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!

 

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MAGNIFYING GLASSES

[SW166] 12/27/2014 message notes by Sister Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Magnifying Glasses”

NOTE:  These sermon notes are brief, but you can go to the Youtube link to the right of this blog to watch the message.

When I was first filled with the Holy Spirit and was learning to walk in the Spirit, my mentor and pastor, David “Doc” Uber, came to me with a word from God. He said, “The Lord says you are to be transparent but not invisible.” I asked, “What does that mean?”
He said, “I have no idea!”

So I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to explain the riddle to me. I write in my journal nearly every day, during my early morning devotional time. One day, as I wrote, a lightbulb went off — the Holy Spirit showed me that a magnifying glass is transparent, but not invisible. You can see its frame and its handle, but the magnifying part is transparent! The Lord told me I was to be His magnifying glass, and it is true for each one who says they follow Jesus Christ, beloved.

Text: 2 Samuel 7:10-11, 22, 25-26

God made David a house, and David’s response was one of humility, humbleness and contriteness before God. Who am I? I am nothing, yet you have chosen to make me a house. It is true of all of us who realize that God wants to come and dwell in our hearts, as Jesus speaks in John 14:23! We realize our littleness, and His greatness.

David goes on to proclaim the Lord’s greatness — and in Verse 25-26, David shows us the purpose of making him a house — so the name of the Lord would be magnified forever. Think of the many Psalms written by David, in which he speaks and sings of the Lord’s greatness! He will do the same in us, when we realize He wants to make us a house and come and dwell in us! We, too, will become His magnifying glasses!

Another voice of a magnifying glass is heard in Paul, in Philippians 3:7-14, and Galatians 2:20. There is a cost to becoming a magnifying glass. You must realize your littleness to see His greatness. You must die to the “old you” so He can live through you. And you must see that all good works and great accomplishments are as dung, compared to knowing Jesus Christ intimately. You must utterly reject your old life in order to have His life. But when you do, He makes your life GLORIOUS, filling you with His glory, His mightiness, His weightiness, and you cannot contain yourself — you must proclaim all that He has done, all that He is, all that He will do for anyone who will come to Him!

But beloved, some of you sit under teaching that says Jesus is small, that He worried, that he was depressed, that He was unsure. I have heard this in messages from leaders of denominations, from professors, from preachers! I have heard that Jeremiah was bipolar, and that other prophets were delusional. God help us!

Rather than becoming magnifying glasses who declare the greatness of God, these voices look at him through the wrong end of binoculars, and have miniaturized God!!!

Do not listen to them! Run from them! Find one who has become a magnifying glass, and listen and heed and do what the Word of God says.

Ask God to make you a house for His immensity, and you will become His magnifying glass!

HOT PURSUIT

What is God looking for? Heat! Zeal! Intense enthusiasm and passion, to an excessive degree!

[SW148] 08/01/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Hot Pursuit”

Zeal (2204, zeo) — To be hot, to boil (of liquids), or to glow (of solids), i.e., to be be fervid, be fervent. To be intensely enthusiastic or passionate, to an excessive degree!

Zeal for His house consumes me, as it did Paul, as it did Christ (see Psalm 69, John 2:17)!

And I am in hot pursuit, to know Him more and more and more, to be more and more and more like Him!

Heat me until I glow, Lord!!

Text:  Philippians 3:14, Jeremiah 1 & 2

A little history on Paul (Hebrew name “Saul”) —
— “Successful”
— BUT he murdered Christians (Acts 26:10)

When he was stricken by the Lord (Acts 9)
— He deeply repented,
— His blind eyes were opened, he was filled with the Spirit!
— A new kind of ZEAL came into Paul; not the foolish zeal of a Pharisee, but fired up by the Spirit with HOLY ZEAL!
— All his prior “success”? Dung, to him!

Oh, to know Him! To have holy intimacy, a relationship where He speaks to you and you to Him! Sitting at the table with the Father and Son and Holy Spirit!

Pressing on! Running (1 Corinthians 9:26)!

Hot pursuit! Beyond Christ in us, the hope of glory! Full of His glory, His zeal!

And Paul finished the race (2 Timothy 4:7-8)!

