Healing

A Faithless Man

John 5:2-9, Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

A Different Kind of Miracle

This miracle that Jesus performed is quite different from most others. Why? Because in this miracle the man didn’t profess or demonstrate any faith in Jesus. Yes, the man obeyed Jesus but it’s clear from the text that the healing came before his actions.

Why would the Apostle John include this account in his manuscript? Perhaps because there is something very encouraging in what Jesus demonstrated. We see Jesus healing the unfaithful. Jesus has ALL authority in heaven and on earth, and Christ’s action of healing this man shows that He can and does show pity on the unjust.

A Faithless Man

Do you know anyone that is currently unsaved but has a serious need? Yes? Well, be encouraged, it’s okay to ask God to intervene on their behalf. Certainly, that person’s spiritual condition is, by far, their critical need, but it is okay to ask God to do the miraculous for people that are unsaved, or weak, lacking any meaningful faith in Jesus.

If you read the entire account in John 5:1-17 you’ll see that there is a greater agenda which Jesus had. Still, the fact remains that, on this occasion, Jesus’ power healed a faithless man. Therefore, pray for the needs of others. Pray first for their salvation, but have confidence to pray in the Name of Jesus regarding the problems and illnesses of everyone that God lays on your heart. Don’t shrink back, don’t limit God in what He can do.

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Separation

U-Haul truck

This devotional is quite different from what I usually write. However, I felt that someone needed to read this. Warning: I am not a certified counselor. The following are things that I’ve learned through my many, many moves.

God moves people. Let’s say it’s you. Whether it’s across the city, across the country, or to a different country, often the “left-behinds” feel betrayed or abandoned. After all, you chose your desires over theirs. They have no choice but to deal with separation. It’s different for you because, well, you’re leaving. During our travels, my wife and I left all four parents, numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends, and two of our (grown) kids. However, we were almost always the ones leaving. 

Some Powerful Emotions May Arise

Some powerful emotions usually arise from a pending separation, and those feelings may differ from the emotions the “left-behinds” feel after you’ve moved. The stages of emotions closely track the seven stages of grief. The “left-behinds” start with denial; they often skip the “pain and guilt,” but they barrel right into anger and bargaining. I once was bargained out of a move, and that did not turn out well.

After anger, some “left-behinds” feel depression, especially a close friend or parent. Sadly, some loved ones get stuck on either anger or depression. They never make the upward turn, reimagining their life with you not in it on a daily basis. While some “left-behinds” do reach acceptance, it may take years.

Talk Face-to-Face

The best way to communicate a pending separation is, if possible, through a one-on-one conversation. Let’s face it; when you tell your best friend in the world that you’re going to leave, they won’t take it gracefully. 

In all the pains of life, there is a human need to speak, to get out all of the words boiling inside, and to find some hope to grab hold of. My wife and I have told many people to, “Just puke out your feelings, and we’ll clean the mess up later.” Let the “left-behinds” speak. Don’t interject, don’t quiet their feelings (as long as they haven’t gone postal); just let them grieve.

Kids Need Extra Care

Often, if you’re talking to a child, the hurting child thinks they can’t say what they are feeling for fear of hurting you. Talk with them if you have permission from the child’s parent(s). Help them not to shut down. They need to express their feelings, and you need to be prepared to hear them.

If you or loved ones are facing separation, then be bold. Pray for God’s wisdom and then broach the subject; sooner is better than later, provided it’s a done deal. God is in the business of healing. He can use you to bring healing to a hurting heart.

God’s Wisdom

Proverbs 12:18 (ESV), “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

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Hanging in the balance

house balanced on edge of cliff

I recently read a sermon by Dr. Elliott of Kingswood University. He made a profound statement about pastors. Here’s an excerpt:

On any given Sunday, in addition to being mindful of peoples’ eternal destiny, the survival of a marriage, the possibility of suicide, choices about employment, how someone will deal with bitterness, unforgiveness, financial ruin or an unwanted pregnancy, all may hang in the balance based upon what we say from the pulpit.

Searching For A Person

Dr. Elliott is right. There are desperate needs all around each of us. So many people are on the brink of disaster, and they’re searching for someone that cares about them; those people are us.

As a disciple of Jesus, we need to be bold (not harsh or insincere). Jesus never hesitated to speak to strangers (John 4:1-42) and draw out what troubled them so they could be healed. 

