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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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He is Solid, #106

38 “Why are you troubled?” he asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself! Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 Having said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 But while they still were amazed and in disbelief because of their joy, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”

Luke 24:38-41, CSB, (context vv. 36-43)

He isn’t a ghost, a hallucination or some sort of fabrication of hopeful desires. He’s real! As real as you or I–solid, flesh and blood, and real bones. That may seem like a small thing, but it reveals to the disciples (and us) so much. When his resurrection happened, it didn’t alter him, or change his physical attributes. The disciples were floored when the solid Jesus showed up to be with them.

It was a late Sunday evening.

The doors were shut tight, and the eleven were hiding out there–scared and wallowing in doubt. That’s a lousy mixture. Jesus doesn’t knock on the door, he just pops right in their gathering. That must of been a bit of a shake-up in itself. I know I would of freaked. (And I would’ve taken a serious look at that door.)

At the core, they couldn’t believe that he was real. Maybe a ghost, or his spirit or something else? I’m fairly certain that even if this “man” was really Jesus, it would, maybe be something mystical or ethereal. He wouldn’t be flesh anyway. That was a real stretch for them–and me too.

If it was really true, it meant that physical things are really spiritual.

What I mean by that earth was now combined with heaven. Jesus, the King of the known universe–the One who sits on the throne–is solidly human. Concrete and quite tangible. He’s not a vague kind of spirit, but he’s just like like us. Finally, something physical!

Let’s not get confused about this; I think it’s a critical point. Eternity will not be a vague and misty reality–nebulous and celestial. It’s now quite relatable. When Jesus walks with you on the golden paths of his heaven, you’ll not be walking with a ghost. He’ll be as you and I are right now. He’ll be real. You’ll be real.

You’ll be able to touch him. And if you really want to you can stick your finger into his wounds (verse 40.) I love what this solid Jesus told Thomas in John 20:27:

“Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.

This should shatter any misconceptions you might have. Thomas had real doubts, and instead of getting rebuked, Jesus invites Thomas to discover the reality of himself. This is really quite profound when you think of it. I’m so glad that this happened, I needed to hear it for myself.

I maybe a very silly preacher and writer, but that’s the way I see it.

A light shining in this heart of darkness
A new beginning and a miracle
Day by day the integration
Of the concrete and the spiritual

Bob Bennett, “Heart of the Matter

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Mary Sees Him, #104

Mary Magdalene and an Empty Tomb

“Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 

“Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,“Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).”

John 20:14-15

Mary Magdalene would’ve been the last one I would have chosen to be the first witness. If it was me, I would have gone straight to Caiaphas, or gave Pilate a good scare–“I told you so.” He didn’t go to the Temple and to show off his resurrection power. He zapped no one.

It fascinates me, but Jesus didn’t show off his power. Instead Mary was chosen, the harlot, and the one who he cast out seven demons. Simple, humble Mary. The one whom he forgave. And he comes quietly, and gently to her.

But he’s alive!

Brutally killed, taken off the cross and carefully laid in a tomb–but Jesus comes to life!

The most powerful testimony of truth of the Gospel rests here in the resurrection. Our faith hinges on this. If there is no resurrection, Jesus’ bones still lay in a tomb, and we are still dead in our sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

There is so much in this passage; the implications are enormous.

“What the world calls virtue is a name and a dream without Christ. The foundation of all human excellence must be laid deep in the blood of the Redeemer’s cross and in the power of his resurrection.”

     Frederick W. Robertson

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Five K Plus, Entry #42

 But Jesus said, 

“They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 

17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 

Matthew 14:16-17, (context, vv. 14-21)

The people are hungry. The disciples are worried. A very large number had come to listen to Jesus speak/heal. Earlier that day (in verse 14,) He responds and heals all that were sick, ministering to everyone out of deep, deep compassion (also found in verse 14.)

The crowds wanted to see some healings, (which was pretty much their ‘entertainment,’ breaking up a fairly dull existence,) And perhaps some of them scoured the streets to find the really hard cases–just to see if Jesus could pull it off. (“Let’s get ‘Joshua,’ he’s blind, and crippled and a leper besides–he’ll be a real challenge!”)

The dusty day was done (v.15.) The surroundings were “desolate,” and the crowds were getting antsy. But the merchants were happy, they’d sellout and make a bundle! And the disciples–well they were concerned about the crowd dispersing. They hoped that Jesus would dismiss everyone before it got too dark. (Apparently, not only did they forget to bring food, but they left their flashlights at home.)

