February 15th John chapter 6

Today we are looking at John chapter six.  In this chapter we see a vast difference in the way that Jesus presented the Word and made disciples than in today’s climate.  In the feeding of the five-thousand Jesus became famous and desired by many.  We see in the text itself that Jesus slipped away before the people “forced Him to become king.”  Finally someone with whom the masses could relate!  The thought of that day is not much different than that of today in regards to the perfect Messiah.  There is someone who can meet all of my needs.  One could just sit down, soak in the teaching of a passionate entertaining speaker, enjoy the buzz of excitement of the people around them and then have that same leader feed them and take care of their physical needs.  What could possibly be wrong with this scenario one may think.

The perfect pastor was in view here.  The one who expects little, gives much and rewards the behavior.  The people were looking for a savior indeed; but a savior of their material wants (including a really entertaining show).  The Jews were awaiting the conquering Messiah to free them from their Roman bondage and to bring pride back to Israel.  Most had no idea that this was not the intention of the man called Jesus from Nazareth.  The ones surrounding Him had no idea of their deep spiritual need.  These people were spiritually dead without hope of eternal life but their concern was focused on a meal ticket.

People were willing, if not eager to follow a man that would meet their material wants and needs.  But when Jesus mentioned something that they were uncomfortable with; the fickle crowd eroded away quickly.  Jesus was speaking (as he mentions toward the end of this chapter) of spiritual things when he told them to eat His flesh and drink His blood.  Jesus simply gave them this illustration without a response and the crowd magically melted away.  We, still today, see it often in church life.  People are fine to attend a group of people who are buzzing with excitement, who sing just the right music and speak words that agree with their particular way of thinking.  Amazingly, when confronted with the need to repent and a true call to discipleship, interest quickly fades.  When the Words of Jesus actually confront our sin, our lifestyles and our comfort the “good feeling” is gone.  Basically what is being said, although without words, is “I will allow you to be my leader and savior just so long as I agree with all that you say.”  Current leadership and pastors so often will allow about anything (and every sort of sin) to infiltrate their congregations.  Heaven forbid if we offend someone!  If we offend them they may leave.  Friends, Jesus Himself said in Luke 9:23 “If any man will follow after me he must first deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  The denying of ones self is the most crucial step in the life of the true believer.  Complete abandonment of our own wills is the only thing that allows us to call Him Lord.  The word lord means master.  This is why Jesus will later say to those around Him: Why do you call Me Lord yet you will not do what I tell you to do.  If someone is offended at the Word of God, as we see in this passage, they should be urged to leave, not begged to stay!  Jesus was a very offensive person, if not, they wouldn’t have been searching for ways to kill Him.

We all need to look at ourselves and see whether He is our Lord, or our entertainer.  Do we chose what we want to hear and ignore the rest?  Or do we hand over Lordship and follow even the hard things.  I am amazed as I talk with other pastors who, much like myself, are hard pressed to find people who are willing to do the smallest of things in order to work together at furthering the Gospel.  The entire membership, if asked, have placed Christ as “Lord” of their life; yet, for most,  if something doesn’t directly meet their personal needs or interests they are unwilling to put any time or effort into them. We, in today’s culture, have succumbed to the Gospel of “ME” instead of the Gospel of “HE.”  Feed ME, entertain ME, meet MY needs, sing MY music.  In what way is this “denying ourselves?”

The opposite of this group is the group, much like Peter, who are, in fact, polar opposite.  Peter did not understand what Jesus was saying, just as the crowd did not understand.  But there is a vast contrast in his response and the crowds response to Jesus.  Since God had called Peter and Peter had given Lordship over to Christ he responded to Jesus’ question of “Will you go also” with the response: where would I go?  You have the words of life.  Jesus was Lord over Peter’s life regardless of Peter’s understanding.

We spend a lot of time and energy today in our churches appeasing the unregenerated crowd of people.  Jesus didn’t plan a potluck to bring them back, He let them go and focused on the ones who had given Lordship over to Him and His Father.

As we read and study today, I hope that each of us will look at these two groups and their focus.  We all are either in one group or the other in the presence of Jesus.  Do we follow the Gospel of “ME” or the gospel of “HE?”

