Radio Program Transcripts – 10 Apr 16

This is Simple Faith and I am your host Cathy Merritt

I loss a good friend just a few weeks ago.  His name was Enrique, he is the reason I started this Radio Show.   I began a little over 2 years ago.   My sister was also diagnosis with cancer about the same time as Enrique.  Enrique died two weeks ago, while my sister died on Tuesday of this past week.

I was unable to share at my sister’s funeral except to read a text.  I also have been doing a study on the Book “Torn, Trusting God When Life leaves you in Pieces.”  Really an appropriate book for my season in my life.  I recommend you read this book by Jud Wilhite.

One thing you will discover is that our trials and suffering do not come from God, but things happen to us here.  Jesus even promised that we would suffer here.  I do not believe I need to suck it up and believe more or think I am not worthy of God’s blessings.

Well sometimes people will say, it is because she has little faith she is sick, if only she would believe strongly enough, this nightmare would pass. Like blackmail it turns people away from God. God becomes someone we cannot trust. We will never be good enough. God gives us the gift of love. Some will cite the verse in Romans 8:28 “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.” It is a verse that has sustained millions of people through difficulties through the ages.

My family and I lost someone pretty awesome this week, my sister. We find comfort in the knowledge that she has left this veil of tears to be united with Jesus. When we’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, we need to grieve it for what it is and yet take hope in heaven. In the same way, we need to be realistic about every other kind of loss or hurt.

My sister had seeds planted as a child in church and sought him out when she was hurting and found comfort in Jesus arms.    We who serve God by sharing the Gospel and being people into relationship with him realize we have a mission.  So in one way, I use this opportunity of my sister as a testimony to all who are hurting and lost.  The Gospel will set you free.

In our text tonight Jesus is determined to make his disciples understand His mission, which is to die for the redemption of Mankind, a concept that would have been a hard one for anyone of the disciples to grasp. Jewish men were not accustomed to thinking of their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as a God who would want to redeem the Gentiles, for this went against the customs and traditions of their culture and community. To put it in modern terms, it was “radical”.   I think in some ways it is hard for us to understand that God loved us so much he let his Son, Jesus die on the cross for our sins and offered us a gift of eternal life.

It was radical for another reason: Jesus was the Son of God; how could He be killed by mere men? How could God allow such a thing? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this is the reason Jesus kept on bringing it up; it was hard for the disciples to fathom, especially for Peter, James and John would had witnessed the transfiguration.

Just think about it; the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah, the one whose supremacy was demonstrated so dramatically on the mountain by none other than Almighty God Himself, the one who had done all the miracles, the one who has the faith that can move mountains was going to be delivered into the hands of men who will kill Him… how can that be?

The disciples were filled with grief… as well they should be.

Do you see what they were missing?

Yes, that’s right; they were filled with grief because Jesus would be killed. They were apparently so filled with grief (and shock) that they weren’t listening to “and on the third day he will be raised to life” They were not yet ready to realize that Jesus was going to the cross, but that was not a sign of weakness, it was a sign of faith that moves mountains. It was not a defeat, but the victory that would change the entire cosmos forever.

 

Transition from Galilee to Jerusalem

Matthew 19-20

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.(19:1-2)

With these two verses, we have a shift of scenes as well as the beginning of the transition from Galilee to Jerusalem where Matthew’s narrative will reach its climax. As you will recall, we are in a larger section in which Jesus is teaching His disciples about His mission as the Messiah, and His mission is much different than they had expected of their Messiah. I thought that we would be best served at this point, to look at a summary of the events of chapters 19 and 20 before we are caught up in the details, for often we miss the larger picture (not to mention the context) because of our expectation and traditional understanding of the details. Of course this is not to say that our understanding is wrong, but it may sometimes be slightly incomplete.

The first thing we must understand is that Jesus is going on the offensive at this point. I’m not suggesting that He lacked the initiative in Galilee, but now He is the spiritual equivalent of an invading army as He moves into Judea, challenging the very core of the Jewish tradition and ethic as it existed at the time. Make no mistake; the Jewish religious authorities will not take this assault on their position and authority lying down… and you know what happens after that.

Jesus’ first move in this match is to radically challenge the conventional values and personal rights of all people as He calls for the stabilization and preeminence of marriage, challenging a legal system that perpetuated divorce (19:3-9). This challenge seemed very difficult to the disciples (19:10), but Jesus insists that for the sake of the Kingdom, some may even be called upon to renounce their right to marry (19:11-13).

Those deemed by society to be weak and helpless, like little children, were not to be marginalized or exploited, and He even used them as models for Kingdom living (19:13-15). In a society where a person was highly regarded for their wealth and position, Jesus calls for the renunciation of possessions in favor of the higher calling of following Him (19:16-30). He tells the parable of the landowner to illustrate this graphically, reversing their values in favor of outright generosity (20:1-16). In contrast to the Gentile habit of lording it over others Jesus calls upon His disciples to be servants of all, modeling His own sacrificial mission (20:20-38). The section closes with Jesus modeling compassion for all of those why cry out in the city (20:29-34). In this way, we transition into the next section of conflict in Jerusalem, but not before Jesus has completed the task of discipling the disciples and making them aware of what sort of lifestyle will be required of them when their turn comes to proclaim the Kingdom, and of course by extension, He has provided instruction for all future generations of the values that must be predominant in the Kingdom in ages to come.

 

 

 

The Pharisees ask Jesus for Marital Advice

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Matthew 19:3-9

Jesus has entered into Judea, and the Pharisees come out to “test” Him… and away we go. Their test concerns the issue of marriage and divorce. They begin with an interesting question, one that can possibly be taken more than one way. Jesus in His reply takes it in a way they hadn’t expected, for instead of quoting the Law of Moses, He goes to Genesis instead quoting Genesis 1:27 in verse 4, and to Genesis 2:24 in verse 5; it would seem that Jesus placed a higher priority on the way marriage was originally intended to be than He did on the compromise God made with the fallen state of the people in Deuteronomy 24.

The Pharisees are all about keeping the Law, and as ironic as it may sound, this was their downfall in the end, so they ask Jesus about this in verse 7. (For them, Moses = Law).

Jesus replies in 19:8-9, with an explanation similar to His teaching on the subject in chapter 5, and for more on that, see my comments in that section. Rather than rehashing that here, I hope you will concentrate on Jesus and His orientation on the whole issue: He goes right back the point in time where God ordained marriage, and not on what came later; even the Law of Moses. While the scholars argue about the details and modern day politics, we can gain an amazing insight into Jesus’ mission and ultimate purpose in these verses, for in going back to the beginning, mentioning only in answer to their specific question any “exceptions” or concessions God may have granted, Jesus tells us about His mission: can you see it?

Jesus didn’t come with the idea of maintaining the status quo of their day, not even of the Law itself, for in His fulfillment of the Law, and establishment of an entirely New Covenant between God and His people, Jesus was taking the view that the Kingdom of heaven was not only near at hand, but already a reality, with no concession to the sin that He would take away for good. Thus, the message in this passage is not about what loopholes there might be in marriage, but on how we are to live in the Kingdom. There might be a loophole or escape clause, there might be problems in the present evil age, but in its ultimate fulfillment, we will be taken all the way back to way things were before sin had entered into the picture, for sin will be entirely done away with, along with all evil, and even death itself.

For us to say that His was an apocalyptic view would be an understatement for certain; certainly it is a view filled with hope and good news in that the day will come when all of these problems are gone. Yet, here we are, still living in a sinful and wicked world; filled with heartache and pain, what do we do in the here and now? Do we take the Pharisees’ viewpoint and debate the loopholes, or do we take the view of Christ and do our best to live according to the way God intended for us from the beginning?

Clearly that is a choice each of us should carefully consider. For the disciples, it was also a complex and bewildering prospect, and they had questions for Jesus about this. We’ll see the questions and answers when we get back together next time!

 

 

 

Jesus, Marriage, and the Disciples’ Reaction

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Matthew 19:10-12

After Jesus’ remarks concerning marriage and divorce in 19:3-9, the disciples have questions obviously, as do so many others, yet they didn’t ask any of them, instead making the offhand remark in verse10, “…it’s better not to marry.”

Quite a bit has been written about this remark; theories abound, yet what we can be certain about is that the disciples assumed that easy divorce was a given, that it was part of the deal so to speak. The apparent “taking away” of easy divorce by Jesus in His reply to the Pharisees who were attempting to trip Him up would certainly appear to reflect a different teaching for Israel, but we must remember that in this section, everything is arranged to instruct the disciples, not necessarily the Pharisees or to make new laws for the people. Caution dear reader, please don’t read anything into that statement of mine that I didn’t actually say; Jesus’ comments are of importance to us as well.

In His reply to their remark, Jesus expounds further on his intent, using a eunuch as an illustration, as He makes His point clearer. There were eunuchs who were “born eunuchs” as well as others who were “made” that way, which is to say that there are some who are by physical disability, unable to “become one flesh” in marriage, as well as many in those times who were incapacitated so they could serve in a noble’s household; neither would ever marry. Then there would be those who would choose to never marry so that they could serve more completely the Kingdom of heaven, and Paul comes to mind, as well as Jesus Himself. Some can accept this, i.e. “live that way” and some cannot. If a person can live that way, so much the better, if not, then they should marry wisely. Again, the teaching of Paul on the subject comes to mind.

This is not to suggest that living a celibate life is somehow more holy than not, but it is to say that the priorities of the Kingdom should be preeminent in our lives, and for those who have the gift of celibacy, this will be an easier task (cf. 1 Cor. 7:1-7).

I wonder what the disciples talked about later that day amongst themselves…

 

 

 

Little Children

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Matthew 19:13-15

There are times when the disciples are quite insightful, when they really “get it”, and then there are times when they really seem to miss the point entirely, and this is one of those latter cases. I suppose that we should be hesitant to be too critical of them, since I’m sure that each of us is probably guilty of missing the point often enough.

In this brief scene, Jesus is out among the people, and they bring some little children to Him for Him to pray over, and the disciples rebuked them. Maybe they thought that Jesus was too busy at the time to deal with a bunch of little ones, Matthew doesn’t say, but whatever their reason, it would appear that they have missed what Jesus was telling them in 18:5…

And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Jesus insisted that the little ones be allowed to come to Him, and once again mentions that we must be as little children, the powerless, vulnerable and often exploited by this world, to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Yes, it would be accurate to say that little children are a metaphor for the “citizens” of His Kingdom. I have already commented on this in my post on 18:1-5, “The Greatest in the Kingdom” so I won’t repeat the whole thing again now, instead, let’s once again take a step backward to look at the whole picture.

We are still in that section of Matthew in which Jesus is educating the disciples, where they are the ones in the scene that He is primarily concerned with. Also, in this part of that section, He is teaching them the stark difference between His teaching of the Kingdom, and the traditional teachings of the Jewish leadership, so isn’t it interesting that this should happen, and isn’t it significant that Matthew has included it here?

I can’t prove this, and I can’t pass it on to you as an established fact, but I can tell you that my guess is that Matthew passed this little episode on to us because this is when they began to understand His teaching about little children; certainly, it was for the disciples’ education that these events took place when they did.

In the next scene, Jesus has a chat with a rich young man; see you then!

 

 

 

A Wealthy Young Man

Matthew 19:18-22

Social conventions and customs are a funny thing; they influence most of us in a way that enables us to make sweeping assumptions concerning great truths, even eternal ones, and yet those very conventions change often through history. We should take this reality as a warning to question the social conventions of our time, and this tale is a case in point. In Jesus’ day, as in many other historical periods, it was assumed that most wealthy people were the ones favored by God; why else would they be so blessed? Yes, some were not so ethical in their conduct, but many were good, hard working people, the bedrocks of the community; surely God’s favor was upon them!

What a contrast to those little children in the last scene, those little ones that represented vulnerability and humility. Right after Jesus commented about the little ones, a rich young man walks up to Him and asks a question:

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (19:18)

Here’s a guy who appears to have it all, but he apparently believes that he is lacking in the way he has led his life; there is an element of humility here that we often overlook. In the dialogue that follows, we learn more about this young man:

Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” (19:17-20)

This young man was righteous, and appears to have good intentions, and as you will see, Jesus doesn’t dispute his claim that he has kept all of those commandments. It would also appear that the man was beginning to realize, perhaps more quickly than the disciples, that merely keeping commandments as was the Jewish prevailing thought, wasn’t quite enough, after all, why else would he have asked Jesus in the first place? Yet, he still seems to have believed that eternal life was contingent upon his ability to do something. Maybe he was right:

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (19:21-22)

 

Jesus told the man to sell everything he owned, give money to the poor and follow Him. I cannot over-emphasize how radical this was, for the prevailing thought of those times said that the rich were blessed, worthy and most favored of all, yet Jesus told the man to liquidate and give to the poor. Notice, He didn’t say to give everything to the poor (as some older translations say) but the implication is clear enough. The story ends with the man going away sad, because he had great wealth.

Traditional teaching assumes the man did not do as Jesus told him, but I want to point out that the text doesn’t say so; maybe he did, maybe he didn’t… but he was sad.

This is where we like to bash people who have more than we do; I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this in class discussions and sermons and how many times I have read it, but I would suggest that we should not go rushing into this too quickly. I have known quite a few people who are quite wealthy, rich people, and they usually discover that their wealth, while handy for sure, is also a millstone around their necks; a burden more than a pleasure. Yet once they have it, it is hard to let go of. Even so, let’s not concentrate on those who have more than we do, let’s look in the mirror instead, for there is where Jesus message, and the young man’s predicament resonate:

Suppose Jesus came to you and told you to liquidate everything you have, that’s right dear reader, sell all your possessions, give to the poor and follow Him.

Would that make you happy?

If you answer “yes” to that question, then let’s take a closer look: Your home, your car(s), your accounts, retirement plans, investments, kids’ college funds, the contents of your house… everything. You show up to follow Jesus with only the shirt on your back. Hold on, the shirt on your back is also a possession, so you show up without even a shirt on your back or anything else, to follow Jesus. Are you happy?

More importantly, would you do it?

Luke 5 records Jesus calling his first disciples. In both instances, in the calling of Simon Peter and Levi the tax collector, Luke notes they “left everything and followed him.” That jumped off the page when I read it. Jesus extends them an invitation to follow him, and they drop everything and follow. Right there, on the spot. It is recorded in another place in Luke’s gospel that others wanted to take care of their affairs before they followed Jesus and Jesus basically told them they could take care of those things or follow him. But they couldn’t do both. And they weren’t insignificant things. It wasn’t like they wanted to go check Facebook one last time. No, one person wanted to bury their father, and the other wanted to say good-bye to their family.

