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THE HEALING MANDATE

At the beginning of man’s existence on earth, God instructed Adam and Eve to subdue and have dominion over everything on the earth. However, due to their disobedience which took place in the Garden of Eden, they forfeited their kingdom authority to Satan. When Jesus came to earth, He gave man abundant life and restored their lost authority.

Jesus was an example to His disciples during His ministry of delivering and healing the sick. Wanting them to follow His example, Matthew 10:1 states, “He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” Please notice before some physical healings took place, Jesus cast out the troubling spirits (Matthew 17:14-18; Luke 11:14; Luke 13:12-13).

Furthermore, before Jesus departed from His disciples, He told them in Mark 16:17a,18b, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Since believers are His representatives and disciples on earth, we must follow His example. It is not necessary to be a minister to lay hands on the sick for believers qualify to do so. Every believer has been given power and authority, and all that is necessary is obedience to follow the instructions. When believers do their part, God can do His.

Finally, the Gospels and the book of Acts recorded how Jesus and his disciples administered healing. When they healed the sick, they did not pray over them but spoke to the people’s condition. From today on, start speaking to illnesses in your body and declare healing using the Word. Also, there are individuals whose recovery has been delayed because no one has spoken to their condition; they are waiting on you. Won’t you heed the mandate and follow the pattern of healing that leads to success?

 YOUR MOUTH AND HEART MUST BE ALIGNED

Mark 7:5-6 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

In the above scripture verses, Jesus addressed the religious leaders of His time who had come from Jerusalem to scrutinize His teachings and actions. In this encounter, they saw the disciples of Jesus eating bread without doing the traditional washing of hands, and they were appalled. They confronted Jesus with their accusation, and Jesus responded by rebuking them for their legalism

Since God inspired the Word, Jesus knew its’ genuine meaning, and He knew it was being misconstrued to suit men’s fancy and traditional customs. These religious leaders who wanted to appear holy and righteous by their words and actions in the sight of God and man fell short in obeying the Word of God to which Jesus exposed their failure.

Presently in our world, we witness the exact condemning nature by religious leaders and fellow believers. However, God, the righteous judge, wants more than men’s lip service. God honors obedience to all He has spoken, genuine praise and worship, and not empty words. Our lifestyle must be a godly reflection of what we say, and we cannot pick and choose what we want to follow. Finally, loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind will align our mouth and heart, producing fruit pleasing to God.

THE GREATEST TWO COMMANDMENTS

Our greatest two commandments on earth entail love. First, we are to love God and, secondly, to love others.

In his farewell address, Moses gave this commandment from God to the new generation of Israelites. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This needed to be said because when God first gave the commandments to them in the wilderness, many of them had not been born. They did not hear when He told their forefathers He was a jealous God and that He did not want to share their love our devotion with other gods. Lest this new generation follows in the footsteps of the old and commits idolatry, they were cautioned not to by Moses.

Jesus reiterated this requirement in Matthew 22. He said to a lawyer questioning Him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.“

If you read the Psalms, many of which were written by David, you would get the impression that it was right to pray for the downfall of your enemy. Additionally, if you were to follow in David’s footsteps, your prayers for those that opposed you would not adhere to the instructions of Jesus found in Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Furthermore, Jesus explains it is easy to love those that love you and treat you kindly; however, God requires more from believers. He wants believers to love everyone, for in so doing, all men will recognize them as His followers.

It is crucial to learn everything written in the Bible is factual; however, everything in it is not a pattern for believers to imitate. When you want to please God, look for examples of people loving Him and others. These are the individuals to emulate; when this is done, the greatest two commandments will be fulfilled in your life.

CALLED TO SERVE

Jesus had twelve disciples, and out of the twelve, three of them (Peter, John, and James) appeared to have a closer relationship with Him, and because of this, they witnessed some of Jesus’ greatest moments. The other disciples saw the closeness of these three to Jesus and were possibly envious. This may have sparked the debate over who would have the highest ranking position in Jesus’ kingdom. Though Jesus, during His earthly ministry, attempted to tell them numerous times that his earthly kingdom rule was not for the present but for the future, they did not grasp what He was saying. Thus, He admonished them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). He informed them to think about humbly serving and not to serve to gain political-social status.

In God’s kingdom, a core principle is servanthood. By serving God and each other, we are modeling Jesus, for God sent his Son to earth to serve. The Word states, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus served lovingly and willingly and made the ultimate sacrifice in servanthood. He served humanity by giving his life.  

Serving sometimes may take you out of your comfort zone. It may require you to go to places that are not up to your standard of living. It may require interacting with people whom we consider to be undesirable; nevertheless, in all of this, we are doing the will of the Father and promoting His kingdom

In a parable found in Matthew 25, Jesus shares the story of a man who gives money to three workers before going on a trip. When he returns home, he calls the workers to inquire what they did with the funds he gave them. Two of the workers increased the amount they received; thus, the man addressed them as, “good and faithful servants. “However, to the man who did nothing, he said, “Thou wicked and slothful servant.” Yes, God expects us to work and produce, He gives us gifts and talents, and He expects us to use them in serving and encouraging others. And ultimately, God wants believers to understand they are called to serve.

EVERYONE WILL LIVE IN ETERNITY, BUT WHERE?

Everyone born on this earth will one day live in eternity. The question is, where will they live? For everyone accountable, the choice is up to them. For others who are not, God will ultimately make that decision. As Joshua said in Joshua 24:15, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Your decision will determine your where.

Believers who are raptured fate are sealed. They will enter into eternal bliss with Jesus; wherever He is, they will be. However, another group of individuals called “the dead” is seen in Revelation 20:11-15. It states, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” From these verses, we gather all individuals, old and young, will come before Jesus at the white throne judgment. If their name is not recorded in the book of life, they will join the Antichrist, the false prophet, Satan, death, and hell in the lake of fire.

The lake of fire is only mentioned in the book of Revelation, and it is mentioned four times. It is a place of darkness, burning with brimstone, and continual torment, where occupants will weep and gnash their teeth (Mathew 8:12; 13:42, 50; Revelation 19:20; 20:10). This is an experience that never ends, for it is eternal.

Sadly, I believe most people don’t have a clear concept of eternity and the lake of fire, for if they did, their choices in life would be different. So, for those who understand these things, we must continually pray that people’s understanding will be enlightened and, with clarity, see the future God has called them to share in His kingdom.

UNDERSTANDING TOO LATE

In one of Jesus’s last discourses with his disciples concerning end-time events, he said these tragic words, “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:39). In this verse, He was describing what happened to the people who were outside of the ark during the flood.

Before the flood, the people were going about doing their daily activities. Once the rain started and did not stop, the warning and preaching of Noah made sense, but it was too late. The Bible informs us that Noah had preached to the people for one hundred and twenty years while building the ark that disaster was in their future. Sadly, the people did not listen or believe his message.

I am sure those individuals that could swim did so until their strength gave out. Those that thought there was a possibility of Noah opening the ark door were probably banging on it; however, God shut the ark’s door, and no one was allowed admittance. Except for those in the ark, all civilization died during the forty days of rain; because they understood too late.

This event serves as a warning to us. Right now, before the rapture, everyone has the opportunity to accept God and become a kingdom citizen. However, after the rapture, the seven years of tribulation occur with the outpouring of judgment on earth’s inhabitants. As revealed in Revelation, the judgments will be horrific; men will desire death and refuse to repent due to the hardness of their hearts (Revelation 9:6).

When the end of this life as we know it comes, and those whose names are not found in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire, they will understand, but it will be too late.

DON’T ADD TO IT NOR TAKE AWAY FROM IT

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

Revelation 22:18 -19 I give fair warning to all who hear the words of the prophecy of this book: If you add to the words of this prophecy, God will add to your life the disasters written in this book; if you subtract from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will subtract your part from the Tree of Life and the Holy City that are written in this book.

In the book of Deuteronomy, in chapters 4 and 12, Moses spoke to the children of Israel concerning the commandments, statutes, and judgments that God gave them to follow. Additionally, in Revelation, the last book and the last chapter in the Bible, John, the writer, warns the readers of the consequence of adding and taking away from what they read in this book. Both of these men whom God inspired to share the Word knew from experience what happened to the disobedient and were sounding an alarm for all to hear.

