Archive for September, 2011

Healing Power III – God’s Very Nature

Still doubting that God heals?  Would you believe Jesus?  Jesus referred to the healing of Naaman in his explanation of why He heals certain people and not those in his hometown, see Luke 4.22-27.  Jesus’s point: faith brings healing and sometimes those closest to us cannot see us as anything other than what they expect.  Faith brings healing from God, who by His very nature is the Healer.

“How,” you might ask, “does this fit with 1 Corinthians 4.1-20?”

Paul and Apollos are the Apostles who started the church at Corinth.  Paul started it and Apollos encouraged its growth.  Both were faithful stewards of their gifts…they did what God told them to do and they did it well.  Apostles start godly things then they leave to start other godly works.  After Paul left Apollos came.  After Apollos left certain teachers came.  These teachers were skilled.  They filled the houses of the Corinthians with persuasive words.  However, they were not the words of God but in chapter four we see these words were about self-dependence and self-reliance.  These teachers taught that the Corinthians did not need anyone else; going against the teachings of Jesus and Paul.

Again (see last post Healing Power IIb – Meaning), this sounds like us!  We love those teachers who tell us we are self-sufficient.  We hear all the time how we have all we need; how we are pleasing God when we do things for Him; how we are the focus of all God’s attention.  We have another handicap: we live in the USA.  Our whole society is based on self-sufficiency.  Those that are not are often the hated poor, because they did not meet the highest ideal of our culture.  They failed and if there is something an American cannot stand, it is a failure.  So we hate them…pushing them to the extreme edge of our society.  Oh, our government has a program to care for them.  But we need not be bothered by poverty.  Of course poverty is not just financial in nature.  Poverty comes to people in many forms: educational, health, age, etc…

Are we not to love these people too?  Are they less deserving of love than our smart, healthy, young people who live near us; who have jobs and homes?  If our highest ideal is self-reliance then our answer must be “yes, they are less deserving.”  And that is exactly how our society treats these people.  We put them in a class lower than ourselves and tell ourselves “it is okay because it is their fault.” [These two paragraphs serve as an illustration not the point of this lesson…an illustration of a pervasive teaching that is totally and completely WRONG…but we passively accept it.]

Accepting ideas from teachers who are not faithfully devoted to teaching what Jesus taught is a serious error.  We cannot build our understanding of God on such teachings.  That is why, over and over again, Jesus warns us about such teachers.  Paul warns us to test them to see if they are faithful.  Accepting false teaching can kill your faith.  The Corinthians had done this very thing.  We have done it as well.

Naaman was filled with hope and acted on that hope.  We call that action faith.  He believed this prophet could heal him.  He had wisdom from wise teachers.  Today we abandoned such faith for things we can see, things we can do for ourselves.  We followed teachers who insisted that healing couldn’t happen today.  Those teachers taught us to look down on people who believe in healing.  Those teachers taught with persuasive words to abandon our hope that God heals miraculously.  They taught us that only doctors can heal, by their skill and through their treatments.  Charlatan televangelists confirmed these teachings.  They could not heal us.  They only wanted our money.  So this teaching is pervasive and easy to believe…if we based our faith only on our sight and things we can understand.

But God is still in the healing business.  He still loves to touch our lives in miraculous ways.  Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 4.20, “For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by God’s power.”  Just so we would fully understand, Paul uses a specific Greek word for ‘power’.  It is the Greek word dunamis.  It means mighty power, miracle and has the connotation of dominion (meaning it is all under God’s control).  It is the root of our word ‘dynamite’.  So God’s dunamis is His innate ability to oversee everything under His authority with His mighty power to bring about miracles!  Miracles are a part of God’s character, His very nature!  Where God is…miracles occur.  Paul warns those false teachers of self-reliance that when he gets to Corinth he will come with God’s mighty power and miracles will confirm his message.

