HEALING Is Just A Prayer, A Word and A Touch Away

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF ACTS – Acts 9:32-43; 1 Kings 17:9-24

QUOTE: “Joy is a Journey Experience.  We have it, but every so often, we feel we suddenly need it.” By John Slythe

The Book of Acts is full of miraculous healings and the JOY that comes with them.

We read that Peter has been traveling around Israel for a time when we pick up the story. Perhaps he is on an evangelism tour spreading the GOOD NEWS from place to place.

We now join him in Chapter 9 in Lydda where he is visiting the saints of the city.  

In the name of Jesus Christ, a man is healed that had been bed-ridden for 8 years.  “GET UP AND GET YOUR MATT” (make your bed).  [9:34]

When reading about these accounts of healing it leaves me wondering at times when it seems like God doesn’t do them as much today like we read in Acts.  I know we’ve all heard about people like Bennie Han or Earnest Angley.  People go them to receive a BLESSING, they want HEALING, HOLINESS and I hope that some are really touched by God through people like these.  BUT if they are fakes…if they are in it for the money, then I can assure they have received their just reward in full.  And I wonder what case they may face at the day of judgment if they are misrepresenting God…if they are fake teachers…then God is going to deal with them.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe that God can and does HEAL people today.

I further believe that God can and will use anyone to move and encourage.  But it is always God who does the healing!

The “healers” we know and read about today, pretty much let people come to them. They set up shop in a church or auditorium and advertise that they are in town.

Notice that Peter is visiting groups of new believers where he picks a man that we can guess was a beggar lying by the street and HEALS him there.

Peter goes to him–Peter sees and goes to his need.

Verse 34:  And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [now] makes you whole. Get up and make your bed!  And immediately [Aeneas] stood up.  (Amplified Bible)

People see the change in Aeneas.

Perhaps it was a busy time of the day with lots of people in the streets.  I could almost imagine the reaction of this man as he reacts; like a person on a TV Game Show like “The Price is Right.”  The jumping and shouting because they have won the big prize.

So, the people who respond know what they have seen and BELIEVE!

Verse 35:  All those who lived in Lydda and the plain of Sharon saw him and turned to the LORD.  (NIV Bible)

A pretty simple transaction:  HEAL a known cripple and people join the church.

A Lot of Questions May Arise, Like…

Wouldn’t that fill-up churches?  Wouldn’t it make the whole FAITH thing so much easier?  Why is it that God doesn’t seem to work that way?  If He did pretty much everyone would BELIEVE, right?

If God worked like that what would be missing?  Would there be any need for FAITH?

If the church grew because of ‘miraculous healings’ all the time then would there be any MYSTERY left?

Our Story Continues with Tabitha or If You Prefer, Dorcas (v. 36-37):

Acts 9:36-37.

Our story continues with TABITHA or if you prefer, DORCAS (vs. 36).

TABITHA is Hebrew and DORCAS is Greek and it translates to us as “gazelle.”  This is not said to be some sort of nickname meaning her parents gave her, a name that was full of promise and description.  Maybe something to live up too.

She is a BELIEVER that has heard the GOOD NEWS from someone.  Maybe Philip came through town.

Tabitha’s Character –

Evidently, she loved to sew and probably very good at it.  She also seems to have had means to purchase the materials because the people she was making them for probably couldn’t afford it.

Tabitha becomes sick and dies! (v. 37)

THAT SOUNDS FAST!  As sickness and death so often are.

Her body is then washed (prepared for burial) and placed in an upstairs room.

Some followers of Jesus (disciples) heard about Peter traveling nearby, perhaps spreading stories of miraculous HEALING.

I am left with many questions at this point in my reading that I don’t have all the answers:

Do you send messengers to Lydda when Tabitha is very sick or when she dies?  Nine miles take a while to cross on foot so the men sent to get Peter would have to do 18 or more miles by the time they found Peter.

Now if she was DEAD when they left we’re talking about a pretty impressive MIRACLE and not a resuscitation.

PETER went with them (vs. 30).

The Amplified bible reads,  “So Peter [immediately] rose and accompanied them…”  He didn’t have to think about going or pray about the situation until he got an answer, he got up and went!

When he finally arrives he is taken upstairs to the room.  

All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.  I don’t think this was “show and tell” by the ladies. More than likely, they were wearing Dorcas’ workmanship, clothes she had painstakingly made.

