Wednesday, December 30, 2015


With Christmas 2015 just past, let’s start 2016 with a reminder of what Jesus’ birth begins.  The word GOSPEL is used to describe His story, life and teachings -the hope of eternal life with Him.   By hope, I don’t mean the way we use the word today (for example: “I hope the weather isn’t bad.  I hope you like what I got you.  I hope you’re doing OK.”)    When hope is referred to in the Bible it describes a sure and certain promise that will be realized in the future.  It’s not an “if or maybe,” but only a matter of “when.”

The GOSPEL also concerns the example that Jesus has provided that He wants us to follow.   We’ll use the New Living Translation of the Gospel According to Mark for consideration of what the word GOSPEL coveys.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  chrisT – The Way, Truth and Light 

From previous posts, Jesus entered this world in a unique way – born of a Virgin.   His life was unique in that He was both God and Man and as such uniquely prepared as the only qualified mediator (see 1 Tim 2:5) between God and Man.    God sent His Son to do what no one else was capable of – be an offering for the sin of the world so we could be restored to God.   He is the Redeemer and Rescuer that God Himself provided.  It has been said that there are over 300 predictions in the Old Testament concerning the first coming and life of the Christ, all of which have been fulfilled. The odds of just 8 of those 300 being exactly fulfilled is 1017 ( 1 in 100 quadrillion).   This is why Jesus could make the claim recorded in John 14:6.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Just in case what has been presented isn’t enough proof for you, consider as well that after His death on the cross He rose from the dead to confirm what He said.   His resurrection shows us that His death was for our sins and not His, because if He had remained in the grave, then His death would have been for His own sins.

This Christmas recognize the gift that God has sent you.  Will you accept God’s Gift of salvation through Jesus?    The choice is yours.  Ask God to guide you in your search and knew that He will.   Let me wish you a very Merry Christmas in which the Christ is the most important part!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  chriSt – Savior Born for Us  

Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth in Galilee, but the prophet Micah in the Old Testament had foretold the Christ would be born in Bethlehem  Ephrathah (Micah 5:2).  I just recently learned there were two towns in Israel named Bethlehem at the time of Micah, so he was specific as to which one – the town in the south close to Jerusalem.   As Luke chapter 2 tells us, Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census that had been decreed.  And while there, with no room in the town except for stable (barn) the Messiah was born into this world and placed in a feeding trough for a crib.   Humble beginnings.

And with such Good News who should be chosen for the grand announcement?  Kings?  Religious leaders?  The towns people of Bethlehem, the City of David?   As Luke tells us God’s choice:

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”  When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”  So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.  When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.”   Luke 2:8-17

Humble messengers.  Shepherds (a despised people & profession) were told about the birth of the Savior, which implies that people need to be saved or rescued from something.   As Joseph was told in his dream, the child to be born to Mary would be named Jesus, which means “God is Salvation” or as the angel said, “because He will save His people from their sins.”    That salvation was later made possible by Jesus’ humble submission to His death on the cross.   Follow the example of the shepherds and “come see what the Lord has made know to” you.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  chrIst – Immanuel, God With Us   

As you listen to the music of Christmas, especially if the music has a Christian background, notice how many times the word Immanuel is used.   The word means, “God is with us.”   The writer of the Gospel of Matthew tells us about the birth of Jesus from the perspective of Joseph, the man who was engaged to Mary.   Imagine if your fiancĂ© left home, was away for 3 months and came back pregnant and claimed it was God’s doing!    Matthew tells us that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.  But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:  Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”  And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”    Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew is telling the reader that Jesus’ birth by the Virgin Mary fulfills what Isaiah had spoken of in chapter 7 of his Old Testament book written centuries before.    Consider the incredible events in the lives of Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph.  Without the signs and announcements God provided would you have believed Mary or any of this?  Mary’s commitment to be the mother of Jesus and Joseph’s to be His step-father are tremendous indications of their faith in what God was doing.  

