Laying on Hands, Part 1 – Luke 4:40-41

Healing Those Who Are Afflicted Is Performed Through The Laying On Of Hands

40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

Properly Prepare

Before any spiritually challenging endeavor, we should prepare.  Whether giving speech, teaching a Sunday School class/Lay-person sermon, Vacation Bible School, retreat, etc., we should properly prepare ourselves with the same or even greater time and care that we would for any secular activity.

First, seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  We should each also be offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God by denying ourselves, picking up our cross, and following Jesus.  Next, seek the Father out in prayer, and make sure that there is no unrepentant sin in your life.  After any un-confessed sin is dealt with, prepare yourself by reading the word of God.  Draw close to the Father in prayer.  If possible, fast** in preparation for what is to come.

Jesus would regularly withdraw from the masses with His disciples to spend time with God the Father in prayer.  He would also frequently fast:

16When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer [and fasting*].

Preparing for what you are about to do is vital to the success of any endeavor.  And while many people are able to just “wing it” in their daily lives, God desires us to follow our example, Jesus Christ, in how He did everything.

Tender Touch

When Jesus healed, He almost always touched the person that required healing.  With some exceptions (for instance the Centurion’s servant and Lazarus), He even physically touched people who, according to the Levitical Law, he should not have touched – those who had leprosy.

1 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

We now know that some forms of leprosy are transmitted by coming into contact with fluid discharge from a person that has it (a sneeze, or possibly on their clothing or body).  Jesus, however, reached out and touched the people that he healed.  We should do the same.

Touch is a powerful form of communication.  For the outcasts, the lonely, the grieving, and people living on the fringe of society (as well as others), touch has an interesting ability to break down barriers and show that you care for the person.  Jesus cared for us so much that He allowed Himself to be crucified.  What is a little touch in comparison with that?

Command the Complaint

After laying your hands on the person where the issue is located, using your authority in The Lord Jesus Christ, command what is ailing the person to be healed.  In some cases, the issue is that the part of the body that is having issues is not long/large enough.  If that is the case, command in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ that the part of the body that needs to grow to grow.  You have been given the authority in Christ to do this:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

It is imperative that we are yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.  We are to be attentive to His guidance in our lives, and following His leading as He reveals to us what we should do through the word of God and as He prompts us.  We need to remember that we are merely conduits for the power of God to manifest itself.  We don’t heal people; God heals people through us.  As the Holy Spirit guides you, say what you are prompted to say for the healing to occur.

Please note that you may need to command the affected part of the body more than once to be healed.  Ask the person after you have commanded it to be healed to tell you, on a scale of 1 to 10 how the pain/issue is.  Tell them to tell you the truth, not what they think you might want to hear.  If the pain/issue has not gone (but is getting better), repeat the process until there is no pain.  God will reveal to you what you are to do as He sees fit.

Never say No

Jesus never once, as recorded in the Bible, declined to heal anyone.  The only passage that would indicate that He did not do all that He intended was because the people refused to have faith.  Jesus could have healed them, but they were not open to it.  If a person is in enough pain, they will be open to being healed.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Word of Warning

When you endeavor to step out in faith for the kingdom of God, you are putting a target on your back.  You will encounter people who have demons.  Stand strong, and use your authority in Christ to bind the demon(s).  Ask them their name first, then command them by name or type (“demon of <fill in the blank>”) to go to the feet of Jesus and to never return.  Not all sickness is demonic, but some is, and you will encounter these issues, just as Jesus did.  Don’t let this dissuade you from what you are called to do.  Just be aware, and be prepared.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: With regard to my authority in Christ, am I taking God’s word at face value?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You continually amaze me in that You have saved me.  Father, please help me to understand my authority in Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help prepare me to live out the holiness that You have imparted to me through the righteousness of Jesus.  Help me to walk in humility before You, and to keep myself clean through repentance.  Help me to be yielded to the Holy Spirit that I may more fully yield myself, my life, and all that you have placed me in charge to His authority for Your glory.  Give me more boldness that I might do the works that Jesus did during His ministry, and help me to reach the lost in a more powerful way.  Help me to understand what You meant when the Apostle Paul said that I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.  This I ask in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes: This blog has been updated to include the second reference to the fasts that Daniel undertook.

*This part of the passage does not appear in all of the texts.  If it helps, I can personally attest to the power of fasting when confronting the enemy successfully when previous attempts without fasting were unsuccessful.

**Due to medical issues, many people need to eat regularly.  If you are unable to fast, try a juice fast (consult your doctor first).  If you need to eat food, try a Daniel fast.

God’s Favor – Isaiah 61:1-3

God Displays His Favor Upon His Son

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Faithfully Fulfilled

God has faithfully fulfilled many of His promises to us already in scripture.  Jesus Christ fulfilled the first part of this scripture.  He has indeed fulfilled it:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Jesus proclaimed that He was there to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not to abolish them.  Jesus faithfully fulfilled all that was prophesied about Him, down to the minutest detail.  He perfectly fulfilled all scripture about Himself so that the Father could be glorified and so that God would not be mocked, for He is not a liar like men.

Bind the Brokenhearted

Jesus promises to bind the brokenhearted.  And oh, how many woes await us each day!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It is a good thing that Jesus has overcome the world!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

God restores what was broken and lost.  Even though there are consequences for our actions, God is able to restore and bring order and peace into chaos and unrest.

Proclaim Parole

God has freed the prisoners!  We were held in a prison of darkness, because we could not see the light.  Jesus is the light of the world.  Now that we have seen the light, we can join Him in displaying the light.  Lies and deceit keep us from seeing the truth.  Jesus IS the truth:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus doesn’t just model truth; He IS truth.  “The Truth” is a title, not just a reflection of reality.  Jesus is the only accurate model of unvarnished truth that we have.  God has been gracious to proclaim freedom from darkness by sending The Truth into the world.  Now that The Truth has come, we are without excuse.

