This type of interview was a first for me, and I didn't know quite what to expect, but I believe that the LORD helped me answer her questions in ways that honor Him. I hope that you will make some time to listen to the interview, and I pray that you will be blessed as you do. You can listen via the player below:
Many strive to become great today. It may be in knowledge, sports, career, politics, or wealth—many strive for greatness. There is nothing wrong with striving to become the best that you can be. Hard work is always honorable, and it is oftentimes rewarded with success, including the monetary gains that come with it.
Citizens of God's Kingdom, which Jesus is currently ruling over, do not strive for greatness in the Kingdom. They simply obey Jesus and His Word as they follow Him.
In my book, The Kingdom According to Jesus, I write about how Jesus revealed His Kingdom through His words and actions. The Kingdom revealed by Christ includes love, grace, peace, and life with race equality, gender equality, health equality, and economic equality for all. Citizens of the Kingdom make it known today through their words and actions. They are totally obedient to Jesus. They do not strive to become great in the Kingdom. They are called great because of their obedience.
Beloved, obey Jesus. He came, fulfilling the Law, establishing His Kingdom. As you follow Him with your whole heart, continuing His point-of-need ministry, you will be called great in His Kingdom.
Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19 ESV).
Jesus, I thank you for coming to this earth and fulfilling the Law. I have accepted your grace and answered the call to follow you, allowing you to lead me on this journey from earth to glory. Help me today keep my eyes fixed on you, revealing your Kingdom through my words and actions. Show me ways today that you would have me serve you. Emulate your love, grace, and peace to others through me today. I pray this in your precious name. Amen.
Today, there is more of an infatuation with the end of days than in any other time I can recall during my lifetime. Movies have been made, books written, and predictions made. People are building bomb shelters, buying up precious metals as silver and gold, storing up food, and making sure they have ample supplies of water. Are we living in the last days?
The “last days” began over 2,000 years ago at the cross of Christ when those three powerful words, “it is finished,” were uttered from the parched lips of our tortured and dying Savior. Ever since and throughout the years, many have predicted the return of Christ for His followers prior to the wrath of God being poured out on a world that has rejected Him. These dates have come and gone, but the truth of Jesus’ return remains. Each time a prediction is made and the date goes by, some are swayed into believing that it is nothing more than a myth, but it is not a myth; it is truth and will occur at God’s beckoning, which will not be in response to His creation’s predictions. God will not consult with anyone.
Jesus said, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:36-44 ESV)”
So, as Christ followers, besides being in a continual state of readiness, what are we to do? Jesus answers that question in a few verses of Scripture prior when He says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14 ESV)”
The gospel is good news. Jesus showed us what the kingdom is all about through His words and actions when He came into our world to show us how to live and how to die. I’m writing a book this summer that the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart titled “The Kingdom According to Jesus.” I believe that we have missed so much of what God intended in His kingdom as revealed through the life and teachings of Jesus. Please pray for me as I seek to obey our Lord in this endeavor.
The ministries of LGF are now touching 13,739 people around the world per day with the “gospel of the kingdom.” We thank God constantly for the faithful prayer and financial support that we receive.
God has lifted Jesus up to be the King of kings and has exalted Him to the holy hill of Zion! Jesus came to earth as the sacrificial Lamb to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of this world so that whoever believes in Him can be saved from the wrath of God and be given eternal life. Coming into our world, humbling Himself to serve instead of rule, obeying the Heavenly Father in all aspects of His mission, resulted in the Father re-glorifying Him and placing Him back in His original state of glory.
Psalm 2 records God’s response to those in the world who rage and plot in vain against Him: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill (Psalms 2:4-6 ESV).”
Notice Jesus’ response: “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Psalms 2:7-9 ESV).”
As the result of His obedience to the Father, Jesus inherits the nations, and the earth will be His possession. In the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11), Satan promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would just worship him. Jesus’ response to him was, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve" (Matthew 4:10 ESV).”
Offering Jesus the kingdoms of this world was not an idle offer made by Satan. The world that we live in is truly Satan’s kingdom. But for the Christ follower, God’s kingdom is currently in them and will be consummated upon Jesus’ return as He rules in total justice and righteousness. God has made the nations Jesus’ inheritance and the ends of the earth His possession! Satan’s offer to Jesus was temporary. God’s offer was eternal. Jesus declined the temporal for the eternal.
What will you do? Satan constantly offers us temporary gratification in return to our disobedience to God and His Word. God offers us eternal life. Follow Jesus and chose the eternal over the temporal!
In over two decades of teaching, preaching, and pastoring, I have taught parishioners that any time you read a promise in the Bible, you need to start looking around for the conditions to obey in order to receive the promise. If you do your part in obeying the Scripture, God does His part, and the promise will be realized in you. It's a central theme throughout the Bible. The "Bible Promise" books that have been so popular over the years leave the conditions of the promises of God out, leaving people standing on the promises, but ignorant to the conditions to obey in order to receive them.
