Posts Tagged ‘Healing’

What on earth2

The Questions of Discipline © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 6 – 10 WAYS TO KNOW IF I AM EXPERIENCING GOD’S DISCIPLINE? – Discipline Part 2

A car accident changed his life. He is in a wheelchair and believes that God is angry at him. Is his accident really GOD’S DISCIPLINE? 

Another woman who lost her husband feels that God is VERY SEVERE.

In Psalm 6, David believes that he is being disciplined by God.

O Lord, don’t REBUKE ME in Your anger or DISCIPLINE ME in Your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

DISCIPLINE?

  • Have you ever prayed for healing and not received it?
  • Do you feel that God is displeased with you and rebuking you for your sinfulness?
  • Do you believe that the Lord is angry with you and “taking you to the woodshed for a spanking with the razor strap?”
  • Does the Lord yell at you and discipline you in a rage?

King David is afraid that God is doing just that. His Psalm doesn’t go into details, but it is clear that he thinks that God is disciplining him. And he is upset, humbled and broken. He’s in anguish about his circumstances. He’s more concerned for inward peace than even outward healing, though, it seems, he needs both.

And that’s what leads me to ask this question…

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN IT IS GOD WHO IS DISCIPLINING ME AND WHEN HE IS NOT?

Fortunately, the Bible gives me some guidelines and they are not necessarily what you expect. They have much more to do with the results of discipline than to the discipline itself. Here are 10 ways to know if what you face is the discipline of God.

The first way has to do with God being a God of Truth …

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO GOD’S WORD?

Psalms 119:67,71 (NLT2) says “I used to wander off until You DISCIPLINED me; but now I CLOSELY FOLLOW YOUR WORD… My SUFFERING was good for me, for it taught me TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DECREES.” 

In fact, God’s Word itself disciplines us. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT) says “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to MAKE US REALIZE WHAT IS WRONG IN OUR LIVES. IT CORRECTS US WHEN WE ARE WRONG and teaches us to do what is right.”

So difficult things that happen in our lives can lead us back into the Bible and what God has to say for our lives.

God’s Word always brings correction and direction for our lives, and perspective on how we can respond to what happens in the world and to us personally.

Sin triggers discipline. So the 2nd way to know if you are being disciplined by God has to do with the righteousness and justice of God… 

2. AM I PROMPTED TO ADMIT WHEN I GET THINGS WRONG?

1 John 1:8-10 (Msg) says …

“If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we ADMIT OUR SINS—… He won’t let us down; He’ll be true to Himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.”

The key thing to remember is that when I deserved God’s discipline, Jesus suffered for me on the Cross and died to pay the price for my sin.

This brings me to admit when I get things wrong and ask God for the forgiveness that was purchased for me on the Cross.

That leads us to the third question to help you know if you are facing the discipline of God. It has to do with responding to God’s righteousness …

3. AM I PROMPTED TO PLEASE HIM AS MY HEAVENLY FATHER?

Hebrews 12:6 (NLT) says, “For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.”

Revelation 3:19 (NLT) says, “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.”

If I am loved by God as His child, apparently, there will be times of discipline.

Some parents today do discipline badly, but not God. God never abuses His children, and so His discipline will draw me closer to Him, not drive me away. 

I will not find myself saying, “Whatever” with teenage indifference to a parental instruction, but I will find myself delighting in pleasing Him as I respond willingly to His correction. My response will be prompted by my relationship to Him as my Father, someone I respect and love.

The 4th way to know if it is God who is disciplining me has to do with being prompted to recognise that God is omnipotent and sovereign and I need His help…

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO RECOGNISE THAT ONLY GOD CAN HEAL ME?

Psalm 6:2 (NLT) says, “Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

The requests of David’s prayer indicate he feels the consequences of his sin and of God’s displeasure at him. He is distressed and depressed. Helpless and hopeless.

He doesn’t resist or reject God’s discipline or despise God for it. He recognises that only God can heal him on the inside and on the outside.

The 5th principle has to do with responding to God’s unfailing love…

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO BE RESTORED TO HIM?

Psalm 6:3-4 (NLT) says, “I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until You restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of Your unfailing love.”

Psalm 6:6 (NLT) says, I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.

I mourn for something inside me which struggles and sometimes wants to give up and I am so tired of struggling and being defeated. Ever felt like this? I have.

Sin always clouds who I am in Christ and I need You to restore me to health on the inside. Distress, emotional anguish and depression over a period of time make me cry out “How long, O Lord?” How do you pray when you can’t cope?

David is so honest. He questions and wrangles with God as he cries out in pain and anguish. God even invites us to ask for answers.

James 1:5-8 (NLT) says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

Lord, sometimes You seem so far away. I pray that Your presence would be apparent in my life today and that You would actively intervene in my situation because I am continually in need of rescuing. Thankyou Lord for Your unfailing love that has saved me and continues to save me.

David is not impressed with the painful state that his life is in and wants the Lord to extricate him. It seems he even fears for his life and so the 6th way to tell whether or not I am being disciplined has to do with responding to who God is…

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO WORSHIP HIM?

Psalm 6:5 (NLT) says, For the dead do not remember You. Who can praise You from the grave?

The Message Bible says, I’m no good to You dead, am I? I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 speaks about Christians participating in the remembrance meal in the wrong way and says some have been judged for doing so and some have even died as a result of their sin, … But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”

David still had work to do. He wants to live and continue to make a difference as his life on earth gives praise to God. He is examining himself before God.

If I serve a righteous, holy and just God, then God’s discipline will also lead me to ask …

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO STAND AGAINST EVIL?

Psalm 6:7-8 (NLT) says, “My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies. Go away, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping.”

My vision is blurred by grief at wasting my life. It seems sometimes that life conspires against me and I am surrounded by defeat instead of victory. Today I actively refuse evil ways and pursue Your ways, Lord. Thanks for listening to my heart.

God is immutable (unchanging and faithful to His character) and if God disciplines me then I can expect to ask…

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO DECLARE MY CONFIDENCE AND TRUST IN GOD?

Psalm 6:9 (NLT) says, The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer.

Thank You for hearing my deepest cries. I trust You, Lord. I know You answer my prayers.

