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MATTHEW 8 (NKJV)
16
When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,
17
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “ He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.” [Isaiah 53:4]

ISAIAH 53 (NKJV)
4
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
6
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

MY COMMENT:
What do you see as the link between spiritual and physical healing and the Atonement on the Cross of our Lord Jesus?

It seems clear that all of our salvation is included in the Cross. Whatever our need, the Lord Jesus will administer His will as we agree with and stand on His Word for our lives.

I like a word used many times in the New Testament for salvation. It is “SOZO”.

It is STRONG’S number 4982, and it means “to save, heal, cure, preserve, keep safe and sound, rescue from danger or destruction, and deliver.”

May we receive the FULLNESS of God’s grace as we surrender to His personal guidance for us this day. In every situation, may we be like the Apostle Paul who followed the Lord Jesus:

2 CORINTHIANS 12 (NKJV)
9
And He [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect is weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Vance

Mike asks a good question about 'cost'. I sometimes wonder if in our North American culture the issue isn't, "will I be willing to die for Jesus?" but rather 'would I be willing to live for Jesus?' The reality is that we have not had to come up against physical persecution as our brothers and sisters around the rest of the world have.
One of my mentors used to ask us, "what has it cost you to follow Jesus?' I'm not sure it has cost me much. I think if I had not chosen to follow Jesus and to make Him Lord of my life I think it would have cost me more. Following Jesus has been costly early on when it came to career decisions that I chose that my parents and in laws didn't agree with. They thought this 'new religion' we were getting into was a cult, and for many years we lived with the stigma of not respecting our families. But even then, after all these years of following Jesus we have seen many of our once persecuting relatives now are our brothers and sisters in Christ. It has taken many years to live out our lives quietly, minding our 'own business' as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4, but still living in a way that is relatively 'servant like' and being there for the family in ways that amplified the love of God.

Regarding the issue of being healthy, I agree that taking care of our lives and being good stewards of our bodies is a wise thing to do. We have been relentless about this. I am an avid triathlete and my wife is a duathlete, and we have kept ourselves in relatively good shape even into our early 50s, but she still has breast cancer. Some things come to our lives which we have no explanation for. I think people who preach the health and wealth gospel end up hurting a lot of good people who are minding their own business, loving and serving the Lord, but then experience some illness, or life threatening disease, that they have to live with. How many people do you know who are godly, have been good stewards of their lives, but still have suffering that is unexplainable. We have found Larry Crabb's book The Pressure's Off a great read with regard to not buying into the linear approach to Christian living. You'll have to check out the book to find out what he means by 'linear old covenant approach to living a new covenant kind of life'.

Having said all that, like Mike, I will continue to practice the wisdom of God that most often leads to 'renewed health and vitality.'

Question re:

His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite. Ge 25:9

I was under the impression that Ishmael was long gone at this point, living out his life and beginning his own lineage that would diverge greatly from the lineage of the Jews. Does anyone know why and how he is here burying his father?

This is for Nate, you had asked on Jan 10th if anyone had a first hand experience of Benny Hinn's healing ministry? I have a testimony I would like to share with you. In May of 2003 my mother was confined to a wheelchair due to the extreme pain in her joints, especially the long joints of her legs. She was unable to walk more than a few steps without needing to sit down and did most of her getting around with a wheelchair. This was to be a year for me of discovering allot about the Lord firsthand that previously I had only read about in the bible. In my search for freedom from behaviour that I could not shake off the Lord led me to a book called "The Power of Prayer and Fasting" by Mahesh Chavda. After reading that book I was so blown away by his relationship with the Lord that my husband and I traveled from upstate NY to the Charlotte NC area to meet him. It was there that we learned that he held healing conferences. As I prayed about my mother the Lord spoke to me and told me to take her to the next conference and that He would heal her. I called my mom who lived in Florida and told her what the Lord had said and asked her to pray about it. She did and said, "let's go!". I flew to FL and drove her to NC. I did not know at the time who was speaking at the conference. She was prayed for on a Friday three different times and each time fell down under the power of the Holy Spirit. On Saturday morning she received prayer again, no healing yet. Saturday afternoon she received prayer again and this time she got up off the floor, grabbed my arm and said, "Melissa!! It's gone, the pain is completely gone, I felt something like a whoosh from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet and it is gone!" My mother never used that wheelchair again. The person that prayed for my mother was Suzanne Hinn, the wife of Benny Hinn. Over the next couple of years we continued to return to the conferences to learn. Last year the Lord told us He was moving us and today we serve the Lord through Mahesh Chavda's ministry. My mother sold her home in Fl and today lives with us and attends the college the church has. My mother even though she was healed and has seen many healings since -had to go through her own struggle of letting go of what she had been taught as a child through her church. Today she is a powerful testimony for the Lord!
One last quick story; Mahesh Chavda was doing a healing crusade in Haita several years ago and he tells this story that I find very enlightening and encouraging for anyone seeking healing from the Lord. This is taken from his book, "The Power of Prayer and Fasting".

