What are you carrying

What are you carrying? What is blocking you from giving it to Jesus?

On a visit to a rural parish to conduct a seminar on healing, an elderly lady came forward for prayer for her bad back. After praying for her and nothing seemingly happening, the Lord impressed upon us to ask her about her husband.

She recounted that her husband has since died. She then opened up to a secret that she had been carrying for all of their married life. During her engagement, she found out that that her husband had had a fling with her girlfriend, but she was caught in a bind and decided to go ahead with the wedding. In her days it was unusual to call off a wedding.

She carried the hurt for all of her married life and that hurt became a poison that not only affected her life with her husband but now morphed into a back complaint where her spine was out of kilter.

The healing of her back and spine took place when she was led to forgive her husband and download all the hurt and pain to Jesus through our container prayer method.

On another occasion a lady came to us with an auto immune disease- multiple sclerosis asking for healing. As we prayed for this, we were led to ask about her relationship with her father. She described an abusive relationship over a long period that led her to hate her father and also hate herself. The hatred of her father and herself had contributed to the breakdown of her immune system that turned on itself giving her the diagnosis.

The healing of this hatred gave God a chance to continue to heal her auto immune system.

For many people there is a connection with their emotional health and their physical health. Many people carry the pain of life and their relationships for many years and often that affects their physical health in one way or another.

We come across many people in our ministry, Walking Free, who are the walking wounded bound down by fear and anxiety; bitterness and resentment; envy and jealousy; anger, hatred and rage; depression and other mental illnesses that have morphed into some physical ailment as well.

For many people it is not a simple prayer for physical healing but a deeper prayer that uncovers the pain of life that will bring healing by the power of Jesus. Healing prayer for many of these people will be a process where Jesus lovingly uncovers the pain and its causes and heals it.

So I ask the question: What are you carrying? What is blocking you from giving it to Jesus and receiving the healing you would like?

To help us find some answers to these questions I want to look at three stories from the Bible.

The first is found in 2 Kings 5:1-14

What was he carrying?

The way Naaman is first described gives us a picture of him as he was seen by people who tend to look mostly on the outward appearance.

(1) His position. He was “captain of the army of the King of Aram.” This means he was the General of the Syrian or the Aramean Army, second in command to the King. He was a man of great authority and position.

(2) His popularity and prestige. This is noted in the words, “a great man with his master, and highly respected . . .” Here was a popular man. He was a national hero as the general who had been victorious over the enemies of the nation of Aram. Upon his head were the laurels or wreaths of victory and upon his chest, medals of honour and valour.

(3) Presence of the Lord: But would you also note the biblical perspective and truth regarding the source of victory and valour; it is the sovereign plan and power of God. He was a man whom God had used as He had with Pharaoh and the Kings of Assyria and Babylon. Here again we see how the Lord uses the saved and unsaved alike to carry out His purposes and plans. But being so used does not save a person.

(4) His problem. He was a Leper. “But he was,” italicized in the NASB, is not in the Hebrew text. In the original Hebrew text we find only the word “leprous,” which highlights or emphasizes Naaman’s problem--the dreaded disease of leprosy. This was a horrible skin disease that produced isolation from the community and then an unpleasant death. Because of the nature of the disease, the leper was often considered as dead; it was a kind of living death though physically alive.

Regardless of one’s position, honour, power, possessions, or wealth, leprosy is no respecter of persons. Naaman was a man of position and prestige, but he was also leprous.

But God has not forgotten this man and his ugly predicament. A girl from Israel was captured and made a slave to Naaman’s wife. She heard of her master’s predicament and says to her mistress that there is a prophet in Samaria who could cure Naaman.

Naaman goes to the King of Aram and gets a letter of introduction to the King of Israel. The King of Israel has a hissy fit. He thinks that he is the one who is to heal Naaman. This is just a ruse to pick a fight he thinks. The king tears his robes.

Elisha hears about it. Sends a messenger to find out why the King tore his robes and then he sends for  Naaman.

Naaman stops at the house of Elisha with his entourage. But Elisha does not come out but sends a messenger. O wash yourself seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed!

Now we see what else Naaman is carrying. This must have been an imposing picture. Naaman in his chariot with his fine horses, with his gold and silver and fine clothes standing in front of the prophet’s house which was probably very unimposing by Naaman’s standards.

Naaman was a proud man. He was proud of his accomplishments, talents, power, position, and wealth. He rode up arrogantly and thought, surely this lowly prophet of Israel will come out to me, Naaman the great warrior; and he will wave his hand over the area of my leprosy and I will be cured. We see his pride expressing itself in verses 9, 11 and 12, but especially in his anger at being told to go and wash seven times in the Jordan. Now the cleanest of waterways!

But who was Naaman? He was a sinner and a mere creature of God, who drew his breath from two small slits in his face (Isa. 2:22). Even the power, the victories he had enjoyed, and his accomplishments were given him by the Lord of the universe (so the importance of verse 1). What does the Scripture teach about the pride of man?

God hates “haughty eyes, or the proud look” (Prov. 6:17).

“When pride comes, then comes dishonour . . .” (Prov. 11:2).

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Prov. 16:18).

