Isaiah 58:9b-14 and Luke 13:10-17
Somehow the rumor got started that if you wanted to grow taller, all you had to do was rub lard or Crisco on your chest every night. At least that was the story circulating when I was
a boy. I had a friend who wanted to be tall like me. So he tried it every night at bedtime. He would rub some on his chest but it didn't seem to do any good. You can imagine his surprise
when he found out that the Crisco he was using was also called "shortening."
There are so many things we try for so many reasons. There are many things people try in order to improve their health. There have always been healing remedies that have been passed
down from one generation to another. Many of them actually do work. Of course, many of them don't. Some remedies seem to work for some folks, they swear by them, but when we try it
ourselves based on their testimony, it doesn't have the same effect on us.
Some folks are healed through faith healing, others it doesn't seem to work for. Most times we come away from some healing or non-healing experience confused about what happened or
The title of the sermon today is "The Healing Word." Healing always has to take place in one's spirit, in one's inner self, before it shows up on the outer person. The word of God is
always a healing word.
In the lesson from Isaiah today, God is pretty clear in the word as to what heals and what promotes healing. "If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath, from pursuing your own
interests on my holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your
own affairs...if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday...The Lord will
guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never
fail....you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in." So what heals and what promotes healing is: listening to the word of the Lord; it's doing
things to help others; it's respecting God and seeking to do God's will and not just following all our own desires, pursuing things that are only self-serving.
Proverbs 17 tells us that "a cheerful heart is good medicine; but a negative spirit dries up the bones." We know now, in modern medicine, that humor, laughter helps promote good
health. When we hear a funny story, or watch some movie or such that make us laugh, that promotes good health in us. And when we share humorous stories with others, it not only helps
them, but helps us as well.
Children laugh so easily. Did you know that children laugh some four hundred times a day? Children seem to always be giggling about something. On the other hand, adults laugh maybe
only 15 times a day. Laughing is good for us. Yet, adults are always trying to stifle children's laughter for one reason or another.
We had a baptism today. The parents have such a wonderful opportunity to let their child laugh and giggle, and have such a wonderful opportunity to laugh and giggle with them. And
when children get older, and laugh and giggle, we often hear adults say, "Act your age." Meaning, you are an older child now and you shouldn't be laughing and giggling so much.
The stories we tell each other, the words we speak to each other, they need to be healing words, not words that disrupt or disrespect. We so often hear adults saying that children
today don't have the respect for adults that they did when THEY were children. Yet, how often, how very often, we see that adults don't respect children. They don't treat them like real
human beings, but rather they treat them like some reflection of who they want the child to be. The child's inner and spiritual growth is so often stifled.
Children have so much to teach adults. But for the most part, adults ignore what children have to contribute.
If you're in a conversation with others and it's negative and complaining in tone, be a breath of healing fresh air and speak some positive, hopeful, healing words. They might not
always be well received, and don't speak them in a condescending tone, as though you're better than the rest of them. Speak your heart. Say how you felt yourself being drawn to a
negative view and yet God empowered all of those in the group to be healers, to repair damaged attitudes, repair damaged outlooks, repair damages spirits and souls.
As a pastor, many people always want to tell me the negative things of their life. I think, for the most part, they want me to tell them that things will get better. And they will,
depending on the person's outlook toward and attitude about life.
But many times I'm just part of a conversation, the kind we all engage in pretty frequently, about the state of things in our world -near and far. It's totally negative. I got caught
in such a conversation this past week. And I found myself being just as negative and complaining as others. In fact I knew what to say that would start their complaining about a certain
topic. Later I realized what had happened. I realized I hadn't put anything positive into the conversation, and yet, I knew very well that the picture we painted, as we discussed various
topics, was NOT negative. We didn't even look at all the possibilities and all positive things that were taking place.
Everybody has as many positive things they could say as they do negative. In fact more. For every negative word, there are hundreds of positive ones. God has supplied us with those.
We need to use them.
We need to be here each week to be fed with the word of God. If not here at Sunday worship, then Wednesday night worship. There has to be SOME day in the week that you give to
focusing on God's positive action in your life. SOME day on which you focus on the blessings so you don't miss out on the bounty of blessings God is sending your way because your
negative outlook and attitude prevents you from seeing them.
God tells us we have to refrain from trampling on the Sabbath. That means that we need to make sure we don't disrespect God by not giving God credit for all that we have and all that
we will have and can have.
The healing word comes to us in many ways: through Scripture, through encouragement from others, through words of comfort from others, through the humor of funny stories or movies or
TV, etc. etc. And the healing word needs to go OUT from us as well. We need to HEAR the healing word of God and we need to SPEAK the healing word of God.
Proverbs 4:20ff says, "Pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight; keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find
them and health to a person's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
Medical science today knows that a sincere smile (inner or real smile), is the best and quickest thing you can do to boost healing energy. A true smile produces positive energy that
is send to the internal organs and other parts of the body.
A real smile has been called "God's unspoken word."
In your life today, listen for healing words. Let them rest positively within you, working throughout your body and mind and spirit. Let your heart be uplifted and cheerful. In your
life today be God's healer. Speak words that heal. And let God's unspoken word (a smile) light up your face.
And to cheer your heart and put a smile on your face I leave you with this little story: A mother panicked when her 2 year old swallowed a tiny magnet. She rushed him to the ER.
"He'll be fine," the doctor promised her. "The magnet should pass through his system in a day or two." She pressed him for some definite sign. "How will I be sure?" "Well," the doctor
suggested, "you could stick him on the refrigerator. When he falls off, you'll know." (Marie Thibodeau, Nashua, N.H.)