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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Justification - Promised in Christ



Definitions 


The Oxford Dictionary defines justify as: 

1) Show or prove to be right or reasonable and 
2) Declare or make righteous in the sight of God.  

According to Paul in Romans 3:30 “since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.   If those of us who are now one body having been justified why are did he say that some of us (the circumcised or Jew) are justified by faith and others (uncircumcised or Gentile) justified through faith since all who believe are justified?  

Here's the definition of justify from “Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible” 

“the act of pronouncing righteous, justification, acquittal”; it is used twice in the Ep. to the Romans, and there alone in the NT, signifying the establishment of a person as just by acquittal from guilt. In Rom. 4:25 the phrase “for our justification,” is, lit., “because of our justification” (parallel to the preceding clause “for our trespasses,” i.e., because of trespasses committed), and means, not with a view to our “justification,” but because all that was necessary on God’s part for our “justification” had been effected in the death of Christ. On this account He was raised from the dead. The propitiation being perfect and complete, His resurrection was the confirmatory counterpart. In 5:18, “justification of life” means “justification which results in life” (cf. v. 21). That God “justifies” the believing sinner on the ground of Christ’s death, involves His free gift of life.

That last sentence in the Vine’s definition is the basis of my statement that justification was promised in Christ.

Here’s what it say in Isaiah 45:20-25 (HCSB) 20  “Come, gather together, and draw near, you fugitives of the nations. Those who carry their wooden idols, and pray to a god who cannot save, have no knowledge.   21  Speak up and present your case— yes, let them take counsel together. Who predicted this long ago? Who announced it from ancient times? Was it not I, Yahweh? There is no other God but Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no one except Me. 22  Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. 23  By Myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24  It will be said to Me: Righteousness and strength is only in the LORD.” All who are enraged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame.
25  All the descendants of Israel will be justified and find glory through the LORD.

The Gentiles were invited to stop their idol worship and in faith to the only God who can save from sin and death.  He included all nations in this invitation.  They are to be saved simply by looking in faith to the Lord. All the descendants of Israel referred to in verse 25 are the spiritual Israel.  They that are those identified in Galatians 3:6-7 (HCSB)6  Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, 7  then understand that those who have faith are Abraham’s sons.. 

What Does This Have to Do with Justification Promised in Christ?


The one that God is talking about in Isaiah to redeem his people is Cyrus.  Well that’s Cyrus and not Christ you say.  Well not so fast my friend.    Cyrus is a type of Jesus Christ; and many of the promises to Cyrus in Isaiah have a spiritual fulfillment in the ministry and life of Jesus. In fact God identifies Cyrus as His shepherd in Isaiah 44:28 and then as His anointed (Messiah) in 45:1. 

Isaiah 44:28 (HCSB) who says to Cyrus, “My shepherd, he will fulfill all My pleasure” and says to Jerusalem, “She will be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Its foundation will be laid.” 

Isaiah 45:1 (HCSB) The LORD says this to Cyrus, His anointed, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him, to disarm kings, to open the doors before him and the gates will not be shut:


Both these titles are used for Jesus.  

Acts 4:27 (HCSB) “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, (emphasis mine)

Acts 10:38 (HCSB) how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him. (emphasis mine) 

John 10:11 (HCSB) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (emphasis mine).

Now let’s look a more direct reference to justification promised in Christ


Isaiah 53:11 (HCSB) He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities.

This is a specific prophetic reference to Christ.  To see that we need to go back to Isaiah Chapter 49. Verses 1-6 of the chapter is one of what many students of the Bible call ‘Suffering Servant Songs’ 

Isaiah 49:3 (HCSB)  He said to me, “You are My Servant, Israel; I will be glorified in him.”   

In this verse God says that Israel is His servant however nowhere else in the Bible does it say that God will be glorified in a person (servant), so I believe, as do many others, that in this context ‘Israel’ is a name for Jesus, the Messiah.  Now reading 53:11 we see that Jesus the Messiah will justify many.  The many here refers to Jews and Gentiles. 

Isaiah 49:6 (HCSB) He says, “It is not enough for you to be My Servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel. I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”


Then we come to the final ‘Suffering Servant Song’ in Isaiah starting at Chapter 52:13 and ending at 53:12 which reads;

Isaiah 53:12 (HCSB) Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.

