Posts Tagged ‘Discipleship’

THE OFFER OF THE KINGDOM – A Provision for Self-Rule

March 17, 2009

Now, what do you suppose is the provision for self-will? Back to Mark chapter 1, verses 14 and 15. It says, “repent” and “believe.” Placing our faith in the one to whom we are turning is the provision for self-will. When Jesus was responding to the request to explain how to pray in Matthew 6:9, He said, “Pray, then in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name. Your “reign” come. Your will be done…”

These are the two provisions for surrender: Your reign come; Your will be done. It begins with us, our surrendering self-reign, our surrendering self-will. And God’s provision for that is repentance and faith.

Let’s go to Mark chapter 16, verse 15.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved…”

And belief is like repentance. Show me your faith without your works, and I’ll show you my faith by my works (see James 2:18). This is hands and feet faith. We live out of what we believe in our heart. That’s what faith is, by the way. Faith is the noun form of the Greek word pisteuō which means to believe. To believe is to have faith. To have faith is to believe. You cannot have faith without believing. You cannot have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and not believe in what He said. You cannot believe in what He said and not do what He asks. In Matthew 28 He said, “Go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.” And that Greek word translated “commanded” literally means “commanded.”

I know I am covering some very simple elementary things, but somehow the church has yet to grasp this. We’re saying we believe in the Lord Jesus, but we’re ignoring those things that He has asked us to do. He has asked us to do some things. He has actually given us some commandments. Did you know that? You cannot say that you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot say that you have faith in your heart to make Him Lord of your heart and not do what He has asked. That’s not faith. Well, what does He ask? We will look at that in the next book A Radical Discipleship but He has asked us to do some things that on the whole the church has ignored. And you cannot believe on Him and not believe on what He has said.

A Night in Jail –

Let’s go to Acts chapter 16. Here we have a great example illustrating that what we believe in the heart is manifested in our experience. In Acts chapter 16 we have a story of Paul and Silas being dragged into prison and then being dragged into the inner dungeons of the prison. You all know the story. They have been beaten, lashed, probably 39 stripes, which is the maximum of 40 minus one. They’ve been beaten so badly that their backs have been laid bare and they are bleeding. We see this because the jailer eventually attends to their wounds.

So they are chained up in the dungeon of this Roman jail in Philippi, and it is midnight. You need to know that this is a Roman jail not an American jail. The Romans had no system of rehabilitation. You were in jail either waiting on trial, to determine if you were innocent or guilty, or you’ve been determined to be guilty and are waiting for your punishment. And, the nearest thing to rehabilitation would be to be put on a ship as an oarsman for the rest of your life, because the sentence for guilt was death or to be an oarsman for the rest of your life. You might be held in prison because you owed your landlord some money and you were held there until your relatives paid off the debt by selling your property. If they couldn’t come up with the money you would have a life sentence in the jail. And, often times, the jailer was one who had such an offence. He had a life sentence because he couldn’t pay his bills. And he kept his life by keeping the prison. And this jailer was one such. I don’t know what his crime was but he was no more than a prisoner. He had his life on the basis of keeping the prisoners.

It’s midnight and here’s Paul and Silas singing. And we’d like to think that Paul had his beautiful second tenor voice and Silas was a mellow baritone and they just made music like none that anyone had heard before. But that’s just not the case. I don’t care how good you sing, you don’t sing in a Roman prison or an American Federal prison or a high security prison at midnight. You just don’t do it. I’ve been in prison at midnight. You don’t make a big commotion at midnight. You will be dealt with. I don’t care how good you sing, at midnight nobody is interested in hearing you.

And it wasn’t until I put this together in my mind, until the Holy Spirit opened this up to me, that I got a vision into this realm into which you and I are called, to the other side of the bow of the boat, to where eagles soar, to where it’s beyond Adam’s capabilities.

Because here are two men in a Roman prison, singing at midnight and the Holy Spirit moves and there is an earthquake and an angel comes and they are set free. Not only are they set free but every door in the prison is opened and all the prisoners are set free.

Now what would you do if you were in a Roman prison, already sentenced or waiting on sentence, and the doors are opened at midnight and the jailer is somewhere else? What would you do?

Is that too difficult? Why didn’t they escape? Why didn’t they just run away? Was it because they saw something and believed it? At the risk of their life they saw something. I’m here to tell you that that jailer knew what they would do. He didn’t even need to check inside to see if they were still there because he knew what his prisoners would do and he was about to commit suicide because he knew what his punishment would be for letting them go. He was about to commit suicide without even looking. So, it’s pretty safe to assume that the other prisoners would not have stayed there unless they believed something.

