I posted this newest teaching video a couple weeks ago, but it had a problem, and I had to take it offline for repair. That problem is now fixed, and hopefully, the video will be up to stay this time.
I posted this newest teaching video a couple weeks ago, but it had a problem, and I had to take it offline for repair. That problem is now fixed, and hopefully, the video will be up to stay this time.
Epiphany is a celebration by the Body of Christ of the revelation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles — all nations of people who are not from His own Jewish heritage. On this day, we often celebrate the arrival of the wise men from the east, who came many miles, following a great sign in the heavens, to worship Jesus as the Lord of the universe who had come to earth as a man to redeem His creation from their own sin and its curse. The following article is an edited version of one I posted a few years ago, but I feel it says what is in my heart on this special day of celebration. I hope it blesses you, even if you read it when I originally shared it. It comes to you with my wish that you will have a continuous revelation throughout this new year of Jesus Christ and all He wants to be for you and your life.
“Jesus of Nazareth is coming!”
“Do you see Him yet?”
“Here He comes!”
“Here comes Jesus!”
Excitement was rampant, and cries of “Hosanna” filled the air. Shouts of joy and triumph could be heard for miles along the road, and people rushed to lay palm branches and their personal garments as a carpet of welcome. Jesus of Nazareth was coming to Jerusalem.
This carpenter-teacher who had journeyed among them for nearly three years, teaching them, healing them, feeding them, forgiving them, raising their dead. This miracle worker, this wise man, this man who was gentle enough to draw crowds of children to his side yet bold enough He would soon drive money-changers from the temple with a whip — this man whom many claimed was the prophesied Messiah of Jehovah — this man was coming again to Jerusalem! I’m sure, had we been there, we would have heard the message repeated over and over again for miles: “Here comes Jesus! Here comes Jesus!”
We in the Christian world celebrate that event on one special day out of the year, and we call it Palm Sunday. We have special services and some of us wave palm branches in the air to commemorate the day that is often referred to by church historians as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But that event happened over 2000 years ago. One could say it’s all history now; it’s been said and done; it’s over.
But not so, my friends! I am thrilled beyond words to be able to tell you that Jesus is still coming to anyone and everyone who would like to receive Him. He’s a living, vital, right-now Jesus. He is the I AM (The self-existent one who causes all other things to be; the one who is and becomes whatever He desires to become — Hebrew definition). And the great I AM desires to become everything that His creation needs.
Jesus of Nazareth is alive today, and He’s still loving people, teaching people, feeding people, forgiving people, delivering people, healing people and making them whole. And, yes, He’s still raising people from the dead. He’s the same Jesus who fulfilled the words of the ancient prophets by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey that day. He’s the same Jesus who worked myriads of miracles for the people. He’s the same Jesus who went to the cross to pay for the rebellion and sin of all the human race.
He’s the same Jesus who rose from the grave and took His throne as Lord of the universe. He’s the same Jesus who promised that if we would call on Him and receive Him as Lord, He would freely fill us with His own eternal life and with power to serve Him. He’s the same Jesus who promised that after our life of service to Him on this earth, we would move on to Heaven and live with Him forever. No questions — no if’s, and’s or but’s. No struggling to get there, no sacrifice, no hard work, no price to pay. Jesus did the work. We receive the benefit. And the Word of God, Hebrews 13:8, says “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”
So I can tell you confidently: “Here comes Jesus! He’s coming to you today! He’s coming because He sees your need; He sees your trouble; He sees your sorrow; He sees your pain; He sees your desperation; He sees your hopelessness; He hears your questions; He hears your confusion; He hears your private crying. He’s coming to you because He loves you.
Did you know that you don’t have to be a Christian for Jesus Christ to love you? Sometimes we who call ourselves Christians tend to flock together so tightly that we become almost like a clique, and the rest of the world feels as though they can’t break through the wall to become a part. But my message to the “rest of the world” today is that you don’t have to become a part of the “clique of Christianity.” All you have to do is get to know Jesus, the real person.
And did you know that you don’t have to be a Christian to call on Jesus? That’s right. Jesus isn’t listening just for the call of the Christians. Certainly, He’s attuned to their cries and He rushes to their help when they need Him, but Jesus the Christ is listening — intently — for the cries of all the millions of His creation in this world who don’t know Him at all. His heart is waiting expectantly for their voice to call out His name. And He’s ready to answer that call swiftly. He’s ready to come home with you at any time.
When Jesus walked the earth, He was often found in the homes of those who were not active believers. People whom the scriptures refer to as “publicans” and “sinners” found that Jesus was more than willing to spend time with them and teach them the truth about God — and show them God’s love by healing their sick and delivering those in demonic bondage. In fact, He often received hateful criticism from the religious leaders of His day because He gave Himself so freely to those who did not have a relationship with the true God. But Jesus’ response was simply that His main reason for coming into the earth was to find those who did not know Him and offer Himself to them.
