Healed

I celebrate the wonder of standing in faith. God has blessed me at times of standing in faith and I have always been drawn to those Biblical accounts of men who took hold of God. So let me encourage your own faith stand with a lovely testimony.

Kara is a young uni student friend hospitalised last year with sudden onset of a mystery disease. Her mum was called back from Christian ministry overseas because there were fears for Kara’s life.

Kara’s system seemed to be in turmoil and her skin was covered in dark blotches. So much was going wrong with her at once that half a dozen different specialists were each trying to diagnose the bizarre and life-threatening symptoms.

The family called me to the hospital to pray for Kara on several occasions and I was delighted to see that, weak as she was, she was holding on in faith, believing God to heal her. However, the disease and the mystery lingered.

Kara had been previously diagnosed with chronic rheumatoid arthritis. What we now understand is that new medication she had been placed on a few months before caused her mystery symptoms, but the doctors did not realise that at first. The life-threatening severity and the diversity of symptoms had the team of specialists at their wits’ end.

Kara’s Faith

Meanwhile Kara continued to believe that God would heal her. There was no evidence of recovery and no insight from the doctors, but Kara determined to believe the truth of God’s Word, that we are healed through the physical torment endured by Jesus Christ on our behalf (Isaiah 53:5).  Kara’s mum wrote about her daughter’s ordeal…

“It was a real challenge for Kara as she had been there for 8 weeks, during which she was in ICU 3 times, as she battled and triumphed over acute liver failure/hepatitis (twice), bibasal pneumonia, lymphadenopathy, HITS syndrome, autoimmune haemolytic anaemia for which she had 2 blood transfusions, severe anaemia & thrombocytopaenia, and HHV6, for which she had bone marrow biopsy and surgery for lymph gland biopsy, not to mention all the countless daily blood tests, MRIs, X-Rays, Scans, Picc lines etc… AND, God’s presence was with us all that time!

“We have so much to testify to, of God’s goodness and miraculous touch. Kara herself took authority over the enemy in Jesus’ name one morning at 5.00am, waking her sister who was sleeping in the room and insisting that the sister agree with Kara in prayer.  We registered Kara turning around from then.

“In many ways her faith was stronger than mine and she shone through with the sweetest disposition, much to the admiration of the many specialists and nurses looking after her. They commended her for what they perceived to be her ‘positive’ attitude and stoic outlook.”

After her surgery Kara insisted on having the word ‘HEALED’ written on the bandage on her head.  She instructed her sister to write it there as a testimony to what she believed for.

“Thereafter, with each daily change of the bandage, she would request that the word ‘HEALED’ be written afresh. She would walk around the ward and other areas of the hospital – the admissions reception area, canteen, gift shop, garden etc with her bandage, holding onto her dripline. She was not shy to share her faith, and openly declared that she was healed. I thank God for His hand upon her life, for His love and grace and mercy!”

When the ordeal was over, and the bizarre symptoms no longer plagued her, tests showed that not only was Kara released from the many life-threatening conditions, but the original, underlying problem of rheumatoid arthritis was completely healed.

Kara’s faith, seen in her determination, her persistent confidence in God, and her public testimony worn on her head, brought her through to healing.

Faith Champions

Faith champions are very ordinary people. What makes them stand out is that they are willing to believe that God can and will bless them as they cry out to Him.

God said it, I believe it, and that settles it! God has done it before and God will do it again. Nothing is impossible to God. I won’t be dissuaded by how big the challenge is. I choose to believe what God says in the Bible, and I will not give up.

Faith champions are often like children when it comes to trusting God. A child is likely to say something like, “Don’t cry mummy. God will fix the problem.” Or he may say, “Isn’t God bigger than our problem?”

Jesus told us that we enter God’s kingdom like a little child. And that includes child-like faith that rests confidently in God, in the same way a little child sleeps soundly in his daddy’s arms.

Take a Faith Stand

Those who take a faith stand appear extreme or foolish to those who struggle to find faith. Remember how Gideon stepped out in faith and reduced his army to just three hundred men. Yet that small band defeated a huge army of Midianites.

Moses trusted God to deliver Israel, not knowing that God would open the sea and lead them safely through. David confidently ran to face Goliath when all the trained soldiers were too afraid to do so.

Kara believed God, before there was any evidence of the healing. She made public testimony that she was “Healed” before the doctors even knew what to predict.

I encourage you in your faith. Choose to believe God. Take a faith stand.

Faith Factor 10 – Word of Faith

One of the more controversial aspects of modern faith teaching is the emphasis on words. Some Christians have come to the conclusion that if they speak the right things often enough they can create the result that they want. Others say that this is pure shamanism and New Age mysticism.

