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!”

Advertisements

COMMENTARY ON JOHN 1

NOTE: Please see John 3 notes for comments on 1:12-13. I missed saying anything about these verses in the commentary below.

The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!

Please bear with me while I get just a bit technical in parts of the first few verses of the Book of John. He wonderfully sets the foundation for faith in Jesus Christ, right from the start. Many have misinterpreted these verses over the centuries, so I asked the Lord to help me, by using some word definitions, put an end to all those misinterpretations.

Verse 1 — I could spend a week on this verse alone! In the beginning (literally, in beginning), before anything was created, was the Word.

The Word? What is that? You will see. This Word was literally geographically located with God somewhere. And this Word was God. This Word was divinity. This Word existed before anything was created.

How can this Word be located with God and be God? You will see.

Do you hear the echo from Genesis 1:1? In beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Verse 2 — He (literally, this one, the same one John has just described in Verse 1) was in beginning, before anything was created. This Word is a “He.”

Verse 3 — All things came into being (were created) through Him — through this Word. All things. Nothing was created until He created it. Nothing simply created itself. Nothing came into being and was created except through Him.

Verse 4 — In Him was life (zoe), defined as “life as God has it, eternal life.” And this zoe was the light of men. This life from this Word shone on men, like rays of light. It was luminous. It lit up this Word.

Verse 5 — This Word, this luminous, shining light, this one who had the life of God in Himself, shines — here and now —  in the darkness. Everything was in the past tense until this verse. His light shines here and now. But the darkness did not comprehend it. The darkness could not overcome it. The darkness could not seize it. The darkness could not perceive it. The darkness could not possess it.

Why? In the natural world,when you flip a switch in a dark room, the darkness goes away. It cannot remain in the presence of light. You will later see that darkness (a symbol or “type” for evil in the Book of John) flees when the light of this Word shines on it. It cannot remain in His presence.

Verses 6-8 — John the Baptist is introduced. He was sent from God. He was a prophet of God. His marching orders are in Isaiah 40.

John the Baptist came as a witness, as one who testifies. What was he going to testify about? This Light, this luminous one, this one who shined on people, this one that made darkness flee, this Word, this one who was both with God and at the same time was God, about Him. Why? So that through John the Baptist’s words, given to him by God, all might believe.

John the Baptist was not the Light, but John the Baptist came to testify about the Light. He came to say, “This is the Light!”

Verse 9 — There He was! The true Light, the Light who the Apostle John is writing about. This Light, this God, this one who was with God, CAME into the world. He entered the world, He appeared in the world. He was not from the world, or He would not have needed to enter it from somewhere else.

And this Light enlightens every man. He shines upon every man. This light is not in every human being, but it shines upon every human being. When it does, it brings light, and makes the human being able to see.

Verse 10 — He was in the world. He entered the world and was geographically located in it.

He made, He created the world. This one who entered the world was the Word, was God who created the world and was with God at the time it was created.

But the world (human beings in the world) did not know Him. They did not recognize the One who created the world. They saw Him standing before them, but they did not know Him or perceive Him as their Creator.

Verse 11 — He came into His own. Again, He came. He entered into and met up with His own. He met up with all He had created. He met up even with a particular people who were set apart from the rest of His creation. But they did not receive Him. They did not associate themselves with Him, they did not have any kind of relationship with Him. They did not take Him, they did not receive Him. The opposite of receive? Deny, renounce, turn away.

Why did He come? You will see.

Verses 12-13 — But whoever (as many as) received Him, associated themselves with Him and had a relationship with Him — they became children of God. Prior to receiving Him, they were not children of God. They became children of God when they received Him.

What exactly did they do to receive Him? They believed He was exactly Who He said He was. Who did He say He was? You will see. John says He was God, was with God before anything was created, and entered the world, and was the One who shone like a light in the darkness.

Verse 14 — Now I can answer who this Word is. He became flesh. He was not flesh to begin with, but became flesh. He took on a body —

Hebrews 10:5  Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,

But a body You have prepared for Me;

Psalms 40:6    Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;

My ears You have opened;

Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.

7  Then I said, “Behold, I come;

In the scroll of the book it is written of me.

8  I delight to do Your will, O my God;

Your Law is within my heart.”

Not only did He take on a body, but He dwelt (abided, stayed for a while) with us. “Us” means the writer of this gospel. “Us” means human beings, also.