Now we have a book that explains how to read and understand Scripture finding the conditions that lead to fulfilled promises, and it is written by a friend and mentor of mine, Robert P. Holland, who has been pastoring since 1965. First a word concerning Pastor Holland, and then I will talk more about his book which I have completed reading and highly recommend for all those who are serious about understanding and receiving the promises of Holy Scripture.
Pastor Holland is one of my heroes of faith. I have known him for two decades and had opportunity to sit under his ministry for a short season prior to pastoring my first church in the early 1990s. Pastor Holland has a keen understanding of Scripture that is reflected in his life. He portrays the image of Christ more than any other person I have had the privilege of knowing. His ability to communicate and teach the Word is a gift given to us by God. Those who have had the privilege of sitting under his ministry have not experienced a famine of the Word under it, and have instead been given a bountiful feast that brings growth in the Lord.
I just finished reading his book, Some Understand 1 + 6 = 7, and highly recommend it. The book begins with an explanation of the title which is fundamental to the 44 chapters which follow. In each chapter, which Pastor Holland refers to as "Wisdom and Promise workshops", a Scripture promise and its conditions (Pastor Holland refers to as "Wisdom") are identified and proper exegesis, application and exhortation is given.
For those who will read the book, I believe that the Holy Spirit will bring attention to the areas of life where proper wisdom is not applied, and where promises are not being realized, allowing for proper application of Scripture to take place. I"m sure that every reader who has a desire to please God and live for Him will be able to properly apply wisdom and receive promises as they prayerfully read and glean from each chapter.
There have been some great books that I have read that I commit to reading again. With this book, I plan to incorporate it into my daily discipline of reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture, by reading a chapter each day for a while to come. In the days ahead, I will also be tweeting (@Gregory_Johnson) some quotes from the book and posting some quotes on my Facebook page (GregoryAJohnsonPage).
I encourage you to get a copy of the book today, read it, and let God speak into your life as you discover the wisdom and promises that God would have you receive. The book is available as a paperback and as an ebook on Amazon. Click here and get your copy today - Some Understand 1 + 6 = 7: Finding Wisdom and Receiving Promises.
Historians have proven that there was a historical Jesus that walked this earth teaching and doing good.
Often times, there are but two opinions of Jesus.
These two opinions separate major faiths around the world.
They have split nations.
They have split families.
They have split relationships.
They have split criminals.
In our work in jails, in prisons, to the homeless, within gangs and in transitional facilities, we have experienced this split firsthand as we have taken the good news of Jesus to the point of need.
Jesus experienced the same split of opinion at the cross.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39-43 ESV)
The one criminal was interested in Jesus only for an immediate fix to his problem saying, "Save yourself and us!"
In his mind, if Jesus was really the Christ, He would have to prove it through an act of selfishness that would have only saved three.
Jesus was all about saving, but He was not selfish, and He had no need to prove anything.
The other criminal had a different opinion of Jesus, realizing his own guilt and Jesus' innocence, desiring to be with Jesus, the Christ, in His Kingdom.
That criminal has been saved and is with Jesus today.
He had the right opinion of Jesus that led to salvation in the presence of Jesus for all eternity.
Jesus is the Christ.
I'm nothing but a criminal who deserves punishment.
I long to be where Jesus is and choose to participate in His kingdom, which He is ruling over, both now and forever.
Many years ago as a child in church camp, I was taught a song that I have never forgotten. It goes like this:
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had father Abraham
I am one
So are you
So let's just praise the Lord!
Many think today that God only blesses one nation.
In my country, America, you always hear people say "God Bless America."
Some believe that Jesus is returning for one physical nation.
Some believe that Jesus is returning for a physical piece of land in the middle east.
Check out what God promised Abraham:
Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (Genesis 17:4-5 ESV)
According to the Bible, God is for all nations.
God's heart is that none should parish, but that all have everlasting life through His son, Jesus Christ.
Color of skin does not matter to God.
Language does not matter to God.
Gender does not matter to God.
Economic status does not matter to God.
Physical location does not matter to God.
Jesus is not returning for one physical nation.
Jesus is not returning for a piece of land in the middle east.
Jesus is returning for His faithful followers who have denied self and taken up the cross.
Jesus' return is the consummation of His Kingdom here on earth that is already within His followers and He is ruling over it.
His Kingdom is full of love, grace and peace with race, gender, economic, and health equality for all.
His kingdom already consists of people from all nations.
Life is full of much uncertainty with no one knowing what today or tomorrow may bring. Some say to live life to it's fullest with total disregard of following any path that is void of your own will. Although temporary satisfaction may be the result of such a lifestyle, the end result may lead to a destiny that is far less than desirable for the self absorbed individual.
What about the one who trusts God and submits to the will of God? Does that bring a certainty in life? Does one find satisfaction in the will of God? A life of losing one's will for God's will does not provide certainty for day to day living nor does it always provide a temporary satisfaction, but the end result leads to a satisfaction and destiny that is far above anything we could obtain, achieve or imagine by following our own will.
