A Hospital for the Broken, Part 2: The Physician

“29 Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee and climbed a hill and sat down. 30 A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all. 31 The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn’t been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking, and the blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel.”

-Matthew 15:29-31

 

The second installment in this series looks at the other side of the coin. Yes, we are a broken down, miserable people. But there is hope. There is one who comes to heal and to give life, and life to the fullest. That One is Jesus Christ. You see, Jesus’ love for us is absolutely unconditional-not just because He has infinite love, but because He IS love.  Look at Romans 5:7-9.
“7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”.

Isn’t that remarkable? We aren’t always willing to die for just ANYONE. It takes a very good person, a noble cause, something HUGE for us to die for. I say this as a general statement-there are people, like in our military, who are willing to die for others every day. To them, I say thank you-you do something not many people will do. But just as they sacrifice everything for us, Jesus came to do something even greater-He gave Himself for the sins and the mess ups of the ENTIRE WORLD. Over the ENTIRE HUMAN EXISTENCE.

Not only that-He did it even while we were rejecting Him. That’s ultimate love right there.

 

So, establishing that Jesus is a man who came to bring hope and healing and truth to a dying world, this passage shows us three specific ways He does this. He gives us words to speak, gives us strength in our bodies, and lastly-and most importantly-opens our eyes.

1. He gives the dumb speech.
The tongue is an inherantly evil thing. It’s talked about in James chapter 3-it’s a wild thing that spouts out the evil of the heart. In the world today, there are so many things that are said that are evil. We have the basic cursing, the vulgarity, the sexual lasciviousness, the profanity, the lustful statements. We have the hatred and the put downs, the harassment of those different than us. Words brought us segregation, and words allowed us to separate ourselves into classes and into different groups. Words gave us the ability to rank higher or lower, based on different criteria. We also have other issues like pride. We speak and boast, we push others down for our own glory. We twist and mangle things to get our own way. The evil use of words has been going on since the beginning, when the serpent asked Eve if God had reeealllly said that? The twisting and manipulating of words, and the overabundant abuse is prevalent and it brings us down. But what does God say? Philippians 4:8 says that “8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (niv). David constantly talks about meditating on the Word of the Lord, and delighting in it. Why? Because it’s out of the heart that the mouth speaks. If we center ourselves on Christ, and on His Word and His teachings and on Him, our hearts will conform to His image and it will begin to change the things we say. 2 Corinthians 10:5 proclaims that “5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”. The entire world argues against God. When we slip into habits of swearing, hatred, making fun of people, lustful words, we are agreeing with the world that these things are good. They aren’t. Christ, who created you and knows you, can bring you to a place of focus upon Him. It’s His words we should speak, it’s a Christ attitude that should reside in our hearts and flow from our lips.  I call us “dumb” because, though we speak a lot as humanity, the words we say may as well be nothing, due to content. If what we say is a reflection of who we are, then either I speak Christ or nothing at all. Let Christ heal our dumbness and teach us how to speak.

2. He heals the crippled and gives us strength to walk

Although I do believe in literal physical healing, that’s not what the issue is here. There are times in our lives where we just feel unable to move. We are weak. Parts of our livelyhood have been destroyed; completely taken out from under us. We feel like we’ve lost our footing, or like there’s no way we can carry on. I know personally about this. Over 2 months ago, on June 21st, my mother and her boyfriend committed suicide. I was not expecting this, nor was I prepared. I still have to learn how to grieve. I don’t understand it. I felt like I just couldn’t handle any more stress.
Sometimes this is the point we need to get at to realize that there is no better place to be than in the arms of Jesus.  The time honored verse of Matthew 11:28-30 says this:
“28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”.
Jesus gives us an invitation to take His burdens, to take His yoke. The Bible recounts so many stories of people being healed by their faith. We, too, can be healed by OUR faith in Jesus. Life is hard, and many bad things happen, seemingly for no reason. Jesus can heal our crippled hearts. He can raise us up when it feels like we have no strength left.

“…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:7b-9

Here Paul is talking about boasting. To keep from being proud he was humbled by a thorn in His side, something that tormented him and caused Him pain. What Paul realized was that God’s strength shows greatest when we are weak, because the Lord is the ONLY one who can fully heal us when we are at our lowest point.  He gives us strength when strength is gone, He is hope to the hopeless, and is the only reason I am here today. Praise be to God for healing our crippled hearts.

3. He gives sight to the blind

This is an entire blog within itself, so I will try to be brief. I have a short illustration for you, given to me by my pastor, Bryan Roe.
There are three blind men who walk into a room . In the center of this room is an elephant. This much they know, and they are asked to describe it.
One man walks up and grabs the tail, tugs on it, gets hit with it. He exclaims, “This elephant is like a paintbrush!”
Another man, who has grabbed the trunk (and was then taken for a ride into the air) said “No no no, this elephant is a hose, for sure!”
The third man had tried to wrap his arms around a foot of the elephant and said, “No, surely this elephant is like a redwood tree!”
The three men continued to argue their point, until a fourth man entered. He took each of the three men and showed them that the elephant, indeed, was like all of those things. He gave them the big picture.

We are spiritually blind. We, as humanity, have hints and clues all around us. Romans 1:18 says that “20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”. We have no excuse! Even creation cries out and proclaims His name. But, we being who we are, we have taken pieces of it and tried to formulate our own opinions and thoughts and religions and worldviews on who we are, and why we are here. We have no guide. Some cultures see a paintbrush, yet others a tree, yet even others a hose. Jesus Christ is the guide. He came down to reveal the big picture to all who would let Him. In order for Him to guide, though, we have to accept that He will be the one leading us the rest of our lives. God’s depth and breadth and height is far too much for anyone to fathom-so who better to tell us and teach us about God than God Himself? Jesus said that if anyone had seen Him, they had also seen the Father. Jesus is the ONLY WAY anyone can know the real truth about the big questions in life-who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why do bad things happen? Without Christ, there will never be even a remotely close explanation. People have parts of it, but without Christ NOTHING we do can be whole. We will be blind until we cry out to Jesus to make us see. John 14:6 says “6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”. Jesus is the way we are supposed to follow, the truth we search to find, and the life we need to live. Without Him, nothing exists. With Him, all things are possible.

In conclusion, The Lord our God is our physician. Whether we need a physical healing or one that is emotional, spiritual, mental, He can do it all. There are reasons for everything-and the healing may not come in form we expect. Sometimes things won’t get better. But with the guidance and discipline of Christ, it’s revealed that sometimes WE need to get better. Circumstances may or may not change, but how we react to them can. Jesus shows us how to react. Let us take all our thoughts captive unto Him, allow Him to take our burdens, and let Him open our eyes to the Truth. All praise and glory and honor be to the one who heals. Amen.

God bless,

Michael Wright, Jr.

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The Right Way to Fight

I want to apologize for being gone for so long! I have just entered college at Cardinal Stritch University and have been busy with those preparations and this transition. But I am back now, so hello. Let’s begin.

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
    but favors the humble.”

7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”
James 4:1-10

There is an inherent battle that we all face each day-the battle against sin. We know (or should know) the cost of this battle: The wages of sin is death, but living for Christ brings eternal life. Our very eternal existence is on the line here.
So here’s the scenario. As Christians, we accept the fact that we  were sinners. The above Scripture sums it up. We want to do right, but do the wrong things. We know that we do wrong things, but do them anyways and call them right. Even though we are now saved by the blood of Christ, we sin, we mess up, every day. Yet we serve a God who calls us to be perfect and holy. This seems to be a insurmountable paradox. How do we combat?

There are two ways to go about doing this.

You can either a) run AWAY from the sin.
Or you can b) run TO Christ.

So the first option is to run from the sin. This may seem like a good idea, right? If something is messing you up, get away from it. Logic.
Here’s why that’s bad logic. 1 Peter 5:8 says that we should “8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”. Satan is ALWAYS on the move; always watching for an opportunity to bring a person to stumble. This is so evident in my own life. I have some very specific things I struggle with, and it seems that every time I am doing well, there’s a temptation waiting around the corner for me to possibly stumble upon. This leads to the conclusion that I have found to be very true. If we focus on running FROM sin, then where is our focus? What are we trying to avoid, and therefore thinking about and dwelling on?
The sin.
In trying to avoid our sins and pitfalls and temptations, we open up the door to the very thing we wish to flee from. Because when we focus on running away, we are still dwelling on the sin and the temptation. And because it’s in our mind, it still has a place to reside in our hearts. In Matthew 12:34, it says this.
“You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”. 
The things that reside in our heart determine what we say-and also what we do, how we live. If we live running from sin, where does our heart reside? Enveloped in the sin.

The second option makes much more sense. Instead of running FROM the sin, why don’t we run to the sinless one? Here are a few verses to address this option.

Hebrews 12:1-2
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith”

Colossians 3:1-3
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. ” (also the next verses are amazing as well)

Philippians 4:8
“8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

The Word of God is very clear. If you want to fight sin, then the answer doesn’t lie in any SELF-help books or any INWARD reflection. No “what can I do?” attitude can reside. Rather, we need to mold ourselves to look like Christ. Instead, we need to put down our selfish desires and instead focus on the Perfect One, the Sinless One, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (NKJV). We are a new creation! There is no reason to sin, because the one who defeated death resides in us!!! And if we DO sin, we have no reason to beat ourselves up over it. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a humble and repentant spirit. But we don’t have to let the guilt weigh us down. We can move on, knowing that as long as we are in pursuit of Christ, we are okay.

In conclusion,
Where we see trial, Jesus sees triumph.
Where we see a valley, Jesus sees a victory.
Where we say,”I am defeated” Jesus says, “Death is defeated”.
Where we think we can’t go any lower-Jesus takes us and lifts us higher.
Where we can’t see things getting worse, Jesus knows we are right where we should be.
Just because we sin doesn’t mean we aren’t still the beloved bride of Christ. But our plan of attack shouldn’t be to look back over our shoulders at the sins and the temptations of our past. That allows them to hang around. Rather, we need to look forward and run into the arms of our Father, who will continually douse us in more and more of Him-pressed down, shaken, and running over. He wants to give us life to the absolute fullest!! Let’s live-no longer in fear of sin creeping up on us, but rather in the victory we can claim in Christ. He is the pursuit, the aim, the calling, the reason we exist, the first the last and only reason I wake up in the morning. With Christ as the center of your life, you’ll find yourself sinning less and less. You won’t be phased by temptation at all. Like the old hymn says,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

God bless,

Michael Wright