And So The Days of Offenses Begin: Silencing & Censorship Are on the Way

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the ninth chapter of this New Testament book. When you come to the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the apostle transitioning from Jesus and His disciples entering into a ship and setting out upon the sea where they encountered a storm and tempest which rose up against them. If you read the final portion of the eighth chapter you will find Jesus and His disciples upon the sea where a great storm and tempest rose up upon and against them, and the disciples themselves being overwhelmed with fear and anxiety feeling as though they would perish. There was Jesus in the ship with them sound asleep in the midst of the storm, and yet the storm was raging all around them and the waves of the sea were crashing over and upon the ship in which they were all in. Fearing for their lives the disciples came unto Jesus and awakened Him out of His slumber declaring unto Him that they perished. What I continue to find so absolutely incredible about this particular passage and narrative is that before Jesus even stood up in the midst of the storm, and before Jesus ever spoke to the storm He first stood in the midst of the disciples and spoke unto them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for before Jesus would stand up in the midst of and speak to the physical and natural storm which was raging all around them He would first stand up in the midst of them and speak to the storm that was raging within their hearts, within their minds, and within their souls. We must needs pay close and careful attention to just how tremendous and powerful this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the reality of Jesus first needing to speak to the storm of fear, the storm of anxiety, the storm of doubt, and the storm of chaos that was raging within the hearts and minds of the disciples. Not only this, but before Jesus even spoke to the wind and the waves and thus bringing everything to a complete still and calm, He would first speak unto the disciples concerning their lack of faith in that present moment in time.

            The eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is absolutely incredible and astounding when you take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous and awesome powerful truth that Jesus would indeed stand up in the midst of the storm and rebuke both the wind and the waves, but He would first stand up in the midst of the storm within the disciples and rebuke the doubt, the fear and the anxiety that was present within their hearts and minds. SLEEPING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! STANDING UP IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM WITHIN THE DISCIPLES! SPEAKING TO THE STORM WITHIN THE DISCIPLES’ HEARTS AND MINDS! STANDING UP IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM AND SPEAKING TO THE WIND AND THE WAVES! Oh how I absolutely love the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for essentially Jesus would stand in the midst of two different storms, and would speak to two different storms which were present in the midst of that day. The first storm Jesus would stand up in the midst of was the storm that was present within the hearts and minds of His disciples, while the second storm Jesus would stand up in the midst of would be the actual physical storm with the wind and the waves which raged before and all around them. When Jesus stood in the midst of the storm that was present within the hearts and minds of the disciples He would rebuke the doubt and fear that was present within them, and when Jesus would stand up in the midst of the physical storm that was raging upon the sea He would speak to the wind and to the waves. What I find so incredibly intriguing when you think about and consider the words within this passage of Scripture is that while Jesus did indeed and did in fact stand in the midst of two different storms, and while Jesus did indeed speak to two different storms, He would initially begin sleeping in the midst of the storm.

            SLEEPING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM AROUND YOU! SLEEPING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM WITHIN YOU! The more I read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew the more I find myself thinking about and considering how the account describes Jesus as being sound asleep in the midst of the ship—and not only sound asleep in the midst of the ship, but sound asleep in the midst of the storm that raged all around them We have a great need to pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for what we find in this passage is Jesus essentially sleeping in the midst of the a physical and natural storm which raged upon the sea and all around them, as well as sleeping within and in the midst of a spiritual and emotional storm that raged within the hearts and souls of the disciples in the midst of the ship. Oh how we have a great need to pay close and careful attention to this particular reality, for I have often asked myself what the greater demonstration of authority and power was—standing up in the midst of the storm and speaking to it, or sleeping in the midst of the storm itself. Within this passage of Scripture—not only do we find Jesus sleeping in the midst of the storm, and not only do we find Jesus standing in the midst of the storm, but we also find Jesus sleeping in the midst of the storm. SLEEPING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! STANDING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! SPEAKING TO THE STORM! This narrative would find Jesus and His disciples present together within the ship, and yet only Jesus Himself was asleep in the midst of the ship. The rest of the disciples were undoubtedly laboring intensely to get the ship to other side of the lake, and that labor would only intensify when the storm rose up against and upon them in the midst of the sea. The wind and the waves would crash all around and upon them in the midst of the storm, and the disciples who were filled with fear and anxiety would come unto Jesus and awaken Him from His slumber declaring unto Him that they perish. Oh there is a tremendous need to recognize and pay close attention to this, for what would begin with Jesus sleeping in the midst of these storms which raged would eventually transition to Jesus standing in the midst of the storms and speaking to the storms.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering just how absolutely incredible this passage truly is, for what we find in this passage of Scripture is an incredible and powerful picture of Jesus sleeping in the midst of the storms—and not only sleeping in the midst of those storms which were present within our hearts and minds, but also those storms which were present before and all around us. There is an absolutely wonderful and powerful picture that is found within this passage of Scripture of a Jesus who is not only willing to stand up in the midst of the emotional and spiritual storms that are present within our hearts and minds, but a Jesus who is also willing to stand up in the midst of the physical and natural storms that are raging before and all around us. Particularly and especially during the turbulent and trying times and days in which we are living we can without a doubt and unequivocally declare that there are storms which are raging before and all around us. There can be absolutely no mistake about the times and days in which we are living, and I would dare say that not only are there emotional storms which are present within the hearts and minds of countless men and women, but there are also very real storms which are present before and all around us. We are and we have been living in dark and dangerous days, and these days have been filled with and surrounded by storms of all shapes and all sizes which war and rage against us. There is absolutely no mistaking the awesome and tremendous truth that we are and have been living in times of tremendous chaos, confusion and calamity, and that these days are absolutely and entirely filled with storms which rage before and all around us. There are those storms which are present in the spiritual and supernatural realm while there are also storms which are present in the physical realm in which we are living during these days. Not only this, but there are also emotional, mental and psychological storms which are and which have been present within our hearts, within our minds and within our souls.