Yes our justification was promised in Christ the anointed.   He is doing what Israel, Isaiah and Cyrus did thousands of years ago for Israel.   Jesus has done it for the world!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Praising God in 140 Characters or Less

I wrote a post a few days ago entitled “God Will See You Through Just Trust Him”.  Here’s a comment that I got from someone who read it:
“Great post. I surely do believe in faith (I don’t worship any God tho), but I believe in the essential good of mankind, the difference between right and wrong, treating others as you want to be treated – in words and actions, the Power of the universe in all of our lives etc… What puts me off finding out more about ‘God’ as such – is that the Bible is SO long and involved… (I’m sure this puts many people off reading it – I mean, how many people does the average person know who have actually read it cover to cover?)… is there a really good ‘summarised version of the bible??… Like a ‘Bible for Dummies’…” (emphasis mine).
Here’s another one on the same post:
“Great post Donjake... very in depth and well written - (perhaps a bit too long for my liking) I felt it could have been three seperate posts (people's attention spans are getting gradually shorter) Great work none the less... left you a comment ;)” (emphasis mine)
This started me thinking.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media applications cause us to present our thoughts and ideas in short sometimes cryptic phrases or
sentences. I wondered if  anybody has tried to reduce the bible to 140 character bites.   I found a website, The 140 Bible,which reduces each chapter of the New Testament to 140 characters or less.  Then there’s a book, “The Twible:  All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less”.  That’s all that I could find.  I guess that you can’t reduce something as profound and powerful as the Word of God, which give light and life to man to 140 character phrases, or sentences, of thoughts.  God is too Big and His Word too Powerful for that.
But then I realized that we already praise God every day in 140 characters or less.  Psalms alone has over 150 expressions of praise of 140 characters or less.  I see Tweets and Facebook and Instagram statuses everyday praising God.   Most of them are directly from His Word so I decided to compile some of them in this post.  These first ones are from Psalms only and are by no means all if them.  Maybe I'll do a series but this is for starters.
 Praise in 140 Characters or Less
1.    Psalm 7:17 (NKJV) I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
2.    Psalm 9:1 (NKJV) I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
3.    Psalm 22:22 (NKJV) I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
4.    Psalm 30:4 (NKJV) Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
5.    Psalm 33:2 (NKJV) Praise the LORD with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
6.    Psalm 34:1 (NKJV) A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
7.    Psalm 35:28 (NKJV) And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness And of Your praise all the day long.
8.    Psalm 44:8 (NKJV) In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever.
9.    Psalm 51:15 (NKJV) O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
10. Psalm 56:4 (NKJV) In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?
11. Psalm 57:7 (NKJV) My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.
12. Psalm 63:3 (NKJV) Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.
13. Psalm 67:3 (NKJV) Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
14. Psalm 69:30 (NKJV) I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
15. Psalm 86:12 (NKJV) I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
16. Psalm 100:4 (NKJV) Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
17. Psalm 106:1 (NKJV) Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
18. Psalm 109:30 (NKJV) I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; Yes, I will praise Him among the multitude.
19. Psalm 118:21 (NKJV) I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation.
20. Psalm 135:1 (NKJV) 1 Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD; Praise Him, O you servants of the LORD!
21. Psalm 139:14 (NKJV) I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well
22. Psalm 150:6 (NKJV) Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!
I could go on and on.  This is Psalms only but since the headline of this post includes 140 characters I must stop.

Use some of all of them in your own Tweets, Facebook status, and Instagram Posts.  If you can think other 140 character praises please leave them in the comments and let’s praise God together.



Monday, October 20, 2014

What’s the difference between divine healing and faith healing?



Yes there is a difference in divine healing and faith healing.   They are not synonymous. 

"When you write an article like this you run the risk of being misunderstood so I did have some reluctance in finally deciding to do it.  I do believe in healing and I believe in miracles but my belief is in the way the Bible says it and not the way we have sometimes been taught by many in the faith-healing and prosperity movement."   

Divine Healing

From Gotquestions.org:

Divine healing involves a supernatural act which resolves a physical, emotional or spiritual problem. In a Christian context, the supernatural element is God, many times through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

Most of the world’s religions believe in some sort of supernatural healing. Islam uses incantations (Ruqya), Tibetan Buddhists use a method which includes medicine, mantra and meditation. Others including those who believe in a New Age philosophy use a techniques from ancient religions and the occult. The common theme in these non-Christian beliefs is the requirement of a physical ritual, of some sort, to placate a deity into action or to manipulate a healing force.

