Archive for the ‘Matthew 12’ Category

Reposted in the light of the Game of Origen being played in Australia tonight

Words of Life

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

Australia is in the middle of GRAND FINAL FEVER with the NRL – THEDRAGONS 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? ABONE CRUSHING,COMPETITIVE MOMENTUM, A WIN-AT-ALL-COSTS, FAN PLEASINGPOWER 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…

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Part 17 – Matthew 12:46-50 – JESUS CELEBRATES MY BIRTHDAY!

 

Jesus Loves Me!

My daughter, Rachel, is pregnant! Woo Hoo! Another little boy will soon be born into our family. What a gift!

Christmas of course celebrates the gift God gave in the birth of a baby boy, our Saviour, Jesus. We gather around the manger or decorated Christmas trees to sing carols, and exchange gifts, laugh together, enjoy each others company, and express our love for eachother as a family, peace, goodwill to all mankind and all that.

I wonder if Jesus and His family celebrated His birthday (maybe not with a tree and star or Christmas angel on top, but you know, have a bit of a birthday party, special food etc?). Did He play with His other younger brothers and sisters or where they ESTRANGED from Him? (And yes, Jesus has brothers and sisters. Mary and Joseph had other children).

Once in the world did Jesus merely TOLERATE His Mum and his brothers and sisters? When He went into ministry did Jesus DISOWN them, acknowledging only that they were a necessary means to an end, a kick start in being human, increasingly DISASSOCIATING Himself from them as the years went on? Kind of like a step-Mum and step brothers but not a “REAL” family. Always an awkwardness in calling her Mum? Who is she really? Who were they really?

I have read some ridiculous comments concerning Matthew 12:46-50 this week about Jesus’ relationship with His family – His mother and brothers. They almost imply that Jesus comes from a dysfunctional family!

As Jesus is speaking to the crowd, His mother and brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to Him. Jesus takes the opportunity to use this as an illustration. He asks the crowd, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look, these are My mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!”  

Now why is this mentioned? What is Jesus doing here? REJECTING His family? Brushing them off? Is Jesus trying to stop His family from speaking with Him because He thinks that secretly they are AGAINST Him (Matthew 12:30)?

I have read interpretations of this passage stating that Jesus family are INTERRUPTING His ministry and OPPOSING Him, and how His family has become a RIVAL to His ministry. Hang on a second. WHERE IS THAT?

Jesus wasn’t REJECTING His family! Jesus isn’t ASHAMED of His family. He isn’t ridiculing them, disowning them, disassociating Himself from them, or belittling them. He wasn’t ANNOYED that they were being too familiar with Him. To me, none of that is said or implied!

They just wanted to speak with Him! NO BIG DEAL! And I don’t see any great picture of UNBELIEF here! Jesus’ Mum and brothers aren’t in COMPETITION with Jesus, vying for attention. We aren’t told WHY his family wanted to talk to Him but why assume the worst. This isn’t an awkward moment for Jesus.

Jesus loved His family. He obviously loved His Mum. Even on the Cross He was concerned for her well being. She wasn’t an interruption to Him when He was being crucified. While He died on the Cross His concern was for her welfare. He wanted John to look after her (John 19:27). Why would He regard His Mum and brothers as an interruption now? Jesus died for His family too!

So what is this passage all about? Jesus is speaking of the priority of a FAMILY RELATIONSHIP with God. Jesus is using His loving family relationship as an ILLUSTRATION of how we can have a SPIRITUAL family relationship with God. It’s all to do with coming under God’s authority and doing His will.

In Luke 8:21 (NLT) Jesus says, “My mother and My brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.” In John 14:23-24 (NLT) Jesus says, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.” 

To have a family relationship with Jesus depends on being a disciple of Christ. It is based on an eternal relationship, a relationship with God Himself.

We will celebrate the BIRTH of Christ this Christmas as a family. He celebrates my NEW BIRTH (John 3:3) into His family. Luke 15:10 (NLT) says “…there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” JESUS CELEBRATES MY BIRTHDAY! John 1:12 (NLT) says “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become CHILDREN OF GOD.” What about you? Will Jesus celebrate your birthday this Christmas?

God bless you as you respond to the invitation Christ gives you today to become a CHILD OF GOD, born again, into the FAMILY of God.

Pastor Ross

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Part 16 – Matthew 12:43-45 – PLAYING WHACK-A-DEMON!

Whack-a-Demon!

