A Reluctant Writer

Archive for the ‘The Children’s Bread’ Category

The Children’s Bread 12/12

PART 12: GOD DID

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know…(Acts 2:22, KJV, emphasis added)

In Acts 2:22, Peter is speaking to people perplexed by the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. He quoted from Joel to prove God’s promise to pour out his Spirit on all flesh had been fulfilled. Then he makes an amazing statement. Jesus did not do the miracles, wonders, and signs that marked his ministry. GOD DID. God did the miracles to confirm that Jesus taught them the truth.

 Our faith does not control nor dictate the miraculous power of God because the intent of miracles is to confirm the truth has been spoken. Have you ever noticed volumes of teaching on how to “get a miracle” yields few and questionable miracles. I’ve known more than one person who believed God healed them of cancer. I’ve has also attended their funeral when the cancer returned and nothing could be done to save them. The truth is the cancer went into remission. God never healed them.

If we shut our eyes and ears to the truth, we will never see true miracles, because we will never correct our doctrine. We don’t need someone to teach us how to get a miracle. If we worship God in Spirit and in truth, God will work with us performing the miracles people need.

Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10, NKJ). If God’s sinless son refused to speak his own words how much more do we.

Heavenly Father, Please forgive your ministers for spreading error about you and send laborers who speak your words that you might visit us with the miracles we need.  Amen

The Children’s Bread 11/12

PART 11: A HEALING CLOTH

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Acts 19:11-12

Trying to reproduce something that happened in a different time, place and culture is a bad idea. Many years ago, I received a letter from a famous evangelist with a small piece of cloth. The letter instructed me to lay the cloth on my body to receive healing. The cloth was a point of contact to help me release my faith and receive from God. The letter concluded with an appeal to send an offering so the minister could send more miracle working pieces of cloth. Need I say more? Beware of manipulation, especially when money is involved.

The reason God used prayer cloths had a purpose that had nothing to do with money. The people of Ephesus believed in many gods and faithfully worshipped them. In their religious practices they used curious arts of magic. Barnes Notes state “That such arts were practiced at Ephesus is well known. The Ephesian letters, by which incantations and charms were supposed to be produced, were much celebrated. They seem to have consisted of certain combinations of letters or words, which, by  being pronounced with certain intonations of voice were believed to be effective in expelling diseases, or evil spirits; or which, by being written on parchment and worn, were suppose to ….guard from evil spirits…”

Whether or not the Ephesian practice worked is debatable, but the Ephesians believed touching a parchment or cloth that had been prayed over had power to cure diseases and guard against evil spirits. God comes to us on a level we can understand and receive him and then lifts us higher. By the end of the revival, many of the Ephesians admitted their religious practices were evil and burned the books that taught them to practice sorcery.

LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THE CHILDRENS BREAD: PART 12 GOD DID

The Children’s Bread 10/12

PART 10: THE WORD OF THE LORD

 “…Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.  This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord….. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul,  so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Acts 19:9-12

When the leaders of the Ephesian synagogue slandered Paul’s message that Jesus is the way, he moved to the lecture hall of Tyrannus. All of Asia heard the word of the Lord, not the word of the synagogue’s leaders, not the word of Paul, not the word of the apostles, but the WORD OF THE LORD. Hearing the word of the Lord purged from human additions is another key element to God working miracles among us.

We must not only come out from among people in the church who refuse to believe, we must teach God’s thoughts and ideas. The leaders of the synagogue who refused to accept accurate doctrine and continued to teach their own ideas excluded themselves and those who believed them from the miracles of healing and deliverance from devils that exploded Tyrannus’s lecture hall.

Before Jesus ascended to heaven to take his place at God’s right hand, he spoke of signs that follow those who believe the truth. Healing and deliverance from devils are two of those signs. Mark concluded his gospel:

“Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Mark 16:20

When we speak God’s thoughts and ideas, he works with us to confirm we have spoken the truth. Paul sought to establish his disciples “not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). In Paul’s list of the gifts of the Spirit we find “to another gifts of healings by the same spirit, to another the working of miracles….(1 Corinthians 12:9-10). If the people in a congregation are plagued with sickness and act like devils, examine the doctrine. Is it full of human wisdom or is it full of wisdom the Lord can confirm?

LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 11: A HEALING CLOTH

The Children’s Bread 9/12

PART 9: DOGS AND MIRACLES

Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 

But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”  But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” 

And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.  (Matthew 15:21-28, NKJV)

Last week, I promised to tell you why Jesus refused to heal a woman’s daughter of devils until she put him in a no win situation. Jesus had already told the woman it’s not good to give the children’s bread to dogs. The woman refused to take no for an answer. Jesus knew if he gave her want she wanted, she would hate him. If he didn’t give her what she wanted, she would hate him. We will never be able to lay a claim of wrongdoing at his feet. If you are going to hate him, it will be your fault not his. If you think you are smarter than God is and refuse to be denied, he will give you what you want.

To understand why Jesus initially told the woman, “NO”, we need to consider a few important points. First, the woman’s daughter was full of devils. Devils cannot possess unless we give them permission. Second, the daughter was not seeking help. Therefore, the daughter was involved in worshipping devils. Third, the woman primarily wanted relief from a daughter that was making her life a misery. Her solution was for the devils to leave.

If you back up from Matthew 15 to Matthew 12 Jesus already explained what happens when devils leave.  

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (Matthew 12:43-45, NKJV)

 Devils leave, but they also return. Jesus knew healing the woman’s daughter would not be good because the daughter was not seeking his help, and the devils who left would return to an empty clean house. Ultimately, they mother’s solution to her problem made the problem seven times worse. When God says “No” he has a really good reason.

 LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 10: THE WORD OF THE LORD

The Children’s Bread 8/12

PART 8: CRUMBS FOR DOGS

Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 

 

But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”  But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

 

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” 

 

And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.  (Mat 15:21-28, NKJV)

A Gentile woman who had heard about Jesus and believed he was the son of David and heir to his throne approached him seeking a miracle. Have mercy on me, my daughters is full of devils she cried. Note that the daughter is not present, which indicates her daughter was old enough to refuse seeking Jesus help. In response to the mother’s plea for mercy, Jesus refused to acknowledge her. The mother didn’t need mercy, her daughter did, and the daughter was not asking for his help.

When Jesus refused to speak to her, she turned to a lesser power – his disciples. The disciples could not help her, so they went to Jesus and complained. They didn’t ask Jesus to help the mother, they asked him to send her away. Jesus didn’t send her away but he did explain to his disciples why he refused to acknowledge her. God had sent him to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Another way of saying the miracles he was capable of performing belonged to God’s children.

When the disciples ignored her, she changed her tactics. Instead of pleading for mercy, she worshipped Jesus. God does not ignore people who worship him. Jesus had no intention of healing the daughter who had not asked for his help, but he did explain why. It is not good to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs. The woman refused to be denied and quickly pointed out that even dogs eat crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.

At this point, the insincerity in the mother’s worship is revealed. If she truly worshipped him, she would have respected his wisdom and accepted that it is not good for her daughter to receive a miracle until she wanted help.

You might argue that Jesus said she had great faith, and by that faith she obtained what she desired. Her daughter was healed. Great doesn’t mean good. WWII is called the “Great War”. Does that mean it was a good war? God gave us faith to obtain what he desires. She ignored Jesus counsel and refused to leave until she obtained what she desired. From the day Eve desired to be wise like God until today, obtaining what wedesire is the source of much pain and suffering.

God is infallible. He owes a debt to no man because he has never wronged anyone. If we back him in a corner with our “great” faith putting him in the position that he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, he will give us what we want. The pain we bring into our lives thinking we are smarter than God, is our fault, not his.

If you are thinking I am way off base because her daughter was healed, log on next week and I’ll explain why Jesus said it is not good to give miracles to dogs.

LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 9: DOGS AND MIRACLES

The Children’s Bread 7/12

PART 7: Tolerating Covetous Revilers

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortion – not even to eat with such a person.” 1 Corinthians 5:11

The church is good at separating themselves from most of the things on Paul’s list of undesirable company that defiles us. We do not tolerate sexual immorality and drunkenness, nor would we erect an idol in the church. People caught extorting money are promptly removed from office. We excel at keeping most of the pollution out. But there are two things on the list we have failed to purge from our churches – the covetous and the reviler.

The Greek word translated covetous means eager to have more. The Greek word translated reviler means abusive. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words clarifies the abuse as verbal. You are a reviler when you speak reproachfully or scold others.

The leaders in the Ephesian synagogue publicly maligned Paul’s message. To malign is to criticize in a spiteful and false or misleading way with the intent to harm. The same leaders who wanted Paul to stay the first time he spoke in their synagogue reviled him when he returned. If you are covetous, eager to have more, you will become a reviler if you don’t get the more you seek. 

It is so common to revile shepherds that many barely have a twang of conviction that we have acted wickedly. Most of the reviling comes from the desire to have more. When pastors fail to give us the more we desire, we speak reproachfully about them. Some subject them to verbal abuse.

Not only do sheep revile their shepherds, shepherds revile the sheep for the same reason. They want more. They want the sheep to pray more, give more and win more people to the Lord. When the sheep fail to comply, they speak reproachfully to us.

We can be as dumb as sheep, bobbing our heads in agreement believing we deserved to be reviled. Then we walk out the door thanking the shepherd for a great message as he pats himself on the back for his boldness. But the only thing that happened was verbal abuse. The only thing God saw was wickedness.

The reviling that takes place in the church will never give us the more we seek. We are dogs devouring one another, too wicked to have more. God is waiting for us to purge all of the wickedness out, so he can give us more of him. There is a good reason God does not give miracles to dogs.

LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 8: CRUMBS FOR DOGS

The Children’s Bread 6/12

PART 6: Be Separate

“But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

When the leaders in the Ephesian synagogue maligned Paul’s message, he took the disciples and held daily discussion in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. Two years of extraordinary miracles followed, which leaves us with a question of epic proportions. Why didn’t the miracles begin while they were in the synagogue?

I believe the answer is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” While many use this scripture to prove we should not marry or enter into business with an an unbeliever its message includes the unbelievers in the church, especially the ones who leads us.

Paul told the saints at Corinthian not to keep company with sexually immoral people. The saints took his message to the extreme, so he clarified what he meant. He never meant for the saints to separate themselves from the people of this world who are immoral. We must not “keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person” 1 Corinthians 5:11, NKJV.

When we refused to be unequally yoked with leaders in the church who claim to be a brother in Christ yet their lives are filthy with sin, we will see miracles. God’s promises guarantee it.

“…As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

Miracles are the children’s bread. When Paul took his disciples and separated from the unbelievers in the church God, according to his promises, received them as his children and extraordinary miracles began.

We don’t have proof that the leaders of the synagogue were sexually immoral, worshiped idols, drunkards or thieves, but we do have proof they were covetous revilers. Their lust for more became their undoing and excluded them from the revival.

LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 7: TOLERATING COVETOUS REVILERS

The Children’s Bread 5/12

PART 5 Controversies Benefit

“Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way.

Paul returned to the synagogue in Ephesus who wanted him to “spend more time with them” the last time he was there. Paul promised to return if it was God’s will and it was. He spoke boldly and persuasively for three months. When some of the people who wanted more understood Paul’s message they refused to believe it.

The leaders of the synagogue heard the truth that Jesus is the only way to obtain the kingdom of God and became obstinate. Not only did they reject Jesus, they publicly maligned Paul’s message in an effort to prevent their congregation from listening to him.

Whenever God seeks to give us more, controversy is inevitable but it’s not bad.

