Life is inevitably complex and challenging. There are many daily obstacles we need to manoeuvre ourselves around or over. Like surfers, rock-climbers and endurance athletes, we rely heavily on feedback from various indicators, reports and input from our surroundings to orientate ourselves. An experienced surfer can feel instinctively a coming set of waves that determines his decision to best position himself. The accuracy of his interpretation of the underlying currents determines his finding the best waves, an acute ability developed over years of surfing. Rock-climbers know the limits of their bodies to gauge the effective hold of their grip, the right anchor points, and line of climb. Their ability to rightly read and interpret the feedback from their muscles and other indicators determine their success. Misreading any of these indicators can lead to death. Endurance athletes use smartwatches to provide them vital information like heart rate and speed to gauge depletion levels. Miscalculation means one can deplete one’s energy before the end of the race and bonk. Bonking means that you haven’t taken in enough carbohydrates and have exhausted your body’s glycogen stores, leaving you with abnormally low blood glucose levels. Your body can only store enough glucose (in the form of glycogen) to last you for about 90 minutes of moderate exercise. Anything longer than this and you will need to take in some more glucose for your body to function correctly.
Living this life and mitigating its obstacles entails the interpretation of various reports and social feedback. Bank statements, debt reports, health and medical reports, social media likes and stats, academic reports, google, facial expressions, smartwatches, conversations, gossip, social media, news feeds, mainstream opinions, and theories provide a variety of input-data feedback by which we make our decisions. One can analyze each item on this mentioned list for consistent accuracy, but the unmentioned most significant indicator people use are their feelings. ‘How did something make me feel’ became the mantra of the populous, which is ironic, living in the age of information.
(Read: 2 Samuel 18:19-33) David, engaged in a war with his son Absalom. He gave his generals a direct command: “Deal gently with the young man Absalom”. Once Absalom was killed, the story unfolds the details of who should bring him the message. One messenger was directed with a specific message that bare the good news of victory but the terrible news of Absalom’s death. The second was driven by emotion and even outran the first, but did not disclose the detail of the boy’s death. “The accuracy of the message will determine the value of the messenger” We are living in a time where we are flooded with so much information, it seems messengers, bloggers and news agencies are more concerned at being first than to be accurate.
Unfortunately, feelings can be very misleading. Trusting your gut is undoubtedly, for most people, the most important indicator that finally determines their decisions and actions. Like surfers, mountain climbers and endurance athletes, we are supposed to train our gut feeling. They process a host of sensory and internal body signals to make split-second decisions, trained over years of experiences. Rated by the amount of failed business, foreclosures, divorces, break-ups, and accidents, people are seemingly not paying attention to the right and valid indicators. Jordan B Peterson explains in his book 12 Rules for life, from recent studies how people take better care of their pets when following direct medical instructions than themselves. People seem to be trusting their feelings more than medical professionals.
The fact is, not all professional academic reports are accurate. Constantly new reports are tabled, disproving a previous assertion. The Bible speaks of false reports (Exo 23:1), bad reports (Num 13:32) false witnesses (Exo 5:20), and evil reports (Num 14:37) that mislead. Thus, one must learn to test, verify, and filter all these reports and, as believers, discern God’s voice above all these voices as He will lead us to rich fulfilment.
Jakob ignored the voice of his son and trusted his touch feelings, blessing the wrong son. Of course, God did allow this to happen because Esau sold his birth rite, not tell his father. This story provides us with a beautiful metaphor of how we can get it wrong. (Gen 27:1-29)
The Bible does provide us with a failsafe method to help us make the right decisions:
The Knowledge of God
The longest psalm in the Bible is Ps 119. In this psalm, David praises God for His right judgments, precepts, directives, laws, and truth.
Our safeguard in making the right decisions is knowing God’s will, law, precepts, way of doing things. Until we come to the full knowledge of God is set as the final end-goal of maturity of the saints. (Eph 1:17; 3:19; 4:13) The will of God is no longer a mystery. Jesus removed the veil of obscurity and mystery of the Godhead. He clearly states and explains the will, way and heart of the father. The Kingdom constitution of life leads and a clear path to follow.
If you want to lead, you need to serve
If you want to have, you give
If you want to fight, you make peace
If you want to war, you first find rest
If you want to please God, seek first His righteousness.
If you want to be known, embrace obscurity.
If you want to have, authority learn to obey.
If you want to live, you abandon and forget of yourself.
If you want to act, we live by faith alone.
If you want to react to evil with evil, we do good and bless.
This Kingdom way of living provides security and stability to the believer in the same way that the three-point climbing pattern provides surety to the experienced rock-climber. Practising the basics of rock-climbing methodology eventually becomes second nature. In the same way, believers practice the kingdom methodology until it becomes a way of thinking, consciousness, and life.
Only do what you have faith for
The primary guiding principle of Kingdom Living, is faith! What is not done by faith is sin. (Rom 14:23). Only Faith can please God (Heb 11:6). We live by faith, not by sight. (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb. 10:38). We live by faith, not by our feelings. We live by faith and confidence in Christ alone. (Heb 10:35)
Transformed Desires and Passions
There is no Hebrew word for will. The Hebrew language says you desire to do something, instead of you decided or willed something. Our desires have to be reformed and redirected by the knowledge of God we learn first-hand from the Word and the Spirit. Knowing and experiencing God first-hand changes our passions and desires. Once our desires are reverted, our feelings and emotions naturally follow.
Feelings are important because it fuels our activity. Without emotions and feelings, we become robots without passion. An untrained bull that is not domesticated jump fences, mates whoever he wants, competes with other bulls and operates in isolation. Likewise, people who did not have their emotions, passions and feelings trained. Following and living in close proximity to Christ entails daily correction of your will and desires. The more time we spend discovering the ways of God regarding business, law & order, wellness, learning, and relationships, the better one becomes in mitigating life’s challenges and find order in the chaos.
Dealing with negative feelings and emotions:
Describe what you feel explicitly accurately.
What specifically needs to change.
Take Responsibility and request specific help.
Celebrate and reward particular change.
Knowing God’s will and way of doing life is further complemented by:
Prophetic Revelations illuminate, clarify and encourage us that we have heard right.
Body interactions help us confirm our inner convictions when other co-labourers exchange similar interactions and revelations from the Father.
Fruits of righteous or divine break-throughs become like monuments, reminding us of the things He has already done.
One cannot help to feel a host of emotions. Emotions are normal. Emotions that are based on wrong presumptions and conclusions are dangerous. Remember, satan is called the father of lies and is a master of delusions. Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, But a man of understanding walks uprightly. (Prov 15:21) Ons must thus learn to bring your presumptions, thoughts, and premonitions to the Court of Truth to be judged and discerned. The Truth encounter disempowers the strongholds of lies in one’s heart and gives you a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
διακρισις diákrisis; gen. diakríseos, fem. noun from diakríno (G1252), to distinguish, decide, judge. A distinguishing, discerning clearly, i.e., spoken of the act or power (1Co 12:10; Heb 5:14). By implication Rom 14:1, literally meaning not for scrutinizing of thoughts, i.e., not with searching out and pronouncing judgment on their opinions (cf. Rom 14:5, Rom 14:13). This also could be rendered as doubts, scruples. Syn.: diágnosis (G1233), diagnosis, judgment, thorough understanding; gnome (G1106), opinion. Ant.: apáte (G539), deceit; pláne (G4106), delusion, error; agnóema (G51), ignorance.
Delivered 18 October 2020, Olifants River Valley (Citrusdal-Clanwilliam) Western Cape
ONE WORD TELLS A STORY
John Chapter 1 vv.43-50.
Nazareth. What good can come from there!
Dr Ruben Richards (PhD, University of Cape Town) Harvester Reformational Church, Olifants River Valley, Citrusdal-Clanwilliam, Western Cape
Sunday, 18 October 2020 at 10h00 and 18h00.
EXEGETICAL SUMMARY OF SERMON
When good news is no news
Profile of Nazareth
Take home lesson from the story
CONTEXTUAL SUMMARY Socialised into the negative
Paul and Galatians use one-word
Nazareth. Socio-political profile
Cause of genocide
Wise men (Magi) commit treason Resettling in Nazareth
Come and See
CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION
Nathanael encounters the messiah
The catch – the challenge
Annexure 1 – Scriptural context – Gospel of John Chapter 1 (NIV translation.
NOTE TO THE READER
Dear Reader of this sermon.
First of all, thank you for your interest in reading this sermon manuscript. I hope this manuscript does justice to the live delivery of the message. For ease of reference I have amended (and consequently extended) this version of the manuscript by adding END notes and maps for more detailed references for further study. I have also added some personal information (see below Annexure 2 – CV and Profile – Ruben Richards).
I hope you find this sermon useful.
God bless you. Ruben www.rubenrichards.co.za andwww.rrf.org.za
It is my honour to greet you all in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Thank you to Pastor Jan for the kind invitation to share this worship service with you. My prayer is that God may open our hearts and minds to receive a message from God’s holy word this morning.
I was born, raised and educated on the Cape Flats of the Western Cape, with a few years of postgraduate study in the USA, Switzerland and Germany. I was raised to speak and think in English although my parents spoke mostly Afrikaans to each other. My English language preference is strange given that the first language for the majority of people classified Coloured in Afrikaans. These days, living and working in the farmlands of the Olifants River Valley (Citrusdal- Clanwilliam), I am learning to engage in the dominant language here, namely Afrikaans.
The title of my sermon today is “One word tells a story”. Sometimes, you only have to say one word and that singular word which is equivalent to a 100-Gigabyte or a Terrabyte of information. That one word can miraculously tell you everything you need to know about a place or a person’s entire history and identity. For example, the word “Coloured”. Or the word, “Citrusdal”. “Wuppertal”. “Piketberg”. Or the word that is on our lips these days, especially us in the farming community – the word “Senekal”.
Importance of John’s gospel
My sermon today is taken from the New Testament, the Gospel of John. For some this gospel is important because a favourite old school chorus/song comes from this gospel. I am tempted to sing it to you but then I am going to reveal my bad voice and my age. (John 13:34) – A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another. Ek gee julle ‘n nuwe gebod: julle moet mekaar lief hê.
No doubt, for others the gospel of John is important because of the nature of the first miracle of Jesus as recorded in John chapter 2. Jesus and his mother are attending a wedding feast at Cana of Galilee, where the party runs out of wine. As a result of the prompting of his mother, Jesus turns the water into wine – and not just one bottle but 866 bottles of wine (using the 750ml standard wine bottle of today – about a total of 650 litres of water into wine – 6 stone jars each holding about 115 liters (30 gallons)–John 2 verse 6ff).
For now, the only tongue-in-cheek point I want to make is this: When you go to a wedding feast you must take with you someone like Jesus and especially someone like his mother – she knows what a party needs … met Eishja.
Focus and setting of my sermon today – Bethsaida
For my sermon today I want to focus on the first chapter of the Gospel of John and I want to specifically zoom into the end of that chapter – verses 43 to 50 – which describe the calling of the
The context and setting of our story are a fishing village along the shores of the Sea of Galilee – a village called Bethsaida in the northern part of Israel or Palestine. To give us orientation I thought I would share a slide with you to show you the map of Palestine in the time of Jesus [Show slide].
The key verse for my sermon will be verse 46: Let me read it to you: It says in the NIV translation:
Nazareth: What good can come from there.
Let me summarise the story.
fourth disciple by the name of Nathanael.
The story goes as follows: John chapter 1 and vv.35 to 42, tells us that Jesus had just recruited three disciples, Andrew, Peter and Phillip – all three of them residents of Bethsaida. Phillip is so excited about being appointed as a disciple, that runs home to tell his friend, Nathanael. He tells his friend that he had just met the messiah – the one which Moses and the Prophets wrote about (v.45). That messiah, says Philip, comes from Nazareth (just down the road)–he is the son of Joseph the carpenter – just in case you don’t know who I am talking about, Nathanael.
When good news is no news
I am sure you have experienced what I am about to describe to you. You receive fantastic and good news and you can’t wait to share it with friends and family. You rush home and you tell them your good news and their response is sometimes one word or sound: UUMM.. Ja. Ne. Phew. Nice. And if you have real friends then they use two words in their response to you. Is it? Nogal ne. Often the response of your friends is negative. And you are left with the feeling of: Why did I even bother to tell them.
Philip must have felt the same. Finally, the fulfillment of a prophecy in my life time – a prophecy of more than 1000 years ago is fulfilled in my lifetime – a prophecy recorded by the highest authority on scripture namely Moses and the prophets. The messiah is here and he has recruited me to be part of his team. Can you believe it. In fact, can you believe it that he comes from the next town – so close – Nazareth. Wow, what a thrill to be part of making history with a person from Nazareth.
And Nathanael says: Nazareth … What good can come from there (v.46). Profile of Nazareth
Now Nazareth was about 50 kilometers from Bethsaida (Citrusdal-Clanwillaim distance). And Nathanael’s response is: Nazareth!. Are you telling me this messiah comes from down the road – the next town? Then Nathanael gives the knockout punch – What good can come from there!! Nazareth.
Now, brothers and sisters, where does Nathanael’s prejudice, skepticism and negative energy come from? What did Nazareth do to Nathanael. Why does he have such a negative view of Nazareth? What was going on there that Nathanael did not like – that did not impress him. What is the history of that town and its people that causes Nathanael to have such a low view of that place? The story does not tell us why. We need to conjecture.
Take home lesson from the story
May I propose that one of the take home lessons for my sermon today is not Nathaniel’s response but Philips response to the negative feedback. Philip is facing a skeptical and negative friend, Nathaniel. Phillip does not argue with his friend, Nathaniel. He does not swear or curse or insult his friend. His simply says to Nathaniel: Come and See (v.47). In other words, he is saying: Come and see for yourself if I am lying or making up stories. Come and see (an invitation to experience something first hand) that this is in fact the messiah.
We know how the story ends: Nathaniel comes and sees and is overwhelmed by Jesus and says to Jesus (v.49): Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel. In others words, I’m going to follow you. Phillip was right. This is the person that Moses and the prophets spoke about.
Socialized into the negative
Allow me to contextualize the story even further. You see, we are socialized – we are raised up – educated and sometimes indoctrinated to believe things about people and places. We tend to nurture negative stereotypes of people and places, often reducing them to a one-word description. So, when someone says that specific word like – Nazareth – … just one word … we are able to tell a whole story … often, a negative story. In fact, Nathaniel is more explicit and honest and says
what we think but dare not say: Can anything good come from Nazareth. Nathaniel was not a politically correct person.
