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Powerlessness Bible Reading

The Mystery of Authority

Scripture: Ephesians 3:10–12

10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Observation:

In this passage, Paul is speaking specifically about the Gentiles being included in God’s grace. The Gentiles of that age would be the not-yet-Christians is this generation. Paul is addressing the reality that it is through the Church that those outside the fold are entrusted. And the announcement to the “rulers” and “authorities” in the heavenly realms is a proclamation to the spiritual realm on earth (the powers of the air – Ephesians 2:2 … i.e., the “Dark Side”) that they are – or have been made – subservient to the authority of the Church.

Isn’t that a kick in the pants?! The Church is charged with taking the gospel to the spiritually ignorant (lost, wanderers, far from God, unbelievers, unchurched, not-yet-Christians, Nones, Other-beliefed – use whatever term suits you) and the spiritual realm must be submissive to the Church’s authority. But the Church today largely behaves as if it has no authority – that it has no power over anything or anyone … and especially over the “rulers” and “authorities” of the spiritual realm (note principalities/powers are not mentioned here – see Ephesians 6:12).  And yet, we have been given specific authority over that realm, and thus, the power to march confidently into the places of the imprisoned in victory.

Matthew 16:18

The gates of Hades will not overcome [be able to stop the advance of] the church.

Matthew 16:19

Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Ephesians 6:10

Take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

James 4:7

Submit yourselves therefore to Gd. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Matthew 10:1

He gave them authority to drive out impure spirits … 

Matthew 28:18-19

All authority on earth and in heaven have been given to me. Therefore, you go …

Application:

Having authority and responsibility and power to “march into hell for a heavenly cause” doesn’t mean that anything is being done. Instead of mobilizing for the sake of the Kingdom, we have – the Church – become embroiled over petty preferences and distracted by “doing” church rather than “being” church. By focusing on “us” and our preferred styles and traditions and personal comforts, we have become so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good. The Church has become inwardly focused rather than implementation focused. And when that happens, our authority and responsibility and power is not just wasted, it is squandered. And the Dark Side can … and has … leveraged our impropriety as an opportunity to blind, imprison, and torment those around us – to the point that the fasted growing segment of “religions” are people who have no faith claim whatsoever.

Prayer

Lord, remind us that we have the authority over even the angels – that we bow only to you. Reveal to us the mystery of the power and authority you have entrusted us with. Show us our place in the battle for the hearts and souls of those around us.

Six Hours of Agony Bible Reading

Six Agonizing Hours

Mark 15:25, 33–37

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him … At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

Six Agonizing Hours

Crucified in the midst of a spring morning, in the rising heat of the day. By noon the temperature would be scorching. But a darkness came over the land. Not an eclipse, for a total solar eclipse lasts but seven minutes. And it doesn’t appear to have been a supernatural event, for the crowd didn’t panic – or even react. Perhaps, most likely, it was a cloudy sky kind of phenomenon. My imagination sees deep, thick storm clouds, but that may or may not be the reality.

Three hours of sun and heat. Three hours of foreboding darkness. Perhaps some relief for the Son of God – but perhaps just a sign for the watchers and the readers.

Six Agonizing Hours

Time to think;

to reflect;

to “Be,” but not in a good way;

to wait;

to dwell;

to wrestle through all five phases of death:

denial,

anger,

bargaining,

depression, and

acceptance.

Six hours of taunts;

of watching your mom

your siblings

your friends and

your ex friends

grieve over you.

Six hours to wonder why Plan B hadn’t been an option.

Six hours to blame others.

Six hours to hope for rescue … or that death would come soon – very soon.

Six hours to have faith and six hours to lose faith.

Six agonizing hours of total and utter abandonment and total and utter aloneness.

Six agonizing hours … for what?

It’s so easy, O Lord, to take “all this” for granted. To take our ease in the rituals of a weekly performance and hearing words that have so little consequence and demand little more. It’s so easy to say “Thank you” and to not join in your suffering.

Six agonize hours so that the church could be empowered to be Jesus for the world.

So that we would see and know the sacrifice expected for the sake of the Kingdom.

So that we would put aside our petty differences and our personal preferences in order to take up the cross and sacrifice our all for the sake of those who do not know or understand that being a Christian means embracing a life of six agonizing hours for ourselves … and that those six agonizing hours is the only thing worth dying – and living – for.

