2

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

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

4

What makes the law so attractive?

We’ve been choosing law over grace from the very beginning. Adam and Eve chose the knowledge of good and evil over life. (Genesis 3) Israel chose being given instructions over a relationship with God. (Exodus 20:19)

Even after God demonstrated the inability of the law to save us (Romans 8:3) we go back to choosing the law.

We have tasted and seen the amazing blessings of grace—forgiveness of sins, new nature, life in the light.

We have been given a new heart, been washed clean of the guilt and stain of our sins. Even our old nature has been sent packing, and we have received the very Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us.

And still we choose law.

How, you ask?

In so many ways.

We do to earn the favor of God.

We give to receive a blessing.

We hold the law up to demand our rights as citizens of this new kingdom.

I’ve done it a thousand times. I’ve demanded that God keep His promise based on my performance.

I’ve spent money I didn’t have because God owed me a blessing based on my giving.

I’ve demanded that He heal because He already paid the price.

I believe the problem is not that God is slack concerning His promises, but that I’m living in a law based paradigm. I slip back into law too easily. I begin to demand to receive what I’m owed, not realizing it’s already been given. I lose sight of God the giver and see Him the One withholding the things I am owed. I must plead my case with Him as my opponent rather than my Advocate.

My mistake may be that I’m using a law based reasoning for healing, or prosperity, or promotion, instead of establishing grace as the foundation of my life.

What earns me healing? Do I, by my tithing, pry open the windows of heaven?

Or are these things simply gifts from the Most High, given freely?

Are all the gifts of God like salvation? There is nothing I did to deserve salvation. In fact, I came to the Lord doubly dead—dead by my sin nature—deserving of death by my own sins and transgressions. There’s not much a dead man can do to save himself.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. - Romans 5:8-10 NASB (Emphasis mine

I didn’t stand before God and demand absolution from my old nature. I, with confession on my lips bowed my head and asked His forgiveness and accepted His great grace toward me.

And you know what He did? He sprinkled me with clean water—washed me clean from my old nature and my sinful deeds. He forgave each and every sin I had ever committed. He took the stoney heart out of my soul—the heart that could not keep His law and kept me from obeying His command to love Him and love my neighbor. Then He replaced that old stone heart of mine with a new heart—one that love’s Him—one that has the capacity to keep His Word. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Then, best of all, He came and took up residence in that new heart.

We’re not adversaries any longer. I was the enemy of God, but today, I’m His dwelling place, and He’s mine. He is my Home. I am His home. I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. (Song of Songs 6:3)

I don’t have to argue my case in order to get what I think should be mine. I don’t have to drag Him into court and show the judge my marriage license and say, He owes me healing, He owes me prosperity, He owes me a good life.

God Forbid!

Our access to all God has for us comes through intimacy not litigation. [Tweet this]

My beloved Father blessed me with all spiritual blessings the day I surrendered my life to Him. (Ephesians 1:3)

My dear Abba God seated me in Christ in heavenly places years and decades ago when I laid down the weapons of my warfare against Him. (Ephesians 2:6)

The Lover of my soul gave to me all things that pertain to life and godliness through the increasing revelation of who He is, day by day as we dwell together. (2 Peter 1:3)

This great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has made me a partaker of His own divine nature through His great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4)

I’m going to start pressing into His grace, and giving Him space to multiply that grace into my situations and circumstances. I’m done demanding from God, and contending with Him. He is more than enough for me.

Thanks for listening as I slog through some thoughts chasing around in my heart.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

In Jesus,

Ben

2

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? - Isaiah 53:1 NASB

Father God asks us a question through Isaiah the prophet. “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Or to put it in another way, Who get’s to see the mighty power of the Lord?

This is the prolog to Isaiah’s wonderful description of a Messiah who would be shamed, mocked, despised, bruised and crushed.

Is the Father saying “Look at My power displayed in how I can crush Jesus?”

NO!

That’s not it at all.

What is He saying?

He is introducing a recurring theme in Word.

God’s greatest strength is demonstrated in weakness. God’s greatest power comes crashing through vessels that, to the untrained eye, seem useless and discarded.

Paul writes of it in 2 Corinthians,

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB

It was a huge revelation to Paul at that time, but it by no means a new concept.

In fact, it is one of God’s favorite methods.

It’s known to all the world through 1 Samuel 17 where David defeats Goliath.

Jehoshaphat demonstrates the strength of weakness in 2 Chronicle 20 by sending the singers out before the armies of Israel and winning against enemy hoards.

