Proverbs in Light of The Cross; Emotional Healing

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. For the Lord will be displeased with you  and will turn his anger away from them. Proverbs 24:17-18 NLT

In the sports world we celebrate when our team eliminates another team in the playoffs and we see them fall. In the corporate world people celebrate when another company closes doors enabling their company to create a monopoly on the market. Love triangles have created even more sinister  behavior, even bloodshed, when someone comes between them and the one they have a crush on. Its almost as if people think their healing has to come from  someone else’s downfall.

Christian’s don’t celebrate the downfall of their enemy. Christians do not derive any “healing” from the disaster of their enemies. Christians find their healing in Jesus.

He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:5 NLT

Jesus did not only suffer the punishment we deserve. He also suffered the punishment our enemy deserves. We are not healed by our enemy being beaten and whipped. We are healed by Jesus being beaten and whipped.

Studies have shown that many people return from war with PTSD and emotional scars from the pain and violence they inflicted on others. Hurting your enemy will not bring you healing. It will bring you trauma. Instead of healing, the act or revenge is trauma to your own soul.

Jesus was beaten and whipped for your enemy. Is that not enough? it is insane to believe that seeing our enemy fall, could bring us any healing or make us whole.

Jesus went to the cross to heal us and make us whole. Look to Jesus and not your enemy for healing.

He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:5 NLT

Thinking we need to see our enemy suffer in order to be healed and made whole, is saying Jesus did not suffer enough on the cross to heal and make me whole.

Forgiveness is not saying it is Okay

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

One Sabbath afternoon I received a phone call from the mother of a child I had corrected earlier at church, who had smarted off to me, when I told her to stay out of a room that was off-limits. The mother told me, “My daughter wants to tell you she is sorry, but before she gets on the phone, I wanted to ask you, when she says she is sorry, don’t tell her it is okay. Just tell her she is forgiven.”

“Wow!” I thought. This mother gets it! Forgiveness is not saying it is okay. So many are slow to forgive, because what happened to them was so wrong they can’t just sweep it under the rug. The deed deserves to be punished. What they don’t understand is that forgiveness is not sweeping it under the rug and saying it is okay. Then what is it saying?When I share the gospel presentation, I always share this passage from the Desire of Ages. It is so clear and simple, and to me, sums up the whole plan of salvation.

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”  -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 25 

Now I would like to take this passage to the next level – beyond the plan of my personal salvation. I understand that Jesus took the punishment for my sins so that I can now be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Now I need to understand, that the sins my enemy committed have not been swept under the rug. Jesus was also treated the way my enemy deserves to be treated, so that I may now treat my enemy the way Jesus deserves to be treated.

Jesus did not only suffer for my sins, He suffered also for sins committed against me. Why do I need to take it out on my enemy when it has already been taken out on Jesus?

They made fun of me and humiliated me!
Jesus was mocked and humiliated on the cross in their place.

They killed my son! They deserve to die!
Jesus died because they killed your son.

They sexually abused me! They deserve to be sexually abused!
Jesus hung naked on a cross in front of the whole universe, including His own angels!

Earlier this year I was reading through the Old Testament, and when I came to Isaiah 53 something jumped out at me, when I read:

 “With his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Suddenly I realized something I had never seen before. I realized that retaliation against my enemy will never bring me healing. I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, and not the stripes of my enemy. Jesus suffering for my sins can only bring partial healing and partial reconciliation. I am made whole, and totally reconciled, not just to Jesus but to my brothers, when I realize Jesus suffered for their sins too.

In the story in Matthew 18:21-35 a man is forgiven who did not ask to be forgiven. He only asked for more time to pay the debt. However the master forgave the debt anyway. This is important for us to note, because the master represents God who forgave us without us even asking. In the Lord’s prayer we find we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, meaning that we are to forgive in the same manner. God expects us to forgive without being asked to forgive, just as the man was forgiven while only asking for more time to pay the debt.

After the man was forgiven, he goes out and sees a brother who owes him a much smaller debt. Even after being forgiven he refuses to forgive. In the parable the unforgiving man ends up in prison until his full debt is paid.

Wait a minute! Wasn’t his debt forgiven? Separated as far as the east is from the west and into the depths of the sea? How did it come back? I believe it’s this way: When I refuse to forgive my brother, what I am saying is, “I don’t think Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to pay for what was done to me.” Well guess what? If Jesus’ death is not enough to pay for my enemy’s sin, then it is not enough to pay for my sin either! By not allowing Jesus to pay for my enemy’s sin on the cross, I have just disqualified the cross as a payment for sin and therefore I must still pay for my sins – and the only way I can do that is to die an eternal death.

Forgiveness and reconciliation is not saying “It’s okay.” It is saying, “I realize Jesus suffered for your sins on the cross.” It is realizing I am healed by the stripes Jesus received and not by the stripes my enemy receives. We have to be pretty sick ourselves to think that in order for us to be healed, someone else has to be hurt. Jesus does not have to hurt my enemy in order to heal me.

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves.”  Christ was also treated as my enemy deserves, that I may now treat my enemy the way Christ deserves to be treated.

