Can God heal?

I agree with what Selwyn has to say about healing physical sickness and suffering.

He writes:God can and does intervene to deliver us from physical sickness and suffering, but it is more the exception than the rule. Not everyone who asks for healing gets healed, that is a simple fact. …

Does that mean we ought to forget the whole business of praying for people who are sick? No, for we must not measure the results of our prayers only by what we see. There may be no apparent or immediate physical changes, but who can measure the spiritual changes that come from prayer?

It is right to ask for deliverance and healing for those who are afflicted but let us not limit our asking for physical changes only.  (But also to seek healing of our spirit.)”

Not long after my conversion experience, and after I had a reasonably good introduction to the teaching of God as found in Scripture – I often prayed (and still do) for those who were sick; especially those people who were in the same bible study group. On, one occasion I felt that God was telling me that a member of my group, whom I had been praying for pain relief from a cyst growing next to their spinal cord, would be healed within a specified time-frame.

At our next bible study group meeting, I let the person know what I thought God was telling me. Cutting a long story short, this person awoke free from pain on the exact day that I had been given by Jesus. At the following Sunday’s church service, after they were healed, this person shared the news of their healing with the congregation, giving God praise for what He had done. I’ve only witnessed this type of outcome, a few times over the last twenty one years – accordingly, I agree with Selwyn, I think this form of physical healing is the exception – but it does happen!

As, I’m certain of Jesus great love for us, I’m sure that He answers all our prayers in His perfect way; and, I also agree with Selwyn when he says that often God’s answer can be seen in our spiritual growth – after all, this is the prime goal – to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. How we manage our suffering, with God’s involvement – I think – is one of the main ways used by God to refine and mould us.

Do you agree?

The following Scripture (part of the set reading for today), contains lots of good points, the ones I liked the most are highlighted. One, which I think is important right now, is the need for us, to be patient and to stand firm in what we know to be true – for I believe this is the season for Jesus’ return.

James 5:7-16 (NIV): “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Watch the lights!

Selwyn introduces today’s study with an interesting question: “Have you ever thought what would happen if, when a person became a Christian, he or she would never had to face sorrow or suffering again?”

I’d think that if such an outcome was obvious to any rational observer, then the average person would be calling themselves a Christian – just to escape the suffering of this world.

As Selwyn points out, through the verses – selected for reading and meditation (Matthew 5:33-48), that God, ’causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’ (verse 45).

He concludes by stating: “The New Testament does not teach that because we are Christians we will be exempt from sorrow and suffering. It teaches, however, that God will be in the sorrow and suffering to enable us to turn it to good account.”

However, we need to recognise that there is a mystery behind why an all-powerful and good God, even allows evil or suffering to happen within His creation. Our love of God must lead us to a place where we come to accept that God is working in our best eternal interests, in allowing bad things to happen to people.

Any comment?

 

Why Jesus came

It is interesting that the implied question, of the title of today’s study – ‘Why Jesus came?’ Is not fully answered by Selwyn in his discussion.

Let us deal with that question first. Matthew 4:23 – “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”  And, in Mark 1:14, “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ “

In John’s Gospel, we hear the same news, from a different perspective (John 12:46-48): “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”

Jesus came to save the world by announcing that the kingdom of God was near – that He reigned as king over all. The message is that we must submit to His kingship over our lives – the Bible is the account of all the facts which testify to this good news!

Now. back to today’s study: Selwyn starts by saying: ” … We ask ourselves: how did Jesus view the problem of unmerited sorrow and suffering? Jesus accepted the fact of human suffering, and neither explained it nor explained it away.  … Jesus’ purpose in coming to this world was not primarily to explain things, but to spell out the ‘good news’ – that in Him we can find life and power which enables us to surmount all obstacles.”

In a way: like the Jews who were rescued from Egypt and spent 40 years in the desert, being refined by the dry and relentless conditions, before they entered the promised land. We too, are going through a desert full of harshness, sorrow and thorns, with the occasional rainbow; and, with the promise that if we keep our eyes on Jesus – we will reach our eternal home – a land full of peace and joy, because God – will always be – with us.

Do you agree?

Three world-views

I’m usually not interested in other world-views by non-Christian groups, however, I guess there is some interested in how other religions deal with suffering.

Selwyn writes: “Today we ask ourselves: what is the attitude of the most well-known non-Christian religions towards unmerited sorrow and suffering? Buddhism is probably the most extreme of them all. Its philosophy is this: as long as you are in life, you are in sorrow (that is, the desires we all share, always lead to suffering because we don’t achieve what we want.)

