VIDEO Is it really God’s will to heal everyone who asks in faith?

In this week’s discussion with Joni Eareckson Tada and Dr. Michael Easley, our attention shifts to the controversial topic of healing. Is it really God’s will to heal everyone who prays in faith about his or her sickness?

 

God Is Calling

This is how God showed his love . . . : He sent his one and only Son into the world. 1 John 4:9

One morning my daughter gave her eleven-month-old son her cell phone for a moment to entertain him. Less than a minute later my phone rang, and as I picked it up I heard his little voice. He had somehow hit the “speed dial” to my number, and what followed was a “conversation” I will long remember. My grandson can only say a few words, but he knows my voice and responds to it. So I talked to him and told him how much I love him.

The joy I felt at the sound of my grandson’s voice was a reminder to me of God’s deep desire for a relationship with us. From the very beginning, the Bible shows God actively pursuing us. After Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God and then hid from Him in the garden, “the Lord God called” to Adam (Gen. 3:9).

God’s love for us is revealed through Jesus.

God continued to pursue humanity through Jesus. Because God desires a relationship with us, He sent Jesus to earth to pay the penalty for our sin by His death on the cross. “This is how God showed his love . . . . He sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God” (1 John 4:9–10 The Message).

How good it is to know that God loves us and wants us to respond to His love through Jesus. Even when we don’t quite know what to say, our Father longs to hear from us!

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and pursuing a relationship with me. Help me to be a joy to You by drawing near to You.

God’s love for us is revealed through Jesus.

By James Banks 

INSIGHT:God did not force Adam and Eve to obey Him but allowed them to choose whether or not they would obey. Similarly, He did not force them to come to Him after they sinned. Instead, He called to them and allowed them to respond to His call. Have you responded to God’s offer of a restored relationship with Him?

Single-Minded Focus

2 Timothy 2:4-5

“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life” (2 Tim. 2:4). The word for “entangle,” which also occurs in 2 Peter 2:20, means to be so wrapped up in something that movement is hindered. This is the term the Greeks would have used to describe a rabbit ensnared in a thorn patch.

Peter’s letter admonished followers not to return to past sins, but Paul was emphasizing a different lesson: He was warning Timothy against allowing essential daily pursuits to supersede a commitment to Christ. Paul himself at times worked as a tentmaker while carrying on with ministry; however, he realized there was potential for an occupation to become all-consuming, to the detriment of a person’s spiritual life.

Growing and managing wealth, providing for one’s family, and taking advantage of leisure time are important activities. In fact, God encourages all of them. However, these blessings are not to become distractions that draw believers away from church or regular prayer and Bible study. Nor are we to compartmentalize our life into “Christian ministry” and “regular work/play.” We are Christ’s soldiers, no matter where we are or what we are doing—there is no such thing as a part-time warrior.

It’s important for believers not to draw artificial boundary lines between the secular and the sacred. Everything God gives—from vocation and wealth to leisure activities—is to be used for His glory. By keeping priorities straight and activities in balance, you can prevent hobbies and interests from becoming a snare.

The Battle for Purity

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

One of Paul’s major messages to his young disciple Timothy was to strive for purity in every area of his life. Compromise and impurity were not to be glossed over; they were to be vigorously opposed.

Concerning purity in doctrine, Paul charged, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). He was to “charge” his followers not to wrangle over trivial issues and not to listen to false teaching (v. 14). They were to “shun” vulgar and empty talk, knowing that such will only lead to more impurity and doubt (vv. 16-18). Furthermore, he was to actively “oppose” those who taught or lived by any other code, doing everything possible to “recover” those ensnared by satanic lies (vv. 25-26).

A prerequisite for an effective battle for purity in doctrine is purity in character. A Christian leader must be prepared for the work. “If a man therefore purge himself from these [i.e., false teaching, practices, and attitudes], he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (v. 21).

Finally, a Christian leader must have proper and pure relationships with both those who are under his influence and those who must be opposed. “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves” (vv. 24‑25). This is a difficult task, but as in our text, our foundation is sure, and we are known fully by the One who leads and empowers us in the work ahead. JDM

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Joshua 6:1-5, 12-21, 23, 25

Joshua 6:1, 2

God had given the city to them, but they were to use the appointed means. God’s election fulfils itself through earnest seeking on our part.

Joshua 6:4, 5

Mean instruments were chosen to work wonders,

Joshua 6:4, 5

Little connection was apparent between the means and the desired result, yet it was not for the people to reason why; it was theirs to follow the prescribed rule.