Strange how we remember the negative stories – the bad – the ugly stories about people. South Africa is a good example of the one-word story: Whites. Coloureds. Indians. Africans. Khoisan.
Paul and Galatians use one-word
The Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians summarizes what it means to be a Christian using the one-word technique. He plays with the one-word approach to explain what it means to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.
He says in Galatians 3 v 23 in Christ Jesus there is neither Male nor Female. Neither Jew nor Greek. Neither Slave or Free; For we are One is Christ Jesus, says the Apostle Paul. You see the dichotomies which Paul contrasts says that in Christ there is no gender prejudice (male or female); there is not cultural prejudice (Jews or Greeks); there no economic hierarchy (no slave no free). In Christ we are one; we are all equal in Christ.
But, Nathaniel did not read the book of Galatians. So we are still stuck with a negative and skeptical Nathaniel. Like Nathaniel, we don’t always first remember the positive.
Nazareth. Socio-political profile
CAUSE OF GENOCIDE
What makes the story all the more dramatic is that Nathaniel lived on Bethsaida barely 50 km kilometres from the hometown of Jesus – the next town Nazareth. Let’s look at our map again. Nathaniel, I am guessing, could have known the gossip of the town. I am almost sure that
everybody in the surrounding villages would have known that a woman by the name of Mary, whose boyfriend / later husband was Joseph the carpenter had a baby called Jesus. In fact, Jesus was the scandalous baby because Mary conceived Jesus out of wedlock. So that’s the negative narrative / story that everybody would have known. A virgin birth? Unbelievable!
In fact, more seriously, everybody would have known that this baby called Jesus, made history as he was the cause of the genocide of the first born of Jews at the hands of Herod at time that Jesus was born. You will remember the birth story of Jesus – The Christmas story as told in the gospel of Matthew chapter 2. In short, news had reached King Herod via the Wise Men (Magi) who were following the stars and they ended up in Jerusalem. They were looking for the “new king” – a “new liberator”.
Can you imagine going to President Ramaphosa or President Trump of the USA and saying to him: I have come in search of the new President – I have come to worship that new President – King of The Jews.
Matthew Chapter 2
V.1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem V.2 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the
Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
After all, Herod was the colonial King of the Jews.
WISE MEN (MAGI) COMMIT TREASON
The stars were their GPS (their guiding system – the coordinates guiding the Wise Men). But unfortunately, they were about 9 kilometres off the destination target/route. We know that the baby was born in Bethlehem, nine kilometres south of Jerusalem – under the nose of Herod.
We read in Matthews gospel that Herod tried to recruit the Wise men (Magi) as spies to confirm
4 that such a baby “king” was born (Matt 2 v7). Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
When the wise men did not return, Herod become so paranoid that he ordered the killing of all male babies under two years old hoping to kill off Jesus (Matt 2 v 16).When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Joseph and Mary were warned by an angel and then fled to Egypt where they lived in exile with their baby Jesus, until the genocide was over and returned to Palestine after Herod died. We read
all this in the Gospel of Mathew chapter 2.
RESETTLING IN NAZARETH
COME AND SEE
In fact, when Mary and Joseph returned, they settled (not in Bethlehem) but in Nazareth, and this is where Jesus grows up as a child, in Nazareth.
I can hear Phillip saying to Nathaniel: I’m talking about a guy from Nazareth … you must have heard of him. The prophets wrote about him. Moses wrote about him. King Herod wanted to kill him. And he survived the genocide by being in exile in Egypt.
Phillip must have felt so deflated by his friend. Nevertheless, he held his composure and simply said: You know what Nathaniel, I’m not going to argue with you. Just COME AND SEE for yourself. And then you can decide if I am crazy or real; if I am telling the truth or a lie. Come and See.
CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION
Nathaniel encounters the Messiah
Surprisingly, the story ends on a very good note. The negative Nathaniel is given a positive appraisal by Jesus. We read this in Verse 47 – When Jesus saw Nathaniel approaching, he said of him;
“Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit / a person of integrity / an honest person.”7
Just imagine – you had doubts about this messiah and said negative things about his town. And then the first thing the messiah says to you is something positive about you. Of course, that is a topic for another sermon.
The catch – the challenge
So, Phillip the disciple tells Nathaniel his friend: It is that Jesus of Nazareth who is the messiah… the son of Joseph the carpenter … the one who caused the genocide perpetrated by King Herod. That’s the Jesus.
No wonder Nathaniel said: What good can come from Nazareth.
The point of emphasis for this sermon is that Nathaniel experienced a shift – he went from a skeptic to a believer. From a negative person to a positive person because he was invited to experience the messiah, first hand.
And that is my sermon. Come and see for yourself that Jesus of Nazareth is the messiah.
But there is a challenge – a sting in the tail for Believers. Jesus is no longer physically here on earth. In fact, Jesus says that those of us who believe in him will be his representatives on earth. So, when people meet us, they are meeting the next best thing to meeting Jesus in person. My question is: Are we worthy representatives of Jesus of Nazareth. If we say to people, Come and See, what is it that they will experience from us. Will they conclude that indeed Jesus is the messiah, the son of God, just like Nathaniel did? Will our lives and testimony cause unbelievers and skeptics
to make a shift, like Nathaniel made the shift?
I pray God’s blessing on us all, as we together strive to be worthy representatives of the messiah Jesus, the one Moses and the Prophets wrote about – the son of Joseph – the one from Nazareth.
Profile – RUBEN R. RICHARDS (PhD, University of Cape Town) Nation Builder, Peace Negotiator and Author
Cape Town-born Ruben Richards is a multi-skilled South African deeply involved in nation building and reconciliation.
Ruben’s work life started as a worker in a clothing factory; then as a fitter and turner artisan followed by academic studies. Ruben is an ordained Christian clergyperson and served congregations in Soweto and Cape Town and holds a doctorate in Old Testament. Ruben’s professional career spans many disciplines including engineering, academia and civil society. Professionally, Ruben has served, among others, as the Executive Secretary of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Human Rights Committee), Deputy-Director-General of the Scorpions (an investigative unit in the National Prosecuting Authority), and is founder of the Ruben Richards Foundation, a South African non-profit organisation dedicated to facilitating healing in traumatised communities. In 2015 the Foundation received the prestigious National Reconciliation Award conferred by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. The award was for the Foundations work in healing, restoration and confronting those things which exclude marginalised people from main stream society.
Ruben has consulted to various African countries on matters relative to transitional justice with particular reference to the setting up of a Truth Commission. These assignments have included being appointed by the Tunisia Truth Commission as an international observer of the first public hearings of that country and technical advisor to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission of Zimbabwe. Ruben has also delivered a keynote addresses in Kigali, Rwanda on lessons learned from Truth Commissions and also to the Law Society of Swaziland University on fighting corruption based on lessons from South Africa’s Scorpions.
Ruben has facilitated intimate sessions with senior and executive staff within the justice sector in African countries.
Ruben holds degrees from Switzerland, USA and South Africa and is a published author. His most recent publication Bastaards or Humans (Volume 1 & 2) [ www.bastaardsorhumans.co.za ] has been endorsed by the Western Cape Education Department as an alternative history of South Africa to be integrated into the history curriculum of high school learners.
Ruben resides in Cape Town, married for 35 years and has two adult children (Mpilo 29 yrs and Nomsa 24 yrs).
