Nothing can stop the Kingdom

Over a week ago Burkina Faso was back in the news with the terrible and evil act of the slaughter of Sahlon, a village in the north. But that isn’t the whole news. This last week 400 delegates gathered for a 5 day National Mission Consultation to plan for the next 5 years to plant at least 1 church for 1,000 people or 1 church per village!

Whatever the enemy does the Kingdom does more!

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, and he said to his attendants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’ (Matthew 14 v 1-2)

Imagine what King Herod was feeling?!

He was obviously wrong. But there was a part truth. The truth of continuity.

Herod removed John the Baptist but Jesus came.

Jesus died, raised and ascended but the Church was born.

The Church throughout the generations have seasons where it seems they lose ground but the Spirit comes again and breathes new life as He did on day one and the Church rises again.

It’s a kingdom principle.

The enemy will never stop the kingdom advancing.

Remove a worker and more will be raised up. God’s Kingdom is continuous.

Imagine how the King Herod’s of this world feel when they realise this?!

Nothing can stop the Kingdom of God.

Dishonour and offence

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.

“When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his home town, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ 57 And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.’ And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” (Matthew 13 v 53-58)

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.

Holding the old and the new

The parables are not over. Here comes a final one and it is only one sentence.

“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied. He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matthew 13 v 51-52)

They understood his parables (needed some explaining but they got there in a fashion) so they replied ‘Yes’. He didn’t disagree. He then calls them scribes, teachers of the law. This is quite surprising for the teachers of the law were the enemies of Jesus. What is he saying?

Maybe it is this: discipleship involves being able to use Scripture to help others; discipleship is the ability to understand and apply new discoveries as well as drawing out the old ones too; discipleship is making disciples.

The new discovery for the disciples was and still is Jesus. The old was their Jewish history which was not to be discarded.

Jesus seems to be saying:

  1. Keep on balancing the old with the new. Don’t let go of the old for there is life still there but do embrace the new.
  2. Keep on learning. Keep digging into the storeroom of the Bible, of the Spirit, of your experiences.
  3. Keep on sharing. This is not so you can store up for yourself. These discoveries are for telling others in whatever way you can. The whole house was blessed.

In the course of time …

Do you ever wonder why it seems that people who are named ‘Christian’ don’t appear so?

I’m not thinking we all should be perfect because none of us are.

But it is just the gnawing feeling that at the heart of an individual all is not what it seems to be.

Here’s the simple thought: leave it alone, in the course of time, all will be revealed.

In imagery so easy for them to understand because it was all around them Jesus continues to teach his disciples with this parable.

Similar to the parable of the weeds where the righteous grow with the wicked but the difference is that the focus is not on growing together but being separated from one another.

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13 v 47-50)

All kinds of fish. Fish to be eaten and fish that are inedible. Within the net are the good and the bad but the fishermen are not disturbed by this. The net goes out to whosoever.

If you are caught in a situation today and you wonder where on earth the Judgment of God is, it is coming. Where is the fairness of life? It is coming. How can someone seem to get away with fooling those around them? They haven’t.

In the fullness of time …

Don’t ever feel …

Some people seem to have a gift of being able to discard, reject and abuse others.

Behind them lies a trail of broken people.

If you are one of them. Here is a reminder that you are greater than what someone has made you feel. Shake it off, walk tall, Jesus knows who you are.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13 v 45-46)

Don’t ever feel overlooked or unnoticed, Jesus came looking for you and He still is.

Don’t ever feel no one knows who or where you are at, Jesus found you and He will again.

Don’t ever feel of no worth and not wanted, Jesus values you greatly and still does.

Don’t ever feel you will never be good enough, it cost Jesus everything for you, you were worth dying for and you still are.

5 questions to ask when you make a discovery.

Having told 4 parables to the crowd Jesus now turns to his disciples for 3 parables just for them. Many have given brilliant interpretations of this parable from 2 main standpoints based on who the man is and who the field represents.

Here is the parable:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13 v 44)

We all find new discoveries. I’m just asking 5 questions on the most recent discovery?

  • What have you discovered that you haven’t told anyone about? ‘treasure’, ‘hid it again’

Often these are discoveries about ourselves, revelatory, directional, prophetic in nature, perhaps too outrageous to be shared.

  • Where did you discover it? ‘field’

You didn’t just stumble on this discovery. You have spent time listening to a teaching, reading and contemplating, in discussion with others, in prayer and fasting perhaps and then you discovered.

  • How did that discovery make you feel? ‘joy’

Nothing can be compared to the finding of something new. It is like your eyes have opened. You cannot now rest until the application has been implemented.

  • Will this discovery cost you and how much? ‘sold all’

Sitting down and to do the sums, to think of the importance of surrender and to do whatever is necessary is the responsibility attached to this discovery. Those who discover pay.

  • What change will you need to make because of the discovery? bought the field’

The discovery may lead to change but the greatest change will be to apply that discovery into your life. Others may have to change but you will be the one who will significantly change.

Back to the field … life is meant to have the rough with the smooth.

Our days are never always bad nor are they perfect. Accepting the unpleasant alongside the pleasant is our way of life. It is the same with the gospel right across the world.

