God is Still Our Healer

matt 11 5

“The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:5). This was true when Jesus said it 2000 years ago and it is still true today. God is alive and active in our world. I hope I have made that clear through my stories this week. He still heals the blind, he still makes the lame man walk, He still cures the leprous, He still makes the deaf hear, and of course we know that He will raise the dead to life.

From the story of the blind man, we learned that God still heals our physical afflictions and healing shouldn’t be our end goal. After you are healed, you need to tell people about it! Our memory verse from Matthew says that the Good News was preached to the poor. We can’t neglect that part of our healing. We need to let others know how Great our God is and let them know that they can receive healing, too.

From the story of legion, we learned that God still heals our mental afflictions. If you have a demon in your life, something that has taken over your every action, God can take that away. Maybe He intends to do that through prayer, like in my story, or maybe He intends to heal you through the knowledge that He has placed in doctors. Once again, we need to be sure to share the good news of our healing once it happens.

From the story of being devoured by a lion, we learned that God still heals our emotional afflictions. God can lift the burdens of this world of our shoulders. Sometimes God doesn’t follow the timetable that we want him to, but that doesn’t mean he has forsaken us.

From the story of regeneration and renewal, we learned that God still heals our spiritual afflictions. Finding forgiveness from God is easy in concept but hard in practice. The Truth will set us free so long as we know the Truth and we continue in the teachings of Jesus. This means turning away from past sin and moving in the right direction.

From the story of the Law, we learned that God still heals us through the observance of His Law. God gave His law to Moses in order to protect the Hebrews from disease. Even though we don’t follow the law of the old testament, the principles still apply in modern medicine. Get check-ups and listen to the doctors that have the knowledge of nature bestowed upon them by the One who created nature.

God is Still Our Healer.

Nathaniel Johnson

 

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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

 

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

 

 

 

Warning: Lethal Wound

Psalm 38

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I am afraid we have an ugly topic to talk about today.  It’s no fun, but it has to be done.  It is more fun to talk about sunshine, knitting and fruit salad (see the last two days’ posts).  But when we don’t talk about this topic and acknowledge it and be on the defensive against it, it has a way of festering, oozing out of control and taking over by force – consuming ourself and others in its path of destruction.

I am talking about sin.  One verse toward the end of yesterday’s psalm about trials points to the seriousness of sin: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18) .  Ouch.  The All-Powerful God who loves and cares for me will not hear my prayers, my petitions, or even my praise if my sin is creating a sound-proof barrier between me and Him.  His holiness will not allow it.  Sin is serious and must be dealt with in order for me to be heard by God.

King David was a man who knew a thing or two about the devastating effects of sin.  In Psalm 38 he describes many consequences of sin: God’s anger and discipline, ill health, overwhelming guilt, searing pain, severe depression, social isolation, increased enemies, and confusion.  What other consequences can you find in this psalm?  He states, “My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.” (Psalm 38:5).

The thing is…”sinful folly” sounds just a wee bit fun, doesn’t it??  Maybe it’s a glance at pornography, experimenting with friends doing drugs or alcohol, speeding recklessly down the interstate with some great tunes cranking out, making out with your significant other, or getting a good laugh out of the lunch crew when you share a great put-down.  It’s a little exhilarating – for a time.  And that’s the trouble with sin.  It can start by seeming like no big deal.  I highly doubt that King David woke up one morning and said, “This is the day.  I am going to go watch a woman bathe, and then commit adultery and that will lead to deception, murder, the death of my child, a plaque of violence on my family, and ….   No one plans to be sucked into a downward spiral of sin, deceit and pain.  Rather, it begins with small acts of selfishness – thinking of my own pleasure over and above what is right, pleasing to God and helpful to others.  And then the demon of pride enters and says we can handle this burning coal and we won’t get burned.  So, we say yes to that little urge of ‘sinful folly’.

Before we know it, we are facing festering wounds and a forest fire.  And the good-feeling exhilaration is long gone.  In it’s place is only pain, isolation, depression, guilt and confusion.

Sadly, this is not true for only adulterous murderers.  It is the same for me.  It is the same for you.  It is the same for the most saintly person you know.  In the New Testament James gives the same warning David does: “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15).  Sin is a big deal, and not just for the sinner, but for so many others who will be affected.

I was looking for a great picture of gangrene to open this devotion.  They were much worse than I had anticipated (as is the case with sin) so I will not include an actual visual.  But, imagine, blackened decaying flesh surrounded by raw, oozing, pain.  Death has set in – even while the rest of the body lives.  Sin, left unchecked and allowed to grow, is like this extreme infection.  It leads to death most certainly – if not treated.  Sin, too, must be treated, and the earlier the better.  Psalm 38:18 shares the first important step to restoration: “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.”  Tear down the sound-proof barrier your sins have built up between you and God.  Cry out to him in confession.  Thank God for the gift of His Son Jesus Christ who died so we might be forgiven when we come to the Father with a repentant heart, ready to be obedient in turning from our sins and seeking to live a holy life.

Even gangrene can be healed.  It requires hard dirty work (sometimes even using amputation or maggots) – a process of cutting out and destroying the old which causes death.  Maybe a friend who is a bad influence needs to be cut out, or maybe it’s a TV channel or social media.  And, then a lot of antibiotics and sometimes lifestyle changes are needed to return to health. God’s Word, prayer, a church body and healthy habits are great antibiotics for a repentant sinner.

Remember our memory verse for this week from Psalm 139:24 – “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Sin is serious – even when it starts small.  Don’t let sins fester.  Pray for conviction where conviction is due, and healing and restoration where that is needed.  And seek out the everlasting way.

-Marcia Railton