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Bible Study on John, Day 2, John 2, First Things
September 4, 2017, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

First impressions are normally the impressions that stick with you. Think about the “Grand Openings”which you have attended. They are intended to impress you that this is the greatest store or greatest ballpark or greatest restaurant in history. So when Jesus begins His public ministry, He is the greatest so the miracle He does must be impressive. Last time we looked at the first week of Jesus’ public ministry and we got to day 5. Today, we pick up the 7th day, at a wedding feast in Cana. Jesus and the followers He has picked are there, as well as His mother. She probably was a friend of the family and may have been working behind the scene, making sure that the food and drink for the feast was being served. So when she saw that the wine was out, she looked for options and the very best option was in front of her, her son Jesus. John doesn’t tell us why she called on Jesus but most likely she had seen Him perform miracles before. What I love is that she put all of her trust in Him and told the servants to completely obey Him, no matter what He asked. Point of application- do you have that type of trust in Jesus when you are facing a problem or difficult situation? As we look at the story, Jesus commands that 6 large water pots be filled with water. We are looking at 180 gallons placed in water pots that had been used to purify hands and utensils previously. Notice that Jesus doesn’t do anything else, other than tell them to take a drink to the governor or head waiter who supervised the serving of food and drink. Whatever was in those water pots must have been amazing. What I noticed is the result of the miracle- Jesus revealed His glory and the disciples “believed”. While Jesus is letting people see that He is God, He is building the faith of those to whom He will entrust spreading the Gospel.
The second “first” in the chapter is Jesus’ first major confrontation with the corrupt and spiritual powerless Jewish religious leaders. Jesus makes His first public trip to Jerusalem to attend the Passover. John’s Gospel focuses on the Passover and His time in Jerusalem. When Jesus sees the corruption going on connected with the Passover and in the Temple, He drove out the money changers and all the animals. He then makes a controversial claim that puts the Jewish religious leaders on notice, Jesus is the Son of God. Take a look at what Jesus states in verse 16. The disciples take note of Jesus’ statement and remember Psalm 69:9, which the first century Jews took as a prediction about the Messiah. We also find the first public mention of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The temple that Jesus mentioned being destroyed and three days later raised up was His body. The Jewish religious leaders missed it entirely, telling Jesus about the length of time it took to rebuild the Temple that now stood. Again Jesus is investing in the faith of the disciples, who would remember this event after the resurrection took place.
The chapter ends with a statement that many believed in his name, because of the miracles and then tells us that Jesus didn’t commit to them because He knew their belief was only because of the miracles. It is hard for us to put our minds around this statement because we see the word believe and think that automatically means they were saved. The crowd was identifying with Jesus because of miracles and not because of the message. Did you notice the statement that Jesus knew their hearts. He understood that their belief was superficial and fickle. They liked the miracles and wanted one for themselves but weren’t evidently willing to go all in to trusting Jesus with their all.
Now it is you turn. Read the three questions, re-read the chapter as you answer them. Don’t forget to take notes as you read. What questions do you have on the passage? Write them out and then go to other versions and Bible study tools to find the answers. Remember to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance as you study. At the end, find one way to apply this passage to your everyday life. Write it as a sentence, and be specific!

John 2 questions
1. When Mary comes to Jesus with the problem of no wine at the wedding, how did Jesus address His mom and what question did Jesus ask her?
a. Address to His mom? ___________________________________
b. Question Jesus asked her? _______________________________

2. Jesus went to Capernaum with what three groups (individual or several people)?
a. ___________________________________________________
b. ___________________________________________________
c. ___________________________________________________

3. Read verses 23 to 25 and note that “many believed in his name” (put their trust in Him) yet Jesus didn’t commit Himself to them. Carefully read the passage again and explain what was wrong with their belief that caused Jesus, who knew what was in man, not to commit to (believe in, entrust himself to) them.
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________

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Bible Study on John, Day 1, John 1
September 3, 2017, 2:06 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

I am a middle school and high school Bible teacher, starting my 36th year.  One assignment for my students is to have them read the Bible.  In order to help them, I sat down these past summer and wrote three questions to each chapter in the Bible.  I mentioned this in a Sunday school class and had a suggestion that I post this each day on my blog.  So Rose and Teresa, here is the Bible study, day 1.  Hopefully, God will use this to help us study His word and deepen our relationship with Him.  God bless as you start this study!

