The Healer or the Healing

Pain is universal, unavoidable and timeless. As we follow through the scriptures, it is evident that pain has always and will always be there. In fact, Isaiah the prophet foretells of the coming King and what His assignment would be.

In Isaiah 61:1, he declares that Christ has come to heal the brokenhearted and comfort those who mourn. To this end, one of the first and frequent wonders that Jesus performed was the healing of the sick restoring infirmities, deformities and bringing back wholeness on behalf of those desperately seeking relief for their beloveds or for themselves. Healing is a gift, a ministry and blessing of God to His people. According to the laws of Moses, it is a covenant right!

Reading About Healing

Let’s reflect, and maybe try to visualize this healing scene in contemporary times. In the book of Luke 5:8 it is possibly a mild to hot day. A young man is being carried through the streets of Galilee. He is on a stretcher thirsty, physically in pain, and emotionally tormented by guilt. His friends are determined to help him receive the help he needs. They have probably watched him in agony for some time. Until, one day they decide that it is enough!

Today, they decide to go see a man they heard heals people and beg him for a miracle. Without haste, they fasten their sandal straps and hurry along. It’s packed! There is no way they will see the Messiah. So they figure out another way, another plan. It will have to be through the roof! It’s the only way to show the urgency of the case. Yes, yes…a show stopper. A grand entrance!

The Audacity of Faith

Through this story we see that true faith is audacious! In fact, Jesus was well pleased with their audacity to break all protocol just to get to Him. Sometimes, when we need help neither pride nor timidity will do the job. We can only receive when we believe that He is able and willing. Jesus has come to alleviate pain and restore us into glory. Sin has made provision for broken hearts, broken families, unhealthy minds, disease and ailments. But, Jesus is our healer. This scenario challenges our faith and choice of friends. We need to come believing that He can and then He will. We have to try! Even when it seems impossible.

Perhaps, you are reading this and wondering if your heart will ever be whole again? Maybe it’s a physical condition or deformity that has become your identity? Are you tormented with thoughts you’d rather not think of? Jesus can heal your both and your mind replacing your negative imaginations with a peace that passes all understanding.

The Power of Belief

Oftentimes people struggle with believing in God. If they do it may be with a fraction of doubt or despair. The bible says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). The man at the pool of Bethesda for years watched as others jumped into the water being stirred by the angel for healing. He watched in despair knowing that with his disability he’d never be able overtake others. I can’t even begin to imagine his disposition at the time. Was he even mobile or stuck?

Jesus came to him and asked, if he wanted to be healed. What a rhetorical question. If it wasn’t Jesus asking I’d regard the question as patronizing. However, Jesus wanted the man to review His faith and believe. Is it healing he wants or does he hope to get carried to the front of the queue. So I ask you too, dear friend, are you ready for healing? Have you imagined a life outside of the prison of infirmity? Do you want Jesus to make you whole or will you settle for any kind of quick relief?

Healing or the Healer

Shame, misconceptions and biblical ignorance are only 3 of the many hindrances to total deliverance. It’s not just in the visible result but the depths of the heart and the ways of the mind? Are you set free from strongholds? Those mindsets that keep you in cycles of stagnation. Are you stuck?

Is it healing you want or the healer?

When Jesus healed the man on the stretcher, he said “sin no more.” This scripture reveals that his condition was the symptom of a deeper heart iniquity. Unless Jesus had addressed the root, this young man would have soon found himself, again, bed ridden and bound by condemnation.

The healer liberates us totally. He never belittles or disgraces us. Jesus the healer simply wants you to be whole. From within to the outside. It is Jesus we need, when we have him we have an eternal and consistent source of freedom. The path of His healing is when we accept Him first as our Lord and savior.

He is the cure. The antidote. The prevention. The solution. All He asks is that we believe he can do it. Years of hoping may cause us to doubt His goodness towards us. Maybe even cause us to be in despair. But today, I encourage you to receive this invitation to a place called Hope. Despite all your mistakes, sins and bad decisions. Jesus heals. In stead of just seeking your healing, seek after the healer.

 

 




The Divine Equation

Somehow, someway, I convinced myself that the further along I got in my spiritual journey the less and less I’d need God.

It got to the point where life was testing my theory and I had to ask myself a question that I believe we all should ask: what if we need Yahweh just the same on any given day? On days that are sunny and warm, gloomy and cold; tranquil and easy, and arduous and difficult, what if we need God in the same way everyday? Now, it’s easy to read that and think, “yes, absolutely, we need God all days no matter the kind.” But while we might say that do we really believe it?

My Saving Account

Often, we try to quantify our need for God. “Maybe if I go through X amount of pain in addition to Y amount of sorrow divided by exhaustion and finally multiplied by ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ then that will equate to my needing God.” It’s almost like we think we have a saving account. An account that keeps track of the number and kind of life experiences that will produce our needing to be saved by God. But is that really the key? Is it only when we have reached the end of ourselves and are in utter despair that we need God? If this is the case, then for what reason would we need God in any other capacity than to help us during our worst moments in life?