Losing our will for God's will often leads us into uncertainty and if we are not careful it will lead us into a fear that will cause us to not reach the full potential of what God has for us to do. Fear is not of God, and when it begins to show it's frightful head, we are in risk of missing the life that God is leading us into and we will miss it if we allow the fear of uncertainty to overcome us.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was hand picked by God to bring Jesus into our world. Her submission to God's will for her life would bring much uncertainty, ridicule, and even pain to her. When the revelation of God's will came to her, fear came with it. The revelation was from God; the fear was not. In the midst of oncoming fear, God gave her the reassurance she needed through His Word. We can always count on Gods Word for the reassurance needed on our journey.
And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1:30-33 ESV)
Through Mary, the Savior of the world was born and the kingdom of God was established on earth through Him. His kingdom now is within Christ followers and Jesus is ruling over it. As each Christ follower loses their will for the will of Christ, they will follow Him in total abandonment and Jesus' kingdom will be enlarged on earth as faithful followers stay busy continuing His point of need ministry until He returns with the consummation of His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
I encourage you today to move forward in total abandonment to Jesus and His will for your life. Take it a step at a time and always remember to keep your eyes fixed on Him. He will take you on a wonderful journey and His kingdom will be enlarged in you and through you. You will be satisfied!
Know that you are loved,
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Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Beloved, please give me the freedom of asking you some questions. What are you doing with your life today? Are you denying self daily? Are you following Christ daily? Is your life a reflection of His life? Are you a part of the kingdom of God that has been established in Jesus that He is currently ruling over? Have you been baptized into His body by the Holy Spirit (referred to as regeneration or born again)?
Please do not confuse church membership or walking an aisle and repeating a prayer after a minister as a replacement for any of these. These acts of the modern church are not found in Scripture. Following Jesus and continuing His point of need ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit is found in Scripture and is the fruit of those who have been birthed into His Kingdom through the Holy Spirit.
Follow Jesus today Beloved. Follow Him. He will take you on a wonderful journey from earth to glory and many people will be touched along the way as you reveal His kingdom to them through following Him. You will befriend people along the way that you never imagined as you see them through His eyes instead of through the eyes of society. Many will sense His love through you and desire to be a citizen of His Kingdom. That is how His Kingdom grows. We are given opportunity to not only participate in His Kingdom now, but also to help it expand. What a wonderful opportunity. Do not pass it up. And never go back.
Levi’s tax booth is located at the Sea of Galilee so that taxes (a small business tax) could be imposed on all of the fish that the fishermen where catching for their livelihood (Mark 2:13-14). Jesus, just days earlier had called four fishermen at the same location to follow Him and He would make them become “fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-20). Now Jesus takes these four individuals, Simon, Andrew, James and John, back to the same booth where they were extorted taxes from throughout their careers as fisherman and He shows them that He not only came to befriend the fishermen, but He also came to befriend the tax collector.
What a lesson for these new followers to learn about Jesus and His Kingdom. It was a lesson revealing equality for all which is an attribute of His kingdom. To answer the call of Jesus to follow Him meant that people would have to leave their professions and livelihoods. It was a tough decision to make on very little information. The fishermen Jesus had called earlier had an easier decision than Levi though, because if things didn’t work out with Jesus, they could always go back to fishing. But if Levi left his very lucrative government profession, he could never go back.
Beloved, please know that it is all about choices that we make. Today, as in Jesus’ day, He is still calling people to follow Him, but we must choose. God will never make the choice for us. He loves us so much that He desires to spend eternity with us, but He will not choose if we follow Jesus or not. If He did, He would override our human will and in doing so would not be a just God. But, God is just, so He calls us and allows us to choose if we will deny self and follow Jesus, making Him our Lord and our Savior.
Beloved, in the world there is sin, sickness, disease and disability. As Christ followers, we have citizenship in God’s Kingdom that Christ is ruling over.
Our citizenship is not of this world and we are to utilize our remaining days on earth putting our faith in action so that those in need can have opportunity to experience Jesus’ forgiveness of sins while seeing the Kingdom in action and desiring to be a part of it. In God’s Kingdom there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all.
Beloved, as we put our faith in action within our cities and communities, Jesus will do the rest. As we minister at the point of need, people will sense the love of Christ as our motivation and many will come to Christ and receive the forgiveness of sins. We will reach more people for Christ this way than by telling them that they are going to hell as sinners. If you go to the marginalized in your city and tell them that they are going to hell unless they come to Jesus, they will not understand because they are already living in hell. But, if churches meet the needs of the marginalized in their city, people will experience the kingdom of God in action and want to be a part of it.
I thank God for the Christ following churches who are bringing people out of the hellish conditions in their city and introducing them to the love, grace, peace and freedom of God’s Kingdom through point of need ministry.
In the first five verses of chapter two in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is ministering in a house in Capernaum. He is preaching about the Kingdom, repentance and faith. The house is so full of people, not another person could get through the entrance. Mark tells us that there was a paralytic who was brought to the house by four friends. They had heard about the Kingdom that Jesus was introducing throughout the land in both His words and through His actions. If they could just get this paralytic friend to Jesus they knew that things would be different.
They didn’t let a packed house and blocked entry way stop them. They took the man up to the roof, removed the tiles and lowered the man down on his bed. This took much faith, both in the paralytic and his friends “and when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.””
Don't allow any obstacles keep you and your friends from Jesus and His Kingdom that He is ruling over.
Preaching Christ and His Kingdom builds faith in the listener. The listener believes Christ and wants to participate in His Kingdom so they repent of their sins and Jesus is quick to forgive.
The word of God tells us this: How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom 10:14-17 ESV)
Beloved, what takes precedence in your gatherings whether they take place in a church building, a home, a theater or other locations and technologies? Evaluate your faith. Is it growing? Is your life changing as you live in repentance? If so, I would venture to say that you are listening to the word of Christ and your faith is growing along with your participation in His Kingdom. If not, I would venture to say that something other than the preaching of the word of Christ is taking precedence in the gatherings you attend. Many in are day are falling for a different gospel.
More to come tomorrow... Your comments are encouraged!
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." (Mark 2:1-5 ESV)
Mark is very explicit in pointing out that Jesus was there “preaching the word.” Taking care of people’s needs was important, but preaching the word was priority in Jesus’ life and ministry. The “word” that Jesus preached is defined in Mark 1:14-15 which reads “… Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (ESV)"
Needs being met attracted the crowds, but Jesus constantly brings attention back to the preaching of the Kingdom which is His priority. Near the conclusion of chapter one Jesus tells His followers "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out. (Mark 1:38 ESV)”
In the kingdom that Jesus is ruling over there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all. That message must take priority over all else in our day. Taking care of the needs of people is vital and is to be the result of preaching Christ and His Kingdom which must be priority. Actions must follow words. The result will be a realization of the Kingdom and participation in it.
More to come tomorrow... Your comments are encouraged!
The church in Florida that is hosting a "burn the Quran day" on 9/11 may be Christian, but it is of my opinion that they are not following Christ. Christ taught His followers to love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) and to love our neighbor as we do our self (Matthew 22:37-40). Christ, from the cross, prayed for those who had violently nailed Him there and asked the Father to "forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:32-34).
It would be naive for me not to think that there will be some who read what I just stated and say that I am being judgmental, but I am not judging this church and it's leadership. I am simply inspecting their fruit as Christ encouraged His followers to do (Matthew 7:15-23, John 15:1-6). So, is this good fruit of a church or is this bad fruit?
Quran burning will not portray the love of Christ to the world and is not how citizens of the Kingdom of God are to respond. It is acts such as these that fuel the hate of America in other parts of the world which lead to extremist activity spreading death and destruction. Acts such as these also stereotype the Christian church and makes it harder for the numerous Christ following churches to make a difference in their community through displaying the true nature of God's Kingdom which includes love and peace.
I pray that this church and it's leaders repent, change their plans and react to those of the Islam faith in love and peace, praying for them and showing the world that citizens of God's Kingdom live recognizing that their allegiance is first to the Kingdom of God, and after that, to their nation.
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them." But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter. (Mark 1:40-45 ESV)
What Jesus does in this paragraph of Scripture is startling to the people watching, but Jesus was not focused on the watching people. He was not interested in attracting crowds and that was not why He did the miracles that He did. He was focused on an individual who had lost his health, his dignity, his ability to earn income, his social status, his family and his friends. Jesus responded with a touch and the words “I will; be clean”. The crowds gasped when Jesus touched the leper, but the leper was filled with healing warmth that flooded His being as he was healed of leprosy and was made clean. It was love that moved Jesus to act to make this man’s life better. Jesus did not just feel sorry for him. Jesus helped him. Jesus responded with compassion – a love that compels one to act.
The first touch this man felt for probably many years was the touch of Jesus. He would never be the same. Why did Jesus touch him? He did not have to do so. In all of the recorded exorcisms, Jesus spoke a word and freed the individuals. He never once laid a hand on a demoniac. He would speak a word and the winds and waves would obey Him, so why did He touch this leper? Maybe, he touched the leper to be our example; a pattern for us to follow.
Who are the social outcasts of our day? Is it the diseased? Is it those living in poverty? Is it the homeless? Is it the incarcerated? Is it the shut-in? Is it those living alternate lifestyles? Is it those of a different race? Is it those of a different faith?
Who are the social outcasts in your city? Who in your city is financially and socially isolated? Who is shut-in? What would happen in your city if each person makes it a point every day to do an act of compassion, reaching out to touch one that is in need? I believe more people would realize the Kingdom of God and want to be a part of it.
Beloved, we live in a day where there is an overabundance of armchair theologians and armchair politicians. We don’t need any more of those. What we need in our day are people who will follow Jesus and get their hands dirty in point of need ministry revealing that in the Kingdom that Jesus is ruling over there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all.
Touch people beloved. Touch people. Be Jesus’ hand extended.
