Discerning the Lord’s Body

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (PS 103:1-5) NIV

Just as Jesus bore our sins, Jesus also bore our sicknesses so that we don’t need to bear them ourselves –  paying the price for both.
His body was broken for our healing,  and His blood was shed for our forgiveness.

Gloria and I have realised this is something we ought to remember every time we participate in the Lord’s supper/ communion. And that is something we now do daily. Usually just the two of us, but also shared with other believers when they visit, something that is happening more and more now we’ve chosen to meet with  a local fellowship again.
Fellowship and the nature of it is also relevant to the way we take and receive the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians telling them:

…whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord, Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (died). (1 Cor 11:28-30) NIV

I see two aspects to the issue of doing this in an “unworthy manner” – the first clearly dealt with in the Corinthians quote refers to the failure of members of the  body of Christ to recognise and relate with each other, and ensuring that the needs of the less well-off are being met.

When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing?(1 Cor 11:17-22) NIV.

If we return to Psalm 103, following the excerpt I quoted at the top of the page, we read:

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed. (PS 103:6) NIV

The Lord is very clearly concerned with the way His people treat the less well off. Many of the rebukes against Israel found in the prophetic books, relate to their neglect of the poor, and Israel were punished for that neglect.

Paul, in his teaching about the Lord’s Supper restates the dangers of neglecting less well-off fellow body members.

The second aspect relates to what happened to Jesus’ body leading up to His crucifixion.
His execution and shedding of blood was prefigured in the sacrifice of a spotless lamb under the old covenant Law, however under that law the sacrificed animal wasn’t brutally tortured and disfigured prior to sacrifice.

Isaiah prophesied the brutality inflicted on Jesus, and what it was for.

People despised and avoided him,
a man of pains, well acquainted with illness.
Like someone from whom people turn their faces,
he was despised; we did not value him.

In fact, it was our diseases he bore,
our pains from which he suffered;
yet we regarded him as punished,
stricken and afflicted by God.

But he was wounded because of our crimes,
crushed because of our sins;
the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him,
and by his bruises (wounds/stripes) we are healed.
(Isaiah 53: 3-5) CJB

We also need to discern the body in this way – recognising that Jesus bore torturous treatment of His body prior to death and that treatment relates to the provision of healing. Healing provided within the same atonement through which forgiveness of sins were also made available – both being gifts of God’s grace, made accessible through faith.

Satan has very successfully talked the church out of believing God’s word regarding provision of healing and His revelation that HE wants His people to choose life.
Satan’s first tactic is always to get people to doubt God’s word, such as his temptation of Eve (and Adam who was with her).
He took the same approach with Jesus. (see below *)

We need to decide whose word we are going to believe – God’s, the One who came to give full life? Or the distortions and lies offered by the thief who comes only to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

Post Script: Above I said “I see two aspects to the issue of doing this in an “unworthy manner”.  I have now been made aware of a third through some teaching I’ve just heard, so I might revisit this topic after I’ve checked out that teaching against scripture.

______________________________________

* Note that Satan came to the Lord in the wilderness and started his temptation of Jesus by challenging the very words God had spoken to Him at His baptism: “This is my Son…
Immediately after this Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where: “The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God…'”

That  happened at the beginning of His ministry. The same thing was tried again at the climax of His ministry – during His death on the cross, this time by demonically inspired mockers.  “ …save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!

Great is the LORD.

Yesterday I started the sixth cycle of chemotherapy. It’s the halfway point of the only treatment that medicine can provide. Treatment that medically can’t cure, but can only hold things at bay and give me a little more time.

But great is the LORD. The LORD who heals me. The LORD who HAS healed me.
My faith is not in what doctors can’t do, but in what God has already done.

Most importantly the treatment has given me time away from work. So far I’ve had three months and I’ve tried to make every moment count, building and strengthening my faith in the LORD.

