Jehovah-Rapha: The God Who Heals.

”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.  

You can learn a lot from a name, and that’s especially true of God. Throughout the Bible, God presents himself with different names. The name Jehovah is used some 6,800 times in the Bible. Not only does it speak of God’s strength, but also it speaks of the sovereignty of God and the goodness of God. Each name reveals something important about God. One of the names of God is Jehovah-Rapha, “the Lord who heals.”

Does Jesus heal? The answer is yes. God heals broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, broken lives, and broken relationships. His very presence has immense healing powers. He can heal instantaneously by a miracle. He can heal over time through medicine.

The Israelites had been living in slavery in Egypt for generations. They cried out to God, and He miraculously led them out of slavery. They were on their journey out of servitude in Egypt and into the Promised Land when they become thirsty. They turned to God, complaining that He was not taking care of them. Moses turned to God and cried out for help. God intervened and instructed Moses to take a piece of wood and throw it into the water. Immediately, the water became clean, sweet, and refreshing. God then speaks to the Israelites, but he seems to change the subject. He talks about the diseases the Egyptians had suffered, and how the Israelites can avoid those conditions. God tells the people that He can heal them, but they need to obey.

We need to know this God can heal anything for which we need healing. Maybe you’re struggling with physical pain, emotional, or relational pain. God can heal that. Throughout the Bible, we read about people in dire circumstances. But no matter what the instance, Jehovah-Rapha heals and restores them.

In our own lives, we can call upon the healing name of God in prayer. This can help remind us about how God has healed people in the past, and He will come to our aid. Nevertheless, we do need to remind ourselves that although God heals, He may heal us in an unexpected way. “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” (Psalm 103:1-3)

Discussion Questions

  1. How can God use your life to showcase His life, love, and healing to the world around you? 
  2. How do your life and lips declare that He is Jehovah Rapha?

Preparing For Easter: The Resurrection

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. 

The most important event of all human history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That’s right.  The greatest event in all history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. With Easter several weeks away, we need to take time to remember and celebrate this single, history-changing event.

The Apostle Paul, throughout the first fourteen chapters of 1 Corinthians, has talked about any number of issues. Now as he nears the conclusion of this letter, he reminds the Corinthians and each of us that just as the heart pumps life-giving blood to every part of the body, so the resurrection is the gospel of life to our souls: “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

Paul is not holding back. He is about as straightforward as he can be. He is summarizing and stating again the good news that, several years before, he had brought to the Corinthians. The good news was the Gospel, the news of the crucified and risen Lord. Paul reminds them that they had received it and that it was foundational to all they were. It was something by which they were saved. Paul was getting back to the basics, to the essence of the Christian faith.  

Everything in our redemption is connected to the resurrection.  The resurrection is the triumphant and glorious victory for every believer. Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose on the third day and He is coming again.  The dead in Christ will be raised up, and those who are alive at His coming will be changed and receive new, glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). The resurrection proves who Jesus is. It demonstrates that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.

The message of Easter is a message of eternal hope. There is an eternal future with God waiting for each of us who are followers of Jesus.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How should the resurrection impact your life on a daily basis? 
  2. How much does the evidence and faith play a role in your belief in the resurrection? 
  3. What does the resurrection mean for your past, present, and your future?

The Power Of Worship

“We were created to worship God. It’s a state in which our soul finds true peace, rest, and purpose. But it must become a condition of the heart, a way of life, a pattern woven into the fabric of our being. Worship must become so ongoing that it is no longer even a decision that has to be made because the decision has already been made. Worship must become a lifestyle. When you make worship a lifestyle, it will determine in whose image you will be formed and what you become. Sometimes praise and worship will be the only thing you do in a situation. You will stand and praise God while the tornados of life whirl around you, and you will see God move on your behalf. And then you will understand the hidden power of praise. When you understand that concept, it will change your life.” – Stormie Omartian, The Prayer That Changes Everything. 