            I have to admit that the more I read the opening verses of the ninth chapter the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth that not only did Jesus stand up in the midst of the storm that was present within the hearts and minds of the disciples and speak to that storm, but Jesus also stood up in the midst of the storm that was present upon the sea and speak to the wind and the waves. In the first case Jesus would speak to the wind of fear and the waves of doubt and anxiety. When Jesus stood up in the midst of the physical and natural storm which did indeed and did in fact rage upon the sea and rise up against the disciples and Himself, He would speak to the physical and natural waves. It would be after Jesus stood up in the midst of the storm and rebuked both the wind and the waves that the storm would completely subside and all would become completely peaceful and calm. It would be after and as a direct result of Jesus standing in the midst of the storm that the wind and the waves would obey the authority and power that was manifested in His voice. Jesus would indeed and would in fact speak to both the wind and the waves, and as a direct result of His speaking to the storm it would completely dissipate and subside upon the sea, thus causing all to be completely calm and completely still. Oh imagine what that experience must have been like as they would begin by crying out and declaring unto the Lord that they perished, and they would end with powerfully and wonderfully exclaiming within their hearts and unto one another concerning this One to whom even the wind and the waves obeyed. I wonder what it must have looked like as Jesus stood in the midst of the storm, and I wonder what it must have sounded like when Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. I wonder what the disciples must have thought when and as they watched Jesus stand up in the midst of the storm and as He would begin speaking to the storm. Was their fear and anxiety replaced with curiosity, confusion, amazement, wonder, and even doubt when they watched Jesus stand up in the midst of the storm? Regardless of what they were experiencing within their hearts and their minds when Jesus initially stood up in the midst of the storm they would be in awe, wonder and amazement when it was all said and done as the wind and the waves obeyed the voice and command of Jesus, and all would become completely still, calm and peaceful.

            In these dark and dangerous times in which we are living I am absolutely and completely convinced there are two distinct storms which are present before and all around us. There is the obvious storm that is present within the media, within the news and reports that are being presented unto us by the media. There are the storms that are present within the realm of social media and the various content that is present before, within and all around it. There is the storm that surrounds politics, the government, the President, the previous election, the new administration, censorship, the chaos around freedom of speech, and so much more. There are obvious storms which are raging before and all around us and which are continually presented unto us by the various media outlets which are all around us. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this truly is, for there is not a doubt in my mind that there are countless storms which are raging all around us—not merely storms in the natural, but storms of chaos, confusion, and so much more. There is absolutely no denying, nor is there any mistaking the tremendous truth that there are countless storms which we have been faced to contend with in recent months, and we have been forced to face the storm of a worldwide pandemic and virus, as well as a storm of financial instability and insecurity. Countless men and women have lost their jobs, their employment and their income as a direct result of the virus, and in recent days men and women have lost their jobs as a result of their side as it pertains to politics, the recent election, recent riots, protests and civil unrest, and the like.

            The more you think about and consider the events which have taken place in this nation from the time the virus truly began spreading and crippling it unto this present day and time in which we are living there have been countless storms which have been raging all around us. There have been times in the history of this nation when civil unrest has been present, and even when financial instability has shaken and crippled this nation. There have been times within this nation when a virus has crippled and seized control of the nation for a certain period of time. What we are experiencing during these days and times are absolutely and entirely unprecedented, and there was no rule book, no playbook, nor was there any guide that would and could have prepared us for what was coming. Similar to the events which took place almost twenty years when two American Airlines planes struck the World Trade Center and the buildings came crashing down, there is and there has been no rule book, nor has there been any playbook that has provided men and women with how to respond and react in the midst of the events that are unfolding within this nation. I find it truly astounding to think about and consider the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for within this passage—not only do we find Jesus standing up in the midst of the storm which was raging within His disciples, but we also find Jesus standing up in the midst of the physical and natural storm which was raging before, around and upon them there in the midst of the sea. Even as I am writing these words I am convinced that what is so desperately needed within our hearts and our spirits is for Jesus to stand up in the midst of the storms which are raging within our hearts and our minds and speak to those storms. We would like to think that Jesus can speak to the spiritual storms, the supernatural storms, and even the natural storms that are raging before and all around us, and yet the truth of the matter is that I would dare say that Jesus would first choose to stand up in the midst of the storm which is present within our hearts and our minds. There is not a doubt in my mind that the greatest peace, the greatest calm, and the greatest still that is going to be found during these days is not that which is experienced and witnessed in the physical and natural realm, but that which is felt and experienced in the unseen realm within our hearts and our minds.

            We would like to think that the storm of the virus is going to be brought to a complete calm and still. We would like to think that the storm of financial instability and chaos would be brought to a complete peace and calm. We would like to think that the storm of civil unrest is going to be brought to a complete calm and peace. We would like to think that the storm surrounding the media and social media is going to be brought to a complete calm and still. There are many among us who would like things to go back to normal, and many among us who would like to think that there will be calm and peace before and all around us, and yet the truth of the matter is that I firmly believe the single greatest calm, and the single greatest peace that can and will be manifested within and during these days is the peace and calm that is found within our hearts and our minds. There are those among us who are looking for peace and calm in the world all around us, and yet the truth of the matter is that what Jesus desires first and foremost is to bring a stillness, to bring peace, and to bring a calm within our hearts and our minds. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—what is the greater demonstration during these dark and dangerous days in which we are living in? Is the greater demonstration and manifestation of the authority of the living God and of His Christ found in the ability to all of a sudden bring peace and calm into the midst of what is raging before and all around us, or is the greatest demonstration of the authority of the living God and of His Christ found in His ability to calm the storm(s) which are raging within our hearts and our minds? We tend to get things confused when speaking of storms, and we do so because we fail to realize that there are essentially two storms that are vying for our attention and our focus.

