Published by SoMuchGoodNews at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Laurence P. Probert
One of the most difficult things for people, in general, to face is how to deal with tragedy and loss when it comes their way.
Often, if not most times, the first response is one of anger, either against the person or persons, who have caused the situation to arise or anger towards God. Sometimes the anger is directed even at themselves and they spend time berating themselves. “How could I have done such a foolish thing? I must have been out of my mind. I really need to take greater care in future.”
The questions which often come to mind at the time are: “What did I do to deserve this?” “Where was God when this happened?” “Why did God allow this to happen?” “We have often heard it preached that God loves us and that He is our fortress and shield and that we can look to Him for protection and safe-keeping. If that is true, then how is it that He didn’t protect me in this instance?”
Others, again, seek to philosophise and simply say that God moves in mysterious ways. We can’t understand now, but one day we’ll know why this happened. Still others conclude that God must be punishing them for some misdemeanour or other or that there must be some purpose in what has happened to them.
Still others seek to console themselves by simply concluding that it must be “the will of God.” The latter is said, even in the face of an accident occurring where a drunk driver loses control of his vehicle and kills a loved one in another vehicle on the road, thus shifting the blame for their tragedy from the irresponsible driver and placing it squarely at the feet of God.
We might ask ourselves, if the above reasoning in the face of tragedy and loss is somehow incorrect and brings little or no consolation to those who are facing such unpleasant circumstances, then what is the correct answer and how can we face the troubles that come our way and rise above them victoriously?
The answer, I believe, lies between the covers of the Holy Scriptures, which have come to us down through the ages and have been “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16.
There are many examples in both Old and New Testaments of people who were faced with tragic situations, which would have brought great devastation to them and their loved ones, but for the grace and goodness and the never-failing love of a God who is forever for us and never against us.
We can go as far back in time to Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. This is the Genesis record of the first murder ever committed, that of Cain against his brother Abel.
In this instance, we might have expected a righteous and vengeful God to be extremely angry with Cain, to have nothing more to do with him or to punish him severely. But, God being the loving and merciful God that He is, responded in a totally opposite way. Cain was not rejected or cut off from fellowship with God, but instead we find this gracious God speaking with Cain and sharing with him the plan He has to protect him and to keep him safe from any who might seek revenge and hunt him down to take his life from him. He proved Himself to Cain as the God who is for him and not against him. What? Can it possibly be that God can be for an obvious murderer and not against him? Yes! A thousand times, Yes!
Someone might ask: Does this not mean that God condones murder? No, not at all. God did not say that Cain’s evil act was acceptable. He condemned the act, but He was merciful to the person. He hated the act, but He loved the person. And so it is even to this day … God is against sin and every evil act, but He is for those whom He loves with an everlasting and unwavering love.
In Isaiah 54:7 – 10, we are once again assured of God’s great love and mercy. The prophet, looking forward to the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross has this to say: “For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you says the LORD, your Redeemer. This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
What a wonderful promise we have here from the Lord Himself, assuring us that He is indeed the God who is for us and not against us – a great God of mercy and unfailing love and goodness.
This reminds me of a time when I was a young man, desperately seeking to have a meaningful relationship with God. I was convinced that if I tried hard enough, somehow God would be impressed with my efforts and give me an assurance of His acceptance of me.
And so I did my utmost in an effort to impress God. When my friends were watching movies on a Saturday afternoon, you would find me reading the Bible. I became the leader of our eighty strong youth group; I taught in the Sunday School and attended church meetings twice a day on Sundays. I even went so far as to offer for the ministry. On top of all of that, I tried my utmost to live a good, moral life. But in the process of all of this, I became perhaps the most self-righteous person alive and, as a result became very critical and judgmental of everyone else. They, I judged, were all miserable sinners and I was the only one who was living an exemplary life, or so I thought.
Then, one Saturday afternoon, I was reading my Bible once again and read Galatians 5. When I got to chapter 5 verses 22 and 23 I read, “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: against such things there is no law.”
