Words of Knowledge for Healing

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:46-52

Sometimes on a Sunday morning before church, I’ll ask God if He wants me to focus on praying for anything in particular in the church service that morning. Sometimes I don’t hear anything. Sometimes I sense that He wants me to invite people to give their lives to Jesus or pray for people dealing with emotional needs. Other times I will hear a particular physical ailment to pray for.

I want to be obedient to do whatever it is He asked me to do. People tend to be fine with me praying for salvation or for emotional healing. Yet, when I pray for physical healing, that can sometimes cause some discomfort in the room.

The reason I pray for healing like this is multifaceted. I’ll admit that I don’t always hear the Lord correctly. My gifts have a lot of room to grow, and I am still a work in progress. But here is why I try:

1) The Lord has given me spiritual gifts that I want to faithfully steward. This requires their use. I want others to discover their gifts and put them to good use as well.

2) I want to take risks of obedience that don’t always make rational sense. I want to model obedience over rationalism and skepticism.

3) I believe it is loving to pray for healing. Those who desperately desire to be physically healed tend to love healing prayer. Those who live with the privilege of a healthy body sometimes don’t.

4) The Sunday morning worship service is my workplace. Praying this way is me stepping out in faith at work. I want people in our church to do the same. I want them to sit at their work desk, ask the Holy Spirit who and what they should pray for that day, and then obey…even if it doesn’t make sense…even if it is a little awkward.

5) I want to see people get miraculously healed in our midst. I’ve seen it happen a lot at our church. I want to continue to see it happen more and more. The only way for it to continue is for us to continue to step out in faith and ask for it.

6) I want to normalize the supernatural side of the Kingdom of God. I believe this is what following Jesus was always meant to be. This is what Christianity looks like in the rest of the world. The church in the West is lagging behind. Healings, signs & wonders, casting out demons, words of knowledge, prophesy, prophetic dreams, encounters with the Holy Spirit…I want all of it to become “normal Christianity” for my whole church just as it has become normal Christianity for me and some others. This is what following Jesus looked like in the Gospels and the book of Acts. This is what normal Christianity currently looks like in the Southern Hemisphere of the world and in the East.

A “word of knowledge” is a supernatural download of information from the Lord to our mind from the Holy Spirit. It’s often about another person. It is one of the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12. Many followers of Jesus have gotten little bits of information about people from the Spirit and didn’t know that’s what was happening. Maybe they didn’t know it was the Holy Spirit or that it was a gift meant for the church. A word of knowledge for healing is a supernatural download of information about someone else’s physical illness as an indicator that God wants to heal it.

I was asked by a friend if standing up and giving a word of knowledge and then praying for healing was ever in the Bible. It’s a question that is rooted in legitimate skepticism about the charismatic tradition and the abuses of televangelists in the past.

There are a few things that came to mind when this question was asked. First, you can’t read more than two paragraphs of the Gospels without Jesus healing someone, performing a miracle, or casting out a demon. Healing was a regular, daily part of Jesus ministry and the ministry of the disciples.

Secondly, one must believe that Jesus used supernatural gifts of the Spirit to do His supernatural ministry in order to find an example of Jesus using “words of knowledge.” Some Christians believe Jesus just used His divinity to do all of His miracles. But if one holds this view, then we could never expect to find any example of Jesus using any of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit.

I do believe Jesus used the supernatural gifts of the Spirit in order to set an example to His disciples and to us. If He simply used His divinity, we could never follow His example (something we’re asked to do repeatedly). And I do believe that, in many of these scenarios of healing, Jesus used what we would call a “word of knowledge” to determine the source and identity of the illness. We see this specifically with the crippled woman in the synagogue in Luke 13:10-17 and the demonized boy after the Transfiguration in Mark 9:14-29. In both cases Jesus supernaturally diagnoses the source of the physical ailment and the solution. These were words of knowledge for healing (maybe with a little “discerning the spirits” mixed in, another gift listed in 1 Corinthians 12).

