Preach // Healing // Spiritual Gifts // John 9

Preach from TRINITY Church 6.30 / 25th June 2017

based on John 9 and 1 Cor 12:9-10

INTRO //

Recommend books:

The essential guide to healing – Bill Johnson and Randy Clark

Those controversial gifts – George Mallone

There is More – Randy Clark

 

Well here we are in our series on the gifts of the spirit (in our life and church) and today we are looking specifically at healing and miracles. Our main focus is still the passage from 1 Cor 12, and particularly today vs 9-10

Slide >>>

to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers…

But I’ve also chosen the John 9 passage we just heard to take us a bit further than that.

My view point //

And I need to say I come at this from the view point that the spiritual gifts are for today and for now. I have seen them at work in my life and in the lives of others and I think we need to embrace them more, so I won’t apologise for being very enthusiastic about this subject!

However I will say that if you don’t agree with me or you have questions do come talk to me or to one of the leadership team, because we really want people to embrace this subject, but we also recognise it is a difficult one.

Facts //

So healing is our focus today.

Did you know that out of nearly 4000 verses in the 4 gospels, 727 relate specifically to the healing of physical and mental illness and the resurrection of the dead – that’s 1/5th of the gospels.

Healing was a big part of what Jesus did and how he taught people about the kingdom of God.

So then if that’s how he taught, shouldn’t it be the same for us as we share about the kingdom of God?

We had a phrase at my last church and it was ‘there is more’ (from the RC book)

Because I believe there is so much more to life following Jesus than we are seeing right now.

We are only seeing a tiny fraction of the kingdom of heaven and what that means for us here on earth now. We really need the gifts of the spirit to step into the fullness of what God has for us. I was taught in that environment that we should always be seeking the more. And I have carried that with me ever since.

 

 

John 9 / doubts etc

Now I imagine some of you are still unsure about this kind of stuff and perhaps not ready to totally embrace it yet or step into it for yourself. So I chose this passage from John 9 because there is so much in it – there is of course the healing miracle, but there is also doubt and questions, and there is even humour too:

You can see later on the man who was once blind is obviously getting a little bit exasperated with the questions from the Pharisees and he says:

Slide >>>

“I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

now that’s some banter right there. The pharisees are seriously important guys and our guy here is giving them some serious sass – it’s like a comedy routine almost!

But as well as humour there is also doubt and questions as well as the miracle of course.

All of which can help us relate to the idea of healing with our own questions.

Because questions are ok – I think we can grow in our faith by asking questions but let’s question intelligently – and let’s hold our doubts tension with the truth of who Jesus is, with what scripture says about him.

I want to show you a video clip now, this is of a man called Randy Clark who I believe has been given the spiritual gift of healing and has seen hundreds if not thousands of people healed. And here he is interviewing people who have been healed during one of his conferences:

 

>>>CLIP Randy Clark video 3 mins ish


Now, I’d be really interested to know what do you think when you see that? Anyone want to tell me – what is your immediate response to seeing that clip? Honestly.

Get responses… >>

perhaps you are inspired and in wonder at the power of God.

Or perhaps you find it really challenging. Did God really do that? Why? How? are they even telling the truth? Is this fake… it’s all pretty unbelievable right?

And that’s ok, it’s ok to have questions about stuff and especially when we don’t understand it or haven’t experienced it.

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You know, I literally was writing this preach sat in the Royal Alex hospital this week with my son who broke his arm – ironic right ?! I was writing this surrounded by sick kids who needed healing.

That was really hard, I was like should I be going round offer to pray for healing?!

And here’s the thing he had lots of prayer for healing and the bone did not get healed,

So about now I could be thinking, well I know God has the power to heal and he hasn’t and why hasn’t he? But if I focused on that I would be missing the answers to prayer that we did experience.

When we left the hospital on the day he broke it, we were told he’d need surgery and to come in on Monday for the op. So we began praying he wouldn’t need surgery. Monday morning after he’s already fasting – nil by mouth – we get a phone call to say they are not going to operate after all, they’ve taken another look and can he come in the next day to have it manipulated instead. Praise God!

Plus his pain levels which were through the roof even maxed out on paracetamol and ibuprofen dropped hugely, meaning he could go to school in between hospital visits to finish his end of year exams.

So I can take comfort in the fact that God has been with us all even if he didn’t heal Elliott as we would have liked! So I can hold the question of why didn’t he get healed this time alongside what I know to be true that God loves him and wants the best for him.

And I can’t say it enough, it’s key that we recognise that it’s ok to have those questions, so long as they don’t take over. So long as we hold them alongside the truth.

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Here, in our John 9 passage we see 2 different ways of dealing with questions.

