Nov 9, 2011

God's Healing Presence

For the next few weeks, we'll be focusing our attention on the manifest presence of God

We know that healing can be a by-product of faith and authority. Today we'll discuss how God's presence operates in the realm of healing. The presence of God gets some people a little 'excited'.

To be honest, some of us are downright in love with God's presence (or glory if you prefer) They would spend eternity doing nothing but worship in God's beautiful, intoxicating presence. If this thought hasn't yet crossed your mind, you might be surprised when you get to heaven.

I've had dreams where God's presence alone has healed people, without me praying for them. Not long ago I had another dream in which I was praying with a doctor who needed healing of arthritis and a patient who also needed healing. As I prayed with them, I was asking God to touch them with His presence. In fact, the most important element of that dream was allowing them to feel God's presence so they knew He was real.

I've shared stories where I've asked God to bring His presence into the room while ministering to people. On just about every one of those occasions, the person I'm ministering to reports 'feeling' God touch them in some way.

I have a few 'odd' stories that may be testimonies of God's presence at work. Let me share just one:

One day I responded with the fire department to a call for a woman who had a nosebleed. Her nose had been bleeding for two hours. She called 911 for a ride to the emergency room to have her nose cauterized. This would be the second time in a year she would need to have that done.

When the engine company arrived, she was still bleeding profusely. We arrived two or three minutes later. About three minutes after we arrived, as I was listening to the Lieutenant tell me the story, I asked her to check again to see if she was bleeding. She wasn't, and she was shocked.

After everyone inspected her nose and we had a few laughs, the engine company asked if we'd come with them the rest of the shift and heal their patients. I should mention - I never prayed for this woman to be healed. But I had been thinking at that time often about how Peter's shadow healed people and if it was actually that he carried God's presence in such a way that healing was released as people came near, making it appear as if this shadow did the healing.

I'll admit, this whole discussion puzzled me a few years ago, and I know it still puzzles people today. An acquaintance recently asked me, “If God lives in us, and we are one with Him, how can He also work outside of us?

I think it's a great question and I'd like to answer it, but I'll begin with the teaching that prompted my friend’s question in the first place.

Some leaders teach that the Holy Spirit no longer rests upon God’s people, as He did in the Old Testament days. They believe that as a result of the new covenant, and new birth, having the Holy Spirit inside us, we no longer have (or need) the Holy Spirit to rest upon us. This would seem to make sense, but what does the bible teach about it?

In John 14, Jesus taught the disciples about the relationship they would have with the Holy Spirit: “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

We see two different relationships that believers can have with the Holy Spirit – He can dwell with us and in us. But there is a third relationship Jesus told the disciples they would have. In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus commissioned them, saying they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came ‘upon’ (epi) them:
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

This third relationship is noteworthy for a couple of reasons:

Jesus tied the power for ministry to the new relationship they had not yet experienced. “You will receive power - when the Spirit comes upon you.”

When Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit came to rest ‘upon’ (epi ) him, and remained there. (John 1:32) The baptism of Jesus was the point at which His healing ministry began. He received the anointing and power for ministry through the same experience he later told the disciples they would have.

In Acts 2:3, the Holy Spirit manifested as divided tongues of fire resting ‘upon’ the believers. In Acts 8, Peter and John went to Samaria to assist the new converts in receiving the Holy Spirit, “For as yet he had fallen ‘upon’ (epi) none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 8:16)

Paul also assisted believers in receiving the Holy Spirit: “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came ‘on’ (epi ) them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6)

Finally, Peter taught that the Spirit of God rested upon believers: “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, be happy; for the spirit of glory and of God rests ‘upon’ (epi ) you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (1 Peter 4:14 )

Let us agree then that the Holy Spirit does rest upon believers today, just as He did with the saints of the Old Testament. If we agree that both Jesus and the disciples had the Holy Spirit come to rest upon them at the starting point of their ministry, the case could be made that the power for ministry is dependent upon this experience.

God’s Spirit Moves
Let us now look at the operation of the Holy Spirit independent of man. In the account of creation in Genesis 1, we see the Spirit of God moving over the face of the waters. What this reveals is that the Spirit of God moves. We also know that the voice of God spoke as the Spirit was moving and things were created that had not yet existed. Implied here is the fact that when the voice of God speaks, when and where His Spirit is moving, creative miracles occur. Matt Sorger has proposed that creative miracles in healing are more likely to occur when the voice of God (prophetically) declares them to happen where the Spirit of God is moving.

In the following 2 passages, we see that God’s Spirit appeared as a cloud, from which He spoke and that God gives and takes His spirit at different times: “And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spoke unto him, (Moses) and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it to the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.” (Numbers 11:25)

God’s Presence
In the days of the kings of Israel the presence (or glory) of God rested between the cherubim upon the mercy seat above the Ark of the Covenant. At one point, Ezekiel witnessed the glory of the Lord as it departed from the temple. (See Eze. 11-12)

In the days of Obed-Edom, the Ark rested on his property and the glory of God was also there. He was blessed for three months because God’s presence was with him during that time. David brought the Ark to his home and the glory of God, likewise remained in David’s house for a time, with the ark. (2 Sam 6) Unknown to most of God’s people, was the fact that His manifest presence had appeared in a localized area that was not where they expected it to be – being confined to the space of one man’s home.From these passages, we can see that God’s glory or presence is able to come and go at will and take up residence virtually anywhere.

God Was With Him
Jesus was fully God and fully man, but it wasn't his divine power that performed miracles. Peter made a fascinating comment about why Jesus was able to heal the sick: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. .” (Acts 10:38)

Peter’s explanation was that Jesus didn’t heal the sick because he was God, but rather, because he was anointed by God and that God was with him.

Jesus was God and yet, God was with him and rested upon Him. Somehow, the oneness shared by the Godhead allows for all these seemingly impossible relationships to exist. Since God’s nature doesn’t change and His nature has been to allow His Spirit to reside with, in and upon individuals and in certain places, His Spirit could rest upon you or I and His presence could manifest in a church building, your living room or my ambulance.

Healing can happen as we exercise authority over sickness and operate in faith. Both of these require action on our part. But God can and does heal on His own, tagging along with us wherever we go, releasing healing power to those He loves. His presence can fill a city park, a room or inhabit your personal space and touch people you're ministering to.

If you don't believe me, why don't you put my theory to the test and ask God to make His presence known to those around you?

For a longer discussion of this subject, see my Facebook note here.

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