Then take Hinduism. Hindus take the attitude that there is no such thing as unmerited sorrow or suffering. Whatever is, is just. If you are suffering now, it is because you have been sinful in a previous existence. …

When we look at the Muslim attitude, we find the approach is this – whatever happens is the will of God. … Muslims believe both good and evil are the will of God. … “

It can be seen that these three religions do not offer any hope to a person who is suffering: either because it’s just how life is; or, it’s because of some previous sin; or, it is God’s will.

If, I can just make one comment on the Muslim view point, that evil things happen because of the will of God. God will never do anything, which is evil – it’s His nature to be perfectly and eternally good (righteous and holy). He is all-powerful but He does allow Satan, some limited power, to facilitate hatred – the full reason as to why this is the case, remains a mystery.

The main lesson to be learnt from the book of Job – is that Job never curses (blames) God for his suffering (which was all Satan’s doing).  And, we know that Job never received an answer to his question to God: ‘Why, is this happening to me?’

In Matthew 13:40-42 (NIV), we read: “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man (Jesus, our living God) will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

If, God was responsible for evil, then I don’t think the above verses would make much sense –  however, it’s clear from what Matthew has written that evil is the result of a fallen world, which one day – Jesus will totally destroy.

In summary, because Jesus loves us – we can pray to Him for help when we are suffering and we can trust in His holy nature that He will ensure that we are never totally broken by suffering. He will walk with us through the dark nights – and He has promised us that we we reach our eternal home – all suffering will be at an end.

Your view?

 

Stoicism is not the way

Selwyn states in today’s study: “We look at a fourth anchor point which the cross provides – a secure ledge on which our anchors can fasten when our lives are lashed by the strong winds of unmerited sorrow and suffering. Such times come to us all. … “

He concludes by saying that stoicism –  the idea that one can stand up against whatever comes, without allowing yourself to feel pleasure or pain – is an inadequate response to sorrow and suffering.

What I liked about today – is an except from the Scripture verses, set by Selwyn for reading and meditation,1 Corinthians 12:24b-31(NIV): “But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And yet I will show you the most excellent way – love.”

As we gaze upon Jesus on the cross – we suffer, because of our love for our Lord. Just how much love is found in the life of a stoic?

Any comments?

 

Pardon and power

As Selwyn says in today’s study – we all sin and fall short of what Jesus expects of us, which is, ‘to go and sin no more.’

He writes: ” … there is forgiveness to be found at Calvary’s tree. Through the sacrificial offering of Jesus on the cross. God has built into the bedrock of the universe an anchor point for all those who through their own choice find themselves engulfed in sin. We must confess our sins and then, as John puts it: ‘ … He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.’ (1 John 1:9)”

In John 8:10-12 (NIV), we hear Jesus talking to the woman accused of adultery ‘ … Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ‘

It’s important to note that while Jesus lovingly associated with the lost of this world, he always told them ‘to go and leave your life of sin’.  Those who are found and saved by Jesus, follow Him, and never want to walk, in the deadly darkness of sin. This fact is often overlooked by some, who want to continue their life of sin; and try to justify their actions by saying that Jesus loves them – as they are. This attitude, of remaining in a state of sin, is not the message to be found in the Bible.

Do you agree?

Accept with gratitude

I liked what Selwyn had to say, in today’s study, for example: “The more we consider what sin is, how it offends the heart of God, and attempts to push Him out of the very universe He made, the more it is a mystery, how He could ever forgive us. That He does, through His blood on the cross, this is the greatest theme in all the world. …

The reason why I focused on the fact of sin over the past few days is to prepare you to receive an even greater revelation and appreciation of the wonder of forgiveness. For you see, we will never understand the depth of forgiveness until we perceive the horror and ugliness of that for which we are forgiven. If we do not understand that then our gratitude will be no greater than the tip we leave for a waiter who has served us a good meal.”

We need to be forever mindful that the serious sin in our lives, is seen: in the lies that we tell, the anger we feel when we don’t get our own way, the lust we experience when we look or think of a person who is not our husband/wife. In addition, it’s pornography we dwell on, the weaknesses of others which we ignore,  and those times when we fail to help those who are in obvious need. Basically, a failure to love others in the way that Jesus loves us. This failure – deserves eternal death – they are not small matters!

In Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV), we hear Jesus talking about forgiveness: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (a  perfect and complete number)

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

If, we don’t appreciate the huge debt which we are responsible for, because of our sins, and that it is beyond our ability to repay this debt to God – then, we will fail to understand the massive ransom Jesus paid to secure our freedom. It’s this appreciation of God’s love as demonstrated for us on the cross, that enables us to freely forgive others. Unless we gain this understanding (with the help of God’s Spirit) we will always find it hard to forgive others and at worst, we risk God’s wrath (see the last verse, above).

Any comments?