But what is this that I see today, among Christians?

Thus says the Lord, to the church at Laodicea:

Revelation 3:15  “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot;  I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will  spit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”

If you do repent as He commands, if you ask for pure gold refined by the fire, white garments, and eye salve, you will surely be rich in Him, clothed with Him, and able to see Him.

You will, like Paul, die to all you are so Christ can rule and reign in you.

You will be filled with the Spirit, if you but ask your Father (Luke 11:13).

And then you will have God’s fiery, holy zeal for those who do not know His Son, and for His church, to see to it that she is not found wanting by Him!

Jeremiah 1:

Tuesday night, I think it was, I was about to drop off to sleep, and I saw a picture. I described it to Jeff, because sometimes he is able to interpret what I see. But he had no interpretation this time.

I thought, “Maybe it was nothing.” But when I get a picture out of the clear blue, it is usually from the Lord.

Thursday morning I was fasting, praying, reading the Word. I continually read through the Bible, and had come to Jeremiah 1.

The Lord said, “What did you see?”

I saw an old man with a very long beard that came to a point at its end. He was sitting in a chair, but not straight up, and his eyes were cast down.

You have seen well,” the Lord says.
“It is My church.

“Rather than being full of My holy zeal and my life and my vigor, the church is old (the long beard) and has had to sit down because she is tired. She cannot even sit up straight, and she is looking down, rather than up, toward Me.”

Jeremiah 2:

But the Lord also says this, O church: “If you will return to the love of your betrothals, and follow after Me in the wilderness, I will surely bring you into the Promised Land!
“You are in this condition because of who you listen to. My Word is your plumb line, and nothing else.”

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.

“So repent. Return, O faithless sons, and I will heal your unfaithfulness (Jeremiah 3:22). Remember Me, look up toward Me. And I will revive you!”

GO TO THE LOST

When Jesus says, “Go to the lost sheep,” it is a command, and we are compelled by the power of His words to do it!

[SW144] 07/05/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Going to the Lost”

Text: Matthew 10:1-8, 14-15, 40-42

We are compelled to go after a single lost sheep until we find it, and then bring it back, rejoicing. We are compelled to light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully for a single lost coin until we find it (see Luke 15). Then we and all heaven rejoice!

Going to the lost. Many in today’s church think He is saying, “Go to those who do not believe in Me,” but Jesus says, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!”
God’s people? Lost? It is the same now as it was then. Many of God’s people were and are lost sheep.

Today, Jesus not only commands us to go to the lost sheep of Israel who do not see that He is their Messiah, but also to go to the lost sheep of the church.

Notice that the disciples did not question Jesus (What do You mean? We do not see any lost ones!). Nope. They knew there were lost sheep in Israel.

What signs do I see that there are lost sheep within today’s church? Many sheep in the church are:
— distressed     — oppressed     — depressed
— confused        — compromised     — afraid
Or worse:
— lulled to sleep OR
— slaves to sin, when Jesus came to set us free, indeed!

Why are the sheep lost? Do they not have apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)?

Israel had priests and experts in the law of Moses, but Jesus found fault with them. He declared to them that they did many things to misguide His people.

He finds fault with the leaders of today’s church, too, who do many things to misguide His people.

Lamentations 2:14  Your prophets have seen for you
                False and foolish visions;
                And they have not exposed your iniquity
                So as to restore you from captivity,
                But they have seen for you false and misleading  oracles.

We should not be surprised. Jesus spoke of false shepherds, wolves among the flock (Verse 16). There were wolves in sheep’s clothing within the fledgling church (Acts 20:29-31).

But we in today’s church have not been on guard as Paul commanded by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Acts 20:29.

And the people are biblically illiterate and therefore cannot discern — few know the Word of God. They are sheep that do not know the Good Shepherd’s voice.

As a result, they follow the voice of strangers, and even love it, as in Jeremiah’s day:

Jeremiah 5:31 The  prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so!

What can be done? We obey the command of Jesus Christ, and go to them!

What does He give us as we go to the lost sheep of the church?

(Not as we sit, but as we go!)

