Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 18 October 2015
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Not Healed Yet
Rolland and Heidi Baker: Reckless Devotion: 365 Days
into the Heart of Radical Love, Chosen Books 2014, [Devotion Title: God’s Way
Is the Best Way]: We have an amazing boy who lives with us called Aselmo. I
love him so deeply. He is so full of joy and passion for Jesus. He was born
with club feet, so he doesn’t walk very well. For some reason we don’t
understand, Aselmo has been in many meetings where healings take place, but as
of yet, God has not healed him.
One day we were on an outreach trip, and Aselmo was along. I became aware in my spirit that some of my kids were being given words from God. “Which one of you has a word of knowledge?” I asked and a whole bunch of them raised their hands, including Aselmo.
“God’s going to heal someone who can’t walk well,” he said, brimming over with excitement.
I couldn’t help but hope it was going to be him. “Please, Lord, let it be today. Let it be my boy!” I pleaded in the quiet of my heart. No one moved or came forward.
Aselmo spoke the word again, “Jesus is going to heal someone who can’t walk.”
Out of the shadows came a woman. She was bent over from years of carrying a heavy burden. What looked like a sack on her back was actually a three-year-old little girl who couldn’t walk. Aselmo looked at me with his cheeky grin. When the mama put her on the dirt, the girl fell over like a rag. She had no working muscles that could hold her up. She appeared to be lifeless, but she was breathing.
Aselmo put his young hands on this child, and the power of God hit that little girl’s body like an electric shock. She moved and strengthened in front of us. Her frame started to take shape almost like a puppet, drawn out of lifeless sleep. She sat up! Her mother started weeping, and Aselmo grinned. This little one was healed. Hallelujah!
God does not do things our way. His understanding and His ways are not ours. I trust Him with my little guy, as I do with everything. You can trust Him with your unknowns, too. He knows so much that we don’t know
Heidi absolutely loved Aselmo and she absolutely wanted him healed. But God healed other people, not Aselmo, not the one that Heidi carried so deeply in her heart (like a mother). God even used Aselmo to heal other people who had worse conditions than his own, but Aselmo himself would not be healed. He would always go home, walking on club feet (a disabling deformity from birth).
I know that Bill Johnson, another leader of Revival Alliance (a world-wide revival movement), has a son, Eric (the oldest), who is 85 to 90% deaf in both ears. Bill Johnson writes: “He has an amazing gift for life. He functions beautifully in the ‘hearing world’ and has never had to learn sign language. His adjustments to life are miraculous, while his self-esteem is unaffected by this handicap. It is strong and Christ-centred.” But he is not being healed – at least, not yet – despite the commonness of the miracle of healing in Bill Johnson’s ministry and even in the work of his son Eric. He writes: “It’s interesting that the healing of deafness is one of the most common miracles I see in my meetings and in our church. Even more interesting to note is that Eric has laid hands on many people who were deaf and God opened their ears. How could that happen without him being healed first? I don’t know.”
How frustrating it is when the ones that you love – or maybe you yourself – are not healed even though you believe in God’s healing promises and others around you get touched with God’s healing love and grace. How do you cope with the conundrum – the apparent neglect of God and the disappointment? You had your hopes up – yet again – but to no avail. What’s going on?
Jesus, the Son of God, demonstrated that he was in the healing business – Acts 10:38 “… He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil …” And, by his command, we – as his followers – are to do the same – Matthew 10:8: “Heal the sick.” God wants people to be healed. At the heart of the Christian faith, God – in the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ – reveals his healing will: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). [Expand in preaching.] All of this is absolutely true. But still some like Aselmo and Eric, core members of the Christian community, remain stuck in their ailments while others, even fringe members and unbelievers, get their miracle and jump for joy. What’s going on?
And how do Aselmo (and Heidi) and Eric (and his dad, Bill) manage to remain so positive? Aselmo was brimming with excitement when he received the word that God was going to heal someone who could not walk. Before the healing, he looked over to Heidi with a cheeky grin and, after God healed the impossible condition of a three-year-old, he just kept grinning. Eric also seems to thrive – no low self-esteem, no pulling back from Jesus but centring his entire life around him, no pulling back from praying for healing.
