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As you draw closer to God, you are going to run into places where you get stuck because you don’t understand something about God. And actually, most of us run into the same roadblocks.
Through this series, we’ve been breaking through those roadblocks and getting closer to God as a result.
Our theme verse for this series actually comes from a place where the church as we know it today was brand new and people were making fun of it and making fun of God because they didn’t understand what God was doing.
This is when the Holy Spirit was poured out shortly after Jesus had ascended into heaven. Take a look at the response:
Acts 2:12-15 NIV – Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Maybe you’ve been here yourself. Something out of the norm happened at church or with one of your christian friends and you just sat there thinking, “What in the heck is going on?!”
I wanted to show this to you so you know you are not alone in your thoughts. The truth is, you will always criticize things you don’t understand.
It’s not that you don’t believe God can do it, it’s just you don’t understand. And it is easier to make fun of it than to dig in and try to understand it.
But through this series, I’m going to help you just like Peter did in the early church:
Acts 2:12-15 NIV – Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.
So what we’re saying through this series is, this is not what you thought it was this whole time. This is that, the truth you find in the Bible.
We’ve talked about the Holy Spirit, prayer, worship, and prosperity.
Today we are going to wrap up this series by talking about the topic that most Christians struggle to understand: healing.
Why does God heal some people and not others?
Why do we even get sick?
Maybe you’ve had some of these questions? Well, in this message I hope to give you some answers. But let me preface by saying that I don’t think it’s possible to fully grasp God’s idea of healing in one message.
But we can all gain a degree of clarity and continue moving down that path of understanding what God wants in regards to healing. In the church world, you may have noticed two extreme viewpoints on healing.
There’s one side that says you should experience a healing miracle every time you ask for it. Then there’s the other side that believes that healing miracles went away when the last apostle died.
You probably have something on the inside of you that knows God is still working miracles today. But there’s this tension we all feel because we’ve witnessed healing miracles and then buried someone we prayed for.
I’ve witnessed this personally. My wife, Beth, was healed from infertility five years ago and now we have three kids. And then just a couple of years ago, my father-in-law passed away at age 50 after we prayed for a miracle.
Let’s go to scripture so we can begin to sort this stuff out:
James 5:13-16 NKJV – Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
If you’ve ever doubted the importance of prayer, this ought to change your viewpoint. We now know that prayer holds the power to help us through hardships and even bring healing into our lives.
For healing, it says to have the elders of the church pray over you and anoint you with oil. Let’s talk about that because I can see this being confusing for some, especially if you are new to the church.
The elders in the church are simply the leaders in the church who have a solid grasp on the Bible. So here at NoLimits, this could be me, Beth, Dillon, Chris Wills, Cary Sims, Tim and Darla Bell, Mark and Gena Young, and others.
What about this anointing with oil thing? Well, the book of James was written to Jewish Christians. In their culture, anointing with oil had significant meaning.
They would use it to greet their guests as a sign of honor and respect. When someone was appointed as a prophet or priest, they would anoint them with oil as a symbol of being called by God and set apart for His purposes.
Anointing with oil was a big deal to them. And in this context, anointing with oil while they prayed for healing was a symbol to proclaim that their body was now dedicated to God.
Do you have to be anointed with oil to be healed? No. But if it has meaning for you and inspires your faith, go for it. But, how do we know oil is not required? You find the answer in the next verse:
James 5:13-16 NKJV – And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.
First off, I want you to notice that it’s the prayer, not the oil. I want you to remember that because I don’t want you to get hung up on the oil.
But why does this say the prayer will save the sick instead of heal the sick?
Let’s recap. Someone was sick and went to the elders for prayer so they could find healing. The elders prayed with faith and even went a step further and anointed with oil. Yet, their prayer didn’t heal the sick, it saved the sick.
I’m thinking they must have got their words mixed up. Or maybe God’s secretary messed up the message before it got to Him. Or maybe they just translated this verse wrong.