And we saw His glory — John and the rest who saw Him and with whom He stayed for a while — saw His glory, His dignity, we experienced His weighty presence and His majesty which was deserving of honor and praise.

It wasn’t just any glory. It was glory given Him by the Father. Who is the Father? This is the first mention of a Father. This One is the only begotten (monogenes, which means always existing). This One is the Son.

This One is God, the Word that was with God in the beginning, and God is the Father of this One. Now you know the answer to the first question: How can this Word be located with God and be God? It is because God was the always existing Father of this always existing Word who was God. So we have God the Father, and God the Son — they are both God. They are not separate Gods. They are one God.

Genesis 1:26   Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Let Us — We make. The Hebrew word for “make” has a “we” on the end of it, in my Hebrew-to-English Bible. “We” is more than one. Both are God. They speak the same things, they do the same things. They are Father and Son, in one.

This is hard to “reason out” with the natural mind with which you were born. It is hard to grasp. But they operate as one and are both God, so they are God. Just accept it for now. You will see.

And this Word, this One who came, this Light, this Son of the Father, became flesh. He was not flesh before, but He became it.

He dwelled among us. He came here. He came to us. He stayed, He abided, until all that He had to do was finished.

He was full of grace and truth. He was completely filled with it. He was covered with it.

This Word was full of grace. What is grace? I looked it up. Most say grace is “unmerited favor.” But the Strong’s Dictionary says it is the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life. He was God, and filled with God, and His heart was entirely God’s, and it was reflected in His life. And He had a divine influence upon the hearts of humans, and on their lives. I like that!

This Word, was full of truth. What is this truth He was completely filled with? He concealed nothing. He was truthful. He told the truth about God. He was filled with truth and was the Truth, the embodiment of all that is truly true, not just truths humans have discovered, not truths espoused by philosophers or psychologists, but the truth regarding God. No other truth can compared with His truth, because His truth inwardly changes hearts and lives. You will see it.

Verse 15 — John the Baptist testified about Him, about this Word, about this Son. What did John say? “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”

What does that mean? John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry. But Jesus is greater than John the Baptist. Why? Jesus existed before John the Baptist.

But John the Baptist was conceived first. So John is not testifying of their natural age difference. He is saying this One existed before Him. Not “was created,” but “existed.” This One is the always existent Son of God.

Verses 16-17 — Of His fullness (a filled container in view) we all received (the disciples/apostles, including the writer of the Book of John). We were filled with Him, the Apostle John says. He filled us up with the same fullness He has. What was Jesus full of? You will see.

They also received grace upon grace (literally, grace for grace). The Apostles received this divine influence upon the heart, and it reflected in their lives. It was heaped up in them. Jesus gave it to them so they would give it to others. Jesus gave it to them so they would have an abundance of grace in their lives, and abundance of this divine influence upon the heart, reflected in their lives.

Why did they need this fullness? Because the Law was given through Moses. The necessary truth about God, the truth that there had to be a change of heart in humans was realized, came into being, and arose through Jesus Christ. He is the Giver, and we are the Receivers.

Verse 18 — No one has seen God at any time. No human has stood before God and then come to stand before men to say, “I went to God and saw Him.” When humans see God, they are judged, and those who are His remain with Him.

So how do we know what God is like? Through the only begotten, the Son of God, who is in the bosom of the Father since He died and rose and was glorified and sat down at the right hand of the Father. This Son of God shows the Father to us, has explained God, declared God, told about God, and reported to us who God is.

Verses 19-24 — Here’s how John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus came about. The priests and Levites (sent by the Pharisees, per verse 24) asked him “Who are you?” Not the Christ (Daniel 9:25, Isaiah 53, etc.). Not Elijah  (1Kings 18). Not the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18). Then who are you? John the Baptist quotes from his marching orders in Isaiah 40:3.

Verses 25-28 — So if you’re not the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet, why are you baptizing, John the Baptist (in Bethany, by the Jordan, just a couple of miles outside Jerusalem)?

Let me tell you, he says. I’m baptizing in water, but One stands among you that you don’t know/recognize/acknowledge. He’s the One who comes after me. I’m not even worthy to untie the thong of His sandal. (He baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire, per Matthew 3:11.)

Verses 29-31 —-The next day, John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him. What did John say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Why did He come? To take away the sin of the world. He was to be a sacrificial Lamb, killed to remove sin. Not just one or two sins. Not just in some people and not others. But sin, the whole principle of sin, the whole nature of sin that is in humans, the thing that requires the grace, the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.

