So That the World May Know

What was Jesus praying in John 17? He was praying for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 36:24-27:

Ezek 36:24    We will see in John 17 that Jesus asks the Father to separate us from the nations (a type of the world) and bring us into full fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — that means being truly sanctified, filled with the Spirit — truly our Promised Land until heaven!

Ezek 36:25    There must be a cleansing, a washing away of all things we hold dearer than God (for these are our idols), replaced by total devotion to Him.

Ezek 36:26    Besides cleansing (“moreover”), the Father will also give us a new heart and put a new spirit within us; we will see at as we go to John 17. Hearts of stone are stubborn and go their own way. He will remove our stony hearts and replace them with hearts of flesh that respond to Him.

Ezek 36:27    So that we fully understand how this will happen, the Lord clarifies — God will put His Spirit literally within us and cause us to obey Him, not as robots but because His Spirit unites us, giving us His nature, so we want what He wants. Self-centered thinking and stubbornness are banished. The Father does all of this for His sake (v. 22), for the sake of His holy name which His stubborn people profane with their self-centeredness.

NOTE: In John 17, Jesus is praying not only for the disciples, but for ALL believers (look at v. 20)!

First, we must note the qualities Jesus ascribes to His disciples in the first few verses of John 17: They were the Father’s, given to the Son, and they have kept the Father’s word (v. 6), they have come to know that everything Jesus has came from the Father (v. 7), they received Jesus’ words and truly understood He came from the Father and was sent by Him (v. 8), the world has hated them because they are not of the world (v.v. 14 & 16). They are certainly Christians, by all of our standards of measurement.

But Jesus prays because something must happen in all believers SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW:

We as believers are sent out by Jesus (v. 21);
The Father sent Jesus (v. 23); and
The Father loved all believers with the very same love He has for Jesus (v. 23):

Here is what must happen, as I interpret the words of Jesus Christ:

John 17:13     Now Jesus is coming to the Father, but one essential element is missing, the element that will make it SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW. The result     of Jesus’ request, made even while He’s still on the earth, will be that His joy will literally fill them up inside!! Jesus is praying, “Now, Father, now! Do what You promised in Ezekiel now!”

John 17:17    Jesus prays for the Father to sanctify all believers truly, to purify them. They are already set apart and have been following Him. We have seen the great qualities they already possess. But the disciples (and we) must be purified, and it will be by the Father’s word, given to Jesus. The Father’s word isn’t just true, it is truth. It is the reality behind all that we  see.

John 17:18    Jesus prays for what will come next, even though it is not fulfilled until Pentecost (Acts 2:4). In the same way (with the same nature) that Jesus was sent by the Father, Jesus now sends all believers who have been truly sanctified, filled with His Spirit.

John 17:19    So that we don’t miss it, Jesus Christ repeats that He has set Himself apart, coming into the world and giving Himself, even to death on a cross, so that all believers may be truly sanctified. He explains what “truly sanctified” is, in verse 21.

John 17:20    This prayer is for all believers!

John 17:21    When all believers are truly sanctified, they will be of the same nature. “One” in this case refers not to a superficial unity, but to complete unity of nature and Spirit. How do I know this? Jesus goes on to describe the “oneness” — just the same as the Father is literally located within Christ and Christ is literally located in Him, Jesus prays for all believers to be literally located within the Father and the Son, asking in His name, having His nature (as we talked about in my teaching on John 14). The result? THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT THE FATHER SENT JESUS CHRIST.

Extra bonus, not in the sermon: There’s no “may” in the original Greek. It is SO THAT THE WORLD BELIEVE THAT THE FATHER SENT JESUS CHRIST.

John 17:22    There is a glory that will come into all believers when this happens — it is the Holy Spirit. He comes to dwell in us, giving us an indwelling Father, Son and Spirit. Again, this is so  that all believers will have the same nature as the Father and the Son, just as the Father and Son have the same nature.

John 17:23    Jesus explains again that He is to be literally located within us, just as the Father is literally located within the Son. This will cause us to be perfected in unity (Greek: completed “into one”, made alike) — truly sanctified, with the same nature as the Father and the Son. The result? THE WORLD WILL KNOW THAT THE FATHER SENT JESUS, AND LOVED ALL BELIEVERS WITH THE SAME LOVE HE HAS FOR JESUS. This is agape, the very love of God!

