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The Great Commission, #111

“Jesus came near and said to them, 

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””

Matthew 28:18-20

Well now. Red Letters is now done. We’ve traversed our way through Jesus’ acts and teachings. I’m quite aware that I have overlooked much of it. I just maybe lose some sleep over this.

But I rest in John 21:25–

” And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the book that would be written.”

John 21:25

“Authority” is the key.

The Greek means “freedom of choice,” or having “the power to make decisions.” Jesus alone has that right, if we’re to evangelize the world, it must be under his auspices. We need to remain dependent on him, and serve under his authority.

Very precise instructions are given.

  • Discipleship
  • Baptism
  • teaching them to observe
  • under command
  • his presense–right until the end.

Each of these is under his authority. He’s in full control of each believer, and commissions them to act on his behalf, and under his lordship. In a definite sense we don’t act apart of him–everything we do, all of our actions must reflect that truth.

Someone wiser than I reflected that we’ve essentially changed this to “the great omission.” Perhaps that’s true for many Christians–and churches. It’s easy to do, and often we alter the express command of Jesus into our own personal improvement plan.

“I will not believe that thou hast tasted of the honey of the gospel if thou can eat it all to thyself.”

   Charles Spurgeon

The adjustment is terribly subtle, and the enemy has his fingerprints all over it. His work makes perfect sense. Stop the Church at any price. Some suggest that we’ve become a cruise ship now, instead of a battleship. I think that a simple study of the history of the Church would back that up.

“Everything God does is love — even when we do not understand Him.”

   

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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

A Member of Faithful Bloggers

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When the Blind Lead, #44

BRUEGEL’S ‘THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND’

“Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Matthew 15:14, (context, vv. 1-20)

One of the most descriptive issues of a cult is how much emphasis is based on conforming to the teachings and example of the leader. They’re to be obeyed, without any question or reservation. There can only be following, and how well you do that determines your “faithfulness” to what they are teaching as truth.

A religious walk will often emphasize conformity to a certain leader. He is the one who now directs our path. When we follow him we think we’re walking in truth. But Jesus warns us that there is a blindness that becomes dangerous to our spirits.

Jesus didn’t come to make you conform, He came to “transform.” We follow Him with our eyes wide open–we’re seeing for the first time. We’re finally perceive things as they really are, we no longer are wearing blindfolds, we no longer stumble over the bumps and pits in our path.

He makes us see. Jesus gives us spiritual sight that transforms us. We’re no longer following blind men, who only guide us into deep ditches, rather we now see where we’re going. We now walk in the day, and not in the dark night. This new sight is His gift to you.

Even when it’s dark out, we understand our path and where it’s leading us. The believer relies on the Word, it’s now his real source of understanding, it is now his light. We have the Holy Spirit which is our guide–He leads us into all truth. We no longer follow men, we follow Jesus!

“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

Ephesians 5:8

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Water, Like Concrete, #43

27 “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 

“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”

Matthew 14:27-29, (context, vv. 22-33) 

Jesus is full of surprises! You can never guess the things He will do next. He is Lord after all. To walk on water is totally impossible. But Jesus does it. He walks on it as if it were a concrete sidewalk. He totally scares His disciples sitting in the boat. When they see Him they freak out. They couldn’t believe their eyes.

Jesus wants to reveal to His disciples His true nature. They had just seen Him multiply fish and loaves, He fed five thousand plus just a few hours ago. Wasn’t that a miracle enough? It seems that Jesus doesn’t think so. We now see Him strolling on the water like it was solid ground.

For some inexplicable reason, Peter wants to insert himself into Jesus’ miracle. Oddly, he has decided he’ll join Jesus, and leave behind the security of the boat–for the insecurity of the impossible! He truly believes that Jesus can hold him up somehow. Perhaps this alone is the most amazing part of this passage. Can a man duplicate the walk of Jesus? Can we walk like Him?

Peter really wants to leave the security of the boat, for the insecurity of the impossible.

It seems to me that we’re constantly doing the “Peter thing.” It’s true our walk of faith really is intensely supernatural, and yet we somehow forget this. Face it, we will never generate the “fruits of the Holy Spirit” on our own. Our most sincere effort simply will never turn water into something solid. We will never walk the disciple’s path without a faith in the Master who calls us to come to Him.

I think Jesus wants us to join Him. Our faith in Him is the key. We believe that we can walk with Him, we believe we will see the impossible. Without question it’s Jesus’ power that holds us up. Our faith in Him is the ignition point in all of this. Our mustard seed faith, combined with Jesus’ power. becomes the true walk of the disciple.

