EVERY GOOD BLESSING FROM ABOVE

It starts out “once upon a time a man with a speech impediment was healed”. Not an uncommon scenario in the life events of Christ but one that has special meaning when we look at it from the standpoint of Mark 7:31-37. The healing took place in Sidon, a far off place, not in the normal travel path of Christ and therefore I believe bears special consideration. Sidon not only was a great distance away from normal travel but was also pagan in make up and therefore not where you would expect Christ to be.

For me it is interesting the process that brought the healing about and the method used. The process, as it would be for us, began with a desire that someone has to be cured of their illness. No one is truly healed unless they want to be whether of their own accord or convinced and aided by someone else’s assistance. The examination as it did in today’s text requires questions such as: why do you choose the person to heal you that you do and do you truly believe in their skills? These for a Christian when it relates to our sins are repentance questions that test the sincerity of our action.

Once it is established that a person truly wants healing, be it from sin or illness, then the method is to be considered. In the example in Mark 7 we see that it is somewhat unusual having Christ use His spittle on the tongue and plugging his ears with his fingers. That divine touch that becomes very personal is not unlike spiritual healing that we may seek where without Christ’s presence within our heart (Holy Spirit) healing cannot begin. Once that is in place then as Christ did with the hearing impaired individual so we need to look at our Father in Heaven and build that line of communication that brings the healing to bear and allows for us to have 0ngoing communication for other needs or communication as time passes by. For indeed EVERY GOOD BLESSING COMES FROM ABOVE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Healing happens when we look toward Heaven with the Holy Spirit in our heart.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Mark 7:31-37 ” the process of healing through Christ”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for healing.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are some ways that we can send a message without words?
  2. What vehicles did Christ use that carried healing power (ex. oils)?
  3. What emotions did Christ show during his time on earth?
  4. What was the process and method Christ used in His healing others?

GLORIFYING GOD AT ALL TIMES!

Society seems to have a fascination for greatness. We increase beyond reality people, their efforts and even their problems. Job experienced this when his ‘friends’ magnified his difficulties beyond what they really were. Only humility in all these various situations puts matters back into proper perspective.

Scripture tells us what we should make or declare great and the center of it is God. We begin with David’s words in 2 Samuel 7:26 who understood that God’s name is to be magnified. Sadly many instead use it improperly in their daily speech. Next we must declare great the Word of God (Psalm 138:2) for it alone is ultimate truth able to guide our lives. Rather than remove it from society as those who seek ‘freedom from religion’ would have us do we need to get it in the hands of more people as their primary life’s Book of Instruction and laws by which to live (Isaiah 42:21). The Book, of course, that I speak of is the one that points us to Christ and the empty tomb that Christians around the world call THE BIBLE.

Our duty in all this is, as the Psalm of David declares (Psalm 34:1-3), to declare the Name of our Lord and Savior great before others and not just occasionally but continually as vs. 1 tells us. We should be doing this with thanksgiving 24/7 and 365 days a year (Psalm 69:30). That requires we do it in our body now and even in our death GLORIFYING GOD AT ALL TIMES.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Mankind is meant to magnify the majesty of our Master.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 138:2 “concerning God we are to magnify His Word”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to make great Your Name in all the world.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do we abuse the concept of greatness?
  2. Do you declare God and Christ Jesus as great to others?
  3. How can you further God’s Word?
  4. How can we glorify God in our death?

HOW HEALING WORKS!

A part of ministry that is often misunderstood is that of healing and what the Scriptures have to tell us about the subject. We hear of healing events by pastors and others and yet our human nature places doubt in our minds and so I believe it is important to look at the act of healing from the perspective of the great healer of all time Christ Jesus. One example of this healing ministry that Christ performed frequently is recorded in Matthew 14:34-36. First it should be noted that this instance came about as did much of Christ’s ministry through the spreading of the word of his actions. Today also no matter what the situation the word of mouth message is what draws many to an event, place or person. Sadly we need to spread that word more in the sharing of our faith yet many are quiet when it comes to that.

At this time in Christ’s ministry on earth people were not so bashful or reserved. They were ‘out and loud’ as one t-shirt I recently saw declared for another cause. The people encouraged others to seek Christ and they did in today’s Scriptural reading. Imagine if we who claim the Christian faith did that today how full and ‘loud’ our churches would be. Christians in fact as today’s text shows should be fascinated to be a part of something great. A movement that will end in an eternal life unimaginable for those who truly desire it.