It’s interesting to note that Jesus seems to look for new ways to teach His disciples. (They need to learn the Kingdom.) Jesus wants them to become involved in this particular miracle. They would distribute the food, and perhaps mingle a bit. (No sidelining for you, Thaddeus.)

And could it be this is how He operates with all of His disciples? Could it be our response all these crazy-life thingees we have to deal with are revealing to us–and to everyone–how deep, and wide, and far our discipleship really does go?

Jesus throws out a challenge, but in order to make this happen, the disciples had to shake down a kid, and take away the lunch mom had packed. All this for two fish, and five loaves of bread. Apparently no one else thought to bring bring any food. Perhaps no one expected it to be a long day, and packing a dinner basket around was a hassle. Who knows?

Five loaves, two fishes.

The official count was 5000, plus the women and children. I imagine that the disciples were a little confused. Maybe intimidated too. Perhaps there was an effort among them to discourage Jesus from keeping the crowd hanging around? “Surely Jesus wasn’t serious, He just needed to understand these things.”

The disciples think taking away the boy’s dinner was completely idiotic in the light of the situation. Then maybe Jesus would then understand all this silliness, and make an announcement that the day was done. The crowd was milling around, perhaps ‘catching up’ with friends and distant relatives–the kids were playing tag nicely for a change. And maybe they stuck around to see if Jesus would heal (or teach) again. They certainly didn’t want to miss the show.

The disciples had already seen a ton of miracles. They had heard tremendous teachings. (Those parables were mystifying though.) But everything about Jesus as the real Messiah seemed to click (at times.) And I do think they understood–at least to a degree. And yet Jesus is stretching His disciples even further into this whole idea of discipleship.

I think Jesus wanted them to learn about the two tools they should use:

  • One–for each one to understand God’s amazing love for people.
  • Two–for them to grasp God’s almighty power in every situation they will face..

The disciples must learn to use these. In order to pull off this idea of making disciples throughout the big blue earth–they’ll definitely need lots and lots of compassion, and a really strong confidence in God’s power. After all they merely had to break through every bit of darkness they came across; and carry in the light. Just like Jesus! Easy, right? (“Holy Spirit, we need all the strength you can spare.”)

The twelve really have to become aware, and snatch up these two–they’re not trivial. They seem to be the very steady heartbeat of discipleship. Understanding these two principles causes the deep nature of the Kingdom to enter these hard human hearts. (Some of us need a ‘transplant.’) We have to apply His compassion again, like a bandage on the wounds. We need to wield His power once more, cutting away the lies.

Both dear one–are really, really needed right now.

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.”

-Hudson Taylor, Missionary to China for 51 years

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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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He Touched the Coffin, #26

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, 

“Do not weep.” 

Then he came up and touched the coffin, and the bearers stood still. And he said, 

“Young man, I say to you, arise.”

Luke 7:13-14 (context, vv. 11-17)

Widows who had no family to support them had it rough. This woman’s husband had died and now her only son was gone. A widow was forced to rely on relatives to meet their needs, but now she had no one. She was all alone and faced a very difficult life. She was vulnerable. And now she saw her only son being carried out of the city to be buried.

The two groups came together. Jesus and His group of disciples were going into Nain and met the funeral procession coming out. Jesus came to the woman as she led the crowd. She was weeping as she walked. I have to believe that His heart met hers.

Jesus response to her was mercy and compassion.

I really think His heart was broken for her. He immediately stopped the funeral march and went straight to her to comfort and console. Apparently no one else took up this. Yet Jesus went to her. That really encourages me.

The body had been washed and rubbed with aromatic spices. His hair had been combed and his fingernails had been clipped. He had been carefully wrapped in linen according to Jewish custom. He had been placed in an open funeral bier, to be carried to the grave site.

Nain was an interesting place. Just a few miles away the prophet Elisha had raised the dead by laying on the corpse repeatedly, 2 Kings 4:32-35. Jesus however, raises the dead with a simple sentence. I think that is interesting. It shows that the power of God that resides in the person of Jesus.

God cares for people.

Obviously Jesus is a full and complete member of the Trinity. He possesses all power and strength. He is the Word and the Creator of everything in the universe. And yet we see that this all powerful one is full of mercy and compassion. He loves widows and orphans. He loves people, and understands their needs. He rolls up His sleeves and enters into their pain and misery.

I suppose the compassion that Jesus has is the most intriguing part of Matthew 7. God loves people intensely. He intervenes in their lives. He meets needs that no one else can understand. He possesses all power and has an infinite amount of love. He can be trusted to meet every need. After all, He can raise the dead with a few simple words.

“His is a loving, tender hand, full of sympathy and compassion.”

-D.L. Moody

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