anointing, authority, Bible promises, discernment, disciples, faith, follow Him, power, transformation

God’s Electricity, #110

“He also said to them, 

“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.”

Luke 24:46-49, CSB (vv. 44-49)

His power is critical. These verses are packed full of really strong things. You can’t minimize any issue in this passage without damaging something that matters. I don’t intend to do that. For me, everything he says is crucial. I hope I won’t diminish anything that he has spoken to us.

  • There’s the issue of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We can’t minimize this. It’s the most astonishing event in history. It becomes our message.
  • There’s the critical need of repentance and forgiveness of sins. This is something that needs to be heard. The whole world must understand what has happened, and how they must respond.
  • The disciples of Jesus know this, they understand, and they’re the witnesses of everything Jesus did. All that they saw and learned, isn’t for them, but for others.

But the real significance is becoming empowered from God. They must operate out of what God has promised to them. There’s power coming, God’s electricity is going to meet every circumstances they’ll face. People are going to be shocked by what’s going to happen.

They need to wait for Him though.

Power is coming–they need to hold on. They will witness, and testify about Jesus. They’re being sent, but not in their own strength or effort–but with the father’s power. The gift isn’t given for their enjoyment, but for his work.

The Holy Spirit is the electricity that gives the kingdom its power. Any substitute will mean failure, and weakness.

We operate only when we are filled with his Spirit. There’s going to be incredible obstacles, but we’ll have insurmountable power. The Word we preach must be done with his power, orders, authority. The message is one of repentance and forgiveness, a proclamation of spiritual deliverance. And it begins in an upper room in Jerusalem.

What will happen there will be forever known as Pentecost.

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His Amazing Breath, #107

“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22 After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

John 20:21-23 (19-23)

This is the second “peace be with you” in this passage.) So why the duplication of this peace proclamation? The disciples are sequestered and scared in the upper room (v. 19; and Luke 24:36. Having peace is being emphasized–the disciples were afraid of the Pharisees, but they also were undone by Jesus’ surprise visit.

Peace was definitely a precious commodity for them.

Jesus gives his disciples a mission to do, and they must be as ‘familiar’ with Jesus just as Jesus is with God. The disciples had followed him for three years–seeing incredible miracles, and hearing profound teaching, they’re ready, they just need power.

In track and field, there’s a relay race where a baton is passed from runner to runner, and maybe that’s how it’s working here? We see the same idea in John 17:18.

The baton has now been passed to the disciples.

The breath of the risen Jesus is necessary (and yes, he’s breathing.) What went down here, I don’t know exactly. But Jesus recognizes that his 12 followers will need this to do his work. Also, we might consider Adam in Genesis 2:7 where God’s breath brought him to life, which is pretty awesome when you think of the parallels.

The Holy Spirit is the energizing factor to do this new work.

The disciples were pretty much observers, but now they are to take up the ‘mantle’ of Jesus’ work. This is a definite duplication, which connects with the idea of one seed producing many others (John 12:24.) That’s how the Kingdom will come to people.

Verse 23 intrigues me. It seems that our life comes from the breath of Jesus. And it’s the Holy Spirit gives both power and the authority that’s needed to function like Jesus. We also now have the ability to pronounce forgiveness to the new believer, and yet that doesn’t seem a function of the Church today.

I wonder why this is so?

This entire passage as a doozy. It clearly declares the Churches new role as we follow in his footsteps. Disciples are to do exactly what Jesus does–with his breath and authority–filled with the Holy Spirit. If we neglect these things (it seems anyway) we’re going to fall flat on our face.

“The work of Jesus for His disciples on resurrection Sunday gives an ongoing pattern for His work among His people. Jesus wants to continue this fourfold ministry of assurancemission, the Holy Spirit and authority to His people today.”

From David Guzik’s website

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Pouring Out Your Oil, #88

“Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.”

John 12:7-8, (context vv. 1-8)

She came and poured perfumed oil on Jesus feet. She massaged it in with her hair. What she did was out of love, and maybe concern? She knew and understood. Many of us deeply understand with what she did–Mary has become a person that we identify and engage. She is doing what we would have done. (At least we hope.)

That perfume was a concentrate–it was the source for smaller vials. The oil Mary used was undiluted and not weakened in any way. It was not diminished or thinned, it was powerful stuff. What she did was an extremely costly act. Notice that it was a whole pound–and the text states that the entire house was filled with the scent.

When Jesus was being scourged and crucified, the odor of that perfume would’ve been present. That smell was still there, and most likely it sustained, and even encouraged him. Perhaps our acts of love–of sacrifice, of deep worship mean far more than we realize?

But there will always the ones who are practical.

All they see is the incredible waste. Judas had a pragmatic, reasonable and more sensible position. The other 11 felt the same. As they analyzed Mary’s actions all they could see was the terrible waste. There came a point when Judas, who controlled the finances, just had to speak:

“Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray him), said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (vv. 4-5).

“He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the money-bag and would steal part of what was put in it.” (v. 6).

So dear one, who was right? The other Gospel accounts tell us that the disciples also felt this way, (Matthew 26:6-13). The general consensus was that Mary was far too excessive. After all, 300 denarii was a lot of money–a denarii was a day’s wage. It was probably more money they had ever seen!

It’s interesting that Mary unbound her hair. That was anathema in Jewish culture. It was the clear evidence of an immoral woman, a prostitute. But yet she did it. Mary did not stop to calculate public reaction. She knew deep down that it was the only thing she could do for him.

What exactly is worship? What part of it do we not understand yet? Does it matter what is in our heart?

It is interesting that was immediately afterward this that Judas Iscariot left, and set up an agreement to betray Jesus.

“Is anything wasted which is all for Jesus? It might rather seem as if all would be wasted which was not given to him.”

C.H. Spurgeon

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Teaching With Authority, #60

“My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”

John 7:16 (context, vv. 14-24)

Spiritually, Jesus is superior to everything and everyone. All that he did in the Gospels revealed that salient fact–whether he was healing the sick, walking on water, or teaching the Sermon on the Mount, he had total command. An authority soaked all that he did, just like water saturates a sponge.

The Greek word most often translated “authority” (exousia) in the New Testament basically means: “right, permission, freedom.” Jesus was completely free to do whatever he knew was the Father’s will–he had full and total authorization to do whatever he wanted. (That’s what his baptism was all about.)

Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

The Greek word to “teach” (didaskō) in the NT; it means “give instruction, impart doctrine, to explain.” Jesus’ teaching was a marvel, he explained God’s kingdom to us crisply, succinctly and precisely. All we need to understand was freely given to us in the red letters. Everything necessary to us was taught with confidence and freedom.

Since Jesus perfectly combined the two words, both teaching and authority, he was able to dictate to us everything we need, everything we must have, in straightforward terms. This can’t be stressed enough, the scripture we read–when ignited with the Holy Spirit, seems to be the only thing that can change the human heart.

The preceding verses in this passage reveal the setting for this statement.

  • Jesus stays out of Jerusalem because of the murderous hatred of Pharisees.
  • There was a deep concern by his family who doubted Jesus’ timing and direction.
  • The origin of his teaching was questioned. He was speaking with the authority of the Messiah. Jesus completely understood the true source of his teaching.
  • There was the general consensus of the people. Many were finally arriving at a decision in favor about him. Many would reject him.

We have never seen anyone of his impressive caliber, and we can only imagine the impact he was having on everyone he met. Under the Spirit’s direction, his disciples would retain all that Jesus did and taught. (The author of this passage was the Apostle John, and when you read his letters to us, we see that his memories were quite vivid).

His authority soaked all that he did, just like water saturates a sponge.

So what do we do now? What kind of “lordship” does he have over us? First of all, we learn (slowly) that we MUST teach ourselves to submit to our lord, constantly. He carries the authority we need, the authority human beings require. The Holy Spirit knows exactly how to pierce our pride and independence. Our teacher, comforter (and coach) understands us perfectly.

“His authority on earth allows us to dare to go to all the nations. His authority in heaven gives us our only hope of success. And His presence with us leaves us no other choice.”

-John Stott

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Peter Tells the Truth, #49

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Matthew 16:18, (context, vv. 13-20)

Peter was only stating what was now quite obvious– “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I can only imagine that when Jesus heard him say this, the switch got flipped, and the lights of the universe turned on–all of a sudden it was all ‘angels-on -tiptoe,’ and all that convoluted theology made perfect sense.

The tumblers in the lock fall into place at last. Jesus is the key. He always has been.

