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.
There 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.
Once 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Archive for the ‘God’s Love’ Category
Posted by adventbiblestudy on December 9, 2014
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.
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.
Posted in God's Love, Prophecies of Jesus | Tagged: God blesses you who are poor, Isaiah 58:6-12 Showing God's Love, Isaiah 58:6-12 Your Salvation Will Come Like the Dawn, Luke 6, prophecy about helping the poor | Leave a Comment »
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.
Posted in God's Love, Prophecy, Simple Studies | Tagged: 1 Corinthians 13: Love and Prophecy, fulfill your covenant, full understanding, gift of prophecy, gift of prophecy reveals only part, is always hopeful, Jeremiah, lavish unfailing love, Love never gives up, misuse the name of the LORD, modern day prophets, never loses faith, obey my commands, unfailing love | Leave a Comment »
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)
Posted in God's Love, Simple Studies | Tagged: 1 Corinthians 13: God's Love, but didn't love others, crucified our glorious Lord, faith that I could move mountains, foolish preaching, freed us from sin, gift of prophecy, God has enriched your church, God has united you with Christ Jesus, God in his wisdom, God is love, God revealed these things by his Spirit, God's deep secrets, gracious gifts he has given, human wisdom, inherit the kingdom, Love is not jealous or boastful or proud, Love is patient and kind, poor in this world to be rich in faith, possessed all knowledge, prepared for those who love him, to those who love him, you belong to Christ Jesus | Leave a Comment »
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.
Posted in God's Love, Personal Type Studies, Praising God | Tagged: garden of Eden, Genesis 2:15-17: Eden, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, tree of the knowledge of good and evil | Leave a Comment »
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?
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.
Posted in God's Love, Personal Type Studies, Short Stories, Simple Studies | Tagged: Genesis 1:26-27: Let us make man in our image, God created man in his own image, the image of God | Leave a Comment »
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
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.
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.
Posted in God's Love | Tagged: Colossians 2: The great conflict I have for you., established in the faith, faith in Christ, full assurance of understanding, fulness of the Godhead, hearts might be comforted, mystery of God, philosophy and vain deceit, received Christ Jesus the Lord, tradition of men, treasures of wisdom and knowledge | Leave a Comment »
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.
Posted in God's Love | Tagged: blood of Christ, by grace are ye saved through faith, by grace ye are saved, Christ Jesus, created in Christ Jesus, dead in sins, dead in trespasses and sins, desires of the flesh, Ephesians 2: The story of a fall and grace, exceeding riches of his grace, gift of God, he is our peace, loved us, lusts of our flesh, Not of works, prince of the power of the air, raised us up together, rich in mercy, we are his workmanship | Leave a Comment »
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?
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.
Posted in God's Love, Simple Studies | Tagged: God's love, illustration of His love, Jonah 4, love Jesus, Matthew 12, sign of the prophet Jonas, signs Jesus gave the priests, three nights in the heart of the earth | Leave a Comment »