The Woman With the Issue of Blood or The Lame Man by the Pool of Bethesda

There was a woman who had a medical condition that was slowly killing her. She had spent her livelihood going to doctors and trusting in their practices to make her better but nothing the doctors and medicine did prevailed. She slowly sank into isolation and despair.

There was a man who was paralyzed in his lower extremities and he was lying beside the Pool of Bethesda waiting for the waters to be troubled, because many Jews believed that an angel would come down to trouble the waters, thus signifying to the first to enter the waters in the pool would be miraculously healed, which, after so long a time, he had hoped to do.

Both of these poor souls were healed by Jesus! But their stories of how they were healed are worlds apart. In reading Mark’s account of the Woman with the Issue of Blood, the diseased woman had an aggressive faith that moved and motivated her to seek out and find the Lord Jesus for an answer and a cure for her malady. She found the Lord and, though he was being thronged by a multitude of people, ‘came in the press behind’ and touched the hem of the Lord’s garment, and was immediately healed of her disease; the ‘virtue’ or healing power going out of the Savior, into her body, healing her.

In contrast, the paralyzed man who was waiting for the troubling of the water, did not know about the Lord. He resided in Jerusalem where much of the fame of the Lord Jesus was not yet known, for the Lord’s ministry had principally been done in the region of the Galilee. So, when Jesus saw the man lying by the pool and knew he had been in this decrepit condition for a long time, asked him if he wanted to be made whole. The man replied, casually, that ‘he had no man’ to help him into the water. The Lord Jesus, in His capacity as Lord over sickness and disease, commanded him to rise and get up! And the man was immediately healed, got up, took his mat he had been lying on, and walked away.

So, what is the difference between the two individuals? Both were healed by the Lord Jesus? Both would live to see better days? The main difference between the two was in the hearing! The woman had ‘heard of Jesus’, the man had no knowledge of Jesus. He could not, when, after his miraculous healing, a demand was made of him by the Pharisees as to why he was carrying his mat on the Sabbath day, name the Person who had healed him. The man had no faith to be healed because no word concerning the Lord Jesus was ever heard by him. His only ‘hope’ was in the troubling of the water at the pool, which proved to be a rare occurrence; a sovereign mercy from God for only one who managed to get into the water of the pool before anyone else did. Think of all the other sick people who had to ‘wait’ ‘til next time the waters were troubled, to hopefully be the first into the water.

But the woman with the issue of blood was healed by a method she used which is available to every sick person without need to wait! The paralyzed man was healed, not on his own faith in the Lord Jesus, but by a sovereign act of God that was denied by all the other sick folk who had placed their hope in the troubling of the water; that only affected him, and, he had been waiting for a long time! The woman had been sick for a long time also, but, when she ‘heard of Jesus’ her destiny changed in a moment when she ‘acted’ upon what she had heard and, by her own faith, was healed of her disease.

Unfortunately, most of the nominal church today is ‘waiting’ for God to do something before they have faith in the Lord’s power to heal or supply their needs. The nominal church is ready to believe ‘after’ something happens to them. And, as a result, the nominal church remains as they are; sick, broke and in dire need. But if the nominal church would follow the faith of the woman with the issue of blood, their every need would be met. So, what did she do in order to be healed? First, she ‘heard of Jesus.’ Why are many in the church not receiving the things God has promised them? They, like the paralyzed man, don’t hear. Secondly, the woman ‘acted’ upon what she heard; she ‘came in the press behind;’ she fought through the crowd who had surrounded the Lord Jesus and, with much effort, touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. What the woman did is ‘believing,’ which is ‘faith in action.’ Thirdly, she ‘received’ that which she had come to Jesus for. Finally, she told or ‘confessed’ to the Lord, and all those surrounding the Lord, what had happened to her. She ‘heard,’ she ‘believed,’ she ‘received,’ then she ‘confessed,’ giving to God the glory for what He had done, the Lord admonishing and commending her that it was ‘her faith’ that had made her whole.

So, which of the two individuals best represent your position when it comes to possessing the promises of God? Are you hoping for something good to happen to you someday when the Lord ‘takes a ‘liking to you,’ when the Lord ‘smiles on you?’ Or, like the woman, having ‘heard the Word’ in a good and honest heart, kept it, acted upon it, and brought forth a harvest, thirty-fold, sixty-fold, even a hundred-fold? Jesus said to all, to you and to me, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Will you hear the Lord today? And be healed?