However, despite any distortions to the truth about our words, the Bible does make clear connection between our speech and our faith. So this look at the Word of Faith is an important Faith Factor.

Expressing Faith

We saw in previous Faith Factors that faith is supposed to be supported by evidence in the believer. Jesus told Jairus to “only believe” (Mark 5:36) when he heard that his daughter was dead. To keep on believing, Jairus allowed Jesus to continue the journey to his home, instead of giving up hope.

On that same journey a woman who had continuous bleeding expressed her faith by pressing through the crowd to touch Jesus’ garment. She was instantly healed (Mark 5:27-29).

Others let a man down through the roof, as testimony to their faith (Mark 2:1-12). In fact the Faith Chapter, Hebrews 11, lists the many things people did to express and confirm the faith they felt within.

One of those forms of expression is found in our words.

Confession

The link between words and faith is so significant that it gets a clear title of its own. It is called the “Word of Faith”.

“But what does it say? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach” Romans 10:8

In Romans 10 we have several expressions which show that faith is linked to the words in our mouth.

“But the righteousness which is of faith speaks like this, Say not in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who will descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what does it say? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:6-10

Faith is linked to our Confession of what we believe in our heart. It involves words in our mouth. It is a word of faith.

Blab it and Grab It!

Some have come up with the idea that the power is in the words, so they can Blab it and Grab it. This is not what the Bible teaches. The word of faith is a message preached to us, which produces faith in our heart. That faith is not in our faith, nor in our words. That faith is clearly anchored in the person and the work of God. We believe that God is who He is and that He will reward us for diligently seeking Him (Hebrews 11:6).

When we speak with our lips we are simply giving expression to the faith in our heart which produces in us the confidence in the substance, becoming to us the very evidence of the things we hope for.

So the, just as praise and rest are expressions of our faith, so too our words are a further confirmation of what we believe in our heart.

Every Day in Every Way

A psychological trick which was popularised several decades ago involved the shamanistic process of speaking affirming words to ourselves so we can change our internal perceptions, and thus what springs from them.

Some people have confused these two concepts. The popularised mantra, “Every day in every way I am getting better and better”, was an attempt at mind over matter. It had nothing to do with faith in God and rather put the faith in the words spoken.

Some well-meaning Christians then began to talk about the “power of our words”, mixing Biblical truth with the popularised New Age ideas.

Christian expressions of faith have nothing to do with mantras or self-hypnosis. The power is not in the words, although they do become an integral part of the faith process. The words become one of the fruits or works of our faith, but they are not some faith trick, or spiritual power tool in our arsenal.

Mouth and Heart

Faith requires that the words of our mouth match the faith that is in our heart. The words do not control the heart, or manipulate our inner reality. The words of our mouth express what is in our heart. If you want to work on either one, then I strongly suggest you work on the heart.

God looks at the heart. The issues of life spring from our heart. When a person speaks nicely with their mouth, they can have ugly and hateful things in their heart. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. God gives us a new heart.

Words are the shallow lapping of water on the shore of our heart’s ocean depths. Don’t get fooled into worshipping your words. Get into the business of gaining a new heart and keeping your heart with all diligence.

Yet your heart and mouth are linked, as we have seen from Romans 10. Your mouth is meant to express the faith that is growing in your heart.

And you words do then have a powerful role.

Seal it with Your Lips

When you believe something in your heart, but keep it secret, you do not achieve the same seal upon your believing that you have once you have made public your secret heart beliefs. Therefore confession seals your faith and takes on a powerful quality in your salvation.

Jesus warned us that our confession of faith in Him will have awesome effects in the spirit realm.

“Whoever therefore will confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whoever will deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32,33

That is also why Romans teaches us that our confession seals our salvation.

“That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9,10

Confessing Victory

Along with being at Rest in the midst of your trials, and praising God for the victory that has not yet been seen, it is also totally fitting that you speak words of faith.

Declare the victory outcome you believe for. Put yourself on the line, by speaking out what is in your heart. You won’t be blabbing it and grabbing it, since you have already grabbed it in your heart. Your words simply seal your faith, rather than creating an outcome. Use your words as a powerful and fitting testimony to what is unseen in your heart.

Consistent with God

As you speak, be sure to speak consistently with God’s Word. The Greek word for this in the New Testament writings is homologia, meaning “the same speech”. We are to speak ‘as one’ with what God has said in His Word. Thus our language is ‘homologia’, the same speech as God’s speech.

This term is used about our faith professions, in the book of Hebrews. The picture created there is that Christ, as our Heavenly High Priest, takes our professions into God’s presence, to attest to our confidence in Him. Thus our words take on an important role in our faith program.

