Wow! I've moved one whole verse! I am now "stuck" on Hebrews 4:2.
"For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard."
This verse starts out with "good news preaching". I like that! But then comes the snag. Sometimes the Word of God does not profit the one who hears it. WHAT?? Isn't the Word a powerful sword? Doesn't it never return void without accomplishing what it was sent to do? Can't we just use the Word of God to get what we want when we want it? Isn't the name of Jesus some magic formula that we use in prayer to assure that our prayers will be answered? From a lot of the preaching I hear on Christian t.v., you would think this is so. (I will stop here because Christian t.v. is a particular "burr in my saddle", so to speak.)
We hear a lot of preaching! We see some results. If the Word is a seed, then shouldn't the harvest exceed the planting? We plant A kernel of Corn. We reap an EAR of corn. After much research, it has been determined that an ear of corn produces, on the average, 16 rows of corn kernels. I don't know exactly how many kernels but lets suffice it to say it's a BUNCH!
What is the cause of our seeming failure to bring the written Word of God into our practical reality? How can we read a PROMISE of God and not receive it? Didn't God promise His children?? Didn't He promise healing? Didn't He promise provision? Didn't He promise peace? Didn't He promise joy?
When is the Lord's Word unprofitable?
When it is not mixed with faith! In order for the Word of God to be fully effective and active in our lives, it must be mixed with our faith.
My kids love koolaide when they're thirsty. (They are sugar addicts, but that's for a different post.) There may be koolaide sitting in the cupboard, but if they don't take it out and mix it with water, their thirst will not be quenched. Even though the koolaide is sitting right there for them, it can still be unprofitable in their lives because it is not mixed with water.
This makes me wonder if the reason that we see so little of the promises of God in our own personal lives has very little to do with God and very much to do with us. It's not that He has broken His promise. It's not even because God is sovereign. It's because we did not mix it with faith.
What is faith? Perhaps that is the question we should be asking. I may have koolaide, I may have water, but if I don't know how to turn on the faucet, it will be unprofitable for me.
A few posts ago I talked of Paul in prison, called to preach the Word of God. But he sat in bonds. I mentioned that he didn't allow his bonds to become bondage. How could he do that? Because the Word of God was not in bonds. Paul still managed, through the grace and provision of God to preach the Word. It came to my mind then that the only thing that can actually bind the Word of God is unbelief.
"And Jesus could do NO miracles there, (except for a few small ones) because of their unbelief."
Imagine, the Word of God not being able to do something!
Recently two people I knew died of terrible diseases. Both were born again, Spirit filled Christians. Both were claiming the Word of God concerning healing and professed to be believing for it. Yet they died. Why?
I'm not bringing an indictment against either of them. I'm asking an honest question because if I ever find myself in the same situation, I want to be able to see a different result. The Bible is clear that healing is part of our salvation. It was part of the atonement. As we might say in America, it's a no-brainer. It's so clear in scripture that you'd have to be an idiot not to see it. So why don't we experience it more in our own lives.
I hate funerals of people who die young. Especially when those attending had prayed and were "believing" for a different outcome. I hate it because it puts us in an awkward place. In an effort to comfort those that have lost a loved one we inject the sovereignty of God as a catch all excuse for why things did not turn out as God has promised. All the sudden our vocabulary changes. Or they say "it must not have been God's will for them to live." That is essentially saying it was God's will to leave behind children and grandchildren and spouses to struggle, hurt and have to rebuild their lives. Is this the nature of God?
Doesn't this type of thinking essentially illustrate that although God PROMISED something in His Word, He can at any time and for any reason break that promise and do what He wants? If this is so, why pray? Why waste hours and hours praying, believing, studying the Word of God if God is going to do what He wants anyway? Can we then truly know the will of God or we just captive to His whims?
Why did God put healing so clearly in the bible if we really can't obtain it here on earth? How convinced are we of the promises of God and His ability to keep His promises? Doesn't this say that God does not really listen to our prayers, does not really hear us when we call. It totally voids Mark 11 which says that if we pray according to His will that he hears us and will "give us what we ask" if we waver not in faith? Did God really mean what He wrote there? Can we believe it? Can we stake our lives and reputations on it? I guess the real question, when you come right down to it is, can we really trust God?
I just have to say what our Pastor says all the time. God's Word IS His will! We CAN know the will of God. If we don't fully know the will of God, we cannot pray in faith. If we do not pray in faith we will not recieve anything from God because God himself said that we must pray according to His will and in faith. I HATE "if it be thy will prayers. (Jesus prayed that one time in one specific circumstance, so we cannot use it as a catch-all prayer. "If it be thy will" prayers are useless unless you are consecrating yourself to the will of God, which, by the way Jesus already knew! He knew it was God's will for him to die. It was just that the fleshy part of Him was having a hard time bowing to that will.) "If it be thy will" prayers are not based on the promise and will of God, therefore God is under no obligation to answer them. If you don't know how to pray about something, take some time, search the Word and find the will of God about it. Then you can pray with full assurance and some clout and God will hear AND answer your prayer, if you don't doubt!