Born: 28 June 1960, Cape Town
Current residence: Twee Riviere Farm, Clanwilliam, Cape Town
Current activity: Citrus farming; consulting to the UNDP on Transitional Justice; facilitating the work of the
Ruben Richards Foundation
International: Lived and studied in Germany, Switzerland, USA, South Africa.
Switzerland; B.Soc.Sc. (1998)-University of Cape Town; NTC5 (1983) [Mechanical Engineering]-Athlone
Technical College, Cape Town).
Academic assignments: Adjunct Professor, Security Studies (Wits P&DM); Visiting Professor, Texas Christian
University; Visiting Professor, Albion College, Michigan-USA.
Citrus farmer (Current)
CEO – Globe Engineering (largest Marine and Heavy Engineering company in Southern Africa)
CEO- Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Deputy Director-General, National Prosecuting Authority (Scorpions Investigating Unit)
Executive Secretary- Truth Commission of South Africa
Visiting Professor – (P&DM School of Governance) Wits University
Negotiated the largest donation of citrus fruit (i.e. 7 million oranges-Project Orange) for the poor and vulnerable. This is the largest such donation in the history of the citrus industry, locally and internationally. www.rrf.org.za/projectorange.
Author: The recent two-volume history of South Africa has been accepted as an alternative history to be integrated into the high school curriculum of the Western Cape.
Creator of a unique and world first; A 3-day Global Leadership Program based on Indigenous Khoisan wisdom, and taught on Robben Island. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vack4EMkIqg&t=20s
Recipient of the National Reconciliation Award, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (2015)
Peace negotiator between rival gangs on Cape Flats resulting in longest cease fire in history of gang violence
in South Africa. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-africa-20608890
Books by Ruben
A sermon by Dr Ruben Richards
Delivered 18 October 2020, Olifants River Valley (Citrusdal-Clanwilliam) Western Cape
BULLETS or BALLOTS:
The ultimate solution to crime and unemployment in South Africa (Mutloatsi Heritage Arts Trust, Johannesburg, 2010). ISBN 9-780986983320 www.rubenrichards.co.za
2 BILLION STRONG:
A regenerative solution to building sustainable African cities.
(IFN Media, November 2015) ISBN 9-780620689052 www.rrf.org.za
1 Interestingly this miracle is not mentioned in the other gospels. John Chapter 2 – Wedding feast at Cana
v5. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial
washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned
2 Could possibly be the fifth disciple, if we take into consideration that two of John the Baptist disciples broke away to follow Jesus – Andrew and one other (possibly the one writing the narrative – John).
“[Anna] began giving thanks to God and speaking about the child to all who were waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.” (Luke 2:36-38; Ex. 13:12).
MESSIANIC EXPECTATION IN ROMAN DOMINATED PALESTINE
Centuries of colonial domination
Let’s pause for a moment. Why was this news wonderful and exciting and indeed revolutionary? Who and what was this messiah that Moses wrote about in the law over a thousand years earlier? Why would Phillip describe Jesus as the long-awaited messiah?
Well, for centuries, the Jews had been subjected to the colonial rule of foreigners such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and now, at the time of Jesus, it was the Romans who ruled Palestine. And life was tough under the Roman (Italian) colonial government which was led by King Herod.
3 Messianic Expectations: When Jesus was dedicated in the temple in Jerusalem as a baby, there was an 84-year old prophetess by the name of Anna, who prophesied that this baby, Jesus, is the messiah – the one everybody was waiting for who would liberate Jerusalem.
Messianic expectations were extremely high among the first century Jews as they were suffering under the yoke of Roman colonial oppression. The Romans raised taxes, appointed the high priest and later erected statues of the Roman emperor in the temple itself – the ultimate sacrilege.
Roman rule at the time of Jesus
Let me remind you that Roman colonial rule was tough if not abominable. When the Romans occupied Palestine/Israel in 63 B.C.E. life for the Jews became increasingly difficult for three major reasons: taxes, Roman control over the High Priest and the general treatment of Jews by the Romans. Remember, it was the Romans who later fed the Christians the lions as a sport.
Taxes: No one likes being taxed, but under Roman rule, taxation became an even heavier burden. Roman governors were responsible for collecting tax revenue in Israel, but they corrupt and greedy. They over taxed the people and took the surplus for themselves. Now you can imagine what people thought of Jesus who appointed a tax collector as one of his disciples. A very problematic appointment, on the face of it.
Sacrilege/idolatry: Then one of the Roman Emperors (i.e. Caligula who came to power and in the year 39 C.E. ) declared himself a god and ordered that statues in his image be placed in every house of worship within his realm–including the Temple.
The Jews were waiting for liberator to free them from this kind of colonial rule and abomination. They were waiting for a messiah. We notice this even at the dedication of Jesus. When Mary brought her firstborn son (Jesus) to Jerusalem in order to present him to God as the Mosaic Law required, the prophetess Anna “began giving thanks to God and speaking about the child to all who were waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.” (Luke 2:36-38; Ex. 13:12).
4 Matt 2 v 7: Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the
A Prophet Without Honour
Religious interference: Another upsetting aspect of the Roman occupation was the way it
affected the High Priest, who served in the Temple. Under Roman rule the Romans decided who would be the high priests. In other words, the state/government appointed the high priest/pastor.
And so, finally, the messiah was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth – just 50 kilometers from Nathanael’s home.
star had appeared. child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 7 Word Study – Deceit
What is the foundational motive that drives us to do what we do?
I want to suggest it’s HEALING!
Michael Jr, the famous comedian says: “Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day, teach a man how to catch fish and feed him for a lifetime.” According to Michael this is quite complicated, because then you have to have a fishing rod , license, boat and a place where fish are, to be able to teach the man. So what if you teach him why he needs fishing, that makes it his job to teach himself? Michael Jr’s ‘ Why ‘ is to inspire people through humor to live their creation goal. Since he discovered his ‘why’, the ‘what’ he does is no longer so important, because everything flows from his ‘why’.
Simon Sinek explains a simple, yet powerful model for how leaders inspire action, on the basis of a golden circle and the question “Why?” as the core point. His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers-and as a counterpoint Tivo, who struggles.
The Golden Circle’s core is, why? How? And then what? The above three examples of business enterprises are individuals who market themselves and are driven from the core “why”. Apple always markets themselves first as innovators who have produced among other computers. According to Simon, the “Why” we do things is the most basic ingredient that we present to each other. We are obviously grouping around people with the same “why”.
This brings me to the core question about our congregation: Why do we exist? The answer came suddenly one day in my spirit, and suddenly everything fell into place. As an adopted 13-year-old son, my quest for acceptance became an identity. With my encounter with Jesus 35 years ago, He took me on a journey to discover His identity. The more I get to know Him, and do as He leads, the more I discover my true identity. Since then, I have experienced healing as a person in so many levels and have begun to strive to make the world a healed place ~ healthy people, relationships, communities, workplaces, and economy.
In 1989 I saw Dr Andre Pelser perform “Miracle Man”, a one-man stage production based on the conduct of John G Lake’s life. I was deeply stirred and inspired to seek healing for the entire human being. Nearly 10 years later, in 1998 I became part of Harvester, and increasingly began to see God heal people completely in spirit, soul and body. Jesus heals and recovers first our broken relationship with God. Then He takes us on a journey of self-denial, to renew our minds by His word. As a result, we treat people differently, and He teaches us to walk in peace with all people, without compromise. By making ourselves accountable to His family – the Body, the congregation challenges our behavior. Ultimately, we each find our function in the Body, and we become His instruments of healing, while still maintaining healing in us.