More time spent in scripture.
More time spent in prayer.
Reconnecting with local believers in fellowship.

A profitable time in many ways.

A few days ago I wrote of how difficult things had been after my last chemo treatment. There was a physical element, where I had a worse reaction than usual to the treatment, but also a spiritual element, especially through comments made on this blog, attempting to sow seeds of doubt.

I praise the LORD that my time spent with Him over the past three months had strengthened me enough in advance.

I know it is God’s will that I live in health.
I know God’s promises regarding prayer and His desire to heal.
I have a confidence in God.
But I had some fear that I would let Him down, that my faith would waver. Some of the comments posted on my blog last week seemed intent on creating that wavering.

There were references to others who died of cancer despite believing they would be healed. I really don’t know what would motivate someone to purposely post such comments in full knowledge of the current situation.

And things weren’t helped by the fact that the pastor of a church I used to attend had died of cancer only a few months before my diagnosis. I assume he and his family were probably trusting in the Lord for his recovery.

But the experience of others (or even our own) should NEVER be a factor determining our own faith and beliefs. We have to build our foundations on God’s word and not any other message the world (and Satan) may try to throw at us to knock us down.

Yesterday I woke with a strong assurance. A vital confidence. A deeper conviction. It’s as if what I’d previously believed in my head has finally broken through to my heart. That assurance, established on a foundation of scripture remains today.

By Jesus’ stripes (wounds, bruises) I HAVE been healed.

 

Do You Believe Jesus?

What do you make of the following statements?
Do you believe them?
If so, what PRACTICAL effect does that belief have in your life?

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matt 21:22) NIV

I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24) NIV

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7) NIV

whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)NIV

Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:23-24) NIV

 

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him. (1 John 5: 14-15) NIV

Are these promises we can actually believe?
Do we believe those promises to the extent that our lived experience is determined by them?

Or do we find ourselves having to “reinterpret” their meaning to make them fit our lived experience?

Does our faith in Jesus include believing what He said?
Does our faith in Jesus include believing in the wider scriptures , written by His disciples?

Is our faith in Jesus and God’s word or is it more focused on tradition and our personal experience?

In particular, what do we make of this?

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14: 12-14) NIV

If Jesus said “whoever believes in [Him] will do…”, how is that being reflected in OUR lives as professing believers?

Are we experiencing those works and greater things in our lives?
Are we expecting those works and greater things to be part of our lives?

If not why not?

Standing with Faith and Patience

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then

This week hasn’t been the best.

It started off well.
Monday last week I woke full of joy, something that continued throughout our pre-dawn walk around the neighbourhood.
At times I felt I could shout out “HALLELUJAH” and break into a dance of celebration in the middle of the street (totally out of character). But nearby residents would not have taken kindly to the early morning disturbance.

From there things went downhill with a clear attack against my faith on several fronts.

It was the hardest week to date physically, with post-chemo fatigue spreading over three days instead of one (usually only a few hours on that one day) and a few other chemo-related symptoms I’d not previously suffered.

And there have been some comments made on the blog clearly intended to undermine my faith. Even though I give the commenter the courtesy of assuming he had the best of intentions, I have difficulty understanding what he thought those “best intentions” were.

I’ve answered those comments under the posts on which they were made, and also addressed some of his beliefs in my previous topic De Facto Calvinism.

I have now advised that any further comments of that type will not be passed through moderation – although, unfortunately I’ll have to read them myself to make that judgement and decision.

Basically his comments were grounded in typical Calvinist thought – that God is sovereign and He alone will sovereignly choose if I live or die. Forget what God has revealed in scripture. Forget faith in Him, His word, and His promises. Just submit to Divine lottery.