Zacchaeus was one such man. (His story is told in the Word of God, the book of Luke, chapter 19.) Although technically a descendant of Abraham, Zacchaeus was chief among publicans — which means he made his living working for the Roman government, collecting taxes from his fellow Israelites — and, by his own admission, cheating them. He had heard about Jesus, but he was no believer. However, he was curious, and as Jesus passed through Jericho, right before his entry into Jerusalem on the donkey, Zacchaeus, a short man, climbed into a tree so that he could see and hear Jesus easily. Jesus called him down from the tree and invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.
Zacchaeus recognized Jesus as the Messiah and opened to Him his home and his heart. We know that he invited Jesus in with his whole heart, because, after spending only a short time with Him, Zacchaeus voluntarily confessed his sin of cheating and promised to make restoration of everything with interest. Jesus did not ask Zacchaeus to do so. The man simply opened his heart to Jesus, and a changed nature was the result.
So, I will say once more: You do not need to be a Christian to call on Jesus. No matter what religious tag you wear — including that of “Atheist” — that tag will not keep Jesus from coming to you if your heart is reaching out for Him and inviting Him in. What will happen to that religious tag after you meet Jesus? Who cares? I can guarantee you — without qualification — that if you ever meet the real Jesus, you won’t care.
Here comes Jesus! He’s coming to us today — Christian and non-Christian — He’s coming. With words of comfort and reassurance to destroy fear — with delivering power to destroy the yokes of the devil — with healing and wholeness for body, mind, and spirit — with wisdom and direction that leads to successful solutions — with the power of His Holy Spirit and all of the anointing for service — with eternal life to overcome death once and for all and forever.
Jesus is coming! He’s coming to you! Right now! Open your heart to Him and let Him meet all of your needs today.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jesus_entering_jerusalem_on_a_donkey.jpg
Well, this week, I finally took the plunge to learn how to set up a YouTube account and channel — and then start posting videos. I began with the audio of healing scriptures read by my father. Of course, I had to add still pictures and convert them into what YouTube calls a “movie.” It took a while, but I finally jumped through all the hoops successfully.
Unfortunately, on my old operating system and browser, some of the YouTube videos sound scratchy, and this one does as well. However, on my laptop, with a newer operating system and browser, it sounds great. So if any of you do hop over and listen to it, let me know what you found as far as sound quality.
Thanks a lot. I’m believing the Lord to use it to minister to many people.
Just want to remind my readers about the “Healing From Jesus” blog. If you or a loved one is in need of physical or emotional healing, be sure to visit the site. You will find pages and pages of anointed teaching from God’s Word that will strengthen your faith and help you learn how to receive health from the Lord’s hand and from His Word. You will also find personal testimonies that will encourage you even further to trust the Lord for your health. You can visit “Healing From Jesus” at this link:
Over the past couple of years I have been so privileged to meet and get to know many wonderful people through this blog. So many of you are from completely different cultures and have multiple interpretations of man’s spiritual destiny. I value each and every one of you, and I have been honored that you have inquired about my personal religious faith. Some of you have been asking me about what I believe concerning God and eternity. One of the best ways I can answer those questions is to re-post an article that I originally posted on one of my ministry blogs. The article gives the clearest explanation of what I believe concerning the human race’s situation with regard to it’s need of a God, a Savior, and a guarantee of a joyous eternity. So I am posting that same article here in the hope that it will help answer those folks who want to understand my faith more thoroughly.
“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. … Therefore, we … beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
“What’s it all about? This “being saved”? This being “born again”? What’s it all about? I just don’t understand it. And I could never get my life straightened out enough and cleaned up enough to fit in with Jesus Christ anyway.”
Ever felt that way? Have you ever felt that you might really like to turn your life over to someone stronger and wiser, who could get it straightened out and make some real sense out of it – give it some lasting purpose and value? But you just don’t think you measure up to God’s standards enough to come to Him?
Well, the good news – shouted loud and strong – in the scripture passage above is that you do not have to measure up to God’s standards – or anyone else’s. You don’t even have to get one little thing about yourself or your life made right before you come to God.
That’s right. I mean what I said. And I can say it with absolute confidence, because God Himself said it first. And He said it over and over again. The passage at the top of this article is just one instance, but, to me, it is one of the most important of those instances. I have two other favorite passages like it in importance: Romans 5:6: “Christ died for the ungodly.” 1 Tim. 1:15: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Now, of course, if you don’t think you need a savior – if you believe you are holy enough to live in the presence of the holy God of the universe, nose to nose, eye to eye, breathing the same air He breathes for all eternity, without being cleaned up at all – then I’m not talking to you. But if you realize that you are not on the level of that holy God – that you are not righteous and pure enough by your own merit to live with Him – then I am talking to you – and so is He!
