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.

Entering The Kingdom

In my travels I have often seen signs that say “You are now entering…” such and such a place. So, imagine a sign that advised you “You are now entering The Kingdom of God!”

When you enter a new country you often notice physical and social differences. These can be quite striking. Back in 2005 I travelled by bus from Macedonia into Kosovo. At that time Kosovo was under UN control. Macedonia was a former communist state which had no revolution to oust the communist system. As a result the old guard simply changed their name and tried to live by a free market system.

However the air of oppression in Macedonia was obvious. Our bus driver upset one of the police at a checkpoint and so we were detained for 40 minutes while he was stuck in an office getting a stern lecture. The air of unbridled authority and punitive treatment was striking. The place felt like a police state.

Once we crossed into Kosovo the very air seemed brighter. The driver opened a box of chocolates and shared them with the passengers. There was celebration in the air, even though there had been killings in the town of Ferijai where I was bound.

Kingdom of God

Imagine entering the Kingdom of God! What would the atmosphere be like there? How striking would be the difference in culture and atmosphere as you crossed the border!

And just as you must cross a border or go through some entrance to move to a new country or a new place or area, you also need to ‘enter’ God’s Kingdom.

But God’s Kingdom is not a physical place. It is something that you enter into independently of your physical location. You enter the Kingdom by faith. So, you end up as a dual-citizen. You have an earthly nationality and place, but you also have heavenly citizenship.

Your citizenship in the Kingdom of God is far more valuable and far more significant to your existence than any earthly citizenship you can possess.

Excursions

Because Christians have a dual citizenship, living in the world, but not being of the world, each one determines the degree to which they enter the Kingdom.

Some people have heavenly citizenship but hardly ever explore their new kingdom. They stay in the constraints of the world system in which they live. They remain bound by the prince of this world, controlled by his manipulation of the culture and his intimidation of Christians.

Yet others make occasional excursions into the Kingdom of God, in a similar way to taking a vacation. They see the Kingdom as very wonderful, but not the place to stay if you need to earn an income, raise a family, build your career, grow an investment base, have a vibrant social life, and imbibe all the treats this world has to offer.

Many Christians, therefore, end up with little knowledge of the land of their citizenship: God’s Kingdom. They read about it, in the way people flip through holiday brochures. They learn about it and can tell others about the delights of being there. However, they themselves are seldom caught in God’s Kingdom.

Kingdom at Hand

Jesus Christ brought the Kingdom of God into close proximity to man. He did that by bringing the grace of God, the spiritual riches that are ours from God, to people on earth. The Kingdom is no mere sentimental concept or tales of “pie in the sky when you die”. Instead, the Kingdom of God has immediate and tangible impact on people’s lives, including physical healing and release from demonic control.

Jesus sent His disciples to heal the sick as an expression of the Kingdom. And He said that by casting devils out of people He was bringing the Kingdom of God close to people.

“Heal the sick there and say to them, The kingdom of God is come close to you.” Luke 10:9

“If I cast out devils with the finger of God, no doubt the kingdom of God is come to you.” Luke 11:20

The connection between God’s Kingdom and tangible impact in people’s lives was well summarised by the Apostle Paul. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” 1Corinthians 4:20

Close Encounters

Most Christians today shy away from the Kingdom of God, by shying away from the Power of God at work in their life. It’s like people going into a restaurant and inspecting the meals. They even sniff the aroma and think how wonderful it would be to enjoy the food. Then they walk out, not having eaten anything.

Christians know all about Jesus and the disciples healing the sick and casting out demons. They know those things were commonplace in the early church, at the hands or ordinary Christians, as Jesus promised. They love the idea of such power and grace. They sing about it and make sure their children learn all about it. But they never expect the Kingdom of God to have tangible impact in or near them.

That is why Christians make short excursions into the Kingdom, having close encounters from time to time, but quickly withdrawing to the safety of that which is familiar to them. However, what is familiar and comfortable to them is not the Kingdom of God, where miracles take place around them, but the world, where men live outside of God’s grace and power.

Claiming the Kingdom

Jesus revealed that it is possible for people to interact with the Kingdom of God to different degrees. Some saw the power of God and yet not receive anything from God’s Kingdom, because various things kept them from going to or believing in Jesus. Others came to Jesus with their specific requests, and Jesus answered them, with healing, deliverance and the like.

Yet others, Jesus taught, were so determined to get the benefits of the Kingdom of God that they virtually stormed the Kingdom, taking it by force.

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence (is pressed upon), and the violent (determined) take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

Each individual Christian has a different level of engagement with God’s Kingdom. Those who are determined to claim the Kingdom get the most out of it.

Will Ye Enter

Have you entered the Kingdom of God? Do you live there, or just visit from time to time?

Have you pressed in to claim all the wonder and power of God’s Kingdom, or are you just content to take a few photographs of the nice scenery?

