Who killed… ?

SpeakTheWordOnlyThe idea that God uses Satan as his lap-dog – or hit man – is an old and persistent idea. But it ignores Jesus’s plain commands, his delegating his own creative authority to the disciples and his command for them to pass that message on. (Matthew 28:18-20)

That idea prevents people from praying in faith. More believers, faithful church-goers, are getting sick and staying sick. More will die. And more will leave their church, seeking a gospel of power that actually works. Do I have to become one of those? Some folks probably hope that I do, because what I say below doesn’t jive with their experience.

If you don’t know what God’s will is, you can’t pray specifically in accordance with I John 5:14-15.  Such as, healing is the children’s bread. The stripes on Jesus’ back were for our healing. Jehovah God named himself, I am the Lord that heals you. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy – Jesus came to give life – life to the full!

Jesus commanded the disciples to obey, and to teach us to obey (Matthew 28:18-20), whatever he had commanded them. He did it, and he showed them how to do it. And he commanded them – and us – to heal the sick.

When did he rescind that? Where did he add “except for John Doe, or Jane Doe” ? When did he add, “except in Florence, SC” ?

To obey His wishes, more is needed than just knowing what God’s will is – it requires speaking out, declaring, commanding God’s wishes just as Jesus would do.

Not wondering in doubt, not hoping in fear, because those prayers are double-minded (maybe he will, maybe he won’t) and they get nothing. They dishonor God.

Instead, it requires speaking in faith, knowing that the power that created the universe inhabits you. The Word of God inhabits you, your heart, your mind, and your mouth. Jesus needs your mouth, your tongue, to speak out his creative power today.

Sadly, Jesus himself couldn’t do miracles in his home town of Nazareth because of people’s unbelief. Today, ignorance or unbelief in what God’s wishes / will are, coupled with unbelief in the authority that was delegated from Him to us, will stop the power of God from accomplishing what He plainly desires –what he paid a very high price for.

How did Jesus combat that? By teaching, and teaching. And more teaching.

Many miracles are happening in the world today, people healed from deadly diseases, the dead raised, even missing eyes or limbs restored. Why? Because ignorance and/or unbelief aren’t putting up an automatic barricade.

Here’s a helpful teaching article from Andrew Wommack Ministries:

Our Authority Releases God’s Power

There are a number of keys to seeing the miraculous power of God manifest on a consistent basis. One of the least understood, and therefore seldom practiced, is the fact that healing is under the authority of the believer. God has already provided His healing power and placed it on the inside of every born-again believer. It is up to us to release it. Understanding and using our authority is the key to seeing miracles happen.

Look at how Peter and John ministered healing to the lame man in Acts 3:1-8:

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.”

Notice that Peter didn’t pray for this man. He also didn’t ask God to heal him. He said, “Such as I have give I thee.” This didn’t mean that Peter was the source of this healing. Notice what Peter said in Acts 3:12,

“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?”

It was God’s power that healed this man, but that power was under Peter’s authority. Peter went on to say in verse 16 that it was faith in the name of Jesus that had wrought this miracle. But Peter didn’t ask God to heal this man. He believed the Lord had already done His part and had placed that power within him. Now it was Peter’s responsibility to release that power, and that’s just what he did.

The Lord never told us to pray for the sick in the sense that we ask Him to heal them. He told us to heal the sick. There is a BIG difference between the two. It has to do with operating in the authority He has already given us. Look at these commands the Lord gave His disciples.

“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”(Luke 9:1-2)

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” (Matt. 10:1)

“And 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 told us to heal the sick not pray for the sick. What a radical statement! This will get you kicked out of most churches today, but these are the exact words of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is precisely why more people don’t see the miraculous results they’re praying for. They aren’t taking their authority and commanding God’s power; they’re passively asking God to do what He told them to do.

I know this goes contrary to popular Christian doctrine. We’re constantly told that it’s not us but God who is the Healer, and I agree with that totally. But, I also believe that God has placed His healing power under our authority, and it is up to us to release it. If we don’t take our authority and become commanders instead of beggars, God’s power will not be released. There needs to be a radical renewing of our thinking on this issue.

A good friend of mine, Dave Duell, held a meeting in Africa many years ago. It was one of his first times he saw miracles such as the blind and deaf healed. The people were so excited that they were mobbing him as he walked through the streets, trying to touch him so they could be healed. His first thought was influenced by this religious thinking I’m trying to change. He thought, They shouldn’t be looking to me. I’m not the healer; it is Jesus.

