Archive for the ‘Obedience’ Category

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.

Advertisements

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – Remarkable Miracles

April 9, 2009

In the last chapter I recommended that you read the book Remarkable Miracles by G.C. Bevington. He was a Holiness preacher out of Wesleyanism. He preached holiness and sanctification. But I’m not sharing it with you on the basis of that particular theology he is coming from. Here is a man, who as a young boy discovered what was required to hear God. He learned that the greater portion of prayer is hearing not speaking. And he often would not get up for hours or even days until he heard. And what came out of that hearing was “Remarkable Miracles.” And he’s just sharing his life experience.

I hope you discover two things in this book: the role of the kingdom, the reign of God in Bevington’s preaching because our Lord Jesus has promised that whenever this gospel is preached, signs and wonders will follow. He wasn’t a Pentecostal, he wasn’t a Charismatic, he was a Christian. You’ll see that he talks that way.

You do not see him mentioning his church. He was a “Kingdom” kid – the kingdom was everything. I want you to see the kingdom here. With his preaching, with his view of the reign of God, I want you to see the role of prayer, the role of intimacy. If in the end you come out of this with three new doctrines, one on the kingdom, one on discipleship, one on this other life, you would have lost. My intent is, in the giving of all that you are and all that you’ve been entrusted with to the King and His kingdom that you end up with Him and He ends up with you in an intimate relationship. And Remarkable Miracles talks about that relationship. I encourage you to read it.

John’s Remarkable Miracle –

Along with the theme of Bevington’s book, I want to tell you about an experience I had back in the late 70s right after I had read Remarkable Miracles for the first time. In this book, Bevington explains that whenever he got down, he waited until he heard. And you find him in a hay stack in the middle of winter and the Lord would come and tell him where to go. He would show Bevington the roads and the turns because there were not many road signs in those days. He would go miles and cross states to see a man and already have his name. He got on a train one time and ended up in West Virginia from Ohio. He got off the train and there was another man who lived a somewhat similar life who was waiting on Bevington when he got off the train because he had seen him in a dream. This is the kind of life that Bevington lived.

I had never experienced those kinds of things. I had never experienced precise kinds of stuff in prayer that were in the book. I was living in Watseka, Illinois and had been invited to Kankakee, Illinois to teach in a little home church meeting. In this house there were probably about sixty people in an old house that had a living room and the living room overflowed into the dining room. The people filled both rooms.

I had never met these people before and in the back of my mind was Bevington’s book. I was praying that I would know the Lord that way and hear Him speak and have Him direct me specifically.

So, I’m sitting in a chair up in front of the room. The brother with me was leading the music. It was his home town and because he knew some of the people there, we got the invitation to come because they had heard about me through him. So we are sitting there and all of a sudden I hear this woman crying. I heard this woman crying in my mind. And it was not a little cry, it was wailing. It was so real that I was looking around the room to see who it was and very quickly I realized that no one was reacting to it. But I heard this wailing in my head. And it just would not stop. I’m trying to think about my message, you know, and before you know it I’m introduced to speak. I’m standing up there and still it’s in my head. I’m praying in my heart, “Lord, what am I to do?”

So I said to the group, “I don’t know what’s going on. I hear some woman who is just in great agony and is wailing.” And as soon as I said that, a lady that I could not see broke out crying and I recognized her voice. She could hardly control herself once she started, so we took a few minutes and some of the women comforted her, and when she was able, she shared what was going on.

She is Charlene Gray and her husband Bob who was an executive with Penn-Central Railroad in Chicago which is just north of Kankakee, had been in a mental hospital for six months. He had not spoken for six months and was almost, like, comatose. You could lead him around but there was no response from him to anything. And she had heard that very afternoon from the hospital that if there was no change in his condition over the weekend, he would be transferred to the incurable ward. They both were in their late forties and had had twin boys just after she turned forty. She owned a flower shop and he worked at Penn-Central. His benefits were running out and she had to sell her flower shop to pay bills. She was desperate; just desperate.

So, all I could think of at that moment was Bevington and how, when a situation like this would come along, he would just get on his knees and say, “Lord, what is going on here? What’s happening here?” And he would hear and go and there would be healing, restoration, freedom, whatever. And so I tell this little story about Bevington to the group there and suggest that we get down on our knees to pray for Charlene and Bob and look to the Lord to speak to us.

