Sunday, May 18th, 2008 | Author:

[Note: This is a message I shared at my church on May 18, 2008.]

(Hebrews 6:1-2) Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

I brought something very special with me this morning, and I’m pretty sure all of you did, too. It’s one of those gifts from God that we use every day, but, for the most part, we take for granted. Our hands.

Our hands wipe noses and open doors. They steer cars and play guitar. They type on keyboards and hold fire hoses. Sometimes they write poetry or sign sympathy cards.

If you think for a minute what your day would be like if you didn’t have hands, like many of our war veterans, then I think we can all agree that God put very useful things on the ends of our arms. Thank you, Lord.

In addition to all the natural things our hands do, there are some spiritual things we can do with them, too. Like pray.

Back in January of 1981, I was 33 weeks pregnant, and in hard labor. I was taken by ambulance from Gloversville to Albany Med. They stopped my labor for 2 days, to give me shots for the baby, so I had a lot of time to get scared. And I was scared. When Aaron was born, he weighed 3 lbs. 11 oz., and stayed in the hospital for about a month. I didn’t really know God in those days, but someone told me that the church in Glen was praying for us. I was dumbstruck. “We hardly ever go to church. Why would they pray for us?” Knowing that they were, though, became a great comfort to me during that ordeal. So, in case I didn’t get to you before, I want to say thank you to all those who were praying. And so you can see the fruit of your labors, here’s a picture of Aaron and Nikki at their wedding last summer.

About a year ago, a friend asked me to pray for a young girl named Jessica. She had been seduced into quitting college and moving to Texas to join a cult that practices polygamy. So I brought her name here, and we prayed. I shared her story as I got it, and we continued to pray. She left, she went back, and then she left again. It was truly a roller-coaster ride. But Jessica is now safely in Georgia and appears to be doing well. Her baby, by her quote unquote husband, is due in mid-June. She’s having some minor problems, and they may take the baby a little early, but at least she’s in a position to get the medical help she needs.

This week, I saw on the news that the leader of that cult, the House of Yahweh, has been arrested on multiple charges related to polygamy and child labor violations. As background, the AP story related a case from 2006. A young woman at this cult bled to death after childbirth, because they would not allow her to go to the hospital. By God’s grace and your prayers, the same thing did not happen to Jessica. I wanted to share a picture of Jessica today, but the postal service didn’t cooperate.

Then last October, Biff told us about another preemie, baby Lily, who was much smaller than Aaron, at 1 lb. 7 oz., and who faced many more challenges. So the Glen church prayed. Biff kept us abreast of all her ups and downs, and we prayed some more. We rejoiced when she was released from the hospital. And here’s a new picture, all 9 lbs. 9 oz. of her!

I related these stories today, and brought these pictures, because I believe God has called this little church in Glen to pray. Look at those faces. Look at the lives that were changed, because, in obedience to the burden God put in your heart, you took the time to pray.

I hope you’re all encouraged by these stories. I hope it builds your faith in our compassionate and powerful God. And I hope it makes you want to do more — because God’s Word tells us there’s much more.

If we go back to our scripture for this morning, we see that it relates a list of foundational, elementary truths about Christianity. [overhead]

· repentance from dead works
· faith toward God
· instruction about washings
· laying on of hands
· resurrection of the dead
· eternal judgment.
[1]

The writer of Hebrews considered these things elementary, foundational. He thought these are the things that every Christian should know about. I think, though, that some of this has been lost to us over the centuries, so I’m going to talk about one of those truths today — the laying on of hands.

I talked earlier about the many things we do each day with our hands in the natural, but I think we don’t realize how special our hands are, spiritually. So here are some spiritual applications from God’s word.

The Bible tells us that the Levites, the priests, were instructed to lay their hands on the offering to consecrate it. Both Old and New testaments talk of laying hands on someone when they begin a ministry, or when they are sent out. And Mark tells us that Jesus simply blessed the children by laying His hands on them.[2]

But, by far, the most common reference to laying on of hands in the Bible is in healing — healing sick, wounded people. Jesus did it. The first apostles did it. Other early Christians did it. So, if Jesus and the apostles and other early Christians set us the example, if this is an elementary, foundational truth of Christianity, then why don’t we do it?

Are we scared of looking silly, of people talking about us? Do we think God couldn’t possibly use our hands to heal someone? Maybe we’re just stuck in a rut. If it’s not on the bulletin, we don’t do it.

Whatever our reasons are, the bottom line is that we’re ignoring God’s word, ignoring one of the elementary, foundational Christian truths.

1 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that healing is one of the many gifts of the Spirit. Would Paul write this over 55 years after Christ’s resurrection, if healing was not supposed to be a continuing gift to the church? Do you suppose the Holy Spirit might have given that gift to some of us, but we just don’t use it?

Would Paul have written to Timothy, not once but twice, about using his spiritual gifts, if the gifts were only for the original Apostles? Paul said to Timothy:

Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.[3]

And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
[4]

Jesus said this in John 14:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.[5]

The very last thing Jesus said to His disciples before He ascended into heaven is this:

And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name: they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.[6]

I believe that Jesus wants to use the hands in His church to heal people. If you believe that, too, or if you even think it might be possible, I ask you to pray with me, holding your hands open to the Lord.

Dearest Father in Heaven, we come before You with humble hearts and empty hands, in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Our desire, dear God, is to help people, to heal people, but we know we are powerless. We can do nothing, Lord, that You have not first spoken. But when You sent Your Son to earth, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He healed. He sent that same power to His disciples through Your Holy Spirit. And He said in Your Word that those who believe will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Dear God, we believe. If we don’t believe enough, forgive us and help our unbelief. We are asking to be Your church in Glen, to be a body of people who do the things, both natural and spiritual, that You have called us to do. By Your grace and Your mercy, send us the power of Your Holy Spirit, and help us to walk in Your ways. Give us healing hands, Lord.

Judy, would you come forward now?

While we stay in an attitude of prayer, I ask anyone who has a heart for Judy and even a little faith that God can use our hands to heal her, to also come forward. Come and lay your hands on her in obedience to God’s word.

———————————-

Benediction: May we seek out the truth of God’s Word and walk in His ways, both natural and spiritual. Amen.

[1] Hebrews 6:1-2
[2] Mark 10:16
[3] 1 Timothy 4:14
[4] 2 Timothy 1:6
[5] John 14:12
[6] Mark 16:17-18

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Category: Christianity, prayer, sermon
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