Is the challenge of the ‘good news’ of the Gospel too great, or is it easier to offer a lesser Gospel of salvation…?
Matthew 8.16-17: When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon–possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses."
The Gospel that He ‘preached to the poor’ lists a total of 9 positive, life enhancing, healing actions that restore people to a normal, functional life in society, including those who are:
broken hearted from the despair, grief, and pain of deprived love, tragedy, and rejection,
captive in a ‘prison’ of resentment, bitterness, and hatred, and
oppressed by rage, frustration, and hopelessness.
The Hebrew word that is translated ‘grief’ in Isaiah 53.3 means the pain that we feel is like a bow drill in which the string of a bow is wrapped around a drill which drills a hole by moving the bow back and forth, and firmly pressing down. This is a graphic description of the agony of the broken hearted, the captive, and the oppressed.
How does Jesus heal us from such pain. The answer, from the Gospels, seems to be that when we come to Him, we need, ourselves, to contribute to the relationship, as the two blind men who ‘cried out’:
As we move onto the route to face the challenge of the ‘good news’ of the Gospel, it may be helpful to set the scene in your relationship with God, to set out where you are, and where He is. I have translated part of Psalm 25 giving a fuller meaning to the Hebrew, and I have added four verses which summarise our agony:
To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. My God, I trust in You. Lead me in Your Truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation. Remember, O LORD, Your tender compassion and Your mercy. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my youthful rebellion. According to Your mercy remember me for good, O LORD. For Your Name’s sake, O LORD, forgive my guilt, for it is great. Turn Your face, the wholeness of Your Being towards me, and have mercy on me, for I am lonely and depressed. The wounds in my heart have widened; bring me out of my anguish! Look on my depression and my pain, and forgive all my sins. Protect and keep my soul; rescue me, for I put my trust in You.
I come to You now, Jesus, because I know that whoever comes to You will never be rejected.
You are a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with the grief that pierces my soul, the whole of my being.I give to You all my pain, my despair, and my weariness, and I ask You to give me Your rest. Accept my prayer from a willing heart, O LORD. Amen
It is important to declare to Him what you believe:
LORD Jesus, I believe that You are Messiah and the only way to God. I believe that Your sacrifice on the cross redeemed me from the power of sin so that I may be forgiven, and I believe that Your Resurrection destroyed death so that I may receive Eternal Life.
Next, we need to repent and to forgive. These are two essential steps to declare before God will hear us, as we read in the Prophet Isaiah:
Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. Isaiah 59:2
I renounce all pride, rebellion, and religious self righteousness, and I submit myself to You as my LORD. I confess all my sins before You holding nothing back. By a decision of my will I forgive, unreservedly, all those who have ever sinned against me intentionally or unintentionally, in thought, word, or deed. I turn from all bitterness, all resentment, and all hatred. I repent of all my sins, turn away from them, and turn to You, LORD, for mercy and forgiveness. I believe that because I confess my sins, ‘You are faithful and just to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness’. I receive Your forgiveness for all my sins that have separated me from You.
By a decision of my will I forgive, unreservedly, all……. This is a vital, fundamental step. To continue to harbour unforgiveness is a self inflicted injury, a pointless waste of time and emotional energy, and a major contributory factor to our physical and emotional damage, dysfunction, and disease.
During World War 2 there was a Dutch Christian family, the ten Booms, who sheltered and concealed Jews from the Nazis. They were betrayed and imprisoned at Ravensbruck concentration camp where the father and one sister died. The surviving sister, Corrie ten Boom, frequently spoke in churches after the war. At the end of one service a man approached her, and she recognised him as one of the brutal Nazi guards at Ravensbruck. He said to her, ‘Will you forgive me?’. For Corrie ten Boom there was only one answer.
There is only one answer for us.
Whilst turning to God in repentance and forgiveness is one essential step, it is also important to decisively turn away from the occult:
I sever and cut off all contact with the occult, with all false religion and idolatry, in my life or in the life of my ancestors. I ask You to release me from the consequences of my ancestor’s sins. I commit myself to get rid of all objects associated with the occult, false religion, and idolatry.
Next, we need to annul our vows. Vows are permissible, but not advisable. God permits them, but the problem is that we have to fulfill the vows that we make in our moment of weakness or pressure…..and when we have recovered from those moments, we usually forget the vows. God does not!
Therefore, we need to annul them before Him:
I repent of all vows, prohibitions, and oaths that I have vowed, sworn, or prohibited on myself during my past life, and by which I am bound. I pray that all vows, prohibitions, and oaths that I have vowed, sworn, or prohibited on myself during my past life, be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, void, and made of no effect from this moment. They shall not bind me, or have power over me. I ask this in the Name of Jesus my Messiah.
This next prayer makes a declaration of trust and belief, followed by a specific request for both redemption from any curse, and deliverance from ‘evil spirits’:
LORD Jesus, I thank You that on the cross ‘You were made a curse’ so that I may be redeemed from every curse, and inherit God’s blessing. On that basis, I ask You to release me from every curse that is over my life, and to set me free to receive the deliverance that I need. You know the spiritual forces that oppress me. You alone know what doors have been opened to the evil one in my life.
I believe that I am redeemed by the Blood of Jesus and Satan has no legal rights to my spirit, soul, mind or body, because ‘whoever calls upon the Name of the LORD shall be saved, and there shall be deliverance among whom the LORD calls’.
You have called me and redeemed me. Therefore, I call upon You now to deliver me and to release me.
LORD Jesus, You are God over all dominions of falsehood and darkness. You are the Light of the World, Saviour, Redeemer, and Deliverer.
Don’t forget to say thank you, as nine lepers did: one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, ... giving Him thanks...so Jesus said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?’ Luke 17.15-17:
I thank you, LORD, for delivering me and releasing me.
‘My body is a Temple for the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed, and sanctified by the Blood of Jesus.’
‘I overcome Satan by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of my testimony’.
While it is possible to pray these steps by yourself, it is often much more helpful to pray with a believing friend. Remember that opposite sexes should not pray these steps alone together, unless they are husband and wife. Always make sure that there is a believing woman accompanying a man praying for a woman.
These prayers are the necessary steps that we need to contribute to our relationship with the LORD. But, if the route to healing is so comparatively easy (is it?), why are we not all healed? Until the next blog…