TOUCHING THE UNTOUCHABLE

Matt.8:1-3 – When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

I love the miracles of Jesus. Here we see Jesus touching someone no one else would touch. Lepers were outcasts. Their disease was a scourge leaving the sick unclean, not allowed to interact with anyone. The lonliness and rejection had to be as miserable as leprosy itself. No one would touch a leper because of the religious implications as well as fear of the disease itself. That is no one but Jesus. His touch cleansed the leper and had no effect on Jesus. Here is Barclay’s comment on this miracle.

“There is the healing of the leper. Here we see Jesus touching the untouchable. The leper was banished from the society of men; to touch him, and even to approach him, was to break the Law. Here we see the man who was kept at arm’s length by all men wrapped around with pity and the compassion of the love of God.”

That’s what all of the Lord’s miracles were about, His compassion for hurting people. He was moved by this man’s sickness as well as his lonliness. His touch was the touch of compassion. Here is a thought from Spurgeon on this leper’s struggle to be made whole.

“He could not live in the city, but he might be found on the mount, in the outskirts of the crowd, where he would hear that gracious voice; and he came and “worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean,” in which I detect no unbelief, but rather a very strong faith. “If thou dost but will, I can be made clean”…. Christ’s grace, which usually wrought at once, in an instant, wrought for ever — the man was cleansed, never to be sick again; cured perfectly; the leprosy was cleansed.”

So maybe you feel like this rejected, untouchable leper in today’s story. You may be rejected by family and friends but never by the Lord. No matter how filthy your life has become, one touch from the Lord and you will be totally clean. Just draw near and call out to Him. You will be surprised at His sudden response.

THE LAND OF THE LIVING

John 5:24 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

The miracles of Jesus give us a glimpse into the eternal world. In John 5 Jesus healed a man who had apparently been lame for 38 years. His sickness had caused him to live a life of misery. I guess you could say he lived in the world of death. As Jesus began to share His word after the miracle something becomes amazingly clear, sickness is part of the curse of death on mankind. Jesus came to give us life. The lame man tasted the edge of the resurrection life in his miracle. This life was made very clear when Jesus conquered sickness and death once and for all at His resurrection. All of His followers will experience that resurrection at His coming. In Jesus’ ministry we see glimpses of His Resurrection power. Today, that power is being poured out on all the earth. Here is how Adam Clarke described the implications of this miracle in the words of Jesus.

“Death is the country where every Christ-less soul lives. The man who knows not God lives a dying life, or a living death; but he who believes in the Son of God passes over from the empire of death, to the empire of life. Reader! thou wast born in death: hast thou yet changed the place of thy natural residence? Remember that to live in sin is to live in death; and those who live and die thus shall die eternally.”

When we believe the Words of the Lord we are translated from the world of death into the world of life. We no longer live in the country that was so familiar to us in the past. The life of God has entered into us we and we have joined the land of the living. As you walk in this new life don’t be surprised if miracles and healings follow after you. This is just a confirmation that the new world has already begun. Sickness is only the results of death. Healing is a glimpse into Resurrection life. Today, as you read His word, listen carefully for His voice. His voice brings us into the land of the living.

STEP ON IN

John 5:2-4 – Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

I love to see the collision of the natural world and the spiritual world. That’s what we see at the Pool of Bethesda. As rumor had it, sporadically an angel would stir the waters by the sheep gate and the first sick person who stepped in after this stirring would be healed. As a result, there was always a crowd of miserable people camped out by the pool. So in order to receive a miracle this way, you had to believe it (or you wouldn’t be there in the first place) and you had to be first in when the waters began to swirl. I’m sure there were many people in those days who didn’t believe in the angel water. Just like today, something is going on at that place on Airline Highway in New Orleans, but many wouldn’t dare be seen in those swirling Pentecostal waters. Nevertheless, the spiritual world is still invading and colliding with the natural world. Only those who believe it, wait on the Lord, and step on in, and are able to receive their miracle. Here is how Matthew Henry described the Pool of Bethesda.

“A miraculous limitation of the virtue as to the persons cured: He that first stepped in had the benefit; that is, he or they that stepped in immediately were cured, not those that lingered and came in afterwards. This teaches us to observe and improve our opportunities, and to look about us, that we slip not a season which may never return. The angel stirred the waters, but left the diseased to themselves to get in. God has put virtue into the scriptures and ordinances, for he would have healed us; but, if we do not make a due improvement of them, it is our own fault, we would not be healed.”

Today, the Spirit of God is being poured out continually, we don’t have to wait on an angel. Jesus is standing by the pool, the gathering of His believers, asking the age old question, “Do you want to be made whole?” If so, just step on in and leave the rest to the Lord.

HUMILITY – PERSEVERANCE – AND THE HEALING POWER OF GOD

Jn.4:46,47 – Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death.