Not so with those of us who believe in God Almighty and who live our lives in faith in Him and who stand on every one of His promises.  We know that God's divine healing is the result of His grace and because of His love for us.  There is no need for ritual, or ceremony, or manipulation.  The only requirement is the one in;
Romans 10:9-13 (NKJV) 9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11  For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13  For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."


Faith Healing

Faith healing centers on actions of the sick person having “enough faith” or, in the person who claims to have special gifts or a unique connection to God. Faith healing can include psychotherapy, hypnosis, placebos, positive thinking, and those superstar preachers who claim a special anointing. I’m not talking here about those with the spiritual gift of healing. "The people with that gift quickly point to God as the one who heals not to themselves.  They don't rely on their past performance. They rely on God.  They realize that the decision to heal rests solely with God and He chooses who and when to heal.  They are ready to be the vehicle by which God decides to use them for a particular time to exhibit a sign and wonder that points to Him and captures the attention of unbelievers so that they are open to hearing the gospel of Christ.

If it was simply a matter of having enough faith to be healed or the person with the spiritual gift of healing laying on hands or anointing with oil then all who truly believe would be healed. If that was the case then Paul would have been healed, Joni Eareckson-Tada the evangelical Christian author, radio host, and founder of Joni and Friends, an organization "accelerating Christian ministry in the disability community.", would have been healed, my wife who suffered a back injury many years ago would have been healed, and I’m sure that you know of devout believers who have been believing for healing, some for many years.  You may be one of those people.

"Of the 35 miracles recorded in the Gospel accounts the faith of the recipient is exercised in only10 of the accounts. Healing of the lame man (Jn.5:1-9) the cleansing of a leper (Mt.8:2-4) healing a mans withered hand (Mt.9:2-8) the healing of the man born blind (Jn.9:1-7) healing the blindness of Bartemaeus (Mt.20:29-34) The women who had a blood flow (Mt.9:20-22; Mk.5:24-34) Peter who walked on water to Jesus (Mt.14:24-33) the miraculous catching of the fish (Lk.5:1-11) and the second miraculous catch (Jn.21:1-11) The cleansing of the 10 lepers of which only one had faith (Lk.17:11-19)."  

Also see my post "My Top 10 Scriptures on Healing."

It’s God’s Decision

Exodus 15:26 (NKJV) and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."

God still heals He has not lost that ability. His still loves us. Divine healing can come through traditional medicine or through direct intervention by God in answer to prayer. In some instances it may not come until complete healing in heaven. Physical, emotional, and spiritual healing belongs to God.  Revelation 21:4 describes the true healing we should all be longing for: 

Revelation 21:4 (NKJV) 4  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 

I would like to hear from you about your perspective on faith and healing. Is healing here on earth promised to all believers? Will God heal you if you have enough faith? What if you have big faith and you are not healed? Please comment below.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Bible Says that Forgiveness is Mandatory


One question that I get a lot is; “Pastor do I really have to forgive everything, every time”? I have an answer but before I give it let’s see what the bible says about it? Whenever someone asks me a
question dealing with relationships I always defer to the bible because it’s the manual that God gave to guide us on how to forgive.

First let’s define forgive. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Forgive (verb) 
  • to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
  • to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
  • to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)
  • Synonym - pardon
To forgive is to stop feeling anger toward someone or about something, to pardon them. To forget is to not remember or think or care about something, to unlearn or dis-remember.


Forgiveness in the Bible


The Bible does, in many places, command us to forgive each other. Here are two examples:

  • Matthew 6:14 (HCSB) “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 
  • Ephesians 4:32 (HCSB) And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Jesus’ comment to Peter when he asked how many times we should forgive implies constant forgiveness without holding it against the one we forgive.

Matthew 18:21-22 (HCSB) 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.

The Bible also tells us that if we don’t forgive we won’t be forgiven.
  • Matthew 6:14-15 (HCSB) 14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. 
  • Mark 11:25-26 (HCSB) 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. [ 26 But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your wrongdoing.]” A forgiving spirit is made easier for Christians when they consider how much God has already forgiven. 

Why should we give anybody a clean slate who has wronged us? 


Because God, who is our example for how to forgive, does. He forgives and overlooks everything that we have done and do against Him, through Jesus, so that we can have eternal life and an eternal inheritance.

Micah 7:18 (HCSB) Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not hold on to His anger forever, because He delights in faithful love.

Forgiveness is an act of the will and since God commands us to forgive we must make that choice. We must forgive even if the person who offended us doesn’t ask for or doesn’t even want forgiveness.

Matthew 5:44-45 (HCSB) 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

My Answer


It may be very difficult but God wants us to forgive each other every time just like He has forgiven us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Once we do what it says in;

Romans 10:9-10 (HCSB) 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

God treats us as though we never sinned at all and doesn't hold our sins against us. So, in a sense, He "forgives and forgets everything every time"

In the same way when we forgive need to act as though they never it never happened. We do still remember the offense, and we should learn from it, but to truly forgive, we should treat the person as though it never happened.


7 More Forgiveness Scriptures


1. Matthew 6:12 (HCSB) And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

2. Matthew 18:32-35 (HCSB) “Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. 35 So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”

3. Mark 11:25-26 (HCSB) 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. [ 26 But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your wrongdoing.]”

4. Luke 17:4 (HCSB) And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

5. Luke 23:34 (HCSB) Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”] And they divided His clothes and cast lots.

6. Matthew 6:15 (HCSB) But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

7. Colossians 3:12-13 (HCSB) 12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also ⌊forgive⌋.

What do you think? Can you truly forgive everything every time and treat the person who offended you like it never happened? With the help of the Holy Spirit I believe that you can.

When We Want Vengeance: Stay the Course of Forgiveness

Vengeance is God’s. He will repay—whether ultimately on the Day of Judgment or intermediately in this life. God can discipline your abusive boss. He can bring your ex to his knees or to her senses. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it just entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right retribution.  The God of justice has the precise prescription.

Forgive your enemies? Ah, that’s where you and I come in. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger,” Paul wrote, “and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Don’t give the devil territory or ground. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in your heart, to rent a room. Believe me, he will move in and stink up the place! When it comes to forgiveness, all of us are beginners. Stay the course!

From You'll Get Through This - Max Lucado

Editor's Note:  This post was originally posted in October 2014 and was modified to include the section "When We Want Vengeance:  Stay the Course of Forgiveness



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stand Firm In Faith - Even When We Don't Understand




The Scriptures tell us that faith as small as a tiny mustard seed faith is enough to move mountains, when it’s God’s will. Scripture instructs us in living by faith, trusting God in all things. The Bible even teaches us how we get faith;

Romans 12:3 (HCSB) For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.


Romans 10:17 (HCSB) So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

But what about those times when we don’t understand what’s going on in our lives and around us? How do we stand firm in faith then?

The Silence of God


Job 34:32 (HCSB) Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wrong, I won’t do it again.”

Job is the example many Christians use when we are going through things in our lives that we don’t understand. They may be sickness, death of a family member, divorce, breakup of a relationship, criticism from friends and family, financial difficulties, etc. We don’t understand what’s happening and search for answers. We look to Job for encouragement because that’s where he was, looking for answers. However when we read the book of Job we see that God never gave him the answer to the question Why?

Read God's response to Job in Job 38-41

In his message “The silence of God” Kim Kou says the following:

Some may think that God did not attempt to answer Job because there is no adequate or satisfying answer to the problem of suffering, at least not one that man on earth can understand. In fact, this point may sometimes be put forward as the main lesson or one of the main lessons of the story of Job.

In reality, the way God responded to Job's situation, the content of His speeches, and the fact that He did not answer Job's puzzling questions were deliberate, very appropriate, meaningful and effective in the context and were an expression of His perfect wisdom. God did not brush Job aside. Neither did He treat Job in a contemptuous manner, nor fail to show an understanding of how Job felt.

