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Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf
Silver Spring, Maryland
Spiritual Gifts Index

Spiritual Gifts
Part 11

Miracles, Healing, and Faith


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Old Testament Lesson:  2 Kings 2:8-14
      8.  Then ELIJAH took-off his coat, rolled-it-up, and hit the water, and the water separated until both walked on dry land.
      9.  Then ELIJAH asked, "What do you want before I leave?"  ELISHA said, "I ask-you for twice your spirit."
    10. And ELIJAH said, "You asked for a hard thing; but if you see me going, you will get the thing you ask; but if you don't see me, then you get nothing."
    11. While both walked and talked, a CHARIOT flaming and horses flaming separated the two men.  And ELIJAH went to heaven.
    12. ELISHA saw that and shouted, "My father, my father! The CHARIOTS of Israel and their horse riders!."  Then he saw ELIJAH no more. Then Elisha grabbed his own clothes and tore them, showing his grief.
    13. ELISHA picked up ELIJAH'S coat. Then he went back and stood near the Jordan river.
    14. ELISHA hit the water with ELIJAH'S coat and said, "Where is the Lord, the God of ELIJAH?" When he hit the water, the river separated to the right and to the left, and Elisha walked across.
 
Epistle Lesson:  James 5:13-20

    13. Anyone who is having troubles, they should pray. Anyone who is happy, they should sing praises.
    14. Anyone who is sick, they should call the church's elders. The elders should pray for the sick person and pour oil in the name of the Lord.
    15. Their prayers with faith will help the sick person.  The Lord will heal that person. And if that person sinned, the Lord will forgive his sins.
    16. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen
    17. Remember Elijah.  He was a human person same as us. Elijah prayed for no rain, and the land had no rain for three and a half years!
    18. Then Elijah prayed again, and the rain came down from the sky, and the land grew food again.
    19. My brothers and sisters, if one of you wanders away from the truth, and someone helps that person come back,
    20. remember this: Anyone who brings a sinner back from the wrong way will save that sinner's soul from death and will forgive many sins.

Gospel Lesson:  Mark 9:14-32
    14. When Jesus and those who were with him came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them. The teachers of the law were arguing with them.
    15. When all the people saw Jesus, they were filled with wonder. And they ran to greet him.
    16. "What are you arguing with them about?" Jesus asked.
    17. A man in the crowd answered. "Teacher," he said, "I brought you my son. He is controlled by a spirit. Because of this, my son can't speak anymore.
    18. When the spirit takes hold of him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth. He grinds his teeth. And his body becomes stiff. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit. But they couldn't do it."
    19. "You unbelieving people!" Jesus replied. "How long do I have to stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
    20. So they brought him. As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a fit. He fell to the ground. He rolled around and foamed at the mouth.
    21. Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
       "Since he was a child," he answered.
    22. "The spirit has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us. Please help us."
    23. " 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for the one who believes."
    24. Right away the boy's father cried out, "I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!"
    25. Jesus saw that a crowd was running over to see what was happening. Then he ordered the evil spirit to leave the boy. "You spirit that makes him unable to hear and speak!" he said. "I command you, come out of him. Never enter him again."
    26. The spirit screamed. It shook the boy wildly. Then it came out of him. The boy looked so lifeless that many people said, "He's dead."
    27. But Jesus took him by the hand. He lifted the boy to his feet, and the boy stood up.
    28. Jesus went indoors. Then his disciples asked him in private, "Why couldn't we drive out the evil spirit?"
    29. He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."
    30. They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were. 31 That was because he was teaching his disciples.
   He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be handed over to men. They will kill him. After three days he will rise from the dead." 32 But they didn't understand what he meant. And they were afraid to ask him about it.




We are near the end of our lessons about Spiritual gifts.

The last one on our list is interesting -- FAITH.
[I prefer to sign "trust." The double-F sign is weak.]

All true Christians have faith, right? 
The Holy Spirit gives us faith for salvation,
    trusting Christ and His death on the cross for us,
    trusting that He forgives us,
    trusting His promise for life with Him forever.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says:
God saved you by His GRACE -- His love gift -- that you get in faith.  That is His gift, not your works, so no one can brag."

The Bible clearly teaches that faith for salvation is a gift that the Holy Spirit gives to all believers.  That faith gift makes them believers.

So, what does Paul mean, when he lists various spiritual gifts in 1st Corinthians chapter 12, he says:
    "And to some [Christian] people, the Holy Spirit gives faith."
?

 
"Faith" here doesn't mean faith for salvation that all true Christians have.

Here, that special gift called "faith" is for serving Christ -- for MINISTRY.

We recently read Ephesians 2:8-9,
God saved you by His GRACE -- His love gift -- that you get in faith...