John 17:24    We know that Jesus is preparing a place for us, from John 14:2. Now He prays for all believers to be with Him. Why? So they may see Him in glory, lifted high and exalted, the glory Jesus had in the beginning and that the Father has given Him again. He is the Beloved of the Father!

John 17:26    Jesus made the Father’s name (His nature) known to all to His disciples. At Pentecost, He will make it known even more so, because God’s love,  His actual love, and Jesus Himself, will be literally located within:
The disciples, when they are filled with the Spirit at Pentecost
All believers, when they experience their own Pentecost

JUST AS THE DISCIPLES IN ACTS 1 AND 2, WE MUST SIT BEFORE THE LORD AND PRAY TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT, CLOTHED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH AS JESUS COMMANDED IN LUKE 24:49, FILLED WITH THE ACTUAL LOVE OF GOD.

WHY? JESUS PAID A PRICE GREATER THAN WE WILL EVER BE ABLE TO COMPREHEND, SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW THROUGH US!

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Promises to Those Who Believe

These are notes from a message I gave on Sunday, 6/5/11. May your heart be stirred, in Jesus’ name.

By “Those Who Believe,” I mean those who have entered through the portal from life as you knew it to life in Christ. I mean those who have entered through the Door and have been changed to the point where everyone around you sees the change in you! Glory to God! If you are one of these, here are His promises to you, from John 14:1-24, with interpretation of the original Greek.

14:1 Your heart will not in the least be roiled up like the ocean in a storm (I did not say “let not” as your Bible may say) because you have obeyed My command to believe in God and in Me.

14:2-3 I will come again and take you to the place I am preparing for you so you may be with Me.

14:4-6 You will know (fully perceive) the way — Me!

14:7-9 You will intimately and fully know the Father and Me, and you will recognize the Father in Me. (I am the exact representation of His nature — Hebrews 1:3)

14:10-12 I do My Father’s works, because I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. The Father’s works themselves cause many to believe.

If, like Me, you are in the Father and the Father is in you, then truly, truly,  you will do My Father’s works, the same works I did (now think, “What are the works that Jesus did?). You will do those things.

You will do greater than these: I did not impart the Holy Spirit to others while I was on the earth (John 7:37). I had to return to My Father first. [Because you will be filled with the Holy Spirit, you will be able to impart  Him to others so they also are filled with Him. This is the “greater” that you will do.]

14:13 You will have My nature and can therefore ask in My name. You will no longer have the sin nature you were born with. Therefore, you will be able to ask and I will give whatever you ask. [The Holy Spirit in you makes you able to ask in My name. I said to my disciples, “Until now, you have not asked in My name” (John 16:24).]

PURPOSE: The Father will be glorified through Me when You do My works in My name. Doing so proves I am the living Son of God, sent by Him.

14:14 I repeat so you understand it is very important. When you have My nature,  you can ask Me anything in My name, and I will do it.

14:15 If you love (agape) Me with the same love with which the Father loves Me, you will obey Me just like I obey the Father. [You must love and obey Me in order for me to do what you ask Me to do. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey (Acts 5:32).

NOTE: The word “and” is not included in some translations of the Bible, but it is in the original Greek text. There is a relationship between obedience and what He will ask the Father to do.

14:16-17 My Father will give you another Helper, one who is like Me. He will be with you forever. This Helper is the Holy Spirit (see verse 26). You will  intimately know the Holy Spirit because He will be literally located in you.

14:19 You will see Me; You will gaze at Me, behold and discern Me and  experience Me. I am alive with zoe, life as God has it. Because I have zoe (eternal life, life as God has it), you will have zoe.

14:20  Because the day has come that I have risen and am glorified, and have given you the same zoe that I have, You will absolutely know:

–I have the Father’s nature and am literally located in Him
–You have My nature and are literally located in Me
–I am literally located within you

14:21 I know who loves Me — the one who obeys Me. If you love Me:

–My Father will love you
–I will love you
–I will disclose Myself to you (I will clearly show you that I am real, and you will will clearly see Me)

14:23  I know who loves Me — the one who obeys Me. If you love Me:

–My Father will love you
–My Father and I will come to you
–My Father and I will dwell literally inside you

14:24   If you do not love Me, you do not obey Me. This word is not Mine, but      the Father’s who sent Me. [Those who love Me obey Me. Those who do not love Me disobey Me.]