Well, I looked up the original Greek word translated to save, and it really means save. We’re talking about salvation through Jesus Christ.
This brings me to the first thing we all need to understand about healing.
God is more concerned with eternity.
We talk a lot about the importance of what you do first. Pray first before you jump into that argument. Give first before you do anything else with your paycheck. Set your mind on God first, as soon as you wake up every day.
Give God the first of your week by being faithful to church. Give God the first of your year by joining us in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting every January. It’s so important what you do first.
This principle of first explains what happened in the scripture we just read. If you come to God for healing, He wants to heal you, but there’s something He has to do first. He has to make sure you will be spending eternity with Him.
I mean, if you received healing in your body but you didn’t receive salvation, what good does it do? Your body is going to end up dying anyways and then what? That’s why, first things first, let’s get eternity sorted out.
This is a no-brainer to God. He gets it. This life is just a mist in comparison to eternity. But we get so caught up in our earthly life that we have a really hard time understanding why God would let someone die instead of healing them.
I have an explanation for you, but you are probably not going to like it:
Isaiah 55:8 NLT – “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
We all have a vision of heaven and you probably think the first sound you are going to hear is the angels singing the hallelujah chorus. But I don’t think that’s the first thing you are going to hear.
The first thing we are going to hear is a noise coming out of our own mouths… “Oh… Ohh…” When we get to heaven, it’s all going to become clear. We are going to “get it” just like God does.
But in the meantime we have to learn to be okay with the fact that we don’t understand everything. Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. His ways are far beyond what we can even imagine.
I can’t explain why my father-in-law died so young. I can’t explain why Chris and Gina’s nephew, who believed in Jesus, died a few months ago from some rare form of cancer. It doesn’t make sense!
We don’t see the full picture like God does. But something I am sure of is God is not the author of sickness. God is the author of life – eternal life. The devil is the one who steals, kills and destroys with sickness and disease.
Y’all, we have to get okay with the fact that our little minds cannot not fully comprehend the ways of God. We can’t explain it and we don’t have to.
But we do know that God is more concerned with eternity. He wants to heal you but He will always save you first.
Let’s get back to the book of James and see what comes next. Remember, someone who needed healing went to the elders for prayer and they ended up getting saved. Here’s the next part of that passage:
James 5:15-16 NLT – …And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
Oh… Oh, I’m starting to get it. I came for healing, ended up getting saved, and now I am getting healed. The word translated to “healed” here really does refer to physical healing.
This is really cool. Take a look at the definition of the Greek word translated to healed:
Iamoai (healed) – to cure, heal; to make whole; to bring about one’s salvation.
That last part brings this all together – to bring about one’s salvation. In other words, healing is a result of your salvation. Salvation in Jesus comes first, and as that salvation takes root in your life, it brings about healing.
Which leads me into the next thing we need to understand about healing:
Sin is a healing thief.
We often misunderstand this by thinking that God uses sickness to punish us for what we’ve done wrong. But that’s not it at all. When we allow sin into our lives, we are allowing the enemy to steal something that belongs to us, healing.
We just read this in James, and it seemed a bit misplaced until now:
James 5:15-16 NLT – …And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
So when you are sick, you go to the elders for prayer. When they pray, salvation comes first. And if you are already saved, well let’s make sure sin is not getting in the way because we can’t go any further until you receive forgiveness.
We haven’t got to healing yet, but in this scripture we see the final step: confess our sins to each other and pray for each other. In other words, we need each other to walk in healing. This isn’t something you should be doing by yourself.
No wonder the enemy works so hard at getting you to think that church is not important. No wonder there are so many distractions that keep us from showing up to our small group.
Because the enemy knows, if we prioritize living life together, we will become an unstoppable force of good to those around us. Many will get saved and get healed simply because we dedicated time to each other.
This is why the church is essential. And I get it, people say, “the church is not a building, it’s the people.” And that sounds really good, but it’s not accurate.