He was about to stop them when the Lord spoke to him. The Lord said, “Dave, do you remember when I rode that donkey into Jerusalem, and all the people put their garments and palm branches in the way and cried, ‘Hosanna’? What would you have thought if the donkey had spoken up and said, ‘It’s not me! It’s not me’? That would only have revealed the donkey’s arrogance. No one was praising the donkey; they were praising the One that was riding the donkey.”

When Dave recognized the people weren’t trying to touch him but the One he was carrying, he let them touch him all they wanted and people were healed. This is exactly what happened with the first-century disciples. Peter had people line the streets so that if only his shadow would touch them, they would be healed (Acts. 5:15).

Look at an amazing passage of Scripture in Isaiah 45:11.

“Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”

What a powerful scripture! What does the Lord mean when He tells us to command Him? Well, He certainly doesn’t mean we are mightier and more powerful than Him and can order Him around. He means, concerning the things He has already done, He wants us to take our authority and command His power.

It’s like electricity. The power company generates the power and delivers it to your house. It’s not your power, but it’s under your control. You don’t call the power company and ask them to turn the lights on. No! They won’t do that. They generate the power, but it’s under your command. You simply flip the switch on the wall and command the power to work.

Does this mean you are the power source? Certainly not! You can put a light bulb in your mouth, and it will never come on. You aren’t the power source, but you are the one in control of what that power does. You can plead with the power company all you want, but they won’t flip the switch for you. You have to assume your authority and acknowledge the power is under your command.

That’s what the Lord was speaking of. He has already healed everyone who will ever be healed. He did it two thousand years ago when He bore our stripes on His back. Then He deposited His resurrection power inside every believer (Eph. 1:19-20). He’s done His part, and now it is up to us to do ours.

We need to take the authority He has given us and become commanders instead of beggars. This is a powerful truth that works, and it’s the reason we see so many miraculous healings. We aren’t just praying for the sick; we are healing them in Jesus’ name.

http://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/authority_releases/
Also see:
Killing Sacred Cows
http://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/sacred_cows/
How to Receive a Miracle – Part 2
http://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/receive_miracle2/

How to heal the sick

HowToHealTheSickJesus healed the sick. He commanded the disciples to heal the sick, and to teach  future disciples (us) to do the same.

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 NIV)

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” (Matthew 4:23-24; it does not say how, it just says he healed them all. Every sickness and every disease.)

“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.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

“Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20)

How did Jesus heal the sick?

  • Gospel of Matthew:

Touch / spoken command  8:1-3 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.

Spoken command  8:13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Touch  8:14-15 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

Spoken word  9:6-7 “But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home.

Faith  9:20-22 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Touch  9:25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the (dead) girl by the hand, and she got up.

Touch / faith  9:29 Then he touched their (two blind men) eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.

Spoken Command  12:13 Then he said to the man (with a shriveled hand), “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.

Touch of his clothes  14:35-36 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Touch  20:34 Jesus had compassion on them (two blind men) and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

  • Mark:

Touch  1:30-31 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Touch / spoken command  1:41-42 He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Spoken command  2:11-12 To the paralyzed man: “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Spoken command  3:3-5 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” … “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

Touch / spoken command  5:41-42 He took her (the dead girl) by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means Little girl, I say to you, get up!). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

Touch of his clothes  6:56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Touch / spit / spoken command  7:33-35 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

Touch / spit / spoken command  8:23-25 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

Faith / spoken command 10:51-52 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man (Bartimaeus) said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

  • Luke:

Touch / spoken command  13:10-13 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Spoken command  17:12-14 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

  • John:

Spoken word  4:46-53 There was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”  The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

Spoken command  5:5-9 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Touch / saliva / spoken command  9:6-7 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man (who was born blind) went and washed, and came home seeing.

How did the disciples / apostles heal the sick?

  • Peter:

Touch / spoken command  Acts 3:6-8 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

Spoken command  9:33-34 There (in Lydda) he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up.

Spoken command  9:40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.

  • Paul:

Spoken command  14:8-10 In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

Touch of his clothes  19:11-12  God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Touch  28:8 His (Publius) father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.

