MIRACLES CAUSE REPENTANCE

[SW224] 03/04/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“Miracles Cause Repentance”

The purpose of the miracles Jesus Christ did when He walked the earth was to cause people to repent, turning to God. What do you receive when you repent? What happens if you don’t repent?

Texts: Matthew 11:20-30, Matthew 9

In Matthew 11:23, Jesus singled out Capernaum. Why did Jesus tell them they would go down to Hades, and that Sodom would have it easier on the day of judgment than them?

Chorazin and Bethsaida aren’t specifically mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew as Jesus walked the earth, but Matthew 9 records what happened in Capernaum, His own city (Matthew 9:1), his ministry’s base camp.

Amazing miracles were done by Jesus in Capernaum —

Matthew 9:1-8 — A paralytic, brought by his friends, was forgiven of his sin and instantly healed of his paralysis! The crowds were awestruck (struck with the fear of God), and glorified God. That is, they believed this miracle done by Jesus was a “God work,” and praised God for it. They repented, turning to God.

Matthew 9:20-22 — A woman with an issue of blood was healed of her illness when she touched His garment and was saved when she fell down before Jesus to worship and praise Him! She repented, humbling herself and turning to God.

Matthew 9:18, 23-26 — The synagogue official came to Jesus, bowed down before Him in worship, and asked Him to raise his daughter from the dead. And she was raised from the dead! He humbled himself and repented, turning to God.

Matthew 9:27-31 — Two blind men approached Jesus, called Him “son of David,” believing He was the Christ, the Messiah, and believing He could heal them. And Jesus opened their eyes. Then they broadcast everywhere that Jesus had set them free! They repented, honoring Him as the Christ, and turning to God.

Matthew 9:32-33 — Jesus cast out a demon from a deaf and mute man. This had never been done before. Jewish exorcists had to know the name of the demon to cast it out. This man could not speak the name of the demon because he was mute. But that was no problem for God the Son. The crowds were amazed and exclaimed, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” They repented, honoring Jesus and turning to God

Matthew 9:35 — Jesus went through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness!

BUT, that’s not all that happened in Capernaum —

Matthew 9:3 — When Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” the scribes, who thought they were wise and intelligent, did not rejoice and praise God. They did not repent and turn to God. They said among themselves, “He blasphemes.” Jesus told them they were thinking evil in their hearts. He knew their thoughts. These had a form of religion, while denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5), and they accused God the Son of blaspheming God the Father.

Matthew 9:10-13 — When Jesus went to sinners to eat, drink and speak the gospel to them, the Pharisees spoke to His disciples and rebuked Him. They did not rejoice that sinners were hearing how they could be reconciled to God and their sins could be forgiven. They did not repent and turn to God.

In response, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for doing only outward religious acts (ritual sacrifices), but lacking compassion. He also accused them of being self-righteous, because they thought they could keep themselves clean by not having contact with sinners.

Matthew 9:34 — After the demon was cast out of the deaf and mute man, the Pharisees were saying that Jesus cast out demons by the ruler of the demons, Satan. They directly blasphemed the Holy Spirit by attributing the Spirit’s work to Satan (Mark 3:29). They did not repent and turn to God.

Matthew 9:36 — Jesus felt compassion for the people, because they were distressed and thrown down and were like sheep without a shepherd. The scribes and Pharisees never set a captive free, as He did.

Matthew 11:18 — Jesus’ accusers said He was a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners! Amen! I am glad He was a friend to me, and forgave me and delivered me from my sin!

And as for John the Baptist, they accused him of having a demon. That was because he called them to repentance.They never repented and turned to God.

The consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ as God the Son:

Matthew 11:20-24 — Denunciation. He defamed His accusers, railed at them, chided them, taunted them, and upbraided them. He rebuked them.

He said if He done these miracles in the pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon, all the people would have repented and turned to God. But His accusers in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum never repented, never praised God, never worshiped Jesus Christ. They never rejoiced to see God’s work. They only questioned and accused Him.

So, it will be more tolerable for those pagan cities on the day of judgment than for His accusers. Why? They should have recognized God’s Son and given Him the praise and honor He deserved. They should have turned away from having a form of religion while denying its power (2Timothy 3:5), and turned toward God.

They will not be exalted to heaven, but will descend into Hades (hell). If wicked Sodom had seen His miracles, they would have turned to God and praised and worshiped Him.

The scribes and Pharisees claimed they knew the Scriptures. So they knew that He was fulfilling every prophecy about the Messiah. But they refused to worship Him.

The blessings for those who repented

Matthew 11:25-30 — Revelation of God the Father and God the Son.

And this was well pleasing in God’s sight, to hide these things from those who think they are wise and intelligent, and reveal them to those who are childlike in believing God. This pleased God immensely!

1Corinthians 1:19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Verse 27 — Intimate knowledge of God, through Jesus Christ.

Verse 28-30 — For those who are weary and heavy-laden with outward forms of religion, and come to Him, besides healing and deliverance:

—  Rest, rest for their souls

— His yoke

— Rest for their souls

— His easy, good and kind yoke,

— His pleasant, light burden

In today’s church, there are those who are outwardly religious, who are wise and intelligent in their own eyes, who always resist the Holy Spirit and persecute God’s messengers (Acts 7:51-52).

They see Spirit-filled believers doing works that only can be attributed to God. And they say, as the Pharisees and scribes did,

“What you are doing is done in the power of the devil.

“You have a demon.

“You blaspheme God.

“Who do you think you are?

“By what authority do you do these things?

“You shouldn’t associate with sinners.

“You are giving people false hope.

“Those things aren’t for today.”

They have an outward form of godliness, but they deny, disavow, reject and even try to negate, the power of God in a human heart and life!

To them, the Lord says, “Repent!

“Turn away from your outward works of religion. Humble yourselves!

“Turn to Me, honor and praise My Father and Me! Rejoice in what I am doing, and I will gladly bless you with a revelation of My Father and Me!”

THE TENTH LEPER

[SW223] 02/26/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“The Tenth Leper”

Texts: Luke 17:11ff, Leviticus 14:1ff

Jeff and I say of the ministry the Lord gave us, “Healing in every way.” What does that mean? You’ll see, with the tenth leper.

What was different about the tenth leper, compared with the other nine?

Ten men stood at a distance.  “Unclean! Unclean!” (See Leviticus 13:45.)

A mustard seed of faith — Jesus, MASTER, have mercy! “Master,” giving Him the honor He deserves, understanding His authority over them.

No cure for leprosy at that time.

He doesn’t say, “Be healed.” He says, “Go show (“as a testimony” per Matthew 8:4).

How did they all know what that meant?

Leviticus 14:1-3

The leper is outside the camp (Numbers 5:2).

When healed, he goes to the priest for a ceremony.

So Who healed him? The Lord, outside the camp!

Testimony? The Lord is outside the camp of the religious.

The Lord healed me there!

Back to the lepers in Luke 17 . . .

They all obeyed, and were healed AS THEY WERE GOING.

All were healed.

But the tenth leper:

Sees he’s healed

Turns back

Glorifies God with a big, intense voice

Worships Jesus Christ as God in the flesh (proskuneo)

Gives thanks

This one is a foreigner — a Samaritan, a despised one, a worshiper of many gods, including the Lord.

Kinda like me, before Jesus healed me.

Where are the rest? They were healed, too.

They went to the priest for the ceremony.

But they never turned back, glorified God loudly, worshiped and gave thanks to their Healer.

So what happened to the tenth leper, after he turned back?

“Stand up and go! Your faith has saved you.”

This one was healed in every way —

Of the leprosy, as he acted and obeyed!

Of the sin-caused chasm between him and the Lord, when he was saved!

Of the power of sin, because I am sure he was among those who were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost!

And now I ask you — are you standing at a distance? Will you ask Him to heal you in every way, giving Him the honor He deserves as One who has authority over all things, including you?

Will you act and obey on His Word?

IN-COURAGED!

[SW219] 02/05/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“IN-Couraged”

Texts: Joshua 1:1-9

Deuteronomy 34:9

John 20:19

Acts 2:14, 22, 3

Acts 4:8ff

The Lord is asking me to encourage you to be IN-Couraged — His boldness, His strength, His courage IN you!

In Joshua 1:3, the Lord tells Joshua that every place on which the sole of his foot treads, the Lord has given to the sons of Israel, just as He spoke to Moses.

What a promise!

In Joshua 1:6, the Lord commands Joshua to be strong (fasten upon the Lord, be constant, be established, seize) and courageous (mighty, steadfastly minded). Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1Corinthians 15:58). Why? Because he SHALL give the people possession of the land.

The Lord commands Joshua again in Verse 7, and in Verse 9. Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!

Joshua  will lead Israel in, and they will be an occupying army, possessing the land promised to them through Abraham.

And believer, understand that your role is to occupy Satan’s territory here on earth, and possess it until the Lord comes again. And it is to ask God to bring you fully into the Promised Land with His strength and courage IN you — IN-couraged! When the end comes, Jesus Christ will bless the one who has been doing what He commanded, and condemn the one who didn’t obey (Matthew 24:46)!

