Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Power of Healing Prayer

Simple does not equal easy. I wrote last week that if we want to see healing in our land, then God’s people are called to four simple things:

  1. Humble ourselves
  2. Pray
  3. Seek God’s Face
  4. Turn from our wicked ways
Simple, right? Easy? Not so much. 


Humility


Each of us tends to have an unrealistic view of ourselves. In pride, we compare ourselves to others, patting ourselves on the back when feeling elevated and shamed when we don’t measure up. But a realistic view, a humble view, of ourselves acknowledges that we don’t measure up to the high standards of God’s righteousness. In humility, we remain grateful for His never-ending grace poured out in ever-lasting love. We are who we are, and by His grace we stumble less over time because we are changed in His Presence. It’s not because of our efforts, but because He gives us the strength to do what He has called us to do. 


Prayer


It is in that humility that we turn to God in prayer. It sometimes feels like you’re swimming upstream or speaking to an empty room, but make no mistake, there is power in prayer. In my life, I have seen sudden healing from prayer, and I’ve seen slow healing when persevering in prayer over time. It’s true, we don’t always get what we pray for, but that only makes sense when you consider that you are praying to the One True God and not calling upon some genie in a bottle. God is Sovereign, and we see Jesus modeling prayer in Gethsemane with the words “Thy will be done”. 

Still, in the past month I have prayed for 2 people with fever and upper respiratory sickness and they quickly recovered. I write this not in pride, but in gratitude and as an encouragement for all God’s people to boldly do the same! 

Whether in intercession or by actively reaching out to others, pray as God leads you. Wash your hands and wear a mask or pray across some electronic media. Just pray… because it’s not in helplessness that “all we can do is prayer”, it’s in the power of the Holy Spirit that we pray with authority as God’s Holy Ambassadors to this world. 


Seek God’s Face


You see, God wants you to spend time with Him, to find Him in the secret place, and to turn to Him as our Provider and our Protector. He wants to show us that He can be trusted, that He loves us and that He is very, very real. If God is for us, then who can be against us, right? (Romans 8:31

All this world’s terrors are washed away when we keep our eyes on Jesus. Honestly, I would rather live without fear than never truly live. Fear is crippling and destructive. It brings out the worst in people. Living without fear, represents a complete trust in Him. To live and represent Him well is anointed, and when we die, it is truly our gain. (Philippians 1:21


Turn from Wickedness


In pride, we may look at wickedness as something that other people do. We look at the arrow piercing the heart of a person and call that sin, but the arrow that missed the bullseye is a better illustration. It missed the mark, and anything that falls short of what God calls good is then not right, or unrighteous. So we must turn away from anything that doesn’t line up with God’s will. 

This includes fear. If we truly believe, why would we fear? Now feeling fear is one thing, and we all experience the emotion. But acting out of fear demonstrates that we don’t trust God, and it does not represent Him well. It indicates that we don’t believe in either His omniscience, omnipotence, or benevolence. So we calm our feelings of fear by reminding ourselves of the truth, boldly living in expectation of that truth made manifest. God will come through as He always does, and while it might involve some momentary suffering, it will work out better for us in the long-run. 

On the other end of the spectrum, masquerading as fearless, is being foolhardy. Testing God’s grace and disobeying the authority that God has put into place is rebellious and does not represent Him well. We were made for such a time as this and the authorities that He has placed over us are no accident either. Can we trust Him to work through us as well as the governments He has appointed? 

All the messaging around COVID-19 is scary, and the reality may be worse than the messaging. It may also be grossly exaggerated. Either way, our country is in need of healing. 

Do we really want to see that kind of healing in our country? Then four simple but not easy steps await us. 
However, if my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves, pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways,
then I will hear their prayer from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their country.
2 Chronicles 7:14
copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

What is it Worth to You?

How badly do you want to see this COVID-19 coranavirus go away? Last week I wrote about how we reap what we sow. So what have we been sowing? Not just over the past month or past year. What have we been sowing over the past several decades? 

