NOTHING TOO DIFFICULT

[SW218] 01/29/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“Nothing Too Difficult”

Text: Jeremiah 32:24ff, Mark 9:23, John 17:26

The Lord does the impossible, in human hearts AND in human bodies! And then the world believes that the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ!

In Jeremiah 32:17, Jeremiah says to the Lord, “Behold! Nothing is too difficult for You!”

But in Verse 24, he says, “Behold! Siege ramps!” He thinks it will be impossible for him to return to the land he bought per the Lord’s command.

What is God’s response? Three “Beholds!”

In Verse 27 He says, “Behold! I am the Lord God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?” Nothing is too difficult for Him!

In Verse 28, He says, “Behold!”  Yes, I am giving this city to Nebuchadnezzar. Yes, this city will be burned. Yes, it is because they have turned their back to Me and not their face (verse 33), even though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction.

In Verse 37, He says, “Behold!” I will gather them (a remnant of His people) . . .

Jeremiah 32:39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.  40 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

And His promise is fulfilled to all who will believe He can do it. Jesus prayed this, to activate this promise (my emphasis):

John 17:23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

John 17:26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

This “one heart and one way,” this “I in them”, this “love of God” (His actual love) in our hearts,  happens when we believe God’s Word and ask Him to dwell in us fully. Then we are filled with His Spirit, and His promise is fulfilled when we are filled full! Nothing is too difficult for the Lord!

And this is so the world may know that God the Father sent Jesus Christ and loves us with the same love He has for His Son!

God receives all the glory because of what happens IN us.

But He receives glory because of what happens TO us, when He miraculously heals our bodies and delivers us from demons. Miracles yield repentance.The world must admit that nothing is too difficult for God!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) He is still doing what He did when He walked the earth — through His church (all who believe in Jesus Christ, Jew or non-Jew), and sometimes, despite His church.

Was blindness too difficult for Jesus? Was deafness too difficult for Jesus? Was paralysis too difficult for Jesus? Was demon possession too difficult for Jesus? He even raised the dead — Lazarus, and the son of the widow at Nain.

Was a demon-possessed child too difficult for Jesus to deliver (Mark 9:22-23)?

All things are possible to him who believes!

I tell you, He heals every sickness, every disease, and demons flee at His command! And when we are His, the Lord will do the same through us, if we believe.

Real-life testimonies:

— Jeff and I traveled with our pastor to a hospital in northern Maine, to minister to a man’s mother. She had not been in her right mind for some time, and now she had lapsed into a coma. Her son was in her room in the ICU, anxiously watching all the monitors.

Unbelief was thick in that room! So we asked our pastor to take the son to the hospital cafeteria for some coffee. After they left, Jeff and I prayed for the Lord to raise her up, to awaken her. Then we traveled home.

The next day, the son called our pastor, his voice filled with excitement! His mother had awakened, and was being discharged to home. For seven days, she was in her right mind and spent powerful times of reconciliation and love with her family, and then the Lord took her to be with Him.

— A man came to our church. He was a Vietnam vet who had suffered an open brain injury in the war. The side of his head bore a huge scar. He constantly struggled to be in his right mind. One day, as he was coming forward for prayer at the altar call, the Lord prompted me to exclaim to him, “You have the mind of Christ!” He held onto that word, and the next week, he testified that he no longer struggled.

And here is my testimony of Jeff’s and my heart change  —

My heart was very rebellious. I went after “new age things” and other religions. Jeff was an atheist.

But nothing is too difficult for God!

I testify that after I was healed of MS because nothing is too difficult for God, when I was filled with the Holy Spirit, my heart was instantly and permanently changed, because nothing is too difficult for God!

I love with a love I never experienced before. All hatred and anger are gone. His love has filled my heart.

Hope does not disappoint, beloved, for God pours out His love to overflowing by the Holy Spirit who indwells you, if you believe Him and ask Him to do it  (Romans 5:5).

Yes, I am still growing, still maturing, going from image to image and glory to glory. But it is easy, because my heart loves God with God’s love, and I continually ask God to make me more and more and more like Jesus Christ!

The same is true of Jeff. You know his physical heart was healed in 2011. But ten years earlier, in 2001, his heart was healed toward God, and he was filled with God’s love. Oh, what a change! And we love each other with God’s love. What a change in our marriage! No more selfishness. No more “what’s in it for me.” No more “I, me, my!” We are both focused on the Lord and loving servants to each other. Now that’s a marriage made in heaven!

All of these things — inward change and outward healing — glorify God, because there is no way we can become obedient by trying really hard. And there is no way I can heal myself of an incurable disease. These things would be too difficult!

But God! With Him, all things are possible! Nothing is too difficult for Him!

Don’t let the devil tell you it’s just for Jeff and Sue. We are not special. He offers this to everyone, everywhere, all the time!

