Monday, January 25, 2010

Jesus is True Truth!

John 8:31-47

This passage continues Jesus’ discourse during the Feast of Tabernacles. Here, we have a continuing “tit for tat” dialogue and sarcasm on who is being true, truthful, and pious—the Pharisees demonstrating they are not, and Jesus showing He isTruth. Jesus is both challenging the prim and proper hypocrites, the “pious fraud” religious environment and giving comfort to His listeners. This passage would have been of a great comfort to John’s readers too, because his people were starting to face major opposition from their Jewish relatives and leaders, the foremost opposition coming from the Romans. Both were seeking to kill these early Christians just as the establishment was seeking to kill our Lord.

• You will know the truth. Meaning that when we commit to and follow through with Jesus’ teaching, we hold to His truth, because He is the truth (John 14:6-10; 18:37).

• Truth. This is what is called “true-Truth.” It is God’s Truth, not philosophical truth; God’s truth is fact, not some idea manipulated by faulty reason, relativistic ideas, or personal or political agendas. For the Greeks, this meant the absence of confusion and the embodiment of “real reality” that is not bound to or by any human reason, philosophy, or that which can’t be misrepresented or corrupted. For the Jews, this meant being true to one’s character, integrity, lineage, and being faithful. Jesus embodied both. Here, this is real and effectual knowledge of whom, why, and what information there is concerning Jesus Christ. The Pharisees saw truth in their traditions, but Jesus combated their notions (Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:1-8; 2 Tim. 2:15; James 1:18).

• Set you free. A term that could also be applied to setting a slave free, and how wondrous it would be for them. Following truth will set you free from the ternary of bad thinking that leads to sin that leads to a bad or nonexistent relationship with God.

Are you inventing or following Jesus?

What these so called religious leaders were doing was inventing their own “god,” hiding behind their rules and regulations, and forcing others to conform, causing them a loss of perspective of God and life. This hid their own lack of righteousness by a pretend righteousness, missing the point of God’s law and promise of salvation that was standing in their midst. We do this today too. Many Christians focus on making God into their own image—inventing their own user-friendly Jesus. Thus, the Gospel is reduced and diluted into a mere personal narrative that had no real depth or impact back to God or self, let alone an impact to others around us.

We become so consumed and concerned with our own personal narrative, our preconceptