Recently I was teaching at a seminar on Healing. I was thinking about concluding the seminar by looking at how we might become more open to receive God’s blessing and healing. I thought a simple A,B,C might be a good way of covering some of the basic truths involved. However it soon appeared that I should look at the A,B,C,D and E to give a better coverage. We will look here at the first of those topics, the “A” for Abiding.
The Healing Ministry is not simply about techniques for praying nor about special kinds of faith that have to be developed. Nor is it about special people who can heal while others can’t. Healing is what God does. That’s why we need to have a close relationship with Him so that we can receive what He has to offer us, or what He has to offer through us as we pray for healing and blessing for others. Like everything else in the Christian faith, healing is about relationships. Pre-eminently our relationship with God.
If God is a loving powerful God of grace, how can we receive the blessings that flow from His grace, especially for healing? The answer is by building up our relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is amazing what God can do in people’s lives as they open themselves to His mercy, grace, love and power. I saw that happen on many occasions. However there was one occasion when what He did really amazed me. It was during one of our Cancer Weekends in Sydney when we invited those with cancer and their carers to come to our Healing Centre for teaching, fellowship and to receive individual prayer from our team. As I walked in to begin the first session, I was shocked to see a young woman lying on the floor. I discovered later that her body was riddled with cancer. She had only weeks to live at the most.
As we taught on forgiveness she appeared to devour the teaching. She learned how to forgive. She acted on the teaching and began to forgive many of those who had deeply hurt her over the years. Instead of dying soon after that weekend, she returned to the next Seminar some weeks later. Again she acted on the teaching and as a result knew more release and healing. Some months later she was pronounced as being completely free of cancer. She had heard the Bible being taught as the word of God, and she had accepted it as the word of God. She acted on it as though it was the word of God. The result was quite miraculous. She had learned something about the ABCDE of becoming more open to God.
The Bible does says, “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” It sounds too good to be true. However not everyone receives the answers to prayer they had hoped for. There must be some other factors. What then are the conditions for that statement to become real in people’s experiences? The first of those factors is learning to “abide”.
Jesus said, John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. It’s the people who learn to abide who see answers to prayer. Jesus here speaks about abiding in two different ways. People must abide in Him. Then they must abide in His word.
a). Abiding in Jesus, the Living Word. If you abide in me. This means remaining in close fellowship with Jesus as a person. Abiding means communicating with Him as a living Person. He is alive. Part of that communication should be thanking Him for what He has done for humans on the cross. He bore the penalty for human sin and rebellion and we can be forgiven through receiving Him as our own personal Saviour and Lord. As Paul wrote, Rom 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. But Paul in this verse adds another dimension to the saving grace of Jesus, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. So we can ask for His help in living as we should because He lives in us and we are being saved from the power of sin by the power and presence of His life within us.
Jesus is a friend to those who love Him. He said so. Joh_15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. He can reveal the Father and the Father’s will to us, Joh_15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. We can communicate with Him as a trusted Friend, with whom we can share everything. He knows all about our human situation. He can help us to live in a difficult world. He can help us overcome temptation, Heb_2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. He understands our temptations, Heb_4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
So the first aspect of abiding is learning to abide in Jesus as a living friend, as well as our Lord. The second aspect should be a natural consequence of the first. It is to take seriously the words Jesus spoke and to act on them.
b). Abiding in the words of Jesus. Abiding in the Bible, the written word. Jesus said, If you abide in me, and my words abide in you. It means reading the Bible which contains Jesus’ words and absorbing their truth. It means meditating on His words, coming to understand them, and then living them out in daily living. James wrote about the written word of God and said it had to be put into practice. Jas 1:22-25, (22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.(23) For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.(24) For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.(25) But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. The word (parakuptō ) used here for “looks into the perfect law” is only used 5 times in the New Testament. Twice it refers to Peter stooping to look into the tomb of Jesus. It is also used of Mary Magdalene stooping to do the same thing. The other occurrence is in 1 Peter 1:12 where Peter writes about the desire of angels longing to look into the truth of the good news of Jesus. It can be seen that the word implies time and commitment. Believers must make every effort to understand the word of God and to put it into practice.
It’s marvellous how you can remember things which became very precious to you in former times. As a brand new believer I was introduced to Scripture Union Bible Reading Notes over 50 years ago. They had a wonderful method of making sure you really read the Bible and applied the truths you learned. I made up a mnemonic to remember the method. It was PRARP. Firstly you Prayed a prayer before reading the Bible such as the words of Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Then you Read the Bible portion for the day. Following that you Answered the questions they suggested such as What does this passage teach me about God―the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit? What does this passage teach me about the Christian life? Is there a command to obey, a promise to claim, a warning to heed? Is there an example to follow or an error to avoid? What is the main lesson of the passage? Having answered the questions you then Read the Notes commenting on the passage. The final step was Praying it in. It was a great method for learning to abide in the word, as you had to think deeply about the words and their application for everyday living.
The more we learn to abide in Him and in His word, the more deeply we come to know Him. The more we come to know him, the more we come to know and understand His will. The more we understand His will the more we can pray in accordance with His will. These are the prayers that are answered. As the apostle John wrote, 1Jn 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
What a different world it would be if we all learned to abide in Jesus and to abide in His word. More believing prayers would be prayed. More wonderful answers would result. More healing would take place. And God would be glorified in the lives of many more people. We owe it to the world to learn to abide in the living word (Jesus) and in the written word (the Bible).
Blog No.112. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Sunday 3rd March 2013