In Matthew 10:1, He gives us authority over evil spirits to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (also see Luke 10:19).

Why does He give us such authority? So people will know the kingdom of heaven draws near!

He commands us that as we go, we are to preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He commands us to preach repentance (Mark 6:12).

Then the authority comes into play, as the evidence that the kingdom of heaven is near: we heal, raise, cleanse and cast out.

These are the accompanying signs (Mark 16:17), the attesting miracles that show the lost sheep that God and Christ are the true reality and not just philosophical ideas to which they give mental assent.

But we cannot preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand unless the kingdom of heaven is in our midst — within us. And when the kingdom of heaven is within us, we will have His authority, and we will heal, raise, cleanse and cast out.

FREELY we have received, and FREELY we give (Verse 8).

What do we FREELY give? FREEdom to the captives (Isaiah 61), to the lost sheep of the church!

We do it not give in our own power or by man’s wisdom, but in God’s power and wisdom and might! The Spirit of the Lord God is upon us!

What will be the result of our going to seek the lost sheep of the church? One of two things will happen, Jesus says:

#1 — We will not be received, and so we must do as He commands in Verse 14. Beloved, this will happen much in today’s backslidden church. It happened to Christ Himself, as He walked the earth! The consequence:
15 “Truly I say to you,  it will be more tolerable for the land of  Sodom and Gomorrah in  the day of judgment than for that city.”

#2 — We will be received, welcomed, accepted, and those who do it will receive a reward:
Matthew 10:40   “ He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
41 “ He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet [that is, as a prophet sent by the Lord] shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man [that is, a righteous man made righteous by the Lord] shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
42 “And  whoever in the name of a disciple [as a disciple of Christ] gives to one of these little ones [prophets and righteous men] even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” [my interpretation in brackets]

Beloved, I am praying for today’s church to receive those whom Jesus is sending out even now.

I am praying that the lost sheep of the church will be found and carried back with rejoicing.

I am praying that the lost coin will be found and cause great rejoicing, in heaven and on the earth!

I am praying that many in the church will ask for the kingdom of heaven to be within them — that is, asking for God the Father to fill them with His Holy Spirit.

THEN they will receive authority. THEN they will proclaim that the kingdom of heaven has drawn near and their hearers must repent.

And I am expecting to see the attesting signs.

Amen, Lord. Let it be so!

Rebuilding – Consecrated and Cleansed

[SW143] 06/28/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Consecrated and Cleansed”

Always when I preach, it is as much a message to be worked in my own heart as it is one that is to be delivered to you. And that is so today!

I tell you, He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it until Christ comes (Philippians 1:6)! So let the work begin, Lord, in me, in your church, in all believers!

“God’s work!” we say, as He consecrates us and we are baptized in water as a sign of it.

“God’s work!” we cry, as He cleanses our hearts and fills us with His holiness, bringing us into holy intimacy with Him!

In Nehemiah 12:27-30, the completed wall was dedicated, and the priests purified themselves.

It was God’s work.

It began with Nehemiah’s intercession, seeking the Lord’s heart and petitioning Him on behalf of His distressed people.

We have talked about the steps that follow. Now we are at the conclusion.

The dedication of the wall in today’s passage was an outward act done as a sign of an inward conviction, a recognition on Israel’s part that the wall they had worked on was God’s wall, and it was completed only by His provision.

It is like that when we are baptized under the new covenant (God’s promise fulfilled), the one Jesus instituted. We are God’s workmanship:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We could not save ourselves. He saved us and bought us with a price (1Corinthians 6:20) — the blood of His Son.

We acknowledge we are God’s, and no longer our own. He wants us to be His. He wants us to be His children. He made us for that purpose. Step into that purpose!

Just as with the dedication of the wall, baptism yields worship — gladness, thanksgiving, and songs of praise!

Then came the purification of the priests, the people, the gates and the wall  (Verse 30). It was outward, it was external — they performed a cleansing ritual established through Moses.

Under the new covenant, God Himself cleanses us inwardly, purifying our hearts so they are wholly His.

When Jesus walked the earth, He chose His disciples, setting them apart to Himself. And He does that with us today. But then He said (and still says today), “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (see Matthew 5:48).

