February 1st, 2011 by Bryan Anthony

“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow
And my years with sighing;
My strength has failed because of my iniquity,
And my body has wasted away.
Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach,
Especially to my neighbors,
And an object of dread to my acquaintances;
Those who see me in the street flee from me.
I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.” -Ps. 31.9-12

The element of human weakness in the Psalms is a great provision for the Church, for the moment we come onto the grounds of flowery religious cliche, we at once come to unreality, and God will not work with us along those lines. It is noteworthy for us to consider that the sweet-singer and priestly King of Israel, David himself, had seasons where his soul was overcome with grief and confusion, paranoia and weariness, fear and hopelessness. This does not make him an insignificant figure in the history of the faith, but is rather a testament to the faithfulness of God, Who is able to save “to the uttermost” all who call upon His name.

The Psalms are filled with David’s inner turmoils and wrestlings, and he was not afraid to sing of them in the Tabernacle of old. He did not think of his spiritual image before men, for he was pre-eminently concerned for the presence of the heavenly King. He knew that the One Who had formed the world and knit him together in his mother’s womb, was well acquainted with the actual condition of his life. He felt no need to perform spiritually, but to come to God on the grounds of truth, bringing to the Lord the whole of who he was, “warts and all.”

This is a great call for our nip-and-tuck, fashion-obsessed, image-dominated society. We unfortunately bring the unreality of worldly thought into our experience of religion, and most of us can be found putting up the self-image of our choosing; that which looks most presentable to men. But God has ever and always been eager for the reality and truth of our condition, for it is only on those grounds that we meet with His mercy and transforming power.

We would be quick to accuse, and even quote a verse at David if he were to pour out his soul to us as he did in Psalm 31. His pleas with the Lord were often antithetical to the boisterous, Dominionist views of many modern souls in the Church. We might think of his song as a bad witness, a complaining rant, or a sign of his weak spirituality. But how was it that David became such a precious figure with such favor from God? How is it that when Jesus comes He will restore the “tabernacle of David,” that He will sit on “David’s throne,” and that He did not wince when He was called “the Son of David” by the blind man?

God is not ashamed to be identified with David because David cried out to Him from the ground of reality. And it is David’s pursuit of God from the ground of weakness, in grief, in sorrow, even in iniquity, that made him a “broken vessel” who is still “blessing the families of the earth” today. His weakness is the condition of all humanity, but out of that low place, he continued to cry out to the One who is “high and lifted up,” and we are still feeling the reverberations of his life in God in our generation. Am I pursuing Him from the ground of reality, or have I got some image to uphold before men?

When I come to Him from the ground of my own brokenness, at once I am touched by the only One who has the power to cleanse, heal, and restore my soul, and to bring me into alignment with the reality of Himself. And to live in the reality of God Himself, walking circumspectly before Him in all His glorious light, is to be “free indeed.”

For I have heard the slander of many,
Terror is on every side;
While they took counsel together against me,
They schemed to take away my life.
But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.
Make Your face to shine upon Your servant;
Save me in Your lovingkindness.” (vv. 13-16)

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November 13th, 2010 by Andrew Yeoman

He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables (Mark 4: 11)

I often ask myself: Is there any point of praying for revival if Spirit-movements are doomed to peak, then stall and become mere relics of past glories? Or do we believe that God is always restoring truth and adding something further to His people each time the Spirit comes with power? Spiritual giant, Arthur Wallis, once gave this illustration:

‘A Snail climbing a six foot wall, covered two feet each day and slipped back one foot each night. How long did it take to climb the wall? I fell for the catch and said: “Six days.” I had failed to recognize that on the fifth and last day there was advance, but no slipping back.’

In other words, God’s work in reformation, revival and awakening is always ultimately restorative and will accomplish what it sets out to do even with all the interference of men! Even if it is seemingly cut short, there is enough of the Lord at work to ensure that seeds sown will always bring forth fruit!

Today, I believe that a new move of God’s Spirit is coming to the nations of the world. The hallmarks of a new love of Jesus, repentance, pure living, prayer and the fire of God will and should always be evident. But this time I hope and pray for an added impetus of God’s Spirit for something more than we have seen in living memory, good though those previous moves were. I believe that this ‘something’ more will demonstrate a closeness to the days of the flesh of the Lord Jesus. It will bring the ‘Kingdom of God’ but with it will also come a ‘revelation of the King’. How He moves, how He thinks, ministers and acts.

In Mark’s Gospel, chapters 4 & 5, there is a very unique couple of days in the life and ministry of the Lord where a two-fold aspect of the Kingdom in the life of Christ is shown. Both are essential dynamics of the ministry of King Jesus. Let’s look at what Mark is seeking to portray of Christ in these chapters:

1. Firstly, the Secret of the Kingdom must be taught.

Jesus first tells The parable of the sower Mark 4: 1 – 9 & 13 – 20. Here, the farmer sows the word of the Kingdom on four types of ground (heart):

The path – where seed is left exposed to birds of the air (satan’s powers)

Rocky ground – where there is an initial response to the word of the Kingdom but no depth of root, and thus trouble causes them to fall away

Thorny ground – where the worldly cares & desires of this life cause a choking of the word and strangle its life

Good soil – the only one ground that bears lasting fruit. It produces a multiplied harvest.

So, this parable is not so much about how the Kingdom moves but rather how hearts respond to it. It has been taught first by Jesus, to prepare the way for the next parables of the Kingdom, which are telling of how the Kingdom works, rather than the kind of hearts that receive or reject the message.

Then, there is The parable of the lamp on a standMark 4: 21 – 25

  • The lamp of the Kingdom is Jesus Himself, and He is in fact revealing the presence of the Kingdom in His person.
  • He is also calling His followers to reveal the secrets of the Kingdom.
  • This is a parable concerning the revelation of the Kingdom in the person of Jesus and His people.

Next, we have The parable of the growing seedMark 4: 26 – 29

  • The man is faithful in the scattering of the seed but that is all he does.
  • He watches how the seed sprouts and grows over days and nights, even during sleep!
  • It will bear fruit because there is invisible dimension of life causing it to grow.
  • Then after the Kingdom has moved, reap the harvest.
  • This is a parable about how the Kingdom works invisibly and is active at all times. Man alone cannot contribute to the Life of the seed, that is the work of the Kingdom alone.

Finally, we are told The parable of the Mustard SeedMark 4: 30 – 34

  • This parable simply is to illustrate the way the Kingdom works.
  • A small mustard seed is planted, it then becomes a large tree.
  • It is so large that the birds of the air can find refuge in its branches.
  • The Kingdom then, is the dynamic activity of God, manifest in His Son, and known by the Spirit. It can appear in history in the most insignificant ways, but because the Kingdom law and life is at work – it will grow and manifest itself in advancement, enlargement and dominion.

So, to summarize, we have these lessons (secrets) of the Kingdom set before us:

  • Jesus is looking for hearts to receive a revelation of His Kingdom
  • Jesus is Himself – the Kingdom in its manifestation. Before people, He stands and ministers as King!
  • The Kingdom works in the invisible realm, but is real. Its power is supernatural, even though unseen at times.
  • The way the Kingdom works starts small, but always achieves its task, and will have ultimate victory.

2. Secondly, the Secret of the Kingdom must be made known.

Here, Mark moves onto an account of Jesus and His disciples in a boat and the stormMark 4: 35 – 41. A brief summary of events is this :

In V35, Mark notes that it is ‘that same day‘ that Jesus says – ‘let’s go over to the other side’. Jesus is now about to demonstrate to the disciples what He has just taught in the previous teachings! His secret has been revealed to willing hearts; now they are to see it in action!

Now all in a boat, with other boats, they progress to the other side of the lake. Next, a furious storm breaks out. The disciples are full of fear because the boat is about to go under, but as experienced fishermen surely they are used to such storms. They are gripped with unnatural fear. They have not yet fully understood that the Kingdom is present in the boat! To add to that, the Lord is asleep! Jesus is not just asleep because He is Lord over creation, though that is true. But there is something more incisive at work here. Remember He is demonstrating something of what He has taught on the way the Kingdom works! He is the presence of the Kingdom, with them; advancing His rule in enemy territory. And yet, perfectly at rest in the fight.

