2 Chronicles 7:13-15
If we accept God's grace, the Lord will heal us, that is, if we accept the whole of His grace, and not just bits and pieces, so that we become the peacemaking children of God.
God loves each and every one of us very much, and He desires the best for us.
However, as we look around this community, and beyond, we see an apparently different picture; there is an unbelievable amount of pain and suffering.
Why is this happening, if God loves us so much?
It's happening because we are not accepting God's grace and healing power.
Listen to what the Lord told Solomon at the dedication of the Temple, for it begins to answer our question (2 Chronicles 7:13-15).
13 "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to
the prayers offered in this place.
If we open our eyes and hearts to understand such things, we easily discern that most of the plagues and disasters we are experiencing are caused by mankind.
If we take the single example of animal factory farming, we can come a little closer to understanding our problem.
To create more grazing lands we have burned our rain forests causing the fragile land to erode and cause mud slides, and eventually end up as deserts.
Because of the way we pump antibiotics into these animals, we have created strains of bacteria that are immune to the standard drugs that used to heal us.
And because of the enormous amount of manure, we have polluted our streams and rivers and seas, and brought some very serious diseases with it.
If we care to accept it, we have made animal agriculture a type of idol before God.
Because of the desire for money, we are unconcerned with the damage we are causing to God's good earth.
And because of our desire for more and more flesh to eat, we support our own destruction.
We pray to God for help, yet because we have not turned away from these idols, our land and bodies remain unhealed.
Almost all of our chronic diseases are caused by our diet and lifestyle, and the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, concur.
We want God to heal us, but we do not want to change our ways of life.
Let's look at three more examples that are closer to home:
Here in Hudson there is a mega cement plant being proposed, and across the Hudson River in Athens there is a proposal to build the largest turbine electrical generating plant in the country.
We need to ask ourselves, are the proposers of these plants concerned with protecting and healing God's creation, which includes the health and well-being of all His creatures, human and non-human?
Or, on the other hand are they primarily concerned with making as much money as they can with the least amount of expense?
Also across the River in Catskill, there is a proposal to build a large gambling casino.
Is such an establishment to improve the moral character of the people, or is it going to undermine the ways in which God desires us to live?
If we see these facilities as being a form of the idol worship of money, and against the good creation of God and His ways for us to live, then we are being called upon to help heal the land by standing against these things.
Isaiah prophesied to us (53:5) of the healing work of Jesus.
5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was
crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon
him, and by His wounds we are healed.
If we don't accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior...
If we don't turn away from our wicked ways, and crucify ourselves with Christ, and accept His forgiveness, and desire to sin no more, then how can we be healed either spiritually or physically?
Our peace and healing is in our unity with Jesus Christ and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
But the people in the world around us are still doing evil things, and so our healing is still being hindered.
We need to separate ourselves from the ways of the world, and begin to stand up for the things of God, that the world around us will see the difference.
This is the way that healing begins.
Let's look at an example of this when Jesus healed in the synagogue (Mark 3:1-6)
1 Another time He went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.
2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath.
3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."
4 Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with
the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
The Pharisees and the other synagogue leaders were not interested in the things of God, they were interested in their own positions of authority.
They used the Sabbath as an excuse, for they knew that Jesus could heal, and would heal, and if He did heal, then they feared that their own positions would be diminished.
They were not following the ways of God; they were following the ways of mankind.
And if this man with the withered hand had not separated himself from the ways of the ungodly people around him by standing up and stretching out his arm, he most likely would not have been healed.
We need to follow God and not the ways of man.
If I say something that is counter to Biblical teaching, then challenge me, and correct my ways.
That is what this man did.
He corrected, or stood up against the ways of the Pharisees.
He accepted the Lord's healing on the Sabbath, even though the synagogue leaders said to do otherwise.
The Sabbath was never a day when good could not be done.
It has always been a day to reflect upon the good things of the Lord, and share that goodness with others, just as we are going to do shortly, as we come before the Lord's table.
We are not to seek to kill or destroy the good work of the Lord.
We are to seek to glorify the Lord within us by accepting His grace and goodness, and through sharing it in abundance with others by living a visible Christ-like life.
Let's us pray...
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