RESTORERS OF RUINS

[SW220] 02/12/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“Restorers of Ruins”

Nehemiah’s name means, “Yahweh comforts.” Jesus Christ wants you to see that, when you are filled with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, you will have a front row seat to watch Him work through you to restore ruins!

Texts: Nehemiah excerpts

Chapter 1 specific phrases:

v. 2 — I asked them concerning the Jews . . .

Has the Lord put it on your heart to be concerned about the state of your fellow human beings? Then He is calling you. It is a call to every Christian on the planet.

What is He calling you to?

v. 3 — The report: Great distress, broken down, burned . . .

You will hear a report that your fellow human beings are in great distress. They are in ruins — their walls and gates of protection are broken down by the enemy of our souls. Why? There are so many reasons, there were so many reasons for me, but the bottom line is sin. All have sinned and have fallen short of (lack) the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But He means to restore ruins, and put His glory in them!

v. 4 & 6 — I sat down and wept and mourned, fasting and praying, day and night;

All Israel and I and my father’s house have sinned . . .

The first step for restoration of ruins is for the restorers to weep, mourn, fast and pray day and night, and to confess the sin of those who are in ruins.

Even though Nehemiah was either born in captivity in Babylon, or just a child when captured, he confessed the sin of him and his fathers, though he had not sinned as they had. But he took upon himself their suffering, and carried his burden to the Lord, in prayer.  Sound like Anyone we know? It will be the description of you, when you become a restorer of ruins.

v. 8 — Remember the word, “If you return to Me . . .”

After weeping and mourning, fasting and praying, you may humbly remind the Lord of His promise that, if even you would repent and confess the sins of those who are in ruins, they would turn and He would gather them and bring them back to Himself.

v. 11 — Grant compassion with the king . . .

We serve a compassionate Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. If you go to Him on behalf of those who are in ruins, you will experience His great compassion for them; you will be inwardly moved, as He is.

Chapter 2 specific phrases:

v. 3 — City lies desolate, consumed by fire . , ,

Report to the Lord that you see the desolation, the burned-out ruins.

v. 4 — What would you request? I prayed to the God of heaven . . .

Pray to the God of heaven. He asked the blind man, “What do you want Me to do?” The man said, “Restore my sight!” And Jesus did. And He will show you favor, when you ask Him. Ask Him what?

v. 5-6 — Send me, that I may rebuild it, so it pleased the king to send me . . .

Ask Him to send you. If your cry is, “Here am I. Send me,” the Lord will do it. That cry is always the cry of those who are Spirit-filled, who readily see the ruins of other lives. They are outward-focused, compelled to bless others, to let Christ use them to restore!

v. 7-8 — Letters that they may allow me to pass through, letter to Asaph for timber for beams for gates, the wall of the city, and the house to which I will go.

Tell the Lord exactly what is needed to restore the ruins. You need help to get through Satan’s territory. You need strong foundation-building material — the very Word of God and the power of God — to rebuild gates, walls, and houses.

v. 9 — The king sent me with officers of the army and horsemen . . .

The King of kings will give you more than you ask for. He is the God of more than enough. He will send protecting angels with you, the very hosts over whom He is Lord.

v. 10 — Very displeasing to enemies . . .

Satan will be upset when he hears the news that restoration is on the way.

v. 11 — Night, told no one what my God was putting into my heart . . .

Without making it known, go about the ruins of each life, take note of the damage. Let the ruined ones speak. Be still. Let them pour out their hearts to you. God has put something in your heart, but it’s not time to tell them until you compassionately listen to them tell you about their ruins.

v. 17 — You see the bad situation . . . come, let us rebuild so we are no longer a reproach . . .

Society unfailingly disapproves of and shuns people whose lives are in ruins. But you will hear a word from the Holy Spirit, “You see the ruins. Come, let us rebuild!” And when the ruins are restored, there will be no more shunning. Instead, the world will want to know how the ruined one became restored. That’s the whole plan!

v. 18 —The hand of my God had been favorable. Let us arise and rebuild!

The hand of your God is favorable, Spirit-filled Christian. You will say, with the Holy Spirit, “Let us arise and rebuild!”

Chapter 3:

All build in unity . . .

It is not a superficial, outward unity, but an inward unity of heart that only God can work IN us (John 17:21, 26).

Chapter 4 —

v. 1 & 3 Enemy furious, very angry, mocking, casting doubt . . .

When he sees the work begin, the enemy of our souls will be furious and very angry. He will mock and cast doubt. But you will listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and continue your work. You will run from the voice of the enemy. His voice is nothing like your Good Shepherd’s voice. Spirit-filled Christian, you know Satan is a liar and the father of lies. There is no truth in him. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1John 4:4). Rebuke Satan, in the name of Jesus.

v. 6-8 — So we built the wall to half its height. The repair (healing) of the walls, further enemy threats . . .