Pastor John Dunning

Why We Need Revival

Jeremiah 4:1 – Jeremiah records, “If you will return to me, then return!”. If you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved.”

The Lord raised up Jeremiah in the last days of the nation of Israel, while it was still a free and independent country. Israel was a nation ordained by God; a nation that walked in the blessings of God with all of its enemies around them subdued; a land that was flowing with ‘milk and honey’; a prosperous land.

But Israel did what was unthinkable; she turned to the ‘weak and beggarly elements of the world’, to the ‘elemental spirits’ of the age. She chose to live a life of sin and rebellion, and though God chastised her many times, she would not repent; she would reform for a time, but only for a short time. Israel sinned away her ‘Day of Grace’. So, God, in the last days Israel’s life as a nation, God sends the prophet Jeremiah to speak unto her in an attempt to get her to return to the Lord.

In Jeremiah 4:1, God says to Israel simply, ‘If’ you want to return to me, then return! The Lord was saying to her, ‘if’ you’ll come back to me, then come! I’ll forgiven you and cleanse you, But, if you do come back to me, you will first have to leave your abominations; do not bring them with you into my sight, and, if you do this, I will ensure that you stay in your land and those who are coming to destroy you will be prevented from doing so. But Israel would not return to the Lord. In effect, the Israelites set a condition before the Lord; they were saying, “I’ll come back to you but it will be on the condition that I bring the idols with me that I have joined myself to. And, if you don’t agree with this condition, forget it! I’ll stay right where I am.” And so, in the end, Jeremiah Chapter 52 describes the result of Israel’s rejection of the Lord; they were utterly destroyed and ceased being a nation.

What can we learn from Israel’s tragedy? First, God’s hand is always stretched out towards sinners beckoning them to come. Secondly, the condition the Lord sets in coming to Him is, ‘Repent’ and turn from sin. If the sinner will do this, the Lord will make sure that, when evil days do come, he will not be moved. There is only One who can save us and keep us from falling, He is Jesus Christ! He is the Rock, the Hope upon which believers stand, and without Him, as the hymn declares, ‘all other ground is sinking sand’.

Pastor John Dunning

The Love of God

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God. –1 John 3:1

We could read the above verse this way, “Behold, what ‘foreign kind’ of love the Father has ‘bestowed’ upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God.”

The word, ‘bestowed’ comes from the Greek word ‘dedoken’ [δέδωκεν-perfect active indicative of dedomai] and is defined as ‘that which is given as a gift; granted or supplied’. This is why the translation ‘foreign kind’ of love is such an apt use of the word bestowed.

The love of God is foreign to us. All though all love comes from God, we must all asked ourselves this question, “Why do we love God?” The short answer is, ‘We love God for Himself’. O, Yes, we love him for what he does for us, healing us, supplying us with joy in living the Christian life, etc., but all these ‘things’ that He does for us, even though we are thankful for them, and are very appreciative of all he does for us, cannot be the real reason why we love God. We love Him for Himself, not for what He does for us. I remember talking to a family member who had started going to church years ago, and I asked her about this. She replied, “I feel better”. As a consequence of her answer, her stint in church did not last very long because her commitment was not based upon a true love for God – it was an existential experience that didn’t last. True love for God is based upon Who He is, not upon what he does for us. Years ago, I was talking to a friend and he was impatient and frustrated. He vented his frustration and then made the querist remark, ‘Oh’, he said, ‘I need to go home and renew my mind!’ What he didn’t realize was, his statement belayed a deeper problem and the reason he was frustrated; He wasn’t getting his way and it disturbed him. The love of God, and yielding to the love of God, is us accepting things God’s way. Paul describes what I mean when he wrote, “Love is patient and kind”. The love of God never boils over with jealousy or is rude, nor unbecoming. The love of God never seeks, selfishly, its own good, but seeks for the good of others. Now what I have just described, in a simple manner, is the actions of the love of God, and just this very simple description of the love of God intimates to us how foreign the love of God is to us, even though, as believers in Christ, we have the love of God in us through the New Birth. The reason we don’t really understand the love of God is due to the fact that we were born in sin and our outward nature has really not been thoroughly dealt with and brought under the subjection of the life and nature of God himself. This is true of all of us. We were all born in sin and, even though, we have received New Birth and have received the life and nature of God in us, we still have not received full redemption yet; we are eagerly waiting for the redemption of our bodies and, when this happens, we will be, as Paul describes, ‘all in all’. But until that time comes, we have to continually ‘keep our body under, bringing it fully into the subjection of Christ, and this process continues throughout one’s lifetime upon the earth. Yielding ourselves to God is yielding ourselves to the love of God.