I reject such fatalistic nonsense and submit myself to the One true God through faith in Him and His word. I’ll seek Him HIS way.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Heb 6:12) NIV

In addition to that particular commenter, there was also an ongoing series of negative comments about videos I’d posted of two men with healing ministries. One particular thread had to be closed for comments after what was possibly a record 50 comments (mostly negative, apart from my replies). Sadly that seems to show how little regard has been paid to what God has revealed about healing and His will regarding the health of His people, something I have dealt with in some detail, with abundant scripture references, in many posts over the past couple of months.

Despite another doubt-sowing comment, in which I was told of three friends who died of cancer despite believing God would heal them*, things started to turn around yesterday. I had a wonderful time in prayer during which I had a personal breakthrough. This followed on from some very fruitful Bible time when I was able to resolve a longstanding, personal question I’d had, that probably helped make the prayer time so profitable. (Thank you Lord for your word, and thank you Holy Spirit for the understanding.)

I was also contacted by an elder from the church I’ve recently started attending, inviting me to a prayer meeting tonight. It’s good to know this new fellowship is a praying church and I hope to get along to that meeting to join them.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion
who satisfies your desires with good thing
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.(PS 103) NIV

Just as I was finalising this post, I was interrupted by a phone call.

It was a very precious long-standing friend, someone I’ve known for about 40 years. She is a woman of strong faith, and powerful prayer, and called to check on how I was going and to encourage me.

Yet another example of the Lord’s care.

Praise His name!!!

_______________________________

* For some reason I have difficulty understanding why believing God should be viewed as a bad thing.
I suspect those friends of the commenter had no regrets for maintaining their faith in God when they found themselves face to face with Him.

De Facto Calvinism

One of the main doctrines of Calvinism is that God alone determines who will be saved, and by exclusion, who will be damned to hell. That view is contrary to everything that scripture reveals about God and His desire that all should come to repentance.

But that is not the topic I want to discuss here.

What I’ve observed, and even realised about myself, is that many people who would reject those Calvinist ideas of “Limited Atonement” are no different to the Calvinists when it comes to other beliefs about God’s interaction with humanity.

What do I mean?

A personal example. How often I have taken for granted that my decisions will result in God’s will being done in my life? That I assume He will either endorse my decisions, or will somehow intervene and put a stop to what I’m doing before I become committed? That HE will “sovereignly” direct the outcome, even when I’ve failed to consult Him or seek His will on the matter.

A decade and a half ago I moved to a new town and bought a house – crediting God with the move, even though I’d made no effort at all to see whether that was what HE wanted.
In practice I was convincing myself  that the assumed permission and lack of interference, was an endorsement, otherwise He would “sovereignly” stop what I was doing.

Gloria, my wife, pointed out another example of De Facto Calvinism that has far more dangerous connotations than my own personal example. In my case the only ones affected were Gloria and myself.
In the following situation the effects are widespread and far more serious.

Not surprisingly, considering the content of so much of my recent writing, I’m referring to attitudes to healing. Gloria recognised that they are no different to the Calvinist belief in a Limited Atonement, that restricts forgiveness of sins and salvation to an “elect” sovereignly chosen by God.

Those attitudes insist that God sovereignly chooses who will be healed and who won’t be. That healing comes down solely to the personal decision of God. In other words it is determined much the same way that Calvinists insist that salvation is decided: by Divine whim.

While common, that view is completely at odds with scripture in so many ways.

Firstly, scripture is clear on the fact that physical healing is a benefit given by God alongside forgiveness of sins, and is included in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. (Isaiah 53:3-5, Matt 8:16-17)

Secondly, God commands His people to “choose life” after giving them the choice between life and death. That should leave no doubt about God’s will in the matter.

