The Father who Heals

“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14.7

The Bible seems to promise healing to those who ask in faith and naturally many people seek this.  For some it is a struggle as they battle in prayer against a God who seems unwilling to bestow what seems to be promised.  These words of Jesus bring us right back to looking at the Father’s heart since Jesus is saying that to know him is to know the Father and to glimpse him is to have glimpsed the Father.

As far as healing is concerned, the implication of this is that the healing Jesus is also a picture of the healing Father.  When Jesus laid his hands on the sick and healed them, when he spoke a word with authority and healing flowed, he was not operating as a lone agent.  He was seeking to perfectly reflect the heart of Father God and his acts of healing were as much the works of his Father as they were of Jesus.  The difference this makes to us is that when we are approaching God for healing, it is unlikely that he will be reluctant to help – occasionally giving out a dose of healing just to keep us hanging on!  The truth is that we are coming to a Father whose passion, heart and willingness has been beautifully revealed in Jesus.

God’s utter delight is in your transformation and this includes your body, mind, spirit and every part of you.  You do not control the agenda of how and when he will bless you, but you do control how you relate to him – as a Father who loves to transform you or as a harsh God who delights in your suffering.

Seeing things through God’s eyes

“…take up a lament…” Ezekiel 27.2

Ezekiel was looking at a prosperous city with a reputation for wealth and fame when God gave him this command which encouraged him to see it from a different perspective.  However it seemed at that moment, God saw the change that was coming and knew that the city would suffer great destruction.

The warning, and indeed encouragement, to us is not to be dazzled by things that may seem to be bright and wonderful; they may well only be temporary.  Instead we should keep our eyes fixed on what really matters and on what will never change.

Perhaps the most transient part of us is our emotions.  We can be up at one time and down at another.  Sometimes there may be little we can do about it, but the challenge is not to judge God according to our emotions.  Our calling is to keep our eyes fixed on what is constant and unmoving – the wonderful, unchanging love of God and his delight in us.  Fixing our eyes on his love means that we acknowledge it, give thanks for it, believe it and walk in it – however we might be feeling.

Try running these words adapted from Psalm 136 through your mind for a few minutes as you speak directly to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: “Your love endures for ever”.

Faithfulness, not results

“You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen…” Ezekiel 2.7

This command that God gave to Ezekiel may seem quite demanding, as well as a bit discouraging.  Ezekiel was given a message to proclaim but warned that people probably wouldn’t listen – yet still he had to give the message.

Results may not be as important to God as they are to us.  We are so quick to judge our efforts by whether or not we see results, but God is more interested in whether we are faithful than in our success rate.  This applies to many aspects of our Christian life.

It may be that you have a particular role at church and at times it is easy to compare yourself to other people, only to decide that you don’t compare that well!  However, the issue that matters to God is whether you are being faithful to what you sensed you were called to.  The truth is that you really have no idea of the impact of your work and ministry on other people.

Similarly, if someone hurts you, the response should be to forgive them.  It would be wonderful if that act of forgiveness led them to fall at your feet in repentance and sorrow for what they have done.  It may – but it may not!  What counts is whether you are faithful in your actions and attitudes, and not whether they produce results.

A Wise Attitude

‘Do not repay evil with evil…’ 1 Peter 3.9

It is important to monitor what words and experiences we allow to sink into us and have an effect.  Suppose negative words are spoken to you.  This is evil in the sense that it is certainly not what God wants for you.  Your calling is to forgive the person involved, but you also have a responsibility to handle the words wisely.  If you accept them and allow them to linger on in your mind, then you have absorbed something that is less than God wants and you will be affected in a negative way.

Peter says that the opposite of repaying evil with evil is to bless, and when bad things are said to you, make a point of holding firm to the truth of what God thinks of you – that you are loved and cherished by him and worth the death of Jesus.

It is never God’s desire that you live under the power of any negative words spoken to you or against you, but rather that you live in the knowledge of his love for you.  Instead of accepting and dwelling on such words, accept and dwell on his love.

Repaying evil

‘Do not repay evil with evil…’ 1 Peter 3.9

The word ‘evil’ is very strong.  However, Peter is probably using it here in the sense of ‘what is not good’.  The analogy of light versus darkness is powerful and encouraging in this context, and we are all called to fight against the darkness by turning on the light.

Every time you take a stand against lashing out, seeking revenge or holding on to bitter thoughts, then you are actually switching on the light in a dark situation.  What often holds us back and prevents us taking such a step is the fear that someone may be getting away with something, being let off.  Seeing this in terms of light and darkness puts a new perspective on it.  When we choose not to repay evil with evil we are actually bringing the light of the presence of God into hurtful situations.  This is what opens the door for total transformation.  No-one has got away with anything, but the door has been opened and God has now been brought into the darkness.

