"Jesus Christ heals you;" Acts 9:34
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. Don't take my word for it.
"Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8
Dr. W. Fred Swank, long-tenured pastor at Sagamore Hill Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas had this verse of Scripture printed on his personal business cards. Every preacher ought to take a page out of his playbook, and remind people in the pews that Jesus doesn't change. He changes people. Thanks Bro. Fred. Wish you were here.
In the Gospel of John, it records Jesus referred to Himself, in the present tense. I AM The Bread of life. I AM the Good Shepherd. I AM The Door. I AM The Light of the world. I AM The Vine. I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I AM The Resurrection and The Life. See what I mean? All present tense. All the time.
Jesus didn't say, "I will be." He didn't say, "I was." He said, "I AM." Whoever God is, He is. He didn't lose any portion of God's character, when He became a baby. He didn't become less of who God is, when He became a man. He didn't give up any of God's power, when He died on the cross. He revealed God's power, when He rose from the tomb. He didn't abdicate His Lordship, at His Ascension. He glorified God, when He took His place, at His right hand. He is!
NOW! Jesus intercedes for His Church. This means He prays for His followers, by name. He never ceases to be Who He has always been. He is God. The early church preachers believed Jesus was a real, and as present, in their lives as the breath in their lungs. They never stopped believing He was God. When crisis came their way, they met it head on...IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
The dangerous preacher today is not the one who mentions the name of Jesus, but the one who uses the name of Jesus. There is a difference between a name-dropper, and a name changer.
It may be a man thing, but I am going to go out on a limb here. Hyphenated marriage names have always bothered me. It is so English. In other words, it is foreign to me. Women who never drop their father's name, to take their husband's names, may be making a point, when they should be tying a knot. Anything hyphenated, more easily identifies the point of separation. It doesn't strengthen the bond. It may lead to a form of unity, but it doesn't guarantee oneness. Just stop it.
Note to self: If you tie the tails of a dog and a cat together, you have unity, but you don't have oneness. Saying a few words over them, and serving punch and cake, won't transform one into the other. Having an open bar will only make things worse.
A celebrity stalker may be able to drop a name, and even get a photo op, but will not be invited to dinner. To use a celebrity's name or wear their logo on one's clothing, may speak volumes about hero worship, but it doesn't translate into a relationship. Going to a concert doesn't make a fan a family member. The entertainment factor gained from it is not intimacy. It is a form of delusion.
Note to self: You have an Arnold Palmer sand wedge. Don't expect it to make you Arnold Palmer, when you play at Bay Hill. It is his home course, not yours. Stay out of the sand.
The preachers of the early church spoke the name of Jesus. They were close friends with Jesus. They took him at His word, when He said that there would be a day, when He would call them friends, not just servants. That day had come.
When they got up, they called on Jesus. When they went about their daily business. They called on Jesus. When they were in trouble, they called on the name of Jesus. They lived and breathed, an uninterrupted, continual conversation with Jesus. Their prayer life developed and sustained a consistent companionship with Jesus.
Jesus had prayed that His disciples be one, just as He and the Father are one. This was not a prayer that the disciples get along with one another. It was a prayer for His disciples to know the uninterrupted flow of The Power and The Presence of The Promise of God, that would be available to them, through His Spirit. The world in which they were going to live and launch His church was going to need to see Jesus flowing through them, not preachers full of themselves.
The Spirit of Jesus is the only source for the life and the love of Jesus, to be available to the disciples of Jesus. When sin interrupts, it separates, and hyphenates the believer from his namesake. Dropping The Name of Jesus is not the same as taking the name of Jesus. Wearing the name of Jesus is not the same, as bearing The Name of Jesus.
Peter spoke just a few words, and by healing one man, and raising one woman from the dead. He did so, in the name of Jesus. To Aeneas, he introduced The Person and The Power of Jesus, into the present tense of an immediate crisis, by announcing, "Jesus Christ heals you." (v.34) To the woman, he said, "Tabitha, arise." (v.40) Interesting to note, that each person was called by name. Jesus still does. Can you hear him calling yours? Never doubt it!
"Many believed in the Lord." Acts 9:42
You think? I bet they did! Today, most of the time, healing is prayed for, when people aren't in the room. It is less embarrassing that way. When prayers are answered, and people are healed, the typical response is, "Well, it must not have been as bad as we thought."
The early church preachers didn't offer Jesus, as a by-product of healing. They believed He was The Healer. What they knew He did, when He walked with them, they believed He never stopped doing. They called on Him, with a confidence in Him, based on consistent companionship with Him. Prayer that is all about immediacy, but not interested in intimacy, falls short on both counts.
Peter didn't offer up prayer to Jesus, or call on Him, with whimsical wishful thinking or panic-driven showmanship. He simply placed what was impossible for him, in the hands of the only one Who could do something about it.
This is the essence of prayer. Jesus takes what we give Him, and turns the impossible into the HIMpossible. Talking about a crisis only prolongs the degree of separation, from our namesake, Jesus. Prayer ends the sense of fear, in the middle of the crisis. Prayer assures us Jesus is in the now. Prayer continues our conversation, in His name, and improves our companionship, with The Name, until we are one with Him. Don't miss the intimacy, by focusing on the immediacy. Start earlier. Pray longer. The Healer is waiting for you.
TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!