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Bible Study, John 3 The “Must Read” Chapte
September 7, 2017, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

In life, we often hear of things that we “must” do. A list of the “musts” of our lives would both fill this page and frustrate us with the things that we feel are required by immediate or future need, or something that we see as fulfilling our purpose. Sometimes the “musts” of our lives are legitimate and necessary things that we have to do but many times these required things are simply what we assume to be needed things. “I must go to the store” often times isn’t something that is necessary or essential but a desired preference.
However, in John 3, John lists some essential musts for us. These “musts” are essential and needed as we fulfill our purpose in life. The first must is easily seen- Jesus, in His conversation with Nicodemus, tells him that a man “must” be born again. In the 3rd and 4th chapters of John you read of two of the encounters have with people, Nicodemus and an unnamed woman at a well in Samaria. Although these were two uniquely different people, they share a common need, the need of the new birth and a personal relationship with God.
Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews, which speaks of both his position and presumed knowledge of God’s Word. Evidently, Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish governing body. You can see the interest that Nicodemus has in learning more about Jesus because he comes to him. Also notice the respect Nicodemus shows Jesus by calling Him “rabbi”. Although Jesus didn’t have formal rabbinic training, Nicodemus recognized His wisdom and authority in speaking on the Bible. I also notice that the miracles of Jesus caught Nicodemus’ attention. Most likely these miracles included the cleansing of the temple. John gives the miracles performed by Jesus which show us that Jesus is God in the flesh.
I also note that Nicodemus had an attitude of fear. He comes to visit and talk to Jesus at night. Perhaps Nicodemus was concerned what the other members of the Sanhedrin might think about his interest in and respect for Jesus.
Jesus shares with Nicodemus “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” So, the seed is sown in the life of Nicodemus that would result in him following after Jesus and publicly revealing Himself as a follower of Jesus Christ at a time when the enemies of God thought they had won. But as the great sermon reminds us, “Sundays coming!”
The narrative then switches to John the Baptist’s testimony about two essential “musts”. When Jesus and his followers come into a region where John the Baptist and his followers were ministering, some of John’s followers show their competitive nature by telling John that Jesus was in the area. I think they were implying that John needed to bring his “A-game” to his preaching and baptizing because “all” men were going to Jesus and his disciples instead of them. In verse 30, John gives two essential “musts” concerning how we are to view Jesus and us. First, Jesus “must” increase. The indication is that John had fulfilled his purpose in pointing people to Jesus and now, Jesus had to be in the spotlight. He must replace John as the “big deal”. John then gives the 3rd essential “must” of his willingness to cast the attention to Jesus. John proclaimed, “I must decrease!” How convicting are these words to those of us who are born in a land which places great importance of becoming somebody. We strive and struggle, sacrifice and work, manipulate and deceive, all to become someone. John later in an epistle talks about “the pride of life”, or the desire to be somebody. John the Baptist had it right, Jesus is to be in the spotlight. Life is all about Him. John the Baptist’s concludes his testimony reminding us that “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: (think about this! The believer already has life which doesn’t end.) He goes on the say “and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

The Questions
1. Tell the two characteristics used to specifically identify Nicodemus.
2. What Old Testament event was linked to the discussion with Nicodemus?
3. Take the time to read John 3:36 in several different versions of the Gospel. Notice how some translate the second use of the word “believeth” (or believe). Putting it together with the first use of a form of believe, what do you learn about what it means to “believe” Biblically?

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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?

 

 



“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?



The Life of Faith
June 27, 2017, 7:03 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

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
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

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
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

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.