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 1

The Apostle John delivers the Great News of Jesus the Christ that is unique among the Gospels.  While the other three books focus on the miracles, parables, and public speeches of Jesus in order to show that He is the King of the Jews, the Servant of God to man, and the Perfect Man in living a right life, John takes the story of Jesus beyond the Jews, Romans, and Greeks to the entire world.  His intention is clearly evangelistic, seeking to reach unbelievers with the story of the unbelievable love and grace of God.  Dated by most scholars as after A.D. 70, John may encourage readers that Jesus is the new, better center of worship, replacing the Temple that had been destroyed.

John accomplishes his goal by showing that Jesus is clearly God.  From the first words of the first chapter John states that Jesus is God.  John records that Jesus used the significant phrase “I am” throughout His public ministry in Jerusalem, each time claiming that holy, personal name of God as His own.  Jesus was always in charge, always knowing what was going on, and always showing that He was enabling man to have a personal relationship with Him.  John also wrote to give his readers reasons to “believe” and “know” Jesus as God.  These key terms are seen in his gospel over 90 times, with two types of “know” appearing well over 125 times.  The connection of these two words with verbs demonstrate that knowing God and believing God involving action.

The first chapter of John can be divided into two parts.  Verses 1 to 18 is a prologue which presents Jesus as the eternal and pre-existent Word, or very expression of God.  In these verses the origin of themes found throughout the Gospel are introduced.  Jesus is presented as the Life, Light, and Truth.  Believers are presented as God’s children, while the world is presented as lost and rejecting Jesus.

In the remaining part of John 1, we see the first 5 days of Jesus’ public ministry.  Although the first miracle which brought attention to Jesus doesn’t occur until John 2, the foundation of the public ministry is established.  Think of it this way.  The building is built, the doors to business are opened, but the official grand opening occurs with a big event.  In days 1 to 3 of Jesus’ ministry we read of John the Baptist’s witness about Jesus, encounter with Jesus, and referral of two of his own disciples to Jesus.  On day 4, Andrew introduces his brother Simon to Jesus.  Simon would later have his name changed by Jesus to Peter.  On day 5, Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael to follow Him.  Jesus ends the first chapter with the first of twenty-five uses of “verily, verily”, a translation of the Hebrew “amen, amen” and indicates the authority of his announcement.  To help you in your personal study of chapter 1, here are three simple questions to keep your attention as you read.  John 1’s three questions

John 1

  1. Give me three characteristics of the Word as given in this chapter
    1. The Word was in _________________________________
    2. The Word was with _______________________________
    3. The Word was ___________________________________

 

  1. What action of John the Baptist did the Pharisees want to know why he was doing it if he wasn’t that Christ (the Messiah) or Elias (Elijah)?

 

  1. Jesus told Nathanael that he would see things greater than the thing that impressed him enough to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. What was it that impressed Nathanael?

 

 



