Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 12’

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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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 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

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