If we reflect on the reasons for God's silence with regard to Job's perplexities, we can see that there are deep, meaningful and vital issues for Job and for us to learn. I see at least two main reasons and I will state them as follows:


The need to learn to trust God fully and without wavering while going through difficult and perplexing situations


The need to appreciate the underlying issues that are crucial to our relationship with God and to a life of faith

By not answering Job's perplexities, it helped Job (and it also helps us) to reflect on them and come to a deeper appreciation of the underlying issues that are crucial to quality faith and relationship with God. These issues are related to deficiencies in Job and God wanted them to emerge and be made clear to him. By dealing with the situation the way He did, God helped Job to see clearly that it was not essential for him to receive the answers to his perplexing questions in order to respond appropriately. Instead, there were deficiencies within Job that he must recognise and deal with deeply.

If God had answered Job's perplexing questions, it may not come through so clearly and powerfully to Job and to us that the real problem did not lie in the unanswered questions, but in the deficiency in his posture and the spirit of humility, and the loss of focus on God during the trials. Furthermore, these issues would have become blurred. Job might then attribute his failures to the perplexing questions that confronted him instead of recognising the need to take corrective measures for the deficiencies within him. He might believe that once his perplexities were resolved, he could respond well to God.



We Live By Faith, Not By Sight


The Apostle Paul said;

2 Corinthians 5:7 (HCSB) 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight,


The Greek word that Paul used here for walk is peripateĊ, which is a verb used to describe the Christian’s entire life. The Bible in Basic English (BBE) uses “are walking” (For we are walking by faith, not by seeing,), and the New Living Translation (NLT) uses the word “live” (For we live by believing and not by seeing.).

Walking by faith means we live our lives according to what God says in the Bible;

Romans 10:17 (HCSB) So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

A life of faith isn’t a life built upon unrealistic expectations and hopeless dreams. This is the life demonstrated in the life of Job and by the saints of God as described in Hebrews 11 who understood; 

Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB) Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen; 

Hebrews 11:39-40 (HCSB) 39 All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.

No matter how difficult this life may become, we trust God, according to what God has revealed to us in the Scripture. I recently did two studies for The Church of Divine Guidance adult bible study group titled “The Overwhelmed Challenge” and “Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry”. The foundation Scripture for them was;

Romans 8:28 (HCSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Here’s what it means. It is the destiny of those who love the Lord to be like Jesus. God is committed to produce in us all the love, all the joy, all the patience, all the long-suffering, all the goodness, and all the gentleness of Jesus. But until that happens we are still subject to the realities of sin and death. It is God's love in Christ that sustains us and empowers us—even in the midst of our experiences of sin and death to be conformed to the image of His Son, Romans 8:29

God works in all things toward that good purpose. But only "those who love him" know that, because they are participants "with him" in the outworking of that purpose in faith.

I’ll end this post with a statement from a message by The Rev. Jeremy Blair , pastor of Berean Bible Church, Carlisle, PA

One day when this life is over and we are in the presence of God for all eternity, we will understand all the circumstances that we may have thought were unfair, unjust or just too difficult, and it will be then, that God will reveal how he was there with us through it all.

Let me encourage you, whoever you are, whatever you may be going through, and especially if you don’t understand it all, please take comfort in the fact that just because you don’t understand, doesn't mean God isn't involved in your life. God loves you and cares for you. Walk by faith, not by sight.



Armed with the knowledge that God works everything together for the good of those who love Him, even those struggles that you don't understand, those hurts you don't understand, those issues you don't understand, can you stand firm in faith? I believe you can.

God bless you,

Donald



Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Top 10 Scriptures On Healing




Healing is a gift from God, not a right.    “A gift is not something that you can demand or claim that you have a right to.  Salvation and eternal life are gifts from God because of His grace and mercy not because we earned or deserve them.  I believe that healing is one of those gifts.  We don’t earn healing because we go to church and bible study every week, or pray three times a day.  It is a gift from God.”  Many Christians unknowingly believe that God will heal everyone if only they have enough faith.
If We Aren't Healed is it because We Don't have Enough Faith?
We often hear that "you weren't healed because you don’t have enough faith".    That is in direct contrast to the experience of a great man of faith Paul.  Remember this? 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV)  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
My Top 10 Scriptures On Healing
There are certainly more than 10 scriptures on healing in the bible, in fact there are more than 300 scripture, but this is my top 10 your top 10. Yours may be different.  

