Sunday, September 10, 2006
So, I like many others, have asked the question-
why does He not do more through me?
-Many have suggested that it is because we, Southern Baptists in general, have muzzled the Spirit. We have denied him access to certain areas of our life. We have chosen to live self-centered, egotistical lives that deny His power. I think that maybe there is validity to this. King Saul gave God the very best of the city of Amalek in 15. If you remember, God had told him to kill everything. He disobeyed and kept the best of the best for worship. Second Timothy 3:5 talks about having a form of religion but denying the power thereof. When we put this in its context, there are a host of other problems associated with these verses. Saul hid when he was asked to be king, allowed fear to cripple his army when Goliath blasphemed our LORD, tried to kill his servant David several times, and made some really bad decisions as a leader. He wanted to keep the kingdom at all cost. In the 2 Tim passage, there was a definite problem with authority, and self control. Feel free to read the list of problems that these power deniers had.
If we are to judge based upon our results, how many churches we have planted, how many people were baptized because of our ministry, or how many lives that we have impacted, I would suggest that we are using the wrong measuring stick. If you will also remember, Noah worked on an ark for a very long time, and in doing so preached righteousness. He had no converts outside his own family. God's call to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-11, God told Isaiah that there would be no converts. Mark 5:17 Jesus himself was asked to leave the city because he healed a demon possessed man. In the book of 2 Tim, Paul states that everyone in Asia had turned away from him, implying that they had rejected the gospel as well.
We are so results oriented that production is drilled into us from the time that we are children even into our senior years. When we look to the scriptures, for valid prayers, One prayer for healing that comes to mind is found in 2 Kings 20 - Hezekiah prayed to the Lord that he would not die. He lived an extra 15 years. The last fifteen years of his life he had a son named Manasseh. Manasseh became king at the age of 12, likely the year that his father died, and the Bible tells us that he did evil in the sight of the Lord. He rebuilt all the high places of idolatry that his father had destroyed.
I understand that we pray for healings so that people can see the results and put their trust in Jesus, and that there is a gift mentioned that bears this name. However, I remember so many times that Jesus' miracles did not result in people's turning to Him as Lord, but rather a big papa Santa in the sky. Consider the time that Jesus fed 5000 men plus women and children! Wow, what a miracle. What an opportunity for people to come to Him in faith. Yet, look at the results. They didn't turn to him in faith, but with a palm raised "Oh, Lord. Give us this bread always", they said. He made his famous statement about drinking his blood and eating his flesh, many disciples turned away from him. He turned to t he others and ask if they were going too. Peter responded there's no where else to go -loose paraphrase.
I know that Jesus told his disciples to heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. I understand that Jesus caused the blind to see, and lame to walk. However, most of the times that he did so was on a sabbath, and there was immediate conflict between him and the Jewish leaders. My purpose is not to discredit His work, however, to just state that his preferred method was to use the ordinary. see Jn 4:48
There are no accounts of Jesus' healing at Sycar in Jn. 4. However, an entire harvest was gained for the kingdom. The Great commission tells us to make disciples. We are to baptize, and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded. We are not told to heal them. We are to be instant, in season and out of season. We are to preach the Word. I believe that God is much more concerned with who we are rather than what we do.
James tells us that if there is anyone sick, let him call the elders of the church. Notice, that the responsibility is for the sick man, not the elders. The elders will pray and anoint, and he will be healed. Notice in the passage, three things that the Lord will do. 1. heal, 2. raise up, and 3. forgive his sin. We cannot isolate this text. If the person does not repent from his sins, he will not likely be able to come before the elders of the church. Elders of the church have the responsibility to hold this brother accountable, help him to get the medical attention needed, take his meds, get the exercise, practice what is right. This is because that elder is a shephard.
I struggle when people want me to pray so that they will have an extra good luck charm, -my prayers. I don't know how to respond to their request. I don't want to offend them by saying no or trying to explain my hesitation. Yet, on the other hand, I want much more for them than that they sell their veggies for that day.
On the same note, I have gone into a restaurant and asked the waiter how I can pray for him. When he didn't understand my question, I told him that I would pray that they would sell all the prepared food that they have for that day. I still eat in there often, and told the one waiting on me specifically what I was praying for. I am waiting for further directions from the Lord. This did not help the waiter directly, but rather the restaurant. The next time that I went there, I was received differently. I have also given a practical book to the owner, whose wife recently had a baby boy.
1. Maybe there are things in our life that need to be changed, but if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence toward God, and whatever we ask we receive of Him because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.(1Jn3:20-22)
2. Results will ultimately be shown when the judge comes.
3. Jesus' healings helped to establish His identity. However, for many they only established a free lunch, with the prospect of another tomorrow.
4. Harvest does not have to depend upon bells, whistles, emotions and healings.
5. Healing ministry of the church is based in shephard care.
6. we can ask our Lord anything that we wish, and if it is in accordance with His will, and our hearts do not condemn us, we can know that we have asked of Him.
Hope that this is helpful to somone else as well. It is helpful for me to put it down in print.