For several years, the Holy Spirit has led us to make Jesus Christ our vision and mission. In 2019 we focused on an awakening to His righteousness. Systematically, the Lord led us deeper and deeper to discover His great “why.” Jesus is our focus, but why Jesus? Why did Jesus become man, die for our sins, rise from the dead – all wrought for our salvation? The answer is now obvious.
Jesus wants to heal, reconcile, repair, restore, reshape, liberate and enable us to live His creation purpose to the fullest.
A tree was made to bear tasty fruit. Likewise, God created man in His image to bear divine good fruit. Sin has misformed us, to sow destruction. Because of man’s disobedience and mistaken identity, our World has become more and more broken. Sickness, infirmity, pain, discomfort, and their restrictions prevent us from being able to live God’s creation goal. Our cry is therefore for healing! We are all looking for sustainable, real, profound, complete healing!
Illness is an obstruction, inhibition or limiting of our natural capabilities. A healthy baby has a definite functionality regarding movement, abilities, and intellect. Illness or disease puts a limit on this functionality. This is why Jesus said: The Kingdom belongs to a child. (Mark 10:15) A child is innocent, uninhibited, free, love easily, forgives quickly, playful, innovative, appetite to learn new things, non-judgmental, and dependent. We often say when a baby is born: ‘it’s perfect!’
Why are we sick? What makes us sick?
There are many libraries filled with information about the causes of disease. I only mention a few: some diseases have a genetic cause or are virally transferable, and thus exist due to external causes. Psychologists suggest that 85% of all diseases have an emotional, psychosomatic cause. Lifestyle choices, in terms of diet and exercise also play a huge role in regard to our overall health. In addition, a misrelated identity, and consequential convictions, can lead our worldview into dramatic constraints. Sin is disobedience to God, to decide against His will, and rather do your own thing leads to death and distraction. People living outside of His design, instructions, laws will never find complete health and wholeness.
Dr Paul Carlin developed the “belief therapy” program after twenty year’s work in a Texas prison, because he said: “People do what they do because they believe what they believe”. Ultimately, these beliefs become a religious tradition, and a culture that keeps people stuck, limiting them to never reach their natural potential. Think how in certain religions, how the role of the woman and the child is still marginalized.
Right now, we are experiencing a radical information revolution. There are 3.5 billion Google searches per day. About 1.3 billion people are registered on YouTube, uploading nearly 300 hours of video per minute. Most of these searches and information are directed around health and self-improvement. There are currently more than 250000 apps available to monitor your health. New Smart Watches measure all kinds of aspects of your physical health: sleep patterns, heart rate, blood pressure, sugar levels, and heart rhythm ~ information that can help your doctor make a more accurate diagnosis. New online websites like ‘Hello Dr’ can bring you into instant contact with medical professional’s advice.
People are therefore physically healthier. People are generally living longer! But how healthy are we really? While we are being healed of one thing, we are getting sick again of something else. Health is, however, not merely a physical aspect. We are all becoming older, and so our bodies are not functioning optimally. When you speak with the caregivers in old age homes, they will soon say to you: “difficult youngsters become dramatically more difficult old people.” Health also cannot become a selfish looking-out-for-myself-only survival attitude. Healthy people also need to use their healthy lives to heal others.
That total human being consists of:
Spirit — connection, consciousness.
Emotions – feelings.
Intellect – thought patterns, values, worldview.
Behavior – habits.
Social interaction – relationships.
Physically – physiologically.
Identity – the Self- the I.
In our journey with Jesus we discovered that health is not only the healing of a specific physical illness or condition, but a complete comprehensive healthy lifestyleof the total human being.
Thousands of hours’ diets, supplements, wonder agents, therapy and operations may be effective, but they all only deal with one aspect of our health. You can physically be 100% healthy but emotionally battered due to broken relationships. You can be a good person, with countless achievements and still feel something missing in your life because you haven’t yet made peace with God. You can physically be healthy, intellectually brilliant, but if you are still broken within yourself, egoistic, self-directed, selfish and on a quest for self-determination, you are miserable and regressing. Think about the self-centeredness of a Hitler, and a yoga guru like Bikram Choudhury who deceived their followers.
Jesus is Our Healing
Total healing is to be found only in Jesus Christ. Jesus is healing and health! When we awoke to the reality of His person, values, thinking, habits and way of living, we discovered the central core point of all medicine. Without Jesus there is not sustainable health and wellness. For, He does not only heal one aspect of our humanity. He stretches out His hand, asking us to follow Him. As we follow Him, doing what He says, we are responding to a life far healthier at every level, to help others to be healed. After all, there is no disease in heaven. Therefore, Jesus’ heart is His why, to see us healthy.
Becoming like Jesus is the key to a fulfilled and happy life. You will then be the best spouse, the best business leader, and the best worker for any business enterprise. You will also be the best friend and the best parent. The mature character, values, mindset, ethics, habits, attitude and lifestyle of Christ are like a standard, a pacesetter, a directional standard to live the perfect life. We are the most beautiful people when we live most like Christ. In other words, we are the best people if we are most like Him, if we do as He does right, follow His ethical and moral example, pursue His unspotted character and dedicate our lives to serving humanity. Living like Jesus is the best way of living! The Jesus-Life is a universal truth, a premise, a blueprint and basis for life. Christ is perfect, blameless, the right standard and median of morality.
In our journey with Jesus, we also discover His divine paradoxical values: justice and kindness, impartiality and respect for all people, non-reactionary creativity, revolutionary pacifism, servant leadership, supernatural humanity, separated team-player, and so much more!
The moment we receive His life and start living accordingly, everything changes. Our relationships, thinking, work and lifestyle are healthy and healing to others.
Why does Supernatural Healing Has a Bad Name?
Any form of medicine has a certain success factor. Why does supernatural healing have such an irregular success factor? Why do only some churches and minstries have reasonable success? How enduring is this success? Someone who is sick is desperate for a solution, for any reasonable chance, even is satisfied with a 50/50 that will give a desperate sufferer new hope. But a form of medicine with such a poor success, will and must be rejected. Even natural medications have a much more significant conversion factor. To pray for people for healing and describe it as God’s love is problematic, because why are some healthy and others not?
The question is not whether God heals people, but rather why He does not heal everyone.
From various questionnaires, most people, as well as doctors believe that prayer is beneficial to sick people. There are many recorded records of medically verifiable divine healings. The same question was asked of a panel of faith-based physicians and the answer was: to preserve the integrity and the heart of the gospel. Healing doesn’t happen to all but if there are healings, they never happen in the same way, nor by the same person.  The reason: when a certain person or method is 100% successful in healing every infirmity, humans will worship the person and the method and will capitalize the method without realizing the wonder and depth of God. It is also much easier for people to try any miracle cure or remedy without the hard work of behavioural change. Often it is our very behaviour that caused the disease.
To ascribe healing to our faith, or its failure is also problematic, because although faith has played a part in most healings, the Lord has healed some without any faith on their part. If faith alone is the solution, can’t we then just heal ourselves? Should we then also save ourselves too? Understand that salvation is a gift, and that our faith in God ultimately does work salvation. Yet there are many who truly believe, and truly are actively believing, and still have not received healing. Therefore, praying from the knowledge that God always wants to heal is truly difficult if it does not happen. So, why not? Is it Satan? Too little faith? Dis you not kept the faith? We then have a problem. It brings little comfort, especially if you’ve mustered up all your faith praying for healing for someone you love. Although we believed, it didn’t work. Although we had compassion, it seemed not enough. Although we received promises from the Word and prophecy, it is not fulfilled. Where does this leave us?
