February 29th John chapter 16

Good morning!  Today we are reading in the sixteenth chapter of John.  This chapter alone, could afford a months worth of daily blogs due to the richness of Jesus’ words.  Today I would like to focus on the first four verses.

I love to see when God puts things together in a way that we cannot see.  If you are an attender at Bluffton Baptist Church you will know that we have been in a series in Ephesians.  We have just come upon chapter 6 in which we are being taught from God, through Paul how to stand firm.  This past week, in the sermon, I mentioned what I call sleeper agents.  These folks sit quietly, are involved in programs and are usually quite content.  But when God’s people start doing Kingdom work the “sleeper” seems to be awakened.  When in stagnated bliss, these folks are happy as clams; but when He begins to work, all of that seems to change.  Some of these are just plain jealous of the work, as if the works of God were produced by a man.  Without faith in an active God who has mad it His business to reach lost souls; this mindset makes much sense.  It must be a personality, or a leader. Perhaps it is a program in which they had not thought of ans someone else beat them to it.  Most times they will cause a rift in their small circle of friends that sometimes tears into the entire congregation and stops the work.  Other times, the people of God just plain old “drive on” putting their trust in the one who ordained the work to begin with.  After all, if God is the one working, he surely doesn’t need any specific person to do so.  Usually these folks just drift into the background and slowly disappear.  As one of my favorite commentators (and pastor) John Vernon McGee has said:  “When the light comes out, the rats run away and the birds come out to play.”

You are probable wondering “Pastor, how does this fit today’s reading?”  Well, lets get to that straight away.  Notice who Jesus claims their enemy will be.  He said “they will put you out of the synagogues….”  then Jesus said “whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”  The people that Jesus are referencing are the people in the church!  Jesus is referring to the people who are a part of corporate worship.

Many of us have seen this scenario played out before; others soon will if they stay attached to the vine.  When the God of the universe begins to truly do a work in you, you will become “weird” to a lot of church folk.  The obedient, called, inspired believer who is active in the Word will stand out in the crowd.  The normal operation of things may begin to change and those who are drifting along will not embrace the change well.  Jesus said that we are the Light of the world.  When those who have not repented are exposed by the light, they are very uncomfortable.  One’s sins and lifestyle and even schedule, began to look meager and wanting in the reflective light of Jesus Christ, as seen through the obedient disciple.

Sadly, Jesus is not referring to someone who differs in opinion, or perhaps has not matured in their walk yet.  Jesus is referring to lost people, lost people in our pews.  Jesus said “These things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor me.”  These are people who are religious, in our ministries, and sometimes even, active in programs.  But they are tares in the wheat.  Tares look identical to wheat, but they do not produce fruit.

Friends, if people don’t think you are weird, something is wrong.  If you are “weird”  please don’t stop!  Jesus told us in these verses that we needed to know these things in order that “we would not stumble.”  We need to remember these things are a standard operating procedure in the life of the sold out, obedient servant who is doing the will of the Father.  Keep on keeping on!

Pastor Steve

February 25th John chapter 15

“I am the vine, ye are the branches.  he who remains in Me and I in him the same shall bring forth much fruit for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Today’s focal passages speaks volumes to the true believer in Christ.  This is a simple, yet very telling, illustration of discipleship in Christ.  We often times go on our way doing what seems right  and good, but it is not really the will of God.  Proverbs states “There is a way that seems right unto man but in the end it leads to destruction.”  Jesus makes it painfully clear that without Him we have absolutely nothing to offer.

I love the depth of such a simple illustration.  We as the branches cannot produce anything; this picture of a vine describes it so well.  The life (the sap of the plant) given through the center of the vine travels through the vine and into the branches.  The branch is really just a conduit for what the vine is producing.  When the branch is healthy and attached it becomes the conduit for all of the moisture and nutrients that are needed to produce fruit (grapes).  Therefor the fruit is being produced by the vine itself, not the branches.  If the branch is not attached, there is no fruit.  Once again I have to mention the importance of our relationship to Christ by being in the Word on a regular, daily basis.  Through the process of time the fruit is ready for harvest; it never just “pops out” in an instant.  Sadly, this is the reason that most will never plow, sow or reap a Kingdom harvest.

I used to work near a vineyard and gained permission to hunt the property.  I stopped and talked to the vine dresser (yes they still exist).  This man was about eighty years old and used no fancy tools.  I would see him daily covering many acres of vineyard armed only with a pair of pruning shears.  I stopped and asked him what he was doing and he explained it to me.  He said that if he did not trim off all of the extra growth on the branches that the grapes would have a poor harvest.  These bad parts of the branches took all of the nutrients away from the part of the branch that would actually produce grapes.  They all looked the same to me; but the vine dresser knew the difference.  This hit me right between the eyes!  This illustration came alive to me the day that I talked with this hard working older man.  Not only does the vine dresser trim away sin and impurities in our lives, but he also “tweakes” the attached branches to produce fruit.  God, the Husbandman (or vine dresser) removes those things that we may see as fruitful but actually are not.  We see in this illustration what Jesus kept saying to His disciples.  I am in My Father and you are in Me.  The life of God the Father and God the Son are actively working to produce fruit in the believer that will “remain in Him.”  

If we stay in the Word, attached to the vine, He will produce fruit.

 

Pastor Steve

February 25th John chapter 14

Good afternoon.  I apologize for the late post.  I got a little ahead of myself and wrote a blog for chapter fifteen and was just about to publish it when I realized my mistake.

Looking at John chapter fourteen today we see a very intimate conversation between Jesus and His disciples.  As we study this dialog, it would be wise to remember that those who have truly given their life to Christ are also His disciples; therefor this time of intimacy is given to us also.

It would be easy to, as so many often do with scripture, pluck one verse from this conversation and live by it.  We must remember it is an entire dialog that we are reading.  In today’s political climate we often see small snippets of video of  candidates who have given an entire speech.  When taking one or two sentences out of context of the candidate, the media, or perhaps their opponent, have been known to use these phrases in a way to change the entire view of what the candidate was actually saying.  In fact sometimes these “pieces” may actually say the exact opposite of what was actually intended for the listener.  We should be careful not to do the same thing with the Word of God.

One phrase that Jesus states is “whatsoever you ask in My name I will do…”  Some have turned these words into an entire religion in of itself, and in doing so; claim that they/we have authority over all things.  But this is not at all what Jesus was referring to.

Jesus explained that He and the Father are one.  He later states that (vs 20)  He is in the Father, we are in Him and He is in us.  Jesus is speaking of a true relationship that the believer is to have with Him.  This relationship is the same that He has with God the Father.  Jesus’ relationship with the Father was that He completely gave over His own will to the will of the Father.  Jesus’ entire life was based and focused on doing the will of the Father.  Jesus then explained that He would send a helper, the Holy Spirit.

I would like to look at this from the very beginning today.  Let’s look back to the record found in Genesis to get a better grasp on what Jesus is saying, because, let’s be honest, these aren’t the most understandable words!  In Genesis God told Adam that if they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree that they would surely die.  Although physical death did indeed happen, it happened many years later.  But something else died on that fateful day in the garden.  God created man in His own image.  As God is a three part being (father, Son and Holy Spirit) man was created in the same fashion.  Man was created a three part being; he was created with a body, soul and a spirit.  God then said that it was “very good.”  Our body is the vehicle that carries us, our soul is our unique personalities and contains our mind, will and emotions and our spirit allowed us to have open communion with God.  We see that God, in the book of Genesis, came in the cool of the day to fellowship with His creation.

When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree, sin came into the picture.  God cannot have anything to do with sin; it is completely against His nature and His being.  So when Adam and Eve sinned their spirit died that very day.  The part of them that connected them with God ceased to exist and man became an incomplete being.  Man was no longer in the image of God.  Romans 5:12 states that because of Adam’s sin “sin entered the world and death by sin so death passed upon all men for all have sinned.”  Every human being that had ever lived since, other than Jesus, was born spiritually dead with a sin nature.

All through out the Old testament we see ways that God allowed those who repented and obeyed, to cover their sin.  Even though the sin was covered, man was still incomplete and spiritually dead.  In His conversation to the disciples Jesus is explaining that this same spirit that no longer existed in man, was about to be sent back to those who repented and trusted in God’s son Jesus Christ.  After the payment of sin (death – Rom. 6:23) had been made by Jesus, sin was no longer covered, it was actually removed (atoned for).  This sacrificial action on the part of Jesus, actually allows man to, once again, return to the image in which God had created Him.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus, Jesus told this religious leader that he “must be born again” (John 3)  Nicodemus’ works meant nothing because he was still spiritually dead.  God, must revive His Spirit in us through His Son Jesus Christ in order that we can be saved from death.  This is why Jesus clearly states in this chapter that “I Am the way the truth and the life; no man comes to the father but by Me.”  in getting a better understanding of man’s condition we see how the words of Jesus become more clear in this chapter.

When Jesus said that if you ask anything in My name I will do it, He is referring to the believer that is spiritually re-born, who is in Christ, The Holy Spirit is alive in him and this person’s  will has become the will of the Father.  So we see some things come to light from other areas in scripture; things such as “putting on the mind of Christ…being living sacrifices…denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily and following Him…and as we will see in tomorrows chapter abiding in the vine.” 

So many have recently preached the Gospel of “asking Jesus to come into your heart” for salvation.  This flimsy statement means nothing.  Jesus demands that we completely surrender to Him, repent of our sin and then become aligned with Him and His Father by way of the reborn spirit that is revived inside of us.  Friends, only then will our prayers come from the very heart of God.  Then we will pray in His will; only then can He do “whatever we ask in His name.”

I know today’s blog was lengthy, but these words of Jesus are paramount for us if we want to truly understand and take part in a real, life changing experience in Jesus Christ.  If today, through His Word, you have realized that He has not been revived in your life; would you consider going to Him in repentance that He may make you alive?

 

Pastor Steve

February 24th John chapter 13

Good morning to all; I hope that today’s reading reaches you well.

There, once again, is much that could be discussed in this chapter.  We will highlight a few things in today’s blog.  For any one interested in a message board type of additional dialog and study please go to the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/764491586985135/

Jesus, while with the disciples gives one last lesson.  The lesson that He demonstrated was servant hood.  I love that Jesus so often demonstrated His lessons other than plainly speaking them.  Oh how much we can learn from Him in the area of making disciples.  When people see something demonstrated it makes a much deeper impression on them.

Jesus girds Himself and begins to wash the disciples feet; but there is so much more than what we see on the surface here in these few verses.  During that time, when one traveled, they would obviously get their feet dirty; Nike, Adidas or Air Jordans were not quite around yet and open toed sandals did not mesh well with the arid conditions of the region.  So what was common place, was when a visitor was entering a home, the master would call his servant to wash the feet of that visitor.  It was polite, necessary and a custom.  Every one in that circle completely understood the picture that Jesus was presenting at that time.  The master of the home would never stoop to wash a visitors feet, that would be preposterous, so therefore, a servant would be brought out to do the lowly duty. Jesus explained that if He, Lord of all, could posture Himself in this manner they should be also able to easily do the same.

