Part 7: Healing | February 19, 2018
Hello, and thanks for joining us. I’m Jonathan Deatherage. I'm here with Pete Briscoe after he preached his seventh sermon in the Reset series on “Healing” from Acts 3:1-16.
This service ended with a special time for anyone needing healing to come forward and receive prayer. I want us to take a little time now to dive a little bit deeper with Pete to discuss this.
Pete, thanks again for being here.
You bet. Thanks, Jonathan.
I’m very curious to know, as you’re looking through your preaching schedule and you see Acts chapter 3 in front of you, the first time that came into your mind that maybe this is what God wants for our congregation, what went through your head in that moment?
Yeah, as you’re looking through the text, you realize there’s parts of it that very much look like our church. So, like the sermon I preached last week about community, the more I looked at it the more I thought, “This is exactly what Bent Tree is like. We love each other like this.” So, there’s aspects of it that, yeah, I think we’re nailing it; I think a lot of churches are nailing.
And then you get to Acts chapter 3 and you’re like, “Okay... “ Pretty much all the way through Acts, signs and wonders were a part of it. Even in the little summary I just described at the end of Acts 2 that talked about the community and talked about the fact that the apostles were doing signs and wonders and everyone was in awe, we always kind of go over that part really quick because we want to talk about the community stuff, you know? [they laugh] But it’s right there in the middle of it, and it was a part of the life of the church. God was doing miracles in people’s lives.
So my thought was I can figure out some way to explain this away, which I have no desire to do, or I can just say, “This was a part of their life. What would it look like to be a part of our life?’”
Someone, my mother-in-law actually, asked me yesterday after the service how long I’d been working on that sermon, and I told her about three or four months. That’s not usually the case. But this started back in [my fall 2017] sabbatical, and with the Lord really doing some work in my life around the Holy Spirit and being more open to the Holy Spirit.
I’ve been reading quite a bit, and the Lord’s just been giving me a lot of input. And the more I read, the more I studied, the more I prayed, the more I thought, “You know, this isn’t that different than what we’ve been doing.” We do pray for healing in our Prayer Room for people. What we haven’t done is taken time in our big service to do it, and made it a consistent part of our ministry here.
Honestly, my first thought was, “Well, this is the whole point of this series. Let’s figure out what the early church was like, and let’s see if the Lord can make us that way.”
My second thought was, “This could be really exciting,” and literally never looked back after we decided that that was what we were going to do with this text.
It was so cool to see, in both services, how quickly people responded, and how many people responded. It was so clear that that was a felt need in the congregation, they were ready.
Yeah. Some of the conversations I had after the services with the people who were praying for people (elders, staff, other lay leaders), over and over again I heard, “Wow, there’s just a lot of pain in our body. Just a lot.” Between the two services, I probably prayed with 25 people, which is a lot of folks! I looked around, and everyone else was praying the whole time I was praying. I mean, there were hundreds of people coming down. We had lots of people praying.
Everyone that I prayed with would walk up to me, and I would just say, “How can I pray for you?” And every single one just burst into tears. There’s just such deep pain and, for many of them, talking about things they’ve never talked about before. For many of them sharing things they didn’t feel comfortable sharing with their spouse. I mean, real stuff going on. I think that was a big part of the beauty of the day was, as leaders, we really felt like we shepherded our people in a new way, that we never have before. There was a connection. It felt like we became a house of prayer as opposed to simply a proclamation room. And there was beauty in that.
So I can’t remember what you asked me, Jonathan, I’m just talking. [they laugh] But it was definitely a beautiful day.
It was neat for me. I was sharing with Matt Smith, our Online Pastor, about how I was watching his [live stream closing] and seeing people come out of the room. Even what you see on the camera; there was a lightness to people that I don’t normally see. They weren’t so focused on going to the next thing. There was joy, and it was so cool. I think it’s evident of the Spirit of Jesus at work in our midst.
I think sometimes, especially in churches like ours (and we do this practically every Sunday) we have the service planned to the minute. We’re very concerned about people’s time and making sure that we’re stewarding their time well. We’re thinking that way. This was very different. The last 10-12 minutes of the service the vast majority of people were just sitting there with nothing to do except pray. We had talked about the fact that “Will people just leave?” So we decided to ask them not to, and they really didn’t. They stayed. And they were praying.