You need to know that I’m a guest speaker in this home. They’ve never met me before. They’ve never heard me teach before. So, they’re looking at me kind of funny but I get down on my knees where I was and they slowly began to kneel where they were. I had this feeble little prayer and a few others prayed. We are down, I suppose, about five minutes. People are getting restless; some are getting back up on their chairs. I’m saying to myself, “O God, what have I done?” I said, “Lord, won’t you speak.” And finally I get up and shared this miserable little message. I’m defeated. I go back home just miserable.

This is Saturday night and I’m preaching Sunday morning. I don’t do well Sunday morning either. Sunday night comes and I can’t sleep. I get out of bed and go down to my living room. I got down on the floor and said, “Lord, I’m not getting up until I hear.” So an hour passes and I pray everything I can think, of to pray. Two hours pass, then three. I’m waiting to hear and I’m determined to wait it through. I’m determined I’m going to stay there until I hear. So it’s the wee hours of the morning and I’m out of things to say. I haven’t said anything in a while and I didn’t recognize it at the time but it was what Bevington called “getting quiet.”

I realized I was out of thoughts. And just out of my mouth comes this statement: I said, “Lord, if You would heal Bob Gray, I will praise You as you deserve.” And then this thought came to me that I just knew was not my thought. “You never did before.”

And I knew instantly that I’d pray for something for six months or nine months with little 30 second prayers, 10 second prayers, two minute prayers; and it would come to pass that I’d thank Him in 10 seconds, or 15 seconds and go on.

And so, I spent another hour asking, “Lord, what does it mean to praise You as You deserve?” I realized that He needs to get the honor for the act. He works to show Himself strong that men might get to know Him. You’ll find that all through the Old Testament. He speaks it, “It’s not for your sake that I do these things, it’s for My name’s sake.”

So I end up making this list of those that I’m going to give Him honor and praise His name. And on the top of the list are Charlene Gray and the elders in that little house church that I’d done so miserably with.

After I had made the list I felt pretty good about it. Then the next words that came out of my mouth, sort of like a prayer, were, “Why won’t You heal Bob?” And immediately the thought came back, “I’m interested in more than his healing.”

Now what would you think if you hear that? He’s not saved, is he Lord? I knew instantly he’s not saved. And so I spend the next little while preparing in my heart this outline of how I am going to share the gospel with Bob Gray as soon as I hear that he is healed. I said, “Lord, as soon as I hear he is healed, I will go and share the gospel.” Well, it’s about 4:30 in the morning and the very next thought that comes is, “What are you doing this morning?”

Now, what would that say to you? It would say, He’s healed, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s what I thought it said. And I wrestled the next hour over, “What if he isn’t?” “What will I do if I call all these people praising God for Bob’s healing, go there and he’s not healed?” But I finally realized that the only way to know is to go.

And that’s when I learned another thing that Bevington points out in his book, it’s as important to know what voice is not God’s as to know what voice is His.

So I said, “Lord, I’m going.” Now, it’s 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning. Kankakee, Illinois is an hour earlier but I have already said to the Lord, “The minute I know he is healed, I’m going to begin praising You.” So, at this early hour of the morning I call Charlene Gray and I said, “This is John Brown.”

“Who?”

“John Brown who was at the house meeting.”

“The house meeting on Saturday night?”

“Yes…” I knew what was going through her mind: “That John Brown?”

And I said, “Charlene, the Lord has just spoken to me and said that Bob is healed.” And there was dead silence. And I said, “….and he’s not saved.”

And she said, “No…., he’s not.”

And I said, “I’ve promised the Lord that as soon as Bob is healed I would go to the hospital on the south side of Chicago to share the gospel with him.”

She then said, “You can’t get in. I can only see him once a month and they are supposed to be transferring him this morning.”

And I said, “If the Lord has spoken, I believe He’ll get me in because I’ve promised Him.” Then I shared the whole story with her.