            CONFRONTING THE DUAL STORM SYSTEMS THAT FIGHT FOR YOUR ATTENTION AND FOCUS! As you read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will undoubtedly find and discover that there were essentially two storms which were vying for the attention and the focus of the disciples. What’s more, is that these storms were not independent of each other, but were actually intrinsically linked and connected to each other. There was of course the physical and natural storm with its wind and waves which would crash upon the ship in which the disciples were together with Jesus, while there was also the emotional and mental storm that was present within their hearts and their minds. We have a great need to recognize and understand this truth and this reality, for within these days in which we are living we have to see and understand that there are two storms which are threatening to derail and destroy us. There is indeed and there is of course the storm which can be seen in the natural and physical realm, while there is a secondary storm—perhaps one that is more deadly and one that is more dangerous than the first. The more I read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew the more I am brought face to face with the fact that the storm which was raging within their hearts and their minds was the greater danger and threat to the disciples than the physical storm which was present before and all around them. It is for this reason I am absolutely convinced that Jesus didn’t immediately and initially speak to the natural storm which raged upon the sea, and instead chose to speak to the storm which was present within their hearts and their minds. Jesus could have very easily spoken to the physical and natural storm first and commanded it to be still before turning His attention and focus to the disciples and their lack of faith. What Jesus chose to do instead was initially focus His attention on the lack of faith and the fear which was present within the hearts of the disciples before turning His attention to the physical storm which was the cause of that fear and that lack of faith. We must needs pay close attention to this, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that in the midst of the storms which are raging before and all around us—in spite of how violent, turbulent, dark and dangerous they might be—that which Jesus is most concerned with, and that which Jesus can and will address first and foremost is the storm which is present within our hearts and our minds.

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture I am brought face to face with the awesome truth that within the days in which we are living we must needs be aware of two different types of storms which rage before and all around us. There are in all reality two storms and two storm systems which threaten to consume and overwhelm us if we are not careful. There is the initial storm which is presented before and unto us in the media and within social media, and there is the secondary storm which is presented within our hearts and our minds. While the one is directly contingent upon the other we must needs realize that the one is more deadly and dangerous than the first. Please make no mistake about it, for I am in no way suggesting that the storms which are raging before, around and upon us in the physical and natural realm aren’t dangerous and deadly. What I am in all reality speaking and declaring is that the storm which is unseen—the storm which is present in the hidden and inward parts of our being—is that storm which has the greater potential of derailing and crippling us. Think about how many men and women have been absolutely and completely paralyze and crippled with fear, with anxiety, with terror, with dread, with doubt, with unbelief, and so much more. Think about how many men and women right now are living with an overwhelming burden within their hearts and within their minds. Think about how many countless men and women among us have been living with a wide variety of fears within and fears without, and how such men and women have lived with great anxiety within their hearts and minds. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it is absolutely and entirely necessary and important for us to come face to face with and terms with this if we are to truly have the heart and mind of the Lord in these matters.

            I absolutely love the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew, for the words which are found in this chapter bring us face to face with the tremendous truth that we must needs be aware of those two storms which threaten to derail and devastate us. When you read the words found in this chapter you will find that there was indeed the physical and natural storm which the disciples feared would cause them to perish there in the midst of the sea, but there was a secondary storm—one that was unseen and one that was more deadly and dangerous to and unto them than the physical storm with its wind and waves. There is not a doubt in my mind that within the days in which we are living there is a great and powerful need to recognize how we must needs understand that while the physical and natural storms before us might indeed be calmed and silenced by Jesus—there is a strong and very real possibility that they might not be. There are countless men and women who are calling for life to go back to “normal,” and yet the truth of the matter is that we must ask ourselves what we will do and how we will respond if things don’t go back to “normal.” In the midst of everything that has unfolded in recent days we must needs ask ourselves how we can and how we will respond if things which we hoped to get better will actually grow gradually and progressively worse. There are many of us who went into this previous election thinking that things would get better as a direct result of whatever person or party we voted into the Oval Office, and whatever party we gave power in the joint chambers of Congress, and yet what we are actually witnessing is the complete and total opposite of that. What we are witnessing before and all around us is an absolutely tremendous and powerful assault on our liberties and freedoms—a truth we must needs encounter and come face to face with. In all reality, I am becoming absolutely and completely convinced that we as the people of God must needs make ourselves ready and prepare ourselves to live lives absent and without the rights we so cherished, valued and appreciated within this country. I have believed that we have had a great need to hold on to our rights—and even our liberties and freedoms—loosely, and to not hold them near and dear unto us. With this being said, I am becoming absolutely and entirely clear and convinced that we have a great and powerful need to learn to live our lives without and apart from our rights. What’s more, is I would even dare say we must learn how to live our lives as if we never had, never will have, and even don’t presently have rights, freedoms and liberties.

