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Authentic New Testament Solutions

Healing Devotions: Day 5

Healing Devotions: Day #5

Today’s Scripture: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10).

Confession: I was created by God to do good things. God has made me exactly who I am and placed me where I am to do good things that no one else can do. Today I will do what I am assigned to do to improve my life and the lives of those around me.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

God created a new nature inside of us which enables us to do good works. We are each uniquely placed in this world to do good things that no one else can do. Our lives are unique. We have unique relationships, thoughts, and opportunities.

Since we are his masterpiece, we need to value how we are created, as well as our experiences and relationships so we can accomplish the purposes he has for us. Every one of us has opportunity if we will believe what God believes about us. If, however, we believe only what others say about us, we may never accomplish the uplifting and life-giving plans God has for us. God wants to bless us so we are empowered to do his work. The following Scriptures highlight Jesus’ determination to fulfill God’s perfect will for his life.

I (Jesus) have come to do your will, O God – (Hebrews 10:7).

Jesus himself is a revelation of the will of God. He did the will of God; he healed all who came to him. You might think that your failures will prevent you from doing God’s perfect will for your life. The exact opposite is true. It’s your failures that will allow the manifestation of God’s total healing in your life which will actually equip you to fulfil God’s calling.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17).

Healing does not just apply to physical healing, but emotional, spiritual, and relational healing. Jesus provides every kind of healing that any of us might ever need. His sacrifice for us was enough to keep us effective as his instruments all of our lives. In other words, he set the example of healing in the Gospels, then he heals us in ways that enable us to heal others.

Go and announce to them (God’s people) that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received! (Matthew 10:7-8).

These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed (Mark 16: 17-18).

Are any of you sick? You Should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:14-16).

Remember, God has provided all types of healing through Christ’s redemptive work.

Yet it was our weakness he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed (Isaiah 53: 4-5).

That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases (Matthew 8:16-17).

Let’s receive all the healing God has for us, and fulfill the purposes he designed for us to fulfill.

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

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Authentic New Testament Solutions

Healing Devotions: Day 4

Today’s Scripture: This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Confession: I am a new person in Christ Jesus. I am different than I was before. I have the life of God in me, the very nature of God, and the ability of God. Darkness has no place in me. I am a child of the light.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus still heals today in order to fulfil his covenant.

No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said (Psalm 89:34).

As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one (Luke 4:40).

Healing was for all in those days, and Christ the healer has never changed.

When people don’t know God wants them well, they have a tendency to accept sicknesses and diseases.. This is why the New Testament demonstrates for us the importance of preaching healing.

Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city(Acts 8:6-8).

Peter preached Christ to the cripple (Acts 3:6), to the multitudes (Acts 5:14-16), and to Aeneas (Acts 9:34). All were healed.

While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been born that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, ‘Stand up!’ And the man jumped to his feet and started walking (Acts 14:8-10).

I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26b).

And then he (Jesus) told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned’ (Mark 16:15).

Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authoirty in heaven and on earth, Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the command I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).

The fact that God wants us well is part of the good news of the gospel. That is why we preach this throughout the world. Physical healing is part of the gospel, and healing is for all. A careful study of the Scriptures will show that God has declared that his will includes healing for his children. He has declared himself to be the healer of his people.

Many believe in devine healing, but have no personal knowledge of Jesus as the healer of our bodies. They see that others are divinely healed, but question whether God will heal them in answer to prayer or not. God need not give any special revelation of his will when he has plainly given his revealed will in the Bible.

The Scriptures are clear: God wants us well. And the evidence is clear, sometimes God heals instantly, other times he heals over time, sometimes he uses natural law, and other times he works through the care of a doctor or nurse. All of these methods reveal that God wants us well, even while we are here on the Earth. We in the West tend to rely more on medical science than on divine healing, yet regardless of the delivery mechanism for healing, the fact is, God wants us well. Thus we have a responsibility to take care of our emotions, minds, and bodies, and to care for others,  praying and serving, so others can be better off as well.

He (God) said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptiuans; for I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26).