Tabitha was being mourned and cried for by the widows, a strong indication that she too was a widow herself.

This lady was such a gift to the community.  She was busy and generous.  She made the lives around her better.

We don’t know what the circle of women said or asked Peter to do.  

But, I know the kind of things we say today in similar circumstances:

  • WHY her or him?
  • She was the best cook, ever!
  • She worked on all the committees.
  • There are plenty of bad people in the world…why would a loving God take her?

SCRIPTURE TELLS US WHAT PETER DOES NEXT (Vs. 40):

[40 a.] “Peter sent them all out of the room and got down on his knees and prayed”

I asked myself several questions at this point of the story, like why didn’t Peter ask the widows to all hold hands and pray for a miracle?  Or try to comfort the women by saying Tabitha is in a better place with Jesus with no more sickness.  Why did he send Tabitha’s close friends out of the room?

The bible account here in Acts reminded me of a similar story in the OT;  in a place called Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon:

And the word of the Lord came to Elijah to go to a widow who he found gathering sticks  (1 Kings 17:9-10).

The First Miracle:  The widow and her son were broke with an all but empty pantry except for a handful of meal and a little jar of oil.  (Vs. 13-15)

VERSE 13-15:   Elijah said to her, FEAR NOT…For thus says the Lord…She did as Elijah said.  And she and he and her household ate for many days.

VERSE 17:  After these things…

There always seems to be an “after these things” moments in one’s life.  The widow’s son became sick, and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.  HE DIED!

[18]  And she said to Elijah, What have you against me, O man of God?  Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?

Elijah sees the lack of faith in the mother as he says to her “Give me your son.  And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed…”  

The Second Miracle…AND HE PRAYED!  (Vss. 20-24)

AND THE RESULTS OF ELIJAH’S PRAYER, WORD, AND TOUCH…

[24] And the woman said to Elijah,  “By this [“the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived”- vs. 22],  I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

A Seed Is Planted In The Upper Room (Acts 9:40-43):

Back to our story in Acts 9, we don’t know if the gathered believers had accepted Dorcas’ DEATH, or if they actually asked for a MIRACLE.  It also doesn’t look like Peter knows the woman lying there except through the witnessing of the ladies.

PETER sent them out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.

I don’t believe Peter’s PRAYER was the kind of prayer we are most familiar with in a group setting or even in the privacy of our home.  Maybe that’s why he sent them out of the room.  I think it was the type of prayer that James refers to as “earnest”, “fervent” PRAYER (James 5:16,17).  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary describes fervently–“to be hot, to boil”; to “strive,” laboring fervently.”  James refers to “fervent” or “earnest” prayer as…

“The earnest (heartfelt, continued, fervent) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available  [dynamic in its working]”  James 5:16 (AMP).

After Peter’s ‘fervent’ prayer, turning to the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up.

I don’t know about you, but if I am going through some stuff, whether spiritual or physical and in need of a MIRACLE, I want to choose people who I know are going pray for me fervently and has no hesitating, no doubting in their FAITH!  (James 1:5-7).

And the SEED Grows…

Peter then called the believers and the widows back into the room where he presents Tabitha to them ALIVE.  Not only did the Miracle get their attention and strengthen their faith, the SEED OF FAITH was spread throughout the area:

[42] And this became known throughout all Joppa, and many came to believe on the Lord [to adhere to and trust in and rely on Him as the Christ and as their Savior].

Tabitha’s resurrection BLESSED the people of the community because a gifted worker was given back to them that loved her and were benefited from her presence.  More people became born-again believers because of the event.

MIRACLES ARE A WONDERFUL THING, BUT…

But Miracles are secondary to the message; the message about the greatest miracle of all, that the ultimate healing is the ETERNAL LIFE that Jesus offers us through faith in Him.  The MESSAGE that Jesus died on the Cross and paid for our sins and that if we trust in what He did to save us we can be so free from both sin’s penalty and sin’s bondage.

The MIRACLE of the Cross sets us free!

At their best, MIRACLES draws a crowd to hear the MESSAGE or serves to demonstrate the AUTHORITY of the Message.

I truly believe that God didn’t stop doing Healing Miracles in the Book of Acts.  We are living out our lives of Acts 29.  The God of the Bible hasn’t changed, he still works Miracles–He works them for the same reasons he always has!