So I want to encourage you.  Miracles happen everywhere God is King; everywhere He walks…in every life, in every situation God can and He will touch you and heal you.  Our expectation needs to be on the truth of this statement.  We should expect God to heal.  However, avoid telling God how and when He can heal.  That is NOT faith but a reliance on self that God detests.  Faith is the key; faith in a God who has absolute control over our lives.  God healed the hated commander of an occupying force, Naaman.  Jesus pointed to that as a lesson on faith.  Paul taught that wherever God is so is His mighty power…so are miracles! Only believe and be saved, you and your entire household (Acts 16.31). Be strong and courageous, because everywhere you go the King of Kings and Lord of Lords goes with you, with all of His dunamis! (Joshua 1.9 and I Corinthians 4.20).

Healing Power IIb – Meaning

What are implications of the story of Naaman’s healing, 2 Kings 5.1-19, for you and I?  What could a story that happened 2,800 years ago have for us to learn and apply to our lives? A lot actually.  God is still in the blessing business.  God still heals.  He still cares for everyone.

In the ancient Near East, Israel, there were two kingdoms.  There was the kingdom of men, ruled by a king.  The Syrians beat this king of Israel.  He was a loser but still in control of the country…so long as he paid tribute to the king of Syria. He ruled by authority of a forging king, given just enough power to collect taxes and that was all.  The other kingdom was God’s kingdom.  God was the king.  He was undefeatable. He ruled with power and compassion.  His love knew no boundaries.  He even loved the enemy Syrians.  A prophet represented God in Israel.  So long as there was a prophet in Israel, the people following God could be sure He heard their cries, comforted their fears, and loved them.  Naaman saw both kingdoms; going first to the kingdom of man; but only finding what he needed in God’s Kingdom.

The kingdom of men represents some of the churches today.  It is powerless and ruled by external forces.  The kingdom of men desires to remain in power and will compromise with anyone they believe can help them. The kingdom of God will never compromise.  There are churches today that fit in this category as well.  Churches that seek to know God and make Him known.  It is not about power or position but about God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

God used the nation of Syria to correct His people, Israel.  The nation ran from God and His blessing.  The people chose to follow the gods of the people around them rather than the God who delivered the people from slavery in Egypt.  God’s people abandoned Him as irrelevant to their lives.  And God sent a nation to conquer His people, to show them that there is a God in Israel and He alone has the power to direct nations paths.  He alone protects His people.  He alone is God.

Sounds a lot like us today doesn’t it?  We call ourselves “Christians.”  But most likely we have pushed God to irrelevancy in our lives for 6 days a week.  “God can have Sunday morning but He will not see Monday through Saturday in our lives,” we say with our actions.  We have made God in our image.  We made Him weak and powerless to affect our lives.  He is good but a stranger to us today.  And we think we are Christian enough.  Gone to church…check.

We may even tithe; pay one-tenth of our income to the church.  But it is just payment for services rendered.  That was to original goal of the tithe, pay the priest for services rendered.  We continue to do that today.  We pay our pastor to be our spiritual representative so we don’t have to have a relationship with God.  Our pastor meets with us once a week and tells us how our relationship is going, usually pretty good.  And we think we are pleasing God because we gave.  The tithe was an indication of where our heart was: with God or against Him.  Now, it is a lifeless ritual, payment for services, given begrudgingly; truly showing our hearts are far from God.  Paid God for His favor…check.

Naaman had all these expectations.  He had a checklist of things he was expecting.  He went to Israel expecting to meet another healing man and pay him for this service.  But God always defies expectations.  It is never about a checklist.  It is always about real life.  God loves to show us that we expect too little from Him.  J. B. Phillips, a translator of the Bible into everyday common language, said it best with the title of one of his books, “Your God is Too Small.”

Your god is too small if you show him your face but never your heart!

Your god is too small if you pay for favor instead of giving your devotion!

Your god is too small…way to small if you think he loves you only when you are good enough, strong enough, when you give to the church, or only when you go to church!

Your god is too small if he wants the best for you but never impacts your life!

