Prayer: Lord, we thank you that you alone are our refuge and strong tower. We thank you that no matter what we face, you are still on the throne, you are still in control, and nothing can ever stand against you. Thank you that you hold the victory in this world, and you have promised in your Word that you will be with us through any hardship we may face. You are always trustworthy. You are all-powerful. You are fully able. You are Lord over every situation no matter how difficult it may seem. You are our healer and will never waste the pain we carry today. You promise to use all things for good in some way, because you are a God of miracles and nothing is too difficult for you. Amen
Uncle Irv needed 3 million dollars to clinch an important real estate deal. So, he went to a local synagogue to pray for the money. By chance he knelt next to a man who was praying fervently for $100 to pay his rent. Irv started to pray, then stopped. He then reached into his pocket for his money clip and took out $100 bill, which he pressed into the other man's hand. Overcome with gratitude, the man got up and left the sanctuary. Uncle Irv then looked heavenward and prayed, "Lord, now that I have your undivided attention..."
Remember even though God is everywhere doing everything and listening to everyone, we always have His undivided attention because His mind is so great and unlimited!
How many people are there in the world today who hunger for a healing touch? It may not be in their body, but all people need God to touch their soul!
We’re looking today at how powerful a human touch is, the effect it can have on people, and how we can be part of God’s touching the world.
In our scripture reading we read about Simon’s Mother-In-Law, it seems that Simon cared very deeply for his mother-in-law We all know that quite often that there are some very bad Mother-in-law & son-in-law relations. They often are the punchlines for many comedians.
For Example: The wife says to her husband, you hate my relatives, and the husband says no, I don’t’ in fact, I like your mother-in-law more than I like my mother-in-law.
The condition of Simon’s mother-in-law was serious because she had a fever. According to Gospel of Luke, her fever must have been serious because it was described as “a high fever” [NRSV Luke 4:38].
- We have to remember that they didn’t have Tylenol to help reduce fevers like we do today. The NRSV describes it as a “high” fever, probably over 103 degrees. Such a fever indicated a serious bacteria or virus was racking her body, from which she might have died.
- Simon’s mother-in-law was confined to her bed; she was unable to get up and greet the great Prophet of Nazareth, Jesus. If she could’ve, she’d have been up to greet such a famous Guest!
Mark says that Jesus took her by the hand and lifted her up (1:31). Jesus healed her.
- Here, as at other places, Jesus could have simply spoken the Word, and she’d have been made whole, but Jesus chose to touch her – and others – because He knew what His touch would mean to them and us. Here are some other examples:
- In Matthew 8:3 Jesus came across the Leper; “Jesus reached out his hand & touched the man (violating cleanliness laws). "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.
- In Matthew 9:29 and 20:34 He heals the blind.; “Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith will it be done to you. Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him”
- In Mark 7:33 He cures a deaf man: “He took him aside, in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touches his tongue, then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him Ephphatha, (effatha) that is Be opened, and immediately his ears were opened.
- In Mark 10:13-16 He touched children, to bless them. “People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is too such as these the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it. And he took them up in in arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
- In Luke 13:13 He touches the crippled woman: When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.”
So we see this was not a lone example, but a pattern Jesus maintained of wanting to touch people.
Why is this touching so important? As late as 1920, the death rate among preemie infants in America approached 100 percent. In the book Hold My Hand by Thomas G. Wilbanks) He speaks about Dr. Fritz Talbot of Boston. Dr. Talbot brought over from Germany the concept of “tender loving care.” While visiting in the Children’s Clinic in Dusseldorf, he noticed that when doctors had done everything they medically could for a baby, but it still did not recover, they gave the child to an old woman named Anna and the baby was cured. This story explains why touch is so very important.
In a South America, Rene Spitz observed in an understaffed orphanage, that of 97 children who were deprived of emotional and physical contact, 27 died the first year, and 7 the second year – solely from lack of touch and physical nurture. Most of the rest suffered serious psychological damage.
If human touch is important, how much more important do we need the touch of our Savior and Creator? No greater change can be made in a person than when Jesus touches him/ her.
There are different ways a “healing touch” can be given, depending on the circumstances. We can make human contact, give a kiss or a hug, or speak words that will bring healing.
Parents, how many times have your children asked you to kiss their hurt spot to make it feel better? It’s funny how putting a band-aid on will stop a child’s crying.