This is the One who is greater than me, who existed before me, even though I was conceived before Him, here on earth.

John the Baptist did not recognize, did not fully understand and know that Jesus was the Son of God until it was time for Jesus to be recognized by John the Baptist and the world as the Son of God, the Lamb who came from God the Father.

And this Son of God, this Lamb who would be a sacrifice for the sin in all of us, is the reason John the Baptist came baptizing. He prepared the way in hearts, by speaking a message of repentance from sins. That is the first step, for all of us.

We do not come to Christ because He does good things. We come to Christ because we need the change of heart that only He can do.

Verses 32-34 — I am an eyewitness that the Holy Spirit descended and did not come and go as with Old Testament Prophets, but remained on this One. The Spirit descended from heaven like a dove. Heaven is up. That is where the Holy Spirit comes from. The Holy Spirit gracefully descends. And beginning with Jesus Christ,    the Holy Spirit does not come and go. He comes and stays. How does that happen?

By baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. Baptism with water reflects that a person repents for his way of life and turns from it. Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire is done by Jesus Christ, and it means the Holy Spirit comes and burns something up and fills you with the divine influence upon the heart, and it is reflected in your life. What does He burn up? The sin nature that the divine influence replaces.

John the Baptist says that God, who sent him to baptize with water per Isaiah 40, told John the sign he was to look for — the Holy Spirit descending and remaining. When John the Baptist saw it, that was His sign that Jesus was the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John concludes his testimony, for the time being. I am an eyewitness. I have seen the sign. I have testified about this One, that this One is the Son of God. He is divine, He is God the Son.

Verses 35-37 — John the Baptist stood with two disciples. Jesus walked by, and John exclaimed again, “Behold the Lamb of God!” That was so these two would follow Jesus.

Verse 38-42 — Jesus saw them following. “What do you seek?” He’ll ask you that, too, when you start to follow Him. They call Him Rabbi, a term of respect for a teacher, and say they want to know where He is staying. That means they want to be with Him. It was about 4 p.m., our time.

He says, “Come, and you will see.” Well, they would see where He was for that day, and later, they would see where He really stays. They would see that He came from God the Father.

One of the two was Andrew, Simon’s brother. First, he went to find Simon, and said, “We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ).” They had heard the words of John the Baptist and followed this One that John identified as the Christ. Then Andrew brought Simon to Jesus.

Jesus had never met Simon, but He knew his name and his father’s name — Simon bar Jonah, Simon the son of John. That’s because He came from God the Father, and was God the Son, in a human body. He gave him a new name. He will give you a new name too. It was Cephas (Peter), which means “a stone”). He will make you a stone, too, a living stone (1Peter 2:5).

Verses 43-51  — Jesus went to Galilee, and found Philip. He said, “Follow Me,” and Philip did so. Philip lived in the same city as Andrew and Simon Peter.

Philip found Nathaniel and told him this is the One Moses wrote about. This is the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18). This is Jesus of Nazareth. He is the son of Joseph. Philip didn’t know who He really was, yet.

Nazareth was on the northern edge of Judah. Many of its people were non-Jews (Gentiles), and were looked down upon by the Jews around Jerusalem. Galilee of the Gentiles was in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, and to them came God the Son, and when He came, He made it glorious (Isaiah 9:1), filled with God’s weighty presence.

So that is why Nathaniel asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” And Nathaniel said, “Come and see!”

As Jesus saw Nathaniel coming, He told Nathaniel he was an Israelite among Israelites. There was no guile in him. Nathaniel was not a plotter and schemer, not a conniver. He was honest. Jesus saw his heart, though Nathaniel had not yet uttered a word. That’s true for you, too. Nathaniel had nothing to hide. And if you are like him, you will hear those words from Jesus.

The words of Jesus touched Nathaniel. “How do you know me so very well, Jesus?” And Jesus tells him that He saw him under the fig tree. Jesus did not give up His powers when He came from God the Father. He could see hearts, and see where people were sitting, before they ever actually stood before Him. That’s true for you, too.

Nathaniel’s response should be our response. You really are the Son of God. Jesus says, you haven’t seen anything yet! I’ll do much greater things than what I just did with you. Truly, truly — IMPORTANT! You will see the heavens opened (to you) and the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. What does that mean? Jacob’s ladder —

Genesis 28:12 He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Jacob saw, in his vision, a representation of what God would do many years later. God would make heaven, where the angels reside, open to everyone who would believe that Jesus is the Way, the Ladder. He is the Way to God the Father. He is the means by which heaven is opened and the means by which we may ascend to heaven.

