Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Healing Grace: Jesus (Truth) vs Tradition (Religion)

 For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazingEphesians 2:8-9 Voice

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 2 NKJV

 We've been in a series studying God's healing Grace. That His goodness and Grace produces not only freedom and brings new life but also heals our bodies and restores our soul. We have established God is a faithful God. That He is always good and never has anything detrimental for us. 

 In our last study, we began dealing with Scriptures that suggest God makes people sick. Today I sense the leading to further address religious tradition concerning this area of healing. Tradition likes to remove God's goodness and replace it with their rules, regulations, and statutes. 

 We aren't immune from this onslaught of performance based faith concepts challenging us and our freedom in Christ. Jesus dealt with it in His time and so do we. There is a passage in the Gospels that illustrate this point. 

God wants you "Holy" not happy and healed?

 Religious tradition is most concerned with men keeping all the "rules". What is interesting to note is these "rules" seem to change or alter based on the particular denomination or ministry. One group suggests that women can't cut their hair or wear makeup. Another group isn't concerned about hairstyles or makeup, but they forbid women from teaching in a public church setting. They've bought into a concept that God isn't about a relationship but about maintaining the rules. Take note how Jesus handled tradition.

  Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand.Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.
He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus. Mark 3:1-6 NLT

 This is a powerful passage. This passage reveals the true heart of Father God. This passage is clearly illustrating Grace vs the Law and traditions of men. 
 Jesus Earthly ministry had a manifold purpose. There are times when He illustrated the Law in all its true perfection. Thus revealing the impossible standard and proving our need for a Savior. Other times He revealed the Father's heart of love and gave a sneak peek of the New Covenant. This is why Jesus is perfect theology. 
 In this passage we see Jesus enter the synagogue. What did He see or focus on? His eyes were drawn to the needs of another. His heart of compassion, the perfect love of the Father, saw something withered and broken and desired to see it made whole. Take note that others were in the synagogue. What was their focus?
 Religious tradition, the enemies of Jesus, weren't drawn to the broken and hurting. They were watching to ensure all their rules were being kept. This is why religion's eyes are closed to the plight of lost humanity. They are so focused on men keeping a standard that they miss revealing the love of God, that when received is the only thing that produces true change. 
 Jesus wasn't moved by the "rules". In fact, He paraded the man out front. He was saying in essence,  My goodness and Grace and love trump any of your religious traditions. Note, this wasn't done out of rebellious strife and hate towards His enemies. He was attempting to reach them as well. 
 Jesus addresses His critics. He conceded to them yes the Word says this, however, He also revealed that they added to the Word with their traditions. He was saying your traditions aren't helping anyone. Your traditions are keeping men from walking in wholeness.
 What was their reaction? Yes, Jesus, you're correct. We've seen our error, we missed it. Was this how they responded? No, they remained silent. They chose their traditions over God's goodness and love and mercy. 
 Jesus, our good God of love and mercy, was angry at this. So many see God as angry at the lost in this World. Certainly, God is angry at injustice. However, He is pouring out His love to reach lost humanity. These here already knew the truth. Yet they exalted tradition over truth. This is what angered the Lord. Their hardened heart both angered and saddened Jesus. 
 Jesus brought life and wholeness and healing to this broken man. He healed the withered hand. What a sign and a wonder. God is good. You'd think there would be shouting and rejoicing at the goodness of God. What was tradition's response? They wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus wasn't moved by the fear of man and continued ministering His Healing Grace.
 Jesus and His all the time goodness and too good to be true but true, over the top Grace, anger religion but brings life and wholeness to the hurting and broken. His Word reveals the truth that topples the traditions of men. His loving kindness and mercy draw the masses whereas religion repels them. Truly, Jesus is greater than religion.
 God is a good Father who desires above all that you be made whole, spirit and soul and body. His loving kindness is extended toward humanity and He is inviting them to partake of His new life and experience a living, everlasting relationship with the creator of all the universe. Relinquish the traditions of men and embrace the truth of the Word. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Healing Grace: Does God Cause Sickness and Disease? (What about Exodus 4?)

 For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazingEphesians 2:8-9 Voice

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 2 NKJV

 We've been in a study of God's healing Grace. We've seen that God is a good Father. We've put into remembrance the faithfulness of God no matter the situation or circumstance we face. Last time we saw that God is a miracle working God and we can trust in Him no matter what.

 Today, I would like to begin to answer some of the hard questions. I'd like to begin to look at those difficult Bible passages that seem to suggest God makes people sick or sends disease into His people's lives. Some of these passages tend to be roadblocks in the minds of some of God's people hindering them from receiving the truth that God is a good Father, who desires to see His Children healed and walking in wholeness.