What is it that keeps drawing you out of the Kingdom, back into the realm where unregenerate people who know nothing of God’s love, power and grace feel comfortable? Why do you so cherish that realm? What hold does it have over you? Why do you not love and hunger for all the power and reality of God’s Kingdom?

Will you enter God’s Kingdom? Will you remain there, pressing in for all that God has for you?

Yesterday is Gone

The Beatles made a huge hit singing “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away”. And others waxed poetic about how “Yesterday’s gone” and how they remember “Yesterday when I was young” and so on.

Yesterday’s Hold

The reason “yesterday” has such a hold on people’s lives is that we all carry the past into the present and beyond that into the future. Yesterday is the time we sowed certain things into our lives and today we reap the harvest. So yesterday is a powerful component of ‘today’ and it will still be making its presence felt when we get to tomorrow.

The Catholic Church teaches people to go to confession to deal with the sins of yesterday. Someone sneered at the habit of some who sin during the week and look for forgiveness in the confessional on the weekend. They said it was like sowing wild oats all week and then praying for a crop failure.

The Hindu faith respects the baggage of yesterday as karma, which we carry not only through this life, but into future lives which Hindus believe they will face. Gautama Buddha, who rejected the Hindu teaching of reincarnation, went so far as to say that we cannot remove our Karma even in a thousand lifetimes.

Yesterday’s Debris

Here are just a few of the things we bring with from yesterday, even though yesterday is gone.

We bring our disappointments from yesterday. We face disappointments with others, such as our parents and family. But we also face disappointments with ourselves.

We bring our broken relationships from yesterday. Once we have offended someone else or they have offended us that damage remains, often throughout life. Family reunions and community life become tinged with the hurt and offence that we feel toward others and they feel toward us.

We bring our compromises from yesterday. Once we have compromised our values and character that becomes a weak spot for us from that time on.

We bring our slaveries from yesterday. When we give in to sin, such as anger, pride, jealousy or lust, that thing enslaves us and it controls us throughout our lives.

Today’s Harvest

It is also true, as the Bible teaches, that our actions and choices involve us sowing seeds in our lives. A seed not only remains, but it germinates and produces a whole crop. So when we sow something into our life, we are setting up a harvest in the future.

Today’s harvest is filled with the fruit of the things we planted yesterday. If we planted selfishness, pride, anger, greed, violence, self-pity, wilfulness, addiction, lies or other evil things, we will have an evil harvest today.

If we planted forgiveness, faith, love, trust, humility and the fear of God then we will have a much better harvest today than others might have.

Yesterday is not ‘Gone’

While the songs might say, “yesterday’s gone” it isn’t true. Yesterday has passed, but it has not ‘gone’. Yesterday lives with you today.

Just as yesterday’s piano lessons undergird today’s musicianship and yesterday’s studies undergird today’s understanding, yesterday’s moral choices undergird today’s character.

Transforming Yesterday

“You can’t go back in time” is one way to look at it. “What’s done is done!” might be your way of dismissing the past. But there are powerful ways of unlocking the past and transforming yesterday. Let me briefly outline two of them.

Confession of Sin is a powerful way to unlock and transform yesterday. When you repent of the choices you made in the past God is able to set you free from the debris and consequences of those choices in the present. You can actually get a crop failure, even though you sowed lots of wild oats.

God can go back in time. While you are stuck in the time-space continuum, God exists outside of time. So He is able to go back to your past and make Himself present, bringing healing to things that are part of your yesterday that has ‘gone’ from you.

A Testimony

A friend of mine named Malcolm visited a lady who had chronic problems. When he prayed for her she had a vision of a baby crying in a cot. She realised that she was seeing herself as a tiny baby. She sensed the extreme distress of the baby and it connected with the pain that kept surfacing in her life.

A spirit of intercession came on Mal and he began to weep for her. As he did she saw in her vision that the door to the baby’s room opened and Jesus walked in. Jesus lifted the baby into His arms and as He did the woman felt all her pain and torment drain from her life.

It was as if Jesus was able to go back in time to the entry point of the woman’s troubles and resolve them, even though that was now many years past.

Saying Good-bye to Yesterday

If yesterday has brought its bad baggage with it into your today then be encouraged to say “Good-bye” to that stuff. You can remove it forever by confession and by asking the Lord to unlock and heal your past.

The Steps to Release, which I have written about in my books and in other posts, will be helpful in this process.

I want you to live in the freedom with which Christ has made you free. I want you to be able to say, in all reality, that Yesterday is Gone! Keep all that is good from yesterday and unlock and remove all that is bad. Once you’ve said “Good-bye” to yesterday’s rubbish you will have an even better future to look forward to.

Sister Etter and the Miracles

This is the day that … Maria Woodworth-Etter was born in Ohio, in 1844.

Roberts Liardon refers to her as “the grandmother of the Pentecostal movement” (God’s Generals, page 47).

In her autobiography she tells how she was converted whilst “going under the water” at her baptism. She was 13 years of age (page 7). Almost immediately she says she heard God’s call to preach – and this in a day when women preachers were frowned upon.

