A Healing Presence

“Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” (John 11:36-37).

I have been studying John chapter eleven for a sermon that I will preach in the next few weeks.  Mary and Martha were shaken by the death of their brother Lazarus and the conspicuous absence of Christ. These sisters have so many questions, and only Christ can answer them yet, all they have is to turn to are those who I like to call the “uncomforters.”

One of the things that struck me is that the people who you want around in a time of problems are never there and those that you do not want around are always there.

 It is still is quite a picture how the comforters follow Mary and Martha around. They are like Job’s friends they are better at crying than counsel. I think most of us would have been better off born without the ability to have an opinion.

 This waiting  is the best and worst of times, yet we desperately need a period where we wait. It reveals if we are sincerely resting upon the Lord and leaning upon his promises or still looking to other people or things.  For it is in that time when there is no answer, no light, no activity that faith is born, built and strengthened. Faith is always born healthiest as an only child.

Sadly, the longer people go through something, there is more opportunity there is for insensitive preaching, weird advice and bad counsel. People going through the pain are like the lame man who was in the temple that Jesus passed by many times.  In Acts 3 Peter and John prayed for that man with empty pockets but full spirits and he was healed in the name of Christ. 

The truth is that we see people in our church in pain with chronic issues and we are tired of looking at them, or we think they don’t “get it.” whatever “it” is.  In reality we are the ones who do not  “get it” and they definitely do not “get it.” So we give “it” to them anyway usually in the form of cheap spiritual advice. Look, if you cannot heal or help the problem people have, then it is better you throw them a few bucks or some “silver and gold” than talk them to death.

When people get around the religious cheerleaders, spiritual quacks and misguided guru’s  people’s faith is confused and even paralyzed. When you are going through something you feel like moving to another state and changing your phone number. Everybody knows what you should do except you. You get around well-meaning people who treat you like a religious lab rat and experiment on you with all the latest and greatest stuff.  We learn from Job that you can have people quoting the Bible to you and they do it wrong and have no wisdom. Even the best medicine administered in the wrong dose and at the wrong time can cause ill effects.

We should not intimidated by pain. Jesus never shied away from confronting pain with compassion. If you are breathing, walking and talking then God can use you by filling you with the Spirit of Christ as you just are there for others.  Pain can make us a healing presence because God shows his tenderness and strength through us.

Love drives us to those in pain, because we have learned from experience that Christ is not intimidated by life’s problems. He stayed with us and strengthened us in our past trials. We know what hurt is. It hurts us to see them hurt. We are able to bring comfort to others in need because we have received comfort from the God of every comfort so we can comfort others. People who have not learned from their pain are uncomfortable.

The more pain the more comfort we receive. The comfort we receive the more we can give to others so they can patiently endure suffering (see 2 Cor. 1:3-7).

Today, instead of going to make something happen, or counseling people with some religious guesswork and theories we should just go with the love of Christ in our hearts so his loving smile and his healing presence could be felt by them through us.

 

© 2011 Stephen S. Gibney Soul Health Care

All material may be reproduced and distributed for edification, just leave a note that it was our article, please!

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Anatomy of Apostasy

“For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.” (2 Chr. 28:19).

King Ahaz appeared to be a great solution to Judah’s problems. In the end he would be a nightmare. When we read the Bible we see these men as monsters with blood dripping from their fangs.  This is not true. He appeared to be a leader much like any politician appeared to be, with new ideas promoting the history of Israel as a nation, the need for economic recovery and bi-partisan leadership.  I am sure that the nation of Judah thought at first that it was about time that an open-minded, tolerant and progressive King ruled the land. Evil is not always so dramatic at first, in fact it seems so practical. Yet shrouded beneath this veneer God sees the heart and what he sees disgusts him, thus we see his record in the scriptures.

When Ahaz first began to reign, he reimagined and reinvented the worship of God by placing idols in God’s temple (1 Kings 16).  He did not completely replace the LORD with false gods; he just placed other gods side by side with Yahweh. This is called pluralism today, but we used to call it polytheism. It is an ideology that promotes coexistence of all religious paths as equally valid. The Bible describes people today in this horrible state,“A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.” (Hosea 4:12NIV). It is idolatry.

I thank God for the internet; it can promote biblical teaching and evangelism but it is clear that this philosophy has saturated our culture and all the religions once separated by continents are now available via the world-wide web. It has created confusion and has become a snare and a trap to people worldwide. There is so much religious noise, offering many ways to God and salvation. Christians cannot compromise. The Bible is clear: there is only one God (the Trinity) and one Holy Book (The Bible) and one way to Salvation (Jesus Christ). There is no other way, no other God. Yahweh is jealous he will accept no rivals. He decimates the competition for they are dead idols invented by the imaginations of men. It was no surprise that King Ahaz ended up shutting down all the worship of Yahweh because it is incompatible with idolatry (2 Chr 28: 24-25). He cut himself off from the salvation of God by closing the doors to God’s house.

Ahaz worshipped idols that involved the worst kinds of practices and lifestyle imaginable. He sacrificed his sons by burning them alive in offering to the false god Moloch or Molech. “The image of Moloch was a human figure with a bull’s head and outstretched arms, ready to receive the children destined for sacrifice. The image of metal was heated red-hot by a fire kindled within, and the children were laid on its arms and rolled off into the fiery pit below. In order to drown the cries of the victims, flutes were played, and drums were beaten; and mothers stood by without tears or sobs, to give the impression of the voluntary character of the offering.” (Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” 1915; Public Domain).

I am sure they had someway even then of justifying these gruesome murders. They wanted to make it clear to do this was the choice of the parents, it was acceptable in that culture and all the arguments they used-we use. It is horrifying how they could present this as so relevant or even political in their day.

This is what the Bible calls an abomination or a practice that is repulsive and disgusting to God. God says, “I will resolutely reject that man and his family, and him and all who join him in prostituting themselves in the rituals of the god Molech I will cut off from their people…” (Lev. 20:5-7NLT). We may not bow down to statues in our country, and we may be taken back by the practice of the Molech worshippers in the day of Ahaz, but  what shall we say to this abortion ridden world, that is covered with torrents of blood from murder of babies by the millions. There are 42 million estimated abortions annually and 115,000 per day worldwide.  This is a holocaust of human life that has become the norm. God is sickened by this vile murderous demon that is worshipped worldwide.

God will come in justice!  “The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.” (Isa 11:14NLT). This won’t happen with the bombing of some clinic as madmen in the past have done. No. God will repay them to the face. There will be no doubts. In this day and age where people do as they feel and reject God’s laws- they fail to see God coming with just anger against this vile practice. They won’t even see him coming but it will no doubt be Him.

Ahaz was eventually losing against the pagan nations around him. You would think Ahaz would turn to God in this time and repent of his sins but instead, Isaiah asks Ahaz, “Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?” (Isa. 7:13).  Despite the warnings of Isaiah, Micah and Hosea the prophets-Ahaz worshipped every idol he thought would save him from his enemies, “In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me. But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.” (2 Chr. 28:22-23NLT).  How sad is the life with no touch of God upon it!

Ahaz was like so many today, he starts looking at Christianity as just a traditional religion, a religion identified with a certain political party and desires to worship the new or more relevant, contemporary gods because he is deceived by the idol worshipper’s temporary success! Paganism has become vogue, the eastern religions that have destroyed their own countries with vile practices are now part of the pluralistic country in which we live. These false gods cannot save!  It is ironic to read that, “the LORD his God handed him over to the king of Aram. The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners and brought them to Damascus.” (2 Chr. 28:5)

This is a state everyone should be afraid of, a place where, a person, “is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.” (Prov. 5:22NLT).  How many addicts testified of this type addiction where they said there was a point when they stopped using drugs and the drugs started using them. But this is not just an addiction to drugs or alcohol but an addiction to sin: this where people stop sinning and sin starts using them. Sin runs unchecked! God deliver us from such a state! It is the worst form of spiritual slavery and self-deception. The Bible says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thess. 2:11-12NIV).

 

© 2011 Stephen S. Gibney Soul Health Care

 

All material may be reproduced and distributed for edification, just leave a note that it was our article, please

 

Take Out The Trash

“Carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.” (2 Chron. 29:4-5AV).

King Hezekiah has to clean up the mess left by his apostate father King Ahaz.  Ahaz had worshipped the revolting idol-demon Molech and set up golden images of the chief Phoenician idols or the Baalim (2 Chr. 28). He practiced idolatrous rites in God’s temple (2 Kings 16) and then prohibited the worship of Yahweh altogether. He refused to hear the prophets, led spiritual leaders astray and even killed the priests that did not compromise their faith in Yahweh. “For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.” (2 Chr 28:19).   We all know that an idol is something that is worshipped other than the true God. It is a substitute for God. It is anything that conflicts with the rightful rule and supremacy of God in any aspect of our lives. It is an idolatry that is not obvious. It is hidden. It could be a secret sin, defiant attitude, malicious thought or anything that disturbs our fellowship with God. God sees it as trash, spiritual refuse, heart garbage, spiritual pollution. We must take out the trash!

Hezekiah had no program of reform other than restoring true worship. The king’s focus was not on turning the heart of the people, but pleasing the heart of God. He is an example  to us that we must seek to glorify God, and in doing that we base our confidence. Our confidence is not in the flesh, or human ability, manipulation or ideas. Hezekiah like Enoch, “had this testimony that he pleased God” (Heb 11:5). The questions we need to ask are, “Lord is this my testimony? Is this not only what people see but what you see? Is this your witness of my life?”   The purpose of cleansing the house of the Lord is that we might glorify Christ. How different is this attitude from those who want to use the programs and ideologies of men and slap a sticker of divine endorsement on what they do. They love the praise of men more than the praise of God. They are deluded and need to take out the trash. It is God we want first and foremost and as we do what pleases Him he will do what he promised. When Jesus is lifted up, He will of His own will and power, draw all men unto Himself (Eph. 1:11).

Hezekiah grabbed hold of the remaining ministers and Pastors that had not been corrupted or killed by Ahaz and said, “Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.”  (2 Chr. 29:4-5AV).  The call to clean the holy place was not an option, it was a command. Take the trash out of the house of God! Throw out the filthy pollution and garbage out from the Holy Place. The Awakening that took place in Ephesus involved bringing garbage not only to the curb but the incinerator. “Many of those who thus believed came out of the closet and made a clean break with their secret sorceries. All kinds of witches and warlocks came out of the woodwork with their books of spells and incantations and made a huge bonfire of them. Someone estimated their worth at fifty thousand silver coins.” (Acts 19:18-19 Message). That music is trash-silence it! That heretical doctrine is trash-toss it!  That practice is unbiblical trash-stop it!

“So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the Lord they brought out to the court of the house of the Lord” (2 Chron 29:16). When the priests entered the holy place, they entered in secret before God. They were to remove those things which were defiling this sacred place. No one else had seen this desecration. They brought out the unclean things. What was unholy was exposed publicly and removed. It is our private, inner life which needs this deep cleansing. It is in this very place, this chamber of our deepest secrets that we must renounce those things hidden because of shame and, in humility of soul, receive Christ’s cleansing word (John 15:3).

This cleansing must become a way of life, but it does not have to take a lifetime. For Hezekiah and the people with him, it occurred in a matter of a few days. “Thus the service of the house of the Lord was established again. Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly” (2 Chron 29:35-36).  The key here is this: the cleansing of the temple was the highest priority of  Hezekiah’s life. When we are fully engaged in the process of repentance, breakthroughs can come about suddenly. Indeed, the prophet Malachi tells us that the Lord “whom You seek, will suddenly come to His temple” (Mal 3:1). As we restore the house of the Lord to purity and cleanse the holy place of our hearts for Christ, He will indeed come “suddenly” into our midst.

When Jesus returns suddenly he will come for a, “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Eph. 5:27NIV). He calls to us and says, “It is time to plant righteous living and harvest mercy. It is time to break up the hard ground of your hearts, it is time to seek the LORD until He comes and rains righteousness on you. Don’t just show outward regret or sorrow, rip open your heart and return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you.” (see Hosea 10:12; Joel 2:13).

May He suddenly and wonderfully visit you today as you determine to take out the trash.

© 2011 Stephen S. Gibney Soul Health Care

All material may be reproduced and distributed for edification, just leave a note that it was our article, please