And it hit me. Somehow they saw two men living in this other realm. They saw two men who were not of the earth. They heard something heavenly. I do not know the songs that they were singing, no doubt they were witnessing in their songs.

It reminds me of this woman in China that was in prison three different times and her witness began by singing in prison. She has won them from every tribe and ethnic group from all over China beginning by singing.

So, Paul and Silas may have been singing a nice gospel hymn. But I mean, think about it, if you were facing death and had a chance to escape, would you stay around just to hear more of what a preacher that you’ve heard has to say?

Somehow, the Holy Spirit opened these prisoner’s eyes to see two men who were living apart from their wounds and their condition and their situation. And they believed what they saw. And, the jailer, as for him, he did not need a message. Just seeing these prisoners still there with these two men convinced him that something is going on here that’s beyond him. And his response is, “What must I do to be saved, me and my house? How can we get in on what we see here?”

That’s faith. That’s to believe.

It isn’t just turning from self-rule and to His rule. It’s believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, a belief that will risk everything to enter into His will and reign. It is the surrender of our will. Those prisoners, in Acts 16, who were free and who could have run, they surrendered their will right there. Believing in something they did not understand brought them to full surrender of their will.

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THE KEY PARABLE – Be All You Can Be

January 29, 2009

We’ve believed in self-sufficiency and we’ve been raised and taught that we are striving in life to become sufficient. Jesus is working to bring us to a total insufficiency. We are working towards adequacy; He is working to bring us to total inadequacy. We are working to become strong; He is working to bring us to total weakness, absolutely incapable of doing anything on our own to where we can legitimately say before others and the Lord, “I can do nothing…”

I can remember when I thought I could do anything and be anything I wanted to be. And if you insist on that, God will give it to you. As He did for Israel with Saul He’ll give you a king head and shoulders over all the others. But if your heart’s toward the Lord and you try to work towards intimacy with Him, He will break everything, and He will bring to naught everything in which you have trusted.

I know many Christians who are going through breakings who are really fighting against God. God is breaking them. And whether you can receive this or not, every situation in your life that comes from the outside, and even those that you cause, God is ordering. He will not allow anything to come to you, even if you deserve it, if your heart is towards Him, and you want to be restored. He will only allow those things to come to you which will accomplish His purposes in your life. And what you and I are going through right now, everything that you are going through, including those things that you like, God has had to give permission for it to go on because you are His children. The enemy cannot touch you or move in your life without permission from the Father (see Job chapters 1, 2 and 3). The devil has to get permission. So, we need to see that it is the work of our Father, bringing us to a place where we can say, “I can do nothing on my own, I can see nothing on my own, I can hear nothing of His, unless He opens my ears, opens my eyes, unless He speaks it or shows it to me.” Am I coming through? Are you seeing the place for this exercise?

Let’s offer up to the Lord an honest heart saying, “Lord, I want to see that which you are trying to show me, and I’m blind to see it unless you open my eyes. I choose to be blind to my own seeing that I might see those things that You would reveal and show to me.”

Father, you’ve said it: our ways are not Your ways; our thoughts are not your thoughts. But Lord, we’re starting to see this; we’re starting to see that You are really bringing us to the place to where You are our life. We thank You for helping us see that we were made for you and that you’ve not intended for us to rely upon our abilities: our abilities to hear, our ability to see, our ability to do. We just, with joy, and with a sincere heart, say to you, Father, “We cannot see unless You show us. And we want to see.” O Father, we want to see what it is that You want to show us. And we want You to increase in our sight, those things that You have already shown us. Lord we want You to add to them everything else that You would add to them in Your time. With a conscious effort Lord, we just are not discarding, Lord, we are just setting aside those things You’ve already shown us so that You can show us more. Help us to not allow the things from the past, even the truths from the past, to get in the way of what You would show us. And, Lord, so that the enemy does not sow fear, I’m asking myself that you would keep these readers from any falsehood or deception or inadequacy of John Brown. Lord, I am asking that they not listen to me. Help them to focus their ears Lord, turn their eyes toward You that You alone would show them, teach them. And I thank you, Heavenly Father, right now, for that which You are going to do with us through this teaching. In the Name of our wonderful Lord Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.