There is an account about the Apostle John that Saint Jerome recorded. It is said that when the Apostle John was very old, he would be carried on a platform to various churches. Each time, the Apostle John preached the same sermon, which was very brief. He would say, “My dear children, love one another.”

Not Just In The Pulpit

One time the Apostle John was asked why he always preached the same sermon. His answer was, “Because it is the precept of the Lord (John 13:34), and if you comply with it, you do enough.” 

It’s not just in the pulpit, but in our daily walk where we rub shoulders with people that are dealing with their eternity, the survival of a marriage, the possibility of suicide, choices about employment, bitterness, unforgiveness, financial ruin, an unwanted pregnancy; all may be hanging in the balance. Jesus said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

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Eye Salve

Much has been preached and written about the Laodician church. One of Christ’s statements to the church of Laodicia was, “I counsel you to buy from Me…salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” (Rev.3:18) A salve is rather amazing to me because it is placed on the surface of our skin but it penetrates through our skin and attacks and kills the bacteria below the surface.

Laodicia’s disease was below the surface. They may have seemed just fine, but they weren’t. The Christians in Laodicia needed to see their true condition, but the they were too blind to see. At one time or another, all of us need Christ Jesus’ eye salve.

The first time Christ’s eye salve is applied to us is when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to ourselves and we see our lost condition for what it is. If we accept Jesus as our Savior, Christ’s eye salve heals our eyes for God’s Word. We see more than just words on a page; as we read we receive Truth through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The fact is, salve heals even what may not be obvious. If you need healing, even for things that others may not see, ask Jesus to apply His eye salve to your eyes. Then look and see the truth of your need. And then, in faith, pray and act. Receive the healing you need.

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Deserts are not just GPS coordinates

a man in a desert

Of all the Eastern European countries that revolted and recovered their countries from Russia, only Romania experienced a bloody revolt with the Romanian army shooting Romanian civilians. 

All the other Eastern European countries succeeded in breaking free through bloodless revolts, but not Romania. Romania’s revolution testifies to the wreckage within Romania at that time. Still, Jesus was already there, for He always has a remnant. Christ also called on His followers from all across the world to come to the aid of this ravaged land.

Deserts

For Christ, the desert’s location is not limited to GPS coordinates. People have faith deserts, addiction deserts, job deserts, broken family deserts, estrangement deserts. It doesn’t matter where our desert is. What matters is who is with us in our wilderness.

As Matthew Henry wrote, “The presence of Christ and his gospel makes a desert place not only tolerable but desirable; it makes the wilderness a [garden of] Eden.” 

Matthew Henry’s reference is to Matthew 14:13-21. This passage records people coming out into the desert to find Jesus and hear Him preach and “he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” 

This gathering of people in the desert is when Jesus took “five loaves of bread and two fish,” thanked His Father, and fed 5,000 men plus the women and children. Jesus met the people’s needs in that desert, and He is ready and able to meet our needs in our desert.

Prayer

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for you did not fail to meet the people’s physical needs after they sacrificed their comfort to feed on You, the “bread of life” (John 6:35). 

You are always aware of humanity’s needs and You are more than able, more than eager, to go beyond what we need (Matthew 14:20) if only we will place our faith entirely in You. 

We must “lean not to our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) for when we trust You, Jesus, our Brother (Hebrews 2:11), then You take care of us even in a “dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1). You turn our wastelands into a Garden of Eden. You do this because, as You said, “He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7).

We rest upon You, our Brother, our Lord, our Savior. Amen

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Demonstrate Jesus to People

God blessed me with the opportunity to play a small part in transitioning some Romanian girls from the pits of desperation to productive lives by learning a trade to earn a living.

Back in the 1990s, we set up a small ministry to help transition older orphans out of Romania’s Orphanages and into Romanian society. We rescued three girls, provided them with supervised housing, and found jobs for them in a bakery where they could develop the skills to be bakers.

The group which we targeted were orphans that were already out of the system and were living in horrible conditions. From that group of three girls, one returned to her old ways while the other two continued for some time, working within the ministry of a local, American missionary. Eventually, the second girl struck out on her own, and the third girl married an American, Christian man and moved to the States.

All three were given the same opportunities, treated the same way, and received individual Christian counseling. Still, one returned to a life of sin, one became a productive member of Romanian society, and one clung to Jesus.