I also believe there were lots of instances with Jesus that resemble what we do when we give words of knowledge for healing in a church service. For instance, when the demon in the man at the synagogue in Capernaum starting yelling at Jesus, He immediately cast the demon out of the man in front of the whole congregation (Mark 1:21-34; Luke 4:31-37). We likely wouldn’t be that bold in our church. We’d likely drag the person off to the prayer room and do deliverance there. In other words, in so many ways, we are much more tame with the supernatural than Jesus ever was.

We know that Jesus dropped a bunch of words of knowledge on the woman at the well, and these words of knowledge actually exposed her sin (John 4:1-42). We would rightly hesitate to be so bold as that! Yet Jesus didn’t hesitate at all. The woman’s own testimony was, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did!” Again, we are much more tame with the supernatural than Jesus ever was.

But the scenario that most resembles doing words of knowledge for healing in a church service is the interaction between Jesus, the disciples, and blind Bartimaeus. Here is the sequence from Mark 10:

  1. Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus for healing.
  2. Jesus sent a message to Bartimaeus through His disciples indicating that Jesus wanted to heal him.
  3. The disciples delivered the personal message to Bartimaeus in the midst of a large crowd of people.
  4. Bartimaeus identifies his need for healing, his desire for healing, and his faith for Jesus healing him.
  5. Jesus heals Bartimaeus through the conduit of Bartimaeus’s own faith.

That same chain of events is what happens when a person gives a word of knowledge for healing in a church service. Jesus is sending a message through a disciple that indicates what Jesus wants to do. That person/disciple must be obedient and say what they heard. The person needing healing then responds in faith, acknowledging their need and believing that Jesus wants to heal them in that moment. Their faith becomes a possible conduit through which Jesus heals them.

I’ve personally seen this happen a number of times in a number of different worship services. And once you’ve seen it once, you believe it can happen again and again. But it requires obedience and faith, both on the part of the “disciple delivering Jesus’s message” and on the part of the “Bartimaeus” in the room.

Even after all of these biblical examples, I understand the skepticism that still may exist. There have been abuses with this kind of healing ministry in the past in certain streams of the church. It makes sense that people would be wary of the improper use of words of knowledge for healing. Someone may read all of the above and respond with something like, “Yeah, but we aren’t Jesus. His ministry was different.” I get it. But to this objection I would offer Jesus’ own words.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 

John 14:12

I am fine with the critique that argues that there are better ways to pray for healing in a church service than doing words of knowledge for healing. Maybe so. If so, let’s discover what those are. But I believe not praying for healing is just not an option for churches moving forward. The churches around the world that are growing are the ones who are fully embracing the gifts of the Spirit. Our post-Christian culture is resembling the rest of the world more and more. And so, I believe we must resemble the faithful global church more and more.

Consider the possibility that you have already been getting words of knowledge and just didn’t know what they were. Maybe you don’t use that terminology, or maybe you didn’t know it was a gift of the Spirit. Yet, many of you reading this right now have experienced the Lord give you a small nugget of information about someone through the Holy Spirit that you couldn’t have possibly known otherwise. Consider how God may want to use that gift in your life to love others. Could seeing others get healed be a part of that?

Simon the Leper

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

Matthew 26:6-7

The scene that follows the above verse is all about the woman. There is a whole discussion about whether she “wasted” all that expensive perfume on Jesus. But Jesus makes clear that what she did was a beautiful thing. He receives her gift as a form of preparation for His impending burial, and He notes that her extravagant act of love and worship will be forever be told wherever the gospel is told.

But did you miss the opening line?

Jesus was invited to dine at the home of man named Simon the Leper. That became the name he was known for in the region. The only way a person gets a name like that is if he actually had leprosy. But if he still had leprosy he couldn’t be in a home and he definitely couldn’t have a dinner party with a bunch of important guests.