But Simon Peter and Levi dropped everything.

Everything.

Most of the time when we read that they dropped everything to follow Jesus we picture them leaving their boats, their nets, their tax collector booth, and their other possessions. And that’s all true. But they also left their families, their houses, and their careers. That doesn’t mean they never saw their families again. We know they stayed at Simon’s house as Jesus healed his mother-in-law. But they were willing to. Those who followed Jesus turned their lives upside down for three years to be near him and learn from him.

Those who followed Jesus gave up everything.

Everything.

They gave up their expectations, understanding, and hopes about what the Messiah would do. We see them struggle with this even after the death and resurrection. In Acts 1, after spending time with the resurrected Jesus they ask, “Are you now going to establish your kingdom?” They still believed Jesus was going to build an earthly kingdom like they had grown up believing. But they had to give this up to really follow Jesus. In order to live into the mandate they were given to make disciples, they needed to give up trying to build an earthly kingdom.

The disciples had to give up their desires for success. We see an argument between James and John about who is greater and who will sit at the right hand of Jesus. When Jesus confronts them about this conversation, he turns their understanding of recognition and privilege upside down by saying the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Over and over again the disciples had to give up their prejudices. Prejudices against the poor, the righteous, the Samaritans, children, prostitutes, religious leaders and themselves. When we follow Jesus we are called to give up everything.

Following Jesus is one of the most difficult things I have done with my life. And the reason it is so difficult is precisely this idea of giving up everything.

But when you give yourself to Jesus you gain everything.  Money of this world, fancy cars, fancy home and luxury vacations means nothing when it comes to our relationship with God.

Our first priority is that relationship, then comes marriage, comes family and then other things.   We must have a great relationship with God before all others.

God does not get even with us, he doesn’t make us sick or give us struggles because we did something wrong. These thoughts make us doubt are faith and damage our lives.

Passage where the disciples asked Jesus “Rabbi,” his disciples ask him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him”

My husband is blind, but he serves God with great conviction. He writes and shares the Gospel each day in his blog. He also has a photo blog, where he has taken many of the pictures. It is amazing what someone who is blind can do, and I never once thought he was paying the price for sin. He is like the passage says – so the power of God could be seen in him. Amen.

I believe Becky’s struggle with cancer and ultimate death shows the power of God in her and in those around her.

My sister was more than my sister, she was a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend to many.  She was ready to go home to be with Jesus.  Not to be with family first, that would follow, but to see Jesus face to face.  I know some of my family are listening tonight.  I want them to know Jesus is seeking them and wanting them to come into relationship with him.  I pray for all of us who are grieving and ask my radio family to pray for them this week.

I pray for all of you carrying the message of Jesus to the lost.  Our Mission is easy to define, but not always easy to carry out.  Sometimes those closest to us are hard to bring to the faith, but I pray that the loss of Becky this last week will open their eyes, hearts and minds to Jesus.  Amen

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Out on a Limb

is (2)

I am going out on a limb today.  I joined a group called Christian Women Speakers – http://www.womenspeakers.com.

This group promotes speakers throughout the United States – now I suppose no one will ever call on me to speak, but I do have experience.  I am a radio program host for a 30 minute program that broadcast to Spanish speaking countries around the world.   I have been praying about this for a while and thought – why not.  Maybe I can share the Gospel from my unique perspective.

I have been through plenty in this life and I have seen my share of false truths and false hopes.   The only thing we are guaranteed in this world is suffering will come and misery will too.  We have to look outside ourselves and focus on Christ.  What does Christ ask of us, not much in return unless we realize it is our duty to be his disciple and bring others to Christ Jesus.

I know many people do not like to talk about duty – salvation is a gift, but because of that loving gift I am compelled to share my story and my faith with others.

badge_womenspeakers_250

 

 

Transcripts of 27 Dec – 3 Habits

 

Pursuit of Truth

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

The Bible is steadfast that there is only one way to God the Father, and that is through God the Son. There is NO salvation apart from the name of Jesus

“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him does this man stand here before you whole.

Tragically, most Jews and Arabs today, both descendants of Abraham, reject Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Islam and Judaism alike deny that Jesus is the Messiah, nor that He is the Son of God.

It is alarming to realize that God’s people, the Jews, stubbornly reject their own King and Messiah. Yet, nearly 2,000 years after Jesus walked this earth, most Jews today reject Jesus as the Christ. They deny that Jesus is the Son of God. They deny that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life as the Word of God proclaims. Acts 3:13, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; Whom you delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.”

Likewise, Muslims who follow the Islam religion reject Jesus as the Christ. They deny that Jesus is the Son of God. They deny that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life as the Word of God proclaims. It is tragic indeed! How could over one billion descendants of Abraham deny the very Messiah Who paid their sin debt? The Koran was written by one man, Muhammad, who hated God, Jews and Christians. The Koran contains no prophecy.

Jesus is truth and to make a lifelong commitment to pursue truth is to commit yourself to Christ. Now, pursuing truth is more than just truth telling but rather coming to a full knowledge of Christ. Many churches have separated and been pulled apart by Church doctrine. Doctrine is important but we must put our faith in Jesus and not lies – we must pursue the truth.

Anything that dictates our faith is the utmost importance because our faith saves us. As we read Eph. 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”  This is a gift – we cannot take credit for this…

1 Tim 4:16 says: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

We must listen to the Spirit that leads us to truth, we must make ourselves sensitive to His voice. Focus on Him daily and listen intently. Obey and believe Him always, and settle it in our hearts to listen to Him and no to other things.

I believe in a universal church – one that all people who believe in Jesus Christ as their savior are one. Some doctrine is messed up, but not a deal breaker. I seek God in love and love others in his way.

The more we seek the Spirit in our lives the more we can discern doctrine. Read the word, and look at all scriptures together.

God wants us to understand his words, it shouldn’t be a mystery to us. He wrote it to reveal it to His children.  I believe this is so, because the more I read the scriptures the more that is revealed to me.  Like I have read this passage 50 times… but all of a sudden I see something fresh and new.

Nature of the Truth

Ok let us dive into the nature of truth.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Eph. 6:13–14)

One of the greatest ironies of history consisted in a question that Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, asked of Jesus of Nazareth.  Enraged by Jesus’ puzzling response, Pilate finally expressed the question “What is truth?”

The irony consists in the fact that Pilate was looking into the eyes of Truth incarnate at that very moment.  Christ, Himself, had told His disciples the previous night, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6).

But was Pilate’s question so unreasonable?  In it do we not find a legitimate search for a meaningful answer?  After all, in a culture where there were as many gods as there were men to worship them, would it not be difficult for the average Roman to define in concrete terms what truth actually was and who it was that possessed it?  I believe that the spirit of Pilate’s question lingers, especially in our day when the very nature of truth itself has been brought into question.  The truth is not so clear even today!

If the Foundations Are Destroyed…

Psalm 11:3 asks this question, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  The modern Christian defender faces a unique problem.  In past times, the object of apologetic argumentation was to bring to light the truth and to dismiss the false, but in modern times the very notion of truth itself has been discredited, so that now the apologist must not only present the truth, but define what truth is.  If the foundational understanding of truth is undermined, what can the righteous do?

We have all heard statements like this before.

“That may be true for you, but it is not true for me.”

“There is no such thing as absolute truth.”

“All truth is relative.”

“You cannot know the truth.”

“Truth depends on how you were raised.”

These statements may seem ridiculous or nonsense, but they represent an increasingly widespread trend of philosophy and viewpoint in the modern world. A trend, which if left unchecked, will render meaningful conversations about God and salvation nearly impossible.

So is truth an absolute and unchanging fact, or is it relative to your perspective and culture?  That is the question that the Christian apologist/supporter must be able to answer in order to lay a stable foundation for further proofs of his faith.

Truth Defined

Truth is that which corresponds with reality.  Or to put it in the words of C. S. Lewis, “Truth is always about something, but reality is that about which truth is.”  This is known as the Correspondence Theory of truth, and is the only logically correct answer to the question of what truth is.  All attempts to define truth in any other way are ultimately logically self-defeating.

We must protect the truth we can literally do this like in the original Greek for “girding your waist” is perizōnnumi, which can literally mean “to put a belt on.” This armor belt in Roman tradition was used for three primary reasons. The first is that it held a dagger, whereas the sword was slung around the shoulder.”

“The second reason for the belt was that the belt was a symbol of the soldier’s honor. They wore decorative metal plates of brass, bronze, or silver around the belt with other decorative metal plates that hung down at the groin.”

“The third reason the belt was used was for supporting the breastplate. The belt itself served as the foundation for the breastplate, without which the breastplate would be too heavy of a burden to bear.”

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13) The Holy Spirit and His leading are the center of all our truth. For when we are led by Him, He leads us into ALL truth. Not partial truth, not half-truths, but all the truth in all its entirety.”

“Do not be complacent and do not be self-seeking, but seek the truth and be eager for it. For by the truth, we are purified in Christ. Therefore, love passionately and obey the truth through following the Holy Spirit.”

So what is the pursuit of truth?

Some pursue truth through observing nature, studying books, through science and others dig deep inside themselves.  Some Christians would say the study of scriptures, but I think that is half right – Truth is a person, Jesus. He told his followers, “I am the Way, The Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). So if we are pursuing truth in its fullness, we must be pursuing Jesus.

I believe that means we focus everything toward Jesus.  Jesus says pick up your cross Cathy and follow me… take my name out of the sentence and put your name… He asked the same of each and every one of us.

No matter what we are doing, we should be connecting it to our relationship with Jesus.  When I am at work – I should be working for Jesus – putting in a good days work and doing the best I can.  When I am with my grandchildren and they do something wrong – use it as a teaching moment and not lose my cool, showing the love of Christ in all I do for them.  Showing that love in the Grocery store, shopping and driving my car.

Finding Jesus in the Bible and everywhere. We will never find complete truth apart from Jesus. Truth is found in the focused pursuit of Him.

Read Col 2:9-17 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

A stunning rebuttal of the false teachers who encourage submission to the “elemental spirits” (v. 8) as a means of overcoming fears of not being acceptable before God. As outlined in the following verses, the “fullness” of God that the false teachers pretend to offer resides in Christ and is obtained only through Him – continue in verse

11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self-ruled by the flesh[a] was put off when you were circumcised by[b] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

 

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[c] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[d]

Freedom from Human Rules

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

In Colossae, the Sabbath was kept and festivals observed in order to please supernatural powers or angels thought to direct the course of the stars, regulate the calendar, and determine human destiny. This, Paul says, is a form of bondage from which Christ came to liberate men and women.

Hebrews 1:2-3

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Marks  “these last days” (v. 2). The Son’s coming marks our time period as the “latter days” of salvation promised through the prophets.

Matt 17:5

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. The words from heaven show the disciples how foolish Peter’s suggestion was (v. 4), and they begin to realize who Jesus is. “My beloved Son,” the designation also given at Jesus’ baptism, is the term reserved by the Father for His “only Son” (John 3:16).

Listen to him. The word of God spoken through Moses and the prophets pointed to Jesus. Now the final word is spoken by God’s Son.

Listening… are you a good listener…

Habit Five – Avid Listener

Did you ever play a game called Telephone?  You start with one person telling a story and see how messed up the story is by the end.  It is humorous because on one listens to all the words.  We all laugh, but communication isn’t happening.

I personally have trouble listening because my perception of what is said gets in the way!!! Or even worse my own thoughts are racing through my head and I spare little time to listen to the other person.

Most Christians would say Jesus was a phenomenal leader. He could identify with his audience – he would break down the message in a way they would understand. He would connect with them. We can become great communicators by using Jesus as our model.

Parable of the Sower

Paraphrasing a bit – Jesus told the crowds the story of a farmer who sowed his seeds. Some fell on rocky ground, where it sprung up quickly, but then the sun scorched the plant and it withered away. Other seed fell on thorns and was choked out. Still other see fell on good soil where it produced a great crop.

Jesus said “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Then disciples said – why do you use parables to tell stories to the people.

The parables are to things people can relate too, but it to reveal to the people who need to be “convicted” without making a direct accusation, so they can apply to a vast audience, each in a different way. Parables are very common way to communicate. Jesus used them often.

He says to the disciples:

This is why I speak in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has been hardened; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, heart with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

He goes on to say: “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they heart. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Listen to the parable of the sower – when anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatched away what was sown in their heart.

The seed falling on good soil are the ones that hear the words of God and understand it. This is the one who produces the crop yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

We all wish for others to hear God’s word and know his heart. We can only pray that we are serving God in the best way possible, but the next parable goes on to say that they will be a mix of wheat and weeds. The enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. When the wheat sprouted so did the weeds. So the owner had the harvesters collect the weeds and throw them into the fire, and then gather the wheat.

 

Jesus says this is like the Kingdom of God – some people believe completely in Jesus while some people do not believe. It is not easy to know who really trust in Jesus. But one day when Jesus returns he will separate those who really trust and the other people. He tells us what the people that do not trust will end up.

This passage contains the Parable of the Sower, and in many translations, it has this as a heading, added by the translators. Yet, while the parable is in this passage, the passage is not entirely about the parable. We have to view the passage in the context of the chapter.  It is never a good idea to take things out of context.

That is how it is usually taught, however.

The scene opens shortly after Jesus had Pharisees for lunch, as we saw last time; He and the disciples went out to the Sea of Galilee, and the crowds were so big, he addressed them from a boat out on the water. Why shouldn’t the crowds be huge? In the last scene, He had healed everybody who needed healing… on the Sabbath, no less. I’m sure the news spread quickly and since everyone had the day off from work, they came out for the show. Maybe if they were lucky, a Pharisee or two might be crazy enough to challenge Him again!

In verses 3-9, He told the crowd the Parable of the Sower. Beginning at verse 10, we have His aside with the disciples; remember, they are in a boat, and the crowd is ashore… They asked Him why He was speaking to the people in parables. Before we look at the answer He gave, a parable is a metaphorical story that uses common frames of reference to deliver an inconvenient or uncomfortable truth in a non-threatening way, and has been used by the wise to communicate with and instruct others for about as long as people have been writing things down; they are used pretty much universally, and we still use them today, although in our time we usually call them “illustrations”.