See you tomorrow morning : )

Pastor Steve

 

 

 

February 12th John chapter five

Good morning!  It is good to be studying with you again.  This early post is for Annette.  She said that the posts are never ready at 6:00 when she gets off to work.

One of the most curious questions that Jesus asked in His ministry, in my mind, is in this chapter.  Jesus, talking with a man who had been crippled for thirty-eight years, asks: “Do you want to be made well?”  Why would anyone ask that question to a man who was, at least, a paraplegic if not a quadriplegic?  But more stunning than the question that Jesus poses is the answer that the man replies: “sir, I have no one to put me into the water…”  One would think that the answer would be an emphatic YES!  YES, I want nothing more in life than to be made well.

I see this particular miracle as a picture of the “crippled” believer.  When crippled spiritually by sin, we often in a backslidden state, instead of emphatically saying YES, I want to be made well;  instead make excuses why we cannot be made well.  I spent about seven years away from from God after my salvation.  Sin had crept in slowly and numbed my senses and I believed, that because i knew better, God would or could not forgive me.  I made excuses as to my ungodly living and couldn’t trust in the grace and forgiveness of Christ.  I believed that the sacrifice of the Son of God was good enough for my salvation, but not for my repentance after salvation.  Who was I (who are we) to claim that His Son’s sacrifice is not powerful enough to forgive sin!  What arrogance on my part!  I was telling God that His Son wasn’t good enough.  When the Holy Spirit asked me “do you want to be made well” I had excuses as to why I could not be made well.

Jesus told the man “get up!”  As if to say “do you know with whom you are speaking?”  God also tells us to just plain old GET UP! Stop the whining, complaining and making excuses; I, the perfect, sinless, flawless lamb of God paid a great price to remove your sin.  Get up, repent, drive on.  I John 1:9 states “If we confess our sin God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrightousness.”  (emphasis made was mine)

I pray daily that we will continue in the Word together.  If we will; He will deeply bless our lives. (Psalm 1:1-3)

February 11th John chapter 4

Good morning!  We are now on chapter four of the Gospel of John.  By this time I hope that you have set aside a time each day to be with the Master.  It will be a great help if that time is the same time each day.  When we make plans to “fit it in” each day it often fails.  Satan will do all that he can to stop us from being in the presence of his enemy.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world; against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12)

The first thing that we will look at from these passages today is the Samaritan woman at the well.  Often times we think of evangelism as something that a pastor or traveling evangelist does.  One may think that such a person is someone who has gone to seminary, or at least obtained their undergraduate degree.  These people are special people who have been called by God to accomplish a task.  These special folks have all of the answers that an unsaved person may ask and they are the chosen few.  Bringing it closer to home, as a pastor and a student pastor for the last twenty years, I have seen a trend in the thought of what evangelism is.  The view of many people is to “just get them to church.”  When we get them to church the pastor can take care of the rest; after all he is trained to do so is he not?  But one of the first evangelists written about was a gentile woman, with a long line of adulterous relationships and a shady past at best.  This woman had no training whatsoever, in fact Jesus told her in this chapter “woman, you worship what you do not know.”  Friends this lady had not even been to Sunday School, much less a seminary.  Even though she had no education and she was esteemed as an adulteress; the Word says “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified….”  One must wonder how she did it.  She did not go through the Evangelism Explosion program in her local Southern Baptist church.  The woman simply spent time with the living Word and He changed her life.  The change in her life was immediate and passionate and the people around her responded.  The town did not respond to her new “holy lifestyle” for they did not have time to witness it.  They simply, yet so amazingly, saw the living Son of God supernaturally glow through her.  Oh! the fruit we would produce if we were to follow the model of this adulteress Gentile with wich the disciples wouldn’t even speak to.

Once again, there is much in this chapter that we could cover; but I will only highlight a few things from each chapter.  I hope that we will be studying together other than just reading together.  Today I want to also focus on one small verse in John chapter four.  Verse 53 states that not only did the nobleman believe, but “his whole household.” I believe that this little phrase speaks volumes to us as men (ladies are off the hook today).  Much like the jailer that was saved, the nobleman’s whole household came to Christ.  God has given us as men an opportunity and a responsibility to lead our wives and families.  When we become the men that God has intended us to be, our wives will not be able to help but to want to follow us in our beliefs and convictions.  We have been commanded to love our wives as Christ loves the church.  Think about that men; an unconditional, absolutely selfless love with grace and forgiveness in all situations.  Therefore when we, as believers, are in a right relationship, we become Christ centered not self centered.  When we as men treat our wives as Christ treats the church our wives become centered on you!  Imagine that, centered on you.  When this takes place, the Godly order of things brings joy and peace.  God, being the head; man under him in authority, woman under the man (by choice!  not force) and children under them.  This puts everyone inline under the authority of Christ.  I think of it as an umbrella of God’s grace and protection.  If we remain in line under him we won’t get wet.  But when any part of that structure is out of line we are outside of His alignment and subsequently left out in the cold to fend for ourselves.  Men, we need to rise up and lead our families.  Not only is it our duty, but we will be held accountable for it in the last day.

May God bless your time with Him today.

February 10th John Chapter 3

Good morning (or afternoon depending when you see this).  Today we will look at a few things in John chapter three as we study together.  I hope that you find these blogs a help to your daily time with the Master.

One of the things that is easily over looked in these passages is the time of day that Nicodemus came to see Jesus.  Being a leader of the Jews he came to Jesus by night, which implies that he was having a secret meeting with Jesus.  It seems that, although intrigued, Nicodemus was seemingly embarrassed of the fact that he was initiating their encounter.  It is thought that Nicodemus later became a follower of Christ.  In John 7:50 Nicodemus is shown defending Jesus before the Sanhedrin and extra biblical writings mention him being baptized by Peter and John, suffering  persecution from hostile Jews and being removed from the Sanhedrin.  It is said that he was also forced to leave Jerusalem due to his Christian faith. Nicodemus obviously had a life changing experience in Jesus Christ!

Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be “Born again” at the forefront of the conversation.  I find it kind of humorous how Jesus cuts to the chase with Nicodemus.  Nic seems to try and babble on with impressive words and Jesus just blatantly interrupts him and his train of thought.  He gets right to the matter at hand; Nicodemus was lost and on his way to hell, eternally separated from God.  Nicodemus’ bloodline to Abraham did not mean anything when it came to meeting the standard that has been set by God to be a Kingdom dweller.  The Greek adverb form where we get “again” can also mean “from the beginning” showing him that it is a brand new start, not an add on to religion.

The term “born again” is an interesting one indeed and it starts from the very beginning in the garden.  God told them that they were not to eat of the fruit of the garden or they would surely die (Gen.3:3).  They did not die physically that day; they perished spiritually and were separated from God and His paradise.  Romans 5:12 shows that man from that point forward would be born spiritually dead.  Only a new, repentant life in Jesus Christ can revive that Spirit inside of us allowing us to have a relationship with God and become Kingdom dwellers.

This sheds much light on the passage in Matthew chapter seven when Jesus said that there would be many on that day (day of judgement) that will say unto me “Lord, Lord” (using the word twice shows that the one speaking is doing so emphatically).  Nicodemus was a religious leader, part of the Sanhedrin and looked highly upon by those around him.  People looked to Nicodemus for spiritual and scriptural guidance and, quoting Jesus, a “teacher in Israel.”  Yet Nicodemus was hopelessly lost being unregenerated by the Spirit of God.  He was still relying on his own abilities to be one with God; and although better than most around him, he fell very short.  How many people do we sit in the pews with each week that have a form of religion with no salvation.  Friends, these are the things that keep your pastor awake at night.  Today, will you search the annals of your mind and see if there has ever been a time when you have repented of your sin and given your life completely to Him?  If you have done so, there will have been a major change in your life.

Today, just like in the day of Nicodemus, Jesus wants to cut through the fluff and all the graceful words.  His words are the same today as they were all those years ago.  He is saying to all of us:  (place name here)”_____________, in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven you must be born again.”

I am confident that God is showing all of us amazing things through His Word.  I pray that we will apply them to our lives as we continue on.

February 9th John Chapter 2

Although there is a lot going on in these first two chapters I will only highlight a few things that we, perhaps, do not really grasp due to culture and time frame.

The first thing from chapter one is when John the Baptist says: ” whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose…”  When boys, beginning at age twelve, would go to be educated by the rabbi (as Paul studied under the tutelage of Gamaliel) they would meet all of the teachers needs.  The teacher would not have to lift a finger as the students, out of respect, served their teachers.  But there was a rule in place that it was too humiliating for a student to strap or unstrap the rabbi’s sandals.  John turns this rule around to show that he realized that he wasn’t even worthy of such a thing, much less being humiliated by it.

The second thing from chapter two is when Jesus turns the water into wine.  Grape juice (which is also called wine in the Bible) was all subject to fermentation due to a lack of refrigeration.  People would water the wine down to stop the process of fermentation.  When scripture refers to drink that was made to create drunkenness it is called “strong drink.”  Strong drink was made by leaving the juices sit on the lees and the dregs (the crushed grapes and vines) as the sugars broke down to cause fermentation.  Although almost all wine of the time had undergone some type of fermentation it was not like the wine that we have today in potency.  The water was also not the cleanest, so wine would be mixed with water to make it safer to drink.  When Jesus made the water into wine, it was the “good wine” not watered down, old and fermented; but fresh and delicious.  Wedding feasts lasted for a week in Palestine and the wine of today would have caused a seven day drunken mess.  Jesus did not break out the Jack Daniels whisky at the feast; but instead, when He does something it is done in perfection and completeness without anything else needing to be added to it.

The third thing that we will look at today is Jesus’ cleansing of the temple.  In reading this passage in chapter two we see a side to Jesus that is often overlooked by believers.  Although He is the embodiment of love, He has placed worship and honor to the Father above all else.  The people in the temple were carrying “business as usual” (no pun intended) in their time of worship.  It was Passover (vs 13) and the focus of the people was to be, as ordained by God through Moses,  a solemn time of remembrance for God’s people.  This was to be a time when all reflected on the strong arm of God that brought them out of Egypt.  it was also, according to Hebrews, to be “a shadow of the good things to come.”  The picture of the sacrificial lamb, which had now come in to the world, was to be clearly illustrated.  But worship had become ritualistic and self centered.  People, including leadership, had become more concerned with personal profit and tradition to even begin to see the picture that God had illustrated so many years prior.  Sadly, just a few years from that time, the true Lamb of God would be sacrificed during the very same feast.  In God’s perfect timing, Jesus was murdered at the very same time that the sacrifices at the temple were being slaughtered.  This great sign was missed by most but not because they remained in the field or at home during their time of worship.  Most missed the symbol that God had given while attending the worship that had been set up for the very purpose of pointing God’s people to their Christ.

I wonder How Jesus would respond, in person, to our attitude of corporate Worship. Would our worship and motives be acceptable in His sight?  Would our honor for the Father and His worship be sufficient? Or, would we need to put together a committee to re-set up our tables after the turmoil?

I sure hope that God is blessing your life through the study of His Word.

“If you continue in My Word then you are My disciples indeed

and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32

John chapter one 2/8/16

“In the beginning was the Word…”  John begins his Gospel by placing Christ Jesus in a category that only God can hold, showing His deity and His timelessness.  Of the four Gospels, John is the only writer to state the exact purpose of his Gospel: “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

When focusing on Jesus being the Word, it gives many old testament passages much meaning.  As we study John together this month we will encounter the living Word of God.  When we see Jesus as the Word it gives light to some other passages.  One of these passages is located in Psalm 119 where the Psalmist states:  “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  Before electricity, one would use a lantern to light his or her way.  Cities were very dark and the walkways were hazardous filled with pot holes and crevices that one may trip on and become injured.  When using a lamp to light their way they would need to hold it close to the ground to see where each step would land.  If they would hold the lantern too high, to see far in front of them, they could very possibly, lose their footing.  The lamp was needed for every single step of the way.

As true believers; Jesus, the Word, is a lamp unto our every step.  Each step taken without this lamp is taken in peril.

Pastor Steve