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

Kingdom of Heaven"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." - Luke 1:32-33 NASB

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary to give her the good news that her life was about to be tossed into the tumbler, He included some details we don’t see in fulfilled as yet.

He tells her the Son she is to bear will be given the throne of His father David, and He will have an everlasting reign over the house of Jacob.

David’s line had lost the throne over 400 years before Christ was born. The house of Jacob had been dispersed across the known world. They had no common ruler. They were a scattered people.

When the Great Shepherd walked the streets of Galilee with a dozen followers he showed no kingly ambitions.

He made no move for political power.
He didn’t try to reestablish the throne of His father David.
He didn’t stir up the crowds that gathered to Him for a revolt.
He didn’t preach a political agenda.

So here’s the question. Is His reign a future reign. Is Gabriel prophesying of a second coming reign, where Jesus will come and rule and reign?

Or is Gabriel speaking of dominion of Christ in the hearts of the true Israel—the true people of God—the called according to His plan and purpose.

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. - Galatians 3:7

John the Revelator grabs Gabriel’s words and applies them to His second coming. He paints a picture of the heavenly throne room where God’s most honored fall on their faces before Him.

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, - Revelation 11:15-16

And so it shall be.

All that said—His reign did begin in Galilee with that band of uneducated fishermen whom He picked up along the edge of the Sea of Galilee. He began His eternal reign that day on the shore:

And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." - Matthew 4:19

They followed, and He reigned. He took His place on the throne of their hearts.

When tempted to go elsewhere, Peter famously replied:

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." - John 6:68-69

There will be a day when every knee will bow to Him and honor Him as Lord of All, but today He reigns in those like Peter who answer His call, “Follow Me.”

Truly, even in this day of gross darkness, His rule—His government is increasing. As the dark grows darker, the light continues to shine.

He’s still inviting people to follow Him and become fishers of men (and women). He’s still setting those alight who will follow and sending them into the immense darkness of our day, to shine.

He’s walking the shores of your life today and calling you to leave your nets and follow Him. He wants to give you new nets—nets for catching men and women.

And so His reign does increase even today.

Will you forsake all and follow Him?

What would that look like in your life?

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

Think on these things.

Ben

4

Kingdom of Heaven

Preach the Gospel!

Share the Good News!

Spread the Word!

But what Gospel are we preaching?

The Gospel of salvation you say? OK. But do you know that these two words, gospel and salvation, only appear together twice in the Bible.

Here:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. - Romans 1:16 NASB

And here:

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, - Ephesians 1:13 NASB

The phrase “gospel of the kingdom” show up twice as often.

For example:

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. - Matthew 9:35 NASB

And here:

"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. - Luke 16:16 NASB

What’s the difference you ask?

I grew up hearing a gospel that could get me saved—forgiven—but it left me at the cross. Once in a while I’d pear around the side of the cross to see what lurked behind it, within that wonderful kingdom. But I found that I never ventured much beyond the cross. Week after week we would hear the message of salvation, the “gospel” was preached.

Discipleship amounted to teaching one another about how to share the gospel with others. How to get them to gather round this cross with us. So there we huddled—around a cross—at least it was an empty cross—we camped out before a risen Lord—but there we camped.

Jesus preached about life IN the Kingdom of Heaven. His discipleship program was not just about dying, but about living. Buried with Him in baptism—risen with Him in newness of life.

Hallelujah!

Oh—He taught the boys how to die to themselves, sure, and how to put to death that old man. But His lessons were not just about self-control and sin avoidance. He also taught them how to walk in power, and love. And how to demonstrate the kingdom of God.

Here are a few examples of Jesus teaching His disciples about life in the kingdom of heaven.

When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, "This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves."

But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” -Matthew 14:15-16 NASB

Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

And He said, "Come!"

And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. - Matthew 14:28-32 NASB

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." - Matthew 9:35-38 NASB

Jesus was putting the boys through JSSM—Jesus School of Supernatural Ministry.

