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Christ Heals a Man Paralyzed by the Gout. Mark 2:4. Engraving by Bernhard Rode, 1780. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rode_1.jpg

Jesus is teaching a bunch of folks, seems like it might take place in His own house, as I look at the various tellings between Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Four men have a friend who is paralyzed, and they bring him to Jesus to be healed. They can’t get into the house, so the climb up on the room, and using some ropes, lower their friend down in front of Jesus.

So – What are you going to do now Jesus? You have the home field advantage, and this guy everyone knows has been crippled for ages. You could show them once and for all that you are in fact moving with the finger of God here on earth. You could stop all the naysayers, and get your own hometown behind you. You might even get some of the Pharisee’s to believe.

But Jesus jumps the rails. He gets tossed this easy pitch, and what does He do? He  changes the game.

Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you. ~ Matthew 9:2

Sins? Who said anything about sins?

You may say that Jesus talked about his sin because that was his deeper need, and that is true, but I believe we can get at least one more lesson here.

Forgiveness and healing are never far parted in the Bible.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities;
Who heals all your diseases ~ Psalm 103:1-2

But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! ~ Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)

Why the link? Why does Jesus stop the show and show us both healing and forgiveness?

Perhaps He is demonstrating to the people in the room, that He was not just an amazing healer, but that He was here to bring deliverance to the whole man.

Perhaps He was bringing attention to this permanent link between forgiveness and healing.

"But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins--then He said to the paralytic--“Rise, take up your bed, and go home." ~ Matthew 9:6

One piece of this that is of interest to me, is that forgiveness is not immediately visible from the outside, whereas healing is. When Jesus forgives the sins of this man, there is no visible change.

This may lead us to believe it takes more faith to be healed then to be forgiven, but this is not so.

The problem is the good news about forgiveness has been preached for hundreds of years, and the good news about the fact that Jesus heals has been much less prevalent. As we meditate more and more on the total salvation offered by Jesus, we see more and more men and women saved, healed and delivered.

I am so glad Jesus took the time to give us this lesson in His wonderful salvation.

Ben NelsonAren’t you?

See you again soon.

Ben

By the way, if you missed the first hand account of this day in Jesus life, you should check out "Arise, Take up your bed and walk"

Casey Lewis from Christianity Matters tackled one those huge questions back on Tuesday of this week. This is one of those questions that when left unanswered, leaves people feeling guilty and filled with shame. I love how Casey answered this question, and I thought it would be a nice addition to Friday Q&A here at Another Red Letter Day.

I hope you will interact with Casey, and check out his blog. He is a good writer and has a heart for the Lord that will bless you.

Unforgivable Sin

What is the unforgivable sin? Who can commit it? How do I know if I have committed it? These questions run through our mind when we hear someone tell us there is a sin that will not be forgiven.

What is the unforgivable sin? In order to answer the question let me start with what it is not.

What the Unforgivable Sin is Not

In Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus says,

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

It is not sin in general or speaking against Jesus – Jesus tells us sin or rebellion against God will be forgiven. Even speaking against Jesus will be forgiven.

It is not Suicide – Some claim if you commit suicide, you can’t be forgiven because you can’t ask for forgiveness. But that is a misunderstanding of the gospel. We are not forgiven because we ask for forgiveness every time we sin. No, we are forgiven based on Christ’s work, not ours. We are forgiven because we turn from our sin to God (repentance). We are forgiven because we believe Christ took the punishment we deserve on the cross (substitution).  Read more

What is the Unforgivable Sin? | Christianity Matters.

Do you have questions – or some topic you would like to discus in the this forum? Click the link in the side bar and ask away.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Ben

 

I came across this amazing poem at Bread for the Bride

 

bloodcross

What can I say about that infamous night?

How weary we were

As we followed Him to the garden

He prayed, we slept, He woke us,

Again we slept

While we dreamed, He wept

Then came torches, voices, soldiers,... (Read More)

Featured Poem for July: Silent Encounter | Bread for the Bride.

 

Of Spoon and Shovel
Of Spoons and Shovels

For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2 NASB)

This is one of the four things Jesus talks about in the sermon on the mount that is reciprocal. This means that judgment, like mercy, forgiveness and money, come to you using your unit of measure for spreading it.

If you hand out judgment with a teaspoon, judgment comes back you by by the teaspoon, but if you spread it out front loader, you better build a bigger barn for all the judgment that is coming your way.

Here is the thing about judgment. It is in fact important for us to be discerning, and to be willing to halt the progress of sin in our lives and in the lives of those we love. But there is a very important HOW TO we must get.

Jesus lays it out in verse 12

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12 NASB)

This must become our personal MO (TV cop lingo – modus operandi – method of operation)

So when doling out mercy, forgiveness, when being generous with your money – take out the old shovel, but when it comes to judging others, you might want to get your implement from the silverware drawer.

BenThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

Jesus appears to the disciples (watercolour) 1906 - William Brassey Hole (1846–1917)

It has been a day or two since Jesus rose from the dead that very first Easter morning.  He appears to a larger group of disciples, shows them His wounds, and walks them all through the scriptures:

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44 NASB)

But the thing that intrigues me this morning is how He has gone to the ultimate extreme to fulfill the scriptures, but look at the second half – the Why – in this next couple lines.

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47 NASB)

In this telling, the reason He suffered all that torture, the cruelty of the Jews at the hands of the Romans, and the rejection of God Himself, was so that repentance and forgiveness of sins could be proclaimed to every nation!

The time has come, my friends, for us to fulfill our part of the bargain.

As I understand it, Jesus’ life fulfills over 300 specific prophecies.

Now it is your turn.

Jesus declares that “repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Interesting – the message is one of the love of God for His creation, but the message He expects us to preach (proclaim) is not “Jesus Loves You” (and He does love you!) rather, If you will repent, there is forgiveness of sins. [Tweet This]

And that is what’s next – it is our turn to preach – proclaim – repentance and forgiveness of sins.

He did His part, and He will never leave you for forsake you as you do yours. In fact, He will give you the very Spirit that raised Him from the dead to get it done.

Sounds like a grand adventure to me. Let’s get about the Father’s business today.

BenThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

The Cross
photo credit: joysaphine via photo pin cc

So, there I was innocently pondering my post on Spirit and Truth, thinking about the fact that

“the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB)

and that Jesus quoted

AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.(Mark 12:30 NASB)

and that Jesus told the woman at the well

true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.(John 4:23 NASB)

and that Paul told the church in Rome

“by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NASB)

and I thought there is way too much in my life keeping me from anything so complete and uncompromised.

Cross in Manhattan Skyline
Cross in Manhattan Skyline

I know that the Lord is slow to anger and full of mercy, that He has separated my sins so far from me, they are unfathomable.

Nevertheless, I am drawn to His wonderful cross once again, and taking stock of my shortcomings and compromise I once again ask Him for forgiveness and mercy.

Blood applied to my compromise – forgiveness requested and received, and now

I stand
My arms high and heart abandon
In awe of the one who made it all

I stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours

(The Stand – Hillsong United)

BenI have found the Messiah, come follow Him with me!

Bye for now

Ben

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:28-29 NIV)

Sounds to me like someone has been drinking living water.

She came to get enough water for herself and her man to make it through the afternoon. There is a chance she would have to come back again this evening, or at the very least the next day.

Jesus promised that He could give her living water that would satisfy the longings she tried over and over to fulfill in all the wrong places.

But with 3 little words, Jesus has turned her life around. When He looks into her eyes and says, I am He, she is changed. All her walls and defenses drop in an instant. Her hurts, her past, her shame, gone.

How do I know her shame is gone. She goes directly to the men of the city and starts talking about this Messiah who told her all things.

Just like when He called the disciples, and they ‘left their nets,’ she leaves her water pot to spread the good news.

I have found the Messiah!

Could this be the Christ?

Come and See a Man!

Have you heard those 3 words today?

When you come to Jesus, He does see your hurts, your past, your shame, but He does not stand there and require some huge demonstration of change before you are worthy. He simply offers you a drink, a drink of living water.

The removal of shame is instantaneous.

Can I say that again?

The removal of shame is instantaneous.

And once you are changed, healed, delivered, you are ready to start telling the story.

Are you stuck today?

Some of us are stuck in a shame loop, Christians, living lives marked by shame over their past when the Lord has washed us clean and given us living water to drink. [Tweet This]

I call you today to shake yourself, get up and start letting that living water flow through you. Your past is not just past, it's gone.

If your shame is dragging you back into that old you, quit it! Put down that old leaky water pot – leave it at the feet of Jesus and go tell somebody about the living water.

BenDo it today.

See you tomorrow

Ben

medium_3091011433

My favorite preacher these days, Bill Johnson[i], teaches about the 3 leavens that Jesus talks about. It is a wonderful message. It is truly instructive about 3 spheres that can permeate our hearts and souls.

These 3 leavens are

  • The Leaven of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6, Mark 8:15 and Luke 12:1)
  • The Leaven of Herod (Mark 8:15)
  • The Leaven of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:3 and Luke 13:21)

Each of these ‘leavens,’ starts as a thought or attitude, but like leaven, in short order it becomes a worldview, a paradigm by which we see and judge everything around us.

Jesus told the disciples

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (Luke 12:1 NASB)

He is talking here about a religious spirit. This person takes on a pious and condescending air. As Jesus says they are marked most predominantly by hypocrisy. They talk the talk, but do not walk the walk. They pick at the sins of others and do not deal with their own sin. These are those with plank in eye disease.

