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The Trial of Sickness

As we continue our look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we come to a point where the Apostle makes a personal comment.  He speaks about his first visit to that area.  He was the first to bring the message of Christ to these people.

I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.  As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.  Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn.  Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.  What has happened to all your joy?  I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.
Galatians 4:12-15 (NIV)

Paul brought the Gospel to this region.  When they heard it, they accepted it as from the Lord, Himself.  They turned to Christ wholeheartedly and were saved.  Paul has a fond memory of this time.

But there is a controversy surrounding this passage.  There are those who use it as a proof text to show that God doesn’t want to heal everyone.  They say that this verse shows that Paul suffered from an ongoing eye problem that was never healed.  And, therefore, healing isn’t for everybody.

I believe that Jesus Christ paid for our healing on the cross.  It’s freely available to all who believe.  For a more in-depth look at this subject, you can read my Healing 101 Series and my Healing 201 Series.

For now, I simply want to look at what Paul is actually saying in this passage.  Normally I like the NIV translation because of its simple language.  In this case, however, it hasn’t been very accurate with the original Greek.

I believe that the NKJV is closer to the original.

You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.  And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
Galatians 4:13-14 (NKJV)

In these verses, Paul refers to the sickness in two ways.  He first calls it an infirmity in his flesh.  The next thing he calls it is a trial in his flesh.  This is a very important statement in understanding sickness.

Remember this – trials are NEVER meant to be permanent.  Paul said that it was – past tense – in his flesh.  By referring to his sickness as a trial that happened in the past, he is also testifying that his healing has already manifested.  He has no permanent, ongoing eye problem.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

What is the end goal of a trial?  To bring you to the place where you’re not lacking anything.  Are you lacking health?  Consider it a trial bringing you to a place where you’re physically healed and whole.

Christ is the Healer.  Paul believed it.  James believed it.  I believe it.  Don’t let anyone, who doubts the Scripture, steal your joy.  Jesus paid the price for your healing.  Trust Him to bring it to pass.

Question: Do you have a testimony of God’s healing power?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on September 6, 2017 in Faith, Healing, The Gospel

 

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The Prayer of Faith for Healing

In my last post I talked about James’ view of divine healing in James 5:13-15. It’s clear that somewhere in that first few generations after Christ, something was lost. We’ve come a long way since then.

We’ve seen many men and women of God who were trusting God and speaking life yet died prematurely.

Now we seem to be resigned to the thought that when we pray over the sick, they’ll probably not be healed. Well, I for one am not content with the status quo. I want to see a new move of God in my lifetime. I believe that it’s here.

When I began to meditate on these verses, I started to ask things like; do I really know what it means to ‘pray over’ someone like James did? What did James mean by the prayer offered in faith? Did it sound even close to what we pray?

I know that we try to put faith into our prayers. We quote Scripture, hoping to get God to see our faith and move on our behalf. But is that what James is speaking about in his book?

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16

I read this passage and I realize that there’s something missing. I also believe that it’s the foundation of the next move of God – the restoration of power to His church. The key is recorded in this very passage we’re looking at. James goes on to illustrate the prayer of faith that he’s talking about.

Elijah was a man just like us. 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

In these verses, James uses the prophet Elijah as an example to us. He tells us that this is the same type of prayer that will bring healing to the sick. Let’s take a look at the Scripture concerning Elijah’s prayer.

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.”
I Kings 17:1

James said that Elijah prayed and the rain stopped. This is the verse he was referring to. Have you ever prayed a prayer like this? Have you ever heard a prayer like this? As far as I can see, Elijah was talking to the king, not to God.

What was the prayer in this verse? We need to understand that not all prayers fit into the “dear God” category. In this encounter, even though Elijah was speaking to the king, he was invoking the name of the Lord over the situation. He was speaking in God’s place to the king.

How does this relate to healing the sick? Think about the ministry of Jesus. How did He pray for the sick? He worked the same way that we see the prayer of Elijah working. He didn’t ask for God to heal, instead He spoke to the sick.

“Pick up your mat and walk.”

“Go show yourself to the priest.”

