Already an interesting year

Some new readers may have missed the following post, originally published on December 25, 2015:

2016 – what will it be like?

Praying before sleep one night last week, I asked the Lord about next year. “What will it be like? Worse than 2015? More disasters, chaos, tragedies? More wars?”

“Appointments met,” he said. “Promises kept. Prophecies fulfilled. A year of kairos moments.”

Kairos – the appointed time, in due season, the fullness of time, at a fixed and definite time, for a certain time only.

It’s going to be an interesting year.

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2016 has already been an interesting year. I’ve met many new people online, read many interesting articles and blog posts, had the privilege of praying with many people in person, on the phone or online, and seeing God at work everywhere. Almost every day…

Thinking about that, the Lord reminded me of an occasion some weeks ago that was way MORE than just interesting.

A routine appointment with my cardiologist was scheduled for 1:30 on a Friday afternoon. As usual, I arrived a few minutes early and checked in with the receptionist. She looked a little “frowny,” so I asked how she was doing.

“Not too good,” she said. “I have a terrible stomach ache. I couldn’t even eat my lunch.”

So, I reached my hand across the counter, she took it, and looking straight into her eyes I smiled and said, “Stomach, be healed in Jesus’ name.”

She thanked me and I turned into the waiting room, found an empty chair and sat down. The only other patient nearby looked over at me and spoke hello with a big smile on his face. He had seen my interaction with the ailing receptionist.

Dropping my purse onto the floor, I leaned back to get comfortable when I heard my name called. I’d been there five minutes! That never happens… usually there is a lengthy wait time.

In a little room off the main hall, a very overweight medical technician took my weight and checked my blood pressure, pronouncing both of them excellent.

“Wish I could say that,” she commented. “I can’t seem to lose weight and I know my blood pressure’s too high.”

“Would you like to know how I do that?” I asked her. “Sure,” she said.

And so I told her about the power of the Holy Spirit to stick with a healthier lifestyle. She said she and her husband were both Christians and he was doing okay, but she had a hard time eating right.

“Would you like me to pray for you?” When she said yes I held out my hand and she took it. With a smile I simply prayed, “Father, please give my sister the desire and the ability to take better care of her health, especially with what she eats, in Jesus’ name.”

Thanking me, she walked me straight to an examining room – which never happens! Usually patients go into an intermediate waiting room first, but this time we skipped right past it.

The young cardiologist and his physician’s assistant came in within a very few minutes – which never happens either! He read through my chart, listened to my heart and lungs and said, “You’re doing fine, just keep doing what you’re doing and come back in six months or so.”

As he prepared to leave the room, I asked him, “Can I pray for you?” (I already knew he was a believer from previous appointments.)

“Oh yes, I’d love for you to pray for me,” he answered, then put his arm around my shoulder and bowed his head.

I asked the Lord to bless him, to meet every need for him, his family, his staff and his practice, and especially to bless his relationship with the Lord. He hugged me, thanked me and turned to leave the room.

His physician’s assistant still stood there. She looked a bit glum, so I asked, “Would you like me to pray for you too?”

She teared up and began to cry. “Oh yes, please,” she said. “I’ve been having a really hard time lately and I need somebody to pray for me.”

I didn’t ask her for any details. I just took her hand, she bowed her head, and I asked the Lord to touch her life, to make Himself very present to her, and to let her know how very much God loves her and wants to help her.

I have no idea what words I said specifically. I just let the Holy Spirit use me to speak directly to her heart. She hugged me and thanked me, I got dressed and went back out to the receptionist’s desk.

The receptionist was smiling and cheerful as I asked, “How’s your stomach?”

“It quit hurting the second you prayed!” she exclaimed. She told me how much she appreciated the fact that I cared enough to pray for her. I smiled and said “Be blessed!”

Walking to my car, I glanced at my watch. I had been in the doctor’s office for about thirty minutes – that never happens!

Since that afternoon, I’ve had multiple opportunities to lay hands on the sick and see the Lord heal them – including laryngitis that instantly vanished, and a broken foot that was instantly healed, confirmed the next day with x-rays.

There have been many chances to see the Lord at work, to pray with and for people with a wide variety of problems, some serious – like the young father of four whose truck and his wife’s car both broke down at the same time. The Lord marvelously provided a replacement vehicle and truck repairs at very little cost.

Some of those chances have been at church, some in grocery stores, some in other businesses, and some online. Jesus went about doing good. He told us to do what he had been doing. A disciple isn’t just someone who reads about another person – his master – and tries to do what they did. A disciple is someone in training to be LIKE his master.

In our case, that’s Jesus. Being his disciple is doing what he did, how he did it. It’s listening to the Holy Spirit and doing what he says, with the dunamis power he provides to do it. If we’re not doing what Jesus did, how are we to do the “greater works than these?”

2016 is indeed going to be an interesting year. It already has been!

Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

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Disciple — What, when, where, who, how

hands-comfort-640x461“My prayer is to be a container that just goes where Jesus is going, says what Jesus is saying, does what Jesus is doing, thinks what Jesus is thinking, touches what Jesus is touching, and does it how he is doing it. Who feels what Jesus is feeling, walks where Jesus is walking, or stays where Jesus is staying (not going, not walking unless he is).” That’s the last paragraph from my prayer diary of 14 Sept 2013. It’s still my prayer.