In our passage, Jesus answers this way:

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. (13:11-12)

I hope that the first thing you recognized in reading these two verses is that He hasn’t answered their question yet; this is a set up for the answer that will become apparent as He goes along. In short, what He is telling them so far is that they have been chosen as His disciples to have everything reveled to them, but the crowd hasn’t been. Consequently, He speaks to them in a way that requires a certain level of discernment before a person comprehends. He continues:

This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;

Though hearing, they do not hear or understand. (13:13)

Just looking at this, you might expect that Jesus is quoting an Old Testament passage here, but He is not quoting anyone (yet). However, this is the answer to their question; He is speaking to the people in parables because they are not ready to deal with Truth, for they are in open rebellion against God. Why do I say this? Simple Jesus is not the kind of Messiah they are looking for, for they want a Messiah to deal with their political problems (i.e. the Roman occupation) not their spiritual problem of sin. Since God’s plan isn’t what they want, they rebel.

If you are in the habit of sharing your faith, you will recognize this as something quite common in our time, for it is fairly common to find a person who is quite open to the Gospel, as long as Jesus is the kind of Savior who will solve the person’s earthly problems, say financial or career problems, or their relational problems, or their problems with substance abuse or other addictive issues. Yet when their sin is mentioned, they are no longer interested, for they don’t see that as an issue, because they are “a good person”.

Jesus continues quoting from Isaiah 6:

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

You will be ever hearing but never understanding;

you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

For this people’s heart has become calloused;

They hardly hear with their ears,

And they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

Hear with their ears,

understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them.’ (13:14-15)

At the beginning of this passage, I reminded you of the overall theme in which this falls, that of Israel’s growing rejection of Jesus; do you see it now? It is nothing new in Israel’s history, and Matthew has once again tied the story of Jesus into Israel’s history, even though in this particular case, it is on the negative side of history. The people, by a large, want what they want, when they want it, and if God doesn’t deliver, they turn their backs on Him.

Jesus taught in parables, and those who were seeking relationship with God could very easily understand His teaching, and those who didn’t particularly care what God was doing if it wasn’t what they wanted would have no clue.

Do you feel like you are in a game of life? That you either are spinning on a hamster wheel or running a maze and finding you are getting stuck. Reminds me of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price in Matthew 13.

Discovering God’s kingdom is like stumbling across hidden treasure or finding the one pearl of great price. God offers his kingdom as incomparable treasure at a price we can afford!! We cannot pay the full price for the life which God gives us, but we can exchange our life for the life God offers, we receive a treasure beyond compare.

When you are running the race of life – on that spiral wheel – remember the treasure we need to seek is Jesus. Job 22:23-23 says – “If the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty.” Is the Lord the treasure you seek?

I hope God reveals to you his purpose for your life, but remember his Gift is free. That we’ll be able to freely give all of ourselves to Him. May we find joy and delight in God’s presence.

We go from listening to speaking – 6 Habit is a Tasteful Tongue

Tasteful Tongue – hmmmm enough said!!!!

Ok – maybe not. The Bible has a lot to say about our tongue.

James uses metaphors from common experience to illustrate his cardinal point that great results can be achieved by small means. The tongue is a small part of the body that is capable of creating great disasters.

Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

When talking about your tasteful tongue, we are not talking about your dental hygiene, but how you speak to people and treat them with your words.

Read James 3:2-10 – says that the tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life and set on fire by hell… tongue is a small member of the body, yet it boasts of great things….

Psalm 34:13 says: Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

A few tips:

  1. Recognize that swearing does damage.
  2. Think positively
  3. Make your point politely
  4. Stop complaining….

Just a few to start with…

The things we say or fail to save serve as a barometer of our Christian character, according to James.

Prayer

O God, your word to us is the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet too often our words to others are not good news.

We use your gift of speech to boast or speak harshly or criticize.

Forgive us, O Lord, Help us to choose our words carefully and faithfully and to use them for good.

May our words be like fresh water from as spring that gives life, health and joy? Amen.

Psalm 34:13 says: Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. A few tips:

  1. Recognize that swearing does damage. 2. Think positively 3. Make your point politely 4. Stop complaining….

Just a few to start with…

The things we say or fail to save serve as a barometer of our Christian character, according to James.

Prayer O God, your word to us is the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet too often our words to others are not good news. We use your gift of speech to boast or speak harshly or criticize. Forgive us, O Lord, Help us to choose our words carefully and faithfully and to use them for good. May our words be like fresh water from as spring that gives life, health and joy. Amen.

 

I have held my tongue most of my life, but I do occasionally mess up and say bad words. I even have been known to say the “F-word.” Am I proud of this fact… no, but only human flesh and desire comes to mind. We get frustrated and swear or we hit our thumb and swear, or we just develop bad habits of using bad language in our daily speech. That is why we are looking at good habits to incorporate in our lives. Those habits are things that help us to be like God. God wants us to reflect his image – not our own or even worse the world’s image. So if we work hard at not using bad language and use language that builds people up instead of tearing them down – we will project a better image of our faith in Jesus Christ. It makes our God of sharing the Gospel easier too. We do this not out of obligation but because we love God. We have freedom in Christ.

God bless you my friends – hope you all have a Happy New Year. See you next week on the last Habit – Living a Good Godly Life.God wants us to reflect his image – not our own or even worse the world’s image. So if we work hard at not using bad language and use language that builds people up instead of tearing them down – we will project a better image of our faith in Jesus Christ.

God bless you my friends – hope you all have a Happy Holiday – I’ll be tomorrow with the last Habit – Living a Good Godly Life.

Psalm 120:3-4; Prov. 16:27 Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

This week we’ll look at how our tongue can built people up and how it can tear people down. Let’s try to build people up this week.

Psalm 120:3-4; Prov. 16:27 Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

This week we’ll look at how our tongue can built people up and how it can tear people down. Let’s try to build people up this week.

Psalm 120:3-4; Prov. 16:27 Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

This week we’ll look at how our tongue can built people up and how it can tear people down. Let’s try to build people up this week.

Psalm 120:3-4; Prov. 16:27 Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

This week we’ll look at how our tongue can built people up and how it can tear people down. Let’s try to build people up this week.

 

Love is basic

Habits are power.  Power to build up your lives and power to tear them down.  God calls us to establish Good habits by which we can be transformed daily.  How you choose to use your habits will determine your destiny.  We will discuss over the next 7 weeks 7 great habits Christians should engage them.  Applying them will change your life forever.

We begin with Love

Love is a basic need for human life.  Without love, we wouldn’t even exist!  As the stomach needs food to eat and our lungs need air to breathe, even so the heart needs love.

 

What could be more impactful and life changing than finding out that you’re loved, especially when your heart is yearning for it?  But not every form of love is alike and not every form is beneficial.

We only have one word in English to describe love.

I love you. I love strawberries. The score is love all. They made love. I would love to see you.

Does “love” mean the same thing in all of the above sentences? Obviously not. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are many words in Spanish that can be translated as “love.” Use the verb amar or the noun amor to translate all the above sentences, and you’ll sound foolish at best.

The idea that almost any word in one language can be translated into just one or two words in another language can lead to serious mistakes in vocabulary.

Similarly, the fact that literally dozens of words can be used to translate even a simple word such as “love” is one thing that makes computerized translation so maddeningly undependable. Understanding context is one key to effective translation.

For me I only speak English so I am stuck with only “love” to describe many kinds of love.

Bible verses that describe God’s love for us are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy these inspirational quotes showing just how much God loves you.

Featured Bible Verse About God’s Love: Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God’s Love Shown Through Jesus Christ

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—

1 John 4:9-11 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

God Loves and Cares For Us

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

1 Peter 5:6-7  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

What God Says About Love

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Respond To God’s Love Through Thankfulness

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Colossians 2:6-7  Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.

Here are some things that some great Christian leaders have said about God’s Love

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  ~ Augustine

God is love. He didn’t need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.  ~ Rick Warren

God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love.  ~ Henry Drummond

When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God’s love.  ~ Charles Spurgeon

Saving us is the greatest and most concrete demonstration of God’s love, the definitive display of His grace throughout time and eternity.  ~ David Jeremiah

God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.  ~ Jerry Bridges

Scripture and quotes all share the Good News of Jesus Christ and God’s Love.

Life can be better if you’re willing to accept the wrongs we have done.  If you love perfectly, you’ll first learn to admit your mistakes to perceive how you have hurt others, and you’ll be willing to change your behavior.  By following a lifelong code of self-improvement, you can grow beyond your borders to become not only a blessing to others but blessed because of how others perceive you.  If you love with good love then, for the most part, people will treat you right.  If you love with wrong love, then you’ll gain more enemies than friends.  Not every form of love benefits our greater sense of joy or that of others.  If you only love yourself then you’ll be despised by others and your life will be terrible.  But if you learn to be a continuously charitable loving and kind person, life has a way of repaying you for that.  It is true statement, what goes around comes around.  We have to take this to heart.

True successful people are not rich or have everything they need.  Success isn’t about what you do for yourself but what you do for others while embracing what God has done for you.

True success mends the broken heart and heals the shattered spirit.  It mends a family and keeps it a tight knit group rather than enemies always at each other’s throats.

If you love with a sincere heart, then life will bless you in the end.  Sincere love is to show love without expecting anything in return.  In so doing, you will reap a blessing naturally because you sowed the proper seeds.

While we may never become millionaires, we can feel like a million bucks in our hearts.  As we already know, money doesn’t solve everything.  It may help take care of our needs, but you cannot live for a materialistic life.  Money cannot buy a wholesome heart-filling love.  It can buy vain friends, who’ll will leave us when we lose our money.  That is why love is better.  Love is the greatest medicine for the sick heart.  It’s the greatest filler of the holes in our hearts.  Without it, a person could never live to the fullest.

As we talked about love, we know there is love for money, which leads to agony, love for self beauty, which is vanity, love for another’s beauty, which is lust, love for self which leads to broken relationships; selfless love for others, which can lead to satisfying relationships and a love for God, which leads to an incredible, enriching and deeply rewarding relationship with Him.  Many forms of love, but only a few which are worth living out.

Do you want to be remembers as a cruel, selfish and shrewd miser who only cared for yourself or a loving, kind person who is sorely missed because you added meaning to their lives?

Remember children who grow up without feeling loved leave the house and start searching for love in all the wrong places.  They go from broken relationship to broken relationships

We can only love if we live in God. We are dependent on God’s love and the Holy Spirit working in us. God’s nature is love and he is happy to pour out more love into our marriages if we ask. God’s language is love and he is delighted to give us more love to extend to our co-workers, neighbors, and enemies if we ask. God’s spirit is love and he is overjoyed to send us more love to be shared through our work, play, and life if we ask.

When we receive God’s love, we are transformed, our lives are not ours anymore. It’s not us loving our enemies, it’s not us extending help for our neighbors. It’s not us becoming radically obedient to God’s guidance. It’s not us living in love and grace. It’s God dwelling in us. It’s God sharing harmony, peace, and love. It’s God pouring out grace upon grace, love upon love, life and more life!

 

With our children, we have to realize they have needs that go past filling their stomachs and clothing their flesh. We have to fill their hearts too. We work so hard for them we should not forget to actually love them.

Our children will only be in our house a short time, whatever we plant in them while they are small will determine what you’ll reap when they’re grown. Don’t be deceived. There isn’t always time on another day. Take the time now while you have it. Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. Real love would choose to be expressed immediately not later. Cherish your children now and nourish their hearts with love.

If they never know how to love, they will grow up broken and the cycle will not stop, they will pass it on to their children too.

Don’t make the mistake – love your children like there’s no tomorrow. Make them see and feel that love. Don’t put off what can be done today and get it right while you can!!!

If you’re searching for a better life and want to build a better family, then love is the answer and love will find the way! If you lose everything, you’ll always have each other. If a family doesn’t help each other and take care of one another, it will lead to a horribly difficult life for everyone. Family members should support one another, love one another and save each other from the trails of life.

I am not sure what families are like in your country, but in the US – are families are breaking and we have many single mothers. Children are raised without fathers, parents are too busy to spend time with their children. So many people discontented and searching for meaning in life.

Fatherless families are common. Family is the foundation of a America. When the foundation of any building crumbles it compromises its integrity and strength.

You may not be effected by a broken family, but I am sure you may know someone that is. You may be in terrible straits with your family. Don’t let this condition plague your life. Love your family – work on your own heart that you can cherish others as well.

Rewarding experiences come from loving others, but ourselves. We need to fill up other people and it will result in a rewarding experience in our lives.

Love truly is better than life, and without it, our lives can never find substance or meaning. Love should be the core of who we are and reflected in our actions.

Nothing can change you more profoundly than true love. If you ever have gone through a hard time imagine what it would be like to have someone reach down and help you. Imagine how it feels to be loved in the deepest sense. This is what we should do for others. A true hero is defined by a single selfless act. What then are we if we learn to be selfless at all times?

Pure love fills the heart and gives purpose to life. There is a daily love like this we can experience and transform our lives. Not a love that we give but a love that we have been given. A love that every heart needs. This love is found in God, who cherishes you and treasures you beyond anything you could ever imagine.

Don’t forget the loving nature of God, the way we approach Him turns into dry religion. God did not send His son to die for mere religion. He came for the purpose of loving you to have a relationship with you. God desires a relationship with you at an individual level. He is a very intimate and relational God who loves you. He knows you perfectly but still wants to know you in a deeper sense.

He knows everything about you since before he created time. Before He made all things. He’s been dreaming of you; how He would make you and who you should be. He has known every joy you’d have and every hurt you’d felt. He has known every pain that would come on your life for thousands of years He’s been waiting to hold you through them all.

Has been watching our lives unfold and he knows everything we have done and every way that we have sinned. Our sins hurt Him, but God knowing the ways you’d break His heart still chooses to create us and love us.

Now consider how we hurt God, people hurt us each day, yet God still loves us, so why not choose to love others too. We can choose to love God and our enemies.

Two thousand years ago Jesus humbled Himself in the sight of heaven and earth and came down as a man. He, being the Lord of heaven, knew no pain and no suffering. He had perfect peace in His perfect world. But when we sin, it keeps us from being able to enter that place of His rest with Him. He stepped down from His Lordly throne and humbled Himself to become a man, knowing what He’d suffer for your sake.