Even though most, if not all, of us know this bit of history, lets look a little deeper today.  Think today, of all who were in attendance.  One may see the lesson being that of James and John (being known as the sons of thunder) who argued over who would be the greatest in heaven; or perhaps Peter who seems like an alpha male with a temper problem.  But it is so much more, more for us to learn even today.  Jesus told the people around Him during the sermon on the mount “if you greet your brethren only, what good is it?  Do not the tax collectors do the same?”  We as believers may easily imagine washing the feet of those we serve with, we can imagine serving those in whom we love.  But there was a critter in their midst!  Judas had not yet been dismissed.  Jesus could have easily mixed up the order of the evening and had Judas, the thief that would betray Him, exit before the washing of the feet.  But He simply didn’t.  I don’t believe that it “slipped His mind” and in the moment made a blunder.  Jesus purposely and methodically, stooped down before Judas Iscariot and washed his filthy, traitor, evil, devil infested feet.  This act demonstrates much more that we may realize at first glance.  Jesus had called us to serve and love the un-lovable.  Jesus never condoned his actions; in fact He would say “It would be better for him to have never been born.”  But Jesus demonstrated a servants heart toward all.

Yesterday Joni Goodman wrote a comment on the “studying together” face book page in which she saw how amazing it was that Jesus knew what Judas would do, but still remained silent and took no action at that time.  Here Jesus takes it a step farther by showing a servant’s heart toward him, even though he was completely undeserving.  Jesus has called us to be servants, not only to those in which it is easy to do so, but also towards those in which it seems impossible.  We still have critters in our lives; do we not?  How do we treat them?

The second thing in this passage that I would like to focus on is that of Simon Peter’s reaction to Jesus and how Jesus responded.  Peter at first said “you will never wash my feet”  then he, in an instant, declares “wash me all over.”  Jesus explains to Peter that he is clean already, but not all of him.  then Jesus goes on to say “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.”  Jesus is symbolizing the believer’s life.  At salvation we have been “cleaned already.  All sin has been removed.  They symbolism here is that of one bathing.  If one were to bathe they would be clean; but as they ventured outside (into the world) they would get their feet dirty.   It was inevitable in the day’s climate (and lack of sidewalks).  If we, as true believers, do not allow Jesus to daily cleanse us from the sin that the dirt of the world brings, we can have no part in Him.  Although forgiven at salvation, mistakes and sin will creep in.  These need to be laid at Jesus’ feet on a regular basis.  if we do not, we will have no part in His ministry or plan.  I John 1:9 states “If you confess your falts, He is faithful and Just to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”   the passage that i just mentioned was written to believers.  We will never “arrive” and will constantly need to allow Jesus to wash our feet.  When the mentality of Peter creeps in, we become prideful and, in effect say, “I got this” when in all reality there is no way that we can rid ourselves of the sin in our daily lives except through the washing of Jesus Christ.

I hope that you are still enjoying our journey in His Word together.  Please feel free to comment either here or on the face book page.  The FB page is a closed group, so if you are not in the group yet please find Joni Goodman and ask her for an invite.  May God bless!

Pastor Steve

February 23rd John chapter 12

Good morning again.  In today’s reading we see some more of the same reactions of the people who surrounded Jesus.  Sadly, we as people, do not change; even over the span of two-thousand years.

The crowd showed up once again, but not to follow the true Messiah, but instead to gawk over the risen Lazarus.    This is another picture of the people who are not really following Christ, they are instead simply in His presence.  These are looking for a meal, a show, or perhaps looking for something more that they can “get” from this Jesus.  There are a lot of people who will pursue what they can get from Jesus; but sadly, most will never realize, until the judgement, that Jesus has already given all.  The quest that we should now be on is that of “what can I give to Jesus.  We will look at two examples of this in the text today:

First there is the story of Mary who had anointed the feet of Jesus with a very expensive box of perfume.  The cost of this perfume would have equaled about a years pay (300 days pay).  Mary came to Jesus in humility wanting to worship Jesus (which Jesus later commends her for).  When we see the reaction to one of the twelve it seems unthinkable.  We read in the text that Judas was a thief, but I have to wonder if there was something else going on in the back of his mind.  Judas had been with Jesus for three years and was considered to be numbered with the twelve that would change the world with the Gospel.  I believe that there was also a bit of jealousy on his part, and perhaps in the minds of the others.  They had just been shown up by a woman who was not part of the inner circle and the Master had shown appreciation for her act of worship.  So many times we see today people in “the establishment” of a local church snub their nose at someone who has a true heart of worship.  We see jealousy and back biting against the ones who “get it.”  I imagine the thought is that of “Who is this Johnny come lately, messing up what we have going here?”  It is sad that there have been many who have come to truly worship the Messiah and have been turned away by the religious who believe that they have a monopoly on Jesus.