The simple truth is that the work has already been done for you. Jesus did it all. He gave up the privileges of being on the throne of Heaven, came to this earth as a man, and lived a perfect life for you. Then God laid all of the sinful nature (to which you are heir) and all of the rebellion, disobedience, ugliness, and hatefulness of all the sin in the human race on Jesus (2 Cor. 5 21), and put all the punishment for that sin on Him as well. He bore it all for you, and after His death on your behalf, He came up out of the grave – also on your behalf – with eternal life and the right to bestow that new life on you. We have “been crucified with Christ,” (Gal. 2: 19-20) and “even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with Him.” (Eph. 2:5-6).
But when we decide we’d like to have that salvation and that new relationship with our Creator, we often hold back because we feel powerless to separate ourselves from sin or the world’s way of life – or even from our own selfish nature. We feel powerless to make ourselves “worthy” of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Well, if you feel that way, rejoice! Because that means you know the truth: We are powerless! But that is okay. Because the work of saving us is His – and His alone! And it’s already been done.
That’s what our beginning scripture is telling us. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He raised Him up as the head of a body – which would be made up of believers – everyone who would believe in that finished work. That’s what the verse in Ephesians means when it says He “raised us up with Him.” And that’s what the passage in 2 Corinthians means when it says that God was – in Christ – reconciling the world to Himself. That word reconcile means to bring back into original or proper position and make the relationship right again. That’s what the Word says God was doing when He crucified Jesus Christ and raised Him up again and seated Him in power and authority forever. He was bringing “the world” back into right relationship with Himself.
Now look at the rest of that verse: “not counting their sins against them.” Who is the pronoun “their” referring to in this verse? The church? The “good” people? The people who call themselves Christians? NO! The only plural noun in that whole verse that the pronoun “their” can refer to is the word “world.” Do you get it? God was – in Christ – not counting the world’s sins against them any longer. God was – in Christ (only in Christ) – forgiving all the people in the whole world for every sin counted against them. Can you grasp that exciting truth? In the mind and heart of God, it is already done. In the mind and heart of God, all of your sins are already forgiven – in Christ!
You see, that’s why there is no other way to salvation and eternity with God. There is no other religion, dogma, or program that has inherent within it the forgiveness of all sin and the eternal life granted by God. That forgiveness and that life are only in Christ – because He’s the only one who paid the horrible price of suffering and separation from God that was complete enough and perfect enough to buy freedom for the whole human race.
So, your next question is probably going to be, “Well if it’s already done, then what is my part?” Our part is believing and receiving. Even before Jesus’ crucifixion, when His disciples asked Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:28-29).
Now, I do need to explain that the word “believe” from the original language means much more than mental assent. It means “yielding or surrendering to and obeying.” To truly “believe” means that you give yourself to it completely. But that is the beauty of it all. We do not have to do the work of salvation. We just have to surrender to that work and let it produce its fruit in us. How do we surrender? We simply pour out our hearts to this great, loving Jesus, who has done all the work. We simply tell him in our own words that we know we need what He offers and gladly give Him control in our hearts and our lives. (That’s what it means to make Him our “Lord.”)
Once we totally surrender, Jesus comes to reign on the throne of our hearts. From that position, He can begin to clean up everything else about us that needs cleaning up. You need never fear. Once He has the position of authority, willingly given to him by you, He knows how – and is well able – to do the rest of the work.
So what about that term “born again”? Go back to our original verse: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species).” When Jesus Christ comes in, our real man – the spirit man — is literally born again. A brand new species (the God-man species of Jesus Christ) comes in and generates its life in our spirit. (You must remember that man was created by a spirit God and therefore is primarily a spirit-being, having a soul and living in a body). Therefore the Word tells us again and again the we are to be aware of the fact that we are now “children of God.” (Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:2).
Now all of this work is done – finished. In God’s heart and mind it’s a “done deal.” But remember: it is done ONLY IN CHRIST. Therefore, it is only when we make the decision to yield ourselves to Jesus Christ and receive Him into ourselves and our lives that we get the benefit of this finished work. Although it is done, if we choose not to access it, we get no results from it in our personal lives.
You might compare it to the process of getting data from the Internet. You know there is data out there covering the subject about which you need information. But that data will do you absolutely no good at all unless you sit down, turn on your computer, take yourself to that site, open up the channel, and deliberately download that information. So — you must open up yourself to Jesus Christ and all He has done for you, and by believing (yielding, surrendering) download every single bit of it. It’s all yours. It has your name on it. But you have to hit the download (I Believe) button to receive.
