Does God Work in Mysterious Ways?

Mystery Machine

 

When something bad happens in a believer’s life, people will often attribute it to God, saying, “God works in mysterious ways.” Though this phrase does not appear in scripture, the idea is prevalent in the church.

But is it true?

The Greek word μυστήριον (mysterion), translated “mystery,” appears 27 times in the New Testament.

Nine times, God is saying “Christians know the mysteries of God”:

  • He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (Matthew 13:11)
  • And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables. (Mark 4:11)
  • And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’ (Luke 8:10)
  • But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory… but God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:7-10)
  • Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself. (Ephesians 1:9)
  • How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already). (Ephesians 3:3)
  • The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. (Colossians 1:26)
  • To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
  • That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ. (Colossians 2:2)

Six times, the bible is explaining what the apparent mystery is:

  • Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51)
  • This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:32)
  • And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
  • “The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20)
  • And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:5)
  • But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. (Revelation 17:7)

Five times, Paul is saying his ministry and letters explain the mysteries of God:

  • For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
  • Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1)
  • And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
  • And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel. (Ephesians 6:19)
  • Meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains. (Colossians 4:3)

Twice, God is saying you can learn the mysteries of God by reading the bible:

  • Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith. (Romans 16:25-26)
  • By which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. (Ephesians 3:4)

And twice, God says it’s the job of the Church to reveal mysteries:

  • And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ, to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:9-10)
  • Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. (1 Timothy 3:9)

Of the remaining three, one is saying that the devil (not God) works in mysterious ways (ways that have been trumped by God, circa John 10:10 and 1 John 3:8):

  • For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

One comments on the “mystery of God” being completed, a direct tie in to 1 Timothy 3:16:

  • But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)

And the final one is explaining what those who speak in tongues speak mysteries to God, which can be interpreted if need be according to 1 Corinthians 12:10:

  • For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. (1 Corinthians 14:2)

The idea that God works in mysterious ways, which seemingly bring harm to us, is entirely unfounded in scripture. In fact, Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” The New Testament confirms this, stating that God delights to reveal his secrets and mysterious ways to us through His Spirit, through Scripture, and through the Church.

The mysterious ways of God can be summed up in a passage found in Colossians 1:

“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The mystery of God is why He is so good to us, why He cares so deeply for us, why He wants to know us and has united Himself with us and lives in us. It’s a mystery of exceedingly good news, of joy, and hope and comfort. And it is revealed in the pages of scripture.

Three Important Lessons from Philippians 1

philippians_titleFor to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:21-24)

  1. Death isn’t scary

Paul tells the church of Philippi that to die is far better than to live. Why would this be so? Because to die means to be with Christ. For a Christian, to be absent from the body means you are present with God (2 Corinthians 5:8).

There are (supposed to be) two kinds of people in the world: those who are afraid of death, and those who aren’t. Those who are afraid are afraid because they don’t know where they are going. The others aren’t afraid because they know exactly where they are going.

If you belong to Christ, then death has absolutely no hold on you. Death has no sting, no victory, no power (1 Corinthians 15:55, Romans 8:2).

Now as we shall see, we shouldn’t morbidly welcome death at every moment. But we also shouldn’t fear the day when we will finally go home many, many years from now.

  1. You choose when you die

Paul makes a statement that would probably be declared blasphemy if uttered by a Christian nowadays: “What I shall choose I cannot tell.”

Choose?

Paul got to choose whether he’d die or not?

This stands in the face of today’s common belief that God might take your life at any moment (a view espoused in Francis Chan’s Crazy Love in Chapter 2, titled “You Might Not Finish This Chapter”). But the bible makes it clear that the man or woman of God gets a say about when they go.

