We are the church of God! We have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be afraid of. We do not need to cower. We can stand with our heads held high, in humility. We are sons and daughters of God. “I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18. And may I say, God is not confused about how many “genders” or “sexes” there are. He created only two. The only ones going to heaven are those who are “sons and daughters”. The devil is trying very hard to destroy every evidence of a loving God and what He has created and commanded for our good. Do not let your mind become confused because of what man says. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Better yet, don’t let their emotions get the better of you. You are to study and know what God says and live in obedience to it. As His sons and daughters you are given power and authority from God to drive out sins from your life and then to help others drive out demons, sins and diseases from their lives. God is calling us to go and proclaim the kingdom of God. Let us recognize the privilege we have. No earthly honor comes close to the honor God has given to us. He is waiting for you to accept the calling and go forth with His power and authority. Luke 9:1 to Luke 9:62 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. This is where we have to recognize that proclaiming and healing go hand in hand. Probably all “healings” we see on TV or hear about in other media are not of God because they are not proclaiming “the kingdom of God”. Proclaiming “the kingdom of God” isn’t just pronouncing the words. Proclaiming “the kingdom of God” is to teach the conditions of that kingdom. Jesus laid them out. He told us what the conditions of entering His kingdom are: stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Commandments to get eternal life. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Please, do keep in mind, throughout history God has called His people, His sons and daughters, to accomplish specific missions. Just as we are not to build Arks, or lead people out of Egypt, or build a tabernacle, make a pole with a bronze snake on it, divide the Red Sea or any of the other specific acts God required of others during their time, so God today does not expect us to go without bread, money or extra shirt, etc. Those where different times. Things today are not the same. However, this ministry came very close to fulfilling those conditions when God called this ministry. I had nothing. And yet, everything I needed to accomplish the mission when God called me was provided by Him. I still have nothing. Yet, I have everything I need to do the work. Amazing! Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Interesting, God sent this ministry to several towns. I stayed in the house God gave me until I was no longer welcomed in the town. Then the Lord would send me to another town. I shook the dust off of my feet from each place and left. Finally He sent me here were I am far enough out of town to avoid the problems. Here I can proclaim the “good news” as God has commanded me. So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. And again, what is the “good news”? Was it about Jesus? No! It was about what Jesus taught: stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life. Yes, people would ask about Jesus. But at this point, what were the disciples to say about Jesus. They were not even sure, at this point in time, who Jesus was. All Jesus had done up to now was be born. He hadn’t died. He hadn’t risen from the tomb. All they were to do at this time was to preach the “Kingdom of God”: to be perfect, stop sinning and to keep the Ten Commandments. That is why many thought Jesus was John the Baptist or Elijah come back from the dead. Why? Because Jesus was teaching the very same things he had been teaching. The gospel has never changed since Adam and Eve. Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him. Many were trying to see Jesus. The problem was the “why”. Why were they wanting to see Jesus? Some to be healed. Most out of curiosity. Many to see if He was going to be a threat to their power and social structure. A few to find the truth. When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, . . . Have you “reported to Jesus” all you have done? Do you talk to Him about your work for Him? Do you share with Him your day-to-day activities? How close of a Friend is Jesus to you? . . . but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. What love! What acceptance! No judgmental look. He didn’t scowl at them and reprimand them for their hypocrisy in following him only to see the miracles. Even though He knew they would cry out to crucify Him, He still loved them. Would you love one whom you knew would hurt you, destroy your business or livelihood and eventually kill you? The love of God is far too deep for me to understand. I can only accept it and humble myself to live in obedience to it. Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” At this stage in the disciples’ time with Jesus, they were still trying to tell Jesus what to do. They hadn’t yet learned that Jesus knew everything and all they had to do was trust and obey. So, here they are telling Jesus what He “should do”. He replied, “You give them something to eat.” Okay, we have a real problem now. Judas kept the money bag and I am sure he was not at all happy about spending “his” money on this crowd. He had more important things to spend it on. They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.) How did the disciples know there were only “five loaves of bread and two fish” in a multitude of over 7,000 people? Maybe they were aware that it was getting late and they had been scouting the crowd for food they could purchase for themselves, after the crowd had left. They probably had enough funds in their money bag for “five loaves of bread and two fish”. But to feed this crowd? Selfishness comes in all sizes and shapes. Jesus had not a drop of selfishness. What was good enough for Him was good enough for the people. But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. When we work with Jesus in supplying the needs