Does God Want To Heal … Or Just Reign?

Does God Want to Heal … Or Just Reign?

We need powerful truth coupled with counsel for practical living to live victoriously.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, weighing 450-pounds, you have Deeeeeep Theology!” the announcer booms while a huge boxer stomps to the middle of the ring bathed in the wild cheers of the crowd. Half of the crowd, anyway.

The other half saves their roar until the announcement of his opponent, “Practical Living and Miracles,” who skips out and bounces around a few times, arms raised as if he’s already victorious.

Let the match begin.

Which One Is Right?

There is a conflict between those who think pastors should teach deep spiritual truth almost exclusively, and those who bear down on a practical approach to God to get your daily needs met.

And both of them land some good punches. Those who prefer deep theology rightly note that some reduce God to a Coke machine—put in your dollar of prayer, push the button and voila!, all your needs are met. And woe to God when He doesn’t do what you want Him to.

According to them, the “shallow, practical bunch” couldn’t find John 3:16 if you spotted them the page number. I’m reading an excellent book by pastor J. D. Greer. “We want a God who will restore us to peaceful equilibrium, take away our stress, and promise us a blissful afterlife. Most Christians haven’t rejected God; they have just reduced him.”

He continues, “I am, in part, the product of a Christian culture that has fostered and promoted a small, domesticated view of God. The Western Christianity in which I have been immersed focuses on the practicality of faith. We present God as the best way to a happy and prosperous life. We show how God is the best explanation for unanswered questions and the best means to the life we desire. Our worship services seem more like pep rallies accompanied by practical tips for living than encounters with the living God who stands beyond time and whose presence is indescribably glorious. These shallow glimpses of God are fine as long as our faith remains untested, but they are utterly insufficient in the midst of serious questioning or intense suffering.” (Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems by J.D. Greear and David Jeremiah)

Our friend, “Practical Living and Miracles,” is unfazed. He bobs and weaves and lands his blows. “Those folks hide away in ivory towers and put the Gospel so high that no one can reach it,” he says. “They spend their time in their office reading dusty theology books while right outside the door people are hurting, confused, and need help from a personal God who still intervenes for those who trust Him. If you’re having problems sleeping, just listen to one of these doctors of theology speak. They will cure you instantly.”

You know who is right? Both of them. Who is wrong? Both of them.

God’s Word shows clearly that the Lord is for the whole man.

A Body, Soul, and Spirit God

Think about the Lord’s prayer: Jesus starts with the spiritual—worship and surrender; then He continues with requests for practical needs—daily bread, help to forgive, battles against temptation and trials. Then worship again.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament emphasize God’s concern for the whole man.

OLD: Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

(Psalm 103:2-4, NLT)

NEW: Beloved, I pray that in every way you may prosper and enjoy good health, as your soul also prospers. (3 John 1:2, BSB)

We are body, soul, and spirit. We’re not disembodied spirits floating around without physical needs. I think sometimes those who advocate for the “spiritual,” all the while insisting that God no longer does miracles, are afraid of seeing God meet natural needs. Why? Because they really don’t want Him to challenge them to see how great He is. A today-present God is rather scary.

Or they are afraid He won’t answer as they want and that will injure their faith. But, the fear of asking betrays a lack of trust.

But the “practical” adherents sometimes want to eat the miraculous fish and bread, then go about their life, leaving Jesus out. At times, their lives strongly resemble that of those who’ve never heard of the Lord. There is no witness to the power of God because their life is no different from everyone else’s.

No! The danger here is to be so excited about God’s provision that we’re not hungry for God himself. The God of truth is incredibly great, holy, and powerful.

Sometimes they are like someone who marries for money. They love the benefits and put up with the one who provides those benefits. No!

Pleasing God

The ones who please God come for the Word AND to have their needs met. We are body, soul, and spirit, and God wants to work in every aspect of our life.

Balanced teaching and faith in life emphasize both. These two truths aren’t opponents. They walk in lockstep to help us know and love the God who loves us.

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” Luke 5:15 NIV.

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The Heart-Mouth Highway

I love the old spiritual, the “Dry Bones” Song. You remember — “Toe bone connected to the foot bone, foot bone connected to the heel bone, heel bone connected to the ankle bone, ankle bone connected to the shin bone, now hear the Word of the Lord.” (click to hear)

When I sing it to myself, I like to mix up the bones and even add a few. “The head bone’s connected to the knee bone, and the knee bone’s connected to the ear bone.” Or something like that.

If you want your skeleton to work right, though, the correct bone has to be connected to its corresponding bone.

Bone Surgery

There is a surprising connection that often determines how well our life works: the heart bone connects to the mouth bone.

Now at first glance that seems weird, but I didn’t make it up. Check out God’s x-ray:

“… For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matt. 12:34-37, NLT)

So, remember this: If you question if someone is good or bad, study the fruit of his life. Listen to what comes out of the mouth—yours and others. It’s the best sign of what is in the heart. The heart is KEY!

“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” (Proverbs 4, ESV)

If the motor of your car spits, sputters, and pops, you need to head for the mechanic. You hear what’s going on in the motor.

It’s the same with our heart. We constantly do a “mouth check” because it reveals what is in our heart. When we’re humming along with praise, encouragement, and faith-filled self talk, we’re getting about 50 miles per gallon.

But, if negativity, doubt, criticism, judgement and vulgarity typify our words, we better stop and peek under the hood. Something is wrong.

I Say What I Think

A lady in a church far away once told me, “I’m just a country girl. I say what I think.” I concluded that is okay if what you think is worth saying. In her case, a lot of things that came out of her mouth caused confusion, hurt, and division.

Let’s try this for a day. Keep a diary of what you say (or what you would say if you weren’t keeping track of it and planning to study the results.)

Are you speaking well of others? Are you expressing faith or doubt? Do you praise God often during the day? Speak up for the Lord? Do your words encourage or discourage? Unite or divide? Any curses?

Do you discourage yourself with all your “poor mouthing” about yourself?

Is your mouth the exit point for a lot of “everything is going to the dogs,” “that fellow is just sorry, there’s no hope for him.” Are you “trash talking” or praising and lifting others with the product of your heart coming out of your mouth?

Do you speak in faith and give God the glory or do you whine like you didn’t have a powerful, living God?

Do the words you hear coming out of your own mouth encourage you or discourage you?

If the product is nasty, bring your heart before God and ask Him to cleanse it, to give it faith and courage, to fill it with patience for others and yourself.

“Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around,” says the old spiritual. And strangely, the heart bone’s connected to the mouth bone and when the connection functions the way it should, you don’t walk. You run!

illustration: dall-e

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Let God Top You Off

I’ve got a theory: when you look for a good breakfast restaurant, don’t consider the building’s exterior. No, you count the number of pickup trucks in the parking lot, then you go inside and see how many old fellows with big bellies and baseball caps are telling tall tales.

If there are a lot of both, chances are you’re on to something good.

Another feature of good breakfast places is friendly waitresses who talk loudly, call you “honey,” and keep your cup of coffee topped off. Empty coffee cups are a “no-no” in a good breakfast place.

I think the Lrd has a lot in common with a waitress in a good breakfast restaurant (though I have my doubts if he calls us “honey.”) I’ll tell you why.

God Tops Them Off

In Acts 4:31, we see the infant Church in a tough spot. God healed a lame man who started walking, leaping and praising God. It was a busy time at the temple, so a crowd ran together. I imagine that thousands of them had seen this man begging at one of the temple entrances over the years.

Now, wow! What had happened?

They started praising God. Most of them, anyway. Some felt this miracle put their leadership and their doctrines in an unpleasant light. Peter and John, God’s instruments of healing in this case, ended up facing some hostile religious bigwigs.

“By what power or by what name did you do this?” they said, figuring their position and power would intimidate these simple men. Peter and John had a secret weapon, though—God’s Spirit filled them. We saw it happen to them and many others in Acts 2 and here the power of the Spirit shows up in them just as when the lame man was healed.

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them …” (Acts 4:8, ESV)

They had been filled with the Spirit in Acts 2, but here God “topped it off” like our friendly waitress tops off my coffee cup and they boldly spoke the truth to the pompous leaders.

Their boldness alarmed the leadership council, and they warned them to be silent. They left with the threats of what would happen to them if they kept speaking of Jesus ringing in their ears.

You know how well that worked.

The Place Shakes

So, the two disciples hurried to the brothers and sisters and tell them what had happened. It’s one thing when you face a battle and you stand, topped off with the Holy Spirit. But now the adrenaline of the moment has worn off and the council’s threats stirred the whole church. They needed help.

Look at their prayer. (Acts. 4:24-29). I would have prayed for protection. Not them. They prayed for boldness, and more healings and signs from heaven to affirm that their message was true.

It’s logical, isn’t it? Winning armies don’t simply ask for places to hide. They go on the offensive. These “crazy” folks ask God to do the same things through them that had gotten them into trouble.

And God answered! The place shook, and the Spirit filled them anew. I don’t think the Lord just topped them off. He filled them to overflowing … again!

Topped Off And Overflowing With the Lord

Maybe that’s the problem with us today. God’s Spirit fills us, but instead of getting “topped off” when the enemy challenges us, we depend on our own devices. Christians hide in church. The ballot box promises to help us vote the baddies out. We cower. Or we do nothing and simply live for ourselves.

These Christians knelt together and asked for boldness. Persecuted people asked for God to keep showing up. They announced the Good News of Jesus’ salvation.

And God topped them off. The result of God’s filling is boldness to speak for Jesus. “Top us off, Lord, until we overflow! Please!”

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31, ESV)

Seek Him Shouting

We don’t to sport a face that makes people think the pastor baptized us in lemon juice when we seek the Lord.

Here’s a question: could the “normal” way of seeking the Lord for those who love Him be with thanksgiving, joy, and gladness?

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Ps. 105:3, ESV

Only to sit and think of God,

Oh, what joy it is!

To think the thought, to breathe the Name,

Earth has no higher bliss!

F.W. Faber

What if Psalm 100 were the basis of our relationship with God instead of the sourpuss attitudes we often live with?