God was with the Israelites during their wandering in the wilderness and through much of their kingdom history until their disobedience led to their captivity and the destruction of Jerusalem.   Then He was present again through His Son Jesus, but He was rejected and crucified.  Yet someday in the future Jesus will return and reign for eternity as God With Us for those who believe.   How is your faith in Jesus the Christ?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  chRist – Redemption for His People 

God had created mankind and as such we were His possession.   But then the first man and woman chose to disobey God and their disobedience caused separation between them and God – what we know as sin.   A perfect and holy God could not allow imperfection and sin in His presence and mankind, now in a state of sin, could not survive in God’s presence, much like a piece of wood does not survive in a fire – it’s consumed.   So God chose to send His Son Jesus to this world.   And with God being His Father, Jesus was born into this world without original sin (for more on this see Romans 5:6-21).  And unlike any of us, Jesus never sinned.   As such only Jesus was uniquely qualified to offer His life as payment not for His own sin, but for ours.  And by that He made it possible for God to Redeem  / Bring us back to Himself because the price of separation would be paid when Jesus gave up His life on the cross. 

When Zacharias was asked what the name of his son should be, he wrote on a tablet, “His name is John,” and immediately, after nine long months of silence, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and had a great deal to say.  He begins with this proclamation in Luke 1:68,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,”

If you take the time to read the Romans 5 passage, you’ll find another word used that’s closely related to redemption – Reconciliation.   God made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  cHrist – Holy Child, the Son of God  

”Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”    Luke 1:34-37

The back story is that for 400 years God had not communicated with His people through an angel, prophet or any other means.   But the angel Gabriel had appeared to Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias as he was serving in the temple.  He was told that he and his wife would have a son (John the Baptist), even though she was long past child bearing age.  Because of his doubt, his ability to speak was taken from him until just after the birth of John.  And the message to Mary was confirmed by the truth about her cousin Elizabeth who was now six months pregnant.  Mary went to see her very pregnant cousin and her mute husband and was shown in a very tangible way the truth of the angel’s words, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

The very Creator of all is now about to enter His Creation as a little baby.  But Luke is very clear that the father of the child is no earthly man but God Himself.  Now why would God make such a choice?  The answer is because of His great love and our great need.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas :  Christ – Conceived by a Virgin 

We often hear, Jesus Christ, and some may regard Christ as the last name of Jesus!  But it’s not – it’s a title in Greek for the Hebrew term “Messiah” – the Anointed One who would rescue His people from their sin and bondage and establish an everlasting Kingdom where He would rule and reign. This requires a very special, unique, eternal person.  Consider the manner of how Jesus was conceived as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 31-34, where the angel Gabriel brought a message to Mary:

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”  Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 

More will follow on the importance of his unique birth.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas

Recently I noticed the town I drive through on my way to work had their Christmas decorations up before the celebration of Halloween.   If you been to a store like Walmart recently you’ve probably noticed the lighted artificial trees are up in the Outdoor section and seasonal items have been removed from the shelves to make room for the swelling toy displays.  Yes, it’s that time of the year again – ads are already being posted for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and then comes ….. a celebration holiday still about a month away – Christmas.  In the meantime you have gifts to buy, added social functions to make room for, the decorations to put up, the presents to wrap while wondering if they’ll really be appreciated and used.   And there will be 30 days or so of holiday movies that will try and make us feel good about the season.   And yet, what is this time of the year really for?   Over the coming weeks we’ll use the expression “Keep CHRIST in Christmas” to remind and remember.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

One more encouragement for Followers of Jesus:

Gospel of John - WITNESS

W the Word           1:1-18;     5:24,38;   8:47;   17:6-8, 17    "Your Word is Truth"

I IF the world hates you 7:7    15:18-21;    16:1-4; 33;     17:14-16

T TESTIFY (see Witness References below)

N NO other way   3:18,36;   6:28-29;   8:21,24;   14:6 - no one can have forgiveness of                                           their sins and the hope of eternal life apart from Jesus;  20:30-31

E EXPOSE EVIL  3:19-20;   7:7;   8:44;   10:10;   11:9-10;   12:46

S SIN                   1:29;    5:14;    8:7;    9:1-2;   10:10-11,24,34;    15:22-24;    19:30

S SERVANT   12:26;    13:12-17,34-35;    14:15,21;    15:8-17

Witness / Testify References in John
1:7-8         John the Baptist came as a witness  (see also v19,23,32,34)
3:28    You yourselves are my witnesses…  (see also v11, 26, 32-33)
4:29, 39 Samaritan woman, "Come, see a man who told me all the things I have done"
5:31-39 John the Baptist, the works of Jesus, the Father & the Scriptures testify of Jesus
9:25         The blind man who now could see, "I was blind, but now I see."
12:17 Those who had seen Lazarus raised from the dead testified about Jesus
18.37 For this I came into the world to testify to the truth
20:21 As the Father has sent me, so I send you.
21:24-25 The Gospel is John's testimony

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Here is an acronym of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ (Messiah).  For each line one verse reference is bold to point to a central verse about this truth, though the others listed are relevant as well.   You decide.

