THEY TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

”MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here.” Acts 17:6

I am sure it has happened to you, hasn’t it? When you came home and made the bold proclamation of how you found Jesus to your family? I can still hear my dad blurting out expletives to me which weren’t nice at all. Your old friends that you ran with for years threw you out! In the book of Acts it was said that the apostles “turned the world upside down”. What an impact they made and it has never stopped! Have you turned YOUR world upside down?

There was so much that needed to be changed in us! First off, the way we thought of God has completely changed. We are so thankful for grace and his love for us. Our heart has turned upside down in love with Christ alone. Then our hopes changed because we begin looking for the heavenly abode. Our desires and pleasures became holy, whereas before they were gross and carnal. Personally I loved sex, drugs, booze and riotous living but now you can’t keep me away from the house of God and bible study. Before I listened to secular music, horror movies and sad novels; now I can’t stop reading his word and worshiping with his new song! Yes what a life! The sad books and albums were burned long ago. Bibles and books by the old divines are spilling over my bookshelves. Sundays before I spent sleeping all day from the party the night before, now I’m spending my waking hours being filled up in the house of God. My family loved to toast wine in silver goblets now I take communion with Christ. Everywhere in my house are portraits of people in the Bible whereas before it was nothing of importance. How has your world been turned upside down?

Even your very nature has changed. Before you were fretful or had a temper and even the dog was afraid of you. No one knew when you would erupt or fall off the deep end again in some drug/alcohol induced state. You couldn’t keep relationship with anyone and over and over again you would find yourself alone and in a sullen state. But now, there is a skip in your step and a song in your heart. Social media is a bore to you, and your desire is to see the world turned upside by the new voice God has given you. The old prejudices that once plagued you are gone, replaced by the love of God for your brethren.

Yes, welcome home dear friend. Come join us in the great brigade – “lets go turn the world upside down”!

OUR LAMPS ARE GONE OUT

Matt.25:8 – And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

This may be one of the most important yet most overlooked and misunderstood of all of the Lord’s parables. If you just approach it simply and in context it is easy to understand and quite terrifying. Matthew 24 was Jesus’s extensive teaching on the last days, especially the great tribulation. After some incredibly precise an extensive prophesies He turns to the church. The parable of the ten virgins is very specifically talking about what we would call the church. He is specifically speaking about the church on earth at His return for His bride. What can learn from this parable? First, that much of the church at the end of the age will not be ready for His return. Second, Intimacy, the very heart of marriage, is the key to being ready for His return. Third, this intimacy is characterized by the presence of the Holy Spirit, oil in our lamps, at His return. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on the ten virgins.

“Ah, me! Now they began to value what they had aforetime despised. They were foolish enough to think that oil was unnecessary; but now they saw that it was the one essential thing, so they cried to the wise virgins, “Give us of your oil.” And hear the dreadful reason: —I do not know any more terrible words than those, “Our lamps are gone out.” It is worse to have a lamp that has gone out than never to have had a lamp at all. “’Our lamps are gone out.’ We once rejoiced in them. We promised ourselves a bright future. We said, ‘All is well for the marriage supper.’ But ‘our lamps are gone out,’ and we have no oil with which to replenish them.” O sirs, may none of us ever have to lift up that mournful cry! On a dying bed, in the extremity of pain, in the depth of human weakness, it is an awful thing to find one’s profession burning low, one’s hope of heaven going out, like the snuff of a candle.”

It is quite frightening for me to think today about churches, our church, filled with people who have no oil in their lamps. Could it be that intimacy with the Lord, walking in the Spirit, is the prerequisite for being included in the rapture? I think there is a good likelihood that this parable is included here for that very purpose. So here is the question begging to be asked, “Do you have oil in your lamp today?”.

YOU MUST HAVE YOUR OWN OIL

Matt.25:8 – And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.

I heard someone say once “God has no grandkids”. Actually that is quite a profound statement. No one can have a relationship with the Lord for you. If you were raised by God fearing Christian parents you still have to find the Lord on your own. If your spouse is a strong believer that really will have no benefit for you on that great day. Not even your pastor will be able to put in a good word for you when the Lord returns. The point of this parable is that each one of us have to make spiritual preparations for the Lord’s return. According to Jesus, there will be many people who think they are good spiritually that will be in for quite a shock. Each one of us have to work out our own salvation. Jesus said we have to have oil in our lamps, they must be trimmed and burning. Here is how Matthew Henry says it.