So what is salvation? It is the free gift of a loving Father who has paid the deepest, truest, most sacrificial price to restore His rebellious children to Himself. It is the free gift of the brother Jesus, who has given Himself in our place and paid the full price, receiving brand new life to pass on to each one of us. The work of salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us. Our only work is to believe what He has done and surrender to it.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17).
On March 17th, every year, millions of people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and most of them think in terms of shamrocks, green hats, and leprechauns. But Christian believers have something genuine to celebrate on that day — the miraculous, anointed life of the real St. Patrick of Ireland.
The Word of God says, “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” When a man who was taken into slavery by heathen tribes manages to find the living God, escape to freedom, and return years later, at the risk of his own life, to spiritually set his former captors free by the power of the Gospel, we see the truth of that scripture. In a work written around 450 A.D. and called simply Confession, the man honored by most of the world as the patron saint of Ireland tells the story of his own intimate encounter with God and his evangelism of an entire nation.
Born in England in the late fourth century, Patrick was the son of a British nobleman, who also served as the deacon of the village church. In spite of that fact, Patrick did not grow up knowing God. At the age of sixteen, he was captured by pirates who frequently roamed the coastal areas and captured large numbers of young people in order to sell them as slaves. He says of that experience: “I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God, and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people . . . . There the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God. And he watched over me before I knew him . . . and he protected me and consoled me as a father would his son.”
IN THE STEPS OF KING DAVID
Patrick was sold to a pagan chieftan-king in Ireland. Most of the Irish tribes at that time were so pagan that they sacrificed their children to idols, and many were cannibalistic. They had never heard of Jesus Christ. Patrick was cruelly mistreated during the six years he was held prisoner and forced to serve as the king’s herdsman. But like his spiritual ancestor, another young herdsman who came to know God intimately while spending days and nights in the fields and on the mountain caring for the family’s livestock, so it was with Patrick. He describes the experience in these words:
“But after I reached Ireland I used to pasture the flock each day, and I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the love of God, and my fear of him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] . . . up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number. Besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain, and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time.”
After six years, while sleeping one night, Patrick heard the voice of God tell him that it was time for him to escape, and the Lord proceeded to give him directions to a ship harbored almost 200 miles away. “I turned about and fled . . . and I came, by the power of God, who directed my route to advantage, until I reached that ship.” Patrick tried to bargain with the captain to take him on board with the promise to see that he was paid at the end of the voyage, but the captain adamantly refused. Patrick turned away, and as he walked back toward the hut where he had been staying, he prayed, confessing his confidence in God’s faithfulness. Before he had gone many more steps, one of the men called him back to the ship and told him the captain had changed his mind. Patrick recorded, “I . . . hoped that they would come to faith in Jesus Christ, because they were barbarians.”
After reaching land, on the coast of France, the ship’s crew journeyed for twenty-eight days through uninhabited country, running out of food and suffering from extreme hunger. One of the shipmen began to taunt Patrick about his message that his God was “great and all-powerful,” asking why he couldn’t pray for them so that they wouldn’t have to perish from hunger. St. Patrick described his response in these words: “I said to them confidently ‘Be converted by faith with all your heart to my Lord God, because nothing is impossible for him, so that today he will send food for you on your road, until you be sated, because everywhere he abounds.’” He goes on to add, “Behold, a herd of swine appeared on the road before our eyes, and [the men] slew many of them and remained there for two nights, full of their meat and well restored. After this they gave the utmost thanks to God, and I was esteemed in their eyes, and from that day they had food abundantly.”
IN THE PATTERN OF ST. PAUL
A few years later, he managed to return to Britain, and recognizing all he’d been through, his family begged him not to leave them again. But God had other plans. Like the Macedonian call that came to Paul in the night, so the lost souls of the Irish people called out to Patrick. “There, in a vision of the night,” he records, “I saw a man coming as if from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the beginning of the letter: ‘The Voice of the Irish,’ and as I was reading . . . I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’ And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke.”
Patrick then relates two different occasions when he was aware of speech and prayer going on inside of him while he was sleeping. Both of these experiences convinced him even more that he was being called by God to go back to Ireland. Describing one event, he records the following:
“I saw Him praying within me, and I was, as it were, inside my own body, and I heard Him above me – that is above my inner self. He was praying powerfully with sighs. And in the course of this I was astonished and wondering, and I pondered who it could be who was praying within me. But at the end of the prayer it was revealed to me that it was the Spirit.” Another time he says, “ . . . I heard and could not understand, except at the end of the speech it was represented thus: ‘He who gave his life for you, he it is who speaks within you.’ . . . I remembered the Apostle’s words: ‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we know not how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for utterance.’”
Patrick made the decision to go before the church authorities and ask them to send him to Ireland. Some of his elders brought up the sins of his past, before he had known the Lord personally. Others reminded him that he would surely lose his life if he went back among the cannibalistic pagans, and thus would be going as a martyr. But none of those arguments discouraged him, and he finally won their blessing to go as a missionary to the people who had enslaved him and treated him so inhumanely.
His actual work there began around 430 A.D. At that time the Druid priests regularly performed animal and human sacrifices to idols, and numerous forms of black magic and occult rituals were a part of the normal life of the people. Patrick was literally walking into a haven of deep-seated witchcraft and demonic strongholds.
He had intended to go first to the king who had enslaved him, purchase his own freedom from that king, and then tell him of Jesus and His love. However, when the king heard that Patrick was coming to try to convert him, he gathered all of his goods within his house and set fire to everything, including himself, so that he would not be tempted to believe in Patrick’s God. Patrick arrived at the home in time to see the smoke still rising from the self-created funeral pyre, and he was shattered at the power of the devil to bring a man to do such a thing in order to keep him from knowing the true God.
Patrick relates a number of episodes of attack on his person by demonic spirits, as well as by the pagan kings and Druid priests. He prayed daily against these forces of darkness and used every spiritual weapon at his command to break them. But he was never afraid of them. “I fear none of these things” he writes at one point, “because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere.”
IN THE SHADOW OF ELIJAH
The major turning point in this confrontation between the powers of hell and the powers of heaven came when Patrick decided to confront the most powerful king and his evil priests at the king’s own stronghold – Tara. The place was full of kings, nobles, soldiers and Druid priests, who were celebrating an important pagan feast which happened to coincide with Easter that year.
On the eve of the feast, the high king was supposed to light the first bonfire — before any other fire was lit anywhere in the land. However, Patrick had camped out on a plain in full view of the castle on the hill at Tara, and he lit a huge fire in honor of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, before the king could light the ceremonial fire to worship his idol.
The king was enraged, and he armed twenty-seven chariots with his soldiers, priests and a crowd of other guests, and drove to Patrick’s camp. As one of the two most powerful Druid priests began to insult Patrick and His God, Patrick called on God audibly to cause the evil priest to be brought to death immediately. Before everyone present, an unseen force lifted the priest off the ground and then sent him crashing back down, shattering his skull.
The king then called for his soldiers to seize Patrick, but that godly man stood and spoke a word from the Psalms, “May God arise and His enemies be scattered!” Immediately, darkness covered the area, and confusion set in. Soldiers attacked one another, horses ran away, and chariots were smashed. The following morning, Easter Sunday, Patrick and five of his companions entered the king’s castle. The king’s personal priest still tried to hold out against Patrick, but the confrontation ended in the fiery death of that priest, as a result of which, the king finally admitted his defeat and knelt before the man of God.
This auspicious beginning to Patrick’s ministry gained him an enormous reputation. But because the land was divided among numerous small, warring kingdoms, Patrick found that each realm had to be won over individually and taken for the kingdom of God. He often approached the kings bearing valuable gifts and money in order to gain an audience with them. Then he would tell them about Jesus and his salvation. If a king gave his blessing, Patrick was permitted to preach throughout that realm. The Druid priests and unsaved kings continued to fight him fiercely, but the Lord blessed Patrick’s faith and obedience.
Records show that during the thirty years of his ministry, St. Patrick led at least 70,000 people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He established hundreds of churches, and in less than a hundred years from the beginning of his work, the nation of Ireland had become predominantly Christian and was sending out its own missionaries to other lands. Patrick went to be with his Lord on March 17, most likely in the year 460 A.D.
FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION
As we approach the day that marks the yearly celebration of St. Patrick and his life, perhaps it would be good to consider this truth: In every generation, God has his David’s, His Elijah’s, His St. Paul’s, and His St. Patrick’s. All He requires to be able to raise them up in our generation is for each of us to do two things: get close enough to Him to hear His voice clearly and then obey Him instantly, regardless of the cost. St. Patrick has said it well:
“Therefore be amazed, you great and small who fear God . . . . Who was it summoned me, a fool, from the midst of those who appear wise and learned in the law and powerful in rhetoric and in all things? Me, truly wretched in this world, he inspired before others that I could be – if I would – such a one who, with fear and reverence . . . faithfully, without complaint, would come to the people to whom the love of Christ brought me and gave me in my lifetime. . . . Accordingly, therefore, to the measure of one’s faith in the Trinity, one should proceed, without holding back from danger, to make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, to spread God’s name everywhere with confidence and without fear . . . .”
~ ~ ~
This banner was one of about twelve that were fastened high on the light poles and lined several blocks of a street in my hometown to draw attention to the Catholic school’s centennial celebration.
To take part in Macro-Monday’s photo fun, visit this link:
(Exodus 15:26, Mark 5:25-34)
Her brow was wet with fever,
And her body wracked with pain.
She did not know just what was wrong,
But the symptoms would not change.
She knew she needed healing,
But she had no way to pay.
Who to turn to; who to trust;
Who to show the way?
A friend said to her, “Sister,
I know a doctor kind.
He cleanses lepers, makes lame walk,
And gives sight to the blind.
In fact, He’ll take on any case,
And cure it every time.”
“Oh, would that I could go to Him,”
She then was heard to say.
“But since I do not know His name,
How can I know the way?
And even if He’d take my case,
I simply cannot pay.”
“My dear, fear not,” her friend replied;
“There is no need to fear.
I’ll take you to Him right away;
He’s really very near.
His name’s Jehovah Rapha; He’s
‘The God that healeth thee.’
And because of His Son’s precious blood,
The healing – it is free!
© 1998 Sandra Conner
Do you need healing? Are you struggling in your efforts to receive it? Do you feel surrounded and overwhelmed by the symptoms, the doctors reports, the unbelief of friends and family — crowding around you and choking off your faith?
The Psalmist in God’s Word felt exactly what you are feeling. He knew what it was like to be surrounded by so many enemies at once and hearing their taunting voices trying to convince him that God would not come through for him: “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me. Many there be that rise up against me. Many there be that say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in God.'” (Psalm 3:1-2). But his response to that problem was to turn his attention to God. “But Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head.”
Another of our great forefathers in the faith, King Jehoshaphat, faced the same kind of situation: The kingdom of Judah was facing annihilation as the mighty armies of three nations came against it. Jehoshaphat called the people to a fast, and as they stood before the Lord, he prayed, reminding God of His faithfulness and saying, ” … We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee.” God gave them a total victory the very next morning.
In both instances, these men of faith did exactly the same thing to find a solution to their problem: They took their eyes off the enemy and put them on God alone.
That action is exactly what the Lord instructs us to do in the midst of what looks like a hopeless situation and certain defeat. In Isaiah 41:10, He says, “Feat not, for I am with you. DO NOT ANXIOUSLY LOOK ABOUT YOU, for I am your God. If we have a God whose capable of defeating any enemy — and who has promised to do so — then we don’t need to look at the enemy, the problems, the imminent destruction. Where do we look? We look at our God.
There is a light from God — and from His Word — that will lighten you. It will burn through the thick fog of doubt and suffocating fear and infiltrate you with its illumination and warmth. It will lift your faith — enlarge your faith — increase your faith — strengthen your faith — and bring you the victory.
There’s an old gospel song from the 1800’s by William A. Ogden entitled “Look and Live.” The chorus of that song says,
“Look and live, my brother, live;
Look to Jesus now and live,
It’s recorded in His Word, hallelujah
That you only have to look and live.”
Yes, looking is the key. But looking the right direction is what makes the difference in whether that key works in the lock. We MUST look to Jesus and His Word. Hebrews 3:1 admonishes us to “consider Jesus, the High Priest of our profession.” That word “consider” in the original Greek means “exercise your mind on.” What a perfect picture of the meaning of meditation. We are to “exercise our mind” on Jesus. Think about Him — about how He never — never — never turned down any person who came to Him for healing. And then think about how He is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).
Hebrews 12:2 says, ” … Let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Jesus is the author of our faith, because He IS the Word of God. (John, chapter one). It is the Word that tells us of God and what He has done for us. Nothing but the Word can reveal to us the truth of God’s love, mercy, and healing, so nothing but the Word can create faith in us for those things. (Romans 10:17). And that same Word continues to feed and strengthen our faith if we will keep our eyes on it.
We keep our eyes on Jesus by keeping our eyes on His Word.
So don’t look around you at the forest, dark with unbelief and fear. Look up to Jesus, your Healer — and keep looking up for as long as it takes. He isn’t going anywhere. He’ll be right there when you look to Him, and He’ll stick with you until you have the full manifestation of your healing from Him.
What Makes Something Valuable?
We all live by a value system of some kind. Each possession, each day, and each person in our lives has a different value, and sometimes that value changes. The title of this article is a joke, of course, poking fun at the truth that most value is relative. But what makes it relative? What, in the final analysis, determines an item’s value?
There are millions of affluent citizens of several nations who value their Cadillacs — or a number of other expensive automobiles with big gasoline engines — as one of the most important and life-enhancing items they could own. On a roster of possessions that represent the most positive assets in life, those glossy, high-powered autos head the list.
