310. The Steps Of Faith Needed For Healing. Luke 5:17-26

Getting healed seems to be so difficult! And so expensive! Many promise healing but obviously fail to deliver. How refreshing then to read of a real healing.

The house was packed. With people who believed they should protect others from charlatans and false teachers. Pharisees and Scribes they were called. Religious but often too strict for their own good. Or the good of the people they felt they should protect!

Then there was the crowd gathered in the home and around the door. It was completed packed out with standing room only. Outside!

Jesus was there too. The crowds had come to hear Him and, hopefully, to be healed by Him. Luke adds, “And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” But wasn’t the power of the Lord always present to heal the sick wherever Jesus was present? Normally, Yes. But where people weren’t open to receive healing from Him, healing didn’t flow. Jesus didn’t force anything on people who were not willing to receive it. Some time later Mark records that Jesus returned to his hometown, and taught in the synagogue. We read what happened, “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. …”. Mark 6:5-6. Unbelief on the part of humans hindered the reception of healing not because Jesus couldn’t work in unbelieving situations [He did heal a few] but because He wouldn’t impose His blessing on those who were not open to receive it.

On this occasion in Luke 5 it was different. Expectancy filled the air. The story ends with a wonderful healing. A lame man was healed so as to be able to walk. Immediately! He was also able to bend down to pick up his bed and to carry it home!

We might ask what were the steps of faith the lame man used to enable him to walk? What might we learn from the story?


[Seen in the paralysed man and in others in the story.]

  1.   A Willingness To Receive Support From Others.

If his friends hadn’t bothered to carry the lame man to the feet of Jesus he most probably would not have been healed on that day. We don’t know who approached whom for this “outing” to get to Jesus. Obviously there was mutual agreement among them that it was going to be worthwhile for the man’s friends to carry their lame friend to Jesus. There are times when we all need the support of others as we reach out to the Lord for His blessing. We often carry our family members and friends on the stretchers of our faith to be healed by the Lord.

  2. Putting Faith to Work!

They tried to carry the lame man into the house to lay him down before Jesus. But it was packed out. They persevered. They applied lateral thinking. It was obvious a horizontal approach was not possible with such a crowd around the door. So they decided on a vertical approach. To get up on the roof and lower him down at the feet of Jesus. They formulated a plan. They put it into action. As James wrote, “Faith apart from works is dead!” James 2:26. When we believe we know the way forward in any undertaking we still have to put it into practice. As many preachers have said, “Faith has legs.”

  3. A Willingness To Persevere Even When The Going Gets Tough [And Tougher!]

It may be that we don’t appreciate the effort that these men went to, to bring their friend to Jesus. They faced the challenge of carrying him on the mattress [or bed] up the external stairs. It was difficult but they persevered. [Many years ago when we were living in Sydney on the third level of our building I decided to have a go at hauling our groceries up the almost 40 feet height on to our open verandah. That would save me carrying them up the 39 steps on very narrow staircases to get to our kitchen. I only tried it once as there was no place for a pulley or other help. Leaning out over the verandah rail and lifting a dead-weight heavy load was not an easy task. I discovered I had a new-found admiration for these men who carried the lame man up the stairs.

They continued to persevere as they made an opening in the roof for the bed to be lowered  to the floor below. Mark describes their action as digging a hole in the roof. That would have taken a while. But they persevered.

Now came the easy part, one would think. Lowering the man on his bed to the feet of Jesus. Surely lowering would be easier than hauling up. But they had a fight on their hands. A fight against a force called gravity. They had fought against gravity in hauling him up the stairs. Now they were to face that same force wanting to drag the man down as they tried to lower him slowly. Again they persevered until he was deposited safely on the floor before Jesus.  [Again I learned to appreciate all the effort involved when I had another brilliant idea when we living on that third level in Sydney. That was, to lower our bags of rubbish over the verandah rail instead of carrying them all the way downstairs. Great in theory, but trying to hang onto the rope as the [much lighter than a man] weight of the rubbish dragged me almost over the edge was not a pleasant experience. It’s no use persevering in an activity that is doomed to fail. But these men persevered until their credible plan was accomplished.