God is eternal and wants us all to share in His life. Does God’s discipline make me more passionate for the gospel?

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO DESIRE THAT THOSE DON’T KNOW THE LORD WILL BE CONVERTED?

Psalm 6:10 (NLT) says, May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified. May they suddenly TURN BACK in shame.

The Hebrew word for “Turn back” is the word that means to recover, restore, convert or revive. Is David praying for their repentance and conversion?

In Psalm 51:13 David says, Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. THEN I WILL TEACH YOUR WAYS TO REBELS, AND THEY WILL RETURN TO YOU.”

May the things that conspire against all that I am created to be today be thwarted and run for cover and find none. May shame not be present in my life today as I serve You, Lord. May those who conspire against You be disciplined, not so they will suffer, but so that they too can find their way back to You.

God’s discipline is not purposeless and so a final question,

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO FIND SOMETHING GOOD WHICH COMES FROM EVERYTHING FACE IN LIFE?

What I do know is that Romans 8:27-29 (NLT) says, “… GOD CAUSES EVERYTHING TO WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” 

Notice this is not saying everything is good but God CAUSES everything to work together for good to those who love Him. The Christ-followers to whom this was written were experiencing persecution. God turns cursing to blessing.

When Jesus went to the Cross it was certainly not a good thing. But God caused everything to work together for good so that we could be saved.

By the way, I don’t believe that all the accidents, catastrophes, sickness and terrorism and droughts and floods and earthquakes and bad things that happen to good people are God’s discipline, any more than I believe old age is God’s discipline.

These things are all part of the world we live in and yes, God allows them.

Nevertheless, God can use what is already part of our lives for His good purposes, both good and bad things, and they can also serve to keep us trusting in Him. 

What I like about David is that he is honest with God. He realises that difficult times have a purpose and bring us to our knees with the kind of honesty that is disturbing to anyone else but God. 

God wants you and me to be transparently honest with Him.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF IT IS GOD WHO IS DISCIPLINING ME? I will be prompted to pay more attention to God’s word, to please Him as my Heavenly Father, to admit when you get things wrong, to recognise that only God can heal me, to be restored to Him, to worship him, to stand against evil, to desire that even those who don’t know the lord will be converted, to declare my confidence in God, to find something good which comes from everything we face in life.

God bless you.

Pastor Ross 

Was Blind1

Was blind, … © Created Images by Ross Cochrane using Blender 2.79b Cycles

Matthew 20:29-34 -  INTERVIEW  – ONCE BLIND 

As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind.Two blind men were sitting beside the road.  

I interviewed Daniel in a Church service recently. He is completely blind. Daniel said “I was not always blind so I know what I have lost. Being so much older now, I have lost a lot of my mobility and my blindness adds to my lack of independence. Simple things can be difficult for me. For example, I still cannot use my phone and at times I can’t even find the cradle in which to replace it.”

Together Daniel and I related his story to this passage of the Bible in Matthew 20. I didn’t record the interview but you’ll find many of his thoughts in the story below …

If I went back in time with a Camera crew and met and interviewed the 2 blind beggars on the side of the road before Jesus came along, the interview might go something like this… 

Was Blind2

Was Blind, … © Created Images by Ross Cochrane

I am here just outside Jericho, on a very busy road, and in a short time, we will try to get an interview with Jesus as He passes this way. In the meantime, we are speaking to Azriel and Efraim (not their real names), both believers and both completely blind. 

I am interested in what life is like for you and what is your take on the events of this day. Azriel, may I start with you. You went blind in your 20’s as a result of cataracts. May I ask you first what problems you face in everyday life and how your blindness restricts you?

Azriel: Yes, Of course. As you can imagine, I have lost a lot of my independence. I can’t work so I have experienced a dramatic loss of income. This means I have been reduced to begging and relying on others for my livelihood. The money I make from begging is often inadequate. That’s partly why I am here.

How did you find your way here today?

Azriel: It was a challenge, but I know this road and I just had to follow the noises of the people and ask for directions. This is the major road out of Jericho.

Mostly, my life is monotonous, sitting near the city gate begging, but at this time of year, everyone is going to the Passover in Jerusalem. Jericho is a major roadway to Jerusalem and everyone has a story to tell or news to share. That’s how we discovered news about Jesus passing this way.

I can beg by the roadside and listen to the conversations. I make a lot of money with so many people going by and learn a lot about what is happening in the world.

Ephraim: I don’t like going outside but I have to if I am going to survive. Azriel and I travel together. It’s a little like the Blind leading the Blind and the trouble is, it’s not always safe, with ditches, wagons, animals and Roman soldiers. People expect us to get out of the way. We know the best places to beg but often they are also the most dangerous.

It must be difficult to get through the crowded areas

Ephraim: Being on the road to Jericho at this time of year is always exhausting. Too many people roaming about, bumping into us or tripping over us. But we have to contend with the crowds to survive. We have no judgment to react quickly to any dangers so we are accident prone.

Some people give bad directions to us and others just don’t have time for us. We can’t venture out too far or we will get separated and lose our way without help. Sometimes people say “follow me” but unless they are watching us we will get lost in a crowd like this.

How do you cope emotionally with your blindness?

Efraim: I guess we cope because we don’t only rely on our hearing; on touch and smell and on taste to navigate our way through life (although my hearing is particularly good).

Before I had faith in Jesus, I found myself continually grappling with loneliness. My family seemed to be embarrassed by me and I lacked any sense of dignity. I felt as if I was not important to anyone. I felt isolated and I must admit, I still get depressed at times, but I am absolutely sure that I can rely on God and on His mercy.

I get frightened easily when I am alone outside. Rather than thinking the best in people, I can become suspicious of them. Sometimes I am not sure if I am being helped or being mugged. Azriel is fairly positive, so his friendship helps me, but I don’t make a lot of friends.

Since I believed in Christ, I have realised that I can’t trust completely in my own abilities or judgments and I can’t rely on others all the time. We can’t always just go with the crowd.

Azriel, What gives you hope?

Azriel: Our belief. As Ephraim said, we believe in Christ. We heard Him speak once and since then we have both come to believe that He is the promised Messiah, the Son of David. We will cry out for His mercy if ever we hear Him again. His mercy will give us a reason to live.