Music is an awesome way for us to worship and experience God and to keep focused on the important things of life, the things that God cares about. Christians worship through music because it is an expression of praise, glory, honor, and reverence to the Lord. But the bottom line is that worship is a lifestyle. It is characterized by devotion, obedience, and love for God and others. Additionally, it is a conscious action. Worship requires effort. It can be expressed in numerous ways, one way is music. It can be as simple as just being grateful for blessings, family, and friends.

But what about prayer?  Prayer plays a key role in our worship of God. What are the worship choruses we sing, if not prayers set to music? The author of Hebrews writes, “ So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we have direct access to God. He urges us to make the most of our access by approaching God in prayer with a sense of confidence and boldness, knowing that our prayers will be heard and answered. Prayer can be a form of worship because engaging in prayer reminds us that He is in our midst, in the details of our lives. “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1). Prayer is an open invitation to a growing relationship with God.

The apostle Paul places prayer at the center of the Christian discipline of maintaining a continuous spirit of worship. “ Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). Prayer has always played a significant role in worship and understanding the role and power in prayer will help us maximize the impact of our worship.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you see prayer as a form of worship? Why or why not? 
  2. What does your prayer life look like currently?
  3. What can we do this week to improve our level of worship? 

As We Forgive Everyone Who Sins Against Us

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”He said to them, “When you pray, say:“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” – Luke 11:1-4.

 The disciples often saw Jesus in prayer. They had no doubts that He was intimately connected to His Father. Jesus prayed in the certainty that His father heard Him. So it was probably not surprising that they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. And while they were expecting some profound, even extraordinary way to pray, Jesus explained how to pray in simple terms.  Jesus modeled for us a life of total dependence on the Father. His prayer life and His instruction on prayer are educational and foundational as we seek to grow in our prayer life.  

Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of Luke 11:4 is the qualification of the request “Forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.  The English Standard Version is translated more literally, “for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” 

The Lord’s prayer underscores the essential connection between receiving divine forgiveness and forgiving others. As we experience God’s forgiveness, we are called and empowered to forgive those who have wronged us. Jesus is reminding us that He wants to forgive us and He wants us to forgive others. He wants us to set others free of their sins, but He also knows it’s good for us when we forgive others.  

If we choose to not forgive others we are missing the full benefit of forgiveness. God’s purpose in forgiving us is that we might be reconciled to Him and to each other. The experience of divine forgiveness enables us to do what otherwise is beyond our strength. We cannot honestly pray, “Father, forgive my sins,” if we refuse to forgive someone who has sinned against us.

We aren’t called to forgive because someone deserves it. We forgive because love requires it. We forgive because abundant life requires it. We need to choose forgiving others over our own sense of fairness. Choose to be like your Heavenly Father and forgive those who have wronged you. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

The Spirit will help you. He will give you the strength and courage to do what seems impossible. Spend some time in God’s presence today and forgive as He guides and directs you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does it make you feel to know God forgives you and your mistake is completely erased and forgotten in God’s eyes? 
  2. Who can you forgive today? 
  3. How does it make you feel when you forgive someone? 

What Matters Most To You?

There are moments in life that are truly momentous. Things like graduating from school, falling in love, getting engaged, getting married, witnessing the birth of your child, accomplishing something you didn’t think you could, and finding success at work to name a few.

These are the moments in our lives when we hone in on what is truly important. We pledge to make every day count. But then life intervenes and those momentous occasions are surrounded by interruptions. Things on your “to-do” list do not get done. Tomorrow usually seems like a better place to be than today.

Jesus spent His whole life choosing to do the most important thing at any given moment. He stopped to heal the sick when they crossed His path. He sat on a mountainside to speak life to a waiting crowd. He prayed for children, even as His disciples scolded the people for bringing them to Him. He looked a bleeding woman, a blind man, and a beggar in the eyes and gave them personalized hope.