Paul was told at the time of his conversion that he’d die a martyr (Acts 9:16). And yet through faith, he was repeatedly delivered from death. From his own lips he testified that he got to choose when he’d die. And when he finally did die, it was after he had told God he was ready to go (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

And Paul wasn’t the only one who had a say in the matter. Think back to Hezekiah. He was told by the prophet Isaiah to get his life in order, because he’d be dying soon. Hezekiah didn’t like that much, so he prayed a simple 27-word prayer, and God immediately healed him and extended his life.

Moses told the Israelites during his farewell address that God has “set before you death and life.” He then told them that the choice what theirs: “Therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Solomon confirmed this, teaching that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Now obviously we can’t choose to live forever. Anyone who would want to live forever clearly doesn’t have a grasp on point one (“it’s far better to be with Christ”) and it motivated by fear. It would be unscriptural to desire to live away from heaven forever. But based on the entirety of scripture, we must conclude that long life is promised for God’s children. And any young person who has died prematurely has ultimately died because they didn’t choose life.

  1. You should choose to help others

Paul, talking about his impending choice, doesn’t say he is making his choice based on how much more money he can earn for himself. He doesn’t base it on his desire to see Avengers 2, or in hopes of being around when Firefly inevitably makes its return.

So how did Paul make the choice?

To remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

He based his choice on the needs of the world around him. His life was poured out to bring the message of a saving Christ to a dark and dying world.

This should be a primary motivation for everything we’ve discussed.

Does God want you healthy? Yes. And as a healthy child of God, you are to go lay hands on the sick and see them recover (Mark 16:17). Does God meet all of your needs? Yes. And because you have freely received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). Did Jesus tell you to cast your cares on Him? Yes. Now bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

When talking about how abundantly God has blessed you, we often forget the third promise God made to Abraham:

  1. I will bless you.
  2. I will make your name great.
  3. You will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)

But a primary reason God has promised to bless us is so we can bless those around us.

And when talking about choosing to live a long life here on earth, the question you should be asking is:

“Do I have more to give to those around me?”

Once the answer is no, then it’s probably time to pack your bags and head on home to glory.


Related Posts:

Name It and Claim It

name it and claim itThere are Christians who believe that God answers prayers asked in faith, be it for salvation, healing, provision, or anything else.

I happen to be one of them.

This usually leads to my being labeled as a “name it and claim it” Christian (or “blab it and grab it”).

I’m not really sure how I should feel about this label. After all, it is meant pejoratively. And the bible never uses the phrase, “name it and claim it.”

But there are a number of phrases the bible does use, and I prefer to identify myself by those.

Here they are.

Some Guy: “Are you a ‘name it and claim it’ Christian?

My epic response: “No, I am a…

  1. You shall have whatsoever you say’ Christian (also known as a ‘Mark 11:23’ Christian)
  2. These signs shall follow them that believe’ Christian (also known as a ‘Mark 16:17’ Christian)
  3. Ask and you shall receive’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 7:7’ Christian)
  4. Promises of God are Yes and Amen’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Corinthians 1:20’ Christian)
  5. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask according to the power in me’ Christian (also known as an ‘Ephesians 3:20’ Christian)
  6. God shall do as I have spoken’ Christian (also known as a ‘Numbers 14:28’ Christian)
  7. I have been redeemed from the curse’ Christian (also known as a ‘Galatians 3:13’ Christian)
  8. The Lord is my healer’ Christian (also known as a ‘Exodus 15:26’ Christian)
  9. He sent His Word and healed my disease’ Christian (also known as a ‘Psalm 107:20’ Christian)
  10. He has freely given us all things’ Christian (also known as a ‘Romans 8:32’ Christian)
  11. The prayer of faith shall save the sick’ Christian (also known as a ‘James 5:15’ Christian)
  12. God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are’ Christian (also known as a ‘Romans 4:17’ Christian)
  13. He has given us exceedingly great and precious promises’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Peter 1:4’ Christian)
  14. I am a partaker of the divine nature’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Peter 1:4’ Christian)
  15. Life and death are in the power of the tongue’ Christian (also known as a ‘Proverbs 18:21’ Christian)
  16. God shall supply all my need’ Christian (also known as a ‘Philippians 4:19’ Christian)
  17. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 10:8’ or ‘Luke 10:9’ Christian)
  18. No weapon formed against me shall prosper’ Christian (also known as an ‘Isaiah 54:17’ Christian)
  19. Go in peace, thy faith has healed you’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 9:22’ or ‘Mark 5:34’ or ‘Mark 10:52’ Christian)
  20. Nothing shall be impossible for you’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 17:20’ Christian)