We are presently living in a time where people interpret God’s Word in a manner that allows them to do things that God opposes. Like the Israelites in the book of Judges, every man is doing what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). Sadly, like the Israelites who experienced the consequences of following their own dictates, those who manipulate and take lightly the Word will ultimately come to regret doing so.

God loves everyone and desires all to be saved, and no one perish, but God is also a God of order and holiness. He knows what is best, and He gives all the opportunity to decide which path they will follow.

Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 King James Version states, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Additionally, I am sharing this exact text in two more versions just in case you did not understand what you read. First, The Living Bible, “Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” Second the Message Bible, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”

As these verses point out, it is easy and inviting to go along with the crowd; however, choosing the narrow way requires discipline and sacrifice. The eternal yield from doing so will prove to be a person’s best life decision. So, in closing, I recommend not adding to the Word nor taking away from it but choosing to simply follow it.                               

PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS

Every person in this world wants to be successful; no one wants to fail. Unfortunately, not enough people realize that following the Word of God will provide them with a prescription for success. God told Joshua Moses’s successor in Joshua 1:8, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” This powerful statement was applicable then and remains applicable now. As you will read in this blog, some of Israel’s kings followed this instruction while others did not. A king named Asa did both, and I will share his story highlighting his successes and failure. Besides what you will read in this blog, you can read in detail the story of King Asa in 1 Kings 15:10-24 and 2 Chronicles 14 -16.

Israel was divided into two kingdoms after the death of King Solomon because his heart had turned from God toward idolatry (1Kings 11:4-11). The ten northern tribes continued to be called “Israel,” and the combined two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were called “Judah.”

Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, reigned for seventeen years as the king of Judah, and he and Judah continued to commit idolatry. After Rehoboam’s death, Abijam, his son, reigned for three years, and he and Judah followed the idolatrous practices of his father. Upon his death, Abijam’s son Asa became the king of Judah and reigned in Jerusalem for forty-one years. Asa did what was right in the eyes of God until his latter years.

At the beginning of his reign, King Asa removed the pagan shrines and altars throughout the land and led the people in seeking God and obeying His commandments. God blessed the land with peace for his devotion during the first ten years of Asa’s reign. Wisely using this time, the king fortified Judah’s borders, rebuilt the army, and increased their weaponry. When a massive army from Ethiopia attempted to invade Judah, King Asa petitioned God to rescue Judah. God answered the king’s prayer resulting in a tremendous massacre of the Ethiopian army and colossal plunder for Judah.

Azariah, the prophet, came to King Asa and reminded the king of the nation’s past failings and recommended the king faithfully continue serving God. Motivated, King Asa again went through the nation destroying pagan idols, promising death to those who persisted in idolatrous practices, and demoted his idol-worshipping grandmother Maacah from being queen mother. Additionally, he and the people gathered together and recommitted their allegiance to God. Pleased with this commitment, God blessed Judah with another twenty years of peace.

In the thirty-six year of King Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel decided to start a war with Judah by barricading the borders. Unfortunately, King Asa ignored God and sought military help from Benhadad, king of Syria. This alliance angered God, and He sent Hanani, the prophet, to inform King Asa the consequences of his actions would be continued wars in the kingdom of Judah. Instead of repenting King Asa became angry, placed the prophet in prison, and abused some of his fellow citizens. King Asa’s attitude, negativity, and cruel actions became his downfall.

After several years King Asa’s feet became infected, and once again, the king sought help from the wrong source. Instead of requesting healing from God, he looked to his physician for help. King Asa’s physical condition never improved but worsened, and two years later, King Asa died and was buried in his sepulcher in the city of David.

One of the benefits of reading the Bible is to give instructions that will assist believers in living a life pleasing to God. The story of King Asa displays that when individuals and nations obey the Word of God and seek him as their source, they are blessed and prosperous. When believers do the opposite, they displease God and open the door for evil to befall them.

