Healing Testimony, 26 July, 2014

blood-lambWednesday evening July 23, 2014, Keith called to say several musicians would be away on Sunday, they would be shorthanded, and to ask if I could play the piano for Sunday’s worship service.

Sure, I agreed, and promised to be there for practice Sunday morning. No problem.

Saturday morning I awoke as usual to the playful antics of Friday and Baby (cats), insisting not too patiently that I arise and feed them. As usual I sat up a moment before sliding on bedroom slippers, and immediately was struck with back pain.

A deep throbbing ache in my right hip extended down my right leg. I could lie flat or stand okay, but sitting was a definite problem.

Since I had done nothing out of the ordinary physically the days preceding that – no heavy lifting, no twisting –  I suspected this was a “fit of pique,” designed by the enemy to keep me from playing the piano at church the next day. Naturally, playing the piano requires sitting on the piano bench.

Not that the church couldn’t worship perfectly fine without me. They could and would. But I had looked forward to joining the praise team in praise and worship. Hmmm. (I did wonder if the fact that I’d recently prayed for some other people with back pain had anything to do with it.)

Making my way to the kitchen to tend to kitty food and coffee I began praying about the situation, thanking God and praising Jesus the Healer. John 10:10, I reminded myself. I Peter 2:24, by the stripes of Jesus I am healed.

While standing at the kitchen counter I laid hands on every achy spot I could reach, taking authority in the name of Jesus over my own body and commanding spine and hips to be normal. I specifically mentioned spinal vertebrae, foramina, discs, muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels, demanding them to be completely healed, healthy, whole, strong and pain-free.

After breakfast, my Saturday housework plans underwent an amendment. No vacuuming, no dusting, no mopping. Instead, I put on an old DVD, lay flat on the living room sofa, and began a day of prayer and praise amid the antics of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, A&E’s 2001 television series.

Why the old familiar TV shows? Unlike watching the news, they required no mental attention, but they did distract my thoughts from the physical attention achy bones and muscles and nerves seemed to require.

They drowned out all the “you’re sick,” “you can’t do anything,” “you need a doctor,” “playing piano for church is out,” messages coming against my mind. I could more easily focus on praying in the spirit, praising and thanking the Lord for his word. For “sozo.” For healing.

Laying flat on the sofa with feet propped up and head on a cushion, all morning I prayed in the spirit, praised the Lord and recited healing scriptures while videos played in the background. I rebuked any enemy spirits that were “crunching, twisting or pounding” back muscles and nerves in my body. Occasionally I got up to refill my coffee cup. The kitties kept me company, probably puzzled at this change in routine.

Lunch came and went. More prayer in the spirit, more praise, more commands to places that hurt.

Then, mid-afternoon I switched gears. I began talking about the blood of Jesus to myself and to the enemy. About the cross, the nails, and the blood that flowed from Jesus’ back for my healing. I didn’t just mention “His stripes,” I discussed the result of those stripes.

Blood. Lots of blood, covering His head, arms, hands and feet — especially his back, hips, and legs. I began to describe the blood of Jesus.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11)

In an instant all the pain disappeared. Not gradually, not an improvement, there was suddenly no pain in my back, right hip and leg. The enemy simply couldn’t stand the blood of Jesus.

This was an important lesson to me. Prayer, praise, quoting scriptures, taking authority, laying hands on our own bodies, commanding and demanding health — they’re all important. I’m confident that eventually my body would respond.

But the most essential weapon in spiritual warfare is the blood of Jesus. Without His blood, there isn’t anything else.

 

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Discovery, ongoing process of worship

GrandSpiralGalaxyNGC1232So much more vast than all of space, Father God, just the edge of your little fingernail could crush our whole universe and disintegrate us into dust.

Creator of multitudes of galaxies, you are fully aware each moment of each infinitesimal component as each spins in perfect balance, obeying your design for it.

Yet having set these multitudes into motion, you made yourself small enough, intimate enough, personal enough and individual enough that you can see your own work with our eyes!

You experience it, explore it, examine it and enjoy it through our eyes, hearts, minds and souls. And as we discover your works in the vastness of your creation, you lead us to discover You.

You, your person and your personality. Your heart and your care for us, who you dreamed of and fashioned on this earth, this tiny planet, the people you have chosen for a habitation.

As we discover more of your works in heaven and in earth, help us never fail to discover more of you.

