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Kingdom of Heaven

Yesterday we looked at repentance, and how Jesus expected repentance as He brought the Kingdom to His people.

One thing we looked at yesterday tweaked my spirit a bit.

We read,

Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. - Matthew 11:20

It seems that Jesus expected repentance as a response to miracles.

Let’s read on,

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you. - Matthew 11:21-24

Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. As we observed yesterday, it came with a call to repentance.

It also came with miracles.

Don’t miss this.

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. - Matthew 4:23

When Jesus brought the gospel, He brought a message of deliverance for the whole man, body, soul and spirit. He came bringing life—shalom—whole life—abundant life—to all who would hear and receive Him.

When He came to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and even His adopted home town of Capernaum, He brought healing, just as He did throughout Galilee, Jerusalem and all Judea.

Do you think it took Him by surprise that these great cities of Galilee did not repent?

Why does Isaiah 53 call Him the Man of Sorrows? This is it right here. Because light walked into darkness, and darkness put out the light, rather than risk exposure. It broke His heart.

The kingdom of heaven had come near to them, and them rejected heavenly citizenship to hold on to the fleeting pleasures of this life.

How is it with you? (Yes Ben, I’m looking at you.)

First—have you turned from your own path to The Way and followed after the One who brings life?

Next—do you bring the good news with the expectation that God will confirm the word preached with signs—wonders?

Finally—do you expect to see repentance. Do you call for it? Do you nurture it either in those to whom you are preaching, or in your own life?

Lord, teach me to preach the good news, as I go, in such a way as to foster repentance, and please bring signs and wonders as the word goes forth. Thank you for the promise of Your presence as we go and preach.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for stopping  by. Sorry this was a bit of a ramble today.

Be a blessing today,

Ben

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A few weeks ago I had the honor of speaking at Pascack Bible Church. We are studying through the book of John and I had the awesome task of preaching about Jesus cleansing the temple in John 2.

Here is a link to the audio. You can listen on-line, or download it and listen while you go for a walk or drive to work.

I would love to get your feedback. Tell me what really stood out to you. Anything really make you think?

BN Writers Page 150Thanks in advance.

Keep Shining.

Ben

 

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“I Shall Be Whole” { The Woman with an Issue of Blood } Painted by Al Young http://alyoung.com/art/work-hem.html
“I Shall Be Whole”
{ The Woman with an Issue of Blood }
Painted by Al Young
http://alyoung.com/art/work-hem.html

“If I can put a finger on his robe,
I can get well.”
Mark 5:28

Blood in the Sheets

Woman with the Issue of Blood

At first I thought it was my time of month.

Blood in my sheets.

I am so tired of blood in my sheets, but now I am too weak to even care.

My little one was only three then; now she is a young woman, and she is probably finding her own blood in the sheets. It’s strange to think of my daughter in that way, but to me it is always blood.

I have not been able to live with her in over a decade. She and my husband live in town, in our little home right down from the market. Oh how I miss the market!

I was selling my olives there when I first noticed the twinge of pain I now know is my hemorrhage. It was the first night of thousands strung together to make up who I am, who I have become.

I was Gilda the olive girl. I sold olives in the market. I was beautiful. People always remarked about the color of my eyes. They said my eyes matched my olives.

I can’t remember the last time anyone even looked at my eyes.

Now I am forgotten.

This blood—this hemorrhage—has robbed me. It’s as though a thief broke in and took everything.

Not my silver, and linen, and fine china, though those are all gone, too. We sold it all to raise money for the doctors. The doctors couldn’t do a thing. I went to doctors in six villages. I even went down to the hospital in Capernaum, but I returned much as I’d left, only bruised and penniless.

The thief I speak of did not walk away with my possessions; he stole my family, my dignity, my humanity, my identity. I was Gilda the olive girl. Now I am no one. I am invisible. I am a scar on the roadside, to be stepped around, avoided. Who am I? I don’t have an answer.

Not long ago, some lepers were talking about a man. This man, I overheard, was wandering all over the region of Galilee, doing things I’ve never heard of before except at the storyteller’s. Jesus, they call Him. He was opening the eyes of the blind, healing all manner of sickness, and even cleansing some lepers.

Oh that name! Jesus! The LORD is salvation. O how I need a Savior!

When I heard the stories, I felt something deep in my chest, something I had not known for ages. I felt hope. After twelve years of blood on the sheets, after a decade alone, an outcast, forgotten, I felt hope.

My first thought was to go to Him. I must have Him put His hands on me and command this blood to stop. But my own husband was unwilling to touch me. The last time he came and held my hand, they would not let him back in the congregation for a week.

The stories kept coming. He healed everyone in town, laid hands on the sick folk there. I even heard He forgave a man’s sins just a few days back.

Who is this Jesus?

I began to wonder if I could get to Him through the crowds that are always thronging Him. I wondered if I could get close enough to touch Him. I remembered a story from my childhood of the day they threw a dead soldier on the corpse of an old prophet, and the soldier came back to life.

If this Jesus is anything like the old Elisha, I bet just touching the hem of His cloak would be enough to stop my bleeding. As soon as this thought entered my mind, I felt warm all over, like the healing had already started, like the LORD Himself was telling me to do it.

I knew what I had to do. He was walking by, and the crowd, as always, spread around Him like a river flowing through the street. So I went for it. I wrapped my tattered robes around me, covering as much of myself as I could. I kept my eyes to the ground and edged my way into the mob.

I could not see Him yet, but I knew He was only a few paces ahead of me. I kept saying to myself the words I’d heard deep inside my soul: “Touch the hem of His cloak. Touch the hem of His cloak.” It was all I could think, all I could hear.

Then I heard a voice right in front of me.

“Master, where did Jairus say he lived? Do you think it is much farther?”

“Patience, Peter.”

That voice! The heat in my body doubled, and I knew it must be Him. I dove to the ground, my outstretched hand barely brushing the fringe of His robe.

Everything stopped. I could hear my heart pounding in my chest.

The Master stopped. The crowd stopped. My heart stopped.

To my horror, Jesus turned around and said:

“Who touched me?”

Peter laughed. “Who touched You? Everyone touched You. Maybe You should ask who didn’t touch You.”

“Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.”

I knew I was caught. I knew He was talking about me. I had broken the law. I had come into the crowd, making them all unclean like me. I had touched Him, and not only was I not allowed to touch anyone, but to touch this man who was not my husband . . . They could arrest me, or excommunicate me, or even stone me.

I was already on the ground, so I found my way to my knees, buried my face in my hands, and blurted out the whole thing.  I waited for His verdict. What would He do? What would He say?

Then there was that voice again.

“Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Then I understood. The heat I was feeling was right at the source of the bleeding.  As the heat faded, the trickling of blood I’d felt for twelve years was gone. I knew right then and there my nightmare was over.

That was yesterday.

Today I awoke on my cot, and there was no blood.

Today I will return to my home, my husband, my beautiful daughter.

Today I will return to my life, my identity.

When Jesus healed me, He didn’t just stop my bleeding. He restored everything the thief had taken.

What manner of man is this?

~~~
To read the original story, see Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, and Luke 8:40-56.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

The story above is a chapter from my book Encounters With Jesus, which is a compilation of forty such stories. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon. If you want both you can get the Kindle version for only 99c when you buy the paperback on Amazon.

Jesus is getting ready to leave town. He has checked out of “La Quinta Capernaum” and is headed down toward the docks. As always He is set about with crowds of folks who have been hanging on His every word.

And another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” ~ Matthew 8:21

I don’t think this is one of the twelve. More likely someone who was on the hillside for the Sermon on the Mount, or one who happened to be in the synagogue when He declared His messianic mission a week or so earlier. But you know what, it might be one of the twelve for that matter.

In any case, it was someone who had been following long enough to be considered one of Jesus’ students. This word ‘disciple’ means ‘learner under discipline.’

Jesus’ answer always seemed a little cold to me.

But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” ~ Matthew 8:22

I am thinking there are a couple different ways Jesus could have handled this. He could have drawn a map in the dust of the region of Galilee and showed the man where He was heading, so He could catch up again. He could have gone with this man to his father’s funeral. For that matter he could have headed over and raised his dad from the dead.

But I suspect this is not what is going on. I have a hunch that the man’s father was not dead yet.

I knew a man once who made a strong profession of faith and was following for more than a year. But he was from a Jewish background, and his elderly mom was a good Jewish mamma.

One day we were walking together and he began to ask me about his mamma’s future, since she did not know Jesus.

I suggested we pray for her, and that we ask the Lord for ways that he could begin to tell her about what a difference Jesus had made in his life, and how she should come and get to know the Messiah.

He told me he could never tell his mother that he had become a Christian. His exact words were "It would kill her if she knew I was a Christian." He could never believe that his mom needed Jesus. She was a good Jew.

I have a hunch this is what is going on here. The question is not, can you give me 24 hours to take care of my father’s remains and sit with my relatives for a while. It is more like: As soon as my father passes away I will join your band of misfits.

This is why Jesus’ answer seems so harsh.

If you want to be My disciple, stop what you’re doin’, swallow what you’re chewin’, and follow Me.

  • Not soon
  • Not later
  • Not someday
  • Not when I am out of debt
  • Not when I get married
  • Not when I am out of school
  • Not when my children are out of the house
  • Not when I retire

Jesus’ call to you today is simple – Follow Me.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

See you tomorrow

Ben

Hey, don’t forget Friday’s coming – got questions – feel free to drop in at Friday Q&A so we can toss some ideas around.

8

Jesus is getting ready to leave town. He has checked out of “La Quinta Capernaum” and is headed down toward the docks. As always He is set about with crowds of folks who have been hanging on His every word.

And another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” ~ Matthew 8:21

I don’t think this is one of the twelve. More likely someone who was on the hillside for the Sermon on the Mount, or one who happened to be in the synagogue when He declared His messianic mission a week or so earlier. But you know what, it might be one of the twelve for that matter.

In any case, it was someone who had been following long enough to be considered one of Jesus’ students. This word ‘disciple’ means ‘learner under discipline.’

Jesus’ answer always seemed a little cold to me.

But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” ~ Matthew 8:22

I am thinking there are a couple different ways Jesus could have handled this. He could have drawn a map in the dust of the region of Galilee and showed the man where He was heading, so He could catch up again. He could have gone with this man to his father’s funeral. For that matter he could have headed over and raised his dad from the dead.

But I suspect this is not what is going on. I have a hunch that the man’s father was not dead yet.

I knew a man once who made a strong profession of faith and was following for more than a year. But he was from a Jewish background, and his elderly mom was a good Jewish mamma.

One day we were walking together and he began to ask me about his mamma’s future, since she did not know Jesus.

I suggested we pray for her, and that we ask the Lord for ways that he could begin to tell her about what a difference Jesus had made in his life, and how she should come and get to know the Messiah.

He told me he could never tell his mother that he had become a Christian. His exact words were "It would kill her if she knew I was a Christian." He could never believe that his mom needed Jesus. She was a good Jew.

I have a hunch this is what is going on here. The question is not, can you give me 24 hours to take care of my father’s remains and sit with my relatives for a while. It is more like: As soon as my father passes away I will join your band of misfits.

This is why Jesus’ answer seems so harsh.

If you want to be My disciple, stop what you’re doin’, swallow what you’re chewin’, and follow Me.

  • Not soon
  • Not later
  • Not someday
  • Not when I am out of debt
  • Not when I get married
  • Not when I am out of school
  • Not when my children are out of the house
  • Not when I retire

Jesus’ call to you today is simple – Follow Me.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

See you tomorrow

Ben

Hey, don’t forget Friday’s coming – got questions – feel free to drop in at Friday Q&A so we can toss some ideas around.

Image from http://provoketive.com/2012/08/03/everyone-is-following-jesus/

Jesus has just had quite a run of healing encounters, in fact by my reading He emptied the hospital in Capernaum, and as you can imagine the crowds are growing inordinately.

Then some guy walks up to him – here – I will let Matthew tell it.

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side. And a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” ~ Matthew 8:18-19

We evangelicals make our altar calls and stir up emotions and get people highly charged, in hopes that someone will come forward with this kind of response.

We will sing “Just as I am” 30 times to give every one sitting on the fence a chance to buckle to the pressure and “make a decision.”

I personally have given altar calls glittered with rosy promises of forever, and charged with fiery images of damnation.

But Jesus? Not so much. Not this time.

Jesus has this man right where we want him – emotionally vulnerable and ready to make promises.

Then this:

And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” ~ Matthew 8:20

Jesus – are you trying to drive him away? Are you trying to offend this fledgling follower?

Don’t undermine your “Platform” Jesus! Don’t ruin your “Klout” score! Don’t you understand the impact this will have on your image? Every follower is precious.

By the Spirit, Jesus knows this man is not a disciple, that he has not counted the cost, and will fail and fall if he follows, because to follow, is to die.

Hear this: To start out with Jesus on an emotional high, without giving your whole life to Him in the process is to set your self up for failure. [Tweet This] This is MUCH worse than walking away until you are ready. Over eager evangelists have filled churches with half-Christians and left the Church looking like the world.

It is not that I don't want to see people saved, rather, I want to see them soundly saved, delivered, healed and truly turned from darkness to light.

Lord, I do want to follow wherever you lead? Will you give me the strength it will take to follow you, to take up my cross, to die daily? Will you help me to lead others to give themselves to You, heart, soul, strength and mind?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

Stack of BiblesAfter telling of the healing and deliverance of all the sick in the town of Capernaum, Matthew gives us a tiny little Messianic Bible Study.

He takes the events of the day, and applies them to what we know as Isaiah 53:4.

And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” ~ Matthew 8:16-17

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted. ~ Isaiah 53:4

Allow me just a little bit of word study: (feel free to skip this part if you really don’t want the details.)

The Hebrew word that is translated griefs here in the NASB (khol·ē' – pretty much pronounced ‘holy’ only with that gruff throat noise at the beginning) shows up about 24 times in the bible, and 19 times it is translated either sickness or disease. In the lexicon used in BlueLetterBible.org the only offering for translation is ‘sickness.’

The Hebrew word that is translated sorrows here in the NASB (mak·ōve' – pronounced like mac, as in Big Mac or mac and cheese, and ov, as in over – only again you need that guttural kind of chuffing on the c in mac) (do you even care?) This one is most often translated sorrows, but all the definitions relate to pain, though this pain can be physical or mental.

Thanks – now back to the post:

What fascinates me, is that, in my evangelical upbringing, I was taught on a regular basis that what Jesus did on the cross, and what was prophesied here by Isaiah was about my spiritual well being.

And yet, when Matthew, the great pointer outer of fulfilled prophecies, points out this one, he is applying it to physical healings and the casting out of demons.

Why make a fuss about this? Well, I have to say that when my understanding of this scripture, and others, turned from a strictly spiritual interpretation, to a ‘whole man,’ spirit soul and body interpretations, my prayers changed, and the results changed.

When I began to believe that the price Jesus paid and the salvation Jesus purchased was for the whole man, was not simply a path to eventual restoration of health and wholeness someday when we die, but could be pursued here and now, it changed my life.

Hey – there is plenty I don’t understand, and many times I see saints suffer and die in sickness and disease, and please hear me, that is not a reflection on them, or on their community of faith. There is so much more to our world than what we currently see or perceive.

I do understand this – everyone they brought to Jesus, was healed. Every account recorded in scripture of people coming to Jesus while he walked the earth ended with a person made whole. [Tweet This] Not every sick person in all of Judea, but at least every sick person in Capernaum.

This story blows my mind. I really want to be like Jesus. Don’t you?

Lord, today I want to be more like You. I want to walk like You walked, and do the works that You did, and the greater works You promised.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” ~ Matthew 8:16-17

Let me recap:

It’s is the Sabbath (we know this from Luke 4.) I said the other day that it was the same day He made His declaration, but I must correct that. This was actually the day He cast out a demon in Church (OK Synagogue.)

He and some of the boys headed over to Peter and Andrew’s house and Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law.

Next we see this:

When evening had come

Or as Luke puts it in

While the sun was setting ~ Luke 4:40

The folks in these good Jewish communities waited till the sun was setting, until the Sabbath was over and then they got to Jesus just as quick as they could.

Luke tells us:

all who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him ~ Luke 4:40

So in the town of Capernaum when Jesus left, if I am doing the math right, there was no one left in the city either sick or demon possessed! They brought them all to Jesus, and He healed them all.

Do you have someone to bring to Jesus today?

Don’t wait for the sun to set – let’s carry them to Jesus now!

Lord, I am so glad that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. We bring our sick, our broken, our lost to You today, and ask that You touch, You speak the word, You do what You do!

Ben NelsonThanks for coming today.

See you soon

Ben