Bernard of Clairveaux defined the love of God as, that love which is ‘immeasurable’. It stands to reason that if God is immeasurable, then His love would be so too. We can only comprehend the love of God in a measure and that measure depends upon how much of our life we are willing to yield up to God and His love. So, in closing, we have to ask ourselves the question, “How much of my life am I willing to give to God?” Luke recorded something Jesus said in reference to giving when He said, ‘That [in this case, our selves] which we measure out, will be measured back to us’. If we want to experience more of the love of God in our life, or our marriage, then we will have to give more of ourselves to the Lord Jesus. To me, I find the more I yield myself to the Lord Jesus and His love, the more I find myself loving others as I should love them; not loving people for what they do for me, or for what pleasure I receive in their fellowship; but loving them as I interpret how God would love them. And, as imperfect as my expression of the love of God is toward others, this ‘foreign kind’ of love still transcends all other kinds of love experienced by me, and by you. Paul wrote, ‘Love [God’s immeasurable love] works no ill toward its neighbor, therefore, love is fulfilling the Laws of God’. So, let’s begin to love others, even though our effort may be clumsy and imperfect at times, the same way that God loves us. Blessings – PJ

True Biblical Fellowship

1 John 1:1-10
I think all believers enjoy fellowshipping with one another. Maybe your church has an intramural softball team, or a bowling team. It is fun to get together with friends in church and do things together, like going to the park, cooking out, playing games with the children or just enjoying the environment. Where I live there is a state park where three rivers converge together. It is a lovely park with pavilions to host groups, cook out; the kids can go swimming or boaters can get out on the water and, if they wanted to, they could travel just a few miles to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. So, getting together with friends and family is a great way to enjoy life.

But as wonderful as getting together with friends and family in these ways is, it is not true biblical fellowship. The Apostle John, in 1 John 1:1-4, describes to us what true biblical fellowship is, which is Christian fellowship that is centered around Christ. My wife and I enjoy camping, and we have friends that we go camping with three or four times a year. And as much as we all like to camp together, we cannot call our camping adventures together true biblical fellowship because most of our time is spent together speaking about things other than the doctrine of Christ. This is how John describes true biblical fellowship;
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our[a] joy complete.” [1 John 1:1-4, NIV)

What is true biblical fellowship? First of all, true biblical fellowship is centered around Christ, not anyone or anything else. Many churches have a midweek bible study service, where for 90 minutes or so fellow believers will come together to share a meal with one another, then study the bible together. This is an example of true biblical fellowship; centering our activity around Christ and His Word.

Many churches have designed their church services in such a way that Christ is placed at the center of everything they do in a typical Sunday service, and the service is drawn to a conclusion by all partaking of and sharing in the Lord’s supper; this is true biblical fellowship. Jesus said,
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

True biblical fellowship comes from the Greek word, “κοινωνια” or koinonia, which is defined as believers, ‘sharing’ with one another; ‘participating’ with one another, or ‘partnering’ with one another, all around our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is how the Church began after the Day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit;
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” [Acts 2:42, NIV]

Did you notice how Luke separates ‘fellowship’ from ‘breaking of bread’? It’s because true biblical fellowship is centered around the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; our fellowship is centered around Him, and only Him, and, when we come together to worship, adore and learn of Him, the benefits of sharing Him with one another cannot be overstated.

Blessings – PJ

Praying Earnestly

James 5:14-18

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: [15]And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. [17]Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. [18]And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Did you know that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a ‘Healing Church’? We can trace backwards through Church History and see how many thousands of people, saints and sinners alike, found healing and restoration in the Church, from its beginning to present day. This fact alone should make us want to be a part this ‘God-Ordained’ institution. Notice, James begins this passage with a general call to the sick, whether it be in mind or body; “Are there any who are sick among you?” Of the many things we have come to realize about our human race, we know sickness is a part of our life while here on Earth. I love the following passage concerning the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Matthew 9:35

“…Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

This capsulizes the ministry of the Lord Jesus during His 3 ½ year ministry while on earth. And at the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the 120 who were praying in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, they were baptized of the Holy Spirit and received the power to go into all the world to preach the gospel, they were also anointed of God to fulfill the same type of ministry of the Lord Jesus throughout the world; this was the ministry of teaching (explaining) the Gospel of Christ; preaching [proclaiming] the Gospel of Christ and healing ‘every sickness and every disease’ among the people. The ministry of teaching, preaching and healing has been replicated throughout the centuries by the church up to present day.

