Archive for October, 2010

Part 12 – Matthew 12:22-42 – THE CANVAS OF MY HEART

The Canvas of My Heart

Yesterday I was reading about a man called Han van Meegeren who was a Dutch artist and an extremely talented ART FORGER. He forged some of the world’s most famous paintings so well that the best art critics and art experts of his time thought his paintings were GENUINE.

Painting one of the finest Vermeers anyone had ever seen was his greatest MISTAKE. He sold his forgeries during the second world war and one of them ended up with the Nazi commander Hermann Goring.

After the war, the sale of the painting was traced back to van Meergeren and he was arrested for selling Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. The punishment for this act of treason was death and so van Meegeren decided to CONFESS that the painting was a forgery. But what would convince the jury?

In Matthew 12 Jesus faces a different problem. His works are GENUINE. When He paints on a person’s life it is the Hand of God, AUTHENTIC, ORIGINAL AND UNIQUE. In Matthew 12:28, He says to the Pharisees “The kingdom of God has arrived among you”. The Pharisees see His miracles as counterfeit and His teaching false. Their unbelief is relentless. They continually try to trap Him.

In Matthew 12:38 (NLT) the Pharisees say “Teacher, we want You to show us a miraculous sign to PROVE YOUR AUTHORITY.” In Matthew 12:24 they test and tempt Jesus in the same way as Satan did in the wilderness (Matthew 4:5-7), demanding a SIGN from Him, but when He heals people they say He gets His power from Satan. They hypocritically demand a sign but then reject it. Can’t have it BOTH WAYS! What will it take to convince them?

In Acts 2:22 (NLT) when Peter preaches to those gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost “People of Israel, listen! God PUBLICLY ENDORSED Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful MIRACLES, WONDERS, AND SIGNS through Him, as you well know.” God verifies the authority of the works of Jesus and Jesus exposes the works of the Pharisees as a forgery. In Matthew 12:34 (NLT) He calls them a “brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” 

Certainly many people witness that Jesus does miracles, wonders and signs, but does this CONVINCE them? Does it convince you?

Jack, a friend of mine, is unable to walk. When I spoke to him about God, he said “If God was real He wouldn’t leave me like this. I don’t deserve this. Where’s the proof that God exists?” He said He doesn’t see any evidence of God because God refuses to heal him. What will it take to convince him?

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” WHY DOESN’T HE HEAL MY FRIEND JACK?

Perhaps part of the answer is found in John 4:48 (NLT) where Jesus asks, “Will you never believe in Me unless you see MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND WONDERS?” 

It seems to me that the FOCUS is not so much believing in signs and wonders (and I do), but in allowing His artworks to lead me back to Him. The SIGNATURE IS GENUINE. It is in believing in the Master Artist Himself and then in allowing Him to paint upon THE CANVAS OF MY LIFE. Romans 10:9 (NLT) puts it this way, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The brushstrokes of His forgiveness touches the very fabric of my being and His creative genius gives my life AUTHENTICITY.

Jesus is asking me to trust in Him WHETHER OR NOT I see signs and wonders. I encouraged Jack to put His faith in Jesus, not just in looking for a sign. Matthew 24:24 speaks about FALSE SIGNS that are forgeries that can lead us away from Jesus.

God bless you Church as you put your faith in Jesus. And as we focus on Him, THEN we are in a position to see His miraculous intervention in our lives in all kinds of ways, the authenticity of which is beyond question.

Pastor Ross

Part 11 – Matthew 12:22-37 – THE MUSIC OF MY SOUL

“Where’s my…” “On the kitchen bench” “…keys”. “What happened to my…” “It’s in the washing machine. You wore it yesterday.” My wife knows my thoughts before I ask. It’s uncanny. “Do you know where my…” “On your desk” “…phone is”. She is intimately acquainted with my habits, thoughts and absent mindedness.