GOD IS HEALING
Healing is inherent who God is, the Earth and creation has a self-healing ability. This is precisely the wonder of creation, the medicinal natural drugs that are locked up in nature. God created us to heal and be healthy. “For I am the Lord who heals you” (Exo 15:26) Jehovah-Rapha – The Lord Who Heals. (Psalm 103:3; Psalm 147:3; 1 Peter 2:24) God is love, this means He is never not love. The same applies to Healing – God is the healer. This means, He is never not healing. Healing is part of who He is. Remember, we are not physically sick! Disease and illness are symptomatic not only regarding our bodies. Our economy is sick. We’re emotionally sick. We are relationally sick as a society. We are spiritually sick. The world is morally sick. Illness is symptomatic of an entire society that has been removed from God. If all of society serves the Lord, be true to be doing what He says, appropriating everything He has made available to us, and then as Jesus bringing wellness to all people around us, should there be any more illness?
Wrong habits and behavior: Miriam (Num 12:10); Gehasi (2 Kings 5:27); Uzziah (2 Chron 26:16-23) and Elymas (Acts 13:11). “Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” (Prov 3:8 NOT).
Your words: “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” (Prov 18:21 NLT). “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Prov 16:24 NLT)
Unforgiveness ~ makes a person bitter and diseased, as if tortured. (1 Cor 11:28-30; Mat 6:21-35)
Your thinking:“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. (Proverbs 14:30 – NLT). “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22 – NLT)
Not all sickness is due to sin. (Job 42:7-8)
Demons: Mat 17:18 to 9:25, 42; to 4:35; 4:39
Oppressed by the Devil: “And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
Spirit of infirmity: Luke 13:11, 16
The Lord, God is sovereign: “Look now; I myself am he! There is no other god but me. I am the one who kills and gives life; I am the one who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from my powerful hand!”. (Deuteronomy 32:39), Gen 12:17, Ex 4:11, 15:25, 1 Sam 25; 37-38; 2 Sam 12:15, Deut 28:15-68, 32:39, 2 Chron 15:5, 2 Chron 21:18, 19, 26:20-2; Acts 12:22, 23; 13:8-12 as well as Job 5:18.
Indirectly, by other people: A person can be infected by someone else through bacterial infections ~ a battle where innocent people become victims. Therefore, another person’s sin and transgression can sometimes be the cause of your sickness and disease.
The fallen nature: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:18-22 NLT). Heat waves, plagues, drought, Tsunamis, etc. Sometimes life just happens like breaking an arm by stumbling and falling.
Although it is important to know the cause of illness, the more important question is how do I become healthy? Ultimately, it is by God’s heart that we will live healthily (Deut. 11:26).
What is God’s Heart for Healing?
REVEALING THE ROOT OF DISEASE
Ever wondered why Jesus often had a firm admonishment to people not to tell of their healing? Was it not the point, that all would believe in Him?
Jesus never did any healing in the same way, but for Him healing was more than simply the healing of the symptoms. He always wanted to heal the root cause, and the whole man. This is why the leper man was asked to go to the priest, so that the quarantine could be lifted, and he was allowed again to be part of the community. “Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean. Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” (Matt 8:1-5)
“But Jesus knew what they were planning. So he left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them, but he warned them not to reveal who he was.” (Matt 12:15-16). Here Jesus healed a crowd of people, yet He does not capitalize on the supernatural to draw even more people. It is clear as explained earlier: Jesus is not just a miracle guru, magician who heals all the sick! For then we would use Him to receive healing without the cause being revealed, the why we became ill in the first place.
Jesus asked His disciples; “who do you say I am?” After Peter declared openly, admitting that He is the Messiah, they were commanded not to tell anybody about it! Is it not the goal that people will know He is the Messiah? That’s what salvation is all about, that every man will believe He is the Christ? “Then Jesus instructed his disciples to tell no one that he is the Christ.” (Matt 16:20). Isn’t this an ever- deepening mystery! The principle is this: Jesus doesn’t just want us to worship him! He wants us to follow Him. It is our obedient pursuit of the person Jesus Christ, who brings healing to the total human being.
Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount is a sheer proof of His divinity. People are natural doubters. Why just allow a few disciples to experience it? Would the Pharisees, and all His enemies not come to repentance, if they saw for themselves what was happening there? “As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matt 17:9). Jesus did not capitalize on the moment of His divine transfiguration and disclosure to man. Think of people who have been together in places of divine phenomena throughout the centuries, worshiping the phenomenon like robots.
One of the most spectacular miracles Jesus did was the healing of the deaf and dumb man. The man not only received society’s reintegration, but God restored his speech in one moment. If someone’s hearing would be healed, it would take a speech therapist months to help the person speak correctly. “Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly! Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news.” (Mark 7:36). Here is one of the most spectacular miracles, one which if happened today would bring about through today’s marketing techniques, undeniable evidence ensuring a faithful following. Yet Jesus did this miracle in privacy.
PURSUIT OF HIS PERSON
Many people wondered about Jesus, but the demons knew exactly who He was. Is there no greater evidence of His ministry and authenticity than the demons recognizing him? “But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered.” (Mark 1:25 – NLT). Yet He did not allow them to speak.
Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. The healing transpired in secret, and then again “barred from telling it to someone else.” (Mark 8:26, 30)
The authenticity of the Gospel writers’ testimony is the seemingly useless information that is not omitted. The fact that Jesus instructs them to give the child something to eat, has seemingly no purpose. Yet it makes the stories, genuine and credible. Once again a perfect opportunity to convince people. Jesus is not using an extravaganza to impress people. Her parents were dumb with astonishment, and Jesus forbid them to tell someone what had happened. (Luke 8:56)
The climax of Jesus’ popularity is when He multiplies the food to the crowd. When the people saw the miracle sign Jesus did, they said: “He is truly the prophet, the one who had to come to the world.” When Jesus saw that they would come to make him king with violence, he went on to the mountain, he alone.” (John 6:14-15)
FAITH BEYOND HEALING
Again, Jesus is fleeing the elevation of people, the worship of men. He wants to make us aware that there is something deeper than healing, miracles, and food supply. All of these things are temporary, but there’s more that God wants to give us. These signs and wonders are just that, signs. It is like road signs, direction givers to a greater reality. Miracles are indeed important. “And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” (1 Cor 2:4-5- NLT)
What is the greater reality that Jesus wanted them to see? Jesus said to them: “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:26-29) Jesus is the gift of healing, not only the event of healing. So, if I receive Jesus, I am healthy because I know the Doctor!
“He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26).
RETURN TO CREATION PURPOSE
Jesus wants to restore, heal, reformat, reshape and reconcile us to our creation purpose: to represent God, the divine, the good; uplifting, positive and fruitful. Worshippers who have been worshipping to encounter a divine phenomenon have not yet realized their own divine-expressing purpose in God. They wait and beg for a miracle from above. They don’t realize the miracle is Christ, that He will come to dwell in us, and do so by the miracle of His living and doing right in us.
