A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Jesus Changes Lives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesus Changes Lives. Show all posts

April 1, 2024

After the Resurrection: Are We Living in the Power of Jesus?

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead into Life Everlasting is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. No other religion on the earth has an empty tomb. Christians are the only believers who follow a leader that died and then came back to life, with the promise that we, too, can have Eternal Life. Admittedly, the Bible doesn't reveal everything about that miraculous event or what followed. But there are enough hints to give us hope to seek Him and His way of life. The Bible, itself, tells us, "There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were recorded one by one [and in detail], I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written". That's a lot of details we don't have. But it doesn't mean those details are not many, mighty, miraculous, and real. 

Have you ever stopped to think about what happened immediately after Jesus rose; what occurred in addition to the details the Bible does give us? I can only imagine the shock and disbelief, and even fear, when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome arrived at the tomb to anoint him with precious oils, only to find the tomb empty! Granted, Scripture says [both in Mark and Matthew] that Jesus had told them He would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies, and they would kill Him. After three days He would be raised from death to life. The Bible recounts that on one hand, they did not understand Him, nor did they ask Him; and secondly, they were deeply grieved and distressed. 

My first thought is that they had seen Lazarus raised from the dead by Jesus, Himself, and perhaps they were confused... who is going to raise Jesus? As far as I am aware, Scripture doesn't give us any clues that He explained it was by the power of the Holy Spirit. But they were about to be exposed to all the indescribable and supernatural ways in which we can, not only be connected to the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, but live our lives in the same power and miracles. For me, the mystery, the power, the force, the strength, and the authority exhibited in the Resurrection event should overwhelm the mind and senses of every Believer! After all, He told Martha, the sister of Lazarus that not only will Believers live even if we die, but we will never die (John 11:25)! 

So, while they had clues of what was coming, they did not understand. But after the Resurrection! -- Oh, how their world must have been turned upside down. They went from profound grief, disappointment, and depression to being astonished, astounded and awe-struck at the power of the Living Christ in the world! John reports that Mary Magdalene saw the Lord in His pre-Ascension form, and later that evening, the rest of the Disciples saw Him as they met behind barred doors, fearful for their lives.He stood among them, speaking Peace over them, and breathed on them, giving them The Holy Spirit. He also told them He would send them as His Representatives -- not as emissaries of the itinerant Jewish Rabbi, but as ambassadors of the Messiah and Son of God! Then they witnessed the one Disciple [Thomas, who had been absent when He came the first time] stick his finger in the wounds Jesus had received on the Cross and Thomas's profession of faith that Jesus was real and who He said He was. But the part of this passage in John that gets forgotten is verse 30 ... There are also many other signs [attesting miracles] that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book ... as if this is not enough to believe that by trusting what He has revealed, we may have Life in His Name!

The account of Luke offers us a little more information about what happened after the Resurrection. It seems that there were more women who had gone to the tomb to prepare the Lord's body, and two angels appeared to them, reminding them that Jesus had told them that He would be crucified and rise on the third day. They reported all these things to the Disciples, but being typical men of that era, they did not give credence to the women's story. So, Peter, Himself, got up and ran to the tomb. Finding it empty, he went away wondering about what had happened. The Bible then tells us that this same day, a Disciple of Jesus, named Cleopas (Luke 24:18), and a companion were traveling to a village called Emmaus. They were discussing all the strange things that had occurred since the crucifixion, and Jesus, Himself, began walking with them, asking them what they were talking about.

They couldn't believe this stranger hadn't heard about Jesus of Nazareth, "a prophet powerful in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people". They relayed that they were downhearted because they had hoped He would redeem Israel and set them free from the rule of the Romans. They also shared that the women went to the tomb that morning and had seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive! Those who followed up on the women's report also went to the tomb, but found nothing. Jesus reprimanded the men, calling them "foolish" and "slow of heart" because they had not believed in everything the prophets had spoken down through the centuries. He then explained and interpreted everything that Moses and all the prophets had written about Him in the Scriptures. Yet, the two men still did not recognize Him. 

The three then approached the village of Emmaus and the men urged Him to stay with them. As they enjoyed the evening meal, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Suddenly, God opened their eyes and they recognized Him, before He vanished from their sight. They got up that moment and went back to Jerusalem to report that the Lord had really risen and appeared to Simon Peter, leading us to believe that the second man walking to Emmaus was indeed, Peter.  

The texts of both Matthew and Mark do not vary greatly from the others, except that Matthew reports there was a great earthquake after the crucifixion, and suggesting that it contributed to the stone being rolled away from Jesus's tomb. Matthew also suggests that there were some Roman guards who witnessed "everything that had happened", resulting in the chief priests bribing the guards to keep quiet about the supernatural events. They feared for their own safety and position if the Jewish masses learned [let alone believed] that Jesus could be the long-awaited Messiah. Scripture then makes the startling statement: "this [fabricated] story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to the present day".  