Blessed are Those with Power Under Control!
September 2, 2017, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) The third in a series of “blessed” at the beginning of the greatest sermon ever preached uses a term that seemingly emphasizes weakness. Googling the word meek results in a definition or explanation like this “the adjective meek describes a person who is willing to go along with whatever other people want to do, like a meek classmate who won’t speak up, even when he or she is treated unfairly.” One definition even tells us that a meek person is overly submissive or spineless. Not exactly a characteristic that you want for your child, is it? How many of us teach our children to stand up for what you believe, even if you stand alone. Fight for what is right. Have a strong determination, get a backbone! So how can a meek person be blessed?
One way to discover the Biblical meaning of the word is to explore the Greek word. Transliterated, the Greek word is “praus”. In non-biblical writings, the word for meek was used for bringing a spirited horse under control. It was applied to wind that was brought under control and made useful. Drugs were considered meek when given in proper doses making it useful. A workable definition for meek is “power or strength under control”.
When I was a boy, my dad was a tremendously strong man, due to the work he did. His hand strength was amazing. So he would play a game with me called “Mercy”. I loved it because I wanted to be as strong as my dad. We would lock fingers and apply pressure. Eventually one of us would “give up” because the pressure of the other would overcome our strength. It was always me. But I was determined to one day beat my dad. Dad never applied full force, and he sometimes would let me almost win. But in the end, he never wanted me to win because he let me. He wanted me to win because I won. As I grew, I began involved in athletics and a part of what I did was weight lift. My strength grew, especially in my hands and arms. Our contest became more competitive and eventually I won. I was so happy and so was dad. As the years passed, I could beat dad anytime I wanted. His hands grew weaker and he was unable to beat me. So now I had this overwhelming strength but I controlled it so we could play the game. As dad aged, he struggled with remembering things. So he wanted to play the game, showing me that he could win. Knowing my dad’s condition, I would put up a fight, and then surrender to him. Even though I had superior strength, it was strength under control. Winning wasn’t as important to me as it had been before I knew I was the strongest. In the Old Testament, the greatest leader of Israel, Moses, was called a meek person. In the New Testament, the most powerful God-man, Jesus, was called meek. Power to win, under control. So Jesus is saying, Blessed is the person who is powerful, or who is right, or who was control but puts it under control so that another is not destroyed. When we are controlled by the Holy Spirit, the fruit includes meekness. James talks about a meek and humble readiness to be taught the Word of God. Galatians 6:1 shows us that when we deal with a person is caught in any sin, we who are spiritual should work to restore him or her, when a spirit of meekness. We have the right to throw the book at them, to disown them, to dress them down, but we put that right or power under control.
Jesus shows what this looks like in John 8:1-11. While teaching in the Temple, the scribes and Pharisees drag in a woman guilty of committing adultery. While in the act of sex, she was grabbed and brought to Jesus. Most likely, she wasn’t fully dressed when she was forced to stand in front of Jesus. Imagine her shame was those listening to Jesus now turned their attention on her. Can’t you see her head bowing and her eyes looking at the ground as she sobbed in fear and shame. Hearing the Pharisees tell Jesus that she had been caught having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband was bad enough but then hearing the sentence “the law of Moses commands that we stone every woman who does this to death” broke her. What hope did she have? John tells us that they were doing this as a test for Jesus. The woman was just a pawn in the game. You know the response of Jesus. He bends down and begins writing in the ground with His finger. What He wrote is a mystery. We aren’t told. As the Pharisees continued to ask what verdict Jesus would pass, Jesus said these famous words, “let him who is without sin among you throw the first stone!” Bending down, writing once again in the ground, Jesus must have heard the sound of sandals leaving the Temple area. Then the One Man who met the requirement to throw the first stone stood up. Jesus, the God-man, had never and would never commit a sin. He would never be guilty of breaking God’s holy law. Then as God, He had written the law! He alone had the power, the authority, the right to cast the first stone. But Jesus shows us how to be meek in the right way. Using my imagination, I can see Jesus standing to His feet and getting the woman to look Him in the eyes asked her where her accusers were? Looking around, she saw no one but then looked into His eyes. Such righteous eyes revealing a righteous Man who had every right to pick up a stone to hurl at her, bringing death. As God, He knew her sin, or should I say SINS! And then Jesus covered her sin with GRACE! “Neither do I condemn you, go, and from now on sin no more!” The command to “sin no more” means to leave your life of sin or stop practicing sin as a way of life. Here’s what I love, Jesus forgave her, and then enabled her to live a life of following Him.
So, I guess my point is this. We all have failed God. My violations of the standard of God would fill a large book. I am condemned. Praise God for the Meek! My God had every right to destroy me. But He showed grace! So as I follow Him, I have to become a Grace-giver! Blessed are the meek! God, help me to become meek! Help to to restore! Help me to show grace!