Secondly we see another thing (or at least we soon will in the following chapters).  This same crowd that has laid down branches and clothes before Jesus as He has arrived screaming “Hosanna in the highest” is the same group that in a matter of two weeks will be screaming “Crucify Him…His blood be on us and our children.”   The people had an idea of who they wanted their Messiah to be.  When Jesus did not fit their mold, they killed Him.  People want what Jesus has, but are unwilling to follow the plan and standard that He has set.  People want eternal life, but will not repent.  People want all of the promises, but want nothing to do with the conditions that go with those promises.

Jesus states a sentence that is so fitting for the crowds and us today.  I wonder how many picked it up.  “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone.  But if it dies it produces much grain.”  Jesus was not only speaking of His physical death in this phrase.  He was also referring to true believers.   We see in Luke that Jesus states “If any man will come after Me he must first deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.”   True disciples, have to die to themselves every day.  When our will is not crucified, His will cannot be accomplished.  Unless we repent from our sin and turn to His will we will not produce fruit.  Fruit bearing is the way that one knows if they are truly His.  John 15:5 (probably my theme verse in life) states  “If you abide in Me and I in you you will bear much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.

Friends, has your individual life been given up in order to draw others to Him?  There were many who followed Jesus around; but there were few who followed Jesus.

 

Pastor Steve

February 22nd John chapter 11

Good morning!  Today celebrates the half way point through the Gospel of John

This morning we will look at the verse that all churched children at one time or another have bragged “I memorized a verse.”  John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”  Although the shortest verse in the Bible it raises some questions; mainly the question of; why?  Why did Jesus weep?  The Jews that were there to comfort the family stated “See how He loved him.”  Although that statement is absolutely true; it is obvious that this is not the reason.  Jesus knew four days prior to arriving that Lazarus was dead, it wasn’t a surprise to Him.  Jesus didn’t need time to digest the gravity of the situation, or the loss of Lazarus; in fact it wasn’t a loss at all because Jesus was keenly aware of the eternal state of Lazarus and that he would rise again.  So why the weeping?

I believe, that Jesus being fully human and fully God, was susceptible to the same emotions that we are.  Jesus, the one who was in the beginning with God and “there was nothing created without Him” (John chapter 1), empathized  with the effect of sin on the world.  The agony of the people who were not created to experience, or emotionally handle death, created an emotional response in Him.  Imagine the infinite mind of Christ during this time of mourning viewing the scene at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20) where myriads of people, who did not place their trust in Him, will be eternally damned.  Imagine His pain, having true, unconditional love for man, perhaps (and I really mean perhaps) for the only time in existence He felt unable to help due to the hardened heart of man.  He has given us each a choice and due to His justice He will not force that choice on any one.  He is reaching out with His very life to grab the hands of those sinking in the mire of sin; and His own people, will not take His hand, and sadly, the result is death for most of man kind; according to Matthew 7, eternal death.  Jesus’ heart, I believe, was breaking due the the effect of sin on His creation and the lostness that surrounded Him.