So there you have it. If you are tired of the stigma attached with ‘name it and claim it’ or ‘blab it and grab it,’ here are twenty alternatives you might prefer, straight from over twenty verses from the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Epistles.

Then after you’ve established that your stance is based on scripture, you could ask them if they are one of the following (not that I condone name-calling, but these seem apt to describe them):

  • Disbelieve it and don’t receive it’ Christian (Mark 6:5-6)
  • I am the Lord, but guess what? I’ve changed’ Christian (Malachi 3:6)
  • Jesus is the same yesterday, today, but definitely not tomorrow’ Christian (Hebrews 13:8)
  • Oh ye of little faith’ Christian (Matthew 8:26)
  • Jesus has come to steal, kill, and destroy you’ Christian (John 10:10)
  • Jesus healed most but not all, and certainly not you’ Christian (Matthew 8:16 and Acts 10:38)

Okay, okay, those latter six names probably won’t be helpful to the conversation. But regardless, it’s plain to see that “name it and claim it” isn’t nearly as far-fetched as some would make it sound.


 

Related articles:


 

My newest book, UNFAIR ADVANTAGE, is now available on Amazon!

One Verse that Proves God’s Stance on Healing

One Verse That Proves God's Stance on HealingWhen the subject of healing gets brought up, lots of questions start to swirl around in peoples’ minds: “Why am I sick?” “Is healing for everyone?” “Does God make people sick?”

Fortunately for us, God answers these questions repeatedly throughout the bible. As I’ve mentioned before, there are over 170 distinct passages in the bible that address God’s attitude towards healing. But there is a single verse that reveals to us God’s stance on healing.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

There are several lessons we can glean from this one scripture.

Healing is Good

We are told that during His ministry, Jesus Christ went about “doing good.” But in what ways did He do good? According to Luke, by healing.

We see throughout the bible that Jesus is committed to doing good. The seventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel tells us that God always gives good things to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). Furthermore, James 1:17 says that good things always come from God, and that there isn’t even an inkling that this will ever change.

Now it may seem obvious that healing is good, but there are many Christians who aren’t so sure. Being confident that healing is always good, we can rest assured knowing that the biblical promises of God’s unfathomable goodness includes physical healing.

Sickness comes from the Devil

Again, you might take this for granted, but much of the Christian community thinks sickness comes from God. Take Job, for instance. The common understanding of Job is that God caused terrible things to happen in Job’s life to test his faithfulness. But according to Job 2:7, it was Satan (not God) who smote Job with painful boils. Far from “God giving and taking away,” the text makes it clear that Satan caused this infirmity.

Jesus confirms this is John 10:10, where He claims:

The thief (Satan) comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

From the mouth of Jesus Himself, anything that steals, kills, or destroys comes from Satan, and not God. Every sickness known to man fits that description, and to attribute any ailment, disease, or injury to God is to reject the biblical text. God only has good things for His kids, and offers life in the place of sickness, pain, and death.

Jesus Heals All

According to Acts 10:38, Jesus heals ALL. That includes you.

We see this confirmed over and over and over again throughout the bible. Luke 9:11 tells us that Jesus healed all who had need of physical healing; Matthew 8:16 says that Jesus healed all who were sick; and John 6:37 says that Jesus doesn’t turn anyone away.