You will reach the halfway point in completion of the restoration of the one who is in ruins. The report of the repair (I love that the Hebrew word means “healing”) reaches the enemy’s ears, and he threatens to attack and kill.

v. 9 & 14—  But we prayed to our God, remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight . . .

But you pray and fight! You are equipped with God’s own armor that He has tailored to fit you perfectly! You fight with the sword of Spirit which is the Word of God, and with prayer.

Chapter 6

v. 8 — The enemy spreads lies. But now, O God, strengthen my hands . . .

Satan will try to spread lies about you. But you will pray, and the Lord will strengthen you.

v. 10 — Enemy temptation to sin, I perceived God had not sent him

The enemy will tempt you to sin in order to escape enemy capture, but you will perceive that the one tempting you is really a mouthpiece for Satan (knowingly or unknowingly). So you will not sin.

v. 15 — The wall was completed in fifty-two days . . .

You, the restorer of ruins, will complete the rebuilding in a miraculously short period of time!

How wonderful! How exciting! Hear the promise from the Lord in Isaiah, for Christians who cease their inward focus and look outward, because they have asked the Lord to fill them with His Spirit and God’s actual love —

Isaiah 58:12  “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;

You will raise up the age-old foundations;

And you will be called the repairer of the breach,

The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

Christian, put away your outward piety. The Lord is not impressed by it. Ask Him to clean you up on the inside, to fill you with His Spirit, and then your eyes will be opened to see the ruins around you. And you will have a front-row seat to watch Him use you to restore them!

I know about ruins, beloved. First I was in ruins from drugs, and God graciously restored me after I cried out in the middle of the night. Then, many years later, I was in ruins from MS — feet paralyzed, legs partially paralyzed, bladder paralyzing, knotted muscles no muscle relaxant could ease, severe tremors in my head, eyesight ever decreasing, and cognitive dysfunction — I could not think.

Are you in ruins? Pastor Doc was the restorer God used for my ruins. He asked about me, so the Lord gave him the report of my ruins. Then Jesus gave him a vision of me healed. Pastor Doc wept and prayed and fasted, He asked the King for all he needed to pass through enemy territory and rebuild me, and it was done in a miraculously short period of time!

Those in ruins, I have seen you. I have heard the bad report. I am always weeping, praying and fasting for you. And I will pray with you now.

π

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HE REVEALS AND HEALS!

[SW216] 01/16/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“He Reveals and Heals!”

The best time to get the natural house cleaned up is when the sun is shining, because the soil is revealed by the sun’s light. The best time to get our spiritual house cleaned up is when the Son is shining — He reveals and heals!

Psalm 103 — He pardons all our iniquities, He heals all our diseases. He cleans us up and heals our bodies!

Revealing and healing:

Mark 2:1ff — The Son shone on this paralyzed man. Note that Jesus did not point a finger at this man and say, “You sinner!” He simply said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Sin blocked his healing, per verses 10-11, when Jesus said that He would now heal the man, to show that the sin that blocked the man’s healing had been forgiven. That’s amazing! Sin can block healing. Did it cause his paralysis? We can’t say, but sin leads to many physical diseases.

Healing and revealing:

John 5 — The Son shone on this paralyzed man, a sinner (we will see afterward) who didn’t know Jesus at all, but the Son shone on Him. Again, Jesus did not point a finger and say, “You sinner!” Jesus simply said, “Get up, pick up your mat and walk.” The man had to do it, because Jesus said it. But afterward, Jesus met him and told him to stop sinning or something worse would happen to him. (There are many speculations about what Jesus meant by “something worse,” but I am quite convinced that Jesus meant hell, which the man would face if he did not ask for his sin to be forgiven.) Jesus will be sure to let you know if you are sinning, even after He kindly heals you. His purpose is always to heal you in every way; not just your body, but your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.

Revealing the hearts of others, and healing:

John 9 — Again, the Son shone on this man blind from birth. Others attempted to finger-point — who sinned, the man or his parents? Their hearts wanted to condemn the man. But Jesus corrected them, saying his blindness was not caused by sin. Its purpose was to glorify God! What did He mean? From before time, God knew this man would be born blind, and He planned to give Him eyes and sight! And indeed, when he washed at the pool and came back seeing, God was indeed glorified!

Revealing and healing, when the Son shone on me:

Oh, my! The Son shone on even me! Jesus did not point His finger at me and say, “You sinner!” But the Holy Spirit directed Pastor Doc to ask, “Are you right with God?” I prayed, asked, but there was no answer from God.

Then the Holy Spirit directed Pastor Doc to ask, “Do you have any unforgiveness in your heart?” Bingo! I knew immediately that was right! The Holy Spirit used Pastor Doc to show my unforgiveness to me. Just a question, and I knew.

