Storeroom Sermons of David Chadwell

God's Dedication to Healing

My Webster's Dictionary defines healing by using the following concepts. To heal means to make sound or whole, to restore, to patch up, to remedy, to return to a sound state. These concepts commonly refer to health where physical health has been lost. However, these concepts can and do have a broader application.

Today, I want all of us to think in terms of broader applications.

I have spent most of my life and most of my ministry helping and encouraging those who are broken seek soundness. Spiritually, that often includes the need for repentance and the need to trust God's forgiveness. Physically, that commonly includes making sick or ruptured human relationships sound again. It always includes the need to find and support a sense of peace.

I have spent decades in numerous contexts urging people to find soundness rather than to live in brokenness, to live in peace instead of promoting conflict. Because of long-term exposure, please permit me to make some observations.

Observation 1: Soundness is easily destroyed, but restoration of health requires great energy and even greater commitment. I never cease to be amazed at how easily one word or one act can become "the straw that broke the camel's back," but how challenging (not impossible!) it is to "heal the camel." It is amazing how much love can endure until one thing is just too much. It is equally amazing to see how big a void is created once love is destroyed. I never cease to be amazed at how one thing is "too much" for trust to handle, and how incredibly difficult (not impossible!) it is to restore trust once it has been destroyed.

Observation 2: Spiritual maturity will not develop in a climate of turmoil and spite. For whatever reasons, hurt, suffering Christians seek relief from their pain by attacking others. Where there is an environment of turmoil and spite, those who suffer tear down those who do not suffer. When local Christians emotionally react to their pain, the local Christians as a group tend to sink to their lowest spiritual level. Instead of the community at large seeing those Christians as a productive force of usefulness, those Christians acquire the appearance of pettiness and shallowness. Christian credibility becomes a casualty.

Observation 3: Widespread spiritual conflict misdirects the energies of every form and level of Christian leadership. Gossip finds encouragement. Slander finds support. Accusations find credibility. Internal conflict finds justification. Christians angrily accuse Christians. Schisms develop. Sides are formed. Commitment to Christ and God is questioned. Elders do too much or not enough, depending on who speaks. Deacons fail to take a stand. Teachers refuse to deal with "the obvious." Opinion leaders are pressured. Neutrality is considered weakness. Fires begin spontaneously.

When Christians (individually, as groups, or congregationally) remain in a mindset of conflict, there are no victories, only losses. If those who seek to lead on any level dedicate themselves to putting out fires, they dedicate themselves to increasing internal demands that become deeply disheartening. If they do what is seen as too much, some people say, "They know where there is smoke there is fire." If they do what some people see as too little, these people ask, "What are they trying to hide?" Usually, different people are saying both things at the same time.

Paul admonished hostile Christians in Galatians 5:13-15, "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another."

If you disagree with my observations, you surely can do so. The only request I make is to consider what I now share.

  1. It took God thousands of years to generate the possibility of undoing in His son what Eve and Adam did in one defiant bite.
    1. As a direct result of defiantly eating a fruit, God's creation went from:
      Genesis 1:31, God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
      Genesis 6:5,6 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
      1. They ate and were not even hungry or in physical need!
      2. They wanted what they did not have in complete ignorance of the fact that what they wanted would destroy them.
    2. God's physical creation became so infused with evil that a physical world without evil is beyond human imagination.
      1. Some people question if such a physical world ever existed.
      2. Some even question if a physical world without evil would be a desirable happening.

  2. The possibility of redemption in Christ exists because God refused to give up in the face of great evil.
    1. Even though the period of the judges was a time of great, repeated idolatry and wickedness among God's people, God persisted.
    2. Even though Israelite kings were an enormous failure, God persisted.
      1. When the Israelites asked for a king, they misidentified their problem and rejected God as their leader.
        1. Their problem was a lack of trust in God, and having a king would not solve their "trust in God" problem.
        2. That is why God told Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:7, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them."
      2. Israelite kings were a spiritual disaster.
        1. Israel was united as a nation for only 120 years after the first appointment of a king--King Saul was arrogant in his insecurity; King David committed adultery and murder; and King Solomon reverted to idolatry to please his wives.
        2. The rest of the time the Israelite kingdom was divided until the northern kingdom went into Assyrian captivity and the southern kingdom went into Babylonian captivity.