So while we don’t know much about Simon the Leper, we can deduce a couple things. He lives in Bethany. He somehow knows Jesus. He once had leprosy. He no longer has leprosy. In fact, his healing had to be so complete that the people in that area were no longer afraid to be near him or his house.

I think it is safe to assume that Simon the Leper was one of the many people Jesus healed of leprosy. Or, even more intriguing is the possibility that Simon the Leper was one of the many who were healed when Jesus sent out the twelve (Matthew 10) or the seventy-two (Luke 10) to do the work of ministry. Many were healed as a result of the ministry of the disciples being sent out. Maybe Simon the Leper was one of them.

Either way, whether Jesus healed the man directly in person or indirectly through the disciples, this dinner party seems to be Simon the Leper’s way of saying thank you to Jesus.

The idea that people would be gathering in the home of a leper is astonishing. A leper was not only unclean but everything they touched was unclean. After Simon the Leper was healed, he went from someone who had to stay outside the village to someone who could have a dinner party full of guests in his own home. It’s a radical transformation, not only of his physical well-being but of his social standing in the community.

This is why people getting physically healed is so important. Physical healing rarely just stops at the physical. We are whole beings. So when one part of us gets radically healed, it often impacts the rest of our life. The abundant life we experience in our body flows over to our heart and mind and relationships and intimacy with the Lord.

The point of physical healing is to be a starting place for the holistic healing of a person.

Cold Love

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 

Matthew 24:12-13

Jesus warns us that in the end it will be easy for our love to grow cold. When He told the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), He made clear that both the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God will grow together in the world. Good will increase as well as evil. Things will progressively get better and worse at the same time.

As evil in the world grows, things that are clearly wrong will be called right. Embracing sin will be the norm. Those who try to be “liked” in this culture will inevitably compromise truth for the sake of gaining favor with people. And it will be the norm to only love those who are on “your side.” Those who align with one’s ideology will be loved and those who do not will be hated.

In this environment, it is easy for our love for people to grow cold. But Jesus calls us to keep loving, even our perceived “enemy.” Or maybe we should especially love our perceived enemy. This is what sets apart the love of Jesus from what the world calls love. (I say “perceived enemy” because Ephesians 6:12 makes clear that people are not our real enemy. We are in a bigger war against a real enemy that is not flesh and blood.)

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that…

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:27-28, 32-33, 36

Part of following Jesus in this world is loving people who are very different than us, who disagree with us, and yes, even those who hate Christians. Loving others is about what is happening in our heart and mind when we show acts of love toward people. Some people will receive our loving actions but not everyone will. Sometimes our loving actions will actually be seen as offensive. But our standard of love is Jesus, not people’s response.

When I love my kids, sometimes they receive it as love and sometimes they don’t like it. Telling my kids the truth and setting certain boundaries (like bedtime or limiting electronics or certain movies) doesn’t always feel like love to them, but it is the most loving thing I can do as a parent. Me loving them isn’t based off of their reaction to my love. It’s not based on whether they understand that this is loving act. My love is not based on their standards but on Jesus, our ultimate standard of love.

The same is true when we love our perceived enemies. We must love people, but sometimes that love won’t be received. And that’s okay! Keep loving! Jesus loved us perfectly. He is perfect love. Yet, so many have rejected His love instead of receiving it. This is part of the deception of the real enemy and the fallenness of our world. We shouldn’t be surprised by it.

Pastor Danny Silk says it this way in his book Keep Your Love On:

“Yes, it’s vulnerable and scary to keep your love on toward someone who has become a perceived threat—you cannot guarantee what he or she is going to do. But you can guarantee your own choice. And you can always choose connection.” 

Danny Silk

Let’s fight to keep our love on. Let’s work to not let our love for people grow cold.

Expensive Miracles

Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

They answered, “Seven.”

He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Mark 8:13-21

Jesus was warning the disciples against a worldview that put politics at the center (yeast of Herod) and a worldview that put religion at the center (yeast of the Pharisees). The yeast of Herod doesn’t want faith to come into the public square (Matthew 14:3-5). The yeast of the Pharisees was a form of godliness with no power (2 Timothy 3:5; Matthew 22:29).