We must bravely launch ourselves into the purposes of God. To merely sit in the boat is hardly faith. When Peter steps over the gunwales, he steps into the world of the amazing. The water holds him, and his trust in Jesus solidifies like the water he walks on. He is now doing the impossible. He is now becoming very much like Jesus.

Our walk seems terribly weak at times, we can easily list our sin and weaknesses, our spiritual ugliness. We’re not quite convinced that the blood of Jesus covers all our sin–and we can’t step out of the boat. I think it’s Peter’s faith in Jesus’ power that holds him up. When his faith falters, he does the “rock thing,” There is something about his circumstances–the wind, and the waves that begin to frighten him. (But I must believe Jesus was pleased.)

Just let him sink, and teach the 11 who sit in the boat about the perils of unbelief? Nope.

Fear trumps faith. Adversity always frightens. We sink when our flawed faith can no longer hold us up. The amazing thing though, Jesus doesn’t change His mind or heart, He is still in the business of doing miracles. He calls His disciples to believe in Him–to have faith in His power. To really understand, to step out in faith, and to see miracles happen.

“Christ will always accept the faith the puts its trust in Him.”

-Andrew Murray

   

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Soul Food, Entry #14

“But he said to them, 

“I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

John 4:32, (context vv. 28-35)

Jesus states that He draws His strength from the Father’s will. His “food” is exclusively His own (not the ‘disciples’). He gains power from doing all that God is asking Him to do. Jesus’ personal strength comes from accomplishing or fulfilling that which the Father reveals as His will.

Why can’t we be more like Jesus in this? We have the daily option (and it’s indeed ‘optional’) to do the things that the Holy Spirit has laid out for us. Will we fulfill His will or do we decide to go our own way? What is our “food?” Where does our strength lie?

The Spirit reveals what God’s will is to our particular path. The decision to do the things He has laid out for us is necessary for us to grow up, to advance His kingdom, and to reveal God’s glory to a watching world. This is what we have been created to be. This is our truest calling.

His purposes are to be our food.

Doing God’s will can be optional, and a decision has to be made ‘moment-by-moment’ and every single day. Our precious time with Him, through prayer and the Word, quite often will lay out the direction we’re to take. We definitely need to hear His voice, that is critical. Becoming attentive and aware to His purposes reveal a true intimacy with the Lord.

Doing God’s will is the exquisite adventure of a faith that is really alive. Our witness blossoms when we decide that we will obey Him. I don’t think it needs to be dull or tedious. It’s the grand call of the authentic believer. Doing the things He wants for us is to be our “food” for each day. His will is our ‘nourishment.’

I believe this is what Jesus was teaching His disciples.

“If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

John 15:10, CSB

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The Doves in the Temple, Entry #11

“And he told those who sold the pigeons, 

“Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 

John 2:16, (context 13-17)

The temple was meant to be a place where people could seek and find God. It was meant to be a place of seeking, of sacrifice, and a place of worship. It had no other purpose other than linking man to God. It wasn’t architecture, it was ‘reconciliation.’ The temple was God’s plan of making a way for sinners to engage Him.

Along the line somehow it became corrupted. Unscrupulous man had a way figured to make money off of pilgrims. The temple required temple currency, hence the money-changers who made a tidy little profit. The birds, lambs and bulls were suddenly provided to the worshipers as a convenient way to ‘sacrifice.’ (That made it easier if you had the cash to spend.)

“So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins.”

John 2:15

Was this wrong? Did Jesus really make a “whip?” Did He really flip over tables like some sort of ‘religious’ brawl from some old western movie? I have to believe He did do this. Chapter 2:17 explains things like this:

“The disciples then remembered that the Scriptures say, “My love for your house burns in me like a fire.”

Jesus loved God’s house, at least for what it was designed for at the beginning. (Some translations use the word, “zeal.”) God’s heart is for fellowship with man. He desperately wants to engage us, to bring us directly into the “holy place of the Holies.”

He wants us there for the companionship. He seeks “friends.”

The doves? Jesus never hurt them. His anger wasn’t directed at them, but rather at the humans who made the birds available to be sacrificed. The Lord didn’t focus His displeasure at those fine feathered ones in the cage, rather He commanded that they be removed from the temple. No whip was used here, only understanding of the need for a kinder approach. (They’re just little birds after all.)