Paul’s method of ministering to the sick is not specified in many instances. However,  “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God.” (Romans 15:18-19) “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.” (II Cor. 12:12)

Some thoughts:

  • The original disciples did the same sort of things Jesus did, in the same way.
  • What did they not do? They didn’t pray for the sick. They didn’t ask God to do something he had told them to do. Jesus showed them how, healing multitudes of sick people right in front of them. Then he sent them out to do it also.  And not just the original twelve, he sent out 72 others also to “Heal the sick who are there…” (Luke 10:9)
  • One size does not fit all when it comes to healing. They addressed each person individually, specifically – they didn’t treat each one the same as every other one. Some they merely spoke to, some they touched. Some Jesus spit on! Some he just stated, “Your faith has healed you.”
  • Some they told to do something they could not physically do – but they did it.
  • The command Jesus gave those disciples is still in force to today’s disciples.
  • The same Holy Spirit that indwelled them indwells disciples today, leading them, informing them, instructing them, and empowering them to do the same things, in the same way.

Are YOU yourself the one who is sick? Then also see: https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/how-to-heal-the-sick-addendum/

What I believe and why

(Reprinted from March 6, 2011.)

John 10:10. Jesus said it.

I made a decision many years ago to believe the Bible, accept it as God’s truth, and base my existence on its veracity and dependability. I accepted Jesus as savior and manager (Lord) of my life, studied what he did here on earth and how he did it. What he said, to whom, and on what occasions. Instructions he gave.

These days I am re-studying the Gospel of John. It’s a fascinating book. Recently I read a statement made by someone that Jesus never claimed to be God so why did Christians think he was? That person obviously never read John’s gospel where Jesus repeatedly claimed to be God, declaring it to followers and detractors alike.

I take Jesus at his word, and these days especially John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Who is they? Verse 9 tells us. “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” Saved is from the Greek word “sozo,” meaning healed, rescued, kept safe, made whole… a very positive word.

Jesus said he was the gate for the sheep. The sheep are “they.” I’m one of his sheep so I’m included in “they.”

I know full well that human beings have a vicious enemy. He hates all humans but especially believers. After all, if he can wipe out one Christian, he can potentially wipe out many others who might have come to Christ through their testimony.

His specific goals are listed by Jesus in this verse:

(1) Steal — your belongings. Home, car, money or peace of mind. Marriage, children. Health. Reputation. Job, savings or retirement plan. He will use economic depression, natural disaster, fire, flood, earthquake, whatever he can.

(2) Kill — you, your family and friends. With whatever weapon he can use. Cancer. Heart disease. Accidents. War. Famine. Murder. Suicide.

(3) Destroy — anything he couldn’t steal or kill. Especially your faith. Listening to his doubt and fear, gossip, rumors and uncertainty, erodes your self-confidence. He’ll try to nullify your testimony. It’s hard to witness when your mind is full of fear.

The rest of verse 10 tells us that Jesus is proactive. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Not just life, but full life. God-life. Not depressed, not defeated. Overflowing! Abundant!

John 16:33 says, “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.”

Jesus didn’t warn us about the enemy so we could worry when he attacks or blame God for the attacks, but so we could stomp the enemy in Jesus’ name. Defeat him. Destroy his works as Jesus did. (See Acts 10:38). Believe Jesus. Worship Jesus. Obey Jesus. Quote Jesus!

John 14: 12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things that these, because I am going to the father.” Well, what had Jesus been doing?

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:11) Miracles, is what he had been doing. Healing the sick.

Some well-meaning Christians think those particular verses don’t apply today or at least don’t apply to everyone today. If that was true, salvation – from the same Greek word, sozo – isn’t available today, either. But it does, and they do.

 

Faith – what is it? How do we get it?

There’s more than one kind of faith…

Natural faith

Natural human faith is an attitude of the mind, thinking or determining something is true. It may be based on experiential knowledge, something we have proven to ourselves — if I sit on that chair, it will hold me up. It may be based on facts we accept from others. Two times two equals four. I accepted it as fact, proved it in practice. Principles of electricity I myself have never proved, but since electric lights do work somebody did and so I accept them as fact.

Supernatural faith

Supernatural faith that saves, heals, protects and provides powerful miracles is an attitude of God’s mind, however. We can’t generate it inside ourselves, it originates in God. Saving faith, living by faith, faith that can grow like a seed, the Gift of Faith – that faith is not natural. Jesus offers it to us and we have to choose to receive it. Here are some definitions:

Faith – Greek noun Pistis – translated faith, assurance, believe (most), fidelity. (Strong’s Concordance 4102)

Conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. Relating to God: the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. Relating to Christ: conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.

