JOHN’S DOUBTS ANSWERED

Lk.7:18 -23 -TPT -John’s disciples reported to him in prison about all the wonderful miracles and the works Jesus was doing. So John dispatched two of his disciples to go and inquire of Jesus. When they came before the Master, they asked him, “Are you the coming Messiah we’ve been expecting, or are we to continue to look for someone else? John the prophet has sent us to you to seek your answer.”

Without answering, Jesus turned to the crowd and healed many of their incurable diseases. His miracle power freed many from their suffering. He restored the gift of sight to the blind, and he drove out demonic spirits from those who were

tormented.

Only then did Jesus answer the question posed by John’s disciples. “Now go back and tell John what you have just seen and heard here today. The blind are now seeing. The crippled are now walking. Those who were lepers are now cured. Those who were deaf are now hearing. Those who were dead are now raised back to life. The poor and broken are given the hope of salvation. And tell John these words: ‘The blessing of heaven comes upon those who never lose their faith in me no matter what happens.’”

1. THE BLIND ARE SEEING – Not only does Jesus heal physical blindness, His power and love open the eyes of our hearts. When we tell our story that we were blind but now we see it effects other people. This is exactly what Jesus was doing for John, telling of His great love to help encourage the Baptist at his lowest moment.

2. THE CRIPPLED ARE WALKING – The testimony of Jesus effects the way we “walk”. We are no longer walking in darkness like those around us. We are walking in the light of His love.

3. THE LEPERS ARE CURED – Leprosy has always been a picture of man’s sinful condition. Jesus cleanses us on the inside as well as the outside. What a testimony, all of my sin has been washed away.

4. THE DEAF ARE HEARING- Before we were born again we could not hear His voice. Now that Christ has come into our lives His word is alive to us.

5. THOSE WHO WERE DEAD ARE RAISED BACK TO LIFE- We were dead in our sinful condition. Like Lazarus, His voice brought us back to life.

6. THE POOR AND BROKEN ARE GIVEN THE HOPE OF SALVATION – Without Christ we are totally bankrupt. Not only does the Lord supply our needs, He Himself becomes our greatest treasure.

7. THE BLESSING OF HEAVEN COMES UPON THOSE WHO DON’T LOSE THEIR FAITH IN CHRIST NO MATTER WHAT – As our faith is awakened our life begins to change. The favor of God begins to come on every part of our lives.

ARE YOU REALLY SAVED?

Matt.11:12 – From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.

Are you saved? How do you know? Often times today salvation is portrayed as easy. There is not anything easy about it! How often have you heard these words “Repeat after me” ? Evangelical formulas can’t and don’t save anyone. There is nothing you can do to deserve or earn salvation but there is a requirement. You want to know what that is? You have to want it badly. Casual prayers are really meaningless. In today’s verse Jesus described people pressing into the kingdom of God violently. We only get violent about things that matter. When you see for yourself the value of eternal life and the risk of eternal damnation violence suddenly becomes part of your world. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this statement that the Lord made.

“The tax-gatherers and heathens, whom the scribes and Pharisees think have no right to the kingdom of the Messiah, filled with holy zeal and earnestness, seize at once on the proffered mercy of the Gospel, and so take the kingdom as by force from those learned doctors who claimed for themselves the chiefest places in that kingdom. Christ himself said, The tax-gatherers and harlots go before you into the kingdom of God. He that will take, get possession of the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and spiritual joy, must be in earnest: all hell will oppose him in every step he takes; and if a man be not absolutely determined to give up his sins and evil companions, and have his soul saved at all hazards, and at every expense, he will surely perish everlastingly. This requires a violent earnestness.”

This reminds me of the Jesus movement back in the 1970’s. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1973. No one told me to stop smoking marijuana, or drinking alcohol, or smoking cigarettes, or living an immoral life. When I was converted, repentance was part of the package. Repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Repentance is the violence with which we press into the kingdom. So that brings us back to the original question; are you really saved or did you just repeat some prayer? Repentance is real and the sure sign that Christ is at work in your life.

WITHERED HAND HEALED

Mk.3:5 – Then looking around at everyone, Jesus was moved with indignation and grieved by the hardness of their hearts and said to the man, “Now stretch out your hand!” As he stretched out his hand, it was instantly healed!