Now, you have come to a fork in the road. When giving directions to his house, Yogi Berra would say, “When you see the fork in the road, take it.” Both ways led to his house.

But with this fork in the road, only one way leads to God’s house.

You have free will to go to the left, or go to the right.

It is your choice!

If you go to the right, you will get down on your knees right now, you will bow your heart, you will humble yourself, you will confess your waywardness, and you will agree with God that you cannot become obedient by trying really hard. And you will ask Him to change your heart. And He will. Nothing is too difficult for Him!

If you are possessed, oppressed, depressed, or sick, you will get down on your knees again, and you will agree with God that nothing is impossible, and He will heal you. Nothing is too difficult for Him!

Right now, the Lord is touching you, and you are confessing. And He has come to heal you, and free you, and change your heart. He is doing this right now. He is doing this right now.

Please, do not go to the left. It is a dead end, beloved.

 

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STORMS

[SW211] 12/11/2015 message notes by
Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2015

“Storms”

Storms (troubles) come to all of us. You want your storm to be stilled, but you must first understand the cause of the storm. Then you will know how to cry out to your Father in heaven, and He will rescue you!

Please know that Jesus Christ has rescued me out of each of the storms described in Psalm 107.

So why do storms come into your life?

The Holy Spirit tells us, through the psalmist —

vv. 4-9

Cause: Unbelief/lack of trust in God, referring to Numbers 13:31-33, when all but two spies said Israel was not strong enough to defeat the giants in the land.

Result: Desert wandering/humbling

The cry to the Lord: Help my unbelief, change my heart! A broken and contrite, crushed and crouching heart, He will not despise (Psalm 51:17).
The Lord’s response: Deliverance!

Your response: Thank Him for His lovingkindness and His wonders, on your behalf! Continually. Forever.

Don’t do as I did, when the Lord delivered me from drug addiction. I just woke up in my right mind, and went on my merry way without a thought of Him! Thank You, Jesus, for forgiving me, Lord, when I turned to You many years later!
vv. 10-15

Cause: Rejecting God’s wisdom/Word

Result: Chains, labor, darkness, shadow of death

The cry to the Lord: Forgive me, Lord! Change my heart!

The Lord’s response: He brings you out!

Your response: Thank Him for His lovingkindness and His wonders, on your behalf! Continually. Forever.

Well, that’s what happened because I didn’t turn to God after He healed me of drug addiction. I went on, unchanged, not wanting to hear His name mentioned in conversation. But a time came when I found myself in chains and in the shadow of death, and I no longer rejected His wisdom and His Word.

vv. 17-22

Cause: Rebellion/sin

Result: Sickness, just as when I was stricken with MS, an incurable disease!

The cry to the Lord: Forgive me, Lord, Change my heart! Heal me!

The Lord’s response: He sends His Word and heals you, and delivers you from the pit!

NOTE: Example in Isaiah 38: 21 — the poultice of figs to heal King Hezekiah’s boil! For me, “You’re sinking in a sea of doubt.”

Your response: Thank Him for His lovingkindness and His wonders, on your behalf! Continually. Forever. Yes, Lord, yes. Now I do!
vv. 23-31

Cause: A test of faith that has nothing to do with rebellion, sin, unbelief, or rejection of God’s Word and counsel.

The Lord Himself raised up a strong wind.

Result: All their wisdom was swallowed up.

The cry to the Lord: Don’t You care that we are perishing? (Mark 4:38)
Save us, Lord! (Matthew 8:25)

Now the Lord wants to fill you with His Spirit (which had not yet happened to His disciples in this passage), so you won’t cry, “Don’t You care?” You know He does; you just ask what He wants you to do. If it’s just “sit tight,” then you do it. You trust Him to bring you through.

The Lord’s response: He calms the winds and sea.

Your response: Thank Him for His lovingkindness and His wonders, on your behalf! Continually. Forever.

vv. 39-42 Princes (those who do not think they need to cry out) end up in misery, chains, captivity. But He sets the needy (who know they need to cry out) in an inaccessibly high place (seated with Him in heavenly places, per Ephesians 2:6)!
Glory to God!

v. 43 Consider, give heed!

MARK 6 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.

Verses 1-6 — There are many listeners in the synagogue, but there is no mention of crowds in Mark’s account of Jesus teaching at Nazareth. Keep that in mind.

He is soundly rejected by His hometown synagogue. After all, He is simply a carpenter, the son of Mary. They are offended by Him. Who does He think He is, teaching us? Where does He get His wisdom? How did He get the power to do the miracles we’re hearing about? Humph!!!

When Verse 3 says “they took offense,” the word means they were tripped up. The Greek word is skandalizo, from which we get our word, “scandalous.” They disapproved of Him, which tripped them up. He became a stumbling stone, a rock of offense (Matthew 21:42, Romans 9:33, 1Peter 2:8).

