Monthly Archives: September 2016

God Still Heals

I believe God heals people. I always have believed it and I always will. I have a personal rule that when someone asks me for prayer, I pray with them on the spot. That way, they know I’ve prayed for them and later I don’t have a guilty conscience because I said I would and I didn’t. Because of this rule and my faith that God heals, I get calls often to pray with people. Recently, there have been a lot of calls. After I prayed for one person, my son said, “You pray about doctors a lot!” He hears me pray for these people and for the doctors who treat them. 

I don’t know why every person that’s prayed for doesn’t get healed. I’ve read tragic stories on social media of people who have been prayed for by thousands of people that didn’t receive their physical healing. A man who lost his 3 year old son recently said that his son’s death has provided him with more motivation to go to Heaven. Another man I know had been given six months to live because of cancer. Several months later, after lots of prayer, the cancer was gone from his body completely. God only knows why some are healed and others aren’t. Either way, it doesn’t change His ability.

Here are some verses in the Bible that speak about healing. May they boost your faith and bring you hope.

1. Lord, heal me and I will be completely well; rescue me and I will be perfectly safe. You are the one I praise!
Jeremiah 17:14 GNT

2. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Psalms 103:2-5 NASB

3. All the people were trying to touch Him, because [healing] power was coming from Him and healing them all.

4. Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
James 5:13-15 MSG

5. In the church God has put all in place: in the first place apostles, in the second place prophets, and in the third place teachers; then those who perform miracles, followed by those who are given the power to heal or to help others or to direct them or to speak in strange tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:28 GNT

6. Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
Matthew 8:7 NLT

7. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.
Isaiah 53:5 GNT

8. O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
Psalms 30:2 NASB

9. But for you who fear My name [with awe-filled reverence] the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go forward and leap [joyfully] like calves [released] from the stall.

10. He said, “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.”
Exodus 15:26 NLT

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Let’s Make A Deal

One of the game shows I grew up watching was “Let’s Make A Deal”. It’s a fun environment where the audience dresses up in ridiculous outfits hoping to be chosen by the host to come on stage. They can choose to trade what they have for what’s behind Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3. Sometimes, they would win a fabulous prize, but often they would get a Zonk (a worthless prize). There are a lot of times in life when we make bad trades. We sometimes trade moments of pleasure for a lifetime of regret. We sometimes trade happiness for a better paying job. Life is full of trades.

When Jesus was fasting in the wilderness, just before He began His ministry, Satan met Him and offered three trades. The first trade was to trade spiritual strength for a full belly. We know He was hungry and it must have been tempting to turn those stones into bread, but Jesus knew it wasn’t a good trade. Too often we are tempted to give up our spiritual significance for an insignificant morsel. In Luke 4:4, Jesus said, “It takes more than bread to really live” (MSG). 

In the second temptation, Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He would bow to him. The trade here was to displace God from the throne of His life and put Himself there. Satan still tries that with each of us. Our flesh wants to play “King of the Hill” with God for who’s in control. Like Jesus, we need to understand it’s a bad trade. Jesus reminded him and us that the way to a successful life is to worship the Lord with absolute single-heartedness. We can’t give in to the temptation to trade places with God on the throne of our life.

The third temptation of Jesus was to jump off the Temple and let the angels catch Him. Satan was asking Him to doubt God’s protection by testing it. Jesus knew God would send the angels if he fell, but to jump would appear to be an act of faith, but would really be an act of disbelief. That’s why Jesus quoted the commandment, “Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.” Our enemy often masks what you’re really trading to make us think we are doing something spiritual when really, we’re doing the opposite.

The best way to make sure you don’t trade for a Zonk, is to know God’s Word. It’s what Jesus used to look at each trade that was offered. Every one of us are tempted daily to make trades. We need to take a closer look at what we are being offered and what we are being asked to give up. Leading a Spirit led life, immersed in the Bible, will help you to make fewer bad trades. Whatever you’re being tempted with today, I hope that you will take a moment to look at it in the light of God’s Word and ask God to help you make the best choice.