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

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Authentic New Testament Solutions

Healing Devotions: Day 3

Today’s Scripture: Yes, I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches . . . if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted (John 15:5a, 7)!

Confession: I have been born-again and am being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches me God’s Word, and God’s Word teaches me about the Holy Spirit. We abide together. My life is empowered by Christ, and is directed by God’s Word. As a result, as my life is in harmony with God, I pray God’s will. And when I pray God’s will, my prayers are always answered.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Healing Scriptures

Uncertainty Corrected

We need not pray “if it be your will” when praying for the sick, because the Bible makes it clear that God wants us well. Mark 1:41 records Jesus setting the record straight, it was his will to heal, which is why Christians world-wide devote themselves to people being well, whether through nutrition, exercise, supernatual intervention, medical science, or simply loving care. Everyone who effectively works for us to be as healthy as possible is aligned with God’s overall purpose.

. . . Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed’ (Mark 1:41b)!

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (2 Peter 3:9).

Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven (James 5:14-15).

Numbers 20 tells us about the children of Israel becoming impatient. They began to complain against their leaders. As a result, poisonous snakes began biting people, killing them. After asking God for help, God instructed Moses to make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. Everyone who was bitten could simply look at the replica of the snake on the pole lived. The Bible says in vs. 9,

So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed.

The bronze snake on the pole is a type of Christ. When we have poison in our lives, we can repent and look to Christ and be healed.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

. . . and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them (Matthew 12:15b).

They begged him to let the sick touch at lease the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed (Matthew 14:36).

Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone (Luke 6:19).

That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick (Matthew 8:16-17).

Christ is still healing the sick, in order to fulfill the prophet’s words from Isaiah 53:4-5 and referred to by Jesus in Matthew 8:16-17. When these verses use “our” or “we,” it includes YOU!

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed (Isaiah 53:4-5).

That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, ‘He took our sickness and removed our diseases’ (Matthew 8:16-17).

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

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Authentic New Testament Solutions

Healing Devotions: Day 2

Today’s Scripture: For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:28).

Confession: In him I live . . . and move . . . and exist in power. In him I live a rich and satisfying life! I am his child. I am God’s property. I am his representative. What a vast storehouse of power he placed in me! In Christ my Savior and Lord I have life . . . energy . . . healing . . . and strength for impossible tasks!

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

COVID-19: In the world today, disease and sickness are claiming a terrible toll on human lives. In spite of the fact that medical science is demonstrating its greatest achievements, disease persists to ravage human lives all over the world.

The tragedy is that these sicknesses and diseases affect the bodies of thousands of people, while too many stand by with little more than words of sympanthy and pity, assuring the sufferer that it must be God’s will; that it will work out for the best; that God is teaching us some lessson in humity; that possibly it is God’s chastisement; or that by it, we are being drawn closer to him who often works his will in our lives through sickness. These are lies.

We Christians do not have to be sick, any more than we need to be sinful. It is always God’s desire to heal us, which is why we stand with our doctors, nurses, and anyone else who is fighting sickness and disease. God wants us well, and he uses a variety of tools to help us be better off. In Heaven, there is no sickness or disease, so when we pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven, we could use my paraphrase, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in our earthen vessels as it is in Heaven.
Scriptures on Healing

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant (Hebrews 9:14-15).

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins – and not only our sins but the sins fo all the world (1 John 1-2).

Note: There is no better way to know the will of God than by reading the gospels, which record the teachings and the works of Christ. Jesus was the physical expression of the Father’s will. His life was both a revelation and a manifestation of the unchanging love and will of God. He acted out the will of God for all of us to see.

Then I (Jesus) said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God – as is written about me in the Scriptures (Hebrews 10:7).

For I (Jesus) have come down from Heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will (John 6:38).

Note: After a three year study by a commission appointed by the Episcopalian Church, they reported:

“The healing of Jesus was done as a revelation of God’s will for humanity. . . No longer can the church pray for the sick with that faith-destroying phrase, If it be your will.”

