Signs, Wonders, and Suffering for Christ

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:1-2

The Sadducees were sad. The message didn’t make them glad. They didn’t like the gospel message. A crippled man had just been miraculously healed through the power of Jesus’ name. Some people don’t like miracles. The Sadducees sure didn’t. They didn’t believe in angels or resurrection, and probably would have preferred for the man to stay a cripple, because the power of God was something they couldn’t handle.

Yes, there is a form of religion that denies God’s power, that teaches us to go to church on Sunday, do all the motions of worship, then go home unchanged. But we feel better because we’ve done our religious duty. The conscience is temporarily assuaged, but the heart remains hard and the soul remains untouched. It is a faith that rests on the wisdom of man, but in the name of Jesus Christ Peter and John had just performed an amazing miracle.

And now the priests, the captain of the temple, and the men who were famous for being sad, the Sadducees, arrested Peter and John. They persecuted them (i.e. gave them a hard time) for daring to lay hold of Jesus’ promise that

“He who believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)

I’m sure that most of us are familiar with the scripture “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Well, the Apostles had a living faith in God and they demonstrated it by daring to take hold of a crippled man’s hand and help him to his feet. They believed God’s Word and acted on it.

Now, some believing Christians (I don’t know how many) don’t believe God still performs instantaneous healings, resurrections, or miracles. Some of them hold the concept that to be sick or infirm or disabled is to somehow suffer for the gospel. They preach against the idea of divine healing, as if it was opposed to God’s will. But what would Jesus say to that? How did He feel about healing people?

Once, in a synagogue where Jesus was speaking, there was a man with a withered hand. The religious guys were watching him carefully, waiting to accuse him of healing on the Sabbath. They cared more about their religious doctrine than about the ailing man. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was grieved for the hardness of their hearts (Mark 3:5). His question to them was:

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil, to save life, or to kill?” (verse 4)

Of course, Jesus healed the man. This time it was the Pharisees he angered, and they plotted to destroy him. Jesus didn’t have to get sick to suffer persecution at their hands. He suffered because he healed people and raised others from the dead. The religious people were envious, because they had a form of godliness but denied its power (II Timothy 3:5-7). I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want to live my Christian life.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisement

Disease Carriers and Open Doors

Who carries disease and spreads it all around? Does God put sickness, infirmities or diseases on people to teach them a lesson? Does suffering with or for Christ involve sickness? What does the Bible say about disease and how it spreads?

When Christians suffer from sickness or infirmity, they may remember the Old Testament book of Job. That’s because Job is famous for enduring physical pain and suffering. A careful look at the book’s first two chapters shows that God allowed Job’s sufferings, but Satan, aka the devil, was the disease carrier. He dragged Job through the muck of tragedy and then some. God didn’t afflict Job with sickness, but He did remove the hedge protecting Job and his family. Job lost his business, his children, an his health. His relationship with his wife went downhill too. It seems she couldn’t stand to be around him, but it wasn’t Job’s fault. It was Satan.

Satan was definitely the bad guy. However, Job may have inadvertently played a role in helping him. For in order to catch a disease, you must have something in common with the carrier – something in the way of proximity that allows it to attach itself to you. Whatever barrier preventing it from attacking you must be removed, whether it be an immunity (enabling the body to resist the disease) or some sort of physical barrier, anything that serves to erect a distance between one’s self and the offending army of germs.

Job had become a target for Satan, the disease carrier. Did God allow Job to suffer just to see how he would handle it or had Job left a door open somewhere?

At first glance, it seemed that Job was doing his very best to guard both himself and his family from tragedy, infirmity, illness and the like. Beginning with the first chapter,  that Job worried about his children, so he sacrificed for them continually, thinking “What if they cursed God in their hearts?”

