“Do you want to be healed?”

Ash-Wednesday-gold-225x147-Dear Friends and Vineyard Family,

Jimmy Reyes gave an excellent message on Sunday. If you haven’t heard it, you can listen here:

http://valleyvineyard.org/sermons/

We heard about the disabled man by the pool and the unusual question Jesus asked,  “Do you want to be healed?” We discovered that he did want healing when he responded in faith to Jesus’ command,  “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Amazingly, he got up and walked! Jimmy pointed out that we all have areas that need healing, but we must respond in faith. As a symbolic gesture, he invited us to take a first step by getting up and coming forward. In both services, the entire church came forward. It was a powerful moment and the Holy Spirit was moving upon us. I want to encourage you to hold on to what God did on Sunday.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and it’s a good day to take another step towards health. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. It lasts 40 days because Jesus was led into the Wilderness by the Spirit for 40 days. The Spirit prepared Jesus for ministry by drawing Him away from the things of the world. It was a time of bonding with the Father and overcoming the temptations of power, pleasure, fortune and fame. This is why millions of Christians have observed Lent by stepping away from worldly pleasures and seeking a deeper union with Christ.

I have never been a big fan of Lent. My friends in high school would give up drinking or smoking each year and then pick up where they left off right after Easter. The Holy Spirit wasn’t stirring these teenagers. It was just religious ritual, the kind practiced by every major religion, a temporary asceticism without spiritual growth. As I have gotten older, I have become much more open to how the Spirit can use Lent. Ruth Haley-Barton writes,

“It is the doorway into a space in time that calls us to stop whatever we are doing, no matter how important it might be, and enter more intentionally into the disciplines of prayer, self-examination and repentance. Left to ourselves, we probably would not choose to devote a whole season to such rigorous and demanding disciplines, but God knows we need it.”

I can see the call of Lent woven into John 5. The invalid receives an amazing gift of healing from Jesus, but that is not the final word. Much later, Jesus confronts the man, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” In other words, if you genuinely want to be healed, step away from the patterns of the world that have dominated your life. Choose life in the kingdom of God.

As we begin Lent, ask three questions.

  • Ask the Lord, “What area of my life needs to get healthy?” My thought life, marriage, friendships, sex life, diet, etc.?

  • Ask yourself the second question, “Do you want to get well?” Henry David Thoreau said something we might think about, “Thus men will lie on their backs, talking about the Fall of Man, and never make an effort to get up.” Jesus will not magically drop health on us without our cooperation.

  • The third question is one for the Holy Spirit, “Is there a sin, something I am doing or not doing, that inhibits the healing power of Jesus in my life? Is there something the Holy Spirit is calling you to stop eating, saying, thinking, smoking, drinking, doing, watching, playing, dwelling on, obsessing about, fighting about, or avoiding? Is there something you are not doing that is restricting the power of Jesus in your life?

Lent is a time for repentance, a turning around of our thoughts and actions in order to allow the Lord to bring His best into our lives. As we begin Lent, ask the Holy Spirit how you can turn towards health and healing. You may already know what it is He is calling you to do. Give yourself to that one thing for 40 days and expect to enjoy physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Here is some more food for thought on Lent from Ruth Haley-Barton.

http://www.transformingcenter.org/2017/02/ash-wednesday-invitation-to-a-holy-lent/

Bill Dwyer

Senior Pastor