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the events which are unfolding before and all around us within and during these days, and I am brought face to face with the overwhelming and powerful truth that we have a great need to learn to live our lives as though our rights have been non-existent. Not only this, but I am convinced that we must needs live as though our rights, our freedoms and our liberties have been taken away from us, and that we can and will never get them back. In all reality, I am convinced that what the living and eternal God is doing within these days is bringing us back to the manifestation and reality of the kingdom of heaven where we realize and recognize we are strangers and pilgrims within this earth, and where we realize that we are merely sojourners in the land as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were in the land of Canaan. Within the kingdom of heaven there is no such thing as democracy, and yet this is perhaps one of the greatest things we pride ourselves in within this nation—particularly and especially during the days in which we are living. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced that what is unfolding before us during these days is Jesus not only restoring the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth, but truly showing us what that kingdom looks like. The kingdom of heaven has never been and it will never be about the rights we have had according to our Constitution, nor even about the liberties and freedoms which have been granted by the government. Oh would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider that you could be completely crippled in this life based solely on rights, civil liberties and freedoms, and yet you could be entirely and altogether free according to and within the kingdom of heaven? Would it shock and surprise you to think that you could be completely bound and crippled within this nation according to rights and civil liberties, and yet you can not only be entirely untouched by it, but you an also be completely and utterly free within your heart, within your mind, within your soul, and within your spirit.

            Oh dear reader, I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we have great need of during these days is the ability to live our lives free in the spirit—despite the fact that we might not be free in the physical and natural realm. I firmly believe that we must needs live our lives with those storms which have raged within us to be completely and utterly silenced that we might be able to stand in the midst of the storms which rage before and all around us. When the disciples were together with the Lord in the midst of the sea and in that ship, and when the storm and tempest threatened to destroy them, Jesus knew the first thing which needed to be done—namely, speaking to and calming the storm that was present within their hearts and their minds. Within the days in which we are living I am firmly convinced that the greatest peace that can be found is not peace that can be found in the midst of and from the pandemic, nor even peace that can be found in the midst of all the unrest and turmoil that is present within this nation. There is not a doubt in my mind that the greatest manifestation and demonstration of peace within and during these days is peace that can be found within our hearts, within our minds, and within our souls—peace which passes all understanding. We dare not, we must not, and we ought not look for and desire peace to be found in the physical and natural realm, for there is the very real possibility that such peace cannot and will not calm. Just as men and women are looking for things to go back to “normal,” so also are men and women looking for peace and calm in the midst of what is taking place before and all around us. If there is one thing we as the disciples of Christ and saints of God must needs realize and understand it’s that we have been called into a place of peace—not from what is raging before and all around us, but rather a peace that is within our hearts, within our souls, within our spirits and within our minds. With this being said, I feel compelled to once more emphatically declare that we as the people of God have a great and tremendous need within our hearts and our lives to live as though all rights, all liberties and all freedoms have been completely stripped from us. I firmly believe that one of the greatest ways and means for us to survive in the midst of the days in which we are living—and not only the days in which we are living, but the days which are ahead—is to live our lives without and apart from those rights and those liberties we have held on to so dearly for so long.

            I sit here today thinking and considering the awesome and powerful reality that during days and times when countless storms are raging all around us, and countless storms are raging within us, we must needs live our lives completely and utterly at peace within our hearts and our souls. There is a great need within our hearts and our lives to live our lives in complete peace and at total rest within the person and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is entirely and altogether possible to live our lives in the midst of the days in which we are living, and yet to live in such a place and in such a way that we are completely and entirely at peace and at rest in the midst of what is going on before and all around us. It is possible to live our lives during these days without any rights, without any civil liberties, and without any freedoms—especially those which we valued as so near and dear to us—and yet be entirely and altogether free in Jesus Christ, and free by and according to His Spirit. LIVING AT PEACE AND LIVING FREE DURING DARK AND DANGEROUS TIMES! I firmly believe and am absolutely convinced that we as the disciples of Christ and the saints of God desperately need to live our lives in such a place of rest and freedom—despite that which is present before and all around us. Despite the fact that there are those before and all around us who are living their lives in complete and utter turmoil and chaos it is entirely and altogether possible for us to live our lives at complete rest, and at complete peace, and in complete freedom in the sight of the living God—this despite what is present and what is raging before and all around us. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—please note and please understand that you can indeed and can in fact live completely and totally free during these days without having those things which you thought you needed to have, or those things which you think you need to have. There is a great and tremendous need within our hearts and lives to live as men and women who are completely free in the spirit according to the person and presence of Jesus Christ, and those who do not need the government to grant them any type of freedom, nor any type of liberties, nor any rights. Those who are going to be the most prepared and those who are going to be the most equipped to survive these coming days are those who neither need their rights, nor those who care about their rights, and those who are truly citizens of the kingdom of heaven first and foremost before citizens of this nation.

            When you come to the ninth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus once more entering into a ship—this time having not only come through the storm which rose up against them in the midst of the sea, but also having commanded the unclean and foul spirits which tormented and oppressed two men from the region of the Gergesenes to be cast forth and cast out of them. As the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew draws to a close we find those in the region of the Gergesenes bidding Jesus to leave their coasts because of the tremendous authority He demonstrated over the unclean and foul spirits which tormented and oppressed these two men. The ninth chapter begins and opens with Jesus entering into a ship and coming unto His own city—the city of Nazareth. It would be in the city of Nazareth certain of those within the city would bring to Him a man who was sick of the palsy, lying on a bed. What is so incredibly intriguing about this passage is that although this man was sick and afflicted with the palsy, Jesus didn’t immediately speak to the palsy that was present within his body, nor did He immediately command this man to rise up from his bed, take up his mat and go unto his house. That which the apostle Matthew writes and records within this passage is something that is truly astonishing and remarkable, for what he writes and records is how Jesus saw the faith of those who had brought this man unto Him, and as a direct result of their faith He spoke unto this man who was sick and afflicted with the palsy, and spoke unto and concerning his sins. If and as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find Him speaking directly unto this man, calling him son, instructing him to be of good cheer, and declaring unto him that his sins were forgiven. Pause for a moment and consider that which is found within this passage, for those who brought this man unto Jesus did so that He might heal him of the palsy. Scripture makes absolutely no mention of this man, nor those who were with him being at all concerned with the sins which were present within his heart, and yet before Jesus commanded this man to arise, to take up his bed, and to go unto his house, He would first call this man “Son,” and would then instruct him to be of good cheer, and would declare unto him that his sins were forgiven him. Oh that we truly take the time to recognize and understand that which is presented before us in this passage of Scripture, for what we find within this passage of Scripture is a truly wonderful and powerful picture of forgiven sins first before healed bodies.

            SINS FORGIVEN BEFORE BODIES HEALED! SINS IN THE HEART HEALED BEFORE SICKNESS IN THE BODY HEALED! Oh as we read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we would like to think—and would even expect Jesus to heal this man of the palsy which had afflicted and tormented him within his physical body. We would like to think that this man would have been brought into the presence of Jesus, and that Jesus would have initially and immediately instructed and commanded him to arise, to take up his bed, and to go unto his house. The truth of the matter, however, is that when you read these words you will find that Jesus first addressed the sins within this man’s heart and soul before addressing the sickness that was present within his physical body. This is truly something we must needs realize and understand when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture, for what we find in this passage of Scripture is an absolutely awesome and powerful picture of Jesus forgiving sins first before healing sickness secondly. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find and discover that the sins within this man’s heart were of greater importance and greater necessity within the heart and mind of Jesus, for before Jesus every spoke to this man concerning his sickness He would first speak to him concerning the sins within his life. What makes this even more astonishing is when you think about and consider that it almost seems to follow the same pattern as what was found in the midst of the sea when the great tempest and storm rose up against and upon them. There in the midst of the sea when the wind and the waves were crashing before and all around the disciples we find Jesus first standing up in the midst of the storm that was present within the hearts and minds of the disciples before standing up in the midst of and speaking to the physical storm which was actually before and all around them. We would like to think that Jesus would initially and would at first speak to the storm together with the wind and the waves that it might be brought to a complete calm and stillness, and would then within and from that place of stillness and calmness speak to the disciples concerning their lack of faith. What we see, however, is something entirely and altogether different, for Jesus would first speak to the storm within the hearts of the disciples—specifically the storm of an absence of faith—before He would speak to the storm together with its wind and waves.

            In the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative we find Jesus speaking to the emotional storm that was present within the hearts and minds of the disciples before He spoke to the physical and natural storm that was present before and all around them. It is truly necessary that we recognize and understand just how significant this truly is, for when you come to the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative you will find Jesus speaking to the sins which were present within this man’s life before He would speak to and address the sickness within his physical body. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when we read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we must needs realize and understand that in the days in which we are living those internal storms within our hearts and minds are of greater importance than the physical and natural storms which are raging before and all around us. Not only this, but we must needs realize and understand that the forgiveness of sins within our hearts is of greater worth than the healing of physical bodies, and even the healing of the land. If you read the words which the LORD of hosts spoke unto Solomon by a dream after the dedication of the Temple you will find Him declaring unto Solomon that if His people which were called by His name would humble themselves, would pray, would seek His face, and would turn from their wicked ways, then would He hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and would heal their land. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for even in the Old Testament when the LORD of hosts spoke unto Solomon, He first spoke of the forgiveness of sins before He spoke concerning the healing of the land. We tend to think of this in the reverse order, and we think that the healing of the land should indeed be manifested first and foremost, and yet the truth of the matter is that what the LORD is most concerned with is the forgiveness of sin.

            There is absolutely no doubt that we are living during days of tremendous chaos, confusion, darkness, danger, disparity, discouragement, and the like. Over the past nine to ten months men and women have been calling for the healing of the land in the midst of a pandemic which has effectively crippled this nation’s economy together with businesses, industries, and the like. Over the past nine to tent months there has not been a single thing that has not been touched and has not been affected and impacted by the pandemic which has come upon the whole world. Over the past ten months this nation has been consumed with civil and political unrest as men and women have found themselves on different sides of social injustices, as men and women have found themselves on different sides of political lines, parties and boundaries, and as men and women have even found themselves on different sides of church buildings having been shut down. There have been countless men and women who have found themselves on different sides with different views and different opinions concerning what has taken place within this nation, and there has been a serious chasm and schism that has been caused as a direct result of this. As if this nation wasn’t divided enough as it was the events of the past ten months have brought this nation and the people living within it to an even greater point of division. You would be hard pressed to look at this nation and the events which have taken place within it and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and tremendous truth that there is a real strong and powerful division that is seizing and laying hold of this nation, and there is a great need for healing to take place in the midst of it. There is a great need for this nation to be healed in the physical and natural sense in the midst of the pandemic, but there is also a need for men and women to be healed of the bitterness, the resentment, the offense, the malice, the hatred, the wounds, and the afflictions which they have experienced over time. There is absolutely no denying and no mistaking the tremendous reality that there is a great need for men and women within this nation to be healed in their physical bodies—and not only healed within their physical bodies, but also to be healed within their hearts and their spirits.

            With all of this being said we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the awesome and tremendous truth that what this nation desperately needs in the midst of it is not only the forgiveness of sins, but also those storms which are internal within our hearts and our minds to be completely and entirely calmed. We might not see, witness and behold the physical and natural storms which have been raging before and all around us being calmed and brought to a stillness, however, we can indeed live as those who are absent any storms raging within their hearts and spirits. I sit here today thinking about and considering that which is presented before us within these two chapters and I am absolutely captivated with the fact that in the case of the man who was sick with the palsy—Jesus saw the faith of those who had brought him unto Him and into His presence, and those who had helped get this man to Him, and as a direct result of this He would speak to the man, call him Son, invite him to be of good cheer, and would then declare and proclaim his sins being forgiven. Within this narrative we find the forgiveness of sins coming first before the healing of the sickness which was present within this physical body—a truth and reality which we have great need of recognizing and understanding within and concerning the days in which we are living. There are men and women among us believe that the healing of the land and that the healing of bodies should come first, however, that which is of greater worth, and that which is of greater value is the forgiveness of sins. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it was like for this man as He would hear Jesus call him son, and would hear Jesus declare that his sins were forgiven. It is possible that this man felt that he was somehow unworthy to receive healing from Jesus because of the sins which were present within this life? Is it possible that this man believed himself to be such an awful sinner that there was absolutely no way Jesus would heal him of that which was present within his physical body.

            The more I read and consider the words which are found in this passage the more I can’t help but be brought to the place where I wonder if this man rejoiced more that his sins were forgiven, or rejoiced more that he was healed. Upon initially reading this passage there would be those who would think that this man would rejoice that his physical body was healed of the palsy, and that this man was able to rise up from the bed upon which he was lying and take it up. The truth of the matter, however, is that as you read the words which are found in this passage and narrative you will find Jesus initially speaking unto this man concerning his sins—and not only his sins, but also declaring unto him that his sins were forgiven. There is not a doubt in my mind that this man must have rejoiced within himself when he heard Jesus declare unto him that his sins were forgiven. What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder if this man would have left the presence of Jesus rejoicing if the only thing he received from Him was the knowledge that his sins were forgiven. Is it possible that this man could have been brought into the presence of Jesus, and could have heard that his sins were forgiven, and even left still sick of the palsy, and yet he received that which would have been most important and most valuable to him? Is it possible that this man could have heard that his sins were forgiven yet not also been instructed and commanded to rise up and take his bed, and yet he would have rejoiced immensely within his heart and spirit knowing that his sins were forgiven him? It is this very thought that brings to my remembrance the narrative found in the New Testament gospel written by the beloved physician Luke when Jesus sent out the seventy before and ahead of Him in the various towns, cities and villages preaching the gospel of the kingdom, healing the sick, and casting out unclean spirits. The seventy would return rejoicing that the demons were subject to them in the name of Jesus, and yet upon hearing their rejoicing Jesus promptly and immediately corrected it. Jesus would declare unto them that they ought not to rejoice that the demons are and were subject unto them in His name, but rather that their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for here we have seventy who rejoiced because demons were subject to them in the name of Jesus, and yet Jesus instructed them to rejoice instead because their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life.

            With this in mind I can’t help but invite you to think about and consider how absolutely incredible this man must have felt upon leaving the presence of Jesus, for not only did her leave carrying the bed upon which he was brought upon, but he would also leave with his sins forgiven. How absolutely incredible and tremendous it is to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and encounter this man who would not only leave knowing his sins were forgiven, but would also receive the added bonus and reward of his physical body being healed of the palsy which have ravaged it. WE must needs pay close and careful attention to just how incredibly important this truly is, for what we find here is one single man who came into the presence of Jesus lying on a bed with sickness in his body and perhaps laden and overwhelmed with the guilt of his sins, and he would leave the presence of Jesus—not only completely healed of the sickness, but forgiven of the sins which were present within his physical person. Oh how truly remarkable and beautiful this is when you take the time to think about it, for twice within this passage we find the apostle Matthew writing and revealing how Jesus spoke directly unto this man. It in the second verse we find the apostle Matthew writing and recording how Jesus would initially speak unto the sick of the palsy, saying, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee,” while in the sixth verse we find Jesus again speaking unto “the sick of the palsy” instructing him to “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” Twice within this encounter this man heard directly from the Lord with the first time being a declaration that his sins were forgiven and the second being a command to arise and take up his bed. SINS FORGIVEN, SICKNESS DISPELLED! Oh dear reader please do not quickly dismiss just how incredibly important this truly is when reading these words, for these will call and draw your attention to the awesome and powerful truth that this man was brought into the presence of Jesus lying on a bed and completely and perhaps completely and utterly overwhelmed with guilt, and yet when he left the presence of Jesus he would leave with his sins forgiven and his physical body completely healed of the palsy that had tormented and crippled it.