Was Blind111png

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Azriel: If Jesus is going to the Passover in Jerusalem, then we don’t want to be so blind as to not recognise Him.  He will probably come along this road and we are keeping our ears open. Without Jesus, we are even more blind and helpless and with nowhere to go. But God is always near to us since we believed. I pray that He will give us the eyes of faith to see Him, and the humility to shout out for His touch and His mercy. We want to understand more of who He is and what that means for our lives.

Maybe your desire will come more quickly than you realised. I have just received news that Jesus is coming this way. 

As you can hear, the moment I said Jesus was coming, these two blind men are shouting out “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd doesn’t seem to like them calling out

“Be quiet!” 

People from the crowd are yelling at them. Let’s talk to one of them. Excuse me, can I ask you why you don’t want these blind men to get Jesus’ attention? 

Crowd member:  They are calling Jesus the Son of David. That’s a term used for the Messiah, the coming King who will one day free us from the tyranny of our enemies. Jesus may be a respected teacher but He is not the Messiah. Talk like that is almost blasphemous.

Another Crowd Member: Besides, they are beggars. As if Jesus will want to speak with beggars. It’s embarrassing.

Despite the crowds yelling at them to be quiet, Azriel and Ephraim are shouting even louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Azriel and Ephraim, you seem intent on getting this crowd a little angry. Why do you continue shouting? They want you to remain silent and go back to asking for alms. 

Azriel: This is our only opportunity to see Jesus so we cannot give in to their demands. We intend to shout even louder for His intervention of mercy, even if it is undeserved and even if they are embarrassed and have no sympathy or compassion for our desperation. We are going to “Seek the LORD while He may be found” We are going to “call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6 NLT).

Well, it seems these two blind men cannot be dissuaded. They are shouting even louder. And Jesus is approaching. Let’s see what He does. 

Jesus hears them, and surprisingly, He is stopping to talk to them. 

“What do you want Me to do for you?”

Jesus has stopped and has asked them to articulate their needs. He seems to have accepted the title they have given Him, “Son of David”. Perhaps they are not so blind after all. It will be interesting to see if He will give them any money. They need a handout and they have already asked Him for mercy.

“Lord, we want to see!”

Well, you can see that Azriel and Ephraim are desperate, even to the point of believing that Jesus can perform a miracle and enable them to see. Jesus stands with them and the crowd have gathered around Him. They cried out for mercy desperately, but when Jesus stopped, they didn’t ask Jesus for money but for their sight. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for them, these poor beggars. Everyone has gone silent, wondering what Jesus is going to say or do. Perhaps he’ll encourage the crowd to give. How sad.

Of course, there are many desperate people on this crowded road who need the mercy of God. Not all of them are as demonstrative as these 2 beggars. Perhaps this is a reminder that none of us should be so blind as not to see the needs of those around us. Over to you…

… Wait, something is happening. 

Jesus is reaching down and touching their eyes. (Quickly, get a close-up of this.) Something is happening to their eyes. The moment Jesus touched their eyes something incredible happened! Their eyes are no longer clouded and white with cataract damage. They are clear and bright. (Did you get that?) 

The crowd have breathed a collective breath of amazement. People are gathering around. The crowd is getting a little thick around here. We can’t see what is going on. (Reporter talks to a man on a wagon) Excuse me, can you see what is happening? 

Man on wagon: Yes, Jesus was moved with compassion for two beggars and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! They are following Him. All praise to God! (Matthew 20:34).

There you have it. We did witness something remarkable. There are too many people around for us to get through to interview Jesus and these blind beggars who apparently have been completely healed, but we will keep trying. 

Please, let us through. We are reporters. We desperately need to speak to Jesus. Please, show a bit of mercy. We can’t miss this opportunity. Not now, after what we just witnessed… 

Forget the camera, guys. We need eyes to see Him too…  

Reporter begins shouting: “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

 ___________________________________________________________________________________________

This story needs still the words of someone like Adam Clarke, born in 1763, who wrote a commentary on this passage from the Bible and gave what proves to be a timeless invitation. He says,

Reader, whosoever thou art, act in behalf of thy soul as these blind men did in behalf of their sight, and thy salvation is sure. Apply to the Son of David; lose not a moment; He is passing by, and thou art passing into eternity, and probably wilt never have a more favorable opportunity than the present. The Lord increase thy earnestness and faith!

Pastor Ross

Related Articles

http://www.thewellatspringfield.org/a-blind-beggar-who-sees/

Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-28: DOES GOD STILL HEAL PEOPLE TODAY?

Praying for Angie

Praying for Angie

She had battled with cancer and won. “No-one could help me. It was just me” she said, “No-one could go through it with me. I had to fight it all by myself. I’d like to have faith in God but I don’t have it and so I did it all alone.” Is it positive thinking that brings healing or how much I pray with faith? In Deuteronomy 32:39 (NLT) God says He is the only One who has the power over life and death and the power to wound and heal “I am the One who kills and gives life; I am the One who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from My powerful hand” (see also 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7). Does God still heal the sick today?

Jesus disciples were certainly involved in healing the sick. Back in Matthew 10:8 (NLT) Jesus “gave them AUTHORITY” to go out and Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons.” Seventy two of the wider circle of disciples including the twelve were sent out in Jesus’ Name (with healing ability and authority) and Luke 10:17 (NLT) says “When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to Him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use Your name!””

By Matthew 17:14, nine disciples have arrived at the bottom of a mountain, gather a crowd, and get involved in an argument with the religious leaders, the Scribes, and can’t cast a demon from a boy. They ask Jesus why they failed. He said “YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH” (Matthew 17:20 NLT).

When the disciples were originally sent to heal the sick and cast out demons in Matthew 10:14 (NLT) it says “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” Notice, it doesn’t say to STAY AND ARGUE. Negativity is faith-depleting and limits the healing possibilities through faith in Christ. Negativity is doubt-building. Prayer is faith-building.

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus said. They didn’t have enough faith themselves because they were drawn into an argument with the Scribes (Mark 9:14). Bad attitudes kill faith. By the time they tried to heal this boy, a mountain of unbelief stood in the way. It seems they were meant to search for those who would listen and respond in faith to the message of God’s grace, not have their faith dragged down to the level of the arguments of men. Faith doesn’t mix well with scepticism and negativity.

