Sunday, May 28, 2017

James 5:15


Living a Life Worthy of The Gospel

One of the most misunderstood verses of scripture is

“The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:15‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Those wanting to mock the superiority of scripture like to take a verse or two and create a doctrine based on gotcha philosophy.

"Well if your faith was strong that loved one would not have died. If you have the faith God will give you health back." First, understand that is not biblically correct in the slightest.

As all passages; It needs careful interpretation.
2. These facts need to be kept in mind.
a. Most scholars believe James was the first book written in the New Testament.
b. Paul never mentions this practice of anointing with oil.
c. Simon Peter never mentions this practice of anointing with oil.
d. John never mentions this practice of anointing with oil.
e. No other New Testament writer mentions this practice.
f. If this is a practice for all sick people why didn’t Paul advise Timothy to have himself anointed with oil for his stomach problems.
1 Tim 5:23 No longer drink water {exclusively,} but use a little wine for the sake
of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (NAS)
g. Why didn’t Paul anoint Trophimus with oil.
2 Tim 4:20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus
h. The GREEK word for anoint here is Strongs word #218 aleipho (al-i’-fo).

I do not see this verse truly relating to or referencing physical sickness exactly.

1. Greek “astheneo” (no strength)
2. CAN mean physical sickness. “Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.” (Luke 4:40 (ESV)
3. MORE OFTEN, means spiritual, psychological or emotional weakness
4. “However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.” (1 Corinthians 8:7 (ESV)
5. Means weakness NOT sickness every time in Romans (Rom 4:19; 5:6; 6:19; 8:26; 14:1-2; 15:1)
6. “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” (Romans 4:19) , NKJV)

With the scripture of James in mind, let's look at a biblical example of sickness.
Hezekiah was regarded as a good king. In the later part of his life, he fell sick and was close to death. The prophet Isaiah came and pronounced his sickness was unto death. This led to Hezekiah pleading for his life. Amazingly, God relented and Hezekiah was healed.
Below are some things I learnt about sickness and healing from this passage.
Hezekiah was a very good king. In 2 Kings 18:1-8 (quickview) , the following is said of him.
a) He did what was right in the sight of the Lord – V3
b) He removed the high places – V4
c) He trusted in the Lord – V5
d) He held fast to the Lord –V6
e) He kept his commandments –V6
f) The Lord was with him – V7
g) He rebelled against the King of Assyria – V7
h) He subdued the Philistines – V8

Even good people fall sick. Being righteous does not exempt us from the trials of life. God is sovereign in all his ways and does allow sickness to come to Godly men and woman.
In the passage below, we see that the sickness was specifically for the glory of God. The sickness of the blind man was not attributed to sin. Jesus healed him so that God would be glorified.
John 9:2  Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind ?”. Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned but that the works of God should be revealed in him”.

So in sickness, God's glory be praised.

Matthew Henry's commentary says:

Observe, that the saving of the sick is not ascribed to the anointing with oil, but to prayer. In a time of sickness it is not cold and formal prayer that is effectual, but the prayer of faith.
Now after reading this you'd think, "I thought you said it wasn't about physical issues?" Keep reading.

The great thing we should beg of God for ourselves and others in the time of sickness is, the pardon of sin.

Let nothing be done to encourage any to delay, under the mistaken fancy that a confession, a prayer, a minister's absolution and exhortation, or the sacrament, will set all right at last, where the duties of a godly life have been disregarded.

To acknowledge our faults to each other, will tend greatly to peace and brotherly love. And when a righteous person, a true believer, justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holy obedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affections and believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead the promises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much.

The power of prayer is proved from the history of Elijah. In prayer we must not look to the merit of man, but to the grace of God. It is not enough to say a prayer, but we must pray in prayer. Thoughts must be fixed, desires must be firm and ardent, and graces exercised. This instance of the power of prayer, encourages every Christian to be earnest in prayer. God never says to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek my face in vain. Where there may not be so much of miracle in God's answering our prayers, yet there may be as much of grace.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sick, HEALING, and miracles.

     We shouldn’t fall into the trap of saying our day is “just another day.” We should be cherishing Jesus more even in times of trouble.
If victory is cherishing Christ, then whether we live or die, we win, for we gain Christ. “To live is Christ, to die is gain” – for at death we will see “face to face.” "What we now know in part, then we shall know fully…" (1Corinthians 13.12). 
     Why then is there sickness and suffering? God gives us the general reason: we are fallen people living in a fallen world. Though the brilliance of a good creation dazzles us, the fall casts its dark shadow across every beam. It is not the way it’s supposed to be. The world is bent, and all suffer. By why this specific suffering? Why now? Why her? Why me? 