Matthew 12:25 (NLT) says that “Jesus knew their THOUGHTS…” because God is intimately acquainted with the ways, thoughts and WORDS of the human race. He’s even better than my wife at this and that is saying something.

The Pharisees reject Jesus but then they proceed to SLANDER His name before the people. They say in Matthew 12:24 (NLT) “No wonder He can cast out demons. He gets His power from Satan, the prince of demons.” They obviously didn’t say this directly to Jesus, but Jesus knows what they are thinking. Jesus replies powerfully, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” (Matthew 12:25 NLT)

How did Jesus know what the Pharisees were thinking? Did He just anticipate what they were thinking? Was this a WORD OF KNOWLEDGE? (1 Corinthians 12:8). I am aware of this when I pray – that I can’t keep even my thoughts from Jesus. So often in His presence, He asks me His probing questions and provides correction to the twisted pathways of my thinking and to my sinful attitudes. He aligns my thinking with His so that I am not double-minded and at odds with Him. He gets me thinking in terms of victory, not defeat. No compromise. And my life starts to SING.

Jesus goes on to say in Matthew12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its FRUIT. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.” Great analogy! Jesus produces good fruit in the WORDS He speaks. He is speaking in the power of the Spirit. And that doesn’t mean He had to watch His words or that that His words were so WATER-WEAK, warm and affectionate to everybody that they had no impact. He is SCATHING in His words to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:34-35. He says “You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you SPEAK what is good and right? For whatever is in your HEART determines what you SAY. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” It takes courage to say this to powerful men.

But Jesus, of course, is right. Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) says “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” so how can I SPEAK from the treasury of a good heart? I am doomed if it all stops here? It gets worse in Matthew 12:36-37 “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you SPEAK. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”  

If my heart writes the music of my life then my WORDS are the LYRICS OF THE SOUL. I can tell from the lyrics what is in your heart. Open your mouth and I can hear what kind of song is in your heart.

David’s prayer in Psalms 51:10 (NLT) gives me HOPE. He cries out to God, “Create in me a CLEAN HEART, O God…” In Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT), as if in answer, God says “…I will give you a NEW HEART, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” As He writes the MUSIC OF MY SOUL a clean heart sings the most amazing harmonies. And all of a sudden my words are translated into worship. My confession becomes a song of destiny.

Romans 10:9-13 (NLT) says the words I speak will determine my destiny. “If you CONFESS with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” …. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

God bless you Church as your words are translated into worship today.

Pastor Ross

 

Part 10 – Matthew 12:24-30 – GOD, YOU ARE SO NARROW MINDED AND INFLEXIBLE!

Narrow Minded and Inflexible?

There’s a fictional story of the soldier in the American civil war who did not want to fight with anyone. In an attempt to remain NEUTRAL, he dressed in Union pants and a Confederate jacket. Unfortunately BOTH SIDES shot at him.

Jesus says “Anyone who isn’t WITH Me OPPOSES Me, and anyone who isn’t working WITH Me is actually working AGAINST Me”(Matthew 12:30 NLT). There is no room for COMPROMISE or equivocation here. When Jesus says in John 14:6 (NLT) “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”, He means it! No other way! No other truth! No other life! At first glance this is such an exclusive, elite, INFLEXIBLE kind of statement.

No wonder people see Christians as uncaring when they hear these words used like a sledge hammer against any OTHER RELIGION or against anyone who does not believe in Christ. It implies that God is UNLOVING and rigidly bent on sending people to hell.

If God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), why won’t He accept those who don’t believe in Jesus alone? What about BUDDHISM? What about HINDUISM? What about ISLAM? What about OTHER RELIGIONS? Half the world doesn’t want anything to do with Christ? Isn’t God rather ARROGANT AND EXCLUSIVE? Narrow minded! WHAT IS JESUS SAYING HERE?