Value and Vengeance

God has pronounced His favor upon us.  By sending His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for our sins as He was tortured and crucified, He has given us great mercy and grace – great favor.  He has done so much more than we can imagine!  We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing!  We are more than conquerors in Christ!  No weapon formed against us will prosper, and we will refute every tongue that accuses us, since this is our heritage and vindication from God!  Regardless of our circumstances, we have been greatly blessed!

But there is a flip-side to this.  For those who refuse to accept the Lord’s favor – His mercy and grace, there will be a terrible day of vengeance.  God, after doing everything that He could possibly do to win His image-bearers back over to Himself after His enemies try to drag them away, will eventually need to show the next portion of His character – JUSTICE.  God is a perfectly just God, and He will rule and reign in righteousness.  God cannot abide evil (rebellion against Himself), and He will, after exhausting every effort, bring forth the penalty for disobedience to a perfect and holy God – first, physical death, and finally, eternal separation from Him – complete spiritual death.

Comfort and Console

God greatly desires to comfort and console those who are grieving over their sin.  He will give us oil of joy instead of mourning and a crown of beauty instead of ashes (used by the culture at that time to show great anguish in grief, mourning, and sorrow).  God has provided us, though the sacrifice of the perfect lamb of God, the promised Holy Spirit as our down-deposit for our inheritance.  We have Him to console us, to comfort us, and to guide us.

Towering Trees

God sees us through the robes of righteousness of Christ that have been imputed to us (legally declared to be ours).  As such, He sees us as Oaks of Righteousness.  He sees the righteousness of Christ rather than our filthy rags.  Just like a bank account, we may not see the money, but it is there, registered in our name.  Given the vast wealth of righteousness that is afforded to us through Christ, should we not then incorporate more and more of it into how we live?  Should we not display this immeasurable (spiritual) wealth just as we show off our homes, cars, jewelry, and other items that we seem to hold dear and treasure?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I take the time to try to grasp just how truly rich I am in Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your generosity is beyond my comprehension.  You have given us uncountable wealth in Your Son, Jesus Christ, through His sacrifice for us.  Help me to better grasp just how far and wide Your love is for me.  Help me to internalize it, and to rejoice in it, as the cares of this world continually claw at me to drag me down to its depths.  Give me a right understanding of Your word, that I may embrace it more and more each day.  Help me to display to the world Your righteousness, for You have declared me to be an Oak of Righteousness.  Thank You for this and for all things, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes:

*The word used elsewhere in the scripture for the Gospel means “Good News”.

**During the year of Jubilee, the captives were set free, and land was supposed to be returned to its rightful owners.  Jesus may very well have been declaring that particular year a year Jubilee as God was freeing the captives.

Repentance and God – 1 Kings 22:11-13

Our Hearts Should Be Broken Over Our Sin And The Sin Of Our Nation

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

Great Grief

King Josiah became king after two very wicked kings before him.  For fifty-seven years, Israel has been plagued with rulers who perpetrated great evil in the land.  King Manasseh, his grandfather, did great evil in the eyes of the Lord, leading the people to worship other gods:

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” 5 In the two courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.

King Amon, his father, did so much evil in the sight of the Lord, and was so offensive to the people, that he only reigned two years before his own officials assassinated him:

19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah. 20 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. 21 He followed completely the ways of his father, worshiping the idols his father had worshiped, and bowing down to them. 22 He forsook the Lord, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to him.

23 Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace. 24 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.

When Josiah heard the words written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.  This was an ancient Hebrew practice to show great anguish and grief over some situation.  Josiah’s heart was grieved when he learned that the people were not obeying the Lord.  Rather than continue in the practices of his father and grandfather, he turned his heart from sin and to God.

Supreme Sorrow

Josiah experienced great sorrow when he realized what he and the people had done.  It is interesting that Josiah had not read, nor even seen, the Book of the law until he was age twenty-six, and a copy of the Book of the Law was found in the temple where he had ordered work to be done.  How great must the evil had been, when no one had the Book of the Law to provide them with guidance?  His heart mourned in sorrow for both his own sin, and the sin of his people.

Josiah had the heart of a servant-leader.  His heart was responsive to the word of the Living God.  And he had the reactions that each of us should have when we realize that we have sinned against a holy and mighty God:

  • He was grieved by his sin
  • His soul was filled with sorrow
  • He mourned over his sin
  • He sought the Lord for help

Seek the Savior

Josiah didn’t just have an emotional response.  He called upon five people to inquire of the Lord to find out what he and his nation should do.  We have the scriptures of Almighty God as a testimony for us and to guide us in how we are to conduct ourselves before God.   We have been instructed to seek out God and to repent of our sin.  The first part of this is to confess our sin before God.  The second part is to turn away from sin and turn towards our most gracious and merciful Lord and God.

Confess Carefully

Josiah had instructed several people to inquire of the Lord on his behalf.  He recognized the need to confess his sin before God, and to learn how to turn back towards God.  We must each confess our sins before God.  Paul indicated that the reason that many of the people were sick and had fallen asleep (God had taken their physical lives) was because they were partaking of Communion improperly.  They were not judging their sin rightly, and taking communion without confessing their sin and repenting of it.

Many people in the church today take communion and give very little thought to how they are living their lives.  They take it more as an expected part of the liturgical service, and don’t give it the gravity that it rightly requires.  When we take communion improperly, we are, in effect, bring down God’s judgment against us!   We each need to carefully examine the scriptures to see what God has to say about this, and take this as seriously as a Holy God would take it.

The western church, in particular, has a tendency to place great emphasis on the grace and mercy of God as a sign of His love for us.  And God certainly IS full of grace and mercy, even to the point of sending His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins.  But there is often a lack of balance between His grace and mercy and His holiness and righteousness.  God cannot condone sin nor have it in His presence.  Until we realize just how offensive sin is to our Most Holy God, we will not see our sin in its proper place.  God is complete in all things, and He is balancing His holiness with His grace.  Should we not give sin the same weight as Almighty God does?  Should we not consider the cost that God bore to enable Him to give us grace?