God, the one true God, wants to know you and for you to know Him.  He wants to restore you to the place He originally made for you: at His table in His heaven; a child of His, FOREVER.  He is a God of blessing not curses; a God of hope in the face of darkness; a God of healing in the face of pain, hurting, or illness.  God healed the enemy of His people to show the people God is God alone; Healer, Comforter, Counselor, and Friend.  God is still all of these things today.

It might sound a little strange to you, but I have seen God heal cancer (confirmed by a surgeon), heal allergies, even raise my puppy back to life after it was crushed by a load of bricks (confirmed by my father).  It may be so far out for you to think that there is a God much less that He loves you and can heal your sickness.  But it is true.  God loved Naaman.  God loves you.  God healed Naaman.  God will heal you. God’s ways may seem strange to you, just as they did to Naaman.  There was nothing special about the muddy Jordan.  There was something very special about a man with belief that even in a muddy river God will heal.  That is faith; simple, living faith.

That is the key: faith…simple faith in a God who can, and routinely does, meet you in your life, where you are, in your mess, and loves you, and heals your sickness, and gives you hope and life and joy!  Naaman met Him and it changed his health and his heart.  You can meet Him and He will do those things for you…and so much more!

God is good. We live in a broken world, a world of our own making. It is full of evil sickness and disease that we loosed. But God is good.  He offers us hope where there is hopelessness.  He makes good out of our bad. He brings love to the loveless and the unlovely. He heals our sickness and disease.  God is good!

Look at the first passage, 2 Kings 5.1-19.  Sunday night at home church we spoke a lot of healing; physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Monday morning during my quiet time God gave me two passages of scripture. In the first one, God speaks directly about healing. There are some incredible truths in this passage.

It is a story of a man named Naaman.  Naaman is not just some guy.  He is the commander/general of the army of the king of Syria. While the King declared war, Naaman was the one who went to Israel and conquered every city.  He was a hero to the Syrians but a villain to the people of Israel, God’s people. Catch that last part: a villain, evil, and hated by God’s people.  Yet, God put this man’s name in His book as a testimony to the power of God, His forgiveness, His desire to heal. Naaman, his name in Hebrew meaning ‘pleasantness’, was afflicted with an incurable disease called leprosy.  He was beloved by his country, his soldiers, and his king but could not be very close to any of them or he would give them his very communicable disease.

Naaman owned a slave girl from Israel, who knew of the Prophet Elisha and his ability to call upon God for healing. Naaman grabbed at the chance and took a letter of introduction to the King of Israel, his soldiers, and a vast reward for the prophet.  When he got to Israel the response was not good.  The king of Israel thought this was some plot to attack and kill him.  But Elisha told the king to send Naaman to him so that, it might be widely known that “there is a true prophet here in Israel.”

Naaman had an expectation that this mighty man of God, larger than life, would come out and wave his arms around, maybe touch the leper, and Naaman would be healed, he would pay the prophet for the healing and return home a hero again.  That is not what happened at all.  When he got to Elisha’s door, a servant came out and told him to wash himself 7 times in the river Jordan. What?!?  What kind of prophet was this?  He did not even come out to meet this famous man.  Naaman was enraged. He was so mad, this fake snake charmer would suggest something so dumb, so unexpected, that Naaman started to leave for home, hope for a healing dashed again.  But his men suggested that he do what the prophet’s servant had said. And Naaman did.  And Naaman for the first time in a very long time was truly clean, healed of his disease by the miracle of God’s mighty power, there in a muddy river in a conquered nation.  Finally, Naaman would be able to be touched!  He could eat with other people!  He could take a wife and have children!  Hope was restored for a normal life.  Peace came into the heart of the invading, hated general.

