The Lord Who Heals

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Number 19

How many devotions have you ever read about a chapter in Numbers? I know I haven’t read hardly any at all, so I’m excited to be writing one for all of you to enjoy!

What’s the best way to get healthy? Trick question! Don’t get sick in the first place. This might seem obvious to us. We’ve been raised knowing that sickness and disease are caused by tiny germs that we can’t even see. Germs can be transmitted through air, water, food or surfaces. Though it’s common knowledge to us, nobody thought this was possible until about 500 years ago and wasn’t commonly accepted until just over 100 years ago through the work of Louis Pasteur. (If you haven’t heard of Pasteur before, try checking your milk carton for his name.) Now we know that if you want to prevent sickness, all you need to do is wash your hands frequently. Doctors didn’t even start washing their hands until 1847!

Even though the knowledge of germs is very new in world history, Moses, who was living 3000 years before germs were discovered, seemed to know some good ways to prevent disease. In verse 11, we see that touching a dead body makes you unclean. Maybe that law is a little too obvious. Touching a dead body is obviously going to make you unclean. But if you go further down the chapter, he says that even if you are near someone who dies, you are unclean. How could Moses have possibly known that? The answer is simple; God gave Moses knowledge that surpassed the understanding of humans. To us, we can think of how a person who just died might have a disease that we could catch, but the ancient Israelites would have had no idea that diseases can be passed on through the air. Therefore, Moses said that any open container (vs 15) is unclean. Germs could have contaminated the contents of the jar.

I think you all get the point. God gave laws specifically to prevent us from getting sick. And in a way, that is a form of healing. God says in Exodus 15:26, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Prevention of disease is a direct consequence of following God’s laws. He created the world and he knows better than any man how to keep us healthy.

To receive the healing of prevention, all we have to do is look to modern hygiene, the same practices that line up with the laws that God gave over 3000 years ago. God is the God of science and nature. He gave us our minds to be able to reason and learn. Because their teachings line up with the Old Testament laws, we should look to the doctors that God gave us for the best health practices. Brush your teeth, wash your hands, shower regularly, don’t touch dead animals, watch your diet, exercise regularly and commit yourself to only one spouse.

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

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Regeneration and Renewal

titus 3 5

Titus 3    &    James 5

Two chapters?! They’re both short so I’m sure you’ll have no problem reading both.  I just couldn’t decide which of these chapters I wanted to use to discuss healing of the spirit, so I am going to use them both.

In Titus 3:3, Paul graciously gives us a list of things that we do wrong. There’s no doubt that every one of us can find a few of these words to associate with. These things are why I believe that we all need spiritual healing. You may have heard that term used before by non-Christians, but what I mean by spiritual healing is a little different. I mean the renewing of our minds through forgiveness. I mean the ability to turn away from our sins and start walking in the other direction.

Spiritual healing is easy in concept. We all know that Jesus died for our sins. There is grace overflowing for us. Titus 3:5 says “He saved us – not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” All we have to do is ask for forgiveness and it will be ours.

But spiritual healing is so hard in practice. So many times, we let our past selves become the master of our present selves. Two things can happen that get in the way of our healing.

First, the sins of our past enslave us and we can’t forgive ourselves. We beat ourselves up for things that we should be able to leave behind. John 8:32 says that the Truth will set you free. If that is true, then why is it so easy to feel tied down? Jesus gives a conditional before saying that you can be free. He says, “know the truth.” The truth can’t set you free if you don’t know the truth. You need to know who Jesus (the Truth) is and you need to know the truth of forgiveness. The truth is asking for forgiveness is easier than feeling forgiveness.

Second, we continue to live in our sin. Remember how Jesus said, “The truth will set you free”? He also said, “Continue in my word.”  If you haven’t truly turned away from your past sins, then of course they are going to continue to rule your life. Once again, this is easy to understand and hard to practice.

