312. Bitterness Mixed With Victim Mentality. A Disastrous Cocktail For The World! How To Bring Healing To A Confused Hurting World!

BIn the previous article I wrote on the danger of adopting and being held captive by a victim mentality. It is so easy for humans to play the victim because we have all been victims at some stage of hurtful and unloving attitudes, words and actions. However as we saw in the case of Joseph in the Old Testament, victims can learn to triumph in spite of all the negativity they encounter. Perhaps we know of friends and acquaintances who have been through a living hell in their lives and yet today are among the most positive and supportive people on the globe. They became victors instead of remaining as victims. It is possible! By the grace of God!

Bitterness distorts reality

As we are seeing in recent days, bitterness can cause those who suffer from it, to become even more negative and to lose a sense of reality. The human race was warned about that centuries ago in the words of Asaph in the Psalms. He wrote in Psalm 73:1, “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” That was a great way to start the Psalm, but he then went on to describe how he felt about those who were not nice, who seemed to receive God’s blessing as well, “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 or I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Psalm 73:2. The Psalm continues with Asaph getting more and more bitter about the seeming prosperity of the wicked. He was being destroyed by his own bitterness. But he changed! For the good!

He tells what happened in verses 16 to 19, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!” When he took the time to think seriously about God, he realised that God is not mocked. His grace is poured out on the good and the bad in this life, but there comes a time when everyone is accountable to Him for the lives they have lived. Destruction eventually comes upon those who have had no time for Him.

Asaph learnt something about himself in the process. It was a humbling but enlightening discovery. He put it like this, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.” Psalm 73:21-22. He realised he had become a bitter person. His bitterness had inwardly wounded him. It had caused him to become irrational. His thinking was on the level of an animal, not of a person made in the image of God. His view of reality had become distorted.

Bitterness destroys relationships

St Paul saw bitterness as destructive to human relationships, so he urged his readers to get rid of it, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Eph 4:31. It was interesting for me as a former Industrial chemist to see that the word for “bitterness” in the New Testament Greek is the word [pikria]. It is the basis of the word [picric] as in picric acid. This acid is not only bitter but highly unstable and very explosive. [An article in The Royal Society of Chemistry publication tells us that “In 1885, French chemist François Eugène Turpin patented the use of the acid as a bursting charge for artillery shells.”] What a great description that is of bitterness. Bitterness is not only bitter to the taste, but causes mental instability in those who harbour it and becomes explosive in relationships when not dealt with properly. People need to get rid of it!

Why we all need to get rid of bitterness

What if we fail to do so? What if bitterness remains? The writer to the Hebrews gave a strong warning to his/her readers,  “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Heb 12:14-15.  Many are affected adversely when bitterness is allowed to fester in any individual or group. They are “defiled” where the word means to be stained, sullied, stained, corrupted.

That is the point that Paul made in Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” Those with corrupted minds and consciences lose touch with reality They imagine everyone and everything else to be corrupt but themselves!

The disastrous cocktail of bitterness and victim mentality

Bitterness contaminates individuals, groups and even many in political parties. That is obvious as we look at our TV screens and see there those who have drunk the toxic cocktail of bitterness mixed in with their victim mentality. Many who have done so have lost any sense of proportion. They no longer think rationally. Their faces are twisted with bitterness and they fail to see any good in people or even good policies in another political party. They play asinine infantile political games while ordinary people [for whom they seem to have no compassion, concern or respect] suffer terribly. The trouble is that corrupt leaders corrupt others and many beautiful precious “run of the mill” folk [in the eyes of such people] are ignored and badly disadvantaged as a result! Only the “enlightened elite” like themselves matter!

There are many examples of such folk in American, British and Australian politics. Perhaps we have recognised those who have drunk the disastrous cocktail as we observe their crassness, bitterness and their inability to face up to reality as we observe them on TV. For example there are many in the USA who appear to be suffering from a heavy dose of victim mentality. Many of them Republicans and many of them Democrats. Some Republicans could not believe that a businessman like Donald Trump could eventually become President. They believed that their choice [a true and trusted politician] should have become President. Even when Trump was elected it seems that many of these folk felt they had become victims of other less-enlightened voters. “Don’t ordinary people realise that politics must be run by politicians!” They have added bitterness to their cocktail and have become less than supportive to the President, to say the least!