Do Aselmo (and Heidi) and Eric (and his dad, Bill) know why they are not being healed? No. Is it confusing for them? Yes. But why is this not more of a problem for them? Why do they not walk away from God – offended and bitter (like many others)? I think that they have seen too much of God’s goodness. God is healing people all around them (what an adventure to be used by God and have a front row seat when God performs miracles) and his grace is also sufficient for them. God kept the apostle Paul suffering from a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) and, in his case, Jesus even spelled out the reason for doing so (2 Corinthians 12:7: “to keep me from becoming conceited”), but – importantly – encouraged him not to dwell on the “thorn” but his grace, saying: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Club feet, deafness, whatever ailment remains – none of these will short-change any of us because God’s grace is sufficient for you. His power thrives on your weakness. God’s breakthrough goodness thrives on your impotence. The apostle Paul writes from experience – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9: “…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” [Added note: It was not just about Paul but his greater release for service through his thorn. It is not always about us.]
A sickness may remain but Jesus’ grace is always sufficient for you and me, and his power actually thrives when we are so weakened by a “thorn” that we cannot get in the way of what he wants to do through us. Club feet and deafness are not signs of rejection by God. Jesus demonstrated on the cross that he loves us. He is not rejecting us – under no circumstances – and this truth holds firm even when a healing does not come as soon as we pray for it. God is always good.
God is always good but what if the sickness remains for reasons of judgement? What if there is no healing breakthrough because God takes note of the sin in our lives (our selfishness, greed, unbelief, whatever) that separates us from him and he withholds his healing from us (or chooses not to overcome this sin resistance without our cooperation)? How do we feel about the goodness of God then – when he is holding back from us because we fall short of his standards of glory and holiness?
One day, Jesus and his disciples came across a man who had been blind since birth. And the disciples asked Jesus this question – John 9:2: “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” This question was not a bad question. It was an informed question. The disciples knew something about the possible causes of sickness. “Who sinned?” Who is to blame for the sickness – the man himself or his parents?
When Jesus had healed another man, who had been lame for thirty-eight years, he said to him – John 5:14: “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” Jesus could not have been any clearer in his warning of the man. Any further sinning would threaten his newfound healing. He told him to stop sinning because sin – disobedience against God – a lack of holiness – separates us from God and makes us vulnerable to sickness which in every form is a curse – (a curse which none of us escape completely this side of eternity because we will all die).
How do you like to be blamed for your sickness? How do we together – as a church – like to be blamed for a lack of healing power in our midst? Is this nice of God? Is he still good – always? Does his goodness have limits which make him stand back from us when we sin?
In one of his talks, a pastor lists 30 Bible reasons why God may not heal a person and all 30 reasons put the blame squarely on our shoulders – either on individual persons or the community. I give you a taste of what he is saying:
Todd Bentley: 30 Reasons Why Miracles Do Not Happen: … UNBELIEF: Mark 6:1-6: “Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him … Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief.” There is more than one kind of unbelief, like personal unbelief that hinders healing. There is unbelief in a city like Nazareth that can hinder the corporate healing.
Then as we will see in Matthew 17, unbelief in a nation or generation can hinder healing as well. Matt 17:19-20 19: “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’” …
SIN: James 5:16: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Jesus spoke to the man crippled 38 years at the pool about sin and sickness. John 5:14: “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.’”