Faith / Pistis (above) is derived from the Greek verb Peitho – translated persuade, trust, obey, have confidence in, believe, be confident. (Strong’s 3982)

To persuade, i.e. to induce one by words to believe; to make friends of, to win one’s favor, gain one’s good will, or to seek to win one, strive to please one; to persuade unto, i.e. move or induce one to persuasion to do something; to be persuaded; to be persuaded, to suffer one’s self to be persuaded; to be induced to believe in a thing. Also, to be persuaded of a thing concerning a person; to listen to, obey, yield to, comply with; to trust, have confidence, be confident.

Believe – Greek word pisteuo – verb, translated believe, commit unto, trust. (Strong’s 4100) (This word is related to those above.)

To think to be true, to be persuaded of, to place confidence in the thing believed; used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of the soul.

Faith comes

Faith in God comes from God himself. Eph. 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

To have supernatural faith is to be persuaded by God that something is true – that He exists, first and foremost. Heb. 11:6 says, “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” And that Jesus is who he says he is, and can do what he says he can do. (Romans 10:9-10)

This faith must be accepted when offered. God won’t force you to take it. Romans 10:17 tells us, “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Jesus, the word of God, spoke to the disciples and offered them faith in himself, like handing them a piece of bread: “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22) They did. They accepted it, and so did many others who heard Jesus preach.

Faith grows

Jesus described faith as like a tiny mustard seed – it could grow and accomplish great things. (Matt. 17:20, 21:21) Jesus said about their faith to several desperately sick people who were healed: “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Mark 5:34, woman with issue of blood, Mark 10:52, the blind man.)

Faith grows also as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Paul commended the Thessalonians “because your faith growth exceedingly.” (II Thess. 1:3) As we allow God the Holy Spirit more and more access and freedom in our hearts and minds, God’s faith grows in our thinking and believing.

Faith continues to come, growing as we hear God’s word in various forms (sermons, other believers), study the Bible ourselves, listen to the Holy Spirit, learn and exercise faith in obeying Him.

It’s important that our faith grows because we have an enemy (John 10:10, Eph. 6:16) who tries to kill us, make us doubt, sick, broke, or alienated from family and friends. (Not to mention the ordinary challenges of human life.)

The Gift of Faith

In certain circumstances the Holy Spirit will use a person to solve a problem that needs an extraordinary solution, by way of a supernatural Gift of Faith. (Gifts of the Holy Spirit, I Cor. 12. See Gifts of the Holy Spirit below.) God enables that person at a given moment to believe something – be persuaded about something – without human reasoning or logic. The result is that he then prays, commands or does something in the name of Jesus and what he asks or says will come to pass.

This kind of faith is not natural, reasonable or logical: it is supernatural. While God may use some people in this Gift of the Holy Spirit more than others, it’s not usually a permanent enablement like a talent or skill.

A recent example is two teenage girls who lifted a farm tractor off of their father, saving his life. They could not do that in the natural. They wouldn’t even imagine they could do that. But at that moment of extraordinary need, they were enabled to believe they could do it – and they did it.

Summary

Faith – being persuaded, believing, having confidence and trust – originates in God, who loves us and gave Jesus to die for us. He offers faith but won’t force anyone to accept it. Once we accept God’s grace of saving faith, we then live (walk) by faith, nurturing and seeing faith grow. When an extraordinary need arises, God may use us with a Gift of Faith to meet it.

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Gifts of the Holy Spirit

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor. 12:7-11 NIV)

The first group of these is Word Gifts, where God enables a believer to say certain things:

• The gift of prophecy — a message from God for the group or for an individual.

• The gift of tongues — God’s message in a language unknown to the person speaking.

• The gift of interpreting tongues — after God’s message in tongues is given, the person or someone else gives the meaning of it – usually not a word-for-word translation, but an interpretation.

The second group of gifts is Sign Gifts, where God enables a believer to do certain things:

• The gift of faith — God enables a person at a given moment to believe something without human reasoning or logic. The result is that he then prays or speaks (commands) something in the name of Jesus and what he asks or says will come to pass. This kind of faith is not natural, reasonable or logical: it is supernatural.

• The gifts of healing — enables a believer to be God’s instrument to bring healing to someone who is sick, whether spiritual, psychological or physical. Notice – this is the only gift that is plural.

• The gift of miracles — a manifestation of God’s power whereby some obstacle is removed or opportunity seized in a way that could only come from God’s intervention into human affairs. This gift is a sign of God’s presence and power and, therefore, often a source of belief to many.

The third group is Intellectual Gifts, where God enables a believer to know certain things:

• The word of knowledge — God gives a believer certain information he could / would not get from natural sources.

• The word of wisdom — God gives a believer insight into His mind or plan in a given situation and enables him to put this insight into words of advice, understanding, or direction. For instance, how to use the information he gave in a word of knowledge.

• The gift of discerning of spirits — God reveals to a believer the source of certain behavior or action, whether it comes from the Holy Spirit, a human spirit, or an evil spirit.

These gifts are not something we possess permanently like a talent or skill, but ways in which the Holy Spirit reveals Himself through an individual. Usually they are temporary (passing), given as the need arises.

They are meant for the good of others, not simply for and sometimes not even including the person through which God provides a gift. (I like to think of this as being a conduit for the Holy Spirit’s power, like an electrical power cord…)

Our motivation in allowing the Holy Spirit to use us in these gifts is simple — love. God’s love for people who need His ministry, and our love for Him.

Don’t eat the seed corn

seed-cornSeed corn: don’t eat it, plant it.

Back when most people grew their own food, that didn’t have to be explained.

When I was a little girl spending my summers on my grandparents’ farm, I learned that you didn’t eat the seed corn. I helped my grandmother pick over a big basket of seed corn that was being put aside for the next year, cleaning the trash and dead bugs out of it.

A seed has life built in, no matter whether it’s corn, or butterbeans, or sunflowers. It doesn’t have to wonder what to do, it “knows” to grow. The faith for growing is entertwined in the life…

But there is something else about seeds. They need stuff. Like soil, food, water, fertilizer, and protection from pests. Today, vegetable and flower seeds are sold in stores with a coating of plant food and/or bug killer surrounding them, so you have a head start on getting a good crop. Smart idea.

Jesus told his disciples, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you can tell this mountain to be removed and be cast into the sea, and it would obey you. (See Matt. 17:20)

Now, a mustard seed is really small. And Jesus was saying they didn’t have even that miniscule amount of faith.

They could have, though. It was offered to them as a gift when Jesus said, “Have the faith of God.” It took Jesus making a gift of it to get it back then, and it still does. That’s how we get saved, born again, in the first place (Eph. 2:8).

And that seed of faith Jesus gives us contains life, just as seed corn contains life.

But some people leave it like that, tiny, encapsulated and dormant, and then they wonder why no mountain ever moves for them.

Mark 4:14-20 explains part of it. Seeds have to be nurtured and cultivated. No self-respecting farmer would plant corn in an uncultivated field full of rocks and briars.

Seeds have to be planted in good soil, soil deep enough to allow for roots to get a good start. And weeds need to be weeded, rocks removed, and critters prevented from getting in.

When my children were small we lived on a mini-farm outside of town, and one summer we planted lots of field peas and corn at a distance from the house. When it was time to pick them, we discovered the raccoons had taken a bite – just one bite – out of every ear of corn. And the deer had made a good meal out of the field peas! The critters won that round and we learned a good lesson. Electric fencing solved that problem the next year.

II Peter 1:5-8 continues the explanation. Faith seeds also need to be fed, watered, and fertilized with virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, kindness and love.

Well, all that takes work. And you have to deal with “critters” like fear and doubt, fatigue or depression, and ordinary every-day distractions from a lot of different sources.

Faith has all the life it needs built right in, just like a seed of corn or field peas. And the nature of life is to grow, mature, and eventually replicate itself.

It takes work to get to that place, but the one who gave us the faith in the first place is still present to instruct us and help us grow it, if we’re willing to do the work.

The Apostle Paul commended the church of the Thessalonians, because “your faith groweth exceedingly…” (II Thess. 1:3)

I would love to receive that compliment some day, wouldn’t you?

God’s call

This following paragraph was in a Wall Street Journal article online the other day. When we get discouraged because we don’t see the results we want, it helps to remember this…

Mother Teresa was asked at the end of her life whether she was discouraged because after decades of caring for the dying and destitute in Calcutta little seemed to have changed. She replied, “No. God doesn’t call me to be successful. God calls me to be faithful.”

Sheep clothing

I listened to a few minutes of a CNN program this afternoon.  A few minutes was all I could stomach.  Four talking heads sat around a table asking, “Where is the Religious Right?” (in this Presidential election.)

They discussed the self-proclaimed faith of John McCain and Barak Obama, first denouncing an email that went around months ago stating that Obama was a Muslim, and why that was unfair and untrue.