“Those that would be saved, must have grace of their own. Though we have benefit by the communion of saints, and the faith and prayers of others may now redound to our advantage, yet our own sanctification is indispensably necessary to our own salvation. The just shall live by his faith. Every man shall give account of himself, and therefore let every man prove his own work; for he cannot get another to muster for him in that day. Those that have most grace, have none to spare; all we have, is little enough for ourselves to appear before God in. The best have need to borrow from Christ, but they have none to lend to any of their neighbors. The church of Rome, which dreams of works of supererogation (overpayment) and the imputation of the righteousness of saints, forgets that it was the wisdom of the wise virgins to understand that they had but oil enough for themselves, and none for others.”

I think one of the traps we easily fall into is trying to measure our spiritual life by the life of others. That is not a good idea. When the Lord appears it won’t matter what others have or haven’t done, all that will matter is your spiritual condition. So get those lamps trimmed and burning, Jesus is coming soon.

FOOLISH VIRGINS

Matt.25:8 – And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

The parable of the ten virgins seems to be Christ’s last appeal before He died to reach out to the lukewarm believer, those that are involved with the church but their hearts are not burning with love for the Lord. If you read this parable it seems to be aimed actually at the church on earth at the time of the return of Christ. What could be more disturbing than this assessment by the Lord of His church at the end of he age? He is saying that a large portion of the people who consider themselves part of His church will not be ready when He returns. Apparently, the foolish virgins thought they were good until the Lord suddenly appeared. They were acting as if they were prepared for the Lord’s return and the end of the age, when the Lord appeared they suddenly realized they were not. What brought them to the awareness that they were not ready? A cry went out just before He appeared. I want to be that cry in your life, to awaken the sleepers from their sleep. Here is a quote from Jonathan Edwards on the hope of the five foolish virgins.

“Another thing signified by the blaze of their lamps seems to be the light of hope. Their lamps signify in general the appearance of grace or godliness, including both the appearance of it to the view or judgment of others, and also to their own view, and the judgment they entertain of themselves. Their lamps shone, not only in the eyes of others, but also in their own eyes. This is confirmed because on hearing the midnight cry, they find their lamps are gone out; which seems most naturally to represent, that however hypocrites may maintain their hopes while they live, and while their judge is at a distance, yet when they come to be alarmed by the sound of the last trumpet, their hopes will immediately expire and vanish away, and very often fail them in the sensible approaches of death. Where is the hope of the hypocrite, when God takes away his soul? But till the midnight cry the foolish virgins seem to entertain the same hopes with the wise.”

The world around us is in obvious travail, anticipating the coming of the Lord. Hopefully your ears are open and your heart is trembling in joyful anticipation looking for that great day. If not, maybe its time to wake up and get some oil in your lamps.

STRANGE PROVISION

Lk. 8:1-3 – Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

One of the beautiful things about the ministry of Jesus is the diversity of His followers. Just as we see in today’s verse, even today, everyone from the billionaire to the homeless, from the sophisticated to the streetwalker can be found in the crowd following Jesus. Two of the followers of Jesus mentioned in this passage demand our attention. Mary Magdalene, the woman with the shady past whom had seven demons cast out of her is mentioned in the same breath as the apostles. Then there is Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward. Think about that, King Herod’s treasurer’s wife, the man who controlled the money in Israel, his wife was a follower of Jesus. Not only that, Luke said she ministered to the Lord out of her substance. That is quite amazing. There were at least twelve families being supported by the ministry of Jesus, He even had a treasurer Himself. The Lord will always provide for His work, sometimes it is in the most surprising ways. Here is what Barclay says about today’s verse.

“There was Mary Magdalene, that is Mary from the town of Magdala, out of whom he had cast seven devils. Clearly she had a past that was a dark and terrible thing. There was Joanna. She was the wife of Chuza, Herod’s epitropos. A king had many perquisites and much private property; his epitropos was the official who looked after the king’s financial interests. In the Roman Empire, even in provinces which were governed by proconsuls appointed by the senate, the Emperor still had his epitropos to safeguard his interests. There could be no more trusted and important official. It is an amazing thing to find Mary Magdalene, with the dark past, and Joanna, the lady of the court, in the one company.”

All of us have a role to play in God’s kingdom. Sometimes it might be behind the scenes but that doesn’t have anything to do with the value of the gift. Every member is extremely valuable, each playing a critical role in advancing God’s kingdom. Obviously Mary Magdalene, a lady of the night; and Joanna, the woman from the king’s palace, valued the kingdom of God and poured out their love on Jesus.

