Healing: Redeemable by Proof of Purchase

When I was a kid, it was a rare treat for me to have what my mom called "sugar cereal". Basically, anything sweeter than Cheerios or corn flakes was forbidden for breakfast before I went to school. But summer was magnificent. Because in the summer, I was allowed to have any cereal I wanted. You better believe I was tearing up whole boxes of Reese's peanut butter puffs, Cookie crisps, Fruity pebbles; you name it. It was glorious. But there was something else that distinguished my summer sugar cereals from the mundane, flavorless cereals I was forced to eat when school started up again. These sugar cereal boxes would have games on them. Sometimes they were mazes. Sometimes they were pictures you had to mirror by connecting the dots. But if you completed the game, they had an offer for you. The box would feature a picture of a toy or prize somewhere on the back. These prizes were always something pertinent to whatever fad was popular at the time. If there was a new movie that everyone loved, the toy was a figurine of a character from that movie. If there was a popular card game everyone was playing, the box would have an offer for a limited edition playing card for that game.

But no matter what the prize was, they all had something in common...I NEEDED THAT PRIZE. But how to get it? Every box of cereal had a stipulation: in order to get the featured prize, you must cut two portions of the cereal box out, and mail them to a designated address on the box. Those two portions were the completed game or challenge, and another piece that I didn't understand the importance of when I was a kid: the bar code. By following these simple instructions, I was guaranteed the prize I so desperately coveted. There's a parallel here with receiving the prize of healing. When we follow the ministry of Jesus throughout the Gospels, we find something interesting about His interactions with individuals who needed the working of His mighty power. Jesus would often attach an action that corresponded with the faith of the individual to receive their miracle.

In John, chapter 9, Jesus makes clay out of the dirt and His spittle, smears it over the eyes of a man who was born blind, and directs him to wash the clay off in a pool called Siloam. When His directives were obeyed, the man came back seeing. In Luke, chapter 17, Jesus instructs ten lepers who’re crying out to be cleansed to present themselves to the presiding priests for inspection as if they had already been cleansed, though there was no outward evidence as of yet. But as they went, obeying His directive, they were cleansed. We see in multiple places that Jesus would instruct the lame to take up their bed and walk before any proof of of their restored ability to walk ever manifested (Luke 5, John 5). Like the games on the back of the cereal box, the completed directive facilitated an active faith, ready to receive. Attaching corresponding action to our full persuasion that God has granted us what we’ve asked for is what James called “Faith with works.” (James 2:17-18). It’s not works that earn the miracle, but works that agree with belief that the miracle is yours. But what about that bar code? What’s its purpose?

There’s something that belongs to you, and I that the recipients of Jesus’ miracles didn’t have, as great as they were. And many Christians have a hard time receiving this. Many believe it would have been better to live in the days of the Gospels, when Jesus walked the streets and villages of Israel. But Jesus Himself said “it is better for you that I go away…”(John 16:7). The death and resurrection of Jesus accomplished our redemption. To redeem means to buy back through means of purchase. Jesus inheritance. All I had to do was prove thesaid “it is better for you that I go away” because His going meant our redemption was completed. When He ascended to the Right Hand of God, He secured an inheritance for you and I. An inheritance that included the prize of healing. If I was uninterested in the prize that box of cereal was offering that month, then the cereal was enough. I would enjoy my sugar and continue about my day. But when I saw that there was a prize worth obtaining, I made the effort to obtain the prize that the purchase of that cereal afforded to me. But I had to mail in not only the completed directive, but the bar code. Because the bar code was the “proof of purchase”. It was proof that the price was paid for the cereal. And if the cereal was bought, no extra price had to be paid for the prize. The prize was part of the cereal was purchased, and the prize was mine as well. Some people are just fine with enjoying the sweetness of their salvation cereal. But if you’ve decided that you want all that your purchase includes, there’s only two requirements.

