Posts Tagged ‘God’

4:23b-29

In John 4:23b-29 Jesus continues His discussion with the woman at the well.  Jesus has just defined what it means like to truly worship God.  It has to be done in spirit and in truth.  But He takes it further.  “That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration”.  We have to come to God openly and honestly.  We need to come to God in truth, not pretending or merely trying to display how spiritual we can be.

The Samaritan woman at the well responds honestly that she has no idea what Jesus is talking about.  “The woman said, I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story”.  She’s waiting for the Messiah.  Jesus gave her the shock of her life.  “I am he, said Jesus. You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further”.  Can you imagine her amazement when Jesus said that.  She has been waiting and watching for Messiah, and now, Jesus tells her He is the One she’s been waiting for, and He’s standing right there in front of her.

Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it”. The disciples come to where Jesus is at the well with the Samaritan woman, and are amazed.  They don’t say anything but are clearly surprised and confused.  Why would He be speaking to her?  It just wasn’t culturally acceptable. Their silence was due to reverence. They had already learned that He had reasons for His actions which might not be obvious at first glance.  So they show their amazement on their faces, but don’t say a word to Jesus or the woman.

She wasn’t lost on how they felt however.  She could see it by their reaction, so she takes off with her water back to town.  “The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah”?  But she wasn’t quiet about what she had experienced.  She tells those in her village about Jesus and the way He had told her truths in her life He couldn’t know on His own.  She asks the big question – is He the Messiah?  That’s a question all of us should seek to know the answer to.

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John 1:1-4

John writes the fourth gospel and in John 1 shows us a different view of Jesus.  Why four gospels?  Each gospel presents a different perspective on the life of Jesus, and we need all four of them to get the full picture.  Guzik describes the focus this way:

  • Matthew shows Jesus came from Abraham through David, and demonstrates that He is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament (Matthew 1:1-17).
  • Mark shows Jesus came from Nazareth, demonstrating that Jesus is a Servant (Mark 1:9).
  • Luke shows Jesus came from Adam, demonstrating that Jesus is the Perfect Man (Luke 3:23-38).
  • John shows Jesus came from heaven, demonstrating that Jesus is God.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the three synoptic gospels. Synoptic means “see-together” and the first three gospels present Jesus’ life in pretty much the same format. The first three gospels focus more on what Jesus taught and did; John focuses more on who Jesus is.

  • John shows us who Jesus is by highlighting seven signs (miracles) of Jesus. Six of these miracles are not mentioned in the first three gospels.
  • John shows us who Jesus is by allowing Jesus to speak for Himself in seven dramatic I Am statements.
  • John shows us who Jesus is by calling forth witnesses who will testify about the identity of Jesus. Four of these witnesses speak in the first chapter alone.

John is a gospel written for a specific purpose: that we might believe. It begins this way: “The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one”. When the beginning began, the Word was already there.  It was the beginning of the beginning.  With this brilliant statement, sets forth one of the most basic foundations of our faith – the Trinity. We can follow John’s logic:

  • There is a Being known as the Word.
  • This Being is God, because He is eternal (The Word was first)
  • This Being is God, because He is plainly called God (the Word was God).
  • At the same time, this Being does not encompass all that God is. God the Father is a distinct Person from the Word (in readiness for God).

What was God’s place in creation?  “Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him”. God created all things – not some things – not most things – but ALL things.  There was not one thing that existed that came to be without His touch.  And the greatest of all creation was life.  “What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by”. This life is the light of men, speaking of spiritual light as well as natural light.  Life comes from God and Him alone.  He is the awesome creator of all things with life being the ultimate creation!

1 Timothy 5

1 Timothy 5 has Paul directing Timothy around how to treat people of all ages in the church.  He divides them into four different segments.  “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity”.

  1. Older men – fathers, treated with respect, not rebuke
  2. Younger men – brothers, or partners in the ministry of the gospel
  3. Older women – respect and honor as mothers caring for those in their patch
  4. Younger women – sisters, treated with purity above reproach

Paul doesn’t define the exact age at which you move from one area to another.  Bottom line, there is a way we are to treat each other, and in every case, it begins with recognizing the value and importance we have in God’s plan.

He goes on to address how the church is to assist widows and those in need.  There is no doubt that God has a special place in His heart for widows and those in need.  Back in the day Paul wrote this, there was no social assistance from the government.  The church was the only place providing support.  But just because the government has created some level of support doesn’t relieve the church of the responsibility to care for those in need.  Paul is clear that in addition to the church, families carry some responsibility to help their own as well.  “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for  members of his household, he has  denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”.  Strong words about our responsibility.