Marriage to P.H. Woodworth resulted in six children being born, five of whom died in childhood. Nor did her husband share her desire for ministry. She divorced her first husband (1891) and married Samuel Etter in 1902.

Sister Etter, as she was known, preached to thousands, sharing the gospel and praying for the sick. Significant for hundreds and even thousands in her meetings was the experience of falling in a trance, akin to the frontier meetings of an earlier time.

In her preaching ‘holiness’ was her initial emphasis. By 1885 she claimed 500 were converted every week at her meetings. Then she began to emphasise ‘tongues’ and ‘healing’. Thousands flocking to her 8000-seat tent meetings.

She wrote many books – including one that foretold the destruction of San Francisco by a tidal wave in 1890! “Thousands fled to the hills because of her prophecy” (Dictionary of Pentecostalism and Charismatic Movements, page 901). Her book, Acts of the Holy Ghost, impacted many who held it as one of their most treasured texts. One of the Cambridge Seven missionaries, Stanley Smith, gave such testimony.

And most odd were her trances. Sometimes during a service she would “stand like a statue for an hour or more with her hands raised…” (ibid, page 901). To her, “lack of physical manifestation was a sign of apostasy!” (God’s Generals, page 55).

Healing people by “punching them in the stomach” or “whacking them in the neck” was one of her methods (page 73). It is believed Smith Wigglesworth adopted this method from her. He preached in her Tabernacle in Indianapolis after her death.

Whatever one’s theological leaning, Maria Woodworth-Etter must be regarded as one of the most interesting and influential figures in the history of Christendom. She proclaimed the Pentecostal message before Azusa Street and the emergence of the organised Pentecostal groups. Her miracles, preaching and impact did much to open people’s eyes to the restoration of New Testament manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

For a more detailed account of her life and ministry visit: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/199901/086_woodsworth_etter.cfm

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.

Man Raised From the Dead in Melbourne 2 Days Ago

Early Tuesday afternoon I received an email from a friend with the amazing news that a man had been raised from the dead in a suburban shopping centre in Melbourne. Yesterday, as a further development on this news, I met the brother of the woman who prayed for the miracle and he confirms that this event did take place. So now I’m passing on the details to you. (note: since the initial posting of this report I have spoken with the woman who prayed for the man and have refined the detail)

At the Endeavour Hills Shopping Centre in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne on Monday June 30 a man collapsed in the open walkway area of the centre. The man was in his mid 50′s (estimated) and on his own.

A Christian lady, Pastor Nais Grant, was nearby when the man collapsed. She began praying for the man, as others gathered around and some members of the public began CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) in attempt to get his heart beating again. Blood had come from the man’s mouth and he had stopped breathing. The man gave a few breaths then became listless and unresponsive.

Another lady came up to the pastor and asked if she was praying and if she was praying in tongues. The pastor said she was. The lady said she too was a Christian and had been watching the reports of miracles happening in Florida. This newcomer suggested that they should pray for the man to live.

The paramedics arrived and gave oxygen while also continuing to give CPR. They were unable to revive the man. The pastor asked the paramedics if it is OK to pray for the man. She was told that the efforts of the paramedics were doing no good, so they were welcome to try. The ambulance officers could not reactivate any signs of life.

Nais prayed out loud, rebuking the spirit of death and calling for the man to revive. After a short period of time the medical officers pronounce the man dead. His skin was grey and mottled in appearance.

The two ladies continued to pray for the man and about six minutes after the man was pronounced dead he began breathing and his heartbeat was restored.

The medical officers, more than surprised, checked the man and confirmed that he was revived.

Because of the seriousness of the event the man was transported by ambulance to Hospital for thorough checking. The time span from the man dropping dead and having his pulse and breathing restored was at least 20 minutes.

It seems we are seeing the early stages of a long awaited season of power. In the 1970’s I heard preachers talking about how the power of God was up until then very much the preserve of a small number of people. Those people, consequently, became something like super-stars. Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts, Aimee Semple-McPherson, Sister Etter, T L Osborne and others were members of an elite group who were recognised for the healings which attended their ministry.

Then in the 1970’s people began prophesying that the day of the big name was past and that God was going to empower ordinary Christians to do what the big name preachers were doing. This is consistent with the words of Christ in Mark 16:17,18 – “these signs will follow those who believe – they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover”.

Bethel Church in Redding, California is probably the best known place for the current promotion of ordinary Christians into powerful ministry. Pastor Bill Johnson encourages his whole congregation to look for opportunities to move in the power of God. Testimonies of ordinary people doing extraordinary things have been widely promoted. If you are not aware of this, have a look at the YouTube video clip from CBN, at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw-0wR87okY

Add to that the current miracle reports which have spilled out across the globe in the wake of what is happening in Lakeland Florida, under the ministry of Todd Bentley, and this seems to be a season of the release of healing and miracles.

If so, then what are the implications for us? What are we to expect next?