On examination of the Bible, Jesus statement is not emphasising EXCLUSIVISM so much as it is defining a REALITY. God so LOVED the world that He has to tell us that there is NO-ONE ELSE there to SAVE us! (see John 3:16). He is saying “I love you and I came to pay the price of sin for you personally so you could experience God’s love.” No-one else did that. No-one else will do that! No-one else could! No other gods are real! BUDDHA didn’t come to save us. MOHAMMED didn’t come to die for us or come back to life for us. SUICIDE BOMBERS don’t die to save us but to kill us.

All the founders of modern day religions are either dead themselves or they are non-existent. The only good thing about all religions is that they are an attempt by us to reach out to God but they will not save us. At best they will lead us to Jesus. At worst they will distract us from the only rescue mission that we have available.

Jesus found a way for you and me to come back to God and enter into relationship with Him. It wasn’t going to happen unless He came and died for us! Jesus is saying, “There is NO OTHER way, truth or life. Life is found in Me. Love is found in Me. The truth is that without Me, you are LOST!”

He draws a line in the sand. There is no SYNCRETISM with Jesus. No room for DOUBLEMINDEDNESS. Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile opposing beliefs by combining and merging different traditions and beliefs in “a great big melting pot” to have them come out in all pretty rainbow colours of equal proportion.

Jesus is saying in effect, “Make up your mind about Me, one way or another. Respond to Me! Stop vacillating!” And He loves you enough to give you a choice. As Joshua said of old “… CHOOSE today whom you will serve. … But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NLT)

In 1 Kings 18:21 (NLT) Elijah said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.” Jesus doesn’t want us to remain dumb about what we believe.

When Jesus heals a demon possessed man, Jesus makes it clear that He is stronger than Satan, not on equal in terms of power and status. He says “the Kingdom of God has arrived” (Matthew 12:26-30). He is not only speaking of His heavenly kingdom (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven) but of His authority as a King to rule over my life today and always. He is speaking of His victorious power over sin and Satan. And He is speaking of His love for us because there is no other kingdom of God in which we can trust in order to be saved.

God bless you Church as you refuse to compromise concerning your trust in Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Saviour. Allow heaven’s authority to be a reality in your life and experience Christ’s love for you today. In Him God launched the only rescue mission that will ever be able to save you from your sin.

Pastor Ross

John 3:16 –  PARABLE OF THE LOST MINERS

Parable of the Lost Miners

The world watched as 33 Chilean miners TRAPPED underground for 69 days were rescued. The last miner was rescued on Thursay October 14, 2010, a day marked with celebration and joy all around the world. The President of Chile said that Chile will never be the same.

One of the rescued men, Mario Sepulveda, said “I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought and God won the battle. I reached out and took hold of God’s hand. I never doubted that I would be rescued.” According to one article a number of men and their loved ones gave their lives to Christ during the ordeal as they prayed and reached out for God’s help.

Scientists and engineers WORKED day and night to design and drill an ESCAPE hole half a mile down to the trapped miners. 69 days later, they lowered a capsule from CAMP HOPE down to the men. It took 50 minutes to rescue each man. One newspaper headline read “FREED FROM HELL TO HOPE”. As the steel caged capsule surfaced it was as if each man was given NEW LIFE, SAVED, DELIVERED, REBORN.

It got me thinking about what this story would look like if Jesus told it as a parable. I’m sure it would go something like this.

“Once there was a wise, good and powerful King. His kingdom was known as the kingdom of Hope and it was the richest kingdom in the world. He ruled his people with love and justice. The kingdom of Hope was known throughout the world and other kings would seek to emulate the leadership of the great King. His writings and pronouncements were valued. For countless generations his family had ruled the land which was rich in beauty and mineral wealth. His people worked the land and as they ploughed the fields they would find diamonds and gold. As they ate the fruit of the orchards they would find health and strength. As they obeyed their king they prospered and he encouraged his people to share the wealth of the land with their families and with others all around the world. His exports were prized by many people – gold, silver, precious stones, fruit from his orchards and many other riches.