When Jesus arrived, He was faced with a mountain of unbelief. He was looking for that which pleases God in the crowd. He didn’t find it in the Scribes. He didn’t find it in His disciples. He didn’t find it in the crowd. He found it in the mustard-seed-faith of a father and moved a mountain for his son. He wanted to have the faith of the boy’s father involved too. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) says “…it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”

God doesn’t want lone-ranger-super-disciples trying to cast out demons. He wants a community inspired to believe for a miracle and in the only One who has come to save them from their sin. The prayer of faith that can remove demons is the kind of faith that can move a mountain of unbelief. Luke 9:43 (NLT) says “Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power. Everyone was marveling at everything He was doing”. One healing left a crowd of people in awe of what God could do.

Faith is contagious. Mustard seed faith in a Dad moved a range of mountainous difficulties for his son, but also removed the mountainous influence of unbelief. The way we relate to God is by faith. God not only looked for a spark of faith in the father of the boy when He couldn’t find it in the disciples but He invites you and me to have faith in Christ today.

“Does God still heal the sick today?” Wrong question. “Am I willing to trust in Christ, come under His authority, and pray for God’s healing mercy?” Much better.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:19-20 – WHY DON’T I HAVE ENOUGH FAITH?

Mustard Seed Faith

Mustard Seed Faith

Why are some people healed and others not healed? Is it my faith that is deficient? Jesus is asked a similar question by His disciples when they had not been able to heal a little boy. In Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) they ask “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” They took the responsibility for it and they were willing to learn.

Jesus goes on to say “YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH. I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Jesus is clear. YOU don’t have ENOUGH FAITH. No escaping this. They were responsible, and healing the boy was dependent on them having enough faith. They didn’t have it. How can the disciples, who travelled with Jesus and saw so many miracles, not even have mustard seed sized faith? How could their faith be lacking; so scarce, meagre and skimpy; so weak and unequal to the task? What hope do I have? What kind of faith is mustard seed faith?

Whatever kind of faith they had, it didn’t work. Was it faulty faith; flawed and defective? Faith so damaged and inadequate for the task that it couldn’t complete anything it tried; so wanting and insufficient that it did no good?

Jesus faith was overflowing and rich, strong and sufficient to heal the young boy. His was faultless faith, but their faith was band-aid faith at best, cosmetic, feeble faith, impotent to act, incapable of making a difference. Their faith was poor and undernourished, skin and bone faith; anorexic faith. Too weak to be effective? Was it the argument with the Scribes that diseased their faith with sin? Were they in need of healing themselves?

Is faith just optimism draped in impotence? Jesus faith is positive and powerful? Is their faith a bonsai faith, kept small and so stunted that it is inept; dwarfed by the enormity of circumstances that are in need of a miracle? How could this be? Midget faith is not mustard seed faith!

Is faith fatalism wrapped with acquiescence? Someone said “some mountains are moved. Others we just have to climb.” Some things can’t be changed? Jesus faith didn’t accept this. Mustard seed faith is faith that never gives up at the first obstacle. It persists in prayer and trust in God until it sees mountains moved; difficulties decimated, healing realised. Mustard Seed Faith inspires me to persist because it sees heaven’s perfect perspective, and refuses to accept earth’s imperfect problems. Jesus Faith is not dependent on circumstances but circumstances are changed by His faith. He draws on heaven’s resources to change earth’s conditions.

What made the disciples faith try to run on empty? Why was there no spiritual energy left in the tank? Why couldn’t they just gather around in Pentecostal Power and shout until the demon was removed?

For the disciples the dispute with the scribes was a massive stumbling block, the father’s request to cast the demon from his son seemed an enormous mountain. The doubt they experienced was huge. The world was a threatening experience of demons and arguments and a crowd that could be gathering to stone them if they didn’t succeed with a miracle. They were angry, fearful, doubting and helpless.

Jesus appears to be reminding His disciples of an important truth, YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH. YOU don’t have enough, but I have more than enough to go around.” Faith is faith because of Him in whom we believe. Our faith is appropriated through relationship with Christ. It is HIS faith and faithfulness that we draw upon. Even when we appropriate a mustard seed sized portion of faith from Jesus it will still move mountains. We can choose our falling-short, feeble, band-aid, bonsai, low tide, empty tank kind of faith, or choose His all-powerful faithfulness.

He calls us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Not OUR system of perception but His. Look at the world through HIS eyes. I-once-was blind-but-now-I-see faith. Lean-not-on-my-own-understanding faith (Proverbs 3:5). “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” faith (Galatians 2:20 NASB). 

Mustard seed faith perceives my world from God’s viewpoint and uses that perspective to change my world. He invites me to be an instrument of God for change through faith in Him. 

PS Just received a phonecall to visit a lady who is very sick… She was unable to speak, but I shared the message about faith in Christ and she listened as I prayed for God’s healing grace and invited her to place her trust in Him. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:14-18 – HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS – Revisited

He was having a biopsy on a lump. The doctor was concerned and rightly so. It turned out to be bowel cancer, a devastating discovery and as we walked into my office he asked me for my support in prayer. Of course I prayed, then and most days since, through the biopsies and tests and surgery and soon the Chemotherapy. Many others join us in prayer. He is part of our tribe. We love him.

Image created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, Morguefiles.org, and FilterForge.org

Image created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, Morguefiles.org, and FilterForge.org

I have been reading an excellent blog recently at http://wp.me/p4V5We-1R called Beautiful Life With Cancer. Have you experienced a life-threatening illness? I would be interested to find out what it was that helped you the most?

HOW DO YOU SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS?

I wonder what it would be like if I had asked the Father in Mark 9:14 that question as he was trying to find answers for his son. Imagine an interview with him.

We are talking to David today, whose son recently experienced a life-threatening illness. David, thanks for talking with me today. Could you tell us how your son came to find answers?

Certainly. I had heard about a great Physician who was visiting in our area and I went out to meet with Him to see if He could help my son. When we arrived nine of His team had gathered a crowd around them but they were not able to help us, although they tried. They spoke about Jesus and were arguing with some Scribes.