Delay Disaster

God was gracious, and because Josiah’s heart had responded to the word of God, He delayed the disaster that He had sworn to bring upon the His beloved nation Israel because of their great sin until after Josiah had passed away.

Since we have been the recipient of great grace through the innocent shed blood of the One and Only Son of God, we receive His grace.  But God will discipline us mightily if we think that we can go on sinning because His fountain of grace covers us.  We are not to live our lives walking on eggshells, worried that every little sin will bring disaster and discipline from Almighty God upon us.  But in the same vein, we should not be surprised if we are disciplined with sickness, hardship, and even death (falling asleep) if we fail to take the time to rightly judge how we are living our lives and then partaking in communion.

When we partake in communion, we are, in effect, showing through this ordinance of the church that we are identifying with the life of Christ, who is the bread of life, and whose blood is pure.  When we go to take communion, we are, in effect, saying that we are walking in the same manner as Christ walked, identifying with Him in every way.  Christ lived a perfect life, submitted to the Holy Spirit, never once sinning.  Sin is abhorrent to God, and sin in our own lives should be just as abhorrent.  We can live free from fear, but only if we take the time to review our lives and see if we are walking in the way.

When we walk in sin without even attempting to overcome it we are in effect sullying the very robe of righteousness that Jesus bled and died to provide for us.  Why be sanctified if grace covers all sin, you might ask?  Because we are to put on our wedding clothes, white as the driven snow, as a bride in anticipation of the bridge groom, prepared to be received by Him in joy in our spotless white attire.

When we walk in the Spirit, yielded to God, we will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit.  And love is the ultimate expression of God.  When we love God, our neighbor, and one another, we are fulfilling the law, just as Christ fulfilled the law with His perfect and holy life.  We will not need to be disciplined if we discipline ourselves in right judgment, and turn from sin by turning towards God.  By walking in the Spirit, we are delaying judgment and discipline in our own lives.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What do I do when I sin?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I ask that You give me a heart so sensitive to righteousness that sin would make me nauseous.  Help me to immediately, and without reservation, seek You when I find myself in a situation where I feel pressured to act in disobedience to You and Your known will for me.  Help me to immediately seek You and overcome the pull of all sin in my life.  Guard my heart against all wrongdoing, and give me a heart that seeks You and rejoices in You and Your holiness and righteousness.  Forgive me for my many sins.  Help me to enumerate them to You.  Bring to mind every sin that I have not confessed to You, that I may bring it out into Your perfect and holy light, that they would be known to me.  Grant me the strength and grace to leave them at the cross, and to walk in Your holy way.  Do whatever is necessary, and provide the situations needed, so that I can practice walking in holiness before You.  You have promised to never leave nor forsake me, and I call upon You now, Lord God Almighty, to make good on this promise so that I can worship You in holiness with clean hands and a pure heart, and take communion with peace in my heart, knowing that my walk pleases You.  This I pray in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Forgiving Others – Matthew 18:21-35

Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

A Quantifying Question

Peter asks a question of Jesus, which he then answers.  But Jesus does something that Peter doesn’t expect – He gives him an answer that is far beyond the fathomable realm of belief.  The prophet Amos indicated that three times was the appropriate number of times to forgive before exacting justice.  Seven times would have been more than gracious.  Then Jesus comes out with what appears to be a ludicrous number – seventy seven times.  Some translations of the Bible put the number at seventy times seven.  It is not the number that should be focused upon – no one would be able to mentally remember how many times that would be.  The number was so exceedingly high as to indicate that we should continually forgive others.

A Perfect Parable

Jesus then introduces one of the most frightening of parables.  It has royal intrigue, forgiveness, hardness of heart, and a terrible outcome.  We should take and internalize it so that we can understand its implications and realize the perilous ground that we find ourselves standing on when, by hardness of heart, we refuse to forgive others of their offenses against us, no matter how insignificant, nor how great and devastating.

Insurmountable Indebtedness

The debt was astronomical – ten thousand bags of gold.  Just for a reference, let’s place a fictitious weight in each bag, then get a rough idea of how much money was at stake.  Let’s say that each bag of gold held twenty pounds of gold (for the sake of argument).  That would be 200,000 pounds of gold.  Each pound of gold would have twelve Troy ounces – 2,400,000 ounces of gold.  And at today’s prices, even if we were to low-ball – $1000 US per ounce – that would be 2.4 BILLION US dollars!

This would have been an unfathomable debt for the average person.  But if it seems like someone could actually pay that off, multiply it times one million, or a billion.  The idea is that there is an unfathomable debt to repay, and that no reasonable person could repay it.  We find ourselves in that very situation.  For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.  Each of us owes a blood-debt that we cannot pay.

Royal Relief

The man who owed this to the king begged for mercy.  And in a show of great compassion, the king forgave the man of his debt.  Imagine the relief that the man must have felt!  And imagine the pain it must have caused the king to lose that much.  But the king was gracious, and the man greatly profited from his compassion.

This is the same situation that we each find ourselves in.  The price of sin is the blood of a sinless person.  Because none of us are sinless, we cannot repay our debt.  But Jesus Christ died for our sins, and shed His sinless blood for us, so that we could pay our blood-debt to God, and be free.

A Hardened Heart

The forgiven man then went out and found a man who owed him just a little money.  Possibly not having any money after squandering the billions in gold, he began to try to get some money from people who owed him.  And when the man who owed him asked for mercy, the forgiven man wouldn’t forgive his debt.

When we refuse to forgive someone of their debt to us, we are like the forgiven man who won’t forgive a much smaller debt.  We should be grateful that God has forgiven us, and show that same forgiveness to others.  When we will not forgive another person’s debt to us, we are acting out of a hardened heart.  We forget what God has done for us, and desire justice where there should be mercy.

Forgiveness harms the forgiver three ways:

  • The original pain of the offense
  • The pain in forgiving the debt
  • The knowledge that there will be no justice for the debt

Yet, God did this for each and every person who would believe in Him.  And it is up to us to do the same.  Is the pain real?  Yes.  Does it hurt?  Most certainly.  Will the pain ever go away?  Some pain takes longer than others to heal.  Yet, we are still to do what is right.

