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Luke 4:23-30 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Jesus had been healing people in Capernaum and the word was out. But in his home country no one was willing to believe and none were healed. The people didn’t want HIM to heal them.

Jesus reminded the people of other situations where God had led prophets away from their own people to perform miracles: Elijah was sent to a widow outside of Israel during the famine and Naaman the Syrian was the only man Elisha had healed of leprosy.

People have a way of putting stumbling blocks in front of those who are closest to them. The people who grew up with Jesus weren’t willing to believe that he could perform miracles. I can’t help but wonder how often brilliant people are held back from doing all they could because the people who surround them find reasons to discourage them.

Even more, how many times are we reluctant to ask God for a miracle because we are limited by our own faith? I must confess that I have at times refrained from publicly praying for a particular need because I didn’t want to “put God on the spot.” Perhaps I was being as callous as the people in Jesus’ home town.

I have known people who refuse to believe in miracles. Because their minds are made up and their hearts are hard, they have denied themselves the opportunity to be fully blessed by God. They remind me of the woman with the headache in the old commercial, “Mother, please! I’d rather do it myself!”

Father God, help us to have trusting hearts. Help us to be willing to believe You are who You say You are. Enable us to shed our own pride and to reach out in faith to You expecting to receive the blessings that can only be granted by a God of love, power, and might.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Mark 1:29-34 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

The first instance of Jesus’ healing as recorded in the Gospel of Mark was when Jesus healed Simon’s (later called Peter) mother-in-law. It didn’t take long for word to spread about this miracle, and soon people were bringing the sick and demon-possessed to Jesus to be healed.

It bothers me to hear people re-interpret the term demon-possessed as just another form of sickness, as if the people in Bible times lumped all the people with diseases they didn’t understand into one group and labeled them demon-possessed. A closer examination of this passage does not reveal that the demon-possessed were treated the same as the sick. I believe it is worth mentioning as well, that when Jesus drove the demons out he would not let them speak because they knew who he was. That statement wouldn’t have made any sense at all if a demon weren’t some form of being that had a will of its own. That is totally different from a disease.

It is unfortunate that the highly educated people of our time are so bent on minimizing the existence of the supernatural realm. It is even more unfortunate that now many of these same intellectual elete are opening their minds to the possibility of a spirit world through New Age thinking (which is nothing new at all – it is the ancient gods of the Middle East wearing new faces). Yet they have firmly closed their minds to the possibility that the spirit worlds that are taught in the Bible have any legitimacy at all. How foolhardy, to put it mildly.

The Bible has much to say about demonic activity, but the best passage for us to remember about it is this: “…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” Read the whole passage in 1 John 4:1-6. Even though demons are powerful and can cause a lot of havoc, God is greater than all of them put together. Put your trust in God alone.

Father God, we thank you for your Son Jesus who showed us that you are a God who has the power to heal and the power to keep Satan and his demons in check. And we thank you that you have given us your Spirit to strengthen us so that we too may stand against the powers of this world. Keep us close to you so that we will always be mindful of where our strength comes from.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 4:31-37 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

After leaving Nazareth, Jesus returned to the region of Galilee and went to the city of Capernium. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue and taught the people who were amazed at the authority with which he spoke.

A man in the crowd was possessed by a demon who knew who Jesus was. The demon began mocking Jesus and identified him as the Holy One of  God. Jesus told the demon to be quiet, and then commanded him to go out of the man who had been possessed. The demon left throwing the man down, but did not injure the man.

The people were all the more amazed at Jesus, at his authority in his teaching, and at his power to command the spirits. And the people spread the word about him to the surrounding communities.

Jesus wasn’t just another teacher, he had demonstrated his authority in many ways to the people. It was in his teaching, in his miracles, and in his ability to cast out demons.

Today we have many spiritual teachers who use various techniques to get their messages across to their listeners. Some have earned our respect through their command of the Scriptures, and are able to bring many people to their knees under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Many great teachers also effectively use their spiritual gifts for healing and for casting out demons even today. Praise God for his faithful messengers who are able to use their God-given spiritual gifts to reach the lost for Jesus.

Unfortunately, we also have spiritual teachers who have resorted to less than honorable methods to reach the lost. They use manipulation to create an appearance of a “movement of the Spirit.” While there are many examples, a few of the more common ones include noise for the sake of noise, people falling back with a push on the forehead rather than an authentic experience of being “slain in the Spirit,” and tongues that can be self-generated instead of Spirit-generated. Often spiritual leaders who use deceitful methods can also be spotted by an over-indulgence of self-promotion as well.

I am aware that I will have probably offended many of my readers at this point. I am not saying that all instances of noisy worship, people being slain in the Spirit, or people speaking in tongues, are less than acts of God and his Holy Spirit. We serve an awesome God who manifests his glory and his love in more ways than we can count. He has used each of these and more to meet the needs of his people.

Heavenly Father, grant us discernment as we seek out genuine Christian teachers who will handle your Word faithfully as they help us to draw closer to you. Give us wisdom that we might recognize the wolves in sheep’s clothing who might deceive us into blindly following their leadership which may lead us farther away instead of closer to you. Help us to fix our eyes on you alone as revealed in your Son, Jesus the Christ.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 4:16-30 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

After Jesus began his public ministry in the region called Galilee he went to his hometown of Nazareth where the people had already heard rumors of the wonderful things he had been doing in the other towns.

Jesus first went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, the same as he had done in the other towns. When he stood up to read he was given the scroll that contained the book of Isaiah. He unrolled it to the prophecy that was written about himself and read it to the people. Then he put the scroll down and told the people that today the scripture had been fulfilled in their hearing.

Because the people had already known Jesus they could not believe this message. His purity up to this point had been taken for granted, and they were unwilling to give him credibility as the Messiah or as a miracle worker or healer. Instead they ran him out of town and attempted to throw him over a cliff. Because of the disbelief of the people of Nazareth, Jesus was unable to bless them with his miracles.

How often do we deny God the opportunity to do miracles in our lives because we take him for granted or because we think the miracle we hope for is too big for God to handle? Are we sometimes afraid to risk our own credibility by publicly asking for prayer because we are afraid God won’t answer our prayer and we will be seen as foolish? I have known people whose liberal “Christian” theology and sceptical faith in miracles have prevented them from asking for blessings they could have received.

Let us not be guilty of having the hometown mentality that the people of Nazareth had on that Sabbath day. We need to be careful that we don’t let our familiarity with rituals and the Christian language become a form of vaccination that prevents us from understanding the Christian message in its fullness, and keeps us from digging deeper for a closer and more genuine walk with Jesus.

Father God, walk with us daily. Help us to see the good news of Jesus as fresh and new every morning so that we don’t lose its meaning in its familiarity. Help us to keep our faith alive and well so we never lose the blessings that are ours through faith in you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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