THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

June 14, 2017

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

In Mark 2:1-12 we read the following story:

"When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that He was back home. Soon the house where He was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While He was preaching God's word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above His head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, 'My child, your sins are forgiven.' But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, 'What is He saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!' Jesus immediately knew what they were thinking, so He asked them, 'Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk'? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive him." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 'Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!' And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, 'We've never seen anything like this before!'"

I find it interesting that the teachers of religious law didn't question Jesus' ability to heal the paralyzed man, but they questioned Him forgiving the man of his sins. They thought that He had no authority to do so, that only God could forgive sins.

Perhaps it's because they had been witness to miracles prior to this or had heard testimonies of the many healings that took place everywhere Jesus went. In chapter one of Mark, Jesus cast out an evil spirit and also healed Peter's mother-in-law, as well as numerous other miracles.

Mark 1:32-34 says, "That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. The whole town gathered at the door to watch. So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and He cast out many demons."

Verse 39 says that Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

In verses 40-43, Jesus healed a man with leprosy.

Therefore, the leaders and people seemed to view miracles as something that were common-place and expected whenever Jesus was in town. That doesn't mean that they weren't amazed or astounded whenever someone was healed or delivered, but it was something that occurred wherever Jesus went; therefore, the people would gather to watch.

But forgiveness of sins was a different story! They didn't question Jesus' authority when He healed, but questioned it when He forgave sins.

In our society today, it seems to have flip-flopped. Overall, people have no problem with asking Jesus to forgive them of their sins; in fact, many will do so over and over again. Most don't question whether or not Jesus can truly forgive them; in fact, they believe that all they have to do is ask and in His great mercy and grace, Jesus responds.

But truly believing for healing is a different story. It's not necessarily that we don't believe that Jesus can heal, but miracles are not something that we see or experience very often, so it's much harder for us to pray with great faith and expectation.

We expect to be forgiven when we repent. But when it comes to healing, we are kind of wishy-washy! Jesus may or may not heal... we, or whomever we are praying for, may or may not receive their healing... we choose not to get our hopes up, just in case the miracle doesn't happen, so that we won't be disappointed. We seldom pray with the same faith when it comes to healing that we pray with when it comes to repentance.

What if we were to pray with the exact same mindset regarding forgiveness, as we do regarding healing? Well, Jesus may or may not forgive me... I don't want to get my hopes up, just in case He decides not to answer and chooses not to forgive... I don't want to be disappointed if He says no. Few people think that way when it comes to repenting of their sins and asking Jesus to forgive them. They have the faith to believe that when they ask, Jesus immediately answers! But they struggle with having that same type of faith when it comes to healing.

I have had arthritis in my pointer fingers, especially on my right hand. Recently, the joint in my right pointer finger was swollen and painful, and it hurt to bend that finger. In fact, the tips of both pointer fingers were somewhat bent. I begin praying over those fingers and rebuking arthritis and speaking in faith that healing would come to my hands. It didn't happen immediately, but I was determined not to give up. In fact, every day, I have been praying, in faith, for complete healing for my entire body. There have been some nodules found on my thyroid, and I am scheduled to go back to have another ultrasound in July. I have a couple of fatty growths (the official word is tumor, but I hate that word!) that have cropped up that are not cancerous and nothing to worry about; but I still want them gone. I have been praying, and believing, that those nodules will be healed and that those fatty growths and arthritis will be gone, in the name of Jesus! I truly believe that it is going to happen!

Too often, we feel like pain and disease and sickness or whatever attacks our health are a part of life and something we all have to deal with; especially as we grow older. Where does it say that in the Bible? We accept whatever attacks our health and body as something that is commonplace and okay. "Oh well, everyone has aches and pains; that just comes with age! I'll just live with it! I'll go get some medication to hopefully help!"

I was thinking about my ailments recently when the above story came to mind. The particular verse that really hit home and was on my mind was Jesus' words in verse 11: "Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk'?"

When you really think about it, being forgiven of our sins and then Jesus forgetting them and not remembering them anymore is pretty miraculous and amazing! Jesus taking someone who has made numerous sinful choices over and over again, who has perhaps committed horrible sinful acts or has willfully chosen to rebel and show total disregard for anything to do with God, and making them into new creations is truly astounding when you really think about it. Yet we easily accept that that is what happens when a sinner repents and accepts Jesus into their heart.

It's the second part of that question that Jesus asked that we struggle with. Do we truly believe that it is as easy for Jesus to heal as it is to save? Yes, we believe in healing and that Jesus has the power and authority to do so; but our faith is often weak in that area when it comes to believing for healing for ourself or someone close to us. We worry that we will pray and be disappointed, so we pray with the thought in the back of our mind that it may not be God's will to heal us, so not to get our hopes up too much.

Sometimes our faith is weak when it comes to praying for our healing, because we believe that it is our own fault regarding whatever it is attacking our health. It's as if we feel that we deserve to have to deal with health issues because we brought it upon ourselves.

