Tag Archives: power

The Healing Power

paralyzed man

The story of the healing of the paralyzed man has many applications to our lives today. First, we look at the four friends who carried him. What friends they were! They took the time to carry their friend to healing. They took their friend to Jesus because they knew Jesus had healing in his hands. Who are the friends in your life who have carried you? Who have been there beside you through your suffering? And who have brought you close to Jesus? Thank God for them today.

The way to Jesus was unusual. The friends carrying the paralyzed man to Jesus could not go the normal way through the door to the house where Jesus was. The crowds were crushing in to be near him, to listen to him preach and to receive healing of their own. But this blocking of the door did not stop the friends of the paralyzed man. It led them to seek Jesus by another way—through the roof. They lowered their friend down from above to place him right in front of Jesus. This process took strength, ingenuity and creativity. This activity took risk and coordination among them. What ways to Jesus have been unique and required extra insight and strategy on your part? Thank God for helping you to see new ways to Jesus and allowing you the power to follow through on the often unusual paths he puts before us to receive help from our Savior.

Jesus’ interaction with the paralyzed man is rather unexpected as well. When the paralyzed man is finally placed before Jesus, the first thing Jesus does is forgive the man’s sins. Forgiveness is the man’s greatest need, even more than the healing of his paralysis. Our sins paralyze us in our faith, stopping us from growth and movement in our spiritual lives. The removal of our sins through forgiveness in Christ is the only way we can move forward in following our Savior. Jesus made the benefits of the forgiveness of sins clear when he was questioned by the Pharisees. When we go through trials in our lives, we need to remember that it is the blessing of forgiveness in Christ that is needed most before any physical need.

Yet after providing the forgiveness of sins to the paralyzed man, Jesus still gifts the man with healing in his body. “Rise, take your mat and go,” Jesus says. Jesus allows us to arise from our troubles of body and mind. We are lifted up from being down. We mirror Christ in his resurrection by rising to new life through him.

When Jesus tells the paralyzed man to take his mat, it is like he is saying, “Carry away all reminders of the past trials and recognize the power you now have over those tribulations that once ruled your life.” The mat represents the bad place the paralyzed man once was in and the carrying of the mat symbolizes that he is not in that bad place any longer.

Then Jesus tells the paralyzed man, “Go!” This was something he could not do previously—go forth on his own two feet and walk. “Go!” means that the man can travel on his own by the power of the Spirit and follow the path marked out for him by God. “Go!” means that the man is fully healed and fully ready to move on in Christ.

When healing comes to you, be ready to go as the paralyzed man was. Be ready to go and spread the news of what God has done for you in Christ. Be ready to help those who are in trouble by supporting them with your presence and prayers. Be ready to lead them to Jesus for help and healing. Be ready to step in the footsteps of Christ and go where he goes and do what he does. Go in the name of the Lord and be his follower forever.

Overcoming Temptation

overcoming temptation

In the article “Three Tests in the Wilderness,” in the March 2019 issue of Living Lutheran, author Brian Hiortdahl reviews for us the three temptations that Satan tried to entice Jesus with during his 40 days in the wilderness. The temptations were:

  1. To turn stone to bread.
  2. To throw himself from a high place to be rescued by angels
  3. To gain power over all the kingdoms of the earth by bowing to Satan

Each of these temptations Jesus resists and overcomes, using Scripture and declaring that God should not be put to the test.

Hiortdal reveals that Jesus overcame each of temptations in a much greater way in the last days of his life.

  1. Jesus turns his body into bread for those with hearts of stone on Maundy Thursday.
  2. Jesus is thrown down on the cross on Good Friday, but rises from the dead on Easter.
  3. Jesus ascends to absolute power when he returns to his rightful throne in heaven on Ascension Day.

Because Jesus ultimately overcame these temptations in this way, we, too, have the ultimate power to overcome every temptation the devil sends our way.

God’s Plan Is Bigger

God’s plan is biggerIn light of the fact that over the last two decades, the U.S. suicide rate has risen by 25 percent, leaders in the Church are being compelled more than ever to speak out about the meaning of our lives in the context of God’s plan. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, whose own son, Matthew, committed suicide in 2013, has urged those who are suffering to reach out to others for help, and he urges congregations to make a concerted effort to talk to those who are suffering.