If we are continuing in His Word and staying attached to the vine, the things that breaks His heart will begin to break ours.  I have heard, more than once, that I personally, am too emotional when I preach.  To be honest, this emotion really bothered me early in ministry although I had no control over it.  But I have learned that if we are not broken over sin, we are not where we need to be.  If we cannot weep for the lost that surround us; do we really believe in an eternal judgement of sin?  If we are not concerned for the ones around us who do not know Him; have we really put on “the mind of Christ”?  Every time I pray for the congregation that I am pastoring I ask God for two things:  First, for a desire to be in His Word and second, for brokenness.  These two things are inseparable.  When my son Joshua began his blow off college course in pottery, I was reading in Isaiah where it illustrates God as the potter.  I asked Josh the process of throwing a bowl (that’s the fancy term for turning it)  He explained that the clay was slabbed out then cut into one inch squares.  After that process each square had to be broken down and made soft. It was impossible for the potter, he explained, to use hard clay, it had to be broken.  Once again I wept at the thought of God softening our hearts so that we could be used by Him.

Thank you for joining me in His word daily, through this, may God break our heart for what breaks His.

February 19th John chapter 10

“…and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice…” (John 10:4b)

This statement solidifies the verse John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, the same shall bring forth much fruit.  For apart from Me you can do nothing.”

True believers are with the Shepherd everyday.  He is the life source, the one who leads us where we need to go and, when following His lead, protects us.  When we are daily in His Word we begin to “Know His voice.”  We are warned to “not be carried away with every wind of doctrine.”  I am sometimes amazed at what people will follow in the name of Christ.  It can boggle the mind of a person who is in the “sheepfold” when so many will follow just about anything that comes down the pike.  Oh, if I hear one more supposed man of God ask for “seed money” I think my head will explode; but amazingly people fall right in line for a man made promise that comes from thieves and robbers who have come to destroy.  I watched, a few weeks ago, a man selling tubes of “blessed water.”  He had prayed over this water and, for a fee, would send it to your home so you could dump it on your head for a blessing.  Then (and I kid you not) he offered the classic “If you order now, we will throw in an extra free vile of blessed water; so don’t delay.”

But, on the other hand, there are those who are attached to the vine.  There are those who know the Master’s voice because they are hearing it every day.  When I hear my door open at home and I yell out “Who is it” my wife simply states “It is me.”  I don’t know if anyone else might realize how many people are considered to be known as “Me” but it is about seven billion.  But to my ear “Me” is sufficient.  I am forty-six years old and have dated that girl since I was fourteen years old.  In 1988 I made her my bride and I talk with her every day.  Friends, I know which “Me” she is because I have a discourse with her each and every day. If someone else’s wife answered my previous question with the same “It is Me” I would know the difference immediately, even without being in view of her.  It sure is a wonderful thing to know the Master’s voice even without seeing His face.

On another gem in these verses we see that Jesus said ” I am the door of the sheep.”  What we may not understand about the words that Jesus spoke here would have been clear to those who were present at the time.  A sheep pen was a wall, usually made in a circle with one opening in it.  The Shepherd would rally the sheep into the fold, then lay his body across the gap in the circle and literally become the door.  No one came in or out without His express knowledge of permission.  A wolf would have to first take out the shepherd before he could get to a single sheep.  Jesus is the ultimate protector in our lives.

sheep_pen

May God continue to bless our time in His Word.

 

February 18th John chapter 9

“He answered and said, ‘whether He is a sinner or not I do not know.  One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.’”  (John 9:25)

Although the man that was born blind and at this point in his life, knew little to nothing about Jesus, there was one thing that he knew for certain: “THERE’S BEEN A CHANGE IN ME!” Something was entirely different in this man’s life after his encounter with the Savior.  He could not debate the Biblical scholars, he was not yet able to testify to the personality of Jesus, he did not know where Jesus came from or to where He was going but “one thing I know” I am currently different than I have ever been before in life (This is the PSV – Pastor Steve Version).  The blind man did not need to know the process in which he was healed, the credentials of the one who had healed him or a scientific rational to what had happened.  He simply knew that this man called Jesus had forever changed his life.