The origination came from God (v. 17.) Peter knew it was the truth. He believed it and spoke it. But God made it.

Jesus is in the building business. He intends to construct a building that will handle all of the attacks of the enemy. In spite of what you heard, the Kingdom of God is advancing–Satan’s best last hope is his gates, and even that can never manage muster.

“And this is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith.”

1 John 5:4, CEB

 

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Gonzo Faith, Entry #38

He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 

Mark 4:40 (context vv. 35-41)

Often fear rules the human heart. Quite suddenly the waves seem too high, and the wind starts to really howl. We look at our circumstances and we freak out by what we see. Things look grim, and often we imagine the worse is going to happen. Fear has its sharp hooks in us; and everything is starting to get really crazy.

Jesus often zaps us at times like this. When our boat is pitching violently in open seas, we’ve lost our anchor and the sails are useless, it’s then we start looking around to find where we put our life-jackets. We choose this approach rather than calling out to Him.

It seems that becomes our last option–to beg Him to come and save us. (We can get so stiff-necked sometimes. I think it really is a pride/humility issue.)

Faith is probably the most significant part of this verse. It’s faith in Him that screams out of our storm. When faith shows up, fear leaves. We get one or another. I suppose it’s always going to come to this–will it be fear or faith? We must grasp this lesson, hopefully sooner rather than later. The storm is how the Kingdom of God gets worked into the human heart.

“Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.”

-Andrew Murray

“Have you no faith?” That’s Jesus’ interesting question to His believers who are about die. Crazy! But know this, these tempests will never be random or capricious. His love has absolute control over each of them. All He wants is that His disciples will see a truly powerful love, that really does save.

Calling on Him must become our first reaction, and not the fifteenth.

We’ll learn to do this first eventually, even if it means repeating the lesson over and over and over, until faith becomes our first response. Jesus often uses a bad storm to put the Kingdom even deeper inside of people. “Have you no faith” isn’t so much as an indictment of you, as it’s a deep and concerned observation. And only the storm can reveal your faith.

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Please, Don’t Be Offended, Entry #33

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Matthew 11:6, (context, vv. 2-6)

Being “blessed” is much more than having lots of money, a nice home or a fancy new car. First and foremost being blessed must be a spiritual word–it seems sometimes we have to rescue the true definition and then bring back its real meaning. The old hymn exhorts the enriched Christian to “count your many blessings, name them one by one.” Singing this will work something inside us.

We become spiritually prosperous when we begin to embrace the reality of Jesus–His words, actions, even His very person becomes the dearest thing we could ever dream of possessing. We’re also blessed when we receive deep inside us the many challenging things He says. We really must absorb these harder words without any reservations. It seems that He doles these things out very carefully.

We have to admit that being scandalized over Him is always a possibility. It can happened to a pastor, or a ‘newbie’ in the faith. No matter who we are, we’re always in the arena, being watched, and our faith in Jesus will be tested. Is it real? Will we be insulted or affronted by the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ? That dear one, it a very real possibility.

Jesus still offends people. There were those who embraced Him, and yet it seems to me that most ended up resisting and rejecting Him. He was a ‘wrench in their machinery,’ an obstacle in their theology. He was constantly doing things that didn’t seem right or proper.

Does Jesus offend you?

“When Jesus came to earth, demons recognized him, the sick flocked to him, and sinners doused his feet and head with perfume. Meanwhile he offended pious Jews with their strict preconceptions of what God should be like. Their rejection makes me wonder, could religious types be doing just the reverse now? Could we be perpetuating an image of Jesus that fits our pious expectations but does not match the person portrayed so vividly in the Gospels?”

-Philip Yancey, “The Jesus I Never Knew”

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Leaving the Mat Behind, Entry #23

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, 

“Do you want to be healed?”

John 5:6 (context, vv. 2-9)

He’d been sick for 38 very long years. On this day he was laying like usual in his spot by the pool of Bethesda. He doesn’t realize it, but he was about to encounter Jesus. His life, as he knows it, is about to be turned upside down.

The question Jesus asks is pointed, and it savagely confronts him–“Do you really want to be healed?” Sometimes the sick, the injured, the handicapped become so aware of their issues that they can’t see any life beyond them. Perhaps Jesus wanted to jolt this man with this very odd question; of course he wants to be healed– doesn’t he?

Jesus clearly knew what was happening.

The Lord knew that this man must make a decision, and healing would only come if he could leave his mat behind. Before we get too hard on him though, we should consider that 38 years is a long, long time to be sick. One thing he had learned over time was that having any kind of hope was a very dangerous thing. In these many years he had worn out lots of mats.

Apparently, an angel would come and stir the waters; the first one who somehow jumped in would be healed. Over time the pool became the gathering place where there laid “a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed” (v. 3.) Someone once said that ‘misery loves company.’ The odds for healing however, were definitely not in their favor.

I’m somewhat curious, not so much with the ‘angel/pool’ thing, but with the Lord passing by a crowd of sick people. Jesus didn’t stop and just wholesale heal them, but instead He makes a bee-line to where this man lay. Why did He do this? Perhaps an encounter with Jesus was far too radical for the crowds; perhaps they weren’t ready. IDK.

The question Jesus asks does seem strange– “Of course he wants to be healed.” And yet the Lord (and this man) had to know for sure. It really isn’t a question of Jesus’ healing power–it is however, an issue with one’s desire to be made whole, and then to leave his mat behind.

A disclaimer though.

People will often talk about having enough faith to be healed, and that’s well and good, but what about having faith to continue to be sick; day after endless day? Will we continue to believe in Him no matter what happens to us? I do wonder about this sometimes.

“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, In a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away his fear.”

-John Newton

 

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Mercy for My Sin, Entry #19

“And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,” 

“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:2 (context vv. 1-8)

This man needed a touch. But more importantly he had to know that he was forgiven. It seems to me that this was his real need. Forgiveness must come first and foremost. And Jesus’ spoke directly at him. Jesus completely released him. There were no preconditions. Only the faith of his friends (v. 2.) Interesting.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

The religious leaders are very disturbed. Their analysis of this man’s forgiveness was a frontal attack on Jesus’ right to acquit sin. They said nothing, and the miracle really wasn’t even acknowledged. These leaders were in sharp contrast to those who witnessed this first-hand.

The text says that “the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (v. 8.)

The religious leaders determined that only God Himself could forgive; to let someone ‘off-the-hook’ like this. They said nothing (perhaps they were feeling ‘out numbered? IDK.)

To forgive sins is God’s exclusive prerogative. No man can release another man from sin. It has the Lord’s exclusive territory. And yet Jesus did precisely that to the chagrin of the ‘legalism’ that was running rampant in the hearts of the religious leaders .

I’m of the opinion that we’re all suffering a certain paralysis of sorts. Each of us have issues that cripple us. We each are sick, and we desperately need Jesus’ touch. “None of us is righteous” (Romans 3:10.) Perhaps Matthew 5:3-4 explains our walk knowing that we all need to be touched.

It seems that we are all dead men walking, separated from God.

The healing of this man was astonishing in itself. To miraculously heal was certainly profound. It doesn’t happen everyday. And yet these scribes, who were thinking about what Jesus said, called it “blasphemy.” They could not see the miracle that freed this man’s great burden.

“The high heaven covereth as well tall mountains as small mole hills, and mercy can cover all. The more desperate thy disease, the greater is the glory of thy physician, who hath perfectly cured thee.”

-Abraham Wright

 

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Preaching With a Purpose, Entry #17

“But he said to them, 

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Luke 4:43 (context, vv. 42-44)

God directed preaching extends the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus understands this and embraces a calling from the Father to communicate God’s rule in the heart and souls of people. He publicly acknowledges that this was now His ministry and purpose. This was the reason He came for us. He was sent!

Jesus understands that when the Gospel is combined with the Father’s intentional purpose it develops into a true understanding of what He is looking for in our lives. Perhaps it’s the only thing that can. He obeys and the world is completely changed.

Anointed preaching accomplishes Kingdom purposes.

Understanding the Kingdom takes humility and repentance. The message of Jesus is not a ‘given,’ It requires a solid reaction that will take the listener deeper than he has ever gone before. The gospel message must be understood through a ‘broken’ life. It has zero impact when the heart is hard. We are teflon.

Preaching this “good news” is the only thing that can pierce the hard shell of the human heart. I believe that His purpose requires a commitment on the preacher as well as the listener. It demands obedience. It requires a repentant faith.

Jesus seems to agree.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

― Francis of Assisi

 

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