Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Learning the Unforced Rhythms of Grace!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
What does it actually mean to learn the unforced rhythms of grace? This is a great question to ponder. The Lord put it on my heart to write about this. So to begin with I am no expert on what this passage completely means. I am not saying I know it all. I can only share with you what I see the Lord showing me concerning this passage.
Whenever we mention grace two opposing sides appear with their rhetoric. One rejects the gospel of grace because they fear losing control of the people in their church or ministry. They get overly concerned their flock will begin to sin wildly if grace is taught in its fullness. They also realize they would have to throw away half of the sermons they ever preached. Their book writing revenues would falter as well. No more would people buy the “ten ways to…” or “the 4 steps to divine …”  grace is "bad for business" because it puts religion out of business.
The other side apparently receives grace in all its fullness. They begin to talk the right “grace lingo”. They buy all the “right” grace books. They attend all the “right” meetings. In spite of all this outward display of their reception of the gospel of grace their true heart is revealed. They turn rebellious and claim any spiritual act is apart from grace, it is therefore works and legalism. They refuse to pray or give or read their Bible. This is also a rejection of pure grace. Grace doesn’t say feeding on the word is works or self efforts. So both sides of the debate are in error because they both reject pure grace.
I believe this passage in Matthew 11 really sums up pure grace in our daily living. It addresses both extremes and the rejection of pure grace. Let’s look at the first portion of this passage.
“Are you tired?” “Worn out?” “Burned out on religion?”
This is exactly what religion does to the Saints. It burns us out. It places so many into bondage to performance based trappings. It wears us out with the strivings and toils.
Where religion misses it is in this simple explanation of what works are. Works are us trying to earn or achieve what God has already provided for us. This is why religion burns us out. It gets us so focused on trying to earn, or achieve or deserve.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. We are not trying to earn or achieve anything. Works based salvation is us trying to do something to become something. Religion doesn’t get that we are already made perfect in Christ. We already became something in Christ.
We need not try and do more in order to become righteous. We need not try to achieve a status to become more righteous in God’s sight. We need not put forth more effort to become anointed. Jesus, by His grace has already made us righteous and anointed. We flow with grace to walk out daily who we already are made within. It’s a maturing into who we’ve been made to be.
If we look at the middle portion of the passage Jesus states come away with Him and you will recover your life. In other words get away with grace and recover. Let Jesus heal the wounds of abusive churches and leaders.  Follow and flow with grace that’s where real growth occurs.
As for those who say grace means I just sit on my couch and never do anything productive Jesus says this.
“Walk with Me, work with me-watch how I do it.”
Jesus is saying flowing in the unforced rhythms of grace produces fruitful lives. Can we just sit on the couch? Can we do nothing until Jesus returns and God still love us and take care of us? Certainly, we are His beloved children. However, is this fruitful living? Is this a growing relationship with the Lord? Of course, we’d say no. So flowing in grace produces a fruitful life without effort or striving.
We can flow with grace allowing Him to lead us into all truth and guiding our lives into victorious, abundant living.
I trust this message has blessed you and encouraged your walk with the Lord. I pray you pass it on to bless others. I pray The Lord blesses you this week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What about John 11?

My beloved friend, I pray that everything is going well for you and that your body is as healthy as your soul is prosperous.  3 John 2

In the last two posts I've been answering an objection to healing in the finished work. Whenever you teach about healing in the finished work of Christ, someone always ponders the thought doesn't God get glory in our sickness? This objection is a considerable stronghold in the lives of many believers.

By rightly dividing the Word we can remove this obstacle. So today I wish to address the Scripture that many point to in endeavoring to establish their view that sickness brings God glory.

Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”            John 11:3-4
"You see brother? It's right there." 
At face value I would have to agree that it seems to be teaching exactly that. The issue many fail to recognize is that this passage is being lifted out of its context. When we remove the text from its context all you have left is a con. If you try and teach a doctrine based on lifting this passage out of its context you are conning people. 
Staying in context what can we see about the 4th verse? Jesus was trying to point to a truth that those present needed. Look again at the passage. Jesus stated this sickness is NOT unto death. Yet Lazarus did in fact die from his sickness. Is this a contradiction? Is the Word unreliable? What is actually happening here? 
 What did Jesus go about doing while He was here on Earth? He went about teaching. He saw Lazarus sickness as a teachable moment. This does not mean God brought the illness and death with the intent to teach. The enemy brought the sickness and death. God can utilize any situation good or bad to bring instruction. Again, God never brings hardship or pain or suffering to instruct His children. He can however, use a circumstance that already exists to instruct. 
So what was Jesus endeavoring to instruct? Faith! He wanted to teach those around to trust God even when it seems impossible or the situation is dead. This also reveals that we can do nothing in and of ourselves. We must rely totally on Him and His power and performance. 
So how was He teaching faith here? He was speaking the end from the beginning in this passage. That is why He could state the sickness was not unto death. Yes, Lazarus did die but Jesus knew in the end He would raise him up. So Jesus counted Lazarus healing and raising up from the dead as done. He spoke those things which be not as though they were. 
Declaring the end from the beginning,And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Isaiah 46:10a
As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.  Romans 4:17 
Understanding how faith is released through words brings clarity to Jesus words. Jesus was not saying the sickness was for God's glory. He was teaching that by faith in God the healing and miracle of the dead being raised would bring God high praise! He not only is the God that heals but the One that makes alive dead things! 

What brought God glory then in this passage? Was it the sickness or the healing and raising up of Lazarus?
Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. John 11:43-45

Many believed in the Lord because they saw how good God is. No one was believing while Lazarus was sick or when he died. So healing and God's goodness is what brings glory to God. Does God get glory out of sickness? No, a thousand times no! God is good He gets glory out of your wholeness not brokenness and sickness. 

I trust this post has blessed and encouraged you in your walk with the Lord. I pray the healing power of God to flow into every area of your life. In Jesus name, amen! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What about John 9?

who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed.  1 Peter 2:24

In my last article I posed the question is God glorified when we are sick and diseased? To ask it another way, does God get glory when we are sick? I proved with Scripture that healing and wholeness is what truly brings glory to God.  

 Inevitably though, some will raise objections and point to John 9 and John 11. So I want to reflect on John 9 today and see if it in fact does teach that God sometimes is glorified when we are sick. 
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing. John 9:1-7
This passage has been interpreted by many in religious traditional circles to mean God in His infinite "wisdom" and "sovereignty" caused this man to be born blind so that Jesus later in his life could walk by and heal him of blindness. Thus demonstrating to all His power, thereby proving He is the Messiah. The problem with this interpretation is it creates a very disturbing universe. Allow me to elaborate.
If this is the right interpretation of this passage this would mean anytime a disturbance, or distress in your life occurred it was God prearranging events. This would be so God could "show off" His "glory" through you to your unbelieving relatives and acquaintances when He delivered you. More clearly stated, God brings affliction or sickness upon you just to later deliver you. Is this the way God operates? 
Think of this in the natural. What would we think of a Police force that went around hiring men of ill repute to burglarize or vandalize property? Then have those same Officers apprehend those they hired, to prove to the public how effective their crime reduction programs work? Sound absurd? Yet this is exactly what religious tradition teaches about God using this passage. 
This interpretation has given much fodder for religious preachers to pass poetry and philosophy off as God's will. They emotionally stir up a crowd by saying whatever they are going through must be God working on them to "show them off" after He delivers them. They make statements like this. 
"The same God that brought you in, is about ready to kick the door open and bring you out!"
Sounds poetic. It gets folk jumping and hollering aloud. The problem is it is not Bible. Notice they seem to add the words about ready. These afflictions God brings you is always about ready to end. This keeps folk in the pews, giving their offerings and waiting for their deliverance. 
These are enticing words of men's wisdom is it is not God's will! If God who is the Alpha and Omega, the Almighty has to afflict you to show how great He is then I question how great He is. To make you sick just to heal you is quite a weak or poor display of power. 
So lets get the accurate true interpretation of this passage. If you read the passage again it reveals something many don't take into account. Apparently, the Jews at this time believed a baby could sin in the womb. (It is interesting to note here that even Jesus followers didn't believe blindness was good.) 
So the question asked was worded this way, who sinned, the parents or the man that made him to be born blind. This allows Jesus only three responses, the parents, the man or neither. So what do we see Jesus say in the passage? He responds with neither. He simply answered their question. He didn't give them a reason for this man's condition. It wasn't their concern. Jesus knew we live in a fallen World. That because of Adam's transgression sin is passed from one generation to the next. Sin itself is destructive and corrupt. That's why many children are born disabled, (not referencing a personal sin, but rather the sin of Adam). 
So Jesus simply answered their question. Then He said but that the works of God should be manifest in Him I must work. Jesus was only saying because of this condition I must work the works of God which are healing and deliverance. The problem with many translations of this passage is in the punctuation. The punctuation isn't what is inspired it's the word's themselves. Is there a translation that fits this view I presented as truth? Yes, the Lamsa translation. 

1 AND as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from his mother’s womb. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Teacher, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus said to them, Neither did he sin nor his parents. But that the works of God might be seen in him, 4 I must do the works of him who sent me, while it is day; the night comes when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 When he said these words, he spat on the ground and mixed clay with his saliva, and he placed it on the eves of the blind man. 7 Then he said to him, Go and wash in the baptismal pool of Shiloha. He went and washed, and he came seeing. John 9:1-7 Lamsa

See how punctuation changes things? This translation gets it right here I believe. So throw away those old sermons or turn off those preachers on TV saying whatever you're going through is God's doing and He is just getting ready to "show you off". Listen Jesus defeated the devil and finished the work at Calvary! He is showing us off when we receive all He has already accomplished. We show off God's goodness and grace because we know we don't deserve it and haven't earned it! 

God is good all the time. He isn't afflicting you just to deliver or heal you to prove His power. That is tradition and not the truth of the Word. God already paid for our healing at the Cross. Thank God! I pray this article has blessed you. Thanks for reading. Consider passing this on to bless others with this truth.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Still More Objections to healing in the Finished Work

 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.           1 Peter 2:24

Over the past several weeks we've been looking at healing in the finished work of Jesus Christ. In a brief review we have seen that Jesus purchased for us the healing of our physical bodies in His finished work on the Cross. He has paid the full price for our wholeness. We answered some objections such as not looking at the experiences of others. We saw how by the blood of Jesus we are perfect in Him and God isn't withholding healing from us. We answered the sovereignty and God's willingness objections with God's love and His Word. We looked at focusing on the finished work and not bitterness or unbelief. 

Even after all these truths are revealed there still remains some objections to healing. This week I'd like to address a major objection to healing that many sincere believers cling to. That God is glorified when we are sick. This is a belief among many in the Church, that God gets glory sometimes when we suffer with sickness and disease. 

This idea has its roots in some misunderstood Scriptures in the Gospel of John:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. John 9:1-3 
This verse is coupled with John 11
Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. John 11:3-4
See brother, its right there. God gets glory out of sickness. Paul said in the mouth of two or three witnesses will a truth be established. Twice we see how God uses sickness to glorify Him. This is usually how the dialogue goes. Trying to reach these folk who steadfastly hold to this interpretation of Scripture is rather difficult. Some folks minds are likened to cement. Thoroughly mixed and well set.
The interpretation of these passages usually plays out like this. God made men sick so that Jesus could come around and heal them. Then all those who saw would realize Jesus came to be the Messiah and many would believe. That is where they totally miss God. They reason that Jesus only went about healing to prove His Divinity and who He was. If this is so why did Jesus many times discourage people from revealing who He was? 
The missing element to the equation in tradition ruled thinking is the love and mercy of Almighty God. Jesus healed people because of His compassion and love for them. Newsflash, God so loves you too. He wants you well and whole. 
Here is something to consider. If Father God gets glory out of sickness why did Jesus go around healing ALL who were oppressed of the devil and "rob" God of all that glory? Was Jesus being counter productive to God's plan?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men. Matthew 9:6-8
 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. Matthew 15:30-31
What do we see that gives God glory? The healing power of God in demonstration. The Lord in His loving mercy removing painful illness and restoring brokenness into wholeness caused men to truly glorify God in Heaven. God's Word is not contradictory. We must not allow obscure passages to rob us of clear passages that prove beyond doubt what God's will is on a certain truth. The problem with the obscure passages is we haven't rightly divided them. 
So I want to rightly divide these two passages to remove this concept that God gets glory out of you suffering with sickness and crippling and painful disease. I will do this over the next couple of posts. If you want the truth about these passages then don't hesitate to stay tuned to get the answers. God and His Word are one. They never lie. God desires you to live in wholeness. This is the good news of the gospel, the finished work of Christ.
I truly pray this post blesses you abundantly. Consider sharing with others so we can get this truth out there that God is good and sickness is bad! May the blessing of the Lord overtake you this week.