I then began to examine myself in the light of what had read:
Love? I had no love. In place of love there was gross criticism, judgment and fault-finding in my relationships with others.
Joy? I had been told that Christians are a joyful people, but I had no real joy in my life. I used to pretend to be joyful, but it was all a sham.
Peace? There was no peace. Instead it felt like there was a war going on within me. There was a huge battle going on between what was right and what was wrong. A good description of this battle can be found in Paul’s letter to the Romans 7:19: “For I do not do the good that I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
This latter state of mind was illustrated in an instance when my younger sister asked me to clean her shoes. Inwardly, I was deeply offended and thought to myself, “Who does she think I am? Does she really think that I must humble myself to do such a menial task for her?” And then it was as if I heard another voice saying, “It’s the good and right thing to do.” And so I gritted my teeth and bent my will to do “what was the right thing to do.” But I found no pleasure or satisfaction in doing it.
After examining myself in this way, I could come to only one conclusion and that was that I did not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within me. All my so-called good deeds and self-effort counted for absolutely nothing.
The next morning, being Sunday, I went to the morning service at our church and lo and behold, the preacher expounded on Galatians 5:22 and 23. A coincidence?
But what really turned my life around on that morning was a line we sang from the Christmas carol, “Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.” When we came to the words, “Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel”, I suddenly realised how great the love of God was for me. Here I was, looking down on others, being very critical and judgmental of them and going so far as not wanting to associate with them. But how different Jesus was: He was without sin and yet He was pleased to leave His Father’s throne in heaven to come and dwell among rotten sinners, who deserved to receive nothing from Him, but judgment and rejection. What great love that was from this “Friend of sinners”!
I don’t know how I got home that morning. All I could think of was the greatness of God’s love for me. When I arrived home, I went straight to my bedroom and fell to my knees and turned my life over to the Lord, and suddenly I sensed my heart changed within me and I was filled with real love for the Lord and for others. And I thought to myself, where is my sister now? . I’d gladly and joyfully clean her shoes for her! More than that, I couldn’t wait to share with others what I had discovered: the grace and mercy – the undeserved, unmerited, unearned, unconditional love of a wonderful Saviour!
Nowhere do we find this great love of God exemplified for us better than on the cross of Calvary. It is there on that cross that Jesus, the beloved Son of God laid down His life, becoming the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world – for your sin and mine.
No other human being was qualified for this. Every person who had lived before and after Him in this world was contaminated by the sin of Adam. From one generation to another that sinful, fallen nature was transmitted from one person to another, since we all carried within our bloodline the sinful genes of Adam.
Only a person who did not have the genes of fallen Adam was qualified to become the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Only one person, who was conceived not of man, but of the Holy Spirit could fit the bill – one who did not share the bloodline and genes of Adam and of those who followed after him – and that person is Jesus, the sinless Son of the living God.
John the baptizer described Jesus as, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
On the cross, Jesus was the perfect sacrificial lamb. ”For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21.
All the wrath and punishment of a righteous God – wrath and punishment which we rightly deserved, was visited upon Jesus. All our sin was judged in Him so that we might be free from all judgment and condemnation. In terms of the New Covenant established by the broken body and shed blood of this sacrificial Lamb, we have been set free and the prophetic word of Isaiah has become a reality – God will never again be angry with us. We are “accepted in the Beloved” – greatly blessed, highly favoured and deeply loved by our heavenly Father.
Jesus Himself spoke of this when He said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (not all peoples) but all judgment to Myself.” – John 12:32. The word “peoples”, you will notice, is written in italics in the New King James Version of the New Testament, which indicates that the translators mistakenly inserted this word. It is evident that, in the context of the passage, Jesus was in fact speaking about judgment: “Now is the judgment of this world: now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” (v.31). When Jesus was “lifted up from the earth” on the cross, He drew all judgment – the anger and condemnation of God, which we deserved, to Himself. He who was without sin was made sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
It is evident that if Jesus had used the word “peoples” then all peoples would have been drawn to Him by now, but the converse is true: not all peoples have been drawn to Him. The vast majority have rejected Him and many who have been drawn to Him are to this day being persecuted by the enemies of the cross. I rest my case!