I learned Matthew 28:19-20 in Sunday School as a child. The teacher used these verses mainly to explain the work of ministers, especially missionaries:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The first disciples took that command seriously. Mark 16:20 records, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”

Signs? What signs? Signs that confirmed whatever words of Jesus they had been preaching.

Strange, but I don’t recall ever hearing that taught in Sunday School years ago. We should all be a disciple of Jesus, the teacher would tell us. Do what the Bible says, you know, be a good person, keep the Ten Commandments, that sort of thing. Ask Jesus to be your savior, then he will help you to become a disciple.  For many years I put that “ask” thing off, thinking, Christians are boring. Later. I’ll do it later.

But at age 29, I finally did ask Jesus to be my savior. Wow! What a difference he made in my life. Boring it wasn’t, at all. I wondered why I’d put it off so long! (See My Testimony Part I https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/testimony-part-one)

And then one day I wondered, just what exactly did Jesus say about being a disciple? I prayed about that.

“First, look at the ‘everything I have commanded you’ part of that verse in Matthew 28,” the Lord said to me. So I looked, and said to myself, Okay, I see that. But what had Jesus commanded them?

He had told them, “As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:7-8)

Jesus had already given them the power to do that, had showed them by example how to do it, and now he was telling them to go do the same things. Later he sent 70 others out with this same assignment; see Luke 10.

Studying the gospels, I realized that Jesus seldom did the same thing, the same way twice. Sometimes he healed with a command, sometimes with a touch, sometimes with a simple statement of fact. Sometimes it was even at a distance. Always it was whatever he heard or saw the Father do, but he himself did it.

One thing I never found. Jesus never prayed and asked God the Father to heal anyone.

Studying the book of Acts, I saw that the disciples followed the pattern of Jesus – they listened to the Holy Spirit and did whatever he said, however, he said. They didn’t pray and ask God or Jesus to heal anyone, they themselves healed the sick with a spoken command, or a touch, or a simple statement of fact.

They prayed about many other things, many other needs, situations, problems. But not this. They did what they were commanded to do.

At Lydda, Peter just made a statement of fact to the paralyzed, bedridden man Aeneas: “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat. Immediately Aeneas got up.” (Acts 9:34)

At Lystra, Paul told the crippled man who had never walked, “Stand up on your feet! At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” (Acts 14:10)

Dictionary descriptions of a disciple include a learner; an adherent; a follower; an imitator.  Jesus’s descriptions include all of the above, and more. The most important one, however, is to be like the teacher. “It is enough for the disciple that he be like his master,” he said,  (Matt. 10:25) and “The disciple is not above his master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” (Luke 6:40)

Notice, these are present tense. Not to be like his master WAS, but IS. Right now. This moment. “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” (I John 4:17 NIV) We ARE. Not will be some day in heaven, but are now, present tense, here on the earth.

And there is a big problem with that. A human will problem. A fear problem. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of looking foolish.

The bodies of Christians are inhabited by two spirits:  (1) our own human spirit that we were born with; and (2) the Holy Spirit, who came to inhabit us when we were born again.

If our own spirit is our master, then we’ll go wherever we want to, do what we want to, when we want to. We’ll do the religious thing, the easy thing, the least risky thing, and think we’ve done our part. We’ll palm off all the responsibility on God. Then if nothing changes, well it must not have been God’s will. Right? Wrong.

If the Holy Spirit is our master, we’ll give him the lead. We’ll go where he wants to, do what he wants to, how and when he wants to. And we’ll begin to see those “greater things.”

“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.” (John 14:12)

There are other things Jesus said about being his disciples, of course. Continue in his word. Love one another. Take up your cross and follow him. Did you notice? All of those are also present tense also. We don’t seem to have any qualms about those.

P.S. I like this quote by Randy Clark: “To beg God to heal is to assume you have more mercy than He does.”

What is Truth?

(From the Esther’s Petition archives.)

Disciple – that’s who an often misquoted, quoted out of context and misused scripture verse really applies to. Jesus said (John 8:31-32) “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

You won’t know the truth if you aren’t his disciples. You won’t learn it, acquire it, or discover it, except by holding to his teaching. Only when you are his disciple, holding to his teaching, will you know the truth. Only when you are his disciple will you know the truth and that truth will then set (make in the KJV) you free.

Hmmm. Disciple, what is that, exactly? To me it’s one who follows/obeys the leading, instruction, example, principles, teaching of his master. Holding to it. Clasping, owning, adhering, sticking to it.

Truth? There’s a word with weighty, explosive, controversial definitions sometimes. What is truth? People ask. Pilate asked (John 18:38). Don’t we all want to know? Jesus said there was a way to know the truth, just hold to his teachings and thus be his disciple. We’ll know it, recognize it, experience it, be able to define it and enjoy it, once we’ve gotten to that point.

And then the truth we know at that point will make us free. No other way will we know the – not a, not some, not a kind of, but the – truth. No other way will we be made free.

Free, now there’s another interesting word…