Saturday, July 31, 2021

Healing In His Wings


Photo by Arturo Mann 2005

Almost as an afterthought, my husband and I decided to walk the beach again after our cleaning chores were done, shortly before sunset. I must admit I had come to the beach with a bad attitude, feeling discouraged about the slow progress in restoring my shoulder range of motion after a chronic injury, the pain involved in the mobilization process, and various other obstacles my husband and I were facing.

Our first beach walk that day, in the midafternoon, yielded uncharacteristically barren stretches of sand, devoid of the many shells, shark’s teeth, and even fossils we enjoy finding there. The sea was a murky brownish green and purple, rough and churning, and dark squalls loomed at the horizon.

But God had completely transformed the beach for our second stroll, and with it, my outlook! Each step we took seemed to unveil a new scene in His creation (Genesis 1,2), a magical wonderland delighting the senses. I have never seen the Aurora Borealis, and that is on my bucket list, but I shared with my husband that the light show God now provided must be even better than that!

At first I berated myself for not bringing the camera, then I realized that God’s perfect plan (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 128:8) was for me to simply soak in His beauty (Psalm 27:4), to experience the moment without fussing with camera settings or lighting, to just be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

A foggy haze along the horizon seemed to encompass the waters as if in a vast lagoon, now calm, tranquil and a misty shade of aqua. An incredible diorama stretched out in the sky, lit dramatically by the setting sun that highlighted each cloud formation with different hues of gold, russet, mauve, and rose. These colors reflected into the ocean, which now shimmered with soft light.

Initially I felt like I was looking up at the ceiling of a Renaissance cathedral, then I remembered that art mirrors nature, and not vice versa! The beauty surrounding me was as I imagine Heaven is like, and yet Scripture tells us that the eye cannot begin to imagine the incomparable beauty God is preparing for us in our eternal home (Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9).
In the sky, the central scene at first included a figure like a menacing, dark gorilla on one side, shaking its fist at a brilliantly illuminated, silvery white cloud that looked like Jesus with arms stretched wide, draped in robes that took on the form of wings. Between these two central characters were many smaller figures resembling people of various shapes, sizes and ages, some turned toward the Christ figure and others toward the demonic presence.

As the sun set through the clouds, triangular beams of colored light shone through the sky as if refracted through prisms. Above the horizon, a massive circular cloud formation blazed in tones of gold and fiery orange, reminding me of the Shekinah Glory, the presence of God filling the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34) as the Israelites wandered through the wilderness in search of the Promised Land. Over it all, high in the sky, was a single silver cloud in the shape of outstretched angel’s wings.

Awestruck, I asked God to forgive my previous attitude of discouragement and ingratitude, and I thanked Him for revealing His peace, joy and beauty to us in such a unique and remarkable way. His handiwork in nature (Psalm 19:1) assured us that He is in control despite demonic struggles that would continue (Ephesians 6:12) because of the curse of sin (Romans 5:12) until He returns for His children (1 Thessalonians 4:17). If we yield to His Spirit, His glory will continue to illuminate the temple of our body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) just as it filled the tabernacle and temple in Old Testament times.

Later that night I was reading from a book that I had downloaded on my Kindle, which just happened to be the next book on my list and not one I had selected for any particular reason. With God there are no coincidences (Psalm 139; Romans 8:28), so I was excited but not surprised that the reading dealt with the connection between spiritual and physical healing, and that the author used metaphors of wings and of beams of light, just as God had shown us!

The author referenced Malachi 4:2: But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

What a perfect passage to encapsulate our experience on the beach and the imagery God, Who is light (1 John 1:5), unveiled to us! All who reverence the Name of Jesus, the Source of all light and perfect holiness, can experience the healing He shines forth like rays of the sun. Then we can be healthy, vital, and powerful, for He cares for us, heals and protects us.

I had often wondered why Jesus, in His earthly ministry, never experienced sickness of any kind, even though He felt pain, fatigue, betrayal, and thirst (Mark 4:38; Matthew 25:35; John 19:28; Hebrews 4:15). I now understand that His body could not be subject to sickness because His Spirit is free from sin. Illness is part of the curse of sin, even though our specific infirmities may not be the direct result of our own sin or even of the sin of another.

When the disciples asked Jesus whether a man was blind because of his own sin or because of the sin of his parents, He replied that it was neither, but rather for the glory of God, as He would heal him (John 9). When we experience physical limitations or illness, it is an opportunity for us to yield to the healing power of Jesus in our spirit, which may in turn allow healing in our body.

In some cases, however, He may allow the thorn in our flesh to persist, for His grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. The apostle Paul was therefore able to glory in his infirmities, knowing that God would get the glory from Paul’s completed mission despite earthly obstacles that are no match for God’s infinite power (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

God promises spiritual healing (Mark 2:17), forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9), and eternal life (John 3:16) to all who place their trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). Praise God for that promise, and for physical healing or for His grace to carry on despite our human frailty, until He brings us home in our glorified bodies! 

