Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Pondering John 6:1-15

gospel-of-john

You can read the passage by clicking HERE.

The feeding of the 5000 is a pretty familiar story. In fact it is the only miracle that is recorded by all 4 of the gospel writers. But I have found myself pondering it in a different way than I have often thought it. There was one particular verse that caught my attention that I had never really thought about before.

As an editorial comment to Jesus’ question to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John writes, “He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.”

Philip answered this exactly the way I think I would have answered the question. I would have looked at all the people and done a quick calculation in my head of what the grocery bill would look like and responded to Jesus’ very analytically, ” First of all, we only have enough in our till to get us through one more day. Second, there is not a grocery store anywhere close to where we are – especially one with enough food in stock to feed all these people. Third, do you have any idea how much time it would take to make a store run and then get everybody fed. Fourth, I don’t think it is our responsibility to feed everybody. One meal is not going do much for them but it would bankrupt us.”

Come to think about it, this is my response to just about everything that Jesus asks of me – essentially I tell Jesus that it can’t be done. I think about everything analytically and in terms of what I can do, rather than supernaturally and in terms of what God can do. I severely limit God!

What if I started thinking out of the box? What if I started praying and asking God to do a work in me and through me that is beyond my own natural abilities? What if my prayers for our church started sounding insane because they were so ridiculously out of reach from a human perspective.

Perhaps God is using this passage to test me like He tested Philip. And perhaps God is using this passage to test you as well.

Just ponderin’!

“Father, by Your Spirit would You help me to see beyond the natural and what I can do in everything, to see the supernatural and what You can do. Change my prayers! Change me!”

Next Week’s Passage: John 6:16-24

 

 

Quotes Worth Pondering – Al Mohler

QuotesWorthPonderingAl Mohler is the President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY

“We want character but without unyielding conviction; we want strong morality, but without the emotional burden of guilt or shame; we want virtue but without particular moral justifications that invariably offend; we want good without having to name evil; we want decency without the moral authority to insist upon it; we want moral community without any limitations to personal freedom. In short, we want what we cannot have on the terms that we want it.”

Pondering John 5:16-47

gospel-of-john

You can click HERE to read the passage.

In chapter 3 (Nicodemus) and in chapter 4 (the Samaritan woman) Jesus had conversations with people who were eager to listen to what He had to say. In this passage in chapter 5, Jesus is talking to people who really aren’t interested in anything that He has to say. They have already made their minds up about Him. They don’t want to be confused with the facts – even if the facts are supported by one of their heroes (Moses). So how do you have a gospel conversation with someone like this. Here are a few thoughts gleamed from this passage…

Don’t get long winded – Be brief in what you say. Everything that Jesus said here took less than 4 minutes to say (yes, I timed it). You can’t argue anyone into the kingdom of God by talking at length. Let your words be few.

Try to share the gospel succinctly – You don’t have to preach for 30 minutes to share the gospel. You don’t have to go through the 4 steps of salvation to share the gospel. You don’t have to walk people down the Romans Road to share the gospel. Jesus shared what it takes to be saved in one sentence. Notice verse 24 – “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” He gave them that gospel nugget to chew on and did not feel compelled to add 3 alliterated points, a poem, and a story to get make it clear.

Challenge their mind especially when their hearts are far from God – Jesus said some things in the few minutes that He had their attention that I have no doubt made them think.  His comment about the Son of Man in verse 27 and and his comment about their study of the Scriptures in verse 39 are two examples.

Appeal to people that have credibility in their eyes – In verse 45, Jesus appeals to Moses, whom the Pharisees think hung the moon. They live and breathe on his every word. They study his works, memorize his words, and seek to live by what he says. We have people like that in our day who unbelievers put great stock in. Use the words of these very people to help get your viewpoint across. Of course this means that you will have to do a little homework to find out how they can be used to give credibility to your message. But even unbelievers, atheists, and heretics can often help to make your point.

Understand that you can’t save anybody – It is not your job to save people. That is God’s job. Your commission is to share the good news with boldness, humility, patience, and wisdom and leave the results up to God. Note verse 21.

“Father, would You use me to plant seeds of the gospel in the lives of people who are far away from You, knowing that You are the One who has to make the seeds grow into faith that give people LIFE.”