So, I close this blog by encouraging you to be among those who use God’s prescription for success and declare you will not regret doing so.

THE LEADING EVIL SPIRIT OF OUR TIMES

There is a leading evil spirit running rampant in our world; it is called the spirit of deception, and we see its handiwork all around us. It amazes me how the operators of this spirit can so easily deceive us. Unfortunately, this spirit of deception was first manifested with the serpent and Eve in the Garden of Eden and has continued down through the ages of time.

Even Jesus spoke to his disciples while sitting on the Mount of Olives regarding deception. “Watch out that no one deceives you,” He said in response to a question that they asked Him concerning the sign of His coming and the end of the age. In emphasizing the word “deceive.” He informed them to pay attention, so an individual does not dupe them. Also, He alerted them that men would attempt to speak authoritatively into people’s lives as if they were the Messiah.

In the dictionary, the words deceive and deception carries the same meaning: the action of deceiving someone, double-dealing, fraud, cheating, trickery, duping, hoodwinking, underhandedness, take-in, ensnare, beguile, seduce, entrap, misguide, or fooled. All of us can admit that sometime in our life, we have unfortunately been deceived, and hopefully, we do not practice deception.

In the future, Satan, the master of deception, will be bound in a bottomless pit during the Millennial reign of Christ. The scripture reveals that after he is loosed, he is able to deceive the nations of the earth and get them to unite in battle to end the kingly reign of Christ. Of course, they fail, and finally, Revelation 20:10 states, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Until then, remember Paul’s words in Timothy 3:1,13 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” We are living in such a time and we believers must remain diligent. As we pray for truth to prevail in our world, also pray that men will recognize truth, not deceive, and not be deceived.

ELIJAH SERIES: ELIJAH’S TRANSLATION

The scriptures never recorded the length of time that Elijah and Elisha spent together; neither did it reveal glimpses into the years of mentorship. Nevertheless, in 2 Kings 2:1-12, we see their last day together and Elijah’s translation into the heavens, leaving Elisha behind. And this chapter noted the fact Elijah, Elisha, and the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel and Jericho knew that God was going to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind but not the exact time of Elijah’s departure.

Elijah and Elisha started from Gilgal on this last day journey, went down to Bethel, proceeded to Jericho, and then to the Jordan River. At Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho, Elijah told Elisha to remain in these places; however, Elisha responded, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” Additionally, as they passed through Bethel and Jericho, the sons of the prophets located in these areas said to Elisha, “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? Elisha answered both times with the same response, “Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.”

When they reached the Jordan River, Elijah took his mantle and smote the waters, which divided and allowed them to pass through to the other side while the sons of the prophet watched them from a distance. Elijah knowing that his departure was imminent, asked Elisha what he could do for him. Commentaries believe Elisha viewed himself as Elijah’s son since the prophet did not have any natural sons; therefore, Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, as explained in Deuteronomy 21:17. Elijah informs Elisha, “Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.” As they continued talking and walking, a chariot of fire with horses of fire appeared and separated them, and a whirlwind took Elijah up into heaven.

Seeing what was happening, Elisha cried, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” Then in grief, he tore his clothes into two pieces and picked up Elijah’s mantle that fell from him as he was ascending to heaven.

My next series will be on Elisha, so I am limiting my thoughts to Elijah’s and Elisha’s interactions. When I do the Elisha series, I will blog about Elijah and Elisha’s initial meeting and then pick up from this point to continue the story of Elisha.

As I conclude this series on Elijah, let me share some nuggets that I gain from this chapter:

  • While in training, your commitment will be tested.
  • Don’t allow the words of others to deter you from your assignment.
  • Some realities are hard to hear.
  • Learn all you can while mentoring and teaching are available.
  • Departing from loved ones can be emotional.
  • In this life, stay busy as long as you can.
  • There are always spectators waiting to see what is going to happen.
  • Be a participator and not a spectator.
  • Being in the right place yields a positive reward.
  • Leadership may change, but God’s agenda remains the same.

This is the last blog in the Elijah Series. If you have missed any of the previous blogs, you can find them in the archives. I pray this series has enlightened and inspired you and look forward to the next series on Elisha.