GOSPEL OF JOHN - proof that JESUS is the Christ

J Judgment 3:17-19;   5:22,27;   8:26;   9:39;   12:31,47-48; 

E Eternal Life 3:15-16, 36; 4:13-14; 5:24,39-40; 6:40,47-48,68-69;10:27-28; 17:1-3

S Signs          2:9-11,23; 3:1-2; 4:46-54; 6:2,14,26; 7:31; 9:30-33;11:47-48;
                                12:18-19,37;15:24; 20:30-31;  21:25

U You Decide Jesus is ______________  1:12

S Salvation 4:42;    11:49-53;   12:47

C Control         2:24-25; 6:64; 7:30; 8:20,59; 10:17-18,39;13:1,3;18:4,8; 19:10-11,28-30

H Heaven         1:51;   3:12-13,27,31;   6:32-33,38,50-51;   14:1-3

R Resurrection 11:21-26,37-44;   2:18-22;    12:9-11;    14:3;   ch20      21:14

I I AM statements 6:35, 48 - I am the bread of life
                8:12, 58  & 9:5- I am the light of the world;  Before Abraham was, I AM.
                10:7-8, 11, 14 - I am the door of the sheep; I am the Good Shepherd
                11:25 - I am the resurrection and the life; he who believe in Me will live                                          even if he dies and and everyone who lives and believes in Me will                                              never die."
                14:6 - I am the way, truth and life
                15:1, 5 - I am the vine, you are the branches
                18:5-6,8 - I am He, they drew back and fell to the ground

S See (the Light) 1:4-9;   8:12;   9:5 25;    12:35-36,46

T Truth         8:31-32,44-47; 14:6; 15:26-27; 16:13-15; 17:3,17; 18:37-38;  19:35;                                               21:24

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 21 – the witness of the writer John – “This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things; and we know his witness is true.”

John was one of the Twelve Apostles who walked with Jesus during His three years of ministry.  He lived the longest and had shared the Good News to many people over his many years.   And God used him to write a Gospel that begins with Jesus’ instructions to “Follow Me” (1:43) and concludes with the same command from Jesus (21:19).   If you don’t know Jesus or have doubts ask God to show you who Jesus is and let the Gospel of John show you “The Way.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 20 – the witness of a former demon-possessed prostitute -  “Mary Magdalene came announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”

Did you re-read the heading above to make sure that’s really what it said?   Doesn’t seem like good credentials for a witness does it?  Yet here was someone whose life was so radically changed and turned around by Jesus, that Mary was among the first to see the resurrected Jesus.  And she had a lot of people to tell.  Just like John, the write of this Gospel who ends this chapter with the following words:

“Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 19 – the witness of Pilate – “He made Himself out to be the Son of God.  When Pilate heard this statement, he was the more afraid.”

Jesus was brought to the Roman governor Pilate by the unbelieving Jews and John records several exchanges between the two.  Pilate asks “What is truth” – a very important question as he was speaking to the Truth.  He asked Jesus if He was a king and He replied His kingdom was not of this realm.  When the crowd indicated Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, Pilate asked Him where He was from.  When Jesus did not answer Pilate said, “Do you not know that I have the authority to release you or to crucify you?” Jesus responded that Pilate had no authority unless it was given to him.

So Pilate was faced with a decision – what to do with Jesus.   Pilate chose to wash his hands of Jesus and turn Him over to be crucified.   Concerning Jesus and himself, Pilate made the wrong choice.   How about you?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 18 – the witness of I AM – “When therefore He said to them, “I AM,” they drew back and fell to the ground.”

