Tag Archives: Healing

A Declaration of Resurrection

Standard

declarationLife is full of declarations. Some come in the form of political manifestos, others as works of art, and the best as manifestations of love. In France this is the time of year when we have to make our tax declarations!

However, as Easter celebrations come amongst us, we must remember that greatest of declarations:

The Declaration of Resurrection!

Paul sums it up well at the beginning of his letter to the Romans:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:1-5

Paul was so impacted by this declaration of life that he had encountered on the Damascus road that he also made it one of the major elements of his Gospel:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Easter celebrates the scriptural and historical fact that Jesus “died for our sins…was buried…was raised.” Paul builds up to the glorious resurrection by emphasising his physical appearing to the Apostles – remember the Emmaus road and the upper room, and to over five hundred people! Just think about that for a moment. Some people seem to have a very abstract, virtual idea of Christ’s resurrection, but there was nothing virtual or metaphorical about five hundred eye witnesses!

Believing in the physical resurrection of Christ is so important:

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” 1 Corinthians 15:14

I do not want to have a” useless” ministry. I want it to be utterly “useful”, totally filled with the faith dynamic of Christ’s resurrection. More than just believing, I want to experience Christ in this risen life and make it my life’s goal:

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11

The powers of the age to come began to break into this world as Christ broke free from the grave.resurrection_kone

Vitality, health, peace and happiness can be ours as we allow His new life in us to overcome the sin and pain inherited from the clay of Adam.

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” 1 Corinthians 15:49

Who is your icon? I want to be an “eikon”, a living “likeness” of the heavenly man!

Own your own resurrection experience this Easter! – it may bring you physical healing and well-being as the Holy Spirit infuses new life into old bones.

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11

The missionary message is based on a declaration of resurrection.

New Dawn

In the famous passage of Matthew 28:1-20, we see the two Marys going to look at a tomb. The tomb seems to be the final destination for us all…but there is more. Whatever the disappointments of life there is always a new “dawn”. Mission, sharing the Gospel message, must bring this new dawn, this new beginning to people’s lives.

Supernatural Intervention

Hard ground quakes open and heavy obstacles are removed. Light invades darkness and angels displace demons.

New Perspective

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Matthew 28:5-6

Move from fear to faith. in many cultures Jesus is always portrayed as stuck – almost forever, weak, pale and broken on a cross, while shining over Him is His radiant all-powerful, Mum! In some churches there are so many stations of the cross, and crucified Christs that I don’t actually meet the real thing! “He is not here!” He is no longer in the tomb or on the cross. Stop lamenting and making your life an eternal good Friday! There is obviously a place for the cross – a terrible place where Jesus shed His blood and paid the price for my sin and the sins of the world…but He has moved on into glorious resurrection life. He still bears the scars, but they are transfigured trophies of victory.

Find Him in your Future

“Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” Matthew 28:7

If the cross frees us from our past, the risen life of Christ awaits us in future opportunity and vision. He has gone ahead of you preparing a place of blessing, mission, anointing, Word and service. Move on to join him. Where is He waiting for you?

Get Sent – Tell and Teach

“Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me…Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 7 &19-20

Mission MandateA resurrection vision spurred on the Marys and the men to a missionary mandate. May this Easter give you your own missionary mandate as you contemplate the risen Christ, and are empowered afresh.

The Lying Declaration

I would have loved to do without this last section. Unfortunately, in this world, a declaration of resurrection will always be challenged and opposed by the devil’s declaration.

The guards in the story could have had the marvelous privilege of being the first witnesses of resurrection to the world. They could have become apostles…but they chose to be liars!

“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” Matthew 28:11-15

The power of money, manipulation and self-preservation overcame the testimony of life. So often the same evil spirits are at work today, trying to “steal away” the Gospel power in our own personal lives and also in the world. This “anti resurrection” lie is still alive and well today and widely circulated as a morbid anti-life mandate. Many “guards” still sign up to proclaim it, obeying the “instructions” of this world’s spirit, and keeping themselves out of the “trouble” that a strong resurrection declaration brings.

