Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall Who’s the Greatest?

Yesterday and today's blogs are from my book, World Changer's Guide to Turning Lives Right-Side Up.  It's available on Amazon.  

When character traits and cultural standards clash with Christ, the Kingdom suffers.

Matthew wrote his gospel to show how Jesus trained his disciples. By the time we get to chapter 17 he has shown us that Jesus:

1. met all the qualifications necessary to be God’s promised messiah

2. Took the lead in showing us how to enter into the realm where God is King, i.e. the kingdom of God by:

a. obedience to the message being proclaimed by God’s messenger, John the Baptizer, which told them to change their thinking. That the  inauguration of God’s Kingdom would make what they previously held obsolete.

b. revealing the process He went through in assessing His own beliefs and temptations that would have destroyed any hope of Him walking in the Kingdom of God.

c. surrendering his ideas to the truth of God’s reality.

d. walking in and demonstrating the power that is available to those who walk in God’s ways and principles, i.e. Heaven’s Kingdom.

3. taught those who were hungry to know, the principles by which God’s Kingdom operates This brings us to the next lesson in Jesus Disciple Training Program: deal with the disparity in their hearts. Things get personal as Jesus focuses on heart-held beliefs rooted in the principles of the world’s system.


Matthew 17 ends with an account of the disciples’ first failure in ministry. Something that should have been routine; they were unable to cast a demon out of a boy.

14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. NKJV

This seriously messed with these men who had front row seats to the greatest demonstrations of God’s power in history: a few fish and loaves of bread multiplied to feed thousands, blind eyes and deaf ears opened, withered limbs restored and dead people raised to life. Deliverance from demons1 was just run of the mill stuff.

The disciples themselves had been used in a very successful Kingdom of God Campaign tour where demons were subjugated to their commands.

Matthew 17
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. NKJV

The word translated unbelief in verse 20 means to withhold belief in divine power and putting faith instead in a lesser power –rendering their power neutral.

Jesus’ message to them that day: The reason you failed in this is because you have put your faith in something powerless and impotent. The kingdom reality is that when you anchor your faith in truth you would have been able to say, to this (or any other)
self-exalted enemy power that rears its ugly head, leave and it would be impossible for it to not obey you. (paraphrase)

Matthew 18:
1… At that time, the disciples came to Jesus,  saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" NKJV

As you read chapters 18, 19 and 20 keep their question in mind:

Who is the greatest in the kingdom?

Jesus begins to deal with the heart issue that their question revealed: pride and the various forms it takes.

  • If you believe you are greater than a child, you are not great by Kingdom of Heaven standards. Matthew 18:6-9

  • If you treat those who are weaker and younger with disdain and disregard, offending as you go, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 18:10-11

  • If you cannot see the value of one you are not great in Kingdom standards. Matthew 18:12-14

  • If you use a public platform to your advantage to ostracize another you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 18:15-17

  • If you refuse to forgive, you are not great by kingdom standards. Matthew 18:18-35

  • If you are one who would put away2 your wife, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:3-10

  • If you despise little children, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:13-15

  • If you think that keeping all the laws of Moses is what qualifies you for eternal life, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:16-22

  • If your trust is in your financial status, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:23-26

  • If you work in the kingdom, but not for the kingdom, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:27-29

  • If you think, it is about rank, authority and privilege you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:30


Matthew 20:25-28
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." NKJV


What we have next might, at first seem out of place but it actually punctuates the lesson and is the segue to the next one. Matt 20:29-34

29 Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. 30 And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" 31 Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" 32 So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" 33 They said to Him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." 34 So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. NKJV

This story illustrates the fact that there are two kingdoms. All the efforts we put to trying to measure our worth in The Kingdom of Heaven by using the standards of the Kingdom of Darkness proves that we are blind and must have Jesus open our eyes to see our worth by God’s standards.

Failure was the springboard. A question exposed the beliefs that neutralized their effectiveness. And the lesson provides us with a guide to trouble shoot our own lives when I find myself walking in failure and ineffective ministry, it is time to examine my

1. Luke 10:17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." NKJV

2. ‘Putting away’ was a common practice used at that time. Men would leave their wives and refuse to give them a legal divorce. Making it legally impossible for the woman to remarry, often forcing the woman into a life of abject poverty, illegitimate relationships, or slavery. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Higher Law~Greater Good

When truth is not spoken in love, it often ceases to be truth.

The success or failure of the very first disciples of Jesus hinged on whether or not they were able to grasp and implement the heart message. That same criteria holds true for His disciples today.

It’s important to recognize that some of the most difficult beliefs to recognize as needing to be examined are those accepted as having come from teachings rooted in the Word of God, and Jesus addresses one of those sacred, unexamined areas in Matthew 18.

It has been my experience that this chapter is usually dealt with like so many other scriptures- out of context; resulting in conflicting concepts that do not produce a seamless flow of Kingdom principles.

The disciples have asked a question in verse 1. “Who is the
greatest in the kingdom?”

The answer to that question takes up the entire chapter and Jesus uses a classic Hebrew teaching technique—compare and contrast– to address the question.

The introduction to the Lord’s answer is found in verses 2-11.
In verses 12-14 Jesus illustrates His reasoning and validates His answer.

And then we are given the contrast.

Verse 15 begins with a tiny, two letter, word informing us that what we are about to read is in complete opposition from what we just finished reading. 

Grammatically speaking, it is a conjunction of antithesis. Because that conjunction of antithesis has not been translated, this next chapter has, for centuries, been used as a “How to handle conflict guide”  used in justifying the removal of offensive people.

However, when this portion of scripture is read in context, it is easy to see that Jesus was teaching His disciples how their current methods of handling offenders is in complete opposition to the ways of nature and the ways of The Father’s Kingdom.

Lost sheep are sought after so they can be protected, not turned out and vilified until they can be shamed into admitting that they, or their actions, are offensive to their accusers. It seems the church has really missed the boat on this one, time and time again.

The very purpose of verses 15-20 is to show how the disciple’s standard way of handling situations (legal as they may have been) was in direct conflict and contrast to the ways of The Kingdom.

Jesus reminds them; again, of the authority man has to release people from the guilt of their sins. He says it twice. Why? Because the spiritual law of love governing God’s instructions are higher than the letter of the law they were accustomed to observing.

Verses 21-35 we see Peter looking for clarification. Just how far is this love/forgiveness thing to be taken? And again, thanks to Peter, we are treated to another fabulous parable that illustrates the mind of Christ and the ways of the Kingdom.

This parable teaches us that to hold offenses against others when we have been released from and forgiven of every sin committed at our hand, results in a life returning to a place bound by torment. Why is that? Because a heart that continues to hold a belief that demands recompense and punishment, even after it has been blessed by forgiveness and received mercy has clearly decided to choose the kingdom of the world over the kingdom of God.

There are two kingdoms; each operating under different laws: the kingdom of the world, which demands blood, sweat, sacrifice and results in death.; and the kingdom of God which requires its subjects to walk in the freedom that comes from being released from the prison our sins created.

Whichever kingdom your heart belongs to is the kingdom your life represents. The Lord warns us that you cannot live by the laws of both. Again, it is a matter of the heart, and  the heart-owner is the only one authorized to make the necessary changes to their heart’s holdings.