In my experience, there is a crucial step that is always overlooked when it comes to spiritual healing. Let’s look to James now, in 5:16. We need to confess our sins, not only to God, but also to each other. We need to hold each other accountable, and you can only do that if you know what your friend is struggling with. James also repeats something that I’ve been saying all week: pray. Pray together for healing because “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” James give us an example of an effective prayer. Elijah prayed that God withhold the rain and God did so. The key point of the example can be easy to miss though. Elijah was a man with a nature just like ours; he faced temptation and sinned just like us. He prayed earnestly, and through his prayer, he was able to do great deeds for God.

Don’t let your past enslave you. Turn from your sin. Confess your sin to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Let the Truth set you free.

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

 

Devoured by a Lion

1 Peter 5 8

1 Peter 5

So far this week, we have looked at the physical healing of a blind man and the mental healing of a demon possessed man. Today we’re going to look at emotional healing.

Let’s start by looking at verse 8. It says that the Devil, our enemy, is hunting for someone to devour. How many of you have ever felt like you’ve been devoured? I’m sure none of you have ever been eaten by a lion, but I don’t think that’s what this verse is talking about. This verse is talking about being devoured by the world, by our obligations, by our worries. I know I have felt absolutely overwhelmed by my school work, pressures from my friend groups and parents. If you want to talk about being overwhelmed, just look at Jesus’ life.

In verse 5 it mentions the sufferings of Jesus. We know that Jesus had the burdens of the entire world placed on him. That puts our problems into perspective a little, doesn’t it? While we worry about who we’re going to eat lunch with tomorrow, He was worrying about being betrayed by one of his closest friends. While we worry if we’ll be able to play on our school’s basketball team, He was worrying about being sentenced to death by the world that he was supposed to save.

I don’t draw attention to this to diminish our feelings, but it is important to put things in a proper context and to humble ourselves. In verse 6, it says that we need to humble ourselves so that we can be exalted at the proper time. Sometimes it feels like we are being devoured for so long without receiving any help from our God. We think that no one knows how much we are suffering under the stress of our worries and we doubt that God cares. But God does care, and you are not alone. We need to be firm in our faith that God will heal all of us of our emotional pain (vs 9).

Here’s the beautiful part of this chapter: it feels like we must wait forever to receive emotional healing, but God promises us right here in verse 10 that He will personally restore, establish, strengthen and support us after we have suffered. He will heal us.

Today I’m going to leave you with some additional verses. Just read them and soak in all they promise.

Revelation 21:4

Psalm 147:3

John 14:27

Psalm 34:17-20

Matthew 11:28

Psalm 34:19

 

-Nathaniel Johnson

Another Kind of Healing – When Pigs Fly

Mark 5:1-19

(But no one is stopping you from reading the whole chapter)

How many of you have ever seen a scary movie? I don’t recommend them. Being scared is not fun, but sometimes we can’t help being scared. Today we’re going to talk about something scary, but fear not! This devotion has a happy ending.

In this segment of Mark, we see Jesus healing another man, but this time, he is casting out demons. This wasn’t an ordinary casting out of demons either. This man that Jesus encountered had an unclean spirit that consisted of thousands of demons (5:9).  The man had been so out of his right mind that he was cast out of normal society and forced to live in a cave where people had tried to chain him up, but not even chains could hold this man down. He would scream and cut himself day and night (5:5). This man is clearly not okay. Yet Jesus still let the man seek him out.

Notice how Jesus is being approached by a man that can literally break chains, but he doesn’t seem to be worried. That is exactly how we should feel knowing that we have the God of Jesus on our side, too. The demons in this man fear Jesus and respect his authority. It says in verse 13 that Jesus “gave them permission.” They obey Jesus! Now the next part of the story is a little weird, but it is very important. The demons went into a herd of pigs and subsequently flew off a cliff. Okay, maybe they didn’t fly, but it’s still an odd thing for pigs to do.