But the disciples had minds that were still set on the wisdom of the world and not the wisdom of God. They thought Jesus was talking about the fact that they only had one loaf of bread and forgot to bring more.

Aware of this, Jesus reveals to us His expectations of the disciples. The disciples were there when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fed 5000. They were also there when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fed 4000. And because they had seen and experienced these miracles, Jesus expected a change in the way they processed things. Jesus expected those miracles to change their thinking, their faith, and their reasoning. He expected them to see now with different eyes and hear with different ears and, at the very least, remember what God can do with a little bread.

Bill Johnson says it this way, “Miracles are expensive because they require change. Miracles that are just observed and applauded but haven’t shifted my perspective have not had their full impact. They are supposed to actually change the way I deal with the situations of my life.

Once we’ve seen miracles happen right in front of us, we lose the right not to believe it can happen again. Once we’ve seen people healed right in front of us, once we’ve seen people delivered from demonic oppression, once we’ve seen God supernaturally provide, we can’t go back to standard western Christianity. Jesus, having shown us our inheritance in the Kingdom of God, now expects us to think differently about how we do church and about how problems get solved.

Jesus expected the disciples to look at that one loaf of bread differently. Since they had seen the miracles of feeding the 5000 and feeding the 4000, He expected them to look at that one loaf of bread and see the potential for abundance rather than scarcity. He expected them to have eyes of faith, hearts that were softened, and ears that could hear what the Spirit was doing.

The apostle Paul said it this way to the Corinthians:

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom…

1 Corinthians 2:4-7

Paul had shifted from human wisdom to God’s wisdom. He wasn’t interested in using reasoning that was common to the kingdoms of this world. He wanted to use reasoning that was common to the Kingdom of God. He wanted their faith to rest on the fact that the message of the gospel came with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. His desire was to declare God’s wisdom, not the so-called wisdom of the current culture that he was in. Paul had seen too much, he had experienced too much, to go back to thinking with human wisdom rather than God’s wisdom. He had seen too much not to expect God’s demonstration of power.

As Bill Johnson said, miracles are expensive. Once they are happening in our midst, we can’t go back to business as usual. Jesus expects more. He expects that they change how we operate in the world, that they change how we think and reason. If they don’t, we become like the Pharisees who saw so many of Jesus’s miracles and walked away with hardened hearts.

Teen Magazine Christianity

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Luke 9:22-24

The invitation of the gospel is to come and die. It is to surrender our way of living so that we can enter into an eternal kind of living. The gospel declares that our sin was damaging enough that Jesus had to go to the cross to redeem what we had destroyed. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we were healed. Now, as those who have been made new, we are invited to a cross of our own.

This invitation seems to be missing in most church growth strategies that I read and listen to. There is a lot of advice going around about how to reach out to the next generation. There’s a lot of podcasts, blog posts, and YouTube seminars about how to get people to come to church in our post-Christian culture. The problem is that most of them sound like advice found in a teen magazine to insecure adolescents.

“7 Ways to Make People Like You.” “How to Capture His Attention in 10 Easy Steps.” “Get Popular By Using Social Media.” “How To Act Like A Brand Instead of A Human Being.” “Why You Have To Put Yourself Out There On A Personal Vlog to Make Friends.” “The 5 Best Make-Ups To Get People to Notice You.”

You get the idea. The advice to pastors these days sounds a lot like a teen magazine website’s advice to insecure girls who just want to be popular and liked by the boys. Much of it revolves around the idea that Gen Z lives an entirely online life, viewing themselves more like a brand than a person. Much of the advice is about how to capture their distracted and divided attention and get them to join the church.

What seems to be missing is the gospel. The gospel message is not, “You are the center of the universe. We will go out of our way to try to get you to subscribe to our YouTube channel because we desperately need you to like us.” The gospel message is, “Your life is broken. You broke it. Come and die. Come and give up that life if you really want to find abundant life. Jesus is the center of everything, not you. He is absolutely worth it!