I didn’t realize that I had not forgiven my first husband, Tim, who did many evil things.  But Tim immediately came to mind. The Holy Spirit will do that, when a word from God is spoken to you.

Then I had two choices:

#1 — Ask God to take my unforgiveness from me, so He would forgive me and I would be right with Him. If I had not forgiven, He would not have forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15).

#2 — Remain in my sin and walk away.

But I couldn’t walk away! I knew my unforgiveness was exactly what blocked the way to my heavenly Father. Because I was so desperate and hungry to know Him, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. In prayer that night, I told Him my sin stood between us, and I needed Him to take it because I wanted HIM!

And so He healed me of my sin — I felt the burden of it lift from my shoulders. LITERALLY! And then, just a few weeks later, He healed me of the incurable disease called MS!

He reveals and heals. Dealing with our sin is His first priority. Why? Because it has contaminated all of mankind, and it is eternally fatal.

And He died on a cross so we could be forgiven of our sin, rose, ascended and was glorified, then poured out the Holy Spirit so we would have power not to sin. Glory to God!

Once our sin is cleaned up, He heals in other ways, for it is the Father’s heart to free us, to bind up our wounds, to heal us of physical disease, and even to change our hearts completely and forever so we love Him and live for Him! Now that is full and complete healing. Thank You, Lord!

As I have spoken, I know the Lord has revealed your sin to you. Now, just like me, you have a choice:

#1 — Ask Him to take your sin from you, so you are right with Him.

#2 — Remain in your sin and walk away. He will not follow you, just as He did not follow the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:22).

The Son is shining now . . . He has shown you the soil. Let Him clean your spiritual house, let Him reveal to you what’s wrong — because the purpose of His revealing is HEALING in every way!

THE ANOINTING

[SW215] 01/08/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“The Anointing”

Isaiah 61:1-3

What happens when you are anointed? The Spirit of the Lord comes into you, not just upon you!

What changed, to make the Spirit come into you instead of upon you? Jesus came, died, rose, ascended to heaven and was glorified. He poured out the Holy Spirit so that we would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and we would be always filled with the Spirit, always anointed.

Who anoints? The Lord.

Why? So He can send you.

What are the effects of you going out, when He sends you out?

— Good news is given to the humble and contrite, but is refused by the religious. The reaction of the religious is to drive you out and try to kill you (Luke 4:29ff).

— Broken-hearted people are bound up, to heal them

— Liberty (freedom, spontaneous movement, spontaneous outflow) is proclaimed to slaves (as in the year of Jubliee)

— Opening to those who are bound (opening as the first time ever, the first time seeing)

— The favorable year of the Lord is proclaimed

— The coming judgment is also proclaimed

— Comfort is given to those who mourn

— A garland (of victory) is given to replace the ashes of mourning)

— The oil of gladness (joy unspeakable and full of glory) instead of mourning

— The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting (weakness, darkness)

The result?

— Oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord

— He is glorified

All of this comes from one anointing — preaching, healing, everything in Isaiah 61:1-3! And He purifies your heart (Acts 15:9)! More about that in a couple of minutes!

So what does this mean in real life? I will tell you a real-life story.

David “Doc” Uber was filled with the Spirit, anointed and sent to my church in January of 2001.

Jeff and I immediately sensed something different, as he preached.

Something seemed to emanate from him, but we didn’t know what it was. It was something from God — that much we knew.

He had great zeal, although it was a little scary at times.

He had great boldness.

He had great insight into the Word of God. But more than that, he lived it. His heart fully belonged to God.

He proclaimed Isaiah 61 to the whole congregation — healing in every way — through many Scriptures.

What were the effects? I can only tell you how it affected me.

THE EVERLASTING LORD

Oh, You are for me, the everlasting Lord, the everlasting Lord.

Oh, You are for me, the everlasting Lord!

#1 I was blind but now I see

Dead but now I’m raised

Broken, so broken but now made whole

Far away but then brought near

In a fog, now in the clear

Bereft of life, now filled with Yours

I was empty, so empty, but now I’m full

Full of You, full of Your love, Lord Jesus (CHORUS)

#2 My heart was shattered, now it’s bound

O Lord, it happened when I heard the sound

The sound the sound

Of Your voice . . . oh, yeah

You showed mercy to the merciless

Truth to the clueless

You had compassion on me in my captivity

And You loosed my chains, You healed all my pain

And set me free, so free, completely free (CHORUS)

#3 Jesus, you healed my sin and welcomed me in

Made me part, even me, of Your family

Changed me and are changing me

So I can be Your witness here,

And draw others near

You gave the heartless a heart, and even a part

In Your glorious plan to save every man

From the wrath we deserve for refusing Your love

And Your grace and Your truth and Your life

Like I did for so long, so long, so long . . .  (CHORUS)

From “The Everlasting Lord,” by Susan Wynn©2013

The Lord used MS to make me humble and contrite.