Peter repeated God’s call when he quoted Leviticus 11:44ff in 1 Peter 1:14-16, “As children of obedience, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

We are consecrated and set apart with water baptism.

But there is a greater work, one that makes us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, victors who are no longer slaves to sin:

Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

If we do not ask for the greater work to be done, we will be as Eliashib, inviting Tobiah (the ways of the world) in, and finding that he displaces everything that feeds worship in us (see Nehemiah 13).

We will be as those who went out and married the world (13:23ff).

We will violate the Sabbath (13:15ff), Christ’s sabbatismos (Hebrews 4:9), the true Sabbath rest of God, where we rest from our own works.

We will distance ourselves from our God by continuing to willfully disobey him (Isaiah 59:2).

But if both consecration AND cleansing are done, then we will hear the Holy Spirit say, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:2). These are the keys to effective service.

He will continue to mold and shape us as we go, but our hearts will be ever willing and not resistant.

The church as a whole and we individually must let Him to a complete work in us, consecrating ourselves to Him 100% and asking Him to purify our hearts.

Then the rebuilding of the church (and you and me) will be complete.

Our cry must be as David’s in Psalm 51:10-13.

Then we will hear and walking the way He continues to show us (Isaiah 30:21), obedient from our hearts.

REBUILDING – REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION

[SW142] 06/21/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Repentance and Public Confession”

Beloved, if we speak all of God’s Word to the people, they will repent and publicly confess their sin. Then the people are ready to be dedicated and purified!

Jesus is showing me something in the Book of Nehemiah. It’s about today’s church, and what she must be taught and how she must be exhorted. In Nehemiah, the Lord reveals the necessary steps to rebuilding:

Chapter 1 — Intercession

Chapter 2 — Christ’s provision

Chapters 2 and 3 — His Inspiration and Strength

Chapter 4 — Spiritual Warfare

Chapter 5 — Conviction of sin

Chapter 6 — Discernment

Chapters 8 and 9 — Repentance/Public Confession of Sin

Chapter 12 — Consecration

Chapter 13 — Cleansing

First we intercede standing in the gap between a broken church and a God who heals brokenness. Then we seek the provision necessary to rebuild.

Then we act upon the inspiration of God, the heart of God which we have sought and got!

But in the midst of the building, the Enemy who is Satan will mock, despise and attack us.
How do we defeat him? Spiritual warfare! But remember that we cannot blame Satan for the sin that has caused the church to become broken down.

The next element necessary to the rebuilding is discernment. We cannot fight Satan without it, and only God can give it. Mankind’s natural discernment will never work — we see its results every day in the headlines.

Now we come to the next step in rebuilding the church:

If we speak all of God’s Word to the people, they will repent and publicly confess their sin, which prepares them for dedication and purification!

It is one thing to complete the wall, but more is required to complete the process of rebuilding — the wall must be dedicated/consecrated, and purified.

And so it is with God’s people, both then and now. Our hearts must be consecrated, our hearts must be purified so they are wholly the Lord’s! And only He can do it!

Nehemiah 8 and 9

It was the Feast of Trumpets on the first day of Tishri, the Jewish calendar’s seventh month, which would be October in the Roman calendar. A day of ruach, a day of blowing, a day for the wind of the Spirit to blow through the people, by way of the public reading and interpretation of the Word of God by the priests and scribes!

It was the Feast of Trumpets, the first of the Ten Days of Awe (a time of reflection and repentance), leading up to the Day of Atonement (peace with God), and followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (rejoicing over God’s provision in the wilderness and now, in the harvest).

Oh, beloved! When we reflect and repent, and ask for the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to cover us, we will rejoice over God’s provision that kept us in our own wilderness wanderings, and His provision in coming to tabernacle literally inside of us!

When Ezra brought the law before the people, to read and interpret it, they all were attentive. Their ears were to it, spiritually.

Their hearts were open to not only physically hear it, but heed it (James 1:22-25).
They once again revered the Word of God, after they strayed from it, sinned, were sent into exile by God, and then brought back into to the land by Him!

Ezra didn’t give a 20-minute sermon, beloved!