Many people have an encounter with Jesus, as the Pharisees in this chapter, but due to unbelief and/or pride never actually have a life changing experience in Him.  As Jesus preached the sermon on the mount He told His disciples “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted…”  The religious leaders had no idea that they were spiritually bankrupt; therefore they had no need of a savior.  The blind man, just like true believers, knew how desperately he needed Jesus.

There are many who dwell among us who have great Biblical knowledge.  Perhaps there are some who could even debate the scholars of our day.  But without a life change from the Savior it is empty and void.  There are many who know exactly what exercise to do and what diet to partake in, in order to reach a specific body type.  But all of the reading in the world in of itself will not help a person’s physical body.  I am a key example that a membership to a gym profits nothing, that is if you are like me and do not go to the gym that you have taken membership at.  There must be a change.

My friends, if a person has never had a life changing experience in Jesus Christ, that person, just like the pharisees, have had an encounter with Jesus, not a salvation experience.  Has there “been a change in you?”

February 17th John chapter 8

It is good to be with you again in His Word!  Isn’t it good to be in His Word?  That is the theme for today’s reading.

John 8:31-32 “If you continue in My Word you are my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (emphasis added)

When John the baptist proclaimed “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand…” religion died.  That sentence may sound sacrilegious to us; but religion, at that point, became a relationship.  We now have a daily relationship with Jesus Christ if we are truly saved.  I love the song “My Redeemer Lives” and my favorite line in the song is an “add on” if you will, at the end of the song.  It is sung “I know my Redeemer lives…I spoke with Him this morning.”  We may become confused in our doctrine, tripped up by atheistic scholars, or even doubt ourselves; but something that can never be taken away is our personal experience with Jesus Christ.  At the moment we repented, we began to get to know our Savior in a very personal way and we continue to know Him more and more each day when we “remain in His Word.” A verse that you will hear me talk about a lot is John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him the same shall bring forth much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

 There are many truths that we will come to know when we remain in His Word; but one that stands out the greatest to me is the truth of a lost and dying world that surrounds us.  In this chapter Jesus plainly tells some of the Jews that they will die in their sin.  It was in the forefront of His mind.  When we remain in His Word and stay attached to the Vine we will begin to take on His thoughts and His characteristics.  Then we can say, as John the baptist said: “He must increase and I must decrease…”

I would like to look a little deeper this morning into what is happening early in chapter eight.  The pharisees are clearly trying to trick Jesus into saying or doing something that will either tarnish His character or perhaps even cause Him to break the law (Roman or Jewish).  At first glance it seems as tough they have Jesus right where they want Him.  The law clearly states that adultery is a capitol offence and Jesus, it seems, goes outside of the law in order to either evade the situation or protect the woman.  This is not at all what is happening in these verses.

The law is clear (Lev. 20:10) and this was an open and shut case.  So the question that remains is why are they bringing this woman before Jesus?  There was a court (called the Sanhedrin) that was to handle all of these cases.  It was not the business of a Rabbi or a teacher to pronounce judgement.  If Jesus were to demand that the woman be put to death, not only would He have stepped outside of the lawful proceedings that had been laid out, but he would also be outside of Roman law.  The Jews thought they had Him between a rock and a hard place.  As Jesus stoops quietly not answering their question as to what to do, they probably imagined that they finally had Him in a pickle as the kept asking Him the same question over and over.  But the one who spoke the universe into existence was not baffled at the situation in the least.

Jesus knew Old Testament law, in fact He was the embodiment of it.  He knew that the Law stated that both parties involved in adultery were to be put to death if found out; but where was the man involved in this case?  How did these men “catch her in the very act.”  When Jesus told them “he who is without sin cast the first stone”  He was not just reminding them of their sin nature.  The law states that the first person to throw a stone in a capitol offence must be an eyewitness to the crime.  Therefor the first one to cast a stone was, most likely, the other offender (or else how would they have caught her in the very act).  Then they all went away.  Jesus is the embodiment of the law.  He did not dismiss her sin, but asked if she would repent of it.  The penalty of death for her sin would very shortly fall upon Him.  Justice was served in deed!  Sin still required death, but Jesus became sin, that knew no sin.  Due to this, at the moment of the woman’s repentance, Jesus became her righteousness.  Then a friend called grace revived her dead Spirit.