I received Good News that I could be set free (Pastor Doc had a vision of it, and boldly announced it from the pulpit in April of 2001).

I heard that it was the favorable year of the Lord, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE FROM THE LORD (Hebrews 13:8)!

I heard that judgment was coming.

I mourned my helplessness and saw the freedom Christ offered.

I was hungry to know God, and desperate to remove every obstacle that blocked my path to Him.

The Lord healed my shattered heart, when I forgave my first husband.

The Lord made my blind eyes see!

The Lord gave me liberty, freedom, spontaneous movement, and spontaneous outflow. I cried out for two months after I was healed, seeking His anointing so I could be filled by Him with His Spirit. And He did it, on November 1, 2001! What a day it was! Joy unspeakable and full of glory, from that day forward!

The Lord set me free from:

— Unforgiveness

— Sin

— Multiple sclerosis

The Lord gave me a garland of victory over disease and sin. No more ashes!

And the Lord gave me the mantle, the robe, of praise — I wrapped myself up in it, and my weakness and helplessness left me.

The Lord made me an oak of righteousness, planted by Him. This is where the heart cleansing comes in. I’m sharing a testimony of Katy, who had a severe stroke a month ago. The Lord is healing her wonderfully, but there’s one area in her that was healed long before the stroke came. He healed her heart! How do I know? Here’s the testimony:

-Written by Stan (her husband) –

Each of us comes equipped with a psychological mechanism that enables us to “filter” our thoughts and responses to various life situations. For example, when someone who is overweight bumps into us in the hallway, rather than responding with the first thought that comes to our mind (“Get out my way, you big fat idiot!”), we “filter” our response so that what comes out is more polite and appropriate (“Oh, please excuse me, Sir. It was all my fault.”). Thank God for filters!

But what happens if the filter is removed?

I’m not smart enough to explain medically what happens in a stroke but watching Katy these past three and a half weeks has given me an education. Part of what often happens in brain trauma is that the “filters” through which one normally lives one’s life are taken away and responses to stimuli are more, well, let me say “raw,” “spontaneous,” and “unfiltered.” Loud noise, pain, confusion, and interruptions provoke a response that comes out without all of the buffering benefits of the filters we normally use when we are healthy and strong. Typically, the picture is not pretty. Frankly, I tremble to think what I would be like if I suddenly I found myself the victim of a stroke, lying paralyzed in a hospital bed, living without the filters I normally use to shield the world around me from the inner person I really am. Lord, have mercy on us all!

This month I’ve had the privilege of living beside an “unfiltered” Katy and I simply want to share the marvel of witnessing the life of someone who has allowed God’s sanctifying grace to clean up not only the outside of one’s life, but the inside as well! Katy’s reactions to pain, paralysis, confusion and interruptions, even without the filters, continue to be seasoned with gentleness, love, humor and a deep concern for others first. Amazing! To be honest, seeing the unfiltered depth of Katy’s walk with Jesus has brought me to new understanding of what God wants to do in every human heart. I find myself sitting beside her bed as she sleeps praying that the sanctifying blood of Christ and the outpoured Spirit of Pentecost would do a new and deeper work in me.

God the Father and Jesus Christ are greatly glorified through Katy. She has the evidence of a cleansed heart! She has been anointed by the Lord and filled with His Holy Spirit!

And He was and is and ever will be glorified IN and THROUGH everyone who is anointed by God, filled with His Spirit, and sent!

The Lord wants me to tell you today that He has put  the Spirit of the Lord in me, so I can live out and proclaim Isaiah 61 to you — empowerment and healing in every way — so you, too, are filled and anointed and sent!

Has the Lord used something in your life to humble you?

Then He is at work, for healing in every way begins when you are on your knees before Him.

Now, you have a choice — receive or reject the Good News that He has asked me to speak today. What I have freely received I freely give. Do you want to be healed in every way?

Do you want to be filled with God’s Spirit, anointed and sent out? If so, ask Him! He will do it. If not, you are free to remain in your chains, but I will continue to stand before Him and ask Him to humble you. Amen!

MARK 10 COMMENTARY

This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.

So what does the Holy Spirit want us to see in this chapter? The effects of blindness.

Verses 1-12 — Jesus is teaching. He does not only heal and deliver, but He teaches. Take heed of His words, and you will be blessed, indeed!

Of course, the blind Pharisees do not receive the truth that Jesus is teaching. The effects of blindness! They are only present because they very much want to make Him stumble in His words. So they ask about divorce. I am sure they were being convicted of their sin, as He spoke.