“God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: The Lord knows those who are his…” 2 Timothy 2:19

God knows who is his, but we don’t. God looks where we cannot see. He looks on our hearts and knows who sincerely wants him, and who is seeking personal benefit. Churches are full of self-appointed ministers whose erroneous doctrines create strongholds in our lives that prevent us from receiving more of God. When truth is spoken, the light in truth exposes them for the charlatans they really are. At that point they will repent or defend themselves. If they don’t repent controversy erupts. The ensuing battle reveals to the rest of us who is God’s and who is not.

When leaders quarrel, churches split because the congregation is forced to choose whose message to embrace. The message that left them dry, thirsty and sick or the message that quenched their thirst and healed them. They choose to follow the leader who suffers personal attacks for their good or the leader who cares more about being right than benefiting his congregation. Unfortunately, many will choose the familiar that left them dry, thirsty and sick.

The maligned leader, Paul, had no option but to take those who embraced his message that “Jesus is the Way” and leave. When Paul moved to the lecture hall of Tyrannus, God released a revival of extraordinary miracles.

LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 6: BE SEPARATE

The Children’s Bread 4/12

PART 4 The Desire for More

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Acts 19:11-12

The extraordinary miracles God did through Paul began when some people in a Jewish synagogue in Ephesus desired more. Paul had completed his ministry in Corinth and sailed to Ephesus with Priscilla and Aquila who planned to stay in Ephesus, but Paul was intent on continuing the journey to Antioch. Before he left Ephesus, he went to the local synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.

The congregation was interested in his message and asked him to “spend more time with them” (Acts 18:20). Paul declined their invitation but promised to return “if it is God’s will” (Acts 18:21).

Jesus said,

“…Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

While this scripture has been used as evidence you can get whatever you want from God, Jesus was talking about finding something specific – the Holy Spirit. If you want more of God, you will find what you are looking for. Jesus compared God with the fathers of this world. An evil father will give his child a fish or an egg if he or she is hungry. If an evil father cares enough to feed his child’s physical body, how much more a good father. God who is spirit will quench our thirst for more of him by giving us his Holy Spirit and all of the gifts that come with him. The problem is not on God’s end but on our inability to swallow the bittersweet waters of a gospel shorn of all human reasoning. God will not confirm what is being taught with signs, wonders and miracles unless it is his gospel.

If you seek more of God, you will find him, but you might not like what you find. The Jews thought they wanted more of God. Until God sent Paul back to Ephesus to quench their thirst.

LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 4: PREPARATION AND FOUNDATION

The Children’s Bread 3/12

PART 3 Preparation and Foundation 

The first step toward miracles is repentance. The ancestors of Jesus generation were no strangers to the miraculous power of God. When you have to wait a long time to receive the things God promised, it’s easy to get lost along the way. Israel wandered away from the God who delivered them and broke covenant by worshiping other gods. God severely disciplined them and scattered them among the nations whose gods they loved. A remnant had returned to the Promised Land determined to obey every law of Moses, but it was little more than rote religion void of sincere love for God. Before Jesus healed bodies, cast out devils and raised the dead, God sent John the Baptist preaching repentance.

Following a similar pattern, God prepared the way for the Ephesians who wanted more when he sent Apollos to Ephesus. Apollos was a

“…learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. (Acts 18:24-25)

Just as John the Baptist paved the way for Jesus miraculous ministry, Apollos paved the way for Paul’s. Apollos spoke “boldly in the synagogue”; the same synagogue that asked Paul to stay so they could learn more about God. (Acts 18:26)

After Apollos departed for Achaia to minister in the Corinthian church, Paul returned to Ephesus. Before Paul returned to the thirsty Jews in the synagogue, God gave twelve men, who without doubt became the foundation for the Ephesian Church, more. God had already prepared the city for a great revival through Apollos accurate teaching and needed leaders full of his Spirit to shepherd the influx of new converts when the miracles started.

Upon arriving in Ephesus, Paul found some disciples.

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” (Acts 19:2-4)

Paul laid hands on the disciples and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. The stage is now set for miracles, but first the sheep must be separated from the goats.

LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 5: CONTROVERSIES BENEFIT

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