I saw one gentleman who’s a lay leader in our church, he saw the lines piling up and he ran down and said, “Is it okay if I pray?” And we’re like, “Of course! Pray away!” And he just jumped in. It was a Body-Life thing. It was beautiful. It was the bride of Christ in her beauty.
Yeah, I’ll never forget it; it was a special time.
I know you mentioned this at the end of the service, but if people have a story they want to share with you, is there a way they can reach out and let you know what happened?
Yeah, we put together an email address. It’s simply , if you have a story you want to tell. We prayed for different kinds of healing: physical healing (I’ve heard stories that some of those took place.), relational healing (I got a beautiful email this morning at this email address. Just an incredible miracle in a relationship that happened last night.), addictions (I know talking to the prayers we had lots of people come forward and share addictions that they wanted to be free from.).
So if the Lord is setting you free, if the Lord is healing, if the Lord is healing relationships, please let us know. Just send us an email at . We want to celebrate with you; we want to thank the Lord for that.
It’s always an encouragement to those of us who pray to hear that the Spirit is working. So we’ll make sure we pass those emails around to the folks who are praying as an encouragement to them.
That’s fantastic. I loved what you said in the sermon about how miracles give us opportunities to preach Christ. I’m going to lob you a live one, I didn’t prepare you for this one, but have you seen an opportunity where a miracle has given you the opportunity to preach Christ?
I haven’t seen that many miracles, Jonathan. And I think I haven’t because I’ve been a pragmatic cessationist. I think I’ve been throwing water on the work of the Spirit. It’s one of the things I’ve learned in my reading, that if you don’t believe God does it you’re not going to see it, even when it’s happening around you. You’re not going to see it. Or you’ll explain it away if it happens.
So I’m sad to say no, I haven’t seen a lot of that. I’m anticipating seeing more of it now, because I think the Lord is opening my mind on this to a degree. So I’m looking forward to seeing that happen. I don’t doubt that it happens all the time, but I haven’t seen it a whole lot.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the experience you had when the Lord was saying, “Don’t quench the Spirit. Skepticism is water to that fire,”? What were some of those things?
You know, it was fascinating, because as he took me to the passage in 1 Thessalonians - “Don’t quench the Holy Spirit,” - I remember hearing that when I was in youth group. Maybe you do, too. The youth group where the guys were in one room, the girls were in the other. And with the guys it was, “Don’t quench the Spirit...with lust.” (It’s always lust for the guys, right?) [they laugh] “That’s how you quench the Spirit.” So that’s what I was thinking when I’m reading it.
And I was like, “Gah, I feel like I’m quenching the Spirit, but that’s not an issue in my life.” So I’m kind of confused, and then felt maybe it’s not just sin that quenches the Spirit. Maybe it’s something else. So I kept reading, and the very next phrase is about being skeptical about the prophecies. It doesn’t say about the prophets. (I think there’s some people who call themselves prophets that we need to be skeptical about.)
It also says, after that about being skeptical about prophecies, instead, it says, test them. So you’re not becoming gullible, you’re still using your mind, and you’re praying, and you’re sensing, and discerning. But the idea was if you hear something that the Holy Spirit has done and your immediate reaction is skepticism, then you’re not going to see the Holy Spirit working in people’s lives as much as you would if you celebrated that, and asked him to do it more, and were proactively asking the Holy Spirit to move in people’s lives. I think we’ll see the fire grow instead of throwing water on it.
So, I’m very early in this journey, and it’s an exciting one. I’m looking forward to seeing what God does in our church as a result.
I love how you said it’s not that he’s not doing it, it’s that we’re not seeing it.
I guarantee he’s doing it.
So you did say we’ve got skepticism, cynicism, and fanaticism; we’ve got the biblical viewpoint that sometimes God does heal in this way. So tell me about the times when God doesn’t heal that way. You talked about the school of suffering. But let’s say I’m somebody who went on Sunday morning to the service, prayed for healing, I’m suffering from addiction, or broken relationship, or even a physical pain. Got no healing. How do you counsel?
