Monday, August 8, 2011

Blessed Conversation

Hope like Hezekiah.
Joy like Job.
This is my prayer.
My neighbor is in critical condition. His wife has asked us to ask for prayer – prayers from the church, prayers for healing.
She asked, so I’m asking.
Praying for healing is the assignment of believers.

God hears our prayers for our own healing.
Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. Psalm 30:2

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, "Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: "Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. 2 Kings 20:3-5

For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. Job 5:18

You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:11b,14,15a,16b

Praying for healing is the privilege of believers -- our blessed conversation.

God hears our prayers for others’ healing.
Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again. Genesis 20:17a
Praying is how we bring others before God for healing.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Matthew 4:23, 24 

When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Luke 4:40

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. Mark 1:32-34

And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. Matthew 14:35,36 

And wherever he went--into villages, towns or countryside--they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. Mark 6:56

When God heals, he answers our faith.
Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. Jeremiah 17:14

My husband reminded our neighbor’s wife that doctors are not the final authority on our condition. We act in faith when we recognize that God is in charge of our circumstances.

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
The royal official said, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus replied, "You may go. Your son will live." The man took Jesus at his word and departed. John 4:46, 47, 49, 5

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering." Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."
The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.
Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour. Matthew 8:5-10,13

We act in faith when we pray boldly, expecting to receive.
When we are more in awe of God than our need.
When we continue to pray.

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."
Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment. Matthew 9:20-22

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted."
And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Matthew 15:22, 24-28

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging.
When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you."
Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."
"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!"
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes, Lord," they replied.
Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; and their sight was restored. Matthew 9:27-30a

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him. Luke 5:12,13

God asks us to answer Him.
Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.
Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."
Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?"
But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Mark 3:1-5

The man who stood up was also ready to stretch out his hand to Jesus, to receive healing.
The men around him were not ready to reach out to Jesus, to receive healing of their hearts.
God in his Word has invited us to reach out, invited us to prayer, invited us to speak to Him. When we pray, we are choosing to answer God’s invitation.
Then God honors that prayer by answering it. With His will reflecting His wisdom, He heals bodies, minds and spirits.
We respond with praise.

Healing is one reason we praise Him.
Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.
The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Matthew 15:30,31

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"
When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.
He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"
Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." Luke 17:12-19

Those who were healed had personal, often hands-on, experience with Jesus.
In some miracles, Jesus instructed those who were healed not to tell anyone. But in a hands-on lesson with Thomas – the disciple who struggled to believe His resurrection – Jesus explained that His ministry would now seek out people who would follow Him without having seen Him. Disciples who could not touch Him with their hands would reach out in their spirit, seeking a tangible experience with God.

Now that Jesus expected and empowered His disciples to tell, they told.
They told of the power of prayer -- delighting in conversation with a God who is willing and delighted to speak to us.
They told how God answered their prayer, often in ways beyond what they could anticipate.
They told of faith that finds expression and its fulfillment in praise.
We still have this truth to tell. Here is our hope and joy.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How to Count

By June Pulliam
Guest blogger

I was awake most of the night with arthritis-type joint pain. This was my opportunity to put into practice "counting it all joy".

I was thinking about my study of suffering, using a guide by Kay Arthur based on the book of Job. Job never tells us why people suffer, Arthur points out.

To cope with suffering, she says, we aren't to find the immediate cause but instead find out who God is: our Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer, with whom we need a deep, personal relationship. She references James 1:2-4 "Consider it all joy...".

My meditating started there – I’ve always realized that my understanding of what James' words meant was not as deep as I'd like – and I began writing my own thoughts:

In God's presence there is fullness of joy. As we focus upwardly on Him, we become more and more aware of His vibrant presence, and less focused on the trial. Being surrounded by His presence – His light, His love – moves our joy from being only a mental choice, to being a feeling and more – a full experience.

To "count it all joy" or "consider it all joy" (depending on the translation) means to mentally put suffering in the category of joy. We first need to see for what purpose we are doing this.

James’ verse says that the testing of our faith will lead to endurance. It furthermore says that we need to continue to endure, until our endurance has attained its "perfect result" – that we are "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing".

I meditated on this: We can't stop at endurance. God wants us to keep at it until it has its "perfect result". If we endure for a while, even a long while, but then stop, this verse tells us we will lack some things; we will not be perfect or complete.

So then the question is: Will we "count it all joy" when trials come? The thing is … we all count it as something when trials come. The alternative to counting it as joy when we have trials, is to do what most do – count it as disastrous defeat, or a reason to rage and seek revenge.

If we are inwardly focused, we probably count it as pain that makes us feel defeated, depressed, disillusioned, disappointed.

If we are outwardly focused, we probably count it as pain that leads to anger, rage and desire to blame and lash out at others – either those we think responsible, or those who we resent simply because they aren't suffering too.

But if we are upwardly focused, we wisely and courageously count it as joy. We do so in spite of our initial pain, because we are looking not at ourselves, and not at others, but at God, who is our Creator, our Sustainer and our Redeemer. He has a covenant with us to never leave us, and to vindicate us in the end.

Why We Suffer
1. We are God's children, co-heirs with Christ, who first suffered for us. Romans 8:16-18
2. We suffer sometimes so others don't have to. Colossians 1:24
3. It’s evidence that we belong to God and He is refining us. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8
4. It's sometimes God's will. 1 Peter 2:18-23
5. So we will rely not on ourselves (in our strength or wits to get out of
the problem), but instead, totally on God. 2 Corinthians 1:9

What to Do When Suffering
1. Don't jump to the conclusion God isn't on the job. 1 Peter 4:13
2. Trust God, don't fear. 1 Peter 4:19
3. Be glad you're in the thick of what Christ experienced. 1 Peter 4:14
4. Think of our suffering as a way to be weaned from the sinful habit of always expecting to get our way. 1 Peter 4:1
5. Like Jesus, don't threaten or retaliate. 1 Peter 3:17
6. Continue to do good 1 Peter 4:14
7. Be ready to tell people courteously why we have hope and are living the way we are. 1 Peter 3:17
8. Stand firm. Remember it's not just you, but also Christians all over the world who are suffering.
1 Peter 5: 8-10

Results of Suffering
1. God will restore you and make you strong,
firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10
2. You will be free to pursue what God wants instead of always being so driven to just pursue what we want. 1 Peter 4:2
3. You will be blessed. 1 Peter 3:14
4. You will receive justice later. 2 Thessalonians 1:8
5. You will share in Christ's glory. Romans 8:18