POSSESSING THE REIGN – Building Our Kingdoms

July 3, 2009

Our very best of self is like filthy, nasty, loathsome rags. That’s the illustration the Holy Spirit gives. Like filthy rags is our best, our best. The best of Christianity, religion is filthy rags. And the children of the world have better eyes to see that than we do. Our imitation is not impressing or fooling anyone. And until we come to the poverty of seeing that it is His life that He is offering and that it is His life that must be lived and His life that must be seen before men will turn around, we’ll go on playing our games.

I confess, on the one hand I believe She is coming forth, the bride of Christ; I believe She’s not one day late, I believe She’s a beautiful young woman. But She’s in the midst of a church that is not doing so well, that is not so healthy, most of which is not in Christ: men building their own kingdoms.

I spent most of my life building my own kingdom and you have too. There’s no room for that because it’s filthiness. It’s His kingdom; it’s His reign. We came to that place when we can first see and that’s why He must break us. That is why breaking must come, so that we can see our poverty.

Subtraction –

I’ve said it before and I’ll end with this, after Christ comes, there’s no more to be added. Everything from there on is subtraction and it is subtraction of all that is in us that is not of Christ. It’s all of Adam, it’s Adam’s thinking, Adam’s ambitions, Adam’s work, Adam’s efforts, it’s all in Adam that must go. And that is why we must go through what we are going to go through. If you think this is the cap on your spiritual journey, it’s just the beginning. This is just the beginning. We are yet able to see in America a church that’s living the reign. I believe She’s there. It will move from judgment to persecution only after She comes forth. Until then, it is all removal, subtraction, judgment.

May it be so, Lord, according to Your will and Your word.

Amen.

POSSESSING THE REIGN – Hands Too Full

June 29, 2009

Now, to Matthew chapter 5 verse 3:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

This is a principal that will unlock all the riches. Stay with me. Have you ever tried to give someone something whose hands are full? Have you ever tried to speak to someone from another church to share some little tidbit that you’ve heard but they’re so full of where they are from and what they’ve seen that there’s just no room? That’s why we’re so divided. We cannot receive because we think we have everything.

You know, a man who’s poor and knows it, a man who knows he has needs, his hands are open. It’s the man who thinks he has no needs whose hands are closed or full. The New English Bible translates it this way, “How blessed is the man who knows he’s in need.”

Unless we come to a place where we see ourselves as utterly broke, in abject poverty, we cannot receive the things of God, the reign. Until we see and can say with Jesus, “I can do nothing. I can do nothing;” until we come to a place where we recognize that we, outside of Christ, are in utter bankruptcy, and are in total need in every area, we will not be open to receive His reign. It’s the Laodicean church where we began this book. The deception of the Laodicean church was that they thought they were rich, they thought they were clothed, and they thought they had need of nothing. And they were literally poor, wretched and naked and didn’t even know it.

Running On Empty –

Blessed is the man, the woman and the child who can see that He’s in utter poverty without God, who can see that he was made for God and absent of God he can’t even run. It’s the illustration of the car. You can put a car at the top of a hill and push it off with your foot, jump in and think that you’re doing something, going somewhere. But eventually you get to the bottom of the hill and you find out that it was nothing. The car was made for gasoline, and you and I were made for God. And until we come to the poverty of seeing that, of seeing that in ourselves, we have no good thing; in ourselves we have no good thing; in ourselves we have no good thing.

POSSESSING THE REIGN – Blessed are the Poor

June 5, 2009

Glory –

It’s what His heart’s been set on from the beginning. Not just before Adam, but before the creation of all things. It’s what His heart is set on: to bring His reign into His new temple, into a living dwelling place that is capable of (which is hard to fathom) displaying His glory, the radiance of His beauty, the radiance of His very nature throughout all creation. And there is not a single star or solar planet that is able to reveal glory like this throughout the entire universe. But He is preparing a sun, a light, a star that will leave no shadows anywhere and will speak, will manifest His very nature throughout His creation. And it is called man, it is called his bride. Is that not a fantastic promise?

Why are we so busy with lesser things? We must give up our small ambitions. Who could grasp anything like this? Who could even think of something greater than what is being offered to the sons of Adam in Christ Jesus?

Now, go back to verse 3 in Matthew 5 and see the Universal Principal.

 “Blessed are the poor…” In Luke 6 it says, “Blessed are the poor and woe to the rich.”

Having wealth is an awesome responsibility and an easy trap. We think it’s ours. And we think it’s for us. And we even think that it came to us because of something inherently good or right or better about us.

Ugly Americans –

 All you have to do to understand this is to see Americans overseas. I’ve traveled overseas. Americans are not pretty people overseas. They are ugly overseas. There is a reason the world has a leaning against Americans. They admire us on the one hand and on the other hand they can hardly stand us. You have to spend some time elsewhere to understand that. We think we’ve deserved what we have. Most of the world has worked harder from day break until dusk just to eat, just to eat. And we think that our abundance has something to do with us. That’s a lie from the pit.

Really Poor –

My father was a godly man who always knew more than I’ll ever know. And he had to work two to three jobs at a time to feed our family. He dropped out of medical school in the depression. I was raised in a four room house with no running water. Poor! It was not because my father was not smart or did not work harder that I have ever worked.

And in high school I had a drafting teacher that took an interest in me and taught me how to do house plans and I was in business my second year out of school and thought it was because of me.

Woe to the rich!

It does not mean it’s impossible. All things with God are possible. But it’s extremely hard for Americans to come into the reign. I believe that’s applicable. It’s extremely hard. The most difficult mission field in the world is here in the West, in America. The church is growing; the kingdom is increasing by leaps and bounds in third-world countries. Percentiles are in the 1000s. And we are dying here.

And we are so arrogant that we believe that if God’s going to move in the earth it’s going to begin here. All you have to do is listen to what we are saying publicly. Listen to our mission endeavors. We see ourselves as the largest mission country in the world. That’s a lie. That’s a lie. We are the largest funded, do it on an American scale, mission country in the world. And God has used the mission movement in America. I’m not decrying that. But I am here to tell you that there are churches in China that are sending out thousands with nothing; no purse, no bread, no support. They are doing it. Thousands! And they are looking to the Middle East and they’re praying for America and the west. And we are so trapped by that but even when we hear it from a John Brown, if we had a choice between two fronts, we’ll pick the one where we are losing. Is it starting to register a little?

We’ve got to change our paradigm. We’ve got to see out of His eyes. We cannot say that it is a mistake in Luke because it does not say, “poor in spirit.” You cannot say that’s an error; that’s a half truth, that’s not a full truth. It is a full truth, but He has something more to say.

POSSESSING THE REIGN – The Universal Principal

May 27, 2009

Let’s go to Matthew chapter 5. The truth is we could write several books just on the Sermon on the Mount. And I would love to do it. I’d love an opportunity to write extensively on the Sermon on the Mount. It is so rich, it is so full. We are just going to spend a very little time on the Sermon on the Mount.

 

Now the Universal Principal for Possessing the Reign.

So let’s begin in Matthew chapter 5 beginning in verse 1.

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them saying…

 

The Lord’s tricky, you know; He really is. He’s hiding something and He’s tricky about how He’s done it.

I’m here in the Atlanta area because He tricked me. I am! I told the Lord, “Lord, I’ll go anywhere You want me to go……on the Gulf side of Florida.” And we were heading out to Florida. We knew we had been called out to minister and teach out of Indiana. And Patti and I were heading to Florida. And He tricked us, He tricked us. And He will trick you.

There’s a bit of a trick here. You would not know that the Sermon On the Mount was an address immediately after Jesus’ receiving the names of the twelve and that it had particular importance to those who were being called to be apostles unless you read Luke 6. But you won’t read Luke 6 because you don’t like the “woes.” And so the church always hears Matthew 5 without even hearing Luke 6. God did this. Satan didn’t do this. God’s the one hiding it. But you’ve got to want it.

 

Blessed When? –

 

I’m going to just put these “blesseds” down for you to read. By the way, “How blessed are” might be an easier to understand translation, and The New English Bible is very good here by using “How blessed are.” I’m going to put it down and put particular emphasis on a couple of words in each of the “blesseds.” There are nine of them although the last two are so similar that it could be said that they are one. Three are different from the nine and have something in common, and six are also alike in another way. You pick out the differences. Beginning in verse 3 of Matthew 5:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Bless are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

Did you see the differences? It’s good to compare, isn’t it? Six are future rewards and three are present rewards and the title of this chapter is “The Universal Principal For Possessing The Reign,” the ‘in the now’ reign.

We read in Romans chapter 5, verse 17,

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Emphasis added.)