  4. A Recognition Of One’s Real Needs

We read that Jesus saw their faith. They had gone to all that trouble to get their friend to Jesus. They all had faith to believe it was all going to be worthwhile for the lame man to come before Jesus.  Jesus could cut to the chase. He addressed the man’s greatest need. A right relationship with God. Forgiveness of all his sins, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”  Luke 5:20. It is instructive that the lame man didn’t get upset with Jesus’ words. He could have become resentful that he had come all this way under great difficulty to receive healing but now Jesus was talking about something else seemingly unrelated to his physical need. The lame man was not living in denial about his real needs. He appeared to recognise that he needed forgiveness as well as physical healing.

  5. Persevering In Faith In Spite Of Opposition

The religious leaders who were there had silent conniptions. We read that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Luke 5:21. But Jesus knew their hearts and minds. He gave them a puzzle to consider, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” Luke 5:23. The answer of course is that it is easier to say the former because there is no way it can be proved. However to say, “Get up and walk” makes the speaker appear to be a charlatan if the person doesn’t do so. One requires proof. The other can’t be proved.

Jesus was about to establish His claim that He had the authority to forgive sins, by doing the more difficult thing, by healing the lame man, ‘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, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”’ Luke 5:24. The healing would establish the fact [for those with eyes to see] that Jesus was operating under God’s authority to both heal and forgive.

How sad it is that it is often religious leaders who are so opposed to the possibility of God’s healing power being at work in today’s world! One has to wonder when those who say in the Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty” have difficulty in believing He can do things in today’s world!

  6. The Final Step Of Faith. “Trust And Obey.”

The lame man and his friends had taken all these steps of faith in bringing him to Jesus. In a sense that was all the friends could do. It was now up to an encounter of the lame man with Jesus. Jesus addressed him personally, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Jesus gave him 3 impossible things for him to do as expressions of his faith.

He had to try to stand up. He tried in faith to do so. He succeeded.

He had to try to pick up his mat. He tried in faith to do so. He succeeded.

He tried to begin to walk home. He tried in faith to do so. He succeeded.

He had trusted in Jesus for healing and the healing came as he obeyed the words of Jesus.


An Australian Prime Minister once declared that “Life wasn’t meant to be easy!” That was a true observation. But it is also true to say that the life of faith is not easy either. There are many obstacles on the way to receiving God’s best for us. There are many steps of faith we have to take to achieve our goal. However this story of persevering faith [evidenced in the paralysed man and his friends] is a great encouragement to us to persevere in trusting and obeying Jesus in order to receive the goal He has placed on our hearts. Even sometimes what seem to be impossible goals.

Blog No.310 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 1st February 2019

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309.  Jesus Heals Untouchables. Luke 5:12-17. [Part 2 of 2.  Healings God Does In Today’s World.]

In the previous article we looked at how Jesus healed a leper who said to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean!” We saw how Jesus responded by touching the ‘untouchable’ and saying, “I am willing, be clean!” The man was healed instantly. We also made the point that not all of Jesus’ healings were instantaneous. They also came gradually or in various stages. Others came after some delay. Still others came when the situation seemed to be impossible.

We also suggested that God was working through Jesus as His Perfect Instrument as the PERFECT MAN. This was evidenced in the way He described His ministry of teaching and healing in these words, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:10.  

So if God was the originator of the miracles of Jesus as He did His work through Jesus as Perfect Man,  could it be that He could be the originator of healings and miracles through imperfect humans in today’s world?

Many involved in ministry today believe it to be so. They look at some of the healings they have observed in their or others’ ministries and conclude that what they saw was a work of God. It was beyond human capabilities.

The following are some of the healings we observed in the Healing Ministry in St Andrew’s Cathedral Sydney during the time I was privileged to be its Leader, [1988-2006]. They are true stories but names have been changed to ensure privacy and confidentiality. They are a few healings among so many, but they help illustrate the different ways in which God brings healings in today’s world.

They follow the types of healings God worked through Jesus as we described them in the previous article, namely instantaneous, gradual or in stages, delayed and in seemingly impossible situations.



God is able to bring instant healing to people today. Helen came to our Wednesday night service suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis. Her fingers kept dislocating and her toes were curled up as well. She found it difficult to turn her head. In the providence of God one of the people who prayed for her was Wanda. Wanda had herself come to the service many years before in a wheelchair, and had been crippled up with severe rheumatoid arthritis. After receiving prayer during the service Wanda was so healed that she went outside the Cathedral and freely and joyfully danced down George Street.