PRAYER AND FASTING: When there is not enough prayer and fasting it can also hinder healing in our life. Matt 17:21: “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Psalm 35:13-14: “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart. I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.” Isa 58:6-8: “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? … Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”
PRIDE: 2 Kings 5:10-11: “And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, ‘Indeed, I said to myself, “He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.” …’”
Naaman nearly failed to receive healing because of his pride and position. I have been in meetings where God would not heal somebody because they judged in a pride attitude. I don’t have to go up to the front to be healed; or I am not falling down. They resist God through pride and fear of losing position if there seen having a man lesser or younger than them pray for them. Be first at the altar to receive from children and young people. Respond to the man of God, I will do anything the Lord says. I don't care if I seem vulnerable and somebody might think why he is at the altar. Our ministry persona may hinder the blessing of healing because too many times we are the ones doing ministry to the people to receive from another is to suggest we do not have it together …
FEAR: Job 3:25: “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me and what I dreaded has happened to me.” Many times fear is the door the enemy uses to pass along generational sickness when we believe we are going to inherit this because my Mother and great, great Grandmother had it. Fear kept them out of the land of promise and the fear of a few spies spread too many. Saul was called out as king and to appear before the people but his fear kept him hiding in the baggage equipment. When we see the giants of opposition in our life, the doctor’s reports or the impossible situation itself, it can inspire fear which can not only cause, but hinder healing in our lives …
DEMONS: Demons not only cause but hinder healing today. Sometimes it is not a matter of praying for healing, but casting out devils. Luke 13:10-11 (Spirit of Infirmity): “Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.” Matt 17:14-15 (Epileptic): “And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.’” Depression – Isaiah 61:3: The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Mark 9:25( Deaf and dumb demon): “When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!’” Matt 9:32-33 (Mute Demon): “As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke and the multitudes marveled, saying, ‘It was never seen like this in Israel!’” Matt 12:22 (blind demon): “Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.” Acts 10:38 (all sickness a devil’s work): “… how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
EXCUSES: John 5:7: “The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’” Nobody laid hands on me. I am too sick to get to the meeting. They did not call out my word of knowledge. I am not worthy. They did not pray long enough for me. I can not make a commitment. I work all the time. I can't get in that line of a hundred so I won't get prayer. I have to leave by 8:00 pm. Excuses blame everyone and everything else for our not receive healing.
MOTIVE: Matt 11: 7-9: “As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.” What did you go out to see? Did you go to receive a word or to be wowed. Is it the he man or does the package offend you. What are your expectations? Why are you here? John 6:26 26: “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.’” You just want the blessing and benefit. 1 John 5:14-15: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” These motives can be a hindrance to healing because many times we ask God amiss and we want to be healed, so we can go on eating the foods that cause illness. Will we change our lives, our eating and nutrition?
Sometimes or motive is self glory. I told the John Lake story about a man who heard a crippled boy lost and crying out on the mountain. This man made sure no one was looking and ran over and healed him before anyone could see it was him and then took of before anyone could attach his name to the miracle.
COMPLAINING, MURMURING & GRUMBLING: Numbers 21: 4-5: “Then they journeyed from Mount Horby the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.’” Negative confessions. I knew it would happen to me, I always get sick. I deserve this because, I never receive from God. God why did you heal her they don't deserve it I do. God never blesses me. Why should I tithe it doesn’t change anything. Why pray it’s too hard? God doesn’t speak to me anyway why the word read.
Murmuring “Why does this happen to me?” “God, why did you bring us here?” “It was better over there.” Ps 78:18-20: “And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy. Yes, they spoke against God. They said, ‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?’ Behold, He struck the rock, so that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed. Can He give bread also? Can He provide meat for His people?” And verses 32-33: “In spite of this they still sinned, and did not believe in His wondrous works. Therefore their days He consumed in futility, and their years in fear.”
DISOBEDIENCE: Many times we can fail to receive healing because we will not do what the Lord says. Whether it is to forgive, jump in the pool 7 times, do something you could not do. Many times we are disobedient to the Lord's strategies for our healing. Steps of obedience release healing. Has God spoken to you about an area of obedience? Have you responded? JOHN 2:5: “His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’” Do whatever He tells you. I know people that refuse to respond to a word of knowledge or separate themselves from an area of sin. I have been in meetings where God ask people to do something in faith they could not do and they refuse because they say I don’t feel or see change. What if God told us to spit in an eye or on a tongue?
The blessing came to the widow’s house in the days of Elijah because she was obedient to the Lords word. 1 KINGS 17:11-16: “And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ So she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’ And Elijah said to her, ‘Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: “The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.”’ So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.”
PRAYERLESSNESS: 2 KINGS 20:1-6: “In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.”’ Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.’” We need to be like the persistent widow. When the disciples ask Jesus how to pray effectively his response was do not give up until it happens. LUKE 11: 5-8: “And He said to them, ‘Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him”’ and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
Then we have the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8: “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Many times we fail to receive healing because we give up after not seeing immediate results. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6 that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
UNGODLY ATTITUDES TOWARDS LEADERS: Numbers 16:1-3: “Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’”
I have seen this in the church today. People speak out against leaders because they feel that they are just or more anointed then them. Running from church to church or not even going. The worst sin is complaining and speaking against the leader or pastor. It’s the lone wolf, lone ranger spirit, the spirit of division and undermining. God's response to this attitude was Numbers 16:31-33: “Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.