But let that Cadillac owner find himself stranded in the middle of a blazing desert: sand blowing into every nook and cranny, including his engine — no roads of any kind — no gas stations. Suddenly, a slow-moving, bad-smelling, comically-proportioned camel is worth a whole lot more to that guy than the Caddy, and he’d gladly make a trade. Value.
By the same token, a woman who finds herself happily married to a kind, thoughtful man will value that man highly — more highly than any of the other people in her life. Her next-door neighbor may be married to Attila the Hun, and she finds herself valuing her time away from him with others much more than she does him.
The woman who’s wished all her life for a huge two-story home with five bathrooms, and who has the money to care for that house and hire help — as well as be free to stay home and enjoy it most days — will value that house highly. But the gal who struggles to make ends meet by working three jobs and going non-stop from sun-up to sun-down will value a one-bedroom apartment that is easy to clean and maintain with no extra fuss.
So what is it, really, that gives something its value? It seems that it is the owner of that ‘something.’ The person to whom the thing belongs and for whom it fulfills a purpose or meets a need is the one who imbues it with its value.
Well, I, for one am thrilled to realize that truth. Because I know for sure to whom I belong. And I know for sure — because He told me Himself — what service I perform and what needs I meet for Him. Nor am I an isolated case. There are millions more just like me — yet unique at the same time — and bearing equal value in the eyes of our owner.
My owner is the God of the universe, the Creator of all things — including me. His Word tells me clearly (Revelation 4:11) that all things — including me — were created by Him for His pleasure. And, in fact that is my number-one job: to give my Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ pleasure. Surely, I am assigned to do other things: to love others; to teach them what the Word says about Jesus and how He, as God, came to save us from our own sin and rebellion; and to show by my whole life the true nature of God. But those assignments do not substitute for God’s original purpose in creating me: His own enjoyment of a family just like Him.
But not only does He own the whole human race because He created us. When we rebelled against Him and turned away, breaking our relationship with him completely, with no hope to get it back, God came in the person of Jesus Christ and paid the supreme price to buy us back into His possession. He made us the first time (an easy and delightful experience for Him); He bought us the second time (a gut-wrenching, horrific, thoroughly bloody experience for Him).
But you know what’s really interesting to me? The Word of God tells us in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus faced all of that sacrifice for us — laying aside the privileges of Divinity and re-defining Himself in human flesh, living a life never once stained by sin, and taking our sin and the horrible shame, beating, crucifixion, and separation from God that we deserved — because He saw something beyond that sacrifice that would give Him so much joy that it far surpassed the evil He would have to endure.
Now, tell me please, what joy could the Lord of the universe – Creator of all things — what possible joy could He have been missing that made such a horrific sacrifice necessary? The only thing He was missing was a relationship with man. Since man, by his own volition, had irrevocably broken that relationship, nothing could restore it at that point. The only hope was if God could find a way to “re-create” the human race — to make them righteous enough again to fellowship with Him.
The triune Creator had everything else He could possibly want, but not one of those things could give Him the joy that His relationship with us could give. Dear friend, it was for man — for you and me — that He longed. It was for you and me that He made the decision to suffer such agony and death.
So how valuable are we? Is there anything in the universe that could be bartered for you and me? Is there anything that can be offered to Jesus Christ in exchange for His relationship with us that would tempt Him to give us up? Not on your life, my friend! He already made that choice, once and for all, when He laid down everything else for us.
Remember, He didn’t just decide to come down to earth for a moment in time and go through the motions. He came down to go through the reality of taking on our sin, taking on our separation and banishment from the Father God, taking on our death. His only hope was in the eternal Word of the living God, who had spoken that He would raise Jesus up with new life once the legal price for sin had been paid in full. Had that Word failed, Jesus would never have seen Heaven again, and we would be lost and undone — without God and without hope — forever.
But He did see Heaven again. He came up out of that grave with eternal life to offer anyone who would accept the sacrifice He had made. (John 3:16-18, 1 John 5:11-12). So when we accept His sacrifice and accept Him, that new life comes into us and we are “born again.” (John 3:3-5). We become “a new creation: a new species,” created in the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself. (2 Cor. 5:17).
Yes, it’s easy to identify Jesus Christ as our owner — twice over. He created us; then he paid for us. A critical reader will stop here and note the fact that I am repeating this point for the third time in this article. And he would be correct. I am repeating this astounding truth so many times because this world has a way of draining it right out of us. It’s so easy to give mental assent to what we’re discussing here but miss the power of it as a reality in our lives. So once more I will remind all of us: He laid everything on the line — Heaven, His eternal throne, His own life — for us. And therein lies our value.