Who will you be this Easter? A guard, a Mary or a disciple?

Declare the truth – declare the resurrection. He is Risen! – He is Risen indeed!

Happy Easter!

 

 

 

D.O.E.R

Standard

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what  it says.” James 1:22

 James instructs us to be more than passive listeners. He wants action. He wants doers! There is a time when the talking has to stop and the concrete action begins.

How can we become successful doers of the word? Here’s, I hope, an inspired acrostic.

Dreams

We must work from our dreams and not simply from duty. “Tell me your dreams” said Joseph in Genesis 40:8. It seems that the Holy Spirit may be asking us the same question. So many times we are overwhelmed by our problems which grow into mountains that fill our vision and suck away our strength. We need to make these mountains of problems shrink to dots and see our dreams and visions taking their place on our inner horizons. Click the following for more on dreams.

Origins

Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38

We must spend quality time in discerning the origins of our actions. Anything manufactured out of man’s money or ingenuity will ultimately fail. The wreckage of so many wasted efforts, frustrations and “burnouts” fills the history of church and missions. If we do not take the time to pray and seek out God’s word and ways we will pay a greater price later trying to shore up man initiated work against the eventual tide of God’s judgment. So many aggressive appeals for finance are based on this “failure” to truly discern God’s work.

When we get our origins right we are on to a winner! Work from God is unstoppable. This gives us hope to launch out into some of the most dangerous and inhospitable places on the earth. God himself will defend and fight for his purposes. The apostle John in 3:6 puts this principle into other terms.

 “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

 Ekballo

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out (ekballo) workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:1-2

Jesus was so overwhelmed by the spectacle of the harassed and helpless crowds milling about lost, without leadership that he urgently summoned the use of the gift of prayer to see workers “thrust out” into the harvest fields. The word Jesus used here, “ekballo”, is very strong. It is the same word that is used to “cast out” demons or “chase out” the thieves from the temple. Jesus is not being a nice English gentleman here and politely hinting “Would you mind being sent?” Welling up from of his desperate compassion he is saying, “Get out of your comfort zone!”

So many folks have lost their passion for souls because they have got stuck in a rut of comfort and habit.  Even ministers and missionaries can get caught in the habits of going through the motions of Christian work without really engaging with the crisis of the crowds. If this is the case we need to stir ourselves up again and take on the uncomfortable challenge of connecting with the crowds again. Dare we allow ourselves to be kicked out of our complacency and mind sets to be re-engaged with the uncomfortable reality of the world? True “doers” need the kick of “ekballo”.

Peter needed an “ekballo” vision of a reptile filled table-cloth to take him out of his cultural prejudice and be thrust out into the home of Cornelius. Ananias needed an “exballo” from the Lord to take him through his fear barrier and lay hands on his so-called “enemy” Saul of Tarsus. In Acts 8:1 the whole church needed the “ekballo” of persecution in order to fulfill the command to be thrust out to the nations.

What kind of “ekballo” will it take for us?

Refreshment and restoration

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Acts 3: 19-21

If you are going to be a long-term “doer” you will need times of refreshing and restoration. Keep yourself God centered through the gift of repentance. Don’t be like Samson who didn’t even realize that his strength was gone until it was too late. Keep turning to God in prayer and worship. A long distance runner often needs a “second wind” in his race. The rare Greek word used here for refreshment Anapsuxis, means recovery of breath (second wind), cooling, or reviving with fresh air.

Doing will also involve losing sometimes. Our actions and lives will often encounter a cross on the highway. Sometimes the thief does indeed come to kill, destroy and to steal. In such times we need to remember that our “doing” is only a pale reflection of God’s ultimate working to put the world back in place after its dislocation from the effects of sin and rebellion.