Now we read verse 10:
God made us, connecting us with Christ Jesus,
for doing good works that God already prepared for us to do.


First God gives us faith for saving us,
then He gives us more faith for serving Him.

We need that added faith for the work that the Holy Spirit gives us to do:
    evangelism
    teaching
    administration [managing]
    giving
    miracles
    healing
    etc.

Here is an interesting true story that shows how FAITH and MIRACLES connect together.

This is from China -- a famous Christian leader named
    WATCHMAN NEE

One time, during the long Chinese New Year celebration,
Pastor Nee, with 5 friends, went to an island village to teach them about Jesus -- evangelism.   They planned to stay for 15 days.

At the last minute, a new Christian, who Pastor Nee calls "Brother Wu" wanted to join the group.  Brother Wu was only 16 years old.  In the past he had serious behavior problems, and he was kicked out of school.  But now, a new believer, Pastor Nee saw his life changing, his attitude changing, and his behavior improving.

Pastor Nee hesitated, but finally said OK.
So now the mission group had seven people.

Pastor Nee knew an old school friend in the village, so Nee asked his old friend for a place to stay.

First the friend said yes.  But when the mission group arrived,
he said NO.  He didn't want to help Christians preach about Jesus.

They finally found someone willing to let them sleep in his attic.
They shared Jesus with that person, and in a few days he became a Christian.   But he was the only one.

People in the village were friendly and polite. 
But they didn't want to hear about Jesus.

Finally Brother Wu asked a crowd of people,
    "Why will none of you believe?"

Someone answered:   "We already have our god. 
    Our god is Ta-wang. He is strong.  He never fails."

Brother Wu asked,
    "How do you know that you can trust your god?"

They answered: "We have celebration parade for our god every year in January. Every year our god tells us which day we should have our celebration.  And every year for 286 years that day has beautiful weather -- no clouds, and no rain."

Brother Wu asked: "When will the celebration happen this year?"

Answer:  "January 11, 8:00 in the morning."

Brother Wu said, "I promise you that this year on January 11 you will have rain."

The people in crowd screamed, "Enough! We don’t want to hear any more preaching. If there we get rain on January 11, then your God is truly God!"

Pastor Nee was not with Brother Wu when that happened.  He was in another part of the village.  But he heard about it quickly.  News spread fast through the village.  All 20,000 people knew what Brother Wu said.

Pastor Nee was upset.  What Brother Wu did was very serious.

Later Pastor Nee wrote:
What should we do? We stopped our preaching and met together for prayer. We asked the Lord to forgive us if we made a mistake. We wondered.  Should we ask God for a miracle? Or should we leave now?

We must not try to force God to do something, so we were afraid to pray for rain.

Then a Bible verse hit me: "Where is the God of ELIJAH?" *  (2 Kings 2:14)

Remember the prophet Elijah --
First he told King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, "You will not get any rain until I say."   
Three years later the prophet had a contest between God and the false god BAAL, and God won. 
Then Elijah prayed for rain, and Israel had rain.  (1 Kings 17-18)

Pastor Nee wrote:
Boldly I announced to the brothers, "The Lord will send rain on January 11."  Together we thanked Him.  Then, filled with praise to God, we went out and told everyone.   We accepted the devil’s challenge in the name of the Lord.

But that night they began to doubt.  The main business in that village was catching fish.  The men lived in boats on the sea for several months.  They knew how to see the weather.   Truly they can figure-out what will happen with the weather in next three days.

Pastor Nee wrote:
That bothered us.  When we met for our evening prayer, we all began again to pray for rain - now!  And again we felt the Lord scolding us: "Where is the God of Elijah?"

Should we fight this battle, or should we rest in Christ's  finished victory?

We confessed our sins again. "Lord, we don’t need rain until the January 11, morning."   We went to bed, and next morning (Jan. 10) we went out to preach. The Lord bless us, and that day three families turned to Him.

The next morning I tried to sleep late, but the sun shining in our attic window woke me.  "This isn’t rain!"  I looked at the time -- already past 7:00. I got up, knelt down and prayed. Lord, I said, please send the rain!  But again, I felt His answer: "Where is the God of Elijah?"

All the group came to breakfast sad and quiet.  The sky had no clouds.  When they prayed their thanks for the food, they reminded God to send rain.  And then they remembered 2 Kings 2:14  "Where is the God of Elijah?"  Before they finished their AMEN, they heard rain hitting their roof.

Before they started eating their 2nd bowl of rice, they gave thanks again, and the rain came harder.

By the time they finished breakfast, the rain was pouring.
Deep water already covered the streets.

No-matter, the old idol believers still tried to have their celebration.  They carried the idol in a chair with poles.  They went a short distance and fell.  They dropped the idol and it broke.  They tried to fix it and continue their parade in the pouring rain.

