Opportunity

Jesus was all about restoration. Doctor Luke tells us about the condition of a woman who needed physical restoration. “… a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.”

How much of the ills of today are the cause of “spirits?” In this journey of faith there is always the opportunity for that voice in my head to say something like ‘You are weak’ or ‘You are not good enough.’ We have been given the ability to make choices by our Creator. We have the God-ordained ability to choose between right and wrong, between truth and lies; whether to seek truth or deception. However, those choices, can open the door for “spirits” to invade our thinking and impact our physical welfare. God has permitted us to choose evil. Those choices if made outside of God’s intention for us, can allow demons to act on and in our physical bodies. Think about it. If it happened in Jesus’ day, what prevents that from happening today. Unaccountable or inexplicable mental disorders … are they still coming from the same source?

We have the ability to make choices that enslave us. The results of our choices made from our own independence and arrogance will lead to slavery of addictions and deep seated irrational fears. There is hope. But we have to look in the right place. Our own counsel will entrap us. God wants desperately for us to be free but He will not violate our independence. The Apostle Paul counseled the Roman Christ-followers in Roman that: The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son ship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” [Romans 8:15] Freedom of all kinds is what God has intended for us since His creation started.

What happened to the woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years? Doctor Luke tells us that Jesus: “Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” In order for me to implement change in another, I need to be like Jesus. I need to be consecrated, aligned and rejoicing in the partnership that I am privileged to have with Jesus. That is the faith part. If I am a prince of the Most High, if I am part of the Royal Priesthood, then I need to speak with authority that my position requires. Be prepared because people will push back. The starting place for an authoritative prayer is the prayer Jesus taught prayed over another. Faith keeps asking: “Why not today?”

 

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Songwriters
KOCH, DONALD A. / CRAIG, ANDREW SHAWN

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

 

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As it is …

“The essence of healing prayer is to bring the presence of Jesus into the afflicted places, for we are restored through union with him.”

I am asking myself this question: what is the purpose of prayer? Ed Noble, the senior pastor of the church I attend defines prayer this way: “The essence of healing prayer is to bring the presence of Jesus into the afflicted places, for we are restored through union with him.” It seems important that God wants us to move forward in our ability to communicate with Him. If that is a correct definition, then I need to take my prayers to the next level and learn how things work in God’s kingdom in this critical area.  

 Restoration, peace and healing are possible and that’s one HUGE reason I want to pray!  Restoration is what God is all about as His “kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.”  I find myself in need of inner healing, physical healing and warfare healing. It is when I get out of my egocentricity and ask God “what’s going on here?” that I participate with God in what He wants to do. That is when I contend for freedom of all kinds because that is God’s will for all of us.

In the very beginning of human history, God creates man in a perfect environment—the earth, where in the start of time, the kingdom of God reigns.  Man chooses to rebel against Him.  We have handed our lives, the earth and the history of the human race over to the evil one.  This earth is now in the Genesis 3 domain of the evil one and we and our world are broken.  All our misery flows from this brokenness and/or the direct influence of the evil forces to whom we gave our authority. But God intervened. He sent His Son to redeem us and restore us.  He is bringing His kingdom back to earth where His will is done here “as it is in heaven.”  He invites us to participate with Him.  We find ourselves in the middle of an epic war for the human race and the planet as we partner with Jesus in the battle for the restoration of His kingdom on earth. 

Here is Doctor Luke’s account of one such restoration. “And He was doing some teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day. And behold. A woman had a spirit that caused an infirmity eighteen years and was completely bent together by a curvature of the spine, and was not able to raise herself up at all. And having seen her, Jesus called her and said to her, Woman, you have been released from your infirmity, and the cure is permanent. And He placed His hands on her. And immediately she was restored to an erect position. And she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answering, being indignant that on the Sabbath Jesus had healed, was saying to the crowd, Six days there are during which it is right and proper to accomplish things. In them therefore you should come and be healed, and not on the day of the Sabbath. But the Lord answered him and said, Actors on the stage of life, playing the role of that which you are not, does not each one of you on the Sabbath release his ox or his donkey from the feeding-trough and lead it off to give it a drink? And this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan bound, just think of it, eighteen years, was it not a necessity in the nature of the case that she be released from this binding restriction on the Sabbath? And while He was saying these things, all those who had opposed Him blushed for shame. And the entire crowd went to rejoicing because of all the glorious things which were being done by Him. [Luke 13:10-17 WUEST]

The ‘religious right’ demonstrate by their suggestion that things that were not in line with the kingdom of God.  Jesus did things here on earth as they are in heaven. They argued about the point of law regarding when work should be done. But the Sabbath was the only time that Jesus went into the temple. So how could the woman obtain healing from Jesus other than on the Sabbath? Sadly, the synagogue official was doing what came natural … protecting the synagogue … the same way that mis-guided Christians do today with the church. We get so wrapped up in protocol that we miss the opportunities that are there where the Spirit of Jesus can minister.