So was it their unbelief that blocked Jesus from doing miracles in His hometown? No! As I said, there were no crowds. They did not believe He could heal, so most did not come to Him. But those few who DID come to Him were healed.

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus is not stopped by unbelief; but if you do not come to Him for healing, you will not be healed by Him.

Verses 7-13 — The Twelve disciples are sent out in pairs. They are given authority over evil spirits. They also preach that men should repent (verse 12). They cast out many demons and anoint sick people with oil so they are healed (verse 13). Again, the “many” here indicates that if someone comes to them, they are set free from demons and healed of sicknesses.

We who belong to Jesus, who follow Him, love Him, and obey Him, also have this authority, and the ability to anoint for healing.

Note that as they are sent out, Jesus commands them to take only the clothes on their back and the sandals on their feet. Those to whom they minister are to provide for their needs. But if any reject them (verses 10-11), they are to shake the dust off the soles of their feet for a testimony against them.

The shaking off the dust from their feet (v.11) may be understood in the light of the Jewish custom of removing carefully the dust from both clothes and feet before reentering Jewish territory (cf. SBK, 1:571). For the Jews heathen dust was defiling. The significance of the act here is to declare the place to be heathen and to make it clear that those who rejected the message must now answer for themselves.

Don’t let their rejection cling to you, Jesus says. Amen!
Verses 14-29 — King Herod has been warned by John the Baptist that having sex with his brother’s wife is a sin against God (verse 18). So Herod imprisons him, but keeps him safe (though in a dungeon!). Then he makes a foolish vow to Herodias’ daughter. And John loses his head for Jesus. John’s disciples take his body away and lay it in a tomb.

Verses 30-32 — The disciples return from being sent out, report all that happened to Jesus, and He commands them to come away and rest. It is essential, when we are being used in such a way by God, that we rest afterwards, away from people who would like us to continue to minister. It is God’s power, not ours, by which we work, but intense ministry does tire our physical bodies.

Verses 33-44 — Our God is the God of more than enough. Jesus and the Twelve cannot keep the crowds away. They arrive ahead of them, and Jesus feels compassion for them. They are like sheep without a shepherd. He sees the same thing today. Many are misled, many are not offered anointing for healing, many remain possessed by evil spirits, many receive no teaching at all. So they wander around, directionless.

For everyone filled with Jesus, our inward parts are physically moved at such conditions. And the response of a Spirit-filled believer in Jesus Christ is to immediately begin teaching these sheep many things, because the Holy Spirit who has filled us is the Author of the Word of God, and He teaches us so we can teach others.

Jesus teaches for a long time, and the crowd is hungry. The disciples think Jesus should send them away so they can find food. But Jesus says, “YOU feed them!” With what? Five loaves and two fish. But there are 5,000, excluding women and children!!! How can this be?

He commands the crowd to sit down in groups, blesses the food as He looks heavenward, breaks the loaves continuously, and distributes the pieces of fish continuously — way beyond what He started with! He continues until every person is satisfied. Not just a taste. They are full.

This God of more than enough has more than enough of whatever you need. Have you heard Him teach? Seek Him out!

Verses 45-52 — This is the scene the Lord brought to mind the night I was healed of MS. His words here literally are, “Be comforted! I AM (I am the I AM of the burning bush in Exodus 3:14)! Do not fear!”

Are you in a storm of sickness or confusion or some other situation? Do not be afraid. He is coming. Invite Him into your boat. He will rescue you. He will calm the sea and the wind. Do not be astonished. He is God the Son! If you are astonished, it is because you do not yet see Him. Your heart is blind. Ask Him to soften your heart. He will do it, and you will see.

Verse 53-56 — Jesus is coming! Everyone runs to get sick ones. Everywhere Jesus goes, sick ones are laid in the market places, so they might touch the fringe of His garment. As many as touch the fringe of His cloak are being cured.

I repeat, as many as touch the fringe of His cloak are being cured.

They are desperate. They believe if they touch the fringe of His cloak, they will be healed. And they are. Are you desperate enough to ask Him to come by so you can touch His garment? Do you believe you will be healed, if you touch it?

MARK 5 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.

Verse 1-2 — Jesus calmed the sea and the boat reached the shore. Immediately a demon-possessed man meets Him. You will find that despite demon possession or illness, you will seek to meet Jesus when you see Him.

Verse 3-5 — The man is terribly possessed, breaking his chains, screaming, gashing himself.

Verse 6 — The man runs up to Jesus and bows down. The Greek word is proskuneo. He worships Jesus. That means he understands, despite his demon possession, that Jesus is God in the flesh.

Verse 7-10 — Then the demons speak from the man. Jesus is telling them to come out. They consider this to be torment. No demon wants to be in a spiritual desert. Demons want to enter into and possess someone or something that is alive.

