The Red Words #8 Jan. 28, 2019

Yes, I know – there was no post last Tuesday :-((  I’m sorry.  I spent last Tuesday in four different airports and on four different airplanes on my way back to Israel from the USA.  So….not terribly conducive to writing something inspirational!

This week, let’s go to Mark 5: 1-20 and talk about the Tombstone Terrorist and see how Jesus dealt with him.

Having reached the area of the Gerasenes (or Gadarenes) on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and the disciples stepped out of the boat near a cemetery.  No sooner had they landed, a man who looked and acted more like a wild animal than a man, came running towards Him.

Now this poor fellow was a mess.  Nobody could control him, even when they tried to bind him with chains.  He broken them off as if they were paper.

He was possessed not by one single devil, but a ‘legion’ – several thousand, if you can imagine.  He lived in a cemetery at a time when corpses were buried in caves.  He screamed and yelled all the time, day and night and his body was covered with scars and blood for he cut himself with stones.  Did he do so to try to escape his desperate condition? Who knows?  But for sure, he was a pitiful but also terrifying sight to all around him.  People from the nearest village kept their children away from him.  They avoided him at all costs and hated to hear his shrill, blood-curdling screams.

Nobody wanted to be anywhere near him….no one except Jesus.  Jesus made a special trip across the sea and calmed a storm on the way in order to deliver this one man who wasn’t even a Jew.

mark5

Running toward the Lord, this man who terrorized the entire region, cried out, ‘Leave me along, Jesus, Son of the most High God! Swear in God’s name that you won’t torture me!’ And the text adds: [For Jesus had already said to him, ‘Come out of that man, you demon spirit!’]

Jesus said to him: ‘What is your name?’

‘Mob’ he answered.‘They call me Mob because there are thousands of us in his body!’

Jesus sent the demons into the herd of pigs nearby.  The horde of demons drove some two thousand pigs down the hillside into the sea where they drowned.  Afterwards the townspeople – incredibly – asked Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus prepared to leave, the former demonic ‘terrorist’, now fully clothed and in his right mind, said to Jesus, ‘Could I go with you?’  But Jesus answered, ‘Go back to your home and to your family and tell them what the Lord has done for you.  Tell them how he had mercy on you.

So the man left and went throughout the area, even into Syria and Jordan to tell everyone he met about what Jesus had done for him and all the people were amazed.

There are four things about what Jesus did and said here that I want us to look at for a moment.

First, the Compassion of Jesus: Though everyone else feared and fled from this demonized man, Jesus went toward him.  The Lord cared about his condition and went out of His way to do something about it.  What Jesus did for this man assures you and me that NO ONE is too far gone for the Lord.  NO ONE is beyond the mercy and compassion of Jesus – NO ONE.  If there’s anybody you know that looks like a hopeless case, they’re not. Jesus is not only able, but willing, to deliver ANYBODY.  He’ll even go out of His way to where they are!

You know why? Because when we see a drunkard, Jesus sees a future disciple.  When we see a drug addict, Jesus sees a future preacher.  When we see a prostitute, Jesus sees a future Lydia or Priscilla or Mary Magdalene.  Jesus sees people with a different set of eyes than we do – we need to learn to see with His eyes!

Secondly, the Confrontation of Jesus: notice that the man everyone ran away from, ran toward Jesus!  The demons that drove him away from all other relationships on that day drove Him towards the only relationship that could save him from his desperate situation.  My friends, there is NO demon – NONE – that can stand against our Savior.  Every spirit is subject to the Lord Jesus Christ and they recognize His authority, sometimes more than humans do!  If you’re ever tempted to think that the devil is ‘winning’ in a situation in your life or in the world at large, think again!  Jesus alone is King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords.

Thirdly, the Command of Jesus: No religious ritual delivered this man from his misery. No psychologist, no psychiatrist, no priest and no program.   There is only one solution to the problem of evil: His name is Jesus.  One word from Jesus and the man was set free!

Fourthly, the Miracle of Jesus: Jesus changed him, clothed him and calmed him.  The cemetery terrorist was seated, clothed and in his right mind when the villagers came out to see what had happened.  What a magnificent picture of what the Lord can do for every lost soul.  Salvation changes us, clothes us with His righteousness and gives us His peace.