The Lord wants you to be healed, happy and well! And this condition of well being is for you, if you meet the condition that James has expressed in our opening passage. God loves you and wants you to enjoy His very best for you – He is on your side – even though bad things often happen, the Lord has always been by you to help you get through it by fully trusting in Him.

If you are contemplating ending your life because of a momentary grief seems too much for you to bear, I want you to know first, before you take drastic action, that God is existing in your past; He was always there to help you, and, He is by your side now, and will be by your side in your tomorrow’s, and we can learn to depend upon Him in our tomorrow’s by learning to draw near unto him today.

James tells us, Are you sick? Or going through a test and a trial that seems to want to overwhelm you to the point where you don’t believe you’ll ever get over it? Are your wounds so deep you don’t think you will ever heal? In such a case, James says there is something you will have to do; that is to call for the elders of the church and let them ‘pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord Jesus’. Then James says, “And the ‘prayer of faith’ shall save [comes from the Greek ‘Sozo’{verb form ‘sosei’ “I save, I heal, I deliver}] the sick and God shall raise him up, and if he has committed [any] sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Through this process, James writes that God will restore you, or anyone who is willing to trust Him, to health.

This is a process that all of us, no matter what we are going through, should consider. After all, will doing what James has exhorted us to do hurt us, or damage us anymore than what we are already damaged? No matter what capacity we hold our thoughts and feelings in our heart toward the Lord Jesus, one thing we can all agree on is this; He has our best interest at heart, after all, He was willing to die on an old rugged cross for each and every one of us, and He ‘knows the feelings of our infirmities’ and took them unto Himself, bearing them while upon a crucifix, not for Himself, but for us. It is true; He loves you and me; to a depth that neither of us can comprehend, but if we are willing to trust Him, I do not believe for a second that He will disappoint us.

Blessings – PJ (rbtc86@gmail.com)

What Christians Should Know to Do

Isn’t it wonderful to be a born-again believer? There are times when the experience of friendship and closeness of the Spirit of God seems like heaven, if, it wasn’t for our continual dealing with the lower nature. If our life on earth was like heaven all the time, then going to heaven wouldn’t be much of an expectation. To me, it would be like a wealthy person living in Europe, being waited upon hand and foot there, to move to another country to be waited on hand and foot. Where is the exception? Or the expectation? I think that kind of life would seem to me to be boring. After all, what kind of expectations would we have of going to heaven when we already had the continual experience of heaven now?

But the plain fact is we are not in heaven, but down here in the real world where life can be good and the next moment turn bad and even ugly at times; where there is a regular pull upon us by the dark forces that surround us. For example, I am a usually happy person until I pull up my favorite news sights and begin reading about the dark sinfulness that is going on in our nation and the insanity of wickedness that is occurring. My heart becomes grieved and angry and I find myself very put off by what others are committing that is so contrary to what we, as believers, know is not of God.

There is the contention every day with the ‘elemental spirits’ of this age that we, as believers, are having to deal with, whether we are in the privacy of own home or out in the public square. This conflict is an every day event and can wear us down if we don’t seek for and receive the daily replenishment of spending time in the presence of God. We are like an automobile that only goes as far as there is gas in the fuel tank. Life itself can be a spiritual drain if we are not ‘connected’ to the power source which is the word of God and the Spirit of God.

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Jude: 20-21

Just like an automobile, if left in a field unshielded from the harsh elements of nature and not operated, will, over time, rust and decay and eventually become unfunctional. We, as natural human beings, and as believers, will eventually become unfunctional if we do not continually keep ourselves supplied with the spiritual life and power that comes from living and walking in the Spirit of God. This was the main problem with the group of people, believers in Christ, who James was writing to in his letter to them. Because this group refused to fully surrender to God and His Spirit and failed to daily refresh themselves through the Spirit that comes from God, this group of believers had become hard and calloused fighting and quarrelling with one another; being envious and hateful toward one another, and were continually doing so. James, in his letter, plainly told them they were becoming enemies of God. So, James exhorted them to first, repent, then begin to seek the Lord, submitting to Him so they would have the power to ‘resist the devil’ and have him flee.

