Jesus Delivers From Demon Spirits

revgenlink-136060754210On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:10-16).

The passage we are studying today is about a lady who would probably be diagnosed by physician’s today as Marie-Strümpell Disease, a fusion of the spinal bones. There are no medicines known today that can cure this physical condition. But in this particular case the disease had a spiritual cause rather than a medical. Early in the course of the disease, sufferers often find that the pain is relieved somewhat when they lean forward. Sufferers go through the day leaning slightly forward, and gradually their spine begins to fuse. The more they lean in order to relieve the pain, the greater the angle, until a patient might be bent almost double, as the lady referred to in our passage. The bones become calcified and people are not able to straighten themselves. This lady had lived with this condition for 18 years and it was steadily getting worse.

It was a Sabbath day we are told. She sat down with the others in the synagogue, even though she could not see Christ, being bent over double. I think it is a beautiful thing that even with her disability she is still present to hear the Word of God. One gets the feeling that maybe it was her only hope. The passage seems to indicate that the Word of God was taught first, before Jesus called her out from the crowd. There had to be a degree of trust in her heart to sit and wait and leave her condition in God’s hands. I wonder how many had noticed her or even helped her to a seat. Were other people aware that her condition was caused by demons? She could not ask for healing as it was the Sabbath day. The religious rulers would not allow healing to be practiced on the Sabbath; they considered it work. The woman sat there and silently trusted.

The Lord Jesus knew the storm of controversy that would erupt at healing the woman on the Sabbath day, but He cared more for people than all the little rules that the religious leaders had put in place. Those that were out for His blood never intimidated Him! This passage is interesting because Jesus didn’t heal her; he set her free from the demon by casting out the spirit. When the spirit was forced to leave her at the command of Jesus, she was released from her ailment. It seems to me that the demon had not only caused this crippling disease 18 years previously, but was still keeping her tied up in a spiritual way. When Jesus put His hands on her, she immediately straightened up. We are told that she praised God. What joy flooded her heart!

But at the sound of the woman’s praise, the synagogue ruler angrily tells off the woman accusing her of coming to be healed on the Sabbath. What a cold stone of a man he is! It does not seem right that he is in charge over a congregation of God’s people. Doesn’t it make you wonder how a man with no heart and compassion can lead the flock of God? He is indignant, what a strong word scripture uses about him. Instead of joy at this woman’s deliverance and healing, he is very angry and upset. Doesn’t it make you wonder if the demon found another home right away!

The synagogue leader does not scold the Lord for healing her, but this religious person takes it out on His people instead! This woman had patiently sat in her seat; it was Jesus who had called her forward. It strikes me how the Lord is so quick to defend this daughter of Abraham, a child of God, from the attacks of the evil one. It is just like the enemy to get at the Lord by attacking His people, especially when we begin to praise our God. The enemy sometimes uses religious people to squelch out the praise of God. One would expect that a leader of this synagogue would be a lover of people, but this man showed no compassion whatsoever. His words betray his heart. Something wonderful and God honoring had happened in his synagogue and he is angry about it. On the other side, though, we see how kind the Lord is. He encourages her by calling her a daughter of Abraham, even though she had just been released from a demon that had disabled her for 18 years. Jesus speaks words of love and affirmation to her. How kind and reassuring that must have felt to her.

If you want to be a person that knows the power of God and be set free in the area of your praise to God, ask God to set you free. Raise your hands in submission to the Lord, picture Him sitting on His throne as you worship. Don’t wait until heaven before you learn to worship in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking for such (John 4:23-24).   Learn to be a worshiper who will abandon self and give Him all your praise and adoration this side of heaven. The enemy hates it when the Lord’s people move in an abandoned spirit of praise, because the Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). The presence of God comes as He is worshiped.

Jesus reminds the synagogue leader that animals are treated better than the Lord’s people under the heavy rules of the Jewish leadership. Doesn’t any man allow his animals to drink in the morning? One can hear the care in His voice for this poor woman that has been under the cruel bondage of Satan for 18 years. Not another day, He says. How about you? Isn’t it time you were released from whatever has bound you. Call upon the Lord with all your heart and He will hear you (Acts 2:21).

Keith Thomas

The Defender of Widows and Orphans

resurrection11Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out–the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people” (Luke 7:11-16).

Widows and orphans have always been people that God has given special care and compassion.  His heart goes out to them in their need. It is a cruel world for those who are unmarried and have children, they are amongst the most needy in our society and even more so in the Middle East where there is no Social Security or insurance plan for the unemployed.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling (Psalm 68:5).

Let’s try and get a picture in our minds of the scene in front of us.  We are told in Luke 7:11 that a large crowd of people were following the disciples. Just as they were approaching the town gate they were confronted with the funeral procession. Normally there would be a band of professional mourners at the head, with their flutes and cymbals uttering their shrill cries of grief, followed by those that were carrying the boy in the coffin.  When we think of a coffin we think of a wooden box but this was more than likely a long wickerwork basket used for carrying the body to the grave. 