When we turn to the Gospels, we see the heart of God revealed in a very graphic way in the life of Jesus. He is clearly described in Matthew’s Gospel as Emmanuel meaning God with us. Jesus later confirms His deity when in John’s Gospel He makes it clear to His opponents and to his disciples that He and the Father are one. “ I and the Father are one.” – John 10:30.
And again He declares to His enemies, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” – John 8:58. Some might think that Jesus was using bad grammar, but in fact He was alluding here to the first time that God revealed His name as I AM. This occurred on the occasion when Moses asked God who he must say to the people of Israel, who were in bondage in Egypt, has sent him. “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”. And He said,” Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:14. Jesus was thus clearly identifying Himself here as the God of the Old Testament – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the God of Moses and Israel. No wonder then that His opponents were offended and accused Him of blasphemy, taking up stones to deal with Him in accordance with the Law of Moses. In their minds it was unthinkable that a mere human being should claim to be God.
On another occasion, Jesus appeals to those who are with Him, saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28 – 30.
Imagine if someone – a friend or member of your family were to say these words to you – what would you think? Surely no ordinary person would dare to put out an invitation like this, unless he was God Himself. How proud and arrogant these words would be if they were uttered by just an ordinary human being.
There are several other instances in the Gospels where Jesus claimed to be the true manifestation of God on the earth, but suffice it to say that the point has so far been clearly established. We can therefore reasonably conclude that if we want to know the true nature and attributes of God, they are to be found in the person of Jesus Christ.
There are many clear indications in the other New Testament scriptures which also testify to the divinity of Jesus.
Hebrews 1:6,8 10: “Let all God’s angels worship him.” …. But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your kingdom.”
And, “You, Lord laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands.”
In this latter verse, Jesus is clearly identified as the creator of the earth and the heavens.
The crowning description of Jesus in all His splendour and magnificence is found in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians 1:15 -19.
In order to portray His divinity in the most graphic way, I’d like to take the liberty to present it in the first person singular. I suggest that you read it out loud and hear Jesus, the divine Christ describe Himself:
“I am the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by me all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through me and for me. And I am before all things, and in me all things hold together. And I am the head of the body, the church.
I am the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything I might be preeminent. For in me all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”
What a God! What a Saviour! What a Lord we have here! He is our matchless, incomparable, highly exalted King of kings and Lord of lords. We can do no other than bow the knee and indeed, fall on our faces in reverence and worship and adoration!
Luke, the author of The Acts of the Apostles states clearly that “He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” – Acts 10:38. Note: they were oppressed by the devil – not by God!
In the Gospels we find many instances
We find Jesus in Matthew 8:2 – 17: A leper approaches Jesus , quite contrary to the Law of Moses, and appeals to Jesus for healing: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Notice how Jesus responds to him, not with anger and condemnation, but with deep compassion, so much so that He even touches the leper – doing that which was unheard of and unspeakable, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” This is our God – a God who shows us clearly that He is for us and not against us.
Note that Jesus doesn’t even ask the leper to confess and turn away from his sins before cleansing him. His great love and compassion are what motivate Him.
See Jesus now in Capernaum… A centurion – one who is in the army of the hated Romans – approaches Jesus to restore his servant, who is severely tormented, suffering from paralysis.
Without hesitation, Jesus responds: “I will come and heal him.” And heal him, He did. “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed in that very moment, with no terms and conditions attached.
Did the servant deserve to be healed and did the centurion deserve to be shown mercy and compassion? Certainly not! Once again, Jesus reaches out to them in great love and grace. This is our God – this is our Saviour and Lord!
And then we find Jesus in Peter’s house, where Peter’s mother-in-law is lying sick with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her.
That same evening, many who were possessed with demons were brought to Jesus and He cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all who were sick. Matthew then responds with a significant quotation from the prophet Isaiah, saying, “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” – Isaiah 53:4.
