Seeing What Others Cannot See

Seeing What Others Cannot See

“And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see’. Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” 2 Kings 6:17

Several years ago, a movie was made called Field of Dreams. The story is about a man who had a vision to build a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield on his rural farm. He did not know why; he just knew he was to do it. To the chagrin of his neighbors, he built the baseball diamond in the farm community. One night some players showed up. The man realized these were no ordinary players, but were actually the great players from the past. When the skeptical neighbors came to view this phenomenon, they were unable to see what the farm owner could see. This made it even worse for him. Now he was really a lunatic in their eyes.

This fictitious story has a spiritual application for us. First, if God tells us to “build a ball field,” we should do it. It is not for us to determine the reason we are instructed to do it. Once we are obedient, God will allow us to see what others cannot see. It is the rite of passage for those who are willing to risk all for God’s purposes. God increases the spiritual senses to levels we never knew before. Those around us will observe this.

Do you want to see what others cannot see? If so, it will require obedience that will go beyond human reason. It may require risk and ridicule from others. But you will see what others cannot see.

Fear Not!

Fear Not!

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline”. 2 Timothy 1:7

God calls each of us to engage in spiritual warfare at times. Whenever Satan wants to come against one of God’s children, he does so by trying to intimidate through fear. Goliath’s formidable size and arrogant boasting intimidated King Sal and Israel’s army. And because anointing had fallen from Saul, he was unable to respond with courage to Goliath’s charge. Fear paralyzes and torments. That is why Saul could not respond.

The anointing had fallen on David, who was just a young boy, but mighty in spirit. David did not cower at the size or shouts of the giant Goliath. He saw Goliath through the eyes of God, who saw him as a mere speck. David had righteous indignation for an affront to the armies of the living God.

David did not weigh the risk of failure because his faith was resting totally in God. That is another important factor in overcoming fear – complete trust in God.

Do not fear sudden calamity if you are walking uprightly before God. It may be setting the stage for a great victory that will bring praise and honor to your heavenly Father. These battles are training grounds for greater victories to come.

The Strength of Brokenness

The Strength of Brokenness

“The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength.” – 1 Samuel 2:4

There is an oxymoron throughout the Bible. It says that brokenness is strength. How can this be? How can brokenness be strength? In order to use men and women to their fullest extent, the Lord has to break His servants so that they might have a new kind of strength that is not human in origin. It is strength in spirit that is born only through brokenness.

Paul was broken on the Damascus road. Peter was broken after Jesus was taken prisoner. Jacob was broken at Peniel. David was broken after his sin with Bathsheba. The list could go on of those the Lord had to break in different ways before they could be used in the Kingdom.

When we are broken, we see the frailty of human strength and come to grips with the reality that we can do nothing in our own strength. Then, new strength emerges that God uses mightily. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Do not fear brokenness, for it may be the missing ingredient to a life that emerges with a new kind of strength and experience not known before. Pray for a broken and contrite heart that God can bless.

The Isolation Chamber

The Isolation Chamber

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

There is a time and place in our walk with God in which He sets us in a place of waiting. It is a place in which all past experiences are of no value. It is a time of such stillness that in can disturb the most faithful if we do not understand that He is the one who has brought us to this place for only a season. It is as if God has place a wall around us. No new opportunities – simply inactivity.

During these times, God is calling us aside to fashion something new in us. It is an isolation chamber designed to call us to deeper roots of prayer and faith. It is not a comfortable place, especially for a task-driven workplace believer. Our nature cries out, “You must do something,” while God is saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” You know the signs that you have been brought into this chamber when He has removed many things from your life and you can’t seem to change anything. Perhaps you are unemployed. Perhaps you are laid up with an illness.

Most religious people live a very planned and orchestrated life where they know almost everything that will happen. But for people in whom God is performing a deeper work, He brings them into a time of quietness that seems almost eerie. They cannot say what God is doing. They just know that He is doing a work that cannot be explained to themselves or to others.

Has God brought you to a place of being still? Be still and know that He really is God. When this happens, the chamber will open soon after.