Not satisfied with working the land and planting orchards for food, the people became greedy and decided to find more efficient ways to extract the mineral wealth of the land. They dug a huge mine miles into the earth and worked night and day. Their families suffered as sons and daughters were without their fathers for many days on end. They became very rich from the resources they unearthed, but careless in their work practises and in their family relationships.

The wise king established safety precautions for them to follow but they were largely ignored so it was not surprising that there were many serious accidents and sure enough one day the mine collapsed. Many of the men from the kingdom became trapped in the bowels of the earth. As earth showered down upon them they stopped digging, left their tools and ran for their lives to a section of the mine that remained intact. Some men were wounded and had to be carried to safety. For a while they were stunned at the situation they found themselves in. They cried out in anguish and fear. But then many of them began to blame eachother. Fights began to break out. Then their anger turned towards the king. It was his fault that the safety precautions were not enforced! Soon a number of the men began shouting their abuse and slandering the name of the king.

Others began examining the instructions in the safety manual that the king had written to see if there was something they could do. They found a procedure which would let the king and those on the surface know that they were alive, so that the king could find a way to get them out. They knew the king would know where they were and that they were alive, but they cried out to him and made as much noise as they could. Others told them to be quiet and that the king didn’t care.

From Camp Hope the king soon drilled a small shaft down to the men. He said that the small shaft was just a promise of things to come when a larger hole would be drilled. The miners sent a note up to tell him that they were alive. Food and air was provided by the king along with an assurance that he would provide the way out. Some of the men continued to slander the name of the king, convinced that he intended to kill them.

Days and months went by. Periodically a note would come down the small shaft with a message from the king saying that a hole was being drilled and that someone was coming to save them. A physician would come down through a shaft to the men and examine them. He would give medical assistance and then bring each of them to safety. Many of the men did not believe. They saw no evidence of escape or the help that the king was providing them from above. They decided to make the best of it and ignore the messages and simply receive the provision from above that came through the smaller shaft.

Nevertheless the king continued to drill down to the men, day by day, and continued to send reassuring messages down through the small shaft.

The day finally came when the escape hole was nearly finished. The king sent final instructions through to the men to prepare the way as he drilled through the final few feet to the roof of their prison.

The king was so excited! He had done everything possible to provide a way to rescue the men. In camp Hope their was great celebration that the men would finally be rescued. The king decided to send his own son who was the best physician in the land down in an escape capsule from camp Hope to the trapped men. He was surprised that when he arrived far below that their were few men who welcomed him. He began to bring healing to the wounded men and gave instructions for each person to be rescued.

Some of the miners, after all the work that had been done for them, decided they DIDN’T WANT TO BE RESCUED and walked back into the darkness of the mineshaft, away from the capsule which had been made to bring them to safety and celebration on the surface? They refused to be saved and decided to stay behind? They tried to KILL THE PHYSICIAN who came to examine them, SLANDERED his name, the capsule, the king, the citizens of the kingdom of Hope and they stayed behind. They didn’t want to be hugged by the king of Hope! They didn’t want their lives changed forever? They said to the kings son, “I REJECT ALL YOUR WORK to save me. I DON’T WANT TO BE RESCUED!””

What is the meaning of this parable? John 3:16-18 (NLT) says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” Jesus has done everything He could do to save me from the penalty of my sin. There is nothing left for Him to do, but I am left with a choice as to whether or not I respond to the conviction in my heart and receive Christ as my Saviour.

Like the miners who agreed to be rescued I stepped into the very love of God and received new life and hope for the future. As I emerged the King of kings wrapped His arms around me to the applause of heaven. My life will never be the same.

Pastor Ross

Part 9 – Matthew 12:30-32 – I DON’T WANT TO BE RESCUED!

The Unforgiveable Sin!

The world watched as 33 Chilean miners TRAPPED underground for 69 days were rescued. The last miner was rescued on Thursay  October 14, 2010, a day marked with celebration and joy all around the world. The President of Chile said that Chile will never be the same.