Jesus asks the name of the demons, and the demons answer “Legion,” because there are many demons in this man. They didn’t want to be sent out of the country. What does that mean? Powers and principalities are demonic forces that occupy geographical areas all across the earth. They are in their area, and they don’t want to leave it.

Verse 11-14 — They can only do what Jesus permits them to do, and they must leave the man because He is commanding them to come out. So they beg to enter a herd of pigs. Jesus gives them permission. Why? He knows what is going to happen next.

As soon as the demons enter the pigs, the animals kill themselves by running into the sea and drowning. There were 2,000 of them. That means there were 2,000 demons in this one man! But NOTHING is too difficult for Jesus, and Satan and his demons must obey Him.

Verse 15-16 — The pig farmers run and report what happened. Everyone comes to see what has happened. They are frightened when they see the demon possessed man clothed and in his right mind, and when they hear the story. Why are they afraid? They know they are dealing with Someone much greater than them, and much greater than demons — they are dealing with God.

Verse 17-20 — Losing 2,000 pigs is a financial disaster. So the people strongly beseech Jesus to leave.

But the man who was delivered from all those demons asks to go with Jesus. But Jesus tells him to go home to his people (he is not Jewish) and tell them what great things the Lord has done for him. The man gladly obeys, and goes to the Decapolis, a cluster of 10 Greek (non-Jewish) cities nearby. Everyone who hears is amazed.

You will be like that man, when you are healed and delivered. You will shout from the rooftops! And people will be amazed at your testimony, just as they are amazed at mine. God the Son does GREAT things!

Verse 21-23 — Again a large crowd gathers as Jesus crosses the sea again and comes ashore. One in the crowd is Jairus, a Jewish synagogue official. He has a daughter who is at the point of dying. He also has a great deal of faith.

He falls at Jesus’ feet, and again, it is proskuneo. He understands that he is before the very Son of God, and he worships Him. He beseeches Jesus, he pleads for Jesus to come. If Jesus just lays His hands on Jairus’ daughter, Jairus knows she will be healed. He has faith!

Verse 24-29 — As Jesus starts to go with him, another large crowd follows, so large that people push up against Him.

But in that crowd, there is another person with faith. She has a bleeding problem which makes her unclean according to Jewish law. She is not supposed to be around other people, because her presence will make them unclean, too.

She has spent all her money on physicians, and endured much at their hands, but they cannot heal her.

She hears about Jesus, and breaks all the rules about uncleanness, breaks through the crowd, and comes up behind Him. She is desperate. As she pushes through, she is thinking, “If I just touch His garments I will get well.”

As soon as she touches His garments, the bleeding stops and she feels in her body that she is healed.

I know that feeling. When Jesus Christ healed me of progressive MS 14 years ago, I felt His power go through me, and I knew He was healing me.

Verse 30-34 — Jesus senses that power has gone out from Him. He asks, “Who touched My garments?”

Important point: Just touching His garments is enough to heal you! Are you desperate? Break the rules, break through the crowds!

His disciples think it is impossible to determine who touched Him, with the large crowd pressing in. But He looks and sees the woman.

She comes forward, afraid and trembling, and falls down before Jesus. Again, it is proskuneo. She worships Him.

You will worship Him, too, when He heals you. She confesses the whole truth. His response? Her faith has healed her. He commands her to go in peace. After all of that sickness, she is well, and at peace!

When Jesus says, “Your faith has healed you,” does He literally mean that faith heals us? No, God the Father heals us. God the Son, Jesus Christ, heals us.

Important point: We will not come to Him to be healed if we don’t believe He can do it. So in that way, the woman’s faith has healed her. If she had no faith, she would never have pushed through the crowd in desperation, in order to touch His garments and be healed by Him. Faith makes you desperate to touch Him.

Verse 35-40 —A bad report comes — it’s too late. Jairus’ daughter has died. No need to bother the Teacher. Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid (that it’s too late). Only believe.”

Only believe. That’s all you have to do. He’ll do the rest. Believe and He will show you that what He says is true. Without faith it is impossible to please God, for if you come to Him, you believe He is real and not just some theory. And He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Jesus arrives at Jairus’ house, accompanied by Peter, James and John. He is teaching them, their faith will be increased by what is about to happen, and they will be eyewitnesses who will report His miraculous works to others.

The professional mourners are busy at work. Unbelief saturates the whole scene. Woe! Woe! Woe!

But Jesus rebukes them and goes into the house. They laugh when He says she has not died; she’s just asleep. He puts them out — He removes the unbelieving ones from the scene, and goes into the girl’s room.

NOTE: When you know Jesus, you do not die. Your spirit goes to Him. To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2Corinthians 5:8). But your body sleeps.

Then, the Author of life does what only God can do. He takes Jairus’ dead daughter by the hand and says “Get up!” She has to do it. He has commanded it. And she begins to walk around. She is 12 years old.

