Our God is powerful. There is no doubt about it. "He made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses" (Jeremiah 51:15-16).
Yet he also makes us powerful on his behalf. He made this clear in the New Testament through Jesus' calling, appointing and sending out the disciples to do the same things he did (which we have covered here before). But we can also see it in the Old Testament, for example in Jeremiah 51:20-23, "You are my war club, my weapon for battle - with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms, with you I shatter horse and rider, with you I shatter chariot and driver, . . . with you I shatter governors and officials." In the view of the Old Testament authors, God used various rulers and nations to punish other nations who did not follow in God's ways - even Israel.
God may sometimes use us to call people away from sin toward the good. To do this, we may not necessarily be a war club or lightning strike to shatter people, but we may be the quiet voice of love to draw people. We may listen to people who are bitter and angry and be able to show them another way; e.g., "You know I got over my bitterness and anger by choosing to forgive." Or perhaps they have strayed into pornography, and we may say, "I used to be into pornography until I realized how much it was detracting from my relationships with my family."
In these ways we shatter not people but strongholds of sin and we help to set captives free (Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61:1-2). By doing these things, we give people the oil of gladness to replace their mourning and the garment of praise to replace their despair (Is 61:3).
Let us pray. Jesus, I want to draw people to you. I want to help set the captives free. Use me, Lord. Put the right words in my mouth when I need them.
The disciples continued to heal people as they preached the Gospel after Jesus ascended into heaven. Healing and working miracles were quite common and are well documented in the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts 3 Peter and John healed a man who had been lame all of his life. The man was not asking for healing, he was begging for food or money. So there doesn't seem to be any faith present on his part. Yet Peter and John healed him anyway. This was a very public miracle because the man begged every day at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple.
Acts 5 is even more dramatic. Beginning with verse 14 we read, "More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed."
As with Jesus, all of them were healed. None were turned away. We could continue to heap up citations from Acts as from the Gospels. The clear fact is that the disciples continued to heal and work miracles in support of preaching the Gospel. They didn't heal people just for the sake of healing people; they healed people to show the truth of the Gospel message. And the basic Gospel message is this: Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God who became a human being, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins. Repent of your sins and believe this good news. Be baptized and spread the kingdom of God further.
Let us pray and meditate today on Peter's words to the High Priest and the Jewish Council: "We must obey God, not men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death, after you had killed him by nailing him to a cross. God raised him to his side as Leader and Savior, to give the people of Israel the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. We are witnesses to these things - we and the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to those who obey him." (Acts 5:29-32)
The Rwandan genocide began 20 years ago this week. There was already a civil war going on, but now there was a government-ordered mass killing of civilians of all ages, even babies. Those being killed could offer little to no resistance. It was a horrible time.
What has happened since? The new government realized that they could not put half the population on trial for war crimes. So they chose, for the most part, to emulate the truth and justice commissions of South Africa. Neighbors faced neighbors with the facts of the murders. The guilty were asked to repent; the innocent were asked to forgive. It is hard to imagine even one of those meetings. Yet with one million people killed, how many of the face-offs had to be held?
What if the Rwandans had followed an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Matthew 5:38-42) instead of repentance and forgiveness? Who would be left?
For reflection: From what do I need to repent? Whom do I need to forgive?
Let us pray. "If today you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Psalm 95:8). Let me hear your voice today, Lord. Grant me the grace of repentance and forgiveness.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.