Is there any among the sons of Adam or the daughters of Eve who have been free of deep-rooted problems? Pain, shame, fear, hurt or rejection, are part and parcel of the human condition. Thousands of psychologists battle each day trying to get to the root of the symptoms such as anxiety, fear, pathological lying, infidelity, criminal behavior, recklessness or anger and try to help people overcome whatever debilitating issues they are facing or creating.
Our Lord, the Good Physician has a diagnosis for the state of man. ”For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”
Many Christians, who try and grow out of the ‘old man’ fail to do so despite their best attempts. Most of these attempts are centered around their willpower, taming their thoughts, trying to gain knowledge (biblical, psychological or 10 easy steps to uprooting everything that’s wrong with you) using temporary fixes like faking holiness, outright hypocrisy and denial of the problem.
In Jeremiah 8:22,23 We see the prophet cry out in dismay about Israel.
“Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of the daughter of my people
not been restored?”
The prophet knew that even in the Old Testament, God healed those who went to Him. But Jeremiah laments because the people did not go to God with their wounds and scars which ultimately consumed them and their nation.
How much worse is it if we fail to go to Christ our Healer, who bore in His body the stripes for our healing?
There is no point in tearing our hair out by wondering why we repeat certain behaviors or patterns of chronic foolishness. True and complete healing is only possible through the total and complete uprooting of our maladies. Uprooting has to begin with acknowledging that we are heartsick and going to the creator of our heart, with our sickness. We need to allow the compassion of Christ to reach us, invade our hearts and to make right what sin broke.
Do not reject healing by wallowing in shame or the pain-pleasure of punishing yourself. Get it to God today. Don’t waste a minute. Get over it. Humbly and gratefully receive the help given to you and move on. Once a heart receives the balm of Gilead it will automatically begin to pour out the same healing it received. Healing like most things that flow out of God’s goodness creates a ripple effect. One healed heart can help nations be reconciled with God because we are all needy, wounded and hurting. We just need the light of the world to show us the way.
We use social media to connect. We connect with friends and dear ones and we get updated on the progression of their lives. We click like when we see our friends and acquaintances get new jobs, start new lives, move to a new city or try a new cake. The point of social media was to stay in touch with our world.
Yet when our Facebook page gets flooded with reports of children torn apart, fathers murdered and guilty men defended, we realize we can barely recognize our world. Beyond the newspaper reports, flash news and moral dialogue on social media platforms, we sense a world drenched in so much darkness that brutish men become beasts without ever knowing what it is they have become.
Just like you, I recoiled when this dark world brushed against my awareness. I lamented and despaired. I prayed for my nation and its social consciousness and I felt powerless as the darkness that seemed to press down, trying to invade our daily lives. As I desperately clung to my prayer, I was reminded of a song I’d heard by Steffany Gretzinger. She sings
Light of the world
It’s the name we were given
Can’t get away from the vision
We are cities on a hill.
These lyrics brought me back to the truth and ripped apart the fear that was clawing at me. Mathew 5:14-16 says “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”
Dearly, beloved, we have a glorious calling and purpose. We who carry Christ have a light that shines from within that the world can’t put out because we don’t illuminate by our own strength but by the grace of our Lord. The light is in you. But is it on a candlestick illuminating within your family? Your community? Your place of work? Or is your light hindered by bushels? Has your schedule, insecurity, feelings of unworthiness or inadequacies dimmed the light in you?
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The good works mentioned here is not merely handing out tracts or tithing or charity or other “works” that Christians are associated with. The good works originate from what we have received from Christ. In the eyes of the Lord, good works are the fruit of what salvation in Christ has done to us.
Good works are a result of our renewed minds and not a religious activity. The good works are a result of the light that is in us and it is a witness that brings many others to glory. Let nothing hinder you or keep you from shining bright in a world that’s desperately looking for sons and daughters of God to reveal themselves.
When Jonah the prophet was ordained by God to speak to Nineveh (the capital city of Assyria, an enemy of Israel) about impending doom due to their sin, he ran away to Tarshish. Jonah knew God to be gracious, merciful, loving and kind. Being a patriotic Israelite, he wanted nothing to do with Nineveh and had much less interest in being instrumental in saving it from destruction. He preferred to die rather than save the people of the city so he allowed himself to be flung overboard into a violent sea.
But know-it-all-Jonah had no idea God could be so dramatic as to let him get up close and personal with the insides of a sea creature just so he learns a lesson. Finally, Jonah was ready to obey the Lord. People of Nineveh heard this suicidal, resentful prophet from Israel and everything that had breath fasted, the people and the King repented and God relented from consuming the city in His wrath.
Jonah who just saved a whole city got resentful and angry and cried out to God “I told you so!”, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
You can have revelation and wisdom. You can be bold enough to face death with a sneer like Jonah. You can know the kindness, mercy, love and other attributes of God and live your life in this absolute knowledge. You can go through the most supernatural experience and come out alive by the hand of God. Everywhere you go people may turn to God and be saved. Kings may repent at your words. You can do all this and yet miss the point.
You may have heard the gospel but decided you don’t need such good news. You may have grown up in a Christian home since day one, just going with the flow. You may be someone who met Christ halfway through your life but you are watching the first love ebb away. You may be someone who has been fairly stable all your life and yet that’s all you are. You may be someone who knows much about God and His ways but you still find yourself in experiences like Jonah in the belly of a fish.
Whoever you are or whatever your story is, God is always trying to make you understand what your life and purpose is about. Don’t miss the point. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The whole reason why there is still breath in you is so that you can be saved or you can save someone else.