Firstly you’ve got the Pharisees with all their rules and objections:

: But it’s the Sabbath

: He must be a sinner because he did this on the Sabbath

: But how can he be a sinner and have the power to heal?

And so on…

 

But they just end up tying themselves in knots with all their questions and seem to deny the truth which is right in front of them, that Jesus healed a man who was once blind.

And then you’ve got the man who was blind – our second example – he says it all when he says:

“Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

It’s as simple as that! He doesn’t care who or how or why, he just knows, he can see!!

But still the Pharisees question. In fact they end up where this passage started – the idea the disciples suggest in v1 when they say:

“You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!”

they just can’t get beyond their objections and questions to see the truth.

Let’s not get too bogged down in what we don’t understand, it will just cloud our vision…

 

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So what are the gifts for?

So, we believe that these gifts are for today, well what are they for? Or Why are they there, why should we take notice?

Well I’ve got 3 reasons here but you might have others…

Slide >>

For the Common good

To bring Glory to God (Evangelism)

Jesus told us to

 

  1. For the Common good

 

In our 1 Corinthians passage v7 we see that the spiritual gifts are given for ‘the common good’

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v7:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

 

And that theme is picked up later on in the passage from verse 12-22 when it talks about us being one body with many parts

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12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ

 

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable

 

We are in this together people!

We all have a part to play.

Just imagine as our passage says, one part of the body says to another, I don’t need you.

What happens? The body doesn’t function completely as it should.

So say the hands don’t work, well that would make life very difficult but the body would still be alive right – my son has only one working arm at the moment and it’s a challenge! But he’s still living, going to school, etc but it means his body is not functioning to it’s full potential.

So take that metaphor to the church. What happens if we say, well we don’t need that bit of the church, we don’t need that part of worship, or that part of belief. What happens?

>>The church doesn’t function to it’s full potential.

 

So if we do away with part of what God has for us, we are missing out big time. If we say well the spiritual gifts are not for now, or God doesn’t heal today, or that’s not for me, then we are not achieving our full potential as Christians or as a church.

 

2 For the glory of God

Slide >>

Paul says in Romans 15:

 

17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God.

His service is all about bringing glory to God and look at how he notes that through these signs and wonders the HS is doing through him, he is leading gentiles – ie: non believers – to come to know the Lord

Do you know what happens when people get healed?

They are so full of joy and excitement they tell people about it. See our clip earlier – look how excited they were to tell about what had happened to them!

Slide >>

In our John passage, verse 3 Jesus says of the blind man:

 

this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

When signs and wonders happen the glory is for God. And more than that – when God’s glory is displayed people want to know more.

There’s an example of this in Mark 5 when Jesus healed a demon possessed man. And afterwards it says:

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20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

The miraculous power of God at work, inspires people to give glory to God and to share about who he is…

 

3) Jesus told us to

Ok , one of my favourite scriptures really speaks into this – it is from Matthew 10:8 when Jesus sends out he 12: and he says:

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As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

So he says: preach this – the kingdom of heaven has come near. And then the action is to – heal the sick, raise the dead etc. The two are connected.

Now I love that passage because of the message but more… this is as much for us all now too, that we should both proclaim the kingdom and act accordingly – and if you’re not convinced let’s look at Mathew 28:19, The Great Commission – Jesus tells the disciples to:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Ok so they are to make new disciples – ie: preach the kingdom of heaven – and then teach those new disciples to do what they are doing. Yes, get that? Ok so what did he tell them to do back in Mat 10?

Yep you got it:

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.

So this is as much for us now as it was for them then! Make sense?

 

Hard stuff //

Now before I finish I do want to touch upon the difficult stuff –

God doesn’t always answer our prayers, for healing or otherwise, in the way that we would like.

And that can be really difficult, I am sure there are people here who haven’t received healing through prayer or have had a bad experience with people praying for healing for them. And it can be quite damaging actually. We need to recognise that and be super sensitive when we are teaching about and praying for healing.

People can come up with all sorts of reasons people aren’t healed – just like the Pharisees saying well he must be a sinner that’s why he’s blind.

I’ve heard for example:

  • well you haven’t got enough faith
  • there’s something blocking your belief.

 

Well you know Jesus himself said in Luke 7:

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

A mustard seed – do you know how big a mustard seed is? tiny! I am pretty sure we could all muster up a mustard seed’s worth of faith!

(no pun intended)

Or you get those over zealous pray-ers – you know the type – people rock you around, pushing you over, or getting shouty, trying to force healing to happen… I’ve experienced plenty of that and it’s just really distracting, in fact I find it decreases my faith because I am just thinking ‘will you stop shouting in my ear you are spitting on me…’!

