Intercessors

Intercessors

Mark 1: 29 – 34 “As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. 32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”

When we saw Simon and Andrew casting their nets we didn’t know they had problems at home.

When we saw Jesus call them to follow him, we still didn’t know.

Neither when they went into the Synagogue on the Sabbath and saw the healing of the man with the demon.

But then they (the 4 disciples and Jesus) came home; to the home of these 2 brothers, then we see that all is not well. The mother of Simon’s wife is seriously ill and Andrew, James and John immediately tell Jesus how difficult this is.

  • Intercessors are concerned about the home life, our private world, what people don’t see. Be thankful for those who tell Jesus about your challenges, intercessors are gifts from God, make sure you have them.
  • The mother in law is laid on a bed in isolation probably for fear the fever will be contagious. Let us see what intercessors do from the great Intercessor Himself:
    • He went to her. They enter into places where others fear to tread.
    • He took her hand. They may get angry with the enemy but they are gentle with people.
    • He helped her up. They are with those they intercede for.
  • It is after sunset, the time when people are thinking of resting not working. The light is dimming, darkness is looming. The night is long when you are sick and demon-possessed. But intercessors are working in the night-time. They are resisting the works of the enemy who wants to steal the show or silence the intercession.

Authority in You!

Authority in You!

Mark 1: 21-28 “They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

The authority of Jesus was heard in his teaching. He was engaging, confident and left people amazed. They hadn’t heard such teaching before. They were used to other teachers having to use someone else’s material quoting them verbatim in order to be acceptable but with Jesus He only quoted the Scriptures not Rabbi such and such.

The authority of Jesus was exposed by the demonic. The man was either already there or came running in. He starts shouting and it reveals the truth:

  • That Intimidation is always a work of the enemy. Let me show you – The demons shout “What do you want with us, Jesus of the nothing-good-comes-from-this-place?” “What business do you have with us, Jesus of the hidden-small place?” This is the meaning of Nazareth and they are exploiting it almost like a swear word. Jesus the insignificant.
  • When intimidation is resisted it gives rise to insecurity, “Have you come to destroy us?” Demons know they are a defeated foe. Jesus comes to definitely destroy them. Insecurity is the right response from the demonic.
  • Insecurity paves the way for truth of the infallible Christ. He is Jesus of Nazareth but He is also the Holy One of God, the Divine and the Messiah. No one is above Him or more powerful than Him. He never fails. He is always effective. Even if He looks weak He is not.

The authority of Jesus is the gospel and it spreads quickly. Promotion is not needed for it promotes itself. Non-believers share the gospel, people who have never even seen Jesus talk of Him until the whole region know. It is quick. This doesn’t take months and weeks and in today’s equivalent it would be minutes and seconds. It is the now. It is like a raging fire that consumes all that stands in its way.

This authority that we have read about and though of: where is it now?

It is in you! He has given you His authority, this same authority that speaks differently, that is exposed by the demonic, which brings effective change and which gets people talking, is in you today!!

The 4 requirements of discipleship

The 4 requirements of discipleship

Mark 1: 16-20

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

Casting or mending.

Simon and Andrew were casting their nets. James and John were mending theirs.

This is what they did every day. It was their life, if they were not taking all the salt off your nets they were repairing them all for the reason of casting them with the hope that today would be the big catch. They did this every day, it was all they knew. The same boat, same nets, same lake, same fish, life didn’t change much. That is until Jesus came along.

“I am going somewhere, I have a purpose, it is to people; we are going to catch people from their sea of fears, uncertainties and storms.”

Simon and Andrew were casting their nets. They didn’t wait to see if they had caught anything. They didn’t secure their business less someone steal what they may have caught. They left it all in an act of surrender and followed Jesus. The team was now 3 with Jesus.

James and John were mending their nets. There were others in the boat with them, their father and other fishermen hired for the day, this was a progressive business.  Jesus didn’t call all of them, he called James and John. They most probably knew Simon and Andrew and seeing them follow, maybe hearing of what and why they had decided to follow Jesus, they too followed. The team was now 5 with Jesus.

The foundation for this discipleship team was built that day and it hasn’t changed to this day:

Call – Have you known that call, that awakening moment when you know He was capturing your attention? Learn to fall in love with that voice. Whether you find it in a book, the Bible, in creation, in a sermon preached, in worship, in the stillness of your soul, once you have heard it, nurture it and above all respond to it, ‘Here I am’.

Purpose – The purpose is to follow Jesus. Walking behind Jesus that day what were they thinking? Maybe they were looking at how he styled his hair, what he was wearing, how he walked, was Jesus a fast walker and did they have to keep up, what kind of sandals did he wear? The following was to know Him.

Sent – We are sent to people with what we have learnt from a person: Jesus. He sends us to people, to rescue them, to set them free. We have to fish for them, we have to cast our nets far and wide, we have to reach them. They are not going to jump on the boat no matter how much entertainment or enticements we create for them. We have to catch them. Being sent is work.