When you come across something that ‘is not good’, and this may even be today, take a stand and do your best to bring light into that situation.  In this way you will be opening the door for God.

Being hungry

‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”’ John 6.35

It is heart-breaking to watch images of real famine and starvation, and talking about our own hunger in the light of the life-threatening hunger endured by many people may seem trivial.

Jesus talked about hunger, probably because it is something to which everyone can relate, even those who are relatively well fed.  He actually made an extraordinary statement about it, claiming that he is the means of filling our hunger since he is the bread of life.  You may draw upon many things to fill the various hungers in your life, but what Jesus is saying is that a relationship with him is what all people ultimately need.  It is the presence of God living within that is ultimately going to bring peace and joy.

When you next experience hunger, even small pangs of hunger, try to pause and ask yourself what other hungers you have.  Let your physical hunger draw you to the deeper hungers within and as you bring each of these to God, hear the words of Jesus spoken to you – “I am the bread of life”.

Gifts, not victims

‘…you were marked in him with a seal…’ Ephesians 1.13

One of the great transformations that God wants to bring about for us all is to change us from victims into gifts.

So often we feel like victims – at the mercy of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, what has happened to us or the families into which we were born.  This attitude causes us to focus on what has happened to us, and as we look at this it can produce a negative energy within us.  The truth is that we are not just victims, but also gifts because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.

The Holy Spirit dwells within us wherever we go.  The implication of this is that when we meet people, it is not just us as victims of our circumstances who meet them, but also us as bearers of the Spirit of God.  In this capacity we are a gift to every person we meet.

It is recognising that we are gifts that will make all the difference.  We have no trouble remembering that we are victims, but the challenge is to remember what else we carry with us – the very presence of God.

God’s desire for intimacy

‘In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…’ Ephesians 1.7

The nature of Christian forgiveness is amazing to the point of being nearly unbelievable!  The truth that God, in the person of Jesus, took our sins upon himself and died to take the punishment for them is beyond words.  How often do we take the time to consider why he would do such a thing?

The benefit to us is indescribable, but God forgave our sin for his benefit as well as ours.  Thanks to the forgiveness that we now enjoy, God is able to enjoy the intimacy with us that he so desperately wants.  Without this forgiveness, intimacy would only be a dream for God, but because of the cross it is a reality.

This is what lies behind the symbolism of something that took place when Christ was on the cross.  We are told that the curtain in the temple that separated God from his people was torn in two.  This means that not only are we free to approach God but also that he can come to us; his dream of intimacy is now a reality.

If you are wondering whether you really matter, or whether God really loves you, take a moment to consider how desperate he was for intimacy with you, and what it cost him.  You are truly loved.

No distant cousins!

‘In love he predestined us for adoption…’ Ephesians 1.5

The word ‘predestination’ can sometimes be a very frightening concept.  It can lead folk to all manner of thoughts about whether or not they are actually predestined, and if not – then what?

What is so reassuring about Paul’s concept of it here is that he is speaking about what we are predestined for, rather than who is predestined.  From Paul’s teaching we learn that God only planned one category of followers – adopted sons and daughters.  At times you may feel as if you are a distant relation in God’s family, the branch that you send a card to once in a blue moon when you happen to remember!  However, the truth is that every one of us is an adopted child and of equal value to God as the next person.

The fact that we have been adopted by God – every one of us – is so that we can share in the love that the Father has for Jesus.  This is the family and the love into which we have been adopted – God’s dream and plan for each of us.  In fact, until we are able to fully accept and enjoy this, his love is unrequited and he is left sorrowful.

The love of God is real.  He has given himself totally for this and it brings joy and satisfaction to his heart.

We are God’s choice

‘For he chose us…’ Ephesians 1.4

There is something very special about being chosen, especially when the one doing the choosing is something of an expert.  They know exactly what to look for and draw on all their knowledge, wisdom and experience to assist their decision.

We have been chosen by God.  Paul refers to this in Acts 17.26, when he speaks about God determining the times and places where we live.  This is about God making choices.  If we think about it, there are a number of choices that God has made for us – he chose to bring us into being, decided the time and place of our birth and that he would adopt us as his precious children.  We might question his choices, and we might even wish that he had made some other choices, but ultimately he is God.  For some people, of course, it’s these very choices that are the source of so many of their problems, with abuse at home, poor living conditions etc.  Sadly, in the light of these difficulties, we are forced to recognise that God is not the only force at work in our world.

However, to surrender to God’s choices is to accept that whatever your circumstances, you are still God’s choice, his force for good and his beacon of light.