We sit ignorant of the authority given

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matt. 16:19)

KeysWe too often argue over these verses fromPeter’s great confession rather than see what Jesus really meant for the Church. We get carried away with wild ideas about “authority” and “keys” or we sit and argue and do nothing.

This morning I can only mourn for my own life and condition. It isn’t about anyone else not using Kingdom authority, or abusing Kingdom authority.

“Not my brother, not my sister,
But it’s ME, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.”

It’s not just this verse, but the evidence of all that is communicated to us in the New Testament, we have been given this incredible gift: All is ours. 

Authority to ASK the Father for wisdom. Authority to walk in the power of the Spirit, the gifts flowing, so that needs around me may be met. Authority to open doors in prayer that have remained shut, and authority to shut doors that have needed closing but the enemy has intimidated the Church into keeping them open.

All is ours. Paul walked with that reality. Peter walked with that reality. So many through the centuries.

All is ours.

I stand in the need of prayer. Authority is given. The command is to keep in step with the Spirit. When that is happening, authority is there.

WALK.

 

Proclamation and Demonstration

When Jesus arrives on the scene in ministry (Matthew 4), he arrives with a powerful message: “The kingdom of heaven is arriving.”

This SHOULD call for a response.

Then, he demonstrates the power of the kingdom. The sick are healed. The demonized are set free.

This king means business. 

It, of course, draws a crowd. Out of that proclamation and demonstration, Jesus can then see who truly wants to understand the kingdom. This is when he climbs the hill and begins to teach. Who will follow him? Who will sit through just teaching and hear what the Kingdom of God is all about?

The proclamation and demonstration were not the end. It was about getting people to pay attention and then pave the way for explanation. And the demands of the Kingdom needed explaining. (There ARE demands of the Kingdom, by the way.)

If the King has truly arrived. If the Kingdom is truly “at hand,” there is a demonstration of that Kingdom. There is also a confrontation because the allegiances of this world do not give up that easily.

We need to live our lives in Kingdom power. We need the understanding of the Kingdom in our minds and spirits. We need the sense of that Kingdom’s allegiance full in our awareness. And the living out of the Kingdom of God then brings the power of the Kingdom in ways we simply could not imagine.

I pray we are so full of the Spirit, so full of the power of the Kingdom, so aware of the power of the Kingdom all around us, we walk our lives in a way that stir up thirst and hunger in others. I pray our very lives make such a difference in people we interact with on a daily basis that there really is something demonstrably different in the way we carry ourselves and the way people are impacted by our presence around them.

Lord, help us live in Kingdom power. 

Sermon on the Mount Graphic

The Place of Authoritative Prayer

20 Early in the morning, as Jesus and his disciples were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered from the root up. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look how the fig tree you cursed has dried up.”

 22 Jesus responded to them, “Have faith in God! 23 I assure you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea’—and doesn’t waver but believes that what is said will really happen—it will happen. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you will receive it, and it will be so for you. 25 And whenever you stand up to pray, if you have something against anyone, forgive so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your wrongdoings.” (Mark 11:20-25, CEB)

Jesus had cursed the fig tree the day before, even though it wasn’t the season for figs. He was illustrating what Israel was like: Always looking good but never bearing fruit. He did it because it was an illustration. (And all the environmentalists wept.)

But the disciples noticed the next day the fig tree was indeed withered so they asked how that happened. Jesus launches into a lesson on faith, which we have debated about ever since. What is “faith?” Do we have “faith in faith?” All kinds of things.

Basically, I think Jesus is simply saying, “Well of course it dried up. I told it to!”

There is a place of authoritative prayer the people of God can walk in. Very few do, so the rest of us are left to debate the true meaning of this passage. By authoritative prayer I don’t mean someone who is just plain “arrogant.”

I have met a few who walk in authoritative prayer. They are humble. They are not loud, obnoxious, standing on stadium platforms doing things that impress the masses. Ones I have met that I sensed had truly authoritative prayer were often quite soft-spoken. They were confident.