In verse 36 we see that the power of Christ was even available at the outermost part of His shawl. Today Christ can heal us whether in large congregational environments or at a campfire where two people come together for prayer and conversation. The condition for healing is not the location but the connection to Christ. In fact anyone who touches Jesus can be made whole in the broadest sense of the term. That is HOW HEALING WORKS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Healing happens in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE OF TODAY: Matthew 14:36 “the condition of healing is to connect with Christ”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek Your healing.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Where is the danger for those who seek healing in relics rather than their faith?
  2. How can each of us do a better job of spreading the message of Christ to others?
  3. What great manifestations of God’s power do we have now and will have in Heaven?
  4. Why has the US and Europe lost their fascination with the Christian faith?

 

ALL INFIRMITIES CAN BE OVERCOME

Every one is different is a fairly obvious statement. Some are blessed with longevity here on earth with hardly any illness to face while others know their medical practitioners on a close and personal basis.

Scripture addresses our infirmities which are the weakness of our human nature first of all by assuring us that Christ is at our side and has taken our sickness upon Himself (Matthew 8:17). All matters of healing whether physical or spiritual are to be brought to Him.

The key in life is how we respond to them. In a sense each ailment satan puts before us in our human nature is like a battle plan we turn over to our Lord and Savior. Our response is never to show defeat but rather to “take pleasure in infirmities” (2 Corinthians 12:10) for Christ has assured us He is our strength which is made perfect in our weakness (vs. 9).

In a very real sense I believe God’s Word looks  at not only physical ailments but spiritual ailments as infirmities. All sins, which are clearly listed in Scripture, are to be removed so that we are restored to Christ. In fact it is our responsibility to help others caught in sin (Galatians 6:1). The best way of course is for a person sick in nature to find Christ but when we take this on be prepared to be attacked with the full force of satan as they caught in sin (infirmity) will attack your spirit and your body by their words and deeds. What they do not understand is the ultimate victory is ours.

The important thing regarding our battle with infirmities (both  within and without) is that all must understand that what is said or done is carried out in love. Hatred and anger are tools of the devil. With this understanding ALL INFIRMITIES CAN BE OVERCOME.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Infirmities are opportunities to increase in faith.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 12:10 “rejoice in infirmities”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to battle all infirmity.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Factors that influence our well being?
  2. How can we be of help to others caught in sin?
  3. What words and deeds does satan and those caught in sin use against spiritual restoration?
  4. Do you have a battle plan for your infirmities?

FREE FROM DISEASE!

One area that I am woefully lacking in is understanding the full meaning of what 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us which is that “our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit”. Furthermore that verse tells me we are not our own. Therefore if I am a steward of what God has given me, I must also be over my body.

The question then is how do I honor God with my body. One obvious answer is taking on proper nourishment. Numerous verses in Scripture address this such as 1 Timothy 4:3 and 5:23 among others. That topic alone has filled volumes of books. Most conclude it is simply a matter of eating with common sense from the basic food groups. Neither giving in to anything that would cause us to neglect, over indulge or idolize our bodies.

It is important to understand that sin has a consequence on our body. Christ references it as an unclean spirit in Matthew 12:43-45. In fact when the Holy Spirit is not present numerous wicked spirits can take over our bodies bringing sickness along. Just one example of this is moral looseness such as Proverbs 7:22-27 addresses.

God may well let satan have permission to test us as He did Job with all sorts of calamities including poor health. Only when Job repented and understood that God alone can heal was health restored. Once that is understood then our body, soul and spirit will be properly aligned. Our focus will be on God and a sound Scriptural based program of exercise, nutrition and other areas of preventive care can be started. The answer to good health and care for our body,soul and spirit is to be dead to sin and alive to God. It is only then that we are truly FREE FROM DISEASE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Health happens when full spiritual healing occurs.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 6:19 “we are a temple of the Holy Spirit”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord heal me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What dietary advice does the Bible give?
  2. What are unclean spirits that can inherit our bodies?
  3. How does someone honor God with their body?
  4. What does it mean to be alive to God?

THE GREATEST…

Cassius Clay (M. Ali) once referred to himself as the greatest. We have a reference book called ‘The Guinness Book of World Records’ of the greatest of one sort or another . We travel often at great expense to places or events that epitomize the greatest degree of one thing or another. Extremes seem to appeal to mankind and the Bible speaks to that issue as well.

