Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Quotes Worth Pondering – John Calvin

QuotesWorthPondering“For this we must believe: that the mind is never seriously aroused to desire and ponder the life to come unless it be previously imbued with contempt for the present life. Indeed, there is no middle ground between these two: either the world must become worthless to us or hold us bound by intemperate love of it.” 

Pondering John 7:25-53

gospel-of-john

You can click HERE  to read the passage.

One particular verse caught my attention this week: “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink’.” (verse 37)

Let me give you a little background that helps to give this verse (and the ones that follow) some context. (Information taken from an article  published by Jews for Jesus)

In Jesus’ day, special observances and traditions were developed to mark the seventh day of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles), known as Hoshana Rabba, the Great Day.” The most notable of these was the Simchat Beit Hashoevah, or water-drawing ceremony, which went as follows:

Imagine a whole parade of worshipers and flutists led by the Temple priest to the pool of Siloam. The priest had two golden pitchers, one of which was for wine. He filled the other with water from the pool. As the musicians played, a choir of Levites chanted Psalm 118: “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them. I shall give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, and You have become my salvation.” (v. 19-21) Psalm 118 is a prophetic psalm, which contains the words: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This was the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” (v. 22,23)

After the Scriptures were chanted, the whole procession headed back to the Temple and a silver trumpet sounded three times. The priest approached the altar, where two beautiful golden basins were waiting. He poured wine into one basin as a drink offering to the Lord. And he poured water from the pool of Siloam into the other. The whole ceremony, with the parade and the flutes and the singing was so wonderful that one ancient rabbi wrote: “Anyone who has not seen this water ceremony has never seen rejoicing in his life.”

The ceremony was to thank God for his bounty, and to ask him to provide rain for the crops in the coming year. It is said that this ceremony developed from a reading of Isaiah 12:3-4, which says of a future time:

Therefore you will joyously draw water
From the springs of salvation.
And in that day you will say,
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name.
Make known His deeds among the peoples;
Make them remember that His name is exalted.”

So on the last day, that great day of the feast, it is recorded that Jesus stood up and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38).

This was astonishing; nobody had ever dared speak like this. Jesus was saying that He was the wellspring of salvation of whom the prophet Isaiah wrote. He was the Messiah, the Lord’s anointed one. It is no wonder that Jesus chose the day of the water-pouring ceremony to invite everyone to come to him. If only the people would believe in him, he would quench their spiritual thirst.

I find the context fascinating and really makes what Jesus had to say come alive with even more meaning than you get at first glance. Just wait until you see some of the context for next week’s passage.

“Father, thank You for quenching my thirst and giving me the satisfaction that my soul was longing for.”

Next Week’s Passage: John 8: 1-31

 

Quotes Worth Pondering – Charles H. Spurgeon

QuotesWorthPondering“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” 
― Charles H. Spurgeon 

Pondering John 7:1-24

gospel-of-john

You can click HERE  to read the passage.

I have several random thoughts about this passage…

Random Thought #1

I noticed that there are a lot of differing views mentioned here about who people think Jesus is:

  • Jesus’ brothers considered him nothing more than a show off. (vs 3-5)
  • Some Jews considered Him to be a good man (vs.11-12)
  • Others thought He was a heretic – leading people astray (v.12)
  • Some thought he was a brilliant scholar (vs.14-15)
  • Some thought He was demon possessed (v.20)

I’ve always liked what C.S. Lewis had to say in this regard:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Random Thought #2

I found it interesting that when Jesus was encouraged by His brothers to go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles He replied in verse 8, “I am not going up to this feast for my time has not yet fully come.” But by verse 10 He evidently thought that His time had come because He decided that He would  go to the feast. Now, Jesus was very tuned in to to the leading of the Spirit of God. And evidently after He had talked to His brothers He got the cue from God that it was time to go.

Here is my takeaway – I need to make sure that I am as tuned in to the Spirit’s leading as possible because sometimes there is only a very subtle difference between “Yes”, “No”, and “Wait.” And just because God says “wait” to something I am praying about does not  necessarily mean that the wait will be a lengthy wait. The key is to be led by the Spirit day in and day out and respond as He leads – when He leads.

Random Thought #3

In verse 17 Jesus says, “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Here is my experience with Christianity: It works! Someone once asked me that if I found out that Christianity was just a big hoax what would I do. My response was that I would live according to the Scriptures anyway. Why? Because it is great way to live. I have found satisfaction for my soul. I have learned how to forgive. I have purpose in life. They have taught me to be a better husband, father, employee, friend. I wake up each morning with gladness in my heart. I live everyday with hope for the future. And on and on and on. I have chosen to do God’s will and I have not been disappointed.