Joshua 6:12, 13

They did precisely as they were bidden, no doubt greatly to the amusement of the sons of Belial, who thought the procedure a very unphilosophical one, and quite unfit for men of common sense to spend their time upon.

Joshua 6:16

Their former silence had proved their patience, and this commanded shout was a token of the expectancy of their faith.

Joshua 6:17-19

It was meet that the firstfruits of Canaan should be the Lord’s.

Joshua 6:20

A strange method of overturning strongholds, and yet when God so ordained, it was as effectual as the best constructed battering-ram. How strangely must Rahab’s house have towered aloft, when all others fell in heaps. Faith pulls down, but faith also upholds.

Joshua 6:1, 23

In the day of judgment the house with the scarlet line in the window is not left to perish in the general wreck. Perish who may, believers are secured by the promise of one who cannot lie, and they have nothing to fear.

 

Make bare thine own resistless arm,

Through all the earth abroad;

Let every nation now behold

Their Saviour and their God.

 

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

Matthew 25:30

When I was a boy growing up in the church, I would frequently hear preachers use the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” as a part of their sermons, especially if they were preaching on the subject of eternal damnation. Every time I heard the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” I wondered, What does that phrase mean? What is weeping and gnashing of teeth?

The answer to this question is found in the story of the master who gave talents to three of his servants. As we already saw in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, Jesus called the lazy servant in that parable a “wicked and slothful servant.” The words “wicked and slothful” both come from the single Greek word okneros. This word means lazy or idle. It carries the idea of a person who has a do-nothing, lethargic, lackadaisical, apathetic, indifferent, lukewarm attitude toward life.

Jesus used this parable to teach those of us who are His followers what He expects of us. The master in the parable vividly illustrates Jesus’ sentiments toward people who have great potential but who are too lazy to get up, get out of the house, and do something to develop the potential that has been entrusted to them. Friend, we need to pay careful attention to the message in this parable, because how Jesus sees things is how we must see things!

Notice that the master in this parable said, “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents” (v. 28). This would be the response of any employer who discovered a time-waster on his staff. Rather than throw away more time waiting for an unprofitable, nonproductive person to get with the program, a smart employer will take his responsibility from him and give it to someone he knows can get the job done right!

Jesus continued, “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (v. 29). Here again we find a powerful truth: Those who are good performers and whom the boss can trust to get things done will always have a very full plate of responsibility. The employer trusts this employee’s ability and appreciates his willingness to do whatever necessary to complete the assigned task with excellence. Therefore, he keeps piling more and more on this person whom he knows he can trust! This is precisely what Jesus meant when he said, “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance….”

But Jesus also said, “… But from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath.” A good way to make sure that you get no pay increase or promotion and possibly even get fired is to do a poor job. Poor jobs should not be rewarded.

Rewards are given to those who deserve them. If a person consistently fails to do his job correctly or on time, or if he consistently does his assigned task with a grumpy, complaining attitude, he shouldn’t be surprised when the new and bigger assignments are delegated to someone else besides him!

This leads us to Jesus’ statement about “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in Matthew 25:30. It says, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The word “unprofitable” is the Greek word achreios, which literally means useless. A literal translation in today’s vernacular would be the good-for-nothing servant.

But notice that the master in this parable said to “cast” this servant “into outer darkness.” The word “cast” is the word ekballo, from the words ek and ballo. The word ek means out, and the word ballo means to throw. Together these words mean to expel, to throw out, to drive out, or to kick out. This word pictures the master saying, “Throw him out…”; “Kick the guy out of the organization…”; “Expel him as quickly as you can…”; “Toss him out of here….” The Greek expresses such total intolerance for laziness and non-productivity that the master wants the unprofitable servant gone as quickly as possible!

The master said to cast the unprofitable servant into “outer darkness.” Let me explain this to you, because it is very important to the truth in this parable.

It is a fact that in New Testament times, almost every large city had huge stone city walls that protected the city from intruders and from lions who roamed the countryside. The residents of the city often dumped their garbage over the top of the walls in certain parts of the city, allowing the trash to fall and build up around the base of the huge stone walls. Because this garbage included unused food, lions from the countryside would come to the base of the city walls late at night—when it was very dark—to pillage the trash and look for food.