He tried to pay for the healing but Elisha would have none of it.  It was God alone who healed Naaman and one cannot repay God.  Naaman then does something very interesting.  He takes two boxes of Israeli dirt home with him so he can pray on top of the dirt of God’s land everyday. He also asks for forgiveness for when he has to help the King of Syria worship his gods.  Remember Naaman has NEVER done this.  No one could touch Naaman due to his leprosy.  But he can foresee a time when he will have to enter the Syrian god’s temple and bow down with the king. God’s prophet says something unexpected here: “Go in peace.” It is okay with God’s representative that Naaman go into a foreign god’s temple and bow down, because Naaman’s heart is on the one true God.  No leader of any church today that I am aware of would say such a thing.  It was insightful and brilliant of Elisha. God judges the heart.  Naaman’s heart is right: his hope is on the Lord God.  So Naaman is made right.  Doing his duty for his king is okay, even in the temple of another god.

What a story filled with implications for us.  I will expound on those in my next post.

Another miracle story

David’s post yesterday was really inspiring!  A looooooooong time ago I promised some more miracle stories.  Here is one that I’ve had for a while but didn’t get around to posting.  This is from Janee:

I went to the doctor at age 30 concerned about symptoms I had been experiencing that were very similar to those my mother had described.  She had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  The doctor asked questions and ran lots of blood tests and came to the same conclusion….Fibromyalgia.  I didn’t have time for this.  I was getting ready to adopt 2 children.  I was prescribed medicinal “band-aids,” but the doctor said there was nothing to do but live with it and alleviate the symptoms.  So I resigned myself to the situation and spent several more years living with it and taking pills.  I eventually found out from a fellow sufferer about some OTC medication that made the symptoms almost go away as long as you took it religiously and followed some other guidelines about food and personal care products.  I lived much more happily for several more years.

Then a few years ago I became filled with the Holy Spirit and the Lord started making major changes in my family.  A year later I started having symptoms of another ailment that my mother had been recently diagnosed with and I started praying about this.  God made it very clear to me that this thing called Fibromyalgia and this new thing were not physical ailments but spiritual ones.  I can’t say if that is true for everybody but at least it was in my case.  I started praying about it and brought it up to one of the simple churches we meet with.  They immediately felt led to lay hands on me and pray in the Spirit.  After they were done I knew immediately that I had been healed of these things.  A while later the symptoms started reappearing, and I fought them off with faith that I had been healed.  I was not going to allow this to come back into my life.  Each time the symptoms try to return I remind myself and the devil who brought it that I’m healed and I will not accept this back into my life again.  The attacks have become fewer and further apart and the symptoms much weaker each time.  Now, almost 10 years later, I am completely free from this ailment and ready to see the Lord do more!  Where the Spirit of Lord is there is Liberty (freedom).

Healing Power – Part I

I am so excited by what God showed me today that I wanted to tell you all about it.  It seemed to me that the best way was to post it here.First a little background:

1)   Last night at during our gathering we discussed in depth the healing that God promised the group, the theology of it all, and the emotions it brought.

2)   I read the Daily Office from the Common Book of Prayer for my Bible reading everyday.  Today’s readings were spot on!

Please read these two passages FIRST (before continuing):

 2 Kings 5.1-19 and 1 Corinthians 4.8-21

I knew I was in for something special today when I read the first passage.  It tells the story of a famous general that was loved by his king but had leprosy.  He needed healing and went to Israel on the advice of a slave girl to get healed.  He took a letter of introduction from his king to the king of Israel.  The king of Israel was distraught.  He could not heal the general.  But God had a man in Israel who could play a role in the general’s healing.  That man was Elisha, a prophet of God in a country who hated prophets of God. The story ends when the general is healed by God and returns home.

The second passage is a church leader, Paul, writing to a church he started to correct some issues they had.  Paul is warning the people who came later and disrupted the church.  He said that he would return and then the church would see whom God approved of leading them, the persuasive new people or the one God used from the start to grow these people into a community of faith.  Paul says there is one distinction that will settle the argument once-and-for-all.  One very exciting thing that separates the pretenders from the overcomers!

These two passages seem unrelated.  They are from vastly different periods in history.  They are separated by at least 1,500 years.  However, when put in the context of our meeting and read back-to-back a crystal clear message appears; a message of hope for those who need healing.

I will continue this in another post Healing Power Part II. I will explain how these two stories are connected and what that might mean for us as a group dependent upon God for our healing.

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