In other words, being invited to be a follower of Jesus is the greatest honor of my life. It is a privilege to be a part of the Body of Christ, not a burden. Jesus is the most captivating person I’ve ever met. His love, kindness, and grace has completely transformed my life. Whatever He asks me to give up are only things that are destructive to me anyway.

The church is full of imperfect, sinful people all trying to follow Jesus together as a community. But we’re not there because people are awesome; we’re there because Jesus is awesome. And along the way we learn to love people even in their imperfections. We stop playing the victim as if we are the only one hurt in this world, and we realize that we’ve been doing the hurting as well. We live by grace, both for ourselves and for others.

I don’t come to church because they have the best marketing. I don’t come because I can be guaranteed that no one will offend or hurt me. I don’t come for their social media platform. I come because of Jesus. I experience His Presence in unique ways in Christian community that don’t happen anywhere else. In Christian community, the parts of me that are not like Jesus get exposed and dealt with so that I might be more like Him and less like my old self. I come to church to die, that I might truly live. That’s the invitation. I come to exalt Jesus, not my brand. He alone is worthy!

What follows is Jesus’s church growth message. We might call it, “The One Step Method of Killing Consumer Christianity.” Notice how Jesus doesn’t sound like an insecure teenager longing to be liked. Notice that He offers people so much more but many just weren’t ready for it:

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

John 6:48-53, 61, 66

Instead of trying to make church more palatable to our human self-absorption, we need to invite people to more. The gospel invites us to so much more! There is an abundant life of freedom and power that awaits all who are willing to receive it. But we step into this new life on the other side of taking up our cross and following Jesus. We find full life only when we fully surrender to Jesus.

The church is not an insecure teenage girl desperately wanting to be liked. She is the beloved and cherished Bride of Christ, dressed in robes of righteousness, washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. It is an absolute honor to be counted as a part of her.

Tip of the Shovel

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28

I have found that in the Kingdom of God being the tip of the spear often means being the tip of the shovel.

In the Kingdom of God, the reward for faithfulness often comes in the form of more responsibility. If you see someone who is incredibly gifted in the Kingdom, it is often the case they they have sacrificed a tremendous amount for the Lord. They have humbled themselves in obedient surrender in ways that would seem like “too much” for us. For them, it simply flowed out of their intimacy with the Lord.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:7-8, 10

Traps and Questions

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

Matthew 22:15-17

People who opposed Jesus intentionally tried to trap Him in His words. This is also a common strategy of the enemy for those who follow Jesus. The first attempt was by people with a combination of a religious spirit (Pharisees) and a political spirit (Herodians). The question was about politics. If Jesus rejected imperial taxes, He would gain favor with the general populace but could be condemned by Rome. If Jesus embraced imperial taxes, He would protect Himself from Roman imprisonment but would lose favor with the people.

Notice that they come with flattery. They are trying to get Jesus to overstep with His words and make an enemy of Rome. But Jesus sees through it all. He tells them to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Everyone was amazed by His answer. Not only did He not fall for the trap, but He challenged their own arrogance.

Christian, beware of political questions that are not coming from a place of interest but from a place of trying to trap you in your words and discredit you. In our post-Christian culture, we need to be wise. Jesus warned us saying, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves“(Matthew 10:16).

Not only did the Pharisees and the Herodians try to trap Jesus with politics, but that same day the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus in His theology.

That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

Matthew 22:23-28

Notice here that the Sadducees have concocted an elaborate question about the obscure details of the resurrection, something they don’t even believe in. This is a strong indicator that the question is not coming from a place of curiosity but from a place of cynicism.

Imagine you visit an island in the Pacific that has unique volcanic sand that is black. Now imagine a friend, who doesn’t even believe that island exists, asks an elaborate scientific question trying to prove that black sand is a myth. It’s not worth having a long conversation about the scientific reality of black sand. Your friend doesn’t even believe the island is real in the first place. Notice how Jesus answers the Sadducees.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Matthew 22:29-30

Jesus skips over the elaborate details of their question and gets right to the root of the problem. The question itself is in error. They are asking the wrong question because 1) they don’t know the scriptures, and 2) they haven’t experienced the power of God. Their interpretation and understanding of scripture is limited and skewed and their experience of God is lacking. These two things cause a person not just to have the wrong answers but to start with the wrong questions. They are not coming to Jesus teachable and curious. They are skeptical and arrogant and want to get Jesus in a theological bind.

Christian, beware of theological questions that are not coming from a place of learning and curiosity but from a place of trying to trap you theologically. In our post-Christian culture, we need to know the scriptures and the power of God. Experiencing the power of God is just as important as our study of scripture. Leonard Ravenhill once said, “A man with an experience of God is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.

We can argue all day about black sand, but I’ve actually been to the island. I’ve put my toes in the sand in question. I’ve gone swimming in the ocean and breathed in the fresh air of the island. We’re not talking about an idea. We’re talking about something I’ve experienced firsthand.

There’s no going back after we’ve experienced the power of God. I can’t unsee what I’ve seen. And knowing the scriptures helps us put our experiences of God into the larger context of the Kingdom of God and the story of God.

Spend time answering the questions of people who are genuinely curious, genuinely hungry to know God. This is the example that Jesus set. When people were trying to trap Him, He gave short answers and moved on, knowing their hearts were either hard or rocky and not ready for the seed of the word of God (read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).

“Can I take something?”

Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:23-26

I walked up to the bus stop, as I do most days, to pick up my two youngest children. I usually wait for five to ten minutes before seeing the elementary school bus pull up and drop off a bunch of kids. My middle son (9) and my daughter (6) got off the bus and ran over to me. I greeted them with a smile and a hug and asked them how their day was.

As they started to tell me all about their day I reminded them, as I usually do, that they can take off their masks. Usually, I ask them right away if I can help carry something in order to lighten their load. But this day I waited until there was an opening in the conversation.

Eventually, I turned to my six-year-old daughter. She had a mask in her left hand, her lunch in her right hand, a fleece on her back and a heavy backpack on her shoulders. I reached my left hand down and said, “Can I take something?”

Then my daughter did something that absolutely rocked my world for the rest of the walk home. She saw me reach my hand down. She put her lunch in her left hand with her mask, reached out with her right hand, and put her hand in mine.

I wasn’t ready for that.

When I reached down and asked if I could take something, I was thinking about her mask, or her lunch box, or her backpack. What I wasn’t ready for was her hand. Essentially, I asked, “Can I take something?” and she answered, without a word, “My hand.”

My little girl would rather walk home with her heavy backpack on her shoulders and her left hand stuffed with a mask and a lunch box if it meant she could hold my hand along the way.

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. A hundred sermons were instantly written in my head. God spoke. This was a holy moment that had snuck up on me. My eyes started to well up with tears, and I had to fight them back just so she wouldn’t think something was wrong.

So profound.

So often I try to help people by lightening their load. But so often, what they really need is a hand to hold.

So often I ask God to help me by lightening my load. But so often, what He knows I really need is His hand to hold. By holding my hand God tells me, “I know you are strong enough to carry what you are carrying. I just want you to know that I am with you, I love you, and I’ll hold your hand through this.”

When God asks me, “Can I take something?” sometimes He’s asking if He can lighten my load. Sometimes He’s asking if I need to unload a heavy burden off of my back and give it to Him. But other times, He’s simply asking to take my hand. “Can I take something…your hand, perhaps? Your heart?

The Psalmist wrote, “you hold me by my right hand.” I think this is what he meant. God’s hand is what we need more than anything else, more than a lighter load, more than solutions to our problems. He is our portion. He is the strength of our heart forever.

