Monthly Archives: May 2016

Make Your Mark – Part 6

Another exciting chapter in Mark, and today I look at some sobering facts about ministry. There is quite a lot to work through, so let’s get started with verse 3. Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. OK, who can identify with this? It is not people who have the power to do miracles, it is God who has the power, and He is the one who makes it possible for us to do miracles. He doesn’t have any ‘favourites’. Everyone has a family, everyone was just a baby once, if God is going to have anyone do a miracle, why not you? Why must it be an international preacher? Why not you? There is no reason, it can be you, if you believe. The problem is that when people know you, they often don’t expect anything from you, just like they did with Jesus.

Now you may expect me to go on and tell you not to let this stop you, but the truth is that it does. Look what it did to Jesus. And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. I know all about this. There is nothing more frustrating than being surrounded by people with unbelief, and having your hands tied behind your back. So what do you do? I don’t know the answer to this, but I do ministry elsewhere. I do ministry with people who do believe. If unbelief stopped Jesus from doing miracles, what chance do I have? I will fight the enemy, but I won’t fight people’s free will. I take my advice from verse 11. But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate. Now I know what you’re thinking, this is about preaching the gospel, not about ministry. I don’t agree. Verse 13 says that they cast out many demons and healed many sick people. This is what I want to do. The ‘mistake’ that I often make, is that I spend so much time trying to convince people to accept healing, because I want to see them transformed. Why do I do that? Maybe I need to move on to those who want to experience a miracle, to those who believe, maybe then I will see more miracles. What do you think about this? It is a fine line, but Jesus wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t important.

Jump forward to the section about Jesus feeding the 5000. I like this passage, but I really need to take it to heart. We live in a world where we need money, and most of us would say that we could do with a bit more. Now I’m not going to go into the prosperity gospel, but at very least, I do believe that God wants us to be provided for. Now I don’t know about you, but I have my own business, so no set salary. Every month there is a ‘cloud’ hanging over my head, am I going to make the money or not. Also, the question of ‘am I good enough to do this?’ pops into my head. The answer is simple – God promises to provide, and He can take what I bring and make it more than enough. What can I offer God? Not much, but He will take that, and there will be leftovers. Do I believe this? Not enough… yet. If I did, I wouldn’t worry each month. I need to get this so engrained, that there is no doubt. How about you? Do you believe that God will take the little that you bring, and make it into abundance? The other question is, do you even bring what you have to God? That little boy could have eaten the food himself. Sometimes we try to do it on our own, so we don’t even bring it to God. This is another trap that I do not want to fall into. Let’s bring what we have, lay it at God’s feet, and believe for abundance! Easier said than done, but that is my plan.

The last point from this chapter, is verses 50 and 51. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. Now I have spoken about this many times, and have even named my blog after it, but here is the point. Jesus told them not to be afraid BEFORE he calmed the storm. This always makes me think. Jesus could have calmed the storm, and then He wouldn’t have needed to tell them to calm down. He didn’t. He told them to calm down first. They needed to trust Him. They needed to believe that Jesus was in control. They needed to have faith. Now could Jesus do the miracle without their faith? I don’t know. If unbelief could stop Jesus, maybe faith enables Him, it is not too far a reach. Either way, Jesus wanted them to believe, before He did anything. Do you believe that Jesus can (and will) do what He says? Do you have faith, or are you preventing miracles with unbelief? You need to make a decision, and choose to believe. Maybe you’re like me, and have faith for some things, but lack it for others? We need to step it up. We need to start to believe for EVERYTHING. Jesus doesn’t do a half job.

Amen!

Richard

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Make Your Mark – Part 5

Every week I think that there will be a relaxing passage to write about, but that has not been the case over the last 4 weeks, and is not the case today. Today the passage has 2 stories, one about Jesus’ authority over demons, and the other about healing. Now I have taught on both, but today I want to talk about the healing and faith. I often get into disagreement with other Christians over this, so here I will tell you what I believe, which is based on this scripture passage. If you would like to know about our authority over demons, please read my post on that, ‘Authority Over Demons‘. That post actually deals with this passage, so there is no point writing it again.

Healing. A very contentious issue in churches today, as most Christians are divided into one of two groups. The first group believes that Jesus heals those who He wishes to be healed, if you ask God (in prayer) to heal you or someone, He may do so. Sometimes He may be using that sickness in your life, maybe to reach someone with the gospel, so He doesn’t heal you. This group believes that healing only happens when it is part of God’s plan, and it isn’t always. I don’t agree with this, I fall 100% into the second group. I believe that illness is not from God, ever. It is part of the fall, and is not part of God’s plan. I believe that we as believers have authority over illness, and it is actually not really up to God as to whether we are healed or not, but up to us. Shock! Before you start picking up stones, just read on. Get out your Bible and take a look through all of the healing stories, find me one story where someone asks Jesus to heal them, and Jesus says that it isn’t God’s will. You won’t find any. Jesus heals EVERYONE who asks Him. Simple as that. Surely if it were God’s ‘choice’ as to who gets healed, there would have been at least one person who wanted it and didn’t receive it.

So why don’t we see healing today? You can read more in my post – ‘Why We Don’t get Healed‘ (5 part series), but here are the 3 main reasons. Look at the woman who reached out and touched Jesus. She was unclean, she was bleeding. If you were caught in public in those days in that situation, you would have been stoned. She literally risked death to get to Jesus, because she knew that she would be healed if she only touched him. When you go for healing, do you KNOW that you will be healed, do you even expect to be healed? I often hear people who are surprised when someone is healed. If Jesus were here now, I’d be more surprised if someone wasn’t healed. The Spirit of Jesus is here now, why are we surprised to see healing? We don’t expect them, not like the woman did. We have a serious lack of faith. Maybe it is because we are taught not to have faith, or maybe we have been corrupted by failed attempts, but we lack faith.

The second reason is that we don’t understand how to minister healing. Jesus came across someone with an illness, he told them to be healed, and they were. Peter watched this, he came across illness, told the people to be healed, and they were. We don’t bother with what Jesus taught, we just run to Jesus and ask Him to heal the person. “Jesus, if it is your will, please heal my friend..”. No, that is not what Jesus taught. He even came here to demonstrate it for us. We are not doing it in our strength, we do it firmly by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus. Why do we not tell the person to be healed in the name of Jesus, why do we beg and plead God? It makes no sense to me.

Lastly, we are surrounded by unbelief. Jesus sent all of the people away, why? They were laughing at Him, and filled with unbelief. Jesus couldn’t perform miracles when there was unbelief. If He couldn’t, we don’t stand a chance. Unbelief is probably the biggest ‘miracle killer’, so take a look at my post ‘Unbelief: What The Bible Says About It‘, and the posts that follow.

What do you believe about healing, does it line up with scripture? I for one would really like to see more people set free from illness and disease.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 4

This chapter has given me some food for thought, and so it should you too. Read Mark chapter 4, and then take a look at my thoughts below. I wrote this post a few days ago, and even since then, I have come under attack in order to try and break the blessing of this post. It is obviously quite a serious lesson.

This chapter is full of parables of farming, of which I know very little, but there are some lessons here. Firstly, take a look at all of the types of ‘seed locations’, all of the types of people who receive the gospel. Which one are you? Does your answer concern you? Are you one who hears the gospel, but is quickly robbed by satan? I’ve known people like this, very sad, please don’t let this happen to you. Are you someone who doesn’t have strong roots? I know what it is like to not belong to a body of believers, but I also know how important it is. We don’t always agree 100% with others, and yes, people do hurt us. I have been asked to leave churches in account of my ‘extreme theology’ and I have voluntarily left others, but I always find another. I always try and surround myself with like-minded Christians who can help me stand firm. That and spend time in the word, listening to worship music, meditating on scripture. That is all helping me to grow roots. Don’t be the one who has no roots and dies. Then there is the scary category. Those that hear the gospel, but then the worries of life crowd it out. This is always a concern, and even more so now. We are all under stress and worries, money can be a worry, amongst other things. It is extremely hard, but we need to put Jesus first, we need to keep our eyes on Him. I for one want to be in the final category. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

There is another parable about farming, and this time the farmer. The one scattering the seed. This one surprised me, because we so often put so much pressure on ourselves. We go out in order to bring people to Christ, but we very often make it more difficult than it is. We want to do all of the work, yet according to this parable, all we have to do is scatter the seed. You see the farmer doesn’t know how the plant grows, it grows while he is asleep, he merely plants the seed. I have seen people give their lives to Jesus, repent from their old lifestyle, and live a changed life. All from very little effort from someone else. In fact, very often when I have put in the least effort, I have seen the greatest reward. Now I am not saying that we should leave everything up to God, I am just saying that we need to do what God calls us to, not necessarily what we think we need to do. When Jesus called the little boy with the 5 loaves and 2 fish, he merely wanted the little boy to give what he had, not to feed the 5000. If we bring and give, what Jesus has given us and asks us to give, we will see results beyond what we have done. Just as the previous parable stated.