At that time, Jewish men with roving eyes divorced their wives for the slightest thing — maybe the food was not hot when she served it. That way, they could marry the one that caught their eye. So they used the law Moses wrote (not God) regarding divorce, for their own selfish interests. Moses wrote that law because Israel’s hearts were hardened, even then.

Jesus says that law was written because their hearts were hardened. What does it mean to have a hardened heart? It means you follow the letter of the law, but you use it for self-interest.

A person (I’ll use the pronoun “he,” just to make it easier) goes to church and does good works like feeding and clothing the poor, singing in the choir and going to the church every time the door is open. Others admire him and say, “What a great guy!”  Yet he is secretly disobedient to God, sinning against Him in private.

And if a friend comes and speaks to him about the state of his soul, the friend is rejected and rebuffed. The great guy doesn’t want anyone to make him feel bad about what he is doing. He just wants to keep doing what he’s doing. It was the same with the Jews and divorce for selfish purposes, and Jesus was the Friend they rejected and rebuffed.

After Jesus reminds the Pharisees of why Moses made a divorce law, He uses the Word of God to remind them of the heart of God. Male and female, a man leaving his father and mother, the two (male and female) becoming one flesh. Then Jesus says, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” That is God’s heart and that is a command.

The disciples privately question Jesus about what He means. If you are a man and divorce your wife so you can marry another woman, you commit adultery, He says. If a woman divorces her husband so she can marry another man, she commits adultery, He says.

Notice the reason Jesus calls divorce adultery, in this case. Lust. You have your eye on someone else. You lust after that one. So you divorce your husband or wife. That is adultery. That is exactly what the Jews (including some of the Pharisees) were doing at the time Jesus walked the earth.

Jesus says,”Let no man separate.” Let no man or woman separate. Husband, do not lust after another woman who will separate you from your wife, and wife, do not lust after another man who will separate you from your husband.

Instead, ask God, by His Holy Spirit, to fill and thereby purify your heart so you have no desire for anyone but your own spouse. Amen!

I do not believe that a man or woman whose husband is incurably unfaithful (after counseling is attempted), or abusive, is held to this commandment of Jesus Christ. Such situations have nothing to do with roving, lustful, adulterous eyes.

I support that belief with scripture, and Jeff’s and my case —

1Corinthians 7:15 and 7:24 speak of what happens when you are married and you become a believer. Your husband or wife does not believe, and they leave you. It is not a sin to let them go and to divorce them to avoid legal issues later. You are not bound to them, in the eyes of God. And when you come to the Lord, you remain in whatever condition you were in when you believed. If you are a divorced unbeliever who married another divorced unbeliever, you don’t leave them when you come to faith in Jesus Christ. He forgives those sins.

Jeff and I were both divorcees. We did not know the Lord. We got married. Then we became believers. All of our past sins were forgiven, praise God!

Jeff did not divorce his first wife because he liked me better. He didn’t even know me. Jeff’s first wife abandoned him. I did not divorce my first husband because I liked Jeff better. I didn’t even know Jeff. I divorced my first husband because he beat me until I bled internally. I didn’t have a roving eye, but I had a black and blue body! If we were adulterers in God’s eyes, Jesus never would have healed me, and He never would have filled Jeff and me with His Spirit.

Verses 13-16 — The Pharisees were so blind they couldn’t receive the truth Jesus was teaching.  Now the blindness continues, this time with the disciples. They do not see the kingdom of God that Jesus had told them about previously. They do not understand that little children are as welcome as any others. Everyone is welcome! They see the children as a bother, and rebuke those who bring their children so Jesus can touch them. Do you know what “touch” means? To put a light in them, to set them on fire (with His presence)! The disciples rebuke people for bringing their children so Jesus can put a light in them! Now that’s blindness, a blindness Jesus heals when He fills us with His Spirit. Then we understand, then we see.

So Jesus tells them they have it all wrong. Do not hinder them, let them come! The kingdom of God belongs to those who are like little children before Me! As a matter of fact, if you don’t receive My kingdom like a child, you won’t enter it at all.

What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a child? Complete trust in God. If a family functions as God designed it, a child trusts his father and mother completely. That requires a humble heart. The child knows he can’t fix what’s wrong, but if he brings it to his father or mother, it will be fixed. And the child seeks an innocent intimacy with his parents — appropriate hugs and kisses.

Jesus is saying you cannot be a child of God unless you trust God the Father, even to the point where you tell Him your greatest perplexities and problems, trusting that He will take care of them, and you, knowing that He is a perfect Father. That requires a humble heart. You know you can’t fix what’s wrong, but you know He can. A child of God seeks holy intimacy with God, a holy embrace between Him and His child.

The disciples can’t see that yet, because they are not filled with the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God hasn’t come to them with power, yet. But it will.

Verse 17-27 — Now we see another kind of blindness. A rich young man comes up to Jesus, calling Him “Good Teacher.” Jesus immediately says only God is good. His implicit question is this — do you call me good because you know I am God the Son?