“Wherefore, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” Hebrews 3:1

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” Hebrews 4:14

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” Hebrews 10:23

Declare Your Faith

Aware of the cautions I have given here, I urge you to make more use of your lips. I challenge you to declare, confess, testify to and express your faith and confidence in God, with your mouth.

Speak out what you are believing for, even if only among those who will support you, or even privately, to God, if you think there is no-one who will not mock you.

Let the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart be acceptable in God’s sight, because they are charged with faith and are part of your whole lifestyle of confident expectation that God is the awesome God of creation and the Bible and that He is intimately and personally attentive to you and ready to powerfully reward you as you place your trust in Him and speak out your confidence to Him.

Henry Moorhouse Teaches Moody How to Preach

This is the day that … Henry Moorhouse was born in 1840, in Manchester, England.

For the first 20 years of his life he was constantly in trouble and in prison more than once. But at the age of 21 “in the engine room of a warehouse,” a young Christian pointed him to Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

The biographer tells of the outcome. Henry Moorhouse “saw, he believed, he rejoiced, he confessed, and he was ready from that hour to bear witness for Christ…” Before long he was preaching the gospel, on street corners and in packed halls.

And he is best remembered as the “man who moved the man who moved millions.” In ‘Life of D.L. Moody’ by his son, a whole chapter is devoted to the influence of Henry Moorhouse: “Moorhouse taught Moody to draw his sword (of the Spirit) full length, to fling the scabbard away and enter the battle with a naked blade” (page 140).

Henry had become a preacher with the Plymouth Brethren and had learned the importance of expository preaching. When Moody visited Dublin in 1867, he was told of the preaching of a zealous young Brethren evangelist named Harry Moorhouse. By this time, Moorhouse had established the reputation of being one of the leading evangelists in England. Initially, Moody was not very impressed with young Moorhouse. To Moody, Moorhouse appeared to be so young and frail. Moody, however, did invite Moorhouse to visit him in Chicago, not expecting him to come.

Moody’s wife, Emma, upon hearing Moorhouse, told her husband, “I like Moorhouse’s preaching very, very much. He is very different from you. He backs up everything he says by the Bible.”

On one occasion, young Moorhouse challenged Moody, “You are sailing on the wrong tack. If you will change your course, and learn to preach God’s words instead of your own, He will make you a great power.”

When Moorhouse first arrived in Chicago, Moody was unexpectedly called out of town and asked Moorhouse to preach for him at Farwell Hall. Moorhouse preached nightly for one solid week on the love of God using the text of John 3:16. When Moody returned, he was greatly surprised to find Moorhouse still preaching. As he listened he discovered Moorhouse was still on the same text, and that souls were being wonderfully saved. Moody confided to a friend, “I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much. This heart of mine began to thaw out; I could not keep back the tears. I just drank it in. So did the crowded congregation. I tell you there is one thing that draws above everything else in the world and that is love.”

Not only was there an emphasis on more use of Scripture in Moody’s sermons (“Stop preaching your own words and preach God’s Word,” Moorhouse had said to him), there was also a new emphasis on God’s love for the sinner. “Moody’s evangelistic preaching was to take on a different tenor than that of so much previous revivalistic preaching in the American tradition.”

Henry Moorhouse died on 28 December, 1880, at the age of 40. Among his dying words were these: “If it were the Lord’s will to raise me up again, I should like to preach more on the text, ‘God so loved the world’.”

He seemed to pass away, but means employed by the attending physician revived him.

“Why have you brought me back to such dreadful suffering?” he asked of those at his bedside, “I was in heaven …”

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Building Up Your Faith

One of the personal issues I am pressing through at present is that of encouraging my faith so I can press in for some particular blessings I believe God has for me at this time. So the idea of ‘building up our faith’ is in my thinking. Since I know that you need to have your faith encouraged I am sharing some of my thinking with you, as a fillip to your own spiritual condition.

The Bible speaks of differing levels of faith. Jesus told His disciples they were of “little faith” (Matthew 8:26). He commended another person’s faith, calling it “great faith” (Matthew 8:10).

We have each experienced times when our faith has been encouraged and we have been much more ready to act in faith. While at other times our faith seems to be at low ebb and we have hesitated. My personal aim is to encourage my faith in God, so that I am emboldened to do the things He wants me to do for Him.

So, how do I build up my faith? The main mechanism for increasing faith is to hear the word of God. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Listening to the faithful and faith-filled preaching of God’s Word is a positive way to boost your faith in God. Get into God’s Word, the Bible, and believe what God speaks to you from its pages.