In Adam it is death that reigns. In those who received the gift of righteousness and an abundance of grace, they shall reign in life through Christ Jesus. It is this reigning in life that distinguishes the children of the kingdom from the children of the world. You reign in life. Jesus says in Luke 12:32, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the reign,” His reign. We want to read that, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” so we see mansions and streets of gold. That’s not what He’s saying because it’s a present owned promise. It’s a promise of His reign. It is the Father’s good pleasure; it is the Father’s good pleasure to give John or Patti the reign in his heart. It is an offer; it’s not taking against our will, the throne. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give His children the reign. It first and most importantly means His coming into us to take the throne. It’s the Father’s pleasure.

POSSESSING THE REIGN – These are Beatitudes?

May 25, 2009

Luke 6:23

“Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich…”

 

Whoa! I thought this was beatitude? You know, with all those “Blessed are…” Here Luke tells the rest of the story.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.

“Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.

 

Woops!

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”

 

Oh my! I confess it. I want you to think well of me. I do! I would like you to speak well of me too. But that is such a dangerous trap. I have lived most of my life that way, and if God were to reveal it on a blackboard in front of your eyes, it would show that I still strive. It is always there. I want you to accept me.

That is so dangerous. I will not love you to speak to your pleasure so I have to tell you that it’s hard to walk that way. That’s why there are so many prophets who are speaking what the people want to hear. It’s not the way of Christ. Speaking the truth will not please Adam’s ears. It will not. And if you embrace this gospel as I believe you are, you need to know that you will not be received in some places.

I’ve been asked to leave places. I have. I’ve been standing in the pulpit preaching and asked to leave. I really have. I didn’t understand it at the time. It was hard at the time. I saw it as failure at the time, but it was God’s grace preparing me. God’s grace was preparing me. I confess that I was asked to leave or to shut up because I was wrong. God used that too. There is a “woe” next to the “blesseds,” and we need to see the two.

POSSESSING THE REIGN – A Classroom

May 13, 2009

Now we’re going to take a look at the Beatitudes in Luke chapter 6. We never, ever, ever, ever, ever read the Beatitudes from Luke 6. I encourage you, if you are not wanting to put your friends off be sure and not read the Beatitudes from Luke 6. It’s not a pleasant reading. I would dare say that none of you have ever, ever, ever heard the Beatitudes preached from Luke 6. Let’s begin in verse 20.

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy…”

 

Leap for joy when they persecute you and insult you and slap you in irons and scorn you and name you as evil, jump for joy. We have not believed that God’s reigning in our lives and we are resisting…

Do you really think that anything that is happening in your life is by chance? Do you think that the enemy can do anything to you without permission? If he can, it means you are not the Lord Jesus Christ’s. If you are His, the Lord Jesus Christ’s, been born again, and the enemy comes, it’s by permission.

It was God who brought you up and said, “Have you considered my servant Bob (or Ralph, or Mary; insert your own name here)?” Then the evil one could say, “You remove a little hedge around this person and they’ll buckle.” Well, the point I am making is, why are we resisting the course that God has given us? I’m not talking about our sin. He does not lead us into sin. He does not lead us into temptation, He tells us to pray not to be led into temptation. He doesn’t lead us there where another would lead us. We need to pray against that. But I’m talking about our own thing, our coming out from under the reign. But everything else, finances are out of your control, weather is out of your control, the car breaking down, the air conditioning breaking down, Johnny’s sick, the boss at work, and work!

It’s like a school. This is a class room. It does not begin until we graduate. This is all preparation for entering in. We must begin to see it that way so that we recognize that God is reigning and see that it’s through many tribulations that we must enter into the reign.

The word tribulation literally means pressure from outside. Do you even feel like there is pressure from outside? You wouldn’t feel that way, would you? It is God ordained. And unless you say, “Amen, Lord!” Unless you can in all things give thanks, you’ve not learned the lesson. If you don’t learn the lesson, you may spend ten years in the first grade or third grade when you should have graduated years ago. He’ll keep you there until you learn it. You just go around that mountain again. Until you get it you’ll not move into the promise. It’s taken me a long, long time, I have been around some mountains so many times that they’ve named a street after me. I still see that sign with my name on it on some of these mountains but I think I have finally understood some things and have moved on.

POSSESSING THE REIGN – Sermon on the Mount

May 4, 2009

We will begin in Luke chapter 6.

In the Gospels, actually there are more than two places, but there are two places particularly, you will find the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew it is very clearly in chapters 5, 6, and 7. In Luke, it’s broken up in pieces and there is a piece or two even in Mark.

