There are so many reasons why God sent Jesus to us – to save us, to give us eternal life, to give us instant contact with his Dad 24/7, to heal us, to radically change our hearts and minds, to suffer and experience EVERYTHING and every emotion that we will or can ever experience, to prepare the way for the Holy Spirit to be ours so that we can do what he did….
One thing Jesus NEVER did was tease or taunt people where salvation, healing, miracles, health, or our destiny are concerned. The addendum I put in yesterday’s blog I just want to re-emphasise. I hear from many people that they ‘don’t have enough faith’ for their healing, that they’re ‘not worthy of God’s healing’ – often because, in the past, somewhere, they’ve been told ‘You don’t have enough faith, that’s why’…. Jesus NEVER said, ‘You need to go to hospital, I can’t do anything about what you’ve got wrong’, or ‘Go home, and keep taking the tablets’, or ‘Hmm, you need surgery, really’….
What DID ‘the church’ (people) do to itself? In the gospels, (and throughout the New Testament), Jesus never said to someone, ‘Your lack of faith is the reason you aren’t healed!’ There WERE times when he said ‘Your faith has made you well’, but mostly, he healed people who had little or no hope or expectation, or were looking in the wrong place, or for the wrong thing – like the man at the gate of the temple, in Acts 3. No faith that after almost 4 decades, he’d ever be healed, and just wanted money. Trying to get Christians to believe that they can do what Peter did that day is so, so hard. But WE ALL CAN.
And, if we know we have the Holy Spirit in us, then we can speak with the same confidence as Peter. Don’t forget, that it was only a few weeks earlier he’d denied Jesus, and a few days after that quaking in fear of his life with the other disciples, because their ‘world’ had ended, and Jesus was dead. Even THEY didn’t believe, or have the faith, that what Jesus said he’d do, HE’D DO! ‘In three days, this temple will be up and running again’ (the Paulus Bennisonus paraphrase!).
Yet that transformation in Peter, especially, was remarkable. Perhaps I’m alone in having always thought (and often heard sermons of others like it) that Acts 3:4 began with Peter saying, ‘Silver and gold….etc’. It doesn’t. It begins with an amazing declaration of faith in who Peter was, what he now KNEW he’d got: ‘Look at us!’
He’s saying, in those 3 words, ‘We’ve got what you need, not what you want’ – saying it confidently, and all that had changed was that he’d been filled the Holy Spirit. And if we have, we can say, ‘Look at me!’ The cripple had NO faith, no expectation but for a few denarii. So did Peter say, ‘You’ve got no faith! I can’t heal you?’ Nope. And, of course, you know the rest of the story, with thousands finding salvation and faith in God.
The wonderful American prophet, Dutch Sheets (I always hope that one day, I’ll hear that he and his wife called their children Egyptian Cotton, and Polyester!) says: ‘The only faith that God needs is the faith that you are willing to TRY and obey’. Doesn’t that take the pressure off of you? And don’t forget, after the disciples miserable failure, in Matthew 17:14ff, Jesus whacked them around the head (verbally, of course!) – ‘You unbelieving and perverse generation!…’How long shall I put up with you?’ – only to say 4 verses later, ‘Nothing is impossible FOR YOU’….
I have to confess, and maybe I’m alone here, but certainly in the first half of my life, maybe the first three-quarters, I NEVER heard anyone tell me that. But IT’S TRUE!!!!! And, until Acts 3, the disciples didn’t believe it, either…..Then they went after it with the same confidence, the same Holy Spirit, the same authority, that was in Jesus – and it’s in you and me, too. In Colossians 1:19, Paul writes, ‘For God was PLEASED to have all of his fulness dwell in him (Jesus)’ – and in John 20:21, Jesus said, ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you’… with ALL OF THE FULNESS OF GOD IN US.
But most of us live as though we’re pretty powerless, and still pray begging prayers to God for healing: ‘Lord, please, if it’s your will…’ – it’s time that phrase was erased from our brain hard-drives. We KNOW God’s will: I am the God who heals. Using that phrase is our excuse to blame God or someone else if a person isn’t healed. Jesus didn’t heal everyone: he DID heal ALL who came to him, and others he felt his Dad lead him to: like at the Pool of Bethesda, one man in a multitude (Biblically that seems to mean at least 5,000), and to be honest, Jesus was quite ‘brutal’ with him: ‘Do you WANT to be well? Well, get up then!’ Of course, there will be people who God has an alternative plan for: my dad would be one of those people, a wonderful, Spirit-filled man whom the then-pastor of our (then) church, likened to Stephen – ‘A man full of the Holy Spirit and faith’ – but at 41, he went to be with Jesus. I wish I could answer the question, ‘Why?’ but I can’t: God is sovereign.
For years, I pussy-footed it around praying, often long, begging prayers, until one day, I heard so clearly, almost (maybe it was) audibly, ‘Get on with it! Declare it, like Jesus did!’ Since that day, the acceleration in ‘success’ rates (no, I don’t keep a percentage record or a log of all the healings! – in fact, often, by the time I get back to where I’m staying, and write the blog, I’ve forgotten many of them!)…. I once heard a wonderful theologian say that the longest ‘be healed’ occurrence in Jesus’s ministry was a mere 11 words….
‘I tell you the TRUTH: ANYONE who believe in me WILL do what I have been doing, and greater things than these you’ll do, because I’m going to the Father’. John 14:12, I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you of that verse! That’s become my watchword now. I’m still looking forward to the ‘greater things’ – and thoroughly enjoying doing the ‘ordinary’ stuff that Jesus did.
We can COMMAND in Jesus’ Name…. mostly, we don’t: perhaps it’s worth considering that that’s another reason WHY we don’t see in the western world what happens in so many countries. Samuel Lamb, a much-persecuted Pastor in Guangzhou, China, who had, by the time I first met him in 1987, seen many raised from the dead (it was in his church I met the first-ever two ex-dead people I’d EVER met…. something happens inside you when you’ve shaken hands and held people who have been dead, and are alive again, by the Power of the Holy Spirit), always used to hold his enormous Bible in my face (it looked enormous ‘cos he’s such a small bloke! – but a giant in the Kingdom), and ask me, ‘What’s your problem, Paul? It’s ALL in here. And if it’s in here, it’s going to happen. And it will either happen because of you, or despite you and without you’.
Those days, and visits into China, and Samuel and other pastors, changed my life forever. It’s a shame that it wasn’t a pastor from the UK, or USA, or Australia, who told me I could do it: but I’ll tell you – ‘YOU CAN DO WHAT JESUS DID, AND GREATER THINGS….’ – and imagine my big burgundy coloured Bible being pushed into your face!
And that’s why we celebrate Christmas: because heaven touched earth, kissed it with truth and reality, and God LONGS for us to pick the WHOLE truth up, and run with it….
But first, maybe we have to repent of the generational, inherited unbelief I wrote about yesterday???? Don’t forget, unbelief and faith can’t live in the same place. If Jesus could do no miracles because of unbelief, how on earth will we if we still carry that unbelief, even though we might not be aware of it?
Have a very blessed Christmas, my dear friends!