Beloved, Jesus does not follow us, we are to follow Him. There are those who, like Peter, expect Jesus to do it their way and in their timing. If Jesus doesn’t, they become hurt and discouraged allowing unbelief to rob them of what God has in store for them.
To be a good leader in the Kingdom of God, one must first follow Christ. It is Jesus that is ruling over His Kingdom. We are to always remember that we are to follow Him and He will make us into what He wants us to be in His timing and in His way. We are just simply to follow Him. He will do the rest and we will enter into our full potential in the Kingdom of God.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, "Everyone is looking for you." And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39 ESV)
Prayer is priority in this paragraph of Scripture, but there is a deeper meaning than what appears on the surface that I would like to articulate to you.
First of all, notice that Simon (Peter) is beginning to take a leadership role as a follower of Christ. Notice also that Peter has the right heart. Peter sees all of these people in need of healing and in bondage to evil and he desires to see them healed and set free. Peter is beginning to get a glimpse of what the Kingdom of God is all about – love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all. He still does not fully understand, but he is getting a glimpse of it and he desires that people experience the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ. So Peter and others with him go looking for Jesus. They know that Jesus is the answer, but He has disappeared! What were they to do with all of these people that still needed healing and deliverance?
When Peter finds Jesus praying, He couldn’t believe it. The actual Greek here has tones of a sense of hostile pursuing. It was like Peter was saying “What are you doing here? Everyone is looking for you! Don’t you know that there is still work to be done? People are in need!”
Notice how Jesus responds to Peter. Jesus said "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." Jesus is showing through His words and actions that He was not following Peter. He was not doing it Peter’s way and He was not on Peter’s time schedule. Peter was called to follow Jesus. Jesus says here that His main focus is to preach the same sermon in every town - “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).”
Peter would eventually learn to follow. It would not be an easy lesson, as it’s not an easy one for most of us, but he would learn to follow Christ. And when he does, he will reach his full potential in the Kingdom while using his words and actions to reveal the Kingdom to others.
Follow Jesus friends. Follow Jesus. Don't expect Him to follow you. If you do expect Him to follow you, you will be highly disappointed.
Beloved, we are to advance the Kingdom in our day. It has already been established in Jesus. He is now ruling over His Kingdom and has called us to follow Him and make His Kingdom known to the world through, not only words, but more importantly actions. In the Kingdom there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all. The need is the call. As we minister at the point of need, we are not only ministering as Jesus did, but we are also ministering as unto Jesus. Advance the Kingdom Beloved. Advance the Kingdom.
Beloved, ministry is to take place at the point of need. Ministry is not restricted to within the walls of a church building or the confines of a service. The need is the call. When we see a need, and we have the ability to meet that need, we are to minister as unto Jesus.
Jesus said "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:31-40 ESV)”
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (Mark 1:32-34 ESV)
Notice in this paragraph of Scripture the advancement of the Kingdom being established through Jesus. The Kingdom is always advanced through point of need ministry and we will see that throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry as we study the Gospels. It started that Sabbath day in the synagogue with the deliverance of the man possessed by a demon (Mark 1:26) and spread to inside a house with the healing of a woman (Mark 1:31) and now Jesus takes it to the streets of the city of Capernaum as people are brought to Him there.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (Mark 1:32-34 ESV)
The Jewish Sabbath is a weekly day of rest observed from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. A lot has taken place on this Sabbath day that Mark tells us about in chapter 1 of his gospel. Earlier in the day, Jesus teaches in the Synagogue and casts a demon out of a man who was in attendance there (Mark 1:21-28). After the service, He heals Simon’s mother-in-law in the house of Simon and Andrew who were brothers (Mark 1:29-31). And now, Mark is detailed in telling us that after the Sabbath was over, as marked by sundown, people brought to Jesus those “who were sick or oppressed by demons.”
Notice that the people who were brought to Him where either “sick or oppressed by demons.” Some in our day have associated illness, especially mental illness, as demonic possession, but this account of Jesus’ life and ministry in Scripture is careful to separate the two. It would be wrong for anyone in our day to attribute a person’s illness, whether it is physical or mental, to demon possession.
I have been in the ministry for over 19 years. I have ministered both within the walls of the church building and outside the walls of church building and beyond the confines of a church service. I have ministered to those in hospitals and prisons. I have ministered to young gang bangers in correctional facilities and the homeless on the streets. I have ministered in America and in third world countries. I have ministered to literally thousands of ill people both mentally and physically, but I can count on one hand those who were possessed by demons that were made obvious through physical manifestations including voice, facial distortions and actions. I was never afraid and the Holy Spirit within me always triumphed over these evil encounters. I tell this to implore you to not associate illness with demon possession. Many precious people have been wounded and hurt because there are those who have taken their illness and proclaimed them to be demon possessed when they were not at all demon possessed. It should not be and it hinders the work of those who are utilizing their life to advance God’s Kingdom with the help of the Holy Spirit who gives them the needed and necessary spiritual discernment.
