Monday, May 28, 2007
JESUS IS WILLING by Pastor Don
I spent many hours today going over about half of the 4000 or so photos I took in Israel, putting the ones I want to sort out into a folder as per my husband’s instructions. We are having a photo party at church on June 2 and sharing photos about the trip. I am trying to have those ready for that time. As I weed through the photos I will be sharing more with you, but thought to get back into routine and share Friday’s Bible study.
A little bit of the study was sharing about our trip to Israel, and how impactful it was for each of us. God showed up in a huge way in everyone’s lives. When I opened my Bible to the passage Pastor Don was going to teach on Friday I came across a flower I had pressed between the pages of my Bible from the place that Jesus taught the Beatitudes.
Matthew 8:1-3 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
There is a great struggle in the church today, people continually asking if God is willing. People wanting to know, no matter how dirty you are, will God cleanse you? YES HE WILL!
In Jesus’ time, if a person had a skin disease they could not go into the Temple area. They lived in places of filth and dirt. A person was considered unclean if they had not washed in running water after sexual intercourse, if they had touched someone who was a gentile, if they had touched something unclean and had not washed, and leprosy which was a disease that spread caused the person to be separated from all people. They had to walk around calling out unclean, unclean, even if the symptoms were not apparent on the outside.
When a person had a skin disease they had to go to the Temple and have the priests look at it, the priests would then tell the person what to do according to the laws in Leviticus, if it was not leprosy, the priest would then pronounce them clean, if not there were certain prescribed actions a person had to take, but once leprosy was declared the person was sent to isolated areas and not allowed in the midst of the people. (Heather’s note, only Naaman was cured of leprosy in the Old Testament after Levitical law was set up – made me wonder why such details about what to do with the healing of leprosy – until I realized that God set that up so, when Jesus came and healed this “incurable” disease, the routines for restoration were in the law.)
Also, remember the woman with the issue of blood, she too was not supposed to go near people because of the blood.
These rules seem harsh, but in reality God set them up to help the people not to succumb to various plagues that harmed other tribes. They did not realize what God taught them was what we call quarantine today.
In those days a leper had to ring a bell and say, “Unclean, unclean.”
In the verses in Matthew, the leper’s words indicate that he knows that Jesus can heal him, he has the faith to believe that Jesus can heal leprosy, but there was still one question in the leper’s mind, IS JESUS WILLING TO HEAL HIM?
If we have faith for a situation, what is our limitation? The limitation is God’s willingness to do it.
With us today, it is not the problem of God’s willingness to do it, but it is our faith that He will do it.
When the leper came to Jesus he was asking, “Are you willing to violate Messianic Law and touch me?” Messianic Law would have made Jesus unclean for touching the leper. Is Jesus willing to touch the leper and go against the law of Moses? YES. He did.
Yet there seems to be a problem because, if Jesus touched the leper, the law would have made him ceremonially unclean. For the law says to touch no one who is unclean. And if you are unclean, to touch no one who is clean. So we sought to find out in our Bible study how Jesus could do that, and not be violating the law of Moses.
Malachi 4:2-3 “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet. On the day I do this,” Says the Lord of Hosts.
This prophecy came 400 years before Jesus was born. The Jews understood that the wings were the wings of the prayer shawl. If you put a prayer shawl over your head and extend your arms, the fabric looks like wings. It is also called a tent, or a prayer closet. If a holy man prayed using a prayer shawl, the ends of the shawl would have supernatural power to heal. That was why the woman with the issue of blood wanted to touch the hem of His garment – it was the knots of the prayer shawl. She had faith that, if she touched the hem of His garment, she would be healed. Jesus felt the release of the power.
The problem with the church today is we keep wondering if He is Willing. Is God willing to heal?
A horse is willing to trot.
Do you believe the second half of this leper’s prayer? “You can make me clean.”
The answer is: HE IS ALWAYS WILLING.
We come to God wondering if we are OK, if we have sinned to much, and therefore God is not willing to answer our prayers.
In verse 3 Jesus says, “I AM WILLING, be cleansed.