The healing Christ who is working in us is also more than just the physical healing. He wants to heal our entire humanity. He wants God’s creation purpose for us, in our restoration process. “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 – NLT). In all these stories where Jesus admonished people not to tell of the healings for they were amazed and impressed with Jesus. So, they wanted to worship Him, but He disallowed it. He seeks more than our worship; He seeks our faith-filled obedience!
There are two accounts where Jesus was impressed: the one was the healing of the officer’s slave (Mat 8:5-13; Lk. 7:1-10; John. 4:43-54). This man also came to seek healing from Jesus, but when he saw Him, he greeted Him as Lord ~ he saw Jesus as a man with authority like him. So, he asked Jesus to only say the word. Jesus’ response was: “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 8:10-12)
Read this verse thoroughly. Jesus is making a historical, watershed statement! “…many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven…” God rejects the religious establishment of the day, favouring people who rightfully see Him. For those who see Him, truly see! People of every nation and language who sees Jesus for who He really is, who don’t just see Him as an “architype”, an impersonal machine makes people healthy.
The other story is of the Canaanite woman who Jesus initially refused to help. “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.” (Mat 15:28). She didn’t accept Jesus’ refusal, and continued to believe.
We see that Jesus also wanted His disciples to really see Him, understand Him. Isn’t this the quest of any teacher, leader, or predecessor? Some people are there only for the money, the fame, the position, the healing, the miracle. Jesus finally wanted them to do what He was doing. They had to perform miracles just as He did in faith. (Luke 10:19; Mat 10:8)
Three miracles where Jesus shows His frustration of disciples that do not see:
Jesus calming the storm. “Why are you afraid? Have ye not faith? “ (Mark 4:40)
The multiplication of the bread. “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:37)
Peter is the first disciple to understand / see. Then Peter said to him: “Lord, if it really is you, command me to come to you on the water.” “Come!” he said. (Mat 14:28-29) Yet he quickly began to doubt when he looked at the waves.Immediately, Jesus stretched out his hand, grabbed him, and said to him, “Little, why did you begin to doubt?” (Mat 14:31)
“The purpose of Jesus is not only to save men from their sins, but by the grace of God to begin in the souls of men that marvelous development in the nature and mind and understanding of God our Father, until by the grace of God we are able to take our place and our part in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and bear our share of responsibility.”
― John G. Lake,
The Healthiest People Believe Right
“But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”(Rom. 14:23) “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6) How many of our decisions, choices, habits, are grounded in our convictions? How we see the products we buy? Why do we buy them? Where we live, and work is all grounded in what we believe about ourselves, God and the future.
Jesus became man, physically demonstrated by what He preached, and finally died for our sin, to reconcile us to God. He rose from the dead, ascended and sat down at the right hand of God, and when the Holy Spirit was sent, He was to reign in us! What are we waiting for? What more on earth does God have to do? He has accomplished everything for us to be in Him, it is through His grace that we are empowered to live through Christ in every place He calls us!
So, if we see right, really see, we see what He did, who He is! If we believe it, with conviction, we suddenly see the world in a whole different light. While we continue to do exactly what He commands us to do, this life changes completely for us. We will have an entirely opposite perspective and have a new attitude toward life, things and people! We are healed, in body, soul and spirit.
Jesus Cures the Entire Man
John G. Lake believed that Jesus’ healing work is threefold: (1) He frees us from evil, so that we may be spiritually healthy, and full of the Holy Ghost. We communicate and experience connectedness with God through our spirit. (2) The Lord heals our soul and so our connection with people. Because we have made peace with God, the Lord heals our soul. Our soul is how we are connected with mankind around us. (3) Soul-peace and peace with self and the people around me is healing!
Jesus was always holistically concerned about all human beings and not just the symptoms of disease. He often first handled the spiritual aspects. His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, focused on the basic conflicts in her personality. For Jesus, health is more than just the absence of physical and mental illnesses — it is about the entire person.
God wants to heal us, but more: He wants us to heal others through our being healed! “Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.” (Ez. 47:12)
“I said, “Lord, be merciful to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.” (Ps. 41:4)
Jesus Heals in Different Ways
God not only cares about the healing of our bodies. He also wants us to learn a authentic, healthy lifestyle. You yourself is responsible for your health.
Confess your sin (James 5:16)
Elders anoint with oil (James 5:14-15)
Doctors are for the sick (Mat 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31) is referred to Luke as the “beloved Healer” (Col 4:14)
Medical care: The compassionate Samaritan connects with the man and anoints his wounds. (Luke 10:33 – 34)
Alternative medicine: “Use a little wine for the stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.” (1 Timothy 5:23)
Our presence brings healing: The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the Nations (Revelation 22:2; Psalm 1:2-3; Eze 47:12; Jeremiah 17:8)
The Word of God heals. (Luk 4:4)
When Jesus saw their faith: (Mar 2:5; Mat 9:29a)
Forgiveness: (Mat 18:34-35)
Associate by the sacrament of His suffering: (1 Cor. 11:28 – 30)
Praise: “Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.”(Psalm 103:1 – 3 – NLT)
Cloths and hankies were anointed: (Acts 19:11-12)
Laying on of Hands: (Mar 6:5, 13; 16:15, 17–18)
Casting out Devils: (Mar 9:14-29; Matt. 17:14-20; Lk. 9:37-43)
Serve the Lord and avoid what is evil: “Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.”(Proverbs 3:8)
The Conclusion is: Christ is Health.
When we are most like Jesus, we are the healthiest people on the planet!
It is also possible to live a healthy life:
When my relationship with God, self, people and nature is healthy and holy.
When I regularly exercise, sleep well, and follow a balanced healthy diet.
When my work is healing and in harmony with nature.
When my thinking is like a garden, what I plant determines my decisions, how I think, and how I live.
When I help, give and serve others.
When I become like a child, having healthy fun is a miracle cure!
When I am hospitable to prepare wonderful meals for others.
When I become a peacemaker working reconciliation among people.
God’s Gift of Healing to The Nations is His Healed Church
We believe church has something to do with a healing garden, the restoration of Eden. Everything we do, in sacred diversity, complex simplicity, interdependence, creates a healing habitat, where people can be healed on every level.
The Bible gives us no time indicative of exactly when believers have come together. We regularly read about ‘ daily ‘, ‘ first day of the week ‘, communal meals. That is to say: Church-be happening in the side! We like to be together! We enjoy each other’s company, and to become profound spirit Fellows in our relationships! We therefore hold several gatherings, for children, adults, men, women, all-over, for Afrikaans but also English people, for old people and young people, for business people and farmers, for all who are in a married day! The list just goes on and on!
We hold all kinds of gatherings for all kinds of people, so that everyone can discover and learn Jesus to follow him!
Our meetings focus on scripture based, doctrinal balanced, accurate Jesus-centered preaching.
Our meetings are spiritual, but space is given for spiritual and supernatural events, where we pray for the sick and lay hands on, and cast out devils, and flourish in the application of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Our meetings focus on praise and worship that pleases God.
Our meetings make room for testimonies, mutual constructive inputs.
Our meetings have participation as part of our nature.
Our meetings are surprising, relevant, and creative.
We make room in our meetings for prayer, meditation, and listening to what God wants to say.
We commemorate the Lord’s sacrament as often as we can.
We regularly offer people the opportunity to give as the Lord lays it on their hearts.