There is no substitute for daily walking and talking with the Lord in true humility before Him and affection for Him. Life becomes a joy instead of a bore when we daily include Him in everything we do. After all, if Jesus Christ truly is our Lord, then we give Him the right to have His say in everything we do or say wouldn’t we?

Blessings – PJ

Taming the Tongue

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.  Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. [James 3:3-8, KJV]

This is quite an indictment of James, the brother of Lord, upon the tongue. How many times have we spoken words out of our mouth, then later wished we would have kept our mouth shut? I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve had to repent for the things I’ve said more so than the things in the past I have done. Speech is the single most important part of our daily life. Without communication life becomes a distant, uninhabited island, or a vast desert. Someone has said that the average person speaks over 30,000 words per day. It makes me wonder what I’ve actually said in those 30,000 words, don’t you?

James tells us that the tongue, left undisciplined, is a ‘deadly poison’. Why is that so? Every human being is born spiritually separated from God; our fallen, human nature is inherited from our fathers, and our father’s natures from their fathers, and so on going all the way back to Adam. Evil is in the world because of our fallen nature; we just don’t do the things we should, but we wind up doing the things we shouldn’t do. It seems we have an inherent ability to destroy others and to self-destruct ourselves. How in the world do we extricate ourselves from this melee? Through Jesus Christ and the New Birth! This God offers to every person born of a woman. The Lord Jesus, when we are drawn to Him and place faith and trust in Him, gives us a new heart and a new pattern of life. This life is called ‘zoe’ life; Life as God lives it; a higher life; a Spirit-Controlled life; an Eternal Life. This life is placed at the very center of our being, and being life, in an absolute sense, begins to permeate through our outer being, transforming our mind and the thoughts and intents of our heart. And this life, if looked and yielded to, will teach our lips and change our speech into a pattern of blessing God, and others, instead of cursing Him and those who are made in His image.

We can tame our tongues! I didn’t say it is easy, and taming our tongue will not happen overnight, but the more time and attention we give ourselves to the things of the Spirit, the more rapid our transformation into a well of sweet water will be, instead of remaining a bitter well that tastes sour to ourselves, and to those around us.

PJ

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

I am sure all of us have been in situations in the past where we were faced with a problem or a test and had no idea how to solve the problem or what to do. We can be perplexed, frustrated, maybe even depressed and the more we ponder the issue at hand the more frustrated we become; it’s just not a good thing to be facing trouble and not know how to make it better. James, who was the older brother of the Lord Jesus, says that if are in a test, a trial, but we don’t understand what to do about it, we are to ask the Lord for the wisdom and understanding of what to do in order make it through the test. Tests and trials are always intense in the middle of them but it is always satisfying when we pass through them and overcome them.

Let’s examine this passage of scripture for a moment. First, James tells us that we will face tests where we don’t know how get through them. There are some tests in life that we are not prepared for and it is natural for us to be shaken or to be surprised by them and thrown off guard. Anyone who has lived long on this earth knows exactly what we are talking about; there are times when we just don’t know what to do, and these times can be disheartening and depressing. The tests of life can rob us of our joy and steal away happiness. So, what do we do when we don’t know what to do? We ask of God. We pray and ask of God about the situation we find ourselves in because He is the One who knows all about it. There is nothing that the Lord does not see or know and He is the One Who, already as a fact in His mind, has a solution.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
–1 Corinthians 10:13

Oftentimes, while we are facing the trials of life, we have a tendency to get our eyes off of the One to whom we have to do, and focus on self. Self can not always solve his or her problem. So, what we do is expend a lot of useless energy and, instead, build up a lot of anxiety and frustration, running around in our mind wondering what we are going to do or how we are going to fix this problem and, going nowhere, we usually wind up taking our frustrations out on the people we are nearest and dearest to, like our wife or our husband. James says, “ask of God’; this means stop what we are doing, jump in our prayer closet and begin to ask the Lord for the wisdom from Him that will show us what we are to do and how we are to solve our problem and get through the test or trial, but, James also tells us to do something else;

 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
–James 1:6

Faith is the grease that fixes the squeaking wheel! So, in times of testing, Ask the Lord for the wisdom necessary to pass the test, and ask in faith without doubting and come out on the other end successfully. It may take a little time to get an answer but this is what the Lord wants us to do anyway, He just allowed the trial to come our way to prove to us that we can make it through the trial and overcome.