Joshua needed power to obey the Lord’s command to be strong and courageous. Where did it come from?

In Numbers 27:18, the Lord says Joshua was a man in whom was the Spirit. And when Moses laid hands on him, he was filled with the spirit of wisdom.

Deuteronomy 34:9   Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Therefore, he had the Lord’s wisdom, strength and courage IN him, because the Spirit was IN him. He was IN-couraged. The Lord gave him the Spirit for that single assignment.

Today, God wants to fills you with the Holy Spirit permanently, rather than for a single assignment. Then you will have His strength, His courage and His boldness so you are able to occupy and possess the Enemy’s territory. You will become a member of an occupying army, freeing captives from sickness, demon possession, and sin, in the power and words of the Holy Spirit! He will give you what to say (Matthew 10:20).

Look at the difference between the disciples in John 20:19, after Christ was crucified, compared with Acts 2:14, 22, 36 and Acts 4:8 and forward!

In John 20:19, they hid behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. But in the scriptures in Acts, they were very strong, courageous, and bold! They now had God’s strength, courage and boldness IN them, and the actual love of God in their hearts compelled them to go (2Corinthians 5:14, Romans 5:5)!

Why the difference? They were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost! They were IN-couraged!

Paul persecuted Christians with all his might, until he had a vision of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Then Ananias came to him and he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). Afterward, in Christ’s strength and courage, Paul boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ and performed miraculous signs and wonders all across the known world. He was IN-couraged!

Paul joyously wrote to the church at Philippi, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)! Amen!

Real-life testimony:

One day, we received a call from a man we had known for a couple of years. He said he was in the county jail, and needed us to come to him. We had never been behind locked doors in a jail before. But the Lord told us to go, and we went in His strength, courage and boldness.

We entered another world as we heard the thick steel door close behind us. The spiritual darkness in that place was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

We pressed on, met with the man, ministered to him with bold words from the Lord, and continued meeting with him until he was tried and sentenced to prison. He wrote us from there, and asked us to come.

I contacted the chaplain at the Maine State Prison. Come to find out, I had worked for him at the VA, before I was diagnosed with MS and had to retire on disability!

Jeff and I went through a four-hour training program. Then the chaplain asked us to come to a Bible study conducted by a man who had been doing Bible studies for the prisoners for 25 years, so we could learn how to interact with the prisoners who attended. On our way to that Bible study, we asked the Lord to give us a sign that we were to minister there. A flashing neon one, please!

When we arrived at the prison lobby, the chaplain was called to meet us. We passed through two metal detectors. Our worship gear was searched.

We were lead by the chaplain and one guard through one very thick steel door, stopping at a window to turn in our car keys and driver’s licenses and receive visitor/clergy ID badges.

Then we passed through a second very thick steel door. As we went through we saw a giant man from the Max (maximum security pod) clad in orange, shackled head-to-toe with thick chains, flanked by two large, muscular guards.

After another locked steel door, we passed the cafeteria on our right. A “man down” code was issued; that meant a fight had broken out between prisoners, and at least one prisoner was on the floor.

We continued on across the courtyard to the activities building, in the Lord’s strength and courage, completely unfazed by it all. We were on a mission — on assignment — to go in and possess this land controlled by Satan, and occupy it. And we were IN-couraged! Glory to God!

The Bible study teacher, who never missed a meeting in 25 years, missed this one. That was the first confirmation that we were to minister there. In a circle sat about twenty captives, along with the chaplain, Jeff and me.

The chaplain said he’d stay with us to guide and support us. But God stepped in, began speaking through us to the men, and soon, the chaplain said, “I’ll leave you now; you don’t need me.” That was our second confirmation from the Lord that we were to minister there.

The Lord ministered through us to these men for two years at our Monday prison worship service, as we sang and played guitar and proclaimed Jesus Christ from the Word of God.

The first time, I told them they needed to know that I wasn’t a goody two-shoes. I gave them some history of my drug addition as a teen and young adult, my drug dealing husband, and the Saturday Night Special that was at my side constantly, in case someone came into our apartment to try to steal our drugs. I told them how God came to my rescue in the middle of the night, and freed me from drug addiction in a moment of time.

Then I asked them for a show of hands. How many of you really like it here? No hands were raised. Just as I thought. How many want to come back again real soon? Again, no hands were raised.

