I can fix the leak in this little gospel boat, ‘cause all them spiritual gifts done swum away…”

 

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How Can an Introvert be Heard?

We introverts often find it hard to make ourselves heard, especially in group settings. Sometimes we feel drowned out by people with the “gift of gab.” When you’re “slow of speech and tongue” it can be very frustrating.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s how Moses felt. When he was born, the king of Egypt was really into slaughtering Hebrew babies – boy babies only (How prejudiced can you get?). It was like a mass genocide. The Hebrew midwives did what they could to protect the babies, but Pharaoh’s men were everywhere. His law was aimed against the little ones, just like in America today.

Their voices were drowned out. But one baby was kept safe. Pharaoh’s daughter heard Moses’ cries and drew him from the water. His voice got heard. That should be a big encouragement to us all.

Though Pharaoh had closed his eyes and ears to Hebrew babies’ needs and cries, his daughter had eyes to see and ears to hear. Who in your life has eyes to see and ears to hear? Those are the people worth talking to. You won’t find them in the crowd. The more you sweat and cry and strain to make your words heard, the more they will get trampled on, like seeds of faith scattered upon the highway awaiting the crunch of an inflated tire – the tire that says “I’m tired of all this noise!”

Those who lack the gift of gab seek other means of making themselves heard – if not through writing, then sometimes through fighting. That’s what Moses did. One day he slew an Egyptian who was beating up a Hebrew. According to the first known Christian martyr, Steven, Moses thought that his brethren (the Hebrews) would see it and understand that God had hand-picked him to deliver them from slavery in Egypt (see Acts 7:24-25). But they didn’t get it.

Actions often do speak louder than words, but taking matters into one’s own hands can be disastrous to one’s cause. It’s always best to do things God’s way, for He knows how to get people’s attention. Moses complained to God that he wasn’t eloquent, but God gave him signs to do that spoke louder than words.

As for me, in group settings I’m no match against the king of snappy answers or the queen of the sharp tongue. But I do know how to write, and so I use my fingers to speak for me. As for reaching my audience, God opened doors for Moses. He can open doors for me. And He can open up doors for you too. Just write whatever He inspires you to write and don’t give up.

 

 

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Whatever Happened to Civility?

 

Grace and peace to all who happen by this site and read this article. I realize it may not line up with your views. All I ask is your respect. Please don’t blow up like a volcano after reading it, because a lot of people these days have been losing their tempers, and that’s not pretty. Hot-button political issues have a way of setting off hidden landmines, so please tread carefully as you forge ahead..

Let me start by saying I am glad Obama has an “ex” before his title now. As far as I’m concerned, he never was my president. He didn’t value what I valued and he didn’t speak for me. I absolutely hated the policies he pushed. He was not my president, and you can’t convince me otherwise. Nevertheless, I didn’t protest his inauguration. I didn’t scream, yell or picket because I knew it wouldn’t do much good. Besides, I don’t believe that is God’s way of doing things. But although I didn’t consider  him my president, I still prayed for him.

I am delighted that Trump wants to end Obama’s mandatory health care plan. The reason I hate – yes, hate – the plan is that to me it’s not pro-life and it’s certainly not pro-choice. It is a mandate, and – with all due respect – no one tells me what to do with my body. You cannot force me to go to a doctor, get shots, take prescription drugs, or to sign up for a medical plan I do not want. Yes, I realize there are some people who love that plan, but I do not, so please respect my views. Socialism is a “medicine” I don’t want shoved down my throat.

After all, the last time I checked, this was a free country. Unfortunately, our freedoms have been gradually eroding. Anything we say can be used against us, but that doesn’t mean we should remain silent on important issues. Yes, I know, it’s hard these days because no matter what you say you’re bound to offend someone. Even Jesus offended many people, and (as far as I’m concerned) He was perfect! How then can we – Christian or non-Christian – avoid offending people?

Wouldn’t it just be nice if everybody used more tact?

Speaking of tact – or fact, if you will, Trump was not my first choice for president, but he’s in office now. So, as a Christian I will respect him even when I disagree with his policies. Once again I’m not going to scream, yell or picket. Once again I’m going to pray for him. I’m going to pray for wisdom,  pray for peace, and pray for an end to the riots. Yes, I know. Violent protests have become the latest rage, but I hate violence and looting, breaking windows, and vandalizing stores. It’s illegal and those who do those things should be caught and prosecuted. What they’re doing isn’t right. There, I said it.

Call me crazy, but I hate destruction. I want peace – true peace, and I value human life – no matter the sex, race, age, or religious preference. (I’m sure the thought police will gladly rake me over the coals for failing to add a category to that list)

I mean, whatever happened to prayer? Whatever happened to forgiving those who hurt you? And whoever twisted Philippians 4:19 to read “Man shall supply all your needs, and if he doesn’t, then make him pay!”?

Whatever happened to civility?

Why I Dislike the Phrase “Working Mom”

Among the expressions I consider to be unfair, the term “working mom” tops the list. This term is most often used to describe a mom who holds a job outside the home. Unfortunately, if only moms with outside jobs are called “working moms,” that implies that moms who stay at home raising children do not work. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth.

Raising children is not easy. It is work. Ask any mom. Children do not raise themselves. It takes parental involvement. There are meals to prepare, diapers to change, tantrums to soothe, homework papers to correct, rooms to clean, and a seeming endless list of chores that involve actual physical work. It’s like being both a housekeeper and a miniature day care operator minus the pay.

Caring for children while maintaining a home can be exhausting, whether or not the mom has an outside job. So, why are moms with outside jobs called “working moms” and those who sacrifice paying jobs to raise their families labeled “’non-working?”

Maybe it’s just me, but I would like the see the term “working mom” changed to something like “wage-earning mom,” because those who stay at home still work although they may not earn a wage. Isn’t it time we gave both groups – the outside-the-home workers and stay-at-home workers – the credit they deserve?

The Foreshadowing

One of my favorite heroines in the Old Testament is Deborah, a prophetess people looked to for guidance during the oppressive rule of Jabin king of Canaan as recorded in the book of Judges chapter 4. His name says it all: He was a “jab-bin’” sort of guy.

“Jab, jab, jab. Ow, ow, ow.” “Get your rotten chariot off my foot!” Oh, for a ditch in which to pitch his iron war machines!

The tyrant was mean and he was well armed. But he wasn’t as smart as Deborah, who received strategy straight from God detailing how to beat him. She shared her battle plans with a man named Barak, telling him exactly where to go and who to recruit for his army.

“God says He’ll hand the jab-bin’ guy’s Army General Sisera over to you. So, go to it and do it!”

Barak hesitated. “That Sisera guy is no sissy,” he must have thought. So, he told Deborah, “I’ll only go if you go with me.” Was Barak acting like a sissy by insisting she support him?

“Sure, I’ll go with you,” Deborah said. “But because of the way you’re going about this, you won’t get any glory from it for God will hand Sisera over to a woman.”

The men in this story are nothing without the women. But that’s how it has been from the beginning.

“It’s not good for man to be alone,” the LORD had said when he made Adam, the first man (see Genesis 2:18). “I will make a helper for him.” How was Eve to help him? Well, God had given Adam a job to do, tending to the garden of Eden. He warned Adam not to eat from the knowledge of good and evil, but the serpent deceived Eve, who in turn led Adam into temptation. Could he have resisted the forbidden fruit she offered to him? Obviously, he should have, but he didn’t, and the result was tragic: a life of grueling toil for men; hard child-raising for women (in my opinion, raising them is ten times harder than giving birth); and a lifetime of slavery to sin. For they had both sinned against God and “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23). However, it is through Adam that sin was passed down to all of us, because by his disobedience all were made sinners (Romans 5:19). Through his offense, death reigned (Romans 5:17).

Yet God did not look to fallen man to solve this problem, for it is not man but the devil who had the power of death. Adam was simply the one who handed it to him when he listened to his wife and ate the forbidden fruit. She in turn had been tricked by the serpent – or rather, the devil working through the serpent. The Apostle John in Revelation 12:9 describes the devil or Satan as the old serpent who deceives the whole world.  

     Getting back to Deborah and Barak, the oppression under which they suffered was great. Being slaves to “Jab-bin’ Jabin” was no picnic. It was sort of like a picture of bondage to sin, with General Sisera holding the devil’s pitchfork. Through a woman who was not deceived but who believed what God had spoken to her, God called a man to do battle against this devil that the bondage might be broken, but he couldn’t do it by himself. A woman’s touch was needed.

Jael, a woman Sisera trusted, helped lure this devil to his doom. He was deceived into believing that she had his best at heart. But while her enemy was sleeping, she took a nail and crushed his head, thus bringing deliverance to the people. By way of a metaphor, she parallels the virgin Mary, who helped fulfill God’s promise given in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee (the serpent) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed (Jesus); he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The Hebrew word for “bruise,” which some translate as “crush,” carries with it the idea of breaking or overwhelming. Satan bruised Jesus’ “heel” upon a cross, but Jesus crushed Satan’s head.

