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Archive for the ‘God’s Love’ Category

A Part of God’s Plan for World Peace Today

Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 28, 2015


Balaam Opened His Eyes

Numbers 24:1-13 NLTse By now Balaam realized that the LORD was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, (2) where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, (3) and this is the message he delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, (4) the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: (5) How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob; how lovely are your homes, O Israel! (6) They spread before me like palm groves, like gardens by the riverside. They are like tall trees planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters. (7) Water will flow from their buckets; their offspring have all they need. Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. (8) God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. He devours all the nations that oppose him, breaking their bones in pieces, shooting them with arrows. (9) Like a lion, Israel crouches and lies down; like a lioness, who dares to arouse her? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you.” (10) King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. (11) Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the LORD has kept you from your reward.” (12) Balaam told Balak, “Don’t you remember what I told your messengers? I said, (13) ‘Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the LORD.’ I told you that I could say only what the LORD says!

As soon as we look at these texts, we see it mentions time. That mention of time points out when Balaam began to change. His eyes began to open. Moses told us, Balaam resorted to divination before that time. Does that mean those sacrifices were part of divination?

Moses didn’t record a lot of details about divination. It should be obvious why he left out those details. After we saw how little Balaam understood about God, there was no time to waste explaining what we’re better off not knowing. It is more important to stick to the basic essentials and leave the deceptive details to others.

It only took a moment of understanding for God’s Spirit to cover Balaam. Let’s take a minute to open our eyes to how Moses emphasized this point. Look at the three words related to time, now, before, and then. Theirs order tells the story of a spiritual movement. Now look at how many times Moses repeated words related to seeing or vision. This is a great example showing how sight or vision relates to spiritual understanding.

Let’s look at how Moses reacted to Jethro’s visit. Moses told his father-in-law all the details about Egypt. Moses saw those details first hand and therefore was a witness. Although Balaam was in Egypt and didn’t see all those events, Balak opened that same door when he requested Balaam’s presence. Balaam was given his own personal witness. God gave his donkey the ability to talk and sent an angel to talk to Balaam to arrange a brand new personal witness to share. Not as amazing as what happened in Egypt, but it was exactly what Balak needed to hear. But Balaam was not concerned with reaching out to Balak, so he missed that opportunity. Balaam was missing the most important ingredient, love.

I’m sure each of you have missed dozens or even hundreds of opportunities to witness. I have to look at the world scene today as a joke the world is playing on itself. There is a war between radical factions many European nations are turning into a religious war. After all, when we look at historical facts, we see how their experience in fighting religious wars. Maybe it’s in their genes, or the way their taught. God always works with people where they are and with what little light He is able to give them. God can’t give them too much light, because they are in such a state of spiritual darkness, too much light would blind them. All the prophets are predicting one thing. Details differ, but the outcome is the same. The problems is, the vast majority of their proof texts comes from scripture explaining events during the last seven plagues. If they ever read their Bibles, they’d see the last seven plagues begin after Jesus finishes judging the world. And this is part of the problem. About half the modern day prophets will fight any thought or statement on the judgment with their last dying breath. It doesn’t fit the rest of their theology which is based on making money. They are just like Balaam.

God is working with this world on the most basic, fundamental level anyone could imagine. I feel this may be the last warning to the world before Jesus begins judging the living. That is a very serious matter and if we know God, we’ll know how God will try to reach this world in quick succession on many different levels. One of them is weather. Here in the north central US, we’ve been seeing snow storms forming in the south and traveling north. You can look at radar images and see how it appears the world has been turned upside down. God is also reaching put, opening doors in a big way with seventy million refugees those wars produced.

If you listen, you can hear God and all the angels in Heaven cheering when they hear world leaders standing up to say they are a Christian nation. Especially with all the events happening and judgment of the living fast approaching. Jesus is looking for some kind of sign so He can say He knows them.

For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents–if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.On judgment daymany will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. (Matthew 7:8-24 NLTse).

God is making it as easy as He possibly can. Nations claim they know Christ, so God in His infinite wisdom gave them power to prove their claims. God sent them millions of people in need. But what did those self proclaimed Christian nations do? The first thing they did was looked at the crowds and said, “this is too hard for us.” They questioned how they were going to feed,.cloth, and care for those millions of people. Those idiots knew they didn’t have the resources or power themselves to complete the task, but did any of those self proclaimed Christians turn to God for advice, an answer, or help? No! Not one of them turned to God. Not one of them listened to God’s Spirit. They were just like Balaam and Balak. They had a plan all their own and refused to budge. They refused to listen to God.

If any of those leaders would take ten minutes to listen to God, they could open their eyes to see how God provided everything for the refugees Moses led through the wilderness. They’d been walking around the wilderness for over two years before those nations began closing their borders. Those nations missed the greatest opportunity in the history of the world. Those nations could have witnessed God’s miracles first hand when God send manna from Heaven, and made water flow where no one has ever seen it before. And they could have listened to stories about Egypt from first hand eyewitness accounts. But one after another, those nations turned those refugees away.

The same exact things is happening today. So called religious leaders refuse to listen to God. Like Balaam, they claim to be great priests and greater prophets. Jesus said, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” What laws do you think Jesus was referring to? Wasn’t Jesus including the laws of the prophets and laws of context? Laws of the prophets not only demand all prophets explain exactly how God spoke to them, those laws also show us, the first role of a prophet is to lead people back to God. Not make up interpretations to prophecies, or explain current events. That’s God’s role. Send people back to God and He will explain how those events effect each individual life. There is no way a human prophet can do that. No human prophet has ever been given the ability to be in all places at all times. They like to act like they have that vision, but can they prove it?

Some people are in need of aid, and God knows exactly where to send them. God knows exactly how to prepare that aid, where, and when it will be required. God has the ability to prepare some people to bring food, others will provide water, some will provide the right kind of psychological counseling and support, others moral counseling, and others simple, personal, spiritual support. No prophet was ever given all those abilities. Jesus explained that is another parable He taught about this subject.

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever seeyou hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. ForI was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever seeyou hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer,‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 NLTse).

If prophets taught people one little law of context and sent them back to God, they would be like Balaam, and begin to open their eyes to see the full truth of the matter. They could learn to listen, and deliver the right messages at the proper time. If those modern day prophets knew how to lead people to God, they’d know how God would deal with them, and they would pray God would use them in an effective manner. Not the negative picture they are spreading today. All those self proclaimed prophets have to teach people is how to listen to God, and read the full story in scripture. One simple, basic law of context.

Just those few sections of scripture sum up what is happening today. But how many people stop long enough to see the prophetic details in simple parables they learned as a child? God knows, that’s as far as they progressed. So God has no other choice but to meet them at a childlike level and work from there. God also wants to review stories about that wilderness journey to show how He provided food, water, and made it so their clothing and sandals would not wear out. God would remind them, all of this was done for His glory. God doesn’t expect them to perform miracles. God will take care of those details. God will look over and set up every detail. And God is waiting to perform miracles beyond our imaginations.

Those world leaders are engrossed in solving problems with that invading force. They placed themselves in the same position Balak did. World leaders have a plan and refuse to budge. Their lack of patients blinded them. They are seeking after personal glory and concerned about personal wealth. Just like Balak was. No wonder they can’t understand or see the obvious answer. If they got off their high horses, went through open doors to help refugees today, and let God perform the miracles He has planned, don’t you think that would be enough of a world event to make those radicals stop and think for a moment? At least it would put an end to their so far successful recruitment efforts.

World leaders have to stop closing their eyes to the obvious solution and take the first step forward by showing a little faith.
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John Chapter 1

Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 20, 2015


John 1:1-51 NLTse In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He existed in the beginning with God. (3) God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (4) The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. (5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (6) God sent a man, John the Baptist, (7) to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. (8) John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. (9) The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (10) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. (11) He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. (12) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (13) They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (14) So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (15) John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'” (16) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (17) For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (18) No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. (19) This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” (20) He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” (21) “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” (22) “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” (23) John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the LORD’s coming!'” (24) Then the Pharisees who had been sent (25) asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?” (26) John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. (27) Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.” (28) This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. (29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ (31) I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” (32) Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. (33) I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ (34) I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (35) The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. (36) As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (37) When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. (38) Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” (39) “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. (40) Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. (41) Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). (42) Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John–but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). (43) The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” (44) Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. (45) Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” (46) “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. (47) As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” (48) “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” (49) Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” (50) Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” (51) Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

I have to confess, I’ve been looking forward to writing this book on John’s Gospel for some time. John’s book is the most passionate Gospel about Jesus, including a number of chapters about lessons Jesus taught not found in the other three Gospels. Matthew seems to have the most events, which makes writing stories rather easy. Mark unfolded on its own showing two main themes, how Jesus taught to understand all scripture and the relationship Jesus was looking for. Luke had a tendency of skipping over some details while lingering on others. Luke’s book was perfect for showing how God’s Spirit worked behind the scenes to set up every event so Jesus was able to fulfill every prophecy about Himself. Which brought me to one of the biggest surprises I’ve seen in the Bible.

The end of John’s first chapter describes how Jesus was sent to be a connection between Heaven and earth, the perfect description of the book I wrote on Luke’s Gospel showing how God’s Spirit worked throughout Jesus’ ministry. John’s description not only says there is a connection, he says we will see that connection.

  • His Word is Light

    John 1:1-9 NLTse In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He existed in the beginning with God. (3) God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (4) The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. (5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (6) God sent a man, John the Baptist, (7) to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. (8) John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. (9) The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

    I always loved the beginning of John’s book. I wonder how long he thought about the beginning of his book before he sat down, picked up a pen and started writing. I can see how words just flowed for John. Out of the four gospels, John’s is the most poetic. Words and sentences flow like a man writing to his love half way around the world. But in this case, John’s first love is a universe away.

    Let’s pause for a moment to estimate that distance between Jesus and John. We can’t estimate that distance in meters or miles. We can’t estimate that time in hours, days, or years. Looking at the other side of the coin, we can’t estimate the closeness they shared until we experience it ourselves. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

    (Romans 8:38-39, Psalms 103:1, 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLTse)

    If it’s one thing I’ve learned about writing, it really slows you down, allowing you to concentrate on each word, and God’s still, small voice. Highlighting key words also slows you down. Making a list of key words helps to see the main points the author is emphasizing. Let’s look at the list of keys words John gave us up to this point.

    Word

    Light

    Beginning, existed

    Created

    Life

    Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.

    It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.

    The key words John repeated paint a picture all their own. We have a saying here on earth, “a man is known by his words and actions.” John covered both those aspects at the very beginning of his book. He also covered another aspect of Jesus he had to learn, Jesus’ divinity. Jesus lives in a different time as well as place.

    John tells us, the Word is God and existed in the beginning. What beginning? John described the beginning as creation. John also pointed out how God created everything through Jesus. What does it mean to create everything through Jesus? I’m not going to speculate. Writing on the gospels has also taught me, there are some things we have to leave in God’s hands.

    God’s Word gave life. We could go on and on about that. But we will stick with the context of this book and not wander away from John’s written words and main theme he is trying to convey. I am sure we are going to see that life unfold as we go through John’s book.

    John tells us, Jesus’ life brought light to everyone and His Word gave life to everything. This is a reference to creation as well as Jesus’ ministry. One story could not have been fulfilled without the other. That’s why it’s important to study Jesus’ ministry as a whole. John pointed out that ministry began before creation. Maybe that’s why it’s difficult for people to comprehend Jesus as a person, friend, and all the other things He wants out of our relationship together. How can normal human beings tie in all the aspects of God’s Word, light, and life? They can’t. Not without God. Anyone whose listened to God through His Word will know, many of the most important aspects of those three are difficult if not impossible to explain. It seems strange to be in God’s Word, in His presence to see details that seem so simple to understand, but a minute later feel impossible to explain. That’s another one of those mysteries of God’s Word. Some things are better left to God’s Spirit to explain. Only God’s personal light can piece that darkness. If there was an easier way, Jesus would not have had to come here in person to feel the heat, cold, pain, suffering, ridicule, and temptations of this world. Of course Jesus came to this world to accomplish much more than face temptation. That is one aspect on the surface of Jesus’ life. Once you know Him, you will see much more about His ministry.

    In addition to His Word, God works through other avenues of communication. John introduced one of those in the introduction, His messengers. John the Baptist was one of them. John not only introduced Jesus’ ministry, he also confirmed God’s Word. That’s one of the ways God communicates with us. Did that ever happen to you? There you are reading God’s Word, then suddenly see a lesson or detail that seems so clear and makes so much sense, you wonder why you never saw it before. Your excited, but not sure how other people will accept it. How does God get around that problem? If He showed you the lesson in His Word three times, your still not going to be convinced it is something to share. God goes to plan B. He puts someone in your life you meet during the week who studied the same subject. You begin talking and can’t believe your not the only person to see those details. Has that ever happened to you? If you start studying, it will.

    There is another rule of context we need to look at. That rule tells us to look back in scripture to see how the Author led into this story. This rule also works with chapters. You might ask how could that work at the beginning of a book? Don’t forget who actually wrote these books in the Bible. It was God!Human hands may have put pen to paper, but John told us how God’s Word existed before the creation of this world.

    Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:

    Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.

    In this case we have to compare the last few verses in Luke’s book to the introduction John wrote. This may seem strange based on human standards and the way this world thinks, but the Bible is no ordinary book.

    Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God. (Luke 24:44-53 NLTse).

    Luke told us, the prophecies about Jesus’ ministry and the plan of salvation, were written long ago. John added an explanation by telling us, they were written, or at least formulated before creation. This may seem like a small detail to some, but to those who know and understand God, it shows how God obviously established an exact and perfect pattern to write His book. We know them as the rules of context. Another rule tells us the introduction and summation show us the main theme in a chapter.

    This is one of the most important Bible Study rules of context you want to learn and use:

    The introduction and summation of each chapter establishes the main theme, thought, and lesson on the chapter. Themes may be established by key words, thoughts, or contrasts.

    “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:48-51 NLTse).

    In this case, the simple explanation shows us, God’s Word existed before creation. The summation tells us, “you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” Jesus is the conduit or connection between Heaven and earth. Once we look a little deeper into God’s Words, we see the explanation John recorded.

    Jesus created everything. Jesus existed before creation. His Word gave life to everything and everyone. God sent John the Baptist as His messenger. We can see how the information about Jesus is spreading out. It’s not too much for us to understand, but it is something the world doesn’t agree with and doesn’t want us to see. John also introduced the spiritual battle, but didn’t get into details. At this point it is much more important to understand Jesus as a person and God.

    You have to admit, understanding Jesus as a person and God is a lot to comprehend. It is not an easy task to understand nor explain. Looking back at the end of this chapter, we see how God gave us one explanation. Jesus saw Nathanael under a fig tree and John recorded that event for a reason. Come on now, we’re not dealing with man’s words, or man’s way of understanding. The world is doing its best to fog up the truth so we don’t understand. It’s time to put away the old way of understanding and look at God’s Word the way it was written – not the way the world wants us to look at it, but the way God wrote it.

    It’s amazing how God’s Word has been recorded. I can’t explain it. The patterns occur so many times, they can’t be denied. Imagine if you will, if all of God’s messengers went out and showed the world how His Word is constructed, put together, and recorded, with the simple process to understand it. God’s Word was never intended to pick apart to create doctrines or guess at prophecies. We have to put away what the world teaches and leave doors open to God’s Spirit to teach. I’m imagining a world where we simply teach people how to seek God through His Word, and leave them in the capable hands of God’s Spirit.

    We’re shown two witnesses at the beginning of John’s book, Jesus and John the Baptist. Jesus is obvious. But what was John’s role? Other gospels tells us how John was called before birth and dedicated to God. John didn’t grow up and learn about God’s plan of salvation based on worldly methods of teaching. If that were so, his father would have made sure John became a priest just like himself, and his farther before him. John marked the beginning of a whole new learning process. John was like Jacob, who saw God’s angels coming to earth and returning to Heaven. John also represented Elijah’s power we’re told will be present in the last days. But I don’t want to jump ahead of how John revealed those details.

  • The Word Became Human

    John 1:10-14 NLTse He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. (11) He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. (12) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (13) They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (14) So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

    One phrase sticks out here. “The world didn’t recognize Him.” It is repeated later in this chapter and is associated with the phrase, “rejected Him.” It should be highlighted the same color, but we’ll look at that rejection as well as misunderstanding about Jesus for a moment based on what we’ve seen so far.

    The same misunderstanding and denial exists today. What else could God have done? He recorded sixty six books over generations, used specific patterns that are easy to follow, used simple examples in His Word, and sent not only messengers, but His Son to explain them. Not to mention His Spirit, who will guide us. But the world can’t see or understand.

    I’m envisioning a father leaning over instructing His child. One of the first things a father wants to do is teach his child to walk, then talk. Remember how proud you were when your child spoke their first words? How did they actually learn those words? Was it something stored away in their brains at creation, or was your child imitating you? Put those two together in thought and focus on God teaching us. Is it a good thing or bad thing to imitate God? In this spiritual war around us, what is the last thing the enemy wants us to do?

    That concept of the father and son is easy to jump to because John included those words in this section. John also shows us a simple Bible Study method most people use, looking at a few words to invoke a personal thought and reflection upon scripture. In this case, a father teaching and caring for his son – a close relationship.

    Combining the father and son vision with the thought of a relationship with God’s WORD recorded and repeated in the introduction, we see a strong emphasis on verbal communication. We see it in His written Word, and John tells us about other forms of communication, His messengers, as well as a brief description of His Spirit in the summation of this chapter.

    God uses all three major forms of communication, but the world still doesn’t recognize Him and chose to reject Him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John tells us this takes a change. He called it a rebirth. We can’t be like the world if we want to hear God. His plan went as far as sending His Son here to explain the process. So the Word became human and made his home among us.

    John didn’t make any mention of Jesus’ sacrifice at this point. Sad to think, that’s the only people know Jesus, as a Savior who died for them. What else can they tell you about Jesus? Not much. Why? They’ve accepted the worldly view of Jesus but never learned the aspects of communication He uses to reach out and teach. What does Jesus want us to learn? He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.

    John tied in love with faithfulness for a reason. John called it unfailing love and faithfulness. Why? I don’t know what the world was like a hundred years ago, but the world today lacks love and faithfulness. Is this a message for all time, or specifically pointed to these days so close to His return?

    The world today seems to have a lot of love, but that love lacks faithfulness. It’s happened to me. I was married and in love only to find out it was a marriage of convenience. She never had any intention of making our marriage a permanent relationship. She listed a number of excuses for the way she viewed marriage. Her first excuse was tradition, followed closely by, “God wants us to be happy,” which goes hand in hand with, “God gave us freedom of choice.”

    Has God’s law been canceled by tradition and a selfish desire to be happy? The saddest part is, the church I belonged to supported her decision. Not all of them, but a large part. I was shocked. I heard a lot of people say, “God wants us to be happy,” and, “God gives us freedom to choose.” But I never thought that meant canceling out God’s law. The whole ordeal showed how people in this world lack faithfulness.

    It’s not a surprise John told us, Jesus is full of unfailing love and faithfulness. It is exactly what we look for once we get tired of what this world offers. It’s exactly what this world needs. I can see why John calls it a rebirth, but after what I’ve lived through, it seems more like common sense. How much easier could God have made the choice?

  • John the Baptist

    John 1:15-28 NLTse John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'” (16) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (17) For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (18) No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. (19) This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” (20) He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” (21) “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” (22) “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” (23) John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the LORD’s coming!'” (24) Then the Pharisees who had been sent (25) asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?” (26) John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. (27) Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.” (28) This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing.

    John quickly introduced John the Baptist and his ministry and how he introduced Jesus’ ministry. We see the word testified repeated again. This shows us another role Jesus’ followers have. So far we’ve been shown three. They verify God’s Word, His messages, and tell people, or testify about Jesus. Up to this point it doesn’t seem to be a difficult job.

    John the Baptist was very careful to identify Jesus as someone far greater than himself. In a way, John was a symbol of Jesus. The fulfillment of a symbol is always far greater than the symbol itself. This is important to keep in mind when looking at other characters in the Bible, such as David, if he is studied as a symbol pointing to Jesus. Another important factor to keep in mind is, God also used contrasts to teach lessons. John told about glorious blessings we receive, then immediately moved into the law as given through Moses. To emphasis that blessing, John compared the law to God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.

    So far we’ve seen a short list of God’s unfailing love. The first John mentioned was God’s Word. Then His Son who came to this world to explain His Word. The next mention of God’s unfailing love is associated with His law. What lesson does that teach? Here is another example between love from this world and that unfailing love from Heaven. God’s love will be according to His law. I for one am glad of that.

    John the Baptist also pointed out another important detail. No one has seen God except Jesus. No one can tell you details about God like Jesus can. This reminds me of some online debates I see. People like to debate about God. Some choose to argue about what the trinity really means. When I look at those discussions, those people like to give the impression they know everything about God and there is nothing they don’t know. How can that be when John told us no one has seen God except Jesus? Would Jesus tell them to enter into such debates? I doubt it. Anyway, how can anyone know everything about our Infinite God? Only Jesus can reveal the real God to us.

