Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Matthew 13:34-35 – HEY! THAT’S ME IN THAT STORY! – Part 15

Hey! That's me in that story!

Back in the 60’s my parents allowed me to go to the city cinema and watch movies about Tarzan. The back yard then became my jungle and I would act out the whole movie again. I still have a tendency to be a product of the last movie I have seen, book I have read, conference I have attended? I PUT MYSELF INTO THE STORY and I find myself aspiring to the values of the hero.

Julie writes beautiful children’s stories. In each book she has written for our grandchildren, she seeks to encapsulate who they are through one of the characters and the adventures they have. She puts them into the story with the hope that one day they will be inspired to seek their God given destiny. There’s something about a story.

Why does Jesus speak in parables? Why doesn’t He explain all His stories? Matthew 13:35 says that He spoke in parables because “This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet: “I will speak to you in parables. I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.” Surely there is MORE TO IT than just fulfilling an ancient prophecy about being a storyteller.

I tried to discover which prophet Matthew refers to. It seems it was the person who wrote Psalm 78:2-7. He says “for I will speak to you in a PARABLE. I will teach you HIDDEN lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His mighty wonders. For He issued His laws to Jacob; He gave His instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. SO EACH GENERATION SHOULD SET ITS HOPE ANEW ON GOD, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands.” (NLT) There it is. Stories DRAW YOU IN. I can imagine children in the time of this Psalm playing out games about Moses and other characters from the Bible, PUTTING THEMSELVES INTO THE STORY, taking on the character and aspiring to the values of the heroes. That’s the point of a parable. It’s a truth that is meant to be lived out.

What I also notice from the prophecy in Psalm 78 is that Jesus is not so much teaching something NEW but He’s explaining through parables truths that have been HIDDEN IN THE PAST. That’s what He says in Matthew 5:17-19 (NLT). “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose…”

Even Jesus has put Himself into the story. In fact as God puts Himself into our story by entering into the world and dying on a Cross for my sins, He gives me the invitation to be a part of His story, to discover His purposes and will for my life. As He lived a perfect life, I now can exchange my sinfulness for the righteousness of Christ. As He died on a Cross so too I choose to take up the Cross and follow Him. I exchange my story for His. He is my life. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. Through Christ I understand God’s Truth. He has written me into the pages of His story (History).

Jesus says “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” (Matthew 13:43 NLT). It’s interesting to me that Jesus is not trying to cater to everyone. He knows that the Pharisees are not really interested in the story except to try to trap Him or misrepresent Him. In Matthew 13:14-15 (NLT) He says “…For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.’” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) says “…Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. ….” 

Some things only God is able to reveal to us. Jesus says in John 14:26 (NLT) “…the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” When it comes to the crunch, the parables will come alive in me through my everyday experiences as I allow the Holy Spirit to apply His Truth in me.

The invitation is to have the SPIRITUAL EARS TO HEAR. Those who God gives the ability to understand will be those who actively and intentionally put themselves into the parables and see and hear how they are enacted in our lives today.

Pastor Ross

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

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