Perhaps the biggest discipling moment arrived the day He sent the boys out on their own. (Midterms at JSSM.) He showed them. He helped them see and do. Finally in Matthew 10, He pushed them out of their little nest.

"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

In effect, Jesus told them to get out there and do this stuff! The kingdom is near you; The kingdom is in you; The kingdom goes with you; Preach the kingdom; Demonstrate the kingdom.

It amazed them that the demons were subject to them. It didn’t surprise Jesus. That’s what life in the kingdom looks like. The supernatural is natural in a supernatural kingdom.

In Jesus’ day, the gospel always came with a demonstration of the kingdom, thus the phrase gospel of the kingdom.

I know that Paul codified the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. He boiled it down to Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and appearance to the disciples and followers. The essence of the gospel is this, Jesus is Lord, He is King. He brought this kingdom, and He didn’t take it with Him when He left. We could even boil it down further. As my friend Pastor J. said in a recent comment—The gospel in its simplest form is Jesus.

Jesus told the boys how it would be at the Last Supper.

After He told them they would do greater works that He did Himself, and that if they would ask anything in His name, He would do it. (John 14:12,14) He explained how it was all going to work.

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. - John 14:23 NASB

Is it any wonder that kingdom life should look like the life of Jesus? Every citizen of the kingdom of heaven is a residence—an abode—for the triune God. [Tweet This] This is the good news! This is the Gospel of the kingdom of heaven. Christ In You.

Lord, fill me afresh this morning. I want to let you work through me. Speak through my mouth, touch through my hands, love through my heart. Have Your way in me.

BenHeadshotThanks for coming by.

Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom as you go!

Ben

6

Kingdom of HeavenJesus came preaching.

What did He preach?

The gospel (good news) of the kingdom.

He picked the message up from His forerunner John the Baptist:

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - Matthew 3:1-2 NASB

As soon as Jesus came out of the wilderness and His time of temptation, He began His ministry.

From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - Matthew 4:17 NASB

We see a few verses down the page, this was His message everywhere He went.

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. - Matthew 9:35

We learn from Luke, this was a new message—a strong break from the preaching of the past.

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. -  Luke 16:16

I sometimes think that the gospel of the kingdom is like kindergarten for Christians, and we need to move on to the deep spiritual lessons of the faith. But in truth the disciples, after having spent three years in JSSM (Jesus School of Supernatural Ministry) had a forty day conference. It was after His resurrection, and after He breathed the breath of life into their souls. What was the theme of Jesus last conference?

To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. - Acts 1:3 NASB

And what was the message that the apostles and the early church preached?

Philip:

But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. - Acts 8:12 NASB

Paul and Barnabas:

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city.

The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." - Acts 14:19-22 NASB

In fact the book of Acts starts off in 1:3 (above) with the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom and ends the same way—here are the last two verses of the historical account of first century history of the church:

And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. - Acts 28:30-31 NASB

One final scripture to consider. Jesus told us that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom must be taken to the ends of the earth.

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. - Matthew 24:14

When I see the clear emphasis on the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom in the Gospels and the book of Acts, I see that it needs to be in our mouths every day. Our preaching must be the Gospel of the kingdom. We’ve had enough self-help sermons. We’ve had enough ‘you ought’a do better’ sermons. We’ve had enough ‘feel good about yourself’ sermons.

We must preach the gospel of the kingdom.

Selah.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

In the next installment we’ll talk about the content of the gospel of the kingdom.

Till then - keep shining!

Ben

3

Have you ever noticed how Jesus dealt with need?

He went to what was supposed to be a secluded place. He intended to mourn the death of one He loved dearly, John the Baptist. The crowds were as big as ever. This, in fact, is the largest crowd documented in His ministry. We call it the feeding of the 5,000 and yet the text tells us,

There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. - Matthew 14:21 NASB

So could we guess somewhere between eight and twenty thousand?

That doesn’t really matter to Jesus, so let’s not get crazy about the number. The point is, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to feed these folks, since they apparently didn’t even bring food for themselves, or had already eaten it on the way across the lake.

