Healing Hopes

Psalm 107:20

He sent His word and healed them, and saved them from their destruction.

If you have read the Word of the Day for long you probably recognize this as my favorite healing verse. It came to mind recently but in a completely different context. This is the question it presented to me, “Can you use this to pray about the healing of nation?” I believe the answer is, “Yes.”

When I write the Word of the Day, I try to be sensitive to the challenges and mood of the global Christian community and to that of my own nation. I write to what my heart feels is the need. Additionally, I hear what people are saying especially as they articulate their feelings and concerns. I take those to the Father and ask for His help and guidance because I am completely invested in the premise that He is the answer. Today’s message is what I believe the Father answered me.

This year’s election has divided us. It probably would have looked much different but for the Coronavirus epidemic. People are more sensitive and emotional and really do feel the stakes are higher this year. Christians are in that lot too. Overall, as I asked Christians how they were praying to God about the election, most said their main prayer was that God take care of our country. As for the presidential race, Christians voted both parties. The reality check is that everyone of us probably voted for some people who won and some who lost but the common factor is that we all voted for the people we thought would do the best by our country. And we prayed. We asked our God to prevail.

Now comes the hard part. If we prayed and some of our candidates lost what does that mean for our faith? Here is what I believe Father God would have me broadcast across the country. God has not abandoned His throne, nor has He turned a mute ear to our prayers. He is listening and He cares. Now we have to respond to Him. We must invest our faith in Him and believe He has us in His hands. It is not the man in the Oval office that is the most important part of the picture. It is the God who reigns over us all. In our state elections as well as the presidential race, our faith must be towards God and reconciliation. We must pray for unity amongst us and faith in God to carry us forward.

This is so important. It is up to us to reunite this country. Christians need to show that we are people of faith. Do you believe, with me, that our God is bigger than politics? Can He turn the angry rhetoric into a language of reconciliation and cooperation? A house divided cannot stand. So, do we have what it takes to reunite as one people who stand together for love, justice and mercy? Can we stand, again, in the chasm of faithlessness and show the world that God reigns supreme and that He loves humanity? Please take some time to think about this. Let us turn our eyes to Jesus and fix our eyes on him so resolutely that the fire of 2020 politics grows cold in comparison. Jesus is the answer. He is the way. Let us all set aside our political opinions and take up the banner of one nation united under God, with freedom and liberty for all.

The Way

Ephesians 3: 11 – 12

This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

It is almost unfortunate that we call ourselves Christians and our faith Christianity. While we owe everything to our beloved Christ, sometimes we miss the prize of his faith. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14: 6). What did he mean by “the way” and why would he mention it before revealing himself as the truth and the life. Those are two rather large concepts to follow behind, “the way.” This is what I believe we sometimes lose in our Christianity, the truth behind this statement.

Yahweh God did a mighty restoration through Jesus. He restored us to Himself. This is the main work of the Christ. We were lost. We had no connection with the Father until Jesus came and made a bridge, actually, he became the bridge. We were separated from God. Now, through faith in Jesus and his work, we are made children of the King.

I have heard many Christians confess that they love Jesus, but do not know the Father. I was there myself. I had no relationship with the Father. I called myself a Christian which seems fair because I loved Christ, but it was God who sent Jesus into the world. He did that so that His family would be restored to Him. Jesus said that no one goes to the Father but through Him. That is what he meant by saying he is the way. He is the way back to the Father. Fellowship with the Father was the goal and Jesus became our way. Now, through our faith in Jesus’ completed work, we can have bold and confident access to the Father any time. This is the purpose of our faith and Jesus’ sojourn in the earth. It was about this reconciliation. Because of what God and Jesus did, we have access to God’s presence anytime.

At the end of the day, Christianity really isn’t about Christ. It is about the family of God being reunited. Of course Jesus’ role is vitally important but we need to keep our eyes on why God sent him in the first place. We were estranged from our Father and Dad wanted us back in the family.

It is imperative that now we seek audience with God. We seek His face and His presence. We seek Him and fellowship with Him until we know Him as Father, Dad, Papa. He should be as real to you as your earthly parents, if not more so. I encourage you to get to know your Father. Walk hand in hand with Jesus along the beach to where you see Father seated on the sand. Pull up a towel and bask in His radiance. He is real. He is love and he loves you. He wants to be a Father to you. Be His child.

Land of Contempt

Isaiah 9: 1

But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.

There has been a great reconciliation going on since the time of Jesus. God has always had it in His heart that ALL peoples should be welcomed into the family, even the Gentiles. When Jesus was eight days old he was taken to the temple in Jerusalem and a devout man named Simeon took Jesus into his arms and under the anointing of the Holy Spirit proclaimed that he was “A light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2: 32). Jesus even came from a Gentile land as we see above. 

Though certain lands appear to be cursed and the lands of undesirable people God has a plan for reconciliation. People often divide the world into “we” and “they” but God loves everyone. He sees everyone as a child of His. Some children do not honor their parents and run off in defiance but God loves one and all. 

We too once were errant children but many of us were fortunate to live in a land blessed by God, a land known by God and where God is known. But even as Jesus came from the other side of Jordan so will many others and they will find the grace of God awaiting them. There is no one too far gone that God cannot save. His hand is not too short to reach into lands treated with contempt and bring out children. Let us pray for the Lord of the Harvest to touch and save our friends, family and others who are figuratively living across the Jordan. Let us also pray for those lands which are estranged from God that they may find truth, love and mercy. There is darkness but the light is much greater.