WHEN JESUS COMES TO YOUR HOUSE

Matt 8:14,15 – And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.

Jesus loved to do home visits. He would often go into people’s homes for meals or maybe a place to rest for the evening or possibly just to hang out. None of those were the real reasons He was visiting people’s homes, He always had bigger things in mind. When He went to Jairus’s home Jairus’s dead daughter was raised from the dead. When He went to Peter’s house Peter’s mother in law was healed and spiritual awakening visited that fishing village. He went to Zacheus’s home and repentance and restitution took place. He went to Mary and Martha’s home and the very atmosphere was changed. What would happen if Jesus came to your home? Of course I don’t know but everything seems to improve no matter what the situation when the Lord comes knocking at the door. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on Jesus’s practice of home visitation.

“Outside Peter’s door hung fishing nets…yet beneath that lowly roof Immanuel… unveiled Himself…. Little did Peter know the blessing that entered his house when Jesus crossed the threshold, nor how vast a river of mercy would stream forth from his door down the streets of Capernaum. …(It may be that your house isn’t much; no writer has written about you or your home. No one rides by and says, “I wonder who lives there?”) Yet, is there no reason why the Lord should not visit you and make your house like that of Obed-edom, in which the ark resided, or like that of Zaccheus to which salvation came. Our Lord can make your house a center of mercy for the whole region, a little sun scattering in all directions, a spiritual dispensary distributing health to the multitudes around.” Let our prayer be, “Lord, dwell where I dwell, and in so doing make my house a blessing to the neighborhood,” marvelous results must follow.”

Tradition says that Jesus was a guest at John Mark’s mother’s home when He served the last supper. John Mark’s family thought they were just having a Passover dinner, they had no idea that Jesus was unveiling the way into the new and living way that night. So maybe you want Jesus to come to your house, don’t be surprised if you get way more than you bargained for.

WHEN THE LORD CAME TO OBED-EDOM’S HOUSE

2Sam. 6:11 And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

I love the story of the Levite, Obed-Edom. He was probably a poor Levite, probably just getting by like everyone else. His story serves as an amazing contrast to what had just happened to Uzzah. Uzzah had touched the ark with his hand, forbidden in the law, and suffered the consequences of death. He had been helping transport the ark to Jerusalem where David planned to build a temple. Uzzah’s sudden and shocking death caused a sudden change of plans. Obed-Edom lived near where the tragic incident took place. He kept the ark at his house for the next three months and he and his family were incredibly blessed. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this blessing.

“The Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household. The same hand that punished Uzzah’s proud presumption rewarded Obed-edom’s humble boldness, and made the ark to him a savor of life unto life….Let masters of families be encouraged to keep up religion in their families, and to serve God and the interests of his kingdom with their houses and estates, for that is the way to bring a blessing upon all they have. The ark is a guest which none shall lose by that bid it welcome. Josephus says that, whereas before Obed-edom was poor, on a sudden, in these three months, his estate increased, to the envy of his neighbors. Piety is the best friend to prosperity. In wisdom’s left hand are riches and honor. His household shared in the blessing. It is good living in a family that entertains the ark, for all about it will fare the better for it.”

For those that don’t know, the ark was the resting place for the real presence of God in the Old Testament. The ark was kept in the holy of holies in the tabernacle of Moses and in Solomon’s temple. This is where the cloud would manifest. David was making Jerusalem the capital of Israel and was setting up a temporary tabernacle there until a permanent temple could be built. The tragedy with Uzzah happened as the transport was taking place.

What should I take from this story? First, God’s presence is real and He is holy, He must be revered and respected. Secondly, welcome Him into your home. You and your house will experience the blessing of Obed-edom.

WHAT DOES DESPERATE LOOK LIKE?

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” Mark 9:25

We all hate the dreaded phone call. You know, the one that the nurse calls back and you have to come in and talk to the doctor because something showed up on the X-ray? Or the door bell rang in the middle of the night and it’s the police telling of the nightmare you never dreamed of. I will never forget getting “served” January 1st one new year indicating a lawsuit. God has a way of getting our attention through such a thing called LIFE! At some point we just have to hit the wall and become desperate.

In the above passage there is a story about a demon possessed boy and even after the disciples prayed for him, he was not delivered. His father had reached the desperate stage and called out to Christ to help his unbelief. I can’t imagine watching as a parent over a child that tries over and over again to kill himself. Sometimes Christ gives Satan full advantage so the victory will become Christ’s alone. Human agency is utterly powerless and only when we’ve spent it all that His glory shines the greatest.