Matthew clearly related these events to the finished work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. It was there on that cross that all our sin was judged and condemned and our sicknesses and diseases were borne in the body of Jesus. He became sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ and He bore all our sicknesses so that we might be made whole and well in Him. This is the heritage which belongs to the seed of Abraham through the righteousness of faith (Romans 4:13). More than that, we are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). As believers, there is absolutely nothing, not even our sin that can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39).
Surely if we understand and believe this truth, we can do no other than recognise that whatever comes our way and causes us pain and suffering, comes to us not as punishment from God or because God is trying to teach us a lesson or because in some strange way it’s His will for us. God is for us and not against us!
There are, of course, those who would say that it is not always God’s will for all to be healed, otherwise all would be healed. There are instances where Jesus healed many, but not all, and we are told that He could do no many mighty works in His own country. But note the reason given for this. It was not that He was unable or unwilling to heal their sick, but “because of their unbelief.” – Matthew 13:54 – 58.
We are told very clearly that it is the desire of God for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:4. But not all men are saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. So we see that in spite of the fact that God desires and wills all to be saved and indeed, all to be healed, there are those who fail to put their trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross and so fail to receive the healing and salvation which God provided for them two thousand years ago, as their inheritance in Christ Jesus. Religion would try to console us into believing that in certain instances it is God’s better plan for us to suffer sickness and so glorify Him in our suffering. But let me state quite categorically that this reasoning is quite contrary to the truth and has no place the Gospel, which plainly declares that God’s love was demonstrated very graphically in the atoning death of Jesus of Nazareth on the cross and that the work that Jesus did there was in no way half-baked, but was complete and FINISHED. Nothing you and I can do can add to or subtract from the work that He completed on that cruel cross. But, some might say, about the man who was blind from birth in John 9:1 – 7, was it not because of the sin of his parents or because of his own sin that he was born blind? Was this not, in other words, punishment from God because of their sin?
Jesus’ answer is quite clear: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned.” Why then was this man afflicted in this way? There must be a reason.
Again, Jesus gives the clear reason, but unfortunately it has been mistranslated by the scholars, who were obviously influenced by the common beliefs of their day, which run contrary to the truth of the New Covenant.
They have Jesus to say: “but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
In other words, the translators would have us believe that God causes some people to be born with certain physical and mental afflictions and deformities, so that God might be glorified in their healing or even in their suffering. But this is far from the truth: how can a God who is full of love and compassion be so mean to some so that He might be exalted and glorified through their healing or suffering?
This, however, is not what Jesus intended for His disciples to believe. How then should Jesus’ answer be translated?
Notice that the translators place a full stop after “him.” “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
We need to take cognisance of the fact that the original Greek manuscripts had no punctuation and were all written in capital letters, which means that we have to discern by the Spirit where one sentence ends and another begins. And our conclusion needs to be in line with the truth of the Gospel as revealed in the New Covenant.
How then should this answer of Jesus be written? The following, I believe, is the answer: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him, we must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
In other words, what Jesus was saying is that this blindness and indeed all sickness, for that matter, has its source in darkness and satanic activity; it is not God’s doing, and Jesus’ purpose while He, and indeed, we as believers are in the world are to dispel that darkness and defeat the works of satan.
Some might ask: Why is it then that some are healed and others are left to suffer and eventually die?
This is a question of immense importance, which cannot be ignored and demands an answer.
In order to answer this question, we need to go back in time to the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
In the beginning, I think it’s fair to say that they had uninterrupted and perfect union and fellowship with God. Absolutely nothing separated them from Him. More than that, they were given dominion over everything in the world. They had complete authority to rule over the whole of creation. It was God’s desire and purpose that this state of affairs would continue forever and ever.
But one day this situation changed and that was the beginning of all the trouble and distress that has been evident from that fateful day to this present time.
Satan arrived on the scene and tempted this perfect couple to eat from the forbidden tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – and they succumbed and in the process handed over their authority and dominion over the earth to satan.