Adapted from February 2008 post, Creation.

“Pray not for this people…”

Jeremiah-Lamenting-the-Destruction-of-Jerusalem-1630-RembrandtJeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, Rembrandt 1630.

God’s laws were given to his people for their protection. The Ten Commandments contain the most practical spiritual, emotional, and economic laws imaginable.

Yet throughout history, many of God’s people have either rebelled against or ignored those laws, to their own detriment.

One day as I was re-reading the book of Jeremiah, several verses stood out…

In Jeremiah 7:16 God tells Jeremiah, “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.”

Again in Jeremiah 11:14 God says, “Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.”

And in Jeremiah 14:11-12 He reiterates, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”

Did you realize these verses were in the Bible?  Many times Christians are commanded to pray, to intercede — yet here God told Jeremiah not to. Why?

Because over and over the people had been told the consequences of breaking God’s laws and they had ignored the warnings. So now they wouldn’t be getting any more warnings, they would be getting the consequences. War. Famine. Disease. Captivity. (Or fires, tornados, floods, earthquakes, typhoons…?)

Prayer without intervention, without corresponding works and without repentance on the part of God’s people, just isn’t enough.

Is the day coming when God won’t hear our prayers for the United States?

In Jeremiah Chapters 42-43, a group of people requested Jeremiah to ask God for them what they should do, whether they should stay in the land under the rule of Babylon, or whether they should take the easy route and go to Egypt where they would be “safe.”

They declared that whatever God said, that’s what they would do. (42:6) So, Jeremiah asked God what they should do.

God said if they stayed put in their own land they would be okay, but if they went into Egypt they would be destroyed. Jeremiah gave the people God’s answer, but they didn’t like it. Instead of staying put like God told them, they went to Egypt and forced Jeremiah to go with them — and sure enough, they were destroyed.

Jeremiah is called the Weeping Prophet because he was grief-stricken over the sin of his nation, over the fact that the people kept ignoring God’s warnings. At one point he wanted to quit because the people were ridiculing him.

In Jeremiah 20:7, he said “I am in derision daily, everyone mocks me.” In verse 9 he says, “Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any  more in His name. But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forebearing, and I could not refrain.” He continued warning the people, though they continued ignoring his warnings.

What might this mean for us today?

Unless we keep speaking out, standing up and intervening, and unless the people of our nation heed the warnings, there may come a day when God tells us to quit praying.

(Reposted from February, 2007 – still appropriate.)

Under cover of darkness

FireworksIowaJimaMonumentIn recent weeks I have experienced a peculiar sadness, an unexplained grief in my spirit off and on.

No matter what else I was doing – housework, grocery shopping, reading – I would begin to feel grief-stricken, as though something really bad had happened somewhere, or was getting ready to.

I was 14 the first time this happened, June 16, 1957 when my great grandmother Mary Emily Dunnahoe Springs died. I didn’t know her really, had only visited her once or twice with my grandmother. I knew she’d been bedridden because of a broken hip for years, but had no idea she was sick otherwise.

Spending the summer at my grandparents’ farm in Effingham, I had just gone to bed when suddenly a horrible sadness come over me for no reason. I was wondering what on earth was wrong with me when the phone rang and my grandmother Mimi went to answer it. Mimi was upset and tearful when she came to tell me that her mother had just died. All I knew to do was pray.

Over the years that negative sensation has occasionally washed over me without any known cause. I’ve learned to pray whenever it comes, pray until the feeling subsides. Soon afterwards I usually learn that something bad or sad has happened, sometimes to a person I’m close to, sometimes not. Sometimes I never hear of anything bad happening, nothing I can point to, anyway.

This time, July the 4th kept popping up in my thoughts. The closer it got to that day, the stronger the sad feelings got. Each time I asked the Lord to show me who and what to pray for, and as they came to mind I’d intercede for those people, places and things.

The morning of the 4th the grief was still there. It was like waiting for another shoe to fall. The news on television and online wasn’t much different than in recent days. Middle East turmoil. Protests about illegal immigrants in California. Bad weather, like  Hurricane Arthur that was traveling up the eastern seaboard.

As the unsettled, grief-struck emotions rose and fell during the morning, I considered it a call to intercession. I prayed for every person, every situation that came to mind, from the President to the Israeli government to my own family. I included the hurricane.