In the first chapter of Mark the Kingdom of God was manifested in the deliverance of a man (Mark 1:26) and the healing of a woman (Mark 1:31). Jesus not only talked about the Kingdom that was being established in Him, but he also demonstrated this Kingdom through His actions. It was not Jesus’ intention to prove He was the divine Son and the Bearer of the Holy Spirit by His acts of authority and power. He cast out demons because they had no right to be in any part of human life which they sought to destroy. He brought healing out of love for the sufferer. When Jesus saw people suffering, He moved with compassion - a love that compels one to act to relieve the suffering.
Beloved, Jesus’ kingdom is more powerful than sickness and disease. He still works immediate miracles and He also has provided us with processes of healing provided through medical science, medicine and medical professionals.
Let’s never put Jesus in a box and pray expecting Him to bring healing a certain way. Instead, let’s exercise our faith by taking advantage of all healing processes that He makes available to us. Let’s also make available His healing to ALL people revealing to them, His kingdom in action. Let’s help others as He has helped us. In Jesus’ kingdom, there is health equality for all!
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. (Mark 1:29-31 ESV)
Notice what Simon, Andrew, James and John does. When they leave the synagogue with Jesus, their faith in Jesus and His kingdom that He was revealing was enlarged. They go to Simon and Andrew’s house which must have just been a short distance from the synagogue as revealed through the words “and immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.” When they get there, Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Upon the news of her illness these Christ followers had a heart to provide this lady the care she needed for her health and they tell Jesus about her fever. Their faith had grown and they now knew to take their needs to Jesus.
Beloved, we all have needs and we must take those needs to Jesus knowing that He cares for us and desires for us to place all of our cares and anxieties on Him. Jesus desires to help us and as He does, His kingdom is revealed and faith always grows.
In Mark 1:23-28 Jesus is in the synagogue with Simon, Andrew, James and John who where fishermen that He had just called to follow Him. These four who left everything to follow Jesus witnessed the power of Jesus’ Kingdom that He was revealing through His words and actions. In these five verses, Satan’s kingdom is interrupted by Jesus’ Kingdom and the victory over evil is a glimpse of many victories to come in leading up to the ultimate victories at the cross and the empty tomb. Can you imagine what these four new followers were thinking after witnessing this first victory over evil? Perhaps a sense of confirmation was consuming them over the decision that they made to forsake all and follow Jesus. Undoubtedly their faith was growing as they were hanging out with Jesus and experiencing His Kingdom firsthand.
Jesus helps us so that we can help others. As we follow Him, our faith grows in His ability to meet not only our needs, but also the needs of others. As our faith grows, we are quick to reveal His kingdom to others through our actions. We pray and have faith, but we also put our faith into action.
Beloved, evil has been defeated through Jesus Christ. Each of us has been called to deny self, take up our cross and follow Jesus. As we do, the felt needs of others will be met through our actions. God blesses us so that we can bless others. Every time we meet a felt need, we are revealing what God’s Kingdom is all about – grace, love and peace with race, gender, health and economic equality for all.
In Mark 1:16-20 we are told that Jesus and the freshly called fishermen were in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Scripture tells us that the people are astonished at His teaching. His message was about the Kingdom that was being established in Him and was different than the teaching they were accustomed to and delivered by religionists who demanded obedience to manmade rules, regulations and traditions. As Jesus teaches, there is a collision of good and evil which is manifested in a sudden interruption.
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
(Mark 1:23-28 ESV)
Jesus not only taught about the Kingdom of God, but demonstrates the kingdom of God through His actions that will be described throughout the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s writing style is to get the reader to understand the meaning of events instead of giving details of the events he writes about. As we read and study Mark, we should always be looking for the meaning of the events that take place and this event is no exception.
Jesus introduced to the world the kingdom of God, not only through His words, but through His actions. With Jesus coming into our world, Satan’s kingdom was disturbed. Satan’s kingdom realized who Jesus was and what authority He had as the Son of God even though the people did not. In these five verses of Mark we see the two kingdoms collide, but it’s just the beginning. Jesus will not only be victorious over demons, but also sickness, disease, hunger and death. He will show through his actions that the Kingdom of God breaks through the powers of evil that seeks to destroy people. His authority as the Son of God ensures His victory. He walks the earth conquering the powers of evil and He dies on an old rugged cross. On the third day He was resurrected and defeated death which is evil’s greatest weapon and people’s greatest enemy.
At the cross, Satan was defeated, the power of sin was broken and God’s Kingdom became available to ALL people through Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Jesus accomplished His mission on earth and because of His obedience to Father, He was re-glorified and placed back at the right hand of Father (John 17:1-5). Jesus is now ruling supreme over His Kingdom. As we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him and continue His point of need ministry, those around us will realize the wonderful kingdom that He places in each follower. Why? - Because their felt needs will be met through Christ followers continuing His point of need ministry.
I received the following email that I feel led to share:
Just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying the study of Mark. It is so convenient how you have set it up that the student can view the discussed scriptures right as you are teaching them. How you did that is beyond me! Also another plus to the study is that you can progress at the rate you want. Some of the studies have been so good that I have listened to them several times and each time I gain benefit!
