Archive for July, 2017

John 3

John 3 has some of the most familiar verses in all of scripture.  It begins with an interaction between Nicodemus, a Pharisee and one of the religious leaders, and Jesus.  Nicodemus asks “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him”.  He doesn’t understand who Jesus is, but he knows that Jesus is special.  Christ responds with the truth that “unless one is born  again he cannot see the kingdom of God”.  Entry into heaven is not based on what we do.  It is based on us being born again – a rebirth based on our faith in Christ.

Nicodemus goes on to try and understand by asking “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born”?  This baffles the religious leader, but Jesus insists: “You must be born again”.  This isn’t an optional method of receiving salvation.  It is the only way to be set free from our sin.  Jesus explains “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life”.  It’s Jesus or nothing – there is no other way to eternity.

Then Jesus shares the most recognized verse in all of the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”.  There it is in a sentence – God loves us, He sent His Son to die for us, We can escape eternal separation from God by believing in Jesus.  That is the gospel in a verse.  Jesus came, He died, He rose, He conquered death and provides a way for us to receive eternal life by accepting God’s grace through believing.

God didn’t send Jesus for any reason than to save us.  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”.  Jesus came to save us, not condemn.  “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God”.   The question we all must face is ‘what will you do with Jesus.’  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him”.  Don’t miss answering this question as it holds the key to your eternity!

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John 2

John 2 captures the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.  He is at a wedding with His family at Cana in Galilee along with His disciples.  “When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  His mother is the one who brings the problem to His attention.  Jesus responds saying “Woman, what does this have to do with me?  My hour has not yet come”.  Jesus says ‘not my problem’ and knows that He hasn’t yet begun to show the power that God has placed within Him as a man.  Yet He is compassionate and knows the importance of wine at this wedding feast.

So He instructs the servants, whom His mother had told to do whatever Jesus said, to fill a half dozen 20-30 gallon stone jars. “Fill the jars with water.”  Not sure how that is going to help, but it was Jesus’ instruction to them.  They do as they were told and then He asks them to take a bit out and serve it to the master of the feast – the man in charge.  He got quite a reaction from this guy who said “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now”.  Little did he know that Jesus had merely put water into the stone jars and it turned into wine.

This is the first of the signs that Jesus will do that show who He is and manifest His glory.  Jesus hadn’t planned on revealing that at this wedding feast, but responded with love to the circumstances He was involved in.  He could easily have said no to His mother, but after some short resistance, decides to quietly turn a situation that would have not only been embarrassing to the bridegroom and family who allowed the wine to run dry.  Does He always intervene in an embarrassing situation to change the outcome?  No, certainly not.  But He also is not oblivious to life and the little things that make it.  Jesus cares about us and what happens down to the details.

From the wedding, “he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples”.  They went to the temple and Jesus sees something that upsets Him – many were there selling animals and changing money and had turned the temple into a business.  This time He doesn’t quietly respond to the situation, but “making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen”.  Jesus can’t just ignore what is going on around Him.  He “poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables”.  Can you imagine the chaos.  He disrupts their economic system and says “do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. Not a popular thing to do for this newcomer to the Jerusalem scene.  Principle comes ahead of tradition and Jesus makes it clear He won’t stand by and watch things that are wrong.

John 1

John 1 has the author taking us back to the foundation of the world and giving us a lesson on how the world came to be.  The Gospel of John was written for a specific purpose: that we might believe.  “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made”.  John is referring to Jesus Christ, as one of the Trinity who was with God and the Spirit back at creation. The Father and the Son (Jesus is known here as the Word) are equally God, yet distinct in their Person. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. Yet they are equally God, with God the Holy Spirit making one God in three Persons.

John tells us that “In him was life, and the life was the light of men”.  Life comes to all of us through Jesus Christ.  The ancient Greek word translated life is ‘zoe’, which means “the life principle,” not bios, which is mere biological life. Therefore, without Jesus, we are dead and in darkness. We are lost spiritually and need a Savior.  John the Baptist comes to teach the world that Jesus is that light.  John “came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him”.  John wasn’t the light, but pointed the world toward Jesus Christ, the Word, who was.

John’s message is clear and gives us much hope.  We simply need to come to the Light and receive it.  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right  to become children of God”.  What a promise.  We can receive God’s provision of life through Christ and become a child of God.  Latch onto the power in those words.  Freely given through grace – we can become God’s son or daughter.  John proclaimed “the Word  became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth….from  his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace….the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”.

What a powerful set of truths.  Jesus was with God at the creation and all things were made through Him.  He is the author of life, and through Him we can receive that light and become truly alive.  As we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we become children of God.  As a child, we have ultimate security – God will always be our Father no matter how far we stray.  We may break the relationship, but we’ll never lose our place as a son or daughter of the King.  Grace covers all sin, and has been given freely to anyone who will receive.  What a glorious story from a loving God who planned it all from before the beginning of time!  Have you received that grace?  The next move is ours…..

Luke 24

Luke 24 begins on the morning of the third day after Jesus was crucified.  Some women went to the tomb to finish his burial preparation, and when they arrived “they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus”.  It was exactly as Jesus had told them – that on the third day He would rise.  The women were surprised, but two angels tell them “He is not here, but has risen”.  They ran back to tell the disciples what they had seen but “these words seemed to them an idle tale, and  they did not believe them”.  It didn’t seem possible but “Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened”.  He saw it with his very own eyes.

Two of them were going to a village named Emmaus and “While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them”.  These two guys were just walking along the road and Jesus comes alongside and joins the conversation, asking questions about what had happened in Jerusalem and getting the story through the eyes of two that were followers.  He walks with them until evening and they ask him to stay since it was late, but still had no idea of who He was.  Jesus was letting this discovery come slowly.