The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 9:1-8

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Preached @ Anchor Community Church on October 26th, 2014

Intro

Our passage today is a very important passage reminding us of the heart of the Christian message

To this, John MacArthur writes, “Clearly and unquestionably the most distinctive thing that Christianity has to proclaim is the reality that sin can be forgiven. That is the heart and the very lifeblood of the Christian message.”

Big Picture: Jesus came with the authority to Forgive sins!

Let’s not lose sight of Big Picture. As we recall Matthew arranges his material topically, with a Purpose. From chapter four through chapter nine Matthew is showing us that Jesus is the Messiah who has come to fulfill a promise to preach the gospel, and to heal those that are hurting. It’s a Kingdom fulfillment of what God is doing through Christ (See Matthew 4:23; 9:36)

The miracles in chapter eight have shown us:

  • Jesus’ authority over physical disease
  • Jesus’ authority over nature
  • Jesus’ authority over the spiritual realm
  • Jesus’ authority over sin

All of which demonstrate that God is rebooting His Kingdom plan physically, ecologically, spiritually and personally. Matthew’s purpose is to show us that Jesus is the Promised Messiah, and today he is reminding us that Jesus’ Kingdom Mission must stay in view!

In Matthew 8:18-22 Matthew connected us to the reality of what it means to follow Jesus. Today’s passage shows us the authority of Jesus to Forgive Sins, and soon we will see the commissioning of true followers to take part in the ministry (Matthew 10:5-42). His mission is in view. It is easy to allow some need or cause to co-opt Jesus’ mission, and Matthew wants to make sure that people aren’t see in His mission as one of healing physical diseases only, it is so much more.

In our passage, Jesus comes back home and many show up Matthew 9:1. Both Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26 record this story and add details. One interesting detail is that the crowd was so large that the paralytic man needed his friends to cut a hole in the roof to lower him to Jesus. This definitely gives us a picture of intercessory from faithful friends, but it is not the main point of the story.

Matthew shortens the story to stick to his main point; that Jesus forgives sin! Matthew keeps the gospel and Christ’s mission in the forefront. He doesn’t allow Christ’s mission to be co-opted by people’s demands, however, Jesus compassion is clear once again, but this is more than another Healing story:

Two Important Points in our passage today:

From the Head…

Humanities Main Problem Is Sin, Not Disease (Matthew 9:2)

Earlier we have explored sin’s relation to disease, and saw that while disease may not have a direct connection to sin (See John 9:2-3), it definitely has an indirect one. Disease and death are part of the fall. Jesus immediately perceives that this man is paralyzed, but instead of saying you are well, or get up, He tells the man his “Sins are forgiven.” Seems like a weird thing to say, but in retrospect it highlights Jesus’ mission, and the fact that sin is a more devastating problem for humanity than death and disease. There is no clarity as to whether Jesus perceived this man’s paralysis was directly related to sin, but it is clear that Jesus felt sin was his main problem.

In Matthew 8:16-17, we saw that Matthew tethered Jesus’ healing ministry to the cross, as outlined in Isaiah 53. Jesus came to heal humanities biggest problem, sin, and forgiveness is crucial to our connection to God. There is “Healing” in the atonement, but it is not the main course, since man will die anyway. It’s a reminder what God will do in eternity.

Today we either ignore or trivialize sin, or we blame it on someone or something else. We are not that sinful, so we do not need God to forgive us.

Not only is it important to recognize sin as our biggest problem, but it is equally important to know that Jesus has authority to forgive us our sin because He is God.

Jesus’ Authority to Forgive Sins Proves That He Is God (Matthew 9:3-7)

This is a major debate amongst those that hold a less orthodox approach to Christianity and those that don’t. The debate is centered throughout the past 2000 years as to who Jesus was/is. Is He a great teacher? Is He a healer, a sage, or a dangerous man?? Maybe they are all correct, but Jesus’ demands on us seem to present Jesus as something so much more, and His ability to forgive sins only complicates the matter more if your are struggling to believe He was God in the flesh.

The fact is religious leaders understood the issue before them, and accused Jesus of “Blasphemy” (βλασφεμω, to Slander). The idea behind the word is that Jesus had “Slandered” God by claiming his ability to be what only God can do; forgive sins! This is exactly what Jesus was ultimately killed for (See Matthew 26:65; Mark 14:64; John 10:33). Matthew 26:65 says, “Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.