Paul also addresses how we are to treat elders – both those who lead and those who teach or preach.  “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching”.  Paul tells us that those who lead and preach need to be given ‘double honor’ or basically taken care of financially.  In his time, and he is a perfect example, many who were preachers and leaders had a full time day job to support themselves and did the work of the ministry on the side on their own time.  We are to take care of those who serve the church well.

Paul ends reminding us that how we live matters.  “The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden”.  It is easy to see the struggles and sins some have; but with some others, the sins are hidden.  But hidden sins don’t mean they are excused and given a pass.  Sin is sin whether anyone else knows about it or not.  Sin will come clear when we stand before God on Judgment Day.  These words are guidance to Timothy that there is more to a person than what is obvious on the outside.  God’s discernment is critical to helping us know exactly what lies in the heart of man.  He’ll make it clear when we stand before Him, but until then, we have to seek His guidance in selecting people to lead and preach.

Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5 is a powerful chapter where Paul addresses some important topics for each of us.  He begins by giving us an overall principle:

Walk as children of light….try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord….Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil”.  Life can’t just be lived on autopilot.  We have to focus on how we live. Life shouldn’t just happen to us.  We need to be intentional in how we happen to life.  We need to inspect how we use our time and be sure we are maximizing it because time is limited and short.  It isn’t just about getting through life, it’s about walking with God through life!

Paul shows us what it looks like to live a Spirit filled life.  “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.  He gives us four key ways we can let the Spirit guide us:

  • Interacting with each other with joy
  • Worshipping God with all our heart
  • Living a life of gratitude for all things
  • Submitting to each other in reverence of Christ

Being Spirit filled doesn’t happen by living alone.  It happens as we live with others, and walk closely with God.

Paul goes on to end the chapter tackling one of the toughest areas where living in the Spirit comes to life – our marriages.  He has strong words for both husband and wife.  “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord….wives should submit  in everything to their husbands”. He begins with wives and uses that ‘s’ word that has such a negative connotation today.  But it isn’t a bad word at all, and if understood, is really about freeing a wife from the responsibilities that are passed to her husband when she submits.  Being submissive does not make one a doormat to be trampled and taken advantage of.  It does mean putting one under the authority of another, but with that passes accountability and responsibility to the authority.

To men, Paul writes “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself”.  Husbands are told to do something differently – to love their wife as Christ loved the church.  What did that look like?  Jesus went to the cross and died for the church.  That’s the kind of love God calls husbands to have – a love that means dying to self and putting another above our own desires and needs.  It’s all encompassing love.  It’s agape love.  It is complete and absolute love.  That’s what wives are to get from their husband.

Paul summarizes what each is to do this way: “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband”.  We can boil it down to two words:

  • Men – we are to LOVE
  • Women – you are to RESPECT

Love and respect – the two traits that define what a godly marriage looks like.  The world tells us that these two things are not the secret.  It is all about getting what we want and ‘feeling’ good about our relationship.  It’s about putting in 50% but no more, and if your spouse doesn’t put in their 50% it is time to move on.  But the problem with that approach is that things will be no different in the next relationship.  God calls each of us to put in 100%, because at times, there will be need for you to carry the relationship.  You will need to lead.  We have to be active and focused on intentionally loving and respecting our wife or husband.  That’s God’s plan for success in marriage.  Are you living that way?

2 Corinthians 13

2 Corinthians 13 has Paul finishing his letter to the church in Corinth.  He writes about coming to see them yet a third time.  On his first visit to Corinth, Paul founded the church and stayed a year and six months (Acts 18:11).  His second visit was a brief, painful visit in between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians.  Now he is prepared to come for a third time.  His work is not quite done with them.  This time he warns that he comes as a judge to point out what needs to be corrected.  Christ is going to deal with the sin in their lives.  “He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you”.

Some think that Christ going to the Cross was a sign that He was not in fact in control.  Yet the truth is that Jesus went willingly to the Cross as part of God’s plan to provide grace to all who would believe.  His crucifixion is what provided victory over death.  Before He could rise and live victoriously, He had to submit to death, so He chose to be weak for He could be strong.  “For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God”.  Jesus chose weakness so He could ultimately demonstrate eternal strength.  We need to make sure we are walking with him.  “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you”?

As a Christ Follower, He lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Paul wants the church at Corinth to understand that they need to live differently than the world around them.  The same is true for us today.  We should not merely blend in and be undetectable from those in our patch.  As followers of Jesus, our lives should reflect His authority in us.  “I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down”.  Paul doesn’t want to be the heavy to those who are in the church as Christ Followers.  We need to examine ourselves and be sure we are living His way.