From that moment everything changed. The first thing that was evident was that the glory of the Lord which had covered them was lifted from them and they suddenly saw that they were naked. The next thing that entered the picture was that they became filled with a sense of shame and condemnation and fear.
In fact, it was not only they who experienced this dreadful change, but the whole of creation was affected: disease, destruction, violence and death entered the scene and Adam and Eve had no power and authority to change things back to what they had been before.
Fortunately for you and me, God had a plan to deal with the situation. And so, at the right time, He sent a Saviour into the world to redeem us. In the person of Jesus Christ, God Himself visited this planet of ours and did for us what no ordinary man could do.
This Man, who knew no sin, was made sin for us on the cross so that we who were dead in our sins could be made the very righteousness of God – set free from the power of sin and death. In this way, as our sin was judged and condemned in the body of Christ on the cross, that which was taken from us: our power, authority and dominion over creation were restored to us once and for all.
Because of what Jesus did for us, we who have been made righteous, can now live triumphantly over every situation that comes our way. We live, not seeking victory, but we live from a platform of victory which is already ours, not because we deserve it or by our own efforts have earned it, but because of what Jesus has accomplished for us through His finished work on the cross. He fought the fight and won the battle for us.
As believers, we rest in what Jesus has done! We recognise that because we are now righteous, we have a right to the dominion, the power and authority which have been restored to us.
The big question is: how do we appropriate this in our day to day lives and more particularly when we are faced with adverse circumstances such as sickness, poverty and so many other needs which assail us?
The answer, I believe, lies in the words of Hebrews 4:9-11: “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Or, in other words, unbelief.
The secret then is rest, not working, worrying or stressing – no self-effort! Our focus needs to be, not on the circumstances that face us and being filled with worry and anxiety and fear, but confidently declaring the truth, not as some kind of religious rote, but believing in our hearts, keeping our focus on the finished work of Jesus on the cross: “by His stripes we are healed”, “my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Note He doesn’t supply all our needs out of His riches, but “according to his riches.”
Yes, it is not only healing, but every possible need that we have, whether it be spiritual, emotional, material or financial. Jesus became poor (He was crucified naked on the cross, not with a loincloth as is so often depicted in works of art) so that we might become rich. It is God who gives us the power to get wealth. “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” – Deuteronomy 8:18.
I, personally, have experienced the truth of this in my life over many years. Though I was never really a big earner of money, yet in my time I have been enabled by the Lord to purchase no less than three houses for cash and built one for cash as well. More than that, I have had the privilege to be able to travel to a number of foreign countries without incurring any debt whatsoever.
Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God (and his righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit) and all these things (material blessings, such as food and drink and clothing, etc.,) will be added to you.” – Matthew 6: 33; Romans 14:17.
In the same way we believed for salvation and were born again with our focus not on our sin and condemnation, but the greatness and the wonder of God’s great love and acceptance of us, not based on our good works or our own self-righteousness, but on what Jesus has done for us on the cross, so as we rested in His finished work for our salvation, we are now to rest in His finished work for our healing, our day to day divine health and material, emotional and spiritual provision.
It all comes down to a matter of focus – being single-minded in believing what God has already provided for us through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. The gospel – the good news of what Jesus has accomplished for us – what we were unable to do for ourselves – needs to be mixed with faith or it will not have any positive effect in our lives.
Hebrews 4:2&3 puts it this way: “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest .”
In short, they were double minded, not having their focus fixed firmly on the promise of God.
James tells us that we are to “ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8).
What James says here is illustrated very clearly in the account of the raising of Jairus’s daughter .- Luke 8:41 – 42; 49 – 55.
Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue prevailed upon Jesus to go to his house to heal his young daughter, who lay dying. Later, one came bringing the news that the young girl was dead. When Jesus heard this, He said, “Do not be fear; only believe, and she will be well.”
Notice that when He came to the house, He allowed no one except Peter, James and John and the father and mother of the young girl to enter, while everyone else wept and mourned. He didn’t want to be distracted by the unbelief of these others.