Colossal Consequences

When the king heard about the hardness of the forgiven man’s heart, he turned the man over to the jailer to be tortured until he repaid his debt.  Since the debt was not payable, he would be tortured for a very long time indeed.  We are warned that unforgiveness is a great offense to God, and that He will deal with us in a similar manner if we don’t forgive others as we have been forgiven.

We can look at this several ways.  We can look at this as an obligation, a direct command from God – forgive others, for I have forgiven you.  While certainly this is implied, it is difficult to do.  Another way to look at this is through the heart of compassion.  Do you realize just how much God has forgiven you?  Every mistake, every sin of commission and omission, every little and great thing we have done wrong, has been completely forgiven.  When we realize just how little a debt that others owe us in comparison to what we have been forgiven, we can place it in its rightful place and let it go.  Even terrible things like molestation, psychological and physical abuse, and other things that are so terrible that they can barely be spoken about, are minuscule in comparison to the debt that we have with just one single, little sin against God.  For when we break any part of the law, we have broken all of it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When someone sins against me, am I quick to forgive them?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are gracious to me, and have forgiven my sin.  Help me, Father, to recognize just how much I have been forgiven.  Help me to have a heart of compassion and mercy to others, so that when they sin against me, I may forgive them.  Help me to embrace Your character, and to grow in grace and mercy as I put forth every effort to forgive.  And I pray, Father, that when someone does something that hurts me so bad that I don’t want to forgive them, that You would help me to put their sin in its proper place, and give me the strength, courage, and ability to lay their sin at the foot of the cross where it belongs.  And when the enemy of my soul, Satan and his minions, try to dredge up the memory of other people’s sin against me, I pray that You will give me the ability to remember that it at the foot of the cross, and to not be emotionally compromised by it.   And help me to remember that when the final trumpet is sounded, the enemy of my soul will be cast into the lake of fire, to be tormented forever, as justice is properly served.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Restoration by God – Psalm 90:13-17

May God Remember and Restore His People In Their Afflictions

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us-
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Compassion for Crushing

Moses was a man who spent so much time, and time spent so closely with God, came back from his meetings with God with his face glowing.  Moses, in this psalm, implores Almighty God to relent from His affliction upon the people.  They had been afflicted for so long, that a generation of people had lived and died in affliction, only seeing difficulty, and never seeing rest.

Moses cries out and asks that God would have compassion on His people, and relent from His anger.  How much do we do each day, whether in commission or omission, that angers God?  Our affliction is often brought upon us as a character building exercise.  We need to both remember that God is for us, and that we aren’t yet ready.  It is OK to ask God to relent and to show us compassion.  We are but a wisp of smoke, here now, fragile, and quickly dispersed.

Lavish Love

Moses asks that God satisfy us by lavishing His love upon us.  In the Western World, consumerism and competition vie for our efforts to earn more money to buy more things to supposedly satisfy and satiate our desires.  The only real satisfaction we receive is when we are reconciled to God, and we experience His peace through His Love.  It is only then that our restless hearts can be satisfied, and only with the love that He provides.

When we are satisfied by our relationship in God, we are much more able to experience joy in our hearts.  We know in our minds that everything that God says is true.  It is only after experiencing the truth of God’s love, and the truth of His word as it becomes real to us through experience, that we are truly able to tightly grasp our Savior, and cling to Him with joy and contentment.  It is only then that we can set aside the desires to accumulate wealth and power and importance and other things that the world offers.  For it is in the gentle, loving embrace of our Savior and Father and constant Companion that we are able to truly be satisfied.

Reciprocal Response

Moses goes on to ask God to grant us a time of gladness that is in exact proportion to the time that we have spent in affliction.  This may seem a little odd, as most people spend only a short time in affliction.  But ask anyone who has been afflicted with difficulty for more that a decade, and they will tell you how difficult and life-changing it would be to be rid of their affliction, and to receive a commensurate time of gladness following the trial.

Oh, what joy that would be!  To not only be rid of the constant pain that wounds and reminds us of its power in our lives, but that there can come a time of gladness.  For when a person deals with prolonged pain, suffering, and misery (especially misery), it can seem that the time of gladness will not come until the sweet separation of the spirit from the body in death.

Generational Good

Moses asks that God lavish His love and compassion not only onto this generation, but to each successive generation of people as well.  It is very important to parents that their children have every opportunity to thrive and survive, and generational, continual oppression through the wrath and anger of God and cause sane men and women to want to give up hope.  But if their children can continue to receive the bountiful blessing that they have received, even late in life, the pain, suffering, and misery was worth it.

Establish Efforts

One of the ways that Moses asks that God blesses His people is to establish the work of their hands.  Imagine that everything you did, no matter how spectacular or seemingly good, was immediately wasted or produced not real results.  What if everything that you did had no lasting meaning.  It is one of the most discouraging things that can happen to a man is to realize that all of their efforts came to nothing – that everything they did and worked for had no meaning.

While we should all find our meaning in Christ, men are wired to also find meaning in the successful labors of their hands and hearts.  When that comes to nothing, it can have a devastating effect upon people.  Moses therefore asks God to establish the work of God’s people’s hands, that they can look back upon their efforts and see that they did not waste their life and energy in vain.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  How do we cope with constant, unending, unyielding affliction?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, everything that You do is right, and You can do no evil.  Give me strength and courage as I remember Your character, for my affliction in great, and my suffering severe.  Have compassion upon me, Lord, and relent from Your anger towards me.  Though You use these trials to shape and mold my character, I ask that You remember me – act divinely upon my behalf – and restore me as You did Job once my trials have been completed.  Please do not leave me in my affliction without recourse, for I hope to believe that there is relief apart from death.  And once You have finished Your work  in these trials, I ask, Lord God, that You give me as many years of joy and gladness as you have sorrow and misery.  Remember me through all of this, Lord God.  Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Grace of God – Isaiah 26:7-11

The Wicked Don’t Recognize The Grace Of God

7 The path of the righteous is level;
you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous
smooth.
8 Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.
10 But when grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.
11 Lord, your hand is lifted high,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;
let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.

