Monthly Archives: September 2013
Third-party Faith: Being Healed through the Faith of Others
Reading: Acts 3
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. “Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. Acts 3:6-7 NIV
Faith is the key that unlocks the power of God. The account of Peter healing the crippled man is a great example of faith in action, and there is much to learn from it. But I find myself asking, why had this crippled man not already been healed by Jesus? Is there a less obvious lesson about faith in this story?
For three years, Jesus had travelled the land healing the sick and preaching the good news of the kingdom. We are told in numerous places in the gospels that all who came to Jesus were healed. In fact, all that were brought to Jesus were healed.
Consider the following accounts:
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralysed, and he healed them. Matthew 4:23-24 NIV
Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick… Matthew 12:15 NIV
When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. Matthew 8:16 NIV
And when the men of that place recognised Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. Matthew 14:35-36 NIV
When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Luke 4:40 NIV
Two things stand out to me in the above verses:
- People brought their sick to Jesus, and
- Jesus healed them.
Presumably, the crippled man who sat every day begging at the temple gate in Jerusalem had not seen Jesus (who actually spent very little time in Jerusalem during his ministry years). But so many sick people had been taken to Jesus. And this man had friends who brought him to the temple gate every day to beg. Could they not have brought him to Jesus? What role could their faith have played in getting this man healed?
Third party faith is important! How many people in Jesus' day were healed not so much because of their own faith, but because of the faith of their friends and family in bringing them to Jesus?
My faith can release the favour of God upon the lives of others. But I don't have to depend solely on my own faith. I can pool it with the faith of others to achieve more than I could ever do alone.
Faith can be tested, and sometimes shaken, but it can also be bolstered by the faith of others. One person's faith can sometimes bolster the faith of a whole group! We truly do need each other.
It's so important, therefore, that I join regularly with others to pray and share encouragement. Alone, I am limited. But in the warm glow of a faith community, my faith can grow and flourish as collectively we open the way for the power and love of God to be released.
Jesus, I ask that you would release power to heal as we pray! I ask for fresh gifts of faith, and opportunities every day to step out and act on that faith, that you would be honoured in the world you came to save.
Gideon’s Ephod and the Benefit of Wise Counsel
Reading: Judges 7 and 8
Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family. Judges 8:27 NIV
Gideon, I'd love to know exactly what you were thinking when you decided to make that ephod. I was really enjoying the story up to that point. When you put 120,000 enemy soldiers to flight with only 300 men of your own, that was totally awesome. Four hundred of them for every one of you, and you still sent them packing. Of course, you had God on your side. But still, it must have been terrifying, and exhilarating! I found myself thinking, “Wow, with God, nothing is impossible!”
But then Gideon, you stumbled, and made that ephod that became an object of worship. And what made it such a let down was that after your victory, you were perfectly placed to turn Israel away from their love affair with idols and foreign gods, and back to the One who truly loved them. That was the reason God called you.
I wonder how you feel about it now, looking back? What would you have done differently? And what wisdom would you pass on to me to help me avoid the same trap, the same snare?
Snare: A trap for catching birds or mammals, typically one containing a noose of wire or cord; a thing likely to lure or tempt someone into harm or error.
Nobody intentionally walks into a trap. If someone is caught in a snare, they are generally caught unaware. In the case of Gideon, I suspect that rather than intentionally doing something foolish or wrong, he simply didn't realise that making something from gold to help in the worship of God was the wrong thing to do. He had grown up surrounded by idol worship — perhaps he had never seen God being worshiped in the way God had prescribed, and was simply in error.
But I wonder, did Gideon seek counsel? And did he take heed of the gentle prompting of the Spirit of God as he assumed his leadership role over Israel?
Leadership requires humility. If I am to lead well in whatever role I find myself, whether great or small, two things will keep me from error.
First, I need to humble myself before God and seek his voice, his direction. And second, I need to seek counsel from wise and godly people, that I might not get carried away with my own ideas and somehow stray from the path God would have me to walk.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 NIV
Thank you Lord that with you, nothing is impossible. Help me always to seek your voice and your guidance, through prayer and through your Word. But I ask too that in this season of my life, and in the seasons to come, you would place around me godly people to advise me and help me stay true to the calling you have placed on my life.