One of the rescued men, Mario Sepulveda, said “I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought and God won the battle. I reached out and took hold of God’s hand. I never doubted that I would be rescued.” According to one article a number of men and their loved ones gave their lives to Christ during the ordeal as they prayed and reached out for God’s help.

Scientists and engineers WORKED day and night to design and drill an ESCAPE hole half a mile down to the trapped miners. 69 days later, they lowered a capsule from CAMP HOPE down to the men. It took 50 minutes to rescue each man. One newspaper headline read “FREED FROM HELL TO HOPE”. As the steel caged capsule surfaced it was as if each man was given NEW LIFE, SAVED, DELIVERED, REBORN.

The story got me thinking about what I had been reading in Matthew 12:31-32 (NLT). You probably won’t see the connection straight away but Jesus says “Every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven-except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will NEVER BE FORGIVEN. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will NEVER BE FORGIVEN, either in this world or in the world to come.”

How am I to understand this verse and what does it have to do with miners or me?

Imagine if some of the miners, after all the work that had been done for them, had decided they DIDN’T WANT TO BE RESCUED and walked back into the darkness of the mineshaft, away from the capsule which had been made to bring them to safety and celebration on the surface? What if they refused to be saved and decided to stay behind? What if they tried to KILL THE PHYSICIAN who came to examine them, SLANDERED Camp Hope, the capsule, the scientists, engineers and the cheering world and stayed behind? What if they didn’t want to be hugged by the President of Chile? What if they didn’t want to be famous and have their lives changed forever? What if they said, “I REJECT ALL YOUR WORK to save me. I DON’T WANT TO BE RESCUED!”

That’s what these verses in Matthew 12:31 and 32 are about! Jesus says in John 16:8-9 (NLT), speaking of the Holy Spirit, “…He will CONVICT the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it REFUSES TO BELIEVE IN ME.”

CONVICTION! The Holy Spirit convicts me of my need to BELIEVE AND PUT MY TRUST IN CHRIST. But I can CHOOSE TO REFUSE! I can either respond to the CONVICTION of the Holy Spirit or HARDEN my heart to the point of BLASPHEMY. When I ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my life and actively refuse and abuse His promptings in terms of PERMANENT ONGOING UNBELIEF, then such sin against the Holy Spirit is UNFORGIVEABLE. I remain lost.

Are you concerned about committing the UNFORGIVEABLE SIN? That in itself is an indication that you have not. You can still reach out to Christ. Like the physician who came down in the escape capsule, Jesus came down to rescue you personally. Jesus died on the cross for your sin. 1 John 1:7 (NLT) says “…the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” To reject the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to belief in Christ will leave you WITHOUT HOPE of salvation and GUILTY before God.

John 3:36 (NLT) says “…anyone who believes in God’s Son has ETERNAL LIFE. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry JUDGMENT.”

Jesus has done everything He could do to save me. There is nothing left for Him to do, but I am left with a choice as to whether or not I respond to the conviction in my heart and receive Christ as my Saviour. 

Like the miners who agreed to be rescued I stepped into the capsule of His love and I received new life and hope for the future. He wrapped His arms around me to the applause of heaven. My life will never be the same.

God bless you Church as you remain open to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in your life, willing to be rescued and ready to encourage others to reach out to Christ and be saved.

Pastor Ross

Part 8 – Matthew 12:22-28 – I’M AN ATHEIST AND I INTEND TO STAY THAT WAY!

I’m an Atheist!

He was wide-eyed but unable to speak properly. The nurses told me that he did not have long to live. Brian (not his real name) was experiencing spasms of pain and shortness of breath. He was groaning and looked weak, drawn and afraid. I offered to pray for him. I prayed for healing and encouraged him to reach out to Christ and seek to have a relationship with Him. I told him that Christ would be able to help him get through this situation.