And those kind of experiences can just leave people with even more questions or with their faith damaged as a result

We have to remember it is not us that are the ones doing the healing, our role in praying for healing or anything else in prayer ministry is to bring that person closer to God, to help them to meet with the Lord in their situation. It is the Holy Spirit that does the work not us. They should be able to walk away from prayer feeling they have drawn closer to God whether healed or not.

And for some of us in those kind of situations, when being prayed for, trying to hold onto the truth of God, alongside what we are seeing in front of us can be really really tough.

If that’s you I’d recommend the book of Job, I have found it really helpful – in it there is a whole discussion going on between Job to whom terrible things have happened, and his friends who are trying to justify and answer and come up with reasons why all this has happened.

And then God shows up. And asks ‘where you there when I laid the earth’s foundation? Or when I made the clouds? Have you given orders to the morning, or seen the gates of death, or comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? And this goes on for some time!

And the answer is No, so how can you possibly understand!?

Because at the end of the day He is God and we are not.

Now I know some people think that is a cop out, they want to explore and argue and come up with answers to everything and I know because as a Christian I’ve been accused of being foolish, thick, naiive, brainwashed.

They think faith without proof is mumbo jumbo, a crux for the weak. But I say the opposite, wow I mean how much strength and courage and boldness does it take to believe in Jesus? It’s rarely easy!

The thing is he is God, He’s God! If we could fathom him out and answer all our questions then we’d have no need of him in the first place!

We have to get to a place where we can be comfortable with an element of mystery.

  

We don’t always know the answers, perhaps one day when we are up there we will, perhaps we won’t but for now :

What we don’t understand we hold alongside the truth.

So let’s finish with some truths…

Healing and the spiritual gifts are for now as much as in Jesus time.

They are for the common good

They glorify God and point people to Jesus

: Jesus IS the Son of God, he loves us and want to know us more and for us to know him more.

: He will be with us in any circumstance, no matter what we’ve done, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.

We are a church that wants to see lives transformed by the love of Christ.

The more we know Jesus in all his fullness, we more we get transformed, the more we see others lives transformed.

Randy Clark said this:

 

“God is not looking for the well financed, the well educated nor even the well experienced in “ministry.” He is simply looking for those who are willing to yield their hearts and lives to all He wants to do working through them. He is looking for those who are willing to believe for more, because there is more!”  p.26 RC There is More

 

so my question today is – Do you want to see the more?

 

Lead into prayer…

 

Guest Post on Joy //

joyBlogGraphicJPG

 

This is the next instalment in a year of guest posts on Joy as part of my year of focussing on joy (my word for the year). This month we have an anonymous post but you can find out more at the author’s blog here. I am so grateful to her for sharing some of her story, and for her absolute honesty and inspiring faith.

**trigger warning, this post contains some of the author’s story of abuse**

 

Roughly 2 years ago somebody approached me who’s now a very dear friend of mine and suggested I could find my joy in the Lord and that nothing was impossible in him, well at that time I just wanted to tell her where to get off, and what she could do with the Lord’s joy!

Now the reason I reacted like this was because all I could see in my life was utter hopelessness and I felt worthless in the world so there was no room for feeling joyful in my eyes.

The fact that I was severely depressed, had daily suicidal thoughts and rarely even got dressed out my pyjamas to even attempt a new day was a big problem to start with for me.

These problems started from birth as I was brought up in an abusive and violent home and as a young lady I was subject to sexual abuse and horrific rape so how on earth could I even contemplate joy or even know what it was?

The past two years have been a big turn around for me as my dear friend never gave up on me and kept gently dropping little things in about her Lord and saviour and I could see it beaming from her.

I started to find out about Jesus for myself, dared to trust, have faith and began the process of breaking my walls down and letting the Lord into my life in a big way.

I have learnt what joy is and my joy comes from Jesus every day

joy_rose-kellyJPG

My Joy comes from looking at how I have been healed in magnificent ways and that the horrors of past don’t define who I am anymore.

My Joy comes from seeing and helping others find Jesus for the first time and being set free from what’s holding them back.

My Joy comes from knowing that I’m a daughter of a king who lavishes his love over me.

My Joy comes from knowing I’m protected and can seek refuge in Jesus.

My Joy comes from seeing how I’ve changed so much and know it’s only because I have Jesus and have put my total dependency in him.

My Joy comes from knowing I have been saved from my tormenting thoughts of suicide and I now know I’m of worth.