Thirdly, Jesus Himself, doing NOTHING that wasn’t the will of the Father, healed ALL who were brought to Him or came to Him. He  later commissioned His followers to continue that ministry in His name, after He had returned to the Father.
(Mark 16: 15-18, John 20:21-22, )

Fourthly, God made available several different ways of healing, all of which require some kind of participation from the sick person, and the exercising of faith, either by the sick one or those ministering to them. Those ways include:

  1. Laying on of hands. (Mark 5:23, Mark 6:5, Mark 16:18, Luke 4:40, Acts 28:8,)
  2. Gifts of healing. (1 Corinthians 12 and possibly demonstrated in several cases of early church healings in Acts )
  3. Prayer of faith (James 5)
  4. Receiving and attending to Word of God. (Prov 4 Matt 8:8 )
  5. Faith of the seeker (Luke 17, and a most clear example Matt 9: 20-22 , Acts 14:8-10)
  6. Intercession and faith of someone else on behalf of a seeker. (Matt 15: 21-28, Acts 3, Matt 8:5-13 )
  7.  By Jesus’ name and through faith. (Acts 3:16)
  8. General prayer for “whatever” (including healing), as long as we believe, and/or diligently seek God.  (Mark 11:24, Matt 21:22, Heb 11:6, 1 John 5: 14-15,)
  9. Deliverance from demons, (Mark 9:25, Luke 7:21, Acts 5:16, Acts 8: 7,Acts 19:12,
  10. Special miracles of healing through “handkerchiefs and aprons”, or touching garments. (Acts 19:12,)
  11. Praying for each other. (James 5:16)

So instead of considering healing as something solely determined by God’s “sovereign choice”, or the domain of select people with certain spiritual gifts, we need to start believing and obeying God and His word, and take responsibility for  those things He has commissioned us to do in the name of Jesus.

In the same way that forgiveness of sins, and our acceptance into the family of God are through faith,  so are healing and any other benefit God has provided. They are through faith in Him and His word. Believing in Him, His generous promises and His desire for us to receive them. They are not awarded according to Divine lottery.
Instead of using “the sovereignty of God” as an excuse for our failure to receive from God, the following from Hebrews gives valuable instruction.

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

AMEN!!!
 

 

Break up your unploughed ground and do not sow among thorns.

Jesus told the following story to the crowd of people who were following Him.

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Later He explained what the parable meant,

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.

I find the story offers clear cautionary advice about the way we treat and receive God’s word, and the things that can prevent it from being fruitful in our lives.

1) We can allow birds/ Satan to snatch it away before it has any effect. It isn’t allowed to penetrate into our lives so becomes an easy target for removal. Something prevents the importance and relevance from being grasped and nurtured, it is ignored ,and therefore quickly lost.

When I’ve thought of “the path” where seed falls, I have pictured one of those tracks worn through a field by frequent foot traffic. People taking the easy route, creating a path trodden down and established by regular traffic. It gives me a metaphor for the traditional ways of those who have gone before, leaving us with a well-trodden rut to blindly follow and creates the kind of surface impervious to seed falling upon it. The perfect, seed resistant feeding ground for hungry birds (Satan).

2) Similarly, seed/ the word can be lost if its not given enough room in our lives. The initial acceptance of it isn’t nurtured and fed, so the roots don’t become established and its effectiveness is allowed to wither and die, especially when difficulties arise. How easy it is for discouragement to set in, How easy to give up when things start to get difficult.

It’s no coincidence that  faith and patience are linked together as needed when we are believing one of  God’s promises. Without patience faith will give up when results aren’t seen as soon as we would like. We have to retain confidence in the integrity of God and His word and not allow sensory experience  to make us doubt them.

3) Thirdly, the seed/word might be received and nurtured, even producing some growth, but it gets mixed with other interests and cares, and while there may be an appearance of health, that can be deceiving, and what may seem to be a thriving plant remains fruitless, thereby failing its reason for existing.

I recently came across the following quote in Andrew Murray’s Holiest of All. Regrettably it perfectly describes influences in my life until recent months, and sadly, I suspect, the experience isn’t mine alone, illustrating the effects of trying to grow a crop mingled with weeds.

The power of the world, the spirit of its literature, the temptation of business and pleasure – all of these unite to make up a religion in which it is sought to combine a comfortable hope for the future with the least possible amount of sacrifice in the present.