© 2018 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the srchives


Saturday, July 24, 2021

In Proper Order


The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, a widely used measure of Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, has a subtest known as the Picture Arrangement Test. Each of several sets of cards contains randomly shuffled scenes from an event, which the person being tested has to sort in the most likely chronological order. In the picture above, the crime happens first, then the arrest, the trial, and finally the prison sentence.
Or have you heard this riddle?  “It’s 7 AM, the doorbell rings, and you suddenly remember your in-laws are coming over for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open?”

When I described this riddle to our son, who loves gourmet cooking, he went through an elaborate description of various recipes he could concoct with those ingredients. Sadly, none of the food items is the correct answer, as his love for food momentarily diverted his highly developed logical intelligence.

The point of the riddle, of course, is to distract us with useless information. When the doorbell rings and your in-laws arrive for a breakfast date you forgot, the first thing you’d better open is the door! Actually, someone pointed out that before you even open the door, you’d better open your eyes!  And after your guests come in, you’ll need to open the refrigerator and pantry before you open the first container of food.

Which brings me to my point – if we don’t do things in the proper order, and if we get distracted by enticing but unimportant options, we are bound to fail. The result may be ludicrous, awkward, or disastrous, but it will never be the optimal outcome. The world tantalizes us with so many temptations (Proverbs 22:5; Ecclesiastes 7:26) that we may fail to put first things first by seeking God’s will in all that we do (Luke 22:42).

My husband and I were at a crowded garage sale once when I heard a woman, a few tables away, give some advice to her friend: “When all else fails, pray!”

“Why not pray first, instead of as a last resort?” The words flew from my mouth before I even realized it, and I had no idea where they would land, and with what effect. Someone yelled, “Preach it, sister!” and I felt led to tell everyone about our pastor, who needed prayer for terminal cancer. Within moments, a group of Christians had gathered in a circle of linked hands for an impromptu prayer meeting!

When we place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as the only Way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), His Holy Spirit enters our heart (2 Corinthians 1:22), giving us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We have access to all His wisdom, knowledge, power and love, and we have the awesome privilege of instantaneous transport to His throne of grace, where we can boldly pray (Hebrews 4:16, asking for wisdom, mercy and grace and knowing that He delights in giving it (Matthew 7:11; James 1:17).

So why do we neglect this priceless resource, turning to it only when all other options leave us empty? Rather than relying on His omniscience (Psalm 139:1-6), why do we seek counsel from worldly friends who will tell us what we want to hear instead of Godly advice? Why do we run around pointlessly trying futile solutions in our own flesh, when He is the Master problem-solver? (Romans 8:28)

Priorities should order prayer life – seeking His face first before we embark on a new venture (1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 27:8), and proceeding only if He clearly leads in that direction, rather than doing what we want and then hoping to get His blessing after the fact. We should pray before we even get out of bed in the morning, putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) before we fall prey to the devil’s traps, lies and empty promises (John 8:44).

When we pray, do we thank and praise Him first (Luke 11:2), confess our sins (Luke 11:4; 1 John 1:9), and intercede for others before we bring our personal requests? Or do we just bombard Him with our own desires before even considering whether they are aligned with His will? (James 4:2-3; Luke 22:42)

Priorities should order our whole life, not just our prayer life.  If we seek Him first, and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), He will give us all that we need, because He knows what is best before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). This includes not only our physical needs (Psalm 37:25), but our ministry needs (1 Thessalonians 5:24), provided our motives in ministry are to glorify Him and not to draw attention to ourselves (John 3:30).

Paul brought this out for when he provided detailed guidance as to the speaking of tongues, saying “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Tongues were given to the early church as a sign gift so that those needing a sign to believe could see God’s great power. But it was intended for the sole purposes of educating members of the church and glorifying God.

The tongues spoken were actual languages understood by the listeners (Acts 2:6-11). If the listeners did not understand the language spoken, there was to be an interpreter. In that way the church body could be edified, or instructed, by those who prophesied one at a time (1 Corinthians 14: 31) and in order, so that there would be peace rather than confusion (v. 33). In no case was it to glorify the speaker or to make him appear to be more “spiritual” than one who did not have the gift of tongues. 

Order has always been important in worship, even in Old Testament times when God prescribed the order of what should be set on the table before Him (Exodus 40:4).Now that we are in the Church Age of Christian liberty, should we not still do things decently and in order, giving Him the preeminence (Colossians 1:18), rather than interspersing jokes, personal anecdotes, and even worldly theatrics with prayer, praise and preaching?
In our Christian walk, baptism is important as the first sign of obedience once we are saved (Acts 2:41), but many get baptized while they are still unsaved, or worse yet, think it will save them. Baptism is not a means to salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9), but a sign of identification with Christ's death, burial and resurrection. 

The order of steps we take determines our direction and ultimately our destination. If we take one step forward, one step back, and three to the side, we spend a lot of energy but go nowhere. (But if we’re dancing, we could at least turn it into a cha-cha!) God promises to guide us through the dance of life and to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5,6) if we first trust in Him and acknowledge Him in all we do. Then He will order our steps in His Word, keeping us from sin (Psalm 119:133) and bringing us delight in the journey (Psalm 37:23).