“Father, today would You fill me with Your Spirit that I might be led moment by moment to go where You want me to, to say what You want me to, and to do what You want me to.”

Next Week’s Passage: John 7:25-53

Quotes Worth Pondering – Charles Colson

“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
― Charles Colson

Pondering John 6:25-71

gospel-of-john

You can click HERE to read the passage.

Crazy talk! There are things that Jesus said in this passage  that sounded ludicrous both to the general crowd as well as to Jesus’ own disciples. They kinda sound crazy to me – and I know who Jesus is. Imagine hearing some of this stuff without the benefit of belief.

Imagine hearing someone (who you knew grew up just down the road and whose parents are friends of your parents) say that he came down from heaven (v.38). Imagine hearing him say, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.” (v.35). Imagine hearing, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (v. 54). Just plain crazy talk.

Imagine you are one of the disciples and you have spent 3 years with Jesus and this band of brothers called The Twelve and Jesus says, “one of you is a devil.” (v.70)

It is not surprising that many people who had been following Jesus up to this point “turned back and no longer followed Him.” (v.66)

There is much about Christianity that must sound absolutely crazy to the unbelieving world: The whole idea of sin sounds crazy when you are brought up to believe that people are basically good. The notion that one person had to die for the sin of the world is sheer lunacy. The concept of an eternal hell and a lake of fire is just nuts. Crazy talk.

This is why Jesus’ words in verse 43 makes so much sense: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,” and again in verse 65, “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

It is God who must give us understanding to the crazy talk. It is God who must open our hearts and our minds. It is God who who must draw us to Himself that we might believe in Him. Unless God captures our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection then everything that the Word of God says is just crazy talk.

“Father, thank you for opening up my heart  and for giving my dull mind the comprehension that I needed to believe that Jesus is indeed the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

Next Week’s Passage: John 7:1-24

Quotes Worth Pondering – D.A. Carson

QuotesWorthPondering“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”
D.A. Carson

Pondering John 6:16-24

gospel-of-john

You can click HERE  to read the passage.

One of the questions that I have been pondering this week is this: Why does the account of Jesus walking on the water recorded in John NOT include some of the details that are included in Matthew and Mark? For instance…

  • In both Matthew and Mark, when the disciples see something approaching them on the water they cry out thinking that it is ghost. This is not mentioned in John.
  • In Matthew, after Jesus calms the disciples down, Peter asks Jesus to “tell me to come to you on the water” – and he gets out of the boat and starts walking.This also is not mentioned in John.
  • In Matthew, after Jesus climbed in the boat and the wind died down, it is recorded that “those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Not in John.
  • In Mark, after the wind died down, it says “They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” Again, not in John.

It seems like John has a very stripped down version of what happened. My curious mind makes me wonder why?

What John does say, that the other gospels do not record, is that those who had been on the other side of the lake when Jesus fed the 5000 went “in search of Jesus” when they realized He was no longer in the area. If I were to give this gospel a name other than The Gospel According to John, I would probably call it “In Search of Jesus.” This is what is happening everywhere in this gospel. We saw it in chapter 1 with Andrew and Philip. We saw it in chapter 3 with Nicodemus. We saw it in chapter 4 with the woman at the well and the townspeople; and then later with royal official. We even saw it in chapter 5 with the Jews who were searching for Him to persecute Him. We saw it at the beginning of chapter 6 when the crowds showed up while Jesus was hanging out with His disciples. And we see it at the end of this pericope.

There is a sense in which all of our spiritual journeys can be called a search. But the great news of Christianity that separates it from all other faiths is that God is the One who searched us out first. He loved us, He wooed us, He called us – therefore our search is really just a response to the search that started with Him.

“Father, thank You  for searching for me even when I was not searching for You. And for compelling me by Your amazing grace and magnanimous love to seek you out – knowing that You were waiting to be found.”

Next Week’s Passage: John 6:25-70

 

Quotes Worth Pondering – Jerry Bridges

QuotesWorthPondering

Jerry Bridges is an author, speaker and staff member of The Navigators. A few of the books he has authored include: The Pursuit of Holiness and The Gospel For Real Life.

“Your worst days are never so bad that you’re beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you’re beyond the need of God’s grace.”

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