But both Matthew and Mark offer something that the other gospels do not ... what is known as The Great Commission. After chastising them [in Mark] for not believing the women who had testified of His resurrection, He commanded them to "Go" and make disciples of all the nations. They were to "help the people learn of Him, believe in Him, and obey His words, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you". He then promises them that He will be with us always, no matter what the circumstances, even to the end of the age. And then they witnessed His ascension into Heaven and sit down at the right hand of God.

So, what is the age He is talking about? The "Church Age", which the first chapter of Acts introduces. And it is the Book of Acts that shows us the effects of Jesus's ministry on earth AFTER the Resurrection. I love the language of this first chapter in Acts; the words that describe the supernatural manifestations of Jesus's Deity and His divine power and authority. Luke, the author of Acts, describes the appearance of Jesus after His Resurrection "by a series of many infallible proofs and unquestionable demonstrations, appearing to them over a period of forty days and talking to them about the things concerning the kingdom of God". Now, I don't know about you, but I want to know all the details of those forty days! What did Jesus demonstrate and what were the things He told them about the kingdom of God? But it is the encouragement He gives them that "you will be baptized and empowered and united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now". And so it was, on the day of Pentecost, that a rushing, violent wind came from heaven, bestowing tongues of fire on each of the Disciples as they received the Holy Spirit and were filled with the power of Jesus.

There are other displays of supernatural events after the Crucifixion and Resurrection ... the veil of the Holy of Holies in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook (the aforementioned earthquake) and the rocks split; tombs were opened, and many bodies of believers were raised to life; and coming out of the tombs after His Resurrection, they entered Jerusalem and appeared to many people; He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, the majority of whom were still alive, but some were dead; many wonders and attesting miracles were taking place through the apostles [as noted in Acts 2]. The Lord moved in the lives of these faithful people who, day after day, met in the temple, continuing with one mind and breaking bread in various private homes. They met together with joy and generous hearts, praising God continually, and receiving favor with all people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved. 

THIS ... this is what it looks like to be living in the power of Jesus! Yet, we as modern-day Believers in Him celebrate one day a year in honor of His Resurrection. Our lives change -- maybe for a couple of hours -- IF we happen to hear an inspiring sermon. But come Monday morning, any supernatural considerations we might have entertained have evaporated and we're back in our natural lives. Sadly, many of our modern churches have little resemblance to the beginning of the Church in the Book of Acts. 

On Sunday, I decided to tune into the live broadcast of a mega-church we attended 15 years ago. The pastor we had liked had retired, and I will tell you that I have never heard a more lukewarm sermon on the spiritual repercussions and power that the Resurrection symbolizes! They touted the 200+ baptisms they would be doing during the service -- and believe me, I do not belittle that accomplishment! But if these baptized people are not stewarded, trained, and equipped to go out and do what Jesus did Himself, and commands us to do -- heal the sick, cast out demons, cleanse the lepers (the physically, spiritually, and emotionally shunned), raise the dead, and spread the Good News of the availability of Salvation and the Kingdom through faith in our Lord -- then the end of the Church Age is definitely in view. 

So, ask yourselves this ... are you moved in your heart and spirit, as you think upon the Resurrection of Jesus and all it portends for you? Are you committed to sharing all you have learned of Him, and the ways [including the supernatural] that He has touched your life? Do you truly want the life that the Disciples experienced with Him -- or are you comfortable to live a "safer" life in the world? Are you willing to lose this life to gain all that the Lord wants to give you in the next one?  I fear if the lukewarm sermon I saw streamed on Sunday is any measurement of the power of Jesus's Resurrection in the American Church, Jesus is going to have to come soon to save "even the elect" from weak and powerless faith. Pray that His remnant will continue to walk in Spirit and Truth; not cowering or hiding from the power and authority that is ours to change the world. We have a purpose and a destiny until the day He returns. Come, Lord Jesus! Strengthen us and Empower us!

Romans 1:4-5    [He] was declared to be the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead; Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His Name among all the nations ...                    

February 8, 2024

Why The Answer to the Chaos in Society is JESUS!

Everywhere we look, we see evidence of the evil one -- crime on the rise; corruption in government and business; sexual perversion and exploitation; confusion and deception in all spheres of our society, even leading our children to abandon their gender identities. It may all look hopeless and beyond reclamation. But the story of Jesus healing the madmen in the region of Gerasenes gives us hope that even our lost nation can be redeemed.

It's such an appropriate story in the Bible because their story has been repeated in so many lives throughout history. And God inspired the writers of the Bible to give multiple accounts of this same narrative. Matthew, Mark and Luke all write about the chaos that Satan caused in these men's lives and in their communities. Matthew writes that these two men were extremely fierce and violent; everyone did what they could to avoid them. Mark and Luke apparently focus on the most disturbed of the two, choosing to concentrate on the behavior of just one of the men. Mark writes that he was always shrieking and screaming, and beating, bruising, and cutting himself with stones. Luke 's account calls him "possessed by demons". 