And her parents and Peter, James and John are astounded. They wonder, they are amazed, they are astonished.

Jesus says, “Give her something to eat.” It is another proof that she is not a ghost, but alive!

I tell you, when Jesus does His work in you, many will wonder at it, many will be amazed, many will be astonished.

He gives life to the dead, physically and spiritually. He is still doing that, because He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!

Only believe! If you do, you will come to Him, you will touch His garment, and you will be healed. Even though you have been given up for dead, He will raise you to life!

MARK 4 COMMENTARY

Now Jesus speaks of another kind of healing, even more important and earth-shaking than physical healing of an incurable disease! He teaches how to be healed in your relationship with God. It’s broken, but He will heal it.

Verses 1-2 — Jesus attracts large crowds, especially when He is teaching. Again, He gets into a boat by the sea and sits down. Everyone gathers on the shore. Jesus attracts large crowds when He is teaching through someone who knows Him intimately, too.

He teaches in parables (symbolism in stories) because the Jews have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. It is an important turning point. He taught plainly and directly, but now he teaches in what seem like riddles to some of his hearers.

Verse 3-8 — He speaks of things the crowd understands. Many work in the fields.

If seed falls by the road, where feet have compacted the soil, it simply lies there. Birds come and eat it.

If seed falls in rocky soil where the soil is shallow, a plant springs up, but its roots can’t go down through the rocks. So when the sun rises, the plant withers and dies.

If seed falls on thorns, plants will come up, but their fruitfulness will be choked out by the thorns. The plants may stay alive, but just barely. So they cannot produce what they should produce.

If seed falls on good soil, it grows up, it is productive, it increases. Every seed multiplies its production, creating a 30 or 60 or even 100 times greater harvest.

Verse 9 — Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear. Huh? “Ears to hear” means more than natural ears hearing a sound. It means ears to hear and heed what is said, ears to hear and understand the parable just spoken by Jesus. Hear, He says to such ones. Do you want to understand the words of Jesus? Then ask Him for ears to hear.

Verse 10-11a — Well, His followers have not experienced Pentecost yet (see Acts 2). So they do not understand.

And Jesus says something strange to them. He tells them they have been given a gift. He is speaking of their future, when they will understand His words. The gift is this — they will understand the mystery of the kingdom of God, because they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

It is not that the kingdom of God remains a mystery. It is a mystery revealed, for all who have ears to hear. It is a mystery revealed, for all who understand what Jesus is saying.

The kingdom of God that the Jewish leaders are looking for is a kingdom where one of King David’s descendants rides into town on a white horse, whips the Roman Empire, and sets the Jews free from slavery to Rome. Wrong!

His kingdom has to do with the heart. The kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:21).

It is also established in heaven. God and Jesus Christ are seated there, even now.

When I say “within us,” I mean that when you are “saved,” you receive a measure of the Holy Spirit in you, enough for you to be recognized by God as one of His children. Yet you still have trouble obeying God.

But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, God the Father and God the Son come to live permanently within you, filling your heart completely with the Holy Spirit (John 14:23). Then your heart belongs completely to God, Jesus Christ rules and reigns in you, and it’s easy to obey.

That makes it possible for Jesus to use you to work His powerful works and to make you a witness to the world that the Bible is true and Jesus Christ came to take away mankind’s sin and fill their hearts with His Spirit, just as the Bible says.

So He sets up His kingdom in the hearts of those with ears to hear, and they go out with the power of God within them.

They work mighty works, speak powerful life-giving words, and people see that God is real and that they need Jesus Christ to save them from their sins. That’s called “repentance.”

Miracles (works of power that defy known natural laws) yield repentance.

Repentance yields salvation. That’s fruit. Thirty, sixty, a hundredfold. There’s no end to the fruit you will produce.

And the fruit is also within the one who is filled with the Spirit, because that one has the characteristics of Jesus Christ. That’s fruit, too. Thirty, sixty, a hundredfold. There’s no end to the fruit you will produce.

Verse 11b and 12 — BUT . . . Jesus tells us in the last half of Verse 11 that those who are outside will hear and not understand. It will remain a mystery to them. They will not comprehend what He is saying.

Why? Because they don’t have ears to hear. They hear audibly, but their hearts are packed down soil, or their hearts are shallow soil, or their hearts are thorny soil. So they have no understanding. Their hearts are hard, because Jesus isn’t Who they expected, and because He tells them they are wrong about many things. So they see but they do not see the truth, they hear but do not understand.

If you see and see the truth, if you hear and understand, you will turn (repent) and be healed in your relationship with God.

Verse 13 — Jesus goes on to explain. He lets us know that if we understand this parable, we will understand all His parables. The Bible opens up in a wonderful way, when You are filled with its Author. You understand it.

Verse 14-15 — The seed is the Word of God (the Bible). When it is sown in a heart with packed-down soil, Satan comes like a bird, and snatches it up.

Verse 16-17 — When the seed is sown in a heart with shallow, rocky soil, there is an immediate joyous response. But it has no firm root. So when trouble comes, the Word in rocky hearts withers like a shallow-rooted plant withers. And the Word which started to grow there dies. The shallow, rocky heart doesn’t want to be harassed or killed. So those with such hearts go away.

Verse 18-19 — When the seed is sown in a heart where the worries of this world and deceitfulness of riches and desire for other things is present, these worries and greediness choke out the Word that has begun growing. It becomes unfruitful. The Word sprang to life in their hearts. It didn’t wither, it didn’t get snatched away. But it becomes unfruitful. The plant has grown, but there is no fruit.

Verse 20 — When the seed is sown in a heart that is not packed down or rocky and shallow or crowded with other things, that heart is good soil. And the fruit I wrote about is produced.

Verse 21-24 — Is Jesus changing the subject? Not really. Those whose hearts contain good soil, who hear and understand the Word, will be like lamps on a lamp stand, They will shine brightly, and not be hidden. To those who have ears to hear and understand, Jesus says, “Hear!”

If you hear, you will receive much wisdom and truth and power from God. And He will give you more and more.

Verse 24-25 — This sounds awfully harsh, Jesus. If you have, more will be given. But if you don’t have, what you have will be taken away from you. What do You mean?

The ones who don’t have are the ones who don’t have ears to hear. They do not understand the kingdom of God. They have their own kingdoms in view — like the Jews assuming they’ll be in charge after Christ comes in on a white horse and whips the Roman Empire. Then they’ll rule and reign in Israel. And THEIR kingdoms will surely be taken away from them.

Verse 26-29 — Jesus continues to teach what the kingdom of God is. It appears out of nowhere. And you don’t have to work really hard to make it grow. It just does, seemingly all on its own.

And it produces fruit, without you having to work hard to produce it. The fruit just happens. And then you harvest the fruit. God does the work THROUGH you.

God does the work in human hearts. Because the kingdom of God has been set up in your heart, you have a front-row seat so you can “oooh” and “aaah” over what God does.

Verse 30-32 — So the kingdom of God is within you. It starts small and miraculously grows. Then it is a shelter for all who come into its shade. They have to come near to come into its shade. But if they do, their hearts will become good soil, and they will bear much fruit. The kingdom of God is like that.

Verse 33-34 — Mark re-emphasizes that Jesus only speaks in parables, but explains everything privately to His disciples. He must, until they have the kingdom of God within them, and the Holy Spirit fills them. Then they will have the Explainer inside themselves.

Verse 35-41 — Jesus wants to go to the other side of the sea (of Galilee). It’s dark. A few boats set out, including the one Jesus is in. A fierce storm suddenly comes up. Boats are being swamped. The disciples are experienced fishermen who have worked the sea for many years. But this storm scares them. They think they’ll perish. Meanwhile, Jesus is asleep. So they wake Him and scold Him. Don’t you care about us? We’re going to die!

No big deal to Jesus. He just rebukes the wind. Hush, be still. It must obey, because Jesus said it. So the sea becomes calm.

Then Jesus rebukes them, because they haven’t understood yet that He is God in the flesh, and has power over everything. They’ve seen Him do all kinds of miraculous things. They’ve seen Him do the impossible. So why are they afraid? They do not yet understand. But they will, after Pentecost.

So they still do not understand that He is God. They are amazed that the wind and sea obey Him.

Well, dear reader, if Jesus can calm the wind and the sea, He surely can heal you in your relationship to God, giving you a heart with good soil. And He surely can heal your physical body. Do you believe Him?

MARK 3 COMMENTARY

Verses 1-4  Every time Jesus enters a synagogue, where Jews worship, He is watched and rebuked by the religious leaders, in this case, the Pharisees (see verse 6). According to Jewish law, no one is to do anything on the sabbath — including healing — because God has declared it a day of rest. Here comes Jesus, calling to a man with a withered hand.

When He commanded the man to get up and come forward, the man HAD to come forward, because Jesus said it. Again, when Jesus says something, it must be done. When Jesus speaks to you through these scriptures, you must do what He commands.

Then He questions the leaders. Of course, they can’t override their rules and regulations in order to help someone in need. They can’t even see the need. How long has the man with the withered hand attended their synagogue? And no one has asked God to work through them to heal him, because you can’t heal someone on the sabbath. It’s against the rules. They completely miss the heart of God in the command to observe the sabbath. It is never to override the need to set someone free.

Verse 5 — It grieves Jesus when our hearts are hard toward Him, when He doesn’t fit our idea of who He is, when He doesn’t play by our rules. “Grieved” means distressed, filled with sorrow. He isn’t a weepy Jesus, but once again, the Jews show that they do not recognize God in the flesh, standing before them. How far they are from their God, and they don’t even know it! He is angry, but not in a human way. His is passionate indignation.