In fact, there isn’t a single biblical example of God refusing to heal someone in need, and the only time in the entire bible we see Jesus not heal is when He was prevented by the unbelief of those in need. A lack of faith in God’s power and willingness to heal is the only thing that has ever prevented Him from healing the sick.

Summary

When I talk to people who have questions about healing, I often bring them to this verse. After reading through it, I usually ask them a series of obvious questions.

Me: “According to this passage, is healing bad or good?”

Them: “Good.”

Me: “Where does sickness come from?”
Them: “The devil.”

Me: “How many people did Jesus heal?”

Them: “All of them.”

Then I ask them a few more questions.

Is God with you, too?” Isaiah 41:10 and Matthew 28:20 say He is. And both Hebrews 13:5 and John 14:16 say He will always be with us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Have you been anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power?” Luke 24:49 answer that question with a definitive and resounding YES. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 attests to this truth by saying that we have been anointed by God with the Holy Spirit. And Ephesians 3:20 says that the infinite power of God dwells in us. His people.

No bible-believing Christian can deny that physical healing is good, that sickness comes from the enemy, and that God is ever willing to heal anyone who comes to Him in sincere faith. But more than that, we see that this miraculous healing power, this authority, this goodness has been placed in us by none other than God Himself.

So let’s live in obedience to the commands of Jesus, and go out into a world of lost and desperate sinners, preaching the gospel and healing the sick (Matthew 10:8; Mark 16:18). This is good in the sight of the Lord.

List of Scriptures Used

Acts 10:38 John 10:10 Isaiah 41:10 Luke 24:49
Matthew 7:11 Luke 9:11 Matthew 28:20 2 Cor. 1:21-22
James 1:17 Matthew 8:16 Hebrews 13:5 Ephesians 3:20
Job 2:7 John 6:37 John 14:16 Matthew 10:8
Mark 16:18

Posts related to this article

(There is much more to say about biblical healing, the raw power of God that dwells in us, and the commission that has been given to Christ’s church. For more, check out my new book, UNFAIR ADVANTAGE, available for kindle or paperback. It will change your life.)

Rivers of Living Water (Pt. 2)

rivers 2((( click here to read part one. )))

[Next Sunday is Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the church. Christians around the world will spend the next week reflecting on this tremendous Gift as well as its implications for believers, and I felt it was only fitting to offer a few comments myself.]

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive…” (John 7:37-39)

One sentence in particular immediately grabbed my attention when I started researching rivers:

“Rivers are a part of the hydrological cycle.”

Most of us learned about the water cycle in elementary school:

Precipitation – condensed water vapor falls to the earth’s surface, mostly in the form of rain.

Runoff – the variety of ways by which water moves across the land as it flows into lakes, reservoirs, or the ocean.

Evaporation – the transformation of water from liquid to gas phases as it moves from bodies of water into the overlying atmosphere.

As we all know, the first step of the process is precipitation, where water falls to the earth. I’m reminded of the prophetic words of Zechariah:

Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone.” (Zechariah 10:1)

…as well as the words of Pastor James:

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7)

Of course, the bible isn’t merely talking about precipitation here. The rain we are asking God to shower down upon us is the Holy Spirit, in all His glory and power and awesomeness. We are told to pray for a move of the Spirit to sweep through our barren land and give us desperately needed revival.

We’ll skip step two for a moment, and move right along to Step Three of the water cycle, which is evaporation. Once the water has been collected in large bodies of water, it can finally make the journey from the earth to the heavens.

If that’s not a blatant metaphor for salvation, I don’t know what is. Throughout the bible, bodies of water are often mentioned symbolically to represent large groups of people. And once the rains of the Holy Spirit reach the people, multitudes will be swept into the Kingdom of Heaven.

And finally, what was that second step? What bridges the gap between the rain falling from the clouds and evaporating back into the sky? What brings the Holy Spirit to the people?

Rivers are pivotal to the entire process, acting as conduits to transport rainwater through the barren lands to the oceans and lakes, so it can return back into the heavens.

And you are pivotal to the salvation of everyone around you, acting as an ambassador of heaven who speaks life into this dying generation, so that the lost would be swept into God’s kingdom.

Never underestimate the calling on your life. Never forget the power of the Holy Spirit that flows through your hands and feet. Out of your heart flow rivers of living water. And without you, our world is headed for a drought.

(follow me on fb.)

Rivers of Living Water (Pt. 1)

Rivers Part 1[Next Sunday is Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the church. Christians around the world will spend the next week reflecting on this tremendous Gift as well as its implications for believers, and I felt it was only fitting to offer a few comments myself.]

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive…” (John 7:37-39)

Rivers.

It’s an interesting metaphor, really.

My pastor began a series on the Holy Spirit yesterday morning. He read John 7, and as he talked about the “rivers of living water,” I was reminded of the three laws of geography my cousin taught me several years ago.

Law #1: I don’t actually remember the first law.

Law #2: Mountains want to be flat.

Law #3: Rivers want to be straight.

Rivers can tend to be quite windy, but over the course of time they gradually erode the surrounding land and straighten themselves out.

Basically, rivers shape the environment around them. They’re supposed to, anyway.

Think about that for a second. Rivers can carve their way through nature. They tear their way down mountains. They cut out valleys. They transform land, they transform cities, they transform societies, they transform the world.

And Jesus said when you allow the Holy Spirit to flow out of your life, it’s comparable to these world-changing rivers.

I bet when Jesus invented rivers ages and ages ago, He knew He’d one day preach a sermon to a group of uneducated fishermen about the incredible power of the Holy Spirit. And He probably programmed things like erosion into them to demonstrate the sheer magnitude of His intentions for the Spirit-empowered church.

We are supposed to transform society. We are supposed to change culture. We are supposed to have an impact on the world as we know it. As Jesus said, we are supposed to disciple entire nations.

And Jesus told us exactly how to do it.

His disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they allowed the violent torrents of the Spirit to flow out of their hearts and turn the world upside down.

And we have been commissioned to do the same exact thing.

So get going. Let God’s words pour from your lips. Let His power gush from your hands. Let His life flow from your very being. It’ll change the world. There’s no way it won’t.

[Your Turn: What are some other cool things we can learn about the awesome power of the Holy Spirit by talking about rivers?]

[Follow me on fb.]

Important Lessons My Son Has Taught Me about God

jack13:16 am. The family is finally asleep. But of course, that’s not gonna last long.

3:19 am. Jack’s cries fill our bedroom.

Maybe he’s hungry. We try feeding, but he doesn’t bite. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s in dire need of a diaper change. We check, but the diaper is clean. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s cold. We give him a blanket. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s warm. We strip off the onesie. Jack continues to cry.

I know. He just needs some bro time. I take him downstairs, and walk through our darkened kitchen with him gently cradled in my arms.

Jack calms down.

For about seventeen seconds.

Then he continues to cry.

And as I continue to pace back and forth with our crying infant in my arms, I think to myself, “If only he knew how to articulate what he needed, then I could give it to him.”

And right as that thought came to mind, God said to me, “That’s why most prayers don’t get answered.”

Christians are really good at crying. Experts, in fact. “Why does this always happen to me?” “Why do things never work out in my life?” “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?”

We are very good at vocalizing how terrible things are. We are also fairly decent at (erroneously) attributing all of our woes and troubles to God. But I’d venture to guess that 9 times out of 10, we never actually ask for a solution. We just whine about whatever is going on, then blame God when things don’t get better.