Jesus then asks a weird question in verse 5, “Which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or rise and walk?” To the modern skeptic, the answer is simple, “Your sins are forgiven,” since there is no proof, and anyone can say that, but to the 1st century religious Jew the answer was “Rise and walk,” because in order to forgive sins, you needed to be God, and they didn’t believe Jesus was He. Jesus then uses the less difficult to prove his Authority on the more difficult. How could God bless Jesus if He’s a “Blasphemer?” (See John 9:30-31), 30 the man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.

He proved His divinity through His healing, and His right to forgive sins. If Jesus wasn’t who He said He was, then God would not bless His request to heal this man, yet He did.

There is one more hint in our passage in regard to who Jesus is, and what Matthew wants us to know. Jesus’ refers to Himself as the “Son of man,” a title He often used for (See Daniel 7:13-14). What did He mean? He certainly was a “Son of Man,” coming from the loins of Mary and Joseph, but there is more to the title. The prophet Daniel uses the term to refer to the Messiah, the “Ancient” one who would reign forever; 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

Once again Matthew points us to the eternal Jesus, the one who was from before, and who will come to judge and reign supremely in His Kingdom.

…to the Heart

How did the people react? (Matthew 9:8)? Like anyone who has seen something like this man; in fear, awe, respect and glory. It is clear that they do not know who He is, since they call Him a man, but they know He is different.

What we do know is that Matthew wants us to know that Jesus came on mission to forgive sins, and that’s what He did on His cross. Luke 23:34 reminds us that “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

At the heart of our faith is the “Weak” virtue of forgiveness, which always costs someone something. Forgiveness does reek of capitulation; we are giving up ground when we forgive. Jesus forgave in spite of our those that arrogantly were spitting on Him, yet we demand that forgiveness is not proper until the right conditions are met, which usually means, they have asked for it, and they have made proper amends commensurate with their crime against us.

Thanks God, that is not what God requires of us, because it is our sin that put Him on the cross, and it is our sin that contributes to the vileness in our world. Yet, in spite of our disdain for God, He demonstrated His love toward us, and took on sin on our behalf, so that we could be right once again with our creator. It is that type of forgiveness that drives us to love and forgive like Jesus did.

Questions To Ponder

  1. Why does Jesus forgive his sins?
  2. What does forgiveness of sins have to do with being paralyzed?
  3. Why is Jesus being accused of blasphemy?
  4. What do you need to know you are forgiven for right now?

For Further Reading

A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener

The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins

The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti

Sermon On the Mount; Sinclair Ferguson

 

 

 

Changing Our Paradigm

Changing Our Paradigm

“While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.'” Acts 10:19-20

Peter had never preached to the Gentiles. In fact, he believed it was against Jewish law to associate with the Gentiles. God needed to change Peter’s attitude about this, so God gave Peter a vision that showed him it was permissible to preach to the Gentiles. The Spirit came to Peter and informed him that some men were about to come visit him, and he was to go with them. He went with them, and the Lord did great miracles in the lives of Gentiles through Peter.

Sometimes we are so bent on our particular belief that the Holy Spirit must do something miraculous to change our paradigm.

Do you need a paradigm shift in some area of belief? The Lord still intervenes in the lives of His people every day. Don’t be surprised when God begins to change your paradigm by giving you a vision or sending you a messenger of His choosing.

Are You Salty?

Are You Salty?

“Everyone will be salted with fire.” Mark 9:49

Jesus used parables to communicate principles of the Kingdom of God. He said each believer’s life should have the same impact on his or her world as salt has on food. Salt gives food flavor and brings out the best, while at the same time it serves as a preservative.

What allows a Christian to become salty? Fire. God knows that each believer needs a degree of testing by fire in order for Christ’s fragrance to be manifested. We cannot become salty without this deeper work of the Holy Spirit’s fire in our lives. Fire purifies all that is not of Christ. It takes away all the impurities that prevent His nature from being revealed in us.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6-7). Are you a salty Christian? If not, pray a prayer that the immature are unwilling to pray. Pray that God makes you a salty Christian. It will result in praise and glory at the throne of God.