csibiblestudy


“What is Truth?” (John 18:38) People Still Asks the Same Question
August 10, 2017, 1:56 am
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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?



The Life of Faith
June 27, 2017, 7:03 pm
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Hebrews 10:38- “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Four times in the Bible, Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and then here in Hebrews 10:38 God inspires a writer to use these words. Anything that God repeats is very important and it is evident that God wants us to live by faith! Indwelt by the Spirit, we follow Him along this journey but because of our old nature, living by faith is a difficult path. I struggle because I want to be in control of situations and circumstances. I am a planner. I try to be sensitive to the Lord, but being a person whose life interacts with so many others makes me a person whose choices are based on what is best for someone other than me. You might be reading this and at this point say, “do what’s best for you and don’t worry about others!” I can’t. I don’t think that is what God wants of me. The reason I interact with so many others is that I am following God and He is using me as His instrument. Like Jeremiah and Jonah, sometimes I don’t like the cost. But what can I do? If I stop caring, if I stop making decisions for what is best for another even if it costs me something, haven’t I stopped loving? If I stop loving others, Biblically, doesn’t that mean that I have stopped loving God. For what? An easier life with less to concern me and more stuff to entertain me. Doesn’t that somehow connect with love not the world, and the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes? Whenever we follow Christ, the path will take us on unexpected paths where our faith is challenged and the making all things new is at times uncomfortable. But isn’t the treasure I am pursuing worth it? He sure is! Jesus is the treasure and He makes life with Him more valuable than all the gold in the world!



Loving Others Unless (2 John)
June 26, 2017, 9:31 pm
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In 2nd John, we are once again reminded to love one another. But John issues a caution- Make Sure That Those You Love Aren’t Teaching The Wrong Things. True love is to be shown to those who are not deceiving others with lies. The early church faced a group of false teachers called Docetists who taught that Jesus didn’t really come as a man but only appeared as a human. 2nd John reminds us of an important truth, it is easy of Christians to get off track. Whether following a charismatic leader away from the truth or emphasizing the wrong teachings that take us away from Christ and to self-righteousness, we need to take steps to make sure that we always focus on following Christ and obeying Him as we love others. The message is clear, We, as God’s children, are to walk in the truth, obey God’s commandments, love each other, and guard the teachings about Jesus so deception doesn’t happen. As we walk with God, we follow His commands our obedience impacts those we come into contact with. Doing what God commands is an act of love in which we show how much He means to us.