The poor man in this story probably felt helpless, hopeless, and possibly a little cornered. He couldn’t hold down his old job (tradition says he was a plasterer) which always leads to other problems. Bills, strife, which leads to tension in the marriage and family, and all he got at the synagogue was a load of rules and obligations. Certainly this guy had heard of the miracles that Jesus was performing but there seemed to be tension in the air as the leaders of the synagogue were glaring at Jesus as if they were daring Him to do something. Jesus pressed through the resistance and brought total healing to this man. What a great example of how the love of God breaks through the barriers that preconceived religious ideas can build up. This man got a brand new life. Here are some interesting thoughts from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“This miracle is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It contains valuable lessons for us today, for the hand symbolizes holding, giving, receiving, doing. It was his right hand (Luke 6:6), which brings the added significance of power (i.e., God’s right hand, Ex. 15:6), pleasure (Ps. 16:11), approval (Heb. 1:13), and righteousness (Ps. 48:10). A crippled right hand points to the lack of all these things. Human beings are helpless before God, crippled in all our works. But the power of Jesus heals our limitations and brokenness. Religion cannot heal us, but Jesus can.”

This man’s withered hand was a picture of how religion without power hinders and even binds us up. The healing brought freedom and the ability to operate again. He could hold his wife and children again, he could work and support his family again. Now that he was whole he could receive the reward and fruit of his labors. He could also begin to be a contributing member of his community. I wouldn’t be surprised if this plasterer by trade became one of the supporters of this carpenter from Nazareth.

When we see the end of this story we can begin to understand the anger that Jesus had. These men who where apparently serving God at the synagogue were actually blocking what the Lord wanted to do. If you feel that part of your life is “withered” and void of power its time to come to Jesus and stretch out your hand, just maybe a miracle is coming your way.

SPEAK THE WORD

Matt.8:8 – But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.

There were several times that Jesus was stopped in His tracks by faith. I think of the screaming of Bartimaeus, the woman who touched His cloak, and maybe the little boy who gave up his lunch. This time was quite different. This was a gentile. Not just any gentile but a Roman officer in the oppressor’s army. This display of faith grabbed His attention. “You don’t even need to come to my house. Just say the word”. This man got it. He was a man of authority and knew the power of his own words. He spoke and people followed his commands. What he saw about Jesus was amazing. He saw that Jesus had authority over all things including sickness and death. “Just say the word and my servant will be fine”. This is the faith that the Lord was searching for. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this.

“I also,” said the centurion, “am a man under authority.”….. He took the meaning of the centuri- on’s illustration and He admired it, for indeed it was a grand and beautiful idea to set forth our Lord Jesus as the great Emperor of the universe, to whom all things are under rule, and to whose faintest word each form of force, whether good or evil, is sure to render obedience. He showed that he had rightly estimated Christ and enthroned Him as He should be enthroned in the place of unlimited sovereignty and power. The Master did not, therefore, for a moment, object to anything he said. No, but the prayer had been offered that the servant might be healed and the prayer was granted. The faith had been exercised which believed that Christ could heal, and that faith was honored. Our Lord did exactly as the prayer requested Him. He came when He was asked to come. He stayed when He was asked to stay. He spoke the word when He was requested to speak the word. He healed when He was asked to heal. In all things. He yielded Himself entirely to the centurion’s wish, to show His cheerful readiness in benefiting the suffering boy and in answering his master’s prayer.”

So for us today we can recognize the authority that Christ has in heaven and on earth. Come to Him and look to His word. His authority has been given to us to act in His name. Sickness and disease are still bowing down to Him.

Effected by Love

Rom. 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

We are all effected by the things we experience everyday. We are effected by kisses and hugs, and encouragement; the acts of endearment can carry us far in our daily grind. Being accepted and loved is a huge factor in our ability to be effective from day to day. But there is a totally different kind of love that goes way beyond what human encouragement can afford us. What might that be? Why it is the love of God of course. His love is lavishly poured on us through the refreshing and renewing of the Holy Spirit. When you experience His words of encouragement, His hugs that hold us tight and close in the darkest of days, and His kisses that will catch us totally off guard; then you will really know what it means to be loved. This love will arrest you, satisfy you, heal and deliver you, empower you, and change you into a different kind of person. Adam Clarke talks about this love in his comments on today’s verse.

“We have the most solid and convincing testimony of God’s love to us, by that measure of it which he has communicated to our hearts. It is poured out, and diffused abroad; filling, quickening, and invigorating all our powers and faculties. This love is the spring of all our actions; it is the motive of our obedience; the principle through which we love God, we love him because he first loved us; and we love him with a love worthy of himself, because it springs from him: it is his own; and every flame that rises from this pure and vigorous fire must be pleasing in his sight: it consumes what is unholy; refines every passion and appetite; sublimes the whole, and assimilates all to itself. And we know that this is the love of God; it differs widely from all that is earthly and sensual.”