He was suffering from the moment he came into the world. Herod sought to murder him. He was carried off to Egypt until His Enemy died. When he grew up he began his ministry starving in the desert with no food and water for 40 days. He passes the Father’s test and set out to save all of us.

Jesus was homeless – the days of His ministry were by no means easy. He was under death threats many of His disciples left Him, and some who he blessed were never grateful. He poured Himself out for everyone but was despised and rejected living in wilderness while waiting to be betrayed to His death by His friend Judas.

He knew he would be rejected and mocked, he knew all these things in advance, but chose to come down and suffer them with the hope of convicting you through His love. He gave His life to convict us that we might repent for our sins and not have to suffer the judgement.

He has a perfect justice. He will rid the world of evil, and if we choose to spit on His gift, we are calling a curse on ourselves. He never wanted to condemn us. Jesus tells us that the eternal fire was created for Satan and the fallen angels. It was not intended for us.

No matter what, He will always love you. Whether you choose to have a relationship with Him or Not, He will still love you. If you don’t choose to love Him and be filled with His love and His saving grace, then He will lead you to the place you want to go. With grief in His heart and tears in His eyes, He’ll love you all the way to gates of Hell.

God gave His Son’s life with the hope of convicting our sins that we might repent. God doesn’t seek your condemnation; He seeks your salvation. When we sin, whether we intended to or not, we make ourselves His enemy.

Some people think they’ve done something so horrible that they don’t deserve God’s love, the truth is that no one deserves it, but He freely gives His love to all. He wants to save you!!! No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God wants to give you a new heart and transform your life forever.

He loves you no matter who you are. Have you’ve ever felt as if you can’t love yourself, God still loves you. Can you believe that? Remember that we approach God by faith. Can you have faith that God is better than you and still loves you even when you wouldn’t love yourself? Believe in His love and let it change your life forever!!

But if you don’t respond rightly to His love and enter into a relationship with Him, then you’re missing the point of the cross. If he have not given his life, neither you nor I could be saved from Hell. This is something that should never be taken for granted!

Consider giving your life to Christ today. If this is something you’ve never done before but you want Him in your life, come before Him in prayer. Truly, His love and His grace will change your life forever, and no matter what you’ve done. He will forgive you and clean you. Pray and confess your sins to Him. There’s nothing hard or religious about it. Just talk to Him, He’s been waiting for you for a long time, and He’s excited: formalities are not necessary. Jesus gave His life to convict you of sin that you change your life, run from sin and be saved from judgment.

God will give you a new heart and His Spirit. His Spirit enters you, it will feel as if you’ve taken your first breath and it will be as if you never breathed before. The whole world will come alive and everything will feel alive in a way you’ve never experienced before.

 

Pray, and approach God with love, conviction, and faith.

 

We may not always be blessed in life, but you’ll always have God with you to comfort you, encourage you, and carry you through. In order to be filled with the love of God, we must spend time in His presence. We must be filled before we can pour out. An empty glass doesn’t satisfy one’s thirst. Become a full glass through the outpouring of God. All ministering is an overflow of the personal time we spend with Jesus.

 

I am not merely talking about a ministry but all the ways we minister Christ to one another through love. Let the Holy Spirit work through you instead as you learn to listen to the voice and obey. The spirit will never lead you astray.

If we love the Lord, we will seek to grow in His word and multiply our wisdom in it. Faith comes by hearing God’s word, and righteousness comes through applying it. Be faithful to seek the Lord continually and to grow in faith

Pay attention to His teachings in life, God is infinite and perfect .We are called to be like him… Jesus said, Matthew 5:48 – There you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.   And Col. 3:14 “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

The first fruit of the Spirit is love. Knowing that we’re perfected by love, we should be looking for every opportunity to apply it.

We will not be perfect – only when we walk in the Spirit. Always seek, practice and apply the love of God. Open your eyes to the needs around you so God may lead you to fill them.   Christians need to apply this – not just know it. Change your heart and how you approach others, and watch God change your life. Devote yourself to asking and seeking His love, give His love you receive and then repeat the process. We have to spend time meditating and seeking Him – then love will become a natural process. We call ourselves sons and daughters of God, then we must be led by the Spirit, Rom 8:14 for many are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons and daughters of God.

Born of the Spirit Jesus said “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The world cannot understand the things of the Spirit, we speak the things of the spirit, which is the sound of the wind they don’t understand.   1 Cor. 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. We should always seek council of Christ and not the world. Let Him Show you the Way, and Let Him Plan His direction for you.

2 Tim. 2:22 “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

 

So we then will be born again, God’s plan will start working and drive us to his purpose rather than our own purposes.

 

 

 

 

Gracious God, Thank you for your amazing love! Come and dwell in us! Come and transform us! Come and live through us! So we could live a lover’s life, full of harmony, grace, and peace. So we could every day be a bit more like you! In Jesus’ name we pray Amen

 

Transcripts – John 8-10

Sorry, your browser is not supported. Please upgrade to Chrome, Firefox, or a newer version of Internet Explorer.

<div class=”alert-box alert-box–centered alert”> You need to <a style=”text-decoration: underline” href=”https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/12654?hl=en”>enable javascript</a> to view this website. </div>

John Chapter 3-5 Transcripts of Radio Program

Welcome to Simple Faith – I am your host Cathy Merritt – many of the people that listen to this program may not have the ability to get digital copies of the Bible. They aren’t able to even get a printed copy, but the most important and best place for God’s word is not on our cell phones, electric devices or even bedside bible. In Psalm 119 we read about treasuring the Scriptures in our hearts. “I have hidden your word in my heart” Nothing compares to pondering God’s word, learning more of Him, and putting it into practice in our daily lives. The best place for His Word lies deep in our souls.

Some of you have a real excuse to not read a Bible – that is why I believe this Radio program is important for those who do not have Bibles to hear God’s word. We need God’s Word. I pray that God will help us store His Word in the best place possible – our hearts.

Lord give me the desire to read your word. Then implant it in my heart and thoughts and help me live it out.

I pray these things in your blessed Son’s name. Jesus

Tonight many people are experiencing a total lunar eclipse It will be seen Sunday evening, September 27, in the Americas; while in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, it will be seen in the early hours of Monday morning, September 28.  So those listening from South America are probably experiencing it right now.

Let’s begin our lesson and ponder John’s Gospel in Chapter 3

 

John 3:1-21

Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the ruling council came to Jesus in the night with a question, and although he never actually got around to asking it, Jesus gave him considerably more of an answer than Nicodemus had bargained for.  In fact, Jesus in His answer gave what many commentators believe is an example of His early preaching; a wide ranging explanation of how a person can be saved through the New Covenant-He would make with Man.  He will speak of many things in this conversation, and by the time it concludes He will have set out God’s plan for Mankind.

Nicodemus opens the conversation with a statement; saying that “we” know that Jesus is from God for His miracles have confirmed the fact.  The use of “we” is interesting, for it implies that as of this early date many or all of the Pharisees had come to the realization that Jesus was the real deal.  In His reply, Jesus goes ahead to answer the question Nicodemus is working up to when He tells him that he must be born again.

Nicodemus, as most people would do, has taken Jesus’ statement literally; it seems at first to be ridiculous.  Jesus, on the other hand is speaking of an entirely different kind of life, a life that is entirely apart from this physical realm.  This birth is of “water and the Spirit” rather than from flesh and blood.  Keep in mind that from the OT Jewish point of view, a person is born into God’s Kingdom (earthly Israel) through physical birth.  This is a shadow of things to come.  What will become reality through Christ is “rebirth” into the Kingdom of Heaven.  This will be accomplished through water at baptism and the Spirit through the Gospel message ( cf. 1Cor. 4:15 and 1Peter 1:23 ).  This kingdom is not a small and weak little nation that is living under foreign occupation, but a grand and ultimately powerful kingdom headed by God Himself that will cover the entire globe forever.

Verse 8 illustrates Jesus’ remark in verse 6: When something is born of flesh, you know where it came from, but something born of the Spirit is like something borne by the wind, you don’t know where it came from or where it is going, because your physical senses can’t quite perceive these things.  Someone or something born of the Spirit can only be perceived by someone else who is born of the Spirit.

Poor Nicodemus is having trouble following this, and so would we in his place… and so does anyone who is not “of the Spirit” today.  Jesus’ main point here is that He has been teaching the people about earthly things, and they haven’t believed… even though He has been telling them about things that He has witnessed.  Thus, He has been giving testimony.  In the same way, nobody can testify about heaven unless he has been there; Jesus has come from there and is giving testimony of what He has seen, heard and knows for a fact.  It’s as though Jesus were telling Nicodemus: “Come on buddy, you’re a teacher of Israel, you’re supposed to understand this stuff.  If you didn’t know about it before, you’re supposed to be educated enough to recognize reliable testimony and believe it: stay with me here!”

Jesus continues to attempt to communicate with Nicodemus by using an illustration from Israel’s past that he would be familiar with.  This illustration comes from Numbers 21:4-9 when God sent a plague of snakes upon His grumbling and rebellious people.  When the serpent was lifted up before then and they gazed upon it in faith, they would live.  If not… they would die.  In the same way, Jesus will be lifted up before the people (on the cross).  Those who look to Him on the cross in faith will live.

Verses 16-18 is probably the most familiar part of this text of all to Christians; it is the very heart of the Gospel setting out just exactly the whole core of Christian Theology.  God has sent His Son into the world to save Mankind from rebellion against God.  Those who believe Him will have eternal life; those who refuse will perish for they have condemned themselves by their rejection.  God loves all Mankind and genuinely wants them to be saved, but He allows them to exercise their free will on the matter: How will you decide?

This final verses of this passage use the illustration of “light”.  Jesus is the light, the truth that shines in a dark world.  The world has done evil, it has rejected the light; it has rejected the truth.  Yet, if we do what is good, if we believe the One who was sent by God as the light of the world, we will move into the light and our testimony will light the darkness and the world will see that we are doing God’s work.  Again, this is a thumbnail of the Gospel message at work in our lives.  In the remainder of this chapter, John has set forth the testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus.  It is interesting to note that John (the author) has put these passages together in this way.  First, you have the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in which Jesus sets out the whole Gospel plan to a Pharisee, who presumably will report on it, and second you have the Baptist’s testimony that Jesus is the Christ and about the Gospel as a third party validation.  One might wonder just what it would take to get people to figure out who Jesus was.

 

 

John 4:1-26

The first four verses of this passage set the background for the story; John the Baptist has been arrested. Opposition was brewing between the Pharisees in Jerusalem because Jesus’ reputation was growing and He was gaining followers and Jesus decided that this was the time to move back to Galilee. It seems that the arrest of John had the effect of freeing Jesus from John’s ministry; John was decreasing, Jesus was increasing.  Jesus takes the mountain road that goes through Samaria that He would later send His disciples on (Acts 1:8).  When Jesus arrives in Samaria our story begins.

The plot of ground referred to here is referred to in Gen. 48:22 and is roughly a half mile from Jacob’s well.  (See also Josh. 24:32)  Jacob’s well was certainly a well-known location, famous for the spring of bubbling water that it created access to.  Jesus arrived there that day at about noon, tired and thirsty.

Jesus approached a woman at the well asking for a drink, and the woman’s response is interesting in that she seems to have assumed a superior tone; you are a Jew and yet you ask me for a drink?  Jews did not associate with Samaritans, in fact the Jewish teaching of the time said that associating with Samaritans would cause a Jew to be defiled.  If that were not enough, Jewish men did not speak to women in public; not even their own wives and here is Jesus boldly walking up to a Samaritan woman and asking for water.

As was His custom, Jesus went directly to the lesson He was going to teach, ignoring the customs and traditions of men.  The ‘gift of God’ and His identity are the real topics they would discuss: Jesus could provide ‘living water’ and if she understood this she would be asking Him for a drink.  Taking Him literally, she notes that Jesus has no means by which to draw water and asks him if He is greater than Jacob whose water isn’t so effective.  Of course when Jesus mentions water that would quench a thirst for a lifetime, the woman is interested so that she wouldn’t have to draw water anymore which was very hard work.

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Notice that in v. 14 Jesus refers to a “spring of water welling up” which is a direct reference to the reputation of Jacob’s well. The water that Jesus was talking about here is a metaphor for eternal life that was the ultimate gift of God; accomplished by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Himself.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.

In verses 16-19, an interesting thing happens: In response to Jesus directive to go and get her husband, the woman tells a falsehood with a half-truth.  Jesus knows the whole story, to her amazement and this insight on His part is the probable reason for why she is drawing water at high noon instead of in the cool of the morning with all of the other women.  Apparently shocked, she perceives that Jesus is a prophet.

Changing the subject, the woman goes on to religious matters… after all Jesus must be a prophet.  Jesus tells her that God isn’t really interested in where a person worships; God cares how a person worships.  In God’s sight what is important is that a person worships in ‘spirit and in truth’.  The time has come for this unparelled change.  From the coming of Christ forward the old regulations and traditions are set aside and replaced with reality.  In modern language you can almost hear the woman say “whatever”.  She says that when the Messiah comes he will tell us all about this (not you, a mere prophet).  Jesus’ reply reveals to her who He really is: The Messiah. (v. 26)

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Isn’t it interesting how much like this woman we are!

 

John 4:27-42

As his interaction with the women wraps up, His disciples who had gone into town to buy food and come upon the pair; this is what followed…

Upon their return the disciples were a bit shocked to see Jesus speaking with this woman for the reasons we mention just a few minutes ago, but they did not insert themselves into the situation.  It seems unlikely that they would question Jesus’ morality, and by now they would certainly have noticed that He didn’t observe all of the usual customs of the day; they waited for her to leave.  She leaves her water jugs behind and rushes into town to tell the people to come and see this man who has told her everything about her life.  These townsfolk would most likely be aware that there was much to tell, and her testimony has power in their eyes. Her conclusion that He was a prophet she freely gave, but notice that His statement that He is the Christ she is cautious about; “Could this be the Christ?”  The people came to find out…

The disciples want Jesus to eat something and Jesus tells them that He has food they know nothing about.  As always seems to be the case, they take Him literally, wondering if somebody else has given Him food; maybe that woman?