I realized afterwards that I gave a bunch of caveats at the end when I was telling people what to do, and what not to do. After I was done I thought, “I have like three or four more that I didn’t say.” [he laughs] And I just trusted the Lord with that.
But one of them was that if you’re coming to ask for healing from an addiction, I really believe that Jesus wants to set you free from the prison you’re in. But you’ve gotta understand that the reason you are medicating yourself in the first place is still there. So if it’s wounding, if it’s abuse from when you were a child, if it’s that you were deserted by a spouse, if it’s that your business partner cheated you out of everything, the hurt, the anger, whatever it is, the addiction is a symptom of the core hurt.
So one of the things I would say is if you don’t feel like you’re healed of your addiction, don’t get hung up on that. It’s just a symptom. But really do a deep dive into what’s the core issue here, and how can I find healing there? Because I think once we find healing there, then we start to see freedom to break away from out addictions.
In that one category, that’s just one thing that I would say. I think for other folks in physical suffering, I prayed for some physical maladies yesterday that, if I had to live with them every day I would just be going crazy. The suffering, and the pain that people live in. And so, I can imagine a number of those people waking up this morning and going, “Ugh. It didn’t work.” You know? And I grieve that.
As I said in my sermon, there’s no easy answers for that other than he does have us in the school of suffering sometimes. As we trust him in the midst of that, he’s going to glorify Christ through our lives. We have scores of stories of the Lord glorifying people during their long stays in the hospital, or during their time in rehab, that only he could do.
So we trust him with that, and we look forward to seeing him do a different kind of healing. That’s one thing I teach when I teach James 5. The text there really says if you go to the elders and ask them to pray for you, and they anoint you with oil, you will be healed. I mean, it’s a promise.
So once again, people walk away maybe without their physical healing, and there’s broader healing. There’s other kinds of healings. What the text promises is that some type of healing is happening in you if you’ll just take that step. It may be emotional, it may be forgiveness, it could be a number of different things.
So maybe look around and say, “Was there a healing that happened that maybe I’m not quite aware of? ‘Cause I was looking for x to happen, but actually y happened, and he healed me in a way that’s actually better and deeper while I continue in the school of suffering.”
If you woke up this morning and you’re still in pain, I’m not sure that helps all that much. But it’s true, and hopefully long-term it will help.
I think of what you were talking about with Jesus, who didn’t heal everybody at the pool of Siloam or John 5. That is the startling thing about the gospels: Jesus had the power to heal everybody, but didn’t. But he did provide forgiveness for everybody. And there’s that deeper healing that you’re talking about. So often you see in the Scripture God uses a variety of ways to cause us to trust in him, but his ultimate goal is that we depend on him.
Yeah, find Life in him.
Hey, Pete, would you close us in a word of prayer right now?
Yeah, let’s pray.
Father, thank you for your outrageous love. Thank you, Jesus, for the work that you accomplished on the cross, and in the resurrection, and the perfect life that you lived. Holy Spirit, thank you that you apply everything Jesus did to our lives. You tell us in Isaiah 53 that it’s by his stripes we are healed, it’s by his suffering that we find freedom from suffering. So we really want to see that happening more and more in our lives. So we will ask you more and more.
So I’m going to ask right now. Maybe there’s someone listening to me who needs healing. Maybe it’s their day to raise their hand and say, “Jesus, heal me.” And if that’s their heart, I just want to pray specifically for them right now, Lord, that whatever it is that they are suffering with, that you will take it away, that you will rid their body of disease, of injury, of breaking. And if it’s addiction that you would set them free from that. If there’s a relational pain, that you would mend relationships. Holy Spirit, I know you have the power to do it. I know you do it in people’s lives all the time. I pray you would do it for this person who’s listening to me right now. And I thank you in advance for the work that you’re going to do in our lives. And I pray it all in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Amen. Thanks so much for listening today. Bent Tree is a church that encourages everyone to experience the freedom and fullness of Jesus in everyday life. We hope that you have a greater sense of his work in you, and through you today. Have a great week.