Jesus speaks the last six commandments. So do you do good things, rich young man? And the young man proudly says, I keep all six of them. I do good things. But notice that Jesus doesn’t ask him if he does the first four commandments, which relate to love for God.

Jesus feels love for ones who are physically blind, and He feels love for ones who are spiritually blind and don’t know it. This young man doesn’t see that God must be in you, working through you, in order for you to do the kind of good that God does.

Jesus knows what issue God has with the young man. He is rich. That is his idol. That is his god. So sell everything and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then you can come and follow Me! Jesus knows what the response will be — sadness and retreat, because the young man knows he can’t let go of all of his property. The young man’s riches are his god, but he is blind and can’t see it. The effect of his blindness is that he cannot enter the kingdom.

So he does not follow Jesus, and Jesus does not go after him, either. Instead, Jesus exclaims that it is hard to enter the kingdom of God. Even harder than a camel going through the eye of a needle. He means this literally. It looks impossible.

The entrance to the kingdom of God is not large and grandiose, with a wide path. It has just a small gate, and the way is narrow, and few find it (Matthew 7:14). Few! It is hard to enter. You must be humble.

The disciples are not humble, so they do not understand. Then no one can be saved, they imply, when they say, “Then who can be saved?”

Then Jesus tells us that what looks impossible to man is possible for God. All things are possible with God!

IMPORTANT POINT:  Jesus means this in every way — All things are possible with God. With God, it is possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, for the proud to be made humble, for the spiritually blind to see, for the incurably sick to be healed and for the demon-possessed to be delivered. With God, it is even possible for a human heart to be filled with God’s actual love!

Verses 28-31 — As usual, Peter (and the rest of the disciples) try to figure out what Jesus means, and Peter takes a stab at it. We’ve left everything! That’s not what Jesus is talking about. The requirement for a humble heart, in order to enter the kingdom of God, is the point He’s making. It isn’t about giving up things. It’s about giving up YOURSELF!

But He tells them (and you) that if, for His sake and the gospel’s sake, you leave your house and your family (He doesn’t mean permanent separation from family) and your work, you will receive 100 times as much now — houses, family, houses, and jobs. All of the coming church will share what they have, every church member will be your brother or sister or mother, every child of a child of God will be like your own, everyone’s home will be your home! That was true of the early church, but as you may have noticed, that is not true in today’s church, because there are proud and spiritually blind ones among us.

And you will also endure persecution, but ultimately, eternal life! It’s a narrow way. Unless you love the world system, it will not love you and it will come against you, even violently (John 15:18-20). They can kill your body, dear one, but you’ll simply go on to be in heaven forever.

But many who are first will be last. The first to have the offer was the Jews. The Pharisees are blind. The young man is blind. The effect of their blindness is that they will not be the first to enter. But the humble ones are able to see, so they will be the first to enter.  And the last to see will be the last to enter.

Verses 32-45 — Now Jesus walks ahead of His disciples, not with them. He is on a mission to get to Jerusalem. They follow, astonished at His behavior and His words. And they are both alarmed and in awe. And with greater detail than ever, Jesus once again tells them that He will be killed and rise three days later.

The blindness of the disciples is once again obvious. James and John want preferential treatment, when Jesus reigns on the earthly throne they are expecting. He will come into Jerusalem on a white horse, and the Romans will be defeated. Their behavior is not humble. They think they deserve to have their request honored by Jesus. Their self interest is clearly in view. It will be to their advantage to have the King’s ear.

He tells them they don’t know what they’re asking. Can they take His cup — a baptism of death? Blindly they say, “We are able.” They don’t know what He’s talking about.

But He tells them they will experience a baptism of death. It will happen at Pentecost, when they die to all of their pride and self-interest. That’s the baptism they will undergo. That’s the cup they will drink. For James, his physical body will die when he is martyred for his faith, with a sword. John will live on, to receive the Revelation before his physical body dies a natural death.

Again, He admonishes them that none is better than any other of them. They must be humble, serving one another, not trying to “best” one another, not trying to jockey for position.

Do you want to be first, He says? Then be a slave to everyone, just as I am!

I did not come for you to serve Me, but to serve you by dying for you, in your place, taking your punishment upon Me; rising again, that you may have eternal life; and pouring out the Holy Spirit, so your spiritual blindness may be healed!

Verses 46-52 — Bartimaeus (whose name means “son of one who is highly prized”) is blind, but he can see before he sees! He knows that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. How do I know that? The crowd says, “It’s Jesus the Nazarene,” but he calls Him by a Messianic title: Jesus, Son of David. Have mercy on me!

Everyone wanted him to be quiet, to leave the Master alone. They spoke sternly and harshly to Bartimaeus. But he kept shouting!

