It’s another red-letter day! Let’s take a look at some red letter and see what we can glean.

Come with me to Mark 2:3-12.

Today Jesus actually gives His accusers proof. For much of Him ministry He did not offer any evidence to His skeptics. They pressed Him time and time again for confirmations and signs and He left them wanting. They questioned Him and He gave them more questions and less understanding.

But here in Mark 2 He gives them a reason to believe that He is Messiah, He is:

as Paul puts in Philippians—equal with God

and again Colossians—all the fullness of the Godhead

as the writer to the Hebrews states—the express image of God.

Here’s what’s going on. He’s in the house and there is a crowd as usual. This time there are a bunch of religious folk pressing in to question Him, to put Him to the test.

Luke drops a wonderful nugget into his telling of this story.

…And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. - Luke 5:17 NKJV

We can talk about that another day, but isn’t that wonderful. Even in this room full of skeptics, the power of the Lord was present there to heal them.

Back to the story, there is a paralyzed man with some really good friends. They carry him to Jesus on a stretcher but can’t get through the door. Because of the crowd, they can’t get the stretcher up to Jesus. So what do they do?

They carry their friend up onto the roof, (yikes) break through the roof, rig the stretcher with ropes and lower their friend down in front of Jesus.

Now Jesus sees all this and is clearly confused. (kidding) Obviously the man on the bed needs healing, and as we already noticed, the Lord is ready to go with the power to heal.

But instead of just breaking the tension and healing the man, Jesus scrolls through His options and chooses—provoke.

So many times when Jesus is healing the multitudes we see Him simply touch and bless, but this time He decides a lesson is in order.

It’s time to pull back the veil a little further and let the world see another level of His glory.

And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." - Mark 2:5 NASB

Let’s review. The room is full of the religious muckity-mucks and Jesus decides to demonstrate His authority over sin.

Why?

It’s time for them to understand that Jesus was not just another pretender come to stir up discontent. Jesus is Messiah, Emanuel, the One promised to rescue and redeem His people. God with us.

It’s time for them to leave their nets, their accounts, their religious garb, take up their crosses, and follow Jesus.

"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home." - Mark 2:10-11 NASB

This man who bursts onto the scene and starts stirring up the rabble is no pretender. He is the  real deal. And the healing He carried proves it.

No false Messiah before Him, and there had been many, moved with compassion through the crowds and brought healing to the nation. Only Jesus.

And He’s the same today.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8 NASB

He’s still in the same business.

"THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." - Luke 4:18-19 NASB

It’s His family business, you know.

Don’t be confused by what the religious folks tell you. Don’t be distracted by all the shiny stuff the World dangles before you.

It’s time to drop your distractions, take up your cross and get after Him.

As Philip told his brother Nathanial in John 1, We’ve found the Messiah…come and see.

While you’re at it—if you’re in His family, it’s time you take up the family business too!

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. - Matthew 10:7-8 NASB

Let’s go!

See you again soon.

Ben

8

Here are some red letters that really thrill me.

Join me in Mark 1 today and let’s think about what Jesus said in these three little words. But first ... a little context.

And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." - Mark 1:40-41 NASB

Jesus ran into people every day during His ministry years. It is in fact why He came, to seek and to save the lost, to run into people and bring the kingdom of heaven into their lives. No two of the folks He encountered were alike. It was not as though everyone who came to Him for a miracle came with the same level of faith and expectation.

Some knew deep inside that if they could reach Him, they would find healing, like the woman with the issue of blood.

for she was saying to herself, "If I only touch His garment, I will get well." - Matthew 9:21 NASB

Some were not even sure He had any power whatsoever.

"It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" - Mark 9:22 NASB

Some understood He was not limited to proximity, and could heal across the miles like the centurion.

But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. - Matthew 8:8 NASB

So what about this leper we meet in Mark 1? He had a concern I often hear voiced in Evangelical circles. It’s common thought today that Jesus can still heal and does still heal, but it is linked to some sort of whim or fancy or divine fiat. We come to the Lord in prayer asking for healing as though we hoping He’s in a good mood and might just condescend to do us a little favor and heal our loved one.

This phrase only comes up five times in the NASB and three of them are three accounts of this event. One is when Jesus is talking about John the baptist, explaining that he was Elijah who would come. The only other time we hear this phrase is in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus cries out to the Father:

saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." - Luke 22:42 NASB

Many have adopted this phrase as part of their prayer life.

Here’s the thing.

Jesus answered the question.

He answered this man in no uncertain terms.

He could have simply healed the leper to demonstrate His will without saying a word.

But Jesus—the Word of God—the very Will of God incarnate—the express image of God—Jesus—answered.

I am willing!

And if this doesn’t answer it for you with enough clarity, look at His ministry. He healed all who came to Him. Time after time we see Him heal them all.

The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. - Matthew 4:24 NASB

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, - Matthew 12:15 NASB

We are not calling out to God for something unclear, or something unprecedented.

Jesus, in the Garden, placed Himself into a circumstance we could never see. He was facing separation from the Father, He was facing the cup of God’s wrath stored up against all our sin and the prospected was horrifying.

This is not our case when the come to the Lord Jesus for our healing. He told us His name is Jehovah Rapha - the Lord our Healer.

I understand that when we are talking about our future James tells us to leave it in the Lord’s hands.

Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." - James 4:15 NASB

But James is not teaching us to pray. He’s talking about our attitude toward life.

Jesus Christ who is the same, yesterday, today and forever, said without hesitation:

"I am willing; be cleansed." - Matthew 8:3 NASB

Hallelujah! (That’s a place for shouting!)

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by today.

Walk in the light.

Ben

2

Hi all,

I ran across this wonderful post and wanted to share it with you. It's so important for us to recognize the spirits at work in our conversations with others.

===

Christ The Healer

#Christ The Healer

Last week, in Confronting Spiritual Opposition To The Message, we talked about how a spirit can influence people to interrupt us or suddenly change the topic. We must not become offended at the individual, but instead we realize that a spirit is influencing them and they probably don’t realize what they did.

Today, I share more experiences with confronting opposition. The word anti-Christ means “opposed to Christ”. An anti-Christ spirit is opposed to the revelation of Christ. Here are three phrases that we often hear when a spirit opposed to Christ is trying to divert people’s attention:

 1. “The Power Of Faith Is Amazing”


One night I was at the school across the street. Some people were taking martial arts classes, and a girl’s knee was injured. I began to talk about how God had healed me.

The martial arts instructor immediately cut me off as I was still speaking and began to talk about oriental healing arts. He did something where he pressed on the girl’s knee and tried to move energy to make it feel better. It was obviously far inferior to what Christ could do, since he told me that all of them had chronic knee pain. If it really worked so well, they would all be better! ...

===

Please read the rest of this post on Jonathan's page, Go To Heaven Now. And check out Jerry's comments as well. While you're there, you might want to follow his blog, and check out his books.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

Shine where you're screwed in,

Ben

1

We have undersold the power of prayer—well, I have.

Prayer seems like a great idea for some of those projects that are beyond our control.

Prayer makes me feel like I’m doing something when I’m in a circumstance where I’m limited to only prayer.

Prayer is our last resort.

But the Holy Spirit tells us through Paul:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. - Romans 8:26 ESV

These are great and encouraging words. It’s wonderful to know that even though I don’t know how to pray the Holy Spirit has it.

But there’s a little word in this bit of encouragement that tells me we’re missing it.

The word? Ought.

Oughts have become rather frowned upon in today’s Christian circles, and I’m not trying to popularize guilt and condemnation again. I’m glad the Church is moving away from the use of guilt to make us behave.

And yet, we have an ought. Thankfully it comes couched in the Lord’s great provision for our shortcoming.

What is the solution for our weakness? Prayer. The fact that ought shows up here implies to me that there should come a point in a Christians life when he is able to pray through some of his own weaknesses.

OK - that’s all good, but I’m not there—right? Are you? Maybe so.

Here’s the ah-ha for me.

When I don’t know how to pray to solve my weakness, what does God do?

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. - Romans 8:27 ESV

He, by the Spirit searches our hearts and minds and finds the weakness and …

fixes it? - No

sends help? - No

makes us strong? - No

The Spirit prays—intercedes on our behalf.

God’s own solution to our weakness is not the taking of some action but to pray.

I’ve always thought that we pray and God acts. Or we pray and God puts in our heart the courage to act and the wisdom to know how.

But I’m thinking that the whole work is done in prayer. Words passed between mortal and immortal, between man and God. Short of that words passed between Spirit and Father.

And the result of this intercession?

All our circumstances work together for the believer's good.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28 ESV

This most famous of verses is the middle of a paragraph about how the Spirit intercedes on our behalf to deal with our weaknesses.

My circumstance shines the spotlight on my weakness, and the Spirit carries me before the Father and stands as my advocate, pleading for me—for you.

Do the circumstances dissolve? Not necessarily. Do the problems fall away? Maybe yes—Maybe no. Is a great outcome promised? You bet -

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. - Romans 8:29 ESV

Through the intercession of the Spirit, I am conformed to the image of Christ.

So what do I do with that little ought?

My prayer must become—Lord, teach me to pray. Help me partner with the Spirit and participate in my own transformation.

Yes Lord!

Teach me to pray as I ought!

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by.

Have a great 4th of July!

Ben

2

After Peter opens his second letter with an apostolic greeting and blessing he drops this bit of wonderful:

For by these [His own glory and excellence] He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:4 NASB

Peter sets forth the consequences of two kinds of promises.

The promises given by Father and Jesus our Lord, and the promises made by our flesh.

The promises of God are precious.

They are magnificent.

When we embrace and believe them they lead to an impartation of God’s own nature taking root in our lives.

The other promises mentioned are the lusts of flesh which are underwritten by the lies of this world and it’s god.

Unfortunately, we are inundated by these lies everyday from every side. If you live in the “civilized” world, these liars surround us pressing on us to embrace their promises, to live life to the fullest, to have it all, to follow your heart, achieve your dream, grab the gusto.

These promises the flesh offers, of a brief but real splash of satisfaction, lead to corruption, decay, destruction. They lead to one end. Jesus referred to it in as “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt 25:41)

The contrast couldn’t be more stark.

The promises of God conform us to the image of Christ. They take what is true in our spirit and work it out in our whole life. When you received Jesus, when you surrendered your life to Him, according to the promises of God, you became a son of God. (John 1:12, Romans 8:14)

A rabbit trail about being a son…I know it would be more PC for me to say child of God, but in the days the New Testament was written, a daughter would usually not receive an inheritance. She might take a dowry into a marriage, but her future inheritance would come through her husband. So when Paul writes to Rome and tells us we have become sons of God, it was because sons can be heirs. He knew he was writing to men and women as clearly demonstrated by his greetings at the end of the book where he mentions at least three women by name. But he called them sons, so they would understand that men and women in Christ receive the same inheritance!…end of rabbit trail.

The inheritance we receive in Him is not shared, its joint. We don’t get a portion of what the Father gave Jesus, we are joint heirs. This means that everything that the Father gave Jesus is ours by right of inheritance.

So what did the Father give Jesus? (I know you know this, but just because it is so precious and magnificent, I’m going to make it plain.) EVERYTHING!

All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He [the Holy Spirit] takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. - John 16:15 NASB

Here’s how this works.

You meditate on the precious and magnificent promises and you see what God has already done in your. Your spirit rises up and witnesses to your heart that theses things are true. Your life begins to reflect the truth in your daily walk. You look more like Jesus today because you embraced one of Father’s precious and magnificent promises.