of those around us, we will find that God will provide for us also. If the disciples were selfishly eyeing the five loaves and two fish before, now they had twelve basketfuls to carry around. When God called me to this ministry and instructed me to “feed” inmates with His book, “Change Your Life Biblically”, I had nothing. But through obedience I am now responsible for four acres, a home, print shop, studio and a whole lot of “stuff”. A lot to “carry” around on my shoulders. How true the concept that if we are faithful in that which is lest, God will then give us much to be faithful for. Jesus wasn’t confused as to where the food came from. He looked up to Heaven and thanked His Father for the food. I wonder if we simply go through the routine of “thanks” but really, in our hearts, trust the super market more than Jesus. Looking to Jesus has become more and more a habit of mine. He provides all we need for the ministry. I have watched Him touch hearts to send us what we need. I thank each and every heart that has allowed the Lord to use them to bless this ministry. And of course He didn’t put on a show of “Look at Me” by handing out the bread and fish Himself. He humbly gave to His disciples and allowed them the privilege of sharing the food with others; to see the eyes light up and the smiles on faces as they shared what Jesus gave. Are we sharing with others? Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” First of all, He was praying in private. I wonder if we do enough of that in our own lives. Most of us do not realize the danger we are in. We are so complacent in our selves. Totally asleep to the dangers around us. Evil angels are all around us doing everything in their power to lead us to eternal death. We must pray. The angels can’t help us if we don’t want it. God is a God of freedom. We must put forth the effort to show a determined effort not to sin. Then the angels of God can work with us in helping us fulfill that determination. “Who do the crowds say I am?” I doubt that one in a million, who call themselves Christian, know who Jesus is. To most He is just a Magician who is able to pull a few tricks out of His hat when they need it. They are so caught up in the pagan rites and rituals that they have no idea who He really is. They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” The same is true today. People go around claiming Jesus is this, that or the other thing. They fight and argue over who He is according to their church, denomination or religion. But they have no idea who He really is because they haven’t listened to the Bible in its entirety. “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” After listening to all the nonsense going around out there about Jesus, we need to actually go to Jesus and listen to what He has to say. Listen carefully to what Jesus is about to tell the disciples. Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” He had the words correct, but had no understanding what they truly meant. To Peter and the disciples, “God’s Messiah” meant He was going to ride into Jerusalem and sit on David’s throne, wiping out the Romans and setting up a universal kingdom of God. Get the point? Same words, just a different perspective on those words. Listen to Jesus. As you listen to Jesus below explain what “God’s Messiah” really meant, keep in mind what people today understand Jesus to be. They claim, “The Resurrected One”, the “King”, the “Son of God” (whatever that means?) and many more designations that mean nothing if you don’t understand who Jesus is. Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. This is why the disciples were not going around preaching our modern-day “gospel” about Jesus. It wasn’t “about” Jesus. “Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.” Get it? The “gospel” the disciples were telling people was the gospel to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments. Jesus didn’t want them to tell the world about Him, yet. Why? They had the wrong perception. They would only confuse the people. They were not yet ready to tell the world about Jesus. What they could tell the world was the gospel Jesus taught. Now Jesus is going to give them the proper perspective of His mission as the Messiah of God. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” That was not what the disciples wanted to hear. That was not what they expected of the Messiah of God. Especially Peter. He was in it for the glory. All this suffering, rejection and killed stuff was not in his playbook. “Messiah” was beginning to take on a whole new concept. Would the disciples accept it? Jesus had to make it even plainer. Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. This is not a “once saved, always saved” concept. This is taking up our responsibilities every day to make sure we are carrying the cross. Every day we must investigate and examine to see if we are carrying the cross. It is too easy to set it down and leave it behind. Many try to follow Jesus without the cross. They claim to be Christians, go to church and “do” all the right things, but to carry the cross is not wanted on their shoulders. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. We look at this verse and think in terms of being burned at the stake or having our heads chopped off, etc. Sure, that may be the end result, but every day we are making decisions that will determine if we will save or lose our life in the end. Do we “save” our life by going with the crowd? Are we losing our life by turning away from the crowd? Do we “save” our life by not standing up for what is right? Or do we lose our life by standing up to the wrong. Every day we make decisions that will either strengthen our resolve “to save” our life or lose our life. Which one are you feeding? What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? I was contemplating this concept when Rebel died. He was so close to me. I wept when he died. He was closer than a son. His life was awesome. And yet, he did not exist for eternity before, nor will he exist for eternity after. He lived a short four and a half years and then was no more. Yet, in those short years he brought me more joy than anyone in all my 70 years. By comparison, we may think we live a very long time if we reach 80 or 90 years of age. But in reality it’s not even a blink of an eye in the scope of eternity. What have you done to bring joy to others? In the three and a half years Jesus taught, He changed the world. Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. “Ashamed of Me and My words.” Most are ashamed of Jesus and His words to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get their eternal life. Why? Obeying them would keep them from gaining the things of this world. Oh, they love to run around claiming to be Christians and showing off all the good things they do. However, they totally make a mockery out of their profession by refusing to live as Jesus lived: perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping. Yes, “the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His glory.” And eight days later, He showed the disciples His glory and what people will miss by being ashamed of Him and His words. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” No, none of the disciples are still alive. Peter, James and John saw the “Kingdom of God” when Jesus was transfigured before them. About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. “As He was praying”. He wasn’t standing there holding His hands up, singing some silly ditty. He was directing His eyes and mind to Heaven and Heaven came to Him. If we do not clear our minds of this world and fasten them on Heaven, we are going to miss out on Heaven. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. Moses prayed that he might cross over and see the good land. He was denied. However, about 1400 years later he did cross over and stood in the Promised Land. His prayer was answered. But how it must have broken his heart to see his people rejecting Jesus. Of course he understood what Jesus went through. The people had also rejected him as their leader. Many times they tried to take the government away from him and go back to Egypt. Elijah must have been terribly disappointed also. He risked his life going before King Ahab and over eleven hundred false prophets. Yet, he trusted Jesus with his life. He at least saw the result of his actions. Many of Israel returned to the true God. All Israel, as a nation, would turn against Jesus and kill Him. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Now you can see why the Father gave Moses and Elijah the privilege of encouraging Jesus. No angel could understand. Jesus needed Moses and Elijah. They would inspire Him to keep the faith. To continue the struggle as they had done. To never give up. They were witnesses to the end result, a home in Heaven. The disciples saw the “Kingdom of God” in miniature. Moses represented those who would be raised to life at the end of time. Elijah represented those who would be translated at the end of time. Either way, they both received the same reward: eternal life in Heaven. In between them was the One who gave them their eternal life and Heaven. Jesus was the life-giver. Only because of His sacrifice could they continue in Heaven. No wonder they encouraged Him. If Jesus failed they would have had to return to earth to die eternally. As Jesus stood between Moses and Elijah, representing those who prevailed in their struggles and temptations, Jesus would also “stand” between two criminals at His death. One would reject the Life-giver, while the other would accept Him. Thus, in total, the four represented every aspect of our human condition. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) “He did not know what he was saying”. Sounds like most who call themselves Christian. Most just go to church and sleep. Then when they wake up, they mumble a few words and think they have learned something. To mask their incompetence, they want to build monuments, expensive churches or cathedrals. All God wants of us is to shut-up and listen to Jesus. While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” It is amazing how unafraid we are when sin covers us. We are so accustomed to the sinful ways of this world, they do not bother us. We are covered in sin, but we go right on accepting it. Most would not be able to withstand the cloud of glory if they were enshrouded in it. It is a consuming fire. It will consume all sin. We must get sin out of our lives before that cloud comes again. And all God wants of us is to “listen to Him”. How simple. How easy. Yet it goes against our proud hearts. We want to listen to men with degrees, Ph.D.’s and those who have published papers and books. Jesus had none of those things. How few go and listen to Jesus! When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen. The sequence here is interesting. First, the disciples claimed Jesus as the Messiah. Of course they thought the Messiah would come in earthly power to destroy their enemies. Then they learned that the Messiah was to be crucified. What horror! Not possible! Not their Messiah! And then, not only would they not be popular and full of authority themselves, they had to give up everything of the world to be accepted by the Messiah. Then they saw the reality. They saw that nothing of this world was of any significance compared to what they saw on the mountain top. The whole world faded away to nothing compared to the glory revealed to them. Now it all made sense. How could they ever explain what they saw? Best to just keep this “to themselves” and “not tell anyone”. Yep, good advice Peter. The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. Again, “a large crowd met Him”. Have you ever been caught up in the excitement of a famous evangelist coming to your town, church or area? Did you participate in ringing doorbells, handing out fliers or inviting others to “come see our evangelist”? Why is it we get all excited about a man, but seldom, if ever, have we invited people to our homes to study the Word of God? They came to see Jesus, but few came to know Him. A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. How we want the blessing, but how few want the Truth! A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. Yes it is destroying him. Sin is very destructive. And trust me, “it scarcely ever leaves” you when it has gotten the power over you. It will seize you, turn your nights into screams and throw you into convulsions. The devil and his angels love the pain and misery they cause. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” Have you ever been so addicted that you went to AA or counseling? Did you go to church, the pastor or a friend for help, “but they could not”? Let’s make this very clear, you can be demon possessed without exhibiting the outward signs this boy or the demoniac did. The Pharisees were just as inhabited with demons, but the devil was using them in a different way to destroy people’s lives. Lives can be destroyed with a hypodermic needle just as easily as with a gun. Sweet lying words from a trusted pastor can destroy you just as much as hate words from an enemy. “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” Most who claim to be “Christian” are an “unbelieving and perverse generation”. They claim, but they have no understanding. They claim to have Jesus and therefore, Jesus asks of them, “How long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Unless they change their hearts, not very long. Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. Many of you may have tried going to Jesus, but the evil spirit within you may have tried keeping you away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Even if you are thrown to the ground, if need be, crawl to Jesus. Whatever it takes, don’t give up. Go to Jesus. Pass the church, the pastor, your friends, the counselors and AA and go directly to Jesus. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. Jesus will rebuke the impure spirit you have and heal you. He will give you back to your Heavenly Father pure and clean. God wants to demonstrate His power in you in order to amaze the world of the greatness of His Father. Let the greatness of God be revealed in you. Let Jesus rebuke and heal you of your impure spirits. While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it. “Afraid to ask!” Like most of us, we are afraid to ask when we suspect the answer will not be what we like or want. Jesus had already told them he was going to die. Then He introduced Peter, James and John to His glory. Then He healed the boy. In essence, He is telling them that He will not be using His glory, His power, to save Himself, but to allow Himself to be “delivered into the hands of men”. I don’t think they wanted to understand. They were not ready to accept reality. Their fantasy of the Messiah was still too great. An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Who will be “the greatest”? Jesus has explained to them the degradation He will be going through, and all they can think of is “which of them would be the greatest”. I think we do that as well. We want the blessings of God, but fail to live as Jesus lived. The disciples’ fantasy of the Messiah was beginning to rise again in their hearts and minds. The power displayed in healing the boy probably empowered their desire to have that power conquer their enemies. To reign beside Jesus with people bowing down to them in the new kingdom was just too hard to overcome. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” This must have been humiliating. It had to be a shock. Bad enough for Jesus to keep talking about his humiliation and death, but for them to become like a “little child”, difficult. To become “least” was not what they wanted to be. “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” They had just seen Jesus drive out the demons from the boy. Earlier they had seen Jesus drive out demons who then entered pigs. That at least was acceptable. It brought prestige to the disciples to be a part of such wonderful deeds. But to see someone else doing it without bringing glory to their group, could they allow that? There are churches, denominations and religions who believe as the disciples believed. “God can only work through our organization.” “We have the copyright on the works of God.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” Well, Okay, I guess we need as many “for” us as possible. But we still want them to do it in such a way as to bring glory to us. Many have been willing to support this ministry as long as it supported and promoted their denomination. Sorry, I can only promote Jesus Christ and His truth. As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. We are approaching the time for us to “be taken up to heaven”. But with such a great privilege awaiting us, are we “resolutely” setting out to share the good news with others? Are we willing to face the persecution that will await us? Or are we hiding our joy, faith and excitement to meet Jesus? Maybe we don’t have the joy, faith and excitement Jesus had. If not, are we worthy of Heaven? And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village. Again, James and John sound a lot like churches, denominations and religious organizations of today. They get offended and words of condemnation, hate and curses come out of their mouths. They think they have the right since they “represent” God. How sad that they know not God. The disciples stood and lived with Jesus, yet they did not know Jesus. Jesus put into action the words He taught His disciples about being like a little child. He left and “went to another village”. As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus wants to make it very plain that following Him does not mean getting rich, having a home, becoming famous or enjoying the good things of this earth. Following Jesus requires sacrifice. He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Way too many, when called by Jesus, want to first get involved with the world. Nothing of this world is more important than to “proclaim the kingdom of God”. Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Many are looking back to what they have left behind. Most Christians are attempting to hang on to the world and Jesus. Can’t be done. Looking back to the things of the world disqualifies you for “service in the kingdom of God”. Who are you serving?