The same can be said regarding some people failing to be able to come to that place of feeling worthy of asking Jesus to forgive their sins. They feel as if they don't deserve forgiveness because of bad choices they've made or willfully sinning over and over again, even though they know it's wrong. Would you tell them, "Well, you brought this on yourself! You need to just deal with it and try to take care of your problems alone, then when your life is straightened out, repent and get your life back on track!" No! We would encourage them to go to Jesus, just as they are, and let Him change and renew them.

Yet many times we don't have that same attitude regarding praying for a miracle for someone who has health issues that we feel they brought on themselves because of bad choices or whatever reason. It's easy to think, "You need to work on your health and correct your problems yourself! Don't ask God to fix the issues you brought on yourself!" We also seldom have that same attitude towards ourself. We feel guilty asking God to help us, feeling as we somehow brought our health issues on ourself and deserve what we're dealing with. We feel undeserving of God's help.

A personal example is my weight. I've been overweight for years and years. I've tried many different weight loss products and diets, to no avail. I've been given advice and "helpful" suggestions from people who think they know why I'm overweight and are sure that they can fix me, if only I'd listen to them. I've been made to feel guilty as if it's all my fault and I should know how to fix my weight problem. It's an ugly word, but I know that regarding my weight and size, I am considered obese. I don't like being obese, but I do like myself.

I'm not a binge eater; I'm not a snacker; I don't get up in the middle of the night and eat; I don't eat before bed time; I rarely snack or eat anything between meals; I seldom make desserts for me and Jon; I normally never get second helping, and in fact, don't always finish what's on my plate. I usually only eat two meals a day. I know that there are areas I could improve upon like drinking more water, getting more exercise, and eating more fruits and veggies.

Recently, God began impressing upon me to ask Him to do a miracle regarding my weight. In fact, during a recent prayer meeting at our church, God began speaking through people regarding this very thing. Some of us who struggle with our weight began praying for one another, believing God to supernaturally do a miracle in our bodies; to melt the fat and heal whatever in our bodies was causing us to be obese/overweight and hindering us from losing weight. Did you know that God loves us enough to answer and do those things? It has nothing to do with whether or not we deserve it, or whether or not we made bad choices that caused this to happen, or whether or not it's an issue that causes us to struggle so much with weight loss and we don't really know the source of the problem.... we are God's children and He loves us enough to want us to be healthy and whole. He desires for us to ask Him for help and stop struggling all by ourself.

Next time you are in need of healing or are praying for someone who needs healing, ask yourself, "Is it easier for Jesus to forgive my sins or to heal me?" Then pray with the same type of faith and belief that you do when repenting; believing that God hears and answers, then expect a miracle!!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I've known quite a few people who did doubt God's ability to forgive. In some cases, they thought they or someone else has committed sins that God shouldn't forgive, so think He also can't or won't forgive them. In most cases (the two cases tend to go together), the people who doubt God's forgiveness have a hard time forgiving. They harbor unforgiveness for themselves and others. Sometimes they can't forgive people who they don't even know on behalf of people they also don't know.

God does not make any conditions on receiving His forgiveness, like "as long as it isn't too bad", or "as long as you didn't really hurt anyone", or "if you kept it secret". But Jesus did say (Matthew 6:14-15), "If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Heavenly Father will not forgive your sins."

ON THE MENEWE:

Bean Dip

1 large can refried beans (or 2 smaller cans)

1/2 package taco seasoning

2 packages cream cheese

8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Mix refried beans and taco seasoning together and spread in a 10-inch baking dish. Mix softened cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese together and drop by large spoonfuls all over the top of the bean mixture. Cook in 350 oven for 5-10 minutes and then take a table knife and cut through the mixture well. This mixes it all together well. Put back into oven and cook until cheese is well melted. Garnish with your choice of toppings: chopped green onions, chopped tomatoes, black olives, additional cheese) Eat with tortilla chips.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

I (Loretta) will be leaving early Saturday morning for a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. My niece, Tonya, spent some time working with this particular missionary a couple years ago, so is leading our group. Her dad, another niece, my sister Janie, as well as a mother and her two daughters from my brother-in-law's church will in our group. We will be meeting up with another team from a church in Missouri. We will be in Santiago for the week we spend in the Dominican Republic. While there we will be attending Sunday service, doing street ministry with children, and working at a Teen Challenge Center. Please keep our team in your prayers for the week that we are gone. We will be leaving early Saturday morning and then be returning late the following Saturday evening. Pray that we will be a blessing to the missionary and the people we meet up with. Pray that we will be protected and safe, and that we will all be healthy and well. I will be writing about the trip upon my return.

Happy Anniversary, Jon (June 18th)! We've rarely been apart on our anniversary, but will be this year. These past 12 years have been incredibly blessed and I'm so very thankful that God chose you to share my life with! I love you!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Life is too short, the world is too big, and God's love is too great to live ordinarily. - Christine Caine

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org