This story is a little different from the story of the blind man that we looked at yesterday. The man who was healed in this story didn’t have a physical impairment; he was healed of a sickness of the mind. These kinds of sicknesses can be even scarier than the kind that affect us physically. One such mental sickness that has become very prominent lately is depression. I know firsthand just how many people suffer from depression these days, especially teenagers, so I want to share with you the story of when I saw pigs fly.

When I was younger, I had a close friend who suffered from severe depression and harmed herself in ways like the man that Jesus healed. Many times we think that self-harm is unique to our generation but this story really says otherwise. This was a really painful experience for me just by knowing that my friend was going through this. I urged my friend to talk to a trusted adult and to see a doctor because I knew that I was not qualified to counsel on this subject. However, there was one way that I was able to help. I offered my prayers. Prayer became a constant for me in this period of my life. I wanted nothing more than to see my friend freed of this demon, her depression. One day, I wanted to pray with my friend, so we went out to a park and sat together praying for hours. I remember my prayer: “God, I know that you have the power to cast out demons. Cast out this demon.” After repeating this many times, my friend looked up and I could see a difference in her eyes. Pigs flew, and her depression has never bothered her since then.

I don’t know whether an actual demon was involved in this story, but depression certainly acts like a demon, taking over your thoughts and actions. Whatever the cause of depression may be, our God is bigger and more powerful and there isn’t anything in this world that disobeys His command.

Don’t forget the ending of the story in Mark. After the man was healed, he wanted to follow Jesus, but he was turned down. Jesus told the man to go back to his family and testify to them. This is just like what we saw in John yesterday. After you are healed, Jesus wants you to make sure that the people you know can see that you really were healed.

Tomorrow I am going to go into the role that modern medicine plays into the healing that we can receive from God.
-Nathaniel Johnson

 

When Sickness is an Opportunity

john 9 3

John 9

There is so much information in this chapter that could make good devotions that it’s almost hard to focus just on the healing! In this chapter, we get to follow the story of a man born without sight. It goes like this: the man is blind, Jesus restores his sight, the man testifies about the healing he received, the man is cast out by the Pharisees and the man is accepted by Jesus.

First, the man is blind. It might be easier to focus on the spiritual blindness that Jesus talks about in verse 41, but I really want to focus on the physical blindness of this man. The most important thing to note in this passage is that Jesus says “neither this man nor his parents sinned” (9:3). Jesus doesn’t mean that the man has never sinned, but he does mean that the man did nothing to deserve his blindness. I firmly believe that this applies to us as well. Whenever we get sick, whenever we know someone who gets cancer or becomes paralyzed, this is not a punishment from God. We didn’t do anything to earn our ailments. That is just the world that we live in; people get sick. But in the same way that sin exists so that God can show us grace (Romans 5:21), sickness is an opportunity for God to show his power. Yet that still doesn’t make sickness a good thing (Romans 6). In fact, sickness is terrible.

Once we have accepted that sickness is not our fault, we need to seek healing. This can mean many things, but I want to start by telling a story. A pastor that I know has been visiting hospitals and praying for the sick for many years. On one visit, he was with a woman who had lost her sight as a side effect of another sickness. He prayed with her and asked that God restore her sight. She remained blind. He prayed for her again yet she remained blind. The woman asked him to pray one more time. He did. She still couldn’t see. As he left, and he didn’t learn this until a time later, the woman saw his back as he walked out of the doorway. God had restored her eyesight.

I tell you this because I see a command in John 6. After the man is healed, he tells everyone that he knows how he was healed by Jesus. In the same way, I think we have a responsibility to share about the healing that God brings about in our own lives. How can God’s works be displayed (6:3) if we don’t talk about them with everyone we meet?

Don’t forget that after the man testifies, he is rejected by some of the religious community. It can be hard to believe someone when they claim a miracle has happened, especially when we don’t experience it ourselves. I think we could all use a little more faith in our lives sometimes. Don’t let blindness come in between you and the great works of God.