He read from the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) from dawn until midday. His fellow priests and scribes stood with him. He was on a podium, above the people so they could see and hear. All the people stood up when he began, and did not sit down until he was done.

Then, after Ezra had read and interpreted the Word of God so the people could understand it, he blessed the Lord, the great God.

What else can we do when we read God’s Word and hear its interpretation with open hearts? We all simply bless the Lord for His greatness, His faithfulness, His love, His justness, and His righteousness!

All the people said, “Amen, Amen,” while lifting up their hands (v. 6).

And then they bowed low with their faces to the ground. Why? I believe the presence of the Lord was there, and when we sense Him, we bow in humility and submission, we bow under His great kabod, His majesty and the weightiness of His presence.

All of them wept when they heard the Word of the Lord (v. 9). They grieved, because they were convicted of how they and their fathers had grieved the Lord. What a picture of the true fear of God, true worship in Spirit and in truth!

They were convicted of their unfaithfulness, having been reminded through the Scriptures of the Lord’s great faithfulness.

But the Feast of Trumpets was not only a day to begin reflection and repentance, but a day of rejoicing and feasting because the Day of Atonement, the time of making peace with God, was coming!

So Nehemiah urged them to eat and drink and share with those who did not have anything prepared. It was a holy day, a day set apart. And beloved, Nehemiah reminded them, “The joy of the Lord is your strength!”

It is our fortress. It is not our joy, but His!

John 15:11 “ These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your  joy may be made full.
John 17:13 “But now  I come to You; and  these things I speak in the world so that they may have My  joy made full in themselves.”

It is not our strength, but His!

It is not our life, but His!

It is not our love, but His!

They rejoiced as they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, and then, in Nehemiah 9:1, on the 24th day of the month, on the appointed day,they mourned and fasted. I tell you, this is the appointed day!

They publicly separated themselves from all foreigners (so they would not worship the things that the world worships), and stood and confessed their sins publicly.

For three hours, the Torah was read, and for three hours after that, the people confessed.
Then the Levites invited them to bless their God, and began to speak of His faithfulness, of all He had given them, of how He had provided for them and made them able to go in and possess the land, fighting against their enemies as they went in.

And the Levites recited all the ways the people had rebelled after faithful Abraham, whose heart the Lord found faithful before Him (v.7). As Abraham stood before the Lord, even seeing His angel, he was found faithful, full of faith in the goodness and mercy of God!

The people’s sins were many:

Verse 16 —
They acted arrogantly,
became stubborn,
would not listen,
and refused to listen,
They forgot the deeds of the Lord,
tried to go back into slavery in Egypt,
and made a golden calf and worshiped it.

Verse 26 —
They became disobedient and rebelled against the Lord.
They cast His law behind their backs.
They killed the prophets who admonished them so they might return to Him.
They committed great blasphemies (acts of contempt) against the Lord.

The Lord let their enemies have at them, they cried out, He delivered them, they sinned again, He punished them by exiling them, He delivered them because He promised He would bring them back in 70 years from Babylon. He kept delivering all who returned to Him, for His own name’s sake and because of His great hesed, His faithfulness as a husband to His people!

The Lord delivered them from captivity in Babylon, but they were still slaves to the King of Persia, in their own land. This speaks to me of the believer who is still a slave to sin.

The solution?

The people must be consecrated (Chapter 12), and purified (Chapter 13). We still have two messages to go, before we see the whole picture the Lord showed me!

The word to today’s church, today’s Christian:

The whole Word of God must be spoken and accurately interpreted.

The people must have ears to hear it, to heed it and not just physically listen, and revere it.

When the Word of God is spoken and the people have ears to hear it, they will repent. Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says!

The church must give the people a means to repent openly, to confess their sins publicly, before the whole congregation.

Let us have Ten Days of Awe, when every believer recaptures the fear of the Lord, the awe of Him, when they once again see His faithfulness and their unfaithfulness.

Peace with God will result, through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ!