Then — just after 2:30 PM eastern time, the grief instantly vanished, as if it had never been there. It didn’t just die down, diminish and eventually disappear. It was just gone.

What’s going on, Lord, I asked. Has something dreadful happened? In my family or among my friends? Something else, somewhere in the United States? In the Middle East? Or — perhaps was something dreadful prevented from happening, by the prayers of your people?

Doing an online search of national and international media this morning (both secular and Christian), I found no mention of a disaster or tragedy that was particularly unusual.

Wondering if anyone else (or how many others) had perceived the same sort of sadness in the spirit, I did an online search for “prophetic warnings.”

It didn’t take long to discover a wide variety of websites and blog posts. Some Christians are feeling quite positive and upbeat, despite the usual “bad news” in the nation and the world. They believe a revival is just ahead for the United States, and that everything is soon going to be okay, politically, economically, and spiritually.

Some are confident that their personal prayers are about to be answered for themselves and their family, about their health, financial situations, marital problems, you name it.

I also found some who like me have felt a sense of grief. They agree that a worldwide revival has already begun (and it has), that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is imminent for America, but that a tragedy is also very likely ahead for the United States. They are calling for continued intercession, that the Lord will intervene and show mercy to America.

Okay Lord, I asked, who is right? Here’s what he showed me.

Under cover of celebration last night, while spectacular fireworks were being admired from coast to coast, explosions of a spiritual sort were taking place in cities from Washington to L.A., Chicago to Houston, Seattle to Miami.

A nationwide spiritual battle has been joined. Under cover of apathy, complacency, distraction and spiritual ignorance, the enemy of Christ is flooding in. They are arriving in greater numbers than ever before, spreading to infiltrate every corner of American society.

They are not invisible to the Lord. “We are not ignorant of his devices,” the apostle Paul said. The Holy Spirit sees what he is up to. He will inform God’s warriors that their fervent prayers are needed.

Sometimes that call to intercession is perceived like grief, he said, sometimes like desperation, sometimes like rage. It won’t feel pleasant when it comes, but intercession will be needed more and more in the days ahead, if America is to be rescued. God’s desire is to rescue our nation.

One more warning:  It’s going to take American churches filled with prayer warriors equipping themselves with God’s armor, instead of spiritual toddlers taking naps – spiritual boot camps, not kindergartens.

 

Peter, pragmatic risk-taker businessman

Peter was not an unlettered, brash, egotistical man, as viewed by some Bible scholars. Although not a student of some prominent rabbi, Peter was well educated in the family business – fishing. Fishing was an important and organized part of the economy throughout the Roman Empire and as a first-century Galilean fisherman, Peter was a pragmatic, risk-taking, astute businessman.

As other faithful Jewish men of the day, he was also educated from boyhood in the religious law. An articulate speaker and letter-writer (see his sermons in the book of Acts as well as his Epistles), he was well able to read and write. He was an intelligent man, multilingual by the necessity of dealing with tradesmen of many nations and cultures. Peter was well versed in the business practices of fishing, including record-keeping — required by having to pay multiple taxes, fees and tolls under the Herodian client-kings of Roman rule, also having to pay shares of their catch to his employees and business partners.

Peter’s work week involved buying, selling, trading, marketing, equipping, managing and supervising others in his employ or fishing partnership, as well as the hard work of fishing itself.

Down times due to inclement weather were spent repairing and/or replenishing the fishing nets, boats, oars, sails, rigging, any and all equipment needed for work. Attending the local markets, haggling or bartering for needed materials would be a regular routine.

A native of Bethsaida, a small fishing village on the north edge of Galilee, as a married man Peter lived in the larger port town of Capernaum. He had his own home there where his family lived, including his brother Andrew, his wife’s mother, and perhaps other relatives.

Part of the household duties performed by Peter’s wife and mother-in-law could have included buying materials (flax or flax yarn) to weave fishing nets, then planning with Peter and the other fishermen what kinds and sizes of nets to make. Different types of fish required different fishing techniques, different nets.

Then, they would do the spinning and weaving to create those nets. Fishermen and their families made their nets according to their own needs. Nets made of flax are sturdy and long-lasting, even for hundreds of years with careful tending. Linen for everyday work clothing and ship sails would also be purchased or woven by the women of the household.