Think about how Jesus spent His last night as a free man. Instead of rushing around to heal more sick people or giving a last-minute sermon, we find Jesus sharing a meal with His disciples. He set the stress and rush of ministry aside for the most important thing.“When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve.” (Matthew 26:20) Jesus spent his last hours of freedom with His disciples, teaching them how to remember Him and sharing the foundations of the gospel with them. He prayed for them (John 17) and then prayed for the strength to walk the difficult journey to the cross (Mark 14:32-36). 

Paul, writing to the believers in Philippi says, “For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” (Philippians 1:10) This verse indicates there is a benefit to us to understand what really matters. Knowing and loving God is our greatest privilege. And being known and being loved by God is our greatest pleasure. And then to seek what matters to God first in our lives.  He created us with intentionality; for us to live an intentional life for His purpose. To know His purpose is to know Him; to know Him is to know what is important to Him; to know His heart. And to put those things first in our lives.

A.W. Tozer said this about what matters most: “Yes, worship of the loving God is man’s whole reason for existence.  That is why we are born, and that is why we are born again from above.  That is why we were created, and that is why we have been recreated.  That is why there is a genesis at the beginning, and that is why there is a re-genesis, called regeneration.  That is also why there is a church.  The Christian church exists to worship God first of all.  Everything else must come second or third or fourth or fifth.”


Discussion Questions:

  1. What would happen if we began to lean into God, to be intentional enough to discover the things of God that truly matter to Him?
  2. Based on what you talk about most, what would people say is most important to you?

Bless the Lord All The Time

”I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:1-4 (ESV).  

One of the Psalms of David, Psalm 34, focuses on dedicating someone’s life to God and leaning on Him even during hard times. It is a psalm of renewal, written as David was coming out of a difficult situation and having to face pain later in his life. It is written from the perspective of a teacher, perhaps even of a father talking to future generations about the importance of magnifying God in all things.

The first verse declares, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). Blessing God all the time can seem like an impossibility. Life is hard, yet David is telling us that he would bless the Lord at all times.  The word “all” includes the good times as well as the bad times.  All meant that David would bless the Lord in times of lack and in times of abundance. What about us? Do we bless the Lord when times are good and we’re enjoying a season of abundance? What about when we are in the valley. David said, “…His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  David wouldn’t let his circumstances dictate his praise, rather he made up his mind to praise God even in tough times. We need to have the same mindset. 

“I get it, but I feel weighted down by the trials and tests I’m going through; it is not easy to bless the Lord all the time when I am busy putting out fires.” It is not easy, and more importantly, it takes time.  The first thing to do is to focus on Him. Our life as a believer should be focused on the Lord. This focus should start in the morning and go all day. It is still important for us to set our minds on the things above at the start of the day and continue on that trend for the entirety of it.

Reading your Bible daily will help you focus on Him. Studying the Bible to stay focused on God may seem like a no-brainer, but how often do we have trouble focusing on God without ever actually picking up our Bibles and reading it. If we want to keep our minds off of the things of the world and focus our hearts and minds on the Lord instead, then we must seek God in His word. We cannot know the truths of God, the components of His character, and the direction He gives for our lives if we don’t pick up the Bible and read it? After all, how can we focus on someone we don’t really know that well?

Finally pray: Prayer is an important part of focusing on God because it pulls us into a conversation with God. Whether we are praying to thank God, ask forgiveness for a particular sin, worship God for who He is, or bring our requests to Him, we are focusing on God when we pray. We come to Him because we know that He is in control and we acknowledge that He is the Lord of all. And we praise Him because we know He is worthy.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does it mean to be a blessing or to bless someone?
  2. How do we go about blessing God all day long? 