      The Bible avoids specific answers for individual cases. Not because there are no answers; more because there are so many answers. An eternity would be required to explain to finite creatures the complexity of interwoven reasons for God’s workings. What we are given, however, is some benefits which may come of suffering. [Here is a sample list, mostly from Howard Dial, ‘Sufferology’: Counseling Toward Adjustment in Suffering. The Journal of Pastoral Practice, Vol. III, No. 2, 1979, pp. 19-24. Others have been added and some of his have been edited.] 

1. The promotion of spiritual maturity and Christ-like character (James 1.2-4). 
2. To promote endurance—the ability to turn adversity into spiritual prosperity (James 1.2-4).
3. To promote wisdom—the ability to relate truth to experience (James 1.5-8).
4. To produce humility (James 1.9-11).
To provide the opportunity for rewards (James 1.12).
6. To prove the genuineness of our faith (1Peter 1.6-8).
7. To manifest the fruit of the Spirit (2Corinthians 4.11; Galatians 5.22,23).
8. To provide opportunities to witness for Christ (1Peter 3.15; Philippians 1.12).
9. To learn contentment (Philippians 4.11).
10. To help others who suffer (2Corinthians 1.3-24).
11. To rebuke believers guilty of pride and spiritual cowardice (1Corinthians 4.9-16).
12. To demonstrate the power of God in our lives (2Corinthians 11.24-33; John 9.2).
13. To learn obedience to the will of God (Hebrews 5.8).
14. To vindicate the character of God before Satan (Job 1.6-12).
15. To vindicate us before Satan (Job 1.6-12).
16. To instruct the believer in the holiness of God’s character (Job 42.5,6). 
17. To deliver us from sinful thoughts and actions (Hebrews 12.5-11). 
18. To wean us from earth and fix our hearts on heaven, where our hope is (Colossians 3.1-2). 
19. To drive us to the Word (Psalm 119.71). 
20. To create a more unified church and a more interdependent body of believers (“one another” verses). 
21. To teach us about our weaknesses and cause us to depend on God (2Corinthians 12.7-10). 
22. To bring him glory (the Bible). 

The late Bruce Thielemann, pastor of Pittsburgh’s First Presbyterian Church tells, the story of a clergy friend Southern California who knew a woman who had been in a mental hospital many years suffering from extreme depression. She used to just sit on a bench every day staring at the earth—no conversation, no response. One day a new doctor who’d never seen her came down the hall and greeted her. He said, “Good morning!” She made no reply. “What is your name?” he said. No answer. “Well, my name is Doctor Heven, H-E-V-E-N, and I’ll be by to see you again tomorrow.” Then he started away.
“But she lifted her head and said to him—and because he did not know the patient, he did not know how remarkable it was that she was saying anything at all—‘What did you say your name was?’
          “He said, ‘Heven, H-E-V-E-N.’”
          “Now, somehow in the confused process of that wounded mind, the woman confused the word Heven with the word Heaven, and she thought of God’s love made know to us in Christ. The next day she said to everyone she met in the hospital, ‘This is the day which the Lord has made.’ And the day after that, ‘Yea, I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Evil, but I fear no evil.’ Within six days she was saying, ‘I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.’ Within five weeks she had been released from the hospital, and for the last fourteen years she has been carrying out her responsibilities as a leading teacher in Southern California.”
          Here’s an example of healing:
Matthew 9
18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.”
19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.
21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
            Notice Jesus says it was HER FAITH THAT MADE HER WELL. How does this work? She suffered for 12 years. This is a medical nightmare that Jesus heals in an instant! When she first got sick Jesus was 18 years old. Now He is 30.

           She had tried everything. WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG for God to choose to heal her? Why didn't she have faith enough THEN? Was it at the point of her encounter with Jesus that she became a Christian?
            WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE FAITH THAT THE PERSON I AM PRAYING FOR WILL BE HEALED? I can only pray with what faith I have in the One who is able to heal. I can only trust in His judgment to do what is best. It makes no sense to the one who does not know Jesus. But the more I know Jesus, the more I trust Him.
        AS LONG AS A PERSON LIVES THERE IS HOPE FOR HEALING. It may take years before I see the answer to my prayers. It may take only a moment. But WHILE THERE IS HOPE THERE IS THE ABILITY TO EXERCISE BELIEVING PRAYER. You've heard it before.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." 
        Jewish law restricted this woman with uncontrollable bleeding to come anywhere near a crowd, let alone be right in the middle of one. She was CONSIDERED TO BE UNCLEAN, polluted and contaminated AND SHE WAS. But she is also a woman VALUED AND LOVED BY JESUS. And she is desperate enough to do something about her sickness.         Maybe she feared rejection from Jesus but instead He says, "BE ENCOURAGED..." He always assures me that MY DESPERATE NEED IS HEARD and that I am not rejected.