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Come Here

One of my favorite songs in high school was “The Call” by Steven Curtis Chapman. I don’t think it ever made the top ten on Billboard, but it told a powerful story of some fisherman who left their nets on the waters edge. A man named Jesus had called them by name, and with reckless abandon, they walked away from everything they had known including their jobs and their family. The chorus of the songs says, “We will abandon it all for the sake of the call. No other reason, but for the sake of the call. Wholly devoted to live and to die for the sake of the call.”

For most of my life, I have imagined that scene. The sun was just coming up and there were fishermen all along the shores of Galilee. They were beside their boats cleaning their nets, tossing sticks and seaweed to the side. They were talking about the productivity, or lack there of, from the night before, and discussing where they would try tonight. That’s when, in Matthew 4:19, a stranger walked up and calmly said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” They put down their nets and started following Him.

I think I got most of it right, but what I didn’t get right was the “follow me” part. Jesus didn’t say that calmly. When you look at the original language, it was more of a, “Come here!” It was authoritative. When He spoke those words, it struck a chord with something in them, and they walked away from everything they knew. James and John walked away from their father. Imagine that conversation. It sounds crazy when you think about it, but that’s what happened. 

I took my five year old to a baseball game a few days ago. As we were walking through the crowd to find food, he kept wandering away. I found myself yelling, “Come here” a lot. He would run back to me, but would wander away before long. That’s how it is for many of us in our walk with Jesus. He’s constantly yelling us, “Come here!” We wander off, and He’s calling us back. The call He gives to all of us is to follow Him. He doesn’t stay in the same place. He’s constantly moving and drawing us into deeper relationship with Him. The question is, are you too settled in where you are to follow where He leads?

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Prove it

I think we can all agree that there is a difference between saying something and proving something. When we were kids, we all had that friend that told tall tales. He was related to famous people. He was going to be on TV. He had a hundred dollars. You name it, he either did it or had it. After a while, we found the phrase, “Prove it!” It turns out, he could tell you just about anything, but he couldn’t prove any of it. Without proof, we had no reason to believe the things he said.

When I was younger, I heard someone ask, “If you were to be accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to prove it?” That’s a tough question we should all think about. A court can’t convict anyone unless there is some form of evidence against them. In some cases, that evidence comes from first hand witnesses. Other times it comes from physical evidence left behind. What evidence are you leaving behind for others to know you are a Christian? Can others eye witnesses tell by how you live that you’re a Christian?

In Matthew 3:8, John the Baptist was out at the river baptizing people when the religious leaders came to take a look. One of the things he said to them was, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (NLT). He knew they were manufacturing false evidence to try to prove they were righteous, but their lives contradicted that evidence. Jesus later said they were whitewashed tombs. They looked good on the outside, but were full of death on the inside.

Today’s devotion is not to say that you earn salvation by your works – that’s what the religious leaders were trying to do. It’s saying when you truly experience the power of God in your life, it changes you. Your life changes inside and out. You find that going to church isn’t evidence that you’re a Christian – living for God is. When you experience the power of salvation, you begin to leave evidence everywhere that you have repented and followed Christ. My challenge to you today is to take an honest look at the evidence in your life. What does it point to? Is it manufactured or is it natural from a changed heart and life?

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First Responses Matter

In Luke 1, two different people are told by the angel Gabriel that something amazing will happen to them. They responded almost identically, yet one was punished and one was praised. One spent the next several months unable to speak, while the other used their voice to praise God. How we respond to the plans God has for us matters. When God first puts them in our heart, they scare us because they seem impossible to accomplish on our own. Through the years, I’ve discovered if God put it in you, it’s impossible to do on your own.

Zechariah was a man who was up in age. He was a faithful servant of God and even served as a priest in the Temple. One day, while performing his duties, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary to burn incense before God. After he entered, Gabriel appeared to him to bring him the message that his wife would become pregnant and have a son. In verse 18, Zechariah responded, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years” (NLT). It seems like a logical question, but it upset Gabriel to the point that he made Zechariah mute until the baby was born.

Mary was a young lady who was engaged to be married. She believed in God, but wasn’t involved in ministry. She was going about her normal business when Gabriel paid a visit to her. He gave her the incredible news that she would become pregnant while still a virgin. In verse 34, she responded, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Again, this is a logical response to the angel, but this time he wasn’t angry. Instead he gave an explanation. So what was the difference? Their responses are very similar.

One was born out of doubt and one out of faith. One saw the impossibility and questioned God’s ability, while the other’s faith made them curious. Look at their responses again. One wanted proof it would happen and the other wondered how God would accomplish His will. There’s a significant difference, and I think it’s important how we respond to the things God reveals to us. So many times we want proof from Him instead of trusting that He’ll do what He says. I don’t know what God placed in your heart, but I can imagine it’s pretty big. Instead of asking Him for proof, trust Him to do it, and be available as Mary was.

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The Power Of God’s Word

As Christians, reading God’s Word should be a part of our daily life. We should be so acquainted with it that it becomes integrated into our thought life. In the Psalms, David told us that he hide it in his heart, so that he wouldn’t sin against God. Think about how powerful a statement that is. Each one of us struggles with sin, but putting God’s Word in us can help us with that struggle. We are the ones responsible for putting it into own hearts, but that’s where so many of us struggle.

I struggled with it for years as well. It felt like a chore more than anything. I tried the chapter a day approach, but it wasn’t always meaningful. I began to pray that God would put a hunger in me for His Word. I wanted the desire to devour it, and God answered that prayer. The more I read it, the more I understand how important it is to keep putting it in me, if food is the main energy source for the body, then God’s Word is the main energy source for our spirit. Without eating, it’s hard to thrive.

Here are some verses in the Bible about the importance of God’s Word.

1. Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”
Luke 11:28 NLT

2. So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls.

3. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.
Ephesians 6:17 GNT

4. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? 
Psalm 19:11 MSG

5. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews 4:12 NLT

6. Your word, O Lord, will last forever; it is eternal in heaven.
Psalm 119:89 GNT

7. Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.

8. Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, God’s Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
1 Peter 1:22-25 MSG

9. When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.
Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

10. And we also thank God continually for this, that when you received the word of God [concerning salvation] which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its inherent, supernatural power in those of faith].

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This Little Light Of Mine

© International Space Station / Facebook

When you were little, I bet you sang this, “This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Don’t let Satan blow it out. I’m going to let it shine. Don’t let Satan blow it out. Im going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let us shine.” Good times right? I hope this song gets stuck in your head today because it carries a simple, but powerful truth: You have God’s light in you! Think about that. In the midst of any dark situation, you are filled with God’s light. Don’t hide it under a bushel.

Speaking of the light God placed in us, John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (NLT). As a kid, I was worried that Satan could blow it out, but now I know that darkness can’t extinguish it. That means that there’s nothing the enemy can bring against you that will put out the light God put in you. You can walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and not gave your light put out. You can be in a hole that either you dug or that life has thrown you in, and your light will still shine.

Today, I was looking at some pictures from the International Space Station (shown above). It had pictures of Italy, Spain, and several other countries at night. All throughout those photos, there were spots of light. It’s a great visual example of what God is doing. He knows that where there is light, darkness has to flee. Darkness is simply the absence of light. It can’t put out light. It can only exist where there is no light. Just like those photos showed lit up areas in the middle of the night, so should our lives light up the darkness around us.

When we accept Christ, we have the true light living in us. Therefore, wherever we go, darkness has to flee. Whether your light is small and dim or big and bright, it chases darkness away. I know there are days when my light doesn’t feel very powerful, but even on my weakest days, the light in me is stronger than any darkness. In Matthew 5, Jesus said we are like a city set on a hill that can’t be hidden. If you’ve ever seen a city on a hill at night, you know what He’s talking about. Go be that light to someone today – God knows someone needs your light in their life.

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