The church is the gathering of believers.
It’s when we come together in unity going after the things of God. It’s when we have close enough relationships that we are willing to confess our sins to each other and ask for prayer. That’s the church, y’all!
Don’t believe these lies that church is not essential, that the church is killing people by spreading the virus. It’s nonsense and it’s a lie from the pit of hell.
Gathering together as believers is the most important thing we do. The enemy knows this, but now so do we. And I pray that you will remember this part of my message for the rest of your life. Here’s what I want you to remember:
God uses relationships to bring healing.
If healing comes because we are close enough to get real about our issues and ask for prayer, no wonder we don’t see healing very often today.
The overall church culture in America is coming to church, enjoying the show, and going back home with the goal of talking to as few people as possible. And we don’t even go every week anymore. Just here and there is enough.
But have you noticed how you can’t really build relationships this way? Oh, but at least we are following each other on Facebook and texting each other once in a while.
If we want to see healing become common in church, it starts by prioritizing building relationships in church. And in order to do that, you show up even when you don’t want to. You join a small group even when it’s not convenient.
I’m not getting on to you. I’m helping you. I promise, this will work. But it takes time to build relationships so you have to dedicate yourself to this. Give it at least a few months and you will start seeing the results of it.
And let me invite you in on this mission. One of the best ways that you can answer this call of God to build relationships is to lead a small group. Our summer semester starts in just two weeks, so now’s the time.
If you want to answer this call of God, I want you to talk to our small groups director after service today. Don’t wait – do it today. Our small group leaders are vital to the mission of the church.
So, God works through relationships. But that’s only half of the equation. Let’s go back to James to get the other half:
James 5:16 NLT – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
If we build these relationships and get comfortable enough with each other to share where we’re struggling, it wouldn’t do any good if we didn’t know how to offer a prayer of faith. In other words:
Relationship + Prayer of Faith = Healing
In order to pray a prayer of faith, we must understand how faith works. Interestingly enough, James goes on to explain it. Take a look:
James 5:17-18 NLT – Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
In this story, you’ll find the journey of faith. But you need more details from the story to see it, so let’s go to the story James was telling, which is found in 1 Kings:
Prayer of Faith
1 Kings 17:1 NLT – Now Elijah… told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”
Elijah had a word from God that King Ahab would not turn from his wicked ways unless there was a drought. That’s what Elijah was talking about here. This actually reveals the first step in the faith journey:
1. Faith begins with a Word from God.
You can’t grow in your faith journey unless you know what God has spoken to you. Well, how do we know what God is saying to us?
Romans 10:17 NKJV – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
The way I like to read this is, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing and hearing the Word of God.” That’s why sometimes you have to hear the same scripture 40 times before you actually get it.
This is why we come to church every Sunday and hear the word of God. It’s why we make a point to get into the scriptures ourselves every day. It’s why we listen to worship music and christian podcasts.
Hearing and hearing and hearing and hearing and hearing. That’s the goal. If you want to operate in faith, you take every opportunity to hear the Word of God.
And here’s a pro tip for you. One of the best ways to hear the Word of God is out of your own mouth. So, read those scriptures out loud. And find a scripture for whatever you’re dealing with, memorize it, and say it over and over.
So your faith journey begins by hearing the Word of God. What comes next? Let’s go back to the story in 1 Kings to find out.
Just like Elijah said, it didn’t rain for three and a half years. But now it was time for the rain to come at his word and look at what happened:
1 Kings 18:43-44 NLT – Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”
So Elijah sent his servant to see if his faith was working. He saw nothing. Can anyone else relate to that? You put your faith out there, you sat expectantly waiting to see the result of it, and nothing.
Too many of us give up there, but Elijah didn’t. He held on to his faith, sending his servant back seven times until he finally saw the tiniest cloud. Eljiah didn’t even wait for the first raindrop to fall. He knew the rain was coming before he even saw the cloud.