As Wanda prayed over Helen all these years later, Helen felt great heat flowing through her body and she felt her fingers and toes return to normal.  Her neck became free. As she walked out of the Cathedral she wiggled her fingers before my face saying, “Look at what God has done!” My immediate reaction was to say, “Get those splints back on and see your doctor before you do that!” Fortunately I didn’t utter those words. She had really been wonderfully healed during the service. Like Wanda, she came to the service severely crippled up. She, like Wanda, left as a wonderfully healed woman touched by the love and power of God.


A woman came the service for the first time. I didn’t recognise her. She appeared to be of Eastern European appearance. She sat at the back of the Cathedral. During the prayer time, a lot of noise came from where she was sitting. I was told later that it had originated with her. The same thing happened over several weeks when she was prayed for. As the months wore on, the noises stopped as she received prayer quietly like most other people. Then came a night when she saw me after the service. She said sometime like this, “I want to thank you and the Healing Ministry for all you have done for me during these services. When I first came here I was stark raving mad. I couldn’t function properly. But now I am healed”. Her next words nearly floored me. She said, “I am a medical doctor with a medical practice in Western Sydney. Now that I am healed I am reopening my practice and so I won’t be able to come here again on Wednesday nights. But thank you all for all you have done for me.”

There was no counselling involved. Just a woman who knew she needed help coming and asking God to heal her. Which He did marvellously over a period of several months.


Ray, a farmer drove about 4 hours from the country to see me. For one hour! When he arrived he told me that he had tried to get his life right by forgiving all those who had hurt him and by asking forgiveness of those whom he knew he had hurt. He said, “Was that a good thing to do?” I told him that if everyone did that there would be whole lot more healing in the world.

He had been pretty much bed-ridden for several weeks with severe back pain.  Then he told me that he really believed that if I laid hands on him and prayed for him, he would be healed. By then there was only about 10 minutes left before he had to leave to drive the 4 hours home! I prayed for him thinking “Doesn’t he realise that healing is more complicated than that!” I saw him off as darkness began to fall.

On the following Saturday I met his wife at a Seminar I was conducting in Sydney. I asked her how her husband was going. Her reply was unexpectedly enthusiastic, “Oh, he’s like an 18 year old. He got out of bed next morning after getting home so late and he had no pain at all. In fact he has been doing all the things that he hasn’t been able to do for months. He has been shifting furniture around the farm and even loaded a refrigerator onto his utility truck all by himself.” That sounded like a real healing!

Several weeks later he drove the 4 hours down to see me before the Wednesday night Healing Service.  He wanted  to come to the service to privately praise God for His healing. Then he would drive the 4 hours home again on the country roads arriving home after mid-night! He told me, “When you laid your hands on me on that day I felt power go through my body and I woke up healed next morning.” I didn’t like to tell him what I was experiencing as I prayed over him that afternoon. All I felt was a sense of panic that he was expecting so much and that he has given me virtually no time to pray over him. He was obviously given a gift of faith to believe something wonderful was going to happen. By contrast I was given a wake-up call not to limit the power of God to work in what appeared to be difficult situations!


Colleen was a young woman whom I first saw lying on the floor of our Auditorium as I was about to begin a day seminar for those with cancer and for their carers. She had been carried in and had been carefully placed horizontally on the floor because she was too weak to sit.  I was told that she had only days or weeks at the most to live, so advanced was her cancer. She was almost like a grey corpse lying on the floor. I hoped she would survive the hour session. But as she lay there she heard the teaching on forgiveness, about the freedom that comes from being forgiven by God and the freedom then from being able to forgive others. She learned that day how to receive forgiveness from God. She also learned how to forgive. She survived the seminar. Within a matter of weeks she was perfectly healed.

Months later Colleen returned to her home country of Ireland and was able to restore strained and broken relationships. She returned to Australia absolutely glowing, a picture of health and an attractive bundle of infectious joy.

When I first saw her lying on the floor I thought it was too late. I saw her as a candidate for an early expected death. God saw her differently. He saw her as a candidate for an unexpected healing. He saw it correctly. I judged by outward appearance without appreciating the magnitude of God’s kingdom love and power.

One wonders how often in ministry we look at the magnitude of the problem and fail to appreciate the magnitude of the ability of God to do the impossible in so-called “impossible” situations.


God heals today. Healings may come in any of the above ways from instantaneous to prolonged or even when situations appear to be impossible.  However who declares them to be impossible?

