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21 AUGUST 1988

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Psalm 107:17-22
Proverbs 3:7-8
Matthew 9:2
Mark 10:46-52
John 5: 14
Philippians 4:4-7

Preparation Verses: (Proverbs 3:7-8)

7. Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

8. It will be healing to your body,
And refreshment to your bones.

"Lord! What must I do to be healed?" is a cry heard from many who are sick and dying.

This cry implies that in order for us to be healed, we must first do something or make some vow that we will fulfill if we are healed.

This cry also implies that we are in some way in control of our own healing and also are the cause of our own illness.

There are times when this may be true, but it is not necessarily the case. God does not seem to have any common pattern in the method or reason for the healings that occur, or that do not occur.

But this is not saying that we are not to take steps to prevent these diseases and illnesses, as some of you have seen with me, when I stopped eating any animal products.

My lingering cough and throat irritation, and my arthritis pains ended within three weeks after I went on a pure vegetarian/vegan diet, and I feel that other things are still improving.

Was part of God's healing designed into the plant food diet He originally created for us?

I happen to believe that it is, and that not eating such a diet leads to may of our chronic diseases.

In other situations, God seems to deal with each and every one of us on a completely individual basis, and with the hope of accomplishing something that we are not able to see immediately.

Perhaps it is to bring us to repentance and then on to salvation.

Perhaps it's to turn us back to the Lord.

Perhaps it is a way of bringing glory to God.

And perhaps it's just time for us to leave this world, in which case there will be no healing.

Satan tries to use our afflictions to turn us further away from the Lord, but God's plan is to bring us closer to Him.

Let's look a little further.

In our Old Testament lesson for this morning, Psalm 107:17-22, we see that the healing was a part of the forgiveness of sin.

17. Fools, because of their rebellious ways,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.

Here we see that those who have sinned are being afflicted as a form of punishment. But it is very important that we also see the purpose of this affliction. Note the next verses:

18. Their soul abhorred all kinds of food;
And they drew near to the gates of death.

19. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;
He saved them out of their distresses.

Through the suffering, the afflicted person turned to the Lord for relief and healing. The key is that the punishment was to lead them to repentance.

And because God is loving and merciful, He heals them:

20. He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.

We must remind ourselves that affliction can come in a variety of forms.

The healings from God are not always those of the physical body.

God may heal a nation from war, or drought, or pestilence.

He may heal a person of their fears and doubts, or of a physical problem.

Then what are we to do?

21. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!

22. Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And tell of His works with joyful singing.

This should be the basis of all our worship services and of our times of prayer. For if we are joyfully and thankfully praising God, we will not be as likely to fall into the sins that bring about these afflictions.

If you are one of those people who say when things go wrong, "How can you be thankful and joyful at a time like this?" Note the answer that Paul gives us in Philippians 4:4-7, and remember that Paul wrote this epistle while he was in prison, to those who were on the outside.

4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

5. Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What a promise for the healing of anxieties and fears!

And don't forget that our anxieties and fears lead to many of our physical ailments, such as ulcers, headaches, and heart attacks.

Lest we look at our Old Testament passage and conclude that all afflictions come from our sins, note the conversation between Jesus and His disciples prior to His healing of a blind man, as recorded in John 9:1-3.

1. And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.

2. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?"

3. Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him."

While there was no sin cause in this man or his parents, his blindness and his healing by Jesus on the Sabbath testified against a nation that needed healing from their hardness of heart. It is also a message for us today for the same kind of healing.

And remember that in order to kill another living being (human or animal), particularly for food or entertainment, we must first harden our hearts so that we no longer feel empathy for that being, and his or her desire to live.

Furthermore our participation in consuming the products of suffering and death (our indifference), is also a product of a hardened heart.

And the more we harden our hearts, the more we become like the people in Israel that this passage is talking about.

The relationship that we are seeing is that sin brings about punishment, sometimes now and sometimes not until the judgment seat.