Jesus explains His meaning: His food (nourishment) is to do His Father’s work. Then He proceeds to change the subject to the harvest of souls.  His main device in explaining this to them is to point out that it isn’t always the same person who sows the seed and also reaps the harvest.  In their case, they have gone into town to buy the food that someone else planted, worked and harvested.  They did no work, they just paid for it; someone else did the actual work.  The harvest of souls is near; Jesus wants His disciples to see that the time has come to reap this harvest.  Of course all of this sowing and reaping is parallel to the Gospel;  First the Word of God will be planted in the people, in fact it has already been done.  The people expect the Messiah to appear.  It is for Jesus and especially for His disciples to bring in the harvest of those who will believe that they might turn to God and receive eternal life.

Because of the woman’s testimony about Jesus, many of the townsfolk believed in Him.  As a result they asked Him to stay in their midst and He did so for two days.  During this time, even more believed because of His teachings.  Now, not only did they believe because of the woman’s testimony, they also had the opportunity to see and hear Jesus for themselves:  The harvest in that small town had been reaped. The people there understood that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.

Isn’t it interesting that when we share our testimony about Jesus, some people respond right away in faith while others resist and refuse to accept it?  Could it be that those who respond easily have had the seed of faith planted by someone else, maybe years before?  Could it be that those who refuse our plea may respond easily to someone else weeks or years later?

Certainly Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that they were to bring in the harvest of the crop that was ready for harvest, and to plant the seed for the harvest that would follow later: I think we can learn from this.

John 5:1-15

This passage lies at the beginning of a section within the Gospel that continues through 12:50 that covers the major Jewish festivals.  The specific festival in question here in chapter 5 is not identified by the text, so for our purposes we will not worry about trying to speculate on this point, although there are various theories put the application here is not affected by which festival is involved.

The pool at Bethesda was stirred periodically, we don’t know how often, and the first lame person into the pool when it was stirred would be healed.  The man who is the subject of our text was so disabled that he was not able to move quickly enough to be first, and had suffered his disability for 38 years. In our text, Jesus will heal him, command him to pick up his mat and walk, and then slip back into the crowd.  The aspect of this event that we will concentrate on today is the reaction of the Jews, while next time we meet will concentrate on Jesus’ response to them in vv. 16-47.

Jesus walks up to the man and asks him a simple question: “Do you want to get well?”  The man’s reply demonstrates that he had little hope.  Not only had he been in this condition for 38 years, but the pool rules required that he be first into the pool, and only people better off than he had any chance of making it; he appears to have been demoralized.  Jesus did not argue, lecture or pity, He simply gave a command without further comment: The man complied without hesitation.  I wonder if we would be so bold in this man’s condition!  The man believed Jesus; he took Jesus at His word.  There were no questions, arguments or hesitations: He followed Jesus’ command.  All appears to be well until verse 9… it was the Sabbath!

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

 

In verses 10-13, we cannot help but be amazed at the ridiculous reaction to this miracle: It was the Sabbath and you aren’t allowed to carry your mat.  Nobody said, “Wow, aren’t you the guy who was crippled for 38 years… and now you are healed:  Praise God!”  No, there will be no rejoicing for what God has done, only disapproval because the guy picked up his stupid mat. The man told them that he had the mat because the guy who healed him had told him to pick it up, and of course they demand to know who had done that. (Conspiracy to break the Sabbath!) The man had no idea…

A curious thing happened: Jesus ran into the man later and warned him to stop sinning lest something worse happen to him and the man ran to the Jews to report who his co-conspirator was.  There are several possible reasons for Jesus’ words to the man, although it seems to me that the most likely meaning is to warn the man not to sin lest he receive condemnation at the final judgment.  It seems unlikely that Jesus was talking about carrying the mat on the Sabbath!  Notice also the lack of the man thanking Jesus for his healing, could that be the answer?  In any case, the man ratted on Jesus to the Jews.  Curious, don’t you think? This act, of course sets up the next part of the story.  It is interesting to consider where all of these Sabbath rules came from.  Rest assured that it was not from the Law, but rather they came from the Jews’ interpretation of the Law, a very strict interpretation that converted a day of rest and relaxation into more of a heavy yoke of obligation that Jesus dealt with over and over again.

Do we Christians make up rules of conduct that Jesus didn’t give us and turn our faith into a heavy burden instead of its being a joy?  This should make for an interesting discussion!

 

John 5:16-47

Picking up from our last text about Jesus healing the man on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders are not pleased.  They aren’t interested in the miracle, they could care less what has happened for the man who was crippled for over thirty years, they only care that he carried his mat on the Sabbath.  In this text, we will see that Jesus makes a defense that contains within it not only His message about the gift of God, but the message of who Jesus is.  It will be followed by a proof of His claims, and is clearly the sort of thing that the leaders of the day would not put up with.

Jesus explains that God works on the Sabbath and so does He, for He does what the Father does.  The Jewish leaders are quick to understand what He is telling them: He is on an equal footing with God.  Quite naturally, their reaction is not one of rejoicing as it should have been.  Instead they are anxious to kill Him!

Jesus ups the ante so to speak by going a step further. Not only is He on an equal footing with the Father, but He will also raise from the dead those whom it pleases Him to raise.  This is the “gift of God” that we came across when He was talking with the woman at the well in the previous chapter.

In 22-30, Jesus goes even further telling the leaders that He will be the One to judge all men and that those who dishonor the Son also dishonor God.  In short, He was telling them that He and the Father were One. We must pause here to consider the fact that by making these statements, Jesus was in violation of the Law… that is of course unless He was God Himself.  He goes on to further discuss God’s gift of eternal life for those who believe His Word, and with every sentence He digs His hole a little deeper in the eyes of those Jewish leaders who do not wish to hear such things.  His boldness in speaking of the resurrection, a controversial topic among those very leaders, and its connection with Him personally must have driven them wild with fury and the lust for blood.

Continuing in 31-35, He begins to prove the things that He has just said, beginning with the testimony of John the Baptist.  Reminding His hearers that they have heard John’s testimony about who He is, He also reminds them that they were, if not supporters of John, giving credence to him for a time. In fact, they had even asked John for his views on Jesus.  Jesus tells them that He is pointing this out to them so that they might be saved, that is to say so that they might believe Him.

Jesus moves on to cite further testimony to His truth: the Scriptures themselves.  Notice that He points out to them that God’s Word does not reside within them, for they refuse to believe the One that God has sent.  It is His contention that the Scriptures themselves testify about Him, and that they of all people should know that fact.

As He continues along this line of reasoning, Jesus  adds that they would accept almost anybody who came speaking for themselves, and yet when He came speaking in God’s name as the One who had been foretold in the Scriptures, and whom they were expecting to come, they reject Him.  His allegation is that their rejection of Him comes from their own desire to receive praise from others, and yet they do so at the cost of receiving the only praise that is worth receiving; that praise being from God Himself.

Jesus wraps up His defense with an accusation of His own: They do not believe the Scriptures.  He told them that Moses condemns them, not Jesus because it is the very Law of Moses that they make a mockery of when they go to such ridiculous lengths to appear to love, while at the same time, they carry with them only accusations and disdain for their people.  They do not believe what Moses wrote, so they reject the One He wrote about:

Jesus addressed them with four types of testimony that establish His claims: the testimony of John the Baptist; of Jesus’ own works; of God the Father; and of Scripture, especially Moses.

Yet they still rejected Him.

Painful, but gives us insight

The implications of our text for today are both comforting and challenging. That Jesus is the final and ultimate revelation of God by which we may judge all other revelation gives Christians confidence. The witnesses to Jesus mentioned in this text are all still available to us: The witness of the Old Testament is obviously still present, but so is the witness of the Baptist and the words and works of Jesus. The latter three come to us in the New Testament, not least in the Gospel of John. In addition, Christians have the witness of the Holy Spirit, who has enabled the church to understand the revelation of God in Jesus. Faith in Jesus gives confidence, joy and peace because of who he is–the unique, only Son of God, equal with God.

Such a teaching also challenges us in several ways. In our worldly environment some would challenge the exclusiveness of Jesus’ claims. They would attribute the strong language to the controversial setting of his conflicts with the Jewish opponents or to John’s similar clashes later in the first century. Certainly hatred between Jews and Christians is to be condemned. But the claims of Jesus’ divinity, his unique importance as the Son of God, continues to divide us. This is not a secondary matter; it is the heart of the Gospel.

Our great need is for God himself. We should rejoice in all that God gives us in Scripture, in the church and in natural revelation. But to benefit from these gifts of God, we must be humble before God. We should pray constantly that God would correct our personal misunderstandings and enable us to see ever more clearly and directly the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, for the one fixed rock is Jesus Christ. He will be either one’s cornerstone or one’s stumbling block. He can only be accepted on his own terms or rejected.

What are the witnesses in our lives that have pointed us to Jesus as the Christ of God, the Son of the living God? Have we made the effort to hear and grasp the message of these four witnesses to Jesus, understanding the true significance of the Old Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus’ own words and works? Indeed, in this Gospel itself we have one of the greatest witnesses to Jesus. May we receive the grace to benefit from this witness?

 

Transcripts of Radio Program – John – Chapter 1 -2

Welcome to Simple Faith, I am your host Cathy Merritt

 

Prayer:

Father I ask that you calm my nerves and allow me to not be distracted.  Father I ask that you guard my lips that I only speak your truth.  I pray that if it is your will, that others will be able to understand my words, open their hearts to know your son, Jesus.  I pray these things in his precious blood.  Amen

 

 

 

Gospel of John

 

Basics of the Book                                                                                         

 

Author: John, the Apostle

 

Date: 85-95 A.D.

 

Audience: Universal

 

Purpose: “These (things) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20:31)

 

Covenant: New

 

Introduction

 

This section introduces Jesus Christ to us in a way that is similar to Hebrews 1:1-4 and 1John 1:1-4 which provides us with a Heavenly view of His nature, position, identity and purpose.
We are a few months away from Christmas, but in preparation for and understanding the view of the coming of Christ from Heaven looking down on the earth. The “Christmas story” is usually told from Luke chapter 2, but in John chapter one you see the theology of that story. Thus we can easily say that Luke, the historian gave us the facts, but John the Apostle of love gave us the behind the scenes background that gives Luke’s account a significance that is the reason this birth is celebrated 2,000 years later.

 

Points of Interest

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.  

 

1:1-2 without question “In the beginning…” here differs from the same words in Genesis 1:1. Genesis begins with creation: John begins with God alone. Here we are with the uncreated Creator. It is interesting that John identifies Him as the “Word” (logos). Naturally there are various theories and thoughts on this through the years, but here is what seems reliable and significant to me. First, Jesus is God’s messenger to mankind, as well as being the embodiment of God’s message (Heb. 1:1-4) It was by His Word that the universe came into being, and it is by His blood that we may enter into relationship with Him, as told in His Word. Thus, we may say that the Word is not only God’s person, essence and power, but that it is one and inseparable from the person of Jesus Christ, who entirely one with God.

 

Verse 2 is set up as transition in the sense that it begins the move from “what” to “whom”; from “the Word” to “he”: Jesus was there.

 

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

 

1:3-4 now it becomes clear and unmistakable that this “he” is the one through who all things have been made. This is stated positively “all things” and negatively “without him nothing…” Within him was life reminds of God breathing life into Adam. (Gen. 2:7) “He” contained life, was its very source, and this essence will be the light of the world. Life and light are two themes that carry throughout the entire gospel of John, and will become clearer as we go on. For now, suffice it to say that His very essence is “Truth” and that will illuminate a dark world that carries on without either Truth or God’s presence, since fellowship with God had ceased after the entry of rebellion into the world.

 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

 

1:5 Verse five begins a section relating to the manifestation of the Word in the world that continues through verse 13. Here we see that this “light” shines in this world. Notice that we have made a progression now from word, to God to light. These terms are being used interchangeably to describe aspects or attributes of God Himself, but all the while they are One. That the darkness hasn’t understood the light refers to the fact that they have not comprehended the message which is in the words and person of Jesus Christ.

 

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

1:6-9 These verses speak directly of John the Baptist who was sent by God as a messenger to inform the people that the light “Messiah” was about to burst upon the scene. John (the Apostle) makes it quite clear that John (the Baptist) was not the light himself but only a messenger of the light, as foretold by the prophets.

 

1:10-11 Here we resume talking about “him” (yet to be named) who was in the world that he had caused to exist, and yet that very world did not recognize him for who he really was (and is). John goes on to point out that “he” came to that which was his own, and that they didn’t ‘receive’ him. This is a reference to the fact that Jesus not only came into this world, but that He came to His own people, the Jews, to whom the very Word of God had been entrusted. They who had been warned of His coming, they who most of all should have easily recognized Him and received Him with joy and thanksgiving; they did neither for the most part.

 

1:12-13 While the Jews as a whole did not receive “him” there were some individuals who did believe in “his” name and to those who did, “he” gave the right to become children of God. Notice that John switched from “receive him” to “believed in his name.” The people as a whole rejected him outright, while a few believed. As for “in his name” we must realized that His name is inseparable with His essence just as the Word is. Thus to believe in His Name is to believe Him. They would become God’s children not by a natural biological birth as the “children of Abraham” but by the addition of God’s life within through the process we refer to as being “born again”. It is a spiritual rebirth, not a matter of human biology.

 

1:14 This is the critical point where John identifies “him”. The Word becomes a man and dwells with “us”. This of course is Jesus. John goes on to point out that not only is he the Word made flesh, but that He is also God Himself in the flesh.

 

1:15-16 Now we briefly return to John the Baptist, here shown as giving testimony (in v. 15) that Jesus is the One he has been declaring to the people. Then, in verse 16 our author moves on to his own testimony about the blessings that Jesus has brought.

 

1:17-18 In these last two verses, John makes an amazing comparison between the Old and New Covenants: the Law was given… grace and truth came. The first was handed down from the top, while the second came in person to reveal all that God had in store for us. Even though no one has personally seen God the Father, He made Himself known to us by becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ. There is a conclusion we can draw from this: If you want to know God, get to know Jesus.

If you want to know Jesus, know the Word!
John’s Testimony

Today’s Text: John 1:19-34

 

Introduction

Many scholars consider this section to be a second introduction to John’s Gospel, bringing the first section of a Heavenly view down to an earthly witness of the one sent to prepare the Messiah’s path. John the Baptist is the first witness of Jesus as the Christ, and his is the first testimony recorded. Witness or testimony is the clear theme of this passage, and in doing so, the Baptist has made a clear link between the Old Testament prophets and the appearance of Jesus on the scene; this is a theological foundation to Jesus’ later claims on this subject.