Smooth Sailing

It is the Lord God Almighty that smooths the difficulties of life for the disciple.  God will make the path of the righteous straight, and set them on course because they have believed in Him and believe what He says.  God is sovereign, and He promises to take care of the righteous and their ways, and watch over them as they live their lives for Him.

Delightful Desires

When a person believes God, the path of righteousness becomes a joy to them.  Previously, righteousness would stand in the way of wicked, blocking them from their heart’s desires.  Now, righteousness becomes the very desires of their hearts.  They cannot help but desire to walk in righteousness before God.  He Himself places this desire in our hearts, and we now, with the stink and stain of sin removed, can fully embrace and recognize the beauty of righteousness.

We desire it so much that our souls long for it.  After walking with God for a little while, we seek righteousness out as though it was water and we are thirsty in the desert.  Only righteousness, and the presence of our Lord, can quench our immense thirst.

Wickedness Wastes

The wicked, however, even when presented with the grace of Almighty God, still do not realize its value.  They do not learn righteousness from it, because they are still blinded by their sin.  Even when the wicked are placed in a community of the righteous, they continue to do what they do, rather than learn the ways of righteousness.

There are people who believe that if you place people who have ethics and morals that are corrupt in amongst people who have good moral fiber and a strong work ethic, that somehow the ethics, morals, and desire to participate in jobs that benefit themselves and society will rub off on them and spur them on to greatness.  But the exact opposite almost always happens.  The people who are transplanted instead begin the corruption of the community, and the community suffers rather than the individual being rehabilitated by contact and proximity to exemplary behavior.

The only way that it will work is if there is a desire by the transplanted people to embrace the ideals and culture of where they are moved.  Otherwise, no change is possible.  That is the result of our human condition.  We are not able to escape it apart from the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It is only then, being freed from the bondage of sin by the blood of Jesus, that we are able to obey God and love Him.

Pending Peril

Not only are they unable to see and seek righteousness, the wicked do not even see the hand of God raised above them, ready to invoke and inflict judgment upon them.  They are unaware of the signs because they cannot see them.  Sin so fully blinds us that we walk around in a stupor, doing what we know is wrong, yet unaware that consequences are soon to follow.

One of the effective strategies for luring criminals into traps by police is to send them letters indicating that they have won something.  Greed is so powerful in their lives, that they willingly show up at the phony storefront to claim their prize, only to find that their prize is a trip to prison.  Greed blinded them to their need for obscurity and overwhelmed them with a false sense of security, masking the true nature of their circumstances.

Consumed through Conflagration

And when people absolutely refuse to accept the truth, God send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.  He helps them to harden their hearts, for they refuse to listen to the One calling to them and trying to plow the soil of their hearts for the planting of seeds.  Hearts hardened by life will reject the seeds of grace and mercy, and will eventually provide the very opportunity to receive the wrath of God rather than the grace of God.  And once we die, it is too late.  So if you hear the voice of the Lord calling you to repentance, heed it now while He may be found.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I in a position where my heart can hear what God desires to tell me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have poured and continue to pour out your grace and mercy upon me each and every day.  Your mercies renew every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.  Help me to guard my heart against the difficulties of life so that I will not become embittered by my circumstances.  Help my heart to soften, that I may be in a better position to hear what You have to say.  Father, I pray that the hearts of the unbelievers would be softened as well, so that they might hear and be able to embrace Your love, grace, and mercy.  Help them, Lord God, for as Your word says, they will be consumed by your wrath if they do not repent.  This I ask in the precious name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Healing by God – Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus Healed Every Sickness And Disease

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Serve Soup

Catharine and William Booth started the Salvation Army.  They embraced the call of Christ to send workers into His harvest field.  As indicated in this passage, there are two parts to healing a person:

  1. Take care of their physical needs
  2. Take care of their spiritual needs

For the Salvation Army, the cry was “soup, soap, salvation.”

The first thing that we as Christians should do is look to the physical.  When someone is hungry, the message of salvation is hollow compared to the pain in their stomach.  When attempting to reach people, see if there are physical needs that first need to be met.  God may be using you as His messenger to prepare the way for the gospel through this simple act of charity.  It is hard to tell someone who God loves them and provides for them when they are homeless, in abject poverty, and are starving.  We must meet people where they are.  One they have eaten physical food, they are in a better position to consume spiritual food.

Supply Soap

After they are fed, they may feel uncomfortable.  Give them the opportunity for dignity.  Washing of their physical bodies is the next step in preparation.  After dealing with hunger, are they having problems with some other physical need?  Do they need a coat to keep them warm in the winter?  Are they walking around barefoot because they have no shoes?  The “soap” part deals with the non-food physical needs of the person.  Have you practiced hospitality?  In today’s world, it is dangerous to invite a stranger into your home.  Many people have been severely injured, even to the point of death by strangers who have ill-intent towards them.  Yet we are called to be ambassadors for Christ.

And while we need to consider our safety and the safety of our family, have we made every effort to help those who just don’t know where to go or what to do find the resources that they need to survive?  What does it cost to call a cab to take someone to a shelter?  Until our physical needs are met as well, we won’t be in a position to listen about our spiritual needs.

God sent His son out to heal people of their physical and spiritual issues.  Where two or more are gathered in the character of God, He is there also.  Why not ask people if you can pray over them for God’s physical healing in their life?  One of the efforts that prepared the way for the gospel was the miraculous healing of people.  God still want’s us to go out and give comfort and healing to people, just as we received it from Him.

Send Salvation

Once our physical needs have been met, we can finally listen with our ears.  Jesus Christ cared enough about every person that ever lived on this planet to come down from Heaven and die upon a cross for our sins.  We also should be willing to take the message of salvation, a far more valuable and important need of man than physical healing to those who may never hear it.

Some people may be deaf to the word of God because the trinkets of wealth call to them.  Some people may not hear because the emotional pain of the difficulties in their lives drown it out.  Some people cannot hear because the physical pain of their bodies screams like a boiling kettle of water.  And others just haven’t heard.

