Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Pondering John 10:1-21

gospel-of-john

You can read the passage by clicking HERE.

The last part of John 10:10 has always been one of my favorite verses – “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” But it is a verse that really needs to be understood in relation to the first part of the verse – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

It is very sad for me to look around and see so many people who have life (bios) but  who do not have LIFE (zoe). Jesus offers the world LIFE in the fullest sense. He uses the Greek work zoe here, in contrast to the word bios – which has to do with biological life. Zoe life is full of vitality. It is animated. It is genuine and authentic. It radiates joy and peace. It is the difference between merely surviving and thriving. The thief (the enemy of our souls) has done a pretty good job of stealing LIFE from people. He has destroyed lives. Jesus has come to restore us to LIFE. He not only wants to give us eternal life so that we can enjoy life with Him forever but He also wants to give us the kind of life on earth that we were created for… zoe life. Abundant life. Life to the full.

How do we get this kind of life? The bottom line is summed up by this statement that is expressed several times in this passage: Listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. There are many many voices in this world that are competing for our attention. And these voices are full of temptation and are very seductive. You don’t have to look far to see how much we have been seduced by this world – usually no farther than our own lives. Here are a few things that are true about the Good Shepherd that we need never forget when we are being baited by the other voices in our world:

  • He is good – intrinsically. And therefore He does only what is good for us.
  • He knows us – a shepherd knows sheep. He knows what we need. He knows our weaknesses. He knows how to lead us so that we can find good pasture.
  • He laid down His life for us.
  • He tells us what to do  for our provision and protection – not because He is a despot or power hungry lord.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23

 Next Week’s Passage: John 10:22-42

 

Quotes Worth Pondering – George Muller

QuotesWorthPondering“My business is, with all my might to serve my own generation; in doing so I shall best serve the next generation, should the Lord Jesus tarry… The longer I live, the more I am enabled to realize that I have but one life to live on earth, and that this one life is but a brief life, for sowing, in comparison with eternity, for reaping. ” 
― George Müller

Pondering John 9:13-41

gospel-of-john

You can read the passage by clicking HERE.

Here are a couple of principles that struck me as I pondered this passage…

People need good community to thrive – Notice vs 20-23. The parents of the blind man were reticent to say too much because they feared excommunication from the synagogue. For Jews, their lives were centered around the local synagogue. It was not only where they practiced their faith but it was also where all their social connections were. Excommunication would have meant living life in isolation and this was too scary a thought for them to even think about. They knew how much they needed their community both to survive and to thrive.

We in America have lost sight of the value of community. Social media has shown us how  true this is. The only problem with social media, as great as it is, is that it gives a false sense of community. We feel like we are connected to people when we really aren’t. As believers we need  authentic community. It is vital to our spiritual, social, and emotional health.

Bad theology is a prescription for spiritual disaster – The Pharisees were picking and choosing from the Older Testament what they wanted to believe about the Messiah. This was true concerning their other beliefs as well. This is why their theology was so off base concerning the blind man and why he was blind.

There are many many people in our churches today whose theology is very shallow. All believers are theologians – theology being the study of God. The question is whether our theology is based on all of Scripture or do we just pick and choose what sounds good to us. This much I do know – if our theology is bad it will fail us as we try to make sense of life and cause us to be a laughingstock to the unbelieving world. Don’t shy away from studying theology – it is good for your soul.

“Father, thank You for my Connect Group, the community of believers I have that helps me to grow and challenged me to know You better.”

Next Week’s Passage: John 10:1-21

Quotes Worth Pondering – The Valley of Vision

QuotesWorthPonderingHere are 2 quotes from The Valley of Vision – A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

“If it be consistent with thy eternal counsels,
the purpose of thy grace,
and the great ends of thy glory,
then bestow upon me the blessings of thy comforts;
If not, let me resign myself to thy wiser determinations.”

“O Lord, I am astonished at the difference between my receivings and my deservings;
between the state I am now in and my past gracelessness,
between the heaven I am bound for and the hell I merit.”

Pondering John 9:1-12

gospel-of-john

You can click HERE to read the passage.

If you could ask God any question what would you ask Him? Some people would ask Him big picture questions – like the following:

  • How can a good God allow so much evil in the world?
  • Why did You create people in the first place?
  • Where do dinosaurs fit into the picture?
  • How can one man die for the sins of the world?

Some people would ask Him questions that have to do with themselves – like the following:

  • Will I ever get married?
  • Why did You make me the way that I am?
  • What is my purpose in this world?
  • Why did You let such and such happen to me?

The disciples had opportunities to ask the Incarnate God, the Rabbi Jesus, lots of questions as they walked from place to place. In this passage they ask Him a question about why a man was born blind. They assumed that it had something to do with sin, either on his part or his parent’s part. They assumed wrong. Their assumptions were based on things they had learned from others as they grew up.