She’s not convinced but she promises me that she will call the hospital. So she hangs up and I get on the phone with the elders of that fellowship in Kankakee, Illinois. I shared the story with each of them and finally got two of them to agree to go with me to Chicago. I am about an hour and a half from Kankakee and then it’s another hour to Chicago. They agree to take off that morning and go with me. So after I pick them up, all the way to the hospital they keep asking me, “How do you know it was God? What if it was not God? Why did you call Charlene?”

But I had promised God that I would do this. And I am thinking, “Do I have faith? No! No! I was just learning faith.”

We get to the hospital and go to the front desk and I said, “I’m John Brown from….”

“Oh, yes, Reverend Brown. You’re the reverend who believes that Mr. Gray is healed. The doctor wants to see you.”

Everyone there in that area is watching me because they have all heard about why we were there. The elders with me were about two paces behind me.

The doctor comes out and says, “So you’re the reverend who believes that Bob Gray is healed. Well, come with me.”

He was not pleased by what I had told Charlene. He leads me to the incurable ward which was behind locked doors. Here was a person walking around with no clothes on and another beating their head against the padded wall. It was horrible.

The doctor leads us into what looks like a little counseling room with a small table and a couple of chairs. The man sitting in one of the chairs was Bob Gray. He was dressed in a suit that looked slept in and it was baggy on him because he had lost lots of weight. He does not seem to recognize our coming into the room either. The doctor says, “Here is your Mr. Bob Gray who you believe is healed. Just call me when you are through.”

Bob Gray looked so pitiful and my heart went out to him as he sat there with his head down staring at nothing. I said in my heart, “Lord, no matter what, I’m going to share the gospel with that man.”

I remember that his eyes were so milky that you could hardly see his pupils. He did not move, he did not look at us and there was no recognition that we were even in the room. The two elders with me were leaning against the wall near the door.

I sat down across from Bob and couldn’t even look at him. I opened my Bible and started reading the Scriptures and relating the gospel message. And as I was delivering my message, without thinking I said, “Bob, do you understand what I am saying?”

What I heard was, “Yes, I do.”

This had obviously startled the two elders because they were desperately trying to get their balance as they stood erect.

Then I led Bob Gray to the Lord.

Within a couple of days he was out of the hospital and about a year after Patti and I moved to Marietta, GA we got a call saying that Bob had been restored to his job.

All this came about because of Bevington’s book. I encourage you to get one and read it. I hope it sets in your heart a fire to know God in that way. There are some things in the book that may be different than what you’ve been taught and what you believe but don’t get tripped up on that. Some of it is good. I just want you to see what Bevington says about the gospel of the kingdom.

Also, you will find in Appendix II an article reproduced there called “Where Will Our Hearts Be Buried” by Bishop David Huskin. It is an account of Doctor David Livingstone, the missionary of the mid eighteen hundreds that pioneered the gospel to the “dark continent” of Africa. When he died after 32 years of service to his Lord, his body was buried with dignity in Great Britain in Westminster Abby, while his heart, having been removed by his servants, was buried where it belonged, under a shade tree in the plains of Africa.

I have included this article because we will look at the passage in the Sermon on the Mount which says that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

OFFER OF THE KINGDOM pt II – How Much Love

March 31, 2009

Luke 14:26 –

“If anyone come to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Do you know how the word “hate” is literally translated from the Greek? Hate!

What does He mean? I’ve given you the meaning by reading the text. Usually I read it the other way around but it’s too hard to hear the other way around. It means: by comparison to your love for Me.

God is not interested; our God is not interested in a mere second love. The distance between our love for our own children and the love for our Lord is as far apart as love is from hate in the illustration that He gives.

I’m going to say this. I hope you can hear this. We are not loving our children by putting them first. We are loving ourselves. If we really loved our children we would do whatever it took to see that the reign of God was in proper perspective in their understanding. The best way we can love our children is to put Christ a far distant first. We are teaching them and training them that He is not all that important by how we treat them. It means something.

“No one of you can be my disciple who does not hate his spouse, his father and mother, sister and brother, children, and even his own life compared to your love for Me.”

He’s not saying hate them outside of our love for Him. He is just saying your love for them is that distant a second love. I am convinced that it is self-reign and self-will that has put our children in that place. It’s not for their best interest to be there. That’s a deception. It costs less for our treating them that way because it allows us to enjoy that lifestyle that we are giving them and keeps us from cutting the cords of this world under the guise of loving our children, our family.

