Friday, April 25, 2014

Healing

I have heard preachers say that Jesus didn't heal everyone. At the pool of Bethesda for instance, he must have stepped over several crippled or sick people to get to the one who had stepped into the pool of water and asked for healing. 

I have also heard preachers say that Jesus did heal everyone who asked. And as I read the accounts of healing in my bible I am inclined to agree. However, in my own lifetime I have asked many times for many healings. There have been times I received healing and times that I haven't. I don't know why that is and it is a question I have asked the Lord many times.

Sometimes the Lord chooses to heal and sometimes he doesn't. We don't see or understand the whole picture. I have prayed fervently for others for healing and the Lord chose to take them home to be with him. Other times he has healed certain ones. I know that Acts 10:34 says, God is no respecter of persons."  He does not show favoritism.  I also know that his ways are not our ways and he is beyond our understanding and comprehension.


If I don't get the answer to my question on this side I tell myself that one day, when I am with the Lord in heaven, I will ask him about it, and surely he will tell me.  Then I realize that once I am with him in heaven I won't care about the answer because it won't be important anymore. What will be important is that I am in his presence.  I must remind myself that this life is not about me, it is about him. It is about his glory.  It is about laying my treasures up in heaven, not on earth.  It is about apprehending what I have been apprehended for.  I remind myself that this life is just a stepping stone to get to eternity.  It's all about Him.  He is Eternal Life.  

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,“Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."  Revelation 21:1-7



Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Simple Gospel


More and more I am becoming convinced that the "simple gospel" really is simple. In my last blog entitled "For God So Loved The World That He Gave...", you can read of how the Lord spoke to my heart regarding his love and blessings and told me to "just receive". It's that simple.

Often christians make spiritual things much harder than they need be, and harder than what even God ever intended. If we fall or "fail" we give ourselves that "spiritual beating" over the back; some of us needing to lash ourselves a specific number of times before we deem that we have received the full measure of our rightly deserved punishment. And we know that when we have beaten ourselves to that degree then justice has been done and God will accept us back as one of his own.

Where do we get those beliefs? They are certainly not biblical. There are countless scriptures speaking of God's love for his children, his mercy, his forgiveness, his long suffering. Often times we enter adulthood unknowingly believing that our Heavenly Father is like our earthly one.

I recall a story told by Corrie Ten Boom from her book ""Father Ten Boom". "Every night before I went to sleep, Father would tuck me in. It was always a private moment for the two of us. I knew that the moment would soon come when he would say, "Correman. Sleep well. God loves you." Then I would feel his big hand on my face. I wanted to preserve that happy feeling, so I did not move. I did not want to lose that comforting touch of Father's big hand.

Fifty years later, I lived in a part of the world where waking up and going to sleep were full of danger. I was in the prison of a cruel enemy, and nobody knew what the guards would do to us during the day or night.

I would close my eyes at night and say, "Heavenly Father, lay your big hand on my little face for a moment." He did, and I would not want to move and lose that comforting touch of my heavenly Father's hand.

Because Father showed his love to me, he trained me to understand something of our heavenly Father's love. That was preparation for living. If you are a parent of a little child, please show him your earthly love. You will help him to understand our heavenly Father's love when he needs it."

I would like to focus now on John 21:15-7. "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."

I believe that today the Holy Spirit revealed to me a deeper meaning in this passage than I've ever seen before. Why, after changing his name from Simon to Peter, (Matthew 16:18) did Jesus revert back to calling him Simon in this passage? And why, would Jesus ask Simon the same question three times?

What the Lord showed me is much simpler than anything I might have guessed. Jesus asked Simon the same question three times to get the same answer three times. "Yes, I do love you."

It is not a coincidence that Peter denied Jesus three times and Jesus asked him three times "do you love me." He was showing Simon that he had forgiven him his sin of denial. The reason Jesus originally changed Simon's name to Peter was because Simon had declared that Jesus was the Christ. This pleased Jesus that the Holy Spirit had revealed that truth to Simon, and so declared that from then on he would be called Peter, meaning "the rock." And of course Jesus said, "it is on this rock (or truth) that I build my church."