Read Psalm 100 song and pay attention to the verbs that power us into God’s presence as we pray it:

“Make, serve, know, come, enter, give.”

Make a joyful noise to the Lord? If there’s one thing mamas don’t want their kids doing in church, it’s making noise! Here we’re commanded to make a joyful noise to the Lord as we go into His presence.

I suspect God likes it. Have you ever walked by a sports stadium when noise thunders to the skies and the stadium shakes? The home team scored!

Hey, the home team scored! Let’s celebrate! God is God. He made us and takes care of us. He’s good. His love and faithfulness never quit! (100:3, 5) His goodness and mercy pursue us like a couple of baying hounds nipping at the heels of their prey (Psalm 23:6).

Makes you want to make some cheerful noises when you realize that.

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing. (100:2) If one word could describe your relationship with God, what would it be? “Plodder? Smiler? Rejoicer? Dutiful? Or…?”

Lord, forgive me that gladness hasn’t always characterized me. I’m more of a plodder, a ‘do-my-duty’-er.

Sing, David, sing!

God is a singing God who loves beautiful melodies and happy hearts singing and expressing joy. And why not, sadness?

 Three Things We Need To Know (100:3)

Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (100:3, ESV)

The Lord is God, not you, not me, not the government. The enemy isn’t God. God is God. He’s the Source of our existence, the Eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God. He is love, hope and so much more. I’m not God, but the One Who is, is on my side. He’s for me.

We are His, not our own. We don’t exist of ourselves. Humanism tries to take back ownership from God. It’s an old lie. Underlying its claims is the idea that we know what makes us happy and fulfilled better than our Maker. We scream for our rights. I’m not my own. My body belongs to God, along with my soul and spirit. That’s not slavery. That’s a committed relationship. Not only am I 100% His, He is 100% mine.

If I rebel, I don’t have the same relationship with Him. I’m a rebel instead of a son.

We’re His people. The sheep of his pasture. Those who don’t hang around sheep, are probably saying, “Ooooh, how sweet.” Yeah… Is there anything dumber or more helpless than a sheep? Smelly, good to eat and good for wool. That’s about it. That makes one of them a tiny bit more valuable than a chicken, huh?

But a good shepherd has a committed relationship with these sheep. They are incapable, but he is more than capable. He takes care of them. Be thankful. This universe is a tough place. We’re about as capable of taking care of ourselves and providing for ourselves as a sheep. Yet God looks after us and helps us.

Come into His presence thanking, praising and blessing His name. Eugene Peterson puts it like this:

“Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’

“Make yourselves at home, talking praise.

“Thank him. Worship him.”

(Ps. 100:4, The Message)

 Why are we thanking and praising Him?

God is good. He saved me and gave me a wonderful family. Health has been His gift to me as well.

 God loves me and cares about me. My life is important to Him. He loved me before I was born and He will love me forever.

 God has always been faithful to me. He’s done what He said He would do and never let me down. He is faithful. Faithful and True is His name!

 And there is a reward for seeking the Lord like this: “So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. And he gave them the lands of the nations…” (Ps. 105:43, 44 ESV)

 Claim the inheritance that God has given His people. Seek Him with joy. Obey Him and see His mighty hand in action for you.

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Hmmm …

What the wicked dread will overtake him: what the righteous desire will be granted. Proverbs 10:22

Are you a “dread-er” or are a “desire-er?” God I don’t want to dread, I want to desire.  When dread is larger than desire we are paralyzed and don’t move towards desire. We stop and what we’re afraid of catches up to us to devour us. When we move towards godly desire, dread can’t catch us.

A Healing To See God’s Glory

Here’s a guest post from a friend, Melanie Clark. She tells us how God intervened in a special way by healing her eye.

I am thankful that I could see the beauty in the places we went. (During a recent family vacation).

Nearly 8 years ago, I woke up to a red spot in the middle of my vision of my right eye. It got bigger, and everything started turning black. My eye doctor got me in immediately, and took a 3D scan of my eyeball, which showed bleeding into the retina. He immediately was able to get me an emergency appointment with a retinal specialist at Mercy (hospital), and I had hours of testing, an angiogram, all kinds of fun things. They determined macular hemorrhage – a blood vessel in the macula of my eyeball had burst.

While I was there, an older lady was told she was permanently losing her vision, and there was no cure. Her cries were heart-rendering, and I kept getting teary-eyed thinking about the possibility that I would no longer see my kids’ faces. How I cried out to God desperately to let me have sight, so I could watch my kids grow up.

My life group prayed earnestly with us, and God provided the miracle. The bleeding stopped, and the only damage was a slight squiggle in the center of my vision when I am looking at a computer screen.

A year after that, at my annual eye appointment, my doctor told me how lucky I was to have my vision. He told me another patient had the same exact thing, and permanently lost her vision, and the bleeding was starting in the other eye, too. Since then, I have heard of others who also lost vision.

God has not always answered all of my prayers. I have not always seen miracles. But this one is so precious to me. I thank God for my sight, to stare at my kids until they tell me to quit, to see the beauty of creation, and to give glory to God that something that we often take for granted, like being able to see, is something I can rejoice over on a daily basis.