Jonah was a prophet, he understood more about God than many in his generation. Yet he missed the point that he had a mission. Just like Jonah, Jesus had the ministry of reconciliation. Today that ministry rests on us. Dear brothers and sisters, we have been ordained by God Almighty with a task to go out and preach the gospel. May God find you and me, obedient to His will and word.
If we can look at ourselves and others through the eyes of Christ, our jaws would drop. The bible can help open our eyes to the viewpoint of God. He calls David who was an adulterous murderer “A man after His own heart.” He calls Abraham “Strong in faith” even though his faith failed him long enough to birth Ishmael out of impatience. He calls Noah “the most righteous in His generation” even though He got blackout drunk and stripped. Gideon, the guy who told the Angel of God to “send someone else” was called a mighty warrior. When Judas was busy betraying Jesus with a kiss, Jesus called him “Friend”.
“And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. You did not greet Me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet since I arrived.” (Luke 7:44,45) Looking at the sinful woman all Jesus chose to see was her love and devotion to Him. Looking at Simon the Pharisee, all Jesus could see was a lack of love for God. Jesus tells him, “He who has been forgiven little, loveth little.”
Our eyes of flesh can often see only the sin in the sinner. Sometimes like Gideon we can see only our weaknesses and limitations. Sometimes we lose our focus on loving God and shift it toward what God can do for us or worse, what we have been doing for God. But God calls us to see differently.
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” (Luke 11:34-35) The whole point of the lamp is to dispel darkness. When His eyes of fire (Revelation 19:12) saw the sinful woman, the light in Him dispelled her darkness.
What is the light our eyes carry as we live in this fallen world? Do our eyes help bring a change in the lives of the broken and needy? Does our lamp guide people closer to God pulling them away from the darkness of addictions, despair, and fear? God calls us the “light of the world”. Do we live up to the name He calls us? Do you want the ability to love more, accept more and give more? Do you want to be able to see yourself like Christ sees you? Do you want the light that is in Christ to burn in you?
The bible holds a promise for you. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Most of us struggle at times with believing God to be able to provide, to heal, to restore, to nurture. We ask questions like “If God is my Father, why hasn’t He shown me which way to go yet?” “Why hasn’t He come down and made me perfectly well?”
For many of us, unless God gives us a step by step play of how our lives are going to unfold, our trust in Him gets shaky. We are often more comfortable in staying chained in a known prison rather than walk in freedom into an unknown land as the Israelites did. Often the confines of a sinking boat seem more appealing than trusting God with the uncharted, unpredictable waters as Peter did.
The fact is that all other ground is sinking sand. There is not a ground that you can build on other than Christ that will cause you to stand firm in the midst of the wind and the storm. That is what Jesus meant when He said in Mathew 7:24-26
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock”
Sometimes God does not quiet down the winds and waves instead; He chooses to quiet our hearts. Every time we step out of our comfort zone or what we perceive as a safe area and lock our eyes intimately on the Lord, even the water that threatened to drown us becomes a foundation as firm as the rock.
1 Corinthians 2:14 says “Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” You will truly able to step out only when you realise as 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says “..the old has gone, the new has come!”
Let us not die in the safety of our knowledge and our thinking. Each of us has received this supernatural inheritance in the Spirit, let us act upon it and leave a legacy for the generations to come.
As a famous worship leader once said “Without this tension, we are just talking heads; instead we get the opportunity to become living mysteries.”
In Mark chapter 3, Jesus meets two sets of people.
At the synagogue Jesus met a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.
One was a man with an inborn disability and the other was a group of people who took on the attitude of self-righteousness. The disabled man was aware of his weakness and in need of healing. He needed Christ. The Pharisees were so blinded by their own interpretation, ideas and understanding of God that they not only failed to see their own disability but they also couldn’t see God at work.
Jesus was among them with one goal, i.e. to save them. The truth, the way and the life, He offered was available to all. He tried to communicate with the Pharisees in a way they could understand. But they refused to let go of their notions, they refused to be vulnerable to the working of the Spirit of God. When Jesus tried to show them the truth about God, His goodness and His love, they hardened their hearts. They didn’t respond.
But the disabled man, whose weakness was ever apparent to him, stepped forward and stretched out his weak hand before the Messiah.
“And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” Mark 3:5
Both sets of people had an encounter with God that day at the synagogue. But while one went away healed and whole, the others went away seeking death. The one who was ready to behold the grace, love, and goodness of God walked away transformed. The others turned away incensed.
In 2 Corinthians 3, Apostle Paul addresses the problem of hardened hearts. Many Christians still focused on impressing God with their version of honouring the Sabbath and following letter of the law (Modern day whitewashed tombs of religious mind-sets. Mathew 23:27).
He talks of a departure from the passing glory of the old covenant given to Moses and the arrival of the unending glory that we experience in the new covenant in Christ.
“Our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” 2 Corinthians 3:6.
Paul continues to say that “Their minds were hardened; to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart.”
Many of us still read the Old Testament and think that God will strike us down for our sins, completely forgetting that Christ was already struck down in our place. There is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ. We don’t need to impress God with perfect records of Sabbath keeping. If you are struggling with the veil that prevents you from truly seeing God as good and loving and gracious, you still have hope, for the bible says in 2 Corinthians 3: 16,
“ but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
If your experience with God makes you feel restricted and hemmed in or leads you to fear, it’s time to check the state of your heart. Because with God you find liberty, not more chains.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3: 17.”
2 Corinthians 3 ends with a promise of transformation. ”But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
We get our healing when we are ready to turn to him for help with our weakness and disability. It’s our choice if we get our transformation or if we walk away incensed at the message of Christ.