 

Points of Interest

 

19-21: Verse 19 refers to “Jews of Jerusalem”, “priests” and “Levites”. These distinctions should be understood as referring first to what we might call the “powers that be” among the Jewish leadership of the time. The “priests” are those Temple functionaries who perform the duties of that office under the Law, and “Levites” refers to those from the same tribe who perform secondary functions in the Temple, such as being ‘teachers of the Law” and Temple guards. This delegation was sent from the city to find out just who this crazy guy was who was dressing badly and baptizing people in the Jordan. John’s reply to all of their questions was “no”; he was not any of those…

 

22-28: So then who are you? John now identifies himself by quoting from Isaiah 40:3. John was God’s word spoken, not God’s word incarnate; John’s mission was to call for the people to prepare themselves for God’s arrival by repentance and baptism in water. He baptized in water to make preparation, but the One who was coming would baptize another way…

 

29-31: “The next day” is not always understood the same way by scholars. Some maintain that it is a chronological reference, while others insist that in the Gospel of John it refers to the next significant event. In either case, after the Jewish delegation had left, at some point, John made his declaration that Jesus was the One for whom he had been preparing the way. He calls Jesus the “Lamb of God” making a clear reference to the sacrificial animal used in Temple sacrifices for the atonement of sin. Jesus would take sin away entirely, not merely making a temporary atonement as the lambs in the Temple did. John’s statement that he hadn’t known Jesus refers to John’s not understanding that Jesus, his cousin, was the One.

 

32-34: Here, John clearly tells the people how he knows Jesus is the One; John has seen the sign that God told him to watch for. Thus, because John has been made to see the Spirit of God descend upon Jesus ‘like a dove’ and then remain there, John states positively that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

Final Note: There is some dispute among scholars on the matter and timing of Jesus’ baptism by John. Note that in this text, John told the Jews that there was standing among them someone that they did not know (vv. 26-27), Of course this is one of the issues debated. It would appear that John had baptized Jesus at some point and then John had seen the spirit descend. Was it immediate or was there a lag in time? Verse 29 makes it appear that there was a time lag, even though John seemed to have suspected something the day before. Whatever the answer is, one thing is beyond debate: John, by a sign from God came to recognize that Jesus was the Christ and stated that fact boldly and publicly to the assembled people.

Jesus Calls Disciples

Today’s Text: John 1:36-51

 

Introduction

This section deals with the call of disciples of Jesus. It is interesting to note that this concept has its beginning as a reaction to the testimony of John, as opposed to any sort of dramatic event. None of them had angelic messages or voices from on high; they simply reacted to the person of Jesus Christ. Why is that noteworthy? Because that is exactly how you and I are “called”. I’ve never met a man who claimed that he was a follower of Christ because he had experienced a personal audience with an angel, prophet or indeed God Himself. He simply reacted to who Jesus is.

 

Points of Interest

 

1:35-42: Taking this passage as a whole, we see two main components, the first being John’s testimony that Jesus was the “Lamb of God.” This is the confession that marks the difference between a world that is lost and a follower of Christ. The second aspect is the response of the two disciples of John who heard it: they followed Jesus. Notice however that their initial following of Jesus was literal in the sense that they were going to go where He went as opposed to give Him their lives. When Jesus saw them he simply asked them what they want, a question that He would ask many over time. The two did not give a great theological reply, they just wanted to see where He was staying, maybe to have a chance to talk with Him later. Jesus gave them a classic reply, “Come and you will see.”

In truth, this is the matrix for all personal evangelism: Someone hears about Jesus and they want to check it out. Our approach is “Come and see”. In the case of our text, they arrived at Jesus’ lodgings at around 4 in the afternoon. Time in the Gospels is reckoned more or less as a twelve hour day from roughly 6 am to 6 pm. The tenth hour would be about 4 pm. During their visit, Andrew goes off to get his brother Simon, who comes along to see Jesus. Andrew was now certain about the identity of Jesus. Jesus, in verse 42 tells Simon that he will be called See fus – Cephas. Note that the other gospels record this name change roughly in the middle of Jesus’ ministry; is this a conflict? It is not a conflict because Jesus did not change Simon’s name to Cephas; He only said that he will be called by that name: future tense, it will happen someday.

 

1:43-46: The next day, Jesus moved on and in the process came upon Phillip. He simply said to him, “Follow me.” Phillip’s response was immediate: He followed Jesus. When Phillip came upon Nathaniel, Nathaniel was more of a skeptic. Nazareth was a no where town. It isn’t mentioned in the Old Testament, nor in any surviving pagan writings. It’s kind of like Fallon, Nevada: Noplaceville! Funny, it is interesting that the Son of God should be from “Nowhereville, and He was born in a stable on a road trip, and He died on a cross. There is no worldly appeal to Him; there is only who He is to draw a person closer. Phillip’s reaction is a classic: “Come and see”.

 

1:47-51: When the skeptical Nathaniel first meets Jesus he is surprised by what Jesus knew about him. His reaction was to believe what Phillip had told him, and he responded in faith. Jesus has an interesting reply to Nathaniel’s expression of faith: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Jesus begins His final comment in this chapter with “Truly, truly I say to you” the first of 25 times in this Gospel to introduce an important statement, and then proceed to make a statement that reminds us of Genesis 28:12, Jacob’s ladder. “…you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” This statement gives the commentators some trouble, but my take is that His disciples would see that Jesus was directly connected with heaven, speaking for heaven and being of heaven. Jesus and the Word cannot be separated. This is also His first use of the title “Son of Man. It seems to be a favorite of His; it can refer to no one else.

 

The First Miracle

Today’s Text: John 2:1-11

 

This is the story of the first miracle of Jesus. It has no parallel in the other Gospels, and it stands quite alone giving insight into the way Jesus and His disciples lived that many Christians, and I’ve been recently reminded ‘false Christians’ love to ignore: Jesus drank wine. (Horror!) Just for fun, compare this passage with

 

Colossians 2:20

 

Since you died with Christ to the fundamental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

 

 

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

 

4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

 

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

 

 

2:1-5: The scene is set: Jesus, His mother (John never says “Mary”) and the disciples were there. This seems to have been three days after the calling of Phillip. No reason is given for the reason the wine ran out. Some have assumed that the attendance of Jesus and the disciples was the cause, but since John says that they had been invited, this seems unlikely. It would also seem that Mary was well known to the family involved here, since she so quickly took charge of the disaster. When she brings this social disaster to Jesus’ attention, his reaction is interesting: literally, “What’s it to me?” Notice that Mary seems to be aware that Jesus can remedy the situation easily; why else would she pass right over His question and tell the servants to do whatever He says? Jesus statement that His time has not yet come has troubled some commentators who haven’t noticed that In John’s Gospel, John uses this wording to refer to the time of Jesus’ being glorified (by the cross) and not to His performance of miracles, in this case a rather mundane one, if indeed a miracle can ever be called that.

 

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]

 

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

 

 

 

2:6-7: The total capacity of these jars would have been in the range of 120 to 180 gallons. It is worthy of note that Jesus used all of the jars and had them filled up completely. Nobody could say that Jesus’ power was limited, nor could they claim that He just slipped some kind of magic fairy dust into them: they were full.

 

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

 

They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

 

 

 

2:8-10: When the servants drew the “water” from the jars and served it to the master of the banquet, the master confirmed that not only was this wine, but it was the “good stuff”. It can be hilarious reading commentaries about these verses when the commentator goes on and on about how this was “obviously” not really wine but unfermented grape juice.

One of the cardinal rules of interpretation of the Bible, is that you must set aside your pre-suppositions, opinions and traditions and let the text speak for itself. When you are confused or feel that you have come upon a contradiction, there are various things you can do to figure out what the meaning is. Here are two easy ideas: You can usually do a word study and find out what is going on. In addition, a close examination of the complete context will also aid in determining what the text is teaching. After this has been done, if the Bible turns out to support your pre-suppositions, opinions and traditions: Marvelous. But where it doesn’t, your presuppositions, opinions or traditions are wrong. In this case, if you are bound and determined to say that Jesus would never allow the serving of wine, you have two problems to deal with: First, the Greek word used here is oinos which happens to mean “wine”. The Greek word for grape juice is tnyx. Why would John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, make such a writing error? Second, note what the master of the banquet said in verse 10. Does that even remotely indicate that they were dealing with grape juice? Does it sound to you like what he would say if the wine was watered down to less than 50% wine? A better question would be, “Was Jesus trying to get everyone drunk?” The text does not tell us that Jesus had everyone’s glass refilled, it tells us that the master of the banquet, the only one we know for sure that was aware of the problem got a sample. We don’t know what the other attendees did after that, or if they even became aware that the wine was gone. We do know why Jesus performed the miracle.

 

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him

 

 

2:11: The brand new disciples, who had responded to the testimony of John the Baptist, and then to each other’s saw for the first time that Jesus was more than a man who had been blessed by God: He had a power that no mere mortal possessed, and they put their faith in Him. This would also be the reason for His future miracles; to confirm His true identity and the authority by which He taught.

 

Cleaning House

Today’s Text: John 2:13-22

 

Introduction

This is an account of Jesus clearing the Temple. John includes three such accounts (possibly four) while the Synoptic have two (Mark only has one). Since Jewish men were obligated to attend Passover in Jerusalem, this is the basis for concluding that Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 ½ years. As you might imagine, there is debate among scholars about how many times Jesus actually cleared the Temple (there could have been more than one telling of the same story) and for today, we’ll just let the scholars worry about that; we’ll concentrate on the lessons of our story!

 

Points of Interest

 

2:13-14: Since people would have travelled to Jerusalem from all over, they would not have been able to bring animals for sacrifices with them and still be able to meet the ceremonial requirements for perfection. Having a marketplace right within the Temple (Court of the Gentiles) would have been quite convenient. At the same time, it would have been quite convenient for the priests who received a percentage from the sales. In addition, Temple taxes were required to be paid by the Jews in the coin of Tyre. Money changers were on hand to exchange other coins for the ones required for Temple taxes, sometimes at high fees: Clearly, Passover was a time for commerce in the middle of the National House of Worship!

 

2:15-16: Jesus was filled with righteous outrage and drove the traders out, overturning their tables and ordering all of the goods to be removed. Note that He did not harm the animals or seize the money; He was not doing this to cause harm, but rather to stop the desecration of the Temple. His whip was made of rope, not leather. It would have gotten a man’s attention, but it would not have caused anyone serious harm. The issue that Jesus reacted to here was not that running a market and engaging in commerce was a bad or sinful thing in and of itself, but that the Temple was not the place for such things. Remember, the Temple in Jerusalem during the Old Covenant was the dwelling place of God (in the Holy of holies). The dwelling place of God, the place of His worship, was not to be taken callously and turned into a marketplace for personal enrichment: it was reserved for reverence.

 

2:17: In this verse, John is quoting from Psalm 69:9. The Psalmist is consumed with love for God’s house, and so is Jesus. Jesus’ zeal for God’s house as a house of prayer has interesting possibilities for us to consider. First, He certainly had a zeal for the Temple as a place of prayer, but a careful look at the Gospels will reveal that He is never portrayed as praying there. He is mentioned to be praying in the desert, mountains and Sea, but not particularly at the Temple. Of course, creative students will recall that the Temple in the OT is symbolic of a NT reality as mentioned several times in Hebrews. In the NT, many will say that the Temple represents the church (not a building, but the Body of Christ wherein He dwells through the Holy Spirit. It may be said that this approach is a bit of a stretch to apply to this passage, but it is interesting to ponder. What is clear, however is that His consummation took place at the time of His crucifixion, which was done for the forgiveness of sins that His people could be redeemed… and so that all peoples could be redeemed into the Body of Christ.

 

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

 

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

 

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

 

2:18-22: Naturally, the authorities demanded a sign of His authority. What Jesus gave in reply seemed ridiculous to those who can only think of the physical, but after the resurrection, His disciples understood that the Temple He referred to was that of His own Body.

 

 

Thank you for joining me tonight.

 

I want to end with a special note.  Today we had an outside service and everything was perfect.  The weather, music and fellowship.  God bless all that work to make this happen this morning.  I pray for God’s blessings upon this church body and that they understand that we are a part of a movement of Jesus Christ.

 

Thank you Lord for my calling to carry the Gospel to the lost and to those seeking to know you.

 

Today I heard the verse:  Acts 1:8 you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and to the ends of the earth.

Thanks for allowing me to share the Gospel tonight.

 

My name is Cathy Merritt and I am the host of Simple Faith.

 

Cathyrocks58@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Purpose within the Christian Church – Commission from Christ

Welcome back my friends to Simple Faith

We are looking at few things today – first the review I made on Thom Rainer’s books – “I Am a Church Member” and “Autopsy of a Deceased Church” and then the book of James.

My goal is to let you know that we each have an opportunity to change our church and make a difference. When I say our church I mean our universal Christian church.

The most widespread and common thread of our analyses was that the deceased churches lived for a long time with the past as its hero. They hold tight with each passing year. They often clung to things of the past  with hopelessness and fear. And when any internal or external force tried to change the past, they responded with anger and resolution: “We will die before we change.”

And they do.

Hear me clearly: these churches were not hanging on to biblical truths. They were not clinging to clear Christian morality. They were not fighting for primary doctrines, or secondary doctrines, As a matter of fact, they were not fighting for doctrines at all.

They were fighting for the past. The good old days. The way it used to be. The way we want it today.

I know it is a fine line between wanting to make the church appealing to an unchurched world by having flashing lights and music productions to preaching God’s word and speaking the truth.

I believe you grow a church by growing your members and making them disciples. I also believe you begin to mentor others to take your place and duplicate yourself. As the church members grow in Christ they will want to do more and more to further God’s kingdom. They will not be looking for the church to entertain them, but to grow them in the word and being able to mentor others in the faith.

I believe we join churches expecting others to serve us, to feed us and to care for us. Local churches are not Country Club privileges & perks. I have said and I have heard – people say – I didn’t like the Pastor, or the people were not friendly enough, excuses. God does not place us in churches to have a social life or party.

He places us there to serve, to care for others to pray for leaders, to learn to teach, to go-4_wide_tgive and in some cases to die for the sake of the gospel.