Only one place in the Bible was Jesus ever asked if it was his will to heal. In Mark 1:40-41 the Bible says,

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. ‘If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,’ he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said, ‘Be healed!

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

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Authentic New Testament Solutions

Healing Devotions: Day 1

Today’s Scripture: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

Confession: I believe in my heart Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe he was raised from the dead for my justification. I confess him as my Lord and Savior. Jesus is my Lord. He is dominating my life. He is guiding me. He is leading me.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Scriptures on Healing:

He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death (Psalm 107:20).

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believers – the Jew first and also the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body (Proverbs 4: 20-22).

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs (Matthew 5:3).

You must serve only the Lord your God. If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness. There will be no miscarriages or infertility in your land, and I will give you long, full lives (Exodus 23:25-26).

If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptiuans; for I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26).

. . . it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7).

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through (Numbers 23:19)?

Praise the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses (1 Kings 8:56).

Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven (Psalm 119:89).

I (God) will certainly carry out all my plans (Jeremiah 1:12b).

I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26b).

When God brought his people out of Egypt, there were approximately 3,000,000 of them. None of them were weak because of God’s Word being strong among them. Note the two Scriptures below and let them strengthen your confidence in God:

That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth. There were about 600,000 men plus all the women and children (Exodus 12:37).

The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold; and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled (Psalm 105:37).

. . . I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism (Acts 10:34).

So if God has done it for anyone, he’s willing to do it for you!

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

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Q and A

COVID-19: Where is God?

This morning I received a tweet from Christopher Henrikse@FirstChesthole asking me:

Where is your god? Look around at what is happening right now. If he was who you say he is he would end this right now. Why is he letting you all die? Why is he keeping you out of work? Why is he making your kids miss school and be afraid of what is going on?

Here is my answer:

God is the Creator of the whole universe, and he is everywhere. He is sovereign, and he has chosen to limit the expression of his sovereignty here on Earth so we human beings would have a variety of choices to make.

In Heaven, which is a kingdom under his sovereign rule, there is no suffering, no death, no betrayal, no disappointment, hurt, or so many of the things that cause pain and suffering among us. In his Kingdom, which we refer to as the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God, his goodness and kindness are absolute. But not here on Earth. Here, we only experience slices of God’s Kingdom (which are meant to reveal God to us), and when we do, it’s always good. Let me explain.

On Earth we are surrounded with evidence of God. Yet here on Earth, God has also granted us other influences which include human volition, natural law, the ability to create both good and bad ideas that influence our lives and behaviors, and negative spiritual influences which, according to the Scriptures, are the Devil and his demons.

In Heaven, only God’s perfect will exists. But here on the Earth, we also have these other influences and how we respond to them largely shapes our world and our lives. As a result, many of the things that happen here on the Earth do not reflect God’s perfect will, but instead are influenced by other factors.

This is why Jesus taught us to pray:

Let thy Kingdom come, let thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

There are a few situations here on the Earth where God has set in motion certain events that cannot be adjusted by us. An example would be the way God used Pharaoh with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. When we teach these Scriptures, we emphasize God’s sovereignty which may confuse people like Christopher, who asked the questions above, because they think God personally controls and causes everything that happens on the Earth. That’s not so.

Our choices are important, which explains the Bible’s thickness and why Jesus came to rescue us and sent the Holy Spirit to live within us to teach us and to guide us.  The stories, principles, commands, and ideas in the Scriptures help inform our ideas and adjust our decisions, while revealing our role in creation. That is why billions of people believe the Bible is God’s Word. The Bible reveals so much to us, and instructs us to become the people God created us to be, which will ultimately reflect him in all his wisdom and goodness. That’s why Christians give, serve, heal, love, and restore.

Here on the Earth, as I mentioned, we have natural law—which has led to the development of Covid-19. It’s not spiritual; it’s a product of natural law. The purpose of Science is to learn how God created our world and how to work with it so we’ll be better off. God has given us our intellects to enable us to do this. Thus, we appreciate medical science and the other schools of thought that use natural law to keep us safer when traveling, give us better diets, and help us live quality lives.