Four lepers, locked outside the city gates during a siege deliver the entire city from sure starvation in 2 Kings 7.

Not to mention Gideon and the Midianites, Joshua and the ambush of AI, the masses of Israel escaping the armies of Egypt, Daniel in the lion’s den, and many others.

And we find it in the Lord’s instruction to the Church as she goes forth to labor in the Great Commission.

That is where I want to camp for a few minutes.

He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." - Acts 1:7-8 NASB

Let’s look at this promise. We’ll focus on two words.

“You will receive power…and you shall be My witnesses

From the BlueLetterBible: Dunamis - dü'-nä-mēs

Power: strength power, ability

1.inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth
2. power for performing miracles
3. moral power and excellence of soul
4. the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
5. power and resources arising from numbers
6. power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts

That get’s me psyched! We’re going to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes—come on—shout it with me - POWER! Dynamite power!

But what power? What kind of power are we talking about?

Power to be a witness.

When Jesus spoke these words, (yes—I know He didn’t speak Greek, but that’s how God chose to record if for us) the Greek word for witness had a pretty straight forward meaning. Much as you would expect, it meant one who gives testimony—one who tells what they have seen and heard.

So what’s the big deal—why the need for power?

As it turns out, this group who went forth as witnesses to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ changed the meaning of the word.

The Greek word we read as witness in Acts 1:8 is the word ‘martys.’ That’s right—it’s where we get our word martyr.

You see, this band of disciples took their testimonies and turned the world upside down. Yes there were signs and wonders accompanying their testimonies, but the most striking sign to the world that hated this message of the cross was not healings or miracles.

It was men and women laying down their lives.

It was the power of the cross manifest in multitudes of Christians dying for their faith.

So much so that the word witness came to mean one willing to die for their faith.

This is power made perfect in weakness.

This is God’s greatest demonstration of power.

And this is the promise of Acts 1:8—When the Holy Spirit comes, He will give you the power to lay down your life.

Hallelujah!

BenHeadshotThanks for coming by.

Keep the light on!

Ben

1

I’ve been mulling about in and around Romans 1:18 of late.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, - Romans 1:18 NASB

This comes in stark contrast to the two preceding verses.

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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." - Romans 1:16-17 NASB

Both speak of a revelation and a relationship to the Truth.

In verse 16 the declaration of the Truth (the gospel) brings a revelation of God’s righteousness. (See Friday’s post.)

In 18 the suppression of the Truth (the gospel?) causes a revelation of God’s wrath.

Both expose righteousness. God reveals His own righteousness, while exposing the transparency of man's attempt to hide his own unrighteousness.

We try to pretend we didn’t know. We suppress the knowledge pressed upon us by all creation. We stand before Him without excuse.

In hopes of self-justification we respond like those goats in Jesus description of judgment, “Lord, when?” (See Matthew 25:44.)

Lord, keep me from suppressing the truth that rises up within me calling me to repent, the voice that is willing to make excuses and pretend I didn’t know. I want to be one of those who run to the light and walk with you in the Truth. Let my mouth—and my life—declare the Gospel so others might know of Your great righteousness, and turn.

BenHeadshotThanks for coming by,

See you again soon,

Ben

1

origin_4213511374

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 NASB)

Lord

I remember talking to you young boy (probably 9 or 10 years old) who had been involved in church programs for most of his life. I asked him about his relationship with the Lord Jesus, and he told me that he had made Jesus his Savior a couple years back.

I know he was young, but this was a turn of phrase that he had picked up somewhere, and it really got under my skin.

I gently (at least I think I was gentle, but in those days that was not necessarily my hallmark) explained that you could not make Jesus your Savior. Becoming a Savior is something He did. Your part is to surrender to Him as Lord.

In explanation of the concept of Lord, my friend Kim, who led me to the Lord a few decades ago, used to say (and no doubt still does) ‘unless Jesus is your Lord, your Master, your King, your Boss, you have no place in the kingdom of God.’

Let me be clear. This is not a works thing, it is a submission thing.

I have said it before in this blog, we come into the kingdom of God in the role of servant, bowing our knee to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The government of our lives must rest on His shoulders.

There are those who gather with the body of Christ, tares among the wheat, who believe all the right facts about Jesus, but have never bowed their knee to His Lordship. They live their own lives without any regard to Jesus and His word. Again it is not about their works, the things they do, but their hearts are not surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They never respond to the twinge of conscience when they walk their own way, if they are even aware of it anymore.