On the other hand there appear to be many democrats who still can’t accept that Trump was elected President. They see themselves as the victims of “deplorables” and other uninformed voters who cast the wrong votes in the election. Or they are the victims of a flawed Electoral College system. Or victims of Russian collusion. OR! OR! OR! It’s as though they believe that they are living in an unreal world where Trump is President, but it can’t be so! So to get back to reality as they see it, they have to try to get rid of him by any means possible. The morality of the process doesn’t seem to matter, as you hear them speak on TV or read what they have written. The end [getting rid of Trump} justifies the means [any process that achieves that end.} As you hear some speak on TV it’s as though bitterness fills the air and compassion for the needy has evaporated. Some have repeatedly said that a wall is necessary but when it is Trump who wants it, all of a sudden the “necessary” and “once-desired” becomes “immoral!” Other countries [and even some religions] are facing the same problems as bitterness is mixed in with their victim mentality. Hatred and distrust spreads! Confusion results!

Is there an answer?

What then is the answer? How can people with fixed mid-sets [such as a victim mentality] become more open to reality. There is an old saying, “Never argue with a drunk!” because their minds are not open to reason while they remain in an intoxicated state. It is obviously hard to argue with those still swilling their disastrous cocktail of bitterness mixed with victim mentality.

There appears to be only one answer and that is to petition the good Lord to bring the necessary changes in people by a powerful move of His Holy Spirit. In this way dangerous minds sets can be broken and they can become open to change. If only all people, groups and individuals could learn to recognise bitterness and unforgiveness in their own hearts and turn to the Lord to be free, they would be able to do what St Paul went on to write in the next verse, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32. It involves actively seeking the best interests of others by being kind and compassionate to them and by forgiving them in the same way that Christ forgave us. That is a pretty tall order! But it is possible by the grace of God as we seek His help in becoming the gracious people of God He wants every human to be.

Bitterness added to a victim mentality makes a strong destructive cocktail for any individual. But a cocktail which blends kindness, compassion and forgiveness can bring healing to millions as it is imbibed and shared with others!

Blog No.312 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 3rd February 2019

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Healing, Judgement, Mental Health, Politics, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

311. “Hey! I’m The Victim Here!” The Curse Of “Victimhood” In Today’s World.

It comes so naturally to us as humans to see ourselves as victims.  And we are! Most of us have been the victims of other people’s sins against us. But there has to come a time when we get over our victim mentality and begin to make a positive contribution to the world as well as to our own personal lives. So let’s look at how a victim mentality came early to the human race, how we might recognise it and how we might learn to overcome it.

  1. The Beginning Of Victim Mentality In Humans

It began early! Very early in fact! Right at the very beginning of the human race. And all based on a lie!

Human life began as being in a state of bliss. God created it thus for humans. Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them,  “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.  You shall have them for food.”

Wow! What amazing grace! Being allowed to share the creator’s’ world with Him as an act of His grace towards us. Humans couldn’t earn that privilege! They couldn’t deserve that privilege! They couldn’t create that privilege for themselves! All of this was graced to humans in love. God’s love! Existence by grace! Provision for human needs by grace! A shared dominion over creation by His grace!

What went wrong? Humans deliberately acted on a lie!

What was the lie? The devil saying in effect, “Hey Adam and Eve, you are victims. God is holding out on you! He’s not sharing everything with you! He won’t let you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like Him, knowing good and evil. You are the victims of an unjust God!”

The Fall of humans. How? They put their trust in a lie from the devil [a fallen creature] and acted on it, instead of trusting in the word and promises of a loving gracious Creator God. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” Gen 3:6-7.

Sin had entered the world. Adam and Eve knew they had disobeyed God. How did they react? By trying to hide their sin and themselves from Him. AND by trying to shift the blame for their wrong-doing onto others!

