Presence!

Jan Antonsson

miracle1a

 

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

 

January 20, 2017

Neosho, MO

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (II Corinthians 4:7).

The title of this blog piece was to have been “Healing,” because from the time the Lord baptized me in His Holy Spirit, I have been passionate about God’s healing power.  Once I realized that the Holy Spirit was alive and well on planet Earth, and had not gone back to heaven when the last apostle died, as we had been taught, I became convinced that healing is possible today, and several of us in the congregation who were filled with the spirit about the same time, were determined to bring it to pass.  We had planned to clean out the local hospital of all their sick and afflicted patients.  What hubris.  What infantile understanding we had.  That presented no worries to our patient and long-suffering heavenly Father.  He simply saw to it that our grandiose plans failed miserably. 

Even as I was smarting over the failure of our noble sounding, but futile intentions, it came to me in that way God has of showing me without words, the totality of my foolishness, i.e., that giving us that kind of power with our feeble concept of Him who called us, would be like giving an AK47 automatic weapon to a four year old kid, safety off.  It would be too dangerous, provide too many ways to bring disaster on people in spite of our best intentions.  As Bobby Burns put it, “The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray.”

It also came to me why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Thy will be done,” for only God’s will is done.  We only think we have free will.  He is the only one who really does have free will. As Jesus also reminded His disciples, we cannot add a single hour to our life span, but remember Hezekiah?  God added 15 years to his life (See Isaiah 38:5).  Therefore, when praying for the sick, which I will continue to do so long as I have breath in my body, I ask Father God to heal the person by the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead (See Romans 8:11), and  then add, according to Your will, for unless it is God’s will for the person, it will not happen.

Still I am convinced that the power which turned the world upside down in the first century is still here today, still available for us when God allows it.  Yet, we don’t often hear of people being raised from the dead, the blind being given their sight, and the deaf, having their hearing restored (hearing aids notwithstanding).  

When Jesus began His ministry, He went to the synagogue in Nazareth, His home town, and the appointed passage to read on that day was found in Isaiah 61:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19, RSV). This proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, because He healed the sick, raised the dead, restored sight to the blind, and set free those bound by sin and disability.  He’s still the Messiah and there are still sick people who need healing, blind people who need sight, and captive people who need to be set free.

I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating, that when I pray for someone who suffers from a terminal illness, I ask the Lord to heal the person or take him home.  Taking folks on, I must confess, seems to be the only prayer I have gotten answered in the affirmative.  After it happened several times, once at Medicalodge when a nurse asked me to pray for a terminal woman who had been part of my little flock, and once when an old friend’s wife lay dying, the Lord answered that prayer by taking them home to glory the very next morning.  I’m happy they were released from their suffering, but when, I always wonder, will we see the miracles that propelled Jesus to super star status, and then, because He challenged the Pharisees’ authority, to the cross.  The Book of Acts wasn’t a one time account of the power of God, surely.  So, when will we see miracles again?

In the middle of the night, as I was pondering this topic, the realization swept over me that all the miracles so dear to me from childhood, occurred because of the Presence of God.  The Old Testament prophets carried the Presence with them when they interacted with the people;  Jesus WAS God and therefore the Father’s healing Presence flowed from Him to those who were sick, down trodden, and even to the dead, who had no faith, but were raised to life nonetheless.

The Apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people, and as a result, many believed in Christ, and they “even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, (so) that as Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them” (Acts 5:12, 15, RSV).   The Presence was very strong with the Apostle called to be a light to the Gentiles: “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them(Acts 19:11, NIV).

You’ll remember that a vital object found in the Tabernacle and later, the Temple, was the bread of the Presence (See Exodus 25:30). God promised Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14, RSV).  The bread of the Presence in the Old Testament was a visible symbol of God’s presence as were the Prophets themselves.  From the Day of Pentecost onward, when the Spirit of God descended on the Disciples’ heads in tongues of fire, the Presence of God has been with us, for He lives in us; as we live in Christ, our hope of glory.

The second chapter of Joel has long been a hope and a puzzlement to me on this topic of God’s healing power.  There, the prophet proclaimed that God will  “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2: 25-27, KJV).  Since the Bible speaks in symbols, it seems clear to me that those pesky worms are a metaphor for all the troublemakers in our bodies, and in our lives, and the day will come when God will restore all they have destroyed.

Notice first of all, that God sent them.  Not the devil, not evil men, not vindictive rulers, but God Himself sent them.   The prophet Joel had also foretold that after restoring what the worms had destroyed, God would pour out His Spirit on ALL people (See Joel 2:28). The writer of Acts repeated this promise, adding, “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:20-21, KJV).

There is coming a time when God will restore all that which the worms, figurative and otherwise have polluted, destroyed, and marred.  There are those who say this refers to heaven when we die, but Paul’s comment to the Corinthian brethren, indicates that these promises are for us now, today:   “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh  (II Corinthians 4:8-11, RSV).  The last statement is a corollary to the one already quoted in Romans 8:11: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.”

Paul is clearly talking about right now on this earth, not after we die.  This hope fuels my spirit and is how I pray for myself and all those whom I love.  I ask God to reclaim and restore what the cankerworm and palmerworm have destroyed and bring life to our mortal bodies right here, right now.

One final thought is that though the sensational miracles may be in short supply, the tiny ones happen everyday when He opens our eyes to see them.  It gives me joy bubbling over, to know we have a front row seat to see our Father at work, and what marvelous work He does in all of us.  It gives me even greater joy and excitement to realize that it is not OUR faith which produces these miracles, but in fact, it is the faith of the Son of God who loves us and gave Himself for us, whose Faith we can ALWAYS count on, even when our own faith is missing or weak (See Galatians 2:20, KJV).

It is the Presence of God which chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, and calls us to Him in this life.  In His Presence we find peace, joy, unconditional love, mercy, grace, and in the process, we find ourselves, our real selves. In His Presence there is healing, comfort, forgiveness, and unlimited power to do His will.  In His Presence, we live and move and have our being.

Father we thank You for allowing us to watch You at work in our lives, and even when we can’t see You at work, we thank You for impressing on our hearts and minds that You are, in fact, always there, continuously bringing us to perfection. Now to him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.  Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

All our writings from 1997-2010 are on

The Glory Road

Our writings from 2010 until the present are on this blog.

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