Measuring What Can’t Be Counted

As human beings, we thrive on quantification. To help keep track of events, moments, responsibilities and more, we use time. Money helps us buy and trade. And we use age to remind us of the maturation process that happens daily, physically and emotionally. Quantification puts us in a position to better control what might come ahead. It allows us to feel more aware, equipped and prepared.

Now, don’t get me wrong, quantification can be a very good thing, however we run into an issue when we try to quantify something that at its very core cannot be calculated or boxed into a simple equation.

We need God for our condition and not just for our day to day mistakes.

Quantity vs Quality

In Mark 14 we find Peter, a disciple who was loyal and extremely committed to Christ. So to hear the words, “Truly I tell you, today- yes, tonight- before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times,” was unfathomable to him! How could he betray the one whom he left everything for?

“Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you’” (Mark 14:31). Everyone figured, if there was anyone who would remain true, it would be him.

Later on in the story, Peter is faced with the very situation that Christ forewarned. There, in the presence of those who already knew his truth, Peter denied his association with Jesus. Realizing the fulfillment of what the Savior said about him, verse 72 says that, “He broke down and wept.”

If Peter claimed true loyalty, then why did he deny Jesus? Did he not have enough loyalty to sustain him in that moment? Did he not have enough courage to speak his truth? Here we see that Peter’s issue wasn’t the quantity of his loyalty, but the quality of his loyalty.

When Will Power Isn’t Enough

But Peter is not the only one whose will power fell short. While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus brought only three disciples with him: James, John and Peter. He asked them to keep watch and to pray (Mark 14:34). When Jesus returned He found all three disciples asleep. Waking them He asks again if they will keep watch and pray. And specifically, He calls to Peter to remain awake and pray. Soon, Christ returns and finds them all asleep, again.

All three disciples, especially Peter, needed that time of prayer to prepare them to receive the kind of strength needed to overcome their flesh whenever they would hit a weak moment. Peter didn’t need more strength, Peter needed a different kind of strength. Peter needed the strength that comes, “not by power, nor by might, but by [His] Spirit” (Zechariah 4:10).

It was because of Peter’s quantification of his loyalty, that he did not stay up to pray. Peter believed that his loyalty would be enough to sustain him, even in his weakest moments. The problem with that assumption is that it didn’t take into consideration his sinful nature.

The Divine Equation

Anyone who has accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior has committed to loving and following Him. Such a decision inherently suggests that in your heart you are deeply loyal to God.

But the truth of the matter is that in our weakest moments our sinful nature will always over power our loyalty when our loyalty is not empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We must lay aside our assessment of how loyal, obedient, believing, faithful, or committed we think we are. It is crucial that we accept that we do not have a quantity issue, but a quality issue. And this quality issue is that our condition is sinful.

No matter how much we decide to sin or not to sin, we will still be sinful. To be sinful is not a matter of quantity, but quality.

When we try to assess our condition as being quantifiable, we run into the issue of adding up our good actions in hopes that they will cancel out our bad ones.

But despite Sin’s complexities, we know that this condition, this illness (Romans 3), is rectified not by what we do, but instead by who can do. Our issue isn’t that we need a collection of whats to cover our lack. No, we need a who; someone that will dwell in us and work through us daily.

Society will tell you that our good behavior is the sum of our experiences multiplied by our good nature. But that equation always falls short. We simply don’t have an inherently good nature. Paul says it like this: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18 ESV). In other words, we need God’s divine equation. His divine equation says that the sum of Christ’s life multiplied by His death on the cross plus our faith equals His righteousness credited to us as our own. When we accept God’s divine equation by faith it is then that we receive the power to produce the fruit of His spirit, fruit that is pleasing to God.

In other words, we need God in everything and for everything.

As you continue to reflect on these thoughts I invite you to sit with this question:

What can I incorporate within my day, no matter the circumstance, that will help remind me that I always need God?




Surrender Your Complacency

The Gospel According to Paul: Keep Surrendering in Faith and Be Transformed. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, May 3, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.03.2018” on Spreaker.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1–2).

Surrender Your Best To Him

God has done so much for us, in giving us His Son as our substitute. His gift means we will not need to die for our sins. It is reasonable, therefore, that we should present ourselves to God. It’s the least we can do to surrender our best for His service.

For some reason, we lay back when we achieve a certain level of success or blessings; it’s called, “resting on your laurels.” Complacency is the killer of progress and momentum. It causes us to deceive ourselves into believing that if we take a break from whatever got us into the positive position, we can pick up where we left off. Not only is this untrue in the secular world, but it is also untrue, and more so, in the spiritual world.