Jesus had to be without sin. If He was not without sin, He couldn’t have saved us when He died on the cross. If Jesus touches us, does He then become ceremonially unclean?
Matthew 8: 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded as a testimony to them.”
Because Jesus was sanctified, had kept Himself pure, had not broken the law, He remained clean.
The key is: which is greater? Cleanliness or uncleanliness, good or evil, light or dark.
Darkness never overcomes the light, a tiny match can banish the darkness in a huge room.
At the time Jesus healed the leper He was fully human, if we believe that the healing was due to Him being God we are in trouble, for at that time He was Son of Man. But the power within Him is greater than the power of darkness.
Christians who work without the proper spiritual authority get hit back with demons or spiritual troubles after they do a spiritual work. They have not confessed their sins, kept themselves sanctified, and thus there are doors open where the spirits or satan can come and attack. (Heather’s note, remember satan’s fiery darts are aimed at the weak points in our spiritual armor).
When Jesus healed the leper He was so sanctified that nothing could come back upon Him. When we have the faith to know this, when we are under the covering of the righteousness of Jesus, we can walk in the darkest, deadliest streets and know we are covered.
He who is with us is greater than he who is against us.
There can be an instantaneous transfer of power and light and righteousness when we obey Him, but the problem is we love the darkness instead. When Jesus healed the leper there was not a transference of uncleanness. God is ALWAYS WILLING to heal, to cleanse, and to deliver. If God is ALWAYS willing to do it, then it becomes a question of do we have the faith to go along with God’s willingness?
Prosperity (healing, deliverance, finances, etc) is already available to the church, but what is missing is OBEDIENCE.
We need to ask ourselves the following questions.
1. Do we believe and know God’s will concerning that?
In matters of health the question should never be asked about if God is willing. It is NEVER God’s will for you to suffer, get sick, and die. He wants us to complete His work on the earth.
Pastor Don said what brings us down is SPIRITUAL ASSUMPTIONS that are in error because they open up gates, doors and windows and let negative things enter. When we listen to wrong spiritual assumptions we can bring things to a negative condition. (Heather’s note, a erroneous spiritual assumption might be that you have sinned too much for God to care about you.)
Then Pastor Don pointed out that we should not be asking too many “why” questions. You can’t see around the corner. We can’t see how an event here in our lives will impact situations in the future. We may not see the eventual outcome until we get around the corner. Sometimes a tough situation in our present has a splendid outcome in the future.
To prove this, we read Genesis 45:1-10 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. “For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. “And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (8) “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (9) “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry. “You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have.
We focused on verse 8, that all the things Joseph suffered did not seem, to Joseph’s senses, to be from God – being put in prison, being sold for slavery by his brothers, etc. Yet God used those to put Joseph into a position to save the lives of his family. Joseph could not see around the corner. It took Joseph years to see God’s plan in this.
Genesis 50:15-21 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, ”Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ‘ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. “Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Joseph had the power and authority from Pharaoh to put his brothers to death if he chose, but instead, He obeyed God’s plan and saved his family.
Pastor Don then talked about a period where he had gone into the deepest depression. He said that he grew up in the Bronx and went to college in Ohio. His father wanted him to see what the rest of America was like and knew that the heart of the Midwest would give him that knowledge. He went with his suits and shirts looking good and at that time did not own a pair of jeans. He felt so out of place, lonely and depressed. His father said to him, “If you are depressed there is something wrong with you. You should always be able to find some joy wherever you are. Get yourself involved. If you are that miserable, it is YOU who needs to change.” So Pastor Don changed himself and got beyond this depression.
When we line up with God’s Word, our outcomes will be like Joseph’s. He dwelt in Egypt and was buried there, and they carried his bones back to Israel.
This blesses me, because I often catch myself trying to look around corners, and not just trusting in God’s sovereignty and love for me to see me through the tough situations. When I first got saved, I also struggled about God’s willingness to act in my life, given my past. I am learning how wrong some of my assumptions about God are.
Have a blessed Sunday. I will get more pictures up, but that depends on my husband.