A son of the house comes home and receives a strange welcome

A son of the house comes home and receives a strange welcome

Mark 6:1-6 “Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

 

Jesus left Nazareth as a carpenter and returned as a rabbi with disciples following.

There had been a significant development in his life. But that could not be said of his home town.

Some people never want you to progress. They want to keep you just exactly where you were even many years ago.

“You are the carpenter. You make things; that is what you do.”

Whilst they were impressed by his teaching and the miracles they were struggling in not being able to fit him into a box and control him. They do try. They refer to what is probably a derogatory term used many times, “You are the son of Mary.” A reference to what they knew of his illegitimacy, which was probably used on many occasions in the past. They know his family history very well and the children that were born later. Above all they became offended.

They were offended because they had remained in their understanding of who he was and not what he had become.

They were offended because of their refusal for the teacher to become teachable.

Their dishonour of this ‘new Jesus’ brought to them offence which became a barrier against a move of God that could have been a huge blessing to the town. Instead Jesus has to move on. He no longer has a home town.

The same is true today. We need to protect ourselves from being offended.

If people ‘rise above their station’ (if they try and be what we think they are not) we get offended.

When sons become fathers (the moment a young Pastor preaches lifestyle changes to an older church) we get offended.

When we try and bring the present back to the past so that we can handle these upstarts we dishonour. Dishonour has become so normal that when honour is demonstrated it is a wow moment. Social media is full of dishonour. Those occupying great positions in the world of Church and Politics dishonour others all the time to reclaim ground. When dishonour doesn’t work, offence is born. Offended hearts end the show. The lights are out. Nothing is going to be done.

 

6 keys to a miracle

6 keys to a miracle

Mark 5: 32-43. “32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” 36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.”

 

  1. Put to one side your miracle to experience someone else’s miracle v32-35 Can you imagine what it did for Jairus to watch the bleeding woman be healed?
  2. Ignore what people say about the reality of your miracle, v36 Why engage with people who doubt the miracle will take place? What will this do to you?
  3. Choose who follows you to the miracle, v37 You need teachable people with you (the disciples) and those who are desperate for the miracle (Jairus).
  4. Challenge negativity that surrounds the reality, v38-39 Sympathy and emotional concern maybe comforting at times but it is the last thing you need when you are holding out for the miracle.
  5. Dismiss spectators, v40 Going in to the place of he supernatural you need participants not onlookers.
  6. Miracles need careful support in the early stages, v43 Don’t let your miracle die through a lack of common sense.

IF: A small word can change everything

IF: A small word can change everything

Mark 5:25-34

“A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

 

The law of Moses had lifestyle rules which kept people clean and acceptable to God. “When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period.” (Lev 15:25)

 

 

This woman has no name.

She is bleeding but this is more than her monthly discharge.

This woman has bled continually for 12 years.

For 12 years she is not acceptable to God nor her culture because if she touches anyone or is touched then the uncleanliness is passed on.

So this woman is isolated.

She has lost contact with friends.

This woman has not been hugged for 12 years.

She has spent all her money on trying to get better.

Doctors haven’t helped her and she has got worse.

But someone told her of Jesus.

 

What changed the life of this woman?

Was it Jesus? Yes of course

Was it the touch on her life? Of course

But more than this …

What changed the life of this woman!

This woman changed her life because she dared to use a small word.

IF

IF is to think differently

Thinking differently can lead to new decisions New decisions can lead to miracles It starts with IF Try it today.

 

 

5 things to do when your dream is dying.

5 things to do when your dream is dying.

Mark 5: 21-24 “When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered round him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ 24 So Jesus went with him.”

When your dream is dying:

  • Stop being the leader, the manager or the professional or whatever title you are. You become like any man, you are as desperate as the next. You realise how powerless you really are. Everyone gets reminded of their humanity eventually.
  • You have to move. There has to be a changing of what you are doing. You cannot keep doing what you are doing and see your dream die. The synagogue was a house of a small assembly of people who would meet to understand Gods word, worship and pray. (Jesus in effect created a synagogue in his house in Capernaum). Jairus had to leave the house, he had to stop his duties, he had to move.
  • You have to ignore the crowd of voices. They had their own needs, there was no queue at the lake, it was chaos, hustle and bustle. Then perhaps people began to see Jairus and wonder what he was doing there, maybe they knew, maybe they asked him. When your dream is dying your voice has to become the important voice in a sea of voices.
  • You have to worship. You have to fall down. You have to become less, small, insignificant. He must become greater, larger and significant. You need to discover desperate worship.
  • Your prayers have to become earnest, in other translations you have to beg. This week a beggar came to me asking but as I wondered what to do and if I had some small change he moved on and I thought if only he had stayed begging he would have got something. Beggars need to develop relationship even for a short time to receive, they don’t learn this important principle. Jairus prayed earnestly, he begged. He wasn’t going to go anywhere, Jesus was the only person for him. James 5:16 says The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”

When those 5 things are implemented then Jesus will follow you to your dying dream, even though he may want to do something greater than you had imagined. But that comes later!

Football did not come home, but the man did.

Football did not come home

Mark 5: 18-20 “As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”

Last night football did not come home. England were knocked out of the semi-final of the World Cup. It did not come home. But the demon-possessed man did!

The fact is that the disturbed man had a normal life but all that had been lost because of the life he had lived and what had happened to him. He had a home but he had made the tombs his home. He had a family but he was on the mountainside alone, other gospel writers say he was with another similar man also, who knows there could have been more than two in the tombs they called home.

Jesus would not let the man go with them.

You see there was more than one broken man here. There was a broken home and a broken family. Jesus healed the man but the man was responsible to go and heal those who loved him or who had become afraid of him and distant from him.

Some of the followers of Jesus need to go back not forward. Go back and help fix what they hurt because they were hurt.

May our homes of desperation be turned to joy and sorrow into dancing. Let the stories of mercy resound within our families.

Football’s not coming home but may our homes and families broken by the enemy be renewed by the returning home of sons and daughters restored by Jesus!

Dress them!

Dress them!

Mark 5: 14-17 “Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man – and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”

What will you do once the miracle has happened?

  • Those who had lost what they were responsible for immediately reported it to as many people as possible, “We have lost every pig, but it wasn’t our fault!”
  • Those who had seen it told their eye-witness stories and they were popular for a while.
  • Those people of the town who had come out to see the miracle, closed it all down, the show was over, this was not going to happen again, it was their decision and one that Jesus agreed to, he still does.

But there is a word within these verses that stands out to us today: “… dressed …”

The disturbed naked man now has clothes on. He is dressed for the first time in a long time. He was naked because of his possessed-life; it was a consequence of his bigger problem. The town in all their different responses saw this man dressed in a way they hadn’t seen before. Where did he get these clothes from? More importantly who got him the clothes?

I can only think Jesus on setting the man free then insisted that he was provided for in the way of clothes. Maybe the disciples were sent into the town to buy clothes. However it happened, he was provided for.  Here is the partnership of the divine and humanity.  If the man had only received clothing and no miracle then they would have become rags sure enough.

Yesterday I spent a few hours in an Indian slum. You have to walk around a slum to fully take in the depth of it, for it is another world from the one most of us have known. There is much spiritual darkness there, it is a dangerous place and the people seem to be far away from the miracle of Jesus. Yet God has His church there and they are offering children an education, youth cell groups are scattered around the slum and the church has grown from zero to 750 people in 25 years. Many are finding their miracle of Jesus, their lives are changed and they are being dressed with respect, dignity and humanity. Last night those children and young people, hundreds and hundreds of them gathered together, a mixture of backgrounds of Hindu, Muslim and Christians for a gospel musical programme where there was dancing, drama, songs and honour given to the miracle-worker, Jesus Christ.  The children were dressed like any other child would be not living in a slum. Hope, love and joy were in their eyes. The light was shining brightly. All over the world the same amazing story is taking place. The one thing that amazes me is what the Spirit is doing across this world. The miracle of Jesus is being found by many disturbed people and the Church is dressing them and may we continue to do so wherever we are today.

I know who you are

I know who you are

Mark 5:6 – 13 “When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

I know who you are. They said His name: Jesus, Son of the Most High God.

But it was an attack not a confession of worship. Superstition said that if you knew the precise name and identity of your enemy then you had control over them. But knowledge is not power over Jesus. Knowledge is not power over you either. It matters not what your enemy knows about who you, your name or what you have done or become.

I know who you are. Jesus asked them for their name. He did it to reveal the full extent of the damage they had inflicted upon this man. “We are many” is what they cried. They are trying to intimidate Jesus, “We are more than you, we are organised against you and we have a plan.” Jesus could have demanded for each of the demons names to demonstrate His power and to go along with the superstition. But He doesn’t need to know the names. When your name is the Name above all names, it matters not who you are facing.

I know who you are. He sends the demons into the pigs and a business is destroyed. The population was a mixture of Jew and Gentile and the pigs were obviously belonging to a Gentile farmer. The pigs were an expensive commodity. Whatever you can think of in terms of possession this is what went to the bottom of the lake on that day. Jesus was showing that he knew who the man was. Jesus had more compassion for him than the pigs. Don’t focus on what is lost focus on what has been found. “It’s not fair” should be said towards the man not the business. Jesus knew where true treasure was and it wasn’t at the bottom of the lake but the man kneeling before him.

If possible try and search online for a song that has captivated me recently. Released this year by Hillsong, it is called Valentine. It reminds me that Jesus loves his world and the world was worth his sacrifice on the cross. He pursues the world and everyone in it, even a demon-possessed man or a mentally ill person bound on hurting themselves and both of them. Here right now, whether in the UK or in India or wherever the lost are, wherever there is damage, Jesus is relentlessly pursuing anyone in order to hear even a slightest whisper or a deep cry, “Have mercy on me!”

Jesus knows. He knows who they are. He knows who you are.

VERSE 1:

From Your sacrifice for the sake of all
Redemption’s birth and relentless hope
As the weight of grace crushed the face of love
And You bled and died for Your enemies

VERSE 2:
To woo us back from death and woe
A valentine to a faithless world
Every wayward heart You pursue us all
And in kindness call us home

CHORUS:
This world is Yours
My God this world is Yours
All You made to be Yours
I know You love us all

VERSE 3:
Your agape love displaces fear
And the plan is working heaven’s near
For the kingdom comes to the heart that whispers
Have mercy God on me

CHORUS 2:
This world is Yours
My God this world is Yours
All You made to be Yours
I know You love us all

All this world is Yours
My God this world is Yours
All You made to be Yours
I know You love us all

BRIDGE:
You reign forever
You reign forevermore
My heart surrendered
You reign forevermore

 

The Sound of Broken People

The Sound of Broken People

Mark 5: 3-5 “This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him.Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”

The Sound of Broken People:  A journey of worship around the world

This is the title of a report from a young lady who has been a missionary apprentice over the last few years. Her name is Cherith and she has recently completed a gap-year project in 4 different countries. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music last year from Queens University, Belfast and part of her preparation that year though unwelcoming was to become broken herself, “…sometimes you have to realise how broken you are to realise that the whole world is too. “ With the help of a friend, Cherith wrote a song and then took it around the world, meeting broken people and recording them as they learnt to sing it. I found her report fascinating and it will be published soon.

Cherith visited a place called Rajahmundry, India. “I was told about a lot of Hindu converts to Christianity in this part of India, most of them were women.  In Hinduism many women look shackled, in fact the way one would tell a woman was married reminded me of shackles; they wore a bindi, family necklace, bangles on both wrists, anklets on both feet and toe rings.  Of course that is part of their culture, but I could not help but think it looked like shackles.   In the past there have been accounts of Hindu women being burnt alive with their dead husband so that they could not remarry, although this tradition is extinct it shows how Hindu women are sometimes seen in society, and because of this many Hindu women are drawn to Jesus, however they do face trouble at home.”

How can we describe the broken people of this world?

Their world is a painting of darkness and death. Failed dreams and hopes of and from many people surround their lives: They live in tombs.

Their connection with people is based on being controlled and held down like one would do with a dangerous animal. The world’s perception of anger is mistaken fear and need for freedom and normality: Chained hand and foot.

They have hatred but not with the cruel world as much as with themselves. They would try and erase their life if they could; they wish they had not been born: They cut themselves with stones.

But it is the sound that moves us the most. The sound of pain causes us to run to them. The cry for help coming from the depth of their hellish soul is the reason why we cross the lake and get out of the boat. For even if it looks like they don’t want us beneath it all is a human being who needs us.

Never grow deaf to the sound of broken people. They are everywhere. They are the trafficked girls of Cambodia, the oppressed Hindu women of India, the HIV orphans of Kenya and the lost dreams of the slum-dwellers in the Philippines. They are also down your street. You will pass them today and you may even have coffee with one. Listen loud, look deep, the encounter is coming.

Get out of the boat

Get out of the boat

Mark 5:2 “When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him.”

There are times to teach from the boat, to journey on the boat and of course to fish from the boat, but there are definite times to get out of it.

Many rightly know that getting out of the boat is to step out of comfort zones when the boat is going through the storm and there is the opportunity to walk on water. But maybe we need to say we have had enough knowledge being given, we have been on enough pilgrimages and we have also grown our businesses and lives enough. Now is the time to step out of the boat for one reason only and that is to make ourselves available to people.

The shock is who it was who came towards Jesus when he stepped out of the boat. Was it going to be someone from the mixed sub-culture of the Decapolis? Surely that was on Jesus mind to advance the kingdom into those ten cities where the Hellenistic Jews lived? None of those came. However Mark focuses on a man who would be going into the Decapolis as an evangelist after he met with Jesus. One life can be changed by Jesus who can transform a region. But who is this man? He has an impure spirit, he is demon-possessed and he came to Jesus from the tombs. There are still many people who come to the body of Christ from dead places once the Church has got out of the boat.

Get past those contradictions to see human beings who need Jesus.

Get past those contradictions to see human beings who need Jesus.

Mark 5: 1 “They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.”

The contradiction of origin:

It was the region of the Gerasenes. Matthew says it was the region of the Gadarenes and some translations have Gergesenes. All 3 are the same place. It is like I say I am from England or I could say Great Britain and I could also say the United Kingdom. The Sea of Galilee was also called the Lake Gennesaret and also the Sea of Tiberius, it is the same place. Whether you were local or someone from a far off place may determine what name you know the area by.

The contradiction of demograph:

The critics will talk of another contradiction in that Mark and Luke tell the story of one man, Legion, but Matthew tells of two men. The contradiction is easily understood depending on where the focus is. If the point of the story was to accurately tell of the number of demon-possessed then there is a contradiction. But if it is to tell of the fact that there Jesus was more powerful than the demons then there is no contradiction. There were two men, but the point is Jesus was confronting not one demon but a plurality of demons. The story passed down to Mark and Luke focuses on one man and the story passed down to Matthew focuses on two and that is okay. The point is that what is in common is that Jesus has the power over the demonic. So if you stall on the number you have missed the whole point.

The contradiction of culture:

They sailed across the Sea of Galilee to a place occupied by Hellenistic Jews. These people were Jews but were heavily influenced by the Greek language and culture. There was such a blending together of Jewish and Greek cultures that it formed a sub-culture. The region was also known as the Decapolis, simply meaning ten cities and Mark is the only gospel that says one of the men that he focuses on became an evangelist in those cities. If you came from that region then you were not a pure Jew like those found in Jerusalem and Judea, you came from a different school of thought, you had a mixture of belief.

So what does all that mean, what am I thinking?

Many may get hung up on details and treat people as only a number or want to talk about their history, trying to categorise them, but Jesus doesn’t think like that. That’s not what he wants us to focus on.
Everybody deserves to take the journey themselves no matter who they are, where they come from or what has happened.
Yesterday someone was telling me how their gospel work was small. I told them it is huge to those who receive it.
No doubt the disciples wondered why they had decided to travel to this region. But Jesus knew. Let me suggest what he was saying:

“We are going into a place of contradiction and a place that will forever have confusion attached to a story that we will make. Many will miss the point because they will look at the contradiction and the confusion. But there are two men underneath all that discussion who are real and who God loves that are on the edge of society that not even history will be kind to them because they will be argued over. But it is to them that I have come.”

Today we can easily look at people in a certain way and focus only on the contradiction of their life. Or we can cross the lake and go to a small group, to two, or even one and change their world. Everybody is worth the journey. Get past those contradictions to see human beings who need Jesus.