Faith in Full Force

If you wish to be spiritually successful and have a thriving relationship with God, retain the zeal of your first love with God, and the habits that drove you closest to Him in the first place. You entered your relationship with Him through faith. Continually submit yourself to God through the same brand of faith until Jesus returns.

Never underestimate truehearted commitment to God. We are to be diligent in presenting our bodies to God. Any trend that we cling to that impairs our judgment or health must be completely abandoned. God does not accept lame sacrifices.

In our day, a lame sacrifice is when we neglect to follow God’s laws of nature and health yet proclaim full surrender to God. A lame sacrifice is what we are when we feed our bodies with unhealthful foods and drinks. We are lame sacrifices when we do not do all we can to preserve health according to all God has revealed in Scripture.

Transformational Power

Our merciful God has given all to us, even to the point of giving us His dear Son to save us from our sins. When we continually surrender all to Him, we can expect transformational power. We can expect not to be squeezed into the world’s mold. And as we experience this transformational power, we become examples of God’s ability to make us holy, just, and good. We become examples of His power to make us all that is well-pleasing and perfect, according to His will.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Listening

The Gospel According to Paul: Faith Comes by Listening to the Word of God. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.02.2018” on Spreaker.

“…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

The Voices in Your Head

To what are you listening? Are you listening to the voices of naysayers who don’t have your best interest at heart? Do you immerse yourself in the news which seems to find pleasure in sensationalizing tragedy? Are you listening to your doubts and fears? Are you listening to reflections of unresolved emotional pain?

With all of the many voices vying for our attention, it is difficult to pull away and listen for the voice of the Creator at times. While the whirlwind of wars, political infighting, economic ups and downs, swirl about us, it takes extreme discipline a fortitude to draw aside to give a keen ear to what God has to say. While others are typing away with their thumbs in social media, speaking away with the many podcasts, and publishing away, the many books that may not be as edifying as we had hoped, our God has something to say. Are you willing to listen?

Faith Comes by Hearing

The keys to all of the world’s woes are in the Word of God. Faith comes through hearing the God’s Word. The ancient Jewish mindset, which I am adopting was that hearing and doing were synonymous. This is why some would literally stop up their ears when they were unwilling to do what was being said.

Let me ask you again: “To what are you listening?” If you find that you are in need of encouragement, guidance, wisdom, comfort, peace, and instruction in righteousness, hear and do God’s Word. Establish a pattern of asking God to write His Words into your lifestyle and habits. Ask Him to teach you truth, make you more loving and kind, and to surrender your all to Him. If you do this consistently, be on the lookout for power you may have never experienced before in your life. Give thanks that God is still willing to speak life into you so you can be saved.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Simple Salvation

The Gospel According to Paul: Un-complicate Your Idea of Salvation. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.01.2018” on Spreaker.

“…The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:8–13).

Simple Qualifications

Sometimes we make the gospel of Christ really complicated. We complicate love. We complicate grace. We complicate mercy. We complicate law-keeping. We complicate forgiveness. We complicate cleansing from all unrighteousness. It is so unnecessary. God’s Word, and His great and precious promises are for us and our children if we will simply have faith in God to believe He will do what He says He will do!

When Paul was addressing his readers in Romans 10, he was doing his best to un-complicate the matter of salvation. Some of his brothers who were born Israelites still tried to qualify themselves for heaven even after Messiah had come. Some of them still attempted to establish righteousness upon their own standards, and tried to accomplish them in their own strength. That’s at least two problems, in case you missed it.

His Failsafe

God’s claim upon all humanity is that we must keep the law perfectly or face the consequences of failing. So, if you wish to attempt this feat in your own strength, you will bear the consequences. However, those who keep faith in Christ, and surrender their all to Him, receive the power to do all God commands, and if they make a mistake along the way, they have the advocacy of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all unrighteousness.

The truth is that God’s truth is near to us in His Word. We don’t need to fly to some new realm to discover salvation’s secret code. We don’t need to commission a deep sea expedition to find treasures of a buried city to find the secret. And we don’t have to be born Israelites. If we are going to be saved, we will be saved on the same basis: by the power of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Consider Yourself Empowered

If we believe this with all our hearts and agree with God on this, we absolutely will be saved. Saved people, by virtue of the Holy Spirit’s power that resides in them will invariably do God’s will. Why? Where the Spirit abides, He provides strength to accomplish that which human effort will always fail to accomplish. What is impossible with human effort is more than possible with God.

Don’t complicate salvation. It’s free. It’s empowering. Those who receive it by faith become responsible citizens of the kingdom, while we sojourn in this world.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Surrender: How Your Faith Works

The Gospel According to Paul: Use Your Faith in Surrender. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, April 22, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 04.22.2018” on Spreaker.

“Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin”” (Romans 4:1–8, NLT).

Faith Works!