“Go rinse your eyes in the pool.”

It was the same for the disciples. Remember how they prayed healing for the lame man at the temple gate. Peter said, “Silver and gold I don’t have. But what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus, walk!” They healed the sick in the same way that Elijah stopped the rain in Israel.

Please understand that I’m not saying to just go out there and speak healing to the sick. There are plenty who’ve tried that without 100% success. Instead, I’m talking about the assumption that’s present in all of these cases. It’s the necessary ingredient without which all of these examples would fall apart.

Think back to the prophet Elijah. What would cause him to speak in such a way to the king?

There’s an assumed chain of events that led to his standoff with the king. He was at home, in prayer, when suddenly he heard a Word from God. That’s the only explanation for the boldness he had before King Ahab. God spoke to him and said that the rain would stop when he delivered the message to the king.

This is the very example that James uses to illustrate healing prayer. The assumption is that to pray this kind of prayer, you must have heard from heaven. It’s based upon hearing a Word from God. That, my brothers and sisters, is the missing ingredient in our generation. We’ve lost our ability to hear from God on a regular basis.

I believe that the more time we spend in God’s presence, listening to His voice, the more healings and miracles will be seen in the church.

Question: What will it take for us to start hearing God’s voice again?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Faith, Healing, Prayer, Revival, Word of God

 

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Healing for All

I believe that Jesus Christ paid the price for our healing. Yet we don’t see the full manifestation of it in the church right now. Why is that? James gives us some clear keys about how this grace operates.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James 5:13-15

James is very bold in his declaration of the place of healing in the church. He asks, “Is any one of you sick?” This is not only for those who are strong in faith. It’s not limited to those who have been “confessing their healing” for months. This is clearly written to anyone who’s sick.

James leaves no wiggle room for doubt in God’s purpose. There’s no mention of God wanting to heal some and leaving others sick in order to teach them something. He states this in no uncertain terms. Not “maybe, sometimes, or in most cases”. He says, The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. He even repeats himself for emphasis, The Lord will raise him up.

More than that, he goes on to use the exact same wording for the forgiveness of God. Would anyone ever doubt the Lord’s forgiveness? Would you ever add “if it’s God’s will” to a prayer for forgiveness? You’d never entertain the thought that if someone confessed their sin to God, they may or might not be forgiven, depending on God’s will for their life.

Yet, in context, these two prayers are portrayed in the same light. The answer to a prayer for healing is exactly the same as an answer to a prayer for forgiveness.

It sounds to me, from his writings, that James had a 100% success rate in the area of divine healing. Without a doubt the early church had a higher walk than we do. The miraculous was an everyday occurrence.

But, if you think about it, that’s to be expected. If we look at the life of Jesus, we see the exact same thing. He had a 100% healing rate as well. There’s no hint, in the Gospel record, of anyone coming to Him for healing and leaving disappointed. We’re the ones who make excuses for not being healed.

“Maybe this is the only way God could teach me a lesson.”

There’s no record of Jesus ever refusing to heal someone because He wanted them to “learn something” they couldn’t get any other way. Praise God that you got closer to the Lord during your illness. We can learn many things during times of affliction. But to think that the reason you’re not healed was for the purpose of teaching you something goes against the clear Word of God.

From the Scripture we know that the disciples had a front row seat in observing the life of Christ. It’s not surprising, then, that the apostles of Christ also had a 100% healing rate in the Scriptures.

The power of the Lord manifesting through His people didn’t even end there. The next generation of believers – those first saved under the apostles – had the same success. Men like Paul, Philip, James and Jude walked in the power of the Spirit to a degree we can’t even imagine. Were they any different from us? Was their God different from our God? No way!

It wasn’t until the next generation of believers that we start to see a change taking place. In talking to the Corinthian church, Paul makes note of the fact that they were acting in carnality – like a bunch of spiritual babies. He then makes the following indictment.

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 11:30

In my next post, James will show us what was lost and how to correct it.

Question: How have you experienced God’s divine healing in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Faith, Healing, Power of God, Revival

 

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Elijah and the Prayer of Faith

KeyI believe that there’s something missing in our Christian experience. That’s the foundation of the next move of God – the restoration of power to His church.

What is this principle that’s eluded us for so long? The good news is that the key is recorded in the very passage we’ve been looking at for the last few posts. James goes on to illustrate the prayer of faith that he’s talking about.

Elijah was a man just like us. 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

In these verses, James uses the prophet Elijah as an example to us. Remember that this is in the context of the prayer of faith for healing. James mentioned it three times in the previous verses. It’s clear from his comments – Elijah prayed and the rain stopped. He prayed again and the rain returned.

According to James, this is the same type of prayer that will bring healing to the sick. What are we missing? Let’s take a look at the Scripture concerning Elijah’s prayer.

But first, I need to make a disclaimer. Sometimes we, as believers, get all caught up in new prayer “formulas”. You need to be aware, right from the start, that I’m not putting forth a new wording for prayer. On the contrary, I am going to show you a new kind of lifestyle that will usher in the move of God’s power.

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.”
I Kings 17:1

This verse is the only one in the Old Testament that shows the events surrounding Elijah and the rain stopping. James said that Elijah prayed and the rain stopped. This is the verse he was referring to.

Have you ever prayed a prayer like this? Have you ever heard a prayer like this? As far as I can see, Elijah was talking to the king, not to God.

What exactly was the prayer in this verse? We need to understand that not all prayers fit into the “dear God” category. The scope of prayer is a lot deeper than we can fathom sometimes.

In this encounter, even though Elijah was speaking to the king, he was invoking the name of the Lord over the situation. He was speaking, on God’s behalf, to the king.

Prayer, in its simplest form, is invoking the name of the Lord into a situation. That’s what Elijah did. He was speaking out a divine truth to the king.

In my next post we’ll see what’s so important about this kind of prayer.

Question: How does this compare to your thoughts about what a prayer should be?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Healing, Prayer, Revival, What's Missing?

 

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Divine Healing – The Tough Questions

Question MarkIt’s clear that somewhere in that first few generations after Christ, something was lost. This is where we find ourselves in the Body of Christ today. Our churches have many who are weak and sick, and many have even died before their time because we are not where we should be in our Christian experience.

One of the things that grieves me the most about this, is that we don’t ask “why” anymore. It’s understandable. At the start of the Faith Movement we had all the answers – or at least we thought we did. As a result, we said a lot of dumb things that hurt many people.

When questioned why someone wasn’t healed we would blithely answer, “They don’t have enough faith” or “it’s because they spoke too much death over their lives.”

We’ve come a long way since then. We’ve seen many who were standing in faith for their healing for years and years. We’ve seen men and women of God who were trusting God and “speaking life” who died prematurely.

Now we seem to be resigned to the thought that when we pray over the sick, they’ll probably not be healed. Well, I for one am not content with the status quo. I want to see a new move of God in my lifetime. I believe that it’s about to begin.

In the first post of this series, we looked at a verse from James.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James 5:13-15

When I started to meditate on these verses, I asked some tough questions. Things like, “Do I really even know what it means to pray over someone like James did?” What did James mean by the prayer offered in faith? Did it sound even close to what we pray?

I know that we try to put faith into our prayers. We quote Scripture, hoping to get God to see our faith and move on our behalf. But, is that even close to what James is speaking about?

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16

I read this passage and wondered if something’s missing in our walk with the Lord. Could it be that there’s something fundamental that we’re not seeing? Is there something so basic to their Christian faith that the early church just assumed that everyone knew it?

As the people of that day observed the lives of the apostles, they saw what was needed to walk in the power of God. Yet to us, it’s worlds away. We need the leading of the Holy Spirit to bring us back to where we should be – where we could be – where we must be.

In my next post we’ll see just what it is that they had and we need today.

Question: Do you think that we’ve lost something that the early church had an understanding of?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 
 

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Where Did We Lose It?

SunriseIn my last post, I talked about divine healing from James’ perspective. It sounds to me, from his writings, that he had a 100% success rate in the area of praying for the sick. Without a doubt the early church had a higher walk than we do. The miraculous was an everyday occurrence.

But, if you think about it, that’s to be expected. If we look at the life of Jesus, we see the exact same thing. He had a 100% healing rate as well.

The example of Jesus. There is no hint, in the Gospel record, of anyone coming to Him for healing and leaving disappointed. We are the ones who make excuses for not being healed.

“Maybe this is the only way God could teach me a lesson.”

There’s no record of Jesus ever refusing to heal someone because He wanted them to “learn something” they couldn’t get any other way. Praise God that you got closer to the Lord during your illness. We learn many things during times of affliction. But to think that the reason you’re not healed was for the purpose of teaching you something, goes against the clear Word of God.

The example of the disciples. From the Scripture we know that the disciples had a front row seat in observing the life of Christ. They ate, slept and traveled with Him. They saw His highs and lows. They saw Him with the crowds, as well as how He lived His life in private.

He was their example for how they were to live their lives after He returned to the Father. It’s not surprising, then, that the apostles of Christ also had a 100% healing rate in the Scriptures. There’s no hint that they ever prayed for someone with no results.

The next generation. The power of the Lord manifest through His people didn’t even end there. The next generation of believers – those first saved under the apostles – had the same success. Men like Paul, Philip, James and Jude walked in the power of the Spirit to a degree we can’t even imagine.

Were they any different from us? Was their God different from our God? No way! That’s what led me to ask the question – is something missing?

Where we lost it. It wasn’t until the next generation of believers that we start to see a change taking place in the life of the church. In talking to the Corinthians, Paul makes note of the fact that they were acting in carnality – like a bunch of babies. He then makes the following indictment.

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 11:30

This was not an acknowledgement of what church should be like. Rather, it was a warning that something was wrong and needed fixing.

It should also serve as a warning to us. It should drive to seek the Lord and the power of His presence. It should bring us to a place of seeking and listening in the spirit.

Question: How much are you willing to change in order to position yourself for the next move of God?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 
 

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The Prayer of Faith?

cross 2Divine healing is a controversial subject these days. Even among those who believe that God heals, there seems to be a discouragement surrounding it. I think we need to see what church life was like under the original apostles.

Based upon my studies, I believe that the book of James was the first of the New Testament to be written. James was the Senior Pastor of the church of Jerusalem. His book deals with the basics of living for Christ.

I’ve found that the book of James is a Holy Spirit inspired training manual for new believers. In it, James deals with many foundational issues. Toward the end he deals with divine healing. He uses very strong language to get his point across.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James 5:13-15

It seems to me that there are not many who teach healing out of this passage anymore. It’s far too radical for modern Christianity – even among “Faith Churches”. James is very bold in his declaration of the place of healing in the church.

He asks, “Is any one of you sick?” This is not reserved for only the strong in faith. This is not limited to those who have been “confessing their healing” for months. This is clearly written to anyone who’s sick.

He leaves no wiggle room for doubt in God’s purpose. There’s no mention of God wanting to heal some and leaving others sick in order to teach them something.

He states this in no uncertain terms. Not “maybe”, “sometimes”, or “in most cases”. He says, “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” He even repeats himself for emphasis, “The Lord will raise him up.”

More than that, he goes on to use the exact same wording for the forgiveness of sin. Would anyone ever doubt the forgiveness of the Lord? Would you ever add, “if it’s God’s will,” to a prayer for forgiveness?

You would never entertain the thought that if someone confessed their sin to God, they may or might not be forgiven, depending on God’s will for their life. Yet, in context, healing is portrayed with the same level of certainty.

As a matter of fact, James is so emphatic in the Greek, that I would be afraid to ask him about it if I had the chance. I could only imagine how that meeting would go. I can see myself sitting in his office asking him, “What should I do if I pray over someone for healing and they’re not healed?”

I am concerned that he would look me straight in the eye, and with a serious tone, say to me, “Then you need to get saved.”

Question: Do you have any experience with divine healing? Should it be more evident in the church?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Faith, Prayer, Revival, What's Missing?

 

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