What should our message to them be? Warren says we should remind sufferers of this Biblical truth: “God’s plan and purpose for you is greater than the problem or emotion you’re feeling now” (“People in Pain,” World Magazine, June 30, 2018, 9).

The realization that God’s plan and purpose is bigger than ourselves is a very comforting thought and one that I have gone back to quite often since I read this quote.

Are you having a problem at work or at home? God knows about it and will get you through it, as he has planned.

Are you worried, scared, nervous angry, sad, frustrated? God has the power to overcome those emotions and bring you peace and hope and confidence in him.

Life can be messy and not what we envisioned, for sure, but our faith tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

And we are assured that ”he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

We may not be able to see the plan of God for us right now, but we will one day, on the Last Day, and until that time we hold on tight to and find joy in the knowledge that the Lord says, even on our saddest day, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Keep trusting in him.

Pillows

pillowIn the middle of the growing contentious issue regarding refugees in America, I came across a moment of brightness in the conversation. I found it in the story of Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers, of Bethany Lutheran Church in Bainbridge Island, Washington, who had an idea:

“I recognized pillows as a symbol of hospitality. Who invites a guest without offering a pillow? And I found a great deal on pillows at a local retailer. What a fitting way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the ministry of Jesus, who associated with the outsiders, Samaritans and lepers, and who himself was a refugee as an infant” (Pritchett, Rachel, “Providing Comfort,” Living Lutheran magazine, November 2017, p. 39).

The church blessed 500 pillows in their sanctuary by tossing them into the air before delivering them to Lutheran Community Services (LCS) Northwest, which provides services to refugees.

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Spiritual Prepping

emergency kitBefore Hurricane Harvey and Irma hit, we witnessed all the preparations people were making to protect their homes and keep themselves safe. This is just one example of a burgeoning business called “prepping.” providing people with supplies to prepare for disasters of many kinds, both natural and man-made.

Janie B. Cheaney in “Ready for the Worst?” in the June 10, 2017 issue of World magazine, ponders this question: “What spiritual resources should you add to your emergency supply list?” (World Magazine, June 10, 2017, p. 14).

Surprisingly, the answer involves similar elements to our earthly emergency kits. Take a look:

Food: Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Word of God in times of trouble and every day.

Water: Drown the old Adam in the waters of your baptism in hard times and be refreshed by the living water that only Christ can give.

Protective clothing: I think here about the armor of God from Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness of the gospel of peace fitted around your feet.

Back-up power: Be regenerated through prayer and gain new strength through your conversations with your Lord and Savior. i think of this prayer from St. Paul: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16).

Back-up heat: When you are feeling left out in the cold, draw on the warmth of God’s love from family, friends and your faith community. Listen to the warmth of Paul’s love for his fellow believers in these words: “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” (Philippians 4:1). That same warmth of love is available to you through your brothers and sisters in faith.

Be sure to pull out this prep kit the next time a spiritual emergency of any kind hits. You will be glad you did.

Freedom

freedomAs we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year, it is important for us to remember some of the key statements of Martin Luther. One of those statements is on the concept of freedom. Luther said in his most famous treatise On the Freedom of the Christian, in 1520: “The Christian individual is a completely free lord of all, subject to none. The Christian individual is a completely dutiful servant of all, subject to all.“

These two statements may seem to contradict one another, but, in fact, they encapsulate the complete picture of what we as Christians call freedom.

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Powerful Words

open BibleI was recently hospitalized and through that experience, among many things, I learned the power that the words of Scripture can have on a person in a time of crisis.

On a plaque directly in my line of sight as I laid in bed read: Fear not, for I am with you (Isaiah 41:10).

Those words kept my spirits up each day and gave me the strength to keep going.

Then my cousin texted these words to me:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning —Lamentations 3:22-23

As soon as I saw those words, I immediately began to cry. It was just what I needed to hear at that exact moment. No matter how bleak it was looking, I was reassured that God will always love me and that his goodness to me is fresh every day—no matter what is happening in my life.

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The Internet of Things

We have been hearing a lot lately about the benefits and drawbacks of the Internet of Things (or IoT, for short). If you’re unclear on what that is, here is how Wikipedia describes it:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.[1] The IoT allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure,[2] creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit.

Internet of ThingsFor me personally the concept kind of gives me the creeps. A segment on 60 Minutes showed how someone can take control of car built in the last ten years remotely because of this new technology. It calls to mind shades of Big Brother and that feeling that everyone is watching you.

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