How did the Lord do that? By starting from the inside out.  He delivered the man’s soul from a legion – thousands – of devils that tormented him inwardly day and night. The result was that he was then able to clean up, get dressed and sit calmly, listening to Jesus.

And…not only was he healed and delivered, Jesus actually commissioned him to ‘go and tell everyone what the Lord has done for you.’  And he did.

We don’t know this man’s name; we don’t know his family background, how long he lived after his deliverance or how many people he brought to the Lord.  We’ll only  learn those details when we get to heaven.

But his testimony speaks to every generation, right down to ours, that Jesus, and He alone, is Savior, Deliverer, Healer and Redeemer.  No one – NO ONE – is too hard for the Lord.

If you’re trusting God for the salvation of a loved one, a neighbor, a co-worker, etc., let this man’s miraculous transformation encourage and inspire your faith to new heights.

Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever!

The Red Words #7 January 15, 2019

“He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. Consider carefully what you hear,’ he continued. ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’  Mark 4:21-25 NASB

Now let’s look at the same passage in the Passion Translation:

He also gave them this parable: ‘No one lights a lamp only to place it under a basket or under the bed. It is meant to be placed on a lampstand. For there is nothing hidden that won’t be disclosed, and there is no secret that won’t be brought out into the light. If you understand what I’m saying, then you need to respond!’ Then He said to them, ‘Be diligent to understand the meaning behind everything you hear, for as you do, more understanding will be given to you. And according to the depth of your longing to understand, much more will be added to you.  For those who listen with open hearts will receive more revelation. But those who don’t listen with open hearts will lose what little they think they have.’

lamplight

In the Bible, light and truth are two sides of the same coin. They always go together. Our daily prayer should be Psalm 43:3 which says, ‘Pour into me the brightness of your daybreak! Pour into me your rays of revelation-truth! Let them comfort and gently lead me onto the shining path, showing the way into your burning presence, into your many sanctuaries of holiness.’ TPT

I’ve talked with venerable saints in their 80’s and 90’s and they all testify that the more of God’s Word they learn, the more they are convinced that they will continue learning for all eternity.  God’s Word is like an onion. As you peel back layer after layer, there is always more to uncover of His revelation truth.  We will always be students of the Word of God. He keeps giving us more light and more truth.

We all know it’s vital that we learn God’s Word, but why?

Proverbs 20:27 answers that question: ‘The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD,
searching all the innermost parts of his being.’

The Spirit of God indwells your spirit and from within you, therefore, the Word of God searches or impacts your soul – your mind, your will, your emotions.   This is how the process of maturing in Christ takes place.  As the Word of God changes your attitudes, your perceptions and your way of living, you are being transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus.

The result is that, as a disciple of Jesus, you are His lamp – a vessel of His light that’s meant to shine His truth to everyone around you by the way you speak and behave.

For a lamp to be of any use, it has to be connected to an electrical source and turned on.  Otherwise it is just a pretty ornament in the corner of the room!

The Lord is not looking for pretty ornaments, but  for ‘lamps’ that light up the atmosphere.  You were ‘plugged in’ and ‘turned on’ when you gave your life to Jesus.  He, who IS Light, dwells in you and the more of His Word that you learn and apply in your life, the brighter you shine!

In keeping with His exhortation, we are to ‘Be diligent to understand the meaning behind everything you hear, for as you do, more understanding will be given to you. And according to the depth of your longing to understand, much more will be added to you.’

Listening to wonderful men and women of God teach His Word, I have often marveled at their insight and understanding into portions of the Word that were not clear to me.  When that happens, it testifies to me that they have invested an abundance of time in the Word, meditating and studying to receive from the Holy Spirit treasures hidden away in the verses at hand.  For those who listen with open hearts will receive more revelation. But those who don’t listen with open hearts will lose what little they think they have.’