Jesus said something about impossibilities and about possibilities.

He was approached by the father of a boy who had a demon which had often tried to kill him. The father entreated Jesus, “ … it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Mark 9:22. Jesus’ response is challenging to all of us today, ‘Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”’ Mark 9:23. A very, very strong statement by Jesus! It appeared to be so in the ears of the father who immediately responded, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 9:24. He had shown faith in bringing his son to the disciples of Jesus to get help. When that failed he stayed on to seek help from Jesus Himself. The father was not deterred by such a statement from Jesus. He humbly affirmed his faith, “I do believe!” But he was humble enough to realise that there could be pockets of unbelief in his belief system.  He wanted those pocket of unbelief removed so that he could believe for more …  for the sake of his son! The father’s faith was rewarded. The boy was healed by Jesus.

God alone decides how healings come. Healings come to many folk as they continue stepping out by faith in obedience to Him so that He can always do in and through them what He wants to do.

He heals in His way, in His time, through whom He wishes. To His glory!

There is a saying we use in Australia [though of American origin] which says, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings!” God alone determines the end. It ain’t over until He says so!

It is true to say that as we walk in faith and obedience to God, your  life, my life is not over until the Lord [not the doctor, brilliant and dedicated as he or she may be] says “It’s time to come home!”

Blog No.309 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 23rd January 2019


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308. Jesus Heals “Untouchables!” The Implications Of The Story. Luke 5:12-16. [Part 1 of 2].

In this first article we look at the simple story of a leper being healed by Jesus and the implications arising from the story. In Part 2 we will look at some of the healing God is continuing to do in His world today to help bring us a sense of His ongoing love and power.

 1].    A MAN WITH A PROBLEM. He was a leper!

Luke 5:12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 

The difficulties the leper faced

There was the danger the disease presented. Leprosy could lead to a growing numbness in the body and the risk of severely injuring limbs because they could not feel pain.

There was the isolation the disease brought. Leprosy was seen to be contagious. It meant that lepers lived isolated lives on the extremity of towns. They had to cry out “Unclean” when any one ventured near them.

There was the rejection that came from members of the general society and even from members of their own family.

On top of all this was the stigma they bore daily as unclean people. In much of the thinking of that time there was a simple equation, sickness = sin. In other words the cause of someone’s sickness was the sin they [or their parents] had committed. So for this man to be covered with an obvious disease mean that some would have seen him as a particularly evil person.

It was as though the leper was among the ‘living dead’ with little hope for any sort of future.

His reaction to Jesus

It seems that he wasted no time in approaching Jesus as He entered the town.

His attitude to Jesus was significant. He humbly fell at Jesus’ feet. Few people would have been willing to humble themselves before Jesus in this way.

His form of address to Jesus was also significant. He called Him, “Lord” [kurios].  It was a mark of respect for an important person. However it was also used for God in the Old Testament. Did he have a very high regard for Jesus? It would seem so from his statement to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” He believed that Jesus had the power to heal him of his leprosy. His problem was his attitude to himself. Would Jesus be willing to heal an untouchable like himself?

It’s a question many have in today’s world when they feel dirty or unclean because of the things that happened in their past.


13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”  

His Words answered the man’s unspoken question. “I AM WILLING!“

His Attitude. Jesus reached out and touched the untouchable.  What a great shock that would have been to people when they saw what happened.

It is encouraging and humbling to know that Jesus has the willingness and the ability to bring healing to those who need it, even to the untouchables!


Immediate healing. “And immediately the leprosy left him.”           

The leper had been right. Jesus did have the power to heal him. Now he also knew that Jesus was willing to heal unclean people such as himself.

This was none other than a demonstration of the love, mercy and power of God.

But did Jesus always heal in this manner? It helps us to understand the true nature of healing as we see how even Jesus healed in other ways.


I.     Instantly

We see it here in this story of the leper.

But Jesus’ healings were not always immediate.

II.     Gradually or in stages.

We see this in the story of the blind man at Bethsaida. Mk 8:22, “They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 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?” 24, He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” 25 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.” He was healed! By Jesus! In 2 stages!

If God healed through Jesus as His perfect instrument in more than one stage then He obviously may heal in different stages today.

III.        Delayed healings

Sometimes Jesus healed at a distance. In Luke 10:13 we read that 10 lepers called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” He told them “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” We read what happened next. “And as they went, they were cleansed. “ They were healed as they moved away from Jesus [in time and space] in obedience to His words.