You’re not loving your wife and you’re not loving your husband and you are certainly not loving your children if you ignore what Christ has called us to, just to take care of them, to provide for them. It’s a deception. Am I speaking with too much authority? You may need to decide whether or not I have it. It is the Spirit speaking, and not John Brown.

OFFER OF THE KINGDOM pt II – Three Who Would Follow

March 23, 2009

There are three who would have followed Jesus but were brought up sharply when Jesus revealed the reality of what they were getting into. How Jesus responds to them was somewhat different than what we might expect to hear from those who are called to follow the Lord.

Holes for Homes –

Luke 9:57 – 58:

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 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.”

What has Jesus touched upon? Well, the man, no doubt, who has seen Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords, has recognized that here is the Son of God; here is One who has life. Like the rich young ruler, this man has seen that Jesus has this quality of life that’s not found in Adam. And so he, to join the corps, says, “I’ll go with You Lord, any where You go.” But his expectation is for something different. Jesus said, “You know, the birds of the air have nests and the foxes have holes, and I have no where to lay My head.”

“Oh, I thought it was going to be different, You being who You are.”

And we have heard a gospel that offers what Jesus did not offer. We’re expecting mansions here and now. Perhaps you’re not but many have grown to expect to be able to get wherever He is going in comfort, and being there, prospering, as the world measures prosperity.

Jesus makes it very clear where He is going. And those who would follow Him need to know at the beginning, that where He is going, in terms of this world, the birds and the foxes have it better in terms of a place to lay their head, a nest that they can roost in or a hole that they can crawl in every night. It takes a resolute decision to say, “Okay, I’ll go.”

Leave It To The World –

Now, let’s look at this next man. Jesus speaks to another whom He would like to invite.

And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

Now, that seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? I have a suspicion, because of how Jesus answered him that his father didn’t just die. He was probably near death; he was probably going to die. Jesus said, “Follow Me.” And the man said, “I’ll follow You but first let me go and bury my father.”

Now he may have been dead. I don’t know that he was or wasn’t. I suspect that he was not. I suspect that had he died while his son was following Jesus, the Lord would have gone with him to the funeral. It was the nature of Jesus. But Jesus saw something in this man. What did he see in this man?

You, know, there are some things the world can do as well as we can. There are some things that the world can do better than we can. It’s true. There are some things the children of God shouldn’t even put their hand to. There are some things that any dead person can do. Be careful listening to this, there are some things that the world can do as well as we can do. How many of the things that we are doing that any child of the domain of darkness could do just as well? How much of our life is wrapped up in those things that any child of the world could do, perhaps as well or better? How much of our life is entangled in those things? Let the dead deal with the dead. Let those who have not found the reign or the will or the life do those things that any child of the world can do.

“But those things,” Jesus said, “that I’m about are all of those things that they cannot do.”

Isn’t it time that we made a decision to pour our lives into doing those things that the world cannot do and are really waiting on us to do? The surrender of self-reign and self-will brings us into the life of doing those things that the world cannot do. Jesus’ response was, “Let the dead bury their own dead. But as for you…”

The decision that is required to yield up, to surrender our reign and our will, must be a resolute decision to follow Him in the doing of those things the world can’t do and to leave to the world those things that any child of the world can do. I say to you with boldness, not at all with apology, God is calling you and me to surrender all that we are and all that we’ve been entrusted with to the reign and the will of the Father.

God is calling us to follow Him where the world cannot go. God is calling us to a life of following Him that will require of us leaving much. We’ve got to eat; we’ve got to drink; we’ve got to raise our children; we’ve got to sleep somewhere. But let’s not major on those things and leave unattended those things for which we have been called.

What can be more necessary than burying our own father? But even if that act keeps us from doing that for which we’ve been called, it is a distraction that can be cared for by the children of the world. It may not mean what I am implying it means. Jesus said it, “Follow Me; let the dead bury the dead. As for you, go and proclaim the good news of the reign.”

Looking Behind Us –

The third man’s story begins in verse 61.

Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom (reign) of God.”

We could have picked some easier to swallow illustrations, couldn’t we?