The first is obedience to the Word. Show that the directive is complete. Then send in the bar code; the proof of purchase. How do we send in the proof that our salvation has been purchased, and that we’re ready to receive the healing included in our inheritance? “You ARE a chosen generation. A royal priesthood. A holy nation. For the reason that you might proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness, into His marvelous light. For you once we’re not a people. But now you are the people of God. You once had not obtained mercy. But now, you have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Proclaiming God’s praise is sending the proof of purchase. Praise Him that when your salvation was bought, your healing was included. Praise Him for making a way to experience the same mighty healing power that Jesus manifested 2,000 years ago, as He traveled the regions of Israel. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The power He made available to all who believed Him then, has become the inheritance of all who have been purchased by His precious blood, today. That is you and I. Send your proof of purchase. Show that you’ve been redeemed. Give Him the praise He requires. And be healed!

Intimacy: Intended And Defended

    For the last few years the subject of intimacy has been widely discussed within the church. With different branches of persuasion, and trains of thought along its lines. But with any subject discussed in scripture, the best way to approach it is to find it’s starting point. To establish a foundation concerning its function and purpose.

 

    Intimacy is arguably the most important facet of man’s relation to God that was lost in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). And the cause of loss on that day remains to be the greatest hindrance to intimacy with God that is experienced today. Sin. The Apostle John put it this way: “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, If our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence toward God.” (1 John 3:20-21).

 

    Notice that in Genesis 3:8 it was Adam and Eve that hid from The Lord. It was God that came searching for them. Was God unaware of their offense? Was He ignorant of the gravity of their choice to defy Him? Certainly not. John said “God is greater than our hearts, and KNOWS all things.” As you trace the story of Adam and his lineage, you’ll see that, though the dynamics of man’s interaction with God changed drastically, God’s communing with man continued, albeit to an undesirably imperfect degree as far as He was concerned. How do we know that? Because just before God ejected man from the garden, He communicated His plan for redemption, saying to the serpent “I will put enmity between you and the woman. Between your seed, and hers. And He (Jesus) shall crush your head, but you shall only bruise His heel.”

 

    Even at the moment of the fall, God had already devised a plan to restore man into His presence, and back to intimacy. This is communicated to us over and over again in the Gospels. In fact, every gospel but Mark majors on the relationship God has restored those who receive the gift of righteousness back to through Jesus’ sacrifice.

 

    In Matthew, Jesus declares “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to them that ask?” (Matthew 7:11). 

 

    In Luke, Jesus exclaims “Fear not little flock! It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!” (Luke 12:32)

 

    In John, Jesus engages in prayer to the Father in the presence of His disciples, and He says “I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me; and have loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23)

 

    There are two undeniable threads that connect Genesis 3:8 with John 3:20-21. First is the application of God’s intention for intimacy, and defense of its persistence. John said “God is greater than our hearts.” It was His greatness that executed the plan of redemption. It’s His greatness that overcomes the sinking of our heart into the condemnation sin would try to shackle us with. Romans 5 tells us that though the offense of one man brought judgement upon all unto condemnation, but the righteousness of One Man, Jesus, brought the free gift upon all unto the justification of life (Romans 5:18). Adam’s sin resulted in ejection from the garden. But Jesus righteousness resulted in restoration into God’s presence. In the garden, that day, God set in motion the work of redemption that would culminate with our reconciliation through Jesus. But the completion of that work not only reconciled us to The Father; it also built for us a bridge of fellowship. One that bids us to come and commune with Him, to continually learn, by experience, the fullness of His goodness. 

 

    The second thread is confidence toward God. Adam and Eve had no redemptive bridge to restore them to the place of intimacy. But John tells us that when our heart does not condemn us, then our confidence is strong. Adam and Eve heard the promise of redemption. But we have experienced it. The condemnation of their heart drove them away from the call of The Father, but by the blood of Jesus, you and I can cross that bridge of reconciliation to answer His call. To come boldly before His throne of grace and receive mercy from His presence, and the sufficiency of His grace to walk free of condemnation.