When I first met them, this third girl seemed to be mentally disabled. She spoke very little, was very backward, and even had a kind of blank look on her face. However, we discovered these symptoms were from trauma; Jesus healed her. She eventually became herself; she was a person that loved Jesus.

So, what did we learn from this program? We saw first hand Matthew 13:3-9: Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still, other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

We had three of the four in our small group. We didn’t have the one among thorns. We can’t change people; only God can do that. Still, it’s our job to demonstrate Jesus to people, to give our time, talents, and treasures to reach people for Jesus, and to not just talk about Jesus but to live as Jesus lived; to put everything we have, including life, itself, on the line for Jesus.

In the whole of this world, there is nothing more valuable than a single person being saved by placing their faith in Jesus as the Lord and Savior. We should filter all of our decisions through this truth.

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Why did I not perish at birth?

I wrote this for my kids back in 2016.

Dear Children,

Not everyone can relate to Job’s severe condition, one that compelled him to exclaim, “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:10) But, I can relate. Three times in my life, I’ve reached the emotional and spiritual state where I, too, cried out to God, “Why was I ever born! Why did I survive my birth, or why was I ever conceived?” I said as Job did, “What I feared has come upon me, what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3:25)

Perhaps you cannot relate to these emotions, these innermost thoughts. However, I write this for I am sure there are some, maybe even within my family, that have fought this battle, wrested with this enemy and cried our “What I feared has come up me!

Don’t hide or bury this battle for you will steal away hope for others amid a similar war upon their soul. I am not promoting a constant retelling of your struggle. But, as God places this in your conversation, and your spirit confirms God’s prompting, don’t hide, don’t withhold, don’t steal their hope that Christ put in you for such a time as this.

Whether that person is a friend, family, or stranger, God’s timing is perfect; don’t let it pass you by. Ask and let them pour out their hearts, that disease that is within them. Listen and do not interrupt though you have wisdom, make room for the light of the Holy Spirit to shine within their souls to begin a complete healing. Healing that our words, though thought as valuable to us, may not bring healing to them.

As healing takes place, and it rarely is spontaneous, a person you hardly recognize will emerge. Fear is a cancer of the soul. Loss of trust in Christ is a surrender to God’s enemy. Job said, “I have no peace, no quietness, I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:26) That is how this condition usurps the place of peace, hope, and faith. It carries with it the temptation to abandon God and bow to the enemy.

Curse God and die” (Job 2;9) is the voice of Satan that came from Job’s wife, and those words will come to you from many that council you who are not strong in the Lord. But in God, there is always hope, and He gives liberally to His saints. Relief, renewal, and reward await those who stand the test. That yield not nor bow their knee to our enemy, but stand firm though, in our natural sight, all seems lost, and even God’s people ridicule you, abandon you, or worse.

There is good news, for Jesus, through the Holy Spirit and written by Paul, said: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Through Jesus, we are set free. And, by our Lord and Savior, we have hope, help and holy renewal. Perhaps, we may physically die, but more likely, as did Job, we will be shown the root of our condition and be delivered back to life.

May God bless and keep you all.
Dad

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Healing of the thing within us that we have not perceived as ill.

A breeze is wafting through our home. A breeze! How wonderful to have the windows and doors open, the smell of the new air, the pregnancy of spring, the momentum of increasing activity as neighbors seemingly begin appearing as if awakened from their hibernation.

My granddaughter is discovering our front yard: grass, mud, squiggly things. Her big brother is playing ball while Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa stand and talk gibberish. That’s my granddaughter’s world; she lives in the “now.”

She has scattered memories of yesterday, and the day before and more, stretching back into the mist of her past. She has expectations for today, but none cause her to worry, for there’s an unspoken and inexpressible trust she has in her parents to meet her needs and even more than needs.

The sights and sounds of motorcycles, birds, children’s voices and family all melt together to create a song of joy that heals something within me that I had not perceived as ill.

Jesus …called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4 (NIV)

You see, Jesus’ teaching was in response to “…the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1) The disciples had an “ill” in them which they didn’t even know they had. They were seeking power and position; things we adults value.

God doesn’t want childishness, but unless we change, unless we become like my granddaughter, unless we are willing to let go of all those “grown-up” things we carry on our backs and cling to in our lives (Matthew 19:16-22), we cannot grasp what Jesus offers us. We have no possibility for the healing of the thing within us that we had not perceived as ill. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Casting Crowns – Who am I – https://youtu.be/mBcqria2wmg

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