Week 5: What About Health & Healing?

Blog YAFI w5.001On Easter weekend, we did a survey and compiled your most asked questions. Those questions are the roadmap for this series called You Asked For It.

This weekend, we took a look at what the Bible had to say about Health and Healing.

Let’s look at God’s Word and see what it says about people being healed. One of the clearest places it talks about sick people getting well is in the book of James.

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”  James 5:13-14 (NIV)

Many of us have gone through or are going through major illness or physical struggle. James says, “Go get some believers, some leaders, have them pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Don’t get focused on the oil. The oil is a symbol. There’s no real power in the oil itself. It’s just like baptism or communion. They are symbols. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who is the One who anoints. The Holy Spirit’s role is to point us to Jesus, not to the person praying.

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:15-16 (NIV)

There are two extremes in the body of Christ. So from church-to-church, you’ll have these two extremes and anything in between.

One of the extremes is a confessionist approach. This approach believes all you have to do is name-it and claim-it and if you say it you can have it. If you don’t get what you asked for, it’s because there’s something wrong with you and God is rejecting you. There’s a lot of condemnation with that one, and God is not a God of condemnation.

The other extreme is a cessationist approachThis is the belief that miracles happened in the Bible, but they don’t happen today. They believe that once the final apostle died that God closed shop. The purpose of the apostles miracles was to authenticate them and have God testify to it by signs, wonders and miracles. Now that we have the authenticated writings of the apostles in scripture and writings of Jesus as the cornerstone of our faith, miracles are no longer necessary to authenticate the message of Jesus.

God is still in the miracle working business. There’s no healing apart from God. We struggle to believe that, because we’ve all had experiences where God didn’t do the miracle. We’re living with an illness or physical struggle we’ve prayed would go away. We’ve buried people we’ve prayed for. But what’s really happening is that those two extremes are trying to answer this question:

Why doesn’t God heal every time we pray?

  • God still heals people.

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  2 Timothy 4:18 (NIV)

Are we going to be rescued or go to heaven? Yes. Both of those options are miracles and a work from God. He’ll either heal you and you’ll glorify God or you’ll die and be in glory.

I refuse to let my faith be hindered by my understanding.

That’s why it’s called faith. I’m going to trust God at his word. That he delivers me from every evil attack and takes me safely into his kingdom. That’s why James changes the subject it seems when he says, “If he sins that will be forgiven.” And if you confess your sins and pray for each other, that’s real healing. Deeper than the physical.

  • God is also concerned about my soul.

God created your body. One day every body will rise. But God is also very concerned, with our soul. We get so concerned about the body: we lock our doors, buy insurance, do everything we can to protect the body, take vitamins, work out. All good things we should do, but Jesus says:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Matthew 10:28 (NIV)

We’re missing the big point if we think it’s all about just being physically healed and that it’s all about the body. So go to the gym, see a doctor, watch what you eat but also go to a small group, confess your sins and fears and pull things out into the light. We need to be just as concerned about our soul.

  • God wants me to grow in faith.

The key word there is grow. He wants you to grow in your faith. He wants to take you on a faith journey.

We’re concerned about what’s happening to us.

God’s concerned about what’s happening in us.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Hebrews 11:1,6 (NIV)

When do you seek God the most? When everything is answered or when you have a lot of need? The answer is obvious. That’s why the very next verse in this James passage, he tells us the story of an Old Testament person named Elijah.

Understanding Faith

“Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”  James 5:17-18 (NIV)

Elijah was a prophet while an evil man, named Ahab, was king. Ahab had an even more wicked wife who controlled many of his decisions. So Ahab & Jezebel turned the hearts of the people away from God to false prophets. God raised up Elijah to be a prophet to proclaim His Word.

Elijah comes and he stands down king Ahab, and says,“It’s not going to rain until I ask God to cause it to rain.” Elijah proclaims the forecast, not like a weatherman, but his words actually turn on and off the water supply. He pronounces this huge drought, and sure enough, it doesn’t rain at all.