Do you remember when Jesus revived you?  Do you remember when you repented and turned away from your former life.  If not; there is a friend called “Grace” that has paid that price if we will just repent and trust in His sacrifice.  What an awesome God we serve!

If you have time, view this “oldie but a goodie” by Philips, Craig and Dean.  It will bless your day.

Thank you for your time and diligence in His Word.  May God bless your time with Him.

February 16th John chapter 7

Good morning again!  Before we begin, I would like to invite you, as readers of this blog and the Gospel of John, to feel free to comment on how God is using His Word in specific ways during your day.  The comments will not come up immediately, but they should post the next day.

Today as we are reading John chapter seven we see that the underlying, simmering dislike for Jesus is coming to a head.  People are now becoming more vocal (even his own siblings) and tomorrow we will see an attempt on Jesus’ life.  It is so very sad that we as fallen man, when faced with the truth, so often, try to squelch it instead of live by it.  As J. Vernon McGee put it:  “When the light shows up the rats run away and the birds come out to sing.”

I want to focus on something in this chapter that isn’t extremely obvious as we read.  The phrase at the beginning of the chapter “After these things”  encompasses a gap of time that is about six months.  All the text says is that He was walking in Galilee.  There are some references to what Jesus did in this six months in the other three Gospels; but they are little snippets of His ministry.

Interestingly enough, we closed out the last chapter with Jesus basically “running off” the crowd that was following Him.  Then we see here a six month gap.  One might wonder what was happening during these six months.  During this six month span Jesus had time do disciple the twelve.  Jesus did not intend on drawing large crowds, but instead working intensely with a small group in order to disciple them.  (Matt. 28:19-20)

When ever I go to associational meetings, pastors conferences and the like I hear a common set of questions between pastors.  The first is : “how are things going  out your way?  Then, almost every time the follow up question is:  “So, how many are you running?  The litmus test of the day seems to be the size of the crowd.  I, personally, like to reply with how many have been saved followed up with how many are showing signs of daily being in the Word.  I like to talk about a small group of believers that have not been involved in a small group Bible study and are now, effectively, every week meeting with excitement of being the taught the Word.  I like to talk about young people who have stopped drinking alcohol; not because someone told them that it was not proper for “church people” but because God by way of His Holy Spirit, through the Word had made clear to them that at this point in their life they needed to put the bottle down.  I like to go on about how there are 81 people following a blog that is all about spending time with the Master each day.  I like to talk about young people who have chosen to give their lives to Christ, about how God through a little, dive coffee house in Bluffton Ohio has led a number of people to repentance.  I talk about the woman in her eighties who I have personally seen cry and repent over her sin, giving her life to Christ.  I get excited about some folks who have taken the bulk of their lives and have invested it in making disciples by opening up their homes, their time, their pocket book and their lives because the Gospel of Jesus Christ has become real in their lives.  Not just a big show or an emotional experience but a life changing force that has come with such a great ferocity that others around them are offended and embarrassed that they have not done the same.  These are the victories!  These are the disciples,  these are the Kingdom dwellers that are making other Kingdom dwellers.  This is the victory!  To have 400 people put on their Sunday best and come to a place of Worship for “the big show” is not the victory.  Jesus actually ran those people away in order that He might focus on a few that were willing to “deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Him.”

As we think of the old 1990’s slogan “What Would Jesus Do” the answer is quite simple as we look into His life.  He lived His entire life for the sake of making disciples that would reproduce themselves.  Everything that He did was for these ends.

Paul gave Timothy some good advice in II Tim. 2:2  “The things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Pastor Steve