I find it amazing that we don’t see the widow asking for a miracle, Jesus undertakes without a request from her. Author Ken Gire says: “It is a miracle done without human prompting.  Without thought of lessons to be taught to the disciples. Without thought of deity to be demonstrated to the skeptics.  It is a miracle drawn solely from the well of divine compassion.  So free the water.  So pure the heart from which it is drawn.  So tender the hand that cups it and brings it to this bereaved mother’s lips.” We are most like our Lord when we can step into the shoes of those who are poor and hurting with hearts of compassion, longing to do what we can to alleviate their pain and need.

There are some situations that God does not require faith before He moves, He acts out of His own compassion, grace and mercy.  I find it refreshing to know that even when I am at low ebb spiritually that He will move on my behalf outside of His requirement for expressions of faith. Jesus was not worried about being ritually unclean as he stepped forward and touched the coffin. People are what matter to Him. There is a higher law at work, the law of love and compassion.

His heart, we are told, went out to her. He said, “Don’t cry.” He felt her pain. When any of His people are hurting He feels their pain. Turning to the boy, he said, Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15The dead man sat up and began to talk. We are told that there was an awe that filled them, astonishment at such a thing.  This awe was awareness that God indeed was visiting His people, How could this be! This man was dead! Imagine the praise that went up, verse 16, as relatives and the mother herself received her son back from the dead.  Imagine what pain there would be in losing your only son and then the joy of holding the one you already had to release to death.

“God has come to help His people!” (verse 16).

According to the gospel writers, every funeral that Jesus went to He raised up the dead person! There was Lazarus in John 11, the Centurions servant in Luke 7:1-10, and then Jairus’ daughter was also raised from the dead in Luke 8:40-56. Alfred Edersheim in his book “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” tells us that the Jews believed that there would be three evidences in the ministry of the Messiah, He would cleanse lepers, heal the blind and raise the dead.  Are you convinced yet that this is indeed the Messiah? God has come to help His people!

Keith Thomas

The God Who Answers Prayer Before Being Asked

Isaiah the prophet, more than five hundred years before Christ, spoke about a time, the time we are in now, when God would answer prayer even before His people ask.

…they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear (Isaiah 65:23-24).

This is a story written 
by a doctor who worked in Africa:

“One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator). 
We also had no special feeding facilities.

Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in.

Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). 
’And it is our last hot water bottle!’ she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles, they do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. 

’All right,’ I said, ‘put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.’

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. 
During prayer time, one ten -year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. ‘Please, God’ she prayed, ‘Send us a hot water bottle today. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.’

While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, ‘And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?’

As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say ‘Amen?’ I just did not believe that God could do this. 
Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland.

I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home. 
Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! 
Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas – that would make a batch of buns for the weekend. 
Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the…could it really be? 

I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. 
I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.

Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, ‘If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!’

Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! 

Looking up at me, she asked, ‘Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so that she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?’

’Of course,’ I replied! That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. 

And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child – five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it ‘that afternoon.’

’Before they call, I will answer’ (Isaiah 65:24).

What a wonderful answer to a very specific prayer. The joy that a child of God feels when a specific answer to prayer is received goes far beyond just the answer itself. It is also a reminder to us that God keeps His promises, that He is mindful of us, and that we are able to call on our Father in this new day of prayer. Maybe today is a good day for you to begin praying in Jesus’ name for whatever your need is.

Keith Thomas

Who Was the Prophesied Suffering Servant?

We have been thinking over the past couple of weeks about how Biblical prophecy was remarkably fulfilled in great detail even though it was spoken more than five hundred years beforehand. In yesterdays post we spoke about the prophecy of Isaiah. God told us in that prophecy that He would send a Messiah, a man that would be more than a man; He would be God in the flesh:

14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)

 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1:23).

Some say that Jesus never went around claiming, “I am God.” I agree that Christ was far too humble of soul to state such an arrogant statement, but when you look in detail what He did and said, it was evident that He saw Himself as God. Take, for instance, the healing of the paralyzed man: Continue reading

Give Yourselves Fully to the Work of the Lord

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Paul writes to the church at Corinth that they should give themselves fully to the work of the Lord. What is meant by the work of the Lord? It is the stewardship of the gospel—the most powerful thing on planet Earth! If we had discovered a cure for cancer, there would be a responsibility to get it to the world to save lives. We have a cure for the cancer of the spirit—the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cure for the disease of sin that ravages our planet. The propagation or furtherance of the gospel and the edifying (building up spiritually) of the saints (the people of God) is the most important work of the Lord in the world.

We have been thinking in the last few days about the life of Sadhu Sundar Singh, the godly Indian Christian. This is what Sadhu Sundar Singh gave the rest of his life for—the furtherance of the gospel. He crossed the Himalayan Mountains often from India into Tibet, called by many the Roof of the World because of its altitude, to share the gospel with the Tibetan people. God was with him as he would go into the market places of Tibet and just start preaching the gospel to the poor.

On one occasion, in a Tibetan town called Rasa, Continue reading