“Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us ALIVE with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved! …For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:4-8, NIV).
Truly, we are more alive when the Spirit of the Lord is in us! It is Jesus who gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit inside of us when we are saved by faith. The word “dead” in the verse from Ephesians can mean, in the Greek, “spiritually dead,” rather than a physical death. Before we were saved, our past mistakes and sins were a spiritual death (and for some, a physical death also), but Jesus came to prevent that and give us life and freedom.
Jesus taught about freedom and the Holy Spirit by using stories. Given that example, let’s look at the message in the following story of one young woman’s crisis.
A Story from the Heart
In our extended family, there was a young woman that faced an enormous challenge. She (let’s call her “Jill”) had started a coffee cafe in the downtown of a medium sized town. With the help of relatives and friends, Jill had renovated a section of an older downtown building for her cafe. The refurbished cafe was charming and immediately had a following. Weekend activities included live music by traveling bands and performers. Sadly, the cafe also attracted a random collection of people that walked in primarily to use the bathroom. It was difficult to monitor the activity of people coming and going. After trying to operate the cafe in these conditions for a year and one-half, with a small crew of helpers, Jill began to feel very weary. Unfortunately, her home was about 20 miles from the cafe and the travel added to the heavy load. Suddenly, after a typical, yearly medical checkup, the doctor called her with disappointing news.
Jill’s doctor said, “Did you know that you have a very, very loud murmur that shows up on the stethoscope? Have you ever had heart problems?” In shock, Jill said “No, this is a surprise to me. I’ve been exercising like crazy!” The doctor got serious and said, “We need to see what’s going on.”
Later that day, after some ultrasound results were studied, Jill got a shocking message by phone, “Pack up, bring what you need, and get to the Hospital as soon as you can!” After she arrived, they signed her in and immediately several doctors came in one by one. It was revealed that Jill has a bacterial infection in her heart that had eaten a hole in one of her heart valves! The specialist in infectious diseases keep asking questions to pinpoint the infection, but nothing could be concluded. The family guessed that the infection came from something at the cafe.
Open Heart Surgery
To seal the hole in the heart valve, open heart surgery was needed to repair the valve. Fortunately for Jill, one of the nation’s top heart surgeons was available and took leadership. The family felt better about the serious surgery after meeting the surgeon who assured them that he had done this a thousand times with success! For Jill, however, this was a scary, life-threatening procedure. With family, friends, and a pastor surrounding Jill in the preparation room, there were lots of prayers over the surgery. Also, during the evening before the surgery, Jill listened to worship music and looked up to see an encouraging picture on the wall—It was Jesus on the cross! Immediately, Jill felt the touch of the Lord saying—Remember, Jesus laid down His life for us, but then arose from the dead! It was an encouraging reminder for Jill—expect the best!
At Risk but Good Results
The surgery took over four hours. The head surgeon came out to assure the family by saying, “I have to say that I did a really good job on this one!” What an amazingly confident message! However, when Jill’s parents could see her in the recovery room, they were shocked to see her gray appearance with numerous tubes and equipment around her. Jill was unable to speak to assure them that she was OK. They left feeling the heaviness of how close their daughter had come to death! Waiting until the next day, the parents came back to visit, expecting more inability to speak. When they walked into their daughter’s regular hospital room, Jill was sitting up in bed with a smile on her face, saying, “Where have you guys been?” What a surprise and relief to hear those words! Death was defeated and she is alive![i]
Reasons for Presenting this Story
The Lord gave me several reasons to tell this story at this time. There are at least four reasons:
- To remind all of us that Jesus died on the cross for all of us to live alive in Him with freedom from our past sins.
- To remember the goodness and mercy of God, who through Jesus and anointed others raised many from the dead. And many missionaries and evangelist across the years and in recent times have raised others from the grave![ii]
- For those you know that are going through serious surgery or illness and need hope and peace about the power of God to save them, we share this story.
- Given the conditions in the United States of America, we see the possibility of the death of the original covenant and destiny of America to spread the gospel and introduce the world’s nations to Jesus Christ.[iii] See the previous Blog “America Mission is Still Alive.” There are also voices of HOPE for a turn-around through prayer such as the efforts of Dutch Sheets (see giveHim15.com) and other pastors and prophetic Christians who believe in the ultimate success of preventing a dramatic change in American values and laws (e.g., see YouTube for the “Flash Point” programs on the Victory Chanel and www.Elijah List.org).
“May the Lord Bless You and Keep You; May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be Gracious to you; May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:23-26)
Pastor G. Harold
[i][i] This wording is adapted from the worship song that says, “Death was defeated, the King is Alive” by Jonathan and Melissa Helser with Molly Skaggs and Jake Stevens, ‘Raise a Hallelujah,” by Bethel Music.
[ii] Several resources for stories of raising from the dead include those in the Bible, those on YouTube, and these two online addresses–https://www.godisreal.today/raised-from-the-dead. https://rollandheidibaker.org
[iii] See the stories of the pilgrims and the early settlers of America in the Founder’s Bible by Shiloh Road Publishers, edited by Brad Cummings and Lance Wubbels, with American history expert, David Barton, or the Plymouth Rock Foundation (see www.plymrock.org).