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SEPTEMBER 2018

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Are We Happy?

 

Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! (1 Kings 10:8 NKJV)

 

The Queen of Sheba

Solomon was on the throne of the Kingdom of Israel.  He was known for his wisdom and for his riches.  His reign was glorious in every way.  The Queen of Sheba heard about his wisdom and came to see if what she had heard was really true.  She tested him with “hard” questions.  She saw the order and glory of his reign and came to the conclusion that what she had heard was only half of the truth.  The reality was twice as good as what traders passing between the countries had told her.  But what impresses me is that she saw happiness in the kingdom.  Those serving Solomon were not complaining and bitter.  They were happy and I dare say they were blessed.

 

The Difference between Happiness and Blessing

I have tried to do research on these two words that are often used interchangeably in different translations in the Bible.  I am not a good linguist, but I think this is what the “experts” are saying.  We can be happy without being blessed but when we are blessed we should be happy even when circumstances could make us unhappy.  Now I know that there are people that God blesses that are not happy.  But that is not the way it should be.

 

Happiness can be attributed to things that do not bless.  For example, many people get happy on the weekend by drinking and suffer for it on Monday.  They are not really blessed.  Blessing is a happy condition that results from a right relationship with God.  God blesses us (and makes us happy) as explained in the beatitudes.  We bless God when we worship Him and praise Him.   Likely most unhappiness in life results from disobedience to God fueled by unbelief in His promises. 

 

Are We really Happy?

I like to see people that are happy.  Recently I was in a church service where I saw people expressing their happiness because of the music that they were enjoying.  Some of these people never look happy in a preaching service—possibly because they are not oral learners and possibly because they don't relate to the message.  Now the music did not bless me but it blessed many who were there.  It blessed me to see them happy.  I think that we could say that they were being blessed since the music was Christ-centered.

 

The Queen of Sheba was happy when she saw the happiness of King Solomon's servants and subjects.  Now obviously King Solomon is representative of the type of rule that this world will experience when the Lord does establish His righteous reign on this earth.  That kingdom has been foretold and it will come.  Looking forward to it is one of our blessings.   The pattern prayer in Matthew 6:10 refers to this Kingdom when the Lord says, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”   The people in that kingdom will be blessed and happy.

 

Summer's End

We have come to the end of another summer.  Last winter I was looking forward to the Spring and the Summer.  I kept thinking of nights with cool breezes and days when we could enjoy outside activities.  I had hoped to do some important things for the Lord.  But the summer is gone and the necessary responsibilities of life have eaten into what I thought would be an enjoyable summer.  We have done some enjoyable things but truth be told I am frustrated by how quickly summer has gone and how little I have really enjoyed it.  But am I unhappy?  No!   I remember when I passed from death unto life (John 5:24) in a spiritual sense and I trusted my soul to the Lord for eternity.  That is where true blessing and happiness is found.  Things may not go as I want them to go day by day; but, even so, the Lord has greatly blessed me and my family.  I may be frustrated at times, but I am happy.

 

We can truly say as Johnson Oatman has penned:

 

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

 

Meditation for the week of September 2, 2018

What About the Gift of Healing?

 

Surely He has borne our griefs (infirmities) and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV)

 

The Apostolic Church

When the Lord was here on this earth, He healed to prove that He was the Son of God.  The Lord gave that gift to his disciples (first to the twelve, then to seventy others, then to some others in the early church according to 1 Corinthians 12:28)  so that their preaching would be with authority.  Jews looked for signs and this was one sign that should have convinced the Jewish nation that the Lord was God and that His disciples had the Word of God. 

 

Does that grace or gift of the spirit exist today?  My quick answer is no.  Does the Lord heal in a miraculous way today? My quick answer is yes.  But no man can heal today the way the Lord healed (He healed all who came to Him).  No man can heal the way the apostles healed who also seemed to be able to heal all who came to them or were brought to them (See Acts 5:12-16).  1 Corinthians 13 makes it clear that there were special gifts of the spirit that were necessary in the infant church that were not necessary when the church matured.  Paul says that as in infant he did things that infants do but when he matured and became a man he put away the things that he did as an infant  (1 Corinthians 13:11).  He is using his personal experience as a picture of the maturing church.

 

What About James 5:14-15 which says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (James 5:14-15 NKJV).?" This passage deals in particular with sicknesses that were the result of sin in the person's life.  This often requires confession of sin and the need for counseling and confession to those who are elders in the church.  However, it should be noted that this book was the first epistle written in the new testament age and it was written while the apostles and prophets and others in the church were still using the gift of healing to persuade the Jews that the Lord was indeed the Messiah.  I am perfectly in favor of elders anointing the sick and praying for them (and the anointing may be ceremonial or it may involve the application of current medical techniques), but I do not believe we should expect the same result that the apostolic Christians were promised when we do this.  The miraculous gift of healing has passed away with the maturing of the church but the Lord will still honor an honest confession of sin. In addition, some honest Biblical counseling may be the cure for a sin-sick heart. 

 

But The Lord Does Heal

In Luke 4:18, the Lord says, "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE HAS ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR; HE HAS SENT ME TO HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, TO PROCLAIM LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET AT LIBERTY THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED (Luke 4:18 NKJV).”  Our verse for today says, that He has born our griefs but the thought is that He has born our infirmities.  We know that sin cause sickness.  In particular sin breaks hearts.  The Lord has a cure for that kind of sickness.  He also has a cure for spiritual blindness.  And He heals everyone who comes to Him by faith.  Broken hearts can be filled with joy and blind sinners can have their understanding opened.  When that happens, the person will rejoice in the fact that they have been delivered from the "burden" of their sin.

 

Conclusion

If you are sick with cancer, if you have a broken bone, if you have diabetes, pray about it and go see a medical doctor or talk to a nutritionist.  But don't expect some man or woman to be able to heal you miraculously.  If you do get a spontaneous miraculous healing, thank God!  However, remember that whether we are healed by natural means, by doctors or miraculously, the Psalmist reminds us that it is the Lord who heals all of our diseases (Psalm 103:3).  Every disease may not get healed but all the diseases that we get from which we are healed, are healed by the Lord.

 

The Most Important Healing of All

Since sin does break hearts, if there is anyone reading this who is sick because of a broken heart, I can assure you that there is a cure in the Lord.  He died not only to bear the punishment that we deserve because of our sin, He also wants to put a new song in our hearts.  King David says, He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD  (Psalms 40:2-3 NKJV).  Trusting in the finished work of the cross is the only cure for a heart that is broken because of sin.  And I believe that the Lord will heal every broken heart that recognizes that they have sinned when they come to the Lord for forgiveness and reconciliation and peace.  The Lord is still healing the brokenhearted.

 

Meditation for the week of September 9, 2018