It doesn’t matter how we feel about it. It doesn’t matter what we think. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about the situation. Our worth is set for eternity, and no one — absolutely no one — is going to get Jesus to trade us for anything else at all..
I originally posted this short one-act play a few months ago, but yesterday I came across a writing challenge connected with the picture below, and I thought the play fit the challenge perfectly. So I’m sharing it as my response.
Here’s the link: Picture It and Write: http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/__picture-it-write-42/
In The Beginning: A One-Act Play
Time: Creation, Day 1
Place: Heaven, looking down at planet Earth
Cast: God and One Inquisitive Angel
Angel to God: “What are you doing, God?”
God: “I’m lighting my planet Earth.”
Angel: “Why does it need light?”
God: “Because I am creating a brand new species — MAN — and I want him to live there.”
Angel: “A NEW species? What are you going to do with him?”
God: “Love him.”
Angel: “What will he do for you?”
God: “Give me pleasure.”
Angel: “Will he give you pleasure that is different from what the rest of your creation gives you?”
God: “Oh, yes. He will be a speaking spirit just like me, who will be able to choose by his own free will to love me and communicate with me constantly.”
Angel: “Have you thought that he could use his free will to choose NOT to love you? He could end up giving you a lot of trouble.”
God: “Oh, yes, he will give me A LOT of trouble. … But to me he is worth it!”
In the early morning of October 23 — just 11 days from today — thousands of swallows will lift off the grounds of the San Juan Capistrano mission, circle the mission once, and begin their pre-scheduled 7500-mile flight back to their home city of Goya, Argentina. They will have spent 7 months at the mission, enjoying the warm climate and excellent food — and offering their share of the work to keep the eco-system in its proper balance — particularly by destroying about a billion insects. But it will be time to go home, and those swallows will not fail to leave at exactly the appointed moment.
Their visit to the centuries-old California mission began in Goya at dawn on February 18 — as it has every February 18 for at least the past 200 years. They arrived at Capistrano on March 19 — as they have for at least 200 years — and, yes, all the mission bells did ring, just as Leon Rene’s 1940’s song says. There is a great celebration at the mission every year, and thousands of people turn out to welcome the birds to their summer home. All events are planned well ahead of time because there is absolutely no doubt that these lovely swallows will be right on time.
Argentinian magazine correspondent Enrique Bermudez, who writes for Para Todos Magazine, has made a thorough study of the swallows. He says they fly most of their 7500 mile journey at an altitude of 6600 feet and fly at a speed of 18 miles per hour. His research shows that swallows are masters at following a flight plan that takes advantage of every favorable wind. And somehow, in spite of all kinds of unpredictable natural events, they arrive exactly at the appointed time on March 19, year after year after year. How awe inspiring is that?
Well, it must be pretty inspiring for the majority of people because the event has been immortalized in word and song for decades now. Unfortunately most people any distance away cannot be present to celebrate the event, but all of us have the privilege of witnessing a similar miracle right in our own back yards if we care to take notice. We have scores of “closer-to-home” birds that migrate north and south at exactly the right time every year — returning at the same appointed time when the seasons change. In my neck of the woods, the most prominent migratory birds are the geese, and their v-shaped flight patters make designs across our skies for several weeks each fall as they follow their God-given homing devices to their places of winter refuge.
And so it is in every little burg and hamlet across the planet. Then when spring pops out from under winter’s blanket, ducks, geese, and birds of various sorts find themselves on the move again, and without fail, all the members of each species of bird know exactly where they are going. Just like the Capistrano swallows, they all have this built-in guidance system that we call “instinct.” It’s an internal radar, given to them by their Creator, that doesn’t fail to take them exactly where they need to go: south in the winter, north in the summer, and even to the highest rafters of the crumbling mission at San Juan Capistrano.
But what about us? People. Do we have our built-in homing device turned on? It is keeping us focused on our perfect destination? No matter what the season in our lives, our perfect place of safety and fulfillment is always the same place: The Almighty, Eternal, Living God.
What time is it in your life? Is it time to migrate to a new place in your spiritual walk? Do you find yourself feeling the need to live on a higher plane? Or is it getting a little dark and cold where you are now, causing you to long for more warmth and light and nourishment?
Well, the Word of God makes it clear that we each have a built-in homing device with its own internal radar. That Word tells us that we do not have to “anxiously look about us,” trying to find our path. (Isaiah 41:10). All we have to do is set our hearts on the one who created that homing device. (Prov. 3:6). And even more directly, we are told that we will find Him through Jesus Christ, who is “the way” into the heart of that Creator. (John 14:6).
Do you have your radar zeroed in on the almighty God of the universe? If so, you have a fantastic journey ahead of you. If not, maybe this changing season is a good time to make an adjustment.