Then, the rejoicing will begin, for on the mountain of the Lord, it has been provided (Genesis 22:14, the Akedah) —

—We have Christ, who not only is the means of making peace with God and establishing a face-to-face relationship with God, but also
—We have Christ who also makes the way for our hearts to be filled with His Spirit so our hearts are consecrated (made holy) and made entirely His, no mixture of affections, so we walk in His ways and thus, in His power!

Oh, believe God and not me, a rebuilt church and revival will result!

REBUILDING THE CHURCH — DISCERNMENT

Beloved, if we ask, the Lord will give us discernment, and with that, we will be one step closer to a rebuilt church!

[SW141] 06/14/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Discernment”

Jesus is showing me something in the Book of Nehemiah. It’s about today’s church, and what she must be taught and how she must be exhorted. In Nehemiah, the Lord reveals the necessary steps to rebuilding:

Chapter 1 — Intercession

Chapter 2 — Christ’s provision

Chapters 2 and 3 — His Inspiration and Strength

Chapter 4 — Spiritual Warfare

Chapter 5 — Conviction of sin

Chapter 6 — Discernment

Chapters 8 and 9 — Repentance/Public Confession of Sin

Chapter 10 — Consecration

Chapter 13 — Cleansing

First we intercede standing in the gap between a broken church and a God who heals brokenness. Then we seek the provision necessary to rebuild.

Then we act upon the inspiration of God, the heart of God which we have sought and got!
But in the midst of the building, the Enemy who is Satan will mock, despise and attack us.
How do we defeat him? Spiritual warfare! 

Remember that we cannot blame Satan for the sin that has caused the church to become broken down. Our own lust is at the root of all sin. Our leaders must convict us of our sin, so we will turn from it.

The next element necessary to the rebuilding is discernment.

Discernment. Daniel had it, and refused to eat the king’s unclean delicacies (Daniel 1:8). Jesus had it, and refused to listen to Satan’s entreaty to worship him. Paul and John and Peter had it, and knew how to identify false teachers and false brothers (2Timothy 6:3-5, 1John 4:1ff, 1John 1:6 and 2Peter 3:17ff, to name just a few references)! Discernment. It comes from the Lord, and not the world.

Nehemiah 6

When all of  Israel’s enemies heard that the wall had been rebuilt and no breach remained in it (though the doors had not been set in the gates), they used Satan’s favorite weapons: deception, slander and fear.
They sent a message to Nehemiah. “Come, let us take counsel together.”

“Let us take counsel together.” The Lord asks, “Who have you taken counsel with lately, beloved?”

Or do you say, like Nehemiah did, “I am doing God’s work here. Why should I stop to meet with you?” The message was sent four times, and four times, Nehemiah responded that way.

From the beginning, Nehemiah DISCERNED that his enemies could not have a part in the rebuilding (2:20). He heard of their  mocking, how they despised Israel. They had plotted to fight Israel, and the people feared, but Nehemiah heard of it and equipped the people for battle, and so their plans were frustrated, broken and annulled (4:15).

And these say, “Come let us take counsel together?” They must think Nehemiah has a very short memory! How is your memory, beloved? Do you remember what Satan has said of you? Do you remember his mocking and how he despises you? Have you heard of his plans and asked the Lord to equip you for battle by filling you with His Spirit so Satan’s plans are frustrated, broken and annulled? Why, then, would you take counsel with him now? Why does the church join hands with those who hate Christ?

Our word to Satan must be, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” per Matthew 4:10. And we must know God’s Word and thereby, God’s heart and God’s nature, in order to DISCERN Satan’s nature. And we must DISCERN that it is necessary to have Christ’s nature in us in order for Satan to have to obey when we say, “Begone!”

When you refuse Satan, he will slander you, just as Sanballat and the rest did to Nehemiah (6:6-7). “You seek power, you seek to rule, you’ve appointed your own prophets to say you should lead.” But Nehemiah said, “These accusations are from your imagination.”

Satan is a liar and the father of lies. There is no truth in him. For him, to lie is to speak in his native tongue, it is to speak from his own nature (John 8:44).

When Satan’s lies come at you, do you run to your Good Shepherd? Do you run from the stranger’s voice (John 10), or do you listen to him? Run from the stranger’s voice! Know and believe the Word of God (in your heart) and you will be able to DISCERN!