Leadership Anointings

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it…

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:7, 11-13

As the church shifts into this new post-pandemic culture, I believe we must move from teaching to training. We must shift to become equipping centers. Each believer must be equipped to take the power of the gospel back into their own neighborhoods, workplaces, and spheres of influence.

In the above passage of scripture, Paul describes the leadership anointings that were given to the church in order to accomplish this kind of equipping and training. Each leadership anointing is a gift from Christ to empower the church.

Apostolic: this leadership anointing breaks new ground. It allows a person to push into enemy territory and take new ground for the Kingdom of God. It often leans into miracles, signs and wonders to do so. This anointing often receives God’s blueprints for the way things should be and God’s designs and strategies for moving things forward.

Prophetic: this leadership anointing sees what’s coming and is able to say it. It allows a person to have an intensified ability to hear from the Lord. It often leans into dreams, visions, and impressions from the Lord. This anointing can often expose the plan of the enemy before it happens and call people to repentance.

Evangelistic: this leadership anointing has a heart that burns for those who don’t yet know Christ. It allows a person to know how to articulate the gospel in a way that reaches through to people. It often leans into an emphasis on outreach, hospitality, and connection to the wider world. This anointing often comes with a boldness to proclaim the gospel and a focus on the person who is not yet a part of the church.

Pastoral: this leadership anointing cares for the hurting. It allows a person to sense other people’s wounds and have insight into how to bind up the brokenhearted. It often leans into counseling, listening, and care for the marginalized. This anointing often receives words of knowledge and words of wisdom about what is happening inside a person, their motivations and broken spots.

Teaching: this leadership anointing identifies truth from error. It allows a person to have insight into ideas and concepts and apply those truths to people in a practical way. It often leans into study, instruction, and training. This anointing often comes with the ability to break down difficult concepts into more easily understood truths. It also comes with a keen discernment for what is true and what is not.

I have found, in my own life and in the life of others, that leaders in business and in the church may operate out of one or more of these leadership anointings. I often find that people blend at least two of these together as they lead an organization. What Paul was telling the Ephesians is that the church needs all five leadership anointings in operation in order to fully equip the Body of Christ. A church becomes mature when all five are in full operation and are bringing their leadership anointings to bear in the equipping of the community.

These anointings are gifts from Christ to the church. They are His way of empowering leaders to build up the church so that we all can attain to the whole measure of fullness of Christ.

Do you see one or more of these anointings operating in your own life?

Staying in God’s Love

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Jude 1:20-21

The Bible instructs us to keep ourselves in God’s love. I picture God’s love as a waterfall that continues to be poured out, and our job is to stay under it.

But how do we keep ourselves in God’s love?

I believe there are two parts to remaining in God’s love that are necessary. One without the other won’t work. Like an epoxy glue, both of these parts must mix together to establish an unbreakable bond.

First, we must know God’s love. This is about trusting that God is love. We must believe that God’s love for us is not based on our performance or our worthiness but based on His own character. God loves because He is love. His love for us cannot be ruined by our sinful actions. Our sin is not stronger than His grace.

But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.

Psalm 52:6

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…

C0lossians 3:12

Secondly, we must experience God’s love. It is not enough just to know that God loves us. We need to experience that love. Sometimes we can feel God’s love pouring out on us in private moments of prayer or in worship. Sometimes we experience it through His provision or His perfect timing. Other times we experience it through people who love us well. Experiencing God’s love can’t be a one time thing. It has to be a daily lifestyle of experiencing and receiving the love God has for us.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:5

If we know the love of God but don’t put ourselves in a place to experience His love, then our belief that we are loved will erode when the storms of life come. And if we only have experiences of the love of God without a foundational knowledge of His love rooted in His nature, then when the experiences stop the doubts will start.

Both knowledge and experience of God’s love are necessary to remain under that waterfall of His love that continually pours out. When we know we are loved by God and we experience His love for us, an unbreakable bond is established that can withstand whatever life throws at us.