Keep shouting! Pay no attention to persecution from those who are yet blind.

He will have mercy on you, when you see Him for who He really is, and cry out for mercy and refuse to stop crying out!

Jesus heard him calling, and said to the crowd, “Call him here.” And the crowd said, “Take courage (comfort, be of good cheer), stand up! He is calling for you!”

When you refuse to stop calling out to Him, He will call for you and you will be of good cheer. Bartimaeus’ continuous calling out was an indication of his faith. He knew he was coming to his Healer!

He threw aside his cloak, which was probably everything he owned. He was a blind beggar. The alms he received were likely stored there. But he didn’t care! He jumped up! He didn’t just slowly rise. He jumped! And he came to Jesus, feeling his way through the crowd. Can you see it! He was desperate!

Jesus asks a seemingly foolish question. The man is obviously blind, yet Jesus asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him!

What do you want Jesus to do for you? He wants you to tell Him, just like when I had MS and I had to tell Him what was wrong in my brain and spinal cord, what needed to be healed and recreated. It was an act of faith to tell Him. And so it was for Bartimaeus, the blind man who could see, even before he was healed!

And the man said, “Rabboni (Teacher, a title of respect), I want to regain my sight!”

And Jesus says, “Go! Your faith has made you well.” Does that mean the faith Bartimaeus exhibited had some kind of healing power? No! It means that his faith brought him to the One who heals. So, in that sense, his faith made him well. When?

Immediately! Immediately! No waiting! When you have faith, when you know Who you are coming to, the Christ, the Son of God, when you know He is able to heal you and you are so desperate that you’ll throw away everything when He calls your name —

immediately! At that moment, not when he had faith, but when he stood before Jesus and healing power went forth from Jesus. Immediately!
I challenge you, because I love you with God’s own love — if you say, “I can’t wait until Jesus heals me,” you are not yet desperate, and I will tell you that He is waiting for you to come to Him.

Immediately he regains his sight. His response? Does he just walk away? Does he just say, “Thanks, Jesus, now I have my life back.” No! He immediately began following Jesus on the road. Will you?

 

MARK 7 COMMENTARY

This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.

Jesus is coming against Satan’s work in this chapter, all the way through. First, He calls out the Pharisees and scribes on their religion of tradition and legalism. They have a religious spirit (see comments below). Then, He frees a young girl who is not even present with Him but is afflicted by a demons. Then, He heals a man who is deaf and unable to speak.

He does not do these wonderful works in Jerusalem, but in non-Jewish cities. The mother of the child with the demon is not Jewish. The man who is deaf and mute lives in a non-Jewish region and is likely not Jewish.

Verses 1-5 — Before He does these miraculous things, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees and scribes. Their tradition says you have to wash your hands not just with water and soap, but also do a ritualistic washing with special water. They do the same with pots and cups and pitchers. You’re not pure, or the object is not pure, unless you do both.

Think of it — they are confronting Jesus, who is performing all kinds of miracles that can only be done by God, about a bunch of rituals. They have a religious spirit which is demonic in nature. In John 8:44, He flat-out tells them that the devil is their father. They are truly blind guides of the blind (Matthew 15:14), because they don’t recognize their Messiah, their Christ, even with the evidence all His “God works!”

So they come right out and ask Him. They accuse His disciples of eating with impure hands.

Verses 6-13 — His answer? He says the prophet Isaiah was right! They are hypocrites, telling people to follow tradition, while they dishonor God the Son who stands before them. They go through the motions of honoring God with their religious observances and rules. They say honorable things about God.

But their hearts are far from God, or they would recognize Jesus as God the Son. So their worship of God is outward only — their hearts aren’t in it. They are not worshiping God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

The highest commandment of God is to love Him. They neglect this highest command by not loving God the Son.

And they teach their rules and regulations as if they came from God, holding to those traditions, but they do not love God.

They go so far as to say, “Sorry, Mother and Father. I can’t help you financially. All of my money is dedicated to God.” By doing so, they dishonor their mothers and fathers. And they teach others to do the same. They make the Word of God null and void by overriding  it with their man-made rules and regulations. And they do many things like that, Jesus tells them.

Their hearts are far from God.

Important point: Christianity is a religion of the heart, not i-dotting and t-crossing.

Verse 14-16 Jesus then calls the crowd to Himself. He will teach them. Listen and understand. When Jesus speaks, you can’t just hear it; you have to understand it, comprehend it, and become wise from what He says.

If you ask Him, He will help you understand it. How do I know that?

When I was on my journey to being healed by Jesus of MS, I asked the Lord to make His Word real in my heart, and He did. Later, when I was filled with His Holy Spirit, the whole Word of God became understandable, and I began to connect the dots (like that old childhood puzzle) until my view became much clearer and wider. It’s an ongoing process, even now.