Many years ago I worked in an organisation called SCILS – Sunshine Coast Independent Living Skills. We worked with people who had mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.

David (not his real name) was helped to find a place to rent in the community. He had been in danger of living on the streets and had already made some questionable friends. He cleaned up his life and we taught him some independent living skills – buying food on a budget, paying rent and keeping the place clean.

David wanted his new life but not at the expense of some of his old habits. He invited his so-called friends to visit him. When they saw that he now had an apartment, with plenty of room, with leechlike intensity, they used David to provide them with free rent and a place where their bad attitudes and lifestyles could thrive in relative anonymity. Even when confronted they were abrasive and uncooperative, malevolent. It took some time to EVICT them, and there was always the danger that they would RETURN.

When Jesus speaks to the religious leaders who confront Him with malevolent intent He says that they are part of an “evil and adulterous” generation that “refuses to repent” and “refuses to listen” (Matthew 12:41-42). As if that’s not enough to get offside with them, He then goes on to associate them with those who are DEMONIZED. Nice! Who said Jesus was meek and mild?   

In Matthew 12:43-45 (NLT) Jesus says “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”  

What is this about? I think Jesus is saying something like this. “You can clean up your life, get rid of your demons, get all religious and reform your life with rules and regulations and good works, but you won’t find real rest. You will still feel dry and empty inside. You will still be restless and crave that which you thought you had evicted from your life until it takes up control again, only this time several times worse.” 2 Peter 2:19 (NLT) says “For you are a slave to whatever controls you.”

An evil spirit can evidently be BANISHED but NOT DESTROYED, just as evil in our generation cannot be destroyed in this lifetime. We live in a world of PEACE-KEEPERS trying to keep evil at bay, but it will not be eliminated at the point of a gun.

Let’s face it, we know that no matter how much the United Nations or any government seeks to LEGISLATE righteousness, they are merely shooting RUBBER BULLETS. The mass of evil will be dispelled for a time only to raise it’s ugly head elsewhere like the game at shows and fairgrounds where you use a mallet to “WHACK-A-MOLE”. We could call this variation “WHACK-A-DEMON!”

We know that a REFORMED lifestyle won’t work. I can clean up my life, scrub the floors of my soul, throw out the garbage, but an empty house is designed for a TENANT, not just to stand there as a sanitised, disinfected empty shell. What I need is a new tenant who will look after the place, not just a empty apartment that will attract all kinds of UNWELCOME GUESTS.

We know that RELIGION won’t cut it either. Jesus is speaking to very religious people (the Pharisees) who advocate a list of “Thou shalt not’s” to remain clean. They even have a few rules for Jesus, including “Don’t heal anyone on the Sabbath”. Substituting religious evils in the guise of good intentions for what God really wants to do in my heart will not change me (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Evict the evil spirits by all means but REPLACE the bad tenants with a good tenant. A life is not transformed by the absence of EVIL SPIRITS but by the presence of THE HOLY SPIRIT (2 Timothy 1:14, Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit indwells my life when I believe in Christ and then I have a chance of a life of VICTORY OVER SIN (1 John 5:1-5).

God bless you as you believe in Christ right now, and as the Holy Spirit comes to lead you into all truth and take up residence in you (John 14:16-17), you will have the opportunity to obey God (1 Peter 1:2) rather than play games of WHACK-A-DEMON.

Pastor Ross

Hunger and the Hunt

Part 15 – Matthew 12:42 – THE HUNGER AND THE HUNT

“She was not beautiful but her eyes were magnificient. They were piercing and caught the light as jade shards and occasionally as she passed into shadows you could catch glimses of the hunger betrayed in the depths of their opalescent gaze.

As the inquisitive marvelled at her entourage, she walked with poise towards the door, her femininity couched in trained self assurance. No-one saw the dissonance of heart and mind as the huge doors opened and she was ushered into his presence.

She entered without hesitation as befitting a queen, her eyes adjusting to the light and her mind alert, enquiring, curious. She thought she heard a voice whisper her name as the doors shut behind her and the muted echo of it’s thud sounded within the hall, but surely no-one knew her name here.

It was beautiful, the curtains and tasteful articles of furniture, and as she met his gaze, she could see that her hunt was at an end. She would find the elusive treasure that would satisfy her soul, her mind, her heart?”  

Jesus speaks of this visit of the QUEEN OF SHEBA to Solomon’s court many years later. He describes her as one who came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. He says that as a result of that visit she will “stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it.” He says, “Now someone greater than Solomon is here-but you refuse to listen” (Matthew 12:42 NLT).  