Jesus told us it would be so:

“Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13 v 36-43)

How can you explain that there has been a growth in the last 15 years in Burkina Faso of over 1,000 Fulani Churches and this from one network alone and alongside there has been rising Islamist attacks like the one a few days ago when 132 people were killed from one village? The answer is the parable of the weeds.

In the most unlikely of places where suffering abounds and fear of conversion is stark, Christianity continues to grow. Myanmar, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Somalia … the list continues to grow, Christianity is thriving and so does the evil.

What will happen?

Both will intensify. We are going to see evil become more evil, the darkness will become black and we will be shocked if we are not already so at what man will do to man. But the gospel will continue to thrive in even these same places. There will be powerful demonstrations of salvation with miraculous supernatural activity.

Then the harvest will come.

The Preacher/Teacher

Today all around the world Churches will gather in whatever form to hear a person teach from the Bible. It maybe 10 minutes or an hour, it may contain a slideshow of 3 points, 5 points or no points! But in every language the Bible will be expounded upon. When heaven opens its windows today I wonder how many sermons it hears?!

“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 13 v 34-35)

Perhaps today you are going to hear from a Bible passage that you think you know well but the Spirit of God has decided that you will hear and see new implications, some nugget of truth which always lay there, it wasn’t invisible, it was you just hadn’t seen it before. It doesn’t happen every time but when it does there isn’t an experience quite like it!

Matthew refers to Psalm 78. Asaph begins his longest Psalm by far with a deep longing for people to hear him, he calls them to listen and to follow his teaching.  Covering the story from Egypt and the Exodus to the present day where David is leading them as a shepherd-leader, there is no doubting Asaph’s passion. But what Asaph does is uncover in detail what has lied there all along that God’s people have treated their God with contempt. Behind the story lies arrogance and pride and Asaph brings that out. He is a great teacher.

Matthew looks at the parables of the teaching of Jesus and sees the connection to Asaph. Psalm 78 reveals a teaching ministry that reveals truths behind the story. Asaph did it. Jesus did it. And by the Spirit of God it will continue even today.

Encourage the preacher/teacher today. Encourage them to keep digging into the Bible text.

Lessons from the Bread-maker

What mountain do you face today that seems just too insurmountable?

How small do you feel when you begin to climb that mountain? Tsang Yin Hung, a 45 year old has just this week become the fastest woman to climb Mount Everest (29,031.69 feet). She did it in 25 hours and 50 minutes!.

Maybe you think such big exploits are now for yesteryear? Arthur Muir climbed Everest last Sunday. He is 75yrs!

Perhaps you are thinking that what is against you is too strong? Mr Zhang reached the top of Everest on the 24th May 2021. He is blind!

Don’t give up today. Too often we might appear small, just like Jesus’ first disciples. Yet look at where the gospel has expanded, across the whole world!

How can this be? It is found in the lessons of the bread-maker.

He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Matthew 13 v 33)

  1. Have faith in the small. Take the yeast. It’s small but it can actually be hugely significant. A smile. A touch. A word of encouragement. A box of chocolates. Small maybe. But each and every small act of kindness can change a person’s day.
  2. Surround yourself with what is larger. Engage it with the larger proponent, the flour. Yeast on its own will do nothing. As Christians we have to be in the world to change our world. Attempt what is bigger than you.
  3. Don’t stress about being seen. As opposed to the mustard seed the yeast continues to remain hidden. It never surfaces nor does it grow into something else. It remains as an influence to the whole and it is what surrounds it that changes.
  4. Keep going. Don’t give up. Keep mixing until a dough is created. If you remain committed to the cause then you will soon move into a phase of readiness. The dough ready to be baked.

5 things to do when you have an idea

Whatever you are trying to do, it may look really insignificant, but it can grow into something beyond your imagination. Today you may only have an idea. It doesn’t sound much at all.

But this small idea can surpass your wildest dream. So much so that it can impact today the seed-robbers of yesterday (the birds) and the miracle will not be just the growth of the seed but who later benefits from that growth (who sits in the branches).

“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13 v 31-32)

  1. Take hold of that idea. Don’t despise the smallness. Don’t neglect it nor be embarrassed by its size. When you take hold of it then you assume ownership, commitment and authority of it. Don’t give it to anyone else. You are responsible.
  2. Plant it. This is not burying it though the action looks the same. Both planting and burying are hiding the potential. The difference is that the planting is hiding for a season. Planting involves intent of growth. However initially there is nothing to show for your investment. Patience is plantings friend. Let it sit for a while.
  3. Watch it daily. Build expectation. In your own garden you can see the plant grow. What good would it be to plant in someone else’s garden or plant where you will never go each day. Every day the man would wake up and look out at where he had planted. He expected growth.
  4. Let it become something it had been created to become. In your hand it didn’t look like a tree. You never become what you already are. You are meant to change. Further ideas will come to that original idea. It will grow. The idea for sharing your faith with a neighbour or some act of kindness can grow into a whole new way of life for you if you watch it daily
  5. You will attract into your garden what was previously not there. You planted a seed, it became a tree then you got the birds as a bonus. The power of attraction happens because you kept to the law of sowing. They take the fruit and drop the seeds and life continues.

All from an idea. Go one grab hold of that idea!