  • TO INCREASE OUR FAITH.
  • TO SHOW HIS COMPASSION and…
  • TO DRAW THE LOST TO FAITH IN CHRIST.

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CREDITS FOR THIS BLOG:

All Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP) except where noted.

Commentary:  Getting Results In Prayer– [Fervent Prayer]:  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/getting-results-in-prayer-iii/

“Where is the PREEMINENCE of Christ in Most of Our Churches?”

In my last blog-post, JESUS Is More Than An Image, I intentionally skipped over Colossians 1:18 to address the importance of who JESUS is and His headship of the body, the Church.

“He [JESUS] is the head of  [His] body, the Church, seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent]”  (Colossians 1:18 AMP).

Church in the Wildwood

A Song of Old – “The Church in the Wildwood?”

I’m probably dating myself with this song, but here are but a few of the lyrics:

There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood.

No lovelier spot in the dale.  No place is so

dear to my childhood.

As the little brown church in the vale.

I enjoy the song, but being perfectly honest here, what a sappy and sentimental picture this is of the Church.  The words might bring back some memorable images, but not a true picture of the Church.

The Church is…

The Church is the body of Jesus Christ Himself.

The Churchthe one we might be attending–is the body of Immanuel, God with us.

Before we start the detective journey together, let me give you understanding of why I chose the word PREEMINENCE in the title of today’s blog.

PREEMINENCE simply means “to be first” (Grk. protos) and is used of Christ in relationship to the church in verse 18.  So now perhaps you understand a little better and I’ll continue on with the importance of Christ being Pre-eminent; in everything that we do personally and the effect of our responsibility in the church.

How dare we ever take that for granted.  How dare we abuse the body of Christ with gossip and backbiting.  How dare we neglect the body of Christ with messed up priorities and apathy.  Notice who the apostle Paul is talking to here–the local church and not some unseen universal church.  He is writing to a specific group of believers who gathered together on a regular basis; the local church in Colosse.  Paul tells them they are JESUS’ body!

The Church Is the Body of Christ Jesus–

The word “church” comes from ekklesia (ek-klay-see’-ah), meaning a congregation or assembly made up of people who have been “called out.”  Being “called out” by the gospel (“born-again”) means being part of the local church as Jesus’ body.  This is the only way that we can truly give Him the preeminence in verse 18 of Colossians 1 refers to.

Don’t misunderstand me here, the preeminence is already His:

“Therefore  [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him [JESUS] the name that is above every name” ~ Philippians 2:9.

JESUS willingly obeyed the will of the Father, and the FATHER highly exalted Him–lifted Him up.

JESUS SAVES–

When JESUS saves a person, He saves them to be baptized into the local church, to be united with other believers into His body.  If you think that you are saved and not part of a local church, you might want to check your heart.  The Bible doesn’t talk about JESUS’ body parts floating around by themselves.

Jesus’ Relationship to His Church and its Importance–

His relationship to His church is His body on earth.  Paul speaks of the many parts of the body; the body does not consist of one limb or organ but of many (1 Corinthians 12:12-24).  So when you hear of a friend in the local church who is in the hospital sick, don’t ask and expect the Pastor of your church to go–you’ve got feet…you go!

JESUS in-dwells those who trust Him as Lord and Savior and because He in-dwells us, we become part of His body.  As a part of His body, we should desire to unite with the rest of His body.

But Only In The Context Of Worship and The Work In The Local Church–

I am probably sounding redundant to you at this point, about PREEMINENCE, but the emphasis is critical to the church.  This is where the body gathers, where we can truly show JESUS the preeminence He already has.  Our worship, our work (James 1:22-27; 2:26), is the only thing that truly shows who JESUS really is to a lost and dying world.  Don’t judge your own past relationships with people in a church you once attended by what God has to offer.  It’s not all about you, it’s about JESUS–His preeminence.

JESUS HAS A RELATIONSHIP TO HIS CREATION:

In 1985, being without employment, I decided to take an opportunity of a new job and location in the United States–Honolulu, Hawaii:

I lived with a young couple who also worked at the same job in a small cute home.  They were parents of a three-year old little girl and were having difficulties with their finances.  Contrary to belief, Hawaii isn’t the Paradise you might think.  So here I was, in Paradise (not really), living in a small but full house, with people I barely knew.  Three months later, I left the island of Oahu after sharing the Gospel and seeing a young man saved by JESUS.  This would have never happened if a relationship hadn’t been developed and nurtured.  It’s called Life Style Evangelism and I had become like a member of their family.