I’ve learnt in a very big way that when you put your trust and dependency in Jesus there is so much to hope for, to be joyful about and most of all I can now smile…

The power of an unknown prayer…

Before we knew Jesus, and I mean really knew, we’d been in church for years without truly knowing him, well, before all that my husband and I went through a really tricky patch in our relationship. I’ve written about it before I’m sure, but at the time out youngest 2 kids were very young, I was running my own business, my husband worked full time, we basically had no time for each other, and on the rare occasion when we did we were simply exhausted. I craved having time to be by myself, and he craved time with me. It was a recipe for disaster to be honest! But we knew it was bad and we managed a few days away ‘sans infants’ to talk about it all, a ‘relationship summit’. It was a pretty rough time and we came away from that weekend knowing that nothing could really change in the near future, but that we both wanted to hang in there for each other.

Over that weekend we wrote a song together (not an unusual thing as he’s a total muso) and this evening I was going through some old notebooks and I found some notes for that song. Got to admit it’s hardly the world’s best song but what amazed me is that it was like a prayer that God answered.

These are some of the lyrics…

Early one dawn, the light starts to stream in
Across the bed covers, it cuts through the din
Radio blaring, it’s 6.09
Everyone’s wanting a piece of my time


School books are missing, socks inside out
As the days starts unfolding, I’ll go without


I’m still here, under the shade
I’m still here finding my way
I’m still here just carrying on…


I’m here as well


Over 10 long years it’s been this way
The rewards there to see for all every day
My beautiful life and all that I have
children husband, dogs and a cat
Amongst it all somewhere I’m free
as I feel my own soul drifting away from me…


I’m still here coming out of the dark
coming out of the dark
I’m still here, is it wrong to want more?


I’m dead on my feet as another day’s done
have to keep fighting the urge to run
Outside the world’s sleeping, all is at peace
Where is my sanctuary, when will it cease?




I also wrote on another page:


As we pull up to the junction, the irony’s not lost on me, the crossroads of my life and the decisions there to see. 
This journey we are taking, like a lead weight in my heart, to face the demons stalking us is the hardest part…

I read this all and it transports me back to a place of pain. But I read it now with new eyes and I look at it and think, wow, this was a prayer! We didn’t even know it but all these pages of notes, of heartbreak, of anger, of songs, they were a prayer. A prayer of pain, of searching, of a desperate desire for something more. And the spirituality of it is just so obvious as I look at it now! The line that struck me most of all is ‘as I feel my own soul drifting from me…’  and the line about the demons stalking us – we didn’t even believe in that stuff then but as I look back they truly were stalking us… I can’t quite put into words how I feel right now, it’s like the realisation that God knew we were truly crying out from our hearts for something different and without us even realising we were praying, he heard and he answered…

And answer he did because just a few months later in that same year we had an amazing encounter where we finally came to realise what Jesus is really all about! And at the exact point when we both committed our lives to him, God literally healed our relationship over night. Something we were desperate for and yet just couldn’t do ourselves, and God just did it for us.

My husband wrote as an add on to a chorus as you can see above, ‘I’m here as well’. I don’t even remember why he wrote it now, maybe it was about him but as I look at it now, I feel like it was God saying I was there too, I was with you in that pain, I stood by you and I heard your tears.

I just look back and I actually can’t believe it. I just feel like a wave of God’s love is washing over me, in the realisation that even when we walked away from him, he was right there, and not just that he was there but that he loves us so much he just took away all that pain. Not because we deserved it (we didn’t) but just because he loves us.

#Overwhelmed

Going on Retreat… Part 1

Start of my retreat….
© 2013

So, last week I went on retreat, for the first time. I can’t believe I’ve got to nearly 40 and never been on retreat before. In fact I’m not sure I’ve ever been away by myself before… (other than travelling at 19 which was more about partying and booze than anything else, but that’s a whole ‘nother lifetime).
The last 2 years I have been to the Hillsong Colour conference in London with some friends and at the end of last years, when they were booking up for the following year I felt God say to me that next year I would be doing something different. So I spent some time praying and subsequently ignoring the beautiful invites and gifts that Hillsong sent out to tempt me into going…. and I felt that I should be going on retreat, which kind of made sense after the crazy journey of ‘discernment’ and going into ministry.

So by the time I got around to booking it and finding a date, the time I booked just happened to be at around the same time I would have gone to Colour. Funny that…

Crowhurst Christian Healing Centre

I went to a place called Crowhurst Christian Healing Centre, near Bexhill, basically because I’d read a book about it ages ago and it wasn’t far from where I live (I didn’t want to waste time travelling although it was so tempting to go back to Cwmbran!). Crowhurst is an old Rectory and the centre was set up in the 1920s I believe by the then Rector. Their focus is very much in prayer for healing, and they hold a healing service twice a week, but they also host retreats, weekend events and so on.