Does such thinking sound like faith to you, or fear? Does it sound healthy or does it sound like disease carrier? God had commended Job as a man who served him faithfully, but did Job walk in perfect faith? His actions may have fallen under the category of “serving God,” but what about his thought life? Did he have a works-based mentality or did he trust God’s righteousness to cover him and his family? Job was worried about his children. Had fear opened a door for the enemy to enter in? Job was doing all the right things, but where was his heart? What was going on inside his mind?

“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness,” Jesus declared in Matthew 6:23. By “evil eye” he obviously doesn’t mean a person’s physical eyes. He’s referring to what a person sees with his/her eyes. Many people look at things they have no business looking at, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case with Job. The vast majority of us have physical eyes with which to see, but I believe the eye can also refer to the imagination.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

To be pure in heart is to be like God, who is of “purer eyes than to behold evil.” At first glance, that verse doesn’t make much sense, because God knows about the evil that people do. But it certainly isn’t His nature to focus on evil, at least not without punishing it. God doesn’t have an evil imagination. We see that in the book of Genesis where He called everything He had created “good.” That seems to be the way He viewed Job as well.

“Have you considered my servant Job?” God asked Satan. “… there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” Job 1:8  God spoke well of Job to the disease carrier, but what did Job say about God? It’s hard to praise God when you feel horrible, but a diseased view of God leaves you open to attack by the biggest disease carrier that ever existed.

To Job’s credit, he doesn’t curse God as Satan predicts. During his illness, however, he does curse the day he was born (see chapter 2). I’m sure that anyone who has ever had the least little pity party can relate. Job was in agony. He didn’t understand what was happening. What was God doing to him? Job complains loud and long about his sufferings to his friends. He makes many prideful statements that he later regrets. (Who among us has not done the same?) I can picture Satan the disease carrier whispering in Job’s ear as he jabs him with pain and lies to him about God.

Job definitely doesn’t understand nearly as much about God at the beginning of the book as he does at the end, where he declares, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you.” (Chapter 42, verse 5).

Going back to the start of the story, we see Job worrying about his children. He is constantly sacrificing for them. He doesn’t seem to fully trust God to work in their hearts. What kind of God did he think he was serving?

“Lord, I knew thee, that thou art a hard man,” the servant told his Master in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:24). If this is our attitude toward God, then we will live in fear, not faith. I’m sure that talent looked pretty dirty and dusty, not to mention diseased (with fleas) by the time the servant dug it up. The real problem, however, lay in the servant’s sick attitude toward his Master. He was a disease carrier of sorts who feared his master like the Hebrews feared Pharaoh. That’s why, instead of using his talent for good, he hid it.

Did the Master reward him? No. I imagine that the talent hider felt sick inside when his Master took the talent from him and gave it to the ones who made good use of their talents.  They were men of faith, not fear, with a healthy view of God.

Were they better than Job? No. According to Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

If Job could have been justified by works, then it seems he would have been.

“Have you considered my servant Job?” God had asked Satan. “… there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” Job 1:8

If anyone could have made it to heaven by their works, it probably would have been Job. But if he fell under the category of “all have sinned,” then he obviously had some deeper heart issues that disqualified him.

That’s where the gospel of Jesus Christ comes in, for Jesus suffered far more than Job did. Instead of cursing the day of His birth, however, or calling his friends “miserable comforters,” Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.” He showed mercy to the disease carriers whose rotten attitudes put Him on that cross. Moreover, He who had no sin (and therefore, no disease) took our sins upon Himself, in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Christians are immune to suffering. While sickness can help us understand what suffering is like, I wouldn’t call it “suffering for the Lord.” I believe sickness is part of the curse that causes death and which came upon man as a result of the fall. Sin, whether outward or inward, is what invites Satan to attack us.

But by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

https://miracle-times.com/full-gospel/mercy-sacrifice-good-report/

Sick or Simply “Suffering for Christ”?

In my travels throughout the Christian world and throughout cyberspace I have discovered some disturbing philosophies concerning true Christianity and what it means to suffer for the Lord. It is the idea that physical disease and handicaps are part of Christ’s sufferings in which His followers are called to participate. But what does the Bible say about suffering?

The Old Testament book of Job is frequently mentioned when it comes to the idea of physical pain and suffering. If you read the first two chapters very carefully, it is evident that while God allowed Job to suffer, it was Satan who afflicted him with sickness, and it was a works-based mentality based on fear that opened the door. In the first chapter, we see that Job was worried about his children, so he sacrificed for them continually, thinking “What if they cursed God in their hearts?”

Does such thinking fall under the category of “serving God,” or did Job have a problem with his thought life?

“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:23) The vast majority of us have physical eyes with which to see, but I believe the eye can also refer to the imagination.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

What does it mean to be pure in heart? Well, what do you imagine God to be like?

Job was worried about his children. Was he trusting God with them? What kind of God did he think he was serving?

“Lord, I knew thee, that thou art a hard man,” the servant told his Master in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:24). If this is our attitude toward God, then we will live in fear, not faith. Now, if you want to call that “suffering,” then fine. But is it really suffering for the Lord? In the talent parable, the servant feared his master, but not in a good way. Instead of using his talent for good, he hid it. Did the Master reward him? No. He took the talent from him and gave it to the ones who used their talents. They were men of faith, not fear.

Were they better than Job? No. According to Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

If Job could have been justified by works, then it seems he would have been.

“Hast thou considered my servant Job?” God asked Satan. “… there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:8

If anyone could have made it to heaven by their works, it probably would have been Job. But if he fell under the category of “all have sinned,” then he obviously had some deeper heart issues that disqualified him.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Christians are immune to suffering. While sickness can help us understand what suffering is like, I wouldn’t call it “suffering for the Lord.” I believe sickness is part of the curse that causes death and which came upon man as a result of the fall. Sin, whether outward or inward, is what invites Satan to attack us.

But by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

 

To Walk in the Miraculous is a Humbling Thing

Picture twelve men weathering a storm by boat at night,

The wind and waves against them, there’s no victory in sight.

 

Then suddenly appears a light. They cry “Oh no, a ghost!”

Methinks this crew hath zero bravery of which to boast.

 

“Fear not, ‘tis I,” their Savior says. Thank God, what sweet relief!

Though cold and battered, they’ll survive. But their reprieve is brief,

 

Because that show-off Peter simply has to rock the boat.

“If it is you, Jesus,” he says, “Then make my feet to float.”

 

“Come,” Jesus says, and urges him to step over the brink.

The others seem to think Pete’s crazy. What if he should sink?

 

“There goes old ‘Name it, claim it,’” I can almost hear them say.

“He acts like he’s ‘all that.’ He’s getting so carried away!”

 

“In his thirst for signs and wonders, Peter has gone overboard.

We’re not sure it’s the smartest way for him to serve the Lord.

 

It seems he took that ‘Follow me’ command too literally.”

One thing’s for sure. They’re not about to join him on that sea.

 

While Judas clasps the money bag (can’t let the coins get soaked),

The others stay inside the boat, their motives safely cloaked.

 

No fear of looking foolish, nobody will see them fall.

Their pride likely remains unscathed. They do not “miss the ball.”

 

Not that they tried to hit it, no one’s really keeping score.

But obviously, from their “perch,” Pete’s flaws they can’t ignore.

 

Through Christ he walks in miracles, but boisterous waves and wind

Discourage him. He starts to doubt. It’s plain to see he sinned.

 

It seems this “charismatic” man of dubious renown

Has made a fatal error, and now he’s about to drown.

 

Then He calls to Jesus, who extends a hand of grace.

He will do the same for us if we will seek His face.

 

He says we’ll do the same works He does if we will believe,

But if we don’t step out in faith, then how can we receive?

 

If you want to see a miracle, then you must take a risk,

Though others remain silent, shake their heads, or say “Tsk, tsk.”

 

Their viewpoints do not matter if they’re safe inside the ship.

So, keep eyes on Jesus, for He will  not let you slip.