Notice too Jesus’ response to the mourners: “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed and ridiculed Jesus, as they were convinced that she was indeed dead. But Jesus put them (the unbelievers) all out and He took the child by the hand, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit entered into her again and she immediately arose and Jesus told her parents to give her something to eat.
We learn from this account that Jesus would not allow the unbelievers near. He wanted only those who single-mindedly believed and who were without fear, to be with Him. The facts shouted that the girl was dead, but Jesus did not allow the facts to cause doubt to creep into the situation. He saw something beyond what He saw with His eyes. He saw a young girl alive and well and so He was able to call those things that are not as though they are. Fear and unbelief were banished, and so with singleness of heart and mind He could deal with the situation at hand, resulting in a glorious miracle.
Unfortunately, often when we find ourselves confronted by what appears to be an impossible situation, we allow fear and unbelief to rob us of the miracle at hand. We become double-minded and unstable in all our ways. Our minds are filled with anxiety with an anticipation of the worst, when God would have us instead to focus on the truth of His word and rest in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, declaring what His word says concerning our situation.
What we need to recognise is that worry and anxiety are clear signs of unbelief and are, in fact, negative meditation and will produce nothing positive.
Resting, however, in the finished work of Christ fills us with a deep sense of peace and assurance that all will be well.
The apostle Paul puts it so clearly: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4: 6 – 7.
Notice, it is that peace which signifies that we are resting in complete faith and confidence in the truth of God’s word and the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
If, however, you find it difficult to come to a place of peace and you find yourself mulling over your situation, there is a very simple way of entering into a place of peace, as you spend time praying in tongues. Paul tells us very clearly that we are edified or built up as we pray in tongues.
I’m reminded of a time, many years ago, when I received a phone call from a nursing sister in our local hospital. She told me that there was a certain elderly woman patient who was very agitated and upset who needed someone to counsel her and pray with her.
Unfortunately, I was unable to go to the hospital at that time because my wife was at a ladies’ meeting with my car. So I asked the sister if she could allow the woman to speak to me on the hospital phone, which she did. And so I spent some time talking to her and prayed with her.
But after I ended the conversation and prayer, I could not get this lady and her unhappy situation out of my mind. I went to my bedroom and just lay on the bed and began to pray very earnestly in tongues for her until a deep sense of peace came upon me.
The next morning I went to the hospital to find out how this lady was doing. She told me that something very strange had happened to her the night before. After I had prayed with her she said that she was still very disturbed and upset when she went back to her bed and she thought that she would never be able to get to sleep. She was on the point of asking the sister for a sleeping pill, when suddenly a deep sense of peace enveloped her and before she knew it she was sound asleep and had a very good night, and remained at peace even after waking in the morning, and she said that her perspective on her situation had changed radically. She had miraculously come to see things in a totally different new and positive light.
This incident just served to confirm to me the power and effectiveness of praying in the spirit to receive the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding.
We need, however, to look beyond how Jesus dealt with sickness and disease and see how He related to people in the social context of His days on earth.
See Jesus in Jericho, standing under a sycamore tree, and entering into a conversation with a certain little man called Zacchaeus, who was chief among the tax collectors and very wealthy.
We must not forget that tax collectors were in the employ of the hated Romans and were despised and looked down upon by the general populace. For a recognised “holy man of Israel” to have any dealings with such would be regarded as an abomination. Jesus, however, being the perfect Son of the living God, filled with love and compassion for this little man invites Himself to a visit in this despised man’s house.
Notice that at no time does Jesus judge and berate the man for his sinful and corrupt ways or invite him to say the “sinner’s prayer”. Instead, Jesus shows him love and acceptance, and Zacchaeus, in turn, responds in a spirit of true repentance – a change of heart and mind.
Hear your loving and compassionate Lord and Saviour’s response to this social outcast: “Today salvation has come to this house … for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:9 and 10. His desire is not to punish and judge and reject, but to show love and abounding mercy and acceptance.