The last thing that I would like to discuss here is something that struck me, and concerns me. The reason why it concerns me is because it is aimed at experienced Christians, and is an easy trap to fall into. Take a look at verse 40. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Wow. The disciples were in a boat, in a storm, and they thought they were going to die. Some of these guys were fishermen, they knew what they were doing out on the water, but they still feared for their lives. They woke Jesus. They turned to Jesus in their time of desperate need, and Jesus asked them that question. Why do you think He did that? I believe that it was because Jesus had already told them that they were going to the other side. Jesus had spoken, but they didn’t believe what He had said, they believed what they saw. They believed their experiences, rather than the word of God. Now let me be the first to say that I am often guilty of this, so this is a lesson that I need to lean. Do you also need to learn this lesson? Do we believe in what we have experienced, in what we can see, in what others say? Or do we believe in the Word of God? It is an easy question to ask, not an easy thing to actually do. The disciples situation was a lot more dire than most of mine when I tend to doubt. Jesus is probably asking me the same question.“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Thank God there is no condemnation. I need to believe in what God’s word says, over and above what I see around me.

Are you going to join me?

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 3

I was recently discussing with a friend of mine, who also has a Christian blog, as to how much abuse we take from fellow believers, because of the fact that we teach the truth. I actually almost feel that if I don’t get any abuse, I haven’t spoken the truth. Now I am not saying that we should intentionally upset people, but the truth will upset someone… As it does in the next chapter of Mark. Take a look at Mark 3, and then read my thoughts below.

Jesus is going about His ministry, when he meets a man with a deformed hand. It is a Sabbath, and Jesus knows that it will upset His critics if He heals the man. Now if this were me at this point, I would be thinking twice. You see I am all for healing, but I am also concerned with what people think of me, and sometimes these contradict each other. I live in the UK, but I was born and raised in South Africa, where we say what we mean and we mean what we say. In England, most people are way too polite, and say what they think others wish to hear, rather than what they truly believe. This has already got me into trouble a few times, and it now tries to hinder me from doing what I know is right. Is this something you struggle with? Jesus was faced with this exact predicament, in fact worse, they wanted to kill Him for what he was doing. What does Jesus do? He calls the man in front of everyone. Not only does He not hide it, He shows EVERYONE what He is about to do. Oh man, I could do a series on this, will we ever be that brave? Jesus then throws a spanner in their works, by asking them a question. “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?

What a question. You see they can’t say that it is a day for doing evil, but saying that it is a day for doing good, gives Jesus ‘permission’ to heal. This is why they kept quiet and didn’t say a word. Here is the interesting part: why is leaving a man with a deformed hand ‘evil’? Here is my theory. People think that Jesus just came to bring us salvation, that is not true, let me explain. He came here to bring the Kingdom of God into the kingdom of darkness. He came here to defeat satan once and for all and to bring us back into fellowship with God. Does this include salvation? Yes, most definitely, but it includes other things too – healing and deliverance to name a couple. Now yes, we can argue that salvation is possibly the ‘most important’ as it is for eternity, and illness only lasts during this life time. That may be so, but if all of these things are included in the gift from God, why would you not want all of them? All of these things break into the kingdom of darkness with the Kingdom of God. If Jesus had left the man as he was, the Kingdom of God would have left the kingdom of darkness to prevail in that situation. If we don’t actively bring the Kingdom of God into a situation, the kingdom of darkness prevails. There is no neutral ground here, it is one or the other. Is this the day to save life or destroy it? Was Jesus saving a life, or merely healing a hand? I have already discussed Sodzo, so I believe that they are one and the same, read this post for more on that.