Why does an armed mob of Roman soldiers and temple guards cower in the presence of one unarmed man?   For a moment before He allowed Himself to be arrested, Jesus proclaimed the name by which He was known in the Old Testament.  A name so sacred to the Jewish people that they had lost the pronunciation of it because they believed it was too holy to be spoken out loud.    If just speaking His name had this effect, imagine what can happen when we call on His name?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 17 – the witness of the aliens – “I have given them Your Word and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

Shortly before His death, Jesus was praying for His followers asking that His Father would sanctify them in the truth of His Word (v17).   If followers of Jesus look and act differently it’s because they are to be spreading, by word and action, the love and Good News about Jesus.   And they’re told that they are ambassadors for Jesus – representing Him in a place that isn’t really their home.   It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 16 – the invitation of the Helper – “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

When Jesus spoke to them of going away, He was referring to his death for the sins of the world, His resurrection and the 40 days He would have with them before being taken bodily into heaven.  But He would not leave them alone.   For several chapters now, Jesus has been telling His followers that He would send to them “the Helper, the Holy Spirit” (14:26).  Do you know of any other belief system or religion where God indwells His people?    And for what purpose?
  •          v4 to bring to remembrance His words and teaching;
  •           v9 to convict the world concerning sin;
  •           v13 to guide them into all truth;
  •           v22 to have joy that the world cannot take away:
  •           v33 to have His peace.  “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.”

We all need Help.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 15 – the invitation of Jesus – “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Once again Jesus makes a very bold statement.  In the previous chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus indicated no one could come to God the Father unless they come through Him.  And now, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”   Jesus is not being politically correct, all inclusive or tolerant of other beliefs.  So do you reject Jesus or do you consider the proof that has been offered (see previous blog postings)?

Still uncertain?   Consider Jesus’ emphasis in this chapter of “abiding” in Him:
  •           v2 expect God to work in your life as a vine-dresser prunes the branches to result in more fruit
  •           v4 abide  and stay close and attached to the vine
  •           v7  abide in the words of Jesus and pray to Him
  •           v8 abide to prove you are His disciple
  •           v12 abide in Jesus’ love and show it to others

Invite Jesus to show you the joy of abiding in Him.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 14 – the witness of Thomas – “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how are we to know the way?

Jesus is speaking about going to prepare a place for them and that they knew where He was going.   He was speaking about returning to heaven soon and that they should have known this, but Thomas spoke for all of them in asking the question.  Jesus responded, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”    

This is a very exclusive statement by Jesus.  He is saying that only through Him can a person come to God.   These is not a popular view today, but if you were drowning and a person said take my hand, would you listen and respond, or tell them that’s not what you had in mind?    We need to understand that Jesus was exclusive, because God is exclusive, even though He wants to be inclusive.   What do I mean?   God is holy and perfect and He cannot allow sin into His presence.   He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice for sins.  He took our place and suffered the judgment we deserved so He can now let God the Father pronounce the guilty sentence on each of us (because of our sins), but if we trust in Jesus, He offers His death, not for His sins, but for Ours.  That’s why Jesus is exclusively the way, but if we believe in Him, the Father will include us in those who are His own.   

Do you know the way?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 13 – the witness of the basin and the towel – “Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”

The washing of guest’s feet entering a home was a responsibility reserved for the least favored servant. Yet, Jesus, the Son of God, who shortly will offer His life as the only sacrifice that would atone for the sins of the world, washes the feet of each of the apostles.   After performing the washings Jesus told them  he did this as an example that they should do as He did – offer humble service (with the indication they would be blessed in doing so).    Never before had a basin and towel been used to wash feet by someone who deserved to have His feet washed (as Mary did in chapter 12).   If these objects had the ability to speak imagine what would say.    Perhaps they would repeat the words of Jesus in verse 34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples.”  Do you know a God that is capable of such love?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 12 – the witness of Mary, the sister of Lazarus – “Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair.

Mary had 3 opportunities to show us how important Jesus is to her:

  • Although not included In John’s Gospel, in Luke chapter 10 she sat at the feet of Jesus while He taught, probably the only woman in a room full of men.  His words and teaching were just that important to her that she would defy tradition and convention.
  • In John chapter 11 – she went quickly to Jesus when He called her as she was mourning the death of her brother.   And her mourning soon became amazement, belief and joy as her brother walked out of the tomb (see previous post)
  • Here in chapter 12 – she displays such love, humility and devotion in how she honors Jesus.

She had heard much and seen much and she was very sure of who Jesus is.  Are you?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 11 – the witness of Lazarus – “Lazarus, come forth!”
Many have made outrageous claims and then nothing comes of them.  But Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this? (v25-26)”    Lazarus who Jesus loved had been dead four days and had been entombed in a cave.   His sister Mary and Martha were mourning his death and many of their friends had come to console them.