There was one I heard about. He passed away before I was probably born, but others knew him and I knew they weren’t exaggerating things. This particular man had a quiet confidence in God, walked in prayer, and at one time had commanded a tornado to move around a piece of property… and it did. He expected it.

Another great saint I never got to meet knew how to walk with God and wasn’t bothered if he had to cry out to God all night long to see a miracle take place. He knew God was going to do it.

I was at a conference a few years back where the speaker was talking about the presence of God in our lives and the power of prayer. He walked that talk. In the last session he stepped to the podium and in that instance there was a sense of the presence of God settling down onto the audience. It was incredibly moving. The speaker then stepped back from the podium and waited. I thought, He knew that was going to happen. He EXPECTED it.

Authoritative prayer is not something that is conjured up for one moment. Failure occurs when that happens. That is the disciples when they couldn’t cast the demon out of the boy in Mark 9. That is the sons of Sceva in Acts 19. They try to do something that sounds authoritative, but the enemy is not fooled.

Don’t sound authoritative. Walk in authority.

Jesus expected that fig tree to wither up. He wanted to demonstrate something so he used the tree. (And the environmentalists wept.) But he did so in authority. Then, he turns to his disciples and says, “Of course it happened. You go do the same.” (And he didn’t mean, “Go curse some fig trees.”)

It is a Tough Thing to Understand Authority

5 In the same way, I urge you who are younger: accept the authority of the elders. And everyone, clothe yourselves with humility toward each other. God stands against the proud, but he gives favor to the humble.

6 Therefore, humble yourselves under God’s power so that he may raise you up in the last day. (1 Peter 5:5-6, CEB)

Learning to live under authority is never easy. When you are younger and watch “elders” just goof things up, it’s easy to say, “I am to submit to that?” (Besides, when you are younger you just know everything.)

Submission isn’t about the elder always being right and the younger being without knowledge. It is learning to understand authority. When we understand authority in this life we will understand God’s authority over us. If we keep going around authority in this life, or ignoring authority in this life, we will not fully submit to the will of God in our lives. We think we will, but he will guide us into something we don’t agree with at some point in our lives. And we will argue and even ignore him.

Authority is a tough thing to understand, especially in an era where we pump into youth the thought that they truly can do “everything.”

It’s only when we get some years on us that we understand we sure don’t know a whole lot!

The Issue of Authority and Submission

Peter spends quite a bit of time on authority and submission in his first letter. He addresses slaves, wives and husbands.

Slaves are called on to submit to the authority of their masters. It is in this context that we get a beautiful passage on Jesus enduring suffering for our sakes.

He did so entrusting himself to the one who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23, CEB).

Wives are called on to submit to their husbands. Husbands are called on to submit to their wives by looking out for them first.

Part of the issue of submission (and lack thereof) is our inability to trust authority. We look at human authority and think, “How do I trust that?”

We even think, “Why should I trust that?”

Lack of trust may seem noble. “When you prove I can trust you, I will.”

That may seem noble because it puts leadership in a place of earning trust and not just leaning on their title to hold a position. In many ways that is a good thing.

However, on another level, the lack of trust is also a lack of faith. It is not trusting God to deal with the authority over us. Jesus submitted entrusting himself to the one who judges justly.

We may not “trust” the one in authority over us in the physical realm, but can we trust the One who is ultimately in authority? This is why Paul and Peter could admonish their readers to pray for those in authority. Pray for the emperor, even if he is the one ordering persecution.

In our day, with our lack of trust, we “pray” for our leaders, but how we pray too often is dictated by our political beliefs rather than our biblical understanding.

You may not “trust” your boss. You may not “trust” your spouse. There may be very good reasons for that in the physical realm. (And understand in a marital situation I am NOT advocating anything regarding an abusive situation.) You may not “trust” your government.

But can you trust the One who judges justly? Will you submit to his ultimate will and authority? When we learn to live in submission, we will find true authority. We will find God really can be trusted to work things out.

This will lead us to Peter’s concluding thought in this passage:

8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, sympathetic, lovers of your fellow believers, compassionate, and modest in your opinion of yourselves. (1 Peter 3:8, CEB)