One example is that of extreme or great faith. In Genesis 22:1-3 we read of Abraham’s faith in God shown through his willing obedience to sacrifice his son. A foretaste of what God carried on during what we now celebrate as Resurrection week.Today we honor that strength of principle. In fact we honor and rightfully so anyone who sacrifices life for what is right.

With great faith often comes great grief and pain. That is only natural. Jesus prior to His death on the cross while yet understanding the importance of His sacrifice cried out what may well be the 7 most pain filled words ever spoken: “My God why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Many if not most of us for one reason or another have said that as well. Sadly,unlike Christ Who trusted in His Father through the pain and grief, many of us on earth do not see God’s love and tears in our pain and not doing so we remove ourselves from a relationship with our Savior.

This is what happened with lucifer which is recalled in Isaiah 14:12-15. His pride, as it is with ours, separated himself from God until one day he and all who separate themselves from God due to extreme personal pride will be cast into Sheol. A place of eternal torment. A place described by Christ in Luke 16:23-24. The greatest example of extreme torment mankind will ever know.

In this life there are a great many extremes. Through the good and bad it is important to endure in one thing only. Our faith in God Who will one day bring us to salvation. That of all extremes as we will see is bar none THE GREATEST.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Extremes when exercised in the examples of Christ are everlasting.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Genesis 22:1-3 “Extreme human faith”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire strength to build an extreme faith within me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What examples of extreme faith has our world shown?
  2. What in life has been most painful for you?
  3. Have you ever felt forsaken by God?
  4. Do you have an extreme faith?

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!

Occasionally  various people will say “the devil made me do  it” with the intent of being humorous or some other less than  serious purpose. Truth be told there is a supernatural realm in which as Christians we believe there are angels who serve God for good and demons who serve the devil for bad (Matthew 12:26-30). The Bible takes these two spiritual realms for granted as should we if we say we believe in the Bible.

This should cause us to want to know a little more about demons and how they can affect us emotionally, mentally and physically. First we must know demons are evil but subject to the Lord and His Disciples (Luke 10:17-18). This is important to know as demons have an enormous amount of power (Luke 8:29) which can do us harm if we do not exorcise them through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When demons attack they come in force (Mark 5:8-9). For many it is a battle that when you feel you have one licked there are others that come at you from another direction. The task is to remain strong in the Spirit. Demons recognize Christ (Mark 1:23-24) and His ability to destroy them. Demons know their destiny (Matthew 8:29).

Despite this knowledge mankind continues to  offer sacrifices to them as to any false god (1 Corinthians 10:19-20) which they gladly receive. The hope being that their deceit will cause people to leave the faith (1 Timothy 4:1).

I believe we need to look at the emotional, mental and physical ailments of people very carefully. Often the case will be that they are not insane or afflicted with disease, but rather a demon or demons who need to be exorcised. Though we may jest there can be a great deal of truth when we proclaim THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Demons desire to deprive man from deliverance.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: MARK 1:23-24 “demons recognize Christ”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen the power of the Holy Spirit’s presence within me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Are demons also able to affect us spiritually and why or why not?
  2. What demons if any do you carry?
  3. What is your plan for fighting personal demons?
  4. How are demons false gods and give examples?

PROBLEMS HARD TO SOLVE?

Problems come with life in all sizes. Handling the difficulties is the hard problem. The Bible speaks of many kinds but those that affect our spirit or spiritual life are most to be concerned with as they have eternal consequences. For example one such problem is the heavy burden of sin which is expressed best by David in Psalm 38.

Other difficulties divide us more so on earth such as theological understanding. This of course is seen in the many branches of faith and religion. Examples of this that the Bible addresses and often drive churches apart are how to handle membership issues or the need for and expenditure of finances among many other. Still other difficulties lie in the physical realm. The having and raising of children or dealing with illness. These also, as many problems can, not only effect the immediate difficulty but may also tarnish our spiritual life.

On a positive note there is even difficulty in handling God’s providence as Psalm 44 shows us. As followers of our Lord and Savior we can know that God will bless us and the greater our faith becomes the more blessings come our way. Yet despite this there will be difficulties as a sin filled way of life on earth will attack the believer.