"During a series of meetings that were held a certain woman who had been born blind was brought to the front by her granddaughter. Each time this little lady would come to the front with her hand on her granddaughter's shoulder, and I would pray for her. Every time the anointing of God would hit her and she would fall down like I had hit her with all my strength, although I barely touched her. I knew something had happened, but each time I helped her up and asked, "How are you Grandma?", she would blink her still blind eyes and say, "I can'see". I could only answer, "Okay. Come again." The same thing happened each service after that for seven days and nights. She would be led forward by her granddaughter. The power of God would hit her, her body would shake, and down she would go. I knew it was the genuine power of the Lord hitting her. It was so obvious that I almost wanted the Lord to be gentle. Yet each time I helped her up again and asked, "How are you?" she would shake her head and say she still couldn't see. I was really struggling with this situation. By the fourth day, I was getting tired of seeing Grandma coming forward for prayer. Thank God she wasn't looking to me for healing, she was looking to the Lord. On the fifth and sixth day the same thing happened. On the last day of the service my favorite grandmother came forward to the front once again with her hand on her granddaughter's shoulder. Once again I prayed for her and again the incredible power of God hit her so hard that she was absolutely knocked to the floor. Once again I asked her, "How are you Grandma?". She blinked her eyes and said, "I can see you clearly!". It was many months before the Lord revealed to me what He had done. As this woman came up for prayer in each service, the Lord showed me that there was a creature that looked similar to an octopus with several tentacles wrapped around the woman's eyes. Every time I prayed, the anointing of God would hit her and knock off one of the tentacles. The last service, the woman came forward with a single tentacle still wrapped around her eyes. It was like a spirit of blindness, the main demon that had kept her bound in a world of darkness. When I prayed for her the last day, the last tentacle came off and she could see clearly.

The Lord revealed to me that at times, demonic obstructions hold us or cling to us with several arms. Every tiem you pray under the anointing, something happens. You can count on that. The Lord would say to many of us, "Don't get discouraged. Keep praying through until the last tentacle comes off and you see the healing and deliverance."

I am sorry this is so long but I wanted to share this in hopes of it being a blessing to anyone seeking a healing. Bless you all for your hunger to know the Lord more intimately ::))

Micah Girl,
You're right, Ishmael had left with his mother, but funerals have a way of bringing people back home.

Bowing down and worshipping has not been something I have done on a casual basis. While searching for a church body to join, one of the pastors I visited insisted that everyone get down on the ground and worship. In fact he insisted on it most of the time from his congregation. I feel you have to do what it takes to get connected to God, but that it can occur in any position.

My most consistent and best prayer time is in the morning on my commute to work. I turn off the radio in the car, and for 15 to 25 minutes I pray to God. There is Praise, Confession and repentance, Supplication and Thanksgiving ending with the Lord's prayer. There are tears, heartfelt pleas for forgiveness, humble requests, and praise filled thanks.

When the connection is good, I think I know to a small degree what David felt like in communicating with God.