“What is Truth?” (John 18:38) People Still Asks the Same Question
August 10, 2017, 1:56 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: ,

If you are living in our world today, I’m sure that you notice how often we have at least two sides to any issue. Both sides look at the other side’s logic and reasoning as flawed, based on misconceptions and lies. If you have children you have no doubt interrupted a heated discussion, perhaps even a fight and then asked that ridiculous question, “what’s wrong?” Listening to each side finds that whatever happened will have to be discovered some other way because the two stories you are hearing can’t be about the same event.
The same thing happened during the life of Jesus. Beginning with Adam and Eve’s sin, two different worldviews have been used to interpret the events of life. One is based on God’s view, while the other is the result of man’s interpretation based on his knowledge and understanding at that point of life.
As we go to John 18, we find Jesus arrested as a part of the Jewish religious leaders’ plot to discredit and destroy Jesus. Taking advantage of a leak from one of Jesus’s own, they developed a plot to use this disloyal and greedy “disciple” to locate Jesus and have Him arrested. Following His arrest, a series of illegal trials occur, showing that the alleged loyalty to the Mosaic Law is set aside for what they believe to be a necessary death to save what they hold as important. In case you misunderstand, while they tried to deceive others into thinking that their actions were because of their loyalty to God, it was really motivated by their loyalty to themselves. They loved the position of honor, the power they possessed, and the material wealth they gained by doing “God’s bidding”.
So, to gain the Roman’s approval for a public death on the cross, a lie about Jesus is told, and He is taken before Pilate. Pilate didn’t agree with the Jews about the need of a Roman trial leading to Jesus’ death as he attempted to turn from their request. As they persisted, Pilate agreed, for political reasons, to put Jesus on trial, under Roman law.
Pilate asked a simple question, but one of extreme importance. “Are you the King of the Jews?” If Jesus answered yes, then He would be an insurrectionist, leading a rebellion against the Roman government. If Jesus answered no, then His claim to be the Messiah would be destroyed. Notice what Jesus said. Is this your personal belief that I am the Jewish king, or has someone else brought the charge against me? The discussion goes back and forward with Jesus telling Pilate the Messiah’s kingdom wasn’t a temporary, physical kingdom like the Romans. So once again Pilate asks, “Are you a king then?”
Jesus gave an answer that revealed The Plan of the Ages was being carried out by these events. “You said that I am a king. That’s the reason for my virgin birth. I have come, God in the flesh of man as the Messiah. My purpose is to bear witness to all this Truth, God came to rescue man from the punishment of sin. God, in human form, came to pay for man’s rebellious and evil disobedience against the expressed will and standards of God. God, as a man, to die the necessary death to pay for all of mankind’s sin. I came to tell that Great News of Eternal Truth. Everyone can find the truth, because I am the Truth Speaker. My word is the absolute, unchangeable, and eternal Truth from God Himself.”
Confronted with this Truth from this One who claims both in words and deeds to be the Messiah, God in the flesh, Pilate does what so many unfortunately do. He asked, “what is truth?” At this very moment of being confronted with Truth, Pilate chose to reject the Truth. He will go back to the Jewish leaders and tell them he finds no criminal acts, no guilt, nothing for which Jesus should die. But instead of putting complete faith in Jesus and basing his life on Jesus, Pilate turned to the false truth which he was comfortable and made a choice that he decided was best despite the overwhelming evidence that Jesus was Truth.
So, what do we learn? We have two versions of truth. One is that truth which we develop over time. We live in a world that presses us into the mold that everyone else follows. Resistance to this earthly truth is futile as we learn to pursue the American dream that shows us that it is important that we strive for material possessions, achievements, honors, and positions of importance, and fill our lives with exciting and unforgettable experiences. This truth is ever-changing and adapts to our current situation.
But there is another Truth. It is from God and is based on Him. While we know this Truth is absolute, eternal, and unchangeable it is also uncomfortable and contrary to every message we get in life. This Truth demands change as God transforms us into Christ-likeness. The transformation at times is uncomfortable and demands self-sacrifice. We go from wanting it all, seeking material rewards for our efforts to be great to following Jesus as His slave.
We have a choice to make. God’s Truth or the common truth of this world that really isn’t truth at all. This world’s truth is based on a lie, “man is the center of the universe”. What will you do?



Following Jesus, Filled by the Holy Spirit and Me!