So what Jesus found when He came down the mountain was an ARGUMENT. I don’t know why they were arguing but I do know that it wasn’t helping anyone find healing that morning. In the middle of the argument was my little boy who desperately needed healing physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The negativity of the scribes almost sabotaged the future of my son. He needed people to be PRESENT, but he needed POSITIVE PRESENCE to give him hope. I knew somehow even then that Jesus would …

1. BE PRESENT AND BE POSITIVE

Many say “I’ll be there for you no matter what!” but of course they can not. Jesus keeps His promise – He will never leave us for forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet Him. Most people want to get away from NEGATIVE people and this crowd was no exception. They ran to Jesus and away from the Scribes. Would you want people like the Scribes, or someone like Jesus, to speak into your life when you are sick? I know that I wanted Jesus.

“What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked. In effect Jesus was saying – This isn’t a time for argument. It’s time for COMPASSION. I already knew that Negativity wasn’t going to heal my son.

That’s when I spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk.” My son couldn’t talk. I brought him to Jesus and WAS HIS VOICE when he had none. I verbalised my deepest prayer on my son’s behalf. I knew that I could…

2. BE HIS VOICE BEFORE GOD.

He was not able to pray but I could pray for him. And God helps us in our weakness so we know what God wants us to pray for (Romans 8:26-28).

I described to Jesus the spiritual oppression taking place in my son’s life … whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. My son was sick physically, emotionally and spiritually. He had a DEMON plaguing his life. His spiritual illness led him to have physical illness.

I was willing to do anything to find him the healing he so desperately needed. I told Jesus how I had gone to His disciples. I said, “I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

The Scribes couldn’t help, but I didn’t give up. The disciples couldn’t help, but I still didn’t give up. Then I finally came to Jesus. He gave me a second opinion and a second chance. Even if you are disappointed with His followers, you can still go directly to Him.

Jesus said, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you?” I don’t think Jesus was talking to the disciples or me when He said “You faithless people”. He was looking at the Scribes. Their NEGATIVITY had created an ATMOSPHERE OF UNBELIEF that had limited the ability of His disciples to heal my boy. Negativity certainly isn’t one of the spiritual gifts. It definitely doesn’t provide the atmosphere for a miracle to take place.

Jesus said “Bring the boy to me.” This was the best choice I have ever made, to

3. INTRODUCE HIM TO CHRIST.

Jesus took my son away from the Scribes and their negativity.

But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw my son into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. The evil spirit felt comfortable in the negativity of the Scribes and in the middle of an argument, but very uncomfortable in the presence of Jesus. I know now that Sin and evil are always exposed in the presence of Jesus, but so is forgiveness and healing. We can all reach out to Christ.

Jesus asked me “How long has this been happening?” I replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. I described to Jesus what had been HAPPENING IN THE PAST. This spirit was making my son suicidal.

But Jesus shows us that we don’t have to be RULED BY OUR PAST. He gave my son and me a POSITIVE FUTURE.

I said to Jesus “Have mercy on us and help us…” The illness had affected me too, so I said have mercy on US. I know that families with who look after someone who has a life-threatening illness need support too. I strongly identified with my son. I…

4. PUT MYSELF IN HIS SHOES.

I had empathy rather than sympathy. When I brought my son, I also came to Jesus. We both needed spiritual help.

I said “Have mercy on US and help US, if you can.” Jesus asked me “What do you mean, ‘If I can’? Anything is possible if a person believes.”

What Jesus was saying is that MY OUTLOOK IS DETERMINED BY WHAT I’M LOOKING OUT FROM. I had to examine whether my perspective was one of unbelief or faith? I was encouraged to respond in faith so that as I brought my son I could also …

5. ENCOURAGE HIM TO RESPOND IN FAITH

Jesus was NOT AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT FAITH. Jesus changed the atmosphere when He spoke personally to me about faith in Him. He wanted me to CO-OPERATE with Him to get my son healed.

I so much wanted to believe. I cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” I had to be honest with Jesus so I admitted I had only a speck of faith and needed help with the rest. We always need to LIFT OUR EXPERIENCE TO THE LEVEL OF OUR BELIEF, rather than bring our faith down to the level of our experience (Brian Houston).

All we need is MUSTARD SEED FAITH in a HUGE God. It’s an active PARTICIPATION with God to grow and be involved in His purposes for our lives.

God is more concerned with the SPIRITUAL sickness of our lives than even physical sicknesses because He wants us to have eternal life. PHYSICAL HEALING IS TEMPORAL. SPIRITUAL HEALING IS ETERNAL.

When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, He rebuked the evil spirit.

He didn’t rebuke me for my lack of faith. He gave me hope.

He didn’t rebuke my son for allowing a demon into his life. He healed him.

He got to the heart of the matter and rebuked the demon and cast it out. When He dealt with the spiritual matter then my son was healed physically and emotionally.

He said “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” He said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” Then the spirit screamed and threw my son into another violent convulsion and left him. My son appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.”

They PRESUMED THE WORST but Jesus taught me to…

6. EXPECT THE BEST.

Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. Then He gave him back to me.

From that moment on he was well. What an amazing outcome. What an amazing God.

Thanks for sharing your story with us David, but tell me “WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE NOT HEALED?”

I cannot pretend to know what God is doing when someone is not healed. All I know is that when I pray and support and show compassion in Jesus name I can leave things in God’s hands. I trust Him to know what He’s doing.

I do know one thing. Jesus is interested in HEALING US SPIRITUALLY. That’s the ETERNAL solution. A relationship with Christ. He invites us into relationship with Him.

It the most wonderful thing for my son when Jesus reached down and took hold of him and he opened his eyes. Jesus face was the first person he saw after he was cured. That was life-changing!

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:14-18 – IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER - Image created by Ross Cochrane.

IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER – Image created by Ross Cochrane.

It is in the silence of the moment when there are no more discordant arguments; where there is a pause in the perpetual warring of words and the clamour of severe speeches. That is the peaceful habitation where trust is born. It is there in the shadow of a simple question where there are no answers or words left to explain away a spark of faith, that a man kneels with great respect and finds his opportunity to believe.