    1. James 5:14-15 (HCSB) 14  Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. 15  The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
 I don’t believe that these verses promise that everybody will be healed.  What they do say is for those who are sick to ask the elders to pray for them.  The prayer of faith in this instance,  I believe is about salvation and not physical healing because James then says “And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  The Greek word for “saved” that James uses is the same word used in Acts 4:12 (HCSB) 12  There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”
This prayer much like the statements in Isaiah 53:4-5, which is also on my list, deal with the soul and forgiveness of sin.  We can be healed in answer to prayer, but God doesn't promise everyone will be healed every time.
  1. Acts 28:8 (HCSB) Publius’s father was in bed suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went to him, and praying and laying his hands on him, he healed him.
 God gave the apostles the power and ability to perform miracles  and in every instance mentioned in the Bible, after Jesus’ ascension, they were able to to it.  Because of their example many Christians claim that we have all the power that God gave to the apostles.   The problem is that when  the apostles prayed and laid hands people were healed in every case.   That is not the case for us today.  The apostles in Scripture were appointed by Jesus the apostles today are not.   The point I want to make is that it is really God Who does the healing.  If it was Paul doing the healing there would be no reason to pray would there?  When we pray we can really only pray for God’s will to be done and if it is His will for those to be healed then they will be healed if not they won’t.  I talked about this in my previous post.
  1.  Mark 5:41-43 (HCSB) 41  Then He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42  Immediately the girl got up and began to walk. (She was 12 years old.) At this they were utterly astounded. 43  Then He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this and said that she should be given something to eat.
"Maiden I say to you get up."

What’s interesting about this Scripture is that Jesus told the people who witnessed the healing not to publicize it.  I don’t believe that He meant that the child should be kept in seclusion or that people not know that she was now healed.  The point is that the glory should go to God and not the person who prays and lays hands.
  1.  Psalm 41:3 (HCSB) The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed; You will heal him on the bed where he lies.It is God who sustains and it is His will that will always be done.  This verse does not promise that everyone who is sick will be healed.  In fact you could also interpret this verse as God sustaining a person on their deathbed.  Sustaining doesn't mean healing.  It does reaffirm however in the “b” section of this verse that it is God alone Who is the healer.
Let me pause here for just a minute.  When I say that it is God who is the healer I mean that healing can come miraculously or it can come through the work of a physician, or others.  We can’t put God’s ways in a box He does what He does, when He does, and how He does.
  1. Matthew 9:35 (HCSB) Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.
Jesus has this power to heal at will and  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together Colossians 1:15-17 (HCSB)
 Yes we must have faith in God and believe that He has already made provisions for our healing but our prayer must always be that God’s will be done.  There is no truth to the comment that  the reason a person wasn't healed was because they didn't have enough faith.  God always knows what is best for us  and it may or may not include healing.
  1. Isaiah 53:4-5 (HCSB) 4  Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5  But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
The healing here is of our souls not our physical body.  This verse is addressing sin and righteousness not physical illness.  These verses talk about forgiveness and salvation.  Jesus did heal people but what happened during the crucifixion was for our soul not our physical bodies.   The Bible doesn't link physical healing with spiritual healing. Sometimes people are physically healed when they place their faith in Christ, but not always.
Starting at Isaiah 52:13 and reading through chapter 53 it is clear that he is talking about Jesus suffering is for our spiritual healing.  The greatest healing is not that from sickness because if we are healed, we are still going to die unless Jesus returns before then, but the suffering of our Savior described here provides the means for  forgiveness of our sins and opens the door to eternal life.
  1.  Acts 19:11-12 (HCSB) 11  God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, 12  so that even facecloths or work aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.
The verse starts with "God was performing extraordinary miracles."  It wasn't Paul it was God.  Remember the glory must go to God not the person whose hand God uses.
  1.  2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (HCSB) 7  especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. 8  Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
Other than Jesus, I don’t know anybody who had greater faith than Paul and as we see he was not healed.  Sometimes God allows us to stay sick because it keeps us humble and to show that His power “is made perfect in weakness.”
  1.  Mark 16:18 (HCSB)  they will pick up snakes; if they should drink anything deadly, it will never harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.”
Here we go.  This is the verse that we Christians use for almost everything.  It makes us invincible and we can lay our hands on everybody who is sick and they will get well.  The only biblical evidence of anybody getting bit by a poisonous snake and not dying is Paul and this was fulfillment of prophecy made by Jesus.  There was an incidence of a Kentucky pastor who did tempt God by purposely putting himself in position to be bitten by a poisonous snake.  He died.  Did he not have faith?  I’m sure that he did or he wouldn't have put himself in that position.  Jesus Himself said that we shouldn't put God to the test.  Deuteronomy 6:16 (HCSB)   Do not test the LORD your God as you tested Him at Massah.
It is very possible that some of the apostles drank poison and didn't die. The bible doesn't say but it is possible because the religious leaders at the time did hate the message of the apostles, the gospel.
As for the laying on of hands for the sick, it does say that “they will recover” but it does not say that all will be healed from their sickness.  We can’t take this as a sweeping statement because in reality they were not and we all are not and it’s not because of a lack of faith.  Paul is our  great example of this.
10.   John 9:1-3 (HCSB) 1  As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2  His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned,              this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3  “Neither this              man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “⌊This came about⌋         so that God’s works might be displayed in him.
Jesus heals a man born blind