     In the crowd that milled around Jesus it is the touch of this woman that Jesus recognizes. He always feels it when FAITH REACHES TO TOUCH EVEN THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT. HE ALWAYS FEELS MY TOUCH OF FAITH and responds with the power of His healing grace. Even when I feel He will pass by, all I need to do is reach out to Him in faith and touch Him. HE NEVER IGNORES THE TOUCH OF FAITH. In Psalms 91:15 (NLT) God says "When they call on Me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honour them."

      Mark 5:30 (NLT) says that "Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from Him, so He turned around in the crowd and asked,
"Who touched My robe?"" 
     Jesus was in on His way to a life or death situation and yet He took time out to speak to this woman. He TURNS AND FINDS HER in the crowd and tells her that it is her faith that He has responded to. In Mark 9:23 (NLT) Jesus says, "Anything is possible if a person believes." 

       Jesus calls her
"DAUGHTER." Does this indicate that she is considered as part of the family of God? Was her faith the kind of faith that enabled her to be BORN AGAIN INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD? I think so. John 1:12 (NLT) puts it this way "But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD." 

         How amazing it is for me to meet with Jesus with enough faith only to touch the hem of His garment. How amazing it is when He touches me with His healing grace and salvation. How amazing it is when He turns and looks me in the eye and speaks words of encouragement and life into my soul.
      John Powell is Professor of Theology at Chicago’s Loyola University, in a sermon entitled “Prayer as Surrender,” he shares this illustration: “I recently read a story by a woman who said that as a girl she was poor. She said, ‘I grew up in a cold water flat, but I married a man who had money. And he took me up to a place where I had flowers, and I had gardens, and I had grass. It was wonderful. And we had children.
     “Then suddenly I became physically sick. I went to the hospital, and the doctors ran all sorts of tests. One night the doctor came into my room, and with a long look on his face, said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this. Your liver has stopped working!’” 
     “I said, ‘Doctor, wait a minute! Wait a minute! Are you telling me that I am dying?’” And he said, ‘I can’t tell you any more than that. Your liver has stopped working. We’ve done everything we can to start it.’ And he walked out.
     “I knew I was dying. I was so weak, I had to feel my way along the 
corridor down to the Chapel of the hospital. I wanted to tell God off! I wanted to Tell God, ‘You are a shyster. You’ve been passing Yourself off as a Loving God for two thousand years, but every time anyone begins to get happy, You pull the rug out from under them!” I wanted to tell off God face-to-face!
     “And just as I got into the center aisle of the Chapel, I tripped, I swooned, I fainted, and I looked up, and there, stenciled along the step into the sanctuary, where the altar is, I saw these words: “LORD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME, A SINNER!”
    “I know God spoke to me that night. I know He did.”
    “She didn’t say how God communicated this to her, but what God said was, ‘You know what this is all about. It’s about the moment of surrender; it’s about bringing you to that moment when you will surrender everything to Me! These doctors, they do the best they can. But they only treat. I’m the only One who can cure you.”
      “And she said, ‘There with my head down on my folded arms in the center of the Chapel, repeating, ‘Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I surrendered to God. I found my way back to my hospital bed, weak as I was.
      “The next morning, after the doctor ran the blood tests and the urinalysis and so forth, he said, ‘Your liver has started working again! We don’t know why. We don’t know why it stopped, and we don’t know why it started up again!’ And I said in my heart, ‘But I know! Oh, but how I know. God has brought me to the brink of disaster, just to get me to turn my life over to Him
     God doesn’t bring us to the brink of disaster, but He may “permit” disaster or sickness as He did in the case of Paul in II Corinthians 12:7-10, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was give me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the LORD three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness!’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak; then I am strong.”
     Jesus is our Great Physician. He can redeem any circumstance. Sometimes His power is manifested in healing, but at other times He enriches the sufferer and empowers him/her to endure hardships, pain, sickness, and difficult circumstances in the spirit of praise. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Thinking about this Christianity

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Doing the Job?

      Authority figures come in all shapes and sizes and at different places in life: Moms and dads, school teachers, bosses, etc. Buckle up and read.
      “You can’t talk about the church and government,” screams the liberal. “It’s unconstitutional!” Um, no, it isn’t. Separation of church and state does not appear in The Constitution, but it does occur in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. What you will find are the words like government shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion OR prohibiting the free exercise thereof. However:
      “She should do her job,” decry the civil liberty supporters. #Love Wins advocate cheer the arrest of the married, divorced, remarried government employee that refuses to do the job, uphold the oath she took all the while, the aforementioned opponents point out how, she, a Christian hypocrite refuses to do the job based on “God’s Authority.” It is an open and shut case, right?

Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.

