Discipleship is being excited about the new move!

Happy Easter Eve! Also known as Black Saturday and the Great Sabbath. For some nations it is a bank holiday of rest and relaxation. In Mexico it is Judas Day and today there will be many effigies of Judas being burnt!

Today, especially for the Catholics, the paschal fast is continuing. This is not a sombre, Lenten fast. This is one of excitement of what is to come, like the morning of a Wedding Day. But it is not the fast of that first day after the death of Jesus. He is gone. He died yesterday. He has been taken from them and today they most probably did fast. Here are our verses:

“Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9 v 14-17)

  1. Some are disciples of the old move (the forerunner John) and they don’t recognise what they had been fasting and longing for has come.
  2. Jesus didn’t come to improve on the old with a few changes. He came to create a whole new garment.
  3. If the old structures that have now become inflexible and unmoveable are not laid down then they will not hold the new move of God. Structures serve the movement.

Tomorrow we celebrate the new move which has never grown old and is still powerful as it was 2,000 years ago. It signifies that Jesus’ message was about movement and it still is. He is movement and He creates movements as His Spirit testifies throughout generations.

Today are we ready?

There are still old garments hanging on the coat hooks in churches today. There are still old wineskins wanting new wine not realising that unless they change they will spoil the new.

So what is the message of this movement?

  1. Inclusivity for all are welcome. (Let’s keep partying with all types of people)
  2. Separation (from the past but not from the world)
  3. Expectancy of the increase of disciples (the Matthew’s of this world)

Discipleship is a community of sinners dining with their Saviour

Good Friday! The day that changed history. The cross that still calls people today to follow Jesus. To people like Matthew.

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9 v 9-13)

He was a hated man. Having paid all the taxes to Rome himself he then collected taxes from the people and hiked them up with huge interest which gave him a very good living. He was greedy, wealthy and selfish. Yet he was ready to leave it all. There was no pull to stay. He needed a new life. He needed to get out. He needed a better purpose to live for. He had many friends like him. They stayed together in some sort of exclusive despised club. There they were altogether dining with Jesus. But others were there too. A group who would sneak into private dinner parties and snoop around looking for ‘sin’, wanting to demonstrate how righteous they were. They were the cleaners and evictors of sin. They spoke confidently. They were not in need. Jesus didn’t call them. There was in fact no need.

If you are in need today He calls you. It doesn’t matter how you got into that need or whether you are responsible for it. You may be to blame or you may be innocent. He doesn’t come to sort it all out and put the sinners into one corner and the victims in another. He calls those in need for whatever the reason and actually those he dines with seem to be the ones no one would want to dine with.

But make no mistake the dinner invitation is for total transformation of your life. It is with Jesus your Saviour who saves us from sin not condemns us because of it. Matthew has responded to that call of change and this Good Friday we acknowledge that call too.

Jesus looks for COMMITMENT: “If this man can be committed to do a job that everyone hates him for, then he won’t let me down.”

Jesus looks for IMPERFECTION: “I need a tax collector to be part of my team, I need those who the religious disqualify and who would never think of having any other destiny. I need the imperfect.”

Jesus looks for INITIATIVE: “I need followers who know what must be done to follow. On my simple invitation I know this man will get up, he will leave everything and he will host dinner parties for the community of sinners who also need a Saviour.”

Today on this our special day, the community of sinners, the Church, will gather in-person or online and will partake in the Lord’s Supper with their Saviour. The imperfect and disqualified will once again show their commitment to Jesus and will follow Him to the cross, the place of their transformation.

Discipleship is loving those who are unable to help themselves and being hated for doing so.

The crowd would be amazed, the paralytic would walk home but there are always a few not amused.

“Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralysed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralysed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.” (Matthew 9 v 1-8)

Jesus knew what they were thinking. How? Perhaps he could see it on their faces when he announced forgiveness over the paralysed man.

When you know what people believe (only God forgives sins) and when you have grown up in how things are done (namely the Day of Atonement) then you know what people are thinking (these were Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses).

The instructions for the Day of Atonement are given in Leviticus 16. For this, two goats were chosen and the high priest cast lots upon them, one for the Lord and the other for Azazel (scapegoat). The priests slaughtered the goat chosen as the Lord’s and sprinkled its blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. It was representative of the people bearing their sins and as it was killed the people saw the penalty of sin is death. This goat died for the people becoming the substitute.  But then the high priest laid his hands upon the second goat, symbolically transferring to it the sins of the people. Then the goat was driven into the wilderness, thus making clear God’s intent to remember no more the sins against his people. Those who grasped this for themselves were assured of forgiveness of sins and were brought into a personal relationship with God.

So when Jesus announces, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” they are immediately thinking the obvious thoughts:

“It isn’t the Day of Atonement today.

You are not the high priest.

Where are the 2 goats and where is the mercy seat.

There is no blood.

You are showing disregard for what has been practiced for generations since Moses. You are disregarding what God has said should happen. Who are you? Only God can sidestep His own words. You are either stating you have been given the authority by God to replace the way of Moses and to bring about a new way of forgiveness which actually is just words or you are indeed trying to take the place of God. This is blasphemy!”

The world over people think they have the monopoly on God or whatever name they call Him by.

Isn’t it strange how over the most beautiful, hopeful, joyful good news of the love of God that the threat of severe punishment, painful torture to the point of death hangs over those who carry this gospel?

Isn’t it strange that it is those who stand for ‘God’ who have such thoughts when they see this perfect beauty?

All over the world, outside the church oppressing it, inside the church destroying it, those who truly believe they are the lawyers of God sit in judgment on those who are lovers of people. Who is sitting near you today? Where do you sit?

Jesus has an idea.

“You obviously think what I have said to this man is cheap grace. You think I have made forgiveness too easy. You question my authority to be able to do this. So let me try something that is obviously really difficult. Something that even the high priest cannot do and what you have never done in your life. Let me make the blind see, let me set the oppressed free and right now, before your eyes, let me make this paralysed man walk. Then ask yourself ‘where did my authority come from to do this healing and more importantly to proclaim forgiveness over this man?’”

Jesus shows us that being a lover of people sets you as a target to those who only love their God. Loving people so much that you help them, lifting off judgment from their lives, seeing them transformed by the powerful touch of Jesus means that those who despise them will despise you too. Those who sit in judgment of them will judge you too. You have become sin also. You have incarnated into sinfulness becoming like them. You will be hated, persecuted, slandered and you will be hurt. The world will see Jesus in you and there are many in the Temples, Mosques and Churches of this world who hate this kind of Jesus. They always have. But whatever we do let us commit today to keep giving these people a bad day as we seek to bring hope to many!

Discipleship is loving people more than pigs

Matthew’s story is shorter than Mark or Luke’s. He seems to want to centre on where this took place and what Jesus did to the demons found in these 2 men (which Mark and Luke only report of one of those men).

“When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes,two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.” (Matthew 8 v 28-34)

Discipleship is Mission

  1. To people who need freedom not judgment

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. 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.

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.

The demons wanted to know if the final torment was now. Jesus doesn’t answer them. He just commands them to ‘Go’. It may look like they got their wish. But it actually shows that their thought of this being their appointed time was actually correct. They didn’t know the pigs would run down the hill to be destroyed in the sea. But we can be assured that Jesus did. He wasn’t letting them escape. He was destroying them back into the abyss.

2. To people who are more valuable than possessions.

The Jews would love this story from Matthew. We can almost see them roll their eyes at this sub-culture, impure cross-breed of a believer. A story centred on pigs but then ends revealing how the town loved seemingly their pigs more than the restored men would cause the pure Jew to scoff. Interestingly the very next story will reveal even the ‘pure’ love their traditions more than a paralysed man being healed.

People need freedom from the demons that cause havoc in this world, they don’t need more judgment because they are impure.

People are more important than our history, traditions, possessions and agendas.

This is mission and as disciples we have signed up for exactly this.

Discipleship is allowing Jesus to sleep.

Faith isn’t moving every mountain before us.

“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8 v 23-27)

5 aspects of faith.

  1. Don’t mirror the storm.
  2. If waves are coming over you and your boat then they are coming over your Saviour also.
  3. Jesus sleeps so that we can say “I will do what I think I need you to do and I will be what I think I need you to be.”
  4. Remaining still, silent and calm in a storm is a decision.
  5. Bring prepared to capsize with the Lord of the Resurrection is the best example of faith.

Discipleship is doing our very best not to miss His move.

Once again everyone missed it until after the resurrection. God hid himself as he had done since the manger. But prior to this, at least 700 years prior, God hid a message what Isaiah the prophet had spoken:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed
. (Isaiah 53: 3-5)

It was hidden way back before Jesus was born. It was kept hidden and no one anywhere saw it until after the resurrection. The Apostle Paul even says that the spiritual powers didn’t see it. “We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2: 7-8). All the gospel writers referred at some point to this prophecy of the Suffering Servant in their writings after the events of Easter.

“When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8 v 14-22)

Jesus fulfilled every aspect of what Isaiah saw. Matthew could see that now. In the middle of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and the crowds of people at the door wanting healing and deliverance, Matthew inserts a verse from Isaiah 53 to show this fulfilled that prophecy. And it seems ever since the Church have argued about it. A crowd gathers to write books and speak at conferences, debate and argue: Did Jesus die on the cross for our sins and our sicknesses? Healing in the atonement? The crowd gets bigger and the years go by but Jesus has moved on long ago! Once again we have missed it. We keep missing what God is doing by messing it up because we need to be in control. Knowing the answer doesn’t qualify you to either be forgiven and/or healed anyway. Grace is the qualification.

So Jesus moves on.

Two men, a teacher of the law and a disciple come to Jesus and they reveal that again they couldn’t see, they missed this move of God.

Jesus could have been a lot more lenient. His responses seem somewhat unfair. But remember Jesus could see the motives and attitudes of the hearts of man. He could see right through their statements. He knew what they were thinking. Therefore, not only was there something wrong with what these men said, there would appear to be something even more wrong with their hearts. Looking at the responses of Jesus, let me suggest this is what Jesus was saying:

  1. This is no pleasure trip. I am not the Saviour that you think I am. Do you know where I am going? I am headed to Jerusalem? It will cost me everything and you say you will follow but I know you are not ready to pay the cost.
  2. The dead do not come first, the message of life is first. I need you to put me first but before you have taken a step you are talking of others as first. You are not ready to follow me. Let those others of your life who are dead, spiritually dead to who I am, let them be the ones who take care of the physically dead, otherwise you too will be known as spiritually dead, understanding who I am but not willing to follow just yet.

There is no understanding to personal situations. You cannot sugar coat this. It is radical discipleship.

If anyone of us had suggested such things, if the Church’s response to what seemed like positive responses to Jesus were these then that Church would have been rejected and slandered all over town. I guess just like Jesus was when he was rejected and slandered!

If Jesus is first then nothing else can be first.

I pray that this Holy Week we will not miss it. We will not be caught up with things that are not as important as following Jesus to the cross.

Miracles within alignment – 4. The Power of the spoken Word part c

In concluding this section on aligning our lives with the Bible I am trying to convey the importance of the Bible in our lives. This is not an exercise of knowing information, stories or being able to say you read the whole book. It is all about the Bible aligning within your own life so that out of you flows the Word of God into every situation, even that of the Centurion’s life.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Shall I come and heal him?’ The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Matthew 8 v 7-10)

The centurion understood the powerful authoritative word spoken from ‘The Word’ would be enough. Based on his limited understanding of authority of ‘Go, Come, Do’ he knew there is power in the Word.

As I explained yesterday recently I was asked to write on ‘Why is the Bible relevant today?’ So let me continue …

Some of the reasons why Christians do not read the Bible:

  • I don’t have time to read.
  • I don’t know where to begin.
  • I don’t understand it.
  • I don’t see how the Bible applies to my life.

It is a commonly held view that there are 52 countries in the world where it is illegal or very difficult to have a Bible. Some of those countries may have more relaxed laws than others. But the point is one part of the world can’t get hold of a Bible or hide their Bibles in their hearts and minds and the other part can see the Bible but don’t pick it up..

Half of the books of the Bible can be read between 10-45 minutes. Many can be read in less than 20 minutes.

The Bible is described in many ways, such as:

A lamp- “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” Psalm 110:105.

Milk – “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2

A sword – “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17

A seed – “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.”  Luke 8:11

Here are some helpful tips I have implemented in my life:

  • It is a discipline. I have to re-adjust my life to make sure I have the time.
  • I read the Bible in a language that makes sense to me. I read the Bible with three translations before me. The NIV, the Message and the Amplified. It enables me to more fully understand the text. I also use the ESV and NKJV occasionally.
  • I keep a journal book to use with my Bible reading. In this I firstly write anything that is going to distract my mind when I am reading eg. a shopping list. By writing it down I know it will be dealt with later and then I can carry on concentrating on my reading. I will then write my feelings, thoughts and questions on what I have just read.
  • I try and read it with imagination. I put myself in the place of the characters and try to understand what is taking place for them. I keep asking questions throughout the passage and let the questions be challenging ones to me.
  • I always ask myself “How does this apply to me?”
    • Is it helping me with the truths of my faith?
    • Is it teaching me?
    • Is it asking for my obedience?
    • Is it calling for a worshipful response?
    • If it is symbolic language, is there an obvious meaning behind the words?

The exact criteria the early church used to choose the books is not fully known, but there are believed to have been five guiding principles used to determine whether or not a New Testament book would form the Canon and these show us the relevancy of the Bible to Christians today.

  • Is it authoritative – did it come from the hand of God?  (in other words does this book come with a divine ‘thus says the Lord’)
  • Is it prophetic – was it written by God or man?
  • Is it authentic – the fathers had the policy, much like I do with items in my fridge, of ‘if in doubt throw it out’.  This enhanced the ‘validity of their discernment’
  • Is it dynamic – did it come with the life-transforming power of God?
  • Was it received, collected, read and used – was it accepted by the people of God? 

I close with a quote from Malcolm Muggeridge, a journalist and satirist who died in 1990. I choose the quote because it indicates why I think preachers and teachers of the Bible need to continue to improve in their skill of handling the Bible so that the whole Church can see its relevancy.

“People say that the Bible is a boring book … but they don’t say that about Shakespeare, because the people who teach Shakespeare are zealous for Shakespeare.”

And finally: This centurion shows us that we need the Word of God for our situations of life. Other people like his servant needs it.

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

We need the spoken Word of God, the Bible, in our hearts and minds and on our lips. That is our hope for the emerging Church in this season.

Miracles within alignment – 4. The Power of the spoken Word part b

When our lives are aligned to the Word of God then what Jesus did becomes possible. The centurion was certainly near to that truth in this passage that we are becoming familiar with over the last few days:

“Jesus said to him, ‘Shall I come and heal him?’ The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Matthew 8 v 7-10)

The Church that emerges from lockdown must be the Church that uses the Bible not to beat people with but who speak healing to every part of their lives with. I am not suggesting we memorise verses to quote although that would be great to do. But I believe our lives need to be saturated in the Bible and the Bible in us so that in every situation what flows from our lives is the Word of God.

Following on from yesterday I want to stay on the use of the Bible.

I recently was asked to write on ‘Why is the Bible relevant today?’

Let me share this with you today and tomorrow. It might inspire you to carry on with your life in the Bible.

Why is the Bible relevant today?’

In 2007 I was pastoring a Church in Yorkshire and having led that Church for 11 years I discovered through a survey conducted by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity who were acting as Church consultants that my members were not reading the Bible daily. But also when they did read it they could not see any application into their lives.

I was thankful to know the truth but you can imagine the disappointment in myself that after 11 years of Pastoring I wasn’t producing disciples.

So I began a daily blog of systematically reading through certain books of the Bible with a small passage of application to help my members, this was linked to a Bible plan. 

They would get a simple tool to use. This one from 21st August 2007 was for 1 Samuel 10, the chapter where Saul was anointed by Samuel the prophet and then was made King of Israel.

DateThursday 21st  August 2007
Bible Reading1 Samuel 10
What grabbed my attention?“At that very moment, God transformed him – made him a new person!” v9 (the Message)
How can I use this when I pray?Ask God to transform me, to change my life around, so that people can see the difference.
Now Pray!    Praise Him for who He is and all He’s done for you.Remind Him of His Word          eg. Thank you for your word today. Thank you          that you transformed Saul and made him a new          person etc etc.     Apply His Word          eg. Come and transform me and change my          life. etc etc.      Your needs for today – whatever you are facing.       
Journal Record This is anything, eg. certain Bible verses, notes of meetings/events attended that were note-worthy, questions, concerns and general updates of your life.

We instantly saw 80% of our members engaged in the Bible. It was one of the many wonderful memories of church transformation that I have been privileged to see.

I have carried on this practice 14 years later. The above table is my daily discipline.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3 v16-17)

There are works out there which need us to be thoroughly equipped for. Situations like the Centurion’s servant. May God breathe His Scripture into our lives today.

Whatever plan you decide to adopt for your Bible reading, stick with it. Let your whole life be consumed with the fascination of the Bible. As you are aligned to God’s Word in your life then you will find that the Spirit is at ease to work through you and miracles become possible.

Miracles within alignment – 4. The Power of the spoken Word

I know I am risking preaching to the choir. The fact that you are reading this blog shows that the Bible is really important to you.

This year more than at any other time in our generation we need to rediscover the Word of God, Jesus, and it is to find our voice in speaking that Word into our everyday life. “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth” Jeremiah 1:9. The Bible is our answer. The prophets spoke the Word of God in the Old Testament and then the Word of God was personified in Jesus. There is power in the Word of God as the centurion shows us with his understanding of ‘Go’, ‘Come’ and ‘Do’.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Shall I come and heal him?’ The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Matthew 8 v 7-10)

The Church cannot be Bible-less Christians. That’s not to say having a Bible in the house rectifies that, it doesn’t. The Bible has to be in our lives. It is our daily bread. Christians fast more from the Bible than they do bread. Bible-less Christians are powerless ones. Bible-less Churches are drifting or declining ones.

The centurion didn’t know everything. He knew less of Jesus than you. But one thing he did know was that a word from the lips of Jesus came with a higher authority that he had. A word from Jesus was enough for his servant’s illness. Where are the words of Jesus? We have them, the whole of God’s Word right here in front of us, the Bible.

There is still power in the Word of God. But it must come from the pages of the Bible and into your heart and mind and out onto your lips. Both Ezekiel (3:3) and Jeremiah (15:6) knew the meaning of ‘eat this scroll’ and so must we. We must eat the Bible so that when we speak wisdom, power, healing, grace, discernment and truth flows.

I will write more on this tomorrow.

Miracles within alignment – 3. Rediscovering authority

The Church needs to rediscover the authority of this centurion.

It is not an authority that builds a culture of fear and intimidation. It is not an authority which is afraid of losing any argument and coming second and so losing it’s important power and position. It does not use loyalty and commitment as the drivers to keep being the authoritative voice. It is not an authority without accountability. It will not quote, ‘Thou Jezebel’ or ‘touch not the anointed one’.

But nevertheless it is authoritative over the schemes of the evil one and the brokenness of our world.

The centurion knew the power of the spoken word when it comes from the place of authority.

With authority you don’t need to touch, manoeuvre or place into position. With authority you just need to command.

The centurion experienced this every day of his life. Authority was normal for him. He didn’t need to manhandle his soldiers, he just spoke over their lives, they heard and it was done.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Shall I come and heal him?’ The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Matthew 8 v 7-10)

We see in these verses the centurion said there was a lot of going and coming. But when it came to his servant he had said, ‘Do this’ but this time there was no doing.

There are times when what we thought should happen didn’t and there is no sign that it will again.

What do we do when we can’t get things to move? When there is no breakthrough?

His authority was powerless because his servant was powerless.

Perhaps this is your situation today?

Here is how we begin to rediscover authority over what is broken.

Faith in the authority of Jesus to heal the servant was greater than his authority.

This year more than at any other time in our generation we need to rediscover authority and it is found in Jesus. Our faith in Jesus is not some mystical higher thought. But it is to discover the Word of God, Jesus and it is to find our voice in speaking that Word into our everyday life. Our authority needs to be less than our faith in His authority. He can do it. “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth” Jeremiah 1:9

The Bible is our answer. Tomorrow I will write more on this.

(Note: Matthew’s version of the story is shorter than Luke and is told differently. Luke who is writing to Gentiles emphasises the Jewish friends and messengers of the centurion whereas Matthew writing to mainly Jews emphasises the Gentile centurion at the feet of Jesus. It is not contradictory, but put together you have a fuller story, there are a number of people involved.)