 

Yes, it’s sure to humble you, but in that there’s no shame,

Because, though you might make mistakes, you’ve glorified His name.

 

If you could do it perfectly, you might get into pride.

To save you from such things is the reason that Christ died.

 

He wants you walking in His power. His gifts are for today.

All you have to do is simply listen and obey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tongues Shall Cease, She Said

“Tongues shall cease,” she said. “True prophecy shall pass away.

If you need a miracle, then this is not your day.

But I have knowledge to impart, deception to increase.

I’ve human wisdom to exalt and potions to release.”

 

And so, through lies, through violence, and by means of poisoned pen,

The witch slew many prophets and she silenced righteous men.

Of others, she made eunuchs, shriveled trees that bore no fruits,

Stripped of spiritual authority, though clad in Sunday suits.

 

Throughout her reign, the people mourned, ears famished for good news.

While false prophets the airwaves conquered, singing bitter blues.

“The church has died. The time of wondrous signs has passed away.

You don’t believe in God? Well, join the club. That’s A-Okay.”

 

“For we have knowledge to impart, with miracles of science

Combined with a big dose of good old-fashioned self-reliance.

It’s Mother Nature’s best, a plethora of herbal cures,

A human health care system whose longevity endures.”

 

With subtle lies they hid the truth. But look who did arise!

Elijah challenged Baal and did the right thing in God’s eyes.

A contest would be held. Each side would make a sacrifice.

The God who rained down fire would rule, no need to think twice.

 

The idol worshipers prepared their bull and cried all day,

But got no answer for the many words they tried to pray.

They cut and slashed themselves, yet still their god refused to hear.

Somehow their self-inflicted pain fell far short of his ear.

 

Their frantic frenzy must have been a wonder to behold.

In contrast, God’s true prophet stayed as calm as he was bold.

He made it even “harder” for a miracle to take place,

By pouring water on his bull. Oh, what a bucket race!

 

Then at the designated time, Elijah made his prayer,

Requesting God to hear and turn the people from despair,

That like a branch they might be grafted back into the vine.

When suddenly the fire fell, it was a flame divine.

 

God still does miracles today, at the right time and place.

All He asks is that we pray and seek His gracious face.

The promise is “Abide in Christ and much fruit you will bear.

Believe His Word and say ‘No’ to the spirit of despair.”

 

To do God’s will and speak His words is always the best choice,

So, don’t let Jezebel or Ahab put to death your voice.

Instead of hearing them, let Jesus cleanse you with His Word.

Be willing to take risks, remembering the truths you’ve heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith Versus Feelings

Many times, in Christian circles I have heard it said that believers are to walk by faith and not by feelings. But I have noticed that when Christians feel bad or are experiencing depression, they often do follow their feelings – straight to the doctor’s office. They want meds to make them feel better so that they can enjoy life and resist the constant urge to kill themselves. Others, who were born with a dose of overconfidence and optimism may also end up running to the doctor – not to make them feel better but to help them get some rest. They desire drugs to balance their overexcited nerves and bring peace to their souls.

“I know I’m supposed to walk by faith, Doctor, not by feelings. So please, you have to fix my feelings so I can walk by faith.”

The question is, what does Jesus think of this idea? Can you imagine Him sending his disciples to a doctor when they were upset?

“I’m afraid you’ve got a little problem with manic-depression, Peter, jumping out the boat one moment, confident that you can walk on water. The next moment, you’re in a panic, crying out for me to save you as you sink beneath the waves. You need some meds to even out your mood swings!”

Feelings change. They’re like waves of the sea – up one moment, down the next. That’s why Christians shouldn’t live by their feelings. But does that mean we shouldn’t have them?

Many of us have felt God’s presence. We have experienced His touch. Our emotions have been stirred through worship. When we read His Word, it stirs our hearts to action. If you know you should step out in faith but your heart’s not in it, should you look to natural means to fix your feelings?

Or should you seek the LORD with all your heart and believe the promise in Jeremiah 29:13?