    John the Baptist was visited by a group of religious leaders. They heard about John and went out to investigate. This showed how news about John spread. Why shouldn’t it? John was announcing the Messiah. He was announcing the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. That’s what John told them. But those religious leaders couldn’t accept the fact the message didn’t come through them.

    A group of well dressed priests and their assistants traveled from Jerusalem to investigate reports about this new prophet preaching in the wilderness. It was a long trip. Before embarking on that trip, all the religious leaders gathered to discuss the matter. They shared what they heard and thoughts about what was happening, backed up with a few pieces of scripture. They didn’t look for scripture informing them about what was happening, or about to happen. They threw around a few verses that came to mind into the conversation. Most of them were one form or another about testing a prophet or false prophets. Their minds were made up before they chose a small group to investigate the situation.

    Everyone could quickly tell the difference between John and the religious leaders. Their outward appearance was a contrast to say the least. The priests dressed to announce and show their authority. John on the other hand had nothing to prove. His mission wasn’t to call attention to himself but to prepare the world for its Messiah. John’s words were sure and his message clear. On the other hand, the priests seemed confused.

    The priests began a dialog by getting right to the point. They weren’t happy about making a long trip out into the wilderness and leaving the comfort and security of their homes. They brought along a few assistants for protection. To them it wasn’t a precaution, it was a necessity. They needed them to prepare whatever comforts they could find on the road.

    The priests asked John, “Who are you?” John returned the favor by getting right to the point. He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” The priests wanted to get the answer they came for as quickly as possible and return to Jerusalem. They were angry because John didn’t follow requests and orders to appear in Jerusalem. “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”

    John quoted scripture. The rules of context tells us to look up and read the chapter that texts is located in. Prophets often quoted only a small portion of the message found in scripture. God’s prophets know what to say, and what to leave out. They are doing nothing more than opening a door for God’s Spirit to reach someone. Prophets don’t answer questions. Their main role is to lead people to God. Samuel told us how God changed the role of His messengers from seers to prophets. A seer answered questions. A prophet leads people to God for answers.

    Another important Bible Study rule is, when you see scripture quoted by an author, always look up the original texts. An inspired writer will only quote a small portion of scripture. Just enough to point you back to the original texts. It’s your job to open up and read the original texts. And remember to check to introduction and summation for the chapter the original scripture is located. This a a major way God uses to communicate with us. An easy way to locate the original texts is to use a chain reference in a Study Bible. Or you can use the TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) you can download and use with E-Sword, and other Bible computer programs.

    “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” (Isaiah 40:1-5 NLTse).

    When we look at the chapter John quoted from, it’s always a good idea to look at a few verses before and after the specific texts used. Some people call that checking the context. But they’re wrong. To check context in the chapter, we have to look at the introduction and summary for the chapter.

    Here we included the complete introduction for Isaiah 40. We can see how it not only fits perfectly with the theme in John chapter 1, but adds to it. Isaiah 40 begins by repeating the word comfort. Isn’t that part of John’s main theme? We can see how Isaiah added details to John the Baptist’s ministry as well as Jesus’. God wanted both of them to speak tenderly to Jerusalem, as well as tell them their sad days were over and their sins were pardoned. This is a perfect illustration showing how a prophet or writer points people back to scripture at God’s command. How would this scripture have effected those priests if they would have looked at it? Now to look at the summation.

    O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:27-31 NLTse).

    From what we’ve studied so far, we can see how the summation in Isaiah 40 adds a few more details to John’s introduction and description of Jesus and His ministry, not only here on earth, but in Heaven. It’s amazing how God shows and explains the use of those simple rules of context. It’s just as amazing that books written hundreds of years before Jesus’ ministry described what He came here to accomplish. Then to think, New Testament authors knew exactly how to arrange their books to include the right scripture in the right place.

    No one could have written such a book with such clarity and consistency. To think, we’ve had these books for nearly 2000 years. There have been times when people saw this consistency, and told the world. We used to call those revivals. People, some times only a few, would look into scripture so deep, people considered it a new revelation. Then after a time, everything was forgotten and the world got back into the same old rut, thinking a few rituals and traditions was all God wanted out of them.

    A lot of this stagnant form of worship is caused by human nature, the desires to place responsibility on someone else. So they create church leaders by loosely interpreting a few New Testament and maybe a few Old Testament scriptures. They make their chosen leaders responsible for reading and interpreting the Bible, as well as maintaining some sort of relationship with God. Of course for the most part, the Christian world believes God stopped talking to this world. No one can present a single scripture supporting that claim, but it does fall under the category of tradition. When we look at this and compare it to those religious leaders who confronted John the Baptist, we can see people today copied the same system.

    Like those priests in John’s day, modern priests claim God’s Spirit stopped communicating with this world. They also share the same attitude. If God’s Spirit was going to speak, He would do it through them. If they hear a new message, they’ll immediately reject it based on the fact it didn’t come through them. We may see a few changes today. Some churches blended democracy with religion by electing officials. But the Bible doesn’t say anything about that either. In the long and short of things, most Christian institutions copied a failed system, made a few changes, and convinced themselves they got it right this time. But where is that communication and relationship with God the gospels and other books teach?

    It wasn’t by chance the priests asked John of he was Elijah. This blows up a lot of modern concepts of what a lot of Christians refer to as the power of Elijah promised in the last days. They make the mistake of placing that power in the distant future. After John’s death, Jesus told His disciples John was Elijah. So that power was present in Jesus’ day. Jesus never said a word about that power being withdrawn. Jesus didn’t explain that power in detail. But I’ve seen a few preachers try to explain it. As far as I’m concerned, trying to explain Elijah’s power is much like trying to explain God in full detail. To understand that power, we’d have to go to Jesus.

    We can understand how vast that power is when we look at everything recorded about Elijah. I don’t want to write a detailed list. That’s one of those openings for you to review scripture with Jesus. As a matter of fact, that is one phase of Elijah the prophet, to lead people back to God.

    Like all of us, Elijah had good points and weaknesses. He did some fantastic things when he followed orders, but had fears like any normal man. One of the main features of Elijah I look at is how he passed his ministry over to Elisha with a double blessing. That showed how God sends us people to train when we receive a portion of Elijah’s power. We have to pass on our blessing to others. This also opens the door to look at Elisha’s ministry for more information. That shows us how details expand, not condense into a box people put God’s power into and label. One of the stories about Elisha that caught my interest is how he built a school for prophets then had to build a larger place to meet.

    When we look at those details and stories in the Bible as a whole, we can see conflicts with a lot of things taught in churches today. I don’t see a need to name those differences or argue with them. Once Elijah’s life and story are studied as a whole the way it was meant to be, you’ll begin to understand. Then look at how Elisha continued that ministry. Another detail to look at is where God sent them, who they ministered to. Once you sit down to discuss those details with Jesus, you’ll wonder why no one told you about them.

    The fact those priests asked if John was Elijah showed how they were looking for his return. After all, Elijah’s return was promised a few generations before John the Baptist arrived on the scene. This showed how the main stream religious leaders could tell the power they questioned was standing in front of them. Things haven’t changed.

    John’s answer showed how little he understood about the prophecies written about himself. Let that sink in for a moment. What is God’s Spirit telling you about that fact? If John didn’t understand the prophecies written about himself, why do we have a bunch of prophets running around today who insist they have all the prophecies figured out. I wonder if they could explain the few prophecies written about John. I wonder how many prophecies about Jesus they could explain. Would it make sense for God to have a messenger in today’s world who can explain every detail about future prophecies, but know little or nothing about prophecies Jesus fulfilled? John was used as an example to show us, God reveals the meaning and fulfillment of prophecies at the time He chooses. Jesus didn’t reveal John’s link to Elijah until after John died.

  • Jesus is Baptized

    John 1:29-34 NLTse The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ (31) I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” (32) Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. (33) I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ (34) I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

    John recorded a rather brief description of Jesus’ baptism. I can’t say why, but I can suggest we look at details here and see if John had a reason for leaving out details other gospel writers thought were important enough to include.

    One of the lessons we should see is how the four gospels work together. Not one of them alone contains the view we have of Jesus’ ministry when all four are combined. That’s a lesson we have to learn before God puts us on the front lines. We can’t go taking credit for saving people and there is no way we should ever feel we have the power to change people’s lives. No one person stands alone. God requires teamwork.

    I can see how parts of John’s chapter go against the grain of modern Christian philosophy. Many churches follow a particular system. Get people in the door by sensationalizing something. It may be prophecies, healing, prosperity, or any number of other subjects. The goal is to offer something other churches don’t. In any case, you’ll hear a lot of speeches about them being the only church with this or that. They may use terms like the remnant or last day church. The Church of Laodicea is another popular claim.

    Once they get you in, the next step is to indoctrinate you. That means to change you into a predetermined mold, the type of member they feel comfortable with. So you’ll get a consistent supply of doctrines. They may call them sermons, or Bible Studies, but all they are is a never ending stream of doctrines.

    Other churches will call churches like those cults. But look at the source. That’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Most Christian churches follow the same fundamentals. Their actually copied from those Jewish leaders and adopted by the early Christian church. If you study history, you’ll see how those rules, regulations, doctrines, and traditions got out of hand. They really got out of hand. Finally people began breaking away. But it was never a clean break from the institutional style of worship. Each splinter church took the basic concepts of the mother church, made a few changes, created a new name, and convinced themselves everything was in order. I’d like to see that process explained in the Bible before I believe it.

    John’s ministry represented a total break from the established man made system of worship. John’s father was a priest and wanted John, his firstborn son, to follow in his footsteps. That wasn’t God’s plan. That was the first in a long line of traditions God was going to break. John not only announced Jesus’ ministry, but a return to a primitive, simple, and pure from of worship. You’ll notice, John received his education in the wilderness, away from the world. That doesn’t mean we have to move into the woods to learn from God, but we have to find time to be alone with Him. We also have to find a way of putting the influence of the world behind us. John was also a symbol of that new birth he talked about.

    Once again John tells us, Jesus existed long before He began His ministry on this world. John didn’t want us to forget, Jesus is God’s Son. Here John referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God. We can’t be certain how much John knew about Jesus’ ministry and sacrifice. All we can see at this point is, God’s Spirit used John to point people, especially those priests back to scripture. Those priests were supposed to be experts on scripture. Do you think they made the connection between the Lamb of God and story about Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac? John added another detail. Jesus came to take away the sins of the world.

    John did something few men are able to do. He said he didn’t know. To be specific, John admitted, he didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah. We can’t assume if that was physical or spiritual. God’s plan of salvation had not yet been revealed, so John may have been referring to the spiritual details he didn’t know.

    John said he saw God’s Spirit resting on Jesus. As with other gospel writers, John described God’s Spirit like a dove. I’m not sure why God’s Spirit appeared like a dove. Neither have I looked at a dove as a spiritual symbol or how its been used in other stories in the Bible. This does of course verify the presence of God’s Spirit in this world.

    John also repeated the fact he didn’t know Jesus was the Messiah. John most likely repeated this to draw attention to Jesus’ ministry. It also showed how we have to learn about Jesus’ ministry from Him. This was an important matter worth repeating. It was an import part of John’s testimony.

  • Andrew and Peter Meet Jesus

    John 1:35-42 NLTse The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. (36) As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (37) When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. (38) Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” (39) “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. (40) Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. (41) Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). (42) Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John–but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).

    The next day John saw Jesus and once again called Him, “the Lamb of God.” Bible writers don’t repeat things unless they’re important. It’s obvious John wanted to point out Jesus’ ministry. But John made it clear, he didn’t know what Jesus’ ministry was, or God’s full plan of salvation. This makes me think, how many people refer to Jesus as, “the Lamb of God,” and still don’t know much about Jesus’ ministry and don’t understand His sacrifice.

    John had an excuse. John’s contact with Jesus was at the very beginning of His ministry. We can’t be certain which details John knew, and which he didn’t know. We know John had some doubts about Jesus when he was locked away in Herod’s prison. But we can’t discount the fact, this world is filled with people who know about Jesus, but don’t really know Him or His Word.

    John was very passionate about Jesus and His ministry both in earth and in Heaven. We saw that in his introduction. On the other side of the coin, John the Baptist showed how we don’t have to know everything about Jesus to be a messenger. John admitted there were details he didn’t know about, but he didn’t let that slow him down or stop him. John displayed the power of Elijah and he admitted he wasn’t perfectly prepared. Neither did he have all the answers. When we compare those details about John with Elijah’s ministry, we can see they both had faults. If people are looking for perfection when Elijah’s power displays itself in this world, they are going to miss the vast majority of that work when it operates in front of them.

    Follow is the predominate key word in this section of John chapter 1. Of course they are following Jesus. This story covers two of John the Baptist’s disciples. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men. According to John’s book, Andrew was the first disciple to follow Jesus. John also tells us, Andrew met Jesus where John was baptizing. This seems contrary to other books.

    One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers–Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew–throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind. (Matthew 4:18-22 NLTse).

    Matthew didn’t provide much detail, except to say Jesus saw Peter and Andrew in their boat fishing and called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” The same is true with John and James.

    One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men. (Mark 1:16-20 NLTse).

    Mark recorded much the same details Matthew did. Luke recorded the strangest twist in the story.

    Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me–I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. (Luke 5:3-11 NLTse).

    The three writers seem to agree Jesus met with those four disciples on a lake and called them to follow Him. But was that the first time they met Jesus? Luke didn’t record his account that way. Luke pointed out the fact Simon had contact with Jesus before He called them and they began following Him. After leaving the synagogue that day, Jesus went to Simon’s home, where he found Simon’s mother-in-law very sick with a high fever. “Please heal her,” everyone begged. Standing at her bedside, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. And she got up at once and prepared a meal for them.(Luke 4:38-39 NLTse).

    Some people like to search for errors in the Bible and point them out. They’re minds are focused on details they think are inconsistent, and fail to look at all the details. They use a man made type of Bible Study. There are no rules, no recorded process, no consistency. How can anyone in their right mind expect to understand a collection of books written with God’s perfect consistency if they don’t have consistency in how they approach and study God’s Word? What they do is separate out a few pieces of scripture and create a story based on what they feel. Their not guided by God’s Spirit, nor are they interested in looking at the Bible as a whole. So they search and search for any little detail they think doesn’t fit, then make a big deal out of it.

    Not one of the gospel writers said this was the first time the disciples met Jesus, or that was the first time. Is it their fault they can’t understand? I don’t think so. Not when the vast majority of the Christian world teaches some miraculous power sweep over the disciples, they dropped everything and immediately followed Jesus. When we put the four gospels together, we don’t get a story like that at all. But that’s what a lot of preachers teach. Why?

    It makes their job easier. Walk in the door, let us tell you what a good Christian has to be, get baptized into our church and your saved. Simple enough for most people to understand. They leave off the part about a personal relationship with Jesus and they close the door to a lot of questions they may not be able to answer. They condense God’s plan of salvation and Jesus’ ministry into something small enough to fit in a box with no questions asked. If you don’t experience the immediate type of transformation they preach, there must be something wrong with you. They’re answers are all the same. Go back and study our doctrines and the proof texts we gave you. Is that really what Jesus came to this world to teach?

    Look at John’s account of what may be Andrew’s and Simon’s first meeting with Christ. Do you see anything telling us, those two left everything and immediately followed Jesus? John didn’t write anything to indicate that.

    The first thing Andrew did was find and tell his brother, “We have found the Messiah.” John made it clear Andrew told Simon that after spending one day with Jesus. Was one day really enough to convince them Jesus is the Messiah? Now try doing what few Christians are able to do, look at the Bible as a whole and question God on every detail.

    Now do something few people do, put yourself in the place of the characters in the Bible. This is something control freaks really hate to see people doing because it brings up details and questions they don’t want to deal with. This also puts you in the presence of God’s Spirit in a very personal way. In other words, placing yourself in scenes with Bible characters gives you a view of scripture no one can provide. But this is exactly what Jesus came to teach.

    We see Andrew spent one day with Jesus and was convinced He is the Messiah. Andrew searched for his brother Simon and told him, he was convinced he found the Messiah. Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John–but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). That’s it. That’s the only detail we’re given up to this point. Now what do we do? We consider the facts we’re given.

    Andrew spent a day with Jesus. We don’t know what was discussed, but Andrew saw the Messiah in Jesus. It wasn’t the worldly view on the Messiah, but a personal view Andrew understood. He was so excited, he couldn’t wait to tell someone. So Andrew found his brother Simon and took him to Jesus. That was a simple and short meeting. Jesus gave Simon a new name. That’s all John recorded up to this point.

    The next thing we can do is compare other details in the gospels. Matthew recorded, “One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers–Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew–throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.” The term one day, showed us time passed between that first meeting the day after Jesus was baptized and when Jesus called them at the lake. Jesus gave them time to think about it.

    This is where it takes some personal reflection with God and review of the full story in the gospels. For some reason John didn’t mention anything about Jesus going into the wilderness to face Satan’s temptations. But use a little common sense here. Do you think all of Satan’s agents left Andrew and Simon alone while they thought about Jesus during those forty plus days? Look at Simon’s reaction when Jesus asked him to follow. “Oh, Lord, please leave me–I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” While Jesus was in the wilderness fulfilling His defeat over Satan, other demons were having their way with Simon. This is a plain and simple lesson as well as an experience we all go through when we decide to follow Jesus.

    I don’t know why preachers tell people it’s such a simple process to follow Jesus when scripture tells us a different story. The fact of the matter is, Jesus faced off against Satan and won. He is the only person to accomplish that task. So if we want someone to help us in our battle, it makes sense to follow the winner.

  • Philip and Nathanael

    John 1:43-51 NLTse The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” (44) Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. (45) Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” (46) “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. (47) As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” (48) “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” (49) Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” (50) Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” (51) Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

    Most people won’t see this, but John repeated a lesson here. When God repeats Himself, it’s time to pay attention. He doesn’t want us to miss the lesson. Philip was the second of John’s disciples to sit and spend a day with Jesus. When we see lessons repeated, it’s always a good idea to look at what they have in common.

    John only wrote about one of the disciples who followed John the Baptist and listened to his sermons. That gave him a better view of the Messiah than the religious leaders and the world had. Another sign of Elijah’s power. Andrew spent a day with Jesus before going to find his brother. This explains the role of an early disciple as well as another feature of Elijah’s power. It’s becoming clear, the power of Elijah points to a ministry rather than some miraculous power people teach will change the world in a flash. When we look at the timing in John’s book and compare it to other gospels, we see more than a month passed between their first meeting with Jesus and the time they left home, jobs, families, and everything to follow Jesus. We should expect to see the same pattern repeated as Elijah’s power moves from generation through generation.

    God also teaches using contrasts. We see a contrast in these stories. Simon went with his brother to see Jesus. Nathanael had doubts and questions. Did that cancel out Nathanael’s chance to be one of Jesus’ disciples? Look how Jesus handled the situation. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Jesus responded with a small display of His power. The power to see things other people can’t. In fact, this was a display of Jesus’ connection with God’s Spirit. Look at Nathanael’s response. “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!”

    This shows us, all we can do is lead people to Jesus. It’s Jesus’ job to convince people He is the Messiah. Jesus used a specific process to teach a lesson here. He displayed His connection with God’s Spirit and told something Philip could never have told Nathanael. Jesus showed us how He is with people and watches over them long before we can deliver any message. This is one detail we have to keep in mind and a process we have to follow before we can become effective workers for Jesus.

    I love the way John ended this chapter, as well as Jesus ended the conversation. “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” This reminds me of Jacob’s vision when he was running away from his brother Esau. Which would be a contrast if this story was actually related to Jacob’s vision. Neither Jesus nor John provided a definitive connection to Jacob, his vision, or the story. That shouldn’t stop you from taking a look and comparing the chapters.

    Jesus told Nathanael he will see would see Heaven open up and angels. How many of you have seen angels? How many visions of angels are listed in the Bible? A few, but not many. Sticking to the New Testament, we can name a few. John the Baptist’s father was visited by Gabriel as well as Mary, Jesus’ mother. The women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body also saw angles. Shepherds saw many angles in the sky when Jesus was born. If we looked at each occurrence in the New Testament, we can see the increased role angles played in the plan of salvation. Jesus promised Nathanael he would see those angels. But I don’t know of any events either of the gospels writer recorded showing a meeting with an angel. There were a few in Acts and other letters in the New Testament. Maybe that was what Jesus referred to. If that’s the case, the lesson shows how we need to develop patients.

    John by far is the most passionate writer in the New Testament. His style of writing in not like any other writer in the Bible. His love for Jesus shows through. John also included a number of stories not found any where else in the Bible. Those will be the chapters to really concentrate on and dwell on in prayer.

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Posted in Bible Study Aids, Bible Study Methods Explained, Bible Study with Context, Christian Books, Explained Studies, God's Love, Gospel Messages John, Simple Studies | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Christian Authors For World Relief

Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 26, 2015


Attention all Christian writers and nonprofit organizations. I’ve been discussing a concept with some people in different parts of the world to see how we can create a network to work with each other and both sides can benefit. What do you think?

Authors donate their works to nonprofit organizations who print those books in countries it costs a fortune to ship to. The nonprofit organizations sell those books to raise funds to cover operating costs. Here is the basic concept.

Authors must own all copy rights on their books and have total control over those copy rights. Authors enter into an agreement that protects both parties. Nonprofit organizations overseas receive electronic copies of those books with limited distribution rights. Nonprofit organizations have books printed locally and handle price and distribution. Nonprofit organizations cover the costs of printing, taxes, translations, and other costs. There is no financial risk to authors. Books can be sold in print and electronic forms.

In return, authors receive data and use that data to market their books by advertising world wide distribution figures. This can help boost sales in markets the author is selling their books.

Both parties benefit and no one takes a risk. Nonprofit organizations use those books sales as a fund raising campaign to raise funds for printing and operating costs. And best of all, we establish a network to get the word out to parts of this world hardest to reach.

We can establish a website where nonprofit organizations choose which books will work best in their areas. Enter into an agreement with the authors, and receive electronic files ready for printing. Authors receive a new venue of online advertising, and new authors have a source of information and can establish personal contact with experienced writers to help them get started. We establish a reliable list of resources writers can use while helping some of the most needy people in the world. Nonprofit organizations can also network with each other and find more efficient ways to provide services and raise funds. A reserve fund will also be established so when we need to, we can quickly get much needed printed material to refugees and areas hit by natural disasters. At the same time, a network can quickly spread the word which established organizations are answering the call for aid and where people can donate for immediate relief.

Posted in God's Love | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

John Chapter 16

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 29, 2015


  • John 16:1-33 NLTse “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. (2) For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me. (4) Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer. (5) “But now I am going away to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. (6) Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. (7) But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (9) The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. (10) Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (11) Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (12) “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (13) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (14) He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. (15) All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ (16) “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (17) Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? (18) And what does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don’t understand.” (19) Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. (20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. (21) It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (22) So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (23) At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (24) You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (25) “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. (26) Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. (28) Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (29) Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? (32) But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

    How many chapters in the Bible begin like this one? “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” What does that say to you? Shouldn’t we go back and and review what Jesus told them? Let me ask you a question first. How much do you remember? ……… Do you think we need a review?

    Do you remember how Jesus began this discussion? “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2 NLTse). But wait, we have to go back to the beginning of this long lesson John recorded. Call it respect. Do you remember where this lesson began? Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. (John 13:1 NLTse).

    These become really serious lessons when we look back at them with the context of chapter 16. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” Jesus told them all those things He taught and all those lessons were given to them so they wouldn’t abandon their faith.

    What is that foot washing lesson teaching us about keeping our faith? If you don’t know, there is a lot you have to review. Jesus told them, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” When will that day come?

    Don’t feel bad. The disciples didn’t understand either. So Jesus explain the meaning. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15 NLTse). Now all you have to do is experience the act to learn the lesson. It is a personal lesson no one can explain. The fact of the matter is, Jesus washed their feet to show them the close relationship He wanted with them. So He did something they would never forget. Do you remember what it’s like to be in love? It’s not unusual to do something for the one your in love with they will never forget.

    Jesus also wanted them to learn how to serve each other. Learn that process. Love Jesus. Help people close to you and encourage them. That will make you ready to help people you meet along life’s road.

    Jesus told them the love they show for one another will prove to the world whose disciples they are. Their knowledge of the Bible, doctrines and traditions they keep won’t prove a thing. Only that love they show for each other will prove it. No wonder the work is progressing so slow.

    Then Jesus told them about that house He is building for them. This is my favorite part. I like thinking about that house and some of its features from time to time. If nothing else, that helps keep my faith strong. It helps me from being discouraged. It helps me build and maintain a vision of Heaven.

    That’s when Jesus told us, He is just like His Father. Or we can look at it as God is just like Jesus. Can you imagine a God, the God and Creator of the universe is a servant just like Jesus? Is God really as simple and unassuming as Jesus? Is God really willing to give up everything for us on this tiny little planet in this solar system? That’s hard to imagine. It is worth keeping the faith just to see God, meet Him, to find out He is as humble and patient as Jesus.

    Jesus emphasized the point, He is just like His Father and His Father is just like Him, and repeated it a number of times so His disciples would remember the lesson. Jesus knew what was about to happen to Him. The detail that haunts me is how Jesus remained silent throughout His trials. Not just one trial, but the trial in front of the priests, Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again. Four trials and hardly a word. Do you some times feel Jesus is silent when you pray?

    There is a lesson in Jesus’ silence far deeper than we can imagine, but shouldn’t be difficult for us to figure out. First we have to put ourselves aside to understand why Jesus is silent when we pray. By ourselves, I mean our selfishness. We always seem to pray like it is all about us. Make my life more comfortable. Help me with this. Give me that. And to be safe, we close with, “if it’s your will.” And of course, I think most people have been taught to add, “in Jesus’ name,” at the end of every prayer. It may seem strange, Jesus told us in those chapters, if we ask anything in His name it will be given to us. But let’s back up a little here.

    When we pray in God’s will, are we listening in God’s will? We are in John chapter 16 in this book. Are there any examples where Jesus told anyone how to make their life more comfortable, or gave them anything like we ask for, lowered taxes, solved a dispute, gave advice, or told them what to do next in life? There’s not one example of any of that happening. Don’t stretch the healing Jesus did as a license to ask for specific things in your life, not material things. Don’t look at the advice Jesus gave Nicodemus or the woman in Samaria as a sign Jesus tells you want to do in life. Jesus offered knowledge, and pointed them to God’s Spirit. Jesus gave us few simple processes to follow to reach out to people. Those stories were recorded for us to learn from. The lessons are so vast, distinct, and personal, no one can list all of the details or lessons.

    It seems like when we pray for answers in our own lives, Jesus goes as silent as He was in those trials. Why? What were those people trying to do? I don’t want to jump ahead at this point to study specific details, but we will look at the general back ground.

    The priests made up their minds and decided on a verdict before Jesus’ trial. This is how a lot of people pray. Why would Jesus defend himself in front of a room full of priests who made up their minds before He was delivered to the masquerade party they called a trial? Prayers can become much like that trial. Minds are made up before a request is made and people want God to perform a predetermined outcome.

    I am going to skip to Herod next. He wanted Jesus to preform a miracle. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because He didn’t really believe in Jesus. Herod had a lust for power and he would have used Jesus’ ability to perform miracles to his advantage. Herod was a fool. He never thought things through. His wife tricked him into killing John the Baptist.

    Pilate on the other hand had a desire to know the truth. Like Herod, Pilate heard every detail about Jesus. It was their job to know everything that went on under their jurisdiction. Their lives depended on it. But Pilate really wanted to know. Pilate was fairly, but not completely convinced Jesus was from God. Pilate didn’t want to kill Jesus, but eventually caved into pressure. Even if Jesus told us what to do next, would we do it, or cave into the pressures of the world? Remember, the enemy is always trying to stay a step ahead. Just a side note here. Did you notice a parallel to prayer and the parable of the farmer sowing seeds?

    When we pray in God’s will, why don’t we look into scripture to find out what His will is? God had sixty six books written by dozens of inspired authors over I don’t know how many generations. All of those books contain stories about people and most of those books, maybe all of them contain prophecies about Jesus or their recorded fulfillment. Put them all together and we can easily see how Jesus understood what was going to happen and why. Jesus also saw what He needed to do. How many times did Jesus ask His disciples if they saw Him? He meant actually saw Him. If they searched the scriptures, they would have seen the real Jesus and what was about to happen. Look at where this lesson is placed and tell me you can’t see the spiritual significance.

    How many times did Jesus tell His disciples to be just like God over the past few chapters? If we’re supposed to be like Jesus, where will we find answers to our prayers? The same place Jesus found them, in scripture.

    “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:12-20 NLTse).

    I never saw this before until the first verse in John chapter 16 lit up like a neon sign. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” Looking back we can see the details unfold. Jesus knew what was about to happen. Scripture verified what was about to happen after that dinner. God’s Word is one of the keys to hearing God’s voice in prayer.

    Jesus next talked about following the commandments. There is also a process to follow in prayer as well as studying scripture. God followed all of His commandments as faithfully as He follows His process in prayer, writing, and understanding scripture. God established His own process, rules, and we can call them laws when He dictated His inspired Word to His faithful servants.

    Jesus introduced another key to both prayer and understanding scripture, the Holy Spirit. “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” I also noticed a process Jesus told us about concerning the Holy Spirit. First the Spirit will lead or guide us. Then the same Spirit will teach us. “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” He teaches us by reminding us about everything Jesus told us. Do you see the process?

    Jesus would not have told us about the commandments, God perfect law and order, if He didn’t want us to learn from it, and apply the same lesson to the subject that followed, God’s Spirit. Jesus just showed how God’s Spirit follows the command to follow a specific order. First to guide, then teach by reminding us. How can we remember something we have not already seen, heard about, or read?

    This process tells us, God’s Spirit has to first introduce us to scripture. Then we have to go back and be taught. Then we review, and of course learn more. The same is true after we’ve read through the Bible many times. The process repeats every time a new subject is introduced. First we are guided to a subject. We are guided to a process to examine that story, parable, or lesson. Then we are taught the spiritual meaning. Much of what we are taught is based on how much we remember. I prefer to look at it in simple terms, how much we review. If we had not followed instructions in the beginning of John 16, we would have missed a vast array of lessons. We’ve been shown the lesson by example. God’s Word first sent us back to review. Our review showed us all the steps involved. It begins with recognizing the need to serve one another. We have to learn to love each other. This is how the world will see our connection with Jesus. We’re also told God and Jesus are one, and we are one in them. Our connection to God has to remain strong. We pray in God’s will, which includes praying, listening, and hearing God’s voice like Jesus did. We have to follow God’s commandments. This gets us in a position to study scripture which is one of the most important steps. Another step, just as important as reading scripture is to be first guided, then taught by God’s Spirit. Remembering everything Jesus taught is one more step in the process. This is how the Spirit communicated with Jesus, taught Him, prepared Him for the tasks He had to preform that day, as well prepared Him for all those trials He faced. Scripture and God’s Spirit played the main role in Jesus’ knowledge of what He was going to face. God would not change His established process because we don’t want to follow it, or create our own process. If we’re asking God to bless us, or give us things, should we follow God’s process, or our own. Has following your own process worked?

    When we get to chapter 15, we’re given a parable telling us how branches, our habits need to be trimmed away. When you pray to God, you better be ready to hear about habits you need to remove from your life. That is part of the process.

    Jesus wants us to understand that trimming process. So He explained how it is done with love. Jesus explained how He loves the disciples, and how God loves them. Jesus also explained how we need to love each other. When we pray, we just can’t pray about ourselves. We have to remember to pray for our enemies.

    Jesus told them how this change will bring joy. Could love bring anything else? These simple steps will free us from the slavery imposed by this world. All of these aspects are important parts of prayer. Jesus saved the most important detail for last. Jesus repeated the command to search scripture, and learn what they say about Himself. Jesus also repeated the other most important part of prayer, God’s Spirit. Those two are the most important parts.

    I know from experience, when I pray about myself, or problems, I seldom hear God’s voice. But I still go through the process everyday to ask to be forgiven. Then I go through subjects bothering me. I pray about people I know and their needs. But I don’t hear God’s voice at that point. But when I pray about scripture I’m studying or about to write about the next day, God’s voice is loud and clear. I can clearly hear God describe the scene. I can see the people there, and Jesus. He tells me what is on His mind when He was talking to people, and what He hoped they would learn. I can see the expressions on their faces, and see the reaction to what Jesus is teaching, especially when He pauses.

    The point is, Jesus always loves to talk about scripture. The key is, if Jesus is going to answer questions about our lives, or people we pray for, He will give us answers the same way God answered Jesus’ prayers, through scripture and the Spirit.

    Although learning to listen to God’s Spirit in prayer and finding out how He communicates with you about your personal questions through scripture is important, we have a whole chapter to study. The best place to begin at in the introduction.

    • I Have Told You These Things

      John 16:1-4 NLTse “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. (2) For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me. (4) Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.

      The first thing I want to do is jump to the summation and compare it to this introduction. This will tell us if we are dealing with contrasts or the lessons build to a climax.

      Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? (32) But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

      Jesus began by telling His disciples the lessons He taught that day were meant to reinforce their faith. Jesus didn’t want to loose any of them. He already lost one disciple. Jesus told them what was going to happen. Jesus not only saw what was going to happen to Himself, He also know what was going to happen to His disciple. So he warned them. As we’ve already seen, Jesus also taught them how to pray and listen to God. Jesus didn’t directly explain that prayer process, but He included all the steps and requirements.

      The world will persecute them because the world won’t understand what their teaching, how, or where they got their information and instructions from. At this point, Jesus didn’t explain all the details, but He did tell them what they needed to know, to remain faithful.

      Jesus not only wanted them to remember His warning but everything He taught them. After His resurrection, Jesus explained everything in greater detail than what has been recorded. That’s why we need God’s Spirit, who will first guide us to find that information, then teach us what it means.

      Jesus’ disciples told Jesus they understood. They understood Jesus talked in symbols. That explained why the world can’t understand. The disciples commented on of the most important steps, to believe Jesus came from God. Jesus questioned them. Did they really believe? They needed that belief to face the future.

      Jesus told them they would be scattered, each disciple going his own way. Jesus was talking about His arrest when the disciples ran off and left Him alone. When we look back, we see a sequence. Judas betrayed Jesus. The disciples abandoned Jesus and Peter denied Him. Things did not look good. It was almost as if God had to start over.

      Both the introduction and summation dwelt with problems and trials the disciples would see. Jesus was trying to prepare them. First He tried to prepare them for what was about to happen to Him. Then Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for what was about to happen to them. Usually Jesus put His disciples first. He followed the same process here. Jesus knew how His death was going to crush their hopes and dreams, how they would feel when they lost their friend, and how confused they would be by loosing their leader. If your confused, I would suggest you go back and review those chapters and pray about them. Approach God’s throne and let Him explain the details.

      We also have to see how Jesus led into this phase of the lesson by reviewing how chapter 15 ended. We also have to keep in mind how this is one long lesson and consider it as a whole. That is why Jesus reminded the disciples He told them important information.

      “They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.” (John 15:21-27 NLTse).

      Now we see how Jesus reminded His disciples about what He told them in between His warnings about what they were going to face. Jesus actually pointed out the prophecy they fulfilled. Jesus repeated the promise of God’s Spirit and added another role the Spirit fulfills, their testimony about Jesus. This is where Jesus introduced the disciple’s role of also being a witness for Him. Not at His trial, but after His resurrection as history has shown.

      Looking at the introduction of chapter 16 and its summation, then comparing them to the summation in chapter 15, we can’t help but notice how Jesus repeated the same details. He did this to draw attention to them. Jesus repeated the most important details a number of times. When we consider chapter 13 to 17 one long lesson, we can’t help but see how Jesus followed basic rules of context, repeating not only key words, but phrases, and subjects.

    • I Am Going Away

      John 16:5-9 NLTse “But now I am going away to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. (6) Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. (7) But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (9) The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.

      Is this like deja vu all over again. I’m sure you feel like you’ve heard this before. As a matter of fact, this is the third time Jesus brought up the subject of going away.

      Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:20-24 NLTse)

      “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going. (John 14:27-31 NLTse)

      In fact, Jesus repeated the words going away four times in chapter 16. All together, the term is repeated nine times. When Jesus repeats Himself, it is time to pay attention. What is the significance of the term? Why did Jesus repeat it so much?

      Jesus first introduced the term when He was teaching inside the temple court. Jesus used the term to convey a somber message. Jesus told those people in the courtyard, they couldn’t follow Him, and they would die in their sins. The simple lesson was, they were from this world, and He was from above.

      Jesus also used the term, “I am going away,” earlier in this lesson. The message to His disciples was a contrast to the message given to those people in the courtyard. Jesus told His disciples about the gift of peace He will return with. He also explained where He was going, to be with His Father. But Jesus included a warning when He told His disciples He was leaving. He told them about Satan coming. Later Jesus added more details about what they would face.

      Because Jesus included a contrast, it’s easy to see some people accept Jesus’ resurrection and other won’t. That’s a detail easy to apply to stories telling about when Jesus rose from that tomb, but holds more of a spiritual meaning today. Because we don’t have eye witnesses today, we have to go by recorded words and faith. Which is easier to come by and which is easier to believe? Most people would assume the written word. But how many people actually read God’s Word? Most of the Christian world never read the Bible. They may have heard sermons and a few verses, but their only experience with Jesus’ resurrection comes from a movie or two. What kind of a relationship is that?

      Jesus was careful to repeat certain words and phrases to draw attention to them. How important was it for Jesus to go away? If we know the Bible, we know Jesus refereed to His death, resurrection, and return to Heaven. This was by far the most important event in the history of this world. Well worth repeating. But how many people notice how Jesus tried to draw attention to it?

      Jesus also promised the Spirit again. This is another subject Jesus repeated a number of times. When we look at the main theme introduced at the beginning of this chapter, we are reminded, Jesus told us He already taught this lesson. Because He is repeating it, He actually introduced the rule of first mention.

      Study Bible With Context 1There is another study rule called the rule of first mention. When a word is repeated throughout a chapter, look back at the first verse it is mentioned in. Look how it is used in that verse. This will establish a direction sometimes based on the emotional side of the spiritual context used in the chapter. Don’t forget to look at similar and related words.

      I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (John 1:31-34 NLTse)

      Not even John knew Jesus was the Messiah until He saw God’s Spirit on Him. What does this tell us about the Spirit? He will show people we are connected with God. It makes sense. How are people supposed to know we have a connection with God if we can’t show a relationship with God’s Spirit? If Jesus needed God’s Spirit to show John the Baptist, He is the Messiah, how are we going to prove anything, or gain anyone’s confidence if we can’t show the same?

      This was an important point, so John repeated it. When we look at Jesus’ ministry, we can see how important is was for Jesus to point people to God and His Spirit. The first time God’s Spirit is mentioned, Jesus explained that connection is with one of the best illustrations in the Bible.

      “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? (John 3:4-10 NLTse)

      Jesus pointed Nicodemus the religious teacher to God’s Spirit. Jesus didn’t teach Nicodemus much, He knew He had very little time, so Jesus pointed him to the source of all knowledge and the One who could be with Nicodemus all the time. Jesus knew Nicodemus would be filled with a lot of questions, doubts, and fears. Jesus pointed Nicodemus to the only source He knew could help him through everything the enemy planned on throwing at him. Jesus prepared Nicodemus for the spiritual battle ahead. Not by providing a small weapon like a knife, but one with a magnitude of power beyond our imaginations. Jesus didn’t sent Nicodemus into battle with one meal, but the only source of unlimited spiritual food to last an eternity.

      “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:31-36 NLTse)

      What an I writing for? We look at the next mention of God’s Spirit and Jesus explained God’s Spirit much better than I ever could. All we need to do is link those verses together and we get the vision of God’s Spirit we really need. God wasn’t fooling around when He inspired John to write this book. Not only are we given information on the Spirit, but an example of Him at work.

      Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24 NLTse)

      We’re given not one example of Jesus introducing someone to God’s Spirit, but two. Notice how Jesus used different methods? See how each was tailored to the individual? You may not notice, but this is another example of God’s Spirit at work. Jesus knew how to communicate with God’s Spirit and listen to His voice. When Jesus followed instruction, He was able to do exactly what He was told to do, successfully lead two people to the Spirit.

      If you’ll notice, Jesus saw the effect the Spirit had on the woman, but not on Nicodemus. That taught us, we’re not always going to see the result, but that doesn’t mean God’s Spirit stopped working. Introducing people to God’s Spirit is the beginning of a process that doesn’t end when we drop out of the picture.

      Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) (John 6:61-64 NLTse)

      We’re given the perfect example of how hard God’s Spirit works in the back ground with Jesus’ own disciples. We’re constantly reminded how little they understood. John was one of those disciples and he wasn’t ashamed to admit, he had a difficult time understanding. It took him a long time to catch onto exactly what Jesus was teaching. One of the disciples never caught on. Judas is also used as a contrast of how the Spirit leads to eternal life. Quite a bit to think about.

      On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” (John 7:37-40 NLTse)

      We’re also shown one symbol pointing to the Spirit, living water. Many people think spiritual water pointed to Jesus, but John’s comment made it clear, Jesus was pointing them to God’s Spirit. After reading the previous examples, we can understand that lesson. Jesus’ role was to point people to God’s Spirit. When people exclaimed, Jesus was a prophet, we’re reminded of a prophets role, to point people to God.

      “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:15-20 NLTse)

      Now we see another pattern emerging. Now we are covering the same event which is recorded from John chapter 13 to 17. If we looked ahead, we’d see additional verses describing the Spirit. At this point we’ll stick to rules of context and only look back.