 In the Gospel of Mark, we see an account of Jesus healing a leper. This account also illustrates how Jesus removed the barrier of trust in the individual. You can see the full account here. Paying closer attention to the narrative what can we see?
40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. Mark 1:40-42 NKJV
 The leper had a barrier in his mind hindering his trust in the Lord Jesus. He said if you're willing, you can heal me. His trust couldn't move past this question. Take note how Jesus responds. He actually lays hands upon him. Nothing happens. It is not until Jesus speaks the truth, "I am willing, be cleansed" that this man receives healing. 
 The takeaway from this account is sometimes we all have questions and uncertainties. We need the truth revealed to us so we can fully trust God and His Word and promises. So it is in this arena of God's healing Grace. There are some passages that traditionally leave some with the idea that our good Father is behind sickness or disease. 

So What About Exodus 4:11?

What about what God told Moses?
11 So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Exodus 4:11 NKJV
 This passage seems to indicate that God is the one who makes people blind or mute or deaf. Before I continue, I must make one thing abundantly clear. If someone has been born with a disability such as deafness or blindness or any other birth defect, they all have infinite value and worth and purpose in this life. The disabled among us are not second class citizens or less valuable to society. God loves them with an everlasting love and they're just as capable of contributing to society as anyone else, and we should give them respect and dignity and honor just as we would anyone else.

 Going back to the passage, is it true that God is the one ordaining people to be born blind or deaf? Here is a good question, did God have any blindness or deafness or any other disability or disease in the Garden of Eden? Will there be deafness or blindness in Heaven? Understand we live in a fractured and fallen creation. Blindness and deafness and disease are never God's best or design for His creation.

 So how do we understand Exodus? We must not take a text out of context and try to create a theology out of it. Do we have any record of Jesus making anyone blind? We never see Jesus placing disease onto anyone. So how do we understand this challenging passage?

 In context, Moses was fearful of speaking to the Pharoah. If you have knowledge of Moses' life you recall he had a speech impediment. God was only telling Him I am the creator. He isn't teaching a theology of creating disabled people. He simply stated that He is the creator of all. If He created you He can strengthen you to carry out His purpose and plan for your life no matter your weakness or inabilities.

 Father God is a good and faithful Father. He isn't the source of our troubles or adversity. He is not the creator of sickness or disease or infirmity. He takes no joy from sickness or malady. He delights in loving kindness and mercy. He is the healer of all our disease and brokenness. God is the restorer of broken lives. He is the one who makes us whole. 

 In Him, we find life and love and wholeness. He is who completes us. He isn't breaking us with crushing disabilities or disease. In His hands we find healing. In His arms, we find unconditional love. His words speak life over us. He is the source of blessing and healing and never the source of death or destruction or disease. 

 Our life finds true fulfillment in Him. In Christ's Finished Work He exchanged our lack, our disease, our brokenness for His wholeness and abundance. Remove the roadblocks to receiving the truth that He is forever for us and never against us. We can rest confident and secure in His Word and Truth. He is the healer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Healing Grace: The God of Miracles

 For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazingEphesians 2:8-9 Voice

 In the recent weeks, we've been studying the healing Grace of Almighty God. In this study, we are endeavoring to reveal how His Grace manifests His healing in all areas of our lives. So far we've seen that God is a good God. That He is not the author of our pain, and that He is with us through adversity and He is faithful to the end.

 Today, I would like to once again reveal the goodness of our Father. Our good Father is a God of miracles. He is the Almighty and powerful Lord of Lords and King of Kings. There is nothing too hard for our Father. There is no situation or circumstance or adversity that the enemy, or this World system or even our own choices may bring about, that God hasn't made a way of escape or deliverance, or provided the strength to endure and overcome it. 

 Regardless of what religious tradition states God is still in the miracle business. A large portion of the Body of Christ ascribes to a view that teaches that when Jesus ascended and the twelve Apostles ministered and finalized the canon of Scripture, God ordered the Spirit to cease from utilizing His Gifts for the Church. God basically gave gifts to the Church but in His "wisdom", revokes them and their use today. Again, many believe this view strongly.

 I don't see it from the Word that God is giving gifts and then revoking them. I don't see a good Father who gives good gifts to men turn and then later rescinds them. 
Jesus Christ is [eternally changeless, always] the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8AMP

Because I am the Eternal One, I never change...Malachi 3:6a Voice

    It is clear from the Word that God is not one who changes. He gave us His gifts and He won't take them away. He worked miracles when He walked the shores of Galilee and He is still working miracles today. His love is still intervening in the lives of humanity. 

    Many will concede that there are things that have occurred in the lives of Christians that defy natural explanation. People have recovered from incurable diseases, have seen a miraculous provision in otherwise bankrupt situations. Others have seen favor in circumstances where this seems an impossibility. Even with all this some still stubbornly reject God's supernatural gifts today. 
    I urge you to relinquish traditions of men and receive all the fullness of His goodness and love and power. That said what about those of us who've believed in His miracles and have yet to receive or if we were believing for something and it didn't turn out the way we expected? What is the solution to disappointment? 

    We've all been in a place where it seemed God has forgotten us. I can tell you it is not easy going through situations like this. I also don't want you to believe I am saying something I have never experienced. Years ago my wife and I had to endure the loss of a pregnancy. She had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured. This was a devasting blow to our hearts and minds.

    What did I do in this situation? Did I get angry or bitter? I could have. Yet my response was more like a reflex of what I had planted within my heart. I had seen that God is a good Father from His Word. I had seen that when I was born again, He guaranteed me that I would be saved forever. If He had done all this how could I blame Him or not place my trust in Him even in the hard times?

    I truly believe He is a good God. I firmly believe what the Scriptures teach that God is for me and not against me. I know we live in a fallen and fractured creation and that God was with me and not working against me. This produced strength to endure and gave me the confidence to hope in Him and His promises regardless If I ever see anything.
    God is a good Father that is always for us and is not working against us. His Word is true and trustworthy not because we experience it or see it. It is true because He has declared it and a good Father never lies. We, therefore, can look to Him and His Finished Work and look past our experiences and find rest, and strength and healing.

   Think of it. If He was faithful and loving enough to forever forgive us, make us completely righteous and acceptable to God, and purchased for us an eternally secure salvation how could we not trust Him in every other area of our lives? He is the God of miracles. He has the answers that we need for whatever we are facing. Nothing is too hard or impossible for our Father in Heaven.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Healing Grace: Our Faithful Father

For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. Ephesians 2:8-9 Voice

 We've begun a study detailing the healing Grace of our good Father. We've seen He is good and He is not the author of evil. We saw how even in the hard times and challenges that He is there with us. I sense the impression to continue to bring forth the truth concerning our Father.

 Oftentimes those who know not God are perplexed at how those who know the Lord,  can have bold confidence and hope, especially in the tough times. How can we have bold confidence in God? When all seems lost, and the diagnosis gets worse, the Bank is threatening foreclosure, and loved ones seem to be lost in rebellion, how can we have hope, and confidence and trust? Perhaps you're a believer and you're asking this same question. The answer is found in the Word.

The Faithfulness of God

 When we search the Scriptures and see our Father's heart and unconditional love, this is where our trust is found complete. Our faith is not a "blind" faith. We have something tangible we can cling to and place our complete trust in. Our trust is in His goodness. His character is witnessed by His actions. 

 Think of this. If you had dealings with an individual that would oftentimes say one thing yet do another, would you say you could trust that one? Certainly not. When we look at our good Father we see a loving, good Father who is always faithful to His word. This is why studying the Word is so paramount. It is not about achieving or earning some "points" for the afterlife or for God to do something for us. It is about getting to know our Father on an intimate level.

 Under Grace, we don't "strive to arrive" or "fake it till we make it". We abide in a relationship with our Father. Part of any good relationship is getting to know one another. Reading and studying the Scriptures has opened my eyes and heart to just how wonderful and kind and loving our Father is. It is quite rewarding, profitable and fulfilling knowing and understanding the goodness of our Father.

 In the Scriptures, we see how Hannah, who was barren cried out to the Lord. She couldn't have children. What seemed a lost cause turned around for her good when she put her trust in God, (see here). What seemed like an impossibility turned to a miracle for her. Sarah who was also barren knew the secret to her deliverance. What was her strength to believe God?
11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11 NKJV

Sarah was able to believe because she saw how good our Father is. This is the source of our confidence and hope and trust. Whenever we are going through difficult and challenging times we can hope until the end because God is so faithful. His goodness stirs up hope within us and we can rest in His goodness.
23 Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word]; Hebrews 10:23 AMP

God is a good Father, He is a faithful God. What He said will come to pass without fail.  His overwhelming love and great mercy have never forsaken or abandoned us. He has never given up on us, no matter how far we have fallen. His love pursues us even when we falter, fail or flee. He has always been for us and never against us.

 How enduring is God’s loyal love; the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion. Here they are, every morning, new! Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day. Have courage, for the Eternal is all that I will need. My soul boasts, “Hope in God; just wait.” Lamentations 3:21-24 Voice

 God is so faithful. He will never leave or forsake us. Whenever we are going through hard times or facing a crisis look to the Savior and not the situation. In Him, you will find peace and hope. In Him, we find the solution for our problems and answers to our questions. 

 You may be saying, but I haven't seen God's goodness in my life. I realize in this fallen and fractured creation there exists terrible injustices and tragic circumstances. There are times when we are the hands or instruments God will use to bring the relief and comfort and hope to others.

 When we were lost, certainly we saw situations that seemed hopeless. We saw how hard life is on our own. In Christ, we know we have hope. When facing difficulty look back at your life and recall how God saw you through. This will produce joy and spring forth bold confidence in our Father. 

 God is a Faithful God. No matter what it seems like there is no time where God wasn't by you. He will never let us fail. He is a good Father. I have seen God's hand many times in my own life. In His goodness, I can boast not in anything I have done. Our trust should not be in our own plans or efforts or our own influence. Trust in Christ alone, He is good and faithful and He will never let us down.