All it took from Jesus was three words, “Lazarus, come forth!” and as we’re told in v44,   “He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings; and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, “Unbind him and let him go.”   Lazarus became living proof of Jesus’ claim and many who had witnessed this believed as did others who heard the Lazarus had been raised.  And in just a short while, Jesus’ own resurrection would further substantiate His claims for all those who will believe.  Do you believe this?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 10 – the witness of the sheep - “But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

Jesus is once again speaking to the Jewish leaders and using a familiar example – sheep.  He says He is the Good Shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep (v11,15), not like the persons hired to watch over the flock (the Jewish leaders v12-13)  who flee when the wolf comes or the thieves who try to steal them.

Here’s what Jesus says about Himself as the Good Shepherd:
  •   He guards the entrance to the sheep fold as the living gate (v7) and protects His sheep
  •   His sheep know His voice, He calls them each by their name and leads them (v3-4)
  •   His sheep will not follow a strangers voice (v5)
  •   He has other sheep (you) to bring into the fold (16)

His invitation, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” (v9)     If you’d like to know more about the Good Shepherd, read Psalm 23.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 9 – the witness of the man born blind who could now see – “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.  If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

Throughout the Bible, many great miracles are recorded – those that effect nature, physical healing's, dead individuals being raised from the dead, and more.  But never had a blind person been given their sight.  Of all the miracles that Jesus performed the greatest sign that He was the promised Messiah (Christ) was this one.  Isaiah chapter 35 is just 10 verses long, but it has a great deal to say about what will happen when the Messiah comes.  The religious leaders knew this, in particular v5-6, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.  Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.”

They refused to believe in Jesus because He didn’t follow their rules.   But a man who had been healed like no one before him, made this very honest statement, “One thing I do know, I was blind, now I see.”

What will you do with Jesus?   John wrote his gospel to help you answer this question.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 8 – the witness of the adulterous woman – “Woman, where are they?  Did no one condemn you?  And she said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way and sin no more.”

She and her lover deserved death under the Mosaic Law.  She was brought by the religious leaders to Jesus to test and trap Him.  His response to their badgering, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”   Slowly they all dropped their stones and left.  The only one qualified to throw a stone was Jesus and He told her to go and sin no more.  Imagine you are the woman.  You’re thinking to yourself, “How can I live such a life?  I’m very good at sinning and I can’t live a life without sin.  It’s impossible for me.  Then what did Jesus mean?  What did He want me to understand?”

Though we’re not specifically told, I believe the woman stayed to listen to the interchange between Jesus and the Jewish leaders.    And in doing so, she found the answers that Jesus wanted her and us to understand:

  • v24  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.”
  • v31-32   “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  • v34-36 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 7 – the witness of the temple guards sent to seize Jesus – verse 46, “Never did a man speak the way this man speaks.”

Siblings of Jesus didn’t believe Him (v5).  Others considered Him a good man, an instigator who leads the people astray (v12), demon possessed (v20), the Messiah (vv26-27,31, 41), and the Prophet (v40).   Even the officers sent to seize Him had their own observation.   What about you?  

At this moment the Feast of Booths (tents) was being celebrated.  According to Michael Card:

                 “at the conclusion the high priest would take a pitcher of water from                                         the pool of Siloam and lead a procession of the people back up the                                         hill to the temple and there pour out the water on the ground                                                   commemorating Moses striking the rock in the wilderness and the 
                  provision of water for the people of God.  At this moment the priest 
                  would proclaim, “With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation,"
                  a passage from the prophet Isaiah (12:3).

It is very probable that at that moment, Jesus cried out, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”   (John 7:37-38   NASB)    We all know what thirst is like and the desire to quench / satisfy our thirst.   Jesus is inviting us to come to Him to find the satisfaction that this life cannot provide.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 6 – the witness of the fed but still hungry multitude – verse 28, “They therefore said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may do the works of God?”

They had witnessed and experienced Jesus feeding 5,000 plus of them with 5 loaves and 2 fish that He had blessed, with enough left over for each of the Apostles to have a sack lunch.  Jesus demonstrated in a physical, tangible way His claim to be “… the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”   But they did not have an eternal perspective.  Instead they just wanted a “meal ticket” for the rest of their physical lives.    They wanted to continue to be “religious” and looked for instructions on how they could work to please God.   And Jesus answered their question in verse 29, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He has sent.”