I asked, “Do you wand to know how you can get out of this cycle of in and out, in and out, like a revolving door? Jesus Christ will change your heart, fill you with His Spirit and His love, and you won’t want to plan your next crime from here. You’ll just follow and obey Him forever.”

I told them I knew many outside of the prison walls who were in invisible chains, behind invisible bars. They needed the same thing!

What compelled us to go behind prison doors? The love of God, because the Holy Spirit had filled our hearts. And He gave us His strength, courage, and boldness! Our boast is in the Lord, not ourselves! We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

We are not special, beloved. Some say the missionaries who go into countries so hostile that their names can’t be released, are special. Some think missionaries through the ages have been special. They had a calling, they have a calling, we have a calling, AND you do, too. Have you answered Christ’s call?

Now I’m truthin’. I’m being bold (frank and blunt). The truth is, most of the church is complacent. People go to church and leave unchanged. They live like the devil for six days and pretend to be holy and righteous on Sunday. They want the Lord to bless them, but they don’t care about blessing Him or anyone else. They are the ones I spoke of earlier, the ones with invisible chains and invisible bars.

How about you? Are you strong and courageous? Are you bold? Are you possessing and occupying Satan’s territory?

Or are you complacent, going to church and leaving unchanged? If so, repent here and now, and ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit.

You can’t help but be changed when He comes in and fills you! And you will say with Paul and us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” You will be IN-couraged!

Jesus Christ calls you today to be IN-couraged. He calls you to ask Him to fill you with His Spirit so you can go in and possess the land and occupy it, as you should! Will you obey His call?

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!

MARK 11 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.

Chapters 11-16 show us Jesus Christ’s heart that is completely obedient to His mission to die for us, compared with a heart that rejects Him, and therefore rejects God the Father. There’s nothing about physical healing in these chapters, but there is much about what incurable disease ails our hearts, and how Jesus is able to heal us.

Verses 1-7 — These verses speak of God the Son’s omnipotence; that is, He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. Even though He was fully human when He walked the earth, He was also fully God, as we see from the works He does and displays like the one in these verses.

Jesus and His disciples are on the way to Jerusalem, where Jesus has told them He will be arrested, tried, and crucified, and then rise on the third day.

He tells them exactly where they are to go, exactly which young donkey to pick, and what to tell the people when they ask to borrow it — “the Lord has need of it.” And of course, the people gave them permission because of Jesus’ words. Jesus fulfills the scripture that prophesies about Him in Zechariah 9:9 by entering Jerusalem in this way.

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus, who is God the Son, has all of God’s characteristics — He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, who knows the end from the beginning. What does that mean? He knows everything that has been, is now, and will be. And so, He knows your need for forgiveness. He knows your need for salvation. He knows your need for healing. He knows your need for a changed heart. He knows your need for Him. But you must ask Him for that which you need.

It is humbling to have to ask someone for something. We live in a culture where independence is worshiped. But in the culture of the kingdom of God, to be great, you must become the servant of all. To be rich with His kind of riches, you must set all your earthly treasures aside. Everything seems upside down, when we look at the kingdom of God. But we are really the upside down ones — His kingdom is right side up!

Verses 8-10 — Jesus is worshiped as He comes into Jerusalem. This fulfills the scripture that prophesies about Him in Psalm 118:24-26. When we sing, “This is the day that the Lord has made,” and think it’s about any day, we miss it just a bit. That scripture is really about THE day that Christ came to Jerusalem to take up His cross and bear upon His own body our sins and the punishment we deserved.

It seems they are worshiping Him, but they are looking for an earthly king to set them free from Roman rule. A few days later, many of these will be among the crowd that cries, “Crucify Him!”

IMPORTANT QUESTION: Do you worship Him to get a blessing from Him, or to bless Him? If you do it to “get a blessing,” to be set free of an earthly chain or to get material prosperity or even get Him to physically heal you, that’s the wrong reason because it is selfish and manipulative. Worship Him because He is the Son of God. He is worthy!

Verses 12-14 — This looks like it doesn’t fit here, but if you go back and read what this chapter is about and understand the symbolism here, it will make sense. Jesus is hungry. He sees a fig tree, but when He looks for fruit, there is none. It isn’t the season for figs. He curses the tree — “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”

IMPORTANT POINT: If our heart is not God’s, we cannot bear fruit for Him — the fruit that identifies us as belonging to Jesus. What is the fruit? We live as He does in this world, if our heart is God’s.

Jesus knows He will be rejected in Jerusalem. He must be rejected, In order to complete His mission. He is rejected because many Jewish hearts (especially the Jewish religious leaders and Pharisees) are not God’s, and they do not bear fruit. They are all leaves (outward appearance of godliness) and no fruit.