Why, when something does not turn out the way God PROMISED in His Word, can't we just say "we missed it." Somehow, somewhere we missed it along the way. I have said this to my husband many times because I am so convinced that healing is for all, at every time, that if I die of a disease I want him to stand on top of my casket and proclaim that God is a healing God and that the reason for me not being healed is laying in the casket.
Even in our own church there are people believing for things, some concerning healing, and yet they still have not seen it. Even having the knowledge of healing that we have been privileged to have, the good news that has been preached to us, it still appears to be unprofitable in our lives. Even I am dealing with a partial loss of vision in one eye and I believe that God can, did and will heal it. But I haven't seen it yet. So, for now I've come to the conclusion that it is not because I do not understand healing. That is God's Word. There is nothing defective in it. The problem is on my end. And what God requires of me to see His promises manifest in my life is faith. So my faith must be the problem. I must not fully understand what faith is. I'm not turning on the faucet right.
Most people don't ever want to admit that there is something defective in their faith. But what other explanation is there? If God said it, He will do it. He does not change His mind. He does not dangle a beautiful, desirable carrot in front of our faces without giving it to us. That would violate His character and God will not violate ANY part of who He is.
In the past, healing has been much more a part of the church universal. In many other countries, it still is. So why, in America, have we seen such a decline? Are there seasons of healing? If so, then there would have to be seasons of salvation. But we are not willing to think of salvation as we do healing. That would just be too scary. No one is willing to take the "God is sovereign" road when speaking of their salvation. The problem, again, is that you cannot separate salvation and healing in scripture. Some write healing off as "spiritual healing". Utter nonsense. When we are saved, we are changed. We are not healed. When we go to heaven, we are changed. We are not healed! Heaven is not the ultimate healing. It is the ultimate change!
Paul told the Corinthians that some of them had died because they did not rightly divide the Lord's body. They were saved, but they died sick because they did not rightly have faith in the healing part of the Lord's atonement, celebrated in the Lord's supper.
This principle applies to other things as well, not just healing. Are you depressed? God has promised you joy! Are you hurting? God has promised you peace! Are you perplexed? God has promised you understanding. He does not withhold any good thing from His children. He is a loving Father that gives what we need, when we need it and in abundance. The problem does not lie with Him. It lies with us. It lies in our faith.
My best friend has MS. In many ways she is my hero. Every day she gets out of bed and faces that monster head on. Just last night she shared a praise. Certain parts of her body have not been working well for several years because of the MS. It has cost her precious time and a lot of money because she has had to take certain actions to remedy this as much as she can. It has amazed me at how her faith has grown and changed through these last 10 years. Almost daily, she would have some revelation concerning faith and healing. She fully believes that her healing has already been bought and paid for by Christ through the stripes that He bore. Just last night she shared that her body is now working properly. THAT IS A MIRACLE! She no longer wastes all the time and money on shots and other things to try to get her body to work. She said something that really struck me when she was telling me. She said "we believe that I am already healed, according to the promise of God. We walk by faith and not by sight. Healing is my inheritance as a child of God, so we just decided that we were going to enforce God's promise in my life."
There it is! Faith! And with faith, comes power to enforce the promise. We can look at the devil and say "if my Father promised me, then it's a done deal!" Not having to see to believe. Not gauging progress based on what her body is doing. Not gauging her faith based on progress, but yet rejoicing in progress. Once before a year or so ago, her body started to work on it's own and we rejoiced. But I think that the rejoicing came as a result of the progress. Now the rejoicing comes before the progress and the progress is now tangible. That is faith.
Abraham did not take into account that his and Sarah's body were completely unable to produce an heir. He just believed and rejoiced that he would. And because he held to and rejoiced in God's promise, it came to pass in His life. He tried to help God, thus we have Ishmael. But even that did not negate the promise of God, because GOD had PROMISED!! And He ALWAYS keeps His promises if we will just have faith.
What promises have you seen and desired in God's Word? Are you saved? They are yours! Are you living rightly before God? They are yours! Go after them and claim them! You can because you have all the authority of heaven behind you. Don't go through life living in defeat, living with heartache, living with pain and sickness. Get a hold of the faith that God has given you and work it. It's what He gave it to you for! And SEE and KNOW the promises of God as more than words in His book, as more than your future. Get them into your present! Nothing is impossible. "ONLY BELIEVE!"
I love getting up early in the morning and opening my Bible. It's like God leaves me a prize there everyday. I can't wait to open up His Word and find what treasure He has put there for me. Isn't it amazing to think that God is so immense that He could write a book to the whole world, but also to each individual of the world all in the same writing?