Before many turned and left Him, Jesus offered a further invitation in verse 40, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

So what’s it going to be for you?  Follow the unsatisfied multitude or follow the One who delivers on His promises?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 5 – the witness of a lame man – verse 6, “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?””

This is a key question.  Some people would rather remain as they are – hurting, struggling, emotionally scarred, lacking purpose and fulfillment, looking for change, tired of making the same bad choices.   Perhaps you can insert another excuse.   Yes – excuse!  Like the lame man Jesus asks each of us, “Do you want to get well?”  Now the immediate application in this passage was to allow the man to walk.  But later in verse 14 Jesus said to him, “Behold, you have become well (physically); do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you (spiritually).”  (Clarification added in parenthesis)

Jesus makes the point that our sin separates us from God and that separation will be eternal. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know we cannot live a life without sin.  A life without any sin ever would please God, but since we’re  incapable of this we must  respond to his question, “Do you wish to get well?”   To the Jewish religious leaders who needed to be made well, but refused, Jesus said:

“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 passed from death into life.  … The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that He sent me.  And the Father who sent me has testified about me Himself.  You have never heard His voice and seem Him face to face, and you  do not have His message in your hearts, because you do not believe me – the one He sent to you.  You search the Scripture because you think they give you eternal life.  But the Scriptures point to me!  You refuse to come to me to receive this life.”  (verses  24, 36a-40)

Jesus is inviting you to make a wish.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 4 – the witness of the Samaritan Woman at the well:  verse 29, “Come and see a man who told me all the things I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”

Generally, people think that they cannot come to God for one of two reasons:  either they can’t forgive God for something that has happened in their life for which they blame Him; or they believe God could never forgive them for what they’ve done.   The story of the Samaritan woman is a case of the latter, but Jesus met her and will meet you:

·         It is a time of the day when no one will be at the well, except a woman who wants to avoid all those who know her and scorn her.  She is not comfortable with the choices she’s made.

·         Jesus is there to meet her and engage her, even though she is a woman, a Samaritan, an outcast of the town who has been married 5 times previously and is now living with a man who is not her husband.

·         Jesus offers to quench the thirst that this well, her husbands, her current live-in and nothing or no one else have been able to satisfy.  “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  4:13b-14

·         Jesus revealed to her that he was the Messiah and she was so excited that she left her bucket, never gave Jesus the drink He had asked for, and ran back to the town to tell the others about Him!

Though were not specifically told, from her reaction, it’s likely she believed in Jesus, was forgiven of her sins and found a satisfaction that she had never known.  How about you?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 3 – the witness of Nicodemus: verse 2, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these miracles that You do unless God is with Him.”

A very devout Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, is searching for answers.  Jesus tells Nicodemus of his need to be born again and he is confused on how a person can be born a second time into this world.   Jesus explains that physical birth is not enough to please God.   Another birth involving God’s Spirit is necessary.  As the dialogue continues Jesus explains the only way to please God and receive His Spirit is v16 of this chapter, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  The chapter ends with the statement, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”   Nicodemus believed.  What about you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 2 – the witness of Mary: verse 5, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.”

A wedding reception at least a week long, was running out of wine too soon.  And Mary, the Mother of Jesus, feels a responsibility to fix this and she knows Jesus can.   Perhaps this was the early beginning of the W.W.J.D (What Would Jesus Do?) movement and Mary’s instructions to the servants are every bit as relevant for us.  Jesus tells them to fill large water pots intended for ceremonial washing with water all the way to the top and then take some of the fluid from a pot to the head waiter. That’s what they did without questioning what they were told to do.  The result was the observation that the best had been saved for last.  For those who do what Jesus tells them to do, but best of life, eternal life, has been saved for them.   What would Jesus tell you to do?   Keep reading the Gospel of John.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses

Chapter 1 – the witness of John the Baptist:  verse 29, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” 

Under the Mosaic Law a sacrifice was required for sin with the 1 year old unblemished male lamb being the most common sacrificial animal.  Also, the Jew’s annual Passover celebration commemorated their release from slavery in Egypt when they sacrificed the lamb, ate it, and sprinkled its blood on the doorpost of their house.   The destroying angel, “passed over” and did not kill the firstborn of that household, whether a son or a male animal.   Over the course of the Israelite’s history, 100’s of thousands, perhaps millions of lambs had been sacrificed for the sins of the people.   And now God is providing His perfect first born Son to be sacrificed for the sin (all ever) of the world.

