Posts tagged ‘healing’

Leaving Jericho

The city of Jericho is significant is Scripture. This city was initially destroyed by God when the Israelites first came into the Promised Land in Joshua 6. Later, the people rebuilt a city by that name at a nearby location. In Jesus’ time, he visited the city and performed the miracle of healing a blind man. Jericho is symbolic of the place of destruction and judgment. This miracle, and the circumstances surrounding it, have application for us today.

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. (Mark 10:46 ESV)

Bartimaeus was a blind man who was very familiar to the residents of Jericho. Some have even suggested that his father had also been blind, since the word for blind in the local Aramaic was similar to Timaeus. In all likelihood, Bartimaeus sat by this road every day of his life, just like his father had. He was used to the smell and taste of the dust, and to hearing what people were saying as they passed by.

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47)

No doubt, Bartimaeus had heard people talking about this man from Nazareth who was healing all who came to him. Word of these miracles was a topic of conversation of many in Jericho who would stop and give money to him. Evidently, Bartimaeus believes their stories, and realizes that walking past him is the only glimmer of hope he has ever had of escaping the life of darkness and destitution. So he cries out, not saying “son of man” or “son of Mary”, but “son of David”, which was a term used to describe the promised Messiah. Just like Bartimaeus, the only hope for a lost sinner, sitting in the place of judgment, spiritually blind and destitute, is to call upon the name of The Lord (Romans 10:13).

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48)

And just like today when someone decides to cry out to Jesus, there were those who rebuked him. Today, there are those who warn you not to get too radical about Jesus, or not to openly talk to people about Him. But my question is, if you are blind and destitute, what have you got to lose? Do whatever it takes to get to Jesus!

And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” (Mark 10:49)

Yet there is a message of hope for all who are lost. Jesus is calling you! He is not walking by and waiting for you to fix yourself up, or to somehow regain your spiritual sight and put on fresh clothes before you come to him. Come to him now, just they way you are. He wants to give you sight, cleanse you, and clothe you with robes of righteousness.

And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. (Mark 10:50)

In ancient times, in order for people to know who was a legitimate beggar, they were given a special outer garment. In this way, they could be identified as someone who was genuinely lame or blind and not a scam artist trying to make easy money. When Jesus calls to Bartimaeus, he threw off his outer cloak. He tossed away that which had always identified him as blind, and ran to Jesus. In the same way, we are to cast off those things which label us as beyond hope, even if we inherited them from our family. What the world has labelled you as will no longer apply to you once you come to Jesus. He took this blind man and changed him from “Bar-Timaeus” (son of the blind) to being a child of the Living God. And when you come to Jesus, He will do the same for you!

And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:51, 52)

When Bartimaeus was healed of his blindness, he did not leave, thinking he had gotten what he came for. No, he really did believe Jesus was the Son of David, the promised Messiah. Those were not words of flattery used to get Jesus’ attention. He really meant them. Bartimaeus leaves the place of judgment, poverty and blindness, and follows Jesus in the way. And that is what He calls everyone to do. This is not about a one time event of receiving salvation and deliverance, but about casting off the old, receiving a new identity in Christ, and beginning a new journey with Him. But keep in mind, that if Bartimaeus had not called out to Jesus, none of this would have happened and we would never have known his name. Cry out to Jesus today. Now is the day of salvation. If you have the faith to come to Him, He will give you a new life, and you can begin to follow after Him and leave your old life behind.

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Faith Without Conditions

Faith. It is a fruit of the Spirit that is essential to our spiritual progress, and even our salvation. Much is said in the Scriptures about having faith enough to receive whatever we ask of The Lord. And it is correct to say that God rewards the faith of those who diligently seek Him.

But there is a deeper level of faith than the one required for receiving an affirmative answer to our requests. A question we all need to consider is this: “Do I have enough faith to get a ‘no’ from God?” Please let me illustrate what I mean.
If you are faced with a terminal illness, do you have enough trust and faith in God to continue to follow Him if you are not healed? Do you trust Him enough to die if that is His will? I submit to you that this takes more faith than receiving an instant healing.

That kind of faith was shown by the three Hebrew young men who refused to worship the golden statue of the king.

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17, 18 NKJV)

Did you catch what they said? They believed that God could protect them, but were determined to follow His commandments even if their deliverance did not come. That is the kind of faith God is looking for — unconditional faith! I think it was there “no matter what” attitude that helped them to be delivered from the fiery furnace without even a hint of smoke on them. You see, faith is not belief without evidence; it is obedience without reservation.

In the Gospels, Jesus showed that same kind of faith in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. ” (Matthew 26:39 NKJV)

Jesus’ depth of faith and trust was displayed by His willingness to receive form The Father whatever the divine will entailed. It involved subordinating His own will to that of the Father. It begs the question about our own faith. Am I willing to not shrink back in my faith if it means the will of God leads through the valley of the shadow of death? When it all comes down to it, will we be able to say what Job said? “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13:15a).”

Too often today, the lost are told that they need to come to Christ because of all the things He will do to make life better for them. It’s a “me” centered message that is both harmful and unbiblical. Television preachers talk incessantly about how healing or deliverance hinges on how much faith they have. But salvation is not about having “our best life now” or being a success in business. It is about complete and utter surrender to the will of God, no matter where that leads us. That is why we need to be able to put aside what we desire and accept what He desires without reservation.

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Forgiveness Requires Confession

People come from many different backgrounds. For many, the spiritual environment in which they were raised has a tremendous effect on their view of doctrinal tenets, religious practices, and definitions of religious terms. Such is the case with the word translated as “confession” in the New Testament. So when I say that confession is a necessary precondition for forgiveness I need to clarify some biblical concepts and terminology.

The Apostle John, in the first chapter of his general epistle says this:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NASB)

So is John saying here that we must go before a priest and orally confess our sins in order to receive absolution? No, and here is why. Rather than meaning admitting what we have done, the Greek word used in 1 John 1:9 is “homologeo” which means “to say the same as”. So what is required is that we say the same thing about our sin that God says about it.

Rather than being a “get it of jail free” card, this confession entails changing our minds about our sin, so repentance is included in it since the word translated repent means to change your mind. This change must be deep enough that we begin saying the same thing about our sins that the Bible says. There is nothing biblical about just admitting what we have done, or even asking God to forgive us of our sins if we have not forsaken them. It’s not about saying the magic words. We need to not only forsake our sin, but actually hate it.

And our hatred of our sin, and the realization of our personal culpability of those sins being part of the reason Jesus was murdered, will also lead us to say what God says after we have been forgiven. When God has forgiven us, we have no authority to continue accusing ourselves before Him. To do so is to align ourselves with “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10).

Our confession is also one which encourages accountability. James said we are to “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16) Our secret sins are the ones which entangle us like the little wooden chair left out in the living room at night that finds our shin and throws us to the ground. But being open and honest about our struggles with our fellow believers helps us to overcome those habitual sin patterns so that we can walk in the light, not the darkness.

but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7).

As long as we walk in fear of being exposed, we will never know the freedom that could be ours in Christ. Jesus put it this way:

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19, 20)

So let us hit sin with the very weapon that will cause it to shrink back — the light. King David discovered this secret thousands of years ago, and God has preserved it for us today in Psalm 32.

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:1-5 NASB)

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Jumping For Jesus

Have you ever read about the miracles in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles and wondered what it would have been like to have witnessed them? The wonder and amazement you would have felt would have been life changing.
I want to take a look at the healing of the lame man at the temple by Peter and John in Acts 3 and draw some lessons from it.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene-walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10 NASB)

The story goes further to include the preaching that occurred after the miracle, but my intention is to focus on the first part. One of the first things mentioned is that the man was born lame. This was no temporary condition from an injury that would eventually be recovered from. He had been born that way. Ever wonder why you can’t find a so-called faith healer attempting to heal people with conditions they have had from birth? No headings of those with deformed limbs, or Down Syndrome or conjoined twins. This also meant that everyone would know who he was and would have to give God credit for the healing.

Another thing I see here is that this spot by the temple gate was where he was always taken. Jesus, during his earthly ministry, went to the temple numerous times. Surely he had seen this man there. And yet Jesus did not stop and heal him. By passing the man by, Jesus was demonstrating that it is not always God’s will to heal everyone right now. Jesus was directly led by the Spirit, and only did those things he was told to do. Was it because He had no compassion for this lame man? No, it was because, in this case, the healing was to take place later at a time that would bring glory to God and facilitate Peter and John preaching and souls being saved!

After the healing took place, the man gave thanks and praise to his healer – God! He was not ashamed to openly and boldly let everyone know who had made such a dramatic change in his life. Should we be any less enthused about what God has done for us in Christ? We were all under condemnation and sentenced to eternal destruction. But someone, somewhere, at some time told us about Jesus. We heard, believed, repented, confessed Jesus as Lord,and we’re baptized. We are now on the road to heaven because someone has paid our penalty for us. Shouldn’t we be every bit as excited as the lame man who could now leap?

