Matthew 8:1-3 – When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, ifyou are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand andtouched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.
When it comes to suffering, how are we to deal with the pains in our lives? In general, there seems to be two options in our response; first is to settle and accept, and the second is to seek God’s presence and healing. At times we might feel like it is easier to just accept the pain and the suffering, and just cope with it. However, in today’s passage we are given a different approach—which is bring all of our issues and pains before the Lord. In the passage, the leper doesn’t question Jesus’ ability to heal, rather what he asks is “if you are willing, you can make me well.” The wonderful and immediate response from the Lord is that He is willing.
Today instead of simply coping, bring your issues before Lord, and there receive His assurance that He is willing to bring His healing and wholeness into our lives. Today may we find our full resolution in Christ alone, and instead of merely coping, let’s bring our issues and needs before the Lord, for He is willing. Worship with the song “Always” (Click here).
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 – “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Revelation 21:4 “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
How are we to understand the source of our pain and suffering? There are times when it comes as a result of us living for Christ, but often times our suffering arises from living in fallen creation. Fallen in terms of nature, natural order of things, but also fallen in the sense of our own sins and sins committed against us – this is more often the source of our suffering. When our suffering comes from unbiblical and untransformed ways of living, the correct response is repentance, being reconciled to another, forgiving, and praying for healing.
According to the passages above, all sin, sickness, disease is resolved in Christ, and all of our pain and suffering is resolved upon the cross. Hence, we are not to have any area of our lives where it is devoid of God’s very presence and promise. Whether it is in the present or in the eschaton, the wholeness and healing is assured in Christ. Today pray in repentance, pray for others, and pray for healing—resolving all things upon the cross. Worship with the song “Cross Changes Everything” (Click here).
Daniel 3:18 – “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Have you ever participated in the elementary school science experiment, where you trace the way shadows shift their position and length dependent upon the position of the sun? This is the imagery that James uses to describe what our God is NOT like—for He does not change like shifting shadows based upon different times and circumstances.
The “Even if” is an unconditional statement where our response to the Lord is still to be the same regardless of the outcome, for God does not change like shifting shadows.
Practically this means that even if God doesn’t heal us when we go up for prayer, we will still believe that God is able and willing to heal. It also means that we are to respond to the Lord each time with the same faith and expectation that He is able and willing to heal us. For there is no issue (sickness/illness) that we are to consider/view as being outside of Christ’s atonement and salvation. Therefore, in times of prayer we are not to vacillate, but to firmly believe that our God is the One who heals and delivers us. Today pray declaring “even if” statements before the Lord.
Daniel 3:15-17 – “But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.”
“But if” is a conditional statement. In today’s passage, King Nebuchadnezzar gives a condition for the three men to save themselves by bowing to idols. As a response, the three men make it clear that their whole-hearted devotion to the Lord was not a conditional resolution, rather it was an unconditional response to who God is. The life of faith is not a conditional response, where our faith is dependent upon how things work out for us.
I will believe if things work out for me
I will love if others are loving towards me
I will be kind if others are kind towards me
I will believe that God is good if good things happen to me
The result of having conditional faith is that it is not a growing nor a life-giving faith. Rather, it is the kind of faith that is easily shaken, easily hurt, easily bothered, and quick to quit.
Today, may our response be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—that our trust in the Lord is not a conditional response, but based upon our God who is unchanging. Today worship with the song “Indescribable” (Click here).
Daniel 3:16-18 – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
The life of faith is one that is assured of the Lord’s goodness and healing in our lives. The approach to life’s pain and difficulties is to have faith that God does heal us, and even if He doesn’t, our faith in God remains intact, being fully assured that He can and will heal.
This is the faith that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego displayed, in that they were fully assured of the Lord’s deliverance over their lives. There was no vacillation on their part, nor a surrender to defeat—though knowing the possibility of death. They were fully confident upon the Lord’s power/ability/promise of deliverance—and they fully expected such. However, in their faith, they were also clear that even if the Lord did not deliver them, that nothing would change in regards to their approach—in their firm belief and conviction of the goodness of God, and in their defiance towards the worship of idols.
Today, let’s declare that the immovable and unshakable truth that God is good and He is the God of miracles. Worship with the song “Miracles” (Click here).
Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Soak in the amazing truth that God loves you as demonstrated on the cross. No one and no thing can take away your identity in Christ because you belong to him. As children of God, we don’t have to be defined by past mistakes or wounds. Instead, let the Spirit lead you to cry out, “Abba, Father.” Take time to pray through the above passage. Declare who you are and whose you are as you worship with “Here I Bow” (Click here) by Brian and Jenn Johnson.
1 John 4:10 (NIV) – This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
“The uniqueness of Jesus Christ is foundational in Christian theology… God himself stepped into humanity in the person of Jesus, making Jesus a unique human being, uniquely qualified to pay the penalty for the fallen human race. God himself was willing to be sacrificed on the cross, to experience human life and death; such is his love for us.” [Karen Jobes, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – 1, 2, and 3 John]
God loves us and cares a lot more than we realize about the damage we’ve experienced. That’s why Jesus died. An incredible price has been paid for all our wrongs – the one and only Son’s life. It’s not an easy or cheap forgiveness, but a costly one. We can forgive and be reconciled to God and to one another, because the unique person of Jesus (God himself) paid the ultimate price for all humanity. God alone could do this and has achieved victory over brokenness, separation and death. Instead of the effects of sin and its damage, we can live freely and fully in God’s love through his atoning sacrifice.
Take time to offer your heart to the Lord, especially any hurt, anxiety, loneliness, anger, etc. caused by your past that are affecting you. Let the impact of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and God’s love free you as you worship with the song “Holy Gound” (Click here) by Passion.
1 John 4:9 (NIV) – This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
“God’s love is not contingent on the circumstances of our lives. Good things may happen; bad things may happen; but God’s constant, eternal love remains unchanged because of the cross, which stands unchangeable throughout all of human history.” [Karen Jobes, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – 1, 2, and 3 John]
Our past shapes our present and future. People wonder about God’s love because of their experiences and difficulties, even to the point that it becomes debilitating. But we have an even greater past reality. God loves us so much that he sent his one and only Son. While we may have experienced incredible pain by a broken past, “God’s constant, eternal love remains unchanged because of the cross.” The cross serves as an anchor for us whenever we feel unloved. May we see that we have an overwhelming love in Christ, who came into the world to shape our present. It’s so “that we might live through him” in a relationship with God as the Father we’ve always needed.
Today, come to the Father to receive his love, restoration, healing, and transformation for your past, present, and future as you worship with “The Father’s Song” (Click here) by Matt Redman.
1 John 4:8 (NIV) – Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
“When verse 8 says “God is love” (cf. v. 16), it is important to note what John is not saying. He is not saying that “God is loving” (though this is true). Nor is he saying that one of God’s activities is “to love” us (though this is true as well). John is saying that God is love, that “all of his activity is loving.” Love is the essence of his being. But the reverse is not the case. We cannot say, in other words, that “love is God,” as if any display of affection suddenly qualifies as divine. John is carefully defining the character of who God is and what it means to live in relation to him.” [Gary Burge, The NIV Application Commentary – The Letters of John]
Because of a painful relationship or lack of relationship in our childhood, we often question God’s love for us and are damaged in the sense that we don’t know how to be loved. This can play itself out in our lives without us realizing.
Take time to honestly offer and open your heart to God. Receive that “all of his activity is loving”, and let the Father heal those areas in your life that need his unique and powerful love. As you place your trust in God for those areas, worship to “Not Afraid” (Click here) by Jesus Culture.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV) – For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“Prayer brings together love and power: the relation of love that grows up between God and the person who prays, and the flowing of power from God to, and especially through, that person. That is what Paul’s prayer here is all about. Essentially, it is a prayer that the young Christians may discover the heart of what it means to be a Christian. It means knowing God as the all-loving, all-powerful father; it means putting down roots into that love — or, changing the picture, having that love as the rock-solid foundation for every aspect of one’s life.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters, pp. 38-39]
When’s the last time you’ve been loved like in the passage above? Knowing the all-loving, all-powerful Father means we experience a love like no other – a love that surpasses knowledge and is all together powerful in making us alive. Pray through the above passage and worship with “Pray” (Click here) by Worship Central.