In business, there is a term that is used to keep people on-task: “go for the low-hanging fruit.”  Fruit that is too high in the tree takes too much time and effort to go after.  And while it is valuable, the low hanging fruit is more plentiful and profitable.  If we spend all of our time going after the fruit high in the tree, we will miss out on the opportunities that are most profitable in the time we have been provided during the harvest:

7 “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts- 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”

Note that Jesus does NOT say, “And when you enter a village or home, stay there until every last person has heard the message and accepted it.  Take as much time as is needed to make sure that you miss no one, and do not leave until every person has given their lives to God”.  On the contrary – Jesus tells them that if people won’t listen, move on.  That is the essence of harvesting “low-hanging fruit” – gathering as much as you can in the least amount of time that you can, because the harvest season is short, and is now near its conclusion.

So what is stopping us from bringing the message that will save people’s souls from eternity in Hell to those who need to hear it?  Are we terrified that our lives may end?  Are we afraid for loss of property?  What ARE we afraid of?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When around other people outside of work, what is primarily on my mind?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have seen fit to save me from my sin.  Help me now to have renewed effort in spreading the word of Your salvation message to those who may not have heard it.  Help me to remember that I am merely the messenger, and if people reject the message, they are not rejecting me, but the message that has been delivered.  Give me the strength and will to overcome any fear in talking with others about You so that You may be proclaimed everywhere.  And in places where it is too dangerous to speak Your name, give me the boldness of heart to do so anyway, for I would rather die proclaiming your Name than live hundreds of years hiding in fear for my life.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Grace of God – John 1:14-18

God Is Full Of Grace

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Glorious Grace

Since before time began, God was the embodiment of grace.  Before any matter ever existed, grace had always been and was perfected invested in the Lord God Almighty.  Knowing all that would ever transpire, it took God grace to bring it into existence, knowing the pain and hardship that would follow.  God’s grace, as a key part of His perfect and defining character, would be fully on display with the fall of humanity into sin, and the subsequent restoration of man through the life, death, and resurrection of none less than the Son of the Living God.

Angels seek to look into these things, for they have not been the recipient of God’s grace.  As the recipients of such a magnificent and glorious aspect of the character of God, we too should look into His grace throughout time since God sacrificed an animal for the sin of Adam, and gave a final sacrifice for sin through Jesus Christ.

First and Foremost

As an archetype, Jesus was and will always be the first and foremost in everything, for He was the one who, through His voice, brought all of creation into existence.  John the Baptist recognized this, and declared Jesus (his cousin) to be before him, even though John the Baptist was born first into a physical body ,and preached repentance and holiness in preparation for the grace that was to become ours through the perfect and final sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was not the first person to be awakened from his sleep in death (for more information, read up on the lives and deeds Elijah and Elisha in 1 & 2 Kings), but was the first to be transformed through His resurrection into His post-resurrection, perfected human form.  Christ was perfect and sinless, and therefore deserves to be the first in all.  He has rightly received the title King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for He and He alone did all that the Father desired of Him without ever sinning once.

Grace is Greater

Moses was entrusted with the Law of God, and through him came the other rules through which man may live in relationship with each other and with God.  The law is not grace, but rather a perfect litmus test to show us that everyone who was born as the seed of Adam is in need of God’s grace.  The law merely points out our need – grace fulfills the need.  And it is through the perfect grace of God that we are saved, and not by our own hands, that no one may boast.

Grace is like Bernoulli’s principle and the Law of God like gravity.  Gravity is a power force, but Bernoulli’s principle provides a stronger force to overcome it.  Grace overcomes the law, and as such is much more powerful.  As we set our eyes upon the the beauty of the One who is the embodiment of grace, we should remember that grace triumphs over the law as it is more powerful.

Radical Relationship

John briefly mentions in this passage the relationship between the Son and the Father, indicating that it Jesus is in the closest relationship with the Father.  It is through this amazing relationship that the sacrifice of Jesus that we are able to reap the benefit of God’s grace.  Even now, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding in prayer for us.  And the glory and the power of grace is being poured out from Heaven upon all who are the recipients of the imputed righteousness of Christ through the incredible relationship that exists between the Father and the Son.

This relationship is so powerful, that we are given the right to become God’s children through adoption.  God is not our foster parent; He is our adoptive Father, fully embracing us as His very own children, to participate in His glory and grace and riches.  For God owns all that He has created, and seeks to share His wealth with His children as an inheritance that is unequaled.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I growing in my relationship with others as in the same way that God seeks to deepen my relationship with Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have prepared everything in advance, and know all things before they happen.  You have foreseen my failures, and still love me and seek after me.  I thank You for your patience, kindness, mercy and grace.  Strengthen me when I fall, and help me to get back up immediately so that I can continue on this arduous journey of life that becomes more difficult with every passing second.  The time of the coming of Your Son approaches rapidly, and I seek to be prepared so that when He arrives, You will find Your house in order, and all that You have requested of me will have been accomplished.  Forgive me for my sins, and grant me Your mercy and grace, of which I need more of every moment that I grow in You, for as You reveal Yourself to me, I realize more and more just how far I am from the embodiment of holiness that is Your perfect character.  This I ask in Jesus’ Holy and Precious Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Grace of God – 1 Peter 1:13-16

Set Your Hope On The Grace Of God

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Grace of God

Most of the established denominational churches that profess to follow Christ stress the grace and mercy of God.  We are in desperate need of God’s mercy and grace, for without it, we would be subject to His judgement.  God goes to great lengths to remind us that it is only by His mercy and grace that we are permitted to be alive, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Grace is very important to remember and dwell upon, for in our time of need (which is every second of every day), we need to rely upon God’s character – both mercy and grace – to carry us throughout the day.  It is comforting to know that God is so generous with us because the other aspect of His nature – holiness – should give us great pause in how we view His grace and mercy.