Studying the Word of God is much more than an intellectual exercise.  It is first and foremost a conversation with the Spirit of God Who inspired the Book. To study the Word is much more than reading the words on the page; it is more a matter of listening while you read – listening not to an audible voice but to the still, small Voice within.  For those who listen with open hearts will receive more revelation…

In these words to His disciples, the Lord Jesus taught them – and us – that studying and learning the Word of God is like no other realm of study.  We invest time in His Word in order to be transformed into His image and likeness; we invest time in His Word in order to be challenged, pruned, corrected and re-directed.  That is how we are able to retain what we learn – by studying His Word for the right reason and with the right purpose.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: ‘Knowledge puffs up but love edifies.’  I Cor. 8:1b   It is the spirit of the Pharisee that flaunts knowledge above virtue.

May we never be found in that company but rather, may we ‘study to show ourselves approved’ and diligently apply to our daily lives every truth we learn from God’s precious Word so that we may be part of the company who continually receive increasing revelation and insight and thereby live in a manner that delights the heart of Our Heavenly Father.

 

The Red Words #6. Jan. 8, 2019

Mark 3: 23-28

And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

 Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” 

We don’t often hear sermons about this passage yet how important it is to the Lord’s disciples.

Crowds were gathering wherever Jesus went, and most notably when He came home to Capernaum.  And of course, the Pharisees were there – they always were – and they were accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the power of satan.

In His answer Jesus begins with a pointed question: How can Satan cast out Satan? You would think that the Pharisees would have said ‘DUH’! But they didn’t.

Jesus continued by explaining that if demons were cast out by the power of the devil, then satan was fighting against himself! And if that were true, satan’s kingdom would quickly disintegrate.

As a house divided against itself cannot stand, so neither could the kingdom of satan continue to exist if one evil spirit was fighting another evil spirit in their quest to possess the minds and bodies of men and women.

We recognize the wisdom of that principle in the life of a nation or a community.  Division wreaks havoc.

But have you thought of it this way?

Do you not know that your body is a temple [house] of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  I Cor. 6:19

The worst division of all in the life of a disciple of Jesus is the division within oneself.  To say it another way, the worst division of all is when your soul is in a state of war with your spirit.

The soul is comprised of your mind, will and emotions. The spirit is the eternal part of you, where the Spirit of God dwells in you.  Therefore the body and the soul are the ‘house’ in which your spirit is host to the Spirit of God.  If your ‘house’ is at war with your ‘spirit’, chaos disrupts your relationship with the Lord, as well as your inner peace, joy and fruitfulness.  To make it simple: when your selfishness overrules what the Word of God calls you to be, you are at war with yourself whether you acknowledge it or not.

Paul expounded on this truth: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:5-9

So how do we keep from living in a state of ‘war’ within ourselves?  Look at what Jesus said next.

No one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.  Mark 3:27

overcomers

Jesus acknowledges that satan is ‘strong’ but there is One Who is stronger – Jesus Himself.  After His death on Calvary, Jesus invaded satan’s dwelling (hell) and by the power of His shed blood, Jesus bound ‘the strong man’ and ‘plundered his house.’  Then He preached to the Old Testament saints waiting in Sheol, was raised from the dead and they after Him (Matt. 25) and shortly thereafter ascended into heaven and was enthroned as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

It is because Jesus ALREADY entered the strong man’s house and ALREADY bound the enemy and plundered his property, that you and I are empowered to live this life in the peace and victory of Jesus Himself who did only what He saw the Father do and spoke only what He heard the Father speak.  Jesus lived from His Spirit, not from His flesh, so that we might be empowered to do the same.

News flash! The war has been won!

Our thoughts, our emotions and our choices (our will) CAN and MUST operate in submission to the Word of God and the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit within our spirits.  The Spirit of God will never tell you to do something that is not in keeping with the Word of God.

Sadly, the Pharisees just didn’t get it!  But we must.

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  I John 3:8

He did it for us. ‘It is finished’.  There is grace for each of us to live a ‘united’ life and to be free of the chaos of division within our own beings.

Praise the name of the Lord!

 

 

The Red Words #5 Jan. 1, 2019

Blessings abundant to all of you, my friends, as this new year begins.  May this year find us getting deeper into the Word of God and closer than ever to the Lord Jesus.

Jesus hardly went anywhere without being watched by the Pharisees!  Mark records that one day Jesus was walking through the grain fields with His disciples and as they walked, the disciples picked some of the grain for they were hungry.  On seeing this, the Pharisees immediately seized upon the opportunity to level an accusation against Jesus, albeit cloaked in a ‘loaded’ question.