“No one after putting his hand to the plow and looking back…”

How many times have you looked back? I have spent most of my Christian life “back.” Not just looking, but “back,” carrying out the semblance of the Christian life, doing just enough of those things that made me feel like I’m still “in,” but according to this text, “back” is keeping me not “fit” for the reign.

We need to make a resolute decision to turn our backs on our self-reign and to surrender to His. We who by faith believe on Him must allow our self-will to be surrendered to His will. And what is His will? His will is that you be children of the kingdom; that you and I be ambassadors of the kingdom; that you and I be bearers of the light; that you and I be the salt that preserves; that you and I are so surrendered that His life will come forth so much that prisoners would stay in jail just to be with us.

THE OFFER OF THE KINGDOM – Believing vs. Doing

March 20, 2009

Let’s continue in John chapter 12. I want you to see that in the Scriptures there is no separation between believing and doing. Faith has as its fruit the doing of, the obedience to.

Verse 44 of John 12:

And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.

It is this faith that enables us to surrender our will and move from the domain of darkness into light.

If anyone hears My saying and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me…” (which is synonymous “with hears my sayings and does not keep them”) “…and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life.”

This is the commandment. Jesus commanded something. And to those who have turned their back on their own reign and who have turned their back on their own will, who have surrendered their own will and have surrendered their own reign to receive His, receive the commandment of eternal life.

“…therefore the things I speak I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

In John chapter 17, verse 3, Jesus prays.

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God; and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

We would like to describe eternal life in many ways but this is its simplest interpretation or understanding; eternal life is to know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. And it’s not just know about Him; it’s knowing Him. He manifests Himself to those who believe upon Him.

Now go down to verse 8.

“…for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.

What does it mean to believe “that You sent Me?” What is eternal life? From John 17:3 it is to know the Father and the Son. Eternal life is to know Him.

Now turn to 1 John chapter 2, verse 4.

The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Then verses 5 and 6:

…but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

You can not separate the believing from the doing. How is it that we have allowed a faith that does not require the doing? Has it been out of a false sense of the Law?

Jesus said to His disciples, “Teach them to observe everything that I commanded you.” “A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Is there an option there? If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you have surrendered your reign and your will. As I’ve said it’s not a reign of demand; it’s a reign of offer, an offer that is received by surrender.

Catch this: knowing Him, that word is intimately knowing Him, like a husband knows his wife, it’s like Adam knew Eve; it’s entering into an abiding relationship with: knowing Him.

How do you suppose the commandment is kept? It’s not a demand. It isn’t observing everything that He has commanded but it is just simply turning it to Him that He might perform it. He has both spoken it and He will do it, the writer of 1 Thessalonians said. He will do it. Now if you come about it as if doing it proves it or doing it makes it, you are back to demand. I can tell you that many in our churches do not believe this and do not know Him. This is evident because they are not doing even the minimal of what we would observe in those who have entered into His life.

It may not mean what I’ve just said it means, but it means something. You give it meaning. You get before the Lord and you give it meaning. If you feet and hands aren’t in keeping with His life, maybe there is a surrender that must take place: a surrender of our reign and a surrender of our will. Believe on Him and allow Him to perform it; do it. He is the only one that can live the Christian life. None of us can live the Christian life. He’s the only one.

But we can not know Him if we are not willing to surrender our reign and our will; if we are not willing to repent of our reign; if we are not willing to repent of our will and believe on Him. It is not the knowing or the doing, it’s a counterfeit. It’s intellectual ascent to some concept. It’s not faith.

THE OFFER OF THE KINGDOM – Provision for the Church

March 19, 2009

It is God’s provision. Faith is God’s provision. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s provision that delivers us from our own will that enables us to surrender our will to His will. And it is this surrender of both our reign and will that enables us to receive the offer of His reign in our heart.

And I’m convinced that many in the modern church have never made that transaction. I’m convinced that for many in what we know as the church there has never been that surrender because He’s not reigning. And His will is not coming forth in their lives. I believe the most fruitful mission field in the world is in the American church because I believe there are untold multitudes within the church that are hungry for reality and they’ve never heard about how to surrender their reign and their will and to receive His reign and His will into their heart. That’s why the Lord has led me to write this book, so that you can take this teaching back into the church and into your Sunday school classes and in your small groups and in your relationships. You can share the good news that God is offering us His reign and His will to our hearts. And it is not a demand – he has made provision by way of repentance and faith.