In any case, Jesus looked at this multitude, far from the local markets, and decided to ensure they didn’t go away hungry. Matthew, Mark, and Luke agree that Jesus told the disciples to feed them. It the kind of thing that would be hard to forget.

I can see Matthew at a table in His old age writing down the accounts of his time with Jesus. What would I remember about that day, even if it was fifty years past. I would remember the moment when Jesus turned to me, standing with my satchel empty and said “Feed this multitude.” It’s just the kind of thing you don’t forget.

So what is Jesus’ solution to this dilemma of thousand’s to feed?

It’s His two step plan for abundance.

It will work in any life.

If you have the courage to follow this plan, you’ll see something unforgettable.

Step one: Find out what you have.

And He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go look!" And when they found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." - Mark 6:38 NASB

And here is the key to abundance.

Step two: Bring it to Jesus.

And He said, "Bring them here to Me." - Matthew 14:18 NASB

I just love that!

What do you have?—Bring it to Me.

You have to see this. Jesus never allowed circumstances to convince Him that He was in a tight spot.

Do you think Jesus thought they had enough in their bags to feed this crew? He knew they didn’t have a year’s supply of stores with them. They came here to be alone, not intending to deal with the crowds. This mob tracked Him down.

But He has a simple solution to the problem.

What do you have?—Bring it to Me.

Have you ever come up against a need you really wanted to meet, but you pulled back because you just didn’t have the resources to deal with such a great problem?

What do you have?—Bring it to Jesus.

I’m not saying to be foolish.

I’m not saying if you want a bigger TV or a snazzier car you should go into debt “trusting” God to feed your own lusts.

What I am saying, is when you find yourself in a tight spot—gather up what you have and bring it before the Lord. Then pray and listen for His solution.

Really, try this. (I’m going to—this message is really for me.) Lay your bills and your bank statements (or wallet, if the bank has nothing to offer) out on the dining room table (or the floor, if they have already taken your table.) Give it all to Him, your bills, your debts and your resources.

Lord, this is where I am. This is what I need and this is what I have. What am I to do?

Then listen. Have a pen and paper with you. If thoughts come to mind - write them down. They will probably not all be God thoughts, but write down everything you hear, or sense. Then pray through what ended up on the paper. Look for the life on the list. What, on the list, gives you a sense of hope.

If it’s something that sounds crazy in the natural, you might want to get some trusted godly counsel.

If you’re married, do this with your spouse, and DO NOT proceed unless you both have peace and sense life.

By the way—Jesus didn’t tell the boys to go into debt to solve this problem. The only risk involved with what Jesus told them to do is that they might have felt a little foolish if nothing happened.

So, I’m not telling you to take all your life’s savings and send it to a preacher somewhere.

I’m asking you to bring what you have to the Lord. Put it all at His disposal, and ask Him what to do next.

I’m expecting great things.

Are you?

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

Have a great weekend.

Ben

3

Kingdom of Heaven

God’s never going to be dissatisfied with you, once you are in His kingdom. (Need to get  up to speed on the conversation - check out my posts from Monday and Thursday.)

I’m not saying that there is no room for repentance in the life of a believer, but it’s got to stop dominating all our communication with God.

Repentance is near and dear to my heart as you will know if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time. (For instance: Repentance, the Path to Victory)

When Jesus taught us to pray He placed repentance near the end of the prayer. Two-thirds of our prayer life should be giving Him glory and submitting ourselves to His will.

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13 NASB

The truth is that for much of my Christian life, I spent most of my prayer time telling God I was sorry for my failure. It stopped me from moving forward.

It’s like I got myself 1/2 way through Romans 6. I was dead to sin—or at least I hated it pretty well, but I never quite got myself raised again in newness of life. I figured that was for the future—for heaven.

It is for heaven—the kingdom of heaven. But Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven to earth two millennia ago, and didn’t take it back when He ascended to His Father’s right hand.

He deputized His disciples to bring the kingdom of heaven to every corner of the earth. He sent them to a lost and dying world with a message of life—abundant life.

So—are those just words to you—abundant life? Are you stuck?

Let’s begin our prayer where Jesus taught us.

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:9-10 NASB

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

Shine your light today.

Ben

8

Kingdom of HeavenMonday I asked if you could feel God's dissatisfaction.

Today, I’m compelled to press this further.

When we sulk about, meditating on our unworthiness, it is a disgrace to His wonderful grace.

This idea that the Father is not satisfied with us actually tramples under foot the blood of Christ, treating it as though it had no power to pay our debt nor give us His righteousness. I’ll say it again. It’s a disgrace to grace. It’s a lie from hell. It has held the Church back far too long.

Our enemy painted this image we have in our head of a God who is angry with His children. He mocks the words of Jesus, the promises of God, and the teaching of the apostles. He employs the same tactics he plied in the garden.

Hath God said?

It is finished! - John 19:30 NASB

Hath God said?

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. - Ezekiel 36:25-27 NASB

Hath God said?

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

Hath God said?

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. - 2 Corinthians 5:19 NASB

Hath God said?

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. - Revelation 1:5-6 NKJV

What rises up in me is a resounding,

Thus saith the Lord!

Deal with it satan.

And deal with it saint - you are pleasing in His eyes. [Tweet This] It’s not of your doing, The blood of Christ has made you so. He, the Lord God Almighty, will never again be dissatisfied with you. You are His beloved child.

Hallelujah!

[I need to say that again]

Hallelujah!

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgSee you again soon.

Ben

4

Kingdom of Heaven

When you approach God, do you sense His dissatisfaction?
Does every prayer begin with you lamenting your own unrighteousness?
Do you feel His displeasure with you?
Does it make you reluctant to spend time in personal prayers?

We have been conditioned by the theology of hell to see ourselves as distasteful to God. The message of man’s failure has been preached to the exclusion of all else so that we’ve missed one big news item.

Jesus satisfied the Father, once and for all, on the cross. [Tweet This]

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; - 1 Peter 3:18 NASB

If you have turned from your old ways and accepted God’s free gift of life and citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, the righteousness of Jesus is applied to your account.

I hear much about the forgiveness of sin, but there’s more to what Jesus did for us that simple forgiveness. [Hear me, I’m not trying to make forgiveness small—it’s HUGE.]

Think of a man with a massive bill to pay. A bill greater than the value of all his worldly possessions. He liquidates all his assets and he’s still in debt. His balance is negative. If some kind benefactor comes along and pays the bill for our debtor friend, what does he have?

Nothing.

He's out of debt, but may still have to go begging for food to survive.

But if that benefactor then takes our formerly indebted friend and sets him up in business, gives him a car, and a home and provides an income while the business is getting off the ground, what does the man need now? He’s gone from deep in debt to prosperity.

When our friend—no longer a debtor—meets his former creditor, how does the creditor feel toward him? There is no reason for our friend to grovel and beg for leniency because the debt has been satisfied.

And what is this man’s approach to the one who paid the debt?

Thankfulness.

The Father (both creditor and benefactor in this story) has not simply paid our debt, and left us penniless. He has filled our account with the righteousness of Jesus.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB

God is satisfied with us. He didn't leave us in a place of begging for His tolerance. He has invited us in to the family, giving us a seat at His table.

Brothers and sisters, don’t allow the lies of our enemy to keep you stuck outside the gates of the kingdom of heaven. His lies have held back so many sons and daughters from ever experiencing the Father’s good favor. Any personal prayer they may attempt ends up looking more like a beggar at the road side hoping for a scrap of bread than a prince sitting at his Father's banquet table.

I implore you today, my sisters and brothers, take your place at the table. Feast on the Father’s provision. Bask in His satisfaction.

More on this soon…

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgHey, thanks for coming by.

Keep the light on!

Ben

1

Kingdom of HeavenJesus commissioned the boys to go and preach the kingdom of heaven.

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

There are more instructions that follow. But on this day, the message they were to carry is simple.

The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Simple message—powerful demonstration.

  • Heal the sick.
  • Raise the dead.
  • Cleanse the lepers.
  • Cast out demons.

The first two times we hear this message—The kingdom of heaven is at hand—we get the message of repentance. This time, repentance is not mentioned, but mighty works accompany these words.

Remember when Jesus told us of His mission?

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

Let’s break it down.

  • Preach the gospel to the poor.
  • Proclaim release to the captives.
  • Proclaim recovery of sight to the blind.
  • Set free all who are oppressed.
  • Proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

This kingdom of heaven comes with a proclamation of freedom—the end of captivity.

When John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to verify that Jesus was ‘the one,’ what proof did Jesus send back?

Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see: 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. "And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me." - Matthew 11:4-6 NASB

What evidence did Jesus offer that the kingdom of heaven was at hand?

  • The blind see.
  • The lame walk.
  • Lepers are cleansed.
  • The deaf hear.
  • The dead are raised.
  • The poor have the gospel preached to them.

The kingdom of darkness is a kingdom of captivity. Many cling to their dark chains because they are forged in fear and selfishness and the locks are made of guilt and shame.

I can’t leave satan’s realm there’s too much to lose—too much to give up.

Sometimes we preach a gospel of religion and ask people to trade one captivity for another. Give up your life of guilt and shame, and take on a new life of self-righteousness. Oh, and by the way, the guilt and shame—bring that along too.

We see Jesus preaching freedom to the captives. Freedom from all their captors, whether they are bound in spiritual darkness, or physical blindness. Jesus comes breaking every chain and sends His followers to do the same.

Is it the same today? Does Jesus still break every chain? Or has the gospel changed? Has it lost some of its power? Does Jesus still send us out the way He sent the disciples, to preach, heal, and deliver?

Lord, today I hear your call to walk with your message of freedom. Allow me to walk into villages of captivity today, and give me the boldness to preach your beautiful gospel. I ask you to confirm the word with signs as you did for your disciples. Do here and now what You did there and then.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by today.

As you go—proclaim freedom!

Ben

6

photo credit: USB Aurora via photopin (license)
photo credit: USB Aurora via photopin (license)

You call yourself a Christian?

Have you ever heard those words? Have you ever just said the wrong thing, or hurt someone and had this question plopped in your lap?

How about this one?

If God is good, why…?

Our enemy loves this question and it’s derivatives. It’s one of his favorite ways to undermine our faith because it pokes at our identity. If he can undermine our conviction of who we are, and who God is, he can derail our forward motion, leaving us broken down on the side of the tracks.

It’s not a new question. In fact it was his first strategy with the Lord in the wilderness. Jesus had come up from the waters of baptism full of the Holy Spirit and fasted for forty days. We’re told He was hungry. [When I fast it only takes about ten minutes from the decision to fast for me to hit ‘hungry.’]

And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." - Matthew 4:3

The adversary’s first attack targeted IDENTITY.

If you are the Son of God…

It’s his go-to attack. Every one of his many minions knows this one. It comes in dozens of disguises.

Why is this such a great place for him to start on us?

Because the very first thing that changes when you enter the kingdom of Heaven is your identity.

You see, you are no longer the old sinner man or the evil woman. You’re not that bad kid anymore. You’re a brand new creation, born again with a living spirit and a washed soul. Your body may look the same, perhaps your step is higher and your face brighter. But satan finds his way into your mirror and begins his attack.

Who do you think you are?

You call yourself a Christian?

You’re no saint!

I know where you came from.

I know what you did last summer—and last night.

If you are a son/daughter of God…

These lies can discourage and disarm you, diminishing your impact on the darkness. They tend to create a bushel to cover your light. These lies must be met with the Truth.

I am a new creation, the old me is dead and buried with Christ. All the things done in the flesh were left in the tomb with Jesus’ grave clothes. All that stands before the mirror today is washed in the precious blood of  Jesus. The charges against me were nailed to the cross and Jesus Christ paid the penalty for every one. I have everything I need for life and godliness through the precious promises of the Word of God. You, satan, are no longer my king, but I serve the risen Savior, the God/Man, Christ Jesus. Get behind me and watch me shine!

Now get out there and get glowing!

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgSee you again soon,

Ben