As we speak and write, the proper order of our words is essential to convey the correct meaning (Job 33:5), particularly in English where noun forms do not change depending on their usage. “The hunter killed the bear” means something very different from “The bear killed the hunter.”

Paul was in the habit of beginning and ending his letters by acknowledging and thanking Jesus Christ and God the Father and blessing his readers with God’s grace and peace (1 Corinthians 1:1-10; 2 Corinthians 1:1-3; Galatians 1-3; Ephesians 1:1-3, etc.). What a wonderful example to follow, rather than starting Facebook posts or other communications with complaining, bragging, or vulgarity.

Praise God not only that He has ordered history, but that He has revealed to us the order of key events we are eagerly awaiting! Because Christ arose in His glorified body, all born-again believers will follow Him in their resurrected body to eternal life! (1 Corinthians 15:23). Look up (Luke 21:28), for before long, Christ shall descend from heaven with a shout and with the trump of God! The dead in Christ shall rise first, then believers still living shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and we shall forever be with the Lord! (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

© 2014 Laurie Collett
Edited and reposted from the archives 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Light, Salvation, Strength


Imagine, if you will, a terrified child who falls into an abandoned well shaft while playing in the woods. One moment he was frolicking in piles of crimson and golden autumn leaves; the next, his young life flashes before him in an instant as he drops through branches loosely covering the opening to the dark pit below.

Thankfully, enough leaves have accumulated in the well to break his fall, but his body is sore and racked with pain. The sides of the well are steep and slippery, and there is no way he can climb out on his own. Nightfall soon approaches, and with it an overwhelming darkness. It is a new moon, and clouds have covered the stars. In the distance, a wolf cries out, as if invoking the child’s certain doom. The boy shivers, more from fear than from the bitter cold.

Suddenly, he hears his name called, and he manages to scream through his uncontrolled sobbing. A search light pierces through the darkness and then directly into the shaft.

“Please save me,” the boy moans with what seems like his last breath.

“Don’t worry, son,” a powerful yet calm voice reassures him. “I’m here – just trust me.”

The boy gladly surrenders all control to his rescuer, who descends a rope ladder into the well, hoists the lad to his shoulders, and carries him out the same way in his own strength. Once reunited with family, the boy grows in physical and spiritual strength, ever thankful to his rescuer and to the God who sent him, with His perfect timing (2 Peter 3:9).

Before we can be saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) of Jesus Christ as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we need to come to the end of ourselves and our own strength, and to realize there is no way we can save ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9). Like the little boy, we have fallen into a miry pit of clay (Psalm 40:2), as David writes in Psalms, and we cannot escape it in our own strength.  We are sinners (Romans 3:23), all under the curse of Adam and Eve’s original sin (Genesis 3), and we deserve eternal punishment in hell (Luke 16).

While suffering the consequences of his own sin, and fleeing for his life from King Saul who wanted him dead (1 Samuel 18:11), David was gripped by fear, yet released from it by the realization that only God is in control. God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). He is the only Rescuer who can lift us from that miry pit, if we trust Him.

Psalm 27:1: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Light, salvation, strength. The “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon referred to this verse as “a threefold cord which could not be broken.”

Before we can be saved, we must know we are lost, which happens only when the glorious light of the Gospel shines into our heart (2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Timothy 1:10). Faith comes by hearing the word of God, brought by a witness of the Gospel (Romans 10). By that light, we can see that we are sinners deserving eternal death; that only God is holy and righteous; and that He sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).

Only then can we be saved by trusting Jesus and His completed work on the cross (John 19:30), which paid in full the penalty for all our sin. He alone is our salvation, our Savior, and once we invite Him into our heart, His perfect righteousness is credited to our account (Romans 4:20-25). When God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin, but only the perfect holiness of His Son, and He therefore grants us eternal life with Him in Heaven (Romans 5:19-21).

Then He adopts us into His family (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5); appoints us as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), betroths us to His Son, and makes us joint-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). We then have access to all His abundant riches in glory (Ephesians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:3; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:27), including eternal life (John 3:16), joy in the Lord (Romans 5:11; Philemon 1:20), peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and His strength, which is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Truly, then, we have no cause for fear, for there is no match for God’s omnipotence (Revelation 19:6). Nothing can separate the believer from His infinite love (Romans 8:38-39).

The threefold cord of light, salvation and strength mirrors the three Persons of our Triune God: Spirit, Son and Father. A threefold cord cannot easily be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Nothing can pluck us from the saving hand of Jesus Christ (John 10:28-29); nothing can loosen the Father’s grip on the Son’s hand; and nothing can break the seal of the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13).

Before we can be saved, the Holy Spirit shines His penetrating light into our heart, so that we can see who and what we truly are, and what Christ has done for us (John 14:26; 15:26). Then we trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our only salvation (Acts 4:12). He is also the only Way to the Almighty Father and His strength, for Christ is the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:9-10).

Thank you, Lord, for missionaries, preachers, and your Word that rescue us by shining the Gospel light in our hearts! Thank you for sending your Son to save us from our sins, deliver us from the miry pit, and give us eternal life! Praise you for allowing us to grow in Your strength to be Your lights in this dark world, until You come again!

© 2021 Laurie Collett