I don’t know a whole lot about the Queen of Sheba but it seems as if she comes on a QUEST. She has an OVERWHELMING DESIRE to seek spiritual wisdom and her quest for truth leads her to SOLOMON. In 1 Kings 10:1 (NLT) it says “When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honour to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.” 

This isn’t just a cursory visit on the way home from a royal holiday. This is an INTENTIONAL SEARCH to discover spiritual reality. She leaves her kingdom responsibilities behind and enters into Solomon’s territory and sphere of authority. She comes PERSONALLY and travels a great distance to get there. There is a HUNGER and questioning thirst after the things of God. She is WILLING TO LISTEN. Surely when a woman is willing to listen that says something (and of course when a man listens it is no less amazing).

Jesus says that if I am to discover spiritual wisdom and truth then the queen of Sheba is an example in the INTENTIONALITY of that search. Proverbs 2:2-6 (NLT), written by Solomon, puts it this way “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” 

Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) speaks of our search for God and assures us that “if you SEARCH for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.” 

Jesus claims to be GREATER than Solomon. Not only does He HAVE THE TRUTH but He claims to BE THE TRUTH. He 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 goes on to say that it is only “…the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” (John 14:16-17 NLT)

God bless you in your spiritual quest as you search for Him, listen to Him, respond to Him today. Solomon expresses the timeless response of God to your quest in Proverbs 8:17 (NLT) as He speaks to you today “I love all who love Me. Those who search will surely find Me.”

Pastor Ross

Part 14 – Matthew 12:38-41 – THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL!

3 Days and Nights

A few days ago, my good friend Joe (not his real name) was taken to hospital after the antibiotics that he was taking didn’t appear to be making a discernable difference. He deteriorated quickly and after a few days, he was just a skeleton lying in bed, fighting for each breath.

I drove to work on Thursday still pleading to the Lord for a MIRACLE of healing but Joe had died around 2 am that morning, Thursday 5 November 2010 at only 91 years of age. I know that seems OLD to you, but he wasn’t. Good mates are AGELESS. He was someone I loved, a man with a deep faith, a good friend. Heaven rejoices and I am happy for him too but there is an empty space inside which tugs at my heart because I will miss him. Where was my miracle?

When the Pharisees challenge Jesus to show them a sign in Matthew 12:39-40 (NLT) it is NOT in order to see someone they LOVE HEALED, or to see people they CARE ABOUT RESTORED. They want theatrics, a circus show, for Jesus to jump through a hoop at their bidding. They have NO COMPASSION for the healing of a demonised blind man who has been unable to speak and NO CONCERN for the man with a deformed hand who was totally restored. They want DEATH to their enemies – a bolt of lightning to DESTROY the Roman oppressors or at the very least someone to lead an UPRISING. Where was their miracle?

Jesus sees right through them. He says “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet JONAH.”

What on earth has JONAH got to do with the Pharisees asking for a sign, or for that matter Joe? Well, Jesus goes on to explain, “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” His powerful words in Matthew 12:41(NLT) still ring in my ears – “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they REPENTED of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone GREATER than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.”

The Pharisees want a SIGN, a miracle, to prove that Jesus is from God. Jesus seems to be saying “You have all the signs you need in the Old Testament Scriptures already and they all lead to Me!” He doesn’t mess around with their bad attitudes or get DISTRACTED from the essentials. He leads them to the GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL.

When I think of the story of Jonah I think of the miracle of him being SWALLOWED by a fish and surviving for 3 days and nights. And since that is a picture of the RESURRECTION of Jesus, I want to get into working out the details of how these 3 days and nights fit in with when Jesus’ died. How was it 3 days AND 3 nights?

But it seems to me I can miss the forest for the trees if I’m not careful. The MATHEMATICS of the resurrection is not the REAL EMPHASIS of this passage. Jonah’s resurrection from the fish was a great sign, but the GREATEST MIRACLE, however, according to Jesus, is the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS! A whole generation of Ninevites REPENTED because of Jonah’s message. That’s the intention of God. To see people FORGIVEN AND RESTORED to Him! Jesus, on the other hand, is faced with people who “REFUSE to repent” (Matthew 12:41).