Since the miracle had created an opportunity to preach, Peter and John seized the moment and proclaimed Christ to the crowd. They didn’t sign up those who heard as their partners and certainly did not take an offering to support the ministry. Jesus was the center of their ministry. Yet how many today claim power to heal, and will pray for you when you send in an offering?
Another point I would like to make here is that throughout the rest of the New Testament, the Apostles went around the world starting one thing, and one thing only – churches! The didn’t start ministries in every city, the planted congregations! They didn’t even start ministries of their own. No Peter and John Ministries, Inc. no, the Great Commission was to be accomplished by churches, period!

In the end, the lame man’s enthusiasm drew a crowd, and multitudes were saved. Let’s get fired up about what Jesus has done for us and see who asks us for an explanation for our joy! And may many souls be brought into the Kingdom!

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Our Pains and Diseases

Healing is a popular subject these days. From medical advances that boggle the mind, to seeking out alternative cures and dietary solutions, it seems there is a universal desire to be healed. Better yet, we want to walk in health so we won’t need to be healed! It is no different in the religious world. A quick survey of religious broadcasting reveals numerous teachers preaching to packed arenas about divine healing. Prominent among such teaching is the idea that Jesus did not just pay for our spiritual healing on the cross, but that his suffering, specifically his stripes, paid for our physical healing as well. “Our healing has already been accomplished” they say. All we have to do is to have faith and not doubt, and receive the healing that is rightfully ours. But is this accurate teaching? Let’s see what the Bible says.

In the faith healing teaching, Isaiah 53 is a foundational passage. Let’s take a look at it and see if it is being properly applied or not.

But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. (Isaiah 53:4, 5 NET)

On the face of it, there seem to be two very compelling statements here about healing. In verse 4, The Suffering Servant (Jesus) is said to have lifted up our illnesses and carried our pain. And if one goes with the assumption that this verse is talking exclusively about the crucifixion, it looks like a reasonable interpretation of the verse. Fortunately, this verse is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 8 verses 16-17, so we don’t have to guess at when this verse was fulfilled. Matthew records the following incident.

“When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” (Matthew 8:16, 17 NASB)

As anyone can see, this verse is not applied to all disease for all time being paid for at the cross. Through inspiration, the Apostle Matthew says that the miraculous ability Jesus had to heal the sick and drive out demons from those who were possessed was a sign that he was the Suffering Servant who would be our Messiah. In other words, they could recognize who Jesus was by his ability to heal the sick!

But what about Isaiah’s statement that by his wounds we have been healed? It is true that this portion of the verse could still be talking about our healing being paid for on the cross. True, that is, unless the New Testament apostles applied it to something else instead. Let’s see how this verse is applied by the Apostle Peter.

“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:23-25 ESV)

At first this passage looks more promising because Peter is talking about what happened at the crucifixion of Jesus here. But again, how is the quote from Isaiah applied? To the bearing of our sins in his body on the cross, which would enable us to die to sin and live to righteousness (kind of sounds like baptism here). The result of this healing from the wounds he endured was verse 25. We are no longer like sheep who were astray, but have returned to God. His wounds purchased for us, not physical healing, but spiritual healing of our souls and our reconciliation to God! Once again, after careful examination, we find that the faith healers have misapplied this verse.

So can God heal today? According to Psalm 103, all healing of any kind is a gift from God. And surely God would not command us to pray for one another when we are sick if there were no benefit from it, or if said healing was not his will. In fact, during his earthly ministry, there is no record of Jesus ever declining to heal anyone who asked. But that was during his earthly ministry, and during the time of the apostles, who confirmed the validity of their message as being from God by signs and wonders (Hebrews 2:4) And one day, those of us who will spend eternity in his glorious presence will be freed from every disease and pain.
Until that time, enough of television and radio preachers who tell the sick that their healing is now, and they just have to receive it by faith. And if they are not healed, it is because they lacked that faith. To heap such guilt and condemnation on one who is suffering is beyond cruel, and only adds a deeper layer of suffering to the physical pain they are enduring. This is especially true of those who, like Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8, tell desperate people that God is holding their healing but will pour it out upon them if they send in money.

No, the ultimate healing will take place in the dwelling place of God, not on this fallen earth.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3, 4 ESV)

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20 ESV)

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