It’s funny how you just know God is in a place isn’t it? I think the moment I walked into the building I felt tears welling up! and there were a couple of places in the building, particularly the library, where I could just really sense God’s presence so strongly. The thing I loved most though was the utterly amazing sense of peace and calm. And of course there is something to be said for being in the middle of nowhere, with only a handful of people, no TV and just a bible for company… but aside from that it just had amazing peace. 

The place itself is a lovely old rectory, with modern additions including a rather ‘ugly on the outside’ chapel, but wonderful inside. The gardens are pretty with a lovely pond, and fields

Fave spot to pray…

to walk in, including a prayer walk. My favourite spot was a rickety old bench by the pond. Inside there’s a large lounge area, dining room, art room, and a well stocked library. I had planned to basically shut myself in my room with my bible but actually there were so many other better places to be that I spread my time around the place.

There were services each morning and evening and I didn’t go to all of them, but those I did I really valued. Compline is not really my thing, just not a massive liturgy fan, but when there I just found it good to be with others, saying the same thing, to the same God, at the same time, even though we were all there for different reasons. Even the slightly awkward singing of songs unaccompanied and rarely in tune didn’t bother me!

The Healing Service itself was quite an experience, I shuffled in late hoping I could sit quietly at the back but it was so packed I had to squeeze in between others. Which bearing in mind there were only about 8 of us staying, was a surprise, but some of the stewards said that it had been getting busier and busier and that soon they would outgrow the chapel if it carried on, which clearly shows that God is doing something there. The Pastor led with such enthusiasm and love for Jesus that everyone was swept into it, it was really powerful. I felt completely overwhelmed by Gods love, in fact I think I spent most of the service sobbing to myself, just got a hold of it when we went into communion and that was it, off again…. I had an amazing sense of Gods love for me, and also real compassion for the other people there, some of whom were clearly very ill or had health problems. As communion approached it was almost too much to consider how much He loves me and what he did for me on the cross…

One thing I found was that I was so tired the whole time I was there. At first I thought maybe I was coming down with something, but I realised or maybe God revealed, it’s just that I needed to rest. To rest my body, my mind and my soul. And rest I did. In all ways. I mean I hardly spoke to anyone, I spent a lot of time just resting in God, not even speaking or praying to him, just ‘being’, I wasn’t thinking of theological ways to discuss what I was reading or planning next weeks activities, I could just sit and be with my Heavenly Father. And I did sleep, there is something rather decadent about having a kip in the afternoon, but I made the most of the fact that I could and did! And it was just so lovely.

There were various things I felt God talking to me about which I will write about in another post, otherwise this will go on and on… but if you were thinking of going on retreat, I would really encourage you to do it! and I would thoroughly recommend Crowhurst too.