My friend Joe knew THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL. He knew the forgiveness that comes from believing in Christ as Lord and Saviour. He leaves a LEGACY OF FAITH. His legacy is a family who has come to love and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jonah says “I knew that you are a MERCIFUL AND COMPASSIONATE GOD, SLOW TO GET ANGRY AND FILLED WITH UNFAILING LOVE. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.”

God hasn’t changed. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord …does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” He loves us as we are but loves us too much to leave us that way. He wants us to respond to Him, to trust in Christ, to experience THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL – FORGIVENESS and a life changed forever. The invitation He gives is to us; to participate in the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE.

Pastor Ross

Part 13 – Matthew 12:38-42 – LIFE BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE!

Beyond the Trampoline

I fell through a trampoline once. It was totally unexpected! One minute I was airborne and the next I was standing on the ground, wearing the trampoline like a giant torn tutu, and all my helpful family could do was laugh at me! I mention this because my granddaughter, normally so cooperative, sent a very clear message to her parents the other day. She said “NO! I won’t go!” She had been playing on the trampoline with her cousins, laughing and having such a great time that when it was time to go home, she simply refused. She was more interested in having FUN than in OBEDIENCE. She was more interested in playing games than in the implications of a world that existed beyond jumping on a trampoline. I fully understand, although my experience with a trampoline was a little more traumatic.

No doubt the Pharisees and other people around Jesus in Matthew 12:39 are also surprised and discomfited when he calls them an “EVIL AND ADULTEROUS generation” and affronted when He accuses them of “refusing to REPENT.” (Matthew 12:41-42). I mean this seems to be such a SWEEPING STATEMENT. Surely there is no need to be so CONFRONTING, so DEMANDING!

So what am I saying? Is Jesus trying to TAKE AWAY my fun? Give me the toys and the desires of my heart, Lord, but don’t demand anything from me,? How can a loving God be so judgmental and insistent? “After all I’m not a bad person. I am just having fun on my trampoline with my playmates and not bothering anyone. And I’m NOT GOING TO REPENT!” (Well, OK. Maybe not the bit about the trampoline, but you get the idea.)

Bumper sticker – “Jesus loves me just as I am, and He loves me too much to have me stay that way”. It’s not about taking away our fun. It’s about living life to the full. THE WORLD BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE. There comes a time when our rebellion and our wanting to play games with God demands REPENTANCE! John the Baptist preached the same message (see Matthew 3:2) and so did many others who paved the way for Christ.

DENIAL – “The world isn’t all that bad!” Have you followed world news lately or walked around a video shop? We have movies that justify homosexuality, adultery and murder as entertainment and world leaders who justify their corruption as a normal part of their governance. It would seem that an “EVIL AND ADULTEROUS generation” (Matthew 12:39) is actually quite a fitting description of our world. DENIAL – “I am not all that bad.” Have you read your Bible lately? Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “…everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” And I don’t see a whole lot of REPENTANCE taking place in the lives of our generation. Lots of denial. Very little repentance.

So what is this “REPENT FOR THE END IS NEAR!” T-shirt that Jesus seems to be wearing? What is this placard He is holding? It isn’t exactly a message that stirs my heart and makes me feel good. It’s UNCOMFORTABLE to be confronted with my sin, and sometimes I want Jesus to take a much SOFTER approach. Then again “REPENT PLEASE” isn’t going to cut it with me or in an evil world. Perhaps SEARED CONSCIENCES (1 Timothy 4:2) need the encouragement of ELECTRIC SHOCK treatment!

Paul seems to sum things up. When he preached at Athens in Acts 17:30-31 (NLT) he said “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He COMMANDS everyone everywhere to REPENT of their sins and TURN TO HIM. For He has set a day for JUDGING the world with JUSTICE by the man He has appointed, and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead.”

When Peter preaches to a crowd at Pentecost in Acts 2:37-38 (NLT) they responded to the message. It says “Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said …”What should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must REPENT of your sins, TURN to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received FORGIVENESS for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Somehow Jesus’ message is clear. There’s LIFE BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE! It’s meant to be lived to the full. The invitation to real life, abundant life is there before you. Jesus hands it to you. You open it up and you look down to what it will cost. It says “REPENT AND BELIEVE! TURN AND RECEIVE! LET ME DIRECT YOUR LIFE”. Am I willing to pay such a price? Now that’s the choice.

God bless you Church as you affirm the message of Christ and show the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:8), the example of a life which is responsive to the touch of God, rich and full, giving hope and incentive for repentance for others in our evil and adulterous generation.

Pastor Ross

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

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