Now

NOW

Luke 5: 4-6 “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”

This should not have happened.

Fishermen fished at night in the deep water and perhaps during the day in shallow water.

But Jesus knew there were fish and that they were passing by about ‘now’.

Often said in a blasphemous way the phrase, ‘God knows when’ indicating that we mortals have no idea when something is going to happen is actually true … He does know when. God is a NOW God. In Matthew 17:27 we have a really strange request! “Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

He knows when the fish are coming and He knows which one has the coin in its mouth to pay the tax!!

When we learn to walk with Jesus then we learn that when God says NOW then we do it NOW.

I reckon Simon wished he had a bigger boat that day!

They had never seen such a miracle.

Miracles are perhaps lost because we missed the timing.

I don’t want to miss miracles because I couldn’t do or go or be or say it NOW. Miracles cannot be put into our tidy diaries. We don’t say NOW, HE does.

NOW can look like the wrong timing when in fact it is perfect.

NOW doesn’t take into account the effort and disappointment of having previously tried.

NOW requires obedience.

Is God saying NOW?

I Know

Luke 5: 4-5

I know

 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

It wasn’t that they had not worked hard.

It wasn’t that they had not been faithfully persistent.

It wasn’t that they were not prepared to make the sacrifice.

They had done all these things.

But they had nothing to show for all that they had done.

The question, “Is this it?” couldn’t even be asked.

There was nothing.

Jesus sees them washing their nets, taking all the salt off them, ready to do it all again.

This is what they did every day.

This was their life.

Working hard to fill a boat but at times working for nothing and then getting ready to work again.

They cannot give up, it is their livelihood.

It is what they do. It is their life. Even if they wanted to change, what would they do?

It is their life.

This is how it always is.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Whatever this means for you today receive this word from Jesus …

“I know where all the fish are.”

 

Jesus sees you

Jesus sees you

Luke 5: 1-3

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

 

Prior to this event, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John had heard the call to accept Jesus as their Messiah (read it in John 1:35-51).

They had heard the call to follow for a little while actually (Matthew 4 and Mark 1).

But on this day they were at a distance from Jesus, washing their fishing nets.

In contrast there is a crowd around Jesus. The Greek word for ‘crowd’ is epikeimai which means ‘press around’, ‘press upon’, ‘be urgent’.

There is the passion of the people and the distance of the disciples.

Where are you today? Pursuing Jesus with urgency?

Where are you today? Distant?

Whatever category you place yourself in, Jesus is watching you.

Jesus had his eye on the crowd, on his disciples and on one other thing.

He sees the boats and in particular Simon’s. It had to be Simon’s.

Perhaps Jesus thought: “One day my Spirit will step into Simon’s life to carry the work of God forward but for now I will step into his boat to enable me to carry on the work today.”

Simon’s boat became a pulpit. Actually it had just returned from a night’s fishing with nothing. Jesus stepped into this failed boat and used it for His purpose.

Where are you today? A failure not realising the potential once hoped for?

Jesus sees you. Make yourself available, something beautiful is going to happen.

 

A story

A story

Luke 4:40-44

“When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ. At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”

Chapter 1: Sunset

It feels like the day is nearly over and you are just the same, sick or plagued with the darkness of your soul. The sun is setting and hope is fading for another day. Tomorrow you will try and survive again. You will beg for money to receive medical treatment. You will try and keep yourself dignified before the enemies of that peace shout from within.

But tomorrow will be the same as today as it has been for a long time now.

The sun is setting and here is another Messiah, another miracle worker, there have been many over the years claiming, naming, disappointing. But you have remained the same.

“This time is different”, so they said as your friends carried you to this new Messiah.

He laid his hands on you and looked into your eyes.

His touch changed everything. His look shone glorious light into the darkness of your soul. You knew you would never be the same again.

Chapter 2: Daybreak

You ran back. You had to find him again. Jesus. Where was he? Others had the same idea. When a man changes your life like this then there are conversations to be had. You have friends, there are other things that you need fixing but first you really need to thank Him. You almost feel like worshipping Him. You follow the crowd there seems to be a noise, a cheering, they have found him, in the back and beyond of nowhere. Why is he out here on his own? Last night he was the centre of the crowds and he was working hard but here now, on his own, withdrawing, is this where he recharges himself? Who else was there in the solitary place?

Chapter 3: He’s gone.

You joined in the pleas for him to stay. Having Jesus in town would be the right thing. He already has a following. He could start a movement quite easily. He could change the landscape of everyone’s life. If only He would stay.

He is a movement. I get it. He has to keep on. He said He must go. When He said ‘must’ it was more than a decision. It was obedience. Like if He didn’t go to other towns and villages like ours the it would be disobedience.

He was sent. Who sent Him? Some are saying Jehovah.

If so then I have to follow Him. I need to make my life count now. This man changed my life so I need to be as near Him as possible. He’s off. He’s not waiting. He has to keep on. I’m right behind you Jesus. Let’s go.

It’s never THE END with Jesus

An invitation

An invitation

Luke 4 v 38-39 “Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother- in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.”

 

He has not called Simon to be a disciple yet but he is accepting presumably an invitation to his home.

What is one of the most natural social behavioural actions on earth, the simple invitation, would end up being the foundation for not just the transformation of one life but that of the church to come. I wonder what would have happened if Jesus hadn’t gone? More to the important I wonder what would have happened to Simon if he hadn’t invited Jesus home that day?

 

Are you invitable?

That’s probably not a word. But are we who people want in their homes?

Do we make a positive difference?

Have people seen something in us and they know they need to have more time with us, they need to bring us home?

Maybe the ‘synagogues’ have become so ineffective that the last person to be invited home is the one who has been teaching?

Can you imagine the reverse? Can you imagine that the Church being the first ones to be invited into homes? Homes that are in need, that are broken, that have tried everything, that the Church becomes a 999 emergency service?

 

Are we inviting?

Many leave Jesus in the ‘synagogues’ and return home and close the door. Inside their home and inside the ‘synagogue’ can be polar opposites.

‘May our homes be filled with dancing’ is a line of a song that blessed me the first day we sang it in Church.

May our homes be filled with joy!

Our homes sure get a battering in the storms of life. Some can even fall down completely if built on ‘sand’.

We need Jesus home with us.

Come Jesus, come to my home today, it’s not functioning the way it should. One of our loved ones is sick. We are struggling. Please come and help us.

And He will come.

And as He bends over your home His shadow will fall on areas of pain. He will rebuke the devourer and remove what should not be there. Go on, invite Jesus to your home.

 

Ministering with authority

Ministering with authority

Luke 4:33-37

In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Ha! 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!” “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

 

A man can be demonised and be in the centre of religious worship and teaching and be very quiet. So quiet that no one notices he was there. How long had this man been in worship prior to worship. A year, ten years? It would appear demons don’t mind religion. But they do hate the presence of Jesus!

They are afraid of the authority of Jesus.

There are sleeping ‘demons’ laying within churches that pulpit preachers are unaware of.

There are silent ‘secrets’ rocking the church asleep.

Authority wakes up even sleeping demons.

In the presence of Jesus even demons who serve the father of lies, have to tell the truth.

Are you going to destroy us? The answer was yes.

Not even the religious were acknowledging the truth of Jesus’ identity. They were more blind than the man.

“I know who you are, the Holy One” … correct!

We have been given authority to set people free from the enemy of our soul.

We have authority to see men shake and demons flee and there be no injury.

We need to minimise the injuries that occur in Church and there needs to be zero-tolerance of injury to the vulnerable whether that be spiritual, mental, biological or emotional etc.

How many horrendous images have you witnessed of so called deliverance ministries who seem to do nothing more than make the person worse? Better to have a demon than have some quack deliverance minister get their hands on you! (Joke! Don’t write in!)

Jesus delivers without injury! Amen!

The Church needs authority today more than ever.

May the Church rise with such authority today.

 

 

Speaking with authority

Speaking with authority

 

Luke 4: 31-32 “Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.”

 

Matthew in his gospel writes that Jesus taught as one who had authority and “not as their teachers of the law” (7:29).

 

It is well known that teaching rabbis would endlessly quote other rabbis when they were teaching. “Rabbi such and such says this…” or “I am here to tell you what Rabbi X said 5 years ago on this topic”. Now there’s nothing wrong with using some quotes to help your case. Preachers do it all the time. But can you imagine listening to your Pastor who only ever spoke like an editor of other people’s messages.

When I first began pastoring I went to a church where I had to prepare 2 sermons and a bible study every week. So for the first 6 months I preached my father’s messages (once I could decipher his handwriting). I did it because not only did it help me time-wise but also I didn’t feel like I had much authority in the pulpit. So I borrowed an authoritative voice and used that.

In the course of time I gained confidence from my own stories of life and experiences and more importantly finding God’s voice in the Bible and partnering my voice with His. I began to speak with my own authority and recognised that it came from God.

Authority in the pulpit isn’t connected to the decibels of noise coming out of your mouth nor how much sweat you pour out, neither is it determined by your upbringing, as Jesus of Nazareth would remind us. Nor does it come from some religious credential, Jesus didn’t have any. Nor does it come from a conformity to the religious rule book, Jesus tore his generation’s book up. No. The authority I speak about comes not from man or prestige or performance but from God.

He gives it through your life’s journey to be used maybe even years later. God fills your life with stories and experiences that belong to you, so that you can draw on them later in life.

God gives you authority through learned obedience. Painful journeys where you have learnt submission to His will.

God gives you authority beyond your years as you reside in Him.

Our churches need authority and Christians need to find their authoritative voice again.

The good news is that Jesus has said that He possesses all authority and He has given it to those who follow Him.

 

Walking in authority

Walking in authority

Luke 4: 28-30 “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”

Offence in the synagogue. I guess nothing much has changed. There’s nothing like a gathering of people to cause an offence.

Especially when the offender is Jesus who has turned an ancient text on its head and declared basically that mercy triumphs over judgment. That offence is still here sadly.

A while ago I was accosted by a leader with the fact that a national leader had welcomed everyone to his meeting with words similar to “Doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done or what gender or identity you claim to be, Jesus welcomes you”. I mean honestly! Jesus welcoming sinners! I’ve never heard of such a thing! But the offence raged on. Good job that national leader wasn’t near a cliff edge.

But Jesus was. He was led there, well, dragged actually. To the very place that the town was built many years ago. Jesus at the centre of that town, at the foundation of the community – and what for? To be judged condemned and sentenced because of their offence.

The root of so many lives is a deep sense of judgment, of a desire to eradicate grace because we are afraid of any relaxing of the rules we have staked so much on.

From that cliff edge Jesus rose with authority.

Authority is being able to be taken to a cliff edge but not be thrown off if. You may think you are on the edge today and that actually you are really close to giving up. But within you is the presence of Christ and you have the authority to resist.

Authority is being able to walk through a condemning crowd. The fear of man is a snare. Ignore the threats and what people have said they will do or won’t do. Ignore and walk on. Walking away from conflict is at times stronger than staying for it.

Authority is saying I choose where I surrender and who I surrender to. Jesus knew this was not the place for his death. They would not take his life from him. He came to lay his life down.

In the next few days we will be encouraged even more to rise in authority

Do we really know Him?

Do we really know Him?

Luke 4: 16-30

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him…

Jesus took the scroll and found Isaiah 61 and then read from it,

The Spirit of the Lord is on me

Because he has anointed me

To preach good news to the poor

He then leaves out: He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

He then adds: and recovery of sight for the blind,

(By the time of Christ, Jewish thought was heavy on the idea that the purpose of the Messiah would be to open the eyes of the blind).

He then adds from Isaiah 58:6 to release the oppressed,

To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour

And then leaves out: and the day of vengeance of our God.

V22 “All spoke well of him”

 

They were initially pleased but when Jesus told 2 stories to illustrate his edited reading, one of the widow of Zaraphath and that of Naaman of Damascus they became furious, they knew why he had edited it, v28.

This was Nazareth, a settler town in Galilee. Galilee had become known as ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’ (Matt 4:15).

The Jewish plan was to move Jewish settlers from Judea onto the land in Galilee and take Nazareth. Isaiah 61 was their motivating prophecy.

This prophecy of the coming Messiah promised great things.

Isaiah 61: 2 there would be a day of vengeance of God

V4-11 = there would be rebuilding and restoring places, places like Nazareth.

V7 = there is the promise of a double portion.

V5-6 = the Gentiles around them will be their servants and they will be fed on their wealth.

But Jesus stops reading this popular and well known passage at the point at which judgment and submission is pronounced on the Gentiles whom the Nazareth settlers were there to displace, places like Zarephath and Damascus.

Jesus knew these 2 stories would offend.

So what was Jesus doing?

V21 Today this Scripture is fulfilled and one of the things the Messiah does is what you never expected and it is regarding justice.

To release the oppressed is not in Isaiah 61, but taken from Isaiah 58:6-7 where it is used in the context of God not being impressed with empty religious gestures.

The use of this phrase from that context is significant in that Jesus was communicating to those who carried a sense of justice in their lives.

But by using 2 stories of reaching out to the Gentiles, Jesus is saying the justice of the Messiah is compassion for the weak and exhausted among those who are downtrodden and the outcast.

It amazes me how sure God’s people are to how He will respond to situations especially in terms of judgment.

Jesus took a text of judgment and turned it into a text of mercy. The text of judgment was from Isaiah of all people, passed down generationally, steeped in their culture, thought and word life. Isaiah 61 it is settled, we know what it means. Yet the Messiah turned it upside down into a text of mercy. Mercy offends when you are banking on judgment.

They thought the messianic age would be a golden age for them. In fact it would be all about them. Jesus shifts the text from ‘Here is what you will receive” into “Here is what you are expected to give”.

 

May Jesus come into our synagogues of life today and drastically change our picture of Himself.

May He unlock us from the many years of carrying an idea of Him that perhaps is not a complete reflection of who He is.

May He take from us that revelation that was given to us from man which didn’t draw us near to Him or others near to us but brought alienation.

May He birth new understanding that God the Judge is but one aspect of His nature which is held by God’s grace, love and mercy.

May this new picture change us. Let it change how we pray and what we expect and may it enable us to step out in faith to do what we would never have done. Let a whole new vocabulary emerge and a new sound be heard in the house of the Lord, in our lives.

And as that happens may our world change, our homes, our work, our communities and our churches. Changed by an understanding of His revelation.

 

Amen

The power of the Spirit

Luke 4: 14-15 “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.”

The power of the Spirit

Luke writes in verse 1 that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Now he returns in the power of the Spirit.

The power of the Spirit is the longing of the Church who seek after this with all of their might. Yet it comes only after the devil has done his worst in a place which cannot be described as an oasis, refreshing nor a revival.

I imagine the Sri Lankan church to emerge in the power of the Spirit after their onslaught from the enemy. They are limping out of this testing time reporting on the world news of forgiveness to their killers. Already so powerful.

The power of the Spirit is connected to how you survived the wilderness testing.

But it is also connected to your return. No matter what has happened you return. You may have been hungry for 40 days. You may have faced an onslaught of temptation. You may have avoided dangers of wild animals. You may have needed the ministry of angels to help you recover. But can you get up and return again. I have a friend who lost everything. His wife, children, work, position in life, credibility and testimony. Yet he made a return and was in church with his new wife this Easter Sunday.

It is also connected to your mission. Jesus returned to Galilee or as Matthew describes, Galilee of the Gentiles. The power of the Spirit is not for you, it is for others. It is for serving and leading others into the Kingdom of God.

Finally the power of the Spirit will lead you into a new danger which can be as much an enemy attack as the desert trial. The season of exposure, of being known, of opportunities and praise, can be laced with possible dangers that can divert you from your purpose. We will see more of this in how Jesus held his course during the praise reports from the people.

The power of the Spirit comes

  1. after a season of difficulty
  2. as you dust yourself off and return
  3. as you focus on others
  4. and leads to further challenges.

May we walk in that power today.