He and his son had gathered with the crowd in anticipation, waiting for the four men to return from the mountain. His purpose is to find answers for his son. But there are some opinions of protest in the crowd, disturbing the mob, a verdict of voices representing themselves with their forbidding arguments and ridicule. They are not interested in the boy but want to find a platform to spread their malicious media; toxic teachers. They have “…an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth” (1 Timothy 6:3-6 NLT).

Every Sunday crowds of people still gather to hear the Word of God over the noise of the week, and still there are the Transcribers of terror in our world who forge their tongues in hell and bring an atmosphere of argument seeking to quench faith. Those who fear them hear them. Their form of truth is upheld by controlling others, and anything to do with Jesus is a threat.

So it happens that a time of incredible worship and miraculous encounters; glorious meetings on the mountain, is followed by a valley of corrupt and godless people arguing over a demonised boy. That will bring you down to earth every time.

But then the crowd becomes aware of Jesus. He speaks and once you hear the voice of Jesus, you are “overwhelmed with awe” (Mark 9:15 NLT). What is it about Jesus that inspires this response? The crowd leaves the arguments with the religious teachers behind and runs to Him (Mark 9:15). He has that kind of influence. “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asks (Mark 9:16 NLT). The Scribes don’t have an answer.

That’s the moment when the father of the demonised boy broke the embarrassing silence, and kneels before Jesus with just a mustard seed of faith (Luke 9:37-43, Mark 9:14-29, Matthew 17:14). In the quietness of the moment when there is no arguing; in the shadow of Jesus question where there are no answers to interrupt, this father kneels, and prays,

“Lord, have mercy and heal my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I beg You to look at him. He is my only child. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk” (see Luke 9:37-43, Mark 9:14-29 and Matthew 17:15).

Children need parents to bring them to Christ, but how did this child end up with an evil spirit? He suffered greatly. He appears to have Epilepsy. He is plagued physically with an illness but spiritually by a demon. Prone to self-harm and suicide, He tries to burn himself or drown himself. What happens in a little boy’s life to leave him demonised? What was he exposed to? What happened? What kind of experiences and evil indoctrination allowed a demon to have such a foothold?

Jesus seems quite rude as he turns towards the Scribes in the crowd. The Scribes had probably started the argument over healing the boy. They are corrupt, with twisted minds who have distorted the truth with their perverse religious control. Easily impressionable, the boy is probably demonised because of the inculcation during his earliest years of their evil influence. The child stands in their midst and Jesus says, “Bring the boy to me.” So they bring the boy. The further from the Scribes he gets the better.

Jesus said to them, “You faithless and corrupt people, how long must I be with you and put up with you?” (Luke 9:37-43 and Mark 9:14-29 NLT). Jesus doesn’t suffer fools easily. He attracts those with a teachable spirit. He supports those who express a need for God but calls these wicked men for what they are. He could easily have called them crooked serpents; people who have opened themselves up to corruption, instruments of the devil who pave the way for people to be demonised rather than be opened to the miracle of a transformed life of faith in Christ.

Jesus wasn’t impressed with their sinful, arrogant rebellion. The boy was merely a pawn in their midst to stir up a religious dispute, an opportunity to find targets for their threats. Unbelief swaps the blessing of God for an argument. Because it stems from warped thinking, it expresses no mercy to others and is stubborn and unjust. Crosseyed and twisted in their thinking, they pervert the truth. They are wicked in their behaviour and attitudes. They cause irreparable damage in the lives of people and it seems they have wreaked havoc in the life of this little boy.

Jesus rebukes the Scribes just as He rebukes the demon in this little boy. Does justice demand such a rebuke? Yes. Jesus is the only one truly able to deliver such a rebuke. This perverse, malicious group of religious miscreants don’t deserve the favour of God yet instead of fire from heaven they get to witness a miracle. The demon is probably released back into their midst.

Come to think of it, as angry as I get about corrupt and evil people in the world, the Bible says not one of us deserves God’s favour. Only the grace of God can save us. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The invitation is to come to Jesus with a speck of faith in the quiet space when arguments no longer matter and receive the miracle of grace which will transform your life. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:19-21 – WHAT TO DO WHEN LOVE HURTS

What to do when love hurts

What to do when love hurts

As I greet him with a smile he looks at me with the confusion of dementia in his eyes and demands that I leave. “I don’t want to talk with you. I don’t know you?” I am a stranger to him, though we have talked as friends many times in the past. In the hall I meet a woman who is walking slowly with the help of a stick. I ask her if she is lost and she tells me that she has never been so insulted in all her life. “I wish all you nosy people would just leave me alone!” she says. I apologise and leave her to sit for a while in the foyer. Through the glass entrance door I see a woman sitting alone and crying. I talk with her about her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease. “He doesn’t recognise who I am anymore and pushes me away” she says, deeply hurt.

I meet people in aged care who experience times when they feel unwanted, excluded, unloved, or even neglected. Times when they feel misjudged or overlooked and sometimes they can choose to let grazes fester and become deep wounds; times when they know an aching emptiness as they see those they care for or love withdraw, reject and ignore them.

The unintentional wounds caused by those with Alzheimer’s disease are felt by those who have known the joys of relationship; those who have loved. It is not really true that love hurts. It is not being loved that hurts. Love is what heals a broken heart.

Leah is not loved by her husband, Jacob, and is vulnerable to the weeping wounds of such loss as he all too often neglects her for her younger sister, Rachel.

God in His grace chooses to give Leah another son to Jacob after a time of barrenness (Genesis 30:19-20) and her broken heart finds expression in the name of her son. She names him Zebulun, which means “dwelling” and “honour.” She chooses this name in acknowledgement that God has not forsaken her and honours her with a sixth son. But in the naming of her son, she also declares her desperate hope that her husband will honour her and finally choose to dwell with her exclusively.

She names him with the tears of her hurt that becry the absence of love “…now my husband will DWELL with me, because I have borne him six sons” (Genesis 30:20 NASB). She is the mother of Jacob’s sons but not the wife of his heart. He will sleep with her but his affections are reserved for Rachel. In her loneliness God also gives a daughter to Leah (Genesis 30:21). Leah calls her Dinah.

