Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Miraculous Healing

John 15: 26-27
“When the helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of me. And you also will bear witness…”
Acts 5: 32
“…And we are His witness to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
These verses tell us two things.
1. That the Holy Spirit will anoint us to bear witness to Jesus Christ, His Lordship and His kingdom.
2. That the Holy Spirit will ALSO, apart from us, bear witness and give testimony to Jesus.
We usually think in terms of Him enabling us to witness, but we should not overlook the “also” in the verses referred to above. We should remember that He will walk beside us to give His own witness. It is this second dimension of testimony that adds power to our sharing the gospel. Below are two examples of how I have seen this happen.

In 1971 when Laurel and I were first married we were asked to speak at a youth retreat for a group of high school kids from a Baptist church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The youth pastor had prepared for the event by calling friends and intercessors to pray and fast for the Lord to visit these kids. There were about 40 of them at the event. Most of them attended church, but I am not sure if any of them really knew the Lord or had a real personal relationship with Him.

Laurel sang and I spoke. While I was sharing our testimony of our walk and experiences with the Lord, you could have heard a pin drop. It was as if Jesus was walking among us. His presence became more real each time I mentioned his name. A couple of the kids expressed a desire to know Him. Then a few more. Suddenly twenty of the group were on their feet and praying for one another. The other twenty, along with the football players, remained seated and just gazed in wonder at what was happening.

Then a young man named Rob came up to me. He had both emphysema and asthma. His breathing was a loud wheezing and was so labored that it could be heard all over the room. He had a breathing machine with him, and his doctors had recommended that he not go to this retreat. But there he stood before me with a look of despair and desperation. I pulled him off to the side and said, “Rob, do you want to know Jesus?” He said, “Yes,” but then pointed to his chest to communicate the agony he was going through with his lungs.

I quoted Jesus' words about laying hands on the sick, and then I laid my hands on his head asking Jesus to touch him. Suddenly he fell back and began to shout, “I can breathe! I can breathe!” The Lord had instantly healed him of the emphysema and asthma. I then yelled out to the group, “Hey, everybody, God just healed Rob!” Immediately the other twenty kids rose up like a covey of quail. All forty kids were standing with arms uplifted to the Lord praising and thanking Him for the miracle. They all instantly gave their lives to the Lord and stood there weeping, laughing, and praising Him.

I did not orchestrate this. This event seemed so spontaneous; I simply watched it happen. I had told the group that Jesus died for our sins, that He had risen from the dead, and was alive now as living Lord and Savior. But as I was speaking, Jesus was moving around that room apart from me and was speaking to them by the Holy Spirit. Their lives were transformed because God revealed Himself to them.

On another occasion (circa 1968) when I was still in college, a friend and I were preaching and telling people that Jesus is alive and that the Holy Spirit is present to reveal Him and demonstrate His presence. We could sense the presence of God, and people were being healed. A young man was there wearing a back brace because he had broken his back in a car wreck. I prayed for him and the Lord touched him. He began to weep and to leap up and down, crying out, “I’m healed! I’m healed!” He took the brace off and began to twist about. I turned and saw a young child about six or seven years old with tears streaming down her face. I asked her, “Kindra, are you okay?” She looked up at me and said, “Jesus is in this place. Jesus is in this place.” Other people were healed of various sicknesses at that meeting. Again, I felt I was an observer watching Jesus work among this group of people. I was testifying, but He was there also giving his own testimony, apart from me.

We speak of faith and of the need to believe, but there was in those days a dimension of God's presence that arose from Sovereign acts of Divine grace, providence, and purpose that transcended what we wanted. We did not cause it to happen, we simply responded to His presence. We testified, but He also testified. May we even in this day again proclaim the presence of Jesus expecting that God will again, "...also bear witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will" [Hebrews 2: 4].