Then He says to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man had to stretch it out. Jesus commanded him to do it. The normal hand didn’t need to be stretched out, but it was impossible to stretch out the withered one. But of course, nothing is too difficult for God. So the man stretched out the withered hand, and the hand was healed. He had to stretch it out in order for it to be healed, and he had to stretch it out because Jesus commanded him to do so. Do you see it? You take a little mustard seed of faith, lift it up to Jesus, and then watch Him do exactly what He has said He will do!

Verse 6 — Now the Pharisees conspire to kill Jesus. He is ruining their religious system, and they are both threatened by Him and jealous of Him.

Verse 7-12 — Jesus withdraws, but not in surrender or fear. He simply goes to a place where people will receive Him. He is surrounded  by crowds, because He has healed many — again, this really means “all.” Because of the crowding, He asks for a boat. Other gospels tell us He preached from there. Everyone with afflictions, everyone possessed by an evil spirit, wants to touch Him so they can be healed. You don’t have to wait for Him to touch you You can reach out right now and touch Jesus, and He will heal you. Get close to Him. There are no crowds to push to the side. There were no crowds in my bedroom, on September 1, 2001.

The demons know who Jesus is. The common people know who Jesus is. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders do not know Him, though they ought to know Him. They study Him all the time in the Old Testament.

Jesus tells the evil spirits not to tell anyone who He is, but they SHOUT it anyway, as they fall down before Him. Why doesn’t Jesus want to be known to everyone as the Son of God? His time has not yet come. When He rises from the tomb three days after being laid there, everyone will know.

Verse 13-19 — An important point. You do not make a decision to receive Jesus. He chooses you. What happened after He chose them? He sent them out to preach and GAVE THEM AUTHORITY to cast out demons. Matthew 10:7-8 is a more complete description of what He told them to do. He is the One who gives us authority — we do not take it upon ourselves to heal, cast out, cleanse and raise from the dead. We do it under His authority and command.

NOTE: The Zebedee brothers are called “Sons of Thunder” because of the incident recorded in Luke 9:54.

Verse 20-21 — Back in Capernaum, crowds surround Jesus and the disciples. There is no room even to eat a meal! Everyone wanted to be set free! But what is the response of His family? They think He has lost His mind.

Verse 22-29 — The scribes are equally blind about Jesus. They say He is possessed by the devil (Beelzebul) and that it is by the devil’s power that Jesus casts out demons.

They have just committed the unpardonable sin — that is, they attribute what God is doing to the devil. They call the Holy Spirit unholy. Jesus explains in Matthew 12:31 that any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people (if they repent and turn to Him), but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. It is an eternal sin, as He says in Mark 3:29.

Of course, it makes no sense that the devil would want to cast his own demons out of people. The devil’s house would be divided against itself. It is absurd. How can Satan cast out Satan? Why would Satan want to do that? I tell you that Satan is finished. It happened on a tree in Calvary. But he’s still around, afflicting those who do not know Jesus, and lying to those who DO know Jesus. Don’t believe a word he says. Believe Jesus.

Verse 30-35 — Outside are the mother and brothers of Jesus, who think He has lost His mind. They want Him to come with them. Jesus says His true mothers and brothers are before Him already! His true mothers and sisters and brothers, His true family, are those who do God’s will. Many claim they are part of the family of God and that Jesus is their Savior, but they disobey God. They are not part of His family at all.

MARK 2 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 is broken.

Verse 1-2 — Jesus has returned from Galilee to Capernaum, his home base. Crowds form, because they have heard what He did in Galilee. The place where He is staying is packed with people, and it is impossible to even squeeze through the door to get in.

I tell you, when Jesus works His works even today, He attracts crowds. As with your own case, there are many sicknesses and diseases and mental problems and demonically possessed people that are considered incurable by modern medicine. Even today, some Christian healing ministries are very large and famous. I leave it to God to judge which are truly the work of Jesus, and which are not. But Jesus is still working!

Verse 3-5 — Four men cannot enter by the usual way, with their paralyzed friend. They are sure if they can just reach Jesus, their friend will be healed. That’s faith. So they remove the tiles on the roof and make a big enough hole so they can lower their friend down. That’s faith. Jesus sees their faith.

What is His response? “Son, your sins are forgiven.” That means that his disease is related somehow to sin in his life. The sin problem has to be dealt with before the man is in a spiritual position to be healed. If you have confessed your sins and have been saved. You are in a spiritual position to be healed.

Verse 6-8 — The scribes (Jewish men who specialize in Jewish religious law), are upset that Jesus forgives the man’s sins. Only God can forgive sins, and by doing it, Jesus is proclaiming He is equal to God. They don’t say these words, but they are thinking them, in their hearts.

