Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hard to believe, Part 3:

In the last post, I discussed the issue of how evil affects healing. This should be obvious to anyone who reads the Bible:
When Jesus was here on earth, He healed everyone who came to Him, and several times, when he came into contact with people who'd died, he raised those people from the dead (see John 11); demons cried out, and came out of the people who had suffered their invasions; people who were blind and lame were healed; folks with terrible skin diseases got well immediately; folks whose minds were broken (NOT the same as demonization) were instantly healed; folks with fevers, destructive bacterial or viral didn't matter. Disease was nearly eradicated from the areas in which Jesus ministered. Why? because HE had power over the powers of evil that rule our earth so effectively. In fact, Jesus confirms this thought in Luke chapter 10 when he says of the disciples' preaching and healing mission, "I beheld Satan fall as lightning from heaven..." (Luke 10:18)...

So what happened? Is the whole idea of Christian healing dead now? Did God somehow die in the centuries after Jesus' resurrection? NO. God does still heal people. However, the ministry of healing in the Western Christian world is exceedingly difficult to develop, due to several things--which I've learned the hard way:
1. It's a free service. The MINUTE you ask for money, or glory, or something for yourself, any "anointing" you may have had disappears immediately.
2. We Christians really don't believe in God in the same way the apostles did. THEY performed miracles of healing quite regularly. Their spiritual powers were not diminished, and they (as they tell us over and over again), were just men. The difference? They were men and women who were completely in tune with the Spirit, and who followed His dictates.
3. Continuing #2, most Christians have a very rationalistic worldview--which means that the world of the supernatural is relegated to the future and does not enter the present, except in times of crisis, if then. We are therefore not emotionally, intellectually and spiritually prepared to involve ourselves with the totality of the world, which includes the spiritual / supernatural world as well as the physical world. This is why Christians often laugh at such things as witchcraft and the like.
4. Jesus counseled us to "believe in God," and all things would be possible--yet even He experienced the restrictions imposed by the will of God, and He tells us so: "The Son can only do what He sees the Father doing..." (John 5:19-20). In other words, and very candidly, many of us can't do anything because we can't see what the Father is doing. It could be that the Son had visions of what the Father was doing, and so knew exactly what to do in each situation.
5. We bought the lie that medicine replaced miracle. It did not. I am definitely not opposed to doctors. I am writing this today because I can see, which is the result of cataract surgeries. I had to have those to see. So medicine could be in your future. However, you are not limited to medical intervention. God is your only limiting factor.
6. Sometimes we are just not willing to accept the will of God regarding our lives. He may desire for you to come home, and whatever you're experiencing could be the result of an unchallengeable decision on His part. However, I believe many people accept what they think is "the inevitable" when they really are not meant to do so.
7. Death is not really a problem for the Christian. Martin Luther said that to the Christian, death is like someone who brings out your horse, saddles it up for you, gets you seated on the saddle, and sends you off for the ride of your life. Much of our difficulty with the end of life is that we don't have a firm grasp on the future that is ours, and the home we have in heaven.

So...Are you sick today? need someone to pray for you?
Here's the counsel of a great New Testament writer:
(James 5:14 and following):
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Closing counsel: If you're going to do this, be sure you ask someone who believes that God acts in the present, and that He's not just a religious construct or anachronism--someone who does believe that He heals, and puts no fetters on His mighty power.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hard to believe, Part 2...

When God does not answer prayer the way we want, we often get conflicted Frustrated. Angry. Miserable. Unhappy.
Of course, He didn't exactly promise to answer prayer the way we want Him to answer;
John says, "If we make any petition according to His will...He answers..." this can be a bit confusing, since we don't always know His will, and sometimes really don't care. We just want what we want. This is especially true when we pray for healing for someone we love (or ourselves), or for relief from mental or physical pain. It actually hurts, sometimes, when I see someone else going through pain, and I could stop it, if I could just get God's attention.

I have learned, though, that when we think God is not listening, He is. He just has his own will in any given situation--and sometimes, even though God rules the world and has all power, He allows Satan to work. The reason? Part of it is mystery, of course, but much of it is that Satan does have power  to some degree over things on earth. Think of ISIS. Do you think that organization is God's will? NO. However, He will use that evil organization in His own way to alter the course of history and bring about His Kingdom. Think of all the murders and evil done in the name of this or that organization. There you see Satan at work as the Destroyer and the Thief and the Liar. These evils work their way down into common life, and eventually into our lives, so that many of the things that happen to US happen because of evil. An unconquerable illness. A sudden death. A wrong-way driver, who "just happened" to be under the influence of alcohol. A drive by shooting. A Doctor who doesn't care. Are these all God's will? NO. For the people who did the evil, their evil was certainly not God's will, for He commands them NOT to do it.
However, God does incorporate them into His plan, and causes everything to work for good--if you love Him (see Romans 8:28). This is not a cop-out. It's a promise that things will be different. You see, Christians live in the future as well as the present, and God has promised us the future. No conditions, other than your faith in Jesus Christ, and that you follow Him. We all know that the present can become pretty bad--but think of the future, and what God has said to you about that. That will be a future free of evil and all its effects--a new world, in which righteousness dwells. 

Hard to believe...

Matthew 13:57 says, "he [Jesus] could not do many works of power there because of their unbelief. "
My thoughts go back to a contrasting statement, made many were ago, outside of church--
"if she had faith, she  could be healed."
These words were said to me (pastor) by a new attendee, regarding a lovely quadriplegic lady who attended  our church. I've thought about this a great deal  over the past couple of decades. The lady referred to is gone now, with the Lord. She never recovered from her illness. Though we all prayed for her, and fasted and prayed for her multiple times. I DO believe in God's healing and I've seen Him heal people on numerous occasions, but when I think of the verse quoted above, it hurts, because it's clear to me that my prayers (and  those of our congregation) didn't have the effect we all hoped--but most of all, this member of our congregation died in a hospital bed, unhealed.
Why was this? Was it because I was not qualified to pray for her? Was it because none of us had sufficient faith? Was it something unknown? Why?
These are questions virtually every Christian asks at some time in his life. The longer any of us lives, the more likely they'll ask them, because all of us have lots of unanswered prayers. Some of these are the most important prayers we've ever offered to the Lord. It hurts terribly when they go unanswered. I could list my own unanswered prayers, but you all have your own, and they are probably in the forefront of your mind, so I'll refrain.
Why doesn't God answer prayers? Why do things sometimes appear to go just the opposite of the way we pray?
First, let me say that I  can only speak generally. I'm not going to "cop out," either, and say "the age of miracles is over." That's a non-answer, and begs the question, since there is no evidence for that in Scripture. Moreover, I've seen my share of miracles, so....  Let me also say that you're not going to be completely satisfied with the answers I give, because what God does is always a mystery, and His ways are undiscoverable. However, I will be honest about what I know.