These huge piles of trash became sites where authorities tried to determine the guilt or innocence of individuals suspected of crimes but not concretely proven to be guilty. The authorities would tie the suspected criminal with rope and lower him to the base of the city walls during the darkest hours of the night—right into the midst of the garbage where the lions roamed every night. If they found the suspect alive the next morning, he was judged to be innocent of his crime. If he had been devoured, it was assumed that he had been guilty of the crime of which he had been accused.

Even if the victim was found alive the next morning, he was usually insane or on the verge of total insanity. In fact, his teeth were usually ground down by his own nervous gnashing and grinding of his teeth as the lions prowled and roared all around him all night long. This is where we get the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It was derived from this experience of suffering agony and even insanity as a result of being cast into outer darkness.

Why would Jesus use this example to depict the unprofitable servant who was kicked out of the business or organization? Well, just imagine what this person would feel like after being kicked out for doing a poor job. Later he would see others doing exactly what he had once been asked to do but what he had refused or failed to do because he was too lazy. That experience would be pure agony for him! It would be so difficult to watch someone else in his position—doing what he used to do, getting the promotion he could have gotten, achieving the greatness he should have achieved. To know that all of this could have been his if he hadn’t forfeited it through his own wrong attitude and laziness—that would be agony for anyone!

So many people have had great ideas, but because they pondered the idea for too long without acting on it, someone else finally came up with the same idea—and then went out and did something about it! The person who originally came up with the idea sees someone else prospering with the idea he had first. How do you think that makes him feel? He knows it could have been him experiencing that prosperity and success, but now it’s too late. His hesitation to act or his laziness prevented him from getting up and putting that idea into action; as a result, the opportunity passed on to someone who was willing to do something with the idea.

Do you know anyone who has experienced such agony due to his own lack of faith to step out and act on his dream? Do you fit this description yourself?

I pray that I haven’t just described you! The last thing Jesus wants is for you to experience “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” But honestly, friend, it’s up to you. If you do nothing with the abilities and opportunities God gives you, you can be certain that those privileged opportunities for success will pass to someone who is willing to do something with them. The opportunity can be yours, or it can be taken from you. But if it is taken from you, it will be agony to your soul when you see someone else standing in your dream.

That’s why I am begging you—please don’t make this mistake! God has given you gifts, callings, and dreams to fulfill. Now it’s up to you to step out in faith and DO something with what He has given you!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, help me understand how to act on the ideas You have placed in my heart. I don’t want to be like the unprofitable servant who was thrown into outer darkness and experienced weeping and gnashing of teeth. I want to stand in the reality of the dream You have put in my heart. Please give me wisdom and courage to step out and begin to fulfill the dream You birthed so deeply inside my soul. I need You, Holy Spirit. I ask You to stir up Your courage inside me and help me to get moving!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I’m not lazy or afraid to step out in faith. I am filled with God’s wonderful ideas, and I will do what He has put in my heart. I am not hesitant or fearful but rather bold, courageous, and ready to go! God is my Helper; therefore, I will not be afraid. I will not fear what man can do to me, for the Lord is with me! He directs my mind; He guides my steps; and His Word lights my path before me.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have you ever experienced “weeping and gnashing of teeth” from watching someone else step into your dream or your position because you failed to do it first?
  2. If your answer is yes, did you ask Jesus to forgive you for being so faithless, afraid, hesitant, or lazy? If you haven’t asked Him to forgive you yet, don’t you think it would be a good idea to find a quiet place where you can really talk to the Lord about this?
  3. If you have truly repented of your past actions, Jesus has forgiven you. Are you open for Him to give you another dream or opportunity when He sees that you’re ready for the next assignment?

 

I Am Slipping

 

  • When I begin to act as if genuine joy is dependent on the state of the circumstances surrounding me.
  • When I begin to lose the distinct aroma of the fragrance of Christ in my life.
  • When I begin to feel or act as if my self-worth and acceptance is dependent on how well I perform.
  • When I am losing my grip on the reality of spiritual warfare. Then I begin to treat my brother or my fellow human being as my enemy and seek to do battle with fleshly weapons.
  • When I act as if victory or success depends on me and my ability rather than on the adequacy of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • When I place undue emphasis on programming and planning to the exclusion of His direction, leading and guidance.
  • When more time is spent in the “activities arena” than in the prayer closet.
  • When the praises of men and women become more important than the approval of God.
  • When relating to and caring for people is less important than programs, planning, meetings, and budgets.
  • When I assume responsibility to worry and fret over things and people that God in His sovereignty and power would take charge of (if I would allow Him to do so).
  • When my rights become more important than God’s will and way

Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals.

 

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