Here’s a very important point. Jesus knows what you are thinking without you speaking it. So be honest with Him. Are you doubting? He knows already. Be honest, confess it, and ask Him to increase your faith. He will.

Verse 9-12 — Both “your sins are forgiven” and “get up, pick up your mat and walk,” are equally easy for the Son of God. He’s already done the first. Now He does the second. And the man gets up, picks up his mat, and walks. He has to. Jesus said it.

And the people marvel, because the scribes and Jewish leaders have no such power or authority. That’s why they have never seen anything like Jesus’ works.

Verse 13 — Note that Jesus never goes anywhere without teaching. It is never just a matter of laying hands on the sick so they get well. It is teaching, teaching, teaching. About what? About Him, about God, about sin, about repentance from sin, and about forgiveness from God.

Verse 14 — Again, Jesus says “Follow Me,” and Levi (Matthew) immediately leaves His money, His whole business, and follows Jesus. He cannot help but follow. Jesus said it. You cannot help but be healed, when you understand that Jesus says it.

Verse 15-16 — The scribes and Pharisees are holier-than-thou. If someone isn’t religious like them, they don’t want to eat with them, touch them, or get near them in any way. So when Jesus eats with the non-religious, and the Pharisees see that many are following Him, they are both jealous and upset. They don’t go to Jesus with their concerns. They ask His disciples.

Verse 17 — But Jesus overhears. He hasn’t come to save those who think they are righteous (that is, they are self-righteous and think they do enough good things to get them to heaven).

If they think they can get to heaven by dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” of the ceremonial Law, why would they see their need for a Savior? But those who know they are sinners will run to Christ. He comes for those who understand they have a heart condition (sin) for which He has a cure (salvation first, and then purification of the heart).

(NOTE: Righteousness is being right with God, by asking Jesus Christ to take away your sin, believing He died to take them away and rose on the third day. The outcome or fruit of being made right with God is that you live in a way that honors God and His Christ.)

Verse 18-20 — Even the disciples of John the Baptist question Jesus because His disciples do not fast three times a week (part of the ceremonial Law of Judaism).

Jesus refers to Himself as the Bridegroom, and as long as He is with His disciples (who will, with the rest of the 120 become the church in Acts 2), they should not fast. Why would a bride (the church) fast when Her Beloved husband (Jesus Christ) is present? When He is taken away from them (crucified), they will fast. Until He is risen on the third day, it will be fasting because they are mourning. But when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, it will not be fasting to obey a ceremonial Law, but to obey the Holy Spirit when He calls them to fast, as in Acts 13:2.

(NOTE: Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom. Look at John the Baptist’s testimony in John 3:29. John the Baptist identifies himself as the friend of the Bridegroom. In Jewish weddings, the friend of the bridegroom goes ahead of the bridegroom to announce that he has arrived on the scene. That is what John the Baptist did. Also, see 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:25.)

Verse 21-22 — Just in case the reader doesn’t understand that Jesus is speaking of the self-righteous and their dependence on doing the ceremonial Law to get to heaven, Jesus adds these statements. The ceremonial Law is the old garment, the old wineskins, the old tradition.

He announces that He brings a new garment, a new wineskin. His new covenant (promise) cannot be applied like a patch on the ceremonial Law. His new wine (His Holy Spirit) cannot be confined to the wineskin of the ceremonial Law. It is a new thing, though the Ten Commandments still apply. You just do them automatically. If you want a little more depth on that point, I’ll be glad to supply it!

Verses 23-26 — The Pharisees who dot every “i” and cross every “t,” don’t understand Him. They continue to fuss with Jesus about the Law. They completely miss what the Sabbath is all about. His disciples are hungry, so they pick the heads of grain and eat. Oh, no! That’s work! You aren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath!

But Jesus reminds them of the Old Testament, which they seem to have forgotten, or which they have completely misunderstood.  David and his followers, when they were being hunted by King Saul, were given not just any old bread but (heaven forbid!) the showbread, which is considered untouchable. And what was worse, if the Pharisees are right about their idea of goodness, can you imagine what happened?? Horrors!! The priest was the one who gave the untouchable showbread to them. The Pharisees would say that David and his men, and the priest, disobeyed the Law!!! But of course, they did not disobey God’s will.

Verse 27-28 — To reinforce what Jesus is teaching the Pharisees and us, He tells them that God instituted the Sabbath for man. Who is man, that he should misuse the Sabbath as some kind of law that must be followed? For the Pharisees have misused it as a means of accusing Jesus and His disciples. They have taken it upon themselves to tell God the Son how the Sabbath is to be observed. How blind they are!

These verses are a reminder that no one can, by any of his own works, please God. If you try, you make your works your god, as the Pharisees, scribes and Jewish leaders did. Do you see it?