      We see a condition, to obey God’s commandments. This is another role of God’s Spirit, to help us understand those commandments. Not the way men teach, but the way they were meant to be understood.

      We’re also shown the Spirit will first guide us into all truth about those commandments, as well as other subjects. We also see the close, intimate connection between Jesus and the Spirit. Having God’s Spirit in our lives is the same as having Jesus guide us. This is what He meant when He promised not to abandon us.

      I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. (John 14:25-29 NLTse)

      Jesus remaining with us is such an important point, He repeated it and added more details to the subject. Jesus remains with us through God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit will move from leading or guiding us to teaching us which will, or should bring comfort. If it doesn’t, you’d better go back to reexamine your relationship with Him, or the process your following. If you don’t feel that comfort God’s Spirit brings, you are missing something.

      From a few short verses we’ve seen how Jesus sent us back to review two subjects He’d been teaching during His ministry. While we study these, we have to keep in mind how important they are to our faith. Keep that in mind as you think about how God’s Spirit and Jesus’ return effect your spiritual life.

    • There Is So Much I Want to Tell You

      John 16:10-14 NLTse Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (11) Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (12) “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (13) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (14) He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.

      We’ve already covered many of the details Jesus taught about God’s Spirit. After reviewing another important subject, judgment, Jesus continued to explain the role of the Spirit. He added a new subject. This time Jesus went back to God’s Spirit guiding you and this time added a new detail. “He will tell you about the future.” I know most Christians consider this a very important subject. This subject will perk up the ears of most Christians. The future is the subject many Christians are interested in and some are obsessed with it. But what is the process?

      Has anyone been able to explain the process God’s Spirit uses to speak with us? If we look back at the Old Testament, we see a simple process. God spoke directly to Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, David, many of the prophets, and others. God spoke to some of those and others like Jacob and Joseph in dreams. When we get to the New Testament, we see a greater role introduced with God using angels. We also see few examples of Jesus talking directly to God which was replaced by prayer. Why the change? I’m not sure, but it has to do something with what we see here. Jesus wanted to tell the disciples more, but they had to wait until the Spirit came. We also see another change symbolized by the disciples, first the twelve, then the seventy. The process was expanded to others like Nicodemus, the woman Jesus met at the well, the man Jesus case a thousand demons out of, and others. Peter and John explained what was happening. You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6 NLTse).

      God was moving from speaking through a few channels at a time to many. Since the method of delivering the message to this world changed, so did the way God communicated with this world.

      Another factor came into play. The mystery of the Messiah was made clear. Lessons changed from telling about what the Messiah will be to what He accomplished. The message still includes what Jesus has to accomplish before His return, which is the future Jesus spoke about. We can prove that by reading the texts. “He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.

      God’s Spirit is all about Jesus. He has never been about us, although His role is to guide, teach, comfort, and encourage us, as well as help us to remember what Jesus taught. Since Jesus is repeating the subject of judgment, we should look up the previous lessons to see if we are following a new pattern.

      “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21 NLTse)

      John 3:16 takes on a whole new meaning when we understand it from the point of view describing how Jesus came not to judge but save this world. We see an interesting link between the cross and judgment which will be described later in more detail. When you read the statement Jesus made about judging, it is eye opening as well as sobering. It is also one example showing how people take one section of a subject, make it a doctrine, and misled people into thinking they’ve been taught all the facts. Let’s be serious here, the first time we see judgment mentioned in John’s book happened to be one verse people separate from his book to make a simple doctrine. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” Look at the word Jesus followed that sentence with. The word, “but.” That word should make us read the rest of the lesson which involves light and walking into that light. Is stopping at one verse walking into the light, or standing still? How much do we need to know about that light? I’d say that’s a personal question between you and God’s Spirit.

      “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:31-36 NLTse)

      We can apply what is written about Jesus to God’s Spirit since we’ve already seen how Jesus and God’s Spirit are one. These verses show the connection between God’s Spirit and judgment. Since there are two view points to consider, Heaven and earth, there will also be two views on the judgment. We’re told about two sides of the judgment, remaining under it, or believing in Jesus and the Spirit He sends. The alternative to judgment is eternal life. It seems like a no-brainer, but that doesn’t stop people from creating a way around the simple process.

      So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

      (John 5:19-30 NLTse)

      We have another series of verses showing how God’s Spirit is linked to the process of judgment. Jesus began this part of His lesson by describing how God directs Him to do everything. We’ve seen how God’s Spirit communicated with Jesus. Once again, we’re shown how God and Jesus are linked together, teamed up to accomplish the same goal. There is one sentence that I really like. Once we see the connection between Jesus and His Father, Jesus said, “Then you will truly be astonished.”

      Giving life to the dead is one of those gifts or powers Jesus received from God. It may be the one that most astonishes us. We are also shown that God gave the role of judging to Jesus. Later we’ll be told how God judges. Later we’ll look into that a little deeper.

      Giving honor and believing in Him and His son is part of receiving eternal life. Jesus added another condition. “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” We also have to listen to Jesus’ message. What is that message? One part is covered here. Hearing Jesus’ voice when He returns to open the graves and raise the dead. How will anyone know Jesus’ voice when He opens the graves if they don’t know it when they were living?

      The beginning of this chapter tells us what we have to do to keep our faith. This section of John chapter 5 covers part of the process to obtain eternal life, which is the same as avoiding judgment. More of that process is explained after Jesus’ resurrection.

      Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (John 8:14-18 NLTse)

      These texts contain another one of those verses some people like to take out of the chapter and use it to prove a preconceived idea. In essence, they don’t hear Jesus’ voice, nor do they know His Spirit. They try to make the claim, Jesus never judges anyone. They use one portion of a sentence to claim everyone is saved. Look at the portion of texts they use. ” I do not judge anyone.” Then look at the entire sentence. “You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.” Jesus was referring to human standards. Jesus does not judge anyone by human standards, as He made clear in His previous sentence. “For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me.” Jesus told them there is a difference between Him and them. Then told them, He doesn’t judge by their standards.

      There are more texts dealing with the subject of judgment. You can go over the rest yourself to pray and think about what they mean, what they teach, and how they are related. You can see how some statements seem to contradict others, if you don’t know the full story.

      “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (John 8:49-51 NLTse)

      Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment–to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (John 9:39 NLTse)

      Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:30-32 NLTse)

      Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” (John 12:44-50 NLTse)

    • In a Little While

      John 16:15-22 NLTse All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ (16) “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (17) Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? (18) And what does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don’t understand.” (19) Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. (20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. (21) It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (22) So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.

      Jesus repeated this subject a number of times. We looked at a list at the beginning of this chapter. When we see something like this, scripture is telling us there is something we missed, or there is something added here God’s Spirit is telling us we need to see.

      Study Bible With Context 1Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.

      We saw a pattern established in chapter 16 by three subjects recorded in earlier chapters. Jesus intentionally repeated those lessons. We followed instructions from verse 1 and looked at what was taught in previous events. Then Jesus went back to the first lesson He introduced. What are we supposed to do? Go back to study the first subject again? We could do that. But when a pattern is broken, it often means the lesson is moving in a new direction requiring a new way of looking at it. The question of course is always, what is the new way of examining this part of the lesson? This is a good time to stop and pray.

      Look at how many times the phrase or thought is repeated. The introduction and summation agree Jesus going away and coming back is the main theme in this chapter. Some people may try to apply this to what many they refer to as Jesus’ second coming, but the context makes it clear Jesus is teaching about His arrest and execution. What did we miss? Look at what John added.

      First Jesus concentrated on the word going, and term, going away. He later changed to, in a little while you won’t see me anymore. We can see how they are related, and really should be highlighted the same color.

      Study Bible With Context 1Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.

      It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.

      When we take a close look at this section of scripture, we can see one important detail added to the main theme. Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? The disciples repeated the phrase Jesus used. It’s important to pay attention to who said what. The important change to notice is, they asked each other.

      A close look will show the disciples repeated the question, then added the fact, they didn’t understand. Those changes are important. Jesus pointed out this detail. This is one of the easiest places to see Jesus’ pause. You can see how Jesus gave them time to think. Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant?” Then Jesus repeated the term, “in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again.” The way that term is repeated stands out like book ends with all the information between them.

      The problem sticks out like a sore thumb. The disciples thought they could figure out the situation themselves. Now look at the situation. What is Jesus talking about? His arrest, trial, and execution, then finally resurrection. When was that going to happen? In the future. The disciples had no way of figuring out the future on their own. But that didn’t stop them from trying.

      Jesus continued with a parable. This time He used the symbol of a woman having a baby. He told the disciples that’s what they would feel like. Not in a physical sense, but on an emotional level. Jesus told them, their grief was coming.

      We see another side of Jesus. And let’s not forget, a side of God we really have to get to know. Jesus is about to face four humiliating trails, He will be beaten, whipped, and face the most painful execution derived my mankind. Jesus know everything in His future, and He is concerned about His disciples experiencing emotional grief. What does that tell you about God?

    • Do You Really Believe?

      John 16:23-31 NLTse At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (24) You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (25) “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. (26) Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. (28) Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (29) Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe?

      I guess you’ll have to wait for this answer like I had to. I had to pray about those last few verses and then I was shown their spiritual connection. Jesus showed His concern, His love for the disciples by being more worried about them then He was about Himself. Don’t miss this point. In the parable Jesus used the symbol of a woman giving birth. Now we see Jesus asking them if they really believe. What does that word believe mean? This is another one of those moments the Spirit tells you to pause and look up the word.

      G4100 pisteuo

      From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

      G4102 pistis

      From G3982; persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: – assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

      G3982 peitho

      A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.

      I wonder how many people can figure out the definition on the emotional level Jesus was in at the time. The emotional level that brought Him here in the first place. The emotional level Jesus was in at the time, the day before He lost His life. People wake up! Jesus died!

      When we look at Jesus’ question on the deep emotional level of Heaven, we can’t, or shouldn’t help but see Jesus was asking, “Do you really love me? Do you really believe in me? Let’s look at the definition of the word believe and break it down to the emotional level of love. Not that counterfeit love found in this world, but that special love from Heaven.

      Did the disciples have faith and trust in Jesus like God has in Him? Were they committed to Jesus like His Father is? I wrote another book based on Mark’s Gospel. As I was writing that book, it became evident, Jesus was teaching His disciples about a real relationship. The sequence of events showed how Mark recorded lessons about a relationship. That was the common theme that connected them. It became evident, Jesus was teaching them about a relationship because He wanted a real relationship with them. Jesus reached out for their love. He needed their love to make it through the trials He had to face. But those disciples couldn’t catch on. They couldn’t give Jesus the love, support and commitment He needed. They were too busy arguing who was the greatest. They were too busy being in love with themselves.

      I remember what it was like to be in love. Then I found out love never works on a one way street. Love amounts to nothing if it is not shared on the same level by both people. Now I feel humbled to have been through an experience close to what Jesus had to go through. I am also humbled and even more in love with Jesus because He tried to stop it, but I wouldn’t listen. I could list at least a dozen signs telling me not to marry that woman. But I was in love. I remember one in particular over the past few days. The day I my flight was scheduled to go to her and get married, I received a call. It was from someone who wanted to by my house. She offered full price, cash, no contingencies. I turned it down and left for the airport. Now I can’t sell the house for $50,000 less than that offer. And if I do, well the ex-wife gets a good portion of the money. That’s all she is concerned about. That is one lesson that sits heavy on my mind. I ignored warnings Jesus sent and paid the price. It was a heavy toll, but now I can look back and see the lesson.

      When I heard about the divorce, I was devisated. I couldn’t eat for weeks. I lost so much weight it really showed. I was always normal, or close to ideal weight. 5′-8″ and between 150-155 pounds. I was less than 140 pounds before I regained my appetite. I would not accept the divorce and was convinced I could fix it. I prayed to God constantly to help me fix it. Pain was on my mind and heart constantly for months. It was the only thing I could think about from the time I woke up to when I was finally able to fall asleep. After a few hours I’d wake up and it would be the only thing on my mind. She knew how emotional I would be and used it to her advantage. She used my emotions to not only manipulate me, but to extend and increase the pain I felt. She made no attempt to cover up her adultery but praised it. She bragged about it. She used it to hurt me.

      I lost count of the number of months before we consummated our marriage. She always had an excuse. I thought that was just the way a good Christian woman acted. After that, we had sex every few months. Again I convinced myself that must be the way good Christian women act. They put away the lusts of the flesh and for some reason that made me love her even more.

      Before we married, we prayed together everyday, and studied together. We would stay on the phone for hours and make sure we called each other before and after work. But that all changed as soon as we got married. She never prayed or studied the Bible after we married. I continued to do both as well as call her on the way to work, and when I was on my way home. That was another one way street.

      Now that I look back, our marriage was one long one way street. She didn’t work much. But the few times she had a job, she always complained about it. And I was right there to support her. I’d tell her how they didn’t appreciate her and didn’t’ see the skills and potential she had. I supported her when she quit. Of course she always cried like it was a big emotional step for her. Looking back I can see how she used her tears as another tool or weapon.

      I was reminded about another detail. She always told me stories about how she would constantly almost get into car accidents. After she told me her account of the story, I would always support her and agree it was the other person’s fault. I was in love and I could never see what she was doing. In her eyes she was perfect. She never made a mistake. As long as she has people to agree with her, she could convince herself she was always right. Sounds a lot like the same emotion and pride the disciples placed above their love for Jesus. She loved herself more than me like the disciples loved themselves more than Jesus.

      After about a year of anguish, I finally started listening to God. One of the first things He told me was I stopped praying out loud to Him. That was because she didn’t like it. I stopped praying, thinking, what could go wrong? After all, I was in love. Love has a way of blinding you. I finally accepted the fact, God had to work on her and as long as I was there offering faithful and unlimited encouragement, she wasn’t going to accept any type of change. She was convinced she was perfect – adultery and all.

      I had to go back and examine what love really was. I had to pray long and hard about it. I was determined to get Jesus back in the center of my heart. I saw how I placed my wife there and asked Jesus to leave. How do I get Him back where He belonged and how do I make sure no one ever takes His place in my heart? That is a difficult question to ask. And a hard answer to accept.

      What took Jesus to that cross and through all that pain and suffering? We’ve seen how Jesus could look into the future and understand what was about to happen. He saw how the cross would change them. Jesus saw how they would accept the pain and let it remold and change them. I felt that pain for nearly a year.

      I have to say, I have not found a woman close to that kind of love and commitment I felt for my wife when we were married. I hear a lot of women say they love Jesus, but their love is not even close to what I felt for my ex-wife. This time I am looking and waiting for much more.

      As I learn more about Jesus and how much He loves me, and the love He offers to all of us, I am reminded about another part of my life. My mother died of cancer when I was very young. My dad never remarried. He loved her so much, he never did find another woman close her. My dad never found another woman who sparked the depth of love he had for her. Maybe it runs in the genes?

      How do we get that kind of love for Jesus? I have to ask, how would you feel if someone stole your wife or husband from you, or they suddenly died? How would you feel? How empty would you feel? Would the meaning and purpose of life disappear without them? Would you feel like life had no meaning? Wouldn’t it hurt so much, days would drag on without purpose. Food wouldn’t taste the same. Sights and sounds, the little things in life like shopping, sitting together, a view of a full moon, or a sunset would pass without joy. Wouldn’t you feel like you’d never feel a happy moment again? Wouldn’t it feel like nothing had any meaning because you had no one to share it with? I felt that way for years. I still feel that way at times.

      Multiply that sadness by an infinite number and you know what those disciples felt. Look at the scene. We normally suffer alone. I was alone in a big house. I had about four people to support me. But I felt so alone. Like happiness had fled only to be replaced by a deep feeling of dispair, hopelessness, loneliness, and sadness forever. The disciples gathered together to share their grief, support, and encourage each other. The lesson of washing each other’s feet was unfolding. Did they see the lesson and understand it. Not until after they saw Jesus when their grief was lifted.

      This feeling and lesson of love is so personal, you have to take it up with Jesus on your own. You owe it to yourself and owe it to Him to sit down and talk about it. I can’t express or explain all the lessons He taught me. Some of them are too personal to share. But I praise the LORD because now I can look back and see why I had to live through that horror and experience all that pain for all those years. It gave me a glimpse of what Jesus’ disciples felt for a few days after they saw their friend executed and placed in a tomb. I hope you didn’t have to experience anything that drastic, but if you did, I hope what I shared has helped to release you from the pain. Now it’s time to go to Jesus to be healed and learn what love really is.

      When we look at that definition of the word believe in John 16, we can’t help but see how closely the definition is to love. The word Jesus used definitely is a view from Heaven, which is far different than this world. Faith, entrust, spiritual well being, commitment, moral conviction, truthfulness, conviction, consistency, assurance, fidelity, reliance, and obedience are all factors of love as well as belief. We can see how the definition from Heaven far exceeds the expectations and commitments of this world. The question is, what is it going to take for this world to move from the love it understands, to the love Jesus, God, and His Spirit offer? Not only accept that love but be totally committed to it.

      Once we understand and see the Heavenly meaning of belief, it opens up a whole new view into the difference of love and commitment between this world and Heaven. One example was on the news last week. The US has been locked in an unbelievable cold front for about a month. The east coast saw more snow than they could handle. Government studies showed how that severe weather caused more than four billion dollars in losses to the economy. I don’t know who does those studies or what criteria they actually use, but common sense paints a totally different picture.

      Talking to some people around Milwaukee where we are experiencing record cold temperatures but not much snow, they tell me how busy they are. Common sense tells us plumbers are busy as well as people repairing and replacing furnaces. Record number of car batteries are being sold. Auto body shops as well as repair shops are seeing record income. On the east coast where it has been constantly snowing, people in the snow removal business are making more money than expected. The kid next door is making more money shoveling snow than he ever dreamed about. But government reports say the economy lost so much money. Their statement reveals where their love lies. . Not with the small businesses making record profits, but with large corporations facing a decrease in profits. And we can bet those figures are exaggerated so people feel sorry for them like my ex-wife thrived on. When we experience that love from Heaven, we can see that misguided love in this world and where their true intentions and commitments really lie.

      Jesus told them a little bit of what was going to happen and then He shared the results. Jesus gave them a taste of what we find in Hebrews 10 where it explained how Jesus opened up a direct path to God’s throne for us. I’ve also been praying about why – for the most part, it seems God voice has fallen silent to this world. How do you think Jesus felt when He saw His love was on a one way street? I mean, can you imagine what He really felt? When I found out I was on that road, I couldn’t explain how much it hurt. I can tell you, I have not spoken to my ex-wife since the divorce. I have no need to communicate with her at any time on any subject. I have to be honest. A love like I had doesn’t die, but wisdom and knowledge tell me that love is nothing to waste. Especially on someone who has no idea how to return it. Does Jesus feel the same way? I talk to Jesus, and He answers. Jesus met and talked to His disciples after His resurrection. He saw the joy in their faces and felt the transformation in their hearts. He finally experienced and felt the love He gave them returned. Why does so much of this world believe Jesus stopped talking to us?

      Why does it seem like Jesus doesn’t talk to so many people? Is it only because they aren’t listening? Or is a part of the reason because Jesus felt the pain of a one way relationship and chose not to communicate? Is it because He doesn’t want to feel that pain again? We’re created in God’s image and if we feel that pain, you’d better believe Jesus feels it to.

      I can only speak from experience in human terms, but maybe that’s what this world needs to hear. Maybe that’s all this world is ready to hear. Maybe human terms and an understanding of that love Jesus has for us is a bridge they need to begin giving back the love they receive.

      I have to be honest. There is a part of me that wants to protect myself from the pain. I never want to feel like that again. So I chose not to communicate with my ex-wife in any way, shape or form. I can be honest and tell you why. I would fall in love all over again in a minute. She wouldn’t have to put in any effort or show any love at all and I would lay myself at her feet and remain totally committed. I would give her much more than explained in that definition of believe and much more. Oh how I wish I could love Jesus that much and feel that strong about Him. But with my ex-wife, I know I have to protect myself. I’ve already lost so much.

      We can’t explain the depth of Jesus’ love any more than we can understand or feel the pain He went through. Come on now, don’t you understand He came here as a human and felt much more than the cold, heat, exhaustion, hunger, the lash on His back, nails through His hands and feet, thrones on His head, and those other physical pains. Jesus felt more emotion and heartbreak than we could imagine. Because His love is so much deeper than ours, so is the emotional pain. Does that explain why people don’t hear Him communicate with them? Is it because they have no intentions or desires to return His love and Jesus is protecting His heart from the pain? Can we blame Him?

      Lucky thing for us we have the Bible to help us understand and hear Jesus calling out to us. His disciples couldn’t provide the support He needed when He needed it, or return the love He gave them when He needed it most. But Jesus went back to them and couldn’t wait to fill their hearts with joy. After suffering the worst pain those disciples could imagine, it was gone in a moment. It was a pain only Jesus could heal.