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

THE SILVER LINING

I remember years ago working on a construction site with my uncle who is a follower of Jesus. He hurt his arm, and the first words out of his mouth were "Praise the Lord!" One of the fellow workers said, "You just hurt your arm, why are you praising the Lord?" His reply was, "I could have broken it." How often in our unpleasant situations do we fail to give thanks that the Lord did not lay on us more than we could bear? If we look closely at the storms we face, we will see the silver lining traced by the hand of God and which represents a small glimpse of the greater glory of His presence and working that is hidden in and behind the apparent darkness. The sparrows do fall, but Jesus said that not one of them is forgotten before God, and not one of them falls apart from His knowledge. Jesus is reassuring us that the Father, who loves us with a stedfast and everlasting love, is aware of where we are and what we face. Like the sparrow we may face unpleasant situations, but not without our Father’s love and care.

In my travels I have experienced what on the surface appeared to be unfortunate incidents, but which were permeated with obvious signs of God's providential care and protection. Here a few examples:

I had transmission work done on my van and then made a round-trip drive to Raleigh, NC from my home near Myrtle Beach, SC. Upon returning home, as I was driving on the gravel lane leading to my house, a front tire and wheel detached and came off. I lost control of the van but I was only driving 15 mph on the dirt road and so there was no accident. The transmission shop had failed to set a pin in place, and the whole left front axle and tire had detached. I had driven to Raleigh and back at 70 mph speed on the interstate. But the tire waited until I turned onto the gravel road at home to actually fall off. I hate to think what could have happened had this occurred on the interstate.

On another occasion I was traveling to Florida on a job project. I stopped off to spend the night with friends in Bluffton, SC near Hilton Head. As I was leaving their home the next morning to resume my trip down I-95 one of my front tires blew-out and went flat in their drive-way. It turns out that a sharp piece of metal had been scraping the inside of the tire for a while and had been cutting into the tire each time I made a sharp turn. It was very inconvenient having a delay and having to get a new tire, but I was so thankful to the Lord that the tire went flat in my friends’ yard instead of somewhere on I-95 on my drive to Florida.


Once I was driving on a Sunday afternoon to be at a work project the next morning in Goldsboro, NC, about 3 hours from my home. The alternator on my van died in Whiteville, NC about 2 hours from where I needed to be. It was a helpless feeling. Sunday evening, everything closed, and my needing to be at work early the next morning. I called a good friend who lived in that town. It turned out that I was stranded across the street from his brother’s auto shop. He came and picked me up, and we left my van at his brothers shop. He loaned me a vehicle to use that week while his brother fixed the van. Here was another situation that on the surface was inconvenient and something for an ungrateful heart to complain about. But yet, there were the clear and unmistakable signs of God’s providential care and provision.


Last week I drove to Atlanta for a class that the company requires of its employees at the beginning of each year. I made the 7 hr return trip from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach, and parked the van in my yard at home. It sat there for the last few days except for one trip to the grocery store. Yesterday when was I started to leave my house, I smelled gas, and the engine shut off. It appears a fuel line has broken. Gas was draining underneath the van. I am now waiting for a tow truck to pick it up to take it to the shop for repair. Again, an inconvenience as well as a cost, and on the surface something to complain about. But yet, I am so thankful that this happened in the yard at home instead of in the middle of nowhere on the Interstate between Atlanta and home.

One interesting point of note in the experiences listed above is that while God allows problems, He will never forsake us in them or to them. In each situation above I was protected from undue complications and distress. Each incident occurred at home, at a friend’s, or close to available help. I was not stranded in dire and helpless situations. The tire fell off, but on the gravel road near my home rather than on the freeway at 70 mph. The gas line broke but not on the Atlanta rush hour freeway or in the middle of nowhere. It seems that in every difficult experience, there is something to be thankful for. We should especially be thankful that God our Father sees and knows. The sparrow may fall, but not without his knowledge. The hairs of our head may fall, but nevertheless, He has them numbered. Psalm 121 encourages us to know that our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. “The Lord shall preserve your going out and coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” Ps 121: 8