I’m guessing that a few of you are presently battling serious, chronic, or even terminal disease, believing God for a healing miracle. I’m also guessing that more than a few of you have been in this fight for some time now. You’ve prayed. You’ve believed. You’ve made declarations. You’ve sought out the prayers of anointed others. You’ve done everything you know to claim your healing miracle from God. And the test results still come back positive – the sickness still alive and kicking. (Maybe even spreading, thriving, getting more aggressive.)
I know how it feels. After one full year of hormone therapy designed to beat back the onslaught of cancer in my body, and another full year of watching the effects of this treatment slowly subside, the results are finally in. Two weeks ago, the doctor announced that the cancer is growing strong again.
Our church did something this past week that we’ve never done before. We held a Bible Marathon. With our children leading the way, 117 people joined forces at our Ministry Center to read the Bible (non-stop and out loud) from the appropriate “In the beginning” of Genesis 1:1 to the very last “Amen” of Revelation 22:21. (FYI – it took us 89 hours to finish the task.)
What surprised me (and really shouldn’t have) are the testimonies that are continuing to trickle in from this simple time of reading the Word of God.
Several people reported that the more they read, the more joy that filled the room … and them.
A few seekers (not yet believers) somewhat reluctantly participated in the Marathon, only joining because their cell group had signed up for several slots. But as they read the Bible out loud, a sense of hunger, excitement, and expectation began to fill their hearts. And they ended up falling in love with God’s Word.
As one woman read her assigned portion, she began to weep and weep. It was something that just came over her … she has no idea why.
It’s pretty easy to let Moses off the hook for what happened. It had been a long and trying forty years in the wilderness, leading an ungrateful, stubborn, faithless horde of complainers. They accused. They demanded. They rebelled. (Can you say “Korah?”) And now, just when they were finally preparing to enter the Promised Land, a whole new generation of Israelites were acting out the same way their fathers did.
In a situation very similar to one that happened nearly forty years earlier, the whole camp ran out of water. And following the example left by the previous generation, they stormed up to Moses and Aaron, accusing them of not taking good care of them – of leading them out of Egypt to endure horrible suffering and death in the wilderness. (That’s right. Same old yada, yada, yada.) Truth is, the people were really complaining and rebelling against God, so Moses got more than a bit piffed with them.
In a scene straight from their first days in the wilderness, God instructed Moses to take his rod, assemble all the people at a rock outside the camp, speak to said rock, and bring forth enough water for everyone and their livestock. So Moses obeyed. Kinda.
Have you ever faced a situation in life that had “impossible” or “hopeless” written all over it? Like a stage-4 cancer diagnosis? Or an irreparably broken marriage? Or an estranged child? Or severe mental illness? Or the Mt. Everest of debt? Or a too-far-from-God-to-ever-get-saved family member?
Mary and Martha faced the impossible. They stared down the barrel of despair. Their beloved brother, Lazarus, was dead. Four-days dead. Hopelessly dead. The huge stone that lay across the mouth of his tomb screamed, “It’s finished! He’s gone! Nothing more than the stench of decay in here! No way in heaven for a miracle to happen now!”
But Jesus didn’t listen. First thing He did was remove the stone – an act of faith that paved the way for a resurrection miracle.
If you’re facing an impossible situation in life right now, you need to take the same first step that Jesus did. Remove the stone that keeps your death-to-life miracle entombed in unbelief.
Here are three things that can help you remove these stones of doubt in your life:
The chop is an important part of Taiwanese society. An engraved name on a small block of wood, dipped in red ink, and used as a legally binding stamp for all important documents or transactions, the chop is our authorized signature.
Imagine that your boss calls you into his office one day, gives you his chop, and tells you to go down to the bank and do business on his behalf. So you drive down to the bank and stand in line waiting to do your duty. When you finally get up to the teller, you pull out your cell phone and call your boss. “Hey boss! I made it to the teller window and we’re ready to do business. Please come on down here and take care of it.” What kind of response do you think you’d get if you made a call like that? Let’s just say the next line you’d end up in would be of the unemployment variety. And for good reason.
When your boss sent you to the bank, he gave you everything you needed in order to do business on his behalf. You were given the authority – his chop – to conduct business “in his name.” Why in the world would you call him to come down and do it himself?
Several years ago, I walked by six young men who were offering incense at a local earth-god temple. As I passed these well-dressed professionals, I felt God say, “Stop and pray a blessing over them.” Being the godly, obedient, on-fire pastor that I was … I just kept right on walking.
Even as a host of obedience-dampening excuses filled my mind, God continued to whisper His desires. “Stop and pray.” “Stop and pray.” “Stop and pray.” A quarter of a mile later, I finally stopped, turned around, went back to the tiny temple, and laid hands on each of the men, releasing God’s presence over their lives.
These past years have seen many such struggles to break free of my comfort zones in order to obey God’s desires. Like the times He said to me …
The Apostle Paul was frustrated. He’d just been run out of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, and now he was all alone in Athens, waiting for Timothy and Silas to come join him. He’d learned from the mistakes he and Barnabas had made during their first missionary journey to Galatia, mistakes that would lead to wolves coming in and undermining the young churches they’d planted in that region. So this time around, his missionary team members stayed behind in the different Macedonian towns to help the just planted churches get wolf-proofed. And that left Paul by himself in the cultural capital of the world.
Bible schools and seminaries around the world are delighted that Paul stayed in Athens during that time, because he gave one of the most famous evangelistic sermons recorded in scripture. (Acts 17:22-31) From his culturally intriguing introduction about the altar inscribed “To An Unknown God” to his concluding proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill is widely recognized as the textbook example of gospel preaching. It’s celebrated as a model of truth, logic, and godly wisdom. There’s only one tiny problem. The sermon was a failure.
Did you know that Thomas Jefferson created his own Bible? Known both as “The Jefferson Bible” and “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” this cut-and-paste version of Jesus’ life was taken from the New Testament accounts. “Taken from” is literal here. As is “cut-and-paste.” With razor blade in hand, Jefferson sliced his way through the gospels, selecting what he perceived was the true story about Jesus, and gluing these snippets into one volume. Jefferson, considered to be one of the most brilliant men of his time, removed any mention of Jesus’ miracles, divinity, or resurrection, each truth finding its place on the cutting room floor. The Bible according to Thomas Jefferson.
Talk about pride. But it would also be pride to think I’ve never done the same thing in my life. The Bible according to Gregg Dennington. Scary stuff. Let’s strive to approach God’s Word with fresh integrity, the only thing ending up on the cutting room floor being any of our own ideas, thoughts, traditions, opinions, or pet-theologies that would dare to come against the truth of His two-edged Sword.
Because I don’t want a cut-and-paste version of the Bible with my name on it.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
I mean it. I’ve been using this software (e-Sword) for many years now, and can’t imagine trying to do in-depth Bible study without it. It offers a one-page layout, a huge number of free Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, reference books, and devotionals, and the basic software itself is absolutely free. (Thanks to the generosity and vision of its developer, Rick Meyers.)
If you’re interested in getting hold of a complete-package, off-line, user-friendly tool for studying the Bible, I encourage you to go check out www.e-sword.net and start downloading. You won’t be disappointed. (And no, I’m not getting paid a cent for this endorsement.)
One of the challenges you might face after actually downloading the basic e-Sword software is figuring out which add-ons to add on. There are so many Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, lexicons, and reference books to choose from that it can be overwhelming. So to try and help out a bit, here are a few suggestions … and two of my must-have add-ons.