Then, in V39 – Jesus rebukes the storm. The Lord’s rebuke – ‘be muzzled’, is a word only used for rebuking evil spirits. NT Scholar William Lane conveys an interesting thought in his commentary:

‘The cosmic overtones in the Gospel account must not be missed. Mark has underlined them by careful choice of terminology which recalls Jesus’ encounter with the demons: Jesus rebuked the wind, the sea is enjoined to obey with the command, “Silence, be muzzled”; the wind subsides and the sea obeys with the result that great calmness ensues. Jesus addressed the raging storm as a force threatening Him and his disciples. The force… was muzzled as Jesus subdued it with His authority’

Finally, the sea is calm and peaceful, and now the fear of the storm turns to a fear of this Man who commands obedience to the elements and the forces behind them. The disciples saw a storm and Man asleep, but in the invisible realm, there was a stronghold that needed removing, and the Lord of Glory on a mission!

As if things weren’t intense enough, Jesus is about to unveil the secret of His teachings further. Jesus enters Decapolis regionMark 5: 1 – 20

This is a Gentile region predominantly. As Jesus gets out of the boat, it is no coincidence that the demon possessed man is apparently waiting for Jesus at the shore. The man is so captive to satan’s kingdom that no one can stop him. He rules, and has never been threatened. He has the whole region in fear and no one can stop him. Yet now he runs to Jesus and knows His name! The spirit begs Jesus not to send him ‘out of the region’ THIS IS IMPORTANT. Here we must remember the previous parables and the recent opposition through a storm at the lake. Christ is now confronted with a power that not only possesses a poor man, but holds an idolatrous region under its power. It does not want Jesus and His kingdom in that region to take rule. Yet Christ will plant a Seed of the Kingdom in that region that will produce glorious effects.

Proof of this demon’s regional hold is further illustrated by the demon’s request to to go into pigs. Why? The man is not the only issue – the area IS! Hence, the cry comes, ‘Do not send us out of the region!’ Jesus gives permission, knowing that when this happens they will be driven out of that area anyway. Even after the demon leaves, the people are still thinking like their former master – ‘they beg Jesus to leave the region’ V17 (People become like the idols they worship) The formerly possessed man is now clothed in his right mind – His soul is now as still as the lake! The storm has been stilled.

It is vital that we understand why Jesus does not allow the man to come with Him but to stay and tell the family what the Lord has done. Again, we must remember Jesus’ parables earlier. He is planting a seed of the Kingdom in a new territory, by planting it firstly in a man’s heart. IT WILL GROW, and touch the region, because the Seed of the Kingdom must grow! We must never forget the vital importance and potential significance of winning a single soul to Christ.

Afterward, in V20 – The man tells the people of the ‘Decapolis’ region, how much Jesus had done for him. Later on in Mark 7: 31 – 37 – now the people know who He is. He heals them and does all things well.

So, as we started by saying: We must perceive the twofold call of Mark. We must learn how the Kingdom works by seeing and knowing the person, mission and teaching of Jesus. We must demonstrate how the Kingdom is to be experienced in a way faithful to Christ Jesus. Let’s remember the lessons both taught and demonstrated:

1. Jesus is looking for receptive hearts. Only those who have bowed their heart to His reign can receive it.

2. He is the Kingdom of God come in Person. That means we preach Him, and His rule, and the Spirit answers. When we ‘go’ to the place He chooses, He comes with us, even if the storm is furious and He remains quiet for a time. The light is still shining!

3. He is always moving, even when we are not aware by our sight or hearing. Trust the inherent power in the Seed of His Kingdom!

4. Though it start small in manifestation, believe and see what it will become, as God moves in the casting out of satan’s powers, and the establishing of His rule in the earth.

Do we believe in the power of the Gospel of the Kingdom?

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