So have you been stopped in your tracks by love recently? Have you awakened to His kisses in the morning or been held close when the storms of life begin to encircle you? This love is not a just a doctrine but it is very real. It was demonstrated at the cross and poured on us today by the precious Holy Spirit. Stop for a moment and look to the Lord for true love. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. You too can be enveloped in His arms of love.

Progressively seeing God

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“What bliss you experience when your heart is pure! For then your eyes will open to see more and more of God.” Matt.5:8

Something got on me a few months ago and Ive been running in the overflow of that. I guess you could say a fresh mantle, wind or anointing. To speak even more openly I saw another view of God. Becoming a Christian isn’t a one time act but a continual series of supernatural events that are life changing. He loves to expand your vision of himself! We find his presence all around us, it just gets a little deeper with divine clarity and begins to spill out all around you. You can learn to see the beauty of life even in dead things. In fact the more you see God in your present, you will see God in the future and he will take you back to the past to see him there. Are you seeing more of more of God?

When we walk in innocence we begin to see more of the works of God, when we walk squinty eye we stumble at everything. In the Passion Translation it says, “They see God” or the future tense (“They will see God”). The Greek is “They will progressively see God.” The Bible speaks of being blessed and again in the Passion it quotes; The Aramaic word toowayhon means “enriched, happy, fortunate, delighted, blissful, content, blessed.” Toowayhon means great happiness, prosperity, abundant goodness, and delight! Toowayhon means to have the capacity to enjoy union and communion with God. Have you drawn the curtains in your life to stay in the darkness? My friend he wants union and communion with you and everyday your capacity for God can be enlarged! No matter how discouraging the events of the day unfold, God has the bigger view!

Lange says; “Purity of heart consists in that steady direction of the soul toward the divine life which excludes every other object from the homage of the heart. They behold God. The term refers to a life pure in the inmost tendency and direction of the heart, because it is entirely set upon what is eternally and absolutely pure. Hence it applies to walking in the Spirit, or to a life of sanctification, or to being born of God When thus the inmost heart is pure. its outgoings in life will also be pure. The inner life will ever manifest itself more and more clearly as “seeing God. This vision of God commences when the eye of the soul opens, or when spiritual vision begins in the regenerate heart; it is perfected when in eternity we shall see Him face to face.”

Gill says, “for they shall see God; in this life, enjoying communion with him, both in private and public, in the several duties of religion, in the house and ordinances of God; where they often behold his beauty, see his power and his glory, and taste, and know, that he is good and gracious: and it will be an appropriating and transforming one, and will last for ever.”

God alone can open our eyes of purity so that we enter into his bliss and will forever see so many aspects of Christ. I pray you dive in! It’s truly a life of wonder.

THE GREAT THOUGHT READER

Matt.9:4 – But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?

Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if someone, anyone, could read your thoughts? The thought of it could be quite terrifying depending on what sort of thoughts are swirling around inside your head. Thoughts about people’s looks or weight or sins of choice. Or maybe their hygiene or bad breath. Or possibly even more sinister or unclean thoughts that could be exposed rather than staying hidden away in your own little world. That’s where today’s verse can shock us back into reality. There is Someone who reads all of our thoughts about everything. We see a glimpse of it in today’s story, these Pharisees were thinking evil thoughts about the Lord; they might as well have just blurted them out for everyone to hear. He knew what was in their head anyway, He knows what is in our heads right now as well. He read their mail and then took action, “Is it easier to forgive sins or tell a man to get up and walk? So that you know that I have the authority to do this,” He turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Get up, pick up your mat and go home”.

Wow! What a shock for these angry men. The shocking result, they just got angrier. Here is how Spurgeon describes this verse.

“He is the great thought-reader. Just now we met with the expression, “seeing their faith”, and now we read, “knowing their thoughts. ” He puts the questioners to the question. His whys and wherefores go to the root of the matter. We are responsible for secret thoughts, and the Lord will one day call us to account concerning them. Accusations against Jesus are always unreasonable, and when fairly faced are put to silence. It would be well if many of our Lord’s enemies today could be brought to ponder the question, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts ” What is the cause of it? What is the good of it? Why not cease from it?”

So we might as well come clean before the Lord, He knows what is going on in our hearts anyway. Its far better to get it all out in the open now than to deceive yourself by thinking you can hide it. The great day will pull the covers off of every hidden thought.

THIS,THIS BLASPHEMER

Matt.9:3 – And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”

This is a very enlightening phrase, short but absolutely poisonous. The Lord reveals the darkness of the souls of the religious leaders at the time of Christ. Why were they even in the meeting that day? They were hoping to find an opening, anything that they could use to trip Jesus up. They thought they found it when Jesus told the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. The attitude of the Pharisees exposed the darkness of their hearts. In this verse the translation hardly brings out the intent. The word “man” is not in the original. All they said was “this” or houtos. This was a derogatory term that meant, this thing or whoever. They couldn’t even call Jesus a man; to them He was disgusting. Here is how Spurgeon explains this phrase.

