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Bible Insights

Do You Seek God First for Healing When You Are Sick?

Azariah the Son of Oded

Azariah, son of Oded, comes to Asa, King of Judah. The prophet tells the king, “If you see God, you’ll find him. If you walk away from him, he’ll walk away from you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). That is, to seek God first.

King Asa takes the prophet’s warning seriously and acts. He decides to seek God. He implements spiritual reforms and restores worship. The nation is at peace—at least for several years.

Then Asa makes a treaty with another king and goes to war against Israel. Another prophet, Hanani, goes to Asa criticizing him for relying on another nation, king, and army instead of God. This time, instead of responding positively, Asa takes offense and throws the sage in prison.

Things go downhill from there.

Seek God Today

A few years later Asa has a disease develop in his foot. Although painful, he does not seek God for healing. Instead he relies on doctors to cure him. They don’t. Two years later Asa dies.

In all instances, we are wise to seek God first. Click To Tweet

Many Christians in developed countries today act just like King Asa. When a medical problem arises, they rush off to the nearest doctor seeking the wisdom of people to restore them to full health.

And if the first physician doesn’t produce results, they’ll pursue a second opinion from another medical professional.

They don’t seek God for supernatural healing.

I’m not sure if this is because they’re not conditioned to turn to God for their physical ailments or if they don’t believe he can heal them. At best, they may whisper a short prayer asking that God will enable the physicians to heal them.

Jesus Came to Save and to Heal

Oh, how this must grieve God with our lack of faith and unwillingness to trust him with our health and our future. Remember, Jesus came to save and to heal. If we trust him for our salvation, why won’t we trust him for our healing?

Though this isn’t a call to dismiss medical treatment, it is a plea to seek God first and then consider modern healthcare as an adjunct or secondary source. Sometimes God will heal us directly and other times he will work through physicians.

But in all instances, we are wise to seek God first.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 16-18, and today’s post is on 2 Chronicles 16:12.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Should We Separate From or Include Those Who Are Different?

Leviticus Warns Against Everything Unclean, but Jesus Has a Different Response

I’ve never met anyone who likes the book of Leviticus, and many admit to skimming it when it comes up in their Bible reading plan, yet a thoughtful read of this often-tedious book reveals startling insights.

Today’s section talks about the unclean: unclean people, unclean actions, and unclean things. That is, those who are different. God gives instructions for dealing with the unclean (Leviticus 13:4). He wants to keep his people away from such things so they remain both healthy and pure.

Leprosy, an often-fatal condition, is a grave consideration in that day. If carries both a threat to others and a stigma in society. Physical separation is the only solution in confirmed cases.

No one would touch a leper, who would live the rest of his or her life without the comforting pat of another human being.

When Jesus encounters a leper he does the unthinkable; he touches the man and then heals him. Click To Tweet

Those Who Are Different from Us

Jesus, who comes to fulfill the Old Testament Law (Matthew 5:17), has a different idea. When encountering a leper he does the unthinkable; he reaches out and touches the man (Matthew 8:3). Then he helps the inflicted person by healing him.

Jesus, not the book of Leviticus, provides our example for dealing with those who society won’t touch, the unclean in our world. We accept them. We help them. They are not unclean. They are part of God’s creation, just like us. We love them just like Jesus.

Consider how we might treat others who society essenitially views as unclean? Look for ways to touch those who others ignore, those who are different from us.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Leviticus 13-15, and today’s post is on Leviticus 13:4.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Clean versus Well

The 10 Lepers

There is a story of Jesus dealing with 10 lepers (leprosy is an infectious skin decease that eats away the flesh). Keeping their distance, as was the practice of the day, they call out to Jesus for help

Jesus tells them to go present themselves to the priest. (It was also the practice that a leper who became better, needed to go to a priest for confirmation before re-entering society.) The lepers comply; as they do, they are “cleansed” of their leprosy.

One man, seeing what happened, returns to Jesus, thanking him.

Jesus commends the man for doing so, but is surprised that only one person returned to give thanks. Then the man was made “well.”  (Other translations say he was “healed,” “restored,” or “made whole.”)

There seems to be a distinction between being “cleansed” and being made “well.” One thought is that being cleansed meant that the leprosy was gone, but its ravages remained, whereas being made “well,” restored the flesh to its pre-leprous condition.

Another thought is that being made “well,” addressed the whole person, encompassing the psychological and emotional aspect of having been ostracized and devalued as a person.

Whatever the precise meaning, it is clear that the man who gives thanks to Jesus—and didn’t take his generosity for granted—was given even more as a result.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 16-18, and today’s post is on Luke 17:11-19.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Early Church Had a Great Reputation

What Happened?

In the Bible, Dr. Luke notes that the gathering of folks who follow Jesus (aka, the church) enjoy the goodwill of all the people. In another place he records that all the people have a high regard for the church. They had a great reputation. Perhaps that’s why they grow from a handful of people to several thousands in just a few months.

Imagine that. Everyone holding the church in high regard and with goodwill. The result is rapid growth.

If only that were the case today. Yes, some people on the outside respect the church, but society as a whole, holds a much different view. They hate us and criticize us. They call us hypocrites and view us as filled with hate and always arguing. In large part, they’re right.

What happened? What went wrong over the past two thousand years? Here are four ideas to consider:

They Take Care of Their Own

The early church shares what they have with one another, and no one has any needs. (Notice the focus is on meeting needs, not fulfilling wants.)

They Don’t Ask For Money

The early church isn’t constantly asking for money and doesn’t take weekly offerings. The few times they do take a collection, it is to give away to those outside their community.

They Help Others

The apostles go around healing people.

They Rely on the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit plays a leading role. He is prominent, in the book of Acts, leading the church and empowering its members.

We Need to Great Reputation

Today, the church does a poor job of caring for its own, is always taking offerings, forgets to help others, and relies on its own abilities instead of God.

That’s what happened. It’s time to change.

[Acts 2:47, Acts 5:13]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

An Outlier Church

Discussing Church 15

Their website says we’ll find “a laid-back, coffeehouse atmosphere” with “an unconventional setting where a blend of people, of all ages, from all walks of life, can gather and feel at home.” This is my kind of church. It’s an outlier church in a mainline denomination.

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #15

1. Weather permitting, the service will be outdoors. I’m excited for a chance to worship in nature, but I’m disappointed I won’t experience their typical service. 

Regular attendees may appreciate a special service, but how does this impact visitors?

2. We arrive and see no hint of an outdoor service. We later learn that based on today’s forecast for ninety-three degrees, they decided to meet inside. 

How well does your church deal with last-minute changes?

3. The service starts with a video. It’s an allegory that shows the importance of churches maintaining their original purpose: focusing outward and avoiding the snare of self-centeredness or adopting an inward preoccupation. 

How can your church better maintain an outward focus?

4. Next is a time for healing prayer, another first on our journey, and a most welcome one. 

Does your church offer healing prayer for people in need? Do you?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

3 Unusual Examples of God’s Healing Power

God Uses His People to Heal the Hurting

Elisha dies, but his influence lives on. Yes, Elisha continues to teach us today, thousands of years after his death, through the words recorded about him in the Bible. However, he also has a practical effect on someone postmortem. It’s one example of God’s amazing healing power through his people.

1. The Healing Power of Elisha’s Bones

A man dies, and his friends are burying him when a gang of bandits come into view. Not wanting to end up like their buddy, the pallbearers dump the body in the nearest tomb.

It happens to be Elisha’s final resting place. When the body touches the bones of Elisha, the dead man becomes undead and jumps to his feet (2 Kings 13:21).

This is an amazing example of God’s power to heal. It’s the ultimate healing: resurrection. But that’s not all. Here are two more stories.

2. The Healing Power of Peter’s Shadow

The Bible also tells about people bringing their infirmed friends and placing them on the street where they expect Peter to travel. They hope Peter’s shadow might fall on the sick as he passes by.

Though the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that people received healing this way, why would they go to this trouble if Peter’s shadow hadn’t healed others in the past? (Acts 5:15).

3. The Healing Power of Paul’s Handkerchief

Later in the book of Acts, we read about God doing astonishing miracles through Paul. This supernatural power is so extraordinary that even handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul touches have the power to heal people.

They bring these garments to people who need healing. The people who receive them are cured and evil spirits are cast out, even though Paul isn’t physically present (Acts 19:11-12).

Is God still in the business of healing people? Click To Tweet

God’s Power to Heal Is in Us

God’s healing power occurs through a dead man’s bones, a shadow, and articles of clothing. Is God still in the business of healing people? How can these examples inform our view of miracles and how we act today?

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 2 Kings 11-13, and today’s post is on 2 Kings 13:21.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Jesus and Justice

Our Savior Came to Heal and to Save

After giving us four chapters of historical narrative, Isaiah shifts back to more prophecy. His future-focused look tells us about Jesus and justice.

Though Jesus is God’s Son, as our Savior—the Messiah—he is also God’s servant, who will come to earth in service of Father God to restore us into a right relationship with him. God chose Jesus to redeem his people, for God delights in him.

Under the power of God’s Spirit, the Messiah will champion justice. This justice isn’t only for the nation of Judah, but it’s for all nations—all people, everyone. This Savior will not proclaim his message with loud, boisterous words but with gentleness. He will protect the weak and encourage those who struggle.

Jesus

Jesus will faithfully promote justice, never wavering from his mission. Through his followers, both then and now, he will persist until he spreads justice throughout the whole world.

Centuries after Isaiah’s prophecy, when Jesus comes to earth, he will come to heal and to save. Today most people seek Jesus for his saving power, while two thousand years ago people came to him more for his healing power.

Where does justice fit into all this?

Justice

The people in the Old Testament expected that the promised Savior would come as a military leader to rescue them from their oppressors. They assumed he would be an actual king, in the line of King David, ushering in an era of justice.

They believed that at his arrival, the Jews would finally receive fair treatment meted out by a morally righteous leader. He would be true in all he does, governing his people with excellence and protecting them from the immoral oppression of ungodly leaders from opposing nations.

Many people today seek a Savior who will provide them with justice. They need Jesus. Click To Tweet

Most of us don’t see Jesus today as a physical Savior but as a spiritual Savior. However, throughout the world, many people struggle under the weight of oppressive regimes. They need physical deliverance. They seek the Savior who will provide them with justice. They need Jesus.

We all do.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Isaiah 42-45 and today’s post is on Isaiah 42:1.]

Read more about the book of Isaiah in For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Miriam

Learn More about Miriam

Miriam is the older sister of Moses; she’s also the sister of Aaron, but we don’t know which one is older.

At the time Moses is born, there’s a degree to kill all baby boys. Moses’s mom hides him as long as she can, then she puts him in a basket and places him in the Nile River. Mariam watches at a distance to see what happens.

When the pharaoh’s daughter finds him, Miriam pops up and offers to find a woman to nurse him; she picks her mom.

As an adult, Miriam is a prophet and worship leader of sorts, leading the women in song and dance to celebrate God’s rescue when they crossed the sea to escape the Egyptians.

Unfortunately, what we know most about Miriam is when she and Aaron oppose Moses over his choice for a wife and out of jealousy. God’s judgment is quick, instantly inflicting her with leprosy (a contagious skin disease, untreatable at the time).

Though Aaron is also at fault, he is not so afflicted, suggesting that perhaps Mariam led their tiny rebellion. When Aaron sees what happens to his sister, he immediately admits his bad attitude and begs Moses to intervene.

Moses does and implicitly God heals her. The whole nation then waits for her for seven days as prescribed by Jewish law.

A few years later Miriam dies; there’s no mention of the people mourning her death, a sad end to a promising life.

Mariam started well as a brave and obedient daughter and later as a prophet and worship leader, she let judgment and jealousy define her later life. Click To Tweet

Though Mariam started well as a brave and obedient daughter and later as a prophet and worship leader, she let judgment and jealousy define her later life. God was not pleased.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 10-12, and today’s post is on Numbers 12:1-15.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Peter Heals a Lame Man

Peter Preaches and Then Heals a Listener

The second sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 3:1-4:4 (specifically, Acts 3:12-26). After he speaks, Peter heals a lame man.

Setting: Jerusalem, in the temple

Speaker: Peter

Audience: Jews

Preceding Events: Peter, through the power of Jesus, heals a lame man who was crippled from birth.

Overall Theme: Jesus, God’s servant, was foretold in the Old Testament. His execution at the hands of ignorant people was part of God’s plan, as was his rising from the dead.

Scripture Quoted: Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19, Genesis 22:18; 26:4

Central Teaching: Jesus’ name has the power to heal.

Subsequent Events: Peter is interrupted by the temple guards and he and John are thrown in prison, yet thousands more believe in Jesus.

A miraculous healing provides an opportunity for truth about Jesus to be shared, which results in mass conversions. Click To Tweet

Key Lesson: A miraculous healing provides an opportunity for truth about Jesus to be shared, which results in mass conversions.

If, at church, you saw a wheelchair-bound man get up and walk, what would you think?

Should healing others in Jesus’s name be a normal occurrence? Consider how the biblical account can better inform our perspectives, expectations, and actions today.

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #1 or sermon #3.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Do We Answer When God Calls?

When God calls people to him, some come and others run away

As the prophet Hosea wraps up his writings, he gives us some insight into the heart of God. He writes that the more God called his people, the more they ran away from him (Hosea 11:2). When God calls, what is our response?

When God Calls Us

Imagine God beckoning for us, longing for us to be in a relationship with him. With much expectation, he calls our name. But instead of hearing his call and running into his arms, we turn our back on him and run in the opposite direction. It’s as if he offers us a high-five and we leave him there, hanging, poised to receive a response we will never offer.

How this must grieve him.

We’ve all had this happen to us. We extend ourselves to others: to family, neighbors, friends, and the church. But instead of receiving the response we hope for, the reaction we long for, we hear only silence or receive a sharp rebuff.

When God calls us do we run into his arms or flee from him? Click To Tweet

Now multiply that by thousands, by millions, and by billions. That’s how many of humanity’s numbers snub God’s call and ignore his persistent love. It breaks my heart, and more surely must break his—a billion times over.

God Loves Us

Yet God responds, not in anger, but in love. He still cares for his people. He still wants the best for them. Though he heals them, they do not realize it comes from him (Hosea 11:3). They do not attribute their good outcomes to his loving care for them.

When God calls us, may we answer. When he heals us, may we thank him.

How does God call us? How will we respond? Will we grieve him or delight him?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hosea 8-11, and today’s post is on Hosea 11:2-3.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.