|Lesson 10 November 30 - December 6|
Healers in Need of Healing
Read For This Week's Study: Isa. 53:4-6.
Memory Text: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV).
Key Thought: Ultimate healing, from God's perspective, involves the whole integrated person and will never be achieved until the sin that separates us from God is addressed. Even when restoring physical health and function, Christ always had as His first priority reconciliation with God.
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Sabbath Afternoon November 29
Healers Need healing. Because the ultimate source of death, decay, and disease is sin, those involved in healing ministry are sinners trying to help other sinners to overcome and to achieve reconciliation with God. Healers also have the need for healing. This fact makes the successful healer empathetic and willing to give all the glory to God, who is the only source of life and health. If the "treasure" were not in "jars of clay," we might be tempted to take the credit, which would shut God's channel and preclude our ability to assist others to experience true spiritual, physical, and emotional health. Peter and Paul had to experience personal healing in order to become healers of others.
"The continuity of Christian influence is the secret of its power, and this depends on the steadfastness of your manifestation of the character of Christ. Help those who have erred, by telling them of your experiences. Show how, when you made grave mistakes, patience, kindness, and helpfulness on the part of your fellow workers gave you courage and hope."--The Ministry of Healing, pp. 494, 495.
Sunday November 30
Peter Falls Short (Luke 22:20-34).
How did Peter behave in the final hours of Christ's life? What did his actions reveal about his character? Luke 22:20-34, 54-62; John 18:10, 11.
Peter apparently was a "natural" leader exhibiting attractive attributes that caused others to follow him. Obviously, there were elements in Peter's character that led Jesus to choose him as an apostle. Yet the passages above tell the story of Peter's bitter and abject failure.
Before one criticizes Peter for failing the Lord after His arrest, it might be wise to consider the question of the absence of the other apostles, who had apparently gone into hiding.
What was the true nature of Peter's deficiency? Was it lack of courage, of good intentions, of a desire to be loyal to his Lord and Friend? Was Peter a hypocrite? Ponder these questions in order to probe Peter's deficiencies and the healing that this future healer would need.
What was the root cause of Peter's vulnerability to temptation and failure? Do you believe Peter was sincere in his statements of determination to support and follow the Lord? Why do you think as you do? Did Peter lack courage?
What message do you believe was conveyed in the Lord's look at Peter after the final denial? Luke 22:60-62.
"Peter had not designed that his real character should be known. In assuming an air of indifference he had placed himself on the enemy's ground, and he became an easy prey to temptation. If he had been called to fight for his Master, he would have been a courageous soldier; but when the finger of scorn was pointed at him, he proved himself a coward. Many who do not shrink from active warfare for their Lord are driven by ridicule to deny their faith. By associating with those whom they should avoid, they place themselves in the way of temptation. They invite the enemy to tempt them, and are led to say and do that of which under other circumstances they would never have been guilty. The disciple of Christ who in our day disguises his faith through dread of suffering or reproach denies his Lord as really as did Peter in the judgment hall....
"In that gentle countenance he read deep pity and sorrow, but there was no anger there. The sight of that pale, suffering face, those quivering lips, that look of compassion and forgiveness, pierced his heart like an arrow."--The Desire of Ages, pp. 712, 713.
Monday December 1
Peter Experiences Healing (John 21:1-19).
We can only begin to imagine the pain and agony that Peter felt after his denial and the subsequent events of Jesus' mock trial and agonizing death. Even after the reality of the resurrection, it would be normal for Peter to carry the scars of this experience in his mind and heart.
Attempt to put yourself in Peter's place and imagine what some of these scars might include; for example, crushed self-respect, unworthiness, and guilt. Base your list on how you might have felt.
Describe Jesus' healing ministry for Peter (John 21:1-19). Why do you think Jesus would have picked this place and occasion to confront and heal Peter?
What was the reason for Jesus' insistent questions regarding Peter's love for Him? If you were Peter, what would the words of the Lord "Feed my lambs" have meant to you?
"Peter was naturally forward and impulsive, and Satan had taken advantage of those characteristics to overthrow him. Just before the fall of Peter, Jesus had said to him, 'Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.' Luke 22:31, 32. That time had now come, and the transformation in Peter was evident. The close, testing questions of the Lord had not called out one forward, self-sufficient reply; and because of his humiliation and repentance, Peter was better prepared than ever before to act as shepherd to the flock.