This reveals the second step in your faith journey:
2. Faith continues regardless of what I see.
This is why I am not discouraged when I continue to see negative reports about the economy because of what’s going on with the virus. It’s why I’m not discouraged when I hear how the church is being persecuted across our nation.
Because God gave me a Word. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. God has made America a great nation and He will restore our nation so it can be a blessing to the world.
It doesn’t matter what I see. It could get worse before it gets better. But I know God’s Word will come to pass. It looks like this year is going to be a complete bust, but it’s actually going to end up being the best year we’ve ever had. Why?
2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV – For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Alright, let’s look at how this story turned out with Elijah:
1 Kings 18:45-46 NLT – And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.
It didn’t just rain. It poured. And not only that, but God gave Elijah special strength to run faster than a chariot so he could get ahead of the storm. To put things in perspective, a horse can run about twice as fast as us.
So at the end of this faith journey, God didn’t just do what Elijah expected Him to do, He did much more. He exceeded expectations. And God always exceeds expectations when we choose to operate in faith. In other words:
3. Faith goes from a small beginning to a grand finale.
You know, there are two types of people in the world. You are either a journey person or a destination person.
We’ve all been on a trip with a destination person. You didn’t get to stop to use the restroom or nothing. It didn’t matter that you were passing the Grand Canyon on the way there, you’re not stopping until you get there.
And then we have our blessed journey people who just wander through life and enjoy everything they encounter. These are the people you don’t want to shop with because they’ll go down every aisle.
Well, I hate to tell you this, but God is a journey person. We step out in faith hyper focused on the destination, the outcome, the miracle. But God is more interested in the journey to that destination.
You are going to get there, but He has a journey for you to take first. Because He knows that you’ll benefit more from the journey than you would if He just gave you the miracle right when you asked for it.
Honestly, this is where I’m at right now with our church. God’s given me a word that He is going to use NoLimits Church to shift the City of Owasso from a culture that goes to church out of religious duty to a culture that is on fire for God.
Our city will be known for its generosity and love and God is using us to lead that charge. But here we are at small beginnings. We are on this journey that God deems necessary for us to get to the grand finale.
I’m confident that we will look back on this day and know exactly why God did what He did. It doesn’t seem fast enough now, but God knows exactly what He’s doing and every bit of this is necessary for us to get where God wants us.
The Apostle Paul went through this too. Take a look:
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NLT – Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Maybe this is speaking to your personal journey. You’ve been believing God for something but nothing is happening. You’ve been out looking for the cloud six times now but have yet to see a thing.
Here’s God’s Word for you today, “Go look again. It’s coming. I’ve heard your prayers and I’ve been working on your behalf. I know you don’t see it, but it’s coming.”
Take a moment right now to let the Holy Spirit work in you. Close your eyes and say, “Holy Spirit, refresh me in this journey.”
Maybe you’re in a place right now where you need to put your faith in Jesus Christ so He can save you. God cares so much about your eternity that He sent Jesus so you could be forever forgiven of your sins.
You’ve heard the word of God today that Jesus wants to save you. And even though you can’t see Him, even though it seems like a small beginning, put your faith in Jesus today and watch your life begin to change.
I want to lead you in a prayer to help you put your faith into words. Go ahead and say this out loud:
“Jesus, I put my faith in you today. I believe that you died for my sins. I believe you rose back to life. I believe you’ve forgiven me. I believe you’ll never leave me. I believe my eternity is sealed in heaven. In Jesus name, amen.”
Salvation Next Step
If you just prayed that prayer, we want to support you along the journey that’s ahead. But we can’t support you if we don’t know. So we set up an easy way for you to tell us. Simply text the word Jesus to 918-373-9883.
We’re not going to bug you. We’re not going to spam you. We are just going to help guide you through your next step. We’re here for you. So please, go ahead and send that text.