Prayer Is the Battle Bible Reading

Power of Persistent Prayer

Mark 10:46–49

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

This morning as I was reading my morning scriptures (Mark 10), I was reminded about Jesus’ being the servant of all (10:45). But as I was about to write that, my inner spirit compelled me to look again at the words and behaviors of Blind Bartimaeus.

There he is, on the side of the road, when he hears that Jesus is passing by. He begins to call out to Jesus. And he kept calling, despite the disapproving pressure of the crowd that told him to sit down and shut up. He just kept calling, “Son of David, have mercy!” And he kept at it until Jesus took note.

Two observations:

  1. In today’s world, we cast Jesus/God/Spirit as soft touches. Ask … and apparently if you hold your mouth just right, God will answer in the positive. We deprecate any passages that suggest God doesn’t drop and stop everything to hear and answer our prayers. But that’s not the way Scripture illustrates it. The Bible shows that those who are heard are those who are persistent to the point of being a pest, like the troublesome widow (Luke 18:1–7) and in this case, Blind Bartimaeus.
  2. Persistent prayer appears to be a rare commodity in the church today. Either we don’t actually have much faith, so we give up, or we just don’t want what we want badly enough.

Starting on Wednesday, May 17th, Raytown Christian Church will be hosting a weekly Prayer Summit at 6 p.m. in the newly remodeled Youth Worship Space (in the basement).

Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle; prayer IS the battle.” Beginning on Wednesday, we’re girding ourselves for the battle for Raytown Christian Church and the City of Raytown.

Here are just a few things we’ll be praying persistently for:

  • That God will remove every obstacle that hinders the work of the faithful
  • That our leaders will be imbued with wisdom – pour it down on us like a Texas downpour
  • That God would give us a clear and compelling vision for the future
  • That we’ll be faithful with those God sends us
  • That God will send us those no one else wants
  • That God will grant us the resources to raise these people into faithful disciples of Jesus Christ

If you’re a prayer warrior, or want to be, I’d like to invite you to join us as we wade into battle with the forces that that have held the church hostage for decades. In the words of William Wallace, “Victory!”

Bible Reading

How to Read Your Bible Video Series

The other day, one of our elders commented, “You tell us to read our Bibles but you haven’t told us HOW to read our Bibles.”

Good observation!

So, I’ve created 10 informal, short vignettes on how to read your Bible. Watch them in order … or not. But if you want to learn how to make the most out of your Bible reading time, hopefully you’ll find some good tips here.

Introduction

What Translation Should I Use?

Where in the Bible Should I Begin?

How Much Should I Read?

How Often Should I Read?

How Do I Make the Most Out My Reading? Highlighting

How Do I Make the Most Out My Reading? Journaling

How Do I Hear From God?

What If I Have Questions?

What If I’m Asked to Lead a Bible Study?

GIGO Bible Reading

The Real Root of All Evil

Mark 7:20–22

“What comes out of a person — that defiles him. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.”

Mark 4:24

“Pay attention to what you hear …”

In the list of things that defile us – ritually and otherwise (for ritual purity is the topic d’jour in the context of this Bible passage) – they all start and end with “evil thoughts.” The root of all evil isn’t money, it’s your thoughts.

Over the years, I have quoted my father who reminded us that “You can’t stop the seagulls from flying overhead, but you can keep them from sitting on your shoulder and making a nest.” In other words, you can’t control your thoughts, but you can control your thinks. However, I’ve come to understand that although you really can’t control your thoughts, you can control what you feed your Heart, Mind, and Soul by “paying attention to what you hear,” or more to the point, by what you listen to or watch. Carefully monitor and control what “goes in,” and you will begin to throttle back your impure thoughts.

Our culture appears to highly value three things: (1) Sexuality and all that goes with that; (2) Stuff, AKA consumerism; and (3) Self, our personal preferences, desires, and proclivities.

As we watch TV, movies, listen to advertising, and dwell on our “self,” then we feed our Hearts, Minds, and Souls with the fertilizer (the caca) of our culture rather than the bread of life.

Feed your Heart, Mind, and Soul the bread of life, stop filling it with culture’s caca, and the evil thoughts will have little more than biology to feed on. Sure, the evil thoughts will still “fly over” now and again – even monastics have to contend with sex, stuff, and self – but your impure thoughts will become more and more rare.

Lord, fill our Hearts, Minds, and Souls with the good things of you. Nourish us on the bread of life. Help us to pay more attention to what we feed our inner selves so that we may find purity of heart.