Is the desire Rachel and Leah have for children based on the hope of having a share in the blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)? It seems that they have disassociated with God’s promises for what has become a race of jealousy; vying for the love of Jacob and the approval of others.

Rachel and Leah invite me to ask myself the difficult questions – “Are my motivations for a fruitful life based on God’s promises; His Word? Or am I involved in a power play for love and acceptance from others?”  

When you experience the absence of love, in whom will you place your trust? Jesus invites you to place your trust in Him, over and above all other relationships, and to find your identity as a person who is loved by God. 

Don’t misunderstand, close relationships with others are important on this journey we make with God, but my identity is shaped essentially by God’s intentions and not the expectations or neglect of others. The healing grace of God’s love gives me a perspective on all my other relationships in life and enables me to live as God intends. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 15:21-28 – A HEART LIKE A DOG 

HEART LIKE A DOG

HEART LIKE A DOG

Poster – “What A Beautiful World It Would Be If People Had Hearts Like Dogs”

Like dogs in a pack they turn on her, bearing their teeth. All round her Rejection’s emissaries are insisting that she stop knocking, seeking and asking. Back off! His disciples want Jesus to send her away. They are bothered. They are embarrassed by this Gentile begging for mercy, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely” (Matthew 15:21-28 NLT).

She is met with silence. Jesus ignores her. Is this a test? Rudeness? Is He a Racist and a Chauvinist? Silent! Ignoring me while Mercy and Compassion are brushed from the table as crumbs? Is he waiting to see what I will do when faced with the dismissive growls of His followers, those who walk with Him and claim they know Him?

The disciples were concerned that Jesus offended the Pharisees, but are more than willing to send this Gentile away. She is defiled in their eyes like her demonised daughter. The hounds are baying, not realising their own natures resonate more with Pharisaic attitudes than with Jesus. Jesus has already said that it is what issues from the mouth that defiles you, and exposes your heart.

Is Jesus’ silence designed to confront and challenge His disciples with their prejudices? Are they really bothered by a woman in desperate need? Surely He cannot mould a miracle from the smouldering cauldrons of their narrow-mindedness? Is He waiting to test the mettle of any mercy He may find in them? In me?

In those moments of desertion and dismissal when disciples snarl and Jesus remains silent, she is faced with a choice to withdraw and keep her dignity, …. but she refuses to go away. Why would the Lord be in Gentile territory if not to help this woman of persistent faith? At what point will I turn away? Will it be the point just before I am to receive the miracle I need?

Jesus does not let her savour the sweetness of any hope, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” Another door shuts in her face, … yet still she knocks. Still she persists. She comes to Him and worships Him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” But Jesus is also persistent. He responds, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” Did Jesus just call this woman a DOG?

How would I respond? Would I turn away at this point, insulted and hurt. She isn’t disgusted that He is being insensitive or that she is being discriminated against. She isn’t interested in taking Him before the Anti-Discimination Tribunal. She cares more to seek His compassion than to court these words as offensive.

And in that moment she accepts that in His presence she is a dog, … but not a mangy, mongrel, rabid kind of dog; wild and prowling for garbage. She is a small domesticated persistent pet dog begging at the table for morsels of mercy. Even a discarded scrap from Jesus would be enough. Yes, she is more interested in grace than equality. She replies, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their Master’s table” (Matthew 15:27 NLT).

When Jesus leads her to understand who He is and why He has come, she worships Him, trusts in Him, humbles herself before Him. How do I feel about being a dog in Jesus’ presence? “Dear woman,” Jesus says to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed” (Matthew 15:28 NLT). 

James 4:10 (NLT) says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honour.” 

He cuts across my sensitivities. At the extremities of my despair I come to a sure realisation of who I am in the presence of a holy God and that I really don’t deserve anything from Him. Yet in that place of exposure and despair He extends to me His grace, and mercy falls like lifegiving crumbs from His table to bring healing and wholeness to my world. 

Pastor Ross

 

Matthew 7:7-8 – SPIRITUAL CPR

Spiritual CPR. Picture created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net.

I’ve been praying that the Lord would heal a persistent cough I have had for the last month and nothing appears to be happening? Am I to continue to pray even when I don’t see any results? Why do I pray for my friend who is dying? She is unable to move because she is so weak? Am I to persevere in asking for healing until she dies?

Matthew 7:7 (NLT) says “KEEP ON ASKING, … KEEP ON SEEKING, … KEEP ON KNOCKING, …” If God answers my prayers, what’s with the “KEEP ON” requirement? Doesn’t He hear the first time? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT) says “NEVER STOP PRAYING.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” PERSISTENT PRAYER breathes life back into my circumstances and revives me.

Jesus uses the ASK method of CPR to breathe life back into a dead situation. Ask, Seek, Knock. ASK – Check to see if there a spiritual PULSE? Is the situation or person spiritually dead and needing emergency attention! SEEK – Check for Spiritual BREATHING. Ask the Holy Spirit to breathe life into this situation, to give spiritual respiration. Nothing artificial about this at all. Jesus said “I am the truth and life.” KNOCK – Giving Truth Compressions. Keep speaking Words of Life to keep the spiritual BLOOD FLOW to the heart. REPEAT THE PROCESS – Matthew 7:7 (NLT) says “KEEP ON ASKING, … KEEP ON SEEKING, … KEEP ON KNOCKING, …”

Is prayer just a way to deal with the pressures of life and doesn’t really have anything to do with answers, or do I have to keep asking until I learn the difference between praying for what I WANT and praying for what I NEED before the answers come? Is PERSEVERANCE AND DILIGENCE in prayer the means of learning ENDURANCE AND DISCIPLINE in life? PERSIST. PERSEVERE in prayer. 30 spiritual heart compressions (going to Church regularly) or a life support machine (growing up in a family that follows Jesus) is not enough. I will still need the DEFIBRILLATOR of personal belief and trust in Christ.

Prayer breathes life back into dead circumstances. It shocks my heart into life so it operates as it was intended. It confronts me with the Cross and with it’s rhythmic harmonies it allows God to have His finger on the pulse of my life. It allows my heart to beat in time with His. It reminds me that I am dependent on Him, to pray often, with diligent passion and active intention. I ask with dependence, seek with drive and knock with determination on heaven’s door so that earths doors will be opened. I am born again.