Then we have the story of Miriam and her leprosy, Numbers 12:1-10: “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’ And the Lord heard it … So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper.”
Sometimes we need to repent for speaking out and criticizing others especially leaders and even moves of God or manifestations. Remember Michal and how she became barren because she judged and spoke out against David as he danced before the Lord.
IGNORANCE: Many times we fail to receive healing because we do not know what God's will is, Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge.”
HARDENED HEART: Hardened means: To form a callous or petrify, make hard, spiritual deafness or blindness. Those who repeatedly resist the word become insensitive and lose the power of understanding. Mark 8:16-18: “And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?’” The heart becomes hardened when we forget what he has done. Jesus asked them do you not remember.
Our healing can be hindered when we fail to remember his works in the past. It causes the heart to become dull. Psalms 78:9-11: “The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle … They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown.” This happened after they forgot his past works.
The heart also becomes hardened by the deceitfulness of sin or even areas of little compromise and inward toleration. Hebrews 3:12-13: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. We also become dull in our and hearing because we fail to be a doer of the word. Hebrews 5:14: “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
The cares of the world also cause the heart to become dull (cf. parable of sower). Rebellion is also a key to the heart being dull. When we continually resist the word or do not meditate on the word. Ezekiel 12:1-2: “Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.’”
NEGATIVE INFLUENCES: Mark 5: 35: “While He was still speaking, some came from the
ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’” Jairus nearly lost his daughter because the people and the circumstances said give up. Do not feed your spirit with naysayers and those who are trying to keep you from what God really wants you to have. There will always be those negative voices speaking it is not God's time. did you see what the report said? The devil wants you to focus on the contrary winds and will even use family and friends to try to discourage us. See nothing happened or If God did not heal me then why would he heal you. Why do you need to press in for healing? Isn't salvation enough? Bear it and grin it the Lord is teaching you.
The woman whose son died and was raised from the dead had those discouraging voices. 2 KINGS 4:23: “So he said, ‘Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.’ And she said, ‘It is well.’” Blind Bartimaeus nearly lost his healing because the outside influences said be quiet and give up. He is passed you by now. LUKE 18:39: “Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” …
HEALING CAN BE DELAYED WHEN WE FORGET THE POOR: Proverbs 21:13: “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” Cornelius was answered because of his gifts to the poor. ACTS 10:1-4: “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with his entire household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’ And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, ‘What is it, lord?’ So he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.’” Isaiah 58:7-8: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily.”
OFFENDED AT THE VESSEL: Mark 6:3: “‘Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ And they were offended at Him.” How could God work with this attitude?
Is this list true? Are there that many reasons why sin (our shortcomings) can stop a healing touch from God? The answer is “yes”. And wow – this is tough – devastating! UNBELIEF – SIN – PRAYER & FASTING – PRIDE – FEAR – DEMONS – EXCUSES – MOTIVE – COMPLAINING, MURMURING & GRUMBLING – DISOBEDIENCE – PRAYERLESSNESS – UNGODLY ATTITUDES TOWARDS LEADERS – IGNORANCE – HARDENED HEARTS – NEGATIVE INFLUENCES – HEALING CAN BE DELAYED WHEN WE FORGET THE POOR – OFFENDED AT THE VESSEL. Have you overcome all of these issues in your life? How mature are we as a church? What would be your personal problem areas – your most serious weak spots? (Pride, grumbling, fasting.)
Aselmo, Heidi Baker’s boy whom she loved, and Eric, Bill Johnson’s oldest son, did not get healed and they dealt with it. God’s grace is sufficient for them. God is always good. But what if God blames them or their community for a particular sin and therefore the healing does not come? Would that not change their relationship with God – our relationship with God? How good is God when sickness remains because he is not pleased with us?