We believe in great gatherings that impact, but also in relationships that grow deeper not only in the small group. Our home groups must be close enough so that there can be real support in times of need. Therefore, we want to offer house churches in every town in the Olifantsvallei and Matsikama surroundings. The house church is your spiritual family, caring group. Here is where we learn to develop our spiritual gifts. Discipleship, accountability, and discipline happen in the loving intimacy of the smaller family.
Home Group Leaders:
Jan & Celna Genis (Clanwilliam/County water)
Willie & Wena Botha (Clanwilliam)
Audrey & Dave Botes (Clanwilliam)
Dirkie & Lezel Mouton (Clanwilliam)
Francois & Bertina Engelbrecht (Lamberts Bay)
WP & Karien VD Merwe (Citrusdal)
Tom & Haneke Ferreira (Citrusdal)
Owen & Cherisse Burger (Citrusdal)
Neil & Olivia Hall (Citrusdal)
HARVESTER BIBLE SCHOOL
“For as he thinketh in his soul, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus constantly confronted and challenged people’s ways of thinking. The word of God is a framework, and platform, a guideline to learn to think right and sober.
In a recent study done by the “Bible Engagement Centre” with 40000 people, it was found that people who study and read the Bible intently twice a week were remarkably healthier. Our “Miracle Bible Training Centre” curriculum is thus focused on working systematically through the Bible and understanding the Bible in the light of Christ.  We also offer a wide range of practical subjects. The most important course that everyone in the congregation should go through in the beginning is the foundation course that focuses on the six-part foundational doctrines of Hebrews 6, including: Discerning God’s Voice, Praise & Worship, Prayer, Five-fold Ministry, Discipleship, and Offerings. The Bible School is not for some people. It is for everyone! This is because it is the primary method to work healing in people’s lives.
The goal is to get Bible/Word fit. Therefore, the Bible School is not only a one-way communication, there are assignments, question-and-answer time, and homework is involved so that everyone can understand the Word for him or herself.
We offer specific apps to help people who own their own businesses, to organise their business so that the people who work there can also be healed by their work engagement!
Secondly, we also help the specific worker, to become a better worker, and in doing so also work on healing in the workplace. The expectation and perception of many people about work is that it is carnal, earthly, secular, opposite-to-spiritual, a punishment, and cursing. Yet when people retire and don’t have to work, they work more than ever! When we die, we say “rest in peace” as if the person is never going to work in eternity.
As we follow Jesus, He teaches us his way and principles to live. He grants us His grace, and works the fruit of the Spirit in our character. Our moral compass changes direction: Faithfulness, honesty, truth, integral, pay everyone’s due, be a good steward, etc. ~ the new work way. We begin to reign! Romans 5:17: “Reign in this life” ~ we overcome our weaknesses, bad habits, wrong temper, addictions. We interact with each other in the Body, to do business together, for each other.
While we work together, shady spots are revealed in all of us, things that do not honor the Lord are brought to light. For so many years in the church people have hidden their wrong lifestyle, because we can be one man in the church on Sundays, but Mondays in the workplace we are somebody else. For us, work is part of our worship.
The Jesus-life is simple: wait on the Lord and spend time in prayer, meditating with an open Bible, getting a revelation and instruction for your life, and then going walk it out.
This means that everyone in the congregation has a divine calling to fulfill. That everyone knows what to do, not because they have been told by an organization to do it, we’re motivated and ratified by the Holy Spirit.
It also means practically making disciples. We multiply.
We give and share what we have received. The congregation therefore makes an impact on the culture of the community.
For each one functions and brings healing, restoration and reconciliation into the 5 primary government sectors: Government, economics, education, health, and Law & Order.
But we also make a difference by the merging catalysts such as: Sport, the arts, recreation etc.
We are salt and light! We bring healing and reconciliation to every nation, and ethos in our society where he sends us to.
Do we have a divine mandate, command to heal the sick? Do only certain people get to be used who have these gifs of power? What is the conditions, spiritual criteria to operate in signs and wonders?
Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
these signs will follow those WHO BELIEVE
SIGNS OF AN APOSTLE
Paul was not only an accurate theologian, dividing the Word, but he operated in the supernatural!!
Spirit & Word is the divine ingredients for new creations to take place
Acts 5:12 through the HANDS OF THE APOSTLES many signs and wonders were done among the people.
Acts 2:43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
James 5:14 And the PRAYER OF FAITH will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.
He who believes: John 3:18, 36; Acts 2:38; 16:30, 31; Rom. 10:8–10
2 Corinthians 12:11-12 I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in SIGNS AND WONDERS AND MIGHTY DEEDS.
Acts 14:3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, GRANTING SIGNS AND WONDERS to be done by their hands.
Rom. 15:18-21 in mighty signs and wonders, by the POWER OF THE SPIRIT of God
Acts 15:12 DECLARING how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.
Acts 19:11 Now God worked UNUSUAL MIRACLES by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.
GOD BEARING WITNESS CONFIRMING THEIR WORDS
God does not confirm the person, he confirms His word. The word of our testimony.
Declaring the gospel of salvation stirs faith for people to get saved, in the same way declaring god is present to heal, stirs faith for healing.
Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.
Acts 4:29-30 grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
Heb. 2:4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
You cannot theorize the work of the supernatural. If you never have done it, you have no right to even an opinion.
The Kingdom is not in words only but power 1 Cor 4:20; 2:4 but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
If their is thus no signs and wonders, no miraculous, people put their faith in vain in the wisdom of man.
PEOPLE CAME TO THE FAITH AFTER THEY SAW THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT THROUGH VARIOUS SIGNS AND WONDERS.
Many churches are losing the young people, falling away because there is no miracles:
We will not hide them . . . ; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God . . . and that they should not be like their ancestors . . . whose spirit was not faithful to God. . . . They forgot what he had done, and the miracles that he had shown them. Psalm 78: 4–11 NRSV, emphasis added
The disciples believed in Jesus after He turned water into wine in John 2: 1–11: “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him” (verse 11 NIV1984, emphasis added).
People believed in Jesus after He healed a royal official’s son from a distance in John 4: 43–54: “Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and all his household believed” (verse 53 NIV1984, emphasis added).
There is no record that the healing of the man at the Pool of Bethesda in John 5: 1–9 caused anyone to come to faith, but this healing is followed by a passage in which Jesus deals with people believing in Him in order to pass from death to life (see John 5: 10–47, especially verse 24).
Five thousand people believed in Jesus after He multiplied bread and fish to feed them in John 6: 1–14: “After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world’” (verse 14 NIV1984). The term Prophet here is a messianic title. During the interbiblical period between the Old Testament and New Testament eras, one of the views was that the Messiah would be a Prophet. Another view was that Messiah would be a King, and another was that He would be both Prophet and King.
A man born blind believed in Jesus after Jesus healed him in John 9: “Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him” (verse 38 NIV1984, emphasis added).
People believed in Jesus after He raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11: “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him” (verse 45 NIV1984, emphasis added).
Likewise, look what the chief priests and Pharisees were thinking after that miraculous sign: “‘ What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation’” (verses 47–48 NIV1984, emphasis added).
John 12 also records more fruit of belief from the raising of Lazarus: “Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him” (verses 9–11 NIV1984, emphasis added).
Following the resurrection, the disciples put their faith in Jesus again in John 21: 1–7, after they miraculously caught so many fish by switching the net to the other side of the boat, as He had instructed them to do: “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’” (verse 7 NIV1984).