The next day I came in to see Brian again. I asked the nurses how he was and they told me he was much better. I was surprised that he was able to speak again. His recovery was amazing. An answer to prayer! I introduced myself. He looked at me, recognized who I was immediately, and said vehemently, “I’m an ATHEIST and I intend to stay that way!” His response to Christ as he had faced the possibility of death was to REJECT Him. I said that this was his choice but that I hoped he would come to know the Lord.

It’s not unusual that the crowd is amazed as Jesus heals a demon-possessed, blind and dumb man in Matthew 12:22, but it’s that TOTAL REJECTION of Jesus by the Pharisees (and Brian) that surprises me the most.

The Pharisees response to Jesus is vehement and MALICIOUS. Not only do they REJECT Jesus but they proceed to SLANDER His name before the people. They say in Matthew 12:24 (NLT) “No wonder He can cast out demons. He gets His power from Satan, the prince of demons.”

Why are they saying this? Why aren’t they willing to examine things further? Is it that they are afraid of losing their REPUTATION? Is it because they want to hold onto their POWER and already feel that it is slipping away? Perhaps.

The Pharisees are the TALIBAN of Jesus day (If you can’t get people to think your way, bomb them). They behave like RELIGIOUS THUGS! The intensity of their unbelief is incredible. It has already expressed itself as they plotted to kill Jesus (Matthew 12:14)! They are obstinate, pig-headed, determined, inflexible, unmoved, stubborn and persistent leaders. The kind of political leaders we still revere today.

The Pharisees did not actually see first hand Jesus heal the demon possessed, blind and dumb man. That’s not surprising. When I DISTANCE myself from Jesus I will rarely see His miracles, even when I hear about what God is doing in the lives of others who have had a personal experience of Christ. Like the Pharisees, I will not be satisfied or happy for the man who has been healed, even though his life has been CHANGED FOREVER. It is only as I am willing to place myself in PROXIMITY to Jesus and see Him for who He is that I begin to acknowledge, like the crowd, the possibility of Him being the MESSIAH, more than a man, the One sent by God to save me from my sin.

In psychology, PROJECTION is a defense mechanism where a person denies what is happening in their own lives, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions, and then ascribes them to other people. Perhaps the Pharisees are demon possessed themselves and being BLIND to this, they PROJECT what is happening to themselves onto Jesus. John the Baptist calls them a BROOD OF VIPERS in Matthew 3:7 who are resistant to REPENTANCE.

In Matthew 5:20 (NLT) Jesus says “But I warn you-unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”

The man who was healed was BLIND AND DEAF. The Pharisees are BLIND AND DEAF themselves to the things of God and need healing. John 12:38-40 (NIV) says “…For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has BLINDED their eyes and DEADENED their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Like Brian, they say, “I am blind to what Jesus has done for me and I intend to stay that way!” My Dad used to say “There are none so blind as those who will not see!”

The invitation is to allow the Lord to open your eyes to His truth and intentionally remain open to Christ and what He wants to do in your life today.

Pastor Ross

Part 7 – Matthew 12:22 – BLIND AND DUMB ABOUT DEMONS!

See No Evil, Speak No Evil!

As I walked into the room I had visited only that morning I noticed that some people, had an increased CONFUSION, RESTLESSNESS AND INSECURITY. I met the Asian woman with such beautiful eyes who HALLUCINATES and HEARS VOICES each afternoon. I had a quiet conversation with a woman who, the afternoon before, had thrown a chair across the room, shouting out in OUTRAGE, which was unusual because she is normally so calm, composed and certainly not able to lift a chair of that size.

One man, normally passive and easy to get along with became increasingly MORE DEMANDING and UPSET for no reason at all, SUSPICIOUS of everyone and DISORIENTED, swearing at everyone and abusive to the point of having to be physically restrained by the police and taken to a hospital for sedation.