He was born a Muslim, given a Muslim name, and that was enough to get that email going the rounds, right or wrong.  But he claims he is a Christian and the panel seemed to think everyone should take his word for it. “Judge not,” you know.

People forget that Jesus also said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgments.”  (John 7:24)

In Matthew 7, Jesus explained one way to do that.  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing… you shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:15-16)

There is plenty of fruit to judge in both these men’s lives and records.  I don’t vote according to who appeals to my pocketbook.  I vote according to moral principles and particularly protection of the weakest among us. I vote after I do a thorough inspection of the fruit.

Too many voters seem to be falling for a wolf in sheep’s clothing this election. They don’t take the time and effort to check the records, think prayerfully about what they learn and then decide.

As I continue to watch and pray, my fervent prayer is that God will have mercy on America!

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, but… there’s a party going on!

I received a lovely card one day from some friends, and I truly appreciated the card and the handwritten note on it. Printed on the inside front cover was a familiar Bible verse:

“But as it is written (see Is. 64:4), Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

That’s where the quote ended on the card. But that’s only part of the Apostle Paul’s statement in I Corinthians. Without the “rest of the story,” that part is really misleading.

Paul’s statement continues in verse 10, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit…” How neat!

If we pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we can have a glimpse of the things God has prepared for us who love him, wonderful things. Reunions. Parties. Worship. Assignments. Fellowship. Learning. Sharing. Laughing.

David Marcy, Pastor of Kingstree United Methodist Church, said a comforting benediction at the cemetery after the funeral of my mother-in-law Ora Lee Cox, and he mentioned Ora Lee having peace now.

Instantly the Holy Spirit spoke to me and added – and a PARTY!

I suddenly got a mental image of a wonderful celebration going on in heaven with Ora Lee at the center, a for-real party with Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father God, and all of Ora Lee’s family and friends (especially her son Tim, grandson T.C., husband Theron, and her mom Annie) hugging and laughing and enjoying themselves immensely.

I couldn’t be sad after that moment. I was sorry for us, for all of us who will sorely miss her and T.C. and Tim, but I can’t be sad knowing where she is and what she’s probably doing.

From now on, whenever I see that incomplete fragment of Paul’s comment about heaven, I’m going to think, “PARTY!”

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…

Strangers?

Ancient Israel Modern Israel

When Jesus grew up, his home town was Nazareth in Galilee. Where is that, exactly? As you can see on these maps (one of Ancient Israel and the other of Modern Israel), it’s in the northern section of the country, west of the lower part of the Sea of Galilee.

Nazareth was one of those towns occupied by a mixture of people from many different places, not well thought of by the more elite. Being close to a trade route, travelers coming and going would stop here and some settled here. Some probably even intermarried into local families. Quite a lot is known about this little sort of disreputable town, home town of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

If you’re interested in learning more about the town in Jesus’ day, click on the link, http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/nazareth.html

What interested me is how close Nazareth is to everywhere else in Israel. Now, as then, only a few miles stretch between Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, just a few more between Nazareth and the main cities. Most people walked everywhere in New Testament days, but there were well traveled roads and many small communities, villages and towns along the way, no matter where you were going.

Joseph was a carpenter by trade, and thus Jesus learned carpentry. A great deal of the carpenter’s work was done outside or “on site,” whether someone needed a wagon wheel, a yoke for an ox, a fishing boat, or help constructing a building. Carpenters met many people, everywhere, thus as Jesus worked beside Joseph, he began meeting many people too.

Relatives of Joseph and Mary lived in the same area. The young cousins certainly knew each other, played together, learned together. Then as Jesus grew up he began to accompany the men to the synagogue. The entire family traveled to Jerusalem every year for the Feast of the Passover, along with many relatives and friends.

By the time Jesus began his ministry, he was already well known in Galilee, and probably in other parts of the country as well. What was he known for? His family relationships. His reputation. The quality of his carpentry work. The value of his opinions. His honesty, integrity, respect for his elders.

And when Jesus called his first disciple, he chose someone who already knew him; someone he already knew. We have the idea that Jesus just went around picking out this stranger and that one, and that somehow those picked were overcome with awe by this stranger calling to them and dropped everything.

No, I believe they were already well acquainted. Jesus’ reputation preceded him, and those men had no doubt been expecting him to start selecting students – disciples – and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had been praying within their own spirits, “Father, let him choose me, let him choose me!”

Also check out Peter, fishing-industry businessman https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/peter-fishing-industry-businessman/