See your loving and merciful Lord and Saviour once again, in the temple court and the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman to Him, caught in the very act of adultery. – John 8:2 – 11.
“In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test Jesus. Jesus, however, doesn’t respond to their question. Instead, He stoops down and writes with His finger on the ground, reminiscent, we might suppose, of the finger of God writing on the tablets of the Law, given on Mount Sinai. After a while, Jesus replies to the woman’s accusers, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And then again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Could it be that He was in some way here demonstrating that a New Commandment was about to be written under the New Covenant in His blood – this time not on stone, but in the hearts of men? – a commandment, not of judgement and condemnation, but of love and grace, compassion and acceptance.
When they heard Jesus’ words, they were convicted and went their way, leaving only Jesus and the woman. And then Jesus speaks again: “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, Lord,” she replies.
Hear the words of Jesus, full of love, compassion and acceptance: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.”
Notice that Jesus didn’t ask her to repent and pray the ”sinner’s prayer” before He showed mercy. He accepted her just as she was, and His love and acceptance and mercy empowered her then to “go and sin no more” – to change her lifestyle. Right believing, not self-effort leads to right living.
Paul reminds us that “sin shall have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” – Romans 6:14.
What a Saviour! What a Lord! This is our God, filled with love and grace and mercy – not angry judgement, rejection and condemnation, intent upon meting out pain and punishment. He is the God who is for us and not against us!
At another time, we find Jesus in Samaria. (John 4): It is midday and the sun is blazing down. Jesus is hot and tired and thirsty and He finds Himself at a well, Jacob’s well, where there is a Samaritan woman, drawing water at midday.
Jesus approaches her, which is an unheard of thing to do, for not only was it a thing frowned upon for a man to speak to a woman in public, but worse than that, for a Jewish man to have any dealings with a Samaritan.
Jesus sets aside all Mosaic Law and Jewish customs and dares to approach this woman, who is also no doubt of questionable character; for she is obviously seeking to avoid contact with other women by coming to draw water at midday. She wants to avoid the judgmental glances and snide remarks of other women from her village.
“Give me a drink,” says Jesus. The woman is astounded that Jesus, being a Jew, should ask her, a Samaritan woman for a drink of water.
Jesus then proceeds to enter into a conversation with this Samaritan woman – a conversation, which soon reveals that she has had five husbands and the sixth man she is now living with is not her husband.
There is no inkling of condemnation and judgement on the part of Jesus, and because of this the woman is open to receive all that Jesus has to share with her and she goes away a changed person, ready to share what she has discovered with her friends and family.
It finally ends up with Jesus spending two days with her and her friends, eating and drinking with them, with no concern that He is going quite contrary to the social norms of His day and the requirements of the Law of Moses.
This is our Saviour and Lord – the One who reveals to us the very heart of the God who is for us and not against us.
Perhaps you are going through a torrid time at the moment and you find yourself filled with anxiety and fear or a sense of hopelessness and despair. Life for you seems be but a mere existence without any joy and positive expectation. It may be that you have just been retrenched and your financial situation looks rather bleak or your marriage has reached a dead end or your children are causing you a great amount of grief. It may be that you have just been diagnosed with some life-threatening disease or you’re struggling to overcome some or other addiction. It may be that you have suffered the tragic and what appears to be senseless loss of someone near and dear to you.
Whatever your circumstances may be at this time; be encouraged to know that God loves you. He has demonstrated that so clearly on the cross of Jesus Christ. He is not against you. On the contrary, He is unequivocally for you.
In the light of this, redirect your focus from your circumstances to Him and rest (no worrying and fretting) in His finished work on the cross and look with expectation to see His miracle-working power and love unleashed in your life and circumstances. If He is for you, who can be against you? There is nothing and no one! “He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” – Romans 8:31,32.
“No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their (vindication) righteousness is from me, declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17.
Note, our righteousness or vindication is not from our own efforts, but from the one and only true and living God who has revealed Himself perfectly to us in the life and person of Jesus Christ.
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us and gave His life for us. He is for us, not against us. Hallelujah!
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Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
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