What am I describing? A DEMON POSSESSED person? Perhaps. A person on DRUGS? (Well yes, but prescribed). MENTAL ILLNESS? I am actually describing what can happen to many people during a time known as SUNDOWNING (in the afternoons and towards nightfall). Many people suffering from DEMENTIA experience SUNDOWNING. The cause of SUNDOWNING is unknown, and so it is treated with ANTIPSYCHOTIC drugs. But I wonder if there is a SPIRITUAL DIMENSION to Sundowning?

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in Genesis 3 their sin sparked off a lot of CONSEQUENCES. Romans 8:20-23 (NLT) says “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s CURSE. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious FREEDOM from death and decay. … for we long for our bodies to be RELEASED from SIN AND SUFFERING. …” Sin carries an ongoing curse that only Jesus can break.

In Matthew 12:22 (NLT) I read two simple sentences without a lot of details. “Then a DEMON-POSSESSED man, who was BLIND AND COULDN’T SPEAK, was brought to Jesus. He HEALED the man so that he could both speak and see.” 

I am intrigued because I have many unanswered questions about this verse. HOW did he become demon-possessed? WHY was he blind and unable to speak? Was it BECAUSE of the demon or demons? Obviously not all disability can be linked to demons. How do I determine what is and isn’t? Can all disabilities be healed? Is it only those associated with the demonic? I am not told.

Was he an evil man? Did he have to REPENT first? Did he give his life to Jesus? Did he have to give his CONSENT in order to be healed? I don’t know. One thing is sure – when I am in the presence of Christ I am in a position where I can be healed, delivered and restored.

Somehow this man had opened his life up to EVIL! Demons are evil. But despite this, Jesus heals him. No-one is BEYOND the compassion of Jesus. Jesus BROKE THE CONNECTION with demonic influence. SPIRITUAL WARFARE – a CRUSH-SATAN’S-HEAD kind of victory! He demonstrates power over the enemy by casting out demons and healing this blind and dumb man IMMEDIATELY. The crowd saw an immediate change in his circumstances. When someone who has been blind can SEE AND HEAR again, you pay attention.

Speaking about being BLIND AND DUMB, why is it that in the West we are so unwilling to talk about or acknowledge the possibility of SPIRITUAL WARFARE? Not only BLIND to the things of God but TOO DUMB TO DEAL WITH DEMONS? ANTIPSYCHOTIC DRUGS can’t be the only solution to things we don’t understand. It seems at times I am all too willing to SUPPRESS that which I cannot control. I wonder if drugs leave people even MORE SUSCEPTIBLE to the demonic world? (see messages on Matthew 8:28-34).

Like the man in this verse we all need to be BROUGHT to Jesus. Did someone care enough to bring him or was he FORCED? Did he AGREE to come? Was he sceptical? I am not told, but I do know that I want to be willing to be brought into the presence of Jesus when I need help to see. Blindness and deafness of any kind, demon possession and the most regrettable sins remain as impossible problems until I am willing to bring them to Jesus.

God bless you Church as you are willing to be brought into the presence of Jesus so that you have an opportunity to be healed and restored and set free. God bless you as you look for opportunities to bring others to Christ.

Pastor Ross

Part 6 – Matthew 12:17-21 – GRAND FINAL VICTORY! CHOOSE ME!

Choose Me!

Australia is in the middle of GRAND FINAL FEVER with the NRL – THE DRAGONS VS THE ROOSTERS. What are the characteristics needed for those chosen to be the warriors of this battle? What is it that will win the game and bring victory? What will provide the competitive edge that guarantees success in the end? A BONE CRUSHING, COMPETITIVE MOMENTUM, A WIN-AT-ALL-COSTS, FAN PLEASING POWER that SHOWS-NO-MERCY, and that’s just for starters!

You would think that when God chose the BEST MAN to lead His team to VICTORY He would choose someone well QUALIFIED? When God is the SELECTOR, you would think He would choose someone who would GUARANTEE such success that you could engrave His Name on the VICTORY TROPHY long before He even arrived on the planet. His JERSEY could be hung in the HERO’S HALL OF FAME way ahead of time!