All three of the portrayals speak of his separation from the society of the region, and being bound in chains and fetters to protect himself and the citizens. But the demons were so strong in him that he could not be held, wrenching his chains apart and breaking them in pieces. The local citizens were terribly frightened of him, for the demons drove him to live in the tombs with the dead.

How many of our own citizens in this, the 21st Century, are living in the same chaos - homeless; disassociated from structured society; lost in immorality; deceived by ungodly influence in order to cause destruction, violence, wickedness, and death? We can no longer turn and look away. And sheltering inside our church buildings in an attempt to ignore the spiritual upheaval all around us is no way to advance the Kingdom of God against the dark kingdom of the Enemy. We, as the Ekklesia and citizens of the Kingdom on earth, must join in our spiritual power and authority to fight against the chaos and invite Jesus into a personal encounter with these lost souls.

Again, I will say that the chronicle of the Madman of Gerasenes is the perfect image of what it means to say that Jesus is the answer. This man entered into agreement with Satan about who he was, resulting in a life of torment and separation from the One who created him. And his community and fellow countrymen didn't know how to help him. Instead they shunned him and left him in his misery and isolation. Truth be known, I doubt they could've helped him, even if they wanted to. They had no knowledge of the healing power of Heaven, which is what it was going to take to free this man from the demonic prison that bound his soul and spirit.

But when the madman saw Jesus, a terrible cry escaped him, and he fell at Jesus's feet; the demons that possessed him instantly recognizing who He was. They presented a challenge to Jesus: What business do you have with us? What do we have in common? Please, don't torment us! The demons wanted to be left alone to continue their torment of the madman. But because they discerned the power of Jesus to destroy them, they asked to be allowed to leave the man and go into the herd of swine. Jesus set the man free with one word to the demons: Go! Nothing in the world could accomplish what Jesus did with that one command. And now -- just as then -- the tormented man was bound in a spiritual prison. Our society wants to solve the chaos in men's lives by building more prisons, or signing them up for rehab, or building homeless camps. But none of that has seemed to work. Prayer alone has not accomplished ridding out society of the chaos. The only answer is a real encounter with Jesus!

But what is sad to me is that our institutionalized church, in the form of "religion", is not united in believing that the marginalized in our society are capable of having -- or even want --  such an encounter. Or when they hear the testimonies of those who have, they either doubt it, belittle the experience, define it as deception, or fear it because it happens in the supernatural. Their minds cannot reconcile the radical transformation of a person from Lost to Redeemed by the power and grace of Christ. It's understandable from the secular segments of our society; but from the Church? Do they not believe the accounts in the Bible of exactly those kinds of transformation? What about Saul being radically transformed to Paul? Mary Magdalene, from a promiscuous lifestyle, to an obedient follower of Christ? Moses, from a privileged son of Egypt, to a bold leader of God's chosen people? There are so many stories in the Bible of people whose lives were radically changed, and their minds renewed, to the possibilities of God's power and grace in their life.

So, it is up to us [the true Believers who have experienced God's ability to redeem us] to do what Jesus instructed the radically transformed madman to do so long ago ... "Go home to your own family and relatives and friends, and bring back word to them of all that the Lord has done for you, and how He has had sympathy and mercy for you". So we must leave our place of comfort and go and proclaim to all of Society what Jesus has done for us. Our transformation may not be as radical as the madman from Gerasenes, but we cannot deny that we are changed, all to varying degrees. 

I can testify to the truth of how an encounter with Christ, the Messiah, can bring both His Power and Peace to a life lived in chaos. I have witnessed it through the encounters with Christ that I have seen in our ministry ... lives changed from promiscuity and bestiality to Redeemed; from addictions to drugs, alcohol and porn to Redeemed; from failed marriages to walking in unity with Christ; from defeated identities to knowing their purpose for the Kingdom. And the answer for each of these lives [in bondage to Satan] was the same ... discovering their true identity in Christ and submitting to His plan for them. 

If we, the Kingdom citizens on earth, continue to remain silent, then Society, our Culture, and our Nation will limp along until the deterioration becomes complete. Satan is playing his game; we must play our strategy as well. We can no longer afford to retreat or take shelter from the chaos. The eternal lives of so many lost souls depend on our testimonies and our spiritual power and authority -- partnering with Jesus -- to effect radical transformations and take back territory from Satan's kingdom of darkness. Yes, the chaos and lawlessness is at a crisis point, but we know the answer! Let us stand in our identity. Tell Chaos, "Go"! And then Go and share what Jesus has done for you and can do for everyone!

#societalchaos #jesusistheanswer #jesusradicallytransformslives #madmanofGerasenes #Matthew8 #Mark5 #Luke8 #fromlosttoredeemed #kingdomcitizensonearth #kingdomofGod #thegraceandpowerofJesus

Ephesians 3:20-21       Now to Him (who is able to carry out His purpose) and to do superabundantly more than we dare ask or think (infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams), according to His power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.