None of these outward rules and regulations matter to God. What you wear, ritualistic washing, or food does not make you pure or impure. God looks at your heart. Impurity resides in the heart. Your heart is either pure or impure. If it is pure, purity will come out of you. If it is impure, impurity will come out of you, and you will be completely impure because of the contents of your heart.

Important point: Again, Christianity has to do with the heart, not outward rules and regulations. God’s purpose and goal and will is that your heart be purified by the Heart-Changer, when He fills you with His Holy Spirit. Then you obey Him from a heart that is filled with His love, and people notice that you have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). His Holy Spirit’s fingerprints are all over your heart. It is visible to everyone. Then you are Jesus Christ’s witness where you live and everywhere you go.

So if anyone has ears to hear and heed, let him hear.

Verses 16-23 — Jesus’ disciples aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit yet, so they don’t understand. He marvels at their inability to comprehend such a basic truth. So He teaches them privately. What issues forth from the heart either makes someone impure or pure. Christianity is a heart religion. God wants your heart — all of it — so He can make it pure and take out everything that isn’t like Jesus.

If you eat something, it is digested and excreted. So food neither makes you pure or impure, because digestion has nothing to do with your heart. Jesus comes against the Jewish laws about food, because they have turned those laws into a measuring stick for how good you are.

It is out of the heart that evil proceeds: evil thoughts, the desire to have sex before marriage, thefts, murders, adulteries, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. That’s what makes a person impure, and they will remain that way until they ask the Heart-Changer to remove all of that.

Verses 24-26 — Jesus travels to Tyre. But He can’t escape notice. News traveled quickly, even with no Internet, Facebook or CNN. The Healer and Deliverer is here! What good news! And if you are His disciple, He will use you even now to heal and deliver.

Syrophoenicians are especially hated by Jews (but not hated by Jesus), because they are non-Jewish and have been, through the centuries, the enemies of Israel.

How brave, how desperate this woman is, then! An enemy of Israel, a Gentile dog, comes and falls at His feet. That’s proskuneo — she worships Him. Unlike the blind Pharisees and scribes, she clearly understands that she is coming before God the Son.

She refuses to go away. She asks him to cast a demon out of her daughter, who is not even on the scene. That’s desperation. Are you desperate? God loves people who come to Him with desperate hearts, people who are willing to crouch low before Him, honoring Him and agreeing with Him that He is God and they are not.

Verses 27-30 — Now she will have to go toe-to-toe with Jesus. He tells her He was sent to Israel — God’s original children — first. So they are God’s children. Will the woman rob them of their food from Him?

She persists. Her faith is amazing. She knows that if He says so, her daughter will be set free from the demon. So she says, “Give me a crumb. All I need is a crumb.”

She answered well. All she needs is a crumb. Jesus says it’s done. And she believes Him and goes home and finds her daughter delivered, long-distance.

All you need is a crumb from His table. I’m living and well today because I persisted in asking for a crumb.

And distance means nothing in the spiritual realm. Jesus, and those who are filled with His Spirit, are able to heal from afar. Glory to God!

Verses 31-37 — Traveling from there, Jesus goes back to the Decapolis, where He sent the man delivered of 2,000 demons in Chapter 5. When the people hear He has arrived, they bring the deaf and mute man to Him and plead with Jesus to lay His hand on him to heal him.

Jesus doesn’t always heal by the same method. Sometimes He says, “Get up!” Sometimes He touches. Sometimes He makes mud and puts it in the eye sockets of someone who was born without eyes (see John 9). Sometimes someone touches His clothing and healing power flows from Him to heal them.

This time, He takes the man away from the crowd, away from all distractions — not for Jesus’ sake, but for the man’s. Jesus worked in crowds all the time.

Jesus puts His fingers in the mans’ ears. Then He spits on His hands and puts His spit-covered finger on the man’s tongue. Then He looks to heaven, sighs deeply, and commands, “Be opened!”

And the man instantly hears and speaks. Word gets around, even though Jesus told everyone not to speak of what He had done.

What made the crowd superabundantly, exceedingly astonished beyond measure? A demon caused the man to be deaf and mute. When Jewish exorcists drove out a demon from a person, the demon had to first say its name. This demon made this man mute, so the demon couldn’t speak the demon’s name through the man’s mouth. The demon did that on purpose, knowing that Jewish exorcists would therefore not be able to deliver the man. But that didn’t make any difference to Jesus; He was able to cast out demons regardless of whether they could say their names, or had made their victims mute. The man’s ears and mouth HAD to be opened when He spoke, “Be opened!.” The crowd had never seen anyone who could cast out a demon without having it speak its name through the mouth of its victim.

Important point: When He speaks, it must be done. No demon can disobey His command. No sickness is too great. No heart is too dark that the Heart-Changer can’t change it, instantly. Do you believe Him?