Who is in Charge?
June 19, 2017, 3:16 pm
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1st John 5:13-21. “Things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. and we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
John comes to the end of his first letter to the early church. In this letter, the Holy Spirit used John as He stressed the importance of love and truth in the midst of our journey of faith. Personally, this letter gives me evidence of my relationship to Jesus Christ that I can see in my own life. This is not a letter to critique others about their salvation but a guide to understand that being saved always results in a transformed life which is evident by our pursuit of truth and unconditional love for others. In simple words, John wants those of us who are saved to know and live like we are.
When we are pursuing God and following Him as both Savior and Lord, John teaches that prayers are answered because we are pursuing what God wants. So since we pray for what He wants, He is answering our prayers. John teaches us that pray can be spoken with a bold assurance that God is listening because we are in tune with His will.
Notice that God directs John to a specific example in which our bold praying can be see: praying for other Christians who are struggling with sin in their lives. Sin in the life of a Christian is a real danger. So John describes how God wants us to handle another’s sin, pray for our brother or sister.
In the midst of this passage there is a dilemma: there is a sin that ultimately leads to eternal separation from God. I think in this passage it has to do with accepting and following false teaching while rejecting Jesus Christ and God’s truth. The prayer for that is not the prayer in which we pray for a fellow believer. This person has never been saved because they have rejected Jesus.
A second difficult passage begins at verse 18. “we know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not”. Does that mean, anyone who is a Christian never sins? If so, I am not a Christian because I sin. Most likely you aren’t a Christian because you sin. So is anyone capable of not sinning? I think a little study reveals that this is referring to “practicing as a way of life, sin”. A Christian is not one who habitually as a pattern of life consistently sins willfully against God and His standards. This describes a person whose life is characterized by sin. There is not a change and there is no conviction for sin. I need to remind you that this passage is not a way of critiquing others, but a way of us seeing the evidences in our lives of a changed life. So if at this point, I am thinking about another person, I may have the problem myself. Is my life consumed about me doing enough for God to accept or approve of me? Do I live in a way that consistently involves me deceiving others? Am I know as a man of character or a character? Am I a grumpy old man, or a man of love and compassion? I guess we could use Paul’s two lists to determine the type of lifestyle I live. Is my life consistent with the works of my flesh or an example of the fruit of the Spirit. Maybe now is the time of a little self-evaluation, repentance and prayer. John describes our situation, we are godly people living in an ungodly world. John is such a bottom line person- if I am God’s He protects me from making sin a way of life. If I am not a Christian, then I am in the grip of the evil one, Satan. Each of us who are saved have the indwelling Holy Spirit, who reveals to us when we sin. His conviction is meant to bring us back to God. God please help me listen to You. We who know Christ are able to know that we are living in the truth, loving those who are of the truth, because we live in the Truth and in True Love.
John ends with what seems to be a warning to stay away from worshiping idols. But before you relax because you don’t have a little buddha in your room, think about our idols today. The biggest idol of today is us. We are the center of our universe and in some case, we extend that to the know universe. Just take a minute and watch how you drive. Is everybody else crazy because they make your driving experience more difficult? Do fast food places drive you crazy because you have to wait? Is everybody else at work lazy, stupid, favored, or promoted over you? Take a look at what your time, energy, money, emotions, and talk is about. Let’s make it simple: go look at your last 10 posts on social media. What were they about? What has your last 10 conversations been about? What were the last 10 purchases about? What about the top ten standards or values of life? Can you find them in the Bible and give the book, chapter, and verse and have studied it within the context of the passage? Found what you are worshiping yet? The idol we most need to keep away from is us. John reminds us to throw ourselves into the pursuit of God. All we need will be taken care of by Him. Seek first God.



When the First Step Ends in Failure!
April 22, 2017, 6:24 pm
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“My little children” starts off 1 John 2:1. Many Bible scholars jump pass these words to “deeper” issues but how important are these words! When I read these words, I think of “toddlers”. With three children and nine grandchildren, dealing with these precious “gifts from God” create memories which God often uses to remind us of His eternal truth. How often we try to warn them against doing something that may hurt them or teach them a new and necessary skill only to see their actions bring the very thing we wanted them to avoid or their attempts to try to use a skill end in failure, and many times tears. Think about that dear child taking that first step with our encouragement and teaching. Do you remember how that first step was so celebrated because of all the times that precious child ended on the floor? What about the warnings not to do something that are ignored, only to end in the pain we tried to get our little child to avoid? The Holy Spirit gives John the knowledge that we are “little children” of God, and even though the path to living right before God in this world is simple, it is difficult because we are little children, with a tendency to fail and fall. But take heart little children as your eyes are dried and you receive a hug from your heavenly Father and the encouragement to try again. Failure is only the final part of our story when we give up. This message from John, given to him to share by the Holy Spirit when he was the elder saint, doesn’t end here. Read the rest of the story and see the great news that destroys our fear of failure! Get up and try again! God is on our side!