“See those scribes, those students of the letter of the Word, who know how many letters there are in every Book of the Old Testament, and have counted them so accurately that they can tell which is the middle letter. Wonderfully wise men, those! Do you see them? They are very vexed and angry, and they think hard thoughts of Christ. They did not dare to speak out what they thought—the people would not have listened to them just then if they had spoken, so they held their tongues, but they did not hold their hearts, and there was a thought-reader there—not one who professed the art, but One who possessed it— and He heard where the quickest ear would have failed to detect the faintest sound. Jesus heard the scribes mentally say, “This.” If you look at your Bibles, you will find that the word, “man,” is printed in italics and that the scribes said within themselves, “This,” they meant, “fellow”— they meant any black name that you like to put in, “This blasphemer.” They would not say what they thought of Him—they did not like to call Him anything but just, “This…This offscouring.”

Amazing how even the miracles could not soften the hearts of the men who already had their minds made up. Could it be the same today? Could some be so prejudiced by what they think church should be like that they miss the uniqueness of Christ and His work? The Pharisees didn’t like roofs being ripped off or sins being forgiven; all the lame man knew is that he got his life back.

WHY HEAVEN IS HEAVEN ?

Rev.22:1 – Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

It always amazes me to hear what people think about heaven. The only time you really hear about it is when someone dies. That’s when you get the set answer, “we know he/she is in a better place”. Really? Do you really believe that? Why would you say heaven is a better place? I know very few people who really want to go there, I mean go there now. If we really, really knew why heaven is heaven we would have to say like Paul, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord”. Why would Paul believe that? Would he really rather die than live on in this world? Jonathan Edwards may help us with this, check out this quote describing heaven.

“There dwells God the Father, who is the Father of mercies, and so the Father of love, who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. There dwells Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the Prince of peace and love, who so loved the world that he shed his blood, and poured out his soul unto death for it. There dwells the Mediator, by whom all God’s love is expressed to the saints, by whom the fruits of it have been purchased, and through whom they are communicated, and through whom love is imparted to the hearts of all the church. There Christ dwells in both his natures, his human and divine, sitting with the Father in the same throne. There is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of divine love, in whom the very essence of God, as it were, all flows out or is breathed forth in love, and by whose immediate influence all holy love is shed abroad in the hearts of all the church. There in heaven this fountain of love, this eternal three in one, is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it. There this glorious God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love; there the fountain overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love.”

Heaven is about the Lord. Heaven is the unveiling of God. Heaven is enjoying God. Heaven is heaven because we will finally feast for ourselves on true and lasting joy found in God Himself. Heaven is a world of love. Knowing Christ personally and enjoying Him is the prerequisite of heaven. In other words, know one will be there who didn’t want to be there. Its not just the alternative, it is life for evermore.

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL

Matt.5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

Becoming merciful is the sure sign of Christ working in your life. Where does mercy come from? Obviously it comes from God but how does mercy for others begin to work in me? Seeing the incredible mercy extended to us; to you and to me, this is where mercy comes from. If we remember the life of sin that we lived and the incredible mercy that was extended to us, what else can we do but to extend mercy to others. The Passion Translation Notes bring out how mercy is connected to what is going on in us; check this out.

“The Hebraic and Aramaic concept of mercy is that it comes from our innermost being. The root word for “mercy” is the root word for ‘womb’.”

So mercy is connected to the deepest part of us, the part of us that gives birth to a child. Barclay also brought out the personal nature of mercy; check his comments out.

“The Greek word for merciful is eleemo. But, as we have repeatedly seen, the Greek of the New Testament as we possess it goes back to an original Hebrew and Aramaic. The Hebrew word for mercy is checed; and it is an untranslatable word. It does not mean only to sympathize with a person in the popular sense of the term; it does not mean simply to feel sorry for someone ill trouble. Checed, mercy, means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings.”

I learned a powerful lesson about extending mercy several years ago when I felt wronged by the actions of another ministry. I felt the actions were unethical and had done damage to the kingdom. I am ashamed of how I felt now but it seems I was secretly looking for some sort of payback. How did revenge turn into mercy? I saw it one day reading from Palm 73;

“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.”

The Lord asked me, “is this what you want, judgement?”

That moment effected me powerfully. No one gets away with anything. I don’t want to see judgement on anyone. Mercy, Lord. Mercy triumphs over judgement!