One of the big obstacles to receiving a miracle is our pride. Humility is the breeding ground of miracles. This royal official who worked in Herod’s regime was willing to risk his job, fortune, and reputation to see his son made whole. He came to the conclusion that the power of God was more valuable than his prestige. Secondly, he was willing to go 20 miles on foot to get a miracle for his son. I can’t begin to tell you the number of people who have told me they love what God is doing at Victory, they just don’t want to cross the bridge. You just have to make some choices in life, what you value always comes out in what you do, not so much in what you say. Here is how Barclay describes this scene.

“Here is a courtier who came to a carpenter. The Greek is basilikos which could even mean that he was a petty king; but it is used for a royal official and he was a man of high standing at the court of Herod. Jesus on the other hand had no greater status than that of the village carpenter of Nazareth. Further, Jesus was in Cana and this man lived in Capernaum, almost twenty miles away….. There could be no more improbable scene in the world than an important court official hastening twenty miles to beg a favor from a village carpenter. First and foremost, this courtier swallowed his pride. He was in need, and neither convention nor custom stopped him bringing his need to Christ. His action would cause a sensation but he did not care what people said so long as he obtained the help he so much wanted. If we want the help which Christ can give we must be humble enough to swallow our pride and not care what any man may say.”

So maybe you need a miracle or someone you love needs a miracle. I guess we all have to ask the question, just how much do I want it? If a miracle is what you need what people think or the inconvenience of driving to church and enduring the worship and preaching should pale in comparison to the longing for God’s intervention in your life.

THE TOUCH THAT HEALS

Lk.8:43,44 – A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

Lots of people were in the meetings that day, it even says in one account that Jesus was being thronged by the crowds. Sounds like pushing and shoving and touching but who was really touching Jesus? Suddenly Jesus was stopped in His tracks, “Who touched Me”, He exclaimed. Someone had touched Him with the touch of faith and was immediately healed. What does this story say to us today? Is it possible that many who attend church never really “touch Christ”? They sing the songs, pray their prayers, listen to the preaching, and take communion but really never touch Jesus. There was something different about the lady with the hemorrhage that day. It wasn’t that she was sick that made her different, she was ready to receive her touch. Here is how J.C. Ryle describes this scene.

“We are told in these verses that “many people followed” our Lord, “and thronged him.” But we are only told of one person who “came in the press behind,” and touched Him with faith and was healed. Many followed Jesus from curiosity, and derived no benefit from Him. One, and only one, followed under a deep sense of her need, and of our Savior’s power to relieve her, and that one received a mighty blessing. We see the same thing going on continually in the Church of Christ at the present day. Multitudes go to our places of worship, and fill our pews. Hundreds come up to the Lord’s table, and receive the bread and wine. But of all these worshipers and communicants, how few really obtain anything from Christ! Fashion, custom, ritual, habit, the love of excitement, or an itching ear, are the true motives of the vast majority. There are but few here and there who touch Christ by faith, and go home ‘in peace’.”

What brought you to church this Sunday? Did you come out of routine or duty or did you come expecting a touch from the Lord? How will your touch come? It could be from reading a scripture, His presence in a song, a word spoken from the minister, or even through the laying on of hands in the prayer line. There are many ways you can touch the hem of His garment, one touch can change your world.

FINALLY DONE

Mk.5:25,26 – A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.

Are you done yet? Not sure what I mean? What I am saying is have you finally figured out that our human limitations can only go so far. Many times, like the poor woman with the twelve year hemorrhage, our problems are beyond our ability to fix. This is a great picture of humans trying to fix their basic sin problem. There is nothing we can do to fix ourselves, we are spiritually bankrupt until that moment of divine intervention. We may have struggled for years, maybe even twelve years. We may have depleted all our resources trying to fix what is broken. Only when we are finally done and begin to look to Christ are we on our way to recovery. Here is how J. C. Ryle describes this woman’s plight.

“Many a man has spent sorrowful years in search of peace with God, and failed to find it. He has gone to earthly remedies and obtained no relief. He has wearied himself in going from place to place, and church to church, and has felt after all “nothing bettered, but rather worse.” But at last he has found rest. And where has he found it? He has found it, where this woman found hers, in Jesus Christ. He has ceased from his own works. He has stopped looking to his own endeavors and doings for relief. He has come to Christ Himself, as a humble sinner, and committed himself to His mercy. At once the burden has fallen from off his shoulders. Heaviness is turned to joy, and anxiety to peace. One touch of real faith can do more for the soul than a hundred self-imposed austerities. One look at Jesus is more efficacious than years of sack-cloth and ashes. May we never forget this to our dying day!”

It’s funny, the moment we come to that conclusion of our utter helplessness, then and then only are we ready for a miracle. In that moment we look away from ourselves and other human remedies and look to the Lord. That’s when we are ready for the touch that changes everything.

SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.

THE SPIRIT WHO HEALS

Lk.6:19 – And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.