Now, to be more thorough in my explanation let me pull some key thoughts out of the Apostle Paul’s sermon on faith, in Romans 10:6-17. Paul declares that Faith produces Righteousness which cannot be gained by serving the Mosaic Law. Faith involves a heart conviction which is expressed in our words. The heart conviction is that Jesus came from heaven, died for our sins and then God raised Him from the dead. The verbal declaration is that Jesus is Lord of your life. The act of believing in Jesus rescues you from shame and brings deliverance in your situation.

So faith involves a conviction of heart that is then expressed in your life.

As we hear God’s Word our heart conviction that God is able to do more than we could ask or think is built up. Our faith is increased. That faith needs to be put into action, by our confession of Christ as saviour, and by other appropriate expressions of our confidence in God.

Let me now take you to Hebrews 11, the great Faith Chapter in the Bible, to find another simple way to understand what you have to believe to have effective faith. I call this the Faith Two-Step. It’s found in Hebrews 11:6.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is (exists), and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Firstly that verse declares the absolute centrality of faith in our life and experience. It is absolutely vital in our relationship with God, since only by faith can we please God.

Faith is then described as two compatible beliefs. The first is a belief in God, Himself. We must believe in His existence, as He reveals Himself in the Bible. We “believe that he is” – which means we believe Him to be all that He says He is. He is all powerful, holy, loving, gracious, eternal, and so on.

Next we must believe that God responds to human initiative. While God is able to do whatever He wants to do, He has somehow connected His actions to ours. While He can do far more for us than we can imagine, He limits what He will do, waiting on us to prompt Him to action. He is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek him”. This means He does not give His grace equally to all. He measures out more of His blessing to those who take initiative and action to draw upon His grace.

In this verse we have the convergence of Calvinist and Arminian concepts of God. God is indeed supreme, yet God has also limited Himself, at least to some degree, to the actions of mankind.

I have two simplistic questions, the Faith Two-Step, which I use to get to the grist of faith in this key verse. First question is: “Can God Do It?” This question challenges our heart with, “Do we believe God to be who He says He is?” It speaks to the “believe that he is” portion of Hebrews 11:6.

The Second question is: “Will God Do It For Me?” This question challenges our heart with, “Do we believe that God will use His eternal power for your benefit?” It speaks to the “he is a rewarder” portion of Hebrews 11:6.

Many people believe God is able to do miraculous things, but they don’t believe that God will do anything for them. Thus they only have one part of the Faith Two-Step. God’s sovereignty is real, but it won’t impact your life if you don’t activate personal faith in God.

Allow me to encourage you to build up your most holy faith (Jude 1:20). Make it your intention to boost your confidence that God can do anything. Nothing is impossible to God. Then build up your confidence that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Calvinism is Born

This is the day that … John Calvin was born in 1509, in Noyon, France.

He was to become the outstanding theologian of the Protestant Reformation … although not all Protestants would agree with some of his doctrines. But it must be confessed that many a giant of Christian history acknowledges the impact of Calvinism upon his life. Knox, Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and James Packer are names that immediately spring to mind. “The longer I live,” wrote Spurgeon, “the clearer does it appear that John Calvin’s system (of theology) is the nearest to perfection.”

Calvin was one of the few reformers who were not an ex-priest. He studied law in France – had a “sudden conversion” in his early 20’s, and in 1536 published the first edition of his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion. This volume has been described as among the “world’s 10 most influential works”.

From 1541 until his death (on 27 May, 1564), Calvin dominated the social and religious life of Geneva … despite the fact that he held no government position, nor was an actual citizen until 1559.

From the pulpit of St Peter’s Cathedral he preached his way through book after book of Holy Writ, lecturing to theological students and preaching five times a week. Taken down by a stenographer, these messages have found their way into print. There is a commentary on every book of the Bible – except Revelation! For example, Calvin preached 200 consecutive sermons on the book of Deuteronomy – published by Banner of Truth in a 1,300 page facsimile edition of the 1583 original.

It was said by his friend, Beza, that when Calvin preached “every word weighed a pound”.

Harsh discipline was meted out (at least, by today’s standards) to law-breakers, a system of education was devised, a prosperous trade in cloth and velvet was established with other countries, even a sewerage system was introduced that made Geneva “one of the cleanest cities in Europe” (Who’s Who in Christian History, page 131).

And his Institutes grew from six chapters to 79.

W. Stanford Reid writes that Calvin became “the dominant figure of the Protestant Reformation in the middle of the (16th) century” (John Calvin – His Influence in the Western World) – an assessment surely none would question.

When he died in 1564 he was buried in a common cemetery without a headstone, according to his wishes. His gravesite is unknown to this day (Christian History magazine, Volume 5/4).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.