      Look at Paul as another example. He hated Jesus and all of His followers. But that didn’t stop Jesus from reaching out to Paul with all His love. And look what happened with Paul, how he changed. There are other examples in the Bible and many more in God’s book of life. He keeps a record of all of them like many of us record precious moments we want to remember. Imagine what those mean to Jesus when someone opens up their heart and returns the love He gives them. Can you feel that joy? Have you felt those emotions in this world? Do you remember what it felt like? Now multiply that by the infinite number of eternity.

      Jesus opened a new door for this world. He loves us so much He promised to give us anything and everything. Don’t we make the same promises to the people we really love? Jesus wasn’t selfish with His love. He showed us where it came from. His love is so great it has to be shared. When He rose from that tomb He opened up a new door, a new era, ” At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” Jesus gave us the greatest love, gift, and joy of all. He opened a direct path to God’s throne for us. How much does Jesus want us to understand that love?

      Jesus explained that answer to His disciples. “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”

      First off, we should be happy because Jesus told us He returned to be with His first love, His Father. Up until this point, Jesus spoke in symbols and examples. As far as the disciples were concerned at that point in time, the love Jesus spoke about had not yet been revealed. Jesus told them, “soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father.” But the time had not yet come for them to understand or feel that love. First they had to share the pain.

      The disciples thought they understood, but at that time, there was no way for them to know. A lot of people think they understand Jesus’ love, but do they really? Are they 100% prepared to return that love? Look what’s not in the Bible. There’s no record of any of the disciples falling in love or getting married. Like my dad, they found one love that could not be equaled. Some times the things we go through in life prepare us for what is ahead. Lessons are often difficult to learn. Those four Gospels all agree, Jesus’ disciples found it impossible to understand Jesus’ love and God’s plan of salvation until after they passed through the pain. I think a lot of us are the same. We each feel our own personal pain. We all have our own way of dealing with it. We all have our own level of asking Jesus to get involved and help us to heal. And we all have our own level and quality of love we return to Jesus.

      Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? We all have our own level of belief. The point is to remember how Jesus reached out to people in the Bible and learn from those examples.

    • You Will Be Scattered

      John 16:32-33 NLTse But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

      Have you gone through that? Did you leave Jesus alone when He needed you? Image the Son of God needing people. Jesus pointed out, He was never really alone as long as He has His Father. Did you ever feel like that? The only one in the universe who could understand you was God? Then you would feel a little of what Jesus felt. When you can feel a little of what Jesus felt, you are ready to find that peace He offered.

      Jesus made another promise. Well two of them. He didn’t want to hide anything, so He told His disciples the road was not going to be an easy one. I remember when I was in love, I felt like nothing in this world could hurt me. I wish I had that kind of love with Jesus. But I’m working on it and it is growing. It is getting there. That’s the kind of love and confidence Jesus wants us to have. The kind of love that can overcome anything and everything this world can throw at us. We just have to keep in mind, Jesus faced this world and won! And we can do the same when we finally figure out how to return the love He gives to us. There is no greater gift we can offer Jesus than to return the love He gave to us.

      Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalms 51:15-17 NLTse)

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John Chapter 14 Trust in God

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 21, 2015


  • John 14:1-31 NLTse “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. (2) There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (3) When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (4) And you know the way to where I am going.” (5) “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (7) If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (8) Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (9) Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (10) Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. (11) Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. (12) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. (13) You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. (14) Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (15) “If you love me, obey my commandments. (16) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. (17) He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (18) No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. (19) Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. (20) When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (21) Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (22) Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” (23) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. (24) Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. (25) I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. (26) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. (27) “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (28) Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. (29) I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. (30) “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, (31) but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.

    This is the beginning of three of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Jesus told His disciples about God, His Kingdom, the disciples role, and how God’s Spirit will help them. Those chapters also tell about Jesus’ love for this world in greater detail than any other story in the Bible.

    We’ve seen how John can get into details. He surpassed himself in those three chapters. I have no idea why other authors didn’t record any of those details, but they seem to be the focus of John’s book.

    Jesus got right to the point. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” Jesus doesn’t want us to worry. If we can’t physically see Him, we can be sure we are on His mind. The symbol of building a home shows how much He cares. It used to be a tradition for a man to build a new home for His wife to be. It was a pledge to his future wife as well as a form of security to her parents. This was Jesus’ way of introducing the concept of an engagement and with it comes a commitment. We all know how Jesus feels about divorce. Because an engagement involved such a commitment, it was viewed much like a marriage. Look back at Jesus’ conception. Mary wasn’t married when she became pregnant, but since the engagement was set, Joseph would have to go through the same process as a divorce to put her away.

    We don’t have to worry about any divorce. As long as we remain committed to Jesus, He remains committed to us. Those who wonder away aren’t necessarily put out of His mind, memory, or concern. He will do anything to get them back. Hence the parable of the lost sheep, and other parables.

    Did you ever talk to Jesus about the house He is building for you? Did you every talk about the layout, features, and colors? I’m not sure of the layout, but I asked for jasper with the ability to change colors. Can you imagine crystal walls with all kinds of different colors? Why is Jesus building a home for you?

    When everything is ready, Jesus promises to come and take us all home. Just think, no more mortgage or rent to pay. No more taxes, electric bills, phone bills, freezing cold and unbearable heat will be a thing of the past. No more food bills. We can walk out the door to a feast of fresh fruits, nuts, and can you imagine your garden? God planted one for Adam and Eve. We’ll all have one. Can you imagine the taste with no fertilizers or pesticides. I don’t know about you, but I want to go home soon.

    The best part is, we can talk with Jesus and other people we’ve read about in the Bible. I don’t know about you, but I have about a million questions. I hope I remember all of them. I’m not worried, I’ll have an eternity to think about those questions.

    Jesus said we should know where He is going. What does He mean by that? Jesus doesn’t just mean the destination, He means the details He wants to tell you about now. He doesn’t want us to wait to hear the details. He is as excited about sharing those details as I am excited about being there. I hope you are to.

    “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” It seems strange to see Thomas didn’t know what Jesus was talking about, where He was going, or how to get there. Jesus had to remind them. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

    I guess that answered the question. Do you understand now? If your a little foggy on the subject, your not the only one. Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Those two disciples showed the misunderstanding many in this world will have in every generation. It’s rare to read or hear about visions of Heaven. What are those preachers doing if they don’t have enough time to spend a few minutes with Jesus to talk about Heaven? I’m not sure what their priorities are, but I hope they get them straightened out.

    Jesus couldn’t figure out why His disciples couldn’t understand. Weren’t they listening? Didn’t they care? Were they happier on this world? What was the problem? Jesus had to resort to the same method He used with the Pharisees. Jesus began repeating Himself. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

    I don’t comprehend why the disciples didn’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. When I look at the gospels, I see time frames in between the stories. What did Jesus talk to them about during those periods? There must have been times Jesus reminisced about home. Didn’t they see a vision of Heaven in the day to day events and blessing while they were with Jesus? They always had food. God provided everything they needed. They saw a bit of Heaven when Jesus fed thousands. They experienced the joy of Heaven when they saw Jesus heal people. How many times did they witness the love from Heaven? After seeing all of that, His disciples said they didn’t know. What about all the things Jesus told them?

    “The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.” Jesus had to remind them. He paused for a long time giving them time to think. Jesus knew He didn’t have to explain everything. Then it was time to get to work.

    “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” Sounds simple enough. If we need anything to do work for God, all we need to to is ask. I can tell you for a fact, I am trying that right now. I’d like nothing more than to retire, write all day, and do a full time ministry teaching people how to get closer to God. But I guess Jesus is already Taking care of that.

    “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” That shouldn’t be to difficult. But why aren’t any of us able to keep all the commandments? We can try, but we always seem to fail. Maybe that’s why we don’t get everything we ask for.

    This is one of my favorite parts. The promise about God’s Spirit. Imagine a full time guide, friend, and protector. That is when we listen. Listening can be as difficult as keeping all the commandments. Has anyone been able to get a perfect score on both for an entire day? I doubt it.

    Before we get too far into this chapter, let’s look at how John led into this chapter. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me. (John 13:34-38 NLTse).

    John ended the previous chapter with the same theme in this chapter. Love each other. Then Jesus told about how Peter would deny Him. We see that theme continued here when Jesus’ disciples didn’t know where Jesus was going, or how to get there. Imagine, Jesus was going be in this world as a mortal man for a few more hours and His disciples still don’t understand.

    Did the disciples know more about God’s Spirit than they knew about where He was going? What is God’s Spirit? Is it a manifestation or extension of God? It is God’s way of communicating with us? Is the Holy Spirit brought to us by God’s angels, those Nathaniel was told he would see going up and down from Heaven? Or is God’s Spirit a combination of all of them? If it’s one thing I’ve learned is not to guess at details we cannot be sure of. And never to claim to know everything about an Infinite God.

    Jesus told us, the first role of God’s Spirit is to guide. He leads us into all truth. A guide is not a teacher. I’ve seen too many people confuse the definition and purpose of the two. Jesus claimed and fulfilled the role of teacher. Even though Jesus received His instructions from God, Jesus has been and will continue to be our Teacher. Principals and school board leaders don’t teach. They may be administrators. They may determine what classes are offered and to a great degree determine how subjects are taught, but teachers have direct contact with students and are responsible for results and failures. Jesus is the only one who came here, experienced and suffered through life in this world, and the only one equipped to teach us. Jesus has a special bond with us and is a conduit between us and God.

    What does it mean to guide? If you study the Bible on your own, you should know that answer because you’ve heard the whisper in your ear to look back a few verses, compare another verse, look up the definition of a word, and the many other instructions God’s Spirit uses to guide. But it is still Jesus and His experience that teaches. Why do you think He gave His disciples the instructions, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. (Luke 24:44-48 NLTse). Jesus pointed them back to the experiences recorded about Him. Jesus had more to teach about God’s Spirit.

    The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. God’s Spirit covers the world like water covered the world before creation. His Spirit is everywhere, but can’t reach everyone. Not everyone will accept God’s Spirit who only guides, but will not force people to follow. Jesus’ sheep follow Him because the hear His voice, but Jesus doesn’t force them to follow.

    How do we … I’m not sure of the proper words except to say, work with those conditions? I know the answer is not, tell people your doctrine and tell them they’re lost if they don’t believe. Belief has nothing to do with man made doctrines, no matter how many proof texts they collect. Jesus never provided a list of doctrines or told anyone to believe in anything more than God, Himself, God’s Spirit, God’s Kingdom, and eternal life. There may be a few others, but that covers the majority of the list. Jesus also told His disciples and all of us to follow God’s commandments. But Jesus didn’t make a doctrine out of it because that is part of His teaching job. Not our job. That is another role people are confused about. They confuse the gift of teaching with the authority to teach. We can or should only teach what God’s Spirit has guided us to, Jesus and His Word has taught us, and God has verified. Here again, one out of three in the process is not good enough.

    Jesus made a promise not to abandon anyone. He also told them this world won’t see Him much longer. That’s why He promised to send God’s Spirit. He wants us to know He is with God. Then Jesus said something hard to understand, “and you are in me, and I am in you.” Jesus is in us now, not some time in the future. Some people want to wait. I’m wondering what they’re waiting for. Most people know Jesus is within us. A lot of people say Jesus is in their hearts, but really don’t know what that means. All they do is repeat what they’ve been told, but don’t know the love it takes to hold Jesus in their heart, or share that love.

    The other part of that statement is the difficult part to understand. We are in Jesus. Not many people preach this, or know what it means. I can’t really be sure, except to point to Hebrews 10 where it shows how Jesus died to open a direct path to God’s throne. Spiritually we are meant to be with Jesus. All I can say is, that is a personal experience. I can include a short list of steps I take to approach God’s throne.

    Pray to Jesus in the evening and the morning and throughout the day.

    Pray out loud whenever you can.

    Night time is time to rest and get away from this world.

    Take this time to reconnect with God.

    God can reach you through His Word.

    Read scripture in the evening and in the morning.

    Keep in contact with God like a friend.

    God communicates through a series of events.

    Look for patterns in His Word, your life, and world events.

    Pay attention to conversations with people. God also communicates through people.

    Approach God’s throne by praying to Jesus to cleanse you with His blood.

    Lay your sins in front of Jesus.

    Listen to what He has to say.

    Ask Jesus to purify you and place you at the foot of God’s throne.

    Ask about a few subjects one at a time and wait for an answer.

    Ask God about scripture you are studying.

    Listen to scripture that comes to mind.

    Pay attention to parallel themes.

    Pay attention to parallel events in your life and the world related to the subject your studying.

    Learn to identify and suppress distractions while in prayer.

    Don’t let your mind wonder.

    Repeat the details you learned.

    Write to keep a record.

    Other details will come out while writing.

    Learn to share.

    When Jesus talked about love, He included the commandments and obeying.

    Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.

    All who love me will do what I say.

    Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me.

    Jesus also explained the direct connection between loving Him and His Father. They come as a package deal. If we love Jesus, He will love us and so will His Father. This shows the love Jesus and His Father share. A love we have to go to Him to learn about. We have to give up a lot to learn about and experience that love. It is the most expensive purchase you will ever make. You have to give greed, envy, contempt, hatred, and of course fear. Don’t take that list as a complete list. I’m sure once you talk to Jesus, He will have more details to add. Listening to Jesus is the most important aspect of a relationship with him.

    I wonder why one of the disciples asked the question he did. Jesus just explained the love relationship between Himself and His Father. Jesus also explained their love for us. Then one of His disciples asked, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” What would you have asked Jesus if you were there?

    If Jesus was talking about love, I would have asked Him to tell more about that love. What it really is. How we receive it. How we share it. How do we experience the fullness if that love? How do we make sure we never loose it? There are so many questions. I doubt if I would of asked why much of the world can’t see that love.

    I think Jesus viewed that question much the same way. Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.” We see Jesus repeating Himself again. That tells us how important this subject is. There is no subject more important than love. When we consider the love from Jesus and God, we have to see, it is what made the air we breath, water we drink, the sun that warms us, food we eat, everything in this world. Love is what makes the world rotate. Love is what keeps God from destroying sinners who cause many of us so much pain and sorrow. Love is what gives thieves, adulterers, and those who force people into slavery and prostitution one more day to live. Love is what brings a man and wife together in an emotional and spiritual state we are meant to live. Love is what sent Jesus to the cross.

    I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

    Here we see God’s Spirit in the role of teacher. We have to look at what He is teaching. In this example the Spirit is reminding them about what Jesus told them. It is more of a role of a substitute teacher reviewing what has already been taught. Of course there is more to His guiding and teaching role. There is a lot of individual guidance required in your life. Questions to be answered, problems and defects to straighten out, people to guide you to, and messages to deliver. All of those things are details of a personal nature between you and Jesus.

    Jesus wanted His disciples to be happy He was going back to His Father. At that time they didn’t know where Jesus was going. But we do now. And we should rejoice in it by learning more about what Jesus is doing in Heaven right now. How else can we share in His joy and what He is experiencing? But when Jesus was telling them this, He still had a major trial to face, and He knew what the enemy was planning. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.”This was only the beginning of Jesus’ lesson and His introduction to God and His Spirit.

    I think this is a good chapter to introduce another rule of context known as the Five W’s, Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

    Study Bible With Context 1This is one Bible Study method many people are familiar with. It is refereed to as the 5 – W’s of Bible Study. Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Each question is listed and answered. Make sure you stick to information in the Bible and do not add in outside reference material. Think of using this method to place God’s Word on trial. Think of yourself as cross examining God’s Word. Anything outside the Bible is circumstantial evidence and not allowed. This can take some digging, but as a general rule, answers are found by looking back a chapter or two. References can also be used from other books in the Bible.

    If you ever searched the Internet looking for information on Inductive Bible study, you have seen rules of the five “W’s” Who, What, When, Where and Why. Has anyone explained how to draw information from Scripture in a manner you can understand and apply? We will dwell on each of these points in an effort to provide an example you can understand.

    WHO

    I prefer to use the term personality. In this example the major who is easily answered Jesus. There are three of His disciples we should also examine. But where do the names get you? There is another important rule to follow. The rule of context. To understand the texts you have to answer each question, who, what, when, where and why in context. What does that mean? When answering the question who, we have to determine at least a few very important details. Where is the person on their spiritual walk? What events led to the circumstance or event being studied? What lesson did the person in the story learn? How did the lesson make them stronger? How does the lesson apply to their spiritual walk and yours?

    In this case, where is Jesus as the spiritual leader and the disciples are His pupils as the name implies?

    WHAT

    This may be the most difficult to explain. Look at what is happening. Jesus is teaching His disciples.

    WHEN

    The question of when is closely related to who. Many studies concentrate on the date. The date is what? A value set by the world. A date is fine if you are studying a president, king, or general, but Bible study should center on the spiritual lesson. In this example when is answered in in the previous chapter.

    Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. (John 13:1 NLTse).

    WHERE

    The physical location is easy to find. It’s found in the previous chapter in verse 2. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. (John 13:2 NLTse). In this case, John blended a strange fact with the location. John wanted us to understand what the disciples were up against and how Jesus was threatened. Remember, a Bible study will always look for the spiritual lesson being taught. There is a reason God went to great lengths to record specific locations. More of the spiritual lesson is understood when the story is studied as a whole.

    WHY

    This question can only be answered by reviewing previous texts, which brings up another important detail of Bible study. The context of the chapter is found in the first and last few verses of the chapter. Because we had to look back at the previous chapter to gather details, we can see Jesus having an intimate dinner with His disciples while Satan was present.

    WHO

    We can begin by reviewing a few details about Jesus. Because the time and location drew us back to chapter 13, we have to consider details introduced during that dinner. One was Judas possessed by the devil. Jesus introduced the symbol of wine, blood, bread, and His body. Those were reminders of what Jesus taught them. Jesus also washed their feet, a new tradition Jesus introduced to remind how He served them and how they are to serve each other.

    Jesus also reminded them, God gave Jesus His authority and He wouldn’t be with them much longer. Jesus also told them, the world will know them by their love for each other.

    Judas is one of the disciples introduced. He was the one with the devil in him. Judas is the one who turned Jesus over to the religious leaders. He did it for money. Jesus used the sign of eating together to identify the traitor, showing how someone close to Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean they know Him. When Judas left, the other disciples assumed he went out to give money to the poor. In fact, Judas was taking away the greatest treasure those poor people would ever see with their own eyes. Through God’s grace and plan, they would receive the greatest reward anyone could receive.

    Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. He thought it would be to embarrassing. After Jesus explained, Peter wanted Jesus to wash his hands and head. He wanted more than the other disciples were getting. Later, after Jesus told them He was leaving and they couldn’t follow, Peter insisted he would follow Him even onto death. That’s when Jesus told Peter he was going to deny Him three times.

    It may seem strange why chapter13 ended with Jesus telling Peter he will deny Him three times, but when we get to the what and why, we can look at the reason behind why this story is arranged like this. At this point you should be noticing why it is important to look at those chapters as one story. After all, John wrote a book, and books have chapters that all relate to the same story line. Many books finish chapters with one sort of climax or another, leading to the next event in the story.

    After Peter, Thomas told Jesus, he wanted to know where Jesus was going. Thomas also asked the way. Jesus’ explanation was simple. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

    The next disciple we see in this story is Philip. He wanted Jesus to show Him the Father. Remember, Jesus told Philip’s brother, he would see a stairway between Heaven and earth with angels going up and down.

    We also have to take a look at Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name). He wanted to know why Jesus was only going to reveal Himself to them and not the whole world.

    WHAT

    Much of the what has already been explained when I listed the names. I’m sorry for getting ahead of myself in this lesson, but now you can see how exciting it is to get into the details. If your not ready to jump in with both feet, your not connected with God’s Spirit.

    What was Jesus doing? What He does best, teaching. What was He teaching? All kinds of spiritual details and lessons. Remember Jesus was teaching a group of people. Some caught onto some parts of the lessons, other people understood other details. Jesus taught about humility, helping each other, and that He was soon going away. Jesus also taught about His love and connection with God and how they both shared the same love with this world.

    WHEN

    It was during a dinner the day before the Passover. I can’t be sure if it was the Passover dinner, or a preparation for it. Some people say it was the Passover, but Jesus actually died the next day on the Passover. Some say Jewish custom celebrated the Passover a day early when it fell on the Sabbath so there wouldn’t be a conflict between the celebration and Sabbath. That’s not an important detail. What is important is, this is what Jesus was teaching a few hour before He was arrested. Jesus was putting a summation on His ministry with His disciples.

    WHERE

    This scene took place around a dinner table. This draws us all the way back to the Tabernacle with the table set as an invitation. That table in the Tabernacle was a symbol of not only that dinner, but Jesus’ invitation to share meals with us.

    WHY

    I could add another nine pages to why. But like we’ve seen, Jesus taught a series of topics to reach each person in a different way at different times. As we can see when we read the story, the disciples didn’t understand.

    We can see Judas didn’t understand a whole lot. He ignored what Jesus taught because he already had his mind made up. That’ why the devil inside Judas was introduced at the beginning of the story. The devil could have influenced any of those disciples. He would have had his way with Jesus if there was an opening. We can see different degrees of influence the devil had on some of those disciples. It’s easy to see how Judas didn’t listen. If we look at little closer we can see how other disciples had a difficult time listening.