The healing power of Jesus reminds me of one of the last Old Testament prophecies, Mal.4:2 – “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings;”

The healing rays of His anointing are like the rays of the sun, they are everywhere and effect everyone. During His earthly ministry His anointing flowed out from Him and healed all who came to Him. Today His power hasn’t diminished, if anything it is increasing. This anointing shines out from Him like the beams of the sun touching and healing all who come in faith. Here is a powerful statement from a Catholic charismatic, Raniero Cantalamessa, on the healing power of His anointing.

“This power, which is the Holy Spirit, still now comes out of Jesus. Now that He is resurrected and is “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness”, that power comes forth from Him even more truly and more powerfully, if we can say that, than when He walked the earth. This power heals everybody. This is the decisive point we need to understand and to believe right now. We should say, as Jesus did in the synagogue at Nazareth, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled!”. The Holy Spirit does not have problems with numbers. A human doctor in front of a crowd of people with many and varied ailments would throw up his arms and say he was unable to heal everybody. But not the Holy Spirit. Just as the sun can bring light to one person or to a billion people, so too the Holy Spirit can do the same in the spiritual realm.”

Do you believe this is true? The healing power of the Holy Spirit is unlimited. He is everywhere and moving in the power of healing to all who come to Him in faith. He is literally being poured out on all mankind in these last days. Are you in need of a healing miracle? Step into His anointing. If you are having trouble receiving get into an atmosphere where His Spirit is welcomed and moving. Allow believers to pray for you. You too can experience the healing power of His anointing.

JESUS HEALS

Matt.8:3 – And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

 

The healing power of Jesus is just as real today as it was the day the leper reached out to the Lord. Leprosy had taken away this man’s money, his family, and his hope. If something didn’t happen soon it would take his life. Maybe he had heard about the miracles of Jesus. He concluded Jesus had the power to heal, the only nagging question; would he heal him? Any fear of rejection gave way to his desperation. Sometimes desperation comes really close to faith. He bowed down in worship before the Lord, “I know you can, I’m just not sure you will heal me”. That was it, Jesus reached out his hand and his skin was cleansed. The leprosy was gone. Maybe you have questions today, “He did it for others, would He do it for me?” Why don’t you ask Him for yourself, He may just give you an answer. Here is how Spurgeon describes this scene.

 

 

“Anyone else would have been defiled by touching a leper; but the healing power in Jesus repelled pollution. He touches us by the finger of his humanity, but he is not thereby defiled. His touch proves his condescension, his sympathy, his fellowship. It was no accidental touch: “Jesus put forth his hand. ” Our Lord has come to us by his own act and effort: he was determined to come to us in all our loathsomeness and pollution. After the touch came the word: “I will. ” One has well observed that Jesus never says, “I will not.” He wills, whether ether we will or not. “Be thou clean ” was the royal word of one conscious of abundant power.

What a work, to cleanse a leper! Yet it is easy enough to our King, seeing he is divine: else unbelief would be most reasonable.

With what pleasure Jesus spake! With what joy the leper heard! With what curiosity the bystanders looked on! They had not to wait: the miracle followed the word without a moment’s delay. The cure was instantaneous.”

 

 

It’s one thing to believe miracles happened somewhere else and in some other place. The shocking good news, He is here now and His miracle power hasn’t diminished. Today He just might be reaching out His hand to you.

SPECIAL MIRACLES

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

Acts 19:11,12

This is a very unusual verse of scripture, it has always been very special to me. Miracles, by their very nature are special, but Luke is describing another level of unusual. Dick Mills spoke of this verse saying, “A miracle is always special, so what does Luke mean here when he speaks of special miracles? Other versions of the Bible translate this word as “unusual”, “extraordinary”, or “uncommon”. Since by definition a miracle is always something unusual, extraordinary, or uncommon, this verse is almost a play on words: “God wrought ‘special specials’, ‘extraordinary extraordinaries’, ‘unusual unusuals’ by the hands of Paul”.

What made these miracles special? Mills goes on to say that it had something to do with where these miracles happened. They happened in Ephesus, along with Corinth, one of the most depraved of all the cities at that time. Today we would think of San Francisco, Las Vegas, or New Orleans, in those days it was Corinth and Ephesus. Brother Mills continues by saying, ” There is a spiritual isometric that states, …’where sin abounds, grace did much more abound’. The greater the sin, the greater the need of a Saviour.”

In the same way, great troubles, and great problems provide the atmosphere for these “special miracles”. Maybe you are facing insurmountable odds in your circumstances of life, rejoice, it is time for one of God’s “special miracles”.

The climate for these kinds of miracles is described best by the word, saturation. Paul was conducting daily meetings for two years in Ephesus. In that atmosphere created by spiritual saturation, these special miracles began to appear. Maybe you are in a season where only a special miracle will do, if that is the case, take desperate action. Saturate in God’s Word, saturate in His Presence praying in the Holy Spirit, create a miracle atmosphere through worship, and then, get ready. I think a season of special specials and unusual unusuals is headed your way