In many cases a illness is the result of something that we have or have not done.  Eating stuff that’s not good for us, doing foolish or dangerous things. But that’s not always the case as with this blind man, or those born today with birth defects.   It is also not the case when someone is injured due to the negligence or deliberate act of somebody else.
That was not the case for this blind man and it wasn't the case with Job either as his friends accused him of suffering because of his own sin.
In both these cases the illness of the blind man and Job's troubles were for the glory of God.  As I have said throughout this post  God’s will is what we should pray for and seek.  God is greater than any illness.  He is greater than any situation.   Here is what the Bible says about God's  thoughts of you.   Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Thy Will Be Done

Healing is from God only and for His glory.  It’s is not earned and it’s not a right.
Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) says 9...you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  
If that confession is made in saving faith then your full and complete physical and healing awaits you in heaven. In heaven, there will be no more pain, sickness, disease, suffering, or death.
That's my top 10.  What are yours?  Please share them in the comments.  They will be a blessing to all who read this post.
God bless you,
Donald

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Is Faith In God Blind Faith?

Matthew 17:20 (KJV) 
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Christian Faith is Based on Evidence

Is Christian faith blind faith?  I say no.  I say that Christian faith is based on evidence.  As it says in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines evidence as
: something which shows that something else exists or is true: a visible sign of something: material that is presented to a court of law to help find the truth about something
The Christian's faith is  not a blind acceptance of opinions that can't be proven; it's not based on feeling, emotion, or a "blind leap."  Christian faith is conviction supported by evidence.     That my friend is not blind faith.   By faith we accept that the invisible things of God are behind the visible universe.  As Hebrews 11:1-3 says "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.    For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. "

 So What Is the Evidence?

The evidence that supports the Christian's faith is divine in origin. Because God is so much more trustworthy than manwe should Christian Faith Is Based on Evidenceexpect this evidence to be far superior to human testimony.  Romans 3:3-4 says " For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?   God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."   An honest study of the evidence for God, His Son, and His Word will confirm that Christian faint is not blind faith.

The World (Nature) is Evidence

The very existence of the universe, its power, its order, and its Nature (World) is Evidence of Godcomplexity demand that an Intelligent Designer  did it and that Intelligent Designer is God.  Here is what is says in Romans 1:20
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
From nature we can only that there is a God, that He has unlimited power and intelligence, and that He possesses will.  What nature doesn't tell us however is,  what He's like?  Is He good or bad,  loving or hating,  kind or cruel.   What does He want from me?  How can I enjoy His fellowship etc, etc.?

The Word Is Evidence

To know these things, I must turn to the second piece of evidence, the Word (Bible).  Romans 10:17 says " So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  The word  not only tells me about God, it gives evidence to demonstrate that there is a God, that the The Word (Bible) is EvidenceBible is the word of God, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Some of these powerful proofs are the harmony of the Scriptures, fulfilled prophecies both about ancient nations and about Christ, and the evidence Christ has been raised from, the dead.
These two realms of evidence, the world and the word, give ample reason for a firm, reasonable conviction that there is a God in heaven, that the Bible is His word, and that Jesus Christ is His Son.

Want More Evidence

For more evidence read these book by Josh McDowell, a Christian apologist, evangelist, and writer.   He the author or co-author of some 115 books.   You can find most of his books on Amazon but here are a few that you might want to check out.