IV.      When healing seems to be impossible

Jesus spoke to Lazarus and said, “Lazarus, come out!” It was a bit difficult to say the least for someone who had been in a tomb for 4 days and whose body was in a state of decay, to ‘come out’. But ‘come out’ he did, John 11: 44 “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Humanly impossible! But possible when Jesus spoke the word of healing!


It seems that God used Jesus to heal in many different ways. But wasn’t it Jesus who did the healings? Yes it was! But He explained His ministry like this, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:10.  Jesus taught and healed  many people. But He said that the origin of His whole ministry was the Father who gave Him the words to say, and who worked through Him to accomplish His miracles. They were one and ministered as one.

Some have seen a great significance in Jesus’ words. What they have suggested is that God worked through His perfect instrument Jesus as PERFECT MAN rather than Jesus doing His own thing apart from God as the eternal perfect Son of God. As my New Testament teacher Dr Leon Morris wrote in one of his books, “There was no resource open to Jesus [as Perfect Man] that is not open to us.”

Does that mean that God is able to do things in today’s world that resemble what He did in the time of Jesus’ ministry? None of us could ever claim to be perfect like Jesus, the sinless one! But could God work through His [less than perfect] people today to bring such healings and blessings to needy people? He certainly worked through Paul and Peter and Stephen and others to accomplish miracles but how about lesser folk today? Perhaps He could if they were in communion with Him and open to be used by Him in His purposes.

I thought recently about the implications of these verses, Php 2:12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Paul is saying that we need to work out in practice what God is inwardly working in us. He gives us the willingness and the ability to do His will, to do the things that are part of His plan and purpose for His world. Things that give Him pleasure! Might that include using imperfect but available instruments to bring His healing to needy people whom He loves?

That will be the topic in Part 2 of this 2 Part series!

Blog No 308. posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Tuesday 22nd January 2019. [53rd Wedding Anniversary for Carole and me!]

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307. People Really Can Change! New Creatures For A New Year! 2 Corinthians 5:17

He had a lot to think about as a young 23 year old. A previous Christmas he had spent at Coolangatta with a fellow National Serviceman who had served with him in the Navy. His friend had then returned home to continue his teaching career at a small Queensland seaside town. Then came the sad news from his parents that he had been swimming, felt unwell and soon after had collapsed and died. One friend was suddenly lost. Soon after another of his friends in his football club had been decapitated as his motorbike slid under the tray of a truck on Currumbin Hill on the Gold Coast in wet weather. The loss of another friend.

He had managed to play out another A grade rugby league football season with a dislocating shoulder and even made the representative side which defeated an International New Zealand Maori touring team. However it was either retirement from the game or a costly operation and time off work. The latter was not financially possible. Another loss of close friends as he was no longer part of the team he had played with for several years.

Studies had gone well except for the first of his final Industrial Chemistry exams. A friend who worked in a hospital pharmacy had suggested some tablets which would help concentration. However they had the opposite effect and he felt he had almost failed his pet subject Inorganic Chemistry because he ‘couldn’t think straight’ as he described it. It was then he called upon God for help [if he did exist that is] to get through the other final subjects to pass the year. He promised God [if he did exist] that he would think seriously about Him.

He passed the year well. A bargain with God needed to be kept. So now it was time on New Year’s Eve to act on all the material he had been given by his Christian [whatever that meant] sisters who had tried to convert him. The material had been convincing. He realised that Christ had lived, died and had risen from the dead. He was offering to be the Saviour from sin and to come and take control of any life that was open to him.

As he sat there reading “Peace With God” by Billy Graham, he knew he had to make a choice about the future of his life. He had just returned from walking among the thousands of New Year’s Eve revellers in Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. As he did so, he felt that the eyes of God were on him for every step. He realised that he could no longer hide in a crowd from God. In that small room in a flat in Boundary Street on the Queensland- New South Wales border at 11.45pm he made a decision that was to be the most important decision he would ever make.

He knelt by the side of his bed and prayed a prayer he had read in one of the booklets he had been given. It had been written by a Chaplain to the Queen, the Rev John Stott. It was a prayer based on the simple formula A.B.C.D.
A meant that one had to Admit that one was a sinner in the sight of God.
B meant that one had to Believe that Christ died on the cross to take away one’s sin.
C meant that one had to Consider the cost of becoming a Christian. It was to be a “boots and all” commitment to God! For ever!
D meant that one had to Do something about the situation and that was through prayer to ask Jesus into one’s life.

He prayed the prayer. The very moment the prayer finished, the horns of the cars honked, bells tolled and cries of delight from thousands of people filled the air – because the New Year had come in. Only later did he realise that there was rejoicing in heaven that night among the angels over one sinner who repented and came home!

It is a true story. I know because I was there for every part of the story above. I ended 1958 as someone who had no time for God but I entered 1959 as a brand new person. As the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

I discovered on that New Year’s Eve the truth of the promise of Jesus, that to open one’s life to Him, is to begin a life of never-ending fellowship with Him, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20.

You can know more of what it means to become a new creature in Christ, and what the passage from 2 Corinthians 5:17 involves, by reading a wonderful encouraging story of a man who changed incredibly as he opened his life to Jesus. Just click here on Blog No 106 which I wrote on New Year’s Day 2013. Romantics will love the ending!
Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on New Year’s Eve 31st December 2018

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306. The Mystery Is Revealed! Ephesians 3:1-12. Epistle for Epiphany. 6th January 2019

The mystery is revealed! The mystery of God’s ways in the world and what that means for you and me and for our families. It is revealed in Ephesians chapter 3. So important for everyone to know and to act on! And what a blessing it is to bask and to walk in the abundance of the truths there revealed!

It may seem strange but it appears there is only one reading from the letter to the Ephesians in the Revised Common Lectionary Sunday Readings for the whole church year in 2019. So no-one using the church year readings will be preparing a series of messages on Ephesians. So here is a one-off help for a one-off reading!

Coming straight after the Christmas New Year period when preachers and their families [and everyone else] are pretty exhausted, I decided to make my own contribution to family stability and happiness by posting some notes on that passage for busy folk to access as part of their preparation [and hopefully allow more family time].

These articles were written at different times and in different settings but are compiled here in chronological order in this present article for convenience. Just click on the number on any article and truth on the passage will appear.

Happy reading! And for preachers, may there be a wonderful response to the truth you share from Ephesians chapter 3 on Sunday 6thJanuary 2019.

Blog number 037. OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS 3:1-6. The Purpose Of Paul’s Ministry To The Ephesians. “YOU Belong To God”

Blog number 038. Outline of Ephesians 3:7-13. The Purpose Of Paul’s Ministry To The World-Wide Gentiles.

Blog number 054. “What’s Happening?” A Search for Meaning In Life. Ephesians 3:1-12.

Blog number 300. An Outline Of Ephesians Chapter 3. The “Mystery” of the Gospel

Blog number 301. “Halleluia, I belong!” Praying through Ephesians. Ephesians 3:1-6. Epistle for Epiphany Jany 6th 2019

Blog number 302. “Taking Hold Of Our Unsearchable Riches in Christ!” Praying Through Ephesians. Ephesians 3:7-10. Epistle for Epiphany Jany 6th 2019

Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 30th  December 2018


Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Christmas, Evangelism, Forgiveness, OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS, Prayer, Praying our way through Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

305. The Jesus of Christmas. Just Who is He? Why should He matter to me?

There is no human alive for whom Jesus is not relevant! 

His birth was humanly impossible but became possible by the Spirit of God.

His ways are inscrutable but become understandable by the Spirit of God.

His love is indescribable but becomes experiential as the Spirit of God sheds God’s love into our hearts. Romans 5:5. 

His presence is inescapable but becomes indescribable as believers experience His presence through faith-union with Him. 

St Paul put it so simply in one verse. “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Rom 11:36.
Everything that exists has its origin in Him. It originates FROM Him.

All the promises of God to His people are made available THROUGH and in Him.

Everything that exists, exists FOR Him.

He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
He was there at the beginning and He will be there at the end.
He is our Creator and ultimately, He will be our Judge.
All will stand before Him at the last Day. No exceptions! No proxies! No escape!

However if we understand the truths in the following talks on YouTube and act on them, we will have no cause to fear. Ignoring the Christ of Christmas or rejecting Him will not end well. We may ignore or reject our fellow humans [and seem to get away with it, though we don’t] but it is a far different thing for creatures to reject their Creator who has done so much for them and offers those blessings to them in Himself. 