Getting Ready For Easter

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’“Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. – Acts 2:22-32

As we approach the celebration of Good Friday, we are reminded of the horror and the power and glory of the cross. Jesus was alone. He had come to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11 ) When He was being arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, we are told that “the disciples deserted him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56). The crowds who had so recently shouted, “Hosanna!” would soon shout, “Crucify him! … Crucify him!” (Matthew 21:9, 27:22–23) Now even His loyal twelve had left. And at last, we hear Him cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). 

Good Friday and the Easter Sunday that follows purchased eternal life for us. But what does it mean for you and me, right here, right now, in the difficult situations, locations, and relationships of everyday life? The same God who planned that the worst thing would be the best thing is your Father. He rules over every moment in your life, and He wants an intimate relationship with each one of us.  

It is hard not to be awed by the cross. There is a line in the song by Michael Smith, “Here I am to Worship,” where it says, “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.” We will truly never know the magnitude of the grace and love of Jesus Christ. It’s going to take an eternity to know and grasp the fullness of Christ’s infinite love and grace towards us. Yes, we know Jesus is our Redeemer, but do we truly know the magnitude of the cost? I don’t think we can even ever come up with a figure or currency to match that price, and that price was paid for each of us.

John Piper said, “Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the hardest part of the cross for you to understand? Why?
  2. What can we do this week to better understand and appreciate the significance of the cross?

Our Identity In Christ: Knowing Who We Are Determines How We Live

“Knowing your identity in Christ makes you feel unbreakable because no matter what Satan tries to do you, you know how strong you are in Christ and that’s all that matters.” – Unknown.

Our culture is all about discovering individual identity. There is no end to different methods people use to identify their identity. It seems like everyone is searching for something to tell them who they are, and where they belong.

While our world encourages you to look within yourself for your identity, your natural tendency is to search for your identity in external things.  One of the first places that you can be tempted to look to is your career. Spending your time and energy pursuing your career can cause you to feel like it is a defining characteristic of who you are. Other people use financial success and status or relationships, appearance, grades, and reputation to provide them with a sense of identity.

Any or all of these may feel like solid foundations, but none of them are permanent. Any of them could change without warning. God, however, is unchanging. He is reliable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Understanding your identity in God starts with understanding who He is, what He says about Himself, and what He says about you. If you put your faith in Jesus, you have a new identity in Him. The more you get to know Jesus, the more you will be able to identify areas of your life that you are not living in this identity by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you believed that you were all that God says you are in Christ, how would that change the way you lived, the way you interact with others, or the way that you relate to the Lord? As you find your identity in Christ, you will grow to look more like Him and less like the world. You will grow in intimacy with Him and with other believers.

Having an understanding of your identity in Christ is essential to living your life in the way He intended.  You will never have to work to fit in or be someone you’re not.  Jesus has rescued you, redeemed you, and brought you into His family forever. God has the answer to our identity issues. It is all about who He is and what He can accomplish in our lives if we let Him. In all things, at all times, He is with us.  Every problem, every feeling of inadequacy, every painful circumstance- He is there with abundant resources to offer us. Embrace the fact that you are His child, and remember how much He loves you. “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17). Our accomplishments in life can be significant, but they don’t qualify us for God’s love. They don’t add any value on our behalf in God’s eyes. His love for us is truly unconditional, for once we have our identity in Christ, we become who we really are: Children of God.

When you see yourself as Christ sees you, others may begin to see you that way too. If you are steady and secure in your identity in Him, your actions, speech, and life will express God’s love. You may find more opportunities to share the gospel, and Christ will be all the more glorified.

Remember who your Father says you are because it’s in Him where your true identity can be found.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. The only way we grow in our identity in Christ is by seeking the Lord because He is the one who restores and transforms us. Agree or disagree and why?
  2. Our fingerprints identify us as unique individuals with a specific identity. According to Ephesians 1:4, what truth should be fully realized in order to find identity in Christ?

The Holy Spirit And Me

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” – Luke 24:49.