A member of a several-family fishing cooperative, Peter was a leader and he led by example. Others followed him. He knew how to plan, make decisions, and carry them out. Making a living was hard work, but he was a hard worker.

He also lived in perilous times, when Roman occupation was causing much turmoil throughout Galilee and Judea. Heavy taxes, tolls, and tribute led to constant unrest. Political, social and religious unrest. People were unhappy with their lot, to say the least. They needed a deliverer.

Faithful to his God, Peter and his family would have taken time off from work to attend major feast days in Jerusalem, where no doubt they heard about John the Baptist. Andrew became one of John’s disciples, until the day John pointed him to Jesus: “The Lamb of God.” After spending a day with Jesus, Andrew was convinced they had found their deliverer. He immediately went to collect Peter.

I’m sure Peter had to think through what it would mean for him to become a disciple of Jesus. He knew the Messiah prophecies. He knew the people needed deliverance from the heavy burdens of Rome. But he was a businessman. What was in it for him? He had a family to feed, employees to supervise. Work to do. It couldn’t have been an easy decision, but when Jesus called, he accepted the commission.

Leaving the business in other hands, Peter left his family and work and changed from being a leader to being a follower.

Things seemed to go well for a time. Peter heard amazing teachings. He saw amazing miracles. He became one of Jesus’ inner circle, a spokesman for the twelve. He affirmed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Some left but Peter stayed, renewing his vows of commitment.

But then persecution started. And Jesus was arrested. The deliverer needed deliverance himself. Who better to carry that out than Peter? He couldn’t let Jesus stay in jail. The Messiah had to overthrow Rome and ascend to the Throne of David!

With his own intelligence, boldness and cunning (plus a little help from John to get inside the grounds, see John 18:15-16), Peter would rescue Jesus from the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Romans! At least that was his plan…

But things didn’t go according to that plan. God had a very different plan and no human rescue could be allowed to interfere with God’s plan. You know the rest of the story.

Peter was no coward. No turncoat. No hot-head. Usually one of a team, he planned a one-man (or possibly two-man with the aid of John) rescue mission. It failed because it was supposed to fail. However, in that failure was success beyond Peter’s imagination: not deliverance from Rome, but deliverance from sin.

Sources, among many others: http://www.kchanson.com/articles/fishing.html

The Galilean Fishing Economy:

“…the activity of fishing operated as a web of relations within the political and domestic environment of the early first century…”

Fishing was not the ‘free enterprise’ which modern readers of the New Testament may imagine. Even fishers who may have owned their own boats were part of a state regulated, elite-profiting enterprise, and a complex web of economic relationships. These are symptoms of an ’embedded economy.’ That is to say, economies in the ancient Mediterranean were not independent systems with free markets, free trade, stock exchanges, monetization, and the like, as one finds in modern capitalist systems. Rather, only political and kinship systems were explicit social domains; economics and religion were conceptualized, controlled, and sustained either by the political hierarchy or kin-groups.

The largest part of the population was composed of peasant farmers, and the family functioned as both a producing and consuming unit. This means that relatives normally worked together, and that kinship ties were fundamental for guild or trade relations. This local, domestic economy was often in tension with the larger political economy. Galilee of the first century was ruled by Herod Antipas, a Roman client, and was therefore a form of an aristocratic empire. (I.e., the aristocrats ruled locally and paid Rome for the privilege.)

Much of the peasant families’ produce (the so-called “surplus”) was extracted by these aristocratic families in the form of labor, produce, and money by way of tithes, taxes, tolls, rents, tribute, and outright confiscation.

Client-kings (such as the Herodians) paid annual tribute to the emperor of two primary types: on land and on persons. It could be direct – a tribute (tax) collected from the people – or indirect – such as towns or temples built and dedicated to the emperor. Josephus indicated that for Judea, the collecting of Roman tribute was controlled by urban elites, prominent men in the larger cities.

The Romans benefited from their provinces through monopolies. Certain trades and industries were essentially “owned” by Rome and contracted to the workers. In Palestine after the First Judean Revolt (66-70 CE), Rome controlled the balsam trade. In Palmyra the Romans monopolized salt, in Tyre the purple, and in Lebanon lumber; in Egypt, Rome had monopolies over most major industries. The net profits from these industries, consequently, went to the Imperial treasury.