What conclusion did we arrive at as to why the Holy Spirit would use up so many pages or texts to say the same thing? Why would the Holy Spirit repeat Himself when all the things that Jesus did and spoke would fill up so many volumes that the would could not contain them, according to John 21:25? And yet there are those things that He repeats. Why? God hides things with the intent that can only be found by searching them out. If you discover that the same incident is repeated in two of the Gospels, know that the accounts are given so that in either one you do not find by itself the whole truth. It’s the hiding of a mystery. So, if you want the word to open up to you and there is a repeat of the same account, the same situation in another text, compare them to each other because in that which is not in both, there will be a truth that is very significant.

Here in Luke chapter 6 we discover something right from the beginning. Let’s begin in verse 17.

Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples…”

“A large crowd of His disciples…” that’s more than twelve isn’t it?

…and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.

 

There is not only a large crowd of His disciples but there is a multitude of other than His disciples. I want you to see that distinction here in the gathering.

…who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

 

So we see here the beginning of the beatitudes. This is the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew chapter 5. But we discover something different here in the Luke text, and if we go back to verse 12 we find out what is really taking place.

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles.

 

And now He names the apostles and at the end of naming the apostles we find Him facing His crowd of disciples as well as the multitude of those who were not His disciples.

And this is how I see this. It’s not new with me. Many see it somewhat similar. Jesus has spent His night in prayer and in this night in prayer the Father has said to Him, “I want You to choose, out from among the larger number of disciples, twelve.” And the Father gives Him the names. You discover that in John 17:6 and other verses. The Father tells Jesus who the twelve are to be, including Judas Iscariot. And it is to these twelve in particular, as in the presence of the multitude of these other disciples as well as the larger multitude of non-disciples, that we find Jesus preaching this sermon.

I see it as more an ordination address, more as an explanation of what it’s going to mean to follow Him. And we find in here the attitudes and the principles and the law of the realm. The Sermon on the Mount is very important. It is usually handled as a series of teachings that are like targets to aim at, never really expecting to hit. And when you read it, it sounds like that to Adam’s ears, but it’s not that at all. He’s now describing the normal Christian life. He is describing what it is to be the children of the reign, disciples of the reign. And if you do not see it from that perspective you will never take it as a life to be expected. You will never see it as norm, it will always be out there untouchable.

And it almost seems that way to Adam’s ears. But to the man born of the Spirit, to the regenerated spirit, it is the coming in of the Holy Spirit, as in Ezekiel 36, who will cause you to walk in the ways of the Lord. The difference between Adam and the new man is Adam could not, and it was not in him. It was impossible for him to walk in the ways of the Lord. The Law was given to prove that very thing. The Law was given as a tutor to show us that man cannot live by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man needs regeneration. He needs this Second Man.

Again, 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus was both the last Adam and the second man. He was the first of a whole new race. It takes this other life force; this other life force lives the Sermon on the Mount. It’s His breath, His air, His food. It isn’t something to be imposed upon disciples; it is something that is exposed in their life. Yes, there are new commandments in it; there are new laws in it. Yes, there are! Jesus ends His time on earth by admonishing His disciples, saying to His disciples, “Teach them to observe all the things that I commanded you.”

The difference is, by nature we can’t live it. It’s not by our nature, but by our new nature, in Christ. The old man can’t keep from going back to the mud. The new man has no taste for the mud. By nature the new man is caused by his spirit in it, his life in it, to live this other life. Ezekiel 36 again says, “And I will put My Spirit,” right after He has said, “I will give you a new spirit.” That’s the regeneration, the new birth. “And then I will put My Spirit within you and He shall cause you to keep my statutes and to walk in My ways.” Aren’t you wanting that? Aren’t you wanting to be able to be what you know God’s created us to be without striving? It’s called entering into the rest.

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – His Government

May 2, 2009

Continuing in Isaiah 9:2 –

For you shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.

Have we not discovered that the rod of this lesser realm is oppressive? We cannot accumulate enough of her goods to remove her oppression. God’s people in America are so oppressed, and trying to imitate a life that on the whole we have not possessed. And they are not convinced or impressed, that is, our neighbors and the world around us.

For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.