For some people, that seems like a long time, and there is so much that has changed over the past 30 years that I could almost agree. Last month, I celebrated an anniversary with my wife, traveling Orlando, FL for a long, wonderful weekend. We lived in Orlando 20 years ago, and it was amazing to see how much had changed. We drove to the Christian School where I had worked as well as the church the school was affiliated with. We found the apartment building where we lived when our first son was born, and the Backyard Burger that we frequented as a special treat with our oldest daughter. So much had changed: the streets, the buildings, the fields. What was once new construction had become weathered and was being replaced by the next generation… much like me. 

Life is a struggle, but I’m not ready to lay down my arms. I have experienced so much in my life, but there is so much I’ve yet to do. Like the song goes the musical Hamilton: there so many things I haven’t done; just you wait! Or maybe the lyrics from Les Miserables: there is strength within me yet; my race is not yet run! I’m inspired by music and stories more than any form of art, especially the stories of noble perseverance in doing what is right, finding a reward in the end. 

Ecclesiastes tells us that with much knowledge comes much sorrow, and I have learned a lot in my half-century. Among other things, I have learned that man is exceedingly selfish, yet God is wonderfully gracious. I walk through empty grocery store aisles and am reminded that greedy components will starve the system. Whether based in greed, like the man who bought massive quantities of hand sanitizer to sell at an exorbitant price on Amazon, or fear like the people who emptied the grocery store before it was emptied by other panicking mobs, our generation has revealed itself to be self-serving. 

And I have learned that Christians do not represent their God well. I write that an inconsistent Christian myself, who can give into his own desires rather than choosing the better thing. I don’t represent my God as He deserves to be represented. His people should be holy, which means to be set apart for Him completely and exclusively, but do we truly live that out? I know I don’t. I haven’t wanted it badly enough. I have to admit that I want to desire this more than I actually do. We need to want it badly enough to truly live it out without inconsistency or hidden hypocrisy. Like the DC Talk song goes: I’m still a man in need of a savior. 

I know I’m not alone in this. The apostle Paul wrote that he continued to do the wicked things that he didn’t want to do and he often failed to the good that he wanted. Like Paul, I am grateful for the grace of God that accepts me just as I am and yet works in me to become more like my God, to be an ambassador of His grace to this world as He continues to transform me into the man He has always desired that I become… the man I want to be and who I strive to be. But we need to want it badly enough to not let anything get in the way, even the things that would otherwise be considered good and healthy. 

So speaking of healthy, this brings us back to this global COVID-19 crisis. I’m not convinced that a large part of the problem wasn’t caused by man’s selfishness, but I am convinced that God will work this together for good for His people. That is what He does. Despite our hard hearts, He continues to work all things together for good for His people, the people who bear His name. That includes Christians throughout the world as well as Israel. We bear His Name, and we represent Him to this world. We are ambassadors that will either represent Him well or not, and we bear the responsibility to take action during this crisis that He promises will yield a benefit. 

He says that if His people, who are called by His name, will 1) humble themselves and 2) pray, and 3) seek His Face and 4) turn from their wicked ways, that He will A) hear from heaven B) forgive our transgressions and C) Heal our land. Four simple things that are not necessarily easy: 

  1. Humble ourselves 
  2. Pray 
  3. Seek God’s Face 
  4. Turn from our wicked ways 

God has promised us that (A) He is listening, waiting for us to turn to Him so He can (B) forgive our sins and (C) bring healing into our lives. If we do this, He will not just bring healing into our lives, but He will heal the land in which we are living. Four simple things we can do. Four action steps that as His people we should want to do, and He will fulfill three magnificent promises to each of us… for all of us. Regardless of where you are, this is a promise for all those called by His name. It is our responsibility to the world around us, our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Do you want it badly enough? 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Reap the Panic or the Prayer

You will reap what you sow. At least that’s what Galatians 6:7  says, and I have no doubt that it’s true. The media has been sowing panic about the Wuhan coronavirus, and we are seeing empty store shelves as people have panicked and stockpiled. And looking at this website, I’m reminded that people will be filled with the fruit of their schemes and ensnared by their wickedness. (Proverbs 1:31, 5:22) Isn’t that what’s happening in our world right now? 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraged a Depression-afflicted America that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, an affliction that is paralyzing the world right now and possibly leading to the same economic condition that Roosevelt was trying to address in his first inaugural speech. The scariest thing about the COVID-19 coronavirus is what we don’t know, which is a terrifying concept for a people that have come to depend on their technology and understanding. We have deified man, and we have worshiped our creation. All the experts have come together with their models for exercising extreme caution to this threat and sounded an alarm. 