Just clicking on the following links will take you to the talks. But mind you, they are talks given at a teaching seminar and will help those who are really serious about thinking of the place Jesus should have in their lives. They are based on what God says about Jesus in His word and each is about 30 minutes in length. But what is 30 minutes in a lifetime? Well, for some people it may be the best investment they will ever make! God’s word is powerful and life changing as it is read or heard AND acted on!

1] Jesus the Creator of all things

2] Jesus then Saviour of the world

3] Jesus The Lord of everything

4] Jesus is the Judge of all

OR for those who find it easier to read than to listen, the same topics are covered in written form in previous blogs, namely the following which can be clicked on to access.

1]. Jesus the Creator.   
2]. Jesus the Saviour.
3}. Jesus the Lord. 
4]. Jesus the Judge. 

May you all have a VERY BLESSED CHRISTMAS and a wondrous NEW YEAR in Him!

Blog No.305 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 21st December 2018

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Christmas, Forgiveness, Healing, Judgement, Salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

304. Are We Living In God’s Real World Or In A False Make-Believe World Opposed To God? Thoughts from Hebrews 10

Recently I was preparing a sermon on Hebrews 10. What struck me particularly as I did so was that it is possible to live in a false make—believe world whilst ignoring the real world of God’s making.

These were the words that grabbed my attention. Hebrews 10:11 “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” And later, “then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” Hebrews 10:17-18.

When the writer penned these words there was a reality as seen by God and a “reality” as seen by some humans. The reality seen by humans was the picture of priests offering sacrifices for sin in the temple. Every day! Yet as they did so it showed that sin was not being dealt with or forgiven.  That’s why they had to keep offering sacrifices! That was the norm for so many humans at that time. Reality to them was the priests continuing to offer sacrifices for sin. However, what the priests were doing was achieving nothing in the real world, God’s world. He told us so!

The reality of God’s world

The reality of God’s world was different. It focussed on Jesus the Son of God, the Creator of the universe who had come into the world as the long-promised Jewish Messiah. He had come to do the will of God, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” Hebrews 10:5-7. The will of God for Him involved offering Himself as a sacrifice for sins that would make forgiveness of all sin possible.

The writer describes the reality about the true sacrifice that would take away sin, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:11-14.

Note those significant words, “a single sacrifice” and “he sat down at the right hand of God.”  God had accepted His one sacrifice as the sacrifice that would take away all sin forever. There would be no other sacrifice needed. The job had been done. The true priest had offered the perfect sacrifice for sin [Himself] and forgiveness was now available for anyone in Him. The mention of His sitting down was to emphasise that His priestly work was done. No more sacrifices needed to be offered. His single sacrifice of Himself was sufficient to cover all sin of all people throughout all ages!

The absurdity of the false reality

Jesus had done it all and returned to His Father in glory, sitting at His right hand in the place of honour. Why then were these priests still offering sacrifices which never had any power to take away sin? All the sacrificial system did was to prepare people for the one perfect and complete sacrifice that was to be offered by the one true High Priest, Jesus. Those sacrifices had been symbols of a coming reality. But now the reality had come and the symbols were no longer necessary. In fact the continuation of the sacrificial system was an ignorant or deliberate rejection of reality as God saw it and had planned from eternity. It was an absurdity!

Fancy playing around with symbols when the reality had come! THE sacrifice had been offered and been accepted by God as sufficient to cover all sins forever! The writer to the Hebrews expressed it like this, “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near” Heb 10:1. All humans had to do was to receive forgiveness of their sins was to receive it where God had placed it, in Jesus. As Paul wrote of Jesus’ death, “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” Eph 1:7. As we believe in and receive Jesus as Saviour [of our sins] and Lord of our lives we receive the benefits of His sacrificial death, namely forgiveness of sins [and eternal life as John indicated in 1 John 5:11-13.].

This was indeed the message that the Lord gave to Paul at his conversion to Christ, as Paul recalled in Acts 26 “And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:15-18.

Are There False “Realities” In Today’s World?

Are there different ways to God? Isn’t that a reality in today’s ways of thinking? It would be “nice” to think so but the reality is different. There may be many ways to come to Jesus but He is the only way to God. As He said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Peter declared that truth in his preaching when he said, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12.

To say there are other ways to God except through Jesus is to live by a false reality. In God’s real world, Jesus is the only Saviour and the only way to God. That’s what that passage from Hebrews 10 also showed in describing Jesus’ death as providing access into the presence of God, “by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” Heb 10:20. Only through Him can people “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Heb 10:22. In God’s world, the real world, only Jesus provides that new and living way into His presence.