Living in someone else s family, in their home, made it impossible not to have a relationship.  JESUS has a developing and nurturing relationship with us–His church.

Biblical Examples of Christ’s Relationships–

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,    So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word.    That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless.    Even so husbands should love their wives…”  (Ephesians 5:25-28).

SALVATION and BAPTISM ARE ALWAYS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LOCAL CHURCH:

When JESUS SAVES a person, He saves them to be baptized to the local church; to be united with other believers into His body.  If you think that you are saved and not part of a local church, you might want to check your heart and the hardening of an artery or two.  The Bible doesn’t talk about JESUS’ body parts floating around by their selves.

Washing away our sins in Baptism–

The context here in these verses pertains to the RELATIONSHIP between husbands and wives.  Something I’ve learned in over 48-years of being married to the same woman is,  “LOVE can only be known by the action it prompts.”  Christ uses His relationship with His bride, the church as an example for us to follow.

The definition of the word “washing” as found in Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary #3067, indicates that water baptism is used by Christ to achieve cleansing and sanctification of the bride–the church.

“And now, why do you delay?  Rise and be baptized, and by calling upon His name, wash away your sins”  (Acts 22:16).

I was saved and baptized at the age of 30.  Although I understood the meaning of the act–and in obedience to His Word–I somehow had lost the preeminence of JESUS over the years and I know my worship had suffered.

THE REAL JESUS IN OUR CHURCHES:

God almighty cannot be known, worshiped, served in any way, to any decree, except as He is known, worshiped and served by faith in and through the merits of Christ Jesus our Mediator.

Our Savior declares, “No man comes to the Father but by Me.”  Our faith, prayers, church services, and sacrifices of praise are acceptable to God only through the person and work of JESUS our Mediator (1 Peter 2:5).

In the Preaching of the Word Christ is Pre-eminent.

The most important aspect of public worship is reading and preaching of the Word of God.  But this fact must be understood–it is not enough to just preach the Bible.  We are “called to preach” the message of the Gospel!  And the message is JESUS CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED.

There is not a page in our Bible that doesn’t speak of Christ, not a page!  And there is no preaching of the Word of God unless Christ, who is the Gospel, is preached (1 Peter 1:25).

The Book of Acts–

The Book of Acts demonstrates that our Lord JESUS was the  singular subject of preaching in the earliest days of Christianity.  The words preach, preached, and preaching is used 37 times in the Book of Acts.  Every time they are used the subject preached is JESUS Christ the resurrection!  So if the Book of Acts is then our standard, it must be concluded, unless Christ has been preached…no preaching has been done.

That man who pretends to be a “preacher”  and doesn’t preach JESUS Him crucified, mocks the people who hear him.  Rather than serving their souls, he destroys them.

In all our songs of praise Christ must be Pre-eminent–

It’s insignificant–what musical instruments are used.

It’s insignificant–whether the tempo of the music is modern/contemporary or conservative.

But it is the utmost importance that the Word of and message contained in our songs of praise be both doctrinally accurate and Christ exalting.

Going Back to the Question I Started With–“Who is Jesus to you?”

Is He just a baby in the manger taken out of a boxed stored in the garage, then dusted off once a year?

Is He some “get out of jail free” card to you?

Is He some type of Fire Insurance that lets you live any way that you want to and still escape the fires of Hell?

Do you know the real JESUS or have you settled for a cheap imitation?

What the Real JESUS Demands in His Preeminence–

Preeminence in yours and my church! 

He doesn’t just SAVE you to keep you out of Hell!

He doesn’t just SAVE you to make you healthy, wealthy and prosperous!

1.  THE REAL JESUS SAVES YOU FOR A PURPOSE–To die to flesh and live for Him!

2.  HE SAVES YOU TO GROW IN HIS CHURCH–

3.  HE SAVES YOU TO REACH THE LOST– (even going to Hawaii if needed)!

That’s the REAL JESUS!  It is your decision if you haven’t already, to make Christ Pre-eminent in your life–in your church.  What then are you going to do?  I’ll be looking forward to you answers in the comment section of this blog.