The writer John records in the same chapter, “He came to His own [the Jewish people] and those who were His own, did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name.”  (1:1-12).   John invites us to believe in Jesus, receive His forgiveness and become a child of God.
Gospel of John - Examine the Witnesses
Let’s begin a consideration of the Gospel of John and think of him presenting witnesses to be examined and cross examined to determine if Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the Promised Messiah (Christ) and King, and Savior of the World.   Listen to the testimony of the witnesses presented and you decide.  This blog will focus on one key verse in each chapter of John’s Gospel.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

To some this may sound too narrow a view and too restrictive, but they fail to understand that their sin separates them from God and how serious that separation is.  Think about it for a moment.  If you were trapped in a burning building and a fireman came to you and reached for your hand and said, "Take my hand. There's only one way out and  I know it and you won't make it without me," what would you do?  That fireman can save or rescue you from death.  And that's what Jesus wants to do for you.  Only He is qualified and only He knows (IS) the way.

When you're ready to end that separation and become a child of God, see Romans chapter 10, verses 8-13.   God's gift of forgiveness and eternal life with Him has been offered to you and you can choose to accept that gift or decline it.  Either way, the choice is yours.

As for me:  "For I am not ashamed of the Good News about Jesus.  It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes - the Jew first and also the Gentile.  This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight.  This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.  As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life.""    
Romans 1:16-17 NLT

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How to Understand the Message of the Bible

At this point, I hope you’re beginning to understand God’s love and the gift of salvation that He offers us through Jesus.   It may not be totally clear yet, so I would suggest you begin reading the Bible at the Gospel of John and keep reading until you reach the end of the Bible.  As you do, ask God to guide your understanding and make your sin problem, the separation it has caused and the only solution God has offered, clear to you.  Consider the testimony of those who had encountered Jesus:

John – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. …  He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him”  Gospel of John, chapter 3 verses 16 & 36.

John – “I am the way, truth and life.  No one comes to the Father except He comes through Me.”  Gospel of John chapter 14, verse 6

Peter – “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”  Book of Acts, chapter 4, verse 12

Paul – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Romans chapter 6, verse 23.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How to Understand the Message of the Bible

So what does God want us to understand today?

1.     We Need Help – Sin Separates Us from God   (post 2 weeks ago)

2.     God Loves Us, but is also Holy (Set Apart from Sin)   (post 1 week ago)

3.     Only Way to End the Separation – God Makes it Possible to Reconcile Us to Himself
Before the end-times restoration of the Kingdom, the problem of our sin had to be taken care of.  And that was done, when Jesus, as the sinless Son of God, suffered and was crucified, killed and buried as the perfect sacrifice once for all for the sins of the world.  The perfect judge, God, had to render a guilty verdict on the sin of mankind.  The penalty of that sin, death, had to be paid.   Jesus took upon Himself the punishment that each of us deserved and endured the penalty in our place, so that our sins could be forgiven completely by God.  And only Jesus was uniquely qualified to pay the price.  Only Jesus lived a sinless life, and therefore did not deserve death.  Only Jesus, spoke of His death before it happened and also that He would rise from the dead to confirm His sacrifice for our sins and to show us that there is life beyond the grave (His bodily Ascension as described in the Book of Acts, chapter 1 is a further indication).  To better appreciate what has been done for us refer back again to Ephesians chapter 2, only this time read the entire chapter and note in particular verses 4 thru 10 that we skipped over before.  Then return to the book of Romans and read chapter 3, verses 21-26.  Next read Romans chapter 5 to see what was done for you out of God’s great love.  Hopefully, you’re beginning to understand how Jesus is different and how serious sin is to God.   Read in the letter to the Colossians, chapter 1 beginning at verse 9 to appreciate the qualifications of Jesus and notice at verse 22 that through Jesus you can be reconciled to God and that Jesus will present you to God “holy, blameless and beyond reproach.”   If you have a checking account you know the importance of reconciling the balance per the bank statement to your checkbook balance.  And you know the bank statement balance may not be correct because of checks you’ve written that haven’t been cashed.  Also, your balance may not consider fees your bank has charged, so the correct reconciled balance may be different total from what both you and the bank show.  But notice with God, He’s the perfect One and He makes it possible for us to be reconciled to Him – this reconciliation is one way and only God is the one who is right.