THE KEY PARABLE – Introduction

January 24, 2009

Here is “The Key Parable for Understanding the Mysteries of the Kingdom” and all other parables. I can’t over emphasize enough how important is the learning of this parable. This is a familiar parable but you need to understand this parable and the role of this parable in interpreting all of the other parables and everything that Jesus taught by way of parables. Actually everything He taught by parables, though it appears to us to be many different subjects, all of them relate to just one subject. And until you see that disclosed through the teaching of this parable, you will handle them as if they do not relate. But all of them relate to the reign of God. All of them relate to the gospel of the kingdom. And once you see that you will understand many of the parables a bit differently than you have understood them in the past. And, you’ll also discover the key for understanding the mysteries. As we have touched on before, God has not intended for everyone to understand this teaching. He purposefully hid it. So it’s important for you to grasp this parable. This parable is a key parable because it unlocks many doors once you understand the fundamentals of this parable. And Jesus makes that point. That’s were we are going here.

Blind But Seeing & Seeing But Blind –

But first we are going to begin with a little spiritual exercise that deals with how we perceive something and how we see things. We find it in the Gospel of John chapter 9. And we’re going to read verses 39 – 41.

And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”

And Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

And this exercise has to do with seeing, and of course, seeing the things of God.

“For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

The things that get in the way of our seeing, oftentimes, are what we have seen in the past, what we are holding to be a correct view, what we’ve determined is the right perspective.

It’s like trying to give someone something whose hands are full. Have you ever talked with someone and there was just no room to get into the conversation? Or it would seem that there was room but after you’ve said your little bit you soon realize they didn’t hear a thing you said. All the while you were talking they were preparing their next statement. Their hands were so full that they could not receive anything. And that little symbolism, that little analogy there, that little parable is true in many areas we will look at, in terms of seeing, in the text in this chapter. True ‘seeing’ is being able to see the things that God wants to show us. And Jesus is making it very clear; He’s not suggesting that these Pharisees referred to in John 9 do not see. He’s not suggesting that they have no truth. But being blinded by what they have seen keeps them from going on with God.

Many in the church could be 30 or 40 years in the Lord but they are really still infants and babes in the Spirit. What they originally saw they took as the whole picture and everything they needed. What they now see is keeping them from the fullness for which they were first introduced to the Gospel. Some of the reasons churches stagnate, is that they have a teaching on baptism, or they have a teaching on the Lord’s Supper, or they have a teaching on salvation, and it is not the whole picture; it is a narrow, little picture. And because they have accepted it as the whole picture, they cannot see anything else.

It’s like we’ve accepted that our grandmother and grandfather are saved because they did such and so. And our view of salvation is such that what our grandparents did proved to us was that everything was alright. But it might have been that everything was not alright with grandmother and grandfather, or Aunt Hilda, or Uncle Joe, or even Momma or Papa. But because we have seen them as alright we cannot see anything else that might suggest that possibly that view of salvation which included them may be an inadequate view of salvation. And because we’ve seen it that way and we’ve identified that view as the truth, and it includes Momma and Papa, we can’t afford to see anything that might exclude them. I’m coming through, aren’t I? You all have dealt with some of these things before.

Well, Jesus is making it very clear to those to whom He is teaching what His teaching is about. He says, “I did not come to judge” (see John 3:17). And yet in John 9:39 He says “it’s for judgment that I came.” And in that text that says, “I did not come to judge,” He ends up saying, “the words I have spoken, they will judge you” (see John 5:30 & 8:26, 31-32). It’s the truth here. “That which I am speaking to you,” Jesus is saying, “will judge you.”

We have got to always present ourselves to the Lord choosing blindness, becoming blind. That’s how the phrase in verse 39 says it: “and that those who see may become blind.” We have to choose the position of saying to the Lord, “Lord, we’re closing our eyes. Although we’re not erasing things from our memories, and we’re not denying what we’ve already seen, but we are putting it back; we’re putting everything we hold dear back.”

And I can say to you, I don’t know how the Lord did it in me, but I am almost 180 degrees on almost everything I believed after I left Bible College. I mean, I was preaching then, and yet, had the Lord not struck me blind, really putting me into situations where He dealt with me so that I could not see, I would have been in trouble. I had to become blind in order to see. And Jesus is saying here that that is the place for seeing. “In that you say that you see, you’re blind. What you have seen already, blinds you so that you cannot see anymore.”

Being Blinded By Light –

It’s like at night the lights of a car that’s coming blinds us from seeing everything else that’s out there. And if you have poor night vision, (and as you grow older some have real problems with night vision) you will have a hard time seeing anything other than the light that’s out there in front of you. The key to driving at night with the oncoming car’s lights is to not look at the lights. It’s to look at the lines in the road that will take your focus off the oncoming lights both mentally and visually. And sometimes when you’re caught off guard with a car coming around a curve and all of a sudden you’re blinded by that, and it appears that you cannot see anything, but if you can concentrate and focus and look for the lines, all of a sudden not only do the lines appear, but much more appears and the lights that are coming at you fade out of your range of vision. The lights will seem to dim and you will be able to see clearly again.

Jesus is saying here that to really see the things of God you will need to become “blind” to everything else. You need to lay aside the distractions of the world, not deny them. I need to make it very clear that I am not suggesting that what you see is not true. I’m just suggesting you need to set your seeing aside and let what He is showing you speak for itself. And maybe what then appears does not connect with what you already believe because what He is showing you may seem contradictory. And you cannot read the Scriptures without recognizing that there are many places in the Gospels that it appears that what He is saying is contradictory to other truths, but they are not. But just embrace, “it’s true,” because your inability to connect it does not make it untrue. And as you are going to learn in this chapter, there is a secret for learning how to connect the truths of Scripture.

God wants to connect it for you. But you cannot connect it if you are judging it solely on the basis of the light that you have already received. The light that you already have seen may blind you to what else God is trying to show you. Jesus isn’t suggesting that the scribes and Pharisees were absolutely devoid of all truth. He’s not suggesting that they were ignorant of everything. He’s just saying, “It’s because of your view of the prophets, and especially because of your view of the prophesies concerning the Messiah that you cannot see Me.”

They did have the prophecies. But something else they were seeing kept them from interpreting what they were seeing as being valid which was right before them in Jesus Christ. There were even those who, upon discovering who Jesus was, still opposed Him. For example, when He raised Lazarus from the dead it was from that day that the Jewish leaders plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus as well. That takes a bit of something, you know, brass, to stand before God and try to explain why you tried to kill the evidence, the supernatural evidence. But there is that kind of self pride and self preservation of the old man. In trying to save their life they kept losing it.

In Seeing Your Sin Remains

It is in setting aside what we’ve already seen that enables us to see what Jesus is trying to show us. Once again in John 9, verse 41:

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

You can have the truth and end up in sin because you will not look at more truth. Your half truth, your inadequate truth, can end up keeping you from walking in the light. So it’s important that whenever we come through the things of God, reading the Scriptures, hearing a teaching, reading a book, listening to a tape or CD, or just being quiet before Him, to understand the truth of what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us we must believe it regardless of how it may contradict what we already know. Not only have we already talked about knowing, “he that is willing to do, he shall know,” we’ve talked about entering in, and now we’re talking about seeing, and we’re going to talk about several other issues that are like these that require our coming to a place of insufficiency so we will know the truth.

DEFINING KINGDOM – The Real Issue

January 23, 2009

The question really gets back to the issue of the reign. Does Jesus have a right to say to you and me, “Sell all that you have, give the money to the poor and come follow me?” There might be some agreement, but I’m also feeling, you know, do you really want to answer that? That’s the question.

The question is not, has Jesus said we are all to get rid of all that we have, sell it and give the proceeds to the poor and come follow Him. That’s not the issue. The issue is, does He have a right to say that? Because, you know, He does say, “No one can be my disciple who does not say good bye to all his own possessions (see Luke 14:33). We’ve talked about that, I think, at least we’ve hinted about it in the introduction. He does say, “You can’t be a disciple of Mine, you can’t come under My reign unless you say good bye to all your own possessions.” Now, He doesn’t say throw them away. He doesn’t say sell them and give the money to the poor. He just says, “Say good bye.”