 

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?

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?

STRONG SUPPORT

[SW210] 11/27/2015 message notes by
Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2015

“Strong Support”

God watches over you, to strongly support you, if your heart is completely His!

2Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

— “The eyes of the Lord . . . His face, holy intimacy, His favor in view

— move to and fro . . . travel, run

— throughout the earth . . . over the whole earth

— that He may strongly support . . . fasten upon, strengthen, aid, encourage, help

— those whose heart is completely His . . . whose heart is perfect toward Him (KJV).”

My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:19)
He goes before you and is your rear guard (Isaiah 52:12)!

He is your refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1).

He takes you from strength to strength (Psalm 84:7)!

He is with you and will strengthen you (Isaiah 41:10)!

No weapon formed against you will prosper (Isaiah 54:7)!

You are kept by the power of God (1Peter 1:5)

I will be with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)

These promises are for those whose heart is perfect toward Him, completely His . . .

But we have to look at the rest of the verse we began with . . . I cannot speak, “Peace, peace” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14, Ezekiel 13:10).

“. . . You (Asa, king of Judah) have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”

In what did Asa (and in what does the church) act foolishly?

2 Chronicles 14:2  Asa did good and right, called on the Lord and not man, and Ethiopia’s army, which was nearly twice the size of Judah’s, was routed by the Lord.

After Asa’s victory, the prophet Azariah warns him . . .

2Chronicles 15:1   Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded,  2 and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

2Chronicles 15:7 “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”

2Chronicles 15:8   Now when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he took courage and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He then restored the altar of the Lord which was in front of the porch of the Lord.

BUT WHEN ANOTHER ENEMY THREATENS . . .

2 Chronicles 16:1 The king of Israel comes to fight Judah. Asa does not call on the Lord, who gave him such a great victory over Ethiopia. Instead, he bribes Ben-hadad, the king of Aram. But the Arameans were Judah’s enemy, too, off and on, as was their custom.

2 Chronicles 16:7 So the prophet Hanani calls Asa out — he lied on his enemy to defeat his enemy! Don’t you remember Ethiopia, King Asa?

That was the foolish thing that Asa did. And he was enraged at Hanani and imprisoned him.

Asa’s heart was not completely the Lord’s.

Three years later, Asa died of a disease in his feet. He did not seek the Lord for healing, but the physicians.

Beloved . . .

—When you as a church leader seek man’s wisdom and man’s ways to make your church successful,

— or when you speak peace, peace when there is no peace, just to increase your numbers,

— or when you as a Christian seek natural means for provision, healing and deliverance instead of humbly asking the Lord for help,

. . . you sin as Asa sinned — he did not believe the Lord was able to rescue him; you do not seek the Lord’s wisdom, you do not believe He will increase your numbers, you do not believe He is your provision.

Asa did not repent before the Lord. He no longer sought the Lord, even for healing of the disease in his feet. But you can repent, right now!

The Lord wants His promises to be yours. But in order to do that, you must give your heart entirely to Him and no other.

How do you give your heart entirely to Him? Only the Father can do it, when you ask Him —

Ezekiel 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

1Timothy 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

This purity of heart, this devotion to God, comes when you are filled with the Holy Spirit!

When you ask the Lord to fill you, He will make you steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord (1Corinthians 15:58)!

And His eyes will move to and fro across the earth, to strongly support you, because your heart is completely His!q Turn to Him today! Amen!

DELIVERANCE

[SW185] 05/08/2015 message notes by
Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2015

“Deliverance”

Texts: Romans 8:28, Daniel 3:15-30

We have a God who delivers from trials and tests, and when He has done it, no one will even be able to detect that you’ve been tested!

Beloved, I don’t have sermon notes for today. The Lord gave me this scripture this morning, and wanted me to speak it out. Go to the video link in the right column of my blog, and watch. It’ll be uploaded by this evening.

I’m going through a trial and test right now, in the lower part of my body. And I know some of you are going through trials and tests, too. 

This message is as much an encouragement for me as for you. Jesus Christ is with you in the midst, and He will deliver you and me! It is so that those who do not believe in Him will both know and say that you are a servant of the Most High God!