There are two ways we can respond. The first was shown by Israel in Numbers 21:4-5. They went so far as to speak against God. Some pointed out in Scripture responded even to the point of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12). To the contrary as Christians we can and should respond positively by submitting to whatever situation God puts before us as Numbers 14:7-9 shows. The key it seems is to accept and pray as Christ Himself advised in Mark 11:23. When doing so PROBLEMS ARE NOT HARD TO SOLVE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Difficulties diminish when a Divine God is invited into our lives.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Mark 11:24 “pray when difficulties arise”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I submit to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What kinds (categories) of difficulties are there?
  2. How burdensome was sin for David in Psalm 38?
  3. What problems are you facing?
  4. How are you managing your difficulties?

 

DEPRESSION!

It seems to me there is much around us that can bring on a depression of spirit. We start off the day with depressing news casts and often don’t go to sleep without watching the news. Somehow that doesn’t seem like the answer for what ails us to overcome this ‘down in the dumps’ mood we believe we need. For many we look outside of ourselves to find the ‘good feeling’ and so we cling to sports teams, become groupies for some unique personality or perhaps we turn to alcohol, drugs or narcotics. The end result eventually is often a let down as we return to reality.

The Bible tells us the cause for despondency often lies in, for example, mourning such as Jacob felt when he thought his son Joseph had died (Genesis 37:34-35). The only solution to this separation brought on by death or some other means of course is our hope in God (Psalm 42:5). In fact without our hope in God our life would indeed be pitiful.

Many feel despondent in reaction to sickness such as Hezekiah did (Isaiah 38:9-12). It is a major factor in the popularity of euthanasia. Legally ending our lives prematurely with the assistance of others. When that is done we remove ourselves from a healing God who values each of us created in His image and so we buy into satan’s argument feeling we have no longer a purpose and despondency often leading to death sets in.

Sorrow drives many into despondency even to the point of suicide. Here is where forgiveness is so important. Others forgiving us for sins we committed whatever they may be (while still allowing for accountability for actions committed). Not only do we need outside forgiveness but we have to forgive ourselves as well. If not, the problem will eat away at our soul to the point of destroying it.

This life by its nature will be full of adversity. No one understood that better than Job who shared his feelings in Job 9:16-35. There will be times when we will wonder where God is but we can rest assured no matter what the cause God is at our side and ready to help us with our DEPRESSION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Despondency is difficult unless we turn our depression into devotion toward God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 42:5 “answer for depression”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep me strong.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What around us brings on depression?
  2. Where does society go for comfort and with what results?
  3. Is there something you need forgiveness for?
  4. What is the Biblical answer for depression?

IN BONDAGE TO DECAY!

As long as life on earth continues mankind will be in bondage to decay. The reason is simple. Satan has been permitted to be the god (small g) of this world and he is an adversary to our Creator God and humanity. Satan will attack us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When that happens in order to save the soul, I believe God permits satan to do us affliction (1 Corinthians 5:5) in order to lead us to common sense and repentance. Removing ourselves from the sinner and their sin is often necessary to keep those not yet afflicted from a certain sin being drawn into the sin. It is for that reason acts of excommunication or shunning are carried out in some faiths. Indeed as Romans 3:16 tells us those caught in sins against God will find themselves on a path to destruction and misery. The only way to break this chain is to come to the knowledge and wisdom of God (Isaiah 5:13).

It seems to me that mercy is more evident when it is seen with a background of judgment. In other words many seemingly have to hit bottom before they are able to look up (Romans 9:22-23). Until they do they are enemies of our Lord and Savior and their god is “their belly” as Philippians 3:19 tells us. Doing whatever makes them feel good not realizing the harm they are causing.

Today as Christian believers we must be ever vigilant for there are many false teachers who promote destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). They do this under the guise of education, entertainment, etc. Either way their act leads many to swift destruction. These immoral people will attack every sense we have (eyes, ears, etc.) calling or implying what is evil good. When we succumb to their ways and other evil methods of satan then we are IN BONDAGE TO DECAY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The devil’s plan of destruction can only lead to death and despair.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Peter 2:1 “false teaching leads to swift destruction”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord protect me and my family from destruction.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How did satan become the god (small g) of this world?
  2. How are Christians attacked through physical, emotional, mental and spiritual means?
  3. How do you feel about the idea of excommunication?
  4. Who are the false teachers leading others to destruction?