The Old and the New

2 Kings 1: 7 – 8

And he said to them, “What kind of man was he who came up to meet you and spoke these words to you?”  And they answer him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

Elijah was a prominent figure in the age before Jesus.  If you read the Old Testament accounts of him you will be inspired.  But there is an interesting New Testament chapter to the story of Elijah and I think when you consider these New Testament connections you will perceive that our Father had a plan all along to bring redemption and grace into the world, and that He hasn’t changed.  Why is that important?  There are some great promises from the Father that are recorded in what we call the Old Testament and as such many Christians stumble over whether they can rely on what they perceive as Hebrew promises.  When you see that it is all one continuous strategy then you will appreciate that God made those promises to you just as much as whatever He may tell you today.  There is no Old or New Testament to God.  To Him there are just His kids and His plan to sweep us all into eternity with Him.

Let’s begin in Matthew Chapter 17.  Jesus, Peter, James and John were coming down the mountain where the three disciples saw Jesus transfigured before their very eyes.  Interestingly enough, while Jesus was in that transfigured state, lo, Elijah and Moses appeared and engaged in conversation with him.  Elijah made a New Testament appearance.  Not only did Jesus see him but also the three disciples saw him. 

When they witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus they began to understand something about this man whom they followed.  I believe in that moment when they beheld him in his glory they became believers that he was, in fact, the son of God.  They got a revelation of this man as the Messiah.  But as so often happens with revelation knowledge it inspired them to further thought and questions.  So, on the way down the mountain they questioned Jesus.  “Why then” they asked him, “do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?  Come first before what?  Before the Christ.  You see, they just got a revelation that this Jesus was the long awaited Messiah but immediately their theology jumped up in the way.  “How can this be the Messiah,” they mused, “when we have been taught that Elijah must come first?”  Obviously, they were asserting that Elijah had not yet come which is so interesting considering they were leaving a place where they had just seen Elijah.  Anyway, Jesus answered them.  I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished.” 

Consider Matthew 3: 4, “Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his waist.”  Now re-read today’s passage.  Do they seem similar to you?  This description of John the Baptist is in the Bible so that we can make the connection between him and Elijah, between the Old Testament and the New.  There is continuity between the two sections of the Bible and you can find many verses that have a sister scripture in the other testament.  But let’s continue on with Elijah.  There is an implication here, at the least, that John the Baptist was the Elijah that was to be the precursor of the Messiah.  Jesus does not want us to have any doubt or misunderstanding though so he comes right out and says, “And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come” (Matthew 11: 14). 

So what’s my point?  My point is that the “testaments” are an artificial construct.  Just like the chapter and verse designations, the testaments have been created in order to help us in studying the bible.  They are not meant to be divisive but rather instructive. Christians do themselves a great disfavor when they consider the first thirty-nine books of the Bible as belonging only to the Jews.  I am not suggesting we should live under the Levitical law but we certainly don’t want to cast aside the Psalms and the Proverbs.  Neither do we want to make those the only two Old Testament books we ever read.  There is a bunch of great stuff back there.  Besides, we are the heirs of Abraham in Jesus and if you want to see what our inheritance is, you are going to have to go to that Old book and read.  We certainly do not want to miss out on Deuteronomy 28: 1 – 14.  So enjoy your Old Testament and take possession of the promises of God and the revelation of His will.

Entering the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 7: 21 – 23

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you, DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

We are coming to understand that every person that says, “Lord, Lord,” will not necessarily enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is a fruit inspector. He is looking at the fruit we produce in our lives. Today’s passage is a continuation of what Jesus was teaching about good trees producing good fruit and bad fruit coming from bad trees; trees representing people. So, if the fruit is good we can judge the tree as good. If the fruit is bad, steer clear. We can know good fruit by determining if a person’s character traits line up or are consistent with Galatians 5: 22.  

We are also learning that no amount of “good works” is going to impress Jesus. We may say to him that we went to church every Sunday for 50 years, attended every event and have performed all sorts of miracles in his name, even casting out demons but even still if the fruit of the Spirit is not evident in our lives he will say to us, “I knew you not.” This would be a very frightening passage indeed if Jesus had not just taught verses 15 – 21, that he will judge us by our fruit rather than our works. That lets us know that we do not have to perform in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  

If you live in a works mentality you will never believe that you have ever done enough to earn your way into heaven and you will be right because there is nothing you could ever do that is even in the smallest way, even microscopically worthy of all that Jesus has done for you. He did not suffer enormous pain and humiliation so that we could try to impress the world, or him, with our good works. Here is the ridiculous truth. He did it all in exchange for our hearts. Wow! Didn’t he get a bad deal? That is all that he and the Father have ever wanted, our hearts and as small an offering as that may at times seem it is the greatest gift one can give.

Jesus tells us that the secret passkey to the Kingdom of Heaven is doing the will of the Father. The will of the Father is not hidden. He gave us an entire book in order to reveal His will for us. That is not to say that the Bible is a list of thousands of things we must do in order to fulfill God’s will. No, that is a works mentality again. If you read the Bible cover to cover you will see that there has always been just one thing. Over and over and over again Father has said the same thing. His desire, His will is for us is to receive Him as our God and Father and for us to be the people of His hand. He has always wanted a family, a people who will not rebel and leave Him. He is the Father in the story of the prodigal son. He just wants us to come home and love Him and allow Him to love us. This is the will of the Father. If you will open your heart and receive His love and allow Him to set up residence in your heart then He will receive you into the Kingdom of Heaven. And if you really want to see this in its fullness, once He has established His residency within you and you are living in Christ rather than in the flesh He has no way to stop you from entering the Kingdom of Heaven because you are in Christ and He in you, the Father in you, you in the Father and there can be no separation. You will never be separated from Christ or the Father for there is no power that can separate you from the love of the Father so you will have automatic entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, which you will just call home.