He chooses to look for figs out of season to make the point that there is no fruit of God-likeness among His people. Those who will soon be His judge and jury are prideful religious men whose hearts do not belong to God. And they are cursed unless they turn to Jesus.

Plants receive water and nourishment from their roots. Just as the roots of this fig tree die and dry up, then the whole fig tree dies (see verses 20-21), the roots of these men will dry up, and then they will die. Jerusalem was destroyed In 70 A.D., approximately 37 years after Jesus hung on that cross. All they knew and loved was burned to the ground, many died, and the rest were scattered. But the Jews will yet return to their God and recognize their Messiah (Romans 11:25-26).

Verses 15-18 — The hearts of the religious are so unlike God that they have turned His house into a den of robbers. They are thieves that plan their next caper in God’s house!

How do they rob? The priests have made a law that people must exchange their coins for Temple coins in order to give their tithes and offerings. The priests use weights rigged in their favor to weigh money brought to the Temple. The priests have also filled the house of God with animals and birds used for sacrifices, charging huge and unfair fees to purchase them.

They do business in God’s house to make money for themselves, but God’s house is supposed to be a place of prayer, worship, reverence, awe, and safety from evil like thievery. In their thievery, they misrepresent God’s nature and character.

So Jesus cleans house! He destroys and casts down all of the things they use to cheat people, and boldly calls them robbers!

God help us if we do the same today in His church, charging money for handkerchiefs or oil flasks that have been prayed over, robbing widows to fill the church’s coffers . . .

Verses 19-26 — We have already talked about the fig tree’s roots being withered, from the roots up. But when the disciples notice what has happened to the fig tree, Jesus tells them that if they have faith, whatever they ask for will be done. Verse 23 is used often, in the church. If you do not doubt and say to a mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” and believe it will be done, it will be done. So pray and ask —wait a minute, what happened to “say to the mountain?” Pray and ask before you say, and then believe you have received what you have asked for, and you will receive it.

BUT Jesus goes on to say that if you ask while you have something against someone (a grudge/unforgiveness), your prayer will not be answered. If you do not forgive them, Your Father in heaven (He’s speaking to Christians) will not forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). What you did against your Father in heaven was many times worse than anything any human could do to you, and yet He forgave you. So you have no right to refuse to forgive. That’s why refusal to forgive is a sin.

And sin separates you from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). He does not hear sinners (John 9:31). Your prayer will not be answered until you forgive and repent before the Lord. He is ready and willing to forgive you then, and will then hear your prayers.

IMPORTANT POINT: Right now, ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you if you have unforgiveness or other sin in your heart. He will show it to you, just as He did me when I was desperate to know my Father in heaven. Forgive from your heart (really forgive, not just with empty words), and then ask your Father in heaven to forgive you. If the Holy Spirit shows you a different sin and you turn away from it completely and ask Your Father in heaven to forgive you, He will do it, and then He will hear your prayers.

Verses 27-33 — Again Jesus is challenged by the priests and scribes (lawyers of the law of Moses) and elders. They are spiritually blind, by their own doing, and do not see their Messiah. They want to maintain their position and power. Jesus is a threat to them. They hate Him and want to kill Him.

They question His authority to “clean house” in the Temple. But He answers them with a question. By what authority did John the Baptist call for repentance and baptize? They are caught red-handed. They had questioned and shunned John the Baptist. Now they were questioning and shunning Jesus.

Deep down, they know both John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized by God’s authority, and Jesus’ works could only be done by God and under God’s authority.  There is no other explanation for His wisdom and His miracles.

Notice their self-centeredness in the way they reason to arrive at an answer. What will happen if we say John received his authority from heaven? We are guilty, then, of rejecting one who was sent by God. And if we say he received his authority from men, the people will reject us, because they believe John was a prophet from God. It’s all about them — what will happen to us if we answer this way or that way?

So they say, “We do not know.” Of course they do! And yet they deny it. So Jesus says, if you don’t believe John’s authority was from God, and I have done much more than John, why would you believe My authority comes from God? You will reject Me just as you rejected him. So I will not tell you where My authority comes from. He knows they already know very well where His authority comes from.

IMPORTANT POINT: When people are doing works that only God can do, and speaking and living like Jesus in this world, the spiritually blind will question their authority. The blind will see them as threats to their own man-made authority, to their positions of power, and will want to somehow shut them down. But if you see and are not blind, you will gladly receive them as messengers from God who are working under His authority.

And God will bless you for it!