At the end of Luke’s gospel, we read the words Jesus spoke to His disciples just before His ascension to glory. With Jesus’ impending departure, the disciples were naturally worried about being left alone. Who could blame them?  But they were not left alone. This is one of the most uplifting verses in Scripture. Think about it for a few moments: God did not leave the disciples or us alone to fend for ourselves. He provided an amazing Helper in the person of the Holy Spirit. We need never be afraid again, or lonely, or hopeless, or sorrowful, or helplessly inadequate. For the Helper is always with us.

No matter what your circumstances or what season of life you are in, there is always Someone standing by to assist you. God has provided every resource you need through His Spirit. When you can’t, He can. When you’re tired, He isn’t. When you’re weak, He’s strong.  You were never meant to carry it all alone. You were never meant to live as an orphan. 

As believers, we’ve been given the Holy Spirit as a Helper, Teacher, and Friend. His presence, guidance, and wisdom in our lives are our greatest gifts while here on earth. Through Him, we have access to direct connection with our heavenly Father. Through Him, we receive spiritual gifts to empower us. We house His Spirit in us, and if we allow His Spirit to operate in our lives, we’re going to be more than okay, no matter what comes our way.  

The Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of the reader is essential to our total understanding, appreciation, and implementation of Scripture.“But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:10-12) John 14:26 says, “ But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” And we know from 2 Peter 1:20-21 that the Holy Spirit moved upon the authors of Scripture to write the Bible. And it is He who inspired Scripture that helps us interpret it and apply it to our lives today.

The Holy Spirit longs to declare to you God’s plans to love you, provide for you, heal you, transform you, and deliver you. He longs to lead you to the fullness of life available to you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you think of the Holy Spirit, what comes to your mind? 
  2. How familiar are you with the topic of the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit a confusing or encouraging topic of study for you? Why or why not?
  3. Identify one practical way you will live in the Holy Spirit more fully as a response to this week’s study and sermon.  

Jesus Living Inside Me

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20. 

What drives you? What drives you to get up in the morning and tackle the challenges of the day? When you are striving for a goal what drives you? When you fail what drives you to pick yourself up and try again? It is probably the people around you, family, friends coworkers that are motivating you to achieve your goal. Or maybe the person who is pushing you relentlessly is you. Without that motivation, it is very difficult to reach your goal. 

What if your goal is to lead a God-pleasing life? The temptation is to look at this question like any other goal-oriented question in our life. We simply need the right motivation and often we try to motivate ourselves. So, how can we lead a God-pleasing life? What is our motivation? What drives us? It’s grace. It is by grace and by grace alone that we can live our lives in service to God. Grace is our motivation. Grace pushes and carries us to lead God-pleasing lives where Jesus lives in us. 

Christ living in us does not mean that He possesses our bodies and lives our life for us. It does not mean He controls our minds and makes all our choices for us. The Bible makes it clear that “we are the temple of the living.”  God dwells in us today through the power of His Holy Spirit. In Romans 8 Paul explains that “you have the Spirit of God living in you.” (verse 9). Verse 10 adds, “and Christ lives within you…” Jesus Christ can live in a person through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is in us, He empowers us to actually become like God the Father and Jesus Christ in nature, character, spirit, attitudes, approach, and love.

Jesus living in us means we live as Jesus did. What all the scriptures on this subject reveal is that Jesus Christ’s life will be in us only as we seek to make His way of life our way of life—to walk as He walked, to live as He lived. “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6). Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” God wants us to choose for ourselves to live as Jesus lived. This involves a humble, earnest seeking to become like Jesus Christ so His life becomes our life.

In order to have Christ in us by living as He lived, we must deeply desire to change and become more like Him. That’s our motivation. We live for the One who lives in us. We live for the One who has set us free. We live for the One who has given us new life. Because of Christ’s death on the cross, our sinful nature is lost and our new-Christian nature has been created… giving us exactly what we need to follow our Lord.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does living for Jesus and Jesus living in you mean in practical terms?