Nehemiah DISCERNED that his enemies were trying to use fear, which births discouragement. Then the work stops. Nehemiah DISCERNS this truth. So what does Nehemiah do? He prays, “Now, O God, strengthen my hands!” What do you do when Satan tries to make you fear? Are you discouraged? Then you have fallen for his tactics. Stand up now. Cry out to the Lord, “Strengthen my hands!”

Strengthen (2388 chazaq) to fasten upon; hence, to seize, be strong (figuratively, courageous, causatively strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify). O God, fasten upon my hands and seize them, making them strong so the rebuilding may be completed in YOUR strength!

Next, Nehemiah DISCERNS that one of his fellow Israelites, Shemaiah (ShemaYAH, which means “he hears from God”), is trying to bait him, to make him sin.

O beloved, beware! Even from those who call you brother, those who call themselves Christians, who say they hear from God, you may hear Satan speak tempting words.
The Enemy will say, people seek your life — run and hide in the temple! Sounds like a good idea. What better place to hide than in the Lord’s house? But if you are hiding, you do not trust God.

Nehemiah DISCERNED this, and he also knew the Word of God. He could not go into the temple and live (6:11). Beloved, he was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. It was the custom of pagan kings to castrate any men who worked closely with them, so the men would have no sexual desire toward the king’s wives and concubines. Nehemiah was an eunuch. He was emasculated (Deuteronomy 23:1), and thus barred from the temple. To go in would be a sin against God. So he refused.

[NOTE: Praise be to God, since His Son Jesus Christ came and died and rose and ascended, He has now lifted that ban (Isaiah 56:3-5). “To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial.”]

Nehemiah DISCERNED that God had not sent ShemaYAH, for he encouraged Nehemiah to sin!

O beloved, are you with people who say it’s alright to continue to sin against God once you have come to Christ? Do these say they hear from God? If you have asked the Lord for His DISCERNMENT, you will not listen to them.

Satan hires people like ShemaYAH for this reason: that you may become frightened and act accordingly so that Satan is able to say you feared and hid, so he can reproach you (6:13).

Remember Satan, O God, for what he has done. And beloved, remember that we do not war against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities:

Ephesians 6:12 For our  struggle is not against   flesh and blood, but  against the rulers, against the powers, against the  world forces of this  darkness, against the  spiritual forces of wickedness in  the heavenly places.

What is the result, when we have DISCERNMENT? The wall is finished (6:15-19) the worship begins (7:1ff), and God is glorified, for He promised and it is DONE, and has proven Himself faithful to His Word (Psalm 138:2)!

EXHORTATION TO BELIEVERS AND THE CHURCH-AT-LARGE:

Do you have discernment from God and therefore refuse Satan’s invitation to take counsel with him?

Do you have discernment from God, so you know the Good Shepherd’s voice and run from the voice of the stranger?

Do you have discernment from God, so you know Satan’s tactics?

Do you have discernment from God, so you ask Him to clothe you with His armor and fill you with His Spirit and His Word, so Satan cannot harm you?

Do you have discernment from the Lord, so you refuse to sin, even when a brother, one who calls himself a Christian, says, “But I hear from God, and He says it is alright”?

Do you have discernment so you know whether you may test the spirits of men?

1John 4:1    Beloved, do not believe every  spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because  many false prophets have gone out into the world . . . 5  They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.  6  We are from God;  he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Through this message, you are convicted that you have sinned, that you have taken Satan’s bait, that some hireling has spoken and you have believed him. If you will agree with God, He will cleanse you of your sin and fill you with His Spirit so you have DISCERNMENT. And He will rebuild your wall and set its gates in place.

But there is yet more — there must be revival with public confession of sin(Nehemiah 8-9), then dedication and purification (Nehemiah 10). These must happen in you individually, and also in today’s church-at-large, so we may be rebuilt to be the church of the Book of Acts, and the world may know that the Father sent His Son:

John 17:23  ” 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. 24 “Father, I desire that  they also, whom You have given Me,  be with Me where I am, so that they may see My  glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before  the foundation of the world. 25   “O  righteous Father,  although  the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that  You sent Me; 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.”