What is God saying in all this? Do I keep on knocking on the same door or do I seek any door that looks like it might open? “Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door.” What about earth’s doors? It’s not always the one that opens that has the answers. What am I opening myself up to? When I knock on heaven’s door He seems to open the right earthly doors.

John 15:7 (NLT) says “But if you REMAIN IN ME AND MY WORDS REMAIN IN YOU, you may ask for ANYTHING YOU WANT, and it will be granted!” 1 John 3:21-22 (NLT) says “… we will receive from Him whatever we ask BECAUSE WE OBEY HIM AND DO THE THINGS THAT PLEASE HIM.” Matthew 6:33 (NLT) says “Seek the Kingdom of God ABOVE ALL ELSE, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you NEED.”

Spurgeon speaks of how the old doors had a NAILHEAD onto which a knocker was dropped and people would strike it so heavily that the saying arose “AS DEAD AS A DOOR-NAIL”. Jesus speaks of that kind of INTENSITY in prayer, praying so persistently that it outlives the door-nail. It may seem pointless to keep bashing on something that’s as dead-as-a-doornail, but there is LIFE on the other side of the door! CPR for the spiritual heart. That kind of prayer breathes life into dead situations.

The invitation is to pray OFTEN, with DILIGENT PASSION and with ACTIVE INTENSION. Be DEPENDENT on God, PASSIONATE about seeking Him, DETERMINED to find the solutions to life. A consistent prayerlife humbles me to receive God’s grace. “Asking” suggests DEPENDENCE; “seeking” suggests DRIVE; “knocking” suggests DETERMINATION. Prayer teaches me about FAITH to accomplish the purposes of God. SPIRITUAL CPR.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 14:34-36 – THE FREEDOM FIGHTER

If I Could Touch the Hem of His Garment – Photo by Ross Cochrane

She is in bed most of the time now, unable to do the most basic of things. 96 years old ANGIE (not her real name) was once a FREEDOM FIGHTER in Czechoslovakia. Her speech is slow but her conversation reveals her intelligence and she surprises me with the laughter in her eyes and her faith in God. She has learned to use the computer, send e-mails, play music etc, but muscular degeneration means her fingers don’t work as well now. She struggles now just to lift her hands a few inches and there is pain. She cannot feed herself or hold a cup in her hands. I pray for healing for this faith-filled freedom fighter.

After they cross the lake, Jesus and His disciples land at Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34). Jesus has had contact with those from this region before and soon people are “bringing all their sick to be healed” (Matthew 14:35). They come expecting miracles to the One they recognise could and would heal them. They beg Him to let the sick touch “at least the fringe of His robe”, and ALL who touch Him are healed (Matthew 14:36).

Imagine if it was Angie that day in Gennesaret being brought up through the crowd behind Jesus and touching the fringe of His robe. Imagine Jesus turning around, seeing her there and saying, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.”

MIRACLES OF HEALING are not impossibilities conceived in the hearts of people who are fools, as Ingersoll, the faith terrorist, once suggested. They are not unthinkable to the thinking person who is open to the possibility of truth beyond the senses; to a system of perception called faith.

Certainty in God’s promises, not ignorance, is the soil in which belief in miracles grows, and if we are honest we do not pretend to think we know the boundaries of possibilities in this world. If we are truthful and sincere we will admit our doubts and spiritual ignorance and say, “Lord, help my unbelief” rather than being content to say “It cannot happen!”

A FREEDOM FIGHTER is dedicated to opposing an invader seeking to enforce compliance and subservience upon us. Afterall, why should we worship our DOUBTS? Why should we prostrate ourselves before the mirror of our own LIMITATIONS and not before the One in whom ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE? Why should we kneel before medical science as our SAVIOUR rather than as our SERVANT, and preach a gospel of rational redemption when the hope of medical miracles won’t change the human heart or forgive human sin? Why should we not fight for the right to look beyond what doctors do, as wonderful as that is, to find the wholeness we need?

In Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT) Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” 1 John 5:14-15 (NLT) clarifies this further by saying “And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for ANYTHING THAT PLEASES HIM. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.”

Angie, the FREEDOM FIGHTER, appreciates what it is like to be healthy and articulates to God her desire to be well. The possibility of being free from sickness brings her humbly before God, like those from Genessaret, ready to touch even the fringe of His robe to find relief. And it gives me an invitation to fight the battle alongside her as I pray for this wounded warrior to receive the healing grace of God.

Praying for Angie – Photo by Ross Cochrane

Pastor Ross

P.S. Angie died last week. She slipped away into the presence of the Lord. She knew she was loved and she confided in me that she was ready to go home. I hugged her gently and said my goodbyes but before I returned from holidays she was gone. My brave warrior. I will miss her intelligence, her beautiful eyes, her love for God and her friendship with me. Were our prayers answered? Of course.

 

 

P.S. to my last P.S. It has now been some years since Angie died. I recently found Angie’s e-mail address on my computer, although it doesn’t exist anymore. I found myself crying and realised that my grief for her loss still ran deep. So I wrote her an email.

Dearest Angie,

I came across your old e-mail address today and although I know this will just go out into cyberspace somewhere and perhaps return, I thought I would write anyway.

It seems so long ago that you passed this way but I still remember you. You died when I was away on holidays and no one told me. I missed attending your funeral. I am so sorry about that, but I remember our friendship, the many conversations and prayers and your beautiful smile. I remember how you told me you were part of the resistance during the war. I remember you telling me about your accidental meeting with the Pope while you were on holidays in Italy. Even though you were a Protestant they put you in the line to meet the Pope at the Vatican.

I remember when you were able to send emails and use your computer. I remember quiet talks when tears would fall at your frustration about not being able to move your hands and we would laugh at life as well. Motor Neuron Disease took your physical abilities but not your keen mind and sense of humour.

It was a pleasure to be your Chaplain, but most of all I miss you being around as my friend. I miss you. I prayed for your healing but God chose to heal you in a place where there are no more tears or pain. One day, when I no longer shed tears or feel the pain of the loss of a good friend, I will see you again.

God bless