 Everything that has reigned over the children of God, everything, all of her garments and all of her shodding, will be burned. So why do we want to dress in their garments and wear their boots? It is His work, it is in His coming to set us free from this lesser realm.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will rest on His shoulders…

This child, this son, this meek lamb that’s coming, it’s with government, because the very thing that Adam and Eve lost and were in desperate need of is the reign of God in their heart, because they were made for the reign as the bird is made for the currents of the air and the fish for the flow of the stream. Man is made for God. We can’t even be normal. Man without God is a freak, a stumbling, babbling freak. And to the heavenlies, the principalities and powers, we are like a zoo or a sick circus side attraction trying to be what we can only be with the indwelling of the life for which we were created. I just encourage you to reach out and grasp, take hold of this offer of life, this other life for which we’ve been created.

And the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace.

These two things go together, by the way: removing of oppression and the establishment of peace. It’s His government.

Most of my Christian life I’ve been without peace. I’ve been the most vexed person. I know that that’s not right. I know that those of you who have had their heart on God, it’s not been with peace, has it? The church is not at peace. I get too many phone calls; I do too much counseling, and most of it I do not enjoy because there’s no heart for His reign. They just want to be free from the consequences of this oppression. They still like the world’s garments.

It’s like the children of Israel in the wilderness. You know, it was the Holy Spirit that led the children of Israel right into the wilderness instead of left into the plushness of the abundance of the Promised Land. But, you see, in the wilderness there was daily manna from God. They didn’t have to go out and work for food. It was laying there on the ground. Their shoes didn’t wear out. There was no sickness for forty years But they didn’t like God’s green. It was the world’s green that their heart was upon. It was the flesh pots of Egypt that their heart was upon. They weren’t satisfied with shoes that didn’t wear out, they were tired of patent leather, they were wanting what the Philistines were wearing. “Do you see what those Philistines are wearing? Boy, that’s cool!” They weren’t satisfied with God’s provision. They weren’t content. Is that too much?

We’ve got to see that God’s green is real green. You know, you can get so accustomed to a counterfeit that you can’t take the authentic. I would dare say most of you were raised on margarine and butter is not too palatable. Get the point?

Margarine is the counterfeit. It’s like butter, but they’ve come to the place where they don’t have to copy the taste of butter any more. I really like butter but I discovered that my children got used to margarine. You can get so use to a counterfeit green that you don’t want the real thing. But the real thing’s good. There’s peace with it and rest. Wouldn’t you like some rest from all of this hectic, striving?

It’s amazing what we will do with the truth.

END

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – No Insignificant Land

April 24, 2009

Isaiah chapter 9. Here we have the birth and reign of the Prince of Peace again prophesied. Begin in verse 2.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 

They are happy because the King has come, the reign has come. And we read that, “You shall multiply the nation.” And I just want to say that we are the nation of God. Our land is the realm. Our land is no insignificant land; our kingdom, our nation is no insignificant nation. We have been called to be a people not of this lesser realm. We’ve been called out of this land of darkness, not removed. Jesus prayed in John 17, “Father, I pray that You do not take them out of but from the midst of it.” If we do not get this issue of the significance of the realm, the nation, the government to which we are called, we’re going to find our hands burned from holding on too tight to a lesser nation.

I’m speaking to you from the depth of my heart. If the church does not let go of, and I don’t mean by that to not pray for, not witness to, not go after to save, these lesser kingdoms, but if we do not let go of our ownership of that which is less, they have no hope, and we’re going to be severely burned when she’s judged. Because she shall be judged, this lesser kingdom and I believe it has begun. And by that I do not mean economic downturn. It is going to begin with us.

Judgment first begins with the household of God, the children of this exalted realm. They must first have removed from their life that which is not from God. That’s what judgment is all about. Only God judges and He only judges that which is not of Him. It is the world that persecutes. It is Satan and the world of darkness that comes against the children of God. And their persecution is always aimed at that which is of God. And because of our immaturity and our ignorance we’re going to be calling persecution what is really judgment, what is really intended to remove from us, to break from us, to tear out of our hands. And if we do not let go early, we will be injured in its removal. It’s necessary what is coming. It’s necessary.

And I encourage you to let go and take hold of the realm that can bring hope to the children of this lesser realm. Their only hope is in a people being raised up who know the reign of God in their heart. A people who are manifesting a life like Paul and Silas in that inner prison representing a life in the midst of what looks like physical bondage that’s free and above and reigns over all the circumstances of life. And they will not want to leave us once they see it. But if we’re holding on to that which God is judging we offer no hope to them. We’ve deceived them by our own selfish self-reigning ambitions.

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – Can You Hear Me Now

April 20, 2009

Luke chapter 4, verse 14.

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.

Isn’t that interesting?

And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

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.”