Your Kingdom Come…

Preach from Sun 3rd Feb. Passage, Luke 11:1-13

As always, sorry if this is not entirely intelligible, this comes from my first draft which I then make into notes and usually ignore half of them anyway when I talk…! Questions welcomed…
You can’t stress the important of the Lords Prayer enough, the very fact alone that it is called The Lords Prayer should be enough! it’s Jesus’ prayer. It’s the one he told us to say.  The disciples asked him how shall we pray and this was his answer.
as Will said last week it is thought to be one of the most well known set of words in the entire world. 
But with that comes familiarity too. and sometimes that’s good, I’m sure most of us could recite the Lords prayer without thinking too hard about it. Probably our kids can do too. I imagine those who are not regular church goers might find that too. It is something we learn at school, we say at official functions, maybe even in the workplace. but I wonder if in a way it’s become too familiar, that we say it, recite it without even thinking.
If you pray the Lords prayer, do you actually think about the words? do you actually consider what they say? what they mean? 
These are words that the disciples asked Jesus, ‘teach us to pray’. Jesus taught them this directly and in this way we are repeating his own words, how much we can learn from him in just this prayer.
In fact there is so much you could say about the Lords prayer but I want to focus mainly on the line ‘Your Kingdom Come’ and what that might mean for us. When we pray that, what does it mean to us?
Your kingdom come – God, let your kingdom come on earth, let things here be as they are where you are. How powerful is that?
In the traditional version on the prayer we  say: ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’.
as it is in heaven – we are asking for life here to be like it is in heaven. Isn’t that the very core of our faith, to be seeking to be Godlike, Christ-like, heaven-like right here, and right now?
phew! awesome!
and that is in the prayer that is the most well known set of words in the world….. Imagine if whenever anyone prayed it they prayed it with a real heart and desire for it to be true – wow, who knows what might happen, imagine how powerful that would be!
But do we? I mean what does that line mean to you? I’ll tell you what it means to me…
My heart is to see the power and love of Gods kingdom, right here, in my life, right now. seeing people around me transformed, seeing people meeting with Jesus in his kingdom, seeing Gods kingdom come on this earth. 
Thats I what that line means to me… it’s repeating the very essence of what I believe, your kingdom come. your will be done. God is in control, he is sovereign, we are seeking him and his will for our lives and our world.
But it doesn’t always happen quite like that does it?  I mean I’m aiming for the skies. Yes of course God is always with us, his kingdom is all around us, but we don’t often see it in all its fullness, we don’t see regular real manifestations of Gods kingdom right here and now. In the bible, when Jesus heals people, he says Gods kingdom has drawn near to you or the kingdom of heaven is within you… that says to me that miracles like Jesus performed show us a slice of Gods kingdom, a place where people are not sick or unhappy or demonised…
When Jesus says to pray ‘your kingdom come’  (or may your will be done as it is in heaven) he is telling us to ask for the kingdom and all that entails.
What does the kingdom look like?
the bible says” it is a kingdom that will never be destroyed.. it will endure forever (daniel 2:44)
it is a kingdom that cannot be shaken – hebrews 12:28
God calls us to his kingdom 1 Thess 2:12
we share in the inheritance of his kingdom colossians 1:12
it is….. righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,  Rom 14:17
and one of my faves:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Cor 4:20
It’s interesting that Jesus shares this prayer and then follows it right away with 2 examples of persistance or ‘boldness’ as some translations say.
The guy knocking at his neighours door – and his friend inside – ‘man I’m in bed, we’re all tucked up, I don’t want to have to come down to the door’. I’m sure we all know that feeling, nice warm bed, about to drop off, perhaps the phone rings. Of course the last thing you want to do is answer it but chances are it might be important.  What if that phone call was your neighbour asking for some bread – you might be a bit annoyed but chances are we would go and give them some. I don’t know about you but if my neighbour knocked on my door late at night I would think, thats odd, must be important right? that’s what Jesus is saying – the boldness of the guy knocking is the key. If he’d sat at home, thinking well I can’t go next door its too late they wont answer the door he would have got nothing… You have to try! You have to persist. 
The dictionary says that to persist is:
  1. To be obstinately repetitious, insistent, or tenacious. 
well I want to be obstinately repetitious for my God and King.
also says:
  1. To hold firmly and steadfastly to a purpose, state, or undertaking despite obstacles, warnings, or setbacks.
despite those: the setbacks... I mean that’s the key isn’t it. we pray for these amazing things to happen and then what if they don’t? well we question don’t we? “oh well what does Gods kingdom really mean?can he really heal? can he really speak to us today? does he really love us…? is he really there…?”
YES!!! he is, he can and he does. But we have to holdfast to that belief when it is not outwardly apparent.
How many of us have had amazing experiences or an encounters with God in prayer? perhaps someone has prayed for you, you’ve been to an event, or you have had something happen to you in your own prayer time by yourself. you know what I mean, sometimes we have those amazing encounters that seem to change the whole essence of your world. God reveals to you something in such a powerful way that you can’t help but be fired up. You want more, you can’t get enough. 
but what happens? the enemy comes to steal, kill, destroy.... something happens, your prayer isn’t answered, theres a tragic occurence. what does Jesus say? don’t give up!! press in more. don’t let the NME take away the glory.
It’s so easy to fall back. sometimes the last thing you want to do or feel able to do is pray and yet in those times its probably when you need to most…. 
Shortly after I had a big experience/renewal of faith etc I got ill, ended up with exhaustion. I never stopped loving God, but sometimes I was pretty cross with him, couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting healed. for 18  mths there was no improvement.  repented/had prayer/ words spoken over me….  but nothing shifted. and Some days I just found it so hard to pray. I was tired, had no energy, would wake up feeling just as tired as when I went to bed. I usually pray first thing, and yet back then I would wake up just not being able to pray. It wasn’t even that I didn’t want to, I just found it hard.
But you know what, I tried to battle through. Because the victory is already ours. The devil cannot win a battle against us, because they are all already won, Jesus did that for us.
 And those days where I did pray first thing, before doing anything else, were so much better than the ones where I didn’t. Took me a while to realise that unfortunately. there is something about giving your all that is so powerful. Giving to God out of pain, or weakness. i mean what does the bible say – when i am weak, He is strong…
and starting the day in prayer just is such an amazing thing to do, even now I find that each day is so much more peaceful if I pray first. 
But for some of us, or in some situations disappointment in prayer or unanswered prayer can be the thing that just stops us from persisting. Last year, as many of you will know, we prayed for our friend Nix, who was suffering from cancer. We prayed for healing. When it became terminal we still prayed for healing. We believed wholeheartedly that God would heal her. Towards the end we prayed 24/7 in the summerhouse in her garden. We prayed right up to the last. And when she died we prayed for God to raise her.
because we believe that God can do that. we believed that God can heal, that God, the all powerful, sovereign king can overcome a terminal diagnosis, can overcome death. because he’s done it already. 
There were people praying all over the world for Nix. There were masses of prophetic words telling of her future, of plans that God had for her. She went to Bethel church is the States and had an amazing encounter with someone there who didn’t know her or her situation but spoke life over her in great detail. 
We believed God was going to act.
But he didn’t heal her and he didn’t raise her. Lovely Nix passed away, leaving her husband and 3 wonderful children behind. 
I can’t tell you why that happened. I can’t tell you that we didn’t pray hard enough or in the right way or that we heard God wrong. because I don’t think any of that is true. We did everything we could, everything we thought God was saying.  And despite what happened, I still believe that God heals today, I even believe that God wanted to heal her. I don’t believe that it was Gods intention for her to suffer and die as she did. But something happened, after all we live in a world where (1 Peter)
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour..
I cannot tell you why Nix died. I cannot say why God did not step in and heal her. But I still believe he can. I still believe Gods word, in Matthew, the Great commission, Jesus says to his disciples, 
therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you to do.
everything I have commanded you to do…. well he told them to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast our demons etc  (Matthew 12) freely you have received, freely give.
So we have to do what he told us to.
In the aftermath of Nixs death I know I wasn’t the only one struggling. and we were friends but it wasn’t like I had lost my best mate. but the pain was more in the fact that we believed in God for his kingdom to come, on earth as in heaven, and as we saw it, it hadn’t. (I’m not saying it hadn’t, but certainly not as we expected)
But in all of that, that is probably one of the times I have felt most close to God, because we were with him, seeking him, hours each day. Man if you want to know God more, just get in his presence more. Without wishing to sound crass, that was amazing. I received some amazing words of revelation from God during that time, like never before and possibly like it never will be.
in the hurt, I would do it all again. I will persist.
I have seen small amounts of healing, I have seen friends who don’t know God be touched by the holy spirit,  but I want more, this is small fry!
I don’t want to at all sound insensitive here, eg Nix family – unanswered prayer can be soul wrenchingly painful, when life or death is at stake, it takes a great deal to believe and it takes a great deal more to believe when you’ve given everything and it doesn’t happen.
is painful, it feels isolating, lonely, like God is ignoring you,
unanswered prayer can be crippling to ones faith. 
But, it’s how we deal with that that can be so vital. If we give up, if we stop petitioning God or speaking to him, how do you think he feels. Perhaps we are in the most devastating and painful place we have ever been, and we shut him out, we are angry with him, we don’t want to listen. 
But he wants to love us, comfort us, help us in our pain. The bible says that 
You keep track of all my sorrows.[b]
   