Tax collectors, toll collectors, and brokers intruded into all fishing transactions. That there were at least two “layers” to the bureaucracy is indicated by reference to chief-collectors, viz. “tax and toll administrators.” Fishermen received capitalization (money to get the business started) along with fishing rights, and were therefore in debt to local brokers responsible for the harbors and for fishing leases. The location of Levi’s toll office in Capernaum — an important fishing locale — probably identifies him as just such a contractor of royal fishing rights.

“Collection rights of taxes on the cities were sold, and those that were the principal men of dignity in their several countries bid for them…” – i.e., the right to collect taxes was put out to bid, and the man who would pay Rome the highest percentage of taxes he collected got the job. Taxes were often paid “in kind” rather than in money – a percentage of the produce such as figs, olive oil, or fish.

Roman emperors also profited from indirect taxes of various kinds, including customs fees at ports and roads. Some collectors controlled the roads and bridges. Tolls varied from 2% – 5% depending on produce and were different for people (depended on gender and occupation) and type of animals and conveyances. Import duties were also charged; for instance for bringing processed fish into Palmyra in 137 CE.

Fishing police, like game wardens, ensured that no-one fished in the Sea of Galilee without the proper contracts, or sold their catch to unauthorized middlemen. Failure to pay, or to pay on time, brought harsh penalties, including confiscation of property, even physical assaults on men and/or their families including public torture.

Fishermen could form “cooperatives” (koinônoi) in order to bid for fishing contracts or leases – Peter, Andrew, James and John were part of a cooperative (Luke 5). If there were not a sufficient number of family members in the cooperative, the fishermen had to hire laborers to help with all the responsibilities: manning the oars and sails, mending nets, sorting fish, etc.

For their work, the fishermen needed resources from farmers and artisans, including (but not limited to): flax for nets, cut stone for anchors, wood for boat building and repairs, and baskets for fish. It was a very interconnected economy.

The fishing trade also entailed the processing of fish. Processed fish had become a food staple throughout the Mediterranean, in city and village alike. The result was the development of trade distinctions between those who caught fish, those who processed fish, and those who marketed fish. Fishers and fish-sellers might work cooperatively. The distribution of the catch (who got what) was also controlled by government approved wholesalers. The town of Tarichaeae (“Processed-Fishville”) also known as Magdala was just a few miles south of Capernaum and was the site of a major fish-processing installation. Fish was either salted or processed into fish paste, either of which would last a long time and could be exported throughout the Mediterranean area.

The Social Network Developed from Fishing Villages and Towns in Jesus’ ministry:

Peter/Simon, a fisher from Capernaum (Mark 1:16-20)
Mother-in-law of Peter, from Capernaum (Mark 1:29-31)
Andrew, a fisher at Capernaum (Mark 1:16-20)
James, a fisher at Capernaum (Mark 1:16-20)
John, a fisher at Capernaum (Mark 1:16-20)
Mother of James and John [from Capernaum] (Matt 20:20-23)
Levi, a tax-collector (broker?) at Capernaum (Mark 2:14)
Mary, from Magdala/Tarichaeae (Luke 8:2)
Villagers of Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28)

www.Bible-History.com

Definitions and descriptions from multiple sources:

From the ISBE (Bible Encyclopedia): (re fishing in sea of Galilee) (3) With Nets: In the most familiar Bible stories of fisherman life a net was used. Today most of the fishing is done in the same way. These nets are homemade. Frequently one sees the fishermen or members of their families making nets or repairing old ones during the stormy days when fishing is impossible.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Among the Hebrews it devolved upon women to prepare the meals for the household (Gen. 18:6; 2 Sam. 13:8), to attend to the work of spinning (Ex. 35:26; Prov. 31:19), and making clothes (1 Sam. 2:19; Prov. 31:21), to bring water from the well (Gen. 24:15; 1 Sam. 9:11), and to care for the flocks (Gen. 29:6; Ex. 2:16).

Among the Hebrews, as apparently among the Canaanites, the spinning and weaving of linen were carried on by the women (Prov 31:13,19), among whom skill in this work was considered highly praiseworthy (Ex 35:25).

Spinning was the work of both men and women in ancient Egypt. The Bible characterizes it as the work of women (Ex 35; Prov 31:19). The same method of spinning is still used by the women of Syria, although imported yarn is largely taking the place of homespun thread.

Photo: http://www.godsgrazingfield.net/index.php?p=1_62