Each study in Mark is only 9-13 minutes long. If you are not yet following along in Mark with us, please join us . Please take a moment to invite your friends to join us also. Each study can be listened to individually or in a group setting. You can even facilitate a LGF gathering right where you are at!
Beloved, we don't have to wait for God's kingdom to come in some future event as we are already a part of His kingdom and He has imparted it into our lives through the Holy Spirit. We are to spend our lives revealing to the world His kingdom in us.
The apostle Paul taught that the supreme gift is love. Christ said that the world will know that we are His followers by our love for one another. As we love God and ALL people ministering at the point of need, His kingdom is revealed to the world and many will desire to be a part of it. That is so much more than mere church attendance.
Church attendance is not bad unless we replace serving Christ and revealing His kingdom with serving the institution. It then becomes an idol and the fruit is communities not realizing that the kingdom of God is at hand and Christ is already ruling supreme. There can be a church on every corner in the city with the city not realizing the kingdom of God. They see the church buildings in their community, but don't see the kingdom of God in action. I believe that we can change that in our day and have been called to do so as Christ followers. Be free in Christ! Know that you are loved,
In Mark 1:15, we hear Jesus say "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." After making His message simple and clear, He began to call those who would follow Him and continue His point of need ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. They immediately started to follow Christ, learn from Him and serve Him (Mark 1:16-20)
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:21-22 ESV)
Capernaum was a village on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is possible that the fishermen whom Jesus had just called to follow Him (Mark 1:16-20) lived and worked near or in this village. We do know that there was a synagogue there and, on this occasion, Jesus and the called fishermen went to it on the Sabbath (“they went”, 1:21).
The Temple was in Jerusalem, but the Jewish law required that wherever there were at least 10 Jewish families there must be a synagogue. In the synagogue there would be no music, no singing and no sacrifice. The synagogue service would consist only of prayer, the reading of God’s Word and the exposition of it. The synagogue was a teaching institution. At the service on the Sabbath of each week, the ruler of the synagogue would call on any competent person to read the Scripture and give exposition on it so that the people in attendance could learn.
In the synagogue there was no professional minister. Scribes were experts in the Jewish law and the title of the leader among them was “Rabbi.” Scribes used the Torah which is the first five books of the Old Testament and they would develop rules and regulations for every possible situation in life. They reduced the principles of the moral law given in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) to hundreds of manmade rules and regulations which was legalism. Their religion became a matter of obeying these rules and regulations that they taught in the synagogues.
Jesus had a message to deliver and the synagogue in each community provided a forum in which to spread that message. Mark did not find it necessary in these two verses of Scripture to repeat Jesus’ message that he communicated earlier. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15 ESV). Instead, he gives us the response of the people who heard the message and that response describes a contrast with the Scribes. Jesus was telling them about the kingdom of God that was being established through Him. He was not reinforcing the teachings of the Scribes which demanded obedience to their rules and regulations.
Following manmade rules and regulations is religion and religion binds, but Christ sets us free. Obtain your freedom in Christ today! Allow Him to set you free and establish His kingdom in you. Those who Jesus sets free are the church; the true Bride of Christ that He is coming for. He is not coming back for a building or an institution. He is coming back for His followers who have faithfully served Him.
It is God’s heart that every person serves Christ and walks in the freedom that He provides. Jesus’ teachings and actions revealed the heart of God. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day taught rules and regulations that were manmade. Jesus taught about being in harmony with God’s Kingdom that was being established in Him. He is now ruling supreme over that kingdom and leads His followers to reveal it to the world.
In what does one believe? Jesus said “repent and believe in the gospel.” One must believe that Father loves them so much that he placed in motion a plan of redemption from sin even before they were created. He wants to give us His very best to show His love for us, so He sent Jesus, His only begotten son, to be the sacrifice for our sin. We must believe in that good news. It is the good news of God. We must believe in the love of Father. We must believe that Jesus is the Savior, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Jesus made it simple – repent and believe. Those who truly repent and believe will experience the kingdom of God now and be participants in growing His kingdom here on earth as we await the return of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ.
Beloved, Jesus’ message has not changed. It’s the same today as it was when He walked this earth over 2,000 years ago. He brought the good news of God which is that God loves us and the kingdom of God is near. We can participate in it now. We don’t have to wait for a future age. All we have to do is repent and believe. Praise the Lord! To God be all the glory! Amen.
At this time of Jesus, the Jews believed in two ages. They believed in the present age of sinfulness ruled by Satan and they believed in an age to come when God would destroy Satan and evil once and for all. Jesus comes along and preaches something different than what they believe in. He says the “kingdom of God is at hand”. The people would not have to wait until a future age because Jesus brought the kingdom to earth. This kingdom will ultimately include the restoration of all creation, but we can be a part of God’s kingdom today. It is all about the kingly rule of Jesus. Jesus rules in the hearts and minds of those who follow Him. He not only is their savior, but Jesus is their Lord!