    Peter was mentioned in a few parts of the story. He didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet because he didn’t understand the lesson. Jesus had to remind him, feet are something that can get dirty very fast. Jesus washing their feet was a spiritual lesson. A spiritual cleansing.

    Peter was also told he would deny Jesus. Looking back a few verses we see why. Jesus just told them, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35 NLTse). Jesus tells them to love each other. He not only tells them, He commanded them. Suddenly Peter jumped in and asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” (John 13:36 NLTse). Jesus gave a new commandment about love, and Peter asked a question about what Jesus was talking about a few sentences ago. This showed how Peter’s mind was working a little slow. It also showed how all the disciples and we think on different levels and at different speeds.

    Why may be the most difficult answer to look into. It does require to most amount of prayer. It takes Jesus to open up a vision to His life and ministry. It takes a prayerful and open heart to see why Jesus was at that dinner.

    Why would Jesus leave His throne in Heaven to be at that dinner? Why would God’s Son listen to people doubt Him? Why would He stand there while people argued with Him? When we look back, we see those religious leaders and all kinds pf people arguing with Jesus, doubting Him, and leaving Him.

    We have to look back to see Jesus sitting on His throne in Heaven. His Father and Him created a vast universe. Together they ruled and stayed in constant contact with all their creation through their Spirit. Jesus knew everything that was going on. Jesus had a relationship with all those created beings in the universe they created. Then God decided to create one more world. God simply spoke everything into existence and it appeared just the way He wanted it. Everything was perfect. In this new world, God knelt down to form a new creature from the dust. He fashioned every detail by hand. When it was completed He called this new creature man and named Him Adam.

    God showed all of His new creation to Adam. Although Adam only knew God for a few hours, God gave everything in this new world to Adam. After a while, Adam noticed there wasn’t any creature like himself. Something wasn’t complete. He didn’t have a mate. God took a rib from Adam and used it to form him a new wife named Eve. Adam gave everything he received from God to Eve and she returned all of it to him. All she wanted was to be by his side, where she came from. To be there and complete Adam as a creation of God.

    It didn’t take long for Eve to stray, make one mistake, then another. This world was far different than the others when sin set in. Blame was the first negative effect. The universe watched in horror as God sacrificed the first animals to make coats for Adam and Eve. Why didn’t God just create coats like He did everything else? What did they need thick heavy coats for? No one else in the universe needed them. Sin changed this entire world. Everything from man to the elements suffered.

    Jesus could have ended it all right there. One word, one thought could have cast this planet into the cold darkness of space or towards the sun. This world would have melted quicker than a single snow flake drifting into a raging fire. Why was this planet allowed to exist after that first sin?

    Jesus tried to explain why. Every time He explained a portion of the subject, one disciple or another would change the subject, or ask a question about something Jesus previously explained. Just like those religious leaders and other people who walked away from Jesus, His own disciples questioned Him. They just weren’t questioning Jesus, they were questioning His love for them.

    John 13:34-38 NLTse (34) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. (35) Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (36) Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” (37) “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” (38) Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

    John 14:1-31 NLTse “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. (2) There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (3) When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (4) And you know the way to where I am going.” (5) “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (7) If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (8) Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (9) Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (10) Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.

    John 14:20-24 NLTse (20) When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (21) Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (22) Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” (23) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. (24) Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.

    To understand why, we have to look at the pattern. We have to understand who asked the questions, what those questions were, when they asked the questions, what was the the response, and why. Peter of course had a habit of trying to be the first to ask a question or offer an answer. We have to look at what Peter said and when.

    Jesus gave them a new commandment: Love each other. Jesus used His love for them as an example. That love was proof they were Jesus’ examples. What would you have asked Jesus? Wouldn’t you ask Him to explain every detail of that love? Wouldn’t you do everything to learn more about a love that created and looked over a universe? Wouldn’t you want to learn about a love that brought Jesus to this world instead of destroying it and starting over again? But what was Peter’s response to the love Jesus wanted to teach them? Peter asked where Jesus was going? Wasn’t that reaction a little selfish? Wasn’t it a little out of context?

    Peter didn’t have the love Jesus talked about. He tried to prove his love in a different way, his own way. Peter told Jesus he would die for him. Of course Jesus knew better. Now we can see when Jesus met with Peter after His resurrection, He asked Peter if he loved Him, not once, but three times. Jesus had to teach Peter not only how to think about love, but how to pray about it.

    Immediately after Jesus told Peter how he was going to deny he knew Him, Jesus told them not to worry. Jesus told them about a place He is going to personally prepare for them. “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” At that point Thomas had to tell Jesus, he had no idea where Jesus was going nor did they know the way. Once again, how would you have reacted? If they really believed Jesus is God’s Son, wouldn’t a more appropriate response be centered on details about that new home? Imagine the God who created the universe building a new home for you. That sparks a thousand question in me. Is Jesus going to speak it into existence or build it by hand? How will it look? Where will it be? What about the rooms, the view, the yard? Who is gong to be my neighbor? Think of a thousand other question about the plants and animals around the house. But Thomas asked which way Jesus was going. His response seems as out of place as Peter’s question.

    Jesus wondered why they didn’t understand. Why they could see how He was, “the way.” Did they miss something in the parable about those sheep following the good shepherd? Sheep don’t ask questions, they just follow.

    Jesus didn’t let the interruption slow Him down or knock Him off course. Jesus only had a few more hours to explain those details. He told them about knowing His Father. “If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.” This confused Philip. His response was also out of place. “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

    What had Jesus been showing them over the past few years? Why did He leave Heaven to talk to those people, perform all those miracles, freeze in the cold, sweat in the summer, face threats, and live like one of the poor people on this planet? Jesus did all of that and more. But they still couldn’t understand. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”

    Jesus only told them a few details about what was going to happen in a few hours. Then He got right to the point. “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” It was pretty simple. We show Jesus we love Him by keeping His commandments. Jesus already pointed them to God’s commandments, and there was no need or time to repeat Himself on the subject. That’s when Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

    Was this question also out of place? Did Jesus leave Heaven to come here and teach only a few people? Did Jesus intend on showing only a few people God and His love? Why was Judas out of place? Why were those disciples out of place? Did they have trouble hearing or understanding?

    Let’s look at this short sequence of events from Jesus’ perspective. He taught them about the love between Him and His Father, and the love the two have for those disciples, and all of us of course. Then Jesus talked about knowing His Father. If they knew Jesus, they knew God. Knowing someone has a lot to do with loving them. How can you love someone if you don’t know them?

    Jesus wanted to show how much He loved them. He told them He was going away to build a new home for them. This should have drawn them back to creation when God formed Adam by hand. Jesus continued to teach them about seeing God’s personality and know all about His personality from what they’ve learned and the type of life He led. Also the way He washed their feet a few hours ago.

    Finally Jesus told them the connection between God and His law and the connection between His love and His law. Jesus began with love and finished with love. In between Jesus explained how we can see God’s love and what He will do for each of them and us.

    I would suggest you do what Jesus wanted them to do. If you can’t see God through what has been recorded about Jesus’ life and ministry, you should be praying, talking to Him, and listening to what He has to say. All I can tell you is, Jesus is waiting to share details about His love you can’t imagine. I’ve seen more. A few I’ve been able to explain. There is so much more words cannot properly explain. And a special type of love the world is not ready to accept. This world is not ready to understand. I have no idea what you’re ready for. But I know Jesus knows exactly what you are ready to listen to and except. So far this story has shown us how Jesus’ disciples weren’t ready to accept that love. I can tell you, John didn’t include all the details. There is much more. And we’re not done this this story yet. There are a few chapters that follow.

Posted in Advanced Studies, Bible Study Aids, Bible Study with Context, Christian Books, God's Love, Gospel Messages John | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Deuteronomy 26 It’s Not Us

Posted by adventbiblestudy on December 9, 2014


Deuteronomy 26

Deuteronomy 26:1-19 NLTse (1) “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, (2) put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship–the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored. (3) Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, ‘With this gift I acknowledge to the LORD your God that I have entered the land he swore to our ancestors he would give us.’ (4) The priest will then take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of the LORD your God. (5) “You must then say in the presence of the LORD your God, ‘My ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live as a foreigner in Egypt. His family arrived few in number, but in Egypt they became a large and mighty nation. (6) When the Egyptians oppressed and humiliated us by making us their slaves, (7) we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors. He heard our cries and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression. (8) So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and powerful arm, with overwhelming terror, and with miraculous signs and wonders. (9) He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey! (10) And now, O LORD, I have brought you the first portion of the harvest you have given me from the ground.’ Then place the produce before the LORD your God, and bow to the ground in worship before him. (11) Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration. (12) “Every third year you must offer a special tithe of your crops. In this year of the special tithe you must give your tithes to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that they will have enough to eat in your towns. (13) Then you must declare in the presence of the LORD your God, ‘I have taken the sacred gift from my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, just as you commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten any of your commands. (14) I have not eaten any of it while in mourning; I have not handled it while I was ceremonially unclean; and I have not offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the LORD my God and have done everything you commanded me. (15) Now look down from your holy dwelling place in heaven and bless your people Israel and the land you swore to our ancestors to give us–a land flowing with milk and honey.’ (16) Today the LORD your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. (17) You have declared today that the LORD is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. (18) The LORD has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. (19) And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the LORD your God, just as he promised.”

When I look at the key words in this chapter, it is impossible to miss the message. Look how God introduced the land as a special possession and and summed up this chapter with; “The LORD has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands.”

Notice how the summary contains key words declared, promised, and commands. Also notice how the key word obey is included. It is not just knowing God’s commands. It’s not just telling other people to observe them. The truth and blessings lie in obeying God’s commands.

God formed a distinct movement in this chapter. The beginning of this chapter introduced a special offering. Knowing what that offering pointed to is the entire theme of this chapter. “With this gift I acknowledge to the LORD your God that I have entered the land he swore to our ancestors he would give us.”

God promised that land to their ancestors. Pay attention here, this is the main point of the whole chapter. God promised the land to His people long before Israel approached the borders of the promised land. Look at the trials and lessons those people had to go through. Generations had to suffer as slaves in Egypt for over 400 years for that generation to get to where they were, standing on the border of the promised land.

We can ask, “what did those people do to deserve that promised land?” They should have asked that question. We have to ask that question today. We’re all sitting around waiting for Jesus to return. Few people have any idea how much time, effort, and sacrifice previous generations put into getting us to this point in time. And few people seem to care.

God saw that coming. So He instituted an offering and a celebration so we wouldn’t forget. Seems people forgot about that also. I see too many people taking credit for their achievements and taking steps that are out of the established order God set, and those people who followed to the best of their ability.

God pointed out one example. When the Egyptians oppressed and humiliated us by making us their slaves, we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors. He heard our cries and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression. Look at those key words God used to emphasis His point. All those people standing on the border of the promised land did was wonder around their whole lives while all those generations between them and Jacob suffered like no one can imagine.

Is that our fate? Are we going to wonder around until Jesus returns? Is that all we need to do? For one thing, God is telling us, we’re supposed to remember what previous generations did. We’re actually supposed to celebrate what they did. As a matter of fact, our message has so many more lessons added to it, we shouldn’t run out of information to celebrate and share.

God brought them out of Egypt with a strong hand and powerful arm, with overwhelming terror, and with miraculous signs and wonders. Did God stop working out? Did God grow weak? Did He stop caring and fighting for His people? Get real. God is still the same God who led those people to the promised land. If this generation is not hearing God’s voice, something is wrong on our end.

How many times did those people try to take the leadership role away from Moses? Each time God had to show them a sample of His miraculous signs and wonders. They wanted to change the way things were done as if they had the power to change God’s course and plans.

I see the same thing happening today. God gave His people a simple message. Jesus sent out seventy disciples and told them to tell people about God’s Kingdom. That message hasn’t changed in the Bible. But like those people who tried to take over for Moses, religious leaders today are taking over and inserting their own messages. They have no interest in what past generations have done, what they had to suffer, learn, and the lessons those trials are supposed to teach us. They make those ancient lessons look more like a funeral procession than a celebration.

Look at the key words God used to show what He’s done for us. Brought us out, enter, and another series, gave, and given. There is no question, God brought them out of Egypt and led them to the promised land, in His own time. God gave them the promised land. Those people standing on the border didn’t do anything to earn it. Kind of reminds you about salvation. But people still insist it takes more. More than what?

Look at the context. God freed them and God led them. How can salvation ever be more than Jesus freeing us and leading us? Why are people insisting they have a better plan. A better way to the promised land then Jesus’ directions.

The following should show you what to set your thoughts on. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration. You must give your tithes to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. Isn’t this a list of people Jesus ministered to? Look at it. The list included the Levites. Those were the people who put Jesus on that cross. Those were the people who followed Jesus around trying to trip Him up. Those were the people who did everything they could to put an end to Jesus’ ministry. Notice how God grouped them together with all those foreigners, orphans, and widows, Jesus ministered to? Then why aren’t all churches doing the same today? Sure there are some. But to a great extent, Christian churches have replaced Jesus’ ministry and the example He died to establish with a new doctrine of mistrust and separation.

How many churches out there are misinterpreting the Bible by saying they’re some sort of private club you have to belong to and follow all of their rules, regulations, and bylaws to be saved? Where do they get that garbage from? I know. They get that trash from hunting around for a few verses from here and there they take out of context to establish their own idea of a new world order.

We’re supposed to share those stories and lessons about our ancestors with people. Like Moses repeated time after time in this chapter. “You have declared today that the LORD is your God.” Then let God led. The LORD has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands.

Notice how the word today is repeated. Moses interjected a sense of urgency. Before you get to the promised land, you better understand what you need to do today. There is no holding off or holding back. God opened the water in Jordan to let people through. He didn’t wait a few days for people to make up their minds. God didn’t come back a week, month, or years later to see if anyone changed their minds. God opened the waters and expected people to follow.

All God is asking is a small part of the harvest to share with people who need it. The trials those people face is supposed to remind us about how God was there for them. God fed Israel, Elijah, John, and others in the wilderness. Once we get out of that wilderness in life into whatever promised land God gave us, we’re supposed to share, and remember.

God gave land, homes, fields, vineyards, and His law. There is a balance between the key word give between land and God’s law. Look at the key word give throughout Deuteronomy. That balance is there for a reason.

Look at the key words. They’re highlighted for you and not every difficult to follow. Then think about those people getting ready to cross into the promised land. Think of what they did to get to the promised land and compare that to the ancestors this chapter points us back to. Think of how all of this points to your life, your path to the promised land.

I remember teaching a class where I taught other people how to give classes in church. I taught them how to be teachers. We always began by telling what Jesus did for us during the week. One day a lady said, “It doesn’t matter how much I do for Jesus, it never seems to be enough.” That took the class by surprise. If only more Christians had an attitude like that. I think that summed up the theme of this chapter. We can never do enough. But we have to learn to listen to make sure we’re doing the right thing.

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Isaiah 58:6-12 Showing God’s Love

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 5, 2014


Isaiah 58:6-12 Your Salvation Will Come Like the Dawn

Isaiah 58:6-12 NLTse “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. (7) Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. (8) “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. (9) Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! (10) Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. (11) The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (12) Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

Luke 6:20-38 NLTse Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. (21) God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. (22) What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. (23) When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. (24) “What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. (25) What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow. (26) What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets. (27) “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. (28) Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. (29) If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. (30) Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. (31) Do to others as you would like them to do to you. (32) “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! (33) And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! (34) And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. (35) “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. (36) You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. (37) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. (38) Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Okay, I can see your all thinking – if this prophecy about helping the poor and depressed, which is a major part of our commission was fulfilled or taught by Jesus on His sermon on the mountain, than why not use Matthew? Well Matthew is spread out over three chapters and we need to follow the general rule of Bible Study — the introductions and summations have to agree. As we can see, Isaiah sets the tone for the prophecy and Jesus explained details. I would suggest you read Isaiah 58 and Matthew’s detailed account together. This will give God’s Spirit the time He needs with you to explain more details than found in this study. And of course, the goal is to get you to a point of learning to work on your own with God’s Spirit to understand His Word.

I have to admit, I had a bit of trouble locating parallel chapters to this prophecy. Looking at the key words. The first word I used to search was oppressed. That didn’t lead to any parallel chapters with matching introductions and summations. I went onto the next choice, hungry, which led to a number of interesting chapters. Luke 6 was the best match when comparing the introduction and summation.

Isaiah introduces a concept not exactly new to the Bible. Moses told Israel a set of concepts to live by known as the Law of Moses. Maybe that’s why that list of common sense guides showing how to live peacefully in this world has always been difficult to follow. Man has never been known for following laws viewed more like suggestions. Before God gave Moses that set of laws, Israel was of course freed from bondage in Egypt. Now do you see why this sequence of studies follows a particular pattern? One thing Israel’s release from bondage represented is found in their attitude towards the law. Living in an environment where every moment of their lives following rules and regulations left a bad taste in their mouths. The last thing any of those Israelites wanted was a new set of rules. Isaiah did nothing more than repeat those concepts of how to live together. Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Do any of those laws seem too difficult to live by?

Although those seem like simple guidelines to follow, this world has a difficult time living by them. Is it so hard to treat people with justice, lighten burdens of people who work for you, and share what you have with those in need? It must be a difficult thing to do because Moses laid down the law, Isaiah reminded them, and Jesus repeated it with details so plain no one had an excuse to ignore them. Jesus told us, God will bless those who follow His command and help others. Isaiah tells us a part of the blessing. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.” Why does Isaiah link helping others, treating them with justice and dignity with salvation? Doesn’t most of the world claim all you have to do is claim Jesus’ sacrifice as your own to receive forgiveness for all your sins? If that’s true, than what about the learning process mentioned throughout the Bible? What about Jesus telling His disciples to take up their cross? Why did His disciples have to suffer and die for God’s Word if all they had to do was claim Jesus’ death to be saved? Let’s admit it, nothing but Jesus’ sacrifice can provide forgiveness for all the sins we committed. Without His sacrifice we would be lost. But as Paul tells us, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6 NLTse). Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26-27 NLTse).

Maybe this is why the world has so much trouble listening to God’s voice. Isaiah tells us if we follow God’s simple instructions, “Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.” What is the connection? Does the Bible explain the answer or is the explanation basically common sense like those laws Moses recorded?

The main theme in Isaiah’s prophecy, although explained in detail by Jesus, seems to escape many Christians. I remember years ago in a study class with about 30 adults capable of repeating every interpretation to their coveted future prophecies could not answer a simple question that came up in the preprinted class study guide. The question was, “how do you share the love of Jesus?” The teacher read and skipped over the question. I raised my hand and asked, “how do you share Jesus’ love?” The teacher answered, “you share the love of Jesus by teaching about Jesus.” I asked, “what do we teach about Jesus?” The teacher answered, “the love of Jesus.” I asked, “what are we supposed to teach about Jesus’ love?” Not one person in that class had an answer. None of them had any type relationship with Jesus. They were like those Pharisees who thought they knew all the prophecies but didn’t know a thing. So they rejected any type of relationship with Jesus who stood in front of them. Since that time I’ve asked that same question in many churches when the opportunity came up. No one was able to answer the question. No one seems to have studied Isaiah 58 or any of the New Testament chapters adding more details on the subject of Jesus’ love or how we are supposed to act towards one another.

What kind of end time church are you in when they don’t know anything about Jesus’ love but claim to be the chosen church based on their doctrine? Pride tells them they are the only church able to accurately interpret future prophecy. To them, those interpretations and doctrines out weight common sense, the ability to love, and the ability to communicate with Jesus.

Isaiah was pretty vague. What does it mean to lighten burdens, let the oppressed go free, and remove chains binding people? My guess is people’s minds become confused because they drift back into Isaiah’s time then convince themselves we don’t have those problems any more. They relate Isaiah’s theme to slavery and since not many Christians today are involved in slavery consider this message obsolete. Well they’re wrong. Don’t you feel oppressed at work some times? Don’t you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again at work then suddenly one day you have an idea how to ease your burden at work? When you take your idea to management, what was the reply? If your a manager, do you allow pride to shoot down every idea from the people your in charge of? Did you think Satan stopped using oppression to distract people? What do you think Satan is trying to achieve with oppression? Are you hearing sermons with a shallow view on oppression, summing it up with a vague explanation? Let’s look at what Satan plans on accomplishing with oppression. For one the oppressor is drawn away from God by power, prestige, and wealth. What about the people who are oppressed? It forces them to take a new look at God. Some people may draw closer to God while other people will question Him and His existence.

What about big business? They oppress just about everyone with high energy prices and other cost like health care. Then there’s taxes. The Bible tells us about high taxes Solomon imposed that were increased by his son. Taxes continued as kings collected more money from everyone especially the poor. They collected taxes for all their projects. Solomon built houses for his wives, the women he was in bed with. Today we pay taxes to support businesses government officials are in bed with. They claimed high taxes were necessary for a proper military. But when invading armies posed a threat, everyone important person was called into the city and those gates locked out the majority of people paying those high taxes. Has anything changed?

