When God Heals

Acts, Part 2  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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When and why does God heal?


Healing is in Your Hands, Christy Nockels

Psalm 30 NIV
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David. 1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2 Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. 4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. 5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. 6 When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” 7 Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. 8 To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: 9 “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? 10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.” 11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
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When God Heals

My final two years in Pennsylvania, I became aware of two different situations where healing was prayed for. In the first case, their was a young boy fighting for his life due to Leukemia. His parents professed to be Christians and they prayed and professed faith that God would heal their son. It was a long battle but Matthew eventually succumbed to the Leukemia. His parents were devastated.
The second case was a young mother of preschoolers. She had brain cancer. The family prayed for healing but the doctors in time declared it was inoperable and terminal. This young mother accepted the fact that she would die and she prayed for her children’s future. Eventually, the doctors asked if she would be willing to try an experimental drug. They said it would help their research. She did and all were amazed when it worked. The last I heard, they declared her cancer free.
Why is it that God seems to heal some and not others? Why even heal any of us when in time we will totally be healed in heaven?
Why not heal all Christians so others will desire to be Christians?
When it comes to healing, there are many questions. I do not know all the answers but I pray that today’s subject may help us look a little differently at this subject.
Today I am reading from Acts 9:32-43.
Acts 9:32–43 NIV
32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.
The Word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!
Today’s subject has been a popular topic for all times. Many books have been written on it. Even the book of Job addresses it some. People try to figure out why God sometimes heals and at other times, He does not seem to do so.
When Jesus walked on this earth, He healed many. Before Jesus ascended, He told His disciples that He would grant them the authority and through the Spirit, they could do the same. Our text shows Peter doing so after Jesus has gone.
To begin, we know that when the persecution began, many Christians scattered sharing the good news of the gospel as they went. Gospel literally means “good news” and the “good news” they shared was that the Messiah had come. He had died but arose from death, conquering death that all may have an avenue to be saved.
At this time, the disciples remained in Jerusalem, most likely in hiding. Many of the Christians were unknown enough that they could flee without getting caught. However, I would assume the disciples were better known and traveling probably made it easier for them to be caught.
Then at the beginning of chapter 9, something amazing takes place. Saul is confronted by the resurrected Christ and he converts to Christianity. This would have greatly reduced the persecution making it easier for the disciples to travel.
Now, Jesus gave Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Peter had the privilege of opening the door of faith to all peoples. He does this in three waves.
Jews @ Pentecost
Samaritans (other Israelites) in Acts 8
3. Gentiles in Acts 10
We will look at this 3rd one next week. After Peter and John had followed up Philip in Samaria, they returned to Jerusalem. Now, with Saul’s conversion, Peter begins to make his way north preaching to those who have heard and believed on Jesus Christ.
At some point, he decides to make his way to Lydda. When he arrives, Peter finds a man who has been paralyzed for 8 years. Peter did not delay in responding as Jesus would have. We see that...

A. Peter heals the paralytic, Acts 9:32-35

There is no indication here if Aeneas was a Christian. There seems to be no real dialogue reported between him and Peter, yet Peter seems to know his name. Peter quickly states that Jesus Christ heals him, demonstrating Peter’s confidence in the power and authority of Jesus as a risen Lord.
Aeneas immediately obeys and the word spreads. People living in the area, probably used to seeing him begging alongside of the road, see him. They ask what has happened and he shares his story, perhaps encouraging them to go hear Peter. The account concludes with many turning to the Lord.
This account is short, but we see that it is through the healing of Aeneas that many come to hear about the Lord. No one will discount what a blessing it was for Aeneas to be healed after 8 years of begging for a living. However, we see that God used his healing to open the door for further ministry in the towns of Lydda and Sharon.
But while Peter was there, word comes to him from Joppa of a great need. A dear saint has passed. They seek Peter’s help if he is able to do so. Peter immediately sets out for Joppa where...

B. Peter raises a woman from the dead, Acts 9:36-42

This is the account I wish to spend more time on. First, we need to understand about Joppa. Joppa was a significant sea port. It the name sounds familiar to you, it is perhaps because you have heard of it in the account of Jonah. Joppa is where Jonah fled to catch a ride across the ocean. You see, Joppa was renowned for its far reaching sailing.
This means Joppa would have been a bustling, busy sea port with various merchants and sailors. This usually indicates there are lots of sellers of wares, bars, drinking, and gambling. All those things we often associate with such sea ports.
Joppa had originally been part of the inheritance of the Tribe of Dan. When the temples were built (Solomon and Herods), the wood needed would have been shipped through this port. However, it is no longer owned by the Jews. Like most sea ports, the cultures found there would be most diverse.
It is here we find a woman named Dorcas/Tabitha. The two names probably mean she held dual citizenship. Dorcas is Greek while Tabitha is Aramaic. Both mean “gazelle.” It gives the impression of someone who is long, lean, and graceful.
There are three important facts we learn about Dorcas.

1. Dorcas was a disciple of Jesus, v 36

This is the only place in the Bible where a woman is described as a disciple. Now, there were other disciples. We see them involved when Jesus was living on the earth. Some traveled with Him and helped to take care of His and the other disciple’s needs. However, this is the first account where a woman is directly labeled a disciple. This indicates that she was greatly involved in the early church here in Joppa and we see just that in this account.
Acts 9:36 NIV
36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.
We are not given any specific details about whether she was married or widowed. Nor if she was wealth or poor. I have heard some speculate that either her husband was or had been a dealer in cloth (perhaps purple cloth). Dorcas was evidently a talented seamstress, as we later learn that she made and gifted clothes to poor widows. Perhaps she was a wealthy widow and this is why her heart led her to help other widows.
The next thing we learn is that because of her generous nature and involvement in the church,...

2. Her death caused great distress in the church, vv 38-39

There were no wealth-fare or health-care services in those days. Widows were dependent on their children for support. If a husband died while the children were still young, the entire family suffered.
Most sea ports have a fair number of widows. The sea is not always kind. There are also women who feel like widows or single moms since their husbands can be gone at sea for long periods of time.
Because of Dorcas’s compassionate heart and good deeds, her death became a great hardship for that church.
We do not know how she died, but are given the impression that it came suddenly after a short illness. However, the distress and hardship created by her loss is a testimony of her faithfulness in service to her Lord.
This brings us to the third thing we learn about Dorcas.

3. Dorcas is the first recorded resurrection by an apostle, v 40

Dorcas’s death caused such distress, that the disciples, hearing of Peter’s work in Lydda sent for him to help. As you hear of them showing Peter all that Dorcas has made and recounting her good deeds, you get the idea that they are pleading with Peter to do what he can to bring her back. Peter is obviously moved by what he sees, so he goes up to where she has been laid out and prepared for burial. He sends everyone else out of the room. Then Peter gets on his knees and prays.
Acts 9:40–41 NIV
40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.
Dorcas’s resurrection becomes known all over Joppa and once again, many put their faith in Christ.
As I look at these accounts of healing by Peter, I notice something important. God never heals just for the sake of a person’s comfort. God uses healings for several purposes.

C. Why does God heal?

1. To draw people’s attention to Him.

In every case where I see a healing happening, I see people coming to hear about God. In Lydda, Sharon, and Joppa, people saw something happening beyond the normal and they came to find out how. Even when Jesus performed the miracles He did, it drew people to Him and He always took advantage of it to teach them about God.

2. Some times it is to aid ministry.

Dorcas provided a very important ministry. Many Hellenistic widows had come to know the Lord and Dorcas provided the means for them to survive in a world that was so harsh that starvation was high among widows.
Put yourself in Peter’s shoes for a minute. This is something Peter has never done before, but he has seen Jesus do it. His mind must have flashed back to that moment in time when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter. He understood the importance of the work that Dorcas did and his heart would be breaking from the tears of these distressed widows.
Peter without hesitation gets on his knees and cries out to God. God answers and not only is this ministry allowed to continue, but the door opens for Peter to share with even more people about Jesus and His resurrection.

3. Sometimes it is to prepare us for something more.

Not only was God doing a work in Dorcas’s life, but God was doing a further work in Peter’s. God is slowly moving Peter to a new place. Peter is a Jew and his work has been to Jews. God has recently extended that to Samaritans who were a branch of the Jewish family line. Now, Peter is healing and ministering to a woman of dual citizenship. She was mostly likely either a Greek proselyte, i.e. a Greek who converted to Judaism or a Jew born of a Greek father. Either way, God is slowly moving Peter to accept more diverse people groups, and his biggest challenge is just around the corner. For you see, the Jews believed the Gentiles to be unclean. They were not permitted to associate with Gentiles or eat with them since Gentiles ate things considered unclean and uneatable by the Jews.
When God does a work through us, He is also doing a work in us!
This list is by no means complete, but is what we can learn from this passage. However, allow me to touch briefly on why God may not heal at times.

D. When God does not heal

1. Because death of a believer allows someone else to believe.

William Borden was heir to a millionaire. William Borden Sr owned the Borden company and William Jr. was his heir. However, Jr became a Christian and felt called to serve as a missionary to China. Sr was furious and disowned William Jr. William Jr continued in the path of a missionary. He was sent to Egypt where he was being trained for his work in China. Before William Jr. ever made it to China, he became sick and died.
The question is often raised, “Why would God not heal William Jr.? After all, he had a desire to share God with others.”
We quickly learn that it is not our place to question God. God always has a plan and we may or may not ever know what it is. We just need to trust Him. In this case, William’s death led to his father’s salvation. Jr.’s few belongings were sent to his father. In it was his Bible. As his father glanced through his Bible, he found a progression of notes written by his son in the Bible while his health declined. “No reserves…No retreats…No regrets,” which was written just before his death.
This broke his father’s heart and eventually led to his giving his heart to God.

2. Because the dependence of a believer can lead others to God.

It has always bothered me when others declare that if someone is not healed it is because they do not have enough faith. It takes far more faith to depend on God daily than it does for a moment in time healing.
When I hear others say that God always heals if you have enough faith, I cannot help but think of Joni Erickson-Tada. Joni has had a huge ministry due to her infirmity. Her story has led many to Christ and has opened doors for positive changes for others with disabilities. I believe her disability is the cross she bears today for the crown that she will wear tomorrow.

3. Because infirmities sometimes lead people to a saving/deeper walk with Christ.

I have known many who have died from Cancer. They have tread the path of Chemo, radiation, and prayed for healing diligently. I have also heard them testify on their deathbed, that it was that struggle that lead them to a deeper walk with God and they have no regrets because they understood that what they would gain in the end was far greater than what the experienced here on earth.
It is easy to judge God harshly when we see others suffer or die. But only God knows what is the higher purpose that is being served. If we truly trust God, we can trust that there is a positive outcome somewhere, somehow that is beyond what we can see.
Jesus never tricked anyone into serving Him. He was always clear. “Count the cost, He would say.”
Luke 14:25–33 NIV
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
We are praying for God’s sanctifying power to come upon us. We are praying for revival. We need to understand that this comes at a cost. Are we willing to pay the price? Are you willing, no matter how busy you are, to find time to come to the church to pray? Is it important enough to you to do so? If it isn’t, you may find yourself left out.
Starting June 12, the church will be open during certain times for prayer. If you are unable to make those times, come at whatever time works for you and sit or walk around outside and pray. Let us watch and see what God can do!
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