How does desperate look to you today? But look here, the master comes soon enough. It is almost as if Christ surveys the field of battle and begins to strategize which way He will begin the attack.

He comprehends the difficulties of the case in an instant. Our part is to yield and turn to the Lord with all of our heart. And like this poor father, cry out and say “help my unbelief!

Spurgeon says, “for my Master will soon stoop over you, and take you by the hand and lift you up, and your comfort shall begin, because the unclean spirit is cast out. “Ah! he means to destroy me,” says the soul under conviction. Nay, soul, God does not destroy those whom he convinces of sin. Men do not plough fields which they have no intention to sow. If God ploughs you with conviction he will sow you with gospel comfort, and you shall bring forth a harvest of his glory. His matchless grace can encounter no rival.”

God honors the desperate and there is no shame when we call out to him confessing our unbelief. Let him survey the battle and soon enough deliverance will come!

WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE ROOM

Mark 5:41,42 – Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise”. Immediately the girl arose and walked…

Everything changes when Jesus visits your house. If you don’t believe me just ask Jairus. It would be impossible for Jairus to forget the day Jesus came into his home. No one living in that region would ever forget it either. What had started out as a day of mourning for the death of Jairus’s daughter turned into the greatest celebration these parts had ever seen. Jesus took the little girl by the hand and the rest is history. Resurrection power flowed from Him into her and she was suddenly back in the land of the living. No wonder people talked about that day for years, as a matter of fact I am talking about it two thousand years later. The good news is this, Jesus is still walking into rooms. Maybe today He will walk into yours. Here is a song about this by Bryan and Katie Torwalt, pay close attention to the power in these words.

WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE ROOM

When You walk into the room

Everything changes

Darkness starts to tremble

At the light that You bring

And when You walk into the room

Every heart starts burning

And nothing matters more

Than just to sit here at Your feet

And worship You

We worship You

We love You

We’ll never stop

We can’t live without You, Jesus

We love You

And we can’t get enough

All this is for You, Jesus

When You walk into the room

Sickness starts to vanish

Every hopeless situation ceases to exist

And when You walk into the room,

The dead begin to rise

‘Cause there is resurrection life

In all You do

We love You

We’ll never stop

We can’t live without You, Jesus

We love You

And we can’t get enough

All this is for You, Jesus

Come and consume, God

All we are

We give You permission

Our hearts are Yours

We want You

We want You

We love You

Maybe stuff has died in your life. Maybe it feels like your marriage has died or your business, or maybe you just feel like you are just a zombie walking around dead. It makes no difference how dark your circumstances seem, Jesus is knocking on your door and resurrection power is about to make your dead stuff come alive.

PAUL, EPHESUS, AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Acts 19:8 ¶ And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.

Paul had a mission in Ephesus, to plant a church that would effect all of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). He knew the key to Asia Minor was Ephesus, a major city in that day that was known for its idolatry and moral depravity (it’s funny but those things always go together). Paul gathered a small group of believers and got them baptized in the Holy Spirit. Next he began to have daily meetings. Can you imagine, for the next two years Paul met with the church daily (tradition says from 11-4) preaching on the kingdom of God. What does that mean, preaching the kingdom of God? Here is how John Piper describes it.

“Since God’s purpose for the world is to save a people for himself and renew the world for that people, his kingly rule implies a saving and a redeeming activity on their behalf. This is why the coming of the kingdom in the New Testament is called good news.

In and through Jesus, God, the king, is coming in a way — a new way — into the world to establish his saving rule. First, in the hearts of his people and in their relationships by triumphing over sin, Satan, and death. Then by the exercise of his reign, gathering a people for himself in congregations that live as citizens of a new allegiance of the kingdom — not of this world. Then Christ comes a second time and completes the reign by establishing a new heavens and a new earth.”

So the message of the kingdom deals with a spiritual kingdom ruled by King Jesus Himself. The message of this kingdom is redemption. This includes the work of the cross and the Holy Spirit. Our sins are forgiven through the power of the blood of Jesus poured out at the cross. We are made alive to this kingdom life by the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Remember what Paul said in Romans 14:17 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.

This shows us what Paul’s plan was in Ephesus, to preach Christ and harvest souls who had been bound by idolatry and sinful behavior and to provide an atmosphere for them to saturate in the presence of the Holy Spirit until their lives radiated the beauty of the kingdom of God. This is what church is intended to be, a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit that impacts the city that church is in.