It’s one thing to identify oppression, quite another to learn how to alleviate it. How well would you score? Do you talk to people in line at the store and comfort them when God’s Spirit puts you in position to bless others? When the cashier just faced the customer from hell do you pray to find a way to cheer her up and remind her the whole world is not like the customer no one can never please? What about the parking lot? Do you help the old woman load her bags into the car? Do you let rude drivers pass you so they can pester the next driver, or recognize your act as a blessing? How does helping one another work at home? Do you assign tasks then help? Do you plan little surprises for your spouse? Do you email or text them little messages during the day to let them know you care. When you hear someone request prayer, do you stop everything and pray for them so they can see love and concern in action? Most people only promise to pray. It’s been said so many times, the words, “I’ll pray for you,” have become only a cliché. How many chances do you have to change the world around you? How many of those chances do you let slip by? In a way neglecting those opportunities puts a burden upon you. Those missed opportunities are either soften your heart or hardened it. You know there is a reason people share bad news with you. Admit it, there is a reason you share your burdens with people. Now that you know these secrets, learn how to treat people the way you want to be treated.

There’s a reason Jesus reworded Isaiah the way He did. Jesus wanted to make it personal. God blesses those who are poor, hungry, and weep. How do you think God blesses them? Did you ever hear of God making money, food, or a tender word suddenly appear out of thin air to help people? Come on you know the answer. God uses His people to reach out and help those people. That’s the way the world is supposed to work. But too often people calling themselves Christians are too scared to leave their fox holes. They want to remain as secluded as they can. They are afraid to reach out to help people with the gifts and blessings God gave them to share. For a great reward awaits you in heaven.

Most Christians heard this line, but how many actually know what it means? “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” Why do most sermons stop at the first sentence but don’t dwell on the rest of what Jesus said? Is it because He provided the answer and preachers like to impress you with their stories? Is it because they don’t understand the answer? Or is it because they think those people listening to them aren’t ready to understand or accept the simple answer? “Do good to them.” Ask that question about how to love Jesus and see what answer you receive if any. People aren’t sure how to do good. Why not? There are two types of love. One is from Heaven while the other is an earthly fabrication. You guessed it. Love from this world is a compromise. Loving like the world teaches is not showing your a child of Heaven.

Every once in a while I see people breaking up in what they call a love affair posting updates on Facebook. They post all those worldly concepts about love, something like, “deceptions are easy but truth is hard to find. Trust is easily broken. Lies are soon revealed. You never know what you had until its gone.” You can see the pattern. People speak from emotions inherited from the world. None of those sayings will ever accomplish anything. Wisdom from this world will never show you what true love is. All it will do is provide a moment of comfort followed be a deeper need to seek real love. But few will ever find true love. They search with their eyes but they are blind. They listen with their ears but they’re deaf. “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Let’s face it, people get involved in relationships based on what they can get out of them. Relationships seeded in greed can only sprout thistles and thorns that will eventually sting. I’ve seen the effects. I think we’ve all seen the effects of those thorns. So where do we learn about the love that only comes from Heaven? The key word is learn. Did you miss it? Did it slip by? Here it is again. Now pay attention. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.” “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.”

Now do you get it? Love doesn’t drop out of the sky when the right person comes along. Love has to be learned before it can be experienced. You have to learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide before you can do algebra or calculus which reveals the wonders of mathematics. You have to work on love like working out. Body building takes time. No one walks into a gym, does a few bench presses and walks out built like an athlete. Why would love be any different? You have to build up everything else in this world – your vocabulary, the ability to write, a knowledge of science, geography, stamina, muscles, everything. Why should love be any different? Our problem is we want to fall in love when everything else in the world has to be built up and conditioned. So we convince ourselves all we need to do is wait for the right person who we think will make us whole and for a while everything seems so much better. That’s the concept of love in this world. Like the toxic weeds Satan developed, that kind of love is like a drug. It’ll give you a great high for a while but coming down is a pain. Yep – love from this world is like a drug. It’ll cost you some money. It’s easy to take. Then it lets you down and leaves you looking for more of the same.

Now look at Jesus’ solution. He is saying your not ready until you’ve learned to love your enemies. Jesus doesn’t want to send you out into this cruel world until you’re ready. God is like a Father. He doesn’t want to see you hurt. His advise is to be ready. Work out your love until it is so muscle bound the world can’t help but take notice. Develop your intellect to a degree you are ready to solve any problem the world can throw at you. If that sounds impossible it is. You’ll never be prepared for every problem, but God is. Before your ready for love you have to first learn to love God who will show you how to love your enemies. Then you’ll be ready for the one love God has prepared for you. You don’t want God to send them a product half assembled? Think about it. Two lives with missing pieces will not make a whole. But that’s exactly what the world wants you to believe.

Sure there will be learning curves. Satan doesn’t want you learning how to leave this world behind. He feels safe when you rely on him. He feels threatened when he sees you going to God. Satan feels like he lost and he is a sore looser. But trials make us stronger. But watch out. Don’t dwell on set backs. As we’ve seen, oppression leads to distraction which leads to wasting time which leads to spending less time with God. If we dwell on set backs it delays our learning process. It’s the same with any relationship. If only one person dwells on negative aspects it will rob you of time together and what you can accomplish. When it comes to a relationship with God, He is never the one that dwells on problems. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Together these two chapters teach us about the love coming only from Heaven. Time to begin the lesson.

Isaiah 58:1-5 NLTse “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! (2) Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. (3) ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. (4) What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. (5) You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD?

Isaiah’s introduction reminds me why I had to leave the organized church. All I saw was people bragging about what they knew. Everything was centered about their interpretations on future prophecies and those doctrines and traditions they coveted and defended oo violently — as if their salvation depended on it. Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes– so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

(Matthew 15:8-9, 13:15-17 NLTse). Isn’t it time to listen?

Preachers today have given up on love substituting man made knowledge for one of the greatest gifts from Heaven. Piety has taken the place of God’s voice. Obedience is given to a stone church and its leaders – while it is being withheld from God our Creator. They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. Like the Pharisees, preachers today place knowledge of the law in front of knowing its Author. Generations separated Isaiah from Jesus but nothing separated that attitude from those religious leaders.

Luke 6:1-12 NLTse One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. (2) But some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” (3) Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? (4) He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.” (5) And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.” (6) On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. (7) The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. (8) But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. (9) Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” (10) He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! (11) At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him. (12) One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.

Jesus pointed those religious leaders back to David and of course scripture. We’ve already looked at this text in a number of studies. But general Bible Study rules tell us to look at texts and the chapter to see a far deeper lesson Jesus is pointing to.

1 Samuel 21:1-6 NLTse David went to the town of Nob to see Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he saw him. “Why are you alone?” he asked. “Why is no one with you?” (2) “The king has sent me on a private matter,” David said. “He told me not to tell anyone why I am here. I have told my men where to meet me later. (3) Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.” (4) “We don’t have any regular bread,” the priest replied. “But there is the holy bread, which you can have if your young men have not slept with any women recently.” (5) “Don’t worry,” David replied. “I never allow my men to be with women when they are on a campaign. And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!” (6) Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread–the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the LORD in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.

Because the texts Jesus is pointing to is located in the introduction of a chapter, we also have to look at the summary and look for the related theme.

1 Samuel 21:10-15 NLTse (10) So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. (11) But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” (12) David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. (13) So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard. (14) Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? (15) We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”

Notice the theme? David lied to a priest than a king. See the spiritual lesson hidden in the texts? Why did David lie? David was running away from Saul who wanted to kill him. What’s your first reaction to a problem? You try to solve it yourself. In David’s case he resorted to lies in an instant. Jesus sent us back to scripture to gather more knowledge, so let’s take a look back to see how the author led into the story. At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name. The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town. (1 Samuel 20:42 NLTse). Notice the important point, “the LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Now we look ahead to see what those events led to. So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming–men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented–until David was the captain of about 400 men. (1 Samuel 22:1-2 NLTse). See the connection and progression? David’s responsibility is growing. As a boy he only had to worry about his father’s flocks and a giant. Working for Saul, David was in command of a company of soldiers. God was teaching David lessons about leadership. Remember how lessons about love have to be learned? Here is an example containing lessons related to love and leadership. Jesus’ disciples had a problem with both those subjects. They wanted leadership roles before they learned how to love like Jesus was teaching them. They didn’t see how love and leadership had to intertwine and grow together.

When we look ahead we see those events led to another serious point to consider. A point we would miss if we weren’t looking at the progression of the story and of course praying. One day the prophet Gad told David, “Leave the stronghold and return to the land of Judah.” So David went to the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 22:5 NLTse). See what happened? David was relying on himself so God sent a prophet. Why? David forgot to pray. Don’t you think David prayed before he ran off after a that lion or that bear? Don’t you think David prayed before he went after that giant? What about those battles he fought for Saul? When we look at David’s progression we see two things. His increased reliance on God and increased knowledge. The two are connected. David’s responsibilities increased parallel to his communication with God. That’s what people saw in David and trusted in. People trusted more in David’s relationship with God than they trusted in David the man. They believed David was God’s anointed king because they could see David’s relationship with God. Think about how that relates to the lesson on love.

David’s life teaches us positive aspects of following God, but like all of us, David had a history of drawing close to God then drifting away. When times look good we all have the tendency of making decisions on our own. Like children who only call their parents when they need help, we only pray from the heart when we’re in trouble. When David become comfortable, things changed. One time he sent his army out to fight without him. While the people he was supposed to be serving, protecting, and teaching were off fighting a war, David stayed behind to run the country. One night he looked across the street and saw a woman. David already had more wives than any of us care to count, but to David, this one was different. While his men were off fighting a battle, David pursued a conquest of his own. David knew the woman was married. Having drawn away from God and making his own decisions it didn’t seem to matter to David. He invited her over for a fling. After all, who would know? Once wasn’t enough for the king. After a while the woman gets pregnant so David does what he got used to doing. David comes up with a new sure fire plan. After all, when he lied to a priest and king God still protected him? David’s momentary lack of communication with God destroyed his common sense. David had that woman’s husband killed and married her. David made her the queen of Israel. God had enough. David refused to listen so God sent the prophet in. So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.” David was furious. “As surely as the LORD lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own. (2 Samuel 12:1-10 NLTse).

You might ask why after so many sins, God still loved David and called him a man after His own heart. It’s because David repented after seeing his sins. David repented of his sins as well as his lack of communication with God. As soon as David saw how far he drifted away from God, he prayed to restore that connection. David fell to the ground and prayed for the child as well as the mother and himself. David restored his connection with God that was so deep his advisers could not understand it. That’s another point David missed. He neglected to explain that connection to people, not even his closest friends. After the child died, David got up to eat. After talking with God and listening… David knew he had a son waiting for him in Heaven. David knew when we get there he would receive the little child and raise him in the perfect environment of Heaven. David also knew God was concerned about him and wanted him to take care of himself. So David got up to eat. There is one detail we have to learn from David’s prayers. David remained focused on the subject at hand. David’s Psalms are an example of prayer. Notice how he always concentrated on one subject?

Psalms 11:1-7 NLTse

(1) I trust in the LORD for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

(2) The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right.

(3) The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?”

(4) But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.

(5) The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence.

(6) He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked, punishing them with scorching winds.

(7) For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.

David learned to pray in order. Many of his prayers share the same structure. David praised God, told God his problem, then let God know he had confidence God knew the right answer. The only thing we don’t see in David’s prayers is how God answered them. David’s prayers should be studied. David recorded some of his conversations with God when Saul was chasing after him. But let’s stick to the details at hand. David prayed on one subject at a time. You never see David praying like we see people pray today which consists of a list of items to drop in God’s lap like we expect God to solve all those problems without any further participation on our part. When God sent a prophet to David there was a major lesson to learn. Today we see little if any listening when we pray. We may as well write out a prayer list and E-mail or text it to God. “Here God this is what we want you to do today. Let me know when you finish.” Does the pot tell the potter what to do? Then why do we give God orders then hang up the phone? Praying has become much like ordering a pizza and waiting for it to be delivered. When David laid on that stone floor for hours, he listened to God. When David prayed to God while on the run from Saul, David listened to God. The first time God answered through a prophet. As David honed his listening skills, God personally spoke to David.

My favorite Psalms are those where David praised God, presented his petition, then praised God at the end of his prayer by telling God he knew God would do the right thing. The main point is, David stuck to one point in his prayer and didn’t jump around from subject to subject like we do today. I’ve read a number of books on prayer. Not one of them teaches people how to listen. I’ve talked to many people about how they listen to God and they all have the same answer. When they try to listen to God their minds are filled with a hundred details and they can’t concentrate. We’ve been conditioned by the world to write a prayer list then run through the whole thing in one sitting. Is there one verse of Biblical proof showing that’s the proper way to pray? None that I can find. All the examples in Psalms show us to concentrate on one subject at a time. A prayer list is okay, but shooting it up to God like a shotgun blast doesn’t hit the target. How are we supposed to listen when we pass on a long list to God and sever the prayer connection? Prayer was never meant to be a one sided connection. Study those Psalms and look for a prayer pattern you like and use it. Try a couple of different styles. But remember to stick to one subject at a time and spend time listening to God’s reply which is infinitely more important than your list. By the way, God already knew what was on your prayer list long before you wrote it. That is one detail you may want to praise Him for when you begin praying. “LORD I thank you for knowing what is on my prayer list and I come to you today to discuss one matter. I really want to know what you want to do about this subject. Jesus cleanse me with your blood, remove all my sins, make me pure, and especially purge me of all those worldly thoughts and preconceived ideas about you and what you are capable of. Jesus place me at the foot of your Father’s throne and let me learn from His infinite wisdom.” Then sit quietly and listen to God’s answer on that one subject of prayer.

So what do prayer skills have to do with the introductions to Isaiah 58 and Luke 6? Everything! Look at the introduction to Isaiah 58. “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!” How are you supposed to know what to shout if the message doesn’t come from God? Prayer is everything. It is communication with God. Read between the lines. “Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.” Those people didn’t listen to God so they drifted away. The only way to stay close to God is listen to Him. The trend continued past those religious leaders who questioned Jesus when His disciples ate grain on the Sabbath. “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.” And who would complain about healing a suffering man on the Sabbath? If they knew how to pray and listen to God, those religious leaders never would have questioned Jesus. Notice they watched Jesus, but we can see they didn’t listen to what He taught.

We all have trouble listening to God. David had his problems. One time the king of Tyre came to David. He wanted to learn about the God David served. But David didn’t think a Pagan king would have any interest in God. And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies was with him. Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built David a palace. And David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. (2 Samuel 5:10-12 NLTse). We can see how David let the distractions of this world stop him from performing his duty to God. After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David married more concubines and wives, and they had more sons and daughters. (2 Samuel 5:13 NLTse). David fell victim to one of Satan’s greatest deceptions – success and power. Doesn’t that happen to all of us? Things are going well and we forget God or put our relationship with Him on the back shelf? No wonder Peter told us to welcome trials. Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14 NLTse).

What could have happened if David or Solomon witnessed to Hiram? He was the king of Tyre, the world trade center at the time. Hiram believed in staying out of religion to the extent of allowing every religion to freely practice within his kingdom. To Hiram it was the only way to increase trade through Tyre’s port, keep peace, and reduce the chance of an invasion. During his reign no one would dare attack Tyre because of its relationship with other kingdoms, both economical and religious. Having contact with all the worldly religions peaked Hiram’s search for the one true God. It’s strange to think the man anointed king and given the gifts, ability, and responsibility to tell the world about God missed the opportunity of a life time. If David had shared God with Hiram and told Hiram how God’s Spirit communicates with us, it would have opened streets and avenues within the world trade center no one could have imagined. Hiram could have reached people from all over the world from every religion. God doesn’t need more people hiding in fox holes. God needs people able to step out to face those giants, no matter what form they come in.

Keeping the gospel away from people goes way beyond David. When Jesus wanted to heal the man with that deformed hand in the synagogue those religious leaders used the Sabbath as an excuse to withhold on of God’s blessings. Don’t you think that giant David slew made an impression on the whole nation of Israel? Those religious leaders didn’t stop to think about how healing one man could have impressed all those people in the synagogue and beyond. Those religious leaders didn’t think of how one gift would glorify God. They were only thinking about themselves. “At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.” What was Jesus’ reaction? “One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.” Jesus didn’t rely on what He learned in the past or felt at the moment. Jesus went back to DAD to discuss the situation. Jesus didn’t know how to explain the Sabbath to those religious leaders who thought they knew everything. Jesus knew He had to be patient and wait for God’s Spirit to set up the right set of circumstances to reach those people. It’s amazing to see a part of that answer is in this chapter of Isaiah.

Isaiah 58:13-14 NLTse “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. (14) Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Those religious leaders were concerned only about their own interests. They followed their own desires and idle talk. Now you can see how Jesus answered more than their initial question. When Jesus referred to Isaiah 58, He included scripture around that lesson about helping the poor and depressed. We see the same result when we study other texts Jesus quoted. Now we can see why Jesus prayed. Answers He received were for questions before anyone asked them. Imagine the impact this had on Jesus’ faith. It could have had the same effect on other people if they spent time to look back into God’s Word. Jesus also taught lessons using parables like He did in the summation for Luke 6.

Luke 6:43-49 NLTse “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. (44) A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs never grow on thornbushes, nor grapes on bramble bushes. (45) A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (46) “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? (47) I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. (48) It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. (49) But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

Jesus presents a choice. Good and evil are the only choices. There is no middle ground. Those priests made a carrier out of middle ground. Their religion was based on sitting in the middle trying to work their way up to God’s grace. Anyone who didn’t agree with them was deemed to far away to be saved. Unless of course you got back in line with their doctrines which of course takes your eyes off God placing your faith in man made doctrines. We have the same circumstances today. Of course every religion claims they got it right this time. But what about their fruit. When they produce members condemning the rest of the world are they producing good fruit or brambles? If they preach isolation are they spreading good seeds or weeds? When they make salvation a one step process, are they showing their good fruit or is their tree bear?

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.” There is a direct relationship between Isaiah 58 and Luke 6 when you compare the introduction of Isaiah with the summation in Luke 6. This may seem unusual but God has a way of teaching through repetition we have to be prepared to notice and contemplate. As long as we compare the same parallel chapters we know we are learning the same theme. I remember my dad would always say, “don’t complain unless you have a better idea.” I think that was the best advise a father could give a son. Jesus followed that advise. Jesus told us how to worship God. “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”

Let’s face it, it’s never easy to turn a large ship around in a storm. If your waiting for your local or national church to turn around, you’ve got a long wait ahead of you. With God change has always been and will always be an individual effort. Jesus fed masses but healed individuals. Are we feeding people or healing them? The answer is both, but face the facts. When Jesus fed people they carelessly left baskets of bread lying on the ground. You have to expect that when you begin your ministry feeding people. But healing is another matter. Like Jesus we can heal. Like Jesus we have to place people in the capable hands of God’s Spirit to let them work it out together. We really can’t expect to accomplish more than Jesus did even though He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (John 14:12 NLTse).

Time for you to experience some of those greater works. Matthew 27 in another chapter explaining how Isaiah 58 was fulfilled. Take your time, highlight those repeated words, give time for God’s Spirit to work with you. Look up the Old Testament scripture Jesus quoted. Look back and look ahead. Hone the skills you are learning – the most important being – draw closer to God and learn more about His Son Jesus.

Matthew 27:32-43 NLTse Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (33) And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). (34) The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. (35) After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. (36) Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. (37) A sign was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” (38) Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. (39) The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. (40) “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!” (41) The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. (42) “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! (43) He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”

Matthew 27:1-10 NLTse Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. (2) Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. (3) When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. (4) “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” (5) Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. (6) The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” (7) After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. (8) That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. (9) This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver– the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, (10) and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed.”

Matthew 27:61-66 NLTse Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. (62) The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. (63) They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ (64) So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” (65) Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” (66) So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
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1 Corinthians 13: Love and Prophecy

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 20, 2012


Why does Paul compare love to prophecy? He points out prophecy will become useless, but love will last forever!

1 Corinthians 13:7-10 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (8) Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! (9) Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! (10) But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I listen to modern day prophets I can hardly believe a word they say. They use techniques to try and establish themselves as experts in prophecy, which in fact takes glory away from God. I am not surprised to see most of what they claim cannot be proved by the Bible.

 

What Paul says makes perfect sense. “Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!” This is something we have to learn to accept. We will only know what God decides we need to know. Paul adds one more interesting statement. “But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.” When I look at this statement I can see Jesus standing on one side of the temple court teaching His followers. On the other side of the court all the religious leaders gather to plot His death. For generations these religious factions remained divided, but joined forces to plot Jesus death. Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, and those who supported Herod stood together against Jesus. Each had their own interpretations of the prophecies and they were all wrong. When Paul says, “when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.” Is he telling us all the prophecies today are wrong? Or is Paul telling us, when we finally understand God’s love, prophecy will be little or no concern? What does God say about this?