He really wants to fellowship with you. He will do whatever it takes to remove things that should’ve never been there in the first place. He ‘discerns’ the issues, and is very gentle, not an ounce more than is necessary will be applied to your life. He is supremely wise and astonishingly kind.

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.”

-Francis de Sales

   

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Completing Scripture, Entry #6

“And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:21

Jesus initiates the conversation, as He usually does. He is talkative without being irritating or tedious. “He began to say” is just the start, and He intends to penetrate our defenses with His words. As ‘hard-headed’ as we are, we desperately need a spiritual jack-hammer. And Jesus promises to keep His word.

The Bible is ‘God-breathed. It isn’t like any other book, it discerns “the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). There is nothing–absolutely nothing that remotely compares to God’s Word. It is the ultimate authority in the entire universe. By the Lord’s eternal Word all of creation came into existence. By His speech He changes our calloused hearts to be like His.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” 

John 1:1-3 

When Jesus stands up and reads, He ‘bonds’ His ministry to these scrolls. Both He and God’s words are fully connected with each other. He ‘fulfills’ everything that is written down in ink. The authority of Christ and the power of the precepts are fully cemented together. God’s wondrous work is truly seamless.

“I will answer for it, the longer you read the Bible, the more you will like it; it will grow sweeter and sweeter; and the more you get into the spirit of it, the more you will get into the spirit of Christ.”

-William Romaine


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The Spirit is on Me, Entry #5

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:18-19

The Trinity is seen at work redeeming man in these two verses–the Spirit anoints, Jesus proclaims, God pours out His favor. The ‘three-in-one’ is active and moving, and He is incredibly involved in each one’s salvation. This quotation is taken directly from Isaiah 61:1 and it completely defines the ministry of the messiah.

The focal point here is on the needy and desperate. The poor, captives, blind and all of the oppressed become the chosen ones of Jesus’ ministry. His specialty is the neglected and the needy, that is His work and I believe that those are still the specific ones He has His eye on all along. He mind hasn’t changed in 2000 years.

The Holy Spirit is critically needed to do this work.

If Jesus needed to be consecrated for this task, how very much more do we. The message is always one of healing, the needy and the beaten down. That really must be our M.O. We must do the work in God’s way, with God’s power. We must be energized to reach the very lost with the presence of God. This is His heart cry.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

John 14:12

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Jesus Begins His Public Ministry, Entry #4

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 1:15

Time. We are all on a definite schedule and affected by its relentless pace. Jesus now declares that His moment has finally come. It seems that the Creator of time is subject to the pace that it unfolds. He is precisely on schedule for the ultimate event of all of history. It all begins at this moment.

Jesus now officially recognizes the start of “the kingdom of God.” The Jewish people have sought this moment, they have looked for it and waited. But now they must respond to His message of repentance and faith. They have to make the decision, they must settle themselves into God’s purpose for their lives. There is no other way.

Our response to that good news is repentance and faith. Both are absolutely critical to really become a Christian believer. Both situate us to the certain place where we can receive from God. We can’t just ‘admire’ His person and message. Far too many people make this mistake. Instead we must vigorously respond to all that He says; we absolutely need to make a decision. We have to change. There is no other way.

“A sinner can no more repent and believe without the Holy Spirit’s aid than he can create a world.”

-Charles Spurgeon

  

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Jesus’ Baptism, Entry #2

“But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

Matthew 3:15

The Jordan River is quite remarkable. It stretches from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, a distance of 156 miles. In the Bible it is the scene of several miracles, from the OT we see Joshua who amazingly crossed it to get to the Promised Land to the baptism of Jesus by John.

The water of the Jordan river is used today for some christening of some royals. It is commonly believed that it holds significant properties that enable a king or queen to rule over their country.

The baptism of Jesus is of major significance. But I suppose the descent of the Holy Spirit, like a dove (and a voice) establishes Jesus’ future ministry. It seems that what happened there instilled in Jesus the strength for His future. We see the next event will be His temptation by Satan (event #3 in this blog) and it really seems that He now has the power to overcome the enemy.

We all need to be touched by God’s Spirit to overcome darkness, and often our baptism becomes the foundation of that which He ‘arranges’ this work. Jesus declared that it would “fulfill all righteousness.” That mystifies me, but it seems to connect with His humanity. He has chosen to connect with people in this special way.

“Indeed, baptism is a vow, a sacred vow of the believer to follow Christ. Just as a wedding celebrates the fusion of two hearts, baptism celebrates the union of sinner with Savior.”

 -Max Lucado

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