True faith in God is a connection to His power, which He shares through this vehicle called faith, with those whose faith it is. Faith connects to the power of God and acts as a conduit to empower those who possess it to do all that God commands.

As we have said before, in our own strength it is literally impossible for us to generate the kinds of good works that register in heaven as worthy of eternal life. The only kind of works that register in heaven are those that are a byproduct or outgrowth of the faith connection with the only one who perfectly obeyed God’s law His entire life, without fail, Jesus Christ.

We surrender to God that measure of faith that He gives us. Through saving faith in Him, He empowers us transform. If we live like Jesus, we manifest this reality. Those who do not live like Jesus lived are not full of faith. If they are not not full of faith, they lack connection to the power of God. Those who are not connected to the power of God literally cannot please Him.

I feel like I am communicating like Paul, in all of his complex communication. Let’s shift gears.

Rightful Expectation of the Sinner

I would like to assume the communication style of John, the One whom Jesus loved. Let’s keep it real simple and loving, shall we?

If you have a job and get paid for it, your company or organization owes you your wages. When they pay you, you can say they owed you your wages. Why? People must get paid for what they do. In eternal things, God only owes us eternal death. Why? All of us have sinned. Sinners must die. The blessing is that God loves us so much that He gave us a powerful tool called faith. Faith links us to Him when we exercise it. Through the faith link, God sends power to do His will. Whenever we do His will, in the best way we know how, and when we make mistakes we confess and forsake our sins, God pays us for what Jesus did. Do you see the difference? God pays those who have faith in Him, for what Jesus is worthy of.

Covered by Jesus

Let’s super simplify, in closing. Anything we do in our own strength is polluted and worthy of punishment; even what appears to be good. When we surrender ourselves to God completely, by faith, God covers us with Jesus’ perfect life while we learn to do His will, turn away from our sins, and finally live exactly like Jesus did when He was living down here. This is the blessing Abraham, the father of our faith experienced, and we can too.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Walk With Jesus When It’s Cool, And When It’s Not

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, February 27, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 02.27.2017” on Spreaker.

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30–31).

All Talk?

Don’t just talk about it. Be about it. It is easy to talk a good game when it comes to living a holy life, but living the reality is an entirely different thing. How we relate to Christ makes all the difference in the world.

We are living in a time when it has become popular to be a Christian. We can fill stadiums with people for our seminars, hold web conferences with thousands of participants, advertise mission trips to the far reaches of the globe in mainstream media, and even have open Bible discussions during political debates. Yet, there is an eerie conflict between what we say and what we do. The problem is not with our assent to faith or our profession; it’s with our lip-syncing the message when people are watching. If we would begin to live the message of Christ in all authenticity, rather than relying on the display and pomp of broadcasting true words, we would hasten the coming of our Lord and change the world in the process.

Walk The Walk With Jesus

Do you realize how vital Jesus is to us? The Bible says He is our wisdom. Do you remember that when you lack wisdom at work, home, or in school? When you need help solving life’s problems, do you pray for Jesus to flood your mind with His essence? Do you surrender your confusion in exchange for His clarity in both the complex and mundane things of life?

The Bible says that Jesus is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. When you sin, do you pray for God to deliver you and give you the righteousness of Christ? Do you study His life and ask for His presence so you can follow His example? Do you give thanks always that He gave His life for you? How does this impact your relationships? Does it make you more loving, kind, generous, understanding, and patient?

Don’t be fooled by our ability to put on a good show and feel great doing it. Don’t let the fact that we can freely say, “Jesus” in a sentence lull you into complacency. Don’t let outward profession or assent to truth replace deep yearning for relationship with God and a willingness to do all He commands. It’s easy to talk the Christian talk, but divine to walk it.




Super Shield

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, March 24, 2016

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16).

Armour of God tileGo back and read that verse. Did you notice anything strange? The darts that Satan launches at us are on fire! As if shooting exceedingly sharp arrows at us were not bad enough, the arrows that are coming our way are on fire.

When warriors of the Bible times shot arrows at their enemies, they often intensified the situation with juniper coals, which were of such quality as to create intensely hot fire when set ablaze (Psalms 120:4). I’m figuring that made a mess wherever it struck. Homes, crops, livestock, and people were all at risk for destruction. What the sharpness of the arrow did not destroy, the fire would certainly do the trick. So the well-equipped soldier has a shield and/or shield bearer to nullify the fiery darts of their enemies.

Do you feel assailed by the fiery darts of trials, tribulations, and temptations? Do you have the equipment to nullify their effects? The Bible says that a well-equipped soldier has faith as a shield. John said it this way: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4–5). Further, Paul said we are to be always “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). Faith, which has the ability to lay hold of the power of God, energizes us with the ability to overcome any fiery trial that comes our way. Jesus is the Originator and Perfecter of our faith.

Do you have your armor on?