            If you continue reading the words which are found in the ninth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the apostle recounting that moment when Jesus showed up where he was at the receipt of custom and called him to follow him. What makes the narrative of Matthew’s calling so incredibly unique is that when you read the words surrounding it—the only thing you will find within this passage is Jesus’ instruction to him to “follow Him.” When Jesus called Simon and Andrew you will find Him calling them to follow Him, and as a result He would make them “fishers of men.” When, however, we come to the narrative written concerning Matthew being called and chosen we find Jesus merely commanding and instructing him to follow him. It’s actually quite unique and astounding to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for this is essentially the first interaction in the gospels with Jesus having interaction with a publican—a member of that class of people which were largely disdained, marginalized and ostracized by the religious system and community of that day. How absolutely incredible it is to think that when Jesus called and chose His twelve disciples, He deliberately and intentionally chosen a publican to walk with and follow Him. Not only this, but as you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that Jesus didn’t merely choose Matthew who was a publican, but He essentially showed up at his place of work. Jesus didn’t show up at the house of this publican and call and invite him to walk with Him, but rather HE showed up at his place of work and invited him to walk with and follow Him. It wouldn’t be until after Matthew immediately rose from the receipt of custom and followed Jesus that we actually find Jesus entering in to the house of Matthew who was this publican whom He had deliberately and intentionally called to walk with and follow Him. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that in the eighth chapter of this gospel Jesus was willing to touch the physical flesh—and perhaps even actual leprosy—of a leper who had come unto Him to be made clean. What’s more, is that Jesus expressed a willingness to go with a Roman centurion unto his house and to the place where his servant lie sick of the palsy and grievously tormented. Thus, not only within the eighth chapter do we find Jesus willing to touch that which was unclean and make it clean, but we also find Jesus willing to go with that one whom the Jews might very well have considered to be unclean—and not only this, but also a willingness to go unto his house which would have also been considered unclean by the Jews.

            In the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative we find Jesus touching that which was unclean within the leper who came unto Him, and we find Jesus expressing a willingness to go to that place which would have been considered unclean. Oh how truly beautiful and wonderful it is to think about and consider a Jesus who is not only willing to touch those unclean places within our life to make them clean, but also to go to those unclean places within our lives that He might bring healing. Now in the ninth chapter we find Jesus transitioning beyond touching that which unclean and being willing to go with him who would have been considered unclean, and going unto that place which was considered unclean to now calling and inviting a publican to walk with and follow Him. Not only this, but when you take the time to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus entering into the house of Matthew the publican. What’s more, is that in addition to Jesus calling this publican to walk with and follow Him, but He also went into this man’s home—and more than simply went into his home, but also ate and drank with publicans and sinners. When the apostle Matthew recounts this narrative he doesn’t merely write how there were publicans and sinners which came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples, but rather that many publicans and sinners would come down and sit with Jesus and His disciples. Pause for a moment that within this chapter we find Jesus transitioning from touching that which was unclean and being willing to go to that place and walk with that person which would have been considered unclean to now choosing to walk with and fellowship with a publican. Moreover, we find Jesus being willing to enter into the home of a publican and sinner, and it would be in that place where many additional publicans and sinners would come and sit down to meat with Jesus and His disciples. Oh how truly remarkable, oh how truly captivating, and how truly beautiful this particular passage is when you think about and consider a Jesus who was willing to come under the roof of Matthew—a publican whom He had deliberately and intentionally invited to walk with and follow Him—and in addition to that we find Jesus sitting down to meat with publicans and sinners.

            Perhaps one of the most striking elements and aspects of this particular portion of Scripture is that not only did Jesus invite a publican to walk with and follow Him as one of His disciples, but we also find Jesus choosing to sit down to meat with many publicans and sinners. Oh I can’t help but wonder what that meal and what that encounter was like as Jesus sat down for fellowship with, and enjoyed a meal with publicans and sinners. WALKING WITH A PUBLICAN, EATING AND FELLOWSHIPPING WITH MANY PUBLICANS! How truly incredibly it is to consider that Jesus’ decision to invite, call and choose Matthew—who was a publican—to walk with and follow Him would not only set in motion His sitting down to meat with many publicans and sinners, but would also set in motion some of the resistance He would begin experiencing from the scribes and Pharisees. What makes the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative so incredibly powerful and unique is when you think is that in addition to it presenting us with Jesus speaking of forgiveness unto that man who had been sick with the palsy, and in addition to it speaking of Jesus choosing and calling a publican to walk with and follow Him, it also presents us with the beginning of opposition toward and against Jesus. When Jesus spoke unto the man who had been sick the palsy, when Jesus called him “son,” when Jesus encouraged him to be of good cheer, and when Jesus declared unto him that his sins were forgiven unto him, it would invoke the ire, the disdain, the murmuring and the complaining and grumbling of the scribes and Pharisees. What’s more, is that in the very next part of this chapter we again find Jesus drawing the ire and the disdain from the religious community of that day, for when the Pharisees saw Jesus and His disciples sitting down to meat with many publicans and sinners they would ask His disciples why their Master ate with publicans and sinners. Oh please don’t miss that which is presented before and unto us in this passage of Scripture, for what we find within this passage of Scripture is the beginning of the opposition, the beginning of the resistance, and the beginning of the resentment the scribes and Pharisees would display toward and against Jesus. It would be the scribes who would murmur among themselves when Jesus declared unto the man sick the palsy that his sins were forgiven, and it would be the Pharisees who would find fault and take offense with Jesus for eating with publicans and sinners.

            A JESUS WHO OFFENDS! WHEN JESUS STARTS TO OFFEND! The more I read the words which are found in the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative the more I am brought face to face with the fact that in addition to Jesus healing the sick, in addition to Jesus casting out unclean spirits, in addition to Jesus speaking to the wind and the waves, and in addition to Jesus calling others to walk and fellowship with Him, we also find Jesus beginning to offend and upset the religious system of that day. As you read the gospel narratives you will find more than simply Jesus healing the sick, more than just Jesus raising the dead, more than Jesus casting and driving out unclean and foul spirits, and more than Jesus feeding great multitudes and calming storms, for you will also find Jesus beginning to offend the religious system and establishment of that day. You cannot have the gospel narratives without and apart from this element, for it would be this offense of the religious system and leaders of this day that would result in the opposition, the affliction and the persecution Jesus would face and experience at the hands of the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of the people, and Sadducees, the teachers of the Law, and the like. WE know that it would ultimately be this resentment, this malice, this anger, this hatred, and this offense and bitterness of the religious system that would eventually lead to Jesus being tried among them before being tried before both Herod and Pilate. If there is one thing we must needs realize and recognize when reading this chapter it’s that there would eventually come a point when Jesus would begin to offend those before and around Him. In the gospels written by the apostle Matthew, John Mark, and the beloved physician Luke we find Jesus upsetting and offending the scribes, the Pharisees and the religious leaders of that day, but when you come to the New Testament gospel of John you will find this transitioning beyond merely upsetting and offended the religious leaders and system of that day to offending many of the Jews as well. What we must needs realize and recognize when reading these chapters is that in addition to Jesus beginning to offend and upset the religious leaders and the religious system of that day, He would also offend the Jews which were present in Judaea and in the city of Jerusalem. In fact, the apostle John recounts how when Jesus was in the city of Jerusalem, and when Jesus was in the region of Judaea He would more often than not upset and offend the Jews—not only with the words and declarations He would make, but also with the works He would do as He would heal on the sabbath day.