As long as you are sincere, you will be ok! That’s what some people think or hope to be a true reality. But are they living in a real or a false world? If we were asked the question, “Why should God accept you into His kingdom?” What answer could we give? It sounds a bit hollow to say, “Oh, I’m trusting in my sincerity!” After the laughter had died down, we might repeat, “But I’m being sincere in answering that question!” Sincerity doesn’t open the door to God’s acceptance and presence. Only Jesus does, for He alone opened the way to God and is the living way into His presence.

The reality is that the eternal and only God has sent His Son into the world to be the only Saviour from sin. To reject the Son and all He did for humankind through His death and resurrection is to reject God and His purpose for the world. It is living in a state of unreality to reject reality.

We’ll all be OK in the end for God will accept everyone! True or false? Reality or unreality?

I also noticed the following words in reading Hebrews 10. They are uncomfortable words. They are warning words. They are words talking about real things, about a real God with real plans and real purposes for His world. The writer had written, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” The reality is that there is a day, a day of reckoning. The reality is that it is drawing near. The reality is that the time to act is diminishing.” Those who have acted on the gospel message and trusted in Jesus for salvation and for the forgiveness of their sins can come boldly to the throne of Grace, entering through the access Jesus provided in that new and living way, in Himself. That is the reality as God sees and declares it.

Is there a reality for those who have no desire to submit to or to receive Jesus? Can they set their own reality or is a reality set for them? Yes, they can change their present reality in that they can use their freewill to receive Jesus and become open to all the blessings that are to be found in Him, such as forgiveness of their sins, answers to prayer and eternal life.

But there is also a reality if they choose to ignore Him, reject Him and to reject the offer of His love to them. It is a reality declared by God to those who do not act on the truth of His revelation to humankind. The revelation in form of a warning is this, Heb 10:26 “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Grim words, but real words about a real danger.

The real danger is in ignoring or failing to appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for humankind. The writer refers back to the Deuteronomy 17:6-7 to highlight the danger of rejecting the law of Moses and contrasts that with the more serious charge of  rejecting Jesus and His sacrificial death, ‘Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’. The blood that was shed on the cross wasn’t any old blood! It wasn’t the blood of simply a nice kind human! It was the blood of the Creator of the universe! It was the blood of the eternal Son of God who had come to earth especially to die for the sins of humankind. It was the blood of the long-promised Jewish Messiah!

So there are two realities that are both true. One is for believers who have accepted God’s grace in Jesus and the other is for those who have failed to do so. The latter have the warning, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,’ Heb 10:31. The former who trust in Jesus have a different promise, the promise of entry into the presence of God at all times through the sacrificial blood of Jesus. For them it could be said, “It is a wonderful thing to fall into the hands of the loving God.”

The reality we will experience is dependent on what we do with Jesus. Accepting Him means the reality of acceptance with God. Rejecting Him means the reality of rejection by God. The “Day” is drawing near but has not fully arrived as yet. There is still time to change not only our perception of reality by seeing Jesus as the ULTIMATE REALITY but to become a new reality, a “new creature” in Christ by accepting Him into our lives as Saviour and Lord. As Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17.

Getting in touch with reality [with Jesus as the Living Truth]

Jesus wanted us to get in touch with Him as the living reality in this world. When He said He was “The way and the truth and the life,” [John 14:6] He meant it! He is the truth about creation -He created it! He is the truth about humankind – He became the perfect human. He is the truth about the way to God -He is the only way to the Father. He is the life in the sense that He was the source of all life but came to bring eternal life, God’s life, to humans who opened up their lives to Him!  This is His invitation to all who want to enter into reality in Him. He indicated that He stands at the door of each human heart, knocking and waiting to be invited in, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” Rev 3:20.  Beginning a never-ending life of fellowship with Him.

How does it start? With a prayer of openness to Jesus such as this one, “Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for knocking on the door of my life and asking to come in.  I choose now to open the door of my life to you. Please come into my life and be my Saviour from sin. Establish your throne in  my life as I submit to You as Lord of every part of my life. Fill me with Your presence so that I might live for You from this moment on! I ask these things in Your precious name of Jesus. AMEN!”  

Blog No.304 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 22nd November 2018.



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