  3. Things went from bad to worse in the times of the prophets. Those who were supposed to be God's people refused to listen to any message from God.
    1. Consider the situation of Gods' people (these were supposed to be the best of the best!) when Isaiah wrote.
      1. Isaiah 1:4-6, Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him. Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is nothing sound in it, only bruises, welts and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil.
        1. They were so full of wounds and bruises there was no place left for God to afflict them.
        2. They were so accustomed to their suffering they did not even recognize they were sick.
      2. Isaiah 3:8-12, For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their actions are against the Lord, to rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them, and they display their sin like Sodom; they do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him, for what he deserves will be done to him. O My people! Their oppressors are children, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray and confuse the direction of your paths.
        1. Their problems were much worse than "well-intentioned mistakes;" their problems arose from character flaws.
        2. Their sins became witnesses against them.
        3. Those who they allowed to lead them, led them astray and confused their direction.
      3. Isaiah 5:3-7, “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard. “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? “So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.” For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
        1. God would do more than abandon His people; He would destroy them.
        2. God looked for people who reflected Him, and He was disappointed.
      4. Isaiah 5:20-23, Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!
        1. They were horribly confused about the correct concept of good and bad, of right and wrong.
        2. They were so wise in their own estimation that they justified horribly wicked actions.
    2. Consider the extremely difficult task God gave Jeremiah in taking God's messages to His own people (people who should have been touched and responded!).
      1. After commissioning Jeremiah and rejecting his objections, God gives Jeremiah an extremely difficult message to deliver to His people.
      2. Jeremiah 2:4-13, Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord, “What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty? “They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of deep darkness, through a land that no one crossed and where no man dwelt?" I brought you into the fruitful land to eat its fruit and its good things. But you came and defiled My land, and My inheritance you made an abomination. The priests did not say, "Where is the Lord?" And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that did not profit. “Therefore I will yet contend with you,” declares the Lord, “And with your sons’ sons I will contend. “For cross to the coastlands of Kittim and see, and send to Kedar and observe closely and see if there has been such a thing as this! “Has a nation changed gods ahen they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. “Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate,” declares the Lord. “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
        1. God said, "The time has come for you to pay the consequences for your evil."
        2. "You did the unthinkable in rejecting Me, now the unthinkable will happen to you."
      3. Jeremiah 5:1-3, “Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and look now and take note. And seek in her open squares, if you can find a man, if there is one who does justice, who seeks truth, Then I will pardon her. “And although they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ surely they swear falsely.” O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, but they did not weaken; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent."
        1. Jeremiah was asked to find one righteous person in the holiest city on earth.
        2. He could not find one among God's own people.
      4. Jeremiah 7:27, "You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you."
        1. God's message deeply grieved Jeremiah.
        2. Yet, God would not let him even pray for the people.
        3. Terror was coming, and Jeremiah could do nothing.
      5. Jeremiah 20:7-11, O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived; you have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, because for me the word of the Lord has resulted In reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it. For I have heard the whispering of many, “Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!” All my trusted friends, Watching for my fall, say: "Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him.” But the Lord is with me like a dread champion; therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, with an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten.
        1. Jeremiah's mission and message brought him nothing but grief and rejection.
        2. The reaction to his message brought him nothing but agony.
        3. He hurt so badly that he wished he had never been born--being right and having the Lord vindicate him was a cold comfort.
The point I want you to note is that healing is difficult. It can get to a point of offense against God that it cannot occur. Because we are God's people does not mean we cannot offend God.

May I make some closing encouragements. (1) Let God's character and values become your character and values. (2) Oppose evil, but value people. (3) Let God be the judge in the knowledge that no one will do evil and God be ignorant of the evil. (4) Devote yourself to a patient God by devoting yourself to the difficult task of healing. (5) Care about others with the depth of God's caring!

May God's patience in giving Jesus Christ commit you to never "giving up" on people!

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