In our action we can look ahead to God’s final victory when, through Jesus, He will restore everything. In another rare Greek word, Apokatastasis, which denotes complete restoration of health (the restoring to its place of a dislocated joint), God is encouraging us to believe and work for the healing of the world.

We are certain that this will be fully achieved at Christ’s return, but as it says in Hebrews 6:5, we can already taste the “powers of the coming age” breaking into our world as we believe for restoration and healing in our own personal and national situations.

May you be truly refreshed and restored as you read these lines so as to be able to persevere in your doing of good works for the Lord and His Kingdom.

So, enough talking, enough meetings, enough conferences…

Just do it!

 

 

Bitter or Better?

Standard

A journey from Mara to Elim.

“Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord showed him a piece of wood.” Ex 15:25

Wooden cross on the top of Zámčisko

Like the Israelites we, on our own life’s journey, also encounter “lakes of bitterness.” I was literally in the region of the “Great Lakes” one year on a ministry visit to Rwanda. This country has known its share of bitterness. One of the pastors I stayed with still bore the scars of the conflict on his forehead. His wife showed me a neat semi circle of a scar that meandered all across her ankle and Achilles tendon.

“My foot was nearly severed in the massacre,” she said, taking down a faded black and white portrait of her Father. “I was only a young girl of eighteen when I lost him and all the rest of my family in the genocide.”

I stared at the deep scars on strong black flesh, glanced again at the lost Father and wondered how on earth love can survive.

Another friend shared how after 25 years of loyal service he had found himself out of a job and passed over for promotion. Nameless thousands survive on a dollar day, noble African ladies till the fields with a baby on their back, while other nameless thousands in the West throw away almost as much food as we eat!

One of the basic human needs is for both material and psychological fulfilment. On their journey to the promise land the people of God were thirsting after a satisfying cool drink. Imagine the disappointment and anger when their drink turned out so bitter!

Have some of your own legitimate thirsts been thwarted? What has left a bitter taste in your own mouth? That bitter taste often impregnates our words which are a good indicator of our “bitterness” level!

The writer of Hebrews 12:14-15 clearly saw the terrible toxic potential of bitterness to eat away at the very structures of our lives together.

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

The cross is the only instrument sharp enough to cut out the roots of bitterness. Only one man ever owned a bitterness free heart. He hung that heart up upon a cross like a cosmic sponge and soaked up the “Great Lake” of mankind’s “Mara”.

Like Moses, we need to cry out in desperation until we gain a fresh revelation of that “piece of wood”, that old rugged cross, which, when applied to the bitter waters of aching hearts can make them sweet again.

“He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.”

May our words and personalities find a renewed sweetness as we allow the work of the cross to function in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.

Cry out to God. Don’t stop at Mara! It is not your final destination.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalm 57:2

With the cleansing of the bitter waters and the call to obedience comes a deep revelation of the covenant name – Yahweh  Rapha.

“I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

Peter quoted the prophet Isaiah when writing to a persecuted church, reminding them that,

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”  1 Peter 2:24

Revelation and Ezekiel also encourage us with the promise of a “tree” of life in heaven whose leaves are for “the healing of nations.” Rev22:2

We serve a loving, reconciling, powerful God who makes us better rather than bitter!

Our destination is Elim. Have you ever longed for the picture postcard palm trees? We have so much more in Christ – perfect provision and eternal life welling up for us in abundance.

And so, let’s go back to the scars of Rwanda. I recently ventured to the cinema to see the Oscar winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”, and in the last scene the lover kisses the scars of his bride and redeems the pain.

It is only a very pale reflection of our reality, but I believe Christ will heal our deepest scars; kiss away Rwanda’s (and all nations’) wounds in his ultimate healing embrace of His Bride the Church.

“Crown Him the Lord of love; see from His hands and side,

Those wounds still visible above in beauty glorified.

No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,

But downward bears his burning eye,

At mysteries so bright.”