For example, if you feel a fever coming on, complaining about how you always get sick isn’t praying. Accepting the sickness because “God works in mysterious ways” also isn’t praying. Even silently hoping that you miraculously get better isn’t praying. To make it a prayer, you need to verbally ask God to heal you. Confessing a scripture or two that promises to give you what you need is an absolute plus (in the case of sickness, Isaiah 53:5, Exodus 15:26, Luke 9:11, 1 Peter 2:24, and James 5:15 are just a few). Then you need to sincerely believe that God will deliver. And to finish it off, promptly praise God for His goodness and mercy and love.

That’s the prayer of faith.

My son Jack couldn’t tell me what was wrong because he doesn’t speak the English language. He’s just a baby. And most Christians are unsuccessful in prayer because they don’t speak the language of faith. They are spiritual babies. Now Jack will naturally grow up as time progresses. But Christian growth isn’t automatic. It takes deliberate and intentional action. And unfortunately, most people are unwilling to put in the time.

The language of faith is simple:

  1. Ask God for what you need (Matthew 7:7, Romans 10:9)
  2. Continually confess a scripture that promises you what you need (Joshua 1:8)
  3. Believe that you receive (Mark 11:23, Romans 10:9)
  4. Thank God for always meeting your needs (Philippians 4:6, Acts 16:25)

So stop complaining, stand on the Word, and have faith in God.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

(Like what you read? Follow me on facebook for updates.)

Ten Logical Reasons Why Sickness Isn’t Good (and a Question for Good Measure)

homer-sickThere are plenty of scriptures that specifically cite healing as good and sickness as bad (there are at least 178 of them, to be somewhat exact).  There is also huge lack of scriptures citing healing as bad and sickness as good (there are less than one, to be somewhat exact).

However, I don’t want to list 178 verses for you here.  Rather, I want to look at the entire bible as a whole and derive ten logical reasons why sickness sucks.

Then I’ll end with a question with an obvious answer that sort of drives the point home.  Enjoy.

  1.      According to the Mosaic Law, sickness makes you unclean.

Being sick meant you were unfit to properly worship God.  You couldn’t enter the temple, couldn’t make sacrifices, and couldn’t hang out with other people.  That is generally viewed as a problem for God followers, since your primary job is to, you know, worship God.

  1.      Jesus healed the sick.

Jesus is the best picture of God we’ve got.  If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.  And when you observe Jesus, what you find is that He healed every single person who came to Him in faith.  Strangely absent from his three and a half year ministry: spreading malaria.

  1.      Sickness is a curse.

Deuteronomy 28 goes into extensive detail when describing the Curse of the Law.  In that chapter, God mentions just about every single type of sickness, disease, and infirmity known to man (it’s worth noting that He also calls out poverty as a curse).  Centuries later, Paul said Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross rendered us free from the Curse (Galatians 3).

  1.      The plagues didn’t touch Israel.

Generally speaking, the Jews weren’t harmed by the plagues that destroyed Egypt.  God made sure His people were protected.  So even in the event of a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out humanity, rest assured that faithful Christians (read: faith-filled) will be kept safe.

  1.      Sickness isn’t a biblical platform.

No matter which chapter of the bible you read, you’ll never find a story of a terminally ill person using their sickness to promote the gospel.  Rather, you find those people begging to be delivered from their painful plight.  There was no organization in the bible called “Blind guys for Jesus”; they called themselves “Blind guys who really really desperately want to be healed, and won’t relent until they can see.”

  1.      The bible calls sickness “evil.”

Remember the Rich Man and Lazarus?  In Luke 16:25, Abraham said that Lazarus’ life was characterized by “evil things.”  The two defining characteristics of Lazarus were sickness and poverty.

  1.      Sickness was viewed as punishment in the bible days.

There is a story where the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him, “Is this man sick because of his own personal sins, or because of the sins of his parents?”  The mainstream idea of the day was that sickness resulted from sin.  And guess what?  Your sins have been removed.