With His stripes we are all healed.

You may explore this week’s SS lesson here.

Glimpses Of Grace; Forgive Our Enemies

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”  {Desire of Ages 25

What I need to remember, is not only did Christ become sin for me, He also became sin for those who have hurt me. Not only was Christ treated the way I deserved to be treated, so that I can be treated the way He deserves to be treated, but He was also treated the way my enemy deserved to be treated, so I can now treat my enemy the way Christ deserves to be treated.

If the cross is good enough to cover my enemy’s sin, it will also be good enough to cover my sin. If all the terrible things that happened to Jesus on the Christ are not enough to cover my enemy’s sin, then it won’t be enough to cover my sin either.  Forgiving my enemy is not saying what they did was okay. When I forgive my enemy, I am saying that I recognize Jesus’ sacrifice as a suitable payment for sin. When I refuse to forgive my enemy, I am insulting Jesus and telling Him His sacrifice meant nothing to me and is not a valid payment for sin.

If you are in the Tampa Bay area this Friday, January 6, at 7pm, I would like to personally invite you to an agape feast and communion service, at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, where we will be celebrating God’s agape love.

If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, then please click here to discover God’s agape live near you, anywhere in the world.

3 John; Saving Body and Soul

 I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.  3 John 1:2 

Our work is to be practical. We are to remember that man has a body as well as a soul to save. Our work includes far more than standing before the people to preach to them. In our work we are to minister to the physical infirmities of those with whom we are brought in contact. We are to present the principles of health reform, impressing our hearers with the thought that they have a part to act in keeping themselves in health.  {Ev 260.4}

     The body must be kept in a healthy condition in order that the soul may be in health. The condition of the body affects the condition of the soul. He who would have physical and spiritual strength must educate his appetite in right lines. He must be careful not to burden the soul by overtaxing his physical or spiritual powers. Faithful adherence to right principles in eating, drinking, and dressing is a duty that God has laid upon human beings.  {Ev 261.1} 

     The Lord desires us to obey the laws of health and life. He holds each one responsible to care properly for his body, that it may be kept in health.–Letter 123, 1903.  {Ev 261.2} 

John 9:Skeptics Come and go

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In John 9 I read about a blind man that Jesus heals so that he can see. The Pharisees, then want to accuse Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. At the same time though, they are insinuating that the man was never blind and therefore Jesus did not really heal him. A lot of people think  if Jesus were here today we would have all the evidence we need, but skepticism reigns in every age, even while Jesus walked the earth. So it is today. Years ago, in the church I was attending at the time, an older lady was diagnosed with breast cancer. The church prayed, and later the doctors said the cancer had disappeared! While many praised the Lord for healing the lady, a few others openly said she must have never had cancer in the first place, and must have been misdiagnosed. The same thing happened when Jesus healed the blind man. The Pharisees took it upon themselves to see if he was really the blind man or someone else, or if he was ever really blind in the first place.

Don’t let skeptics discourage you from believing the Word of God. There have been skeptics in every age. Skeptics come and go, but God’s Word endures from age to age.

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 8

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson is about the fruit of the Spirit and faith. When Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration, he was met by a man who begged Jesus to heal his son. He told Jesus his disciples could not do it. Later Jesus told them they could not do it because of their lack of faith. Lack of faith is seldom a lack of faith in God’s power. It is a lack of faith in God’s love. This is how sin started. The serpent did not make Eve doubt God’s power. He told her God did not want her to enjoy a higher existence and life and thus made Eve doubt God’s love. The disciples that were not invited to the top of the mountain with Jesus felt left out and doubted God’s love. That is why they could not heal the boy.

Faith is contagious and so is doubt. The disciples lack of faith then caused the father to doubt God too. He asked Jesus, “if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” (See Mark 9) The father added a big “if” to his request. Since the disciples, who were to be like Jesus could not do it, how could he know if Jesus could do it? The father asked for help with his unbelief and Jesus healed his son. Did you catch that? Jesus even helped him to believe. With faith all things are possible but Jesus is the One who gives us the ability to have faith and believe. Surely we can do nothing without Him.

The disciples were to represent Christ to this father and they failed because of their lack of faith. Instead of feeling left out of getting to go to the mountain top, they should have been preparing for the task that was presented to them. If only they had not doubted Christ’s love they would have had a very exciting story to share with Jesus, James, John, and Peter when they returned!

Like the father, Let’s ask Jesus to help us with out unbelief. He will help us to believe and our faith will ignite faith in others. When we doubt we cause others to doubt too just like the disciples zapped the faith out of that father. (See Chapter 47 of The Desire of Ages)

By the way, God is not the only person we are to believe in. “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20. The same logic and arguments that people use to dismiss Ellen White as a prophet are the same logic and arguments others use to dismiss the Bible altogether. We are to believe in the Lord and His prophets. Let’s not lead others to doubt God’s love or the writing of His prophets. If you lead a friend to not believe in the Spirit of Prophecy don’t be surprised when they stop believing in the Bible and God too. That is where that logic leads to. Those writings are there to help us to overcome unbelief and have faith in God and His love.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.