So here is what growing churches are doing:

Growing Churches are grounded in a Consistent Vision and Message

The first characteristic of a growing church is that church leadership conveys and spread a consistent vision and message. When church leaders define and consistently communicate a clear cut vision and message, the people of the congregation will in turn internalize the message and over time will live it out. However, when the vision is not communicated or is constantly changing people become confused and uncomfortable. This is not to say that the core vision and message of the church will not shift every once in a long while; of course it will. But when the church leaders communicate and live out a consistent message then the people will feel more comfortable and stick around.

Growing Churches Passionately Preach the Word of God

The second characteristic to a growing church is the preachers and teachers are passionate about the Word of God. They preach the Bible and are not ashamed of it. Of course, this characteristic is tied to the first one. For any message a church expresses should be founded on the Word of God. And, it does not matter much if the preachers and or teachers are powerful speakers. It matters that they are passionate and sincerely believe what the Bible says with all their hearts.

Growing Churches Love to Celebrate God’s Presence through Worship

A third characteristic common to growing churches is that they love to celebrate God’s presence through inspiring and intimate worship. Like King David before the ark of God, leaders of growing churches yearn to bring their congregations into the glorious presence of God. They want them to know the deepest intimacy with their Lord and Savior both in the assembly and when they walk in the affairs of everyday life. Like Moses stepping out of the Tent of Meeting; their faces glow from the glory of God resting in their souls. Members of growing churches love to celebrate the presence of the Living God in their lives.

Growing Churches Fellowship in Small Groups

A fourth tip to church growth is that growing churches fellowship in small groups. Leaders and lay people alike need to gather in small groups to pray and encourage one another. They meet in small groups to help one another keep the fire in their hearts burning bright. Life is full of ups and downs and each member of the church needs a safe haven of fellowship where he or she can enter into each week to share their joys and sorrows. Sometimes the big assembly can be overwhelming and impersonal. In small groups, members of the congregation can become grounded and made to feel like a person who matters.

Growing Churches Quickly Assimilate Newcomers

A fifth characteristic of growing churches is that they are friendly to outsiders and quickly assimilate them into the church body. Church leaders love newcomers. They have a passion to reach everyone for Christ. They want everyone in the neighborhood to find faith in the Lord and loving fellowship in the body of Christ. Leaders of growing churches recognize that the Lord has uniquely fashioned each person with special gifts and abilities to share in the life and work of the church. Growing churches quickly assimilate newcomers.

Growing Churches Keep Their Leaders Accountable in Personal Life and Ministry

In the 1990s, “Friends Church” in Yorba Linda, California was one of the fastest growing churches in Southern California. They went from less than 200 in 1985 to close to 6000 in 2001. One of the practices of the church staff and leadership was to write personal and ministry growth goals each year. Throughout the year, the executive pastor would conference with each staff member to see how they were progressing in their goals. Of course, it was all done in grace and love. Growing churches keep their leaders accountable to keep growing in personal character and ministry skills. I checked this church has 4 services with close to 3,000 in each that means 12,000 people could be attending this “Friends Church.” That is pretty exciting.

Growing Churches Take the Great Commission Seriously

A seventh characteristic of growing churches is that they take the great commission of Jesus Christ seriously. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he commissioned his disciples to go out into the world and share the message of Jesus Christ with everyone from every tribe and nation. Nearly every church gives lip service to this concept, but growing churches live it out every day. They get out and love on people even if those people reject them and the message of Jesus.

My friends the church is us… not the building

We can make a difference.

We can learn from the reformation too.

One thing that happened during the reformation – The Reformers were guided by the conviction that the church of their day had drifted away from the essential, original teachings of Christianity, especially in regard to what it was teaching about salvation—how people can be forgiven of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and receive eternal life with God. The Reformation sought to re-orient Christianity on the original message of Jesus and the early church.

The Reformation to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of Christianity.

The Five Points are:

  1. “Scripture alone”: The Bible alone is our highest authority.
  2. “Faith alone”: We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
  3. “Grace alone”: We are saved by the grace of God alone.
  4. “Christ alone”: Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
  5. “To the glory of God alone”: We live for the glory of God alone.The Scriptures are our ultimate and trustworthy authority for faith and practice. This doesn’t mean that the Bible is the only place where truth is found, but it does mean that everything else we learn about God and his world, and all other authorities, should be interpreted in light of Scripture. The Bible gives us everything we need for our theology.We are saved solely through faith in Jesus Christ because of God’s grace and Christ’s merit alone. We are not saved by our merits or declared righteous by our good works. God grants salvation despite our sin and not because of the good things we do.God graciously preserves us and keeps us. When we are faithless toward him, he is still faithful. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”The goal of all of life is to give glory to God alone: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).  The chief purpose of human life is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
  6. Glory belongs to God alone. God’s glory is the central motivation for salvation, not improving the lives of people—though that is a wonderful by product. God is not a means to an end—he is the means and the end.
  7. We can only stand before God by his grace as he generously attributes to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ and attributes to him the consequences of our sins. Jesus’ life of perfect righteousness is counted as ours, and our records of sin and failure were counted to Jesus when he died on the cross.
  8. As humans, we inherited a nature that is enslaved to sin. Because of our nature, we are naturally enemies of God and lovers of evil. We need to be made alive (regenerated) so that we can even have faith in Christ. God graciously chooses to give us new hearts so that we trust in Christ and are saved through faith alone.
  9. Every word of the 66 books of the Bible is inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit also helps us to understand and obey Scripture.

I believe this is a good segway into the Book of James – pull up your chairs and fasten your seat belts, this is going to be a lot of fun!

I believe what James writes is relevant to the church today. So let’s begin in the book of James

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:2-8

James has a real point here, for we don’t normally develop perseverance in any field of endeavor without facing a trial of some sort, and living in this world, we will surely need perseverance.  Let’s face it, nobody grows to maturity in life without developing some perseverance, and as time goes by, being immature ceases to be cute and moves into the category of unattractive!

Verse 5 has always been of particular interest to me; James makes it sound so easy.  If you lack wisdom, ask God for it and He’ll give it to you.  Personally, I’ve noticed that if I ask for wisdom, I get trials. If I ask for patience, I get trials. If I ask for perseverance, I get trials.  Do you suppose there is a connection? I admit that this isn’t very scientific, unreliable as it is, but James might be going somewhere like this in his thinking: Trials are an important part of spiritual growth and there is no way around that.

That brings us headlong into verse 6. When you ask God for wisdom, “you must believe and not doubt” and to be honest, it strikes me that this is where we sometimes go wrong.  I don’t just mean because we might have doubts, but because we often draw the wrong conclusion from James’ remark. If I ask for wisdom and get a trial instead, is that because I doubted, or is it because wisdom comes from experience? All too often, the Sunday school answer to that is that we lack faith.  This isn’t the point James is making here. His point is much deeper than that.

Look at what comes next: Someone who doubts is like a wave that is “blown and tossed by the wind.” This isn’t talking about someone who doubts God will answer their prayer with a sort of direct download of the “Wisdom App” it is referring to someone who doubts that Jesus is the Lord! That person is likely to be tossed on the churning seas of this world, never quite getting their bearings, always unsure, confused, and adrift. This brings me to the question – Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?

Well, do you?

The answer to that question, dear friends, is not only the key to understanding this passage, it is also the key to understanding most things. The person with doubts will receive nothing much, for they are “double-minded” and “unstable in all they do.” They are double-minded not because they are immature in their faith, but because they haven’t made their minds up; they are still holding back, holding on to the old life, seeking a compromise or a safety net.

They are “unstable” because they haven’t entirely committed, and how can we learn to persevere if we hold back, straddle the fence and don’t commit?

Now you can see why I warned you to have your seat belts fastened, there will be some bumpy air at this altitude!

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

James 1:9-11

In this brief text, James jumps to a subject that will keep cropping up in this letter: Rich and Poor.  James takes an approach to this subject that is very much in line with that of Jesus, and is quite different from the one most have today, for James sees material wealth as a trap.

I thought this was an important scene for any Christian to see, for it shows how the attitudes of this world have played out in the Body of Christ.  Of course history shows us that this sort of thing has gone on since the very early days of the church, and we see much written against it in Scripture, such as in these verses; interesting isn’t it?  Have you seen things along these lines?

As for me, I’ve only seen this kind of thing expressed in subtle ways, but I’ve seen it, and it is nothing less than disgraceful! In Christ, we are equal. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, black or white, rich or poor, for in God’s eyes we are His children… and we are all expected to love one another and to put the interests of others ahead of our own.

In Christ, there are no divisions among people, there is only unity. In Christ, it does not matter if we are rich or poor, black or white, male or female; we are one.

Of course, culture tends to interfere… But when culture tells us that we must be divided along any lines, culture is wrong!

You are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

– Galatians 3:26-29

Sometimes we need to really remind ourselves that our culture is not what counts when it comes to our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, for what matters is the “in Christ.”

And what a glorious testimony this is! In a world where people are divided by so much, we are one in Christ! Oh, if we would only remember this glorious truth…

In reality, there is only one division left, and that is “in Christ” or not in Christ. The really great news is that all are invited to enter unity with Christ; let’s be certain that every single one receives an invitation to dwell with us in unity and peace.

I think this is an important point for all of us to reflect upon and to ask for God’s guidance in, that we might truly understand what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

James 1:12-15

James is summing up this section here, and he returns to the idea of perseverance. We should consider trials a blessing, for in coming through trials, we learn to persevere in our faith, to remain firm in all situations and ensure that when the Day comes, we will receive the “crown of life.”

This is indeed a message of hope, giving us, as it does, a whole different perspective on the trials that everyone faces in this life. James goes on to point out that trials do not come because God is tempting us, for God does no such thing, He doesn’t need to! We seem to find our way into temptation quite on our own. Each of us has our own dark little secret place where we hide our desires and evil motivations.  They pop up periodically and we follow them, and the result is that we fall into sin, and if we let that sin carry us away with it, death ensues.  In this case, “death” is separation from God as opposed to in the physical sense.

So, there is the pattern, there is the cycle; the question is how can we stop it? In James’s words, how can we “persevere” in our faith?

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

James 1:16-18

We have a pretty good hint in these verses, for as James says “every good and perfect gift is from above.”  Where can we look to quash those evil desires that lead us to temptation?  Above! We can increase our focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ.  God does not trick us, nor does He move the goal posts, for He is reliable, constant and true. He is our source of light, life and truth; He is where we need to look in a time of trial and testing, not this world our own inner desires.  As Paul put it elsewhere, we should set our minds on that which is above. That is where our salvation from trials comes from; that is where we will receive the crown of life!

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

James 1:19-21

I really like these verses, they are both familiar and practical; to me they are also profoundly important as a way of life.  Verse 19 is quoted so often that I’m not even sure those who quote it know it’s from the Word and it is certainly great advice, but how often do we take the time to notice that it is only the introduction to a larger theme?

First the advice: Quick to listen. For many of us, that would be quite an accomplishment in itself.  I don’t know about you, but there are still times when I find myself neglecting this one; mustn’t get carried away.  Slow to speak is the next one, and I know plenty of people who struggle with this.

As for me – the less I talk the more intelligent I sound, but I open my mouth and I can be like a leaky pipe, drip drip drip.

OK, maybe we are all works in progress.

Slow to become angry is the third in this series, and it is a real problem for some. I doubt I need to say much more on this.

Verse 20 has the point James is setting up in verse 19, yet is isn’t quoted so often as the previous verse for some reason. Human anger doesn’t produce “the righteousness that God desires.” Have you ever thought about that? What does our anger really produce?  Out of every 10 times we become angry, how many times does our anger produce anything worthwhile?  OK, I can see that there are rare cases when we become angry over an injustice and then we do something about it.  Yet even in those times, if we are acting out of anger, how often can we avoid inflicting a second injustice because we don’t stop soon enough? An example: We become angry because we see someone shove another person out of their way; how do we respond? We might let them have it with angry words, and call them all sorts of ugly names.  Do two wrongs cure an injustice? It is very difficult to respond in anger without going too far!

Verse 21 is the conclusion, something we can tell right away because of the word “therefore.” Therefore is always the conclusion when someone is making a persuasive case. What James was really getting at in the first two verses was this: “get rid” of all that “moral filth” and “evil” that is “prevalent” and “humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

Let’s pause a moment and think about this “get rid” part. This is a metaphor that is used several times in the New Testament, for in the Greek it looks like the “taking off” and “putting on” that Paul likes to use. Here it would go something like this: “Take off those filthy rags that are covered with evil and clothe yourself with the righteousness of God.”  Now, looking at verse 21 again, we can see that we are to take off (get rid of) the moral filth and evil, and pit on (humbly accept) the Word that can save you. Here’s a question you might want to ask yourself: Is the “Word” a person or what?

I am going to say that this “Word” that can save you is none other than the Person of Jesus Christ.  Yes, dear friends, going back to the beginning, if we are quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, we would be putting our trust for Christ into action. Actually Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25

One of my very favorite verses in all of the Scriptures is verse 22, and I can’t help but notice that it’s almost never quoted outside of a study of James; not even by me! I really love this verse because it just brushes past all the arguments and excuses and comes right down to the bottom line: Do what it says!

We aren’t just to read the Word, we’re supposed to follow the Word, just like we aren’t just supposed to be in Christ, we are supposed to follow Him. So simple, yet so seldom done. If we just read it, we deceive ourselves because we get the idea that everything is great, after all, I read my Bible today. Then what do we do, go out and do what everybody else does?

James follows with an interesting illustration, that of someone looking into a mirror, seeing their face and then forgetting what they looked like. Hearing the Word and not following it is pretty much a waste, for we are to put it into effect in our lives.  Even better, James tells us exactly what he means.

We are to gaze at the “perfect law that gives freedom” intently, and then act accordingly. To fully comprehend James’ instruction, all we need to do is to know what he means by “perfect law that gives freedom.”  I think Jesus can help us out here:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-30

James is talking about putting our love of God and of one another into action; if we do, we will be blessed in everything that we do. What a simply amazing little passage, so simple, so clear.

What holds us back?

This is what it means to love, to put that love into action, and to serve God.  This is what Jesus did, and this is what His followers are to do.

I cannot believe we have run out of time.

My friends – once again this was Simple Faith and I am your host, Cathy Merritt. See you next Sunday. God bless

Here is a link to listen to 30 August, 2015 09:00 pm radio program:        Simple Faith

Exodus – Passover – What it reveals to us about Christ

Transcript of my radio program tonight – June 14

This is Simple Faith and I am your host, Cathy Merritt – please join me this evening in prayer and we’ll begin our study in Exodus.