I’m not convinced we are taking the appropriate action. Is there any action sufficient to protect us all completely? And at what point is the treatment worse than the disease? I’m sure someone will yell at me for not taking this seriously enough or for not being sensitive to the lives that will be lost if we don’t take these extreme measures. 

I don’t want to minimize the importance of heightened practices for good hygiene at this time or to suggest we ignore the warnings of our leaders. I also don’t mean to sound callous to all the concerns for the lives that could be lost, but death is part of being human. Peace and security are overrated. And let’s be honest: there is no true peace and security in this fallen world. 

But I’m reminded that we are told not to be anxious about anything and to present our requests with thanksgiving to God in prayer. (Philippians 4:6) The most appropriate decision I’ve seen in America to date is the President’s declaration to make Sunday March 15th a National Day of Prayer. Some people will scoff at this very important declaration, but they are fools. They have come to depend on the false gods of man and technology. They are afraid right now because their gods are failing them and they have no hope beyond this world. However, we who believe have a confidence beyond the visible world. 

I know I will live beyond this life, because I can trust the truth of Scripture. I can trust the Bible because God has given me unshakable proof through the prophecies already fulfilled throughout history. I will live forever, and I have no fear of what may come. 

Can you say the same? How does the reality of death impact your life? Do you know Christ as your Lord and Savior? Is that coming through in your actions? Every man dies, so how will you live? 

If you are a believer anywhere in the world, please join in America’s National Day of Prayer for all nations and all peoples. God has a promise that if we, His people, will humble ourselves, pray, seek His Face and turn from our wicked ways that He will forgive our sins and heal our land. (2 Chronicles 7:14). We should take Him up on that promise. 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Peace & Security

News sources traditionally focus on sensational topics because it draws people’s attention: war, pandemics, gun violence, elections, etc. This is true for both conservative and liberal news media. And it works.

If you’re like me, you’ve been reading about the latest sensation: the new coronavirus that was first observed in China that has spread to every continent except Antarctica. We are constantly reminded that there’s so much we don’t know about this new coronavirus but that it has the potential to kill large numbers of people.

Yes, we should take precautions and be more attentive to healthy behaviors: wash our hands often, refrain from touching our faces, disinfect doorknobs and counter tops, etc. I don’t want to see anyone die from this or any disease, but I don’t mean to be insensitive when I say I’m not overly concerned. It never helps to panic, and even if someone gets sick, there’s better than a 96% chance of full recovery. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take precautions, but at some point you need to let go of what you can’t control. 

In fact, there is only One in control, a Sovereign God, and He has promised to work all things together for the good of His people. That isn’t to say that we won’t have troubles in this world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. His people can expect all sorts of troubles, but He tells us to be encouraged because He has overcome the world. The hardships we go through in this world are temporary. If we look at the end-time prophecies of the Bible, the coronavirus threat is nothing by comparison and the news media won’t be able to keep up with the horrific tribulation the world goes through at that time.

Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. The people of Israel thought that a king would give them the peace and security they desired, rejecting God as their King. So God gave them Saul. God will often give us what we want to show us what we really need. We don’t need a human king or a bigger government; we just need God. He is the only source of the peace and security we desire. Anything else is a counterfeit. 

People look for answers everywhere but God. When it is bigger than we can handle, we look to our respective governments to protect us from this pestilence and blame them for not doing it perfectly. And when it’s too big for our government to resolve, we look for a bigger, more powerful coalition to save us from our troubles. Eventually, we will up with a single, worldwide government to discover that even a united coalition of nations will fail to save us. 

If I get sick, I’ll take more vitamin D and zinc, start a regimen of Echinacea and submit myself for testing to see if I’m infected with the virus for quarantine. But my trust is not in best practices for medicine, it is in my God and Savior. Someday, my body will fail. I’ll breathe my last breath in this frame, but that is not the end of my story. 

I have confidence in God and His promises, but you may wonder if God is real. I encourage you to ask Him yourself. He will answer any sincere question as the loving Father Who wants us to spend time with Him. He wants a relationship with us and longs to take us under His wings of protection. And He will bring healing if only His people do as He asks:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)