The modern church often times stresses the grace and mercy of God as a way of living without the proper balance of the other portion of His character – holiness.  And while we are aware that God is holy, when we solely rely upon His grace and mercy without considering His holiness and righteousness, we do both God and ourselves a disservice.

We are told to fear God (reverentially and humbly view Him through the lens of love since He is, by definition, the embodiment of holiness).  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  It is foolishness to embrace God’s grace and mercy without embracing God’s holiness as well.

Eschew Evil

In order to embrace God’s holiness, we must first recognize that holiness is the abject hatred, scorn, and revulsion of evil.  It is only through despising evil that we can remove ourselves from its very strong call even after being freed from its bondage.  As beings with a predisposition towards sin, we are naturally attracted to and can easily embrace that which offends Almighty God.  It is only after understanding God’s viewpoint of sin that we are able to align ourselves and identify with God’s position on it.

Without a profound revelation of how much God abhors evil, we won’t be able to view it in the same way that God does.  And God understands that since we are predisposed towards sin, He offers us grace and mercy.  It is only through His grace and mercy that we can be forgiven such great offense towards God.  Until we are broken by our sin, we will eagerly embrace grace and mercy without the singular revulsion toward that which God so deeply despises.

Wholly Holy

As image-bearers of God, we have a sacred obligation to do that which we were created to do: to display the glory and holiness of God.  As recipients of grace and mercy, we are given the tools to do this.  Christ has broken the very strong hold that sin exerts in the lives of those who accept the free gift of God through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In receiving this wonderful gift, we are not to abuse God’s grace and mercy:

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Living life completely dependent upon God’s grace and mercy without taking into account our own actions is to abuse God’s leniency.  As we submit our lives to the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus Christ did, we will find that we more greatly desire the holiness of God and obedience to His word as we seek to distance ourselves from that which offends God.  It is through the discipline of submission and obedience that we participate in the character of God, as Jesus modeled for us when He walked the Earth two thousand years ago.  As disciples of Christ, it behooves us to carefully consider our every action, word, and thought, that we would better emulate the character of the One that created us in order to reflect His love – the balance between grace, mercy, and holiness.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I seeking the holiness of God to the same extent that I see His grace and mercy?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for all that You have done to free me from the bondage of sin.  Thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that I may live.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy when I fail to be who You created me to be.  Help me to submit myself to You so that I can live in the manner in which You have chosen for me to live before the foundation of the world.  Guard me and guide me in all my ways.  May I live solely to please You as I seek to walk with Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to be the disciple that You so very much want me to be.  Help me always to remember that You are holy, and to not abuse Your grace and mercy.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Matthew 18:15-17

 Discipline Is a Corporate Issue – Not Just a Personal One

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Personal Part

In fact, we ARE our brother’s keeper! It has been drilled into our minds that we shouldn’t judge others, or we will be judged in the same fashion.  But Jesus clearly provides us with a path of reconciliation when there has been a wrongdoing between the redeemed.  The hardest part is the initial confrontation. But we are told to do it anyways.  Proverbs 9:8 states that a wise person will love you if you rebuke them.  A person who has tuned their heart to God will want to know if they are doing something unrighteous – they have purposed their heart to do right.  Pointing out a wrongdoing helps them to learn, grow, be wiser, and better honor God.

And while everyone is at a different point in their walk with God, and we aren’t the Holy Spirit, we should confront those who are sinning against us personally or sinning openly.  If you see someone engaging in open sin, it needs to be addressed.  They will become leaven, and a little leaven will leaven the whole lump of dough.  You don’t want your local church to be known as, “the people who do everything the world does.”

Sometimes when the person sins, they are deeply steeped in their sin.  Since sin blinds us to itself, there is the possibility that the person won’t acknowledge that they are doing something wrong.  When that happens, it is time to take it to the next level.

Additional Assistance

When a person refuses to acknowledge their sin against you (or open sin), it is now necessary to confront them with two or more witnesses.  Since you are a witness, you only need one or two more people with you.  The purpose of the additional witnesses is two-fold:

  • By two or more witnesses shall all charges be established
  • Additional people bring weight to what you are saying:
    • They may be upset with you and unable to hear what you are saying, but they might listen to someone else
    • In the event that a confrontation went bad when you were alone, the other person will be much more hesitant to do something with others around

If a second (and possibly third) person sees what you see and agrees that there is an issue, have them accompany you when you go to confront the person again. They will be able to help confirm what you are seeing, or, perhaps they will not see it; perhaps YOU are in error!  Either way, having a fresh set of eyes look at something will help confirm the issue or to eliminate personal bias and show why it is not an issue.

You should carefully choose whom you tell about this issue – anyone that you confide in should be spiritually mature.  If possible, choose Elders in the church that THEY attend for witnesses.  The Elders (hopefully!) have been selected, among other reasons, because they are full of the Spirit of God and spiritually mature.  It is important that when addressing sin within the body that it be done in such a way that it does not appear to be someone gossiping or being petty.  Elders can help with confidentiality as well as guide you in the best manner to approach them again, even and especially if you approached the person prayerfully and with great humility.

The sad part is, some people just won’t listen.  A root of bitterness may have become deeply embedded in their heart.  It could also be a pride issue.  Whatever the reason, the person hasn’t responded to you and the one or two witnesses who came with you to talk to him/her after praying (and I recommend fasting).  When this happens, it is time to take it to the next level.

Church Chastening

Tell it to the Church (the local body of believers where THEY are worshiping).  The purpose of telling the Church is so that they can approach the person with humility, tell them that they are praying for them, and exhort them to do what it right in God’s eyes.  The whole purpose of this exercise is to reconcile people.  The Church isn’t to condemn the person, but to lovingly bring them back from the precipice of sin.

And if after telling the Church the person refuses to repent, it is now time to take it to the next level.

Sorrowful Separation

The local body of believers are now to expel the immoral believer.  Even corporately, they were unable to convince this person to repent.  They should now ask them to leave the body, and refuse them worship and communion.  They shouldn’t even associate with them:

  • Don’t talk to them
  • Don’t eat with them
  • Don’t worship with them
  • And in the power of the Holy Spirit, turn them over to Satan

The purpose of this is to show them that they are in error.  When Satan has his way with them, and God doesn’t help them, they will be miserable and greatly desire fellowship with the Church and God again.