            If there is one thing we must needs acknowledge and come face to face with when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that Jesus doesn’t please everyone, nor does Jesus draw the affection of all those He encounters and comes in contact with. The more you read the gospel narratives the more you will find a Jesus who offended the scribes, the Pharisees and the religious system—and not only did Jesus upset and offend them, but you will also find Jesus being entirely and altogether unmoved and unaffected by that offense. When you come to the ninth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find a Jesus who begins to offend and upset the religious system and establishment of that day, thus indicating the beginning of a tremendous conflict that would ensue between the only begotten Son of God and the religious system and establishment of that day. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not the Jesus we profess to walk with and follow can in fact upset and offend those before and around us—and not only offend those around us, but possibly at times offend even us ourselves. One of the greatest truths surrounding Jesus is that He would not please everyone, and there would indeed and there would in fact be those whom He would offend because of the words He spoke and the works which He would produce in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that it shines a great deal of light on to the days and generation in which we are living—specifically the dark and dangerous times in which we are presently walking. I am absolutely and completely convinced that just as Jesus angered, upset and offended the religious system and establishment of that day, so also in these last days will we find Jesus once more angering, upsetting and offending the religious system and establishment of this day. Not only this, but I would also declare that what we can and will experience within these days and within this generation is a Jesus who offends the political establishment and order—and not only Jesus, but also His disciples and His followers.

            GET READY FOR OFFENSES TO COME! GET READY TO OFFEND! GET READY TO ANGER! GET READY TO UPSET! I firmly believe that we are living in days when the name of Jesus and everything that is behind that name can and will offend those before and all around us. With that being said, I would also dare say that we are going to be entering into days when the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ will also begin to offend and upset the establishments and systems of this day. What we are witnessing within and during these days is indeed an assault and attack on freedom of speech, but what we are also watching and witnessing is the beginning of offenses which are to come. There has been an incredibly freedom of speech and freedom we have experienced in worshipping in church buildings, and an incredible freedom to witness and evangelize and practice our Christianity within this nation. With this being said, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that we are about to walk in to days and times when the very name of Christ, and when we who are disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ can and will offend, anger and upset both the political establishment, as well as the religious establishment. What’s more, is that I would dare say there will be certain religious establishments, certain churches, certain denominations, and certain church leaders that will get in bed with the political establishment of this day and within this nation. There will be churches and church leaders who will align themselves with the government and will do anything and everything they can to please and appease them. Such churches, such leaders, such organizations and such denominations will not do anything to anger, upset and offend them, and as a direct result of this they will come under the “protection” of the government that is found within this day. Even with this being said, I am absolutely and completely convinced there will be a remnant of people within this nation during these days and during these times that will anger, upset and offend the religious and political establishment. Oh what’s more, is could you actually conceive within your heart churches, church leaders, organizations and even denominations turning over disciples and followers of Christ unto the government for violating their “laws” and that which they have put into place?

I am sitting here right now thinking about and considering this truth and reality, and I am absolutely and completely convinced that we are going to be entering into times when even churches, church leaders, religious organizations, and denominations will turn over the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ to the government for their “speech” and their “worship.” We are entering into days when the name of Jesus and the disciples and followers of Jesus themselves will offend both the political and religious establishment, and we must needs get ourselves ready for the offenses to come. Jesus did indeed speak of offenses to come, and did in fact speak of offenses rising in the Last Days. With this being said, we must needs realize and understand that in the coming days before and ahead of us offenses will be on the rise, and offenses will indeed come as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ can and will anger and upset the religious and political establishment and system. Oh that we would choose this day whom we will serve—and not only who we will serve, but also who we will profess and who we will follow. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is a great need within these days and times to be absolutely willing to make the emphatic declaration that we are disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we are Christians. In the Middle East there are those who have become “N,” which essentially stands for “Nazarene” and indicates a follower of Jesus the Christ. Oh we must needs make ourselves ready for the persecution, the affliction and the opposition to arise within this nation, and what we are witnessing with this freedom of speech being assaulted and coming under attack is only the beginning. We would be incredibly wise to mark these words and mark them well, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that we are entering into days when offenses will surge exponentially—much like COVID cases continue to be presented to us as both surging and spiking. Oh dear reader, please mark my words and mark them well—we are about to enter into days when offenses will indeed arise, and days where men and women will be angered with and by the name of Jesus and all who profess to walk with and follow Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for we are indeed preparing to enter into days of great offense, and days of great anger, and days of great resentment, malice and hostility, and we would do absolutely well to recognize and understand this within our hearts and our spirits, and make ourselves ready for it when it truly does begin to manifest before, around and among us.

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