I may be old but I can remember dating. And I can remember standing on Patti Barmore’s front porch and saying good bye and an hour later still being there. Good bye does not necessarily mean going right now. Usually it was when the light was switched on from the inside. That settled the issue. Then I had to decide, does Patti’s mother have a right to end the evening, and I decided that she did.

The issue is, Jesus is saying to this rich young ruler, “Do I have a right to reign over your life? You’re asking me about salvation and entering the kingdom, about God’s life that was promised in the Garden. I’ll tell you how you can have it. Just let Me die for you and cover your sins.”

Well, he was going to do that for the rich young ruler. But the issue is first and foremost, “Will you give Me the reign?” And that’s the issue in each of our lives. Does He have a right as Lord to reign over all that we are and all that He has entrusted unto us? And unless that issue is settled, we’ll not enter the realm where we can reign in life over all that is. But as soon as we do, we’ll soar like eagles. We are transformed into the realm, out on the water; however you want to say it. But it requires His reign.

END

Be It Unto Me –

October 21, 2008

           

            Our opening exercise is taken from the Gospel of John. And, this is a spiritual exercise. Its purpose is to turn us from our “old man” to the new man in Christ. It’s to cause us to be in a place where when the Spirit is speaking, we can hear Him. In John, Chapter 7, verse 17, there is a principal expressed. It is expressed in many places in both the Old and New Testaments. But, this is the clearest place I have found in the scriptures. In John chapter 7, verse 17, Jesus says, “He that is willing to do he shall know of the teaching whether it is of man or of God.” (This is not a quote.)

Lk. 1:38

            The principal is, he that is willing to do, he shall know. With God, knowing only comes to those who are first willing to do. With man, we want God to say what it is He wants us to do so we can judge whether or not we will do it. God does not speak to that man. God speaks to the man or the woman or the child who first presents to Him a heart that says, “I’ll do it!” Not “I’ll do it for the John Brown’s of the world or of the church” but will do it for the Lord God. Be the one who can say, as Mary, “Be it unto me as you have spoken.”

            The interesting thing about the mother of Jesus and her encounter with the angel is the angel did not ask her permission because the angel already knew the answer. And that was why she was most favored. The angel knew in Mary’s heart, she was already available to God. Her question has nothing to do with her judging whether or not she will do it. She doesn’t ask the question, for example, “What about the Pharisees and the Sadducees, won’t they stone me?”  “What do I tell my husband to be?” “What do I tell my family?” That never enters into it. She has a single question and that is, “How are you going to do it?” And so, the angel was directed by the Holy Spirit, to say, “Favored one,” of Mary. Her response, when she understood how was, “Do whatever the Lord wants.”

Lk. 1:35

            Would you have understood this as a woman or a man for the angel to say how you are going to get pregnant? “The Holy Spirit is going to overshadow you.” Oh? All Mary needed to know was that it was going to be a work of God.

            Now, what’s the exercise? If you are reading this to hear me you’ll be disappointed. I suggest you never come to hear men. But, if you’ve come to hear God, if you’ve come expecting to hear the Holy Spirit speak, present to Him a heart that is willing to do and you shall know what it is that He is going to speak to you. It may be out of my mouth but it may not be out of my mouth. It may be in between the lines. It may be as you are looking at the scriptures. It may be as you are carried off in a thought about a situation that some how relates to something that’s been said. And the Holy Spirit will speak to you. He that is willing to do he…shall know. 

            We’re going to begin with that exercise. We’re going to present to the Lord a heart that says “amen” at the beginning. We will present a “So be it!” and an “I’ll do it!” to God so that man can hear. Will you join me in that?

            Gracious Father, it is a wonderful thing that You have done that we shall be called children of God by Your Spirit for that is exactly what we are. Father, as sons and daughters, we are presenting to You tonight, hearts that are saying, “So be it, Lord! We will do it!” You speak. Be it done unto us that for which we’ve been created. Be it done unto us that for which we’ve been chosen. Be it done unto us, Father, that for which we’ve been elected. To Your praise and glory, we pray. Amen.