SO what does that look like?  Paul gives us a list:

  • rejoice – be happy and exalth the one who gives us life
  • Aim for restoration – resolve differences and be right with all around you
  • comfort one another – life is hard and we need to do it together and help each other with the hard things
  • agree with one another – unity is God’s desire, not division.  We need to find common ground and focus on that
  • live in peace – even in disagreements we need to focus on the greater good and God’s ultimate plan
  • Greet one another with a holy kiss” – maybe not something culturally accepted today, but we need to be joyful in our greetings

And what will be the result of living God’s way every day?  “And the God of love and peace will be with you”.  We sometimes think we have to give up too much to follow Jesus.   I think not.  What is a life of love and peace worth?  Isn’t it worth giving Him your all and all of you?

1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12 has Paul jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.  He just finished laying out God’s plan for authority and accountability, and certainly wasn’t popular with most everyone who heard the design of God’s headship plan.  But now he dives into the topic of spiritual gifts, another area that has been divisive in the church for centuries. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone”.  My understanding of spiritual gifts breaks the spiritual gifts into three distinct buckets or varieties:

  • Motivational gifts (equipping) – Rom 12:4-8
  • Ministry gifts (service) – Ephesians 4:11–13 and 1 Corinthians 12:27–31
  • Manifestation gifts (activities to bring God glory) – 1 Cor 12:7-11

Paul lists the manifestation gifts specifically:

  • Word of wisdom
  • Word of knowledge
  • Faith
  • Gifts of healing
  • Working of miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Discerning of spirits
  • Diverse kinds of tongues
  • Interpretation of tongues

God works through a believer in a given situation to demonstrate His supernatural power. The Spirit of God is the Source of these gifts, and they are manifested for the benefit of others and to bring God glory.

Churches and those who attend have gotten hung up on spiritual gifts in many ways.  Paul makes it very clear that they are a direct gift from God.  “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills”.  We don’t make them.  We don’t find them.  We simply are given them by God as He desires.  And most importantly, gifts are never given to divide, but to unify us as the body of Christ.  “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit…. God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose”.  Having a certain gift does not make one more important or holy.  God gives out His gifts as He wishes and we merely are the recipient of His blessing and should use whatever gifts He bestows for His glory, not our own.

We need each other to succeed as the Body of Christ.  It is not a solo event where we are off doing our own thing in our own way.  As a member of the Body, God has gifted us with certain spiritual gifts that we might be unified and together accomplish His will and bring His Kingdom to earth.  “But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another”.  We are knit together through our Heavenly Father as Christ Followers and need to realize that we are part of His plan given His gifts to give Him glory.  Whatever gifts we have, we need to use them to unify the body and glorify God!

1 Corinthians 10

1 Corinthians 10 has Paul giving a history lesson on how God’s children got to where they were.  “For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea”.  They all came out of Egypt the same way following the same God and escaping through the same grace.  “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ”.  God led them to safety, but He was not pleased.  “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness”.  They forgot His blessing and fell into idolatry.

So why does scripture take such care to record those things?  “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as  they did….Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come”.  God desires us to walk successfully with Him.  He’s given us a manual to give us the path to success.  We merely need to walk in obedience to His will.  We need to stay in sync with Him and His standards.  It’s not impossible.  They chose idolatry, sexual immorality and put Christ to the test.  That didn’t end well.

But we have their history and God’s success manual (the Bible) at our disposal.  Plus we have this promise: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”.  Did you catch that.  NO temptation we face is beyond our ability to resist.  It completely comes down to choice.  We are not victims of sin.  We choose to sin.  Which means we can choose NOT to sin as well.  And one of those key areas is how we relate to God and His rightful place on the throne of our life.  When we allow ANYTHING else to take God’s place, it is idolatry.  “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry”.  We have to choose to keep God on the throne!

Paul goes on to give us two key live principles that we should remember.  “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up”.  We have a lot of flexibility in how we live before God.  But life is not just about us.  In fact, it really is not about us at all.  We often take the selfish approach and think only of ourselves and not the consequences of our actions on those in our patch.  That is not God’s way to live.  We must always pay attention to how our choices impact those around us.  He goes on to give us the real measure of those choices we must make.  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.  It is about asking ourselves whether the choice we face will honor and glorify God.  Does it give God glory, or is it an embarrassment that we are Christ Followers failing to live for Him?  That is the question.

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