"The first work that Christ entrusted to Peter on restoring him to the ministry was to feed the lambs. This was a work in which Peter had little experience. It would require great care and tenderness, much patience and perseverance. It called him to minister to those who were young in the faith, to teach the ignorant, to open the Scriptures to them, and to educate them for usefulness in Christ's service. Heretofore Peter had not been fitted to do this, or even to understand its importance. But this was the work which Jesus now called upon him to do. For this work his own experience of suffering and repentance had prepared him."--The Desire of Ages, p. 812.
Tuesday December 2
Peter as Healer (Acts 3:1-16).
Study Acts 3:1-16 as a dramatic example of Peter's being used to feed the lambs.
There are probably scores of other examples that were not recorded. As you read and ponder this account, it is important to consider how Peter is different from his precrucifixion persona. The natural endowments of candor, courage, and transparency have been transformed by his failure and by what he learned from that experience. But equally important is what he learned and incorporated from his experience of restoration and healing.
How would Peter's past experience have made him a more effective healer? List the ways Peter is different in this account from the man portrayed in Luke 22.
"Of the first apostolic miracle much could be written. Peter told the lame man to attempt the seemingly impossible, namely, to rise up and walk. But assured of Christ' s ability, the lame man took the step of faith. Divinely healed, he crystallized his faith by his clear testimony. There are cripples among us still cripples in morals, in will-power also, alas, cripples through their own sins or through sins of others. How full the world is of poor, disabled souls, so spiritually impotent! They lie at the doors of the Church, but are not cured. As Peter became the medium of healing, so only as the love of God flows through us can the dying spiritual cripples of our times be blessed."- -Herbert Lockyer, All the Books and Chapters of the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan), p. 247.
"The man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple is the illustration of a constant fact: approximation to God is a habit of humanity in need. Mendicants are not often found at the doors where an infidel lecture has been delivered. In speaking to the man, Peter revealed the essential meaning of Christianity. He was not able to minister to the man in material things so far as silver and gold were concerned. He was, however, able to communicate to him something which would make him master of his disability....
"Faith in His [Jesus'] name was the avenue through which God had wrought the wonder. No glory accrued to man from what had happened; nor to the man who was healed, for his faith was not brought into play at all; none to the apostles, as they clearly declared." -G. Campbell Morgan, An Exposition of the Whole Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book, 1959), p. 45 1.
Wednesday December 3
Saul Of Tarsus Off The Mark (Acts 7:57, 58).
What kind of man was Saul of Tarsus before He met Christ? Acts 7:57, 58; 8:3.
In this brief passage, we encounter another man with very substantial human endowments whom God in His all-knowing wisdom ordained to carry out a great work for His kingdom. Saul of Tarsus was a Hebrew of great training and advantage. He had studied with the eminent teacher Gamaliel. He was a Roman citizen. As a young man, he had attributes of leadership that moved him to the forefront of the effort to wipe out the "heretical" Christian group. He apparently thought he was serving God's cause in his zealous efforts to destroy Christians.
Do you believe that Saul of Tarsus would have sensed any need of healing or change? What would you list as the admirable, natural character traits of Saul of Tarsus before conversion? How was Saul of Tarsus missing God's mark for him at this time?
"This is the first mention of St. Paul in the Holy Scriptures [Acts 7:57]. His agency in the martyrdom of St. Stephen is mentioned with peculiar emphasis here ... with the design probably of showing the power of Divine Grace in the change wrought thereby from Saul, the Persecutor of the Church, to Paul, the Preacher of the Gospel....
"Here also, it seems, we may be permitted to recognize one main reason why the History of the Acts is principally occupied in narrating the actions and sufferings of two apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, the one having shown his weakness in denying Christ, the other his fury in persecuting Him.
"These two names are noble trophies of the victories of the Holy Ghost.
"St. Paul would doubtless have been anxious to make public reparation as far as he was able, for the wrong done by himself to the blessed Martyr. This desire manifested itself afterwards in his public declaration at Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 22:20. "When the blood of Thy Martyr, Stephen, was being shed, I myself also was standing there, and consenting to the deed, and holding the raiment of those who were killing him." He could not make better amends, than by confessing his own share in the martyrdom, as is done here (7:58; 8: 1)."--Christopher Wordsworth, The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 1874, vol. 2, p. 73.
Thursday December 4
Paul Experiences Helplessness And Healing (Acts 9:1-19).
What do you think was the significance of Saul's being made blind, speechless, and helpless? What do you think was the significance of his receiving restoration of his physical sight through another human being? What do you think Paul might have learned from the obedience of Ananias, who had serious reservations about him? Acts 9:1-19.
Like Peter, the Lord saw, in the imperfect clay of Saul, attributes that, once transformed, once healed, would make him a mighty servant in the cause of the kingdom.