After Jesus’ startling announcement of the immediacy of the kingdom, He is quick to point out how one can be a part of that kingdom with two words – repent and believe. It’s not about walking and aisle and repeating a prayer asking Jesus to come into your heart. Jesus did not teach that. In fact, you will find it nowhere in Scripture. Beloved, we need to get back to what Jesus preached – repent and believe!
Jesus was the greatest person that has ever walked this earth. He came into our world and revealed to us the heart of God through His words and through His actions. His message continues to speak to us in our day. His message has not changed. If He were invited into church services this weekend, what would He preach? What message would He deliver?
To answer that question we must go back to the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. Jesus had just been baptized in water by John the Baptist. At His baptism, the Spirit descended on Him and Father spoke words of pleasure from the heavens. He was immediately driven into the wilderness where He would spend 40 days in seclusion being prepared for the ministry in front of Him that would include a violent death on a cross. He overcame temptation in the wilderness and came out ready to touch people at their point of need while He headed to the cross as the lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
(Mark 1:14-15 ESV)
The location is Galilee, a province of Palestine. Palestine was divided into three provinces – Judea, Samaria and Galilee. Galilee was the northern most province and it’s here that we get to listen in to the message of Christ. He delivered the good news of God and it was fourfold: the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.
May God lift up those in our day who will choose the genuine over the entertaining. May we be those who will reveal to our city God’s kingdom through words and actions resulting in repentance, believing, baptizing and social change.
Many today have turned to entertainment which appeals to the flesh, but does nothing to reconcile us to God and man, nor does it grow God’s kingdom. What is needed today is a genuine move of God through Christ followers who are willing to reveal God’s kingdom through their words and actions resulting in people repenting, believing and being baptized. In Acts 8:9-13 we see a contrast in the impact that an entertainer and a Christ follower has on the public.
Notice the contrast between Simon the magician and Peter the Christ follower.
Simon the Magician:
Was a popular entertainer
Drew attention to himself
Amazed the people with his magic
Peter the Christ Follower:
Revealed the good news about the kingdom of God through his words and actions
Pointed people to Jesus instead of self
Baptized believers as a sign of conversion
The great conclusion of Acts 8:9-13 is that even an entertainer realizes that there is need for something more and that they desire the real over the entertaining.
The kingdom of God is good news to all who will listen, repent and believe that it is here through Jesus Christ. Entertainment will bring temporary satisfaction, but becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom provides eternal fulfillment.
Beloved, as we follow Jesus into the wilderness, the place of helplessness, we will learn that it is there that we grow dependent upon God. It is God that leads us there because He desires to do a work in us that will allow us to reach our full potential in His Kingdom. God does this work in His timing and not ours. Temptation will come to us and as we make the right choices instead of believing the lies of the devil, we will be given strength and endurance for our journey as God ministers to us right there in our wilderness.
Beloved, we are indwelt by the same Spirit that indwelt Christ. Christ walked this earth as the Son of Man, full of the Holy Spirit, heading to the cross as the Son of God to die for our sins so that we can have fullness of life in Him now and for all eternity. It is the Spirit that births us into the Kingdom of God. The church does not birth us into the Kingdom, nor does church membership. Walking an aisle and repeating a prayer does not birth us into the Kingdom. Being religious does not birth us into the Kingdom. The Spirit and the Spirit only births us into the Kingdom of God. And as we deny self, take up our cross and follow Jesus, the same Spirit that indwelt Christ indwells us.
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." (Mark 1:9-11 ESV)
As John was baptizing all of the people who were repenting of their sins, Jesus appears on the scene. This is the most unlikely time for the Son of God to show up. Jesus had no need to repent of sins because He was sinless. But yet, He allowed John to baptize Him. His baptism was not for sins, but was to identify with people in their sin showing His willingness to submit to God’s judgment of their sin.
Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will, which meant certain death on a cross, was pleasing to the Father and demonstrated by the Father’s words and the Spirit’s descent upon Jesus. Notice that all three persons of the Trinity was present – the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
It is hard for us to comprehend what is taking place. Jesus came into our world to die for our sin. He was sinless and had no need to die for Himself. It was all about us. The Father loves us and wants to spend eternity with us so much that He sent Jesus. The Father wants us to experience life in Him and not death. And Jesus submitted to the will of the Father and He came. He left the glory of heaven and the splendor of the Father’s presence to come into our world to live and to die. He came as the son of man and He came as the son of God. He was 100% human and 100% God. As the son of man, he lived his life as an example for us to follow. As the son of God, He died for our sin taking God’s judgment for it upon Himself. And here at His baptism He, as a man, is indwelt by the Spirit just as all those who are born into God’s Kingdom would be.
Putting faith into action is the right thing to do. Putting faith into action costs us something. Putting faith into action will advance God’s kingdom.
As we follow Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to use us in continuing the point of need ministry of Jesus, we will put our faith in action advancing God’s kingdom beyond any ethnic, racial and gender boundaries and extend it to ALL people in our sphere of influence and beyond. It will cost us something, but Christ followers counted the cost when they denied their self, took up their cross and followed Jesus.
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