 You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
Isaiah: For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
he is the `God of all comfort’
if we shut him out we are shutting the door to his kingdom.
Persisting in prayer isn’t always about dealing with pain, sometimes its just having the faith to continue praying for something for years if need be, even when you see no response.
St Peters, example: when opened, woman who had prayed for her husband al her life. When the church reopened he came, heard the word and got saved…
woo!
Phi’ls family – met some of his cousins at a family party and they told us that their parents had been been praying for him and his brother for the moment they were born….
If it takes years for a prayer to be answered, does it make it any less answered?!
So, when we pray your kingdom come, what are we asking for?
I’m asking for people to be healed, for lives to be transformed, for miracles to happen. 
I guess I want to say to you today, what are you praying for? I saw Angus Buchan talk once and he said if your vision doesn’t scare you it isn’t big enough! Are we praying scary prayers? are we praying for the biggies? or are we playing it safe.
I feel like I have had little glimpses of what that means. A powerful time of prayer, or seeing someone healed of a dodgy foot. but just that, a glimpse. Well I tell you, I want more, I’m not settling for that. I want to see your kingdom come…
well I for one don’t want a safe, easy life.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. luke 12:32
Our father has been pleased to give us the kingdom – his kingdom. What? I mean God has given us access to his kingdom? do we even begin to know what that means? Have we even begun to see what that means, to experience it?

healing testimony

I’ve been reading a great book about healing by Bill Johnson recently, and I will definitely be blogging about it soon, but in the meantime I’ve also been looking at healing testimony. I totally believe God can heal, but as I have never had first hand experience I sometimes struggle with believing other peoples testimony. Quite often you hear of testimony that can be explained away, or that there could be other reasons for the healing. This above, from New Day, (and there are others in the series on you tube) is far more believeable because of the medical evidence before and after.
Hearing this testimony (which a friend had flagged up on facebook) gave me goose bumps. We serve an awesome, almighty God :)

Misadvertising of healing…

A friend just tweeted this. It seems an evangelical church (Revival Fellowship Medway) put out a flyer including examples of people who had been healed by God. One person complained that this was misleading and reported the ad to the ASA, who have upheld his complaint and ruled the church can no longer advertise in this way. You can see the ad itself on his blog.

