‘Wounded healers’

I think it’s really important to always live in the light of the truth that Jesus – loves you!

He will care for you, when you are wounded; He will never leave you to struggle on – by your own depleted strength.

In Hebrews 2:14-18 (NIV), we read: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

Selwyn starts by writing: “We return to the theme we were discussing in the days immediately prior to Christmas – can the darkness of depression, yield its riches to those who are willing to search for meaning? … One of the treasures that can come out of this darkness – is a deeper sensitivity and a more powerful motivation to reach out and heal the hurts of others. It is a fact – that often the best ‘healers’ are ‘wounded healers’.”

Returning to Hebrews, 4:14-16 (NIV): “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

As Jesus helps us in our time of need; then, we too, will find it in our hearts a desire to help others who are ‘wounded’, and need our care.

 

An important ‘but’

I liked the text, which Selwyn selected for today’s study, John 1:17 (NIV): “For the law was given through Moses, (but) grace and truth came through Jesus the Christ.”

Selwyn writes (I’ve modified his words, a little), ” … this text illustrates the essential difference between the Hebrew religion and Christianity. Judaism main foundation is built upon the law of Moses. The word (the expression of God’s thought) was translated into another word – the Commandments. But Christianity say, ‘Grace and truth come through Jesus Christ.’ Ah, that is so different – now the Word becomes flesh.”

The true message of Christmas, as this day is celebrated in western culture, is often lost in the noise of consumerism and myths about Christmas characters and practices, such as Santa Claus.

It’s about God’s act of forgiveness and love – it’s about God coming into our messy, fallen and dark world – it’s about us being saved to live in eternal light and enjoying a relationship with Jesus – it’s about God’s amazing grace!

‘Above all distinctions’

Today’s text is great.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:4-13 (NIV): “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Selwyn makes the following comment: “The person who is only free to use plenty (money and possessions) is bound by that, and the person who is only free to use  poverty is bound by that. Both are in bondage. But the person who, like Paul in the text before us today, has learned the secret of being content whether in plenty or in want, experiences a true freedom.”

This true freedom, as described by Selwyn, is a gift from God. As Paul says, in the above text, he can be content in all situations  because of the strength given to him, through Jesus. We too, can share in this strength, which flows out of the love that Jesus showers upon us. Amazing!

Hitched to a plough

I can’t really add anything to Selwyn’s opening statements: “Once we have transferred ownership of all our possessions and material assets to God – what then?

Next we need to streamline our lives for the purposes of God’s kingdom. David Livingstone once said, ‘I will place no value on anything that I have or possess except in relation to the Kingdom of Christ. If anything I have will advance that Kingdom it shall be given or kept, whichever will best promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes, both for time and eternity.’ “

As it says in the key verse for today’s study, Colossians 3:2, ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’ This verse, captures the essence of what we are talking about – we use our possessions and money to advance God’s purposes – not our own!

Transferring ownership

Selwyn makes some important observations about the issue of money and possessions in today’s study.

He draws our attention to the fact that in themselves, money and possessions are not evil. It’s what we do – how we manage – our money, which is the real issue. If, we place our dependency on our possessions, then that action is evil. If, we use our possessions for the sole purpose of  satisfying our desire for pleasure – then, that action is evil. In all things God must come first, and we must depend solely – on His love for us.

Selwyn writes: “Whether you have a little or a lot of this world’s goods. I suggest that if you have never taken the following step, you do it now – in a definite act of commitment, transfer the ownership of all your possessions into the hands of God. … This act of dedication can become a point of transformation.”

In Luke 18:18 – 25 (NIV), we read: ‘A certain ruler asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.

You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

We may obey God’s rules, in regard to murder, adultery and theft; but if we do not put the love of God and our neighbour first (especially, if we fail to help the poor) – then we will not have treasures in heaven.

Sometimes, we may even use sound biblical principals to avoid doing what we should do; for example – we might say to ourselves: “I’m called to be a good steward with my money and possessions; therefore, I’ll first provide all the ‘comforts’ that my family needs, and what’s left over – I’ll give to the church and charities.”  In a sense, that’s giving our leftovers to God – that’s an evil action. Our first action, is to give to God – then we address the needs of our family – the order is: God first, everything else – second.

When money takes wings

Selwyn now looks at another form of darkness – the darkness of financial failure or material loss.

He goes on to stress that it’s important to learn how to live independently of our possessions, because one day we may be called upon to do just that.

The important point that he makes is that we should be a good steward of our possessions (because they are not ours – as, all things belong to God). In a sense, everything we have, should be held with an open hand, in that we should be generous with what we have and share with those, who are in need.

In Acts 2: 42-47 (NIV), we read: “ … They (the early Christians) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

In the year 2012, we should be doing the same, as these early believers!

The hidden ‘better’

Selwyn makes some good comments, on the following verses taken from John16: 5b -16 (NIV), Jesus talking to His disciples: ” … None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away.

Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

In today’s study – Selwyn writes: “How it must have upset the plans of the disciples when they were told by Jesus that He was about to leave them!” They had given up everything to follow Him.

I liked Selwyn’s conclusion: “The disciples were to learn, as you and I must learn, that God never takes away the good unless He plans to replace it with the ‘better’.”