Jesus then goes on to heal some more people, so many in fact, they had to hire a boat so that Jesus would not get crushed by all the people coming for healing. Imagine if your church was overrun by crowds of people because they were all coming to be healed. That would be a sign of things going well. We settle for a few people each Sunday giving their lives to Jesus while all heads are bowed. Now I am not saying that this is not good, we all rejoice that someone else has now been saved, I am just saying that there is more. More of God’s power, more grace, more for us to do if we only had faith. Jesus chooses His 12, and gives them authority over demons (which we still have by the way, demons and the authority over them), so that we can also do what Jesus did. Do we even come close today? I don’t think so. Why? Probably because we are scared of what others may think. As we read the end of this chapter, Jesus was even accused of being ‘possessed by satan’. I have been accused of doing the ‘work of the devil’ because of my blog posts, to which I took a certain amount of comfort to know that Jesus has been accused of worse. You only get accused of such things by stepping out, not by going with the flow and being ‘vanilla’. That is not what the world needs, the world needs more people to bring the Kingdom of God into the kingdom of darkness. Your will on earth as it is in heaven.
Do I do this enough? No. Can I improve? Yes. Let’s do it then, let’s step out in faith, let’s be more concerned with doing what is right, rather than what people may think of us. Let’s be more like Jesus.

I’m all fired up now.

Richard.

Make Your Mark – Part 2

Today we continue to look at the book of Mark, which is an action packed gospel. In the first chapter, Jesus started off with some ministry which we are usually a bit scared of. Healing and deliverance. Let’s take a look at what He gets up to in the second chapter. More healing, but this time with a twist. I’d like to take a look at some interesting things about this healing, and how Jesus challenged the social thinking of the day.

What do you find strange about the healing of the paralysed man? I find it interesting that the friends are so determined to get the man to Jesus. Now days we want things easy, we want the quick fix, the 5 easy steps, the simple solution. We don’t want to work for anything. Now I am not saying that we have to earn our healing, I am saying that we have to have faith. These guys believed so much that Jesus could and would heal their friend, that they went through all the effort of making a whole in the roof and lowering the guy down. I often find people who question faith in healing, usually because faith suggests that we play a part, but people think that it is all down to Jesus. The power is down to Jesus, the faith up to us. Just take a look at verse 5, it was because of their faith that Jesus healed the man. That is clear to me. The next thing that I find interesting, is that Jesus forgave the man’s sins, instead of healing him. Jesus then asked if it easier to say to the paralysed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? What do you think He meant by this? I think that they are the same thing. Sodzo. Click on the word to read the article about Sodzo. The word for healing and the word for salvation is the same word, which is also the word for deliverance. Sodzo. You see Jesus was pretty much saying, you have seen me deliver people, you have seen me heal people, now watch me forgive someone’s sins. This is what the Kingdom of God is about. This is what we get wrong now days. We are all about salvation, but we seriously drop the ball with the other things.

Jesus then goes on to upset the religious rulers by doing things that don’t quite fit with their ideas on how religion should be done. He has meals with ‘scum’ like tax collectors, His disciples didn’t fast when others were, and then they ‘worked’ on the sabbath. These were all things that were just not done in that culture, things that were not acceptable in religious circles. Jesus explained why He let these things happen, they were not anti-Jewish, He was merely showing the people how things had changed. He was showing them how the Kingdom of God worked. He was showing them how His death would change things. So if His death changed things, this should have no bearing on us now, right? Wrong. I couldn’t help but giggle when I read this passage, as I think that religious nonsense is ripe now days, people doing things because ‘that is how they have always’ done it. How often are Christians more concerned about doing ‘religious’ things, than they are about showing love to others? If you saw a prostitute in trouble, would you help them or think that it isn’t right to hang out with prostitutes? Now please don’t get me wrong, I have seen this go wrong on both ‘sides’. I am not saying that we should partake in dodgy activity and use the ‘we were witnessing to people there’ excuse. We are here to love people, not their actions. If you partake in their actions, you are in trouble. If you ignore them in their time of need, you are not doing what we are here to do. We have to find the balance of loving people, and pulling them out of their mess, without us getting sucked in. Jesus went to help these undesirable people, He didn’t partake in their actions.

There is on last thing that I would like to draw to your attention. Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. Jesus was making the point that He would not be on earth for long. Neither are we. Here is a question for you, why are you here? To worship God, to have a relationship with Jesus, to spend time with Jesus, to become more like Jesus? All of these are good, but they will all be easier once we are in heaven. The only thing that we can do now, which we can’t do in heaven, is hang out with unbelievers. This is our last chance to tell them about (and show them) the Kingdom of God. Are we making a difference? Are we using this opportunity? Are we having more of an influence on them than they are on us? I’ll leave this for you to decide.

Until next time.

Richard