The Pharisees were saying to Him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath? And He [Jesus] said to them: ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he gave it to those who were with him? 

Jesus said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.  Mark 2:24-28

grain

There was nothing wrong with what the disciples did, because their gleaning was not considered stealing according to the Torah (Deut. 23:25) The issue with the Pharisees was only about the day on which they did it.  They had created an extensive list of “dos” and “don’ts” related to the Sabbath, and this action violated one of the items on their list.

Jesus never violated God’s command to observe the Sabbath or approved of His disciples violating God’s command to observe the Sabbath.  However, He often broke man’s legalistic additions to the Torah for the same Torah that the Pharisees claimed they followed, commanded that nothing be added or taken away from God’s law:

You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.  Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32

By developing a long list of requirements and prohibitions and imposing them strictly on the people, the Pharisees themselves violated the commandment of Deuteronomy by raising their traditions to the level of inspired Scripture!   It is THIS which Jesus refuted and refused to tolerate.

And in referring to David’s use of the “holy bread” in I Samuel 21:1-6, Jesus showed an important principle – human need is more important than religious ritual.

This is exactly what many people, steeped in tradition, simply cannot accept: that what God really wants is mercy before sacrifice (Hosea 6:6); that love toward others is more important than religious rituals (Isaiah 58:1-9); that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart; these, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:17

Jesus addressed this problem at another time: He was also saying to them, You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. Mark 7:9

The Lord then went on to declare that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. If He, the very Lord of the Sabbath, was not offended by His disciple’s actions, then these legalistic traditionalists should not have been offended either.

Jesus had already confronted this same issue in Jerusalem as recorded in John, chapter 5.  There was a pool by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem where the sick, the blind and the crippled gathered for there was a tradition that an angel of God periodically came down and stirred the waters and the first person in the pool after the stirring would be healed.  Jesus, in obedience to His Father, walked into the pool area one day, stopped in front of one individual who had been ill for 38 years and healed him.  Then Jesus turned around and left.

John adds: The man became well, picked up his pallet, began to walk. Now, it was the Sabbath on that day.

And of course, guess who’s watching?  The Pharisees said to the man who was healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” 

Talk about insensitivity! The man had been ill for THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS! Longer than Jesus had been on the earth!!!  After such a lengthy illness, should not everyone, including the Pharisees, been rejoicing at the blessing of healing this man received?

Thirty-eight years and this man finally could get up and walk and carry his bed and you, Pharisees, make an issue out of the fact that it’s the Sabbath and you’re not supposed to be carrying something?  Seriously! Really!

But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.”  The point he’s making is “Look, if this man has power over disease, then he has an authority clearly greater than yours. And when he said walk, I walked.”

Now look at vs. 16: For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.  Wow! So it’s horrible to heal somebody on the Sabbath?

Sabbath tradition was their domain and they were fanatical, way beyond Scripture. Scripture gives no restrictions for the Sabbath other than refraining from work. But the rabbinical system had  invented endless, impossible rules and restraints for Sabbath conduct, and enforced every one of those rules as strictly as possible.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus constantly challenged always people to choose between His gospel of humility, repentance, grace and faith and the legalistic system of self-righteous works and performance that led to pride. The choice is still the same.

The Sabbath was made for rest and blessing and joy and mercy and compassion and the meeting of needs. There wouldn’t be a better day in the week to heal somebody. There wouldn’t be a better day in the week to provide food than the Sabbath.

“The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

He is Lord of the Sabbath because He is God made manifest in flesh.  He designed this day. He is the Creator. Doesn’t John say that at the beginning of his gospel? “Everything made was made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.” So it was He, Jesus, who ceased to work, it was He, Jesus, who rested. It was He, Jesus, who ordained this day to be blessed and separated from work.  He is LORD of the Sabbath….and of every minute of every hour of every day He gives us to live.

When all is said and done, the fundamental, unchangeable issue is this:  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your resources and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

Jesus declared that on these two commandments the entire Torah rested.  Therefore, it is love for God and love for your fellow man that overrules every tradition created in the minds of men.