The great thing about comparing ourselves to God’s Word is this: If we find we do not have Christ’s nature in us, we can ask Him for His nature. He’ll say, “I’m glad you asked!” and give it to you. If we find, when we stand beside the plumb line of His Word, that we are not plumb, we can cry out to the Father, “I’m not plumb . . . make me plumb!” We don’t have the power to change ourselves, but He promises that He will put a new heart in us, as He says in Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV): “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Then we will have His nature and all of the promises of John 14 are ours, for His glory!

Forgive Me

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was in desperate need. She was very sick and a nursing home loomed in her darkened future. She was without God in the world. She had no hope. Jesus Christ graciously shined His light on her, healed her body, saved her soul and empowered her to serve Him. She could hardly contain her joy! He illuminated His Word to her, and gave her preaching and teaching gifts. She pursued her call with everything that was in her, so grateful for His life in her and for the freedom only He could give!

She was zealous for His Word and for Him, but her zeal became twisted along the way. She became like a bloodhound, sniffing out anything that didn’t look like her ministry. She roo-roo-rooed away at anything that didn’t seem right to her. She didn’t see that those she sniffed out were serving, too. She didn’t see that they loved the Lord just as she did, and even more. She didn’t see that Father God can work in a myriad of unusual ways, by the Holy Spirit. She carried a gavel around in her hand, not to condemn, but to correct, correct, correct, to set right all who were wrong — churches, leaders, other denominations and ministries.

One day, Jesus tenderly spoke to the woman, and showed her that she was striking His body with her gavel. She fell on her face, weeping. She asked Him to take the gavel from her outstretched hand. In His grace and mercy, He took it.

Forgive me.

In the love of Christ,

Pastor Sue

I Am Not Perfect

1John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. (NASB)

You know, there’s only one way a human being can be perfect — and that’s “perfect in love.” Somehow, it seems some of those who hear my messages  or read my blogs think that I’m saying they have to be perfect in the way natural people think of the word “perfect.” Perish the thought!

Oh, my dear friends, my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, I’m not perfect as the world thinks of perfect. I am slightly overweight, and often over-eager and zealous to a fault, but it’s out of my love for Jesus. And there are times when I don’t communicate well (obviously). And there are times when I might misunderstand you. And there are times when something tumbles out of my mouth that I’d like to stuff back in there. Sometimes I’m like a Holy Spirit steamroller. But I don’t mean to be. I’m just EXCITED because of what Jesus has done in me, and what He wants to do in you!

You see, I love you, I mean really LOVE you, with God’s very love. That’s why I preach what I preach, and write what I write. I want you to discover God’s great gift — His Holy Spirit, by which He fills your heart with His very own love. Amazingly, He actually  pours out His perfect love in your heart, so you can love Him with His perfect God-love! The outcome of loving Him with His love is this:

You no longer want to sin against Him. So you don’t willfully disobey Him any more. And you can love people with that love!

That’s what the Word of God says. That’s what HE can do in you. Isn’t it glorious? So, I’m not saying you have to be perfect as the world thinks of perfect, OK? But I’m saying that the Word of God says Jesus came and died to take away your past sins AND change your heart entirely, so you love God with God’s own love. Oh, it is a wonderful “God thing” that only He can do! For heaven’s sake, don’t try to be perfect as YOU think of perfect, and try to do it on your own! It’ll never work! Oh, but agree with Him that you need His love to fill your heart so you will obey Him, that you need His love so you can love others with His love, so you can have His love pour right out of you, so you can pour out His love back to Him, and He can pour out more to you, and you can pour more back to Him, in a continual, glorious exchange of love!

Oh, it is WONDERFUL! It is ESSENTIAL for the church, too. You see, we can’t work Jesus’ works (John 14:12) unless we are doing them with the very love of God in our hearts. We’ll be sounding gongs and clanging cymbals. Very unpleasant! Very unproductive! LOVE (His actual love in your heart) is the means by which all gifts of the Spirit operate and all fruit of the Spirit is produced and comes to maturity.