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14

 

 

Even Moses Lived by Grace, not Law

Those of us who embrace Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior understand that we are saved by grace, not law, according to Ephesians 2:8-9.  But did you know that the concept of salvation by God’s grace is nothing new?

Even Moses, who gave the ten commandments, lived by grace. In his conversation with God concerning how to bring His people into the Promised Land, Moses continually asks for grace.

Let’s look at the passage in Exodus 33:12-17 (KJV).

12 “And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.

13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.

14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.

16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

     How does God express His grace to Moses and to Israel?

In verse 14, He says, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”

Moses wanted to know God. He wanted God’s presence.

In John 1:16-17 we read,

16 and of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah upon the Mount of Transfiguration? Moses got a glimpse, in person, of God’s grace when he spoke with Jesus. What a glorious meeting that must have been.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3

Nurturing Sickness Through Self Pity?

Oh, this in insidious. But it happens more often than I think most of us like to admit. Yes, we are told to weep with those who weep, and those who suffer from debilitating infirmities and handicaps deserve our compassion. But when does pity cross the line into self-pity, a weakened state of feeling sorry for one’s self? At what point do well-meaning acts of sympathy become an excuse for unbelief?

Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a merry heart does good like a medicine. If that is so, then bitterness is like a poison to the soul. It keeps us from experiencing God’s best for us. A case in point is the raising of Jairus’s daughter as told in Luke 8:41-56. When Jesus came to Jairus’s house, the professional mourners were there. If Jesus had allowed them to continue weeping and wailing, the miracle would not have taken place. It was a case of crying gone overboard, refusing comfort, unwilling to believe God for better things. An attitude of despair had taken over, which was why Jesus could not allow the mourners to stay. He had to put them out, and that’s what you and I need to do if we want to be healed.

Hope and despair cannot occupy the same space. That’s why it’s so important, in all our “wishing to be well” or “wishing others to be well” that we give thanks to God in all circumstances. We need to praise Him for who He is, remembering all the good things he has done for us. We need to read His Word and be willing to believe it. That’s what brings joy. That’s what brings freedom. That’s what brings healing.

“He sent forth His Word and healed them and delivered them from destruction.” (Psalm 107:20)

Signs, Wonders, and Suffering for Christ

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:1-2

The Sadducees were sad. The message didn’t make them glad. They didn’t like the gospel message. A crippled man had just been miraculously healed through the power of Jesus’ name. Some people don’t like miracles. The Sadducees sure didn’t. They didn’t believe in angels or resurrection, and probably would have preferred for the man to stay a cripple, because the power of God was something they couldn’t handle.

Yes, there is a form of religion that denies God’s power, that teaches us to go to church on Sunday, do all the motions of worship, then go home unchanged. But we feel better because we’ve done our religious duty. The conscience is temporarily assuaged, but the heart remains hard and the soul remains untouched. It is a faith that rests on the wisdom of man, but in the name of Jesus Christ Peter and John had just performed an amazing miracle.

And now the priests, the captain of the temple, and the men who were famous for being sad, the Sadducees, arrested Peter and John. They persecuted them (i.e. gave them a hard time) for daring to lay hold of Jesus’ promise that

“He who believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)

I’m sure that most of us are familiar with the scripture “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Well, the Apostles had a living faith in God and they demonstrated it by daring to take hold of a crippled man’s hand and help him to his feet. They believed God’s Word and acted on it.

Now, some believing Christians (I don’t know how many) don’t believe God still performs instantaneous healings, resurrections, or miracles. Some of them hold the concept that to be sick or infirm or disabled is to somehow suffer for the gospel. They preach against the idea of divine healing, as if it was opposed to God’s will. But what would Jesus say to that? How did He feel about healing people?

Once, in a synagogue where Jesus was speaking, there was a man with a withered hand. The religious guys were watching him carefully, waiting to accuse him of healing on the Sabbath. They cared more about their religious doctrine than about the ailing man. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was grieved for the hardness of their hearts (Mark 3:5). His question to them was:

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil, to save life, or to kill?” (verse 4)

Of course, Jesus healed the man. This time it was the Pharisees he angered, and they plotted to destroy him. Jesus didn’t have to get sick to suffer persecution at their hands. He suffered because he healed people and raised others from the dead. The religious people were envious, because they had a form of godliness but denied its power (II Timothy 3:5-7). I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want to live my Christian life.

 

 

 

 

 

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)