Matthew 12:17-18 (NLT) says “This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him: “Look at My Servant, whom I have CHOSEN. He is My BELOVED, who PLEASES Me. I will put MY SPIRIT upon Him, and He will proclaim JUSTICE to the nations. He will NOT FIGHT OR SHOUT or raise His voice in public. He will NOT CRUSH the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally He will cause justice to be VICTORIOUS. And His name will be the HOPE of all the world.”

1. So what qualities does God look for in the One He chooses to lead the grand final of grand finals? Is it the BONE CRUNCHING INTENSITY of a charging bull? NO! He chooses someone TO BRING HEALING AND RESTORATION TO OTHERS (Matthew 12:15). Instead of pounding the opposing team into the ground, He runs onto the field like an AMBULANCE MAN to pick up the players that are INJURED, and expects me to do the same. What is this?

Many people wanted Jesus to CRUSH the Roman occupiers, and for that matter the Pharisees. To TACKLE them with such RAGING POWER that they would be wiped off the face of the earth – a player like Elijah who would call down FIRE from heaven and CONSUME them (2 Kings 1:10,12)! GAME OVER except for the cheering! The fans left happy! JUSTICE with a FREE KICK! NO! He came to HEAL AND RESTORE me when I am BRUISED AND BROKEN and He calls me to do the same.

2. I would have chosen someone with at least a COMPETITIVE EDGE, shouting out TAUNTS with fire in His eyes like a rabid fan, but God chose Someone TO SERVE – Jesus wasn’t even on the FRONT ROW! He’s the guy that brings the water at half time and He calls me to do the same. Matthew 23:11-12 (NLT) says “The greatest among you must be a SERVANT. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT) “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave (or SERVANT) and was born as a human being. …” In Galatians 5:13 (NLT) God says through Paul “…use your freedom to SERVE one another in love.”

3. But serving one another is not catering to our whims. God doesn’t choose Him because He has an overwhelming desire to PLEASE THE FANS. Instead He chooses someone who has the desire TO PLEASE GOD, not cater to us, because fans are so fickle (Matthew 12:18). And make no mistake, God is pleased with Jesus even if the Pharisees are not! 1 Peter 2:4 (NLT) says “…He was REJECTED by people, but He was CHOSEN by God for great honour.” God has already said in Matthew 3:17 (NIV) “This is my Son, whom I LOVE; with Him I am WELL PLEASED.”

And once again Jesus is my example. Ephesians 5:2 and Romans 12:1-3 (NLT) says “Live a life filled with LOVE, following the example of Christ…” “…know God’s will for you, which is good and PLEASING and perfect.” 

4. I would have chosen someone with the POWER AND MOMENTUM of a DEMOLITION BALL in full swing but God chooses Jesus who has the SPIRIT OF GOD upon Him (Matthew 12:18), and the POWER OF GOD behind Him, giving me the example of how to live my Christian life. That’s why Ephesians 5:18 says that I am to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” and to exercise the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

5. On the football field selectors choose those who will SHOW-NO-MERCY but God chooses Someone TO PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO ALL PEOPLE. Justice is doing what is right before God and man (see Matthew 5:6). Jesus Christ shows me how to live and behave toward God and toward others, not just play the game. Micah 6:8 (NIV) says “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act JUSTLY and to love MERCY and to walk HUMBLY with your God.”  

God bless you Church. Jesus was chosen TO BRING HOPE TO A BRUISED AND BROKEN WORLD, as He died for me on the Cross and paid the PENALTY for my sins. The game is still AT HALF TIME and there is still time to be selected for the TEAM. I don’t have to sit on the bench. CHOOSE ME! The final trumpet is yet to sound and Christ will be proclaimed VICTORIOUS. WE WIN!

Pastor Ross