Here is the point of my pondering.There is a lot that we have been taught that may or may not be true. Things about worship. Things about heaven. Things about the end times. Things about the way we do church. Things about how to be saved. Things about discipleship. Etc. Don’t assume that everything you have been led to believe over the years  is true. Challenge every assumption. Weigh it against the Word of God. Ask questions. Have stimulating conversations about life and faith issues.

Here is an example from a conversation I had last week: The question was asked, “To what extent has our culture defined and shaped our worldview and our lifestyle?” We talked about the affluence of our country. We talked about the way we as Americans tend to spend money. We talked about the size of the houses that we live in. We talked about the millions of people who barely even have enough to eat each day. We talked about compassion and conformity. We talked about balancing a lifestyle of comfort with a lifestyle of generous giving.

It was a great conversation for a couple of reasons: 1) It went beyond the mundane topics that we typically talk about – weather, sports, health, etc. 2) It made me think about how I live. Have I chosen a lifestyle that is pleasing to God or have I conformed to the cultural standards of my community? 3) It challenged my assumptions.

May God give us the courage to ask questions that challenge our assumptions and force us to think biblically about life and culture.

“Father, I am very grateful to be an American and to live in this great country. But would you fuel me with the courage to live first and foremost as a citizen of the kingdom of God and to value the things that You value, not the things that our culture values.”

Next Week’s Passage: John 9:13-41

Quotes Worth Pondering – Martin Luther

QuotesWorthPondering“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!” 

Pondering John 8:31-59

gospel-of-john

You can click HERE  to read the passage.

Verse 31: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” So this got me pondering what else the New Testament might say about really being a disciple. Here are a few things that I found… starting with this verse:

Obedience to the Liberating Word of God – John 8:31     31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Daily Denial of Self and Surrender to our Savior – Matthew 16:24-26  24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 

A Life Centered on the Cross – Luke 14:26-27, 33   26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Genuine Love for Other Believers – John 13:34-35    34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The Fruitfulness of Abiding in Christ and  Steadfast Prayer – John 15:5-8    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Here is the question that I have to ask myself: Am I a disciple of Jesus, a fully devoted follower, or am I just a tag-a-long? One of the reasons that Jesus was so candid in His conversations was because He knew there were many who were just tag-a-longs. He wanted His disciples to know what they were getting themselves into. Being a disciple is not a walk in the park. It is a life-long journey that WILL involve trouble and crisis and heartache and quite possibly will involve persecution and suffering and mistreatment.

“Father, by Your Spirit would You give me the courage and fortitude to wholeheartedly follow You no matter what. I don’t want to just be a tag-a-long who follows after You only as long as things are going well.”

Next Week’s Passage: John 9:1-12

Quotes Worth Pondering: Getty and Townend

QuotesWorthPonderingIn Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the World by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Pondering John 8:1-31

gospel-of-john

You can the read the passage by clicking HERE.

Just like last week, a little more understanding of what went to at the Feast of Tabernacles really helps.

During the Feast there was a great ceremony called the “Illumination of the Temple,” which involved the ritual lighting of four golden oil-fed lamps in the Court of Women. These lamps were huge menorahs/candelabras (seventy-five feet high) lighted in the Temple at night to remind the people of the pillar of fire that had guided Israel in their wilderness journey. All night long the light shone their brilliance, it is said, illuminating the entire city.

In celebration and anticipation, the holiest of Israel’s men danced and sang psalms of joy and praise, before the Lord. This festival was a reminder that God had promised to send a light, the Light, to a sin-darkened world. God promised to send the Messiah to renew Israel’s glory, release them from bondage, and restore their joy. Imagine that you are in ancient Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. Visualize seeing these massive menorahs giving a tremendous amount of light. Now imagine the impact of the words said by Jesus in the Temple courtyard when he announced…

“I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

This was understood by the Pharisees to be a messianic declaration. You can understand why they “challenged Jesus.” (v.13) They were on the verge of losing their following as more and more people “put their faith in him.” (v.30)

The people of Jesus’ day were sick and tired. They were sick and tired of the religious system. They were sick and tired of  all the government interference. They were sick and tired of leaders who were only looking out for themselves. They were sick and tired of all the rules that didn’t make them feel any closer to God. They were sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Not a whole lot different than today. And Jesus is still the answer. He is the light of the world. He is the one who brings us out of darkness. He is the one to provide us with the light of life.

“Father, thank You for illuminating my darkness; For opening my eyes so that I can see; for filling me with the light of life!”

Next Week’s Passage: John 8:32-59

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: