God’s Purpose in Disappointment

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“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

–Psalm 42:5-6a

It’s easy to feel defeated in the midst of life’s disappointments. To feel broken. Confused. Hopeless. Sad. Empty.

But with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can discover God’s purpose even in the deepest of disappointments.

I’m finding that some of our deepest disappointments in life can actually be blessings… propelling us into a deeper peace and resiliency in the Lord as we seek the Lord’s wholeness instead of that tendency to feel empty.

It’s difficult.

But the Lord can heal our hearts if we seek Him.

I want to encourage you that it’s in this tender place of working through our disappointments with the Lord that we find a greater love with our Savior than ever before.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

–Psalm 42:1-2

I love the longing of the psalmist in these two verses of Psalm 42. The writer, who scholars credit to the Sons of Korah, don’t stop at declaring that they are thirsty for God. They go on to ask… When shall I come and appear before God?

They have an insatiable desire for the Lord that will not be satisfied until they see Him.

An unrivaled love.

A permanent longing.

How much longer till I can see God? I just want to see Him! I need to see Him! My whole existence needs to be with You Lord right now! The writer wants God more than anything. He compares it to the basic need for water: something a human cannot live without for survival. Thus, the writer affirms He cannot live without God for survival either. He needs Him. He needs God for survival.

Such zealous longing for the Lord and satisfaction in that longing is what I believe God wants for all of us.

God wants us to be in love with Him.

More than we love anything else.

Sometimes, this necessitates difficult trials in our lives such as disappointments that force us to re-prioritize other longings of our hearts, affirming the Lord as our #1 desire.

Wrestling with a deep disappointment in my own life, I’m starting to come full circle recognizing the good this has done in my heart. God has been using my disappointment to dig a deeper anchor of hope and love for my Savior. But it’s taken time and waiting on the Lord to do in my soul what I cannot do for myself.

As I work through my own disappointments with the Lord, I’m seeing how this lack of what I wanted is forcing me to seek the Lord in a brand new way.

A way I’ve never had to do before because I had never been disappointed like this.

I always sought the Lord because He was the best thing to me. The Lord has always been my love and my safe place and had never been rivaled before by any kind of stronger hope in my heart.

But once God saw that my heart started to want something more than Him, He had no other choice but to woo me back…

…And that called for disappointment.

Yes, disappointment.

Sometimes, God lets painful things happen to you to strengthen you and make your faith deeper rooted in Him.

I know that God let me be disappointed.

And my heart is now thankful. No longer resentful.

God needed me to experience the devastation that occurs when a heart wants something more than Him.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t want good things, relationships, blessings and so on… But it does mean that if I want those things more than I want God, I will never be healthy in love with the Lord the way I was designed to be.

When we hope in something to fill us and it doesn’t work out how we thought it would, we get disappointed.

And there’s an emptiness in that moment that beckons us for “more.”

And that “more” can only be found in Jesus.

My heart finally understands that God is worthy of possessing and keeping the top spot in my heart.

We can love others better when God has the top spot in our hearts…. because a healthy love relationship with the Lord teaches us what love is. And everyone around us will benefit from our healthy relationship with the Lord.

Learning by experience was the only way I could learn this lesson.

Hearing “Love God first,” and reading in the bible to “Love God first” was not going to make this resolute in my heart.

Something had to test my love for the Lord.

I had to wrestle with it in my own heart.

Experiencing what it feels like to not love God first and get hurt has trained me to never do this again because it’s too painful.

Now, I want to love God first.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of hosts. I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”

– Psalm 84:1-2

I have experienced the pain of loving something more than the Lord. And I now I have experienced the fullness of what it feels like to want God more.

God is very past-present-future-minded in how He uses such a devastating emotion like disappointment to actually propel us into a sustainable joy. God could easily let His hurt for how we’re hurting in the moment of our disappointment make Him call off the whole experience. And make it stop. He could hear our cries for deliverance and cries for healing and put an end to our journey of peace-through-disappointment. And make it stop. But He doesn’t. God looks into the future and sees how this hurt is only temporary; and how the peace, joy and rest we will obtain at the end of it will be worth all the pain of the disappointment.

Additionally, my love for God would never have been tested if I had never been exposed to something more desirable. Anyone can love God first when nothing else is rivaling that love. But once something comes along that makes you want it more than you want God, then your love for God is put to the test. This is what happened in my life.

God wants to test our love for Him. And test our faith in Him. To make it stronger!

 “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold –though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. S0 when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

1 Peter 1:7

Thanks be to God that He has grace on us through this refining process. So while we look away to something we see as more desirable, God waits on us while we navigate this unfamiliar terrain and is still there when we decide to return to the Lord who fills us.

“The Lord appeared to him from far away saying, I have love you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued to extend faithful love to you.”

Jeremiah 31:3

Friends, disappointment in your life is not a curse. It’s a blessing!

God has a purpose for your disappointment.

He has a purpose!

God did not allow a disappointment in your life to hurt you. God appointed that disappointment so that you may come to discover a deeper love with your Savior.

You may not see it yet.

But keep praying.

Keep pushing through the uncomfortableness.

Keep seeking Him in the weariness of how it feels to be disappointed.

God is the only one who can fix it.

God is the only One who can turn your sorrow into joy.

You cannot make it happen on your own.

But I guarantee He will do it!

As Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices pleasing to God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

All you need is a broken and surrendered spirit put in the hands of the Lord and He will restore your soul as you seek Him and patiently wait on Him to do it.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

If we recall the greatest disappointment the world could ever know was when the Savior of the world was nailed to a cross. Killed. Dead. His mother, disciples and followers thought things were hopeless. Their Messiah was gone. Their hope lost. But then…they discovered their disappointment was only intended to endure for 3 days…for the Savior of the world had risen! He was alive! Their hope restored again! By the power of God. And they would live to tell of His works and miracles.

Disappointment turned to joy.

God had a purpose.

May your disappointments turn to joy and peace in the powerful working hands of the Lord. May He strengthen you in the time of waiting for your situation to be redeemed. I pray you would be refreshed by His spirit. And dependent on Him to heal your soul. Praise the Lord who woos us deeper in love with Him. And shows us the purpose in our disappointments. How amazing the lovingkindness of the Lord. Hallelujah.

 

“I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 31:13b-14

 

Questions for Today:

  • What has disappointed me?
  • Do I want God to reveal His purpose to me regarding this disappointment?
  • How can I see God’s purpose in this disappointment as a means to draw me into deeper love with Him?
  • Why is important that I patiently wait on the Lord to redeem my disappointment?
  • Why does the Lord send difficult trials into our lives?
  • What is one step God is asking me to take in my relationship with Jesus today?

“Behold (Then Sings My Soul)” by Hillsong Worship

 

 

 

Loving Jesus for Jesus: Dwelling With the Lord in Love Strengthens You

 
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Love beckons a lover to come and dwell.

To come and sit.

To come and rest.

To come and be.

Did you know that Jesus Himself beckons you?

That’s right.

The King of the world…

The Maker of the stars…

The Artist of the heavens…

Jesus.

God incarnate.

Jesus.

He beckons you!

Jesus beckons you to come and dwell with Him. To sit quiet with Him. To talk to Him.

To love God.

Because you love Him.

For Him.

Not just for what He can do.

Dwelling with God in love will strengthen you.

It will make you come alive again.

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”

-Psalm 63:3

But it’s hard sometimes to maintain this love for God. That’s why it must be cultivated.

It’s easy to love Jesus when we see His hand at work, isn’t it?

It’s easy to love Jesus when we’re hopeful for what He’s going to do.

It’s easy to love Jesus when we think about all He has done.

But is it easy to love Jesus when things go wrong?

Is it easy to love Jesus when He allows difficulties that hurt a lot?

Is it easy to love Jesus when what we expected is just not happening?

I’m finding that a lot of the unhealed hurt in my heart has remained unhealed because of my misunderstanding of just how much God loves me.

I keep waiting for God to do something, and all along He has been waiting for me to stop looking ahead and just look at Him.

To look at Jesus.

And stop.

Stop worrying about all that I’m worrying about.

Stop wallowing in disappointment that I can’t control.

And dwell.

Dwell with Jesus in the secret place.

Our secret place.

Where I can be made whole again.

Where I can be made new again.

Where I am loved.

Where I am held.

And our love relationship strengthens me.

“I have asked one thing from the Lord, it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.”

Psalm 27:4

A psalm of David

King David loved the Lord.

I can feel it so strongly in His psalms.

Yet He wrestled with so many difficulties in His life!

Psalm after psalm in the Bible unveils David’s struggles: fear, despair, discouragement, betrayal, depression, anxiety…

Can you relate?

I can.

No matter how old you are or young you are, you’re going to experience some difficult things in your life.

Maybe even some devastating and life-crushing things.

And it will be natural to ask, Why God? Where are you? Don’t you see my pain? Will you not move in my situation?

Confusion over why God is remaining silent in the midst of our most difficult seasons can lead to enormous despair. I have experienced this in many ways while being at seminary ironically. In a place I never expected to face so much spiritual attack. And it has been very hard to believe that God cares about me. Consequently, there have been days I’ve doubted His love altogether. And assumed that I would only get to experience it when I’m in heaven but not while I’m here. I haven’t felt taken care of by the Lord like I always have. And I’m starting to see that it’s because God has been trying to grow me and strengthen me. To wean me off of His constant protection and transition me into a place where I can stand strong and resilient in the face of trials. To mature me in areas I needed maturing. To teach me how to handle difficulties in the future.

In Psalm 27:3, David writes,

Though an army encamps against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise against me, yet I will be confident.” (emphasis mine)

I’m so encouraged by this.

David learned the antidote to his difficulties. David always ran to God first about his struggles and let God saturate His mind with hope. David loved God for God. And his intimacy with the Lord strengthened Him because of this love.

We need to be strengthened if we’re going to make it through this life.

Did you know that?

You need to be strengthened.

I need to be strengthened.

There are powers at war in the spiritual realm fighting for the destiny of God’s chosen. And we cannot let the enemy snatch away our calling.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against all of the schemes of the devil.”

Ephesians 6:11

Loving Jesus for Jesus is the way.

The only way.

Jesus is the only One who can strengthen us and we can only be strengthened if we are in a love relationship with Him.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:26

One of the biggest barriers to loving Jesus for Jesus and loving God for God is when you put conditions on your relationship with Him.

Expecting God to do what you want Him to do is called a condition.

Withdrawing love from God because you feel hurt is called a condition.

Spending time with Him when He does something for you is called a condition.

I’m learning that if I love Jesus, I can’t place conditions on my relationship with Him. Love doesn’t place conditions on a relationship.

But why, God, won’t You come through on your promise? Why, God, won’t You do something about all I’m facing? Why won’t You help me?

All those questions are conditional.

Conditions, that if God were to answer if my favor, I would love Him more. And that’s a problem. I’m so glad God has revealed this to me. If Jesus doesn’t answer any of those questions, I still love Him because He is my God and my love. And He is more to me than what He can do for me.

Is God more to you than what He can do for you?

I encourage you to spend some time with the Lord talking to Him about this. I want this for you because it has drastically transformed the way that I look at the difficulties in my life. It has helped me to find peace and joy again in the love of God. A love that is much richer and much stronger than any trial standing against us.

He goes on in Psalm 27 verses 13-14 to conclude,

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Dwelling with the Lord in love strengthens us.

This kind of strength sees…

…courage in the midst of fear.

…belief in the midst of doubt.

…hope in the midst of disappointment.

…loving God as the antidote to life’s difficulties.

I want the Lord to know everything about me and me know everything about Him. I want that intimacy. I’ve experienced that this kind of relationship with God is far richer than even the most exciting adventure of seeing God’s hand at work. Knowing Him is far better.

Seeing God’s hand at work is great. But knowing Him is far better. It’s more intimate.

If our conversations with God are centered on requests and expectations more than they are centered on getting to know Him and loving Him, we are missing out on intimacy with the Lord.

We must talk to God for God.

Talk to God because we love Him.

Not just for what prayers we want answered.

This kind of interaction with the Lord is more fulfilling than any other relationship we can have. And it it’s not healthy, it will negatively affect other areas of life.

We must seek Jesus for Jesus.

Seek Jesus because we love Him.

Not just for what we want to see Him do.

Love Jesus for Jesus.

He wants to be loved for who He is.

And He wants to dwell with you one on one.

Dwelling with the Lord in love will strengthen you.

I pray for you that would run to Jesus even though a million other things are beckoning you. Run to Jesus first. Without Him you won’t be able to withstand the pressures of life. I’ve learned this the hard way. And I’m finding that my love with God is the only thing that can make me whole.

The greatest love in the world is beckoning you. His name is Jesus. Whose desire is to dwell with you in return. Seek Him today. And may you find strength dwelling with the Lord in love.

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
 My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.

-Psalm 84:1-2

 

Questions for Today:

  • How does dwelling with the Lord strengthen me?
  • How does placing conditions on my love relationship with the Lord put a barrier between me and Him?
  • How can I redirect my focus on Jesus and away from my negative circumstances?
  • Do I love Jesus for who He is or just for what He can do?
  • What next step is Jesus telling me take in my relationship with Him today?

 

“What A Beautiful Name” by Hillsong Worship

 

things break every day

roses falling down

 

there’s a story I heard

it’s hard to remember

her mind

is losing it

misery infusing it

bruising it

confusing it

with what she thinks is real

and the rose grows against the gray

things break

every day

 

There’s something you love.

God’s gonna let it break your heart.

 

shattered glass

is falling

from

the window seal

the sky

wanted in

now the wind

sings

whispers

shrieks

 

from outside

it seems

desire and passion

await

beyond the glass

it seems

ghosts

were dancing

all day

 

shattered glass

still remains

things break

every day

 

It’s a good thing you know.

A broken heart.

 

blood concealed

entrapped

stuck in shields

never healed

until its flowing in disarray

things break

every day

 

I wish I could see

how

a rose

grows

from a tree unkind

 

hidden

blind

closed in and confined

its blossom died

 

then grew again

 

what’s drawing near?

a touch unfamiliar

gentle

soft

kindness

somehow saw her

 

petals

breaking

from the stem

petals

falling

from the wind

 

then blew again

 

goodbye tree unkind

goodbye rose branch divine

kindness

invites

her in

 

will things break

today?

 

petals

lavish

the King’s floor

 

and stay

 

today

what’s breaking is

a heart bound in chains

 

petals

falling…

falling…

falling…

 

Sky

rejoicing

Life

restoring

Beauty

no longer

in mourning

 

The chains were shattered.

 

things break

every day

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 13

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Continuing on in Matthew’s gospel, we arrive in chapter 13 where Jesus is making His way to the Sea of Galilee.

If you are now joining this study, you can read Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 1 here.

We just left off in chapter 12 where Jesus encountered conflict with the Pharisees and continued to perform healings and miracles. Now in chapter 13 we will read a series of parables from Jesus describing what the kingdom of heaven is like.

From the outset, crowds of people gather around Jesus as His reputation is spreading and people desire to know more about this man Jesus: the one healing, preaching and performing miracles. Jesus becomes enveloped by so many people that He decides to find a boat He can float in by the seashore, so that everyone can see and hear him teach.

Then Jesus begins to teach via parables.

7 parables to be exact.

4 of the parables are focused towards the crowds of people. 3 of the parables are focused towards Jesus’ disciples when He is alone with them.

Parables are short stories, allegorical and symbolic in nature, meant to convey a deeper meaning. We have seen Jesus employ this teaching methodology earlier in chapter 5:14-16, chapter 7:24-27, chapter 9:16-17, all of which are short parables.

Now in chapter 13, Jesus resumes this style of teaching in a series of many parables all working together to describe one idea: the kingdom of heaven.

Using parables to describe such a lofty place and idea as the kingdom of heaven causes Jesus’ listeners to think and process what He’s saying, while also acting as a filtering mechanism by which Jesus speaks to those who will believe and those will not believe. We will talk more about this when we arrive at verses 10-17.

In verse 3, Jesus begins His first parable in this particular set of parables.

In verses 3-9, Jesus tells the crowds of people a parable about a man planting seeds on different kinds of soils.

There are:

1) seeds that the birds came and ate, 2) seeds on rocky ground that immediately sprang up but have no deep roots and withered, 3) seeds growing beside thorns and got choked by the thorns, and 4) seeds on good soil, producing grain in various measures.

Remember: Jesus’ audience is comprised of Jewish people who had been following Him for quite some time now.

They have heard His words, seen His miracles, witnessed His healings.

Now it’s time to see what it’s producing in them.

Matthew is brilliant to highlight this parable right here at the beginning of Jesus’ series of parables, since this parable in itself is like a mini summary telling the reader the whole point of parables in the first place: to filter those who will believe in Jesus and those who will not.

This is why Jesus teaches in parables.

Because there are different kinds of soils, or different kinds of responses from people.

And only the ones who truly want Jesus and believe in Him will produce well and grow.

In verses 10-16, Jesus pauses to explain why He teaches in parables since His disciples are confused why Jesus is teaching this way.

Their confusion regarding the parables is understandable considering the disciples don’t yet know what Jesus is doing here with His sermon strategy.

We as modern day studiers of the Bible see have had time to look at Jesus’ rhetoric here and see His purpose in it, but the disciples had no such luxury. They didn’t know what to think about it in the moment. They hadn’t even known Him for very long. They were probably thinking…why don’t you just tell them what you want them to know Jesus? Why are you talking so metaphorically about truths as lofty and mysterious as the kingdom of heaven?

But Jesus has a reason.

Parables prepare the unbelieving heart to start processing truths from God that require the Holy Spirit for clarity.

Jesus plants the seed (parables) and the Holy Spirit waters (understanding).

Therefore, no one will be able to hear what He is saying without God’s help.

If Jesus were to tell them about God directly, the Holy Spirit would not have as much room to work and give understanding, because the people would not be looking for understanding when they already think they understand it. Parables increase the Holy Spirit’s power to work in their hearts.

In other words, if someone hears a parable and doesn’t understand it, then telling him directly will not profit him….because he doesn’t truly understand it by God’s spirit, only by his own earthly mind. Hearing something directly is easy for anyone to understand. But if the Holy Spirit is involved, then one can both understand it directly and through a parable. So God tells the parables first.

It’s a filtering mechanism by which Jesus sifts through the people who will believe in Him and those who will not.

The ones on God’s side and those who are not.

The 2 opposing forces we established back in chapter 2 and have seen at work throughout Matthew’s gospel.

The reality of the kingdom of heaven has been concealed by God for this long and now Jesus has come to reveal it, as He tells us later in verse 35.

But this revelation is in process.

Jesus reveals it slowly in a way that makes His listeners slow down to process it and really think about it. This is what forces them to choose: do I want to know more about this or don’t I? It’s sparks curiosity. It makes room for the Holy Spirit of God to draw them to faith in Jesus. And it filters out the ones who are not genuine.

Thus, parables are actually good for the ones who don’t yet believe in Jesus.

By forcing their contemplation, Jesus is actually trying to soften their hearts and set them up for spiritual regeneration through Him and His Spirit.

“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand,” in verse 13.

It’s not that Jesus doesn’t want the crowds of people to know about the kingdom of heaven and is denying them knowledge. But most of the people in the crowds are just not open to Jesus right now. And thus they would not even hear it if it were spoken to them.

Only the ones chosen by Jesus so far and who have reciprocated this choice by choosing Him back (His disciples) have the gift of immediately understanding what Jesus is saying.

So when the disciples ask Jesus why He is telling the other people parables, He says this in verse 11,

“And He answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (emphasis mine).

The disciples already chose Jesus.

They want Him.

They believe in Him.

Thus, they were given the gift of knowing the secrets about heaven and God that others are not fully given yet. Until they also choose.

But Jesus is kind and actually continues to explain this parable to the crowds of people.

In verses 18-23, Jesus resumes His teaching and takes time to explain this particular parable to the crowds of people.

Reading through this, I’m wondering…why does Jesus explain this parable?

As He goes on, He doesn’t explain any other parables that He tells the crowds in this chapter. He will go on to explain one parable to the disciples in private but not to the crowds. So the explanation to this particular parable must be important. Jesus wants them to know what it means.

Going back to what we talked about earlier regarding this parable of the seeds and soils being a mini summary of the purpose for all parables (a filtering mechanism), Jesus also wants to make this clear to the crowds of people. That each one of them is like one of these kinds of soil.

Jesus explains each kind of soil and how it correlates to a person hearing Jesus’ words and following Him or not.

This is certainly a call to action.

Jesus wants His followers to understand that following Him from place to place is not enough.

They need to decide.

Are they going to believe Jesus’ words or not?

Not everyone in the crowd would have gotten this however.

Only the ones who wanted Jesus would be able to feel conviction, a desire to believe Jesus’ words and the ability to understand it:

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understand it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty,” in verse 23.

Jesus is now at the point in chapter 13 where time has passed and He’s challenging the people to consider: which kind of soil are you?

They’ve been following Jesus for this long. Are they going to let Jesus’ words take root in their souls or not?

In verses 24-30, Jesus tells the crowds of people a parable about a man who planted good seeds in his field but then found that his enemy had come in the middle of the night to plant weeds in that field.

I think Jesus follows up with this parable to encourage and equip the ones who are starting to believe in Jesus.

It’s likely there are those in the crowd who are really understanding what Jesus is teaching and thus saying, “Yes, I want Jesus and I believe in Him!”

Now, Jesus is now preparing them for what will happen when they start to follow Him. The struggles. The obstacles. The attacks. The assault from the devil.

“ ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ ” Jesus says in verse 27 while telling the parable.

Jesus wants them to be ready when the enemy comes and tries to contaminate what God has planted. But the enemy will not prevail.

Jesus provides an eschatological answer to this problem in verse 30, promising that God will have his reapers, or angels, gather up the weeds and burn them but gather the grain from the good seed into His barn, or His kingdom. Jesus doesn’t say that He will eliminate the weeds when they spring up. Because then, it would uproot the wheat. Thus, bad things happen for the sake of sustaining all of our existence. Until Jesus comes back and God wipes away evil.

In verses 31-32, Jesus tells the crowds of people a parable about a small mustard seed being planted and it growing into the largest tree of all the plants.

Again, Jesus is describing the kingdom of heaven here.

This seems odd, because the kingdom of heaven seems pretty magnificent!

Why compare it to a mustard seed?

Jesus wants to convey that anything they can comprehend about God and heaven is only a small taste of what it really is. A mustard seed. And what it will be when we are with Jesus one day is greater than anything we can see now.

Additionally, to a Jewish audience who may be confused by Jesus’ teaching and understanding of “kingdom of heaven,” this parable likely speaks to their expectations of the Messiah coming to bring God’s kingdom to earth. Most Jews were waiting for the Messiah to arrive and stop their oppression under the Romans and establish God’s kingdom on earth. But this is not what’s happening.

Jesus is not there to establish His own kingdom.

He is there to tell of the kingdom to come.

A “mustard seed” is all they can see of the kingdom of heaven right now.

But one day, they will see the “tree.”

Revelation 22:1-3 says, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, nut the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His people will worship Him.”

When I read this, I see this parable working to convey to His audience that they may not see a lot happening now… but one day, they will indeed see the kingdom of heaven and it will be more beautiful and greater than anything they’ve ever known or seen.

Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean the fruit isn’t on the way.

It’s coming.

To me, this passage is always applicable.

In every situation, we trust in God to grow what He planted.

To complete what He started.

It’s what faith is all about.

Jesus tells the crowds another parable in verses 33 about a woman waiting for leaven to rise.

These back-to-back parables about the mustard seed and the leaven both reinforce the other…that the kingdom of heaven is something we must wait for. And it will come. Then the waiting will be over. We will receive the blessing.

Matthew inserts authorial narration in verses 34-35, informing the reader that everything Jesus is saying at this point in time is via parables.

Then Matthew connects Jesus’ use of parables to a prophecy found in Psalm 78:2:

“I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

Remember, Matthew writes with a Jewish audience in mind.

Thus, he includes scriptures from the Old Testament that prophesy of Jesus to make it more clear to the reader that Jesus really is the Jewish Messiah that the Old Testament has been prophesying about. Matthew has included Old Testament prophetic scriptures before as we have been reading along in his gospel and he will continue.

At this point in verse 36, Jesus leaves the crowds of people and goes back into the house that He exited at the beginning of the chapter.

Jesus’ disciples come to Him.

They want to know the meaning of the parable about the seeds growing with the weeds.

In verse 36, Jesus teaching shifts from teaching the crowds to teaching His disciples. Thus, the parable He tells in verses 3-35 are different in purpose and focus than the parables He tells in verses 36-58.

We’ve already discussed this parable in its content and why Jesus may have included it in His teaching, so now we will look at what Jesus is doing as He explains this parable to His disciples.

Jesus sees that His disciples are curious and a little confused.

However, we will see by verse 51 that the disciples understand more than they realize!

I love that Jesus takes time to talk with His disciples privately about what He is teaching. He always prioritizes them and appreciates them as His ministry partners.

In verse 43, Jesus says again “…He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

We’ve seen Jesus say this phrase before to the people when He’s teaching, but I’m a little confused at why He is saying this to the disciples. Sure, He wants to make sure the people are hearing what He’s saying. But it seems that the disciples are already hearing fully what Jesus is saying because they have chosen to follow Him. So doesn’t Jesus already know that the disciples do hear and do understand? Why would He exhort them like this?

But if we keep reading, we see that this is not so much an exhortation as it is an affirmation.

In verse 51, Jesus asks them, “Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.”

Jesus wants them to notice out loud that they do indeed understand.

This is so significant!

Seeing this in this passage is my favorite thing about this chapter!!!! I want you to see it too!!!

And it’s this:

→Jesus notices that the disciples are confused and uncertain if they understand all that Jesus is saying. Jesus doesn’t reject their feelings. He doesn’t say, why of course you understand! No. He cares about the fear underneath their doubt about being able to understand. He puts them in a scenario where that fear is tested (the fear of not being able to understand His parables)…thus, Jesus tells them a few parables just by theirselves, without the uncertainty of the crowds rubbing off on them. And then He asks them “Do you understand?” And they reply “yes!”. What!!??!?! I totally was surprised when I was reading this because I expected them to say “No.” Because they seem to not think they have the ability to understand.

The disciples were not confident in their ability to understand Jesus’ parables and thus they thought they couldn’t.

But really…they could!!!

They just needed Jesus to help them see that they already knew! what they already possessed! who they already were!

Wow I just love this!!!

What an extra bonus this passage produces in showing us just how much we need Jesus to be who we are called to be and to be who we already are in Him! So glad Matthew wrote it this way. Freaking genius if you ask me : )

We see that Jesus awakens our potential and affirms our aptitude.

This is what He did for the disciples.

I love this connection in this passage!

In verse 52, Jesus goes on to affirm the disciples’ identity:

“And He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like an owner of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

This is significant because the disciples were not actual scribes trained in the Jewish way.Yet, Jesus deems them scribes. And not just any scribe. But scribes trained for the kingdom of heaven. What an honor!

Jesus entrusts His disciples with responsibility and leadership.

It’s a blessing He bestows upon them.

And it’s not based on their qualifications, but on Jesus’ own choice to choose them and train them.

Going back to verses 44-46 specifically, Jesus tells His disciples 2 short parables that illustrate 2 scenarios of someone giving everything they have for the new treasure they have found.

The kingdom of heaven is this treasure.

Jesus wants the disciples to see that everything they have given their life for is worth it. It is far more valuable than the life they would have had. And what they will experience when they are in this “kingdom of heaven” for real will be worth everything they are doing right now with Jesus.

Jesus continuously points them towards an eschatological hope which is found in Him.

In verses 47-50 specifically, Jesus tells His disciples one last parable.

Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a net being thrown into the sea catching an assortment of fish, which will be sorted out by fishermen. He goes on to explain how this represents the angels separating out the evil and the righteous at the end of times when Jesus comes back and eradicates evil and Satan for good.

Jesus will continue to tell His disciples insider-knowledge, if you will, about what is going to happen in the future.

Luckily, for us as readers, we can follow this as recorded in Matthew’s gospel and see the progression of Jesus’ words come to fruition, especially in His prediction of His own death and resurrection after 3 days. Just proves even more that Jesus is the Messiah. And this helps Jewish readers to see the prophetic evidence of Jesus’ divinity.

In verses 53-58, Jesus and His disciples leave and travel to Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, where they encounter a much different reception than they had received in other places.

Jesus and His disciples arrive in Nazareth and Jesus goes to a synagogue to preach.

After preaching in the synagogue there in Nazareth, all the people are astonished.

But it’s not because they want to know more. It’s because they are skeptical of Him and how He has become who He is. Everyone is questioning His identity, wisdom, insight and power.

They all remember Jesus just as the little boy that used to live in Nazareth.

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all His sisters with us?” it says in verse 55-56.

The hometown people of Nazareth think they know Jesus.

But they don’t. They don’t respect Him for who He truly is.

Jesus says in verse 57, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”

Again, this highlights the 2 opposing forces at work in Matthew’s gospel that we have witnessed ever since chapter 2: the ones on God’s side and those who are not. The ones who believe in Jesus and those who do not.

Chapter 13 ends with Matthew telling the reader that Jesus “did not do many works there because of their unbelief” in verse 58.

Ending this study of Matthew chapter 13, we see how Jesus desires to soften the hearts of the people in Galilee who are following Him and curious about Him. Thus He teaches in parables to help them stop and think about what He is saying regarding the kingdom of heaven and faith in God.

By now at the end of chapter 13, Jesus has finished a longer set of teachings via parables.

As we progress into chapter 14, Jesus will transition to performing miracles.

But first, we will change scenery to find out what is going on with John the Baptist, who is in prison under Herod’s rule in the beginning verses of chapter 14.

Until then, may God richly bless you as you dive into the gospel of Matthew, learning more about the life of our beautiful, strong Savior Jesus Christ. Let His words soothe your heart and His life inspire your love.

 

Summary of Matthew 13

Jesus exits His family’s house and goes to the sea (of Galilee); Jesus gets into a boat to teach to the people who are now surrounding Him; Jesus begins to teach via parables; Jesus tells the crowds a parable about a sower; Jesus explains the parable of the sower; Jesus tells the crowds a parable of good seeds and weeds in a field; Jesus tells the crowds a parable of a mustard seed; Jesus tells the crowds a parable of leaven rising; Jesus leaves the crowds; Jesus explains to the disciples the parable of the good seeds and weeds in the field; Jesus tells His disciples a parable of hidden treasure; Jesus tells His disciples a parable of a valuable pearl; Jesus tells His disciples a parable of a net catching fish; Jesus affirms His disciples understanding of the parables; Jesus leaves and goes to Nazareth; Jesus is rejected by the people in His hometown; Jesus does not perform many miracles or healings in Nazareth.

 

Jesus in Matthew 13

Jesus exit’s the house where his family was at (v. 1)

Jesus goes to sit beside the sea (v. 1)

Jesus draws many people to Him (v. 2)

Jesus is captivating (v. 2)

Jesus gets into a boat and sits since there were so many people around Him (v. 2)

Jesus goes to where everyone will be able to see and hear Him (v. 2)

Jesus is pragmatic (v. 2)

Jesus cares about everyone (v. 2)

Jesus begins to tell them parables (v. 3)

Jesus tells parables about what the kingdom of heaven is like (v. 3-52)

Jesus tells a parable of a sower sowing seeds on different kinds of soils (v. 3-9)

Jesus exhorts them to hear what He is saying (v. 9)

Jesus’ parables confuse His disciples (v. 10)

Jesus explains (v. 10)

Jesus tells the disciples that they are able to understand the secrets of God but others cannot (v.11)

Jesus tells parables to help the crowds of people understand, not confuse them (v. 11)

Jesus tells parables because they will not listen to Him if he tells them directly (v. 13)

Jesus supports this with a prophecy from Isaiah 6:9-10 regarding those who hear but don’t understand, and see but don’t see (v. 14-15)

Jesus calls the disciples eyes blessed (v. 16)

Jesus calls the disciples ears blessed (v. 16)

Jesus calls them blessed because they see (v. 16)

Jesus calls them blessed because they hear (v. 16)

Jesus declares that many prophets and righteous people longed to see what they see and hear what they hear, but never did (v. 17)

Jesus is the One they longed to see (v. 17)

Jesus is the One they longed to hear (v. 17)

Jesus is who everyone has been waiting for (v. 17)

Jesus explains the parable about the seed and the sower to the crowds (v. 18-23)

Jesus tells the crowds another parable about a man planting seed in a field and his enemy planting weeds in the same field (v. 24-30)

Jesus tells the crowds another parable about a man planting a mustard seed and it growing into a large tree (v. 31-32)

Jesus tells the crowds another parable about a woman waiting on leaven to rise (v. 33)

Jesus teaches the crowds about God and the kingdom of heaven through parables (v. 34)

Jesus fulfills the prophecy found in Psalm 78:2 (v. 35)

Jesus leaves the crowds (v. 36)

Jesus goes back into the house (v. 36)

Jesus’ disciples now ask Him to explain the parable of the weeds to them (v. 36)

Jesus now shifts to teaching His disciples (v. 36)

Jesus proceeds to tell them what everything in the parable represents (v. 37-39)

Jesus tells His disciples the one sowing seed is the Son of Man (v. 37)

Jesus is the Son of Man (v. 37)

Jesus tells His disciples the field is the world (v. 38)

Jesus tells His disciples the good seed is the sons of the kingdom (v. 38)

Jesus tells His disciples the weeds are the sons of the evil one (v. 38)

Jesus tells His disciples the enemy is the devil (v. 39)

Jesus tells His disciples the harvest is the end of the age (v. 39)

Jesus tells His disciples the reapers are the angels (v. 39)

Jesus says that the weeds burned with fire is what will happen at the end of the age (v. 40)

Jesus will send His angels to gather all sin and all the ones who don’t follow Him and throw them into the fiery furnace (v. 41-42)

Jesus says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in the fiery furnace (v. 42)

Jesus says the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (v. 43)

Jesus exhorts them to hear what He is saying (v. 43)

Jesus wants all to hear and listen (v. 43)

Jesus will not force anyone to hear (v. 43)

Jesus tells the disciples a parable about a man finding a treasure in a field and selling everything he has to buy that field (v. 44)

Jesus tells the disciples a parable about a man finding a very valuable pearl, who goes and sells all he has to buy it (v. 45-46)

Jesus tells the disciples a parable about a net catching many fish and men sorting through it (v. 47-48)

Jesus explains this, saying at the end of the age the angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous (v. 49)

Jesus talks about the fiery furnace again (v. 49-50)

Jesus says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (v. 50)

Jesus asks his disciples if they understand (v. 51)

Jesus’ disciples says “yes” (v. 51)

Jesus disciples’ understand (v. 51)

Jesus cares about His disciples’ comprehension of what He is saying (v. 51)

Jesus doesn’t merely talk at them (v. 51)

Jesus declares responsibility upon His disciples because of the insight He is telling them (v. 52)

Jesus tells them they are like scribes being trained for the kingdom of heaven (v. 52)

Jesus tells them that they are to glean from both the new and old teaching, as leaders in the kingdom of heaven (v. 52)

Jesus finishes telling His parables (v. 53)

Jesus leaves (v. 53)

Jesus goes to Nazareth, His hometown (v. 54)

Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Nazareth (v. 54)

Jesus astonishes the people (v. 54)

Jesus astonishes them with His wisdom and insight (v. 54)

Jesus is questioned by the people in his hometown (v. 55-56)

Jesus is doubted by the people in his hometown (v. 55-56)

Jesus is disrespected by the ones in his hometown (v. 55-56)

Jesus is seen as the boy they always knew, not the Messiah he truly is (v. 55-56)

Jesus declares that a prophet is always dishonored in his hometown (v. 57)

Jesus declares that a prophet is always dishonored in his own household (v. 57)

Jesus could not do many mighty works in Nazareth because of the people’s unbelief (v. 58)

Jesus will not do mighty works for those who don’t believe Him (v. 58)

 

 

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

-Matthew 13:45-46-

 

Questions for Today:

  • What are parables?
  • Why does Jesus tell parables as a form of teaching?
  • How does Jesus awaken the disciples’ potential and affirm their aptitude?
  • How does Jesus show honor to His disciples?
  • Why is Jesus not respected in his hometown?
  • What stood out to me about Jesus in Matthew chapter 13?

 

“Great Things (Worth it All)” by Elevation Worship

 

 

Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 12

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Continuing in our study of the gospel of Matthew, we pick up in chapter 12 after Jesus has spent time teaching and preaching throughout the cities of Galilee in chapter 11.

(If you are just now joining us in this study of Matthew, you are welcome to start from the beginning with Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 1.)

Now in verses 1-8 we see Jesus and His disciples experience tension with the religious elite, the Pharisees.

Jesus and His disciples are walking through the grainfields – and it’s the Sabbath. The Pharisees are keenly watching them looking to catch Jesus in something they can accuse Him for, as Jesus’ popularity is increasing and the Pharisees’ disapproval flaring.

“Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath” says the Pharisees in verse 2.

First off, why are the Pharisees in the grainfields?

I would assume if it’s the Sabbath and they study the Law and do religious things that they would be in the temple or synagogue. Or praying. Or reading. But verse 2 says the Pharisees “saw it” when Jesus’ disciples picked the grain, so it makes me wonder why the Pharisees always show up everywhere Jesus is. It’s like they’re on a mission to find Jesus. Watching him like a hawk. Surrounding Him like the paparazzi. It sounds flattering actually. Yet the Pharisees are only looking for Jesus because they want to catch him in sin, which is not good.

The Pharisees want to catch Jesus doing something wrong and they never seem to be able to.

So they’ve become manic.

As we read along, Jesus asks the Pharisees, “Have you not read…?” in verse 3 & 5.

SO much irony here.

And this simple question will be a repetitive phrase in several other passages as we keep reading.

The irony in this question is that the Pharisees are known as being well versed in the scriptures and extremely knowledgeable of the Law. Yet Jesus highlights their lack of internalization of what they think they know.

The Pharisees know the Law but they have no spiritual discernment to recognize it, apply it, or understand God’s intention within it.

Thus, there lies tension between the ones who supposedly know the Law (Pharisees) and the one who wrote the Law (Jesus, God).

The Pharisees do not know the Law as well as they think they do.

Because if they really had internalized what the scriptures say, they would remember how David ate the Sabbath bread because he was hungry and they would have made that connection with Jesus and the disciples like Jesus points out in verses 3-4.

But they don’t make the connection.

Why not?

They read but they don’t read. They see but they don’t see. They are spiritually blind.

Spiritually dead.

They cannot see what God is doing and they quench the Spirit who is the only One able to make them see the connection here. Thus, they are without the Spirit. And if they are without the Spirit, they are not really following God. They don’t really know what they think they know.

Jesus makes this clear in verse 7 when He tells them: “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless.” (emphasis mine).

In verses 9-14 Jesus and His disciples make their way from the grainfields to the synagogue and, again, experiences conflict with the religious leaders concerning healing.

This is personally one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible!

As we continue on, I will explain why. : )

Inside the synagogue rests a man who needs healing.

There’s no indication how long this man has been inside the temple, but we do know that the ones inside (most likely other Pharisees, priests, scribes or other religious elite) are there with him and have made no effort to help this man or attempt to heal Him by asking God. We know this because they ask Jesus about healing this man in verse 10 ONLY to “accuse Him”. Again, they are trying to catch Jesus doing or saying something wrong. So to me, it seems they don’t even care about this man who has a withered hand. All they care about is trying to condemn Jesus. That’s pretty wicked…to see someone who has a need and you don’t even take time to help or comfort them, because you’re so obsessed with hating someone else. It just makes me so mad! How they ignore this man. But thankfully, Jesus is there and He makes everything right!

Jesus answers the Pharisees with an analogy of a sheep falling into a pit and needing rescue. He says that nobody would stop from helping a poor sheep to get out of the pit. Anyone would rescue the sheep immediately!

“Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!” declares Jesus in verse 12 to the religious bullies. That’s what they are. Bullies.

“It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” says in Jesus in verse 12.

Why yes, yes it is. It is lawful to do good. That makes sense. Common sense. Why didn’t the Pharisees see it that way? Did they not have common sense? Apparently not. This reveals how powerful animosity is. Animosity ruins a person, causing them to lose all common sense.

Sometimes I wonder why Jesus didn’t just scorn them and yell at them for how wicked they are!

But Jesus is so calm.

He doesn’t waste any more time. Instead, He heals the man with the withered hand…

“Stretch out your hand” asks Jesus to the man in verse 13.

Why did Jesus not touch the hand?

Why did He ask the man to stretch out his hand?

It’s withered, Jesus, he can’t stretch it out.

But Jesus asks Him to!

Usually Jesus touches people when he heals them. But this time, He didn’t.

I think Jesus asks the man to stretch out his hand because He wanted to 1) see the man’s faith in Him, and 2) affirm the man’s faith in Him for all the others to see.

I love this passage because that man with the withered hand had been so faithful to be in the synagogue and enjoy the presence of the Lord… knowing that nobody was going to heal Him… waiting in the synagogue…resting in the house of the Lord…humbly sitting in God’s presence…seeing people shuffle in and out…seeing the religious elite around him not coming to him…and then BOOM in walks Jesus, the almighty Son of God…and he finally gets healed…God saw him…God loved him enough to send Jesus his way…God didn’t forget him…he wasn’t invisible. My heart just overflows reading this passage and I want to cry. It’s so moving.

This is why I love this passage so much and I’m so glad Matthew includes it in His gospel.

As we move along in verses 15-21, Jesus leaves the synagogue and continues to heal everyone following Him.

Jesus, however, does not any attention from all the healings He is performing, nor does He want anyone spreading the word.

At this point in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is already experiencing a lot of pushback and conflict from the Pharisees and He knows that His time is running short before they will crucify Him. He wants to meet the needs of the people and keep teaching until that time comes.

The prophecy of Isaiah 42:1-4 is fulfilled in this, as Matthew records this scripture reference within the actual passage for the reader to read.

Again, remember that Matthew is targeting a Jewish audience who he seeks to show that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah they have been waiting for.

So he includes Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, passages for his Jewish reader to see and recognize that Jesus really is the Messiah, the one that the scriptures have prophesied about.

Even for those who don’t believe, Matthew forces the reader to read these prophecies and recognize the connection. His reader won’t be able to get past all these prophecies about Jesus that came true. The reader has to think about it. Very smart literarily on behalf of Matthew.

In verses 22-32, Jesus encounters another man who needs healing in tandem with more conflict and rebuttal from the Pharisees.

In verse 22, Jesus heals the man immediately.

I love that Jesus heals immediately.

I want you to think about something…

Think about what you have to do when you go to a doctor’s office visit… You have to check in, give them your insurance card and ID, fill out a bunch of forms, wait, go up and answer other questions they forgot to ask you, wait, wait some more, finally go back to the office and get your blood pressure taken, weight and height measured, wait, see the nurse, wait, finally see the doctor and they ask you a bunch of questions, then they leave to do whatever goes on in the hidden corridors of the doctor’s office, wait, wait some more, doctor comes back and they tell you what they think might probably possibly  be the problem but they can’t be sure and they want to run some more tests, they give you a prescription and tell you to come back in a few weeks to do all of it all over again. And hopefully you will feel better.

Thank God Jesus doesn’t heal you like a doctor’s office!

Jesus heals immediately.

Right then.

No need for waiting…He heals you instantaneously.

After this, the people are amazed!

They ask, “Can this be the Son of David?” in verse 23 (emphasis mine).

This epithet is used to name Jesus 10 times in Matthew’s gospel. We saw it in chapter 1 when Matthew was listing out Jesus’ genealogy. We also saw it in chapter 9 when two blind men were hoping Jesus would heal them. It’s a name that indicates Jesus’ divinity and royal blood line as the one who was promised to be the Son of David to redeem Israel. Any Jewish reader would immediately pick up on this.  Thus, it’s another indicator that Jesus is the Messiah to the reader.

Jesus’ identity slowly unfolds throughout Matthew’s gospel.

It’s anticipatory subtlety.

Literary brilliance in my opinion.

By now in chapter 12, we see that the people still don’t fully grasp who Jesus is; thus, the question: “Can this be the Son of David?” It’s not yet a declarative statement, just an interrogative. But as we progress, we will see this come to fruition as a declarative statement: the people who believe in Him will eventually see that He really is the Son of David promised to Israel. We will read this in chapter 21 specifically as the people cry “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

After Jesus heals the demon-possessed, blind and mute man in verse 22, the Pharisees are all the sudden right there to criticize Jesus again.

“It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons that this man casts out demons!” snort the Pharisees in verse 24.

Jesus already knows what they are saying.

In fact, Jesus knows their thoughts before they even say anything, verse 25 tells us. Yet, instead of being offended by the Pharisees, Jesus just uses logic and rationality to dismantle their accusations. Jesus tells them that anything divided against itself cannot stand. In other words, it would not make sense whatsoever if Jesus declares to do miracles by God’s power and then goes and does miracles by the power of Satan. Jesus either does the miracles from God or from Satan…it can’t be both.

“But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” declares Jesus in verse 28.

Jesus goes on to proclaim that anyone not with Him is against Him in verse 30. Jesus will forgive people every sin and blasphemy if they repent, but He will not forgive any kind of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (verses 31-32). That’s interesting.

I wonder why Jesus will forgive anything against His own self but He won’t forgive any blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

Jesus defends the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps because the Holy Spirit had not come yet and Jesus knew that once the Holy Spirit did come, He would be disrespected and fought over for centuries and centuries as He is today. If you don’t think it’s true, just look at the division in the church over the beliefs about the Holy Spirit. It seems Jesus is making a bold statement that the Holy Spirit is to be respected and He will not tolerate any blasphemy. Perhaps also because the Holy Spirit is necessary in the life of a follower of Christ. Without the Holy Spirit you don’t have God at all. The Holy Spirit connects us to God and therefore He cannot be blasphemed and a person be saved at the same time. It’s not possible.

Jesus continues speaking in verses 33-37, revealing the connection between the inner and outer man in relation to one’s authenticity.

Jesus’ words here expand upon what He already said about one’s power being either from God or from Satan.

This brings us back to the two opposing forces we discussed more extensively in chapters 2 and 3: those on God’s side and those who are not.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit” Jesus explains in verse 33.

If bad things are coming out in one’s actions and words, then that is a result of what is growing within a person is what Jesus communicates here.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” as He tells them in verse 34.

This supports what He already said regarding His power being from God to do miracles and that one cannot be of God and do things with power from Satan.

But the Pharisees won’t leave Jesus alone.

In verses 38-42, the Pharisees ask to see Jesus perform a miracle for them to test Him.

Why do the Pharisees all the sudden want to see a miracle?

They just saw Jesus heal that demon-possessed man.

Why do they ask Him to do another one?

Well, I think this time they ask Him because they want Jesus to show them something: “We wish to see a sign from You” is what they ask in verse 38. Thus, they are hoping 1) that Jesus will do something that benefits them in some way or 2) that they will trap Him if He doesn’t do one. Selfishness is at root of their desire for Jesus to do a miracle here.

Jesus doesn’t perform a miracle for them.

Interesting.

Jesus immediately heals people who are sick. He immediately performs wonders for people who need His help. But when asked by the Pharisees to perform a miracle, He won’t do it because that is not His purpose for performing miracles.

Jesus is not a circus clown.

He’s a Savior.

Jesus performs miracles with and only for a purpose.

“And evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” Jesus tells them in verse 39.

In other words, He lets the scripture be their sign. They all know what Jonah’s story and what it says in the scriptures. So Jesus uses this to support what He’s about to prophesy about Himself: that he will be in the ground for 3 days just like Jonah was in the fish for 3 days.

Dang that’s impressive argumentation!

Jesus just nailed that! I know that’s not His goal to “nail it” but to me I just think He nailed it. : )

Why?

Because Jesus used the scriptures to give them a sign.

Jesus doesn’t perform some miracle that could serve as an analogy for Him being in the ground for 3 days. If He wanted to, He could do that. He could create some mirage of His being nailed to the cross and in the tomb for 3 days if He wanted to…He could create a little lamb to be killed and buried right there in the ground and a vision for all to see showing it in there for 3 days. Jesus could do whatever the heck He wanted to. But He doesn’t do that. He never does any mirages actually because that’s not what He is there to do. Jesus doesn’t need to perform a miracle to give them a sign. No.

Jesus used the scriptures to give them a sign.

He used what they are supposed to know to tell them what they need to know is coming. Prophecy based upon their expertise. At least supposed expertise. Dang it’s just so smart and effective. I just like it.

Jesus goes on to speak about this generation in verses 43-45, connecting them to an unclean spirit searching for rest.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none” Jesus teaches in verse 43.

He goes on to explain how this evil spirit will go and find an empty dwelling places and bring even more unclean spirits with it to all dwell there.

Evil attracts evil.

Evil breeds more evil.

Evil destroys what it inhabits.

Jesus is trying to warn them.

And He pretty much curses them as He says that “So will it be with this evil generation” in verse 45.

Jesus is still speaking to the people when He is interrupted by his mother and brothers attempting to get a word with Him in verses 46-50.

Jesus keeps talking to the people saying that the ones in front of Him are his bother and brothers. His followers.

Wait what?

Why is Jesus calling random people His mother and brothers?

Although Jesus possessed a biological family on the earth, He doesn’t see them as more important than anyone else.

Jesus sees all people as His family…

“For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother” He says in verse 50.

Wow, I just love this.

I love how Jesus speaks to His disciples, who likely at this moment are feeling a little separated from this miracle-working, life speaking Messiah.

They probably feel a little beneath Him. A little unworthy to be around Him. A little scared that He might think less of them. At least I would be feeling that way if I were one of the disciples following around this amazing Jesus preach and heal. When is he going to realize I’m not that great and stop wanting me around? I’d be thinking as a disciple.

But Jesus eases His disciples.

Jesus takes advantage of this opportunity to tell them straightforward that they are just as close to Him and meaningful to Him as His own family, thus calling anyone who follows Him His own “brother and sister and mother.” And likely, this eases all the other ones listening to Him and following Him as well.

As Jesus speaks to His disciples right here, He does something which I think is very significant and highlighted on purpose by Matthew.

Verse 49 illustrates a literary repetition of the phrase “stretching out his hand” in this chapter.

It’s mentioned twice.

We saw it before when Jesus asked the man with the withered hand to stretch out his hand in verse 13. Now, in contrast, Jesus stretches out His hand to the disciples in verse 49.

“And stretching out His hand toward his disciples, He said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!” (emphasis mine).

Wow.

What stunning literary contrast.

In the 1st scene, the man with the withered hand stretched out His hand to Jesus → the man proved to Jesus that He needed Him.

In the 2nd scene, Jesus stretches His hand out to His disciples Jesus proves to His disciples that He needs them.

Both stretches of the hand demonstrate faith and honor.

The man had faith in Jesus to heal.

He stretches out his hand honoring Jesus’ request.

Jesus has faith in His disciples to accomplish His ministry.

He stretches out His hand to them in honor as His followers and as His family.

Beautiful literary subtlety. This is why I love Matthew’s gospel so much. : ) Every single word and verse of his gospel he writes remains purposeful and Spirit filled, and is saturated with symbolism and little spiritual nuggets of insight.

Jesus healed many in this chapter. He also incurred a plethora of criticism from the religious elite. However, Jesus will press onward with His ministry with the help of His 12 disciples. And the people who believe in Him will continue to follow Him and see more of more of His divinity.

As we close this chapter and move towards the next, Jesus will shift from healings and tension with the Pharisees to teachings of many parables in chapter 13.

We will read about that next time.

Until then I pray that you would ponder the life of Christ as articulated through the words of Matthew in chapter 12 and fall more in love with this man Jesus. This man who the people in this gospel are starting to see as The Son of David. This man who is something more than human. This man who has come to give life, hope and salvation to all. Praise God for sending Him to us.

 

 

Summary of Matthew 12

Jesus and His disciples walk through the grainfields and pick grain to eat on a day that’s the Sabbath; Jesus incurs criticism from the Pharisees; Jesus and His disciples enter a synagogue and Jesus heals a man with a withered hand; Jesus and His disciples leaves the synagogue; Matthew articulates Jesus fulfilling the prophecy found in Isaiah 42:1-4; Jesus is brought a demon-possessed man who is also bind and mute and He heals him; Jesus incurs more criticism from the Pharisees; Jesus teaches extensively on good and evil and the substance within a person; the Pharisees test Jesus; Jesus speaks more about unclean spirits and this evil generation; Jesus’ mother and brothers want to see Him and Jesus tells his followers that they are truly His  mother an brothers, (His family).

 

 

Jesus in Matthew 12

Jesus walks through grainfields on the Sabbath (v. 1)

Jesus is with His disciples (v. 1)

Jesus’ disciples are hungry (v. 1)

Jesus’ disciples pick the grain

Jesus’ disciples eat the grain (v. 1)

Jesus is scorned by the Pharisees (v. 2)

Jesus deals with the issue (v. 3)

Jesus answers the Pharisees (v. 3)

Jesus asks them if they have read the scriptures (v. 3)

Jesus reminds the Pharisees that David himself ate the bread in the temple because he was hungry (v. 3-4)

Jesus reminds them that the priests in the temple on the Sabbath do things that profane it but are still guiltless (v. 5)

Jesus makes his case that they did nothing wrong (v. 4-5)

Jesus declares that something greater than the temple is here (v. 6)

Jesus is greater than the temple (v. 6)

Jesus reveals they do not understand mercy (v. 7)

Jesus rebukes them for condemning the guiltless (v. 7)

Jesus declares that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (v. 8)

Jesus is the Son of Man (v. 8)

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (v. 8)

Jesus is in charge (v. 8)

Jesus possesses authority over humans (v. 8)

Jesus leaves (v. 9)

Jesus enters the synagogue (v. 9)

Jesus is questioned by the leaders in the synagogue about healing (v. 10)

Jesus is always being trapped by the religious leaders (v. 10)

Jesus answers them via analogy about a sheep falling into a pit (v. 11)

Jesus shows them that anyone would save a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath (v. 11)

Jesus illuminates their hypocrisy (v. 11)

Jesus points out that a man is much more valuable than a sheep (v. 12)

Jesus argues via logic (v. 11-12)

Jesus declares it is always right to do what is good on the Sabbath (v. 12)

Jesus doesn’t waste any more time – He heals the man who has a withered hand (v. 13)

Jesus asks the man to stretch out His hand and it does (v. 13)

Jesus wants to see the man’s faith (v. 13)

Jesus heals him immediately (v. 13)

Jesus silences the Pharisees (v. 14)

Jesus is secretly conspired against by the Pharisees (v. 14)

Jesus knows that they are conspiring (v. 15)

Jesus leaves that town (v. 15)

Jesus attracts many followers (v. 15)

Jesus is desirable (v. 15)

Jesus heals all who follow Him (v. 15)

Jesus wants to heal (v. 15)

Jesus is willing to heal (v. 15)

Jesus tells these followers not to publicize him (v. 16)

Jesus fulfills a prophecy found in Isaiah 42:1-4 (v. 17-21)

Jesus was prophesied to be the Father’s chosen servant (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to be the Father’s beloved (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to please the Father (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to receive the Spirit (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to proclaim justice to the Gentiles (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to not quarrel or be loud (v. 19)

Jesus was prophesied to not break a bruised reed (v. 20)

Jesus was prophesied to not quench a smoldering candle wick (v. 20)

Jesus was prophesied to bring justice to victory (v. 20)

Jesus was prophesied as the name in whom the Gentiles will hope (v. 21)

Jesus is brought a blind and mute demon-possessed man (v. 22)

Jesus attracts the sick and lowly (v. 22)

Jesus is known as the one whom people go to for healing (v. 22)

Jesus heals him immediately (v. 22)

Jesus heals the man so he sees and speaks right then (v. 22)

Jesus amazes the people (v. 23)

Jesus causes the people to wonder “Is this the Son of David?” (v. 23)

Jesus is starting to be recognized as something more (v. 23)

Jesus is still, however, not fully recognized for who He is yet (v. 23)

Jesus is hated by the Pharisees (v. 24)

Jesus is gossiped about by the Pharisees (v. 24)

Jesus is slandered by the Pharisees (v. 24)

Jesus knows that they are thinking bad things about Him (v. 25)

Jesus refutes their gossip and slander using logic and truth (v. 25-27 & 29)

Jesus shows that anything divided against itself cannot stand (v. 25-27)

Jesus shows that the one who gives power to do miracles reveals where the power indeed comes from (v. 27-28)

Jesus performs miracles by the Spirit of God (v. 28)

Jesus declares that the kingdom of God has come upon them (v. 28)

Jesus declares that those who are not with Him are against Him (v. 30)

Jesus is polarizing (v. 30)

Jesus does not make anyone follow Him (v. 30)

Jesus will forgive every sin and blasphemy except for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (v. 31)

Jesus calls himself the “Son of Man” (v. 32)

Jesus will forgive those who speak against Him but not the ones who speak against the Holy Spirit (v. 32)

Jesus defends the Holy Spirit (v. 32)

Jesus makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is to be respected at all times (v. 32)

Jesus never loses an argument (v. 26-32)

Jesus teaches about being authentic via analogy of a good or bad tree and its fruit (v. 33)

Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers (v. 34)

Jesus asks them how they can even speak anything good if they are evil (v. 34)

Jesus disapproves of the Pharisees (v. 34)

Jesus says one speaks based on what is in the heart (v. 34)

Jesus reveals that a good person produces good (v. 35)

Jesus reveals that an evil person produces evil (v. 35)

Jesus declares that a person’s words justifies him (v. 36-37)

Jesus tells the Pharisees He will not do a miracle for them (v. 38-39)

Jesus doesn’t perform miracles for show (v. 38-39)

Jesus is not a circus clown (v. 38-39)

Jesus knows they only want to see a sign because they don’t actually believe in Him (v. 39)

Jesus tells them evil generations look for signs (v. 39)

Jesus gives them no sign except for a reminder of the prophet Jonah (v. 39)

Jesus has no tolerance for evil people (v. 39)

Jesus unpacks the sign of Jonah (v. 40)

Jesus declares that He will be in the ground 3 days just like Jonah in the fish 3 days (v. 40)

Jesus gives them a sign from the scriptures (v. 40)

Jesus prophecies his death and resurrection (v. 40)

Jesus declares that something greater than Jonah is here (v. 41)

Jesus is greater (v. 41)

Jesus says that the men of Nineveh repented then and will thus condemn this generation at judgment for not believing in Jesus (v. 41)

Jesus says the queen of the South will condemn this generation at judgment also for not believing in Him (v. 42)

Jesus declares something greater than Solomon is here (v. 42)

Jesus is greater (v. 42)

Jesus warns of unclean spirits (v. 43-45)

Jesus has biological brothers (v. 46)

Jesus’ mother and brothers wait outside to speak with Him (v. 46)

Jesus calls His followers His mother and brothers (v. 48-49)

Jesus deems all who do His Father’s will His brother, sister and mother (v. 50)

Jesus does not see anybody as more special than anyone else (v. 50)

Jesus does not show partiality (v. 50)

Jesus sees everyone as His family (v. 50)

 

Questions for Today:

  • What do the people think about Jesus at this point?
  • What is significant about them asking if Jesus is the Son of David?
  • What is significant about the 2 scenes of “stretching out the hand”?
  • Why is Jesus always experiencing criticism from the Pharisees and other religious elite? How does Jesus handle this criticism?
  • Why does Jesus call His disciples His “sister and brother and mother”?
  • What stood out to me about Jesus in this passage?

 

“Mercy” by Amanda Cook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Holy Spirit Misunderstood

Holy-Spirit

When Jesus left Earth, He gave the disciples and all who would believe in Him the Holy Spirit. And ever since, there has been tension regarding the way Christians interpret this mysterious aspect of the trinity.

Surrounding the Holy Spirit in Christianity, there are 2 major belief regarding the way the Holy Spirit is manfested today: Cessationism and Continualism.

For the sake of background knowledge, I will briefly describe both and then let you know which one I believe and why I believe it – I think this is necessary for me to disclose if I am going to write on such a topic.

Cessationsim argues that, while the Holy Spirit still dwells eith God’s people, the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit ended in the Book of Acts after the 12 apostles ignited the movement of Christianity.

In Acts chapter 2, the apostles are on a mission to spread the good news of this Messiah that just died, resurrected and ascended to heaven: Jesus Christ. One day, the apostles are preaching in a house and God all the sudden sends flaming tongues from heaven that start speaking to all the people there, allowing them to hear the gospel in their own language. 3000 people of different ethnicities were saved that day and it ignited the apostles’ church growth and spreading of Christianity. There is never another time recorded in the book of Acts when flaming tongues fell from heaven again like this. So Cessationism argues that God didn’t need to do that again since the fire of Christianity was already started and burning and spreading. Thus, arguing that the Holy Spirit doesn’t do that anymore period.

Continualism states that the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit continue now and can be present in the life of the Believer.

In 1 Corinthians 12-14, the apostle Paul who was a missionary evangelist for Christ and a key player in spreading Christianity in the ancient world, mentions the gift of speaking in tongues. So it clearly kept happening after Acts chapter 2, because Paul was persecuting Christians at that point and hadn’t yet met Christ until later (Acts 9:1-19), so to be addressing the issue of tongues in his letter to Corinth shows that there had been enough time for this to be active and present in the church.

I personally agree with this position of Continualism and I’ll tell you why.

(You are free to believe what you believe if you really can defend it, this is just what I have come to after research, thinking, and what I see in scripture.)

Cessationism assumes that speaking in tongues was a “one-time” thing.

But as recorded historically, it was not a one-time thing… it pops back up later chronologically in 1 Corinthians 12-14 at a time where Paul is in charge of a church, whereas at the time of Acts 2, he was still a Jewish Christian persecutor. Also, the author of the book of Acts never tells us that what happened in chapter 2 was only a one-time thing.

Not only that, but if the Holy Spirit’s power was a one-time thing and then ceased, how does that line up with the theology of the trinity where the Holy Spirit exists as God in 1 of God’s 3 forms? God doesn’t cease to exist. So the Holy Spirit cannot cease to exist.

Some cessationists push back and say that the Holy Spirit did not cease to exist, just the impartation of prophesy, speaking in tongues and healing.

Okay. But if the Bible says God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8), how can the Holy Spirit all the sudden be different today than He was in the 1st century with the apostles? The Holy Spirit is no less God than Jesus or the Father. So He cannot stop being who He is. He cannot stop imparting His powers. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 tells us not to quench the Spirit. Ephesians 4:30 says to not grieve the Spirit. If we try to limit the Spirit by telling people He doesn’t operate the way He used to, then we are violating His identity and quenching and grieving Him, which we are told not to do.

Also, many missionaries and people from other countries will tell you just how powerful and present the Holy Spirit is in other countries doing things similar to things in the gospels and the book of Acts. They’ve seen it. God uses the Holy Spirit to lead people to salvation.

God is still moving in our world and most often, He does the most radical things in the places least expected. And God will do whatever it takes to save somebody, even go so far to speak through somebody in tongues, heal and/or prophesy so that He may draw a sinner to Himself. God loves His creation that much. And He’s way more powerful than we give Him credit for.

Regardless of what position you hold, everyone has the Holy Spirit who believes in Christ (Eph 1:13).

Jesus left the Holy Spirit here with us to be our guide and comforter.

Whether you attribute that power to God generally or the Holy Spirit specifically, the part of God that resides with us here on earth theologically is the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26).

Cessationism won’t deny that.

It believes in the Holy Spirit. It just doesn’t like all the “Holy Spirit stuff” as I’ve heard it put.

I don’t even know what that means.

“Holy Spirit stuff?”

That’s like saying, oh I like Christianity, I just don’t like all that “Jesus stuff.”

Or I like Chik-fil-a, I just don’t like all that “chicken stuff.”

Wait what?

The two are mutually exclusive.

You can’t like one part of the Holy Spirit and reject the other.

So I am concerned.

What I am concerned about is the problem of the Holy Spirit being misunderstood.

The Holy Spirit, the one dwelling on the earth, is the part of the trinity that gets misunderstood the most.

The Holy Spirit dwells in the earth…

And the people in the earth just don’t quite know what to do with Him…

Can He still do all the powerful things of the Bible?

Is the Holy Spirit just as important as Jesus?

What does the Holy Spirit do anyway?

Will others think I’m one of those “crazies” if I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit?

What am I supposed to believe about the Holy Spirit with all these different beliefs?

These are just some of the questions others and myself have asked.

Satan loves it.

I think it’s the devil’s goal to get us confused and doubtful about the Holy Spirit so that we will be limited as God’s children and thus be powerless against the spiritual warfare we face.

Because without the power of the Holy Spirit, we’re all going to crash and burn hard. There is no freedom from our flesh and our sin without the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-6, 2 Cor 3:17). The Holy Spirit is the part of the trinity on earth currently waging war with the devil, and He encounters great resistance from the devil and, sadly, also from Christians who don’t understand Him.

We did the same thing to Jesus too.

Jesus came to His people, the Jews. And the Jews did not believe in Him or want Him.

They didn’t understand Him.

So they disrespected Him.

Now Jesus has given His people the Holy Spirit. And so many of His people do not believe in the Holy Spirit or want Him.

They don’t understand Him.

So they disrespect Him.

What irony.

It seems that when God touches down on earth in whatever form, He gets misunderstood and disrespected.

We misunderstand the Holy Spirit when He is seen as anything else other than what HE is: holy, God, powerful, authoritative.

We disrespect the Holy Spirit when we see Him as “weird.”

Unfortunately over time, the Holy Spirit has gained this stigma in evangelical Christianity.

And it has stuck to the Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations in particular, since they are the ones who most boldly hold to the Holy Spirit as being just as powerful now as He was in the 1st century church among the disciples.

Evangelicals observe the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches from the outside.

They see or hear about them speaking in tongues, prophesying over one another and praying to God for healing and they immediately assume that all of that is craziness.

But why?

Isn’t all of Christianity craziness?

I mean, heck, we believe in a man who was born of a virgin teenager and proclaimed to be the Messiah and ended up being resurrected after dying on two pieces of wood! We have no problem believing that! We have no problem believing in all the crazy stories in the Bible.

Yet we condemn others who believe that God can do mighty things through His Spirit!?

Why?

It seems that we ALL should be charismatic.

I don’t even know why it’s a denomination.

I thought every Bible believing, Jesus-following Christian believed that God can do whatever the heck He wants to do through His Spirit. HE is GOD after all.

So why has it become such a divisive topic?

“Don’t get carried away with that Holy Spirit stuff” I’ve heard many people say.

What does that even mean? Seeing theologically that the Holy Spirit is the third part of the trinity and is God, you are, in essence, saying that I should “not get carried away with God.”

And I know that’s not what they’re trying to say. The just don’t understand what they’re actually saying.

So what’s the real issue here?

From what I’ve observed and experienced myself, this is the MAIN reason evangelical Christians say “don’t get carried away with the Holy Spirit stuff”: they observe false actions being done in the name of the Holy Spirit.

In other words: these skeptical christians claim that they have seen people do or say something in the name of the Holy Spirit that don’t come to fruition and, thus, aren’t actually from the Spirit or from God. So they assume all these kind of things aren’t real and just emotional exaggeration.

This happened to me several years ago.

Back in 2011 I spent some time with an organization connected to a charismatic style church.

During our week of training, we had a session on “The Holy Spirit.”

*Before I lose anybody, please know that the following is not accurate theology but I am fleshing it out to let you know what this leader believed, as I share the aftermath of his preaching that night.* That evening, our leader preached from gospel passages regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit and this idea of “a second baptism of the Holy Spirit” which he, and many others, decipher from Matthew 3:11, which says Jesus will come to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He interpreted this as meaning that after we accept Christ, there is a second baptism that we have to ask God for in order to receive the actual “power” of the Holy Spirit. He then went on to pick out certain verses from the gospels that illustrate the Holy Spirit “coming upon” Jesus and selected others, arguing that the Holy Spirit must “come upon” someone after they have been saved. Then, he invited everyone in the room to pray and ask God to baptize us with the Holy Spirit so that we can have this special power like the other ones in the room who already seemed to have this power. He started speaking in tongues and so did others in the room. Then people started walking up to each other saying prophesies over them. And I felt very frustrated. I felt frustrated because I was trying so hard to receive this “second baptism of the Holy Spirit” and waiting to feel something and be able to speak in tongues like everyone else but I couldn’t do it. I thought that maybe I wasn’t spiritual enough. I thought I wasn’t praying hard enough. Or not doing something right. So I took one of the leaders to the side and asked her why I couldn’t do this like other people in the room. She said I needed to relax and just ask God. She prayed over me and then said for me just to open my mouth and see what comes out. But it didn’t work. And I was very confused at the whole session. And I do believe that speaking in tongues can happen because I just believe that God can do anything He wants, and if He wants to save somebody through their neighbor sharing the gospel in tongues while standing next to them then by gosh I believe God can do it. But I’m not going to assume anyone can just do it. That is up to God.

So this whole experience made me see the negative consequences of people misunderstanding the Holy Spirit. I see why some are cessationist and are hesitant to believe the Holy Spirit can do today what He did then. I get it. But we need to realize that this incident was precisely the result of people acting upon theological misinterpretation.

This leader and the others around me at this place do really love Jesus, but their theology regarding a “second baptism of the Holy Spirit” is not sound. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation. The only reason the Holy Spirit was “coming upon people” in the gospels is because of 1 very important detail: Jesus had not yet ascended to heaven to leave the Holy Spirit permanently. After He ascended, the Holy Spirit came to dwell on the earth and with every believer. But I trust that if they do really love Jesus, that He will teach them. It’s not up to me or anyone to correct them. Let’s leave it up to God.

That whole incident was a very different experience for me.

I could let it scar me and make me not want to do anything associated with “the Holy Spirit” or spiritual things.

But I haven’t.

And I’m not going to.

I’ll tell you why: the Holy Spirit is still who He is despite a few people’s misinterpretation of Him. I can’t let a few people who misunderstand the Bible and the Holy Spirit and then go do crazy things obstruct me from letting God be present in my life in the third form of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.

I’m not going to quench God.

Will some abuse the Holy Spirit? Yes.

Will some misunderstand the Holy Spirit? Yes.

Will some believe wrong theology and do wrong things in the name of the Holy Spirit? Yes.

And the enemy fuels this because He knows that if we embrace the Holy Spirit’s power we will be unstoppable.

I am NOT about to fall for that and let it stop me from letting the Holy Spirit be present and active in my life however He wants to be.

I need Him too much.

I can’t get through this life resisting the Holy Spirit. I would be dead and lifeless.

This whole incident just shows how easy it is for good people to get caught up in a desire for “more of God” that causes abuse of the name of the Holy Spirit.

A desire for more is great.

I want more of God.

We all want more of God.

But the danger in combining human will-power for “more” + observing manifestations of the Spirit is that → we assume “more manifestations” means “more of God.”

And we exert all of this effort trying to experience something rather than letting God be God and do what He wants to, whether He reveals something we observe tangible or not.

Because most of the time, God does a lot and we just can’t see it.

So out of a desire, that is actually good, we end up basing our relationship with God on what we SEE happening around us and in us (i.e. healings, ability to speak in tongues, ability to prophesy, etc) because it’s human nature to want to SEE what God is doing.

And what we see becomes a barometer by which we measure our current closeness or distance with God.

This is what has caused division in Christianity: a few minority of people doing things in the name of the Holy Spirit that aren’t actually from God and then others getting all upset about it and thus broadcasting that observation onto every Christian who does things in the name of the Holy Spirit as if it is also not from God.

But we can’t let a few people who abuse the Holy Spirit’s name cause us to expect that every charismatic person must be doing that…because in reality, the majority of charismatic people really are seeking God and are not abusing the Holy Spirit at all.

Rather, they are the ones inviting Him in and expectant that He can move!

And they are living lives of purpose and real connection with God!

I wish we all had that kind of faith!

The Holy Spirit is so much more than gifts and manifestations of power.

The Holy Spirit is basically our lifeline to God the Father.

He indwells us to be who God calls us to be as God continues to work on our hearts.

The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, leads us to faith in Christ, sustains our hope in God, comforts us in pain, empowers us to overcome sin, addictions and other strongholds in our lives, reminds us of God’s grace, connects us to God, intercedes for us in prayer, and so on…

He is so much more than anything we can see or not see…

If we don’t invite the Holy Spirit into our lives and in to the church because we assume He is weird and not necessary we will never experience the life of freedom and joy we were meant to live here.

We need the Holy Spirit.

Just as much as we need Jesus.

We need EVERY part of God.

In contrast to that 1 horrible experience, I’ve way way more really great encounters in charismatic environments and am always encouraged by the people I am around. I’ve heard so many great stories from friends of mine who have seen God move in mighty ways. And the joy of others I see when I am surrounded by those seeking the Lord for who He is in Father, Son AND Holy Spirit, is just contagious. I could not have anything less than that. Life without the Spirit is not living.

And honestly, when I’m in a place joined with others who are mindful of the Holy Spirit I feel like I can breathe again.

It’s not that the Holy Spirit is not present in other places.

He is.

He’s always there.

It’s just that in some places, most people don’t really care about the Holy Spirit. And there is no communal effort to be mindful of Him.

Whether you’re in church or just in your room or in town or in your car, it doesn’t matter where…be aware of the Holy Spirit…because He’s there whether you invite Him or not. And He wants you to be aware of Him so that You can be at peace with God in your midst.

We need Him far more than we can ever know.

Maybe the Holy Spirit is weird. God saving a soul from death to life is not normal. It is weird. Overcoming alcoholism despite years of addiction is not normal. It is weird. Forgiving the drunk that killed your family member is not normal. It is weird. So if people want to ignore the Holy Spirit because it’s “weird,’ I think we also need to recognize that everything about Christianity is “weird,” especially to those who would look at it from the outside and say “How in that world is that possible?”

1 Corinathians 1:18 says,

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

So I guess it is weird.

Our faith is weird.

And if it is, then I want it.

I want weird.

I don’t want dead, lifeless religion. I want something that’s alive. And My God is alive…in all 3 forms: Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit! So I’ll take Him in all 3 forms.

I pray that we as a church would start to come together in seeking God while taking advantage of the form He left with us on earth to help us: the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Father left Him here with us for a reason. And I pray we would not resist. May we invite the Holy Spirit to invade every part of our lives and find that we will be ready for every attack the enemy tries to throw at us. And may we find comfort and lasting peace in Him. Thank You, God, for Your kindness towards us.

 

 

 

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

-Romans 8:6

 

“Here As in Heaven” by Elevation Worship