Tonight I pray for Prayer Warriors across the world that dedicate their lives to praying for others – even people they do not know. I pray for their safety and wellbeing. I pray that Lord you will protect them spiritual warfare.

Father, I ask that you be with me tonight as I teach the story of your people and their Exodus out of Egypt.

I for everyone listening to night, I pray that your heart will be open to the word and that it will not be harden as the Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. To know and love God is know that he is powerful and can control any storm.

Guard my mouth tonight Lord and be with me as I teach.

In the Bible, the plagues and other troubles brought on Egypt by God through the hands of Moses, because Pharaoh would not let the people of Israel go out of Egypt. The account, in the Book of Exodus, tells how Pharaoh yielded each time until the plague was removed, then hardened his heart; in the end he let the children of Israel go, only to pursue them into the Red Sea.

God was going to set His people free from being slaves in the land of Egypt.

He sent Moses and Aaron to speak to Pharaoh. They demanded that all of God’s people be set free to worship Him. Each time, what did Pharaoh say? “NO”!

God sent plagues upon the land of Egypt. He did this to show the people that they should worship the Creator, not the creation. God was teaching the Israelites and the

Egyptians that He alone is God.

The plagues.

Turned the Nile River into blood

– Filled the land with frogs

– Sent gnats

– Flies swarmed all over the people

– Disease on the farm animals

– The people broke out in boils (blisters)

– The worst storm ever in Egypt

– So many locusts that the sky looked black

– Darkness for 3 days

The plagues had significant consequences in five different areas.

  1. The plagues were designed to discredit the gods of Egypt. Before the tenth plague God asserted, “I will bring judgment on all of the gods of Egypt.” This is especially evident in the first second, fifth and ninth plagues. In the first plague the sacred Nile was affected. By the end of the second plague the Egyptians detested Ptha, the frog headed god and Heka, a frog goddess. Apis the scared bull could not spare his kind of ravishing effects of the murrain. Ra the sun god could not penetrate the darkness in which Yahweh wrapped Egypt in ninth plague.
  2. The plagues also served to discredit the religious leaders of Egypt. The counsel of Pharaoh’s wisest men, the sorcery and magic of his personal ministers could not prevent or remove the plagues. In the third plague the magicians retreated from the contest; in the sixth plague they were rendered unclean by the festering boils and thus disqualified from officiating in their priestly role.
  3. The plagues revealed the ineffectiveness of Pharaoh as a ruler and god. His total lack of integrity, his stubbornness, arrogance, and mortality are clearly shown in the narrative. He was forced during the contest to offer four compromises to Moses and in the end he was compelled to release the Israelites.
  4. With respect to the Israelites, the plagues were designed to free them from bondage and convince them of the sole divinity of Yahweh. They were a visual lesson of God’s awesome power.
  5. The plagues were also God’s judgment on the land of Egypt for the years of mistreatment of his people.
  6. The plagues were designed gradually to magnify the power of God. In the first two plagues the power of God was imitated by the magicians. They, however were unable to remove the plagues. In plagues three through six the restrained power of God was manifested. God’s unbridled power was manifested in plagues seven through ten.The above six purposes can be summed up in the word “know.” The contest began when Pharaoh declared that he did not know Yahweh. This word thereafter becomes a key word in the narrative. Through the plagues all parties would come to know Yahweh. To know Yahweh means to recognize him because of personal experience and then submit to his authority.

After the plague of darkness, Pharaoh had these harsh words for Moses

11 Now the LORD had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. 2 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)

4 So Moses said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

9 The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country

The Tenth Plague and The Passover

God provides a way to escape the punishment of sin, and His way is the only way.

(God) wants everyone to be saved. He wants them to come to know

the truth.

– 1 Timothy 2:4

The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb[a] for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it.

11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.

17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”

21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.

29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The Exodus

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt[b] was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.

Passover Restrictions

43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal:

“No foreigner may eat it. 44 Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him, 45 but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.

46 “It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.

48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”

50 All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

The festival of the Passover has been celebrated by Jews for thousands of years.

It is the retelling of the great story of how God redeemed the Jewish nation from enslavement in Egypt. The celebration itself was given to the Jews while they were still in Egypt. The original celebration centered around the Passover lamb, which was sacrificed and its blood put over the doorposts as a sign of faith, so that the Lord passed over the houses of the Jews during the last plague poured out on the Egyptians – the killing of every firstborn.

To a large degree, the Passover lamb has been eliminated from the Passover festival (with the only remnant being the roasted lamb shank bone). The New Testament says that Jesus is our sacrificial Lamb.

The Passover lamb was to be a “male without defect,” which is the same description given to Jesus.

In addition, when the lamb was roasted and eaten, none of its bones were to be broken. This fact was also prophesized for the Messiah, whose bones were not to be broken.9 It was customary during crucifixion to break the leg bones of the person after a few hours in order to hasten their death. The only way a person could breathe when hanging on a cross was to push up with his legs, which was very exhausting. By breaking the legs, death followed soon by suffocation. However, in the case of Jesus, they broke the legs of the other two men, but did not break His, since He was already dead.10

Passover symbolism

Much of the symbolism of Jesus’ last Passover week is lost to us because we are unaware of the customs of the time. For example, Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem five days before the lamb was killed in the temple as the Passover sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. Five days before the lamb was to be sacrificed, it was chosen. Therefore, Jesus entered Jerusalem on lamb selection day as the Lamb of God.

The people did not understand the significance of this, since they greeted Him with palm branches and hailed Him as King, shouting “Hosanna,” which means “save us.” However, they were not looking for a spiritual Savior, but a political savior. Palm branches were a symbol of freedom and defiance, since Simon Maccabeus had entered Jerusalem with that symbolism. Jesus’ reaction was to weep, since He realized that they did not understand the Messiah’s purpose in coming.

Passover sacrifice

The day Jesus was crucified was the day of the Passover celebration and the day that the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed. For the previous 1,200 years, the priest would blow the ram’s horn at 3:00 p.m. – the moment the lamb was sacrificed, and all the people would pause to contemplate the sacrifice for sins on behalf of the people of Israel.

At 3:00, when Jesus was being crucified, He said, “It is finished” – at the moment that the Passover lamb was sacrificed and the horn was blown from the Temple. The sacrifice of the lamb of God was fulfilled at the hour that the symbolic animal sacrifice usually took place. At the same time, the veil of the Temple (a three-inch thick, several story high cloth that demarked the Holy of Holies) tore from top to bottom –  representing a removal of the separation between God and man. Fifty days later, on the anniversary of the giving of the law (Pentecost), God left the earthly temple to inhabit those who call on the name of Jesus through His Holy Spirit.

Burial

The festival of unleavened bread began Friday evening (at sunset). As part of the festival, the Jews would take some of the grain – the “first fruits” of their harvest – to the Temple to offer as a sacrifice. In so doing, they were offering God all they had and trusting Him to prove the rest of the harvest. It was at this point that Jesus was buried – planted in the ground – as He said right before His death. Paul refers to Jesus as the first fruits of those raised from the dead in 1 Corinthians. As such, Jesus represents the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide the rest of the harvest – resurrection of those who follow the Messiah.

Resurrection

Matzah – striped and pierced Christian symbolism in the Passover occurs early in the Seder (the Passover dinner). Three matzahs are put together (representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The middle matzah is broken, wrapped in a white cloth, and hidden, representing the death and burial of Jesus. The matzah itself is designed to represent Jesus, since it is striped and pierced, which was prophesized by Isaiah, David, and Zechariah. Following the Seder meal, the “buried” matzah is “resurrected,” which was foretold in the prophecies of David.

Christian communion

It was during a Passover Seder that Jesus proclaimed that the meal represented Himself and that He was instituting the New Covenant, which was foretold by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah.

The celebration of this covenant has become the ordinance of communion in the Christian faith. At the end of the meal, Jesus took the unleavened bread, broke it, and said that it represented His body. Then He took the cup of wine, which would have been the third cup of the Seder – the cup of redemption. He said that it was the new covenant in His blood “poured out for you.” It is through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are declared clean before God, allowing those of us who choose to accept the pardon, to commune with Him – both now and forevermore through the eternal life He offers.

Next week we’ll talk more about the path of Deliverance.

Transcripts for Radio Program – Exodus 1-4

Transcript for Radio Program 31 May

Exodus 1-4

I am back to work and over my vacation. It was two weeks of not thinking about work, but busy and I did a great deal of driving.

I prayed over my thoughts this week and God revealed to me that I should continue into Exodus because the first few verses of Exodus 1 tie it into Genesis.

So let’s begin.

Overall view of Exodus is that God demonstrates that he is aware of the suffering of his people and he is preparing them for deliverance.

This focus in the first eighteen chapters of Exodus is on the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. In these chapters the Exodus is projected through Moses (Chapter 1-4) obstructed by Pharaoh in Chapter 5-11 and effected by the Lord (Chapter 12-18)   The first four chapters we’ll cover tonight are speaking of the situation which necessitated the Exodus, as well as the anticipation of that event. Three pictures of God in these chapters drive home the point that God was aware of the suffering of his people and was working behind the scenes to prepare for their deliverance.

Chapter 1 is a sequel to Genesis. This chapter is carefully connected with what precedes in Genesis.

After Joseph’s death the Israelites multiplied phenomenally in accordance with God’s promise to Abraham.

Let’s begin with prayer and read chapter one.

The Israelites Oppressed

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy[a] in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

Exodus is linked with Genesis by the introduction. God’s promise to Abraham is fulfilled by Israel’s fruitfulness.

The Pharaoh is afraid of the numbers – Israel is growing and harder to control. So this multiplication of Israel leads to their oppression by the Egyptians.

This was a new dynasty. They had set new policies regarding the Israelites. The King was afraid of invaders and he was afraid that Semitic Israelites might aid invaders from the north. So the persecution intensified – Struggle between an early King (pharaoh) and heavenly King – In spite of Egyptian effort to thwart the, the Israelites continued to increase. God’s countermeasure in of support of his people was working.

Egyptians worked the Israelites ruthlessly, forcing them to engage in hard labor in bricks and mortar and also in the fields.  Josephus (great Jewish writer) indicates that they were forced to dig canals and on irrigation projects.

The Egyptians resorted to population control as well. The chapter speaks of two godly women who would not commit themselves to the killing of infants .

God blessed the courageous midwives with families of their own

Israelites continued to increase in Egypt. Then finally the Pharaoh gave the order to throw Israelite male infants into the river. Israelites were subjected to the order and no doubt were under a death sentence if they did not carry it out.

As persecution intensified, also did God’s countermeasures. The Exodus is anticipated by the preparation of a leader through whom God would affect the deliverance of his people. So let’s look at Chapter 2

The Birth of Moses

2 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.

But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket[a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[b] saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Moses was born about 1525 BC – his brother Aaron was about 3 years older, Miriam older still. The faith of his parents – they were not afraid of the king’s command. They son was to be special and God had a plan for him.

Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.

18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?”

19 They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

20 “And where is he?” Reuel asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.”

21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom,[c] saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.”

23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

Moses flight to Midian can ve viewed as an act of faith, in that he made no effort to defend himself or reconcile himself to Pharaoh. The next forty years in Moses’ life he lived in Midian.

4 developments in Moses’ life during this period are clear:

  1. Moses continued to champion the cause of the weak and helped Reuel’s daughters with their flocks.
  2. Moses lodged in a godly home – Reuel (friend of God) and was a priest of Midian. Reuel is called Jethro in Chapter 3, name which means “highness.” He was a worshiper of Yahweh. His people were descendants of Abraham through his son Keturah.   Reuel was so impressed with Moses he invited him to live with him and mange his flocks. Moses agreed and for next forty years
  3. Moses eventually married Zipporah, one of the daughters.
  4. Moses tended the flocks and learned the discipline of the desert for forty years.The Pharaoh died, but the government of Egypt did not change. At this point the people of God turned with one accord to the Lord. They groaned and cried out to God for help. God heard their groaning, he remembered the covenant with the patriarchs, and he looked on them and was concerned about them. Divine concern translated into action when God called a prophet to deliver them. As we see in Chapter 3

Moses and the Burning Bush

3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[d] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[e] will worship God on this mountain.”

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[f] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[g] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,     the name you shall call me     from generation to generation.

16 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’

18 “The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21 “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

Moses observed the bush, while it was on fire it was not consumed, he moved closer to investigate and when he did he heard of the voice of God speak six words.

  1. He called Moses name 2 times – God not his attention – personal acquaintance with him
  2. A word of warning. – holy ground, he must show respect and take off his sandals.
  3. A word of identify. He identified himself as the God of your father (singular) and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  4. Word of compassion. God is concern for his people’s welfare.
  5. Word of promise – God promises to bring his people out of Egypt and bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey.
  6. A word of challenge – Moses was informed he will be the one to lead his people out of Egypt.Moses did not exactly jump at the chance to assume the leadership of a nation of salves. This was an awesome task, and he shrunk from it. He objected with “Who am I that I should go to the Pharaoh but God promised to be with him, His source of power does not come from within him, but from who is with him… God.
  7. Then God follows up with the plan Moses continues to fear that the people of Israel will not listen to him, but l read Chapter 4
  8. Moses continued to cite his ignorance and lacked authority, but God again – answered his objection by telling Moses his name: I am the statement “I am who I am” renders he is the self-existing one, the Eternal, the one without beginning or end. Yahweh – He who is throughout the generations.

4 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous[a]—it had become as white as snow.

“Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

Moses Returns to Egypt

18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.”

Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.”

19 Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses[b] and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it.[c] “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)

27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.

29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

Moses once again pleas that someone take the role besides him – his unwillingness to serve angered the Lord, Aaron his brother would serve as his mouth. Staff would become a symbol of authority from God.

Five factors reinforced Moses’ reluctant decision o accept the divine challenge.

  1. Moses received no protest from his father-in-law when he requested to leave
  2. He set out for Egypt with his wife and sons (plural) – Moses would perform his wonders not just to Israel but to Pharaoh too.
  3. Moses was discipline by not having had his son circumcised –he was in jeopardy but his wife saved him by circumcising her son.
  4. Aaron met his brother in the wilderness – joyous reunion.
  5. The elders showed favor on Moses and Aaron just as God promised.

[c1]