They slipped and stumbled their way half way around the village until some of the old men couldn't continue.

So the put the idol in a house and did their magic to learn what they should do.

Their evil spirit told them, "Today is the wrong day.  You should have the celebration on January 14 at 6:00 in the evening.

Pastor Nee and his group knew what to do.  They prayed for four more nice days to do their mission work, and then send rain on January 14 at 6:00 PM.

That same day, January 9, the rain stopped.  The sky cleared. And the Christians went out to preach about Jesus. 

During the next three days 30 people in the village trusted Christ.

On January 14, the day started clear and sunny.  Not a problem.  The Pastor Nee and his group had good meetings telling the people about Jesus.  In the evening they met together for prayer, and by 6:00 the rain pour down again.

The next day was the time for Pastor Nee and his group to leave.  They couldn't stay to teach the people.  But other Christians came to do that.  The people were hungry to learn about Jesus because they saw He is the only true God.



When Pastor Nee first heard about Brother Wu's bold statement, Pastor Nee was upset.  Why?

Because Brother Wu was young and didn't understand that FAITH and GUESS are not the same.  They are different.

Brother Wu didn't know the Bible story about the time the Devil tempted Jesus on the temple tower. 
The Devil said, "If you are the Son of God, jump down.  God promises that He will send His angels to protect you."

Jesus answered, "The Bible says that you must not tempt the Lord your God."

And what Brother Wu did looked-like he was trying to force God to act in Wu's way. 
Brother Wu couldn't know what God already planned for that situation.

Foolish Christians often try to use their faith for forcing God to do what they want. 
God gives us faith for helping us do what He wants.
 
But in this story, we saw that the thing young foolish Brother Wu said was exactly as God already planned to do -- not for Wu's benefit, but for God's honor, and for leading stubborn people to trust Christ.

Jesus encourages us to trust Him the same as children trust Him.




When God gives a Christian faith for healing and for miracles,
    that person also needs wisdom.
That person needs to understand God's purposes
        and God's will [want].

Many foolish Christians tempt God for healing by
    throwing-away their medicines,
    or throwing-away their glasses.

They mistakenly believe that if they take medicines,
    that means they don't have faith.

We must remember that God chooses
    who, when, and how He heals.

When we pray for physical healing,
    sometimes God says YES, and
    sometimes God says NO.

And when God says YES,
    sometimes He heals quickly, and
    sometimes He heals slowly, using medical helpers.

Why does God heal some Christians,
    but He refuses to heal other Christians?
We honestly struggle in our search for an answer.

When people pray for healing, but God doesn't heal them,
sometimes their friends tell them,
    "The reason you are not-yet healed is because
    you don't have enough faith."

That is a terrible thing to say! ---and very wrong!
People who say that are not trusting God.
They are trusting their faith.

In the Bible we read that Paul had great faith. 
God used him to heal many people.
But when Paul prayed for healing for himself, God said NO.

God said,
    "My grace is enough for you.
    When you are weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:8)

Christians who have physical disabilities understand that
    God has more concern for our SOUL
        than for our BODY.

ALL of our BODIES will become sick, die, and decay.
But ALL of our SOULS will continue living forever,
    in heaven
    or in hell.

And Jesus is concerned that we know Him,
    that we trust Him for forgiveness and for salvation.



*Notes
Watchman Nee's story is from his book SIT WALK STAND -- a study of the book of Ephesians. 
Quotations are abridged and paraphrased for signing.



Supplemental Scriptures

Matthew 4:5-7
    Then the devil led Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem and put him on a high place of the Temple.  The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, jump down, because it is written in the Scriptures:
        ‘He has put his angels in charge of you.
         They will catch you in their hands
            so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.’ ”
    Jesus answered him,“It also says in the Scriptures, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’ ” (New Century Version)

1 Corinthians 12:4-11
There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit.  There are different ways to serve but the same Lord to serve.  And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God. God works in all of us in everything we do.  Something from the Spirit can be seen in each person, for the common good.  The Spirit gives one person the ability to speak with wisdom, and the same Spirit gives another the ability to speak with knowledge.  The same Spirit gives faith to one person. And, to another, that one Spirit gives gifts of healing.  The Spirit gives to another person the power to do miracles, to another the ability to prophesy. And he gives to another the ability to know the difference between good and evil spirits. The Spirit gives one person the ability to speak in different kinds of languages and to another the ability to interpret those languages.  One Spirit, the same Spirit, does all these things, and the Spirit decides what to give each person.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
So that I would not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me, a painful physical problem was given to me. This problem was a messenger from Satan, sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud.  I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me.  For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.

Acts 19:11-12
God used Paul to do some very special miracles.  Some people took handkerchiefs and clothes that Paul had used and put them on the sick. When they did this, the sick were healed and evil spirits left them.