The fact that the man is accepted by Jesus afterwards just points a good ending to the story. The man had already received the sight that he had been missing his whole life; it would be such a shame if he lost his faith immediately afterward because of the disbelief of the religious community.

 

Here are your main takeaways:

Sickness isn’t earned.

Prayer is powerful even today.

Tell everyone of the healing that you experience.

Have faith in your God’s works.

Know that Jesus is there to accept you when you are turned away because of your faith.

 

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

Healing!

matthew 11 5

The blind see, the lame man walks

The lepers spots are healed

The deaf hear and the dead are raised

And the poor are told the good news

Matthew 11:5 (Nathaniels mix and match from HCSB, NIV and NASB)

This week we will look at a few places where healing takes place in the Bible and how we can have healing in our own lives. Sometimes when we read stories about Jesus making the blind man see or the lame man walk, we feel that we are so far removed from that time. We feel that this kind of miraculous healing is reserved for the elect or for those of a different time. This week I am going to challenge that feeling and try to bring to light the healing that is available to us in this era.

 

Nathaniel Johnson

 

 

 

Be An Overcomer

Revelation 1 3

The Old Testament has 17 books of prophecy (5 Major Prophets and 12 Minor Prophets).  It is here that God’s messengers gave many warnings of what troubles and destruction would come to those who didn’t repent and live a life pleasing to God.  Many (though not all) of the prophecies recorded in these books have already taken place: destruction of ancient Israel and Judah, restoration for a remnant and the coming of the Messiah.

Similarly, the New Testament ends with one book of New Testament prophecy –  the book of Revelation.  And in it we read many warnings to those who don’t repent, accept Jesus and live a life pleasing to God.  Most of the prophecies recorded in this book have yet to come: destruction of the ungodly, the 2nd Coming of the Messiah, and restoration for the godly in the Coming Kingdom.

God sends this series of revelations to John (by way of Jesus and an angel).  He writes of what must soon take place and says, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (1:3).

In chapters 2 & 3 the seven churches in Asia are individually commended for what they were doing right (hard work, perseverance, not tolerating wicked men, etc…).  And, they were then challenged to work on other issues which required repentance and renewed commitment to truth and purity (not allowing false teachers and immorality, etc…).  These words are very applicable to us today.  We would be wise to consider what we as a church are doing well, as well as what we need to repent of and change.  Each church is challenged to listen well to what the Spirit has to say to the church, and promised that overcomers would be rewarded.

Then the vision turns to the throne room of God where a lamb, looking “as it had been slain” (5:6) breaks 7 seals from a scroll unleashing war, famine, and other disasters on the earth.  A dragon and two beasts, allied against God, arise to demand the worship of earth’s people who have not been killed in the earlier catastrophes.  Seven bowls of the wrath of God (reminiscent of the plagues on Egypt) bring disasters such as darkness, the most severe earthquake ever and huge hailstones.  The upheaval destroys Babylon the Great.  Next, the heavens open and the Savior, Messiah, King Jesus, also called the Word of God, appears on a white horse ready to lead heaven’s armies in destroying evil.  For 1000 years Christ reigns on earth while Satan, “that old serpent” (20:2) is bound and kept from deceiving more.  At the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released briefly to instigate a worldwide war, but never fear – it says as they surround the camp of God’s people fire from heaven will devour the enemy and Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire.  God unveils a new heaven and a new earth.  The new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, and God will dwell with men.  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (21:4).  There are so many more beautiful descriptions of the coming Kingdom on earth found in the last 2 chapters of Revelation.  It is truly something you don’t want to miss.  But, we know that many will, because of the decisions they are making today.

Just as Moses laid out for the people blessings and curses depending on what the people did, so too, John’s Revelation includes good news and bad news.  What will you do today to prepare for a Coming Kingdom?

Be an Overcomer

Marcia Railton