Jesus was more interested in restoring people than in following some protocol that superseded God’s intention of bringing healing through His Son Jesus. Jesus spoke to the woman who was probably shunned due to her affliction. Many would be following the cultural myth that she was in that condition due to some sin on her part. Jesus broke the protocol of men in the synagogue to do the will of God. The will of the Father is not in the rules and regulations set up by men but in the ability to listen to God and then go and do what He says. The enemy of God wants us to focus on protocol so that we miss what God is setting in front of us to do in bringing the kingdom of God to those in desperate need of healing.  Since Jesus knew the cultural norm for working on Sabbath [‘Sunday’] I have to ask myself why do you suppose Jesus didn’t wait until the end of Sabbath to heal this woman? Looking at His ministry, Jesus did things not out of convenience but from God’s time table. Jesus was demonstrating this principle so that all would see the hypocrisy of this synagogue rule and bring focus to where the real issue lays. 

As I have read and studied the Scriptures, the story of Gideon reflects where the presence of Jesus restored and healed someone wounded or broken.  Gideon’s story is powerful because Jesus spoke to his fear without speaking to it directly. “Greetings mighty warrior!” That spoken to a man hiding in a wine vat quietly winnowing out wheat so that the enemies would not hear or see him. He was not the image of a warrior. Possibly the first question he asked of himself was “What’s going on here?” We need to be asking God the same question. However, we need to be expecting an answer. And we need to be open to hearing the truth about ourselves. Sometimes when I ask that question I get pushback. The enemy will whisper things like: “This is such a ridiculous question.” Or: “Why would God speak to you?” Or: “You’re not worthy.” 

If we are to participate with God in healing then we need to be declaring that Jesus paid a price for us and that our whole self belongs to God. I think that all to often we have made agreements in our hearts that contradict the truth about God and His kingdom? For example: “I’m always going to be sick.” Or: “I’m always going to be depressed.” Or: “God doesn’t do things like this for me.” Or: “God doesn’t care about this particular problem.”

Maybe it is time for you to invoke the presence and life of the kingdom of God. Maybe it is time for you to pray earnestly first “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done HERE and NOW.” Write out this model prayer that Jesus left with us in your own words. Remind yourself that God’s will is to bring you freedom.

Comments? I would love to hear them!

 

Withered

I need to wake up. It is not all about how warm and fuzzy I feel during worship in a place of safety and aesthetically pleasing surroundings.

The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree – Mark 11:23-24
“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
I would not have expected this statement. Is it true? I must say that it is inspiring. Where is the “But”? Jesus made this statement as a carpenter. Everything that Jesus did on earth he did as a man fashioned just like me. When he was building stuff in his father’s shop and hit his thumb with a hammer, it hurt him as much as it would hurt me. When consider this startling statement, maybe Jesus is moving me out of low-grade praying. Maybe He is moving me toward elevated prayers. Is this sort of prayer possible coming from my level of confidence?
As with all things originating with God, there is a certain way that things work. And there is a way that things will not work. Too often I just assume that God will just do things outside of the way that He designed things to work; including prayer. If I am going to be able to move a mountain, then I need to shift my mindset in a different direction. I need to wake up to the reality of the way that God does things.
Consider this insight that the Spirit of Jesus gave to John in exile: Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Rev 12:7-11 Based on human event thought out time and on the opposition toward Jesus while He was on earth and the opposition thrown against those who follow Jesus, it is hard to argue that there is not some sort of holy war going thought human history. And it is a brutal war. Paul wrote to the house churches in Ephesus: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
I need to wake up. It is not all about how warm and fuzzy I feel during worship in a place of safety and aesthetically pleasing surroundings. The Apostle Peter writes to warn us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1Pe 5:8 In some sense, that adversary is not something in a red suit with horns. It can be seen in our culture where to stand up for biblical principles is to invite an onslaught of hate-filled opposition. There is no room for ‘agreeing to disagree’ but if you do not agree you are labeled with ugly names and having no value to society.
Part of the mind-set of growing up is that I need to change how I interact with God. Instead of asking Jesus to do stuff for me, maybe I need to ask Jesus what I can do for Him? Sound familiar? Growing up means understanding things from a different perspective. When I was a child I had no clue why my parents would tell me certain things other than to deprive me of what I wanted. But then when I became a parent it became clearer what they were doing. God wants me to grow up. Again the Apostle Paul puts it succinctly regarding God’s agenda for me: “… to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” But do not look for some magic wand, formula or way of worship to accomplish this. It takes an act of commitment and just like moving from childhood to adulthood, it takes work and learning ‘how stuff works.’
I think the problem is simple and yet difficult. We are invited by Jesus to grow up. We are invited to related to God not as children but as son and daughters. Ask yourself, do you pray as a son or daughter. Do you talk to God the Father as a son or daughter who know their position in the family of God? That is what Jesus was trying to tell His twelve close followers that gave up everything to be like Him. The Apostle relates that one time Jesus told the group that He alone has overcome the opposition in the world: “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. … In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” John 16:24 & 27 In living out life here on earth, we move from childhood to adult. Somewhere in that journey we need to understand and make sure that we are really children of God, related to Jesus by blood and not just by some ecclesiastical name. King David recorded this insight: “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant.”