Super Conqueror! Who Me?
January 15, 2017, 3:04 am
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more-than-conquerors
I John 5: 4-5 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.”
In I John 5, verses 4 and 5, three times Christians are said to be overcomers. The word translated “overcomers” comes from a form of a Greek word that most of us know “Nike.” This word (or its various forms) means “overcomer or conqueror”. We wear shoes and uniforms made by Nike so we “conqueror” our opponents in athletic contests. Missiles were called Nike to show their superiority in battles. Previously John had used the word in John 16:33 as He encourages us with the words “I have overcome (conquered) the world”. For the Greeks the word could only be used of their mythical gods because while humans may win battles and contests, they also lost at times. Their understanding of Nike was overcoming or conquering in a way that assured final victory. What Jesus was telling us was that He had won the final victory and would never be defeated.
Think of the truth in I John. We, Christians, are called “overcomers”. Humans gaining the final victories. But what enabled these humans to gain the victory? In I John 5:4 we find that whosoever is born of God is an overcomer or conqueror. In I John 5:5, we see that whosoever believes in Jesus is an overcomer.
Let me end with a third passage, Romans 8:37 tells us that we are “more than conquerors”. Paul explains that we are “super conquerors” or “ultimate conquerors” through Jesus Christ. Nothing in life can defeat us or separate us from the love of Christ. Today, live as a ultimate conqueror in Christ!



What Do You Call a Chicken that Stops Laying Eggs?
September 10, 2016, 7:32 pm
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fig-tree
Mark 11:12-14 : “And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.”
I grew up in a small community in the southwestern part of Virginia and both my parents and grandparents had chickens. I have memories of going to gather eggs and I can remember the exciting surrounding preparing chickens for a meal. Up the road from me was a man named Kelly who loved to tell jokes and I remember him asking me “what do you call a chicken that stops laying?’ Before I could think of an answer, he yelled “supper!” as he went away laughing.
In a sense the passage in Mark is very similar. Jesus, early in the morning, is walking to Bethany, and sees a fig tree with leaves in the distance. Although it is most likely April and figs didn’t come until June, the tree having leaves was an indication that it also bore fig fruit, since the fruit can at the same time as the leaves. Surely Jesus knowing all things as God knew that the tree had no fruit. But as man, he went to see. But an important thing to remember is that the disciples went with him and heard his comments about the tree. In the only time during His earthly ministry, Jesus performs a miracle that was harmful. The fig tree was cursed to die.
I guess the question arises as to why we need to know this. Why is this passage in the Bible? Is this an example of Jesus losing His temper and doing something out of anger? That is so inconsistent with the character of Jesus as revealed in the Bible that even writing it out seems ridiculous. Jesus never would respond in that manner. So why it is here?
I think this is one of those times when we need to see the big picture of the chapter. In the first verses of the chapter, Jesus makes what we call the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It seems that He is being accepted as the King of the Jews. But notice verse 11. Jesus goes into Jerusalem into the Temple. He looks around and then leaves. Now look after the cursing of the fig tree. When Jesus returns to Jerusalem He goes into the Temple and cleansed the money-changers and those selling animals to be sacrificed at inflated prices.
The remaining details of chapters 11 and 12 highlight the fact that even though there were leaves on the trees (the Triumphal Entry) when Jesus came to inspect (looked around) He found no fruit. The interaction with the Jewish religious leaders demonstrates the “dead-ness” of their religion. Over and over again, combinations of the various types of religious leaders tried to trap Jesus with ridiculous questions and requests. Over and over again, Jesus responded in ways that embarrassed the leaders and revealed their lack of eternal life and wisdom from God. As you look at the end of chapter 12, in much the same way that Jesus condemned the fig tree, Jesus condemns the religious leaders. He talks about their great responsibility to direct them to God and their great failure because of the hardness of hearts that rejected God and His path to eternal life.
So what do we learn? First, we are accountable to God and Him alone. He searches our heart and knows the reality of our relationship with Him.
Second, those who proclaim that we have a relationship with God will have genuine Spirit-produced fruit, summed up by Jesus as loving God with our all and loving others through the Spirit’s work in us.
Third, we are to share our faith with others.
What Do You Call a Person Who Doesn’t Follow God? LOST!