We have to see the problem of sin in a different light. God is good and just and always right. I accept that I sometimes pray for people and they do not get healed because I am not yet carrying enough of the Holy Spirit and his power to break through in prayer for particular people. And others may also make that judgement because they rather seek prayer from a “more anointed” minister than me. I accept that my immaturity – my sinful flaws – are holding me back in the ministry. But this is not getting me down.
When the disciples saw a blind man from birth, they asked Jesus – John 9:2: “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They asked a reasonable question but I get the feeling that they (and plenty of others today) were asking the question with the wrong attitude. (Even with Jesus in their company), they seemed to take it for granted that a man, who had been blind from birth, would remain blind. (Why should anything change now after decades of blindness?) The disciples only wanted to know who caused the sickness – who committed what sin that the eyes remained unseeing. It was academic curiosity and no more. But a better question would have been to ask Jesus: “How can this man be healed now? If there is a sin that caused the blindness, how can it be overcome?” This is where the shift in attitude must take place.
“After decades of suffering, how can this man be healed?” This is the question that the disciples should have been asking. This is the question that Jesus always wants to hear because he always wants to heal. It is certainly his ultimate goal in every circumstance. Unless there is a crystal clear – temporary – denial of the request (like when Paul heard from Jesus that his grace was sufficient for him), Jesus is always inviting us to pray, exercise faith for healing, persevere and grow in overcoming any sin blockages to his healing power. I may be able to minister with a certain authority now which may not be able to overcome all sickness but I am also (always) growing in authority. Jesus will show me the way. I am a child of God – love by him and growing up in his care. And I can already do more now than the years before.
Bill Johnson lost his father to cancer and lost his secretary to cancer and in both cases fought a determined battle against the sickness. Both times he lost and he accepts that he and the church have not yet been strong enough in spiritual authority to win the battle. But this is not getting him down. He and the church are becoming stronger. Their faith is growing. Their hunger for breakthrough is growing. Every year they are seeing more breakthroughs. They are declaring: “Bethel Church (even their city Redding) will become a cancer free zone.” It is okay to grow in spiritual maturity and it is okay that this takes a little time. And why should this not be a joyful journey? God is good. And he takes us by the hand and leads us to overcome any obstacle of sin in our own personal life and the church. God wants us to win. He delights in our victories (as we learn to walk in step with him). He delights in our joy. [Ideally, there should always be maturity in the church with the young growing up into the same maturity. But, in many places, the church is in a weakened state.]
And God is also not petty. Sin may block a healing but, in the Bible, even the worst sinners get the greatest healings before they clean up their lives (Saul on the road to Damascus, Jesus healed everyone that asked for healing). This is at the heart of the Christian faith and our relationship with God. He is better than we think:
Romans 5:8-10: But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
God is merciful and forgives us any sin freely on account of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Nothing will stop him. He gave everything – he died for us – while we were still sinners (before we even understood how lost we were). And he is still showering us with his grace before we fully know what is going on. Jesus healed the man, who had been lame for thirty-eight years, before he warned him about any further sinning. The healing – the breakthrough – came before dealing with the man’s sin. How often is this the case?
And after all our focus on sin and acknowledgement of sin, the disciples’ question proved to be wrong after all. Neither the man nor his parents had sinned. The man was blind from birth but – according to Jesus – his blindness was not caused by any particular sin that he or his parents committed against God. Jesus did not say that the blind man and his parents were perfect. None of us is perfect but we don’t have to go searching and digging through our mind, emotions and will (every time) to find something that blames us for sickness. You can just be sick because we are living in a fallen world where the whole creation waits for Jesus’ return to make everything new again – create a new heaven and a new earth.
Most of the time, Jesus simply healed people without making reference to any sin. And when he said to the man that he healed of lameness, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you,” the man seemed to have known what sin Jesus was referring to because Jesus did not have to spell it out to him. God seemed to have been on his case for a long time. When you are sick, the circumstances may not be the same. You may ask God whether sin is causing any sickness in you but don’t force the connection.
The disciples were wrong and, on reflection, they were pushing the logic way too intensely. How can you ask – John 9:2: “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Maybe his parents brought something bad into the family but what sin could the man have possibly committed that he was born blind? Did he sin in the womb of his mother – kick her once too often – play lasso with the umbilical cord – that God would punish him with blindness – for life? The disciples were wrong in their single-minded hunt of finding someone to blame for the sickness and it became ridiculous (I think) and cruel and completely missed God’s intention.
Jesus declared – John 9:3: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” God had honoured the man by setting him aside from birth to be his instrument (at the right time) for demonstrating his works and what kind of God he is. And our God is the one that heals the blind. The healing brings glory to him. The healing speaks correctly about him. Jesus was not interested in blaming anyone but “showing off” the nature of God who loves us deeply and opens our eyes to see. When someone is sick, people often look for reasons – blame it on sin or see value in the discipline of suffering – but Jesus declared that the value is not in the sickness but in the glory of God’s healing power. This is what he wants – save people, heal people and deliver people.
Bill Johnson and Heidi Baker, both hold on to this core value of God. There can be a delay – sometimes because of sin and at other times it remains a mystery. But God is good and his goodness is expressed in healing – in overcoming any sin, in overcoming any pain – until we are in a place where there is no death or decay ever – heaven.
Bill Johnson writes: I was fasting and praying for his [Eric’s] healing some years ago, and God spoke to me very clearly that He was going to heal him. It has happened in the atonement, and will be seen in my lifetime. We don’t treat it as a someday off in the future God will heal Him kind of thing. We view it as a right now word. Yet he still can’t hear without the assistance of a hearing aid.
It’s interesting that the healing of deafness is one of the most common miracles I see in my meetings and in our church. Even more interesting to note is that Eric has laid hands on many people who were deaf and God opened their ears. How could that happen without him being healed first? I don’t know. But I do know that mental offense, stumbling over this apparent contradiction in our minds, will shut down this anointing. That is something we are not willing to do. Eric and I will continue to live in the understanding we have, and embrace the mystery we are required to live with, knowing that God is perfectly faithful and good beyond measure, all the time. He is worthy of our trust.
Heidi Baker: Reckless Devotion: 365 Days into the
Heart of Radical Love, Chosen Books 2014, [Perfect Plans]: Many times I have
asked God why our beautiful child, Aselmo, has to continue to hobble around on
club feet when others are miraculously restored. I have prayed for him and laid
hands on him. He is still the cheeky, lovable boy he has always been, and he
does not let his condition get him down. But nothing has changed. It is one of
the mysteries of the Lord.
Whenever a doctor or a medical person comes to visit us, I always ask if anyone can fix my little guy’s feet. Now, due to so many people’s love and generosity, Aselmo is finally going to Malawi for surgery. I can’t tell you what this means to him or to us. We are all so excited!
Rather than heal him outright, God has perfected a hugely complicated plan in which hundreds of people are involved in the blessing of Aselmo’s healing and transformation. When I think of the surgeons, the many people who have given money, those who have prayed, those who will fly him to Malawi, those who will care for him in the six month period of his recuperation, it astounds me that God would go to all this trouble just for us. But He loves us with an everlasting love!
His ways are not our ways. His knowledge is not skewed. His motives are not mixed. His insight is not blurred. His discernment is not warped. He can see round corners, down potholes, into the heights of the galaxies and the depths of the seas.
Instead working in the ways we sometimes hope for and expect—as we did for Aselmo—God works according to His own plan. Perhaps God is showing Aselmo how valued and loved he is by weaving an intricate story through so many other people’s lives. I look forward to seeing all God does.
Sometimes it is hard to understand why things do or do not happen in this life, but in those moments, in the midst of those mysteries, we can rest in God’s goodness and love for us. What we can know for sure is this: His ways are the best.
Here in this church, we pray for healing and when the healing does not happen immediately, we do not lose our joy. God is good – always. He can be trusted – always. Jesus promised the apostle Paul, who himself suffered from a “thorn in the flesh”: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). This is the promise for all Christians.
Blaming sickness on a specific sin is sometimes right (and we deal with it) and we grow in maturity, but God’s joy and glory are not in blaming anyone. He glories in overcoming sin with forgiveness, the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ. He glories in seeing a healed person jump with joy. Every testimony honours him. Every story about tumours disappearing, lame people walking and cancer cells dying, brings pleasing fame to him. God likes these reports because they are right about him. Yes – sometimes there remains a mystery around people like Aselmo and Eric, but there is no mystery in what God ultimately wants: heal you. Amen.