 

Deuteronomy 5:10 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.

 

Interesting. God places His promise of love in His ten commandments. What is even more interesting is the commandment which follows.

 

Deuteronomy 5:11 “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

 

Would misusing God’s name include falsely claiming the gift of prophecy? What did some of God’s prophets say about loving God?

 

Psalms 17:6-8 I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. (7) Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. (8) Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.

Proverbs 8:17 “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me.

Daniel 9:2-4 During the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the LORD, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. (3) So I turned to the LORD God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes. (4) I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.

 

David knew God would always look over and protect him. He knew his safety depended on God. His son Solomon knew everyone searching for God would find what they needed. When Daniel was shown the meaning of Jeremiah’s seventy year prophecy, He prayed to God, thanking Him for His unfailing love. These prophets saw the connection between searching for and finding God’s love and prophecy.

 

It makes sense. Why would God reveal His most guarded secrets to self made prophets who have decided to skip the step of searching and finding God’s love? If they had, they would not be so obsessed with prophecy. There would be no doubt they were safe in God’s hands. They would also know that safety is available to everyone who comes to Jesus. They would know a personal relationship with Jesus is the answer to all prophecy, leading to eternal life.

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1 Corinthians 13: God’s Love

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 20, 2012


How do we understand what Paul is writing here?  We can look at Paul’s personality revealed through his style of writing to see if it gives any clues.  Paul has a tendency of building up to a conclusion.  Like a defense attorney pleading for the life of his innocent client, Paul adds detail after detail in a successive chain of evidence, building up until he reaches the climax of his defense, the one piece of evidence which is undeniable and perfectly credible.  In this case, love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-5  If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  (2)  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  (3)  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.  (4)  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  (5)  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

This sends us right back to chapter 1, Paul’s introduction. In it Paul assures the early believers they have; “every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  If Jesus’ followers have every special gift, wouldn’t love be among them?

1 Corinthians 1:4-8  I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.  (5)  Through him, God has enriched your church in every way–with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.  (6)  This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true.  (7)  Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (8)  He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.

Paul also tells us that if we, “understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”   Look at how the scriptures already explain this:

1 Corinthians 1:20-21  So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.  (21)  Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians 1:27-31  Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  (28)  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  (29)  As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.  (30)  God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.  (31)  Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”
1 Corinthians 2:8-10  But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.  (9)  That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”  (10)  But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.

We gain perfect understanding of God’s Word through His word.  We gain perfect love through His love.  The world looks at God’s love as foolish, just as they look at His Word.  They cannot see, perfect understanding comes only from God, just like perfect love can come only from God.

As we follow through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we see him trying to get them to understand a message, how to reach others.  Paul knows there is a great temptation for them to act like the Jews, to want to be like them.  To set themselves apart from the world once they convince themselves they have some sort of special truth only revealed to them.  Paul tells them, “I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”  What is anything, everything, without an understanding, yet more, a desire to plead for God’s love?

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

Jesus came to teach God’s Love.  Nothing changed Jesus.  He lived and died without sin.  Just as nothing in this world can ever change God’s love.  Without God’s love, a mother will separate from her children, a wife from her husband, Jesus’ followers from one another.  Paul wrote this letter to bring unity back to the Corinthians.  Now he tells them, the only way is through God’s eternal unchanging love.

May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
(Ephesians 6:24, 2 Timothy 1:7, James 2:5, 1 John 2:5, 1 John 4:8)

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Genesis 2:15-17: Eden

Posted by adventbiblestudy on May 12, 2012


Genesis 2:15-17 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

 

After speaking everything into existence, God, Ruler of the universe worked the dust of the earth with His own hands to personally form man in His own image. When every detail was perfect, God breathed His breath of life into the nostrils He had formed. And man became a living soul.

 

Adam opened His eyes to a perfect world. God was not done giving. He planted a garden with the choicest plants, using the most beautiful colors and fragrances as a reminder of His love, a special gift for man. God took man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. God trusted man with every detail of His creation. It was a gift of love, with only one condition. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

 

Adam must have questioned what it was to die. All he had known was the total peace and joy of being with his Creator in the paradise made especially for him. Did Adam question what evil was, or was the warning enough to convince him it was something that would surely separate him from everything God provided?

 

When God put Adam in the garden and asked him to tend it, God confirmed the fact, He trusted Adam with everything He created. Man’s work was a bond of trust and reliance between the created being and the Creator for all eternity. When God spoke everything into existence, it showed God trusted him with His Word. The warning was given to Adam, along with the responsibility to follow God’s command. A trust and responsibility which was never meant to change.

 

As Adam gazed at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he did not think anything could ever come between him and God. Everything he needed was provided by God. All but one detail was prepared before God breathed His breath of life into him.

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Genesis 2:7-8: God formed man of the dust

Posted by adventbiblestudy on May 11, 2012


Genesis 2:7-8 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (8) And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

 

We have seen how God created this world in perfect peace and harmony, an example of how man was to rule, and love his wife. Man and woman were created in God’s image, which carries with it a responsibility difficult to understand, unless we take the time to study His entire Word.

 

After God explains man’s responsibilities as ruler of this world, He reminds man of His origin, dust combined with God’s breath of life. Every other living creature was formed by God’s spoken word.And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (Genesis 1:24)

 

God spoke everything into existence, light, the sun, moon, stars, grass, trees, fish, birds, and every living creature. Then He paused and said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” God still spoke words, but that was not enough. He got on His knees in the dust of His new creation, gathered it together with His own hands, shaping it into His own image, and brought life to the mass of dust by breathing into its nostrils. This showed the tender loving care God had for man, and the close personal relationship God wanted as life began its course in the newly formed, meticulously shaped image of dust.

 

As Adam opened his eyes, the first image he saw was His Creator kneeling over him. Behind God was the limitless blue sky. Adam could feel the warmth of the sun on his body, as well as the warmth from the hands of God, helping him to his feet for the first time. He looked around at the new world. There were so many creatures gathered around, watching God give life to the image He shaped with His own hands. Adam looked at the sun in the sky, then the green grass, and flowers of every size, shape, and color. Birds were seen flying through the air, landing in branches filled with an almost countless variety of fruit and nuts. Other birds landed near by on the ground for a closer look.

 

Everything looked perfect to Adam, but God was not yet satisfied. He once again began work with His own hands to plant a garden for His new creation, man.

 

It seems so strange for God to put so much time, effort and love into a collection of dust, but that was God’s plan. This was God’s will, to form man from the simplest, most abundant resource on the planet, dust.

 

What made man so special? Was it the time? The effort? The breath God breathed into him? In a way, everything was brought into creation through God’s breath as He spoke it into existence. Was it just God’s limitless love that made man, and all His creation so special?

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Genesis 1:26-27: Let us make man in our image

Posted by adventbiblestudy on May 10, 2012


Genesis 1:26-27 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

 

God created Adam and gave him dominion over every living creature of the newly created world. This showed both the trust and wisdom God placed in Adam. It is a testimony revealing some of the details of what it means be created in God’s image. Notice both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. What does it mean to be created in God’s image? Only a small portion of that question is answered in the first few chapters of Genesis. The complete answer God wanted to provided is scattered throughout His entire book, written over generations by His servants the prophets.

 

God created the earth in a six days. During these six days God provided everything the world needed. Before He created man, every need was met. God provided sunlight, warmth, food, and finally companionship. The earth was in perfect balance and harmony. Beauty surrounded every scene to captivate the eyes. The air was filled with fragrances and song. Water was clean and refreshing. Every detail of God’s creation was designed to attract attention, teach lessons, and provide a soothing reminder of God’s love.

 

The same is true for the relationship God created. Every entity of God’s wonderful creation was founded upon a relationship. Man and woman were special. They were the only creatures created in God’s image, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The most precious gift from God was reserved for Adam and his wife, the love God has for His creation from the greatest mammoth, to the smallest creature.

 

The words, “created man in his own image,” clearly indicate a leadership role based on the preceding verse in which God give Adam dominion over the fish, birds, cattle, and every creeping thing. Adam’s leadership role is based upon God’s image, and only God’s image. This is how and why man was created, to rule this world in God’s image. We are shown examples man’s original role in the gospels. He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)

 

It was not by mistake God summed up man’s role as leader by reminding us we owe everything to Him. In two small verses God placed a reminder of His creation, the responsibilities man has to the world, and his wife. Everything was do be done in the image of God.

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1 Timothy 2: God, Jesus, and us

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 13, 2011


(1 Timothy 2:5 GNB) For there is one God, and there is one who brings God and human beings together, the man Christ Jesus,

Jesus Coming

Jesus Coming

 

There is one God, Creator of all we see, eat, and breath. Jesus came to this world to become a man, just like us. Jesus, the Son of God, the son of man became a link between us and God, by living and showing us God’s character.

Jesus helped us to understand God better by coming and dying on the cross. We need to keep that special conection with God and remember to go to him with all our problems.

(1 Timothy 2:6 GNB) who gave himself to redeem the whole human race. That was the proof at the right time that God wants everyone to be saved,

Jesus gave His life to save the entire human race. There is not a single person He does not love, He does not want to save. God gave His only Son for us. God’s plan to save this planet was perfectly planned, timed, performed and executed.

Jesus died for us so we could be with our Heavenly Father forever. God gave his son for all of us and that shows how much he loves us.

(1 Timothy 2:7 GNB) and that is why I was sent as an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles, to proclaim the message of faith and truth. I am not lying; I am telling the truth!

Part of God’s plan of salvation was to use us to tell the story of how, and why Jesus died for our sins. To teach about Jesus, I need to be very close to Him. I have to pray, read, and understand His message. I have to give my life to Him so He can make me complete in Him. Only Jesus can equip me to tell the truth, the whole story of His life and example.

Jesus is our teacher, the Bible is our text book and like any other school, we need to study so when the trails of the last days come, we can stand strong and know that He is with us.

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Heaven: Revelation 7

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 12, 2011


(Revelation 7:15 MKJV) Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His temple. And He sitting

Throne of God

Throne of God

on the throne will dwell among them.

I pray I am among those redeemed, paid for by the blood of Jesus. Given His rode of righteousness, a crown, and a new name, spoken first by Jesus, like a new creation. Imagine the joy of praising God before His throne, seeing His face for the first time. Will I be able to hold the joy in, or will I shout for the victory finally seen and felt?

I stand before my loving God and worship him. It will be a wonderful day when we go to Heaven to worship and serve Him freely for all eternity.

(Revelation 7:16 MKJV)  They will not hunger any more, nor thirst any more, nor will the sun light on them, nor any heat.

I will feast on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Will He have time to answer all the questions I have?  Of course He will.  We will have all eternity together.  Imagine a God, who only requires a bit of our time, quality time to spend with Him.  Will I ever be able to spend enough time with him? This is praising God.  His light will be my life for all eternity.

I will never be hungry or thirsty again.  Everything will be perfect in Heaven.

(Revelation 7:17 MKJV)  For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will feed them and will lead them to the fountains of living waters. And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Jesus will be there, close to His Father.  He will govern His Kingdom through love.  He will serve us in Heaven like He served His disciples on earth.  I want to learn by His example.  I want to be like Jesus.  To touch the lives of others in the simplest ways which leave lasting impressions.  Jesus will feed me with His knowledge and refresh me with His life giving love.  There will be no more sorrow or pain, only love and understanding.  Will there be tears of joy in Heaven?

Jesus will take care of me when I am in Heaven with Him.  When I finally get to Heaven there will  never be a reason to cry again.

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Colossians 2: The great conflict I have for you.

Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 22, 2011


(Colossians 2:1) For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

The Lord has prepared this conflict for me. My past actions have taken me to a point in my life, I had turned so far away from God, trials and conflicts are the only way I can see the errors of my way. To learn the difference between right and wrong. To see and understand the ways of the world I have let into my life to distort my relationship with God. Dear Lord, let me see and understand the lessons you have for me. Let me pray to you from the heart that you change every aspect of my life that separate me from you. Take all my earthly desires away, and make me the disciple you need me to be.

 

(Colossians 2:2) That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Lord, knit my heart with yours. Let me see and understand your ways. Open my heart to you. Give me your comfort, and let me experience it every moment of every day. Give me your love oh Lord. Let your love flow through me.

 

(Colossians 2:3) In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I have seen the treasures of your wisdom and knowledge. Every time I opened your word I have seen your glory, I have felt your Spirit. Through your word you have proved to me, you exist, you are real, you are in my life, and your knowledge surpasses all understanding.

 

(Colossians 2:4) And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

Lord keep every enticing word of man out if my life. Cast the influence of every negative thought far from me. Lord cast the devil and his spirits far away. Do not let them, or their agents near me. Protect me with your love. Let only your grace, and your Spirit lead me every moment of every day.

 

(Colossians 2:5) For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

Bring this joy into my life. The joy that only you can give. Lord let me know you are near. Bless my day with your presence. Let me know you are so near. Let me feel your love, and know your understanding, joy, and love.

 

(Colossians 2:6) As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Let me walk with you Jesus, and be the example I need to be. Let your love flow through me. Not my way Lord but yours.

 

(Colossians 2:7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Thank you Lord for saving me. Thank you for your sacrifice for me. Thank you for eternal life, and thank you for always watching over me. Establish my life in your faith. Mine will never be enough. I want your faith, the faith of Jesus in my life.

 

(Colossians 2:8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Lord, don’t let me fall. Keep my eyes on you and you only. Let no evil influence over take me for one moment. Never let me be deceived by the thoughts, desires, promises, and philosophy of the world. Not for one moment. I know how slowly I can fall. Let me learn from those mistakes. Thank you Jesus for showing me the way.

 

(Colossians 2:9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Only through you Jesus can I learn to be complete. Only through you can I be the type of man you want me to be. Let me be an example, so others can see you through me.

 

(Colossians 2:10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.

Lord, let me be complete in you. Let all my life be an example of you. Not my way Lord, but yours. Lord I dedicate 100% of my life to you. Take my life, and change me. All of me.

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Ephesians 2: The story of a fall and grace.

Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 22, 2011


(Ephesians 2:1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

I was dead to God, lost in my own world of work, striving for success, trying as hard as I could to provide for my family. Dead to God, lost in the darkness of pain, sorrow, and worries, while God still looked at me as His.

 

(Ephesians 2:2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

I suffered from the sin of neglect. I neglected the more important aspects of life. God, my wife, sons, and daughters. I walked a path Satan had prepared for me. One so shrouded in zeal, I could not tell where I was. I knew I was lost, but I could not find my way back. Satan had convinced me, one more day. Success was just around the corner. One more prayer for success was all you need. Pray harder, pray more for success, then you can go back to praying for others. But for now, all your attention must be focused on success. That is what your family needs. That will make them happy. That will make them love you. When you are successful, you will have something to share with them. Until you are successful, you are nothing.

 

(Ephesians 2:3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

We all go through this trial. Some fall, others do not. Satan presents the world to us, and we forget where we really need to be. Humble, and in love with Jesus. Satan puts these desires in our hearts which blind us. I was blinded by the lure of the world. Satan tricks us by getting us to think we are in control. Satan teaches us to think, our lives, and success depend upon our ability to always be right. I expressed this to God, my wife, sons, daughter, and everyone I came in contact with. I looked, acted, talked, listened (or lack thereof), and ministered like the world. Always right. My success in the world depended on it.

 

(Ephesians 2:4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

The further I drifted away, the more God reached out to me. He caught me and showed me His love at the moment I fell, and lost everything dear to me in my life. Broken relationships, no money, no hope, no more desire to live. Nothing to look forward to. God pulled me out of the deepest, darkest hole in my life.

 

(Ephesians 2:5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

I was dead and buried. I could never get out myself. There was no hope left for me any more. I had tried as hard as I could to succeed, to provide, to win the love of my wife and family through the works of the world. At the moment of my deepest depression, Jesus and I became one again.

 

(Ephesians 2:6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Jesus pulled me from the grave. I was lost and broken, no hope, no love in my life, no money, no security, nothing left in this world. When I could sink no lower, Jesus lifted me up. After a dozen studies about Heaven, I still could not see the glory and majesty of Heaven until I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart. Not only my heart, but to give 100% of my life to Jesus. What an exchange. When nothing was left, I offer it to Jesus. I gave Jesus what I had, nothing. In exchange, He gave me Heaven, and the mansion He had prepared for us.

 

(Ephesians 2:7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

God took my worthless life, and gave to me the riches of His grace. He clothed me in His robe. He gave me His kindness, His love to share with others. Success is not receiving, it is giving what you have received from God. These are the riches of Heaven.

 

(Ephesians 2:8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Only God’s grace could save me. I had nothing in my life to save myself. No money, no love to give or receive, no life of my own. All my works had failed. I had nothing left, but a spark of faith, which still struggled for life in my heart. God’s gift fanned it into a flame.

 

(Ephesians 2:9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.

I could never boast. All my works had failed. My business had failed. The love I had for my wife and family had failed. Can a man boast in utter failure?

 

(Ephesians 2:10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The only thing that saved me was God’s plan for me. God took the hardened, broken, worthless piece of clay I had become, and through His power and grace molded me into a new person. God recreated me, like He had created Adam in the beginning, and now He walks with me every moment of everyday.

 

(Ephesians 2:11) Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

I was in the flesh, of the flesh, and for the flesh, because my heart had not been open to Jesus. I was alone, beaten and defeated by my own hands.

 

(Ephesians 2:12) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

I was without Christ in my life. I prayed, but little if any for others. Satan had convinced me that could wait. I forgot God’s promises. Even though I read pages and pages of the Bible, searching for meaning, and knowing God existed, I was missing His love, because I loved the world. I loved the world more than God, and I didn’t even know it.

 

(Ephesians 2:13) But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

I was so far gone I had no hope of making it back on my own, although I tried, I really tried. I could not make it back because I had no idea I was lost. Jesus died for me. Not only to forgive my sins, but so He could rise from the grave, and seek after me. I love you Jesus.

 

(Ephesians 2:14) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Jesus has made me one with Him. He pulled me out of the world and gave me the peace I had been trying to work for. He gave me the peace I could never find through my works, hopes and dreams. I pray Jesus can one day break down the walls I have built between my wife, family, and myself, and we can become one with Christ.

 

(Ephesians 2:15) Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Total peace can only be found by putting aside the world, including the laws of the world contrary to the commandments of God. Do not trust in the world and its ways for a change in your life. Put away all of the world, trust only in Jesus, who has defeated the world.

 

(Ephesians 2:16-17) And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

Chris died on the cross to show me what the world can do, if given the chance. My trials are nothing compared to what Jesus endured. Jesus’ example on the cross shows me the path of sacrifice, which draws me closer to God.

 

(Ephesians 2:18) For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Before Jesus died, He prayed to the Father to send the Spirit to this planet. To guide and direct. Through Jesus, by praying in His name, I have access to the very Spirit of God.

 

(Ephesians 2:19) Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Through God’s Spirit, and the love of Jesus, I no longer wonder in darkness alone. God has out in my path fellow saints to minister to, and those to minister to me. I have a new family in God.

 

(Ephesians 2:20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

This new family is a wall protecting me from the lure of the world. One spiritual stone supporting another. Each supported by Jesus.

 

(Ephesians 2:21) In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

Knowing the details of the Tabernacle is one thing, experiencing the closeness of Jesus’ spiritual stone, His followers, is an experience. A personal, lasting relationship based on Christ and His example.

 

(Ephesians 2:22) In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Now that I am a part of this holy temple of Christ, fit together by Jesus’ own hands, I live with God, and He lives in me through His Spirit.

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When I give my life to the Lord

Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 20, 2011


When I give my life to the Lord every morning, His Spirit gives me lives to touch everyday, with a message only God provides. If I give only half my life to God, do I only receive half the message?  What half do I receive? What happens to the rest of the message?  If I only give half my life to God, do I only receive half of His blessings He has prepared for me? Which half would I choose if I knew all the blessings He has prepared for me for the day?  If I only give half my life to God, do I only receive half His power to fight temptation?  What half will over come me? If I only give half my life to God, do I only receive half the love to give to my wife, my family, my friends? Is only half the love enough?

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A portion of God’s Love

Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 18, 2011


I have been praying for the Lord to show me an illustration of His love I have never seen before. Here is His answer.

Matthew 12:39-41 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: (40) For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (41) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

The answer is found in verse 41. Nineveh repented. This brings us to the very end of the book of Jonah.

Jonah 4:11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

This is the illustration of God’s love I had never seen before. There are two signs Jesus gave the priests. The first was His death, something they wanted, and understood. Jesus also included His resurrection, something they could not deny, but would not accept.

Jesus went on to explain, Nineveh repented. This was the second sign, which takes us from the middle of Jonah’s journey to the end of the lesson, which is God’s love. This is the same love Jesus lived. They asked for a sign while it was standing right in front of them, Jesus, His life, and love. The sign from God they should have understood.

This also teaches a second lesson very important to me. To find the answer I had to listen, and read the entire book, rather than jumping to conclusions, based on the beginning.

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