 Once in a while God will, however, override natural law, and when he does, we call it a miracle. When miracles happen they are always for our good and to serve his purposes. In other words, he let’s us experience a slice of heaven.

So let me specifically answer your questions:

Question: Where is your god?

Answer: All around us inspiring us with good ideas in order to help the human race, while using the intellects he has given to us.

Question: Look around at what is happening right now. If he was who you say he is he would end this right now. Why is he letting you all die?

Answer: This portion of your question reveals that you don’t know what I teach about this. I don’t believe Earth is Heaven, and I don’t believe that everything happening here on Earth is God’s will. God says that he causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose for them (see Romans 8:28). So we know that for those who love God and are called according to his purposes, the hand of God is involved and good will come out of it. Not necessarily so for those who don’t love God or who have rejected his calling. Those who have made those poor decisions might, in fact, be on their own.

But for our general population, God might just let these events unfold according to natural law, knowing it gives all of us an opportunity to learn more about his creation, how to be kind to one another, how to give to one another, and how to take care of one another. More importantly these events are forcing us to work together using tools God has given us to solve this problem. God is in the mind of the scientists giving them ideas. God is in the hand of the nurse giving comfort, and God has provided eternal life for all who believe who die (whether because of this virus or for any other reason). God is with us. He’s in the farmers, truck drivers, and the grocery store workers providing food. He works through the utility company providing water, and the mechanic making sure we can travel. God is with us.

 Question: Why is he keeping you out of work?

Answer: That answer is different for different people. As for me, I am not at the office so I can be with my family, rest, and write the answers to your questions.

Question: Why is he making your kids miss school and be afraid of what is going on?

Answer: They won’t be afraid if their parents use this opportunity to help them understand the realities of life on Earth. Many will seek the Lord and find him during this time, like you are doing. Others will have their parents teach them at home, which will create a wonderful life-long memory. And my guess is that many are cooking, playing, and reading together for the first time in a long time. Whether being home is good or bad is up to them. But in the midst of this trial, God is giving all of us a wonderful opportunity.

One final note: Prayer stimulates the Holy Spirit’s activity, and the Holy Spirit gives people good ideas that make our lives better. I would encourage all of you who believe and are reading this blog to pray for those in authority over us. It benefits all of us to have the Holy Spirit working more powerfully as we pray for his Kingdom to come, his will to be done, here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

I hope this answers your questions. Thank you for writing.

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

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Authentic New Testament Solutions

Thanksgiving

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.

This is what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi in Philippians 3:1 as he was preparing to explain the value of our relationship with Christ. I particularly like his exhortation because he says we can rejoice in the Lord in the midst of whatever happens! 

In Romans 8:28, Paul wrote,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day regardless of their faith. But Christians can be especially thankful because we are assured that because we are in Christ, all things do, in fact, work together for our good.

We often hear about the blessings that are available to us in Christ. But on this Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to remind you that there are natural benefits available to everyone who is thankful.

Secular articles I’ve recently read have pointed to the fact that being thankful can:

  • make us more patient and better able to make sensible decisions
  • improve the number and quality of our relationships
  • enhance our feelings of empathy toward others
  • reduce our aggression
  • improve our ability to sleep
  • improve our confidence and self-esteem
  • boost our immune systems
  • lower our stress levels
  • lower the intensity of emotional and physical pain
  • increasing our happiness
  • improve our circulatory systems
  • help our autonomic nervous system function well

We are all made in the image and likeness of God. So all of us, regardless of our faith, can receive great benefits by embracing the core purpose of this Thanksgiving Day — being thankful.

I am grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Answers from the Pastor's Pen

Is Healing for Everyone?

A lady came into my office who was suffering from chronic sickness. She asked me if God’s healing is for everyone. I assured her it is. We had a good discussion about spiritual warfare, the differences between Heaven (where God’s perfect will is fully demonstrated) and Earth (where various influences impact our lives). In that discussion, though, I told her that understanding that God is for her is fundamental to our faith. After she left, I thought a glimpse into our discussion might be meaningful to you in the form of a blog. So here is what I told her.

  1. Read the Will

If we want to know what is in a person’s will, we read their will. If we want to know God’s will on any subject, we read his will. The Bible contains God’s will in which he bequeaths to us all of his blessings of redemption.

But unless we ensure that a will is carried out, other influences might prevent it’s fulfillment. I see that happen to people every day. God has provided great benefits for them, but they either don’t know about them, or don’t know how to obtain them, and are therefore missing out on the benefits that God intended for them.

So the first thing we all need to do is read the Bible, God’s will, and grow in an understanding of God’s will.

I told the woman in my office that I have read the Bible, for myself, and regularly attended church all of my adult life. Then I described for her our one-hour, discussion format Bible study that meets every Wednesday night. I emphasized that I always learn from these studies, and so do the others who attend. I told her that this one-hour investment in learning the Bible each week would give her rich dividends. She agreed to start attending.

  1. Determine what God’s will is for YOU!

Once we know God’s will as revealed in the Bible, we have to determine what portions of it apply to us. The Bible describes several instances where Jesus healed everyone present, but we must determine if these accounts revealed his will for those particular situations, or if they are a revelation of God’s will for us.

Hebrews 10:7, Jesus is quoted as saying, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God— as is written about me in the Scriptures.’

And John 6:38 quotes Jesus saying, “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.”

Jesus demonstrated that God’s will for us is clear.

Matthew 12:15 says, . . . many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them,

Matthew 14:36 says, They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.

Luke 6:19 says, Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.

And, Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Mark 1 gives us an account of a leper coming to Jesus for healing wondering if it was his will to heal him. Mark 1:40-42 says,

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

Here we see God’s will at work. And this healing didn’t stop happening when Jesus ascended to the Father. The Book of Acts gives us numerous examples of people being healed in the church. And James states in James 5:14-15,

Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well . . .

God’s will is healing. Earth’s reality is sickness and disease.

In Heaven, everyone is well. And since we have become God’s people, no longer of this Earth, our prayer is,

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Jesus never made people sick or diseased. Instead, he healed them. Now, as a reflection of God’s character and will, the church also heals people. We as a church hate what sickness and disease do to people, and we delight is seeing people well.

Just as God is against people having to pay the price for their own sins, so God is against disease and sickness being part of our lives. When it comes to the benefits of God’s will, they are available to us in a variety of ways. God wants us well, and he uses a variety of methods and channels to help us get well.

He is still “willing” to heal as he was with the man with leprosy and the multitudes who followed him. 

  1. Pursue what God has for you, and resist everything else.

Matthew 8:16-17 says, That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said,

“He took our sicknesses
and removed our diseases.”

That was God’s will then, and it continues to be his will today.

God is against sickness and disease, and we are too. God is for all of us being as healthy and strong as possible, and we are too. As a result, Christians have done more to fight disease than any other single group in the world. We resist sickness, disease, emotional suffering as well as spiritual darkness everywhere we have influence. We build hospitals and provide health care all over the world with an emphasis on resisting every kind of ailment. We encourage research and promote innovative techniques that prevent disease, heal, and improve nutrition. And, of course, we pray for the sick, believing God’s will is that they be healed. Certainly we know from our Christian experience that not all are healed this side of heaven today. Nonetheless, we know it is God’s will that all would be healed, so we keep praying and doing all we can to encourage healing as we represent him on the earth.

 

 

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

Categories
Responsible Citizens

People Crumbling Internally

I think too many people are emotionally weak. Of course, I was raised on a farm with three older brothers, so I don’t recall anyone getting away with the type of whining that makes news today.

In the past we were kept somewhat sober because disease, famine, and war highlighted our vulnerabilities. They were brutal reminders that we were not in control. However, ours is the first generation in which more of us will die from eating too much than from eating too little; from old age rather than from infectious diseases; or from suicide rather than from soldiers, terrorists, and criminals combined. My friends and I are far more likely to die from binging at McDonald’s than from drought, Ebola, or an al-Qaeda attack. We’re the first generation in which starvation, epidemics, and violence continue to be serious, but are, in fact, manageable. In response, it seems as though we are replacing our external fears with internal conflicts, which makes us increasingly appear like babies.

We’re getting soft.

Last Christmas I remember a news story about an over-weight elementary-age boy whose mom brought him to see Santa. He asked Santa for an I-Pad and a Play station, both of which produce sedentary activities that would keep him in the house, looking at screens, and probably eating snacks. Santa teasingly responded that he would give the boy his request if he would lay off the hamburgers. The story went on to report that the kid cried all afternoon and even cried himself to sleep that night. Apparently Santa wounded him. In response, the boy’s Mom demanded Santa apologize (which he did) and that he be fired. He was fired and had a stress based heart attack the next day because of threats directed at him and his family. Certainly there are multiple causes for obesity and I don’t know the boy’s reasons, but what I do know is that now her son’s emotional sensitivity was empowered.

I’ve noticed the church also having to deal with a heightened emotional sensitivity among worshippers. When I was growing up, we went to church because we were Christians . . . period. We did not go for entertainment, soothing, or therapy. As I think about attending First Presbyterian Church in our small farming community, I don’t think anyone cared how we felt about it. We needed to know the facts to live well, so we learned the Scriptures, worshipped, served, and returned the next week to worship again. I never remember my parents discussing whether or not we would go to church, or even whether or not they liked the church. Their view was that the church provided an important and firm foundation for our lives. It was based on the truths of the Scriptures and timeworn logic and wisdom. It was fundamental because the alternatives were not acceptable. It was reasonable and had a core of conviction about it and was not subject to our whims or approval . . . and certainly not our feelings.

But today it seems as though we have replaced the Scriptures and logic with emotional sensitivity and personal exaltation. I don’t know if this comes from television, humanism, social media, or all of us feeling entitled because we’ve been raised with benefits earned by others, but we sure seem spoiled.

During that season, even Saturday Night Live mocked the hyper-sensitive. Their Christmas skit, “Wells for Boys,” was a spoof advertisement of “toys for sensitive boys,” so sensitive little boys can “live a more examined life.” These toys included a wishing well for little boys to sit beside and contemplate, a broken mirror to remind our boys of “the complex contradictions of their being,” and a plastic balcony so they can express themselves. The SNL skit mocks the overly sensitive way we’re creating weak children.

I don’t typically watch Saturday Night Live, so for me, the tipping point was the emotional response to Clinton losing the presidential election. I have to admit, Trump’s victory caught me by surprise. I knew Clinton had the experience, money, and machinery that would be difficult to overcome. As a Republican, I fully expected that Clinton would win the presidency, Democrats would retake the Senate, and the Supreme Court would move left.

But the actual results were very different. It turned out that Trump won the White House, the Republicans kept the House and the Senate, and the conservatives will have opportunity to fill one seat, maybe two, in the Supreme Court.

When Democrats started blaming their losses on others, protesting in the streets, burning police cars, and damaging private property, I questioned what they expected to accomplish and if they were emotionally healthy. If these responses were, in fact, intentional, then the protesters looked like leftists in third-world countries overthrowing democratic processes because they could not understand another point of view – believing everyone else must be ill informed or misled. Or, if they were upset and reacting emotionally and spontaneously, then they were just throwing a fit because they didn’t get their way and wanted everyone to know they were angry.

Either way, we need more adults in the room.

They say the diversity we have always had in America has morphed into bitter divisions. Perhaps this idea is due in part to political parties, scholars, and the press who have grouped us by our age, our race, our gender, our faith, our education, our professions, our sexuality, etc., in order to highlight and contrast the severity of our differences. No doubt, it makes their presentations more interesting. When there is tension, more people pay attention than when there is peace. As a result, those institutions, which rely on followers, students, and ratings, have no incentive to help America be a melting pot where we all can benefit from and enjoy one another’s strengths in an atmosphere of respect. Oh, they do give it lip service, but with every newscast and opportunity in our classrooms, pundits and lecturers irritate their audiences by pitting groups against one another. They encourage us to feel like emotionally damaged victims and, in effect, be selfish children willing to defame Santa because he doesn’t give us what we want and make us feel good.

I suggest that instead of simple emotional reactions, maybe we ought to think and let wisdom dominate our emotions. We have a choice. We can crumble internally, yell, scream, block traffic, hurt people, burn police cars, and bust out the windows of our businesses to show the world we did not get what we wanted. Or we can grow up, toughen up, and respond constructively to life’s circumstances. When we are emotionally strong, we can build peaceful communities, solid churches, and a great country. I think we should opt for the latter. Our survival in a brutal world may depend on it.

Categories
21st Century Evangelicalism

The Honor of Pastoral Service

Julie’s despair was mounting as her two pre-adolescent boys were becoming increasingly demanding, her husband was working out-of-state, and the strains on her time seemed beyond her ability to perform. She had worked at a local para-church ministry for years and was a committed Christian with supportive friends, but a dark cloud of hopelessness was growing in Julie’s mind.

While at work Julie increasingly spoke with her coworkers about the relief being in Heaven would provide. One day she told a woman who worked closely with her that she had decided to take her own life. The woman reminded Julie that she loved her two sons and would never want to be without them. Julie’s response alarmed the woman. She said she planned to take them with her.

As Julie walked to her car at the end of the day, her co-worker called the police and reported to them that Julie was suicidal and threatening the lives of her children. When Julie arrived home, the police were there and, as required by protocol at the time, took Julie to our local hospital for a psychological evaluation.

Oddly, the hospital cleared Julie within a few minutes. Later that evening while the children lie sleeping, she shot both of them to death and then took her own life.

Within a week three coffins—one large and two small—were stationed in the sanctuary of our church. I performed the funeral as Julie’s husband, the father of their children, sat shocked on the front row. After the burial, he sold the house and left town.

A few weeks later one of my friends in the police department told me that he was at Julie’s house that day and had taken her to the hospital. He said typically they place people on a 72 hour hold for evaluation, but in this case they didn’t. He did not know why.

Another friend, who worked in admitting at the emergency room at the hospital, told me that when they brought Julie into the hospital, a friend of Julie’s happened to be overseeing the psychological evaluations that evening. She reported overhearing Julie and this women talking and laughing together in a hallway around a corner. Afterwards, the woman in charge filled out the paperwork reporting that Julie was fine and released her to go home . . . resulting in the deaths of the two children and Julie’s suicide.

I did not blame the hospital, but I thought they should be informed of the situation and consider improving their systems to ensure this didn’t happen again. Yet when I contacted the hospital administration, they received my concern as a threat and issued a public statement that all legal requirements were met. Later our local news reported that I had accused and blamed the hospital for the tragic event. The public perception was that I was grandstanding.

I backed off because I knew the hospital was concerned about liability—which was not my intent in contacting them. I also wanted to protect the confidences of the people who shared privately with me, and to avoid feeding the press a sensational and grizzly public confrontation between a pastor and our local hospital. I was simply seeking an improved system at our hospital, knowing that another Julie would one day arrive at their door.

That was over 10 years ago and I still carry it. Since I did not respond, the story died in the press, leaving the appearance to the public that I had baselessly accused our hospital. Julie and her children were buried in our local cemetery, and the hospital quietly improved its systems a few months later. I called Julie’s husband from time after that to see how he was doing. He just wanted to leave the pain of the past behind and build a new life. The families that left the church because they believed the press account—I’ve not heard from since. But I, as a pastor, feel gratified that our systems were quietly improved after the glare of the press was lifted, and to my knowledge, there have been no cases like Julie’s since.

This is the honor of pastoral service. There are typically facts behind pastoral decisions that cannot be publicly known, but the goal is to improve the lives of others, apart from grandstanding or glory. It’s an honor to serve; it’s the way of Christ.