Surrender – Following means leaving. That means pain either for you or those you leave behind. Surrender means you cut yourself free from ties so that you can be obedient.

These are still constant requirements for every disciple.

 

 

How can you prepare to move?

How can you prepare to move?

Mark 1: 9-15 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[g] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

How can you prepare for a move of you?

Every day many step into new roles and chapters of their life unprepared. They have not got themselves ready for what lies ahead. How did Jesus prepare himself?

  1. He knew where he had come from, v9

In Nazareth: Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and men, Luke 2:52

In Nazareth: It literally means ‘hidden place’, Nathanael had questioned whether anything good could come out of this town (John 1:46).

In Nazareth: It was a place where he was rejected (Luke 4:14).

In Nazareth: He was reminded of it throughout his life, it was what he was known as ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and when he died it was what was written above his head (John 19:19).

Where are you from? It may not be pretty but it doesn’t matter where you are from but who you are. Your past may not be great and it may live with you for your entire life but it doesn’t have to hold you back.

  1. He had the Spirit on him, v10

A dove is more than peace. It was a poor man’s sacrificial animal for the Temple; it was what Noah sent out to determine if the floodwaters had receded and it is a term of endearment in the Song of Songs. The Spirit was telling him that He would be sent out as a sacrifice of love. Whatever we do wherever we go it is the same for us.

  1. He knew appreciation and acceptance, v11

We need to know who we are, who we belong to. Man’s praise will always fall short. Though we enjoy it we must not crave it. What God thinks of us is enough. We are loved and appreciated by Him.

  1. Jesus had conviction to go and stay v12-13

Jesus firmly believed what the Spirit was telling and sending him. He was so convinced it was like he had no option. Many go but not many stay, the resilient are few. The season may be long and we may come against the enemies within the wilderness but we do not give up.

  1. Jesus understood that circumstances can be indicators.

Failure does happen, the unexpected negative episode does happen. John’s ministry ended, he would never leave the prison. Jesus used the bad, upsetting circumstance as the sign that the time is now. Let these things be the springboard for you to move. Let go of people that have left you for whatever reason.

How can you prepare for a move of God?

How can you prepare for a move of God?

Mark 1: 4-8 “And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

How can you prepare for a move of God?

  1. People need to visualise what you are saying. The need for change was easily depicted in a dry and barren land.
  2. People need to be mobilised. Rural and city people began to journey to the wilderness. People can create movements, but it takes a voice to call them to move.
  3. People need to identify their need for change. I wonder what sins they confessed and how they began to bring change.
  4. People need to be free from the distraction of destructive desires of gain that does not match up with the message. John’s lifestyle meant he didn’t need to fundraise for personal jet planes or the latest sports car for the ministry. No one wanted his ministry.
  5. People need to be given a message of hope. A message that Jesus is coming, He is greater, it is about Him. That He will do more than cleanse actions for He will cleanse the heart. For Him it is more about who you are. It is a perfecting of identity rather than actions. His baptism does that!

How can you prepare for a move of God?

Visualise – Can they see?

Mobilise – Can they hear?

Readiness – Are they willing?

Focus – Are they sacrificial?

Hope – Can they believe again?

 

It’s about Him

It’s about Him

Mark 1: 1-3

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way, a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’

I like to begin. As a child in school I would love a new exercise book, the opening blank page, nothing has happened yet, the expectation awaits, here I am at the beginning, what is going to happen?

I have often had new beginnings in my life. New chapters and seasons, new relationships and friendships, the question gets asked,” when did you begin?” The reply is, “I began …”

I have begun a new job and today I begin a new journey of discovering Jesus and that of myself. I am excited, wondering what I will find.

The messenger knew the Messiah was coming and he knew he had been sent from God ahead of him.

God didn’t send an intercessor though intercession is so very important.

God didn’t send a worship leader to create an atmosphere of praise though worship is vital.

God didn’t send a leader, a strategist, a builder a fundraiser and the list goes on.

He sent a messenger with a message. It wasn’t about now, it was about later. It wasn’t about him but about Him.

Let the Church talk not of itself but all of Christ.

May I talk only of Jesus. And what is the message? It is about His coming.

He was and is and is to come.

You may feel like you have walked into a wilderness and there isn’t anything much to write about just yet.

You may feel you are the sole voice, the voice of one.

But it isn’t about you. It is about Him.

He is coming. He is near.

Unhindered!

Unhindered!

Acts 28:31 “He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

So here we are … the last verse!

How does Luke end his account?

He certainly doesn’t tell us what happens to Paul.

He doesn’t tell us how Paul was feeling, if he was struggling being kept under house arrest chained to a guard.

Instead he focuses on what Paul does, the work of God. The gospel of Jesus Christ is Luke’s focus not Paul. It is the same today. We are people within the story of God. What is His story? It is the good news of Jesus.

Luke says that no man was able to stop Paul sharing this good news.
No man can stop you either.
Paul may die but his gospel will never die.

Whatever happens to you, your gospel will never die.

Let the Acts of the Spirit carry on in every generation till Christ comes again.
Who is trying to stop you today?
You may be not where you want to be but the gospel message will never be stopped.

What a way to end the account: “without hindrance!”

The Acts of the Church, of you, will carry on, the gospel of the person that Luke ends with, “the Lord Jesus Christ”. We need to be unashamedly, unafraid and unhindered at declaring the Lordship of Jesus to our world today.

I hope you have been blessed as much as I have by Luke’s account of the unhindered work of the Spirit!

The Whosever

The Whosever

Acts 28: 30 “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.”

It would have made for a nice ending if Luke had waited for the trial to commence and that Paul was released. We all love a happy ending.

We don’t have that. We simply have a further 2 years of Paul being chained to a guard, making it a 4 year term in total.

He is in a rented house paid for by either himself or probably the church have been raising the money. Don’t think it is some sweet suburban house with a garden etc. It was probably a small apartment in a densely crowded Roman slum.

So here we are at the end of Acts. The rise of the Church, revivals, miracles, mission journeys across the nations and it ends here, chained for 4 years and now in a home that is not much to look at sits an extraordinary man who welcomes all who came to see him.

Maybe we are disappointed. But maybe the reality encourages us.

The Church that you belong to may have constraints, it may not have the freedom you desire and it may not be the prettiest to look at, but it is welcoming. And who does it welcome? It welcomes all.

The 19th hymn declares:

“Whosoever heareth!” shout, shout the sound! Send the blessed tidings all the world around; Spread the joyful news wherever man is found:   “Whosoever will may come!”

May we continue to welcome the whosoever no matter our circumstance.

Therefore

Therefore

Acts 28:28 ““Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

Paul sees that he has been sent and Israel was his first love, he desired so much for them to hear the gospel but he has been rejected just like Isaiah. I can picture tears in his eyes as he announces the gospel has been sent to the Gentiles and whereas the Jews reject they will accept.

We need wisdom to understand that at times ‘therefore’ is waiting to be used:

Because of the fact that Jesus is eternal … Acts 2: 26 “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope”

Because of the fact that Jesus is the One the prophets were looking for and who has been raised to life … Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Because there were others like the Apostles who were gathering crowds of people, like Theudas and Judas the Galilean, but both came to nothing, Gamaliel said … Acts 2:38 “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.”

Because the Gentiles were turning to God but not to Jewish practices, at the Council of Jerusalem, James stood up and quoted the prophet Amos and then stated … Acts 15:19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”

Because Paul knew he would never see the Ephesian elders again referring to his past he says … Acts 20:26 “Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you.”

Therefore …

Because of who Jesus is, therefore … how will you decide to live?

Because of what Jesus did, therefore … what does this prove to you?

Because of your experience of past events, therefore … what decision will you make?

Because of you reading the Word of God, therefore … how will this shape your thinking and action?

Because you are moving on, therefore … what will you say today to bring comfort to those you leave behind?

Locked-in and locked-out

Locked-in and locked-out

Acts 28:27 “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

Paul sees that he has been sent and Israel was his first love, he desired so much for them to hear the gospel and he has been rejected, but it wasn’t so much him but the fact that they were rejecting Jesus which caused the pain in his heart.

The reason why they would not hear or see or understand is because their hearts had become hardened. Not that they knew this. If you had asked them then they would say their hearts were open to God. They were worshippers and held to the laws of God. They were not Gentiles, unbelievers. But they were locked-in. They were closed off from any further revelation from God other than that of Abraham and Moses. It is still possible today. We can hold to a revelation of God, an experience, a moment in time, a move of God’s Spirit that was so special and historical that it changed our lives for ever and we live in that experience for the rest of our lives. In order to honour that moment, to honour God, to preserve His move and word then we continue to focus solely on what happened, everything we do is from that point, it is our filter and everything has to pass through it. Anything new is rejected. What happens unbeknown to us is that the beautiful experience has become a calloused place in our lives. It has trapped us and we now no longer hear and see and understand what God wants to do today.

We need to unlock our heart. We need to change our prayers. We need to use new vocabulary. We need to search again. We need to focus on something new of the nature of God. If our God is a Holy God who demands our repentance and our submission then perhaps it is possible we can become so locked in to that revelation that it hardens us to the truth that He is a God of grace, love, mercy who enjoys being called “Daddy” (Abba Father).

If we ever become locked-in then we will be locked-out from progressing in knowing God. This is what happened to God’s people in Isaiah’s day and of Paul’s and it is still true today. Let it not be us.