“A man’s pride will bring him low . . .” (Prov. 29:23).

Naaman had to be brought low; he had to be knocked off his high horse! (cf. Obadiah 3 and 4). God cannot and will not bless us as long as we are full of pride.

If you are carrying pride and anger, it is unlikely that you will gain the healing that you are looking for.

Power, Prestige, Pride, Presumption need to be let go and given to God if one is to be healed.

The prophet told him to wash seven times in the river Jordan. Not the cleanest of waterways similar to the River Murray and the River Torrens!

His attendants had to take their lives into their own hands and confront their master Naaman. They convinced their master to obey the instructions of the prophet no matter how crazy it seemed and how beneath him it felt. But he went and washed himself seven times and came out restored.

It is important to be obedient to the health plan of God no matter how crazy it may seems. And it is important to follow it to the letter and complete the course outlined.

What are you carrying? What is blocking you from giving it to Jesus and receiving the healing you would like?

Naaman was carrying a life threatening disease. We also learn that that what may block people from receiving God’s healing is their personal prestige and reputation; their pride and anger; their sin and their lack of obedience to carry out God’s health plan no matter how absurd it may sound.

We turn to John 5:1-15

The Pool of Bethsaida was recognised as a healing pool covered over to protect people from the hot son. There were many people gathered there hoping that the waters may be stirred by an angel and the first one in gets healed.

What we do know is what the man was carrying. He had been sick and paralysed for 38 years. This is a long time to have this condition without any possible healing. He would have to beg for food or have family bring food for him.

He would be carrying some sense of despair and hopelessness about his condition and life.

Jesus notices him lying there and learns of his condition. Jesus comes to him and asks an interesting question:  Do you want to be well?

It sounds like a silly question to ask a sick man for 38 years. But it is an important question to ask. For it exposes what he and others carry with a long term sickness.

This question do you want to be well highlights where the person believes that they can be better or have they accepted the diagnosis and learned to live with it. The sickness can also become a means of gaining sympathy or support from people that they would never get.

It seems such a silly question but some people prefer to be sick and do not want anything to change. They want to stay the same or they can’t face the changes that healing brings. They may have to give up their disability pension because they have been healed of their disability!

Now the man replies that he has no one to help him in the pool when the waters are stirred. While I am trying to get in someone else beats me to it.

His reply highlights another blockage. He was only one way that he perceives that he can be well. He has tunnel vision and not to be open to anything different.

And he has a little pity party about someone beating him to it. It is like standing on a prayer line for hours as people are being prayed for by an individual. People come back past you praising God for their healing and when it comes to your turn, all the healing has gone and nothing is left for you. It seems to have been all used up by the people in front of you.

But Jesus commands the man to get up, pick up his mat and walk. The power of God came upon the man and he gets up and walks.

Guess what. It was the Sabbath and it was not the day to pick up mats. So the naysayers, the legal eagles, gather around the man and state that it is the Sabbath and you are not supposed to carry your mat!

Interesting they asked him about carrying his mat but not how come he was walking after 38 years lying around.

People, religious people, can be real blockers when it comes to healing. They generate an atmosphere of doubt and unbelief and it becomes like a cloud that follows them.

The man had no idea that it was Jesus who healed him. He was just a man who came up to him but there was something different about him.

Later Jesus finds him at the temple, hopefully thanking God for his healing. See you are well again, Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.

Sin is a real cause for sickness. It can eat away at you or debilitate you. The examples that I gave at the start were examples of the relationship of sin ie unforgiveness, hatred, self hatred, with sickness. But it can be sheer stubbornness, doubt and unbelief.

What are you carrying? What is blocking you from giving it to Jesus?

Finally the story of the woman at the well that you heard today gives us some understanding of these questions.

The woman was carrying an empty jar on her head but was carrying a full heart inside her; grief, loss, guilt, shame, looking for love in the wrong places, loneliness, false understanding of worship and her sin.

What are you carrying? What is blocking you from giving it to Jesus? What are you prepared to do?

Soon you will be going home but before you do, Jesus wants to encounter you to heal and refresh you. He wants to come to you as he did to the woman at the well. He wants to come to you as he did to the man who was paralysed for 38 years.

So what are you carrying? What is blocking you from receiving God’s healing today? What do you want to let go of and give to Jesus.

In all of these situations, the truth is that God Jesus comes to you and offers you healing if you want it. Do you want to be well.

We are going to do this in three ways.

1. I will ask Jesus to come to you and talk to you about this day and what he has shown you. I will ask Jesus to talk to you about what you are carrying and what blockages are there that are preventing you from being healed.

2. I will ask you to confess to God for any blockage that you have allowed to come in the way of God’s healing for you. We have heard about Namaan’s issues of pride, prestige, presumption and questioning of God’s way of healing. We have heard about how chronic sickness can sap faith and hope and cause us to learn to live with it rather than give it to Jesus. We have learnt about how life’s experiences and choices by the woman at the well can cause isolation. You may have to confess sin or doubt or unbelief or forgive a person.

3. I will ask you to come out as you feel free to do so, walk through the waters of healing and place what you are carrying in the into this pot.

This is God’s invitation to you to pick up your mat and walk. Let us pray.

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