Have you ever experienced the power of healing words? Proverbs. 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. And Proverbs 12:18 says, “Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
We must also admit that there are also times when actions speak louder than words.
I know I have told this story before, but it fits for this message as well. A four-year-old boy had a next door neighbor who was an elderly gentleman. He had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into his gentleman’s yard, climbed into his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing. I just helped him cry. " How many times has someone helped you cry?
A little girl on the bus approached a grouchy, dirty, old woman. "Are you a gwanma? I got a gwanma. I wuv gwanmas." There was a change made in the old woman at the touch of the child’s hand.
No one who’s been touched by the hand of Jesus will ever been the same again! When you’re touched by Jesus, things change.
After Jesus touched Simon’s mother-in-law, the Bible says she began to “immediately” serve others. That should be the pattern.
Those whose lives have been touched by Jesus usually begin to serve Jesus as disciples.
Remember that Simon’s house was a private residence. However, when the news of her healing got out, people started coming from everywhere to get healed. In fact, the Bible says that “the whole town gathered at the door,” and Jesus begin to heal them. His ministry was multiplied because of the “touch.”
The next morning Jesus sought a secluded place to go and pray, but why? The obvious answer is that ministry and prayer are connected.
Our service is the by-product; prayer is the source of God’s guidance and strength to do that ministry! If we’re prayed up, we’ll be like Jesus in touching others. Jesus is still touching and changing people today and we can be His hands extended. If we’ve been touched, then we’ll do like Simon’s mother-in-law and begin to serve and touch others. We need to pass on the touch of Jesus!
- Businessman Max DePree related how his granddaughter Zoe was born prematurely and weighed one pound, seven ounces; so small that his wedding ring could slide up her arm to her shoulder. The neonatologist who first examined her told them that she had a 5 to 10 percent chance of living three days. When Max first saw Zoe in the (NIC) Unit, she had two IVs in her navel, one in her foot, a monitor on each side of her chest, a respirator tube and a feeding tube in her mouth.
To complicate matters, Zoe’s biological father had disappeared the month before Zoe was born. Realizing this, the charge nurse, Ruth, gave Max these instructions; "For the next several months you’re going to be the surrogate father. When you come every day to visit Zoe, I want you to rub her torso, legs, and arms with the tip of your finger. While you’re caressing her, you should tell her over and over how much you love her, because she has to be able to connect your voice to your touch."
God knew that WE also need both His voice and His touch. So, he gave us not only the Word & Jesus, but also his body, the church. God’s voice and touch say, "I love you." We’re supposed to touch others with God’s love as He has touched us!
Among their many tasks of the Royal N.W. Mounted Police in North West Canada, was the task of delivering mail to Dawson City, Yukon, a trek of 475 miles by dogsled. The trail was quite hazardous. The sleds often broke through the ice over the lakes and rivers, and the temperatures were often extreme. In December 1910, Inspector F.J. Fitzgerald, along with three men were in charge of the next mail delivery to Dawson City. They left the fort only to never return. Their bodies were found only 35 miles from Fort MacPherson.
Shortly after this disaster, rest cabins and supply depots were set up along the route and experienced Eskimo guides and hunters were arranged to accompany every patrol. As a result, the Mounties learned to depend on the knowledge and instincts of the Eskimos for survival in this harsh climate. If the Eskimos had the feeling that the ice of a frozen river might break, the Mounties listened and followed their lead. If a steep mountain trail felt unsafe, the Mounties would alter the route. Soon the Eskimos became indispensable to the Mounties as dog drivers, guides, etc. With their help, the fatal consequences suffered by the Lost Patrol were avoided by future excursions.
Having a reliable guide who knows the way and how to avoid danger is a very important thing, especially in this world of chaos and confusion! We often wonder what to do, which way to turn, what decisions to make. There is a Guide who is infallible. He's available at all times and you can entrust your life to His hands! Who is this Guide? Jesus said in John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
How many of you need the Touch of Jesus? How many of you need the guidance of the Holy Spirit? If you need God I want you to invite him in to your life.
For Jesus to touch you, you must be hungry, you must want him, you must draw near to him, you must believe he loves you and wants to bless you. When you do all of those things. You will feel Jesus’s touch in your life, and you will begin to heal.
‒ Pastor Pam