From the ASA: 
The complainant challenged whether the circular:
1. was irresponsible because it could discourage essential medical treatment for serious medical conditions; and
2. exploited the vulnerable because it invited people to attend the meetings in the hope of receiving physical healing.


And in his own blog he writes:

Finally, it seems to me that this is preying on vulnerable people in society. People with chronic or complex condition are often willing to try anything to be relieved of pain or disability, and this advert suggests that they too can be healed; this may well draw them into a complex religious organisation with all that entails. However, drawing people in with unsubstantiated promises of healing is an unethical way to engage people into a belief system.

In my opinion, the claims are misleading, unsubstantiated and seek to exploit vulnerable people.

Now I accept he is entitled to his opinion and actually probably a lot of people (Christians included) might agree with him. So I ask the question: is it irresponsible to share stories of healing in this way?  I admit if it were me I would not have advertised in this way, but the ad was hardly offensive and personally I don’t think it was that misleading either. I mean those desperate enough to come to church thinking they would be healed on the spot, probably need God anyway (well we all do..) and surely would have sought medical advice previously. It’s very unlikely that anyone would turn up having not sought medical help and wanting God to heal them unless they already had some level of faith. So it is hardly preying on the vulnerable.

Healing is always a tricky one in the Christian world. I believe God can, and does heal but he doesn’t always, and too much emphasis on healing takes away from the central truth. We cannot promise that people coming into our churches will be healed because that is for God to decide, but we can give them the hope of his promises for us.

I will be very interested to see if this stays under the radar or whether the Christian Legal Centre and the Daily Mail will get hold of it…

Healing power

Healing is one of those things that divides people. Can Christs power heal people today? Or did signs and wonders die out with the disciples?

This morning we had healing evangelist Craig Marsh come to speak at church. His story is quite amazing. After various stomach cancer diagnoses over the years, he had several ops, the final one removing basically all of his stomach. Eventually he was left at deaths door, given a week to live, just surviving on a cup of rice or half a banana every couple of days, eating was excrutiatingly painful.
He had been due to attend a conference but obviously was too ill and someone was standing in for him, but at the last minute he decided he wanted to go. it was his dying wish. This was of course totally impractical and everyone tried to persuade him out of it, but he was adamant. His wife and sons waved him off at the airport expecting him not to return, that’s how ill he was.
However at the conference he was healed. The speaker had heard God talking to him on his flight over and during his speech he stopped and asked everyone to pray for Craig. Craig tells his story far better than I could, he is incredibly funny, but he describes how this was a Methodist conference some 15 years ago and he said the ‘closet charismatics’ crept quielty from their seats! But pray for him they did and the presence of God not only fell on him but the whole place as people wept and cried out to God. In that time he was totally healed, parts of him that had been removed, grew back (he later had scans to testify to this..) He descibed how he suddenly felt amazingly hungry, having not been able to eat properly for 4 years and stuffing himself with fried chicken and later McDonalds!!

Anyway, I love this story and others like it and I want to believe it 100%. But there is still a part of me that is skeptical. It’s not that I don’t believe God can heal people today, I totally believe that, but I guess it is the human, rational side of me that questions everything that thinks, really? did that actually happen? I am the kind of person who wants to see his scans, meet his doctor, to know its all true. Am I like doubting Thomas? I would be there saying, ok Jesus, show me the wounds then, and even then probably saying well maybe you didn’t actually die….
And that is where I am at. I think I always will be. I believe, I have faith, but I think I have to be content to be one of those ‘who believes but hasn’t seen’. I think I am the type that no matter what I am presented with, my brain will question it. 

I infuriate myself all the time over this. I don’t want to settle for less than seeing the glory of God for myself. I ask God for signs and wonders, I want to see my friends healed, but (as yet) I haven’t seen it for myself. Am I still so impatient? Craig this morning talked about Kairos moments, in Gods timing, and I know this is true of me, I am sure once I take my foot off the accelerator God will answer my endless requests :) Can’t help it though. In the words of that beautiful song, ‘I am desperate for you..’