While they were eating and “he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight”.  Jesus reveals Himself, but then is gone. This was big news so “they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem”.  They brought the message to the eleven that Jesus was indeed risen and what the women and Peter had said was absolutely true.

The disciples were gathered together and Jesus shows up in the room with them.  At first they were overwhelmed, but He calmed them and showed His hands and feet.  He also ate a fish, which pretty well sealed the deal that He wasn’t some ghost or spirit but had indeed returned in human form.  Jesus reminded them that what had happened was the result of prophecy and had to occur.  And now, things were going to change as He was going to join the Father and the torch was being passed to them to be witnesses.  “While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven”.  Jesus had fulfilled prophecy and was on to His heavenly place leaving His disciples to carry the message!

Luke 23

Luke 23 has the religious leaders taking Jesus before Pilate.  “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to  Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king”.  They didn’t have much to charge Him with, so they came up with some charges to try and get the ruler to take action.  Pilate sees nothing worthy of more than some punishment, so he chooses to send him over to Herod who interrogates him and then returns him finding the same outcome.  Jesus had done nothing to warrant death.

You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him”.  The charges were all made up, and Pilate is ready to let Jesus go. “Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus”.  But the pressure of the crowd continued and they wanted Pilate to release a guy named Barabbas. Pilate caves to the pressure and decides to crucify Jesus.  It had to be in order to fulfill God’s plan, but it certainly wasn’t what the rulers of the day intended to have happen.

Jesus is sent to Gethsemane to be crucified. Simon carried His cross, and “there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him”.  Jesus didn’t make the trek alone, but had a host of people that were walking behind him.  He was still very popular with the masses, just not the leaders who were tired of Him disrupting their economic system and control of the people.  He was crucified on the cross and as He hung there, even in the midst of all the pain and suffering, He still loved the people.  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Jesus’ love for mankind was bigger than Himself.

Later in the day, He breathed His last breath and committed His soul to the Father.  “Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus”.  This is a brave move, given that Jesus wasn’t at all popular among the ruling leadership.  But Joseph was looking for the Messiah, and knows that an injustice has been done.  He wants to make things better and places Jesus into a tomb of his very own, which will become a focal point of the resurrection.

Luke 22

Luke 22 has the religious leaders stirred up and ready to take Jesus us.  “The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people”.  He’s disrupted things enough, and they are ready to end it.  This happens at the same time as the Passover, when Jesus is going to Jerusalem to be with His disciples.  He sends some on ahead to prepare a place, and then “when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him”.  Jesus spends one last evening with the Twelve, and as He does, He tells them that someone in the room would betray Him.

They began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this”.  It doesn’t seem possible, that one of the 12 that has lived with Christ the last three years would now betray Him.  So they argued about it for a bit but quickly lost themselves in a discussion about who was most important.  Isn’t it amazing how quickly we get fcosued on self rather than the things that matter.  “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest”.  The disciples were worried about positioning themselves, not serving their Master.

Jesus uses the time to talk about what it means to truly be a leader.  “The leader as one who serves….I am among you as the one who serves”.  Servant leadership isn’t a discovery of the 20th or 21st century – Jesus painted that picture over 2000 years ago.  Real leadership is about serving those who are with you.  Jesus not only taught that lesson, He modeled what it looked like.  He washed the feet of His disciples and served them the bread and the cup.  Are you a servant leader?  You don’t need any more than a Bible and Jesus to find out what that truly means.

Jesus prays to God about what lies ahead.  “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done”.  He didn’t have to go to the cross.  He could have told God no.  But Jesus was tuned in to the Father.  He wants to do the Father’s will.  Jesus chose to go willingly to the Cross to pay the price for your sin and mine.  Peter had told Jesus there was no way he would deny his Lord.  But when he was sitting in the area where Jesus had been taken, three times he was confronted about being a Christ Follower.  Three times he denied it, and after the third time the rooster crowed exactly as Jesus had said.  Our faith in Christ will be challenged.  We have to be prepared to stand firm.

Luke 21

Luke 21 has Jesus continuing to teach.  He tells a parable about seeing“a poor widow put in two small copper coins” into the offering.  It wasn’t much at all compared to the rich, who put in large sums.  But Jesus said “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them”.  It isn’t the size of the contribution that Jesus cared about.  It was the heart behind the giving.  Jesus teaches us that “they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on”.  We mistake the external with the heart.  God cares about our heart.  It’s not what we do, as much as how and why we do it that matters.

Jesus goes on to share about the things that will happen before the end of the world.  He warns His followers that “before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake”.  There will be a price for being a Christ Follower as we approach the end times.  Jesus has warned about this throughout His teaching, but it gets pretty clear and real here.  That day continues to come ever closer, and He tells us what to do in order to be ready.

”This will be your opportunity to bear witness”.  We’ll be placed in front of authorities and will have a chance to talk about the Christ that we follow.  So how should we prepare?  “Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and  wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict”.  He tells us to settle our relationship with Him in our hearts – know who He is and how we are connected to Him – and then trust Him to provide the words when we need them.  We don’t have to spend our life preparing for the inquiry.  He’ll give us the words when we need them.  We merely need to have the relationship solid and in place.

There will be much chaos as that day approaches.  Jesus tells us that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”.  But in the midst of the chaos, there is one thing we can cling to – His Word.  That means we need to be in the Word daily, studying and learning it, because it will be the rock to which we can cling as the world around us begins to fall apart.  Jesus tells us to “stay awake at all times, praying that you may  have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man”.  We aren’t to bury our head in the sand and ignore what’s going on around us.  We need to stay diligent and focused on walking with Him and watching what is happening around us!

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