Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1. The God Who Knows, Speaks

This is a book on healing – how God does it and how you can be a conduit for it. This may sound silly to some, frightening to others, but it is normal in Scripture, and even the least “worthy” of us can be healed – and used by God for the healing of others.

You might think, “That’s all well and good, and perhaps God really is willing to heal me, or heal others through me, but I just don’t know enough about Him or His ways to really be effective. Isn’t that what ministers, or evangelists, or saints are for?”

The short answer is, “No. That’s what you are for.”

Let’s look at the Scriptures to begin to understand God’s heart, and His leading for you, as the nature of healing begins to be revealed.

We’ll start with the first part of Psalm 139, a song written by King David; the last part (not printed here) is valuable as well, as David rails against the enemies of God, and also asks that his own heart be searched. But for our initial purposes we will look at the first eighteen verses:

The God Who knows me
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.[1] Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts,God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.[2]
This is such an extraordinary Psalm that I hardly know where to begin. It contains deep wisdom and understanding of who God is, and what He knows, and how intimately He knows us, cares for us, and guides us. He knows everything about us – every thought, every need, every fear. He should be as precious to us as we are to Him, and though we sleep and are unaware of Him, when we awake He is still right there. In fact, “…the one who watches over you will not slumber.”[3]

He never leaves. He watches all night long until you awake.

I suppose this should be obvious, but so many of us today – even Christians! – act as if God created the world and left it on its own. At the most we think He visited a few times in the past, and MAYBE comes occasionally into our lives or the lives of others. 

But we are functional “Deists.” We act like He doesn’t know our needs and really doesn’t much care. We don’t think of Him as being intimate with us, like a loving husband, never leaving our sides, looking lovingly at us all night long. Yet such an intimate, caring and jealous God is what Scripture reveals.

The God who speaks

Aside from people whose disabilities prevent it, can you imagine a marriage in which the husband and wife do not speak (all kidding aside!)? Rather, those marriages that are most healthy are intimate not just in physical closeness, but in words whispered in love, in plans made together, in warnings given in times of danger, in instruction where it is needed.

The Apostle Paul, writing to Christian believers, reminded them of how different the real God is from the idols they once worshipped:
Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this. You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.[4]
We will come back to this passage again later in the book. For now, notice this key insight: the idols they once worshipped were speechless. Paul intends the obvious implication: GOD SPEAKS TO US. 

This may happen in a thousand different ways, from actual audible words, to Scripture, dreams, visions, angels, convictions of the heart, worship, prayer, and especially through other believers, led by the Spirit of God to speak to us from God’s heart. 

This is why Paul says, “…no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.” Paul is speaking of the quality and content of believers when their speech is from God – speaking by the Spirit of God – as God speaks to us through them.

One of God’s prophets, Elijah, was fleeing from Jezebel, who had vowed to kill him:
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.
But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. 
Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.
But the LORD said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”[5]
Who does Scripture say God speaks to? Here's a partial list. I got tired after about an hour of finding and listing names. God speaks to Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Hagar, to Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Balaam, Deborah, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon, Ahijah, Jeroboam, Elijah, Elisha, Nathan, Gad, Shemaiah, Zechariah, Huldah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Peter, John, Saul/Paul, Ananias…

This list shows us something crucial: We often think of prayer as us speaking to God, but it is not a one-way channel. It is a conversation, if we will open ourselves to listen to Him. Here's a key example of this willingness, and the desire on God's part for us to listen to Him:
The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 
Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 
Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”[6]
As we begin to explore Scripture, and try to discover the heart of Jesus for healing in us, and through us, this willingness to listen to God will be a foundation, and a touchstone, for all that we learn to do. 

Say it now: "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."

[1] Interestingly, the English word “man” comes from a Sanskrit word meaning the thinker sprung from the earth, and the Hebrew word “Adam” means made from earth. See Genesis 2:7.

[2] Psalm 139:1-18 NIV

[3] Psalm 121:3b

[4] 1 Corinthians 12:1-2

[5] 1 Kings 19:3-13

[6] 1 Samuel 3:1-10

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