The conditions in our lives that make us open (or closed) to God’s word depend on us.

We can resist, neglect or compromise His word and get a fruitless outcome. Or we can make sure we are receptive to it.

The following instruction from God through the prophet Jeremiah seems appropriate – a command that if heeded would prevent the problems mentioned in Jesus’ parable of the sower, and would ensure a healthy harvest with no loss of seed.

“Break up your unploughed ground and do not sow among thorns”

In other words, preparation for, and commitment to, receiving God’s word is helpful.
Don’t sow the Word into a field of rigidity or distraction.

Be assured, that if the necessary attention is not paid – the birds will swoop in, the viability of the sprouting word will be compromised, or the eventual growth will seem impressive, but fruitless.

How Encouraging!

It’s always encouraging when things I have learned and shared are confirmed by the Lord from a separate source.

As I’ve written in the past, if we search the scriptures for ourselves, and trust the Holy Spirit to give us understanding, then Lord will bring either correction or confirmation of what we’ve discovered through other Spirit filled believers.

The Holy Spirit will NOT reveal something to one person and something totally contradictory to another.

The following video, is a wonderful confirmation to me, referring to many of the things I wrote about a couple of days ago, even referencing the same bible verses and making the same points I made I my post here. A post in which I included scriptural support for each point made through links to BibleGateway.

Hallelujah!!!

Giving Careful Thought to the Paths…repentance.

A very insightful and informative article from Art Thomas about the “guilt by association” accusations that have been levelled against his ministry and others.

I thank the Lord for it.

I know that a few weeks ago I probably would have eagerly dismissed and cautioned against ministries like that of Art Thomas and Todd White, not because of anything inherently wrong with the work or the message, but because of alleged associations with others.

Lord, I repent of that attitude and the broad-brush condemnation that it fuelled.

What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

What is the New Apostolic Reformation? Why is it such a big deal to so many people? And what threat does the New Apostolic Reformation pose to the Church?

I want to offer a balanced response to these three questions and hopefully clear up some of the rhetoric and confusion that’s out there. My primary goal here is to give the Body of Christ a reasoned look at a complex topic so that we can be discerning and loving in how we interact on the subject. My secondary goal is to call out false teachers, slanderers, and children of the devil who have built their audiences out of innocent people whose itching ears are eager to hear what they want to hear.

Today I’m going to expose some wolves in sheep’s clothing, prominent theological errors, and divisive lies that are tearing apart the Church.

But it’s probably not going to look like what you expect.

In my best attempt to be like Jesus, I intend to love and defend the innocent while not pulling punches against those who have sown lies, discord, and false doctrine in the Church.

So hold onto your hat!

https://supernaturaltruth.com/understanding-new-apostolic-reformation/

See full article at link above.

Be Healed

Gloria and I have a Christian friend suffering from some worrying health issues. We’ve been praying for him each day and both of us separately felt led to visit and pray for him in person.
Gloria contacted his wife earlier today and suggested this, but the offer was declined.

Then later, we started watching a YouTube video of a sermon “Forget Not All HIs Benefits” – based on Psalm 103.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases…

The very popular preacher insisted that “Heals all your diseases” did not mean physical disease, but only “diseases of the soul”.

Is it any wonder that sickness is accepted and tolerated among Christians when they are being taught such garbage?
Basically being taught that the Bible doesn’t really mean what the Bible clearly says?
And that particular teacher is the compiler of a “study bible” retailed under his own name (MacArthur Study Bible) so he can more fully explain what scripture “really” means, instead of what is actually written in the biblical text.

When are Christians going to wake up and STOP trusting in the teaching of those who deny and oppose God’s word and replace it with their own opinions?

Is it surprising that our friend – a Christian – should be hesitant/reluctant to receive personal prayer for healing, when so much false teaching has indoctrinated large sections of the church?

As an antidote to the above I share the following video.