  1.      Healing was viewed as glorious.

Jesus responds to the disciples’ question by saying, “Neither.  But to show you the glory of God, I’ll heal Him.”  Then POOF!, the man is healed.  People draw all sorts of conclusions from this story, but we have to agree on at least two things: a) Jesus viewed sickness as an unfit state for the man; and b) Jesus called healing “glorious.”

  1.      The bible never says Christians will suffer sickness

Jesus listed many sources of suffering that could befall Christians.  Just about all of them related to persecution.  Sickness never made the list.

10.     Paul never suffered sickness.

Paul, too, listed many things that befell him on his travels (2 Corinthians 11).  Again, sickness didn’t make the cut.

And finally, a Question: Did Jesus ever get sick?

(Like the blog? Follow me on facebook!)

Eight Guaranteed Ways to Lengthen Your Life

 photoEver heard a Christian lament that at any given moment in time, God might just decide to “take” their life? 

Absolute hogwash!

For one, God isn’t in the business of killing His people.  He is the Life Giver, not the Life Stealer.

And two, why would He tell us over and over and over again the many different ways we can extend our time here on earth?

Here are eight guaranteed ways to lengthen your life, according to God.

  1. Learn, remember, and keep God’s Word (Proverbs 3:1-2)
  2. Honor your mom and dad (Ephesians 6:1-3)
  3. Set your love on God (Psalm 91:14-16)
  4. Fear the Lord (Proverbs 10:27)
  5. Be honest in your business transactions (Deuteronomy 25:13-15)
  6. Use your words wisely (Proverbs 13:3)
  7. Be humble (Proverbs 22:4)
  8. Ask (Psalm 21:4)
  9. Don’t eat a mama bird if you find her in a nest filled with eggs (Deuteronomy 22:7)

Number 9 was a bonus.  I figured that most of us would rarely find ourselves in that sort of situation, so we all have eight applicable ways to lengthen our lives, and the avian biologists reading this got an extra one thrown in.

It’s worth mentioning that Ephesians 6:2 reminds us that the commandment to “honor your mother and father” is the first command with promise.  These are eight promises (or nine, depending on your affinity for birds) that God has made to you.

And assuming we can trust God at His Word, this is definitive proof that God wants you to live a long, satisfying life. 

We have a choice before us.  We can choose to believe the nonsense that a few preachers are spouting out.  Or, we can choose to believe God.

“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing.  Therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

[ your turn: There are other “long life” scriptures, to be sure. Which ones did I miss? ]

Two Important Lessons on Faith You Missed from My Last Blog

Jesus(Read My Last Blog Post)

Jesus was unable to do “mighty works” for the people of Galilee due to their unbelief.  The people had hardened their hearts toward the notion of a miracle-working God, and they received exactly what they believed they would.

Nothing.

But here’s the silver lining most of us miss when considering this passage.

“Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.” (Mark 6:5)

Even in the midst of their marvelous unbelief, Jesus was still able to heal a few of ‘em.  I don’t know how much a few is.  I’d say at least three, but we’d all agree that the bare minimum would be two.  I also don’t know what sorts of ailments he cured that morning.  Decide for yourselves if it was a common cold, a broken wrist, or a sprained ankle.  It hardly matters what He healed.  The point is that He did it.  Even when faced with mockery and detestation, God’s goodness still was present!

I also like that healing only three or so people of mild illnesses isn’t considered that big of a deal.  For most churches, that’d be a great year, but for Jesus, it was kind of a letdown.

There are two lessons we can glean from this story.

1. Even in churches with obscene amounts of unbelief, God can still show up.  If you’re willing to trust God, you can bring God’s kingdom wherever you go, and you can at least lay hands on a few sick people and heal them.

2. Don’t settle for less than what’s available.  The bible says that when only a handful of people are healed, it’s hardly worth mentioning.  God has so much more in store for those who have the audacity to trust in Him.

Don’t allow the unbelief of a few to slow you down.  Go out into the world and do the greater works Jesus has called you to do!

(Read My Last Blog Post – or – Follow me on fb.)