So, it’s really pretty easy. Just say, “Lord, I don’t have Your love in my heart, because I’m still sinning against you, even though I’ve received Jesus as my Savior. I know Your love will come in and fill me if I ask You. Your Word says You give the Holy Spirit to Your children when they ask  you (Luke 11:13). I know that even after You have filled me with Your Spirit and Your love, You will continue to show me more and more, over my whole life, the depths of Your love. And you will make Your love show in me more and more. Fill me, fill me, fill me!”

See? Simple, but very hard to let go and trust that Father knows best. Do it — you’ll never regret it, and you will enter into a realm you couldn’t have dreamt or imagined.

It Is Finished

John 19:28-30 (NASB): After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Resurrection Sunday’s just around the corner. I want to understand everything Jesus meant when He exclaimed, “It is finished!” Don’t you? The original Greek word for “finished” is teleo, which means completed, brought to an end, the debt paid. Surely, we praise God that the debt we absolutely could not pay, the debt we owed God because of our sin, was paid in full by Jesus Christ. That is very true; God so loved the world that He gave His Son. It was His one expression of love to everyone — whoever believes in Him, fully trusting in Christ’s words and His work on the cross, will be saved from the wrath of God, and enter into eternal life with God. Hallelujah! Christ bore the punishment we deserved. Amazing love!

But in verse 28, Jesus knew that all Scripture had been fulfilled. What Scripture? What else was “finished?” There are many Scriptures about what Christ accomplished on our behalf:

Genesis 3:15  The serpent’s (that is Satan’s) head has been crushed by Jesus Christ. His authority here is nullified, for all who believe in Christ. He has no power against us who know Christ intimately. Hebrews 2:14 says Satan was rendered powerless, and 1 John 3:8 says Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil. What were those works? When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden and she and Adam ate the fruit, their sin (willful disobedience against God) separated them from their Creator and Father and doomed them to death. We also were separated from God and doomed to death, but if we believe in Jesus, He reconciles us to God. And what’s more, Jesus gives us power to go and sin no more, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is finished!

Job 19:25 You and I can say in fact what Job said prophetically — we know that our Redeemer lives, and that He will come, and that in our flesh, we shall see God. Indeed, Jesus reveals Himself to those who love and obey Him (John 14:21). And we will yet see God, in heaven! Hallelujah! It is finished!

Psalm 118:24-27 Oh, I tell you, this is the day, the day of salvation, this day that all Scripture was fulfilled! Glory to God! This is the day the festival sacrifice was bound to the altar — the day Christ was nailed to the cross. When Christ entered Jerusalem in the original Palm Sunday, the crowd sang this portion of Psalm 118. They soon rejected Jesus, but it had to be that way. Christ HAD to die for us. Oh, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! It is finished! Isaiah 44:23 says “Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!”

Isaiah 35:4-6 Oh, He has made streams in the desert! We were barren and dry, without life. But He died on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and was glorified so we may not only drink of His living water, but so it will flow from our bellies like a raging river! Oh, it is finished!

Isaiah 35:8  A highway of holiness has been created. See that upright on the cross? That’s the way. Go there and identify yourself with Christ’s death. Don’t just say “Thanks, Jesus,” and walk away. Say, “Crucify me with You, so I no longer live, but You live in me! Do heart surgery, Lord! Pluck out my rebellious heart and replace it with yours!” Oh, it is finished!

Isaiah 53:6 Our iniquity fell on Christ. The word “fell” is more accurately translated “met.” He intervened for us. Our sinfulness met His sinlessness and we were reconciled to God the Father! It is finished!

Isaiah 60:1-3 Oh, the glory of the Lord rose upon Him in His flesh, but now it is upon us who know Him intimately! We are carriers of His glory, and kings will come to the brightness of our rising. He will have a church glorious (Ephesians 5:27), filled with God’s glory, His kabod (see Psalm 45:13), His weighty presence, so we may be His witnesses here. It is finished!

Isaiah 61 Glory! The captives have been set free! To what were we captive? Sin! It is finished!

Zechariah 9:9 Our King came humbly. He has come! It is finished! And we must come to Him in the same way — humbly.

Malachi 3:1 And the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to the temple. He wants to come to your temple, your body! He and the Father will come and make their abode with you (John 14:23), if you love and obey Jesus Christ (John 14:21). It will be suddenly, in an instant. You will be filled with Him! It is finished!