Alexander Soishenitsyn's terror-filled days in the Gulag Archipelago have some intriguing parallels to Paul's experience. He wrote: "It was granted me to carry from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, the essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and now good. In the intoxication of my youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when, in the Gulag Archipelago, on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stiffings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either but right through every human heart and through all human hearts.... And that is why I turn back to the years of the imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: 'Bless you prison!'" (Quoted by Malcolm Muggeridge in Conversion, pp. 116, 117).
Speaking of his own spiritual journey that climaxed in conversion late in life, the late BBC commentator Malcolm Muggeridge wrote: "Suddenly, accountability, joy, peace, illumination, total submersion in God's universal love, come to the Undergraduate and he sits or moves about in ecstasy. If he looks out of the window, it is to see Paradise; if he is with other human beings, they are angels; if he closes his eyes and meditates, he floats away from his physical existence and desires, from his very prayers, and devotions, and finds himself near to some ineffable, ultimate truth, breathing the very perfume of God's love and loitering in the very precincts of Heaven."- -Muggeridge, p. 39.
Have you ever wished for a Damascus experience like Paul's? Do you ever fear God may allow some calamity in your life so you could recognize need for healing?
Friday December 5
Further Study: What do the following passages reveal regarding Paul as a restorer and healer? Acts 9:26-30; 11:22-26; 16:16-40; 2 Tim. 3:9-11.
Paul appears to have been an intense and energetic man. After his encounter with Christ, he demonstrated the same zeal for spreading the gospel as he had in persecuting the church. However, his past and his reputation were barriers, and without the endorsement and support of Barnabas, his acceptance by the original apostles might have been difficult. Barnabas spoke up for Paul in Jerusalem and brought him into the work for the Gentiles in Antioch, Paul experienced healing and baptism from Ananias and invaluable support from Barnabas.
Paul seems to have needed further growth in grace to become a great restorer and healer. He refused to give John Mark the second chance that Barnabas was determined to give. Interestingly, even though the conflict was sharp and both Paul and Barnabas believed they were correct, they continued to be used of God, and the work was multiplied. Evidently, over time, Paul came to feel differently about John Mark and changed his earlier judgment. We can all look forward to this kind of growth in our experience with Christ.
"Since the earlier years of his profession of faith, Mark's Christian experience had deepened. As he had studied more closely the life and death of Christ he had obtained clearer views of the Saviour's mission, its toils and conflicts. Reading in the scars in Christ's hands and feet the marks of His service for humanity, and the length to which self-abnegation leads to save the lost and perishing, Mark had become willing to follow the Master in the path of self-sacrifice.... In the face of severe trial and adversity, Mark continued steadfast, a wise and beloved helper of the apostle."--The Acts of the Apostles, p. 455.
Summary: Before the apostles were qualified to be Christ's instruments for healing, they themselves needed spiritual healing. Those who would bring physical and spiritual healing to others must experience Christ's healing touch.
By Faith, Not by Sight, Part I
Velaphi [Vel-AHP-he] Gumbo was born in a village in Zimbabwe where the people worship the spirits of their ancestors. When he was 5 years old, his uncle visited the family and noticed that Velaphi was blind. Uncle told his parents to send the boy to Solusi Elementary School, where blind children are taught.
Velaphi and his father boarded a bus for the three-hour trip to Solusi. His father helped him move into his dormitory room then said goodbye and left. Velaphi felt lonely, but his dorm mates introduced him to other children and helped him learn his way around school. On Saturday the children went to church. Velaphi had never been to church, but he loved Sabbath School and soon was joining the other children as they sang songs about Jesus.
Velaphi's days took on a comfortable routine of classes, playtime, homework, and worship. He especially enjoyed worship. The songs seemed so much happier than those that people sang in his village. He learned that his body is the temple of God, and he should keep it clean and pure and not eat unclean foods or smoke or drink beer. And he learned that God loves him and forgives his sins when he asks.
When Velaphi went home for vacation, his family crowded around to greet him. At dinnertime, everyone started to eat except Velaphi. He had learned to pray before meals. When his father allowed him to give thanks for the food, Velaphi was glad. After dinner Velaphi told his family what he had learned at school. He told them some Bible stories he had heard and talked about going to church. He told them about the difference between clean and unclean foods and about keeping the Sabbath. But his parents did not like some of Velaphi's new ideas; they did not want to change their ways. And when Velaphi told them he wanted to be a pastor someday, they laughed. "How can a blind boy from a little village become a pastor?" But Velaphi's sister, Dezzy, did not laugh.
That night Velaphi told God that he wanted to serve Him no matter what his family said.
(Continued next week)
Velaphi Gumbo is 18 and a second-year student at Solusi Secondary School.
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