As to costs from being a Christian: Mike said it well, (paraphrase) a cost associated with a period of time does not compare to the benefits of eternity. In America, it is mostly verbal abuse. My family does not understand even though they are Roman Catholic, some people say, "you are one of those people?", and I am called stupid by people at work on my belief in creationism. It is uncomfortable, but Jesus predicted it long ago. You can mention God pretty much anywhere and people will conjure up fuzzy warm images, but mention Jesus and vitriol will pour out from non-believers towards our Lord and us.

Our job is to stay the course and profess our faith when the opportunity presents itself and those that have ears to hear will pay heed.

It also helps to realize that the rest of the world has it far worse and far bloodier. Beheadings of Indonesian teens by Muslims, Razings of villages and small towns in Pakistan, wholesale arrests and beatings in China of Christians, torture of Christians in various areas of Russia, Middle Eastern harassment towards Christians, etc.

You want to see the face of Christ and an unbeleivable statement by a Christian. Check out the forgiveness given to the beheaders of a female teen believer in Indonesia

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/news/051118d.asp

Living alone I believe I could sacrifice my life for my Lord. If I had a family, I believe it would be much tougher. However I know that my prayers to God in that situation would be to ask for the grace and strength to do the right thing that would glorify God and do his will.

Today's contribution:
http://www.chipbennett.net/wordpress/index.php/2006/01/oyb-january-11/

Excerpt:
"To a Christian, death holds no fear. The manner of death, perhaps - but not death itself. What happens when we die? We meet our Savior face-to-face, and enter into our eternal reward. I am reminded of The Return of the King, when Aragorn says, “I do not fear death!” and when Gandalf muses, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take.” I think the more difficult question is this..."

Hi, Bald Man
(That seems presumptuous o call you that, since we've never met!)
Re: funerals bringing back relatives...

I thought of that, except that the Jews (at least now) bury their dead so quickly that Ishmael would have needed to be in the same community in order to attend, I think. It's a small point in the text, but I was just really surprised that he appeared there.

Genesis 24:52-26:16

Applications for living from Today’s Old Testament Reading.

I believe, no, I know that everything in the Bible has meaning for us today. Most
Christians concentrate on the New Testament, and we should; however, few fail to see how the Old relates to the New except for pointing to the New Covenant by way of Jesus Christ through prophecies. But when we look close there are principals and patterns of “righteous” living to be gleaned from the lives of the Old Testament saints.


Abraham’s servant was on a mission, a divine mission. He had found what he was looking for and when he was ready to return home, he met with this attitude,

But Rebekah's brother and her mother replied, "Let the girl stay with us a few more days, perhaps ten. Then she can go." (Genesis 24:55 NET.)

When we are on an assignment from God, finish your assignment. Don’t delay no matter how wonderful the hospitality. While you are on assignment, you may meet someone who you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is suppose to be a part of your ministry. Never, never, never use manipulation to get them involved. Ask them what do they think their purpose is in your ministry and accept their answer even if it is, “No.” Abraham’s servant waited for Rebekah’s family to ask her if she wanted to go with him knowing that where she was going would lead to marriage with a man she did not know, her answer, “Yes.” God’s does not let a person bucking against His will stop His show. God is in the business of resurrecting dead things, dead hopes and dead dreams, as well as dead folk.

In reading about Ishmaels descendants, the twelve prince’s who produced 12 tribes, I realized from a distance, looking from afar, we can mistake the prosperity of the “flesh” as something blessed by God. Though it was promised by God that Ishmaels’ descendents would be many as they were off-spring of Abraham, someone could mistake the prosperity, the multitude of their numbers as a Blessing from God. Things born out of fleshly desires, our Ishmaels, can give the appearance of prosperity because of the abundance of leaves; however, we must check out the “fruit.” Fruit inspection is a process that needs time, possibly years, depending on the type of tree to get a definitive answer. Is it from God or is it a work of the flesh? Careful discernment is necessary. Patience allows us to discover the edibility of the fruit of something that appears to be righteous but isn’t.


God loves to give tests (Genesis 26). But unlike our teachers on the earth, God knows how we will do. The test is not for Him but for us. Are we the people we think we are? Is are character and integrity really at the level we think it is? Isaac took the same test his dad took, what to do when famine comes. Do you do the same thing that dad did when he faced this challenge, “Pimp your wife.”

There are things, behaviors, ways of thinking, attitudes that are generational. Some of the things we accept and take hold of are of no consequence but others as deadly and sinful. The challenge to each generational is to identify that behavior, that way of thought that is ungodly and change in the face of family pressure to keep the status quo.


Also in this twenty-six chapter, we see a story about water rights. The Philistines are jealous of Isaiah because of his abundance of crops; a product of God’s Blessings so they try to block what they think is the source of that blessing, water. Jesus once stopped off at a well and spoke to a woman about “Living Water” (John 4:7-14). In a hot dry land you can get away with not having food for a while, but it only takes a couple of hours to die of thirst in a hot desert.

I saw a principal for living in this battle over water. First, the well belonged to his father. Neither Isaac nor his servants had dug the well that had been taken over by the Philistines and been filled with dirt. Isaac had invested nothing in this well; however, he had an expectation of benefit. Looking at this well as a type of Christ, I see that whatever my parents and ancestors relationship was with the “well” others will give me no credit for it and possibly fill that relationship with dirt and stone and keep me out of the place where I want to fellowship. The only thing to do is to dig my own well and develop my own personal relationship with the well that holds “Living Water.

Just some ramblings from a fellow traveler and stranger on the earth, a place that is not my home,

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Micah Girl,
It might be a quick mention, but I think it's significant. Remember the animosity that surrounded Ishmael's leaving. Also, Abraham has just left the whole shabang to Issac. I think it says quite a bit about the bond between Abraham and Ishmael that he would return (perhaps very quickly notice as you observe.)

Perhaps this is a demonstration of God's love for people... even those who are at odds with the family and far from home.

(BTW, if being bald bothered me, I'd have chosen a different moniker or used my real name.)

Cory

God has given those who call on Him a promise that He will never leave us.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:28-29 NET.)

God has given us a promise that He will never leave those that are His. If God doesn’t feel like He is around then we are walking by our five senses instead of walking by faith. (See 2 Cor 5:7). Feelings and emotions are not synonymous with truth. I know that I have brains but I’ve never felt them. My lack of feeling something, doesn’t mean that something does or doesn’t exist. God has stated something about our relationship with Him. Either we believe God’s Word or we throw it out in the trash. God is calling out to the Believers in the passage below to value Him, trust Him, call on Him instead of all the other “stuff” we trust in because He should be our All in all, our I Am everything you need.

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] [Josh. 1:5.]
(Hebrews 13:5 AMP)

Because of His Word, even if I feel like God has left me I know that He hasn’t.

See also:
Gen 28:15; Deu 31:6, Deu 31:8; Jos :5; 1Sa 12:22; 1Ch 28:20; Psa 37:25, Psa 37:28; Isa 41:10 ,Isa 41:17

God hiding from us has nothing to do with leaving us...it is not about that & never will be...His Word says He will never leave us or forsake us; but He does withdraw from us so we will seek His face more...He knows us better than we know ourselves...He knows by withdrawing Himself we will more than likely seek/draw near to Him. He misses us just as much as we miss Him. There will always be times of desert experiences in our lives...it has to be that way...it will never be mountain top experiences always...we will always suffer with the sufferings of Christ...THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A COST TO FOLLOWING HIM.

jan

I agree with Jan. I think of it as "distancing" himself from us. Whether as a test, or because we have not repented of sin and are out of fellowship with God. The Biblical person that gives the best example of this is David. He writes about it in the Psalms.

I have found in the dry times - you just keep on praying and believing.

I am playing catch up with all of you. I started a few days late. Meanwhile, I love reading the Bible, I've read it through, at least 3 times, and each time I understand it a little more! Your e-mail comments are so interesting to read. Some of you say what I think, but have trouble putting on paper. So many ways to say the same thing... God loves us, wants us to know him, understand him, and follow him...even unto death.

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