This is found is Isaiah chapter 61 which we will look at later. In this passage you will see what He came to do, sort of a mission statement, to preach the gospel to the poor. Isn’t it interesting that He says that He came to preach to the poor? You would think that He would have been all-inclusive in who He came to preach to. But we learned in the parable of the sower that He did not intend for everyone to understand what He was saying.

Whatever it is that He was saying there, He intended to hide it. “It is the glory of God to hide a matter and it’s the glory of those who are in the reign to search out a matter” (see Pr. 25:2).

He was saying, “You know, some were not ready. Some cannot hear this.”

But, the ones who were among those that were intended to be on the inside, those He went to, here He refers to as the poor. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder what He means by that? There’s no room for the rich? That would exclude most of those reading this book. Most of those who would have the means to purchase this book are in the top 1% to 3% of the wealth of the world if they are just average. And if they are at poverty level here in the U.S., they’re still in the top 10% of the wealth of the world. Isn’t that amazing?

He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, and set free those who are oppressed.

That reminds me of Mark 16 where He says, “And these signs will follow. Demons will be cast out, and recovery of sight to the blind, healings will take place” (see Mk. 16:17-18).

I don’t know where you are in all this but I just declare it to you. I’ve witnessed it. I believe it. And, it is so a part of what I believe, these are my convictions, that I am not yet satisfied with His witness of the gospel that I am preaching. I am expecting signs and wonders to follow. That may not be in the context of where you are or how you’ve been raised. You don’t have to accept it because I’ve said it, but Jesus came to do that. And He has promised it to those who preach the gospel. Whatever that means, it means something!

Now, verse 20:

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

And all were speaking well of Him…

Isn’t that interesting? “And all were speaking well of Him.” Why were they speaking well of Him? Well, they were. Great stories had gone on about Him and their response to His sharing this text from Isaiah 61 is that:

And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words, that’s how it is written, at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

And He was saying to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ But I tell you the truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days if Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

What was He saying to His neighbors? Whatever He was saying, I’ll tell you how they interpreted it. All of a sudden the words were not gracious.

And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.

They all thought well of Him, at the gracious words that fell from His lips. And this gentle lamb, this meek one, says, “You remember Naaman the leper? He wasn’t from Nazareth in Israel. God went out of Israel to find a leper to heal.

Well, what did they hear? Well, it may sound like what they heard was condemnation. It was, but why did they use the words “gracious” before that? Go with me to Isaiah 61. You need to see that Jesus stopped one phrase short of a verse that they all knew.

The Spirit if the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God.

Woops! All of a sudden this passage takes a radical turn. Setting captives free, making blind men see, setting the oppressed free; what were those people hearing that encouraged them to believe that these were gracious words? They were captives of Rome. And they had been beaten down and were seeing themselves as a subservient nation. And what they were hearing was the Messiah who would come and in vengeance declare the day of the Lord. And He did it. He did it. He did it to the people of Nazareth who were not wanting the reign of Christ in their heart but were wanting to share the reign over the Romans, and the Ethiopians and the Egyptians and the Palestinians and the Syrians and the Greeks. Are you hearing? They couldn’t handle that.

But where did this rage come from? Jesus spoke a simple truth from Scripture and the people were filled with rage. How did this rage get there? It came upon the heart. Now stay with me here. This is important.

The religious among us do not want to hear about His reign. The religious among us are wanting to share in the world’s benefits of the reign, but are not wanting to share in the servanthood of the reign, and are not wanting to raise their own white flag of surrender in repentance over their own reign. These two things are going on.

For example, if you were to turn to Isaiah 42:1, you would see the paradox, the seeming contradiction.

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice…”

John the Baptist came out as one crying in the wilderness. Jesus’ voice could not be heard in the street.

“…Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.”

You know, this is the second time this passage says that He will bring forth justice. What brings forth justice? Government! He’s come to reign.

“He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”

He’s come to reign, this gentle one, this meek King, with a gentle voice, out on the battle field making His offer, saying, “I’ve come out here to reign. Will you surrender?”

And it’s just that way. And unless you hear it that way, you’ll not share it that way and if you don’t share it that way we will bring children into the kingdom who feel they have to perform, trying to live up to a demand, still living under a sense of the Law. Can you hear that? Some of us are still trying to live that way that’s why we’re yet to discover the reign of God in our life. That’s why we are not reigning with Christ over those things that are coming into our life. It’s because we’re trying to perform, a striving here to be. No, it’s an offer. Just raise your flag of surrender, inviting Him in to occupy the throne.


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