And with each step into your true nature, that inheritance you share with Jesus, you look more like Him. Your life looks like His life. If John’s disciples sent a messenger to you, you could tell them:

the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. - Matthew 11:5 NASB

Now that looks like Jesus!

Hey - thanks for stopping by.

BenHeadshotHave a great day.

See you again soon,

Ben

2

Hi all.

I was poking through my archives and I wanted to share an oldie but goodie from a couple years back. Grab your coffee and check this out. I think you'll like it.

Blessings...

=== from February of 2014 ===

I have been pondering the picture of circumcision.

I understand that these Old Covenant requirements of the law have a real spiritual application in the New Covenant, and one day while I was minding my own business God began to press on my heart the meaning behind circumcision.

My favorite mode of discovery is to write or talk though an idea or concept – so here we go…

What is Circumcision?

First in the physical, it is the cutting away of a part of a man’s reproductive organ (trying to keep it polite here.) [I am not a doctor, nor have I ever observed this procedure, and I don’t really know any of the medical pros or cons, that is not my purpose here.]

I once heard one of my favorite preachers of all time, Jack Hayford, point out that circumcision has to do with our core identity.

Though I don’t remember it well, I am pretty sure the first thing anyone ever said about me was “It’s a BOY!”

Even now, in the days of ultrasound and pre-natal videos, when someone tells you they are having a baby, 90% of the time (yes, I have done a scientific study on this –wink) the first question is, “boy or girl?”

Just as your manhood or womanhood is at the core of your identity, so too, your spiritual identity without Christ is marked with one first observation.

When God looks at your, outside of Christ, there is one thing that stands out – this child is lost.

John tells us that this person, outside Christ, is condemned already and under the wrath of God. (John 3:18 & 36)

But in Christ we can say with Paul:

for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, - Philippians 3:3 NASB

This picture of circumcision is the cutting off of something intimately linked to our identity, a part of who we are at the core of our being.

Circumcision is the violent cutting off of our sin nature.

Let me say it again.

Your sin nature has been violently cut off and thrown away – cast off like the foul piece of dead flesh it is. [Tweet this] It's a bloody mess – leave it alone.

Who in their right mind would pick up that bit of death and try to fit it back into their life?

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, - Philippians 3:8 NASB

This word rubbish is defined: “any refuse, as the excrement of animals, offscourings, rubbish, dregs - things worthless and detestable” [From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon]

The result is that you are no longer identified in God's eyes by your sin nature! Hallelujah. You have a new identity with Him. You are clean, pure, without that former blot!.

Let’s walk in the Spirit today, and step away from life in the flesh. See yourself from God's perspective - clean and free.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

4

Hi all,

I know - I've been missing from the Blog-o-sphere and I will be back.

For now - won't you worship King Jesus with me?

Be Enthroned

Verse 1
We’ve come to join the song
Sung long before our lives
To raise our voice along
Heaven and Earth alike

We’ve seen Your faithful hand
Your mercy without end
A king who bled and died
A God who sacrificed

Chorus
Be enthroned upon the praises of a thousand generations
You are worthy Lord of all
Unto You the slain and risen King we lift our voice with Heaven
Singing worthy Lord of all

Verse 2
All through this life we lead
And on to eternity
Our endless praise will cry
Jesus be glorified
Jesus be glorified

Bridge
Highest praises Lord of all
Highest praises Lord of all
(repeat)
(play this line when going back into the chorus)
Highest praises You are worthy Lord of all

Chorus (Alternate Chords)
Be enthroned upon the praises of a thousand generations
You are worthy Lord of all
Unto You the slain and risen King we lift our voice with Heaven
Singing worthy Lord of all

Thanks to Bethel Music for the lyrics! You can get the chords there too!.

Have a great Wednesday.