So Jesus would build his church on the truth (rock) that came from Peter's mouth.

When Jesus addressed him as Simon and asked "do you love me", I believe he was making a point. He was using the name given Simon before Jesus had been so pleased with him, therefore showing his forgiveness. It was like saying, "Even though you denied me three times after having the truth of who I am revealed to you, I still forgive you." He communicated that to Peter not just once; not twice, but three times, showing Peter (and us) that he is able and willing to forgive as many times as we sin against him.

And some might say, "Can it really be that simple?" The answer is yes. It can. And it seems that since Jesus will forgive us 70 x 7, that that would negate the necessity of those self inflicted spiritual lashes.

God wants us to come to him as a little child with that kind of simple, childlike faith. I will end this post with one more story from Corrie's book, "Father Ten Boom."

"A traveler in Armenia crossed the country in search of rare plants and flowers. On one of his trips he noticed, in a deep cleft of a rock, a flower of such rarity and beauty that he decided to pick it, whatever it might cost him.

But how could he do it? The sides of the rocks were so steep that it was impossible to climb down to where the flower was. The only way would be to let someone down into the crevice on a rope. But who would risk his life to do that?

After some searching, he found a boy and asked him to go down and pick the flower for a good sum of money. He encouraged the boy by saying, "I will hold the rope very firmly."

But the boy shook his head. "I would not do that for all the money in the world! However, if my father comes to hold the rope, I will do it."

It is simple. Trust and believe that God means what he says in his word about his love for you; that he means what he says about his mercy and grace and forgiveness. That he means what he says about being slow to anger and long suffering; that his mercy endures forever. Like the little boy who knew he could trust his father to hold the rope. It's that simple.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

For God So Loved the World That He GAVE...

I have been facilitating a women's bible study and we are currently studying the book of Acts.  Last week we reviewed the last few passages of Acts chapter 4 and then looked at chapter 5.  One of the many things we discussed was chapter 4:34-37.

"Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.   And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet." 

I have walked in Christian circles for nearly 40 years.  Only recently have I met a body of people who move in such a manner as the brethren in Acts 4 did, willing to give their time, their money, their food, their selves; not only to other brethren in the church, but to the community around them.  I have seen them in action (ACTS-ion) many times. 

My son in-law is the pastor of the church body I mentioned above.  Recently, he, my daughter and their three year old son moved in with my husband and me.  They are occupying the basement portion of the house.  After discussing some extensive renovations, such as installing a second bathroom downstairs, adding walls, installing carpeting, closets, etc, we called one of the men from the church who is a builder to come take a look at what we want and give us an estimate. 

A few days later he called us.  He told us that he, along with the church's board members, had been praying about what they could do to help their pastor and his family.  After he came to look at what we wanted done and give us the estimate, he went to the board members with his idea. 

Like the brethren in Acts 4, they were in one accord.  They decided to buy all the materials necessary for the basement renovations, and to come in and do the work!  All for free. 

We were stunned with the news.  Our family agreed that we have never had a church reach out to us like this body of people does.  Being unacquainted with this kind of generosity towards our family, I repeatedly told the Lord on my way to church that I didn't know what to do with this.  How do I handle this?  I really struggled with not knowing how to accept this gift. 

At the end of our 20 minute ride, just as we were approaching the church, the Lord spoke two words to me.  He said, "Just receive." 

I suddenly had a clearer understanding.  My sin was before me and I wept and wept.  I had forever assumed the role of "giver" and rarely accepted the role of "receiver."  Being a giver, I understand the joy it brings to give to others.  I'm sure you have given a gift and watched the face of the recipient light up with joy.  Isn't that a wonderful feeling?!  Imagine how you would feel if you gave a wonderful gift to someone you love dearly and they refused it.  It would break your heart. 

The Lord has shown me that He is a giver.  And that he takes great delight in giving his children good gifts. 

Luke 12:32  "it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

James 1:17  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father."

John 3:16  "“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son."


Romans 6:23  "the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The scripture list of  God's giving is long.

Yea and Amen brethren.  God is a giver.  Just receive