Based on Romans 12:9-21 here is a self-test on the marks of a true Christian. Here is what God tells us we should see as we reflect being in Christ and having the Holy Spirit in control of us:
1. Love others sincerely.
2. Hate evil and hold on to what is good.
3. Love (or be devoted to) other Christians like we are a family.
4. Give others more honor than I want for me
5. Work hard in serving the Lord with all my heart.
6. Be joyful
7. Endure through troubles
8. Pray at all times faithfully.
9. Welcome strangers in need and be eager to show hospitality.
10. Wish good upon those who have hurt me
11. Be happy with those who are happy and cry with those who cry.
12. Determine to live in peace with others.
13. Don’t be proud of who I think I am and make friends with those who seem unimportant.
14. Be willing to do the unimportant things.
15. Do think that I am smarter or wiser than others.
16. Don’t look for ways to pay back those who do wrong to me.
17. Be honorable and do what is right
18. Don’t punish those who have hurt me but trust God to make things right.
19. Help those who have harmed me when I have the opportunity and means to do it.
20. Don’t be defeated by evil but conquer evil with good acts.
This is not a checklist used to judge others. It is a passage from a letter to Roman Christians who have been urged to be the living sacrifices who follow Jesus. Paul is describing what it will look like when I am following Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me from within. These actions aren’t normal and natural for me but are the result of a life devoted to Christ. Be real, authentic and reflect Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him.



Welcomed Annoyances
July 27, 2017, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations:” (James 1:2). So, are you facing a difficult time in your life right now? Have your best plans failed and now you don’t know what to do? Ready to give up? The word of instruction from God through James is difficult but essential when our lives seem crowded with trials, tests, temptations-COUNT IT ALL JOY! Instead of resenting them as intruders and annoyances see them as blessings from God. Welcome them as gifts being sent from God in His process of transforming us into Christ-likeness. So now that you have read this truth, what is your choice- obey and count the bad things in your life as joy because God is using it for His plan for you, or rebel and keep stressing and trying to control your life according to your plan.



To Judge or To Receive, That is the Question
July 26, 2017, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” (Romans 14:1) This verse is a part of a passage that goes through verse 12. In that “Bible belt” of the early church the crucial issues were over what was to be eaten and what day was to be honored above others. It seems the issue that divided the church had to do with whether the Mosaic law was still to be followed. Surprisingly the more mature Christians saw that they were free from the law and, in the case of what was to be eaten, saw that they were free to eat meat that they could purchase that had been offered to idols. Their reasoning was simple, idols are pieces of wood or precious metals and nothing more. They were fake and didn’t exist. Just like the false gods of today. They are merely the creations of man’s imaginations and haven’t revealed themselves to man as God has. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, shows us what God is like in a personal way. So the stronger Christians took advantage of low prices for the meat offered to idols and eat it. The weaker Christians struggled with that choice. To them, honoring God involved not eating this defiled meat. So instead of being united together, the early church was divided over this issue. God gives instruction through Paul that is still practical today. Believers are God’s slaves. He is the One in charge of them. When we read the Bible, we are only doing one step in finding out what God is saying. We need to take the second step and interpret the Bible. What is God saying in this passage? This involves study, investigation, and time. It also involves something that we as Christians have abandoned, THINKING. So after studying and researching this section, we understand that when Paul writes, “but why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” we find that what God is asking through Paul, “why do you judge other Christians and why do you think you’re right and they are wrong?” God is our judge because He is our master. This passage commands us to “receive” or “welcome” all Christians, understanding that they aren’t necessarily right or wrong, and we aren’t necessarily right or wrong. They simply have different opinions and views on non-essential things. The questions viewed here have nothing to do with the fundamental teachings of the Gospel. They have to do things in which a Christian may have a different opinion. Perhaps the reason for this different opinion is spiritual growth, perhaps background differences, perhaps God has dealt with issues more important in that person first. But we are to receive and the basis for that is this principle – we all will stand before the judgment seat of God and then each of us will answer for themselves to God. So verse 13 tell us not to judge another any more, so that we don’t hinder them.
Now here is the final step, APPLICATION. Right now, in your life, do you have someone who is a Christian that is wrong about something? If the answer is yes, then pay attention to the passage: receive (v1), don’t judge (v13) and edify (v19). Instead of hurting a Christian because they are wrong, help them to grow. Pray for them first, sit down and learn from the Bible what God tells us, and then in a loving way, begin to share that truth. But while doing this always, always, always remember, I COULD BE WRONG! GOD IS THEIR JUDGE! MY RESPONSIBILITY IS TO RECEIVE IN LOVE.