Next Week’s Passage – John 6:1-15

Quotes Worth Pondering: Charles Swindoll

QuotesWorthPondering“Jesus didn’t come to earth to establish a new religion. He came to restore a broken relationship. He came to make the primary, primary again. The secondary activity of obedience to the law of God was always intended to serve the primary activity: to love God and enjoy Him forever. When that is primary, the secondary becomes a labor of love, a joyful, and “easy” burden to bear. (Matthew 11:28-30)”

Pondering John 5:1-15

gospel-of-john

You can click HERE to read the passage.

So Jesus is walking by the pool at Bethesda where there are  a number of people with disabilities – people who are hoping for a miracle to happen so that they can be restored to health. He happens upon an invalid, stops, and asks the man a question, “Do you want to get well?”

Two things strike me about this passage.

1) The man does not answer Jesus’ question. It is a yes or no question but Jesus does not get a yes or no response. Instead, it seems to me, the man starts blaming the reason why he has not been healed on other people and the lack of help that he has been given. He sees other people always getting the breaks and has adopted a “woe is me” kind of attitude toward life. I see people like this all the time – they blame others for their problems, or expect the government to take care of them as if they are entitled to a better life. They whine when they see other people get all the breaks or worse, they turn to a life of crime and steal what they feel they deserve. This man was not at all deserving of what Jesus did for him.

2) So why this man? Why not the guy next to him that also needed healing? I don’t have an answer to that question. But I do know that I am a lot like the invalid. I too was in need of healing. I too was very undeserving. I too have a tendency to whine and want what others have. And yet God picked me. He poured out His grace and mercy and kindness upon me. He did for me what I could not do for myself. He restored my life and gave me a reason to live that goes beyond just having a leg to stand on. And for that I am very grateful.

“Father, I am very grateful that You chose me even though I was very undeserving. And I know You want to use me for Your purposes. Would You remind me daily that my life belongs to You and that it is only in You that I will find joy and contentment and hope for each new day.”

Next Week’s Passage: John 5:16-47

Quotes Worth Pondering: J.C. Ryle

QuotesWorthPondering“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for every body, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.”

Pondering John 4:27-54

gospel-of-john

You can read the passage by clicking HERE.

There are a lot of lives that are changed in the passages in this chapter. The  woman at the well,  many of the Samaritans, the royal official, the official’s son,  the official’s household. And it seems to me that there are three things that God used in a powerful way to help bring about life change.

The Word of God – The woman at the well and the royal official were both changed as a result of a conversation with Jesus. The Word of God is powerful. This is why the preaching and teaching of God’s Word is so important. It is important that teachers and preachers take their role as instruments seriously and do the work necessary to present God’s Word with grace and truth and power. And it is important for believers to regularly listen to God’s Word with humility and hunger.

An intriguing invitation – In verse 29, the woman gives a simple invitation to the people in her town to “Come, see!” No doubt this intrigued them because they  could tell how excited she was. She generally tried to steer clear of people but in this case she could not help but tell others what she had found. I wonder if people sense an excitement from us when we invite them to church to come and see what God is up to. Are we genuinely excited about what God is doing in our lives? If we are not excited then we can’t expect others to be excited about wanting to “come and see.”

The testimony of a changed life – People can argue whether Jesus is the Son of God. They can argue whether he has been raised from the dead. They can argue if the Bible in the inerrant Word of God. The can argue about God’s existence. But they can’t argue or dismiss a life that has been radically changed. One of the reasons that the church has been so ineffectual is that it is filled with people who confess that Jesus is Lord but live as if He is not. If you have been changed, people will notice. If you are growing in your relationship with God, people will notice. Your testimony is powerful. The question is whether it is powerful in a good way or a bad way. Whether it is drawing being to God or pushing them away.

Father, would You continue to use Your Word to change me. Give me a hunger and a humility as I listen and learn. And then would You use the testimony of my life to influence and impact others with the gospel.

Next Week’s Passage: John 5:1-15

Quotes Worth Pondering – Jared Wilson

QuotesWorthPonderingJared Wilson, author of Gospel Wakefulness, and a pastor/blogger from Vermont writes…

“One of the marks of gospel wakefulness is the failure of anything else to thrill the soul like the gospel.  When the heart treasures Christ and savours His power, sin grows bitter.  Even good gifts that God made delicious recede to their proper flavors.  Good things we have made “god things” don’t cease to be good; in fact, they continue to provide pleasures and satisfactions, but they keep their proper functions and blessings, in service to the common grace the God of Glory ascribed to them.” (from Gospel Wakefulness, p. 59)

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