Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Could Jesus be sitting among us every Sunday?

The month of May we are focusing on the second half of our motto, "In to heal. Out to love." As I was thinking about what this love should look like - this love that we are to take outside the walls of our home and church - Linda came to my mind. You see, Linda has been a member of our church her whole life. Linda may be mentally challenged, but if you show her old photos from our church archives, she knows all the previous pastor's names! A while back, my husband gave Linda a job to do. She was to hand out the bulletins to everyone as they came in. Linda was thrilled to do this and it's rare now for someone not to get a bulletin from this faithful servant.

Every Sunday Linda sits in the front row, next to the pastor. Every Sunday she brings him coffee during the fellowship time and water during his preaching time. Almost every Sunday Linda kneels at the altar for prayer - but not for herself - no, she kneels for anyone in her life that she knows is sick. Linda doesn't come to church just to receive, she comes to give. There is hardly a holiday that goes by that my husband and I don't receive a gift from Linda. And ever since our son got married, she buys gifts for him and his family too.

Over the years, things have changed in our church. We discontinued the Wednesday and Sunday evening services. This took a while for Linda to process, because it meant less time of fellowship with her church family, yet she never complained.

A joy-filled, faithful, servant who lays down her life for her friends. Isn't this love?

I know Jesus is our PERFECT example of what love looks like, but is it possible, that when we look at Linda, we see Jesus sitting among us every Sunday?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Faith and healing

The eighth and ninth chapters of Matthew is full of accounts of Jesus healing people. Verse 17 of Chapter 8 says that:
"This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.'"
So we clearly know why He healed (to fulfill prophecy), but were there certain conditions present that made healing possible? The man with leprosy (8:1-4) recognized the lordship of Jesus. He came and knelt before Him. The centurion (8:5-13) recognized the authority of Jesus. He believed Jesus could just say the word and his servant would be healed.  But other times it seems Jesus healed people without even being asked!

What about faith? Clearly it factors in. Listen to the words of Jesus Himself:
[To those following Him and then to the centurion in 8:10b; 13] "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith." and "Go! It will be done as you believed it would."
[To the friends of the paralytic in 9:2b] "When Jesus saw their faith He said to the paralytic 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.'"
[To the woman subject to bleeding for twelve years in 9:22] "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you."
[To the two blind and mute men in 9:28-29] "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" [Then after they said yes] "According to your faith it will be done to you."
But then - sandwiched between all these accounts of faith - is the account of the disciples caught up in a storm that came on so suddenly and was so severe that the waves swept over their boat. (8:23-27) When the disciples cried out "LORD, save us! We're going to drown!" Jesus responds by saying "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Is this to show us the opposite of faith?

Next time I am in the middle of a storm, or in need of healing, will I believe that, although Jesus appears to be sleeping, if I recognize His lordship and authority over everything, and choose to believe, He will heal me?


Friday, April 15, 2016

Depression and fear

I've been thinking a lot about depression and fear this week. Where do they come from? Why do they affect so many people?

In my daily Bible reading, I came across 1 Samuel 16:14:
"Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear." (NLT)
The Spirit of the LORD left Saul because of his disobedience. In 1 Samuel 15:3, the prophet Samuel told Saul that God wanted him to go and completely destroy the Amalekite nation. We know from the following verses how Saul disobeyed God. Saul did slaughter most of the Amalekites...just not all of them. And he kept some of the best sheep, goats and sacrifice to God. In verse 10, the LORD tells the prophet that He is sorry he made Saul king, "for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command." God didn't ask Saul for a sacrifice, He asked him for obedience. Whether or not it made sense to Saul.

How often have I done most of what God wants me to do, but not all? And then, when God does not abide with me or bless me because of my sin, I get upset. I don't deny that we are all disobedient at one point or another, but what sets us apart is how we respond when we are confronted with our disobedience. In verse 20, when Samuel confronts Saul, he insists that he did obey God! Oh that we would examine our hearts before the LORD and see if we have disobeyed Him in any way.

I'll end with something I heard a long time ago. "Depression and anger postpone change." The change that needs to happen is first of all, repentance and then, a sorrow for sin. After that, we turn away from our sin and do what we know was right all along. We have David and Jonah as examples of that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Sound body and mind

Psalm 38:3 says "Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin." Webster's dictionary defines a sound body and mind as normal and healthy; not weak, diseased or impaired. Isn't that what we all want? Isn't that what Adam and Eve had before they sinned?

Most of us spend a lot of our excess time and money trying to achieve a sound body and mind. Should we also be looking beyond the physical for healing? When Jesus healed people, He often forgave their sin too. Could there be sin in our lives that we need to be healed of? Jeremiah 30:15 says:
"Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure?
Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you." 
This Sunday we will be looking at Jeremiah 30:17:
"But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the LORD, because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares."
God may bring sickness, but He also provides a way to be restored, or healed. That way is through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 1, 2016

In to heal

During the month of April, my husband will be focusing on the first part of our motto: "In to heal." It seems that when we developed the motto almost 5 years ago, we had a completely different congregation, so it makes sense to teach a whole new wave of people what our intention was when we came up with it.

When a person visits our church, most often they are looking for something. For some it's simply a new church home, and for others, it's hope or direction during, or after, a difficult season in their lives. But, no matter their reason, they are there and God expects that His people will act like His Son did when people came to Him. What did Jesus do for people who came to Him?
  1. He fed crowds.
  2. He forgave sin.
  3. He healed diseases.
  4. He taught them.
  5. He modeled love.
  6. He gave His life.
All of these things together bring healing to the whole person - the spirit, soul, mind and body. Our church (which represents the Body of Christ), must follow the example of Christ and offer healing to everyone who comes to us. And each person in the Body of Christ is responsible to participate in healing. Most often it will be in the very same way that God healed them, but before any type of healing can take place, we must make sure that the person has made Jesus Christ LORD of his/her life. Salvation is the ultimate healing.