Jesus also speaks of another leaven

Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. (Mark 8:15 NASB)

In Herod we see a Political spirit. This is a heart that is always vying for position and holding on tight to worldly style authority. This is the kind of authority that lords it over those in subjection. Someone pretending to be a Christian yet leavened by this heart attitude might try to legislate his or her religious views.

Frankly these are both prevalent today and both destructive. If the truth be known, most who do not know Christ, thinking about Christian, think about one of these two groups. They are not thinking about people permeated by the forgiveness of a Savior who looked past  REMOVED all their sin and redeemed them to the uttermost.

They think of a political rant about school prayer, or the homosexual agenda.

They think of a hateful banner waved in front of an abortion clinic or gay pride parade.

They don’t think of a family willing to give a home to a child who was the product of rape, or a date gone bad whose only judgment is to judge the baby worthy of a home and the woman worthy of love.

They don’t think of a friend willing to bring them into their home and help them to deal with the guilt and shame that has always been attached to their way of life, and help them find a way out.

Folks, it is time for us to put down our prejudices and love those who are bound and trapped in sin. [Tweet This]

It is time for us to stop holding trespasses against people when God has dropped the charges and paid the fines.

Let the leaven of the gospel of Jesus Christ Who loved you and gave Himself for you infiltrate your entire being.

BenThanks for coming by today.

Ben

photo credit: jazzijava via photopin cc


[i] This is not meant to be a summary of Bill Johnson’s sermon, rather musings on the 3 leavens he points out. I highly recommend this sermon. You can get a copy at iBethel.org.

One more amazing share today - Misty Edwards singing The Harlot bringing you face to face with your sin, then your Savior.

Misty Edwards - Beauty Arise (the harlot) - YouTube.

But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt 6:15)

Did you know that unforgiveness is one of the biggest causes for sickness in the world. Bitterness and unforgiveness make you physically sick. Forgiveness is the key to a healthy life. This is not just theology – it has been observed by the medical profession for years.

In 1st Corinthians 11:30 when Paul is talking about communion he states that many are sick and even die in the body of Christ because they do not “judge the body rightly.” I believe the body he is speaking of here is the body of Christ, or the Church. This idea of judging rightly the body of Christ has to do with the fact that we do not see each other as Christ does. Remember He has forgiven, and sees each of us as though we had never sinned. When we judge others in the body as guilty of harming us, when Christ sees them as holy and forgiven, we give the enemy a foothold – a place to hang on.

One other facet of this is a tendency for us to hold onto condemnation of ourselves. The argument above stands for self condemnation as well as the condemnation of those around us in the body of Christ. I know it sounds like psycho-babble, but the fact is many saints who stand forgiven before God, do not see themselves as God sees them, and so they live in condemnation. Living in condemnation has a number of horrible effects.

First off, it is the easiest way to get “stuck” spiritually. What do I mean by stuck? I am talking about that inability to move forward in your relationship with God. Perhaps it is a sin you cannot overcome, or a prayer life you can’t get off the ground.

Another effect of self-condemnation is your inability to overcome a chronic illness. In the same way unforgiveness can make us sick, self condemnation has a kind of double down effect. Not only do you have the stresses of unforgiveness that can cause illness, but the guilt and condemnation give you no hope of breaking free. This is due to the fact that when you think you deserve something – whether as a just punishment, or because there is a good natural reason, you do not feel the same sense of righteous indignation that would stir your ability to fight.

For instance, if two men have lung cancer, and one has been a smoker for 20 years, and weighs 400 lbs, eats poorly, and has never cared for his health, and the other is a 24 year old Olympian athlete who has never eaten anything but organic food, never smoked, when you pray for the young man, you will pray a passionate prayer about justice and how unfair it is that this man has cancer. On the other hand, for the old heavy smoker, you might be more likely to pray a prayer asking for mercy from God.

The same thing is going on inside them. The old smoker will feel it is his fault, and that he deserves this punishment. After all, how many surgeon general’s warnings did he crumple up and throw away?

But the stripes that Jesus bore actually paid for those 20 years of foolishness, and they are just as gone as any other sin that would make this man guilty. [Tweet This] And God is just as able, and just as willing to heal in either case.

While I am on the subject of fairness, I want to throw one more aspect on the table. Sometimes we stay sick because there is a cause for our sickness. We may not be at fault, but we see that there is a cause. This is common in accident victims. The accident may not have been your fault, so you don’t feel the blame or self-condemnation, but the fact that there is a cause, a good reason for you to be in pain, allows the enemy a place to hold on.

What do you think? I hope these 3 posts on forgiveness give you hope, and help you to deal with the hard stuff of living in relationships.

If you missed the last two in this series they were - Forgive It or Forget It!  and Can a Christian have Unforgiveness?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

Sign photo credit: quantumlars via photo pin cc

Ash tray photo credit: frigante via photo pin cc

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