     Right away, the ever educated skeptic, secularist will use the verse to insinuate that “God according to the book allowed communist regimes to reign, and allowed Nazis to take control in the 1940s.”  They may even wanna throw the conversation between Jesus and Pilate where Christ reminds the ruler he only had power because God allowed it. In the case of Pilate, the big picture shows he was necessary to be a part of God’s redemptive plan. With other bad governments that come to be, it is easy, ironically enough for Christians and non-Christians a like to say, “It must be God’s will,” or “It’s karma,” when bad things happen or bad rulers reign.  

    In Paul’s time, Christians were almost public enemy number one, were rounded up, beaten and killed. Nero tried to destroy all copies of scripture and erase it from the world. And here Paul is saying that the established powers, i.e. those in charge are so because their power is established by the very God that in most cases is mocked by said ruling bodies. Therein lies the rub so to say. If a Democrat is the president, the Republicans will complain and vice versa. Think about like this by remembering what Jesus said to the man, Pilate as previously mentioined that “allowed” the crucifixion to occur. Jesus told him, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.”

      I am not going to be so boastful as to question why God let Nero reign, why Hitler was allowed to kill the chosen Israelites, why Islamic jihadist losers flew planes into the towers, but I will say in my honest opinion, perhaps out of these horrible atrocities, we as people, and as a nation will in sincerity turn to Him and not continually run away until we need to feel secure again.
 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
            The word damnation in this regard means judgment. Christian people sealed by the blood of Christ cannot lose their salvation, but don’t think for a moment that we cannot and will not be disciplined by the Father upon the Day of Judgment.
 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
            Sorry to disrespect Thoreau, but civil disobedience isn’t always the best course. Now there are those that will say America would never have been made if we did not break away from England thus doing what is contrary to what is said here. That is not exactly true. Look back at American History. Speaking of which, let’s have a look just for those who hold to the belief that American is not now or ever was a Christian nation with the words of Republicans and Democrats past on the issue of God’s sovereignty in government:
    In 1776, 11 of the 13 colonies required that one had to be a Christian to be eligible to run for political office.
    In 1777, the Continental Congress voted to spend $300,000 to purchase Bibles for distribution in the nation.
The GETTYSBURG ADDRESS states "...this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..."
On that First "Thanksgiving", who do you think the people were giving thanks to? To God!
The famous "Liberty Bell" has part of Leviticus 25:10 inscribed on it: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
Part of the Scripture Proverbs 14:34 is inscribed above the L.A. city hall door: "RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTETH A NATION: BUT SIN IS A REPROACH TO ANY PEOPLE."
An image of Moses carrying the tablets of God’s Law faces the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The entering President takes his courtroom OATH OF OFFICE with his right hand on the Holy Bible, and concludes his vow "So help me God."
The Supreme Court itself begins each of its sessions with the phrase ’God save the United States and this honorable court,’
First Vice President and Second President, John Adams wrote in 1798:
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
 President Thomas Jefferson:
"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever." - 1781
Our sixth President, John Quincy Adams said:
"No book in the world deserves to be so unceasingly studied, and so profoundly meditated upon as the Bible." -
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin said,
"God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
The Christian writings and pronouncements of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln would fill an entire book. He said this when he assumed leadership over a nation on the brink of civil war:
"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven… But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." - 1863
*Theodore Roosevelt, America’s 26th President, wrote:
      "In this actual world, a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at, or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid down-grade." - 1917
*Woodrow Wilson, our 28th President and Governor of New Jersey, said this:
"America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of the Holy Scripture." - 1911
*Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President, said this about our founding fathers:
       "They were intent upon establishing a Christian commonwealth in accordance with the principle of self- government. They were an inspired body of men. It has been said that God sifted the nations that He might send choice grain into the wilderness... Who can fail to see it in the hand of destiny? Who can doubt that it has been guided by a Divine Providence?" - 1923
*Franklin Roosevelt prayed this prayer on a national radio hookup on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as our troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France:
"Almighty God... with Thy blessing we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogance. Lead us to the saving of our country. Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen."

*Harry Truman, our 33rd President, not known to be a committed believer, understood the spiritual heritage of this nation:
"If men and nations would but live by the precepts of the ancient prophets and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, problems which now seem so difficult would soon disappear”

*Gerald Ford, our 38th President, quoted a 1955 speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower on December 5, 1974:
"Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first - the most basic - expression of Americanism. Thus the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be."
*President Ronald Reagan:
"If we ever forget that we are ’One nation, under God’, then we will be one nation gone under."
So allow me to close with one final verse. You can argue that while employed the clerk should do her job. Most certainly you can question her sincerity if she stamped or issued licenses to other sinners, such well, all of us if not redeemed by Christ’s blood at Calvary, and not same sex partners. The First Amendment says we all can speak and question. But here’s the last verse. Peter and the Apostles were told not to preach the name of Jesus and spread His Word. They were beaten, jailed, and all but one killed for refusal to walk away from the Christ. Here it is in Acts of the Apostles chapter 5 verse 29:  But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.