Then, God takes Elijah to a ravine where God miraculously provides for him in the middle of this drought while Ahab’s trying to kill him. One day, God dried up the brook that was providing water for Elijah and he went out of the ravine to a place called Zarephath, where he met a widow, who had just a little bit of oil and flour. It wasn’t enough. God miraculously multiplied it so that it was enough.

One day, the widow’s son died and for the first time ever recorded in scripture, Elijah takes this dead boy up into the upper room, prays, and God raises this boy from the dead. After a season of hiding, where there’s been no rain, God calls Elijah back to confront Ahab, and call him out to a showdown. Elijah says, “Get the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah. Bring them up to Mount Carmel, and we are going to see who the real God is. Is it your gods, or is it my God, Yahweh?” 

Elijah has them build an altar, put a bull on it and ask their god to bring down fire over the altar. All morning the false prophets call out for their god to light the altar. They dance and cut themselves, and nothing happens.

Then Elijah builds his altar, has the false prophets soak it in water in the middle of the drought he calls on God. God sends fire straight down from heaven to consume the altar. Fire engulfs and eliminates the whole thing and licks up all the water in the trench. The false prophets bow in worship to Yahweh and Elijah turns to Ahab and says, “I hear a rainstorm coming.” That’s how the faith journey begins every time. With a word from God.

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It’s a word from God’s Word. There are thousands of promises from God in the Bible. Many people once believed a God promise, but at some point stop. They let their faith grow weary. Elijah’s story begins with a word from God.

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.'”  1 Kings 17:1 (NIV)

The promises of God always come to pass. God will work everything together for his glory and good. God says:

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 (NIV)

Here’s the second part. This is much more complicated and probably where most of us are in our faith journey today: Faith continues regardless of what you see.

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Wherever you are in your faith journey, whatever you’ve been believing God for: healing, relationship restoration, legal situation, getting out of debt… There’s more happening than what you can see. See how this story with Elijah plays out. Elijah prays for it to rain and it doesn’t. The Bible says he puts his head down between his legs and tells his servant, “I’m going to pray, you go look at the sky.”

“’Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked. ‘There is nothing there,’ he said. Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’ The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”  1 Kings 18:43-44 (NIV)

He kept on. He didn’t give up. He was persistent in his faith. Someone reading this needs to hear, “Go back. Pray some more. Seek God again. Do it some more.”

Wherever you are in your situation. Hold on. Don’t give up. Put your face to the ground, believe God, and if you don’t see anything out there over the sea, go back and do it again. Why? Because…

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)

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“Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.”  1 Kings 18:45-46 (NIV)

“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.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT)

We’re so focused on healing, the destination. It’s important. But it’s not the most important thing. God is focused on the journey. The process is the point.

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Let God work in you. He still heals, He still does miracles. 

Maybe that thorn is there to drive you to the throne and push you deeper into a process that will reveal God’s power and grace like never before.


Check Back

Review what you talked about last week.

Do you have any more questions or conclusions after reflecting on last week’s message on how the world ends?

Are you living in light of eternity?

To hear the sermon online, go to rockbrook.org/sermons or listen to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.

Hear the Word

Read James 5:13-20 & 1 Kings 17 & 18


Have you ever prayed for healing for you or for someone else? What happened when you prayed?

What words describe Elijah’s faith? Describe ways we can apply the lesson of Elijah to our faith. 

Read Hebrews 11:39-40 and Isaiah 57:1

Discuss with the group what these verses mean. How can these words from God help us when God does not answer our prayers as we planned?

At Rock Brook, we offer a process of next steps to help us in our faith journey. It’s called Growth Track. Where are you in the Growth Track journey?

For more information, visit http://rockbrook.org/connect/growth-track

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with this week?

Is there anyone in your life who is struggling with health and healing? How can you encourage them?

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