But you, beloved, who love Him and surrender to Him, living life listening for the voice of the Spirit, there is no condemnation for you. When you misstep, you quickly adjust as the Holy Spirit within you suggests adjustments and corrections to your path.

Do you see the difference?

One life ship guided by the rudder of the Holy Spirit (this is the Lordship of Jesus Christ) and one guided by self preservation, or betterment.

Who is Jesus to you today?

Will you bow your knee to Jesus this Christmas? He is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and is ready to be your King and Lord even now. [Tweet This]

Here’s how.

Simply call out to Jesus today. Tell Him you need Him to take leadership in your life. Confess every sin He brings to mind, right now, out loud. Take responsibility for your sin, pride and rebellion. Then open your heart to Him. (What does that mean?) Ask Him to be your Lord, Master, King, Boss and begin to submit to Him every day. Romans 8:14 says "They that are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God," so ask the Holy Spirit to guide you today and every day.

Hey, thanks for stopping in today. If you surrendered to Jesus for the first time today, tell somebody about it, get plugged into a church where they teach the Bible, and hang out with people who know Jesus and can help you follow Him.

BenDirector3CroppedMerry Christmas

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

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

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I'm away for the weekend at a wonderful (so far) conference - the Supernatural Life Conference in Harrisburg PA. One of my readers visited an article from two years ago and I realized it has been a long time since I shared my testimony on my blog, so I thought I would bring it back up for another look. This is my story. Perhaps you can share yours too.

Blessings

Ben

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Jesus said:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ~ Matthew 7:21-23

Who are these shocked folks outside heaven’s narrow gate?

  • They call Jesus Lord.
  • They have prayed “the” prayer.
  • They have been in Church – a lot.
  • They have even prophesied, cast out demons, and done many miracles.

When I read this I say with the eleven disciples at the last supper, 'Lord, is it me?'

In fact, this is the very scripture He used to draw me in.

I grew up as a church kid. I was always the good boy, always knew my memory verse, always got my Sunday school lesson done (albeit Sunday morning right before we left for church.)

  • I asked Jesus into my heart at age 4.
  • I was baptized in my little Plymouth Brethren Chapel when I was 11.
  • In my teens went through the Presbyterian Catechism.
  • At sixteen sang in a touring Christian choir
  • As a High School Senior joined the Church Choir
  • Considered becoming a missionary at the Urbana Conference at age 19
  • Taught Sunday school.
  • Ran the Christian Service Brigade boys program at our Church

Then one day I was listening to a preacher (Thank you brother Kim Josephson!) preach a sermon on the Rich Young Ruler, which described me to a tee.

I had to face the fact that I did not have an active, current relationship with Lord Jesus Christ. I asked myself, ‘Am I known by this Jesus?’

I started to ponder verses like John 4:10

…the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

I had to confess at age 25, I really did not know His voice. I knew His name, I knew His Word, I knew about Him, but He was not my Lord, my Master, my King, my Boss. I was not following Him, I was living life in a way that seemed right in my own eyes.

If you had asked me, I would say I had a relationship with Jesus, that He lived in my heart, but I could not point to His direction. I didn't know His voice. I didn't know His leading, so how could I be a follower?

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. ~ Romans 8:14

That morning, listening to that sermon, driving down the road, I pulled off to the side of the road and, brushing tears from my eyes asked Jesus to take control of my life.

He had used His Word and His faithful messenger to expose to me the “one thing I lacked” (from Mark 10:21) and from that moment, with that very first baby step of repentance and faith, I began to “hear His voice” in my life.

I am so glad He is faithful. I am so glad He pursued me. I have a sense that those prayers and activities early in life were not wasted. He honored the little boy’s prayer at age 4, and wooed me for over 2 decades until finally I was willing to give Him more than lip service.

Where do you stand today?

If you feel some kind of vague uncertainty, brush it away. Vague condemnation comes from satan, and he loves to exploit the Word of God to his own advantage.

However, if you sense the Spirit of God saying take up your cross and follow me today, even if you have considered yourself a Christian for decades, don’t hold back. Give yourself to Him today. You will never be the same.

He will lead you to the life you were created for. [Tweet This]

I am so glad you stopped by today to hear my story. I would love to hear yours.

Just think, someone who does not identify with my story, might really resonate with yours! Why not blog about it, and leave a link below – or if you are not a blogger, just use the comment section here to tell us your story.

BenThanks for reading today.

See you tomorrow

Ben