Paul had this to say about separating yourself from unrepentant sinners in the Church (this concerns the sin of sexual immorality, but applies to all unrepentant sin):

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

(Just a quick note – the verb translated “Expel” [exareite in the Greek] is an imperative command, not a suggestion!)

And after a period of painful separation, with the Holy Spirit working on their hearts, they will hopefully turn again to the God who saved them, provides for them, has forgiven them, and joins them to Himself.

Reconciliation is Required

Once they repent, let them come back into the Church.  Monitor them carefully, and when they have proven themselves repentant and following God, restore them.  Again, this entire process is about reconciliation, not shunning or judging.  We are told to judge those within the body.  But also remember – we need to give grace to those who are young in the faith.  For God doesn’t want us to injure those whose faith is young and fragile.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we corporately following scripture with regard to keeping the leaven out of the Church, and restoring the repentant believers?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for giving us a way to address issues between brothers and sisters in Christ.  We pray that anytime we need to be reconciled, that we would have a right heart attitude, and that the other person would have a heart of humility and repentance as well.  Help me to make sure that I am in the right attitude when I approach any brother or sister in Christ with such an issue.  Give me the words to say, and guide my actions and thoughts as I approach them.  Father, instill in us a greater sense of Your Holiness, that we would desire that the body of Christ would worship You in Truth and Spirit.  Let us not, for the sake of “peace”, ignore sin in the body, and so make it a haven for leaven.  Search our hearts, O God, and see if there is any wrongdoing within us.  Help us to rid ourselves of sin and walk in righteousness before You.  And when politics in the church cause people to be unfairly treated, I pray Lord God Almighty that You would deal with the hearts of those causing the issue, and show them the truth.  And if they don’t respond after repeated attempts, Lord God, remove them from their position of authority or influence, for their hearts are no longer in the right place to righteously lead or counsel Your people.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Forgiven by God – Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It is a blessing to be forgiven. What a relief!  It is also expected that we will forgive as we have been forgiven.  So why is it so hard to forgive when we have been forgiven so much?  We suffer three injuries every time we forgive:

  • The Initial Offense – We suffer from the harm that happened because of the event
  • The Pain of Reconciliation – We must come to terms with the pain of offense and let that pain go, since we consider it as though it never happened
  • The Absence of Justice – We suffer knowing that since we have chosen to forgive, justice will not occur for the offense

Yet, we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven.  But why does it seem that every day people are getting more evil than ever?  Perhaps this is why (Matthew 24:12-13):

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Besides, everything has already been paid in full already.  Just as some physical injuries take longer to heal than others, the pain of sin and forgiveness can take longer for certain events.  Either way, we are called to be perfect like God.  So, like everything else in life, practice makes perfect – make forgiveness the first state of mind when someone wrongs you.  And let God take care of the rest.  Lean on Him for strength and healing.  For:

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Be an oak of righteousness; forgive as God has forgiven you.  And let God give you the oil of joy and a garment of praise.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have forgiven us more that we can even comprehend.  From the worst of sinners as Paul described himself to the ones who led good lives, we have all sinned and fallen short of Your glory.  Forgive us this day our trespasses, and help us to forgive the trespasses of others.  Strengthen us as we deal with the consequences of not only our own sin, but the sin of others.  Help us to remember what it cost You to forgive our sins, that we might put everything into perspective.  Touch our hearts and comfort us as we draw close to you.  This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Healing with God – James 5:14-16

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

One of the most effective and visible ministries of Jesus was His healing ministry.  The needs of the people for spiritual and physical healing were immense.  Jesus healed people from demonic possession, disease, and even death itself.  In every case, there was always faith.  In one instance, it is recorded that Jesus was unable to do many miracles because of a lack of faith.  Faith was the key ingredient.  And it wasn’t always the faith of the one being healed:

  • A centurion’s servant was healed.  Who had the faith?  The centurion or the paralyzed servant?
  • The son of a man who was demon possessed was healed by Jesus when the disciples could not drive it out.  Who had the faith?   The man, or the son?
  • A Canaanite woman’s daughter who was demon possessed was healed.  Who had the faith?  The woman or her daughter?
  • A paralyzed man was healed when his friends lowered him through a roof to give him access to Jesus.  Jesus then saw THEIR faith.  Not HIS faith.  It was the faith of the friends that Jesus saw and responded.

In all of these cases, it was the faith of someone other than the recipient of healing whose faith prompted Jesus to respond with healing, and in some cases, even praise their faith!  In that light, let’s take a look at James 5:15

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

In this case, it is the prayer of the elders offered in faith, not the person who is sick.

So, are you sick?  Do you need a healing touch from God?  Be obedient to God’s word: go to a Bible teaching, Bible believing church, and have the elders of that congregation anoint you with oil and pray over you, so that whatever issue you have, spiritual or physical, it will be healed; and if you have sinned, you will be forgiven.  And remember that it is the faith of the elders, not yours, that will heal you.  Since you have gone to them IN FAITH, IN OBEDIENCE to scripture, your faith is noted as well.  And if you are still concerned, pray what the father of the demon possessed son said/prayed, “I believe – help my unbelief!”

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, you respond to faith, for faith is the expression of our belief in You of who You are.  Cleanse me this day of my unrighteousness.  Forgive my sins.  Bolster my faith, and help me to be obedient to Your Word, even if it doesn’t make sense to me.  Father, You healed even Naaman, commander of the army of Aram, when in obedience, he washed himself seven times in the Jordan, and his leprous skin became like the skin of a young boy.  You are sovereign, Lord God, and nothing is impossible for You.  Remember Your servant this day.  In obedience, I come to You and will do as You ask, that You may be glorified.  Prepare the elders’ hearts as I go to seek them out.  For You are forever faithful, doing everything that You promise.  Prepare my heart now, Lord, for I know You will bring this about.  This I ask in the name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?