Romans 5:8 God’s love is this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It is finished! Does God love sin? No, He hates it. But He gave us Christ, so we may turn from sin and stop sinning. The church does not teach this, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why not. It’s a powerful truth! Christ Himself said of sin, “Therefore if the Son shall set you free, you are free, indeed” (John 8:36). Oh, be set free! It is finished!

In light of all that Christ has finished, shall we continue to sin? Won’t our continued sin make God’s grace more evident? The Romans asked Paul that, in Romans 6. My dear ones, the church has mutilated the associated verse from Romans 5:20: “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” We use that to excuse our present disobedience, just like the Romans to whom Paul wrote. The grace that increased (past tense) was Christ; sin had increased (been made evident) because God revealed His moral law. Christians wrongly use Romans 5:20 as a mantra to “rationalize away” the sin they’re now doing.  As Paul says in Romans 6:2, “May it never be!”  For Paul continues, “How shall we who have died to sin still live in it?”

I tell you, beloved, we are in danger of losing our reconciliation to God if we continue to sin. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Paul exhorts the Christian Corinthians to be reconciled to God! They had fallen into many sins, they were infants in Christ, they were not filled with the Holy Spirit. Dear ones, on the cross Christ put an end to the sin you’ve done and to the sin nature you possess. Don’t reject what Christ has finished! Come again to the cross! Ask Him to fill you with God’s own perfect love, so you no longer want to disobey Him, but love Him with His very own love. Ask Him to take your rebellious nature out of you and replace it with the very nature of Christ! He will do it, He has provided for it, and if you will come, sin will be finished in you!

The Nine Lepers

Last night, Jeff and I were interceding for the church in our regular Friday night prayer time. The Lord took me to Luke 17:11-21, and 34-36. As I meditated on this passage and asked the Holy Spirit to help me pray it out, Jesus said to my heart, “The church is like the nine lepers.”

Think about it. The ten leprous men stood at a distance. Don’t we all stand at a distance when we are covered with the filth of our sins? But even though they didn’t approach Him because of their uncleanness, they called to Him, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” They didn’t call Him by a Messianic title, but they recognized His authority by calling Him “Master.” They knew He was merciful. Don’t we all see His authority to forgive our sins and ask for His mercy, so we may be made clean? He commanded them to go show themselves to the priests, and they immediately started on their way. Don’t we do whatever He says, when we want Him to remove our sins? And as they were going, they were healed. Aren’t we, as we obey Him and repent? So far, I see that the whole church is like all ten lepers.

Starting in verse 15, something changes. One of the lepers sees that he’s healed and turns back, glorifying God with a great, intense voice! He runs toward Jesus, falls on His face (proskuneo, kisses toward Him, which means he worships Him), and gives thanks (eucharisteo, an expression of joy Godward). The rest simply continue on their way.

How many of us who are the church simply go on our way after Jesus has forgiven our sins? The nine lepers who continued on their way represent the vast majority of Christ’s church. We’ve been saved. We go and show others we’re clean. Then we go astray, each one to his own way. Jesus stands right where He was when He healed us, saying, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Of course, He knew in advance what was going to happen. He asks the question to emphasize that nine of them did not do what they should have done, had they really understood how much they were forgiven, how dirty they were. And the one who does understand is not even one of the “chosen people.” He’s a foreigner. He’s from the highways and byways, brought to the supper because everyone who was invited was too busy to come. In Luke 7:47, Jesus said to Simon the Pharisee, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

But there’s a remnant in the church that loves much because we know we’ve been forgiven much. We were foreigners, not a people belonging to God, but the Lord has made us a people. We’ve realized that we’ve been made clean. We’ve turned back to Jesus, glorifying God with a great, intense and loud voice! We’ve fallen at His feet, trying to get just as intimately close to Him as possible. We’ve assumed a humble position before Him who set us free. We eurcharisteo Him — we express joy toward Him, our God in the flesh!

What happened to the nine? They went on their way. So does the church. What happened to the foreigner who returned and gave glory, worshiped and expressed joy? Jesus commanded Him to stand up and go, and told that one leper, “Your faith has saved you.” So it is with the remnant.

I am praying for revival, for the nine to wake up, turn back, glorify God with great and intense voices, worship and humble themselves and seek intimacy with Jesus, expressing joy Godward, toward Him and toward the Father. I’m praying for them to be saved. Hear my prayer, Father, in the name of Jesus.

Jesus’ Hometown

Mark 6:4-6 (NASB) Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.

Many Bible scholars don’t catch the reason Jesus couldn’t do anything but a few “minor” miracles in Nazareth, His hometown. I’ve read commentaries that say it was unbelief that prevented the Son of God from working in His hometown. I don’t think that’s quite true, though unbelief was acted out in a way that made it impossible for Him to work in the lives of those who were filled with unbelief. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’ve read some who say God positively cannot work in an atmosphere of unbelief. But I remember Jesus saying, “With God, all things are possible.” Was Jesus lying? God is not a man, that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). And if we can prevent God from doing miracles in a place, how do we explain the miracles done when the Jews came out of Egypt? They certainly doubted God many times and thought they were going to die, but He delivered them again and again, despite their unbelief. God does not change. Unbelief doesn’t stop Him.

So what happened in Nazareth? If you notice in Mark’s gospel, everywhere Jesus went there were crowds, even multitudes. The Holy Spirit inspired Mark to mention great crowds over and over again — except in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. In the place where everyone thought of him as just the son of Joseph the carpenter, there were no crowds around Him. They simply questioned where He “got these things,” that is, His wisdom and ability to do miracles. They didn’t fall at His feet and worship Him. They didn’t reach out to try to touch the hem of His garment.

I tell you that the reason Jesus could do no miracles in Nazareth is because the citizens of that town never came to Him, except for a few sick people. Those few who came, He healed. There were no crowds around Him in Nazareth. They didn’t come, because they did not believe. So the reason He could not do much was that hardly anyone came to Him. Indeed, He wondered at their unbelief! They never came to Him, thus their unbelief was acted out in a way that made it impossible for Him to work in their lives.

I tell you that Jesus wonders at the unbelief in His church today. He asked in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?”

I believe that much of the church is just like Jesus’ hometown. We have a concept of Jesus and we’re stickin’ to it. He’s our Savior. We’re familiar with that part of Him, just like Nazareth was familiar with Jesus the carpenter. But don’t start believing in the dunamis (miracle-working power) of God! Savior is good. Miracle-working is too “far out” for us. Let’s keep things real quiet and orderly. Please — don’t bring in big crowds pressing in to touch the hem of His garment. We’d rather have a form of godliness while denying (720 arneomai, disowning, disavowing and rejecting) its power (1411 dunamis, miracle-working power, might and strength).

Just like in Nazareth, we do not see many true miracles in the church because the church rejects the miracle-working aspect of our Lord and Savior. They do not come to Him, because they are filled with unbelief. Therefore, He does not heal them in all the wonderful ways that Jesus heals.

There are a few in the church today who come to Him for healing anyway, just as a few came to Him an Nazareth. I’m one of them, even though in the beginning, I didn’t believe Jesus heals today. He took me on a journey that erased all my preconceived notions of Him. Then He completely healed me of MS, nine years ago next month. My church family, who loved me so much as an MS victim, was appalled. They did not rejoice when I announced one Sunday morning that Jesus had healed me. This was not the Jesus they were familiar with. They were very, very uncomfortable.

Did I forgive them for not sharing my joy? Oh, yes. They knew not what they were doing, just as I had no idea I had the hammer in my hand when Jesus was nailed to the cross.

Did I love them? After I was healed, I sought to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and the Father poured out His love in my heart, even to the point of overflowing! It was not pleasant to walk with them during that time, but I love them still today and will always love them. I love the whole church — the ones who claim the Word of God isn’t really His Word (there was a time when I didn’t), the ones who think Jesus doesn’t do miracles any more (there was a time when I didn’t), and even the ones who cannot see Jesus beyond His role as Savior (there was a time when I didn’t).

I forgive them, I love them, and I intercede for them. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit and I don’t want His church to be like His hometown. I’m praying for the church to honor Jesus, to embrace all of Him, to crowd around Him seeking His touch, to fall at His feet and worship Him and to come to love Him with His own love, so they may become very, very much like Him and thus glorify Him!