Adam the blame-shifter.  Projecting his guilt onto Eve AND onto God.

He told God, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12. In other words Adam was saying, “Hey! I’m the victim here! The blame lies with the woman! She’s the guilty one! She gave me the fruit! AND just remember too God, that YOU gave her to me, so ultimately it’s your fault, not mine! Don’t blame me!”

He was attempting to evade all personal responsibility by seeing himself as the victim in the situation. However he did do what was forbidden and ate the fruit. He was guilty! You can’t get rid of guilt by trying to project it onto other people. Or even on to God Himself. Guilt remains until it is dealt with in God’s way through the cross of Christ.

Eve was also a blame-shifter. She projected her guilt onto the devil. She blamed him rather than herself!

Gen 3:13 ‘Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” She was honest in admitting she had eaten the fruit but shifted the responsibility on to the devil who had tempted her. However the devil didn’t eat the fruit. She did!She was accountable before God for her guilt. As we all are!

It means that denial of guilt and evasion of responsibility was embedded firmly into the human race at the very beginning. And it has continued ever since. But can humans ever overcome it, and if so, how? We look briefly at the example of one human named Joseph.

  2. Joseph The Victim Who Didn’t Wallow In Victimhood And Self-Pity

If we were ever to draw up a list of true victims, Joseph would have to be considered. He was the victim of many things.

  • He was the victim of his father’s unwise favouritism. His multicoloured coat marked him out as someone special. His brothers obviously saw him as his father’s pet. That didn’t enhance brotherly love! Genesis 37:3-4.
  • He was the victim of his own stupidity in telling his brothers he would one day rule over them. It may have been true but this didn’t enhance brotherly love either.
  • He was the victim of the hatred of his brothers towards him when they plotted to kill him in the wilderness.  
  • They eventually sold him into slavery to some merchants passing by. He was sold to Potiphar a high ranking official in Egypt. Even though he was a victim he continued to trust in God who blessed him and his activities.
  • He was the victim of sexual harassment by the wife of Potiphar but he continued to reject her advances.
  • He was the victim of a false charge by Potiphar’s wife of attemped rape and thrown into prison.
  • He was victim of a lack of support by the servant who promised to help him after he successfully interpreted a dream the servant had.  

 However how did he handle all the rejection and suffering his brothers had caused him to suffer? He looked beyond all the pain and suffering and saw that God had over-ruled for the benefit of many people. His words showed his incredible trust in God and his understanding that ultimately God is in control of all things. When he eventually revealed his identity to his brothers he told them, Gen 45:4 “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 45:4-8.

Because of his trust in God he could see the big picture. God was in control! Later, Joseph again reassured his brothers, offering forgiveness and saying, ‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.’ Genesis 50:20-21.

Did Joseph deserve to be a victim of all this rejection and suffering? Of course not! But his example shows that it is possible by the grace of God to cease being a victim and begin to win some victories in life as one continues to trust in the Lord.

It has been my experience in the Healing Ministry over 50 years that when victims turn to the Lord for healing and His blessing that they can turn the effects of the most horrible circumstances in life into a deep ministry in helping others cope with difficult situations and help them also find a real ministry to others as  well.

Blog No.311 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 1st February 2019.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, Prayer, Salvation, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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?

THE STEPS OF FAITH THAT ENABLE HEALING TO HAPPEN! Luke 5:17-26

[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.

SUMMING UP

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

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

HEALINGS GOD CAN DO IN TODAY’S WORLD

I.      INSTANT HEALINGS

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.

II.     HEALING COMING IN VARIOUS STAGES OR GRADUALLY.

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.

III.     HEALINGS MAY BE DELAYED.

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!

IV.     HEALING CAN HAPPEN IN SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE 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.

SUMMARY

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.

2].  JESUS WITH A SOLUTION TO HUMAN PROBLEMS!

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!

3]. THE RESULT

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.

4]. HOW GOD HEALED THROUGH JESUS IN HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY

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!

SUMMING UP.  

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

 

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