See you again

Ben

4

Our home church is studying Romans and we’re working through chapter 6. In our Bible Study last night, my dear friend Helen pointed out the word “instruments” found twice in Romans 6:13, can also mean weapons. With this change, where the text reads, “instruments of righteousness” it can be read “weapons of righteousness.” 

and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments[weapons] of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments [weapons] of righteousness to God. - Romans 6:13 NASB

In my reading this morning I came across that exact phrase in 2 Corinthians

in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, - 2 Corinthians 6:7 NASB

That piqued my interest, so I followed the trail a little farther, and I found two other very interesting places this word is used.

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor [weapons] of light. - Romans 13:12 NASB (Like spiritual light sabers!)

for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. - 2 Corinthians 10:4 NASB

So here is a thought:

We are in a war, and the spiritual weapons at our disposal include our own body given to God for the purpose of walking in righteousness. It is an act of war against satan and his kingdom to walk in newness of life, reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for stopping by,

See you again soon

Ben

3

In our home church we’ve been studying Romans. On Thursday night we were talking about Romans 6 and how our baptism is a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection.

I was listening to Steve Bremner’s Fire On Your Head Podcast and he interviewed Carlos A. Rodriguez. They got talking about Jesus’ baptism and how God tore heaven open.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." - Mark 1:9-11 NASB

You can check out the interview here. The segment I’m reacting to was at about 36 minutes in and went for less than three minutes, but the whole podcast is worth listening to.

This got me thinking about how this relates to Romans 6 and the believers baptism.

Christ’s baptism not only a fulfilled all righteousness, like He said to John the Baptist, but it gave us a picture of what was coming for all of us upon His death and resurrection.

When He was baptized, God tore open the heavens. I love what Carlos A. Rodriguez (check out his blog, HappySonship here) says about this. When you tear something, it’s not because you are planning to sew it back together. It is a destruction. God tore the heavens open and Jesus walked under an open heaven every day of His life.

At the crucifixion of Jesus, God tore the veil in the temple open, once and for all. It was not for the priests to sew back together. It demonstrates that like Jesus, all who are in Christ now walk under an open heaven. No longer do we need to sacrifice yearly for our sins to make atonement to the Lord, so that He will hear our prayers. Now the veil is torn—the heaven open—and we are free to commune with God the way Jesus did. We have the same access to heaven as Jesus did. The store house of heaven is open to us. God's rich supply is as available to us as it was to Jesus.Need direction for your life? Need healing? Need provision? Need comfort? Heaven is open and God is talking.

Not to mention, in the same way as the Father did at Jesus baptism, He poured out the Holy Spirit on us so that we can walk in newness of life. We are new creations—a new species—no longer sin-natured. We are now God-natured. We are not living with dead spirits, suffering from the curse of Adam’s sin. We have living spirits—having been breathed on by the breath of God—inhabited by the Holy Spirit—and benefitting from Jesus’ own righteousness.

Like Paul tell us in Romans 6 when he's talking about our baptism as a demonstration of the fact that we now walk in newness of life—life with an open heaven—with a torn veil and a new spirit.

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:4 NASB

Hallelujah!

That right there is some good news!

Ben NelsonHey, thanks for coming by.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

See you again soon.

Ben

1

I can't get this song out of my heart. I've been singing it all week long. I picked up Bethel's new collection (I want to call it an album, and I suppose that still works - but it does show my age) and have been loving it, but this one has grasped me.

Have It All

Written by Brian Johnson, Bobby Strand, Lindsey Strand, Mia Fieldes, Joel Taylor

Chorus
You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Verse 1
Oh the joy I’ve found
Surrendering my crowns
At the feet of the King
Who surrendered everything

Verse 2
Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say

Chorus
You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Bridge
Ohhhh, Ohhhh
There is no greater call
Than giving You my all
I lay it all down, I lay it all down
There is no greater love
No higher name above
I lay it all down, I lay it all down
Singing Ohhhh, Ohhhh

===

Isn't that wonderful!

You can pickup the CD or MP3 here.

Enjoy.

Ben