The sin may be with an individual or within an entire nation; and in the case of the latter, all within that nation may suffer.

Likewise we are seeing that the healing most often affects the spiritual as well as the physical.

By faith we will reach out to God, and it is by that faith that we are made whole, spiritually, but not always in the physical; for if that were the case, no one would ever die.

Note Jesus' statement in Matthew 9:2 which combines the spiritual and physical healing:

2. And behold, they were bringing to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "Take courage, My son, your sins are forgiven."

When we are born again and repent, our sins are forgiven.

The physical cause of this person’s paralysis is not known. However, the spiritual aspect of this illness was the sin in his life.

This does not mean that any particular sin was the cause of the paralysis, but that the paralysis brought him to a state of repentance.

In all who are born again, there was that particular day when we turned to, or back to, God and sought Him; and many times, the occurrence was triggered by some event in our lives which we believed only God could solve.

This is still a free will choice, and we can move closer to God because of these experiences, or we can continue to reject Him.

I am constantly reminded by many of the inmates I minister to, that their incarceration was the key ingredient of their turning to God and accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

But those inmates only amount to 10% of the population. And what about the remaining 90%? Their affliction has not brought them to repentance.

God's grace extends to many in the form of a healing before salvation, in the hope of turning that person to Him. But in these cases there can be a warning coupled with the healing. Note John 5:14.

14. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you."

And sometimes the conversion occurs immediately with the healing, as it did with Bartimaeus.

Let’s go back and take another look at our New Testament lesson, Mark 10:46-52, and see how this all applies to our lives as it did to Bartimaeus. It will help if we put ourselves in Bartimaeus’ position.

46. And they came to Jericho. And as He was going out from Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.

47. And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

48. And many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Every one of us had a time in our life, before we knew Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, when He passed by us just as He probably did with Bartimaeus as He came into Jericho.

But there came that one very special day when we finally recognized Him.

We were spiritually blind, but on that day our spiritual eyes were opened and we began to cry out to Him.

Bartimaeus' recognition probably occurred after Jesus had entered the city.

And when He heard that it was Jesus coming out of the city, the deep inner urgency welled up inside of him and he knew he had to come to Him.

Can you feel that same kind of panicky feeling that Bartimaeus must have felt as he heard that great throng of people coming out with Him?

''What am I going to do?''

'' I’m blind. How am I ever going to get to Him?"

"I don’t even know which one of the people is Jesus!"

"He’s not just Jesus the Nazarene. He's my Messiah. He's the Son of David."

"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"O Lord, I need You! Don't leave me behind! I need You!"

"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"O that crowd! They're making so much noise that He will never hear me. What am I going to do?"

"Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"Son of David, have mercy on me!"

49. And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage, arise! He is calling for you."

Can you feel deep down inside what Bartimaeus must have been experiencing at that moment?

50. And casting aside his cloak, he jumped up, and came to Jesus.

Bartimaeus was no longer the same person.

He knew that he would never be the same again.

He was no longer going to be a lost beggar.

So he cast aside his beggar's clothing, jumped up, and went to Jesus, knowing that he would be made new.

51. And answering him, Jesus said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And the blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!"

Jesus didn't have to ask him what he wanted. He knew that already.

He just wanted Bartimaeus to express verbally what he really wanted, so that it would reinforce his faith.

Also note that he wasn't blind from birth. Somewhere along the way, he had lost his vision; but now he was ready to regain it.

52. And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

Which way was he going to go?

Which way was Bartimaeus' way?

It was to follow Jesus!

Each of us must ask our self, "Am l truly following Jesus?"

And if we know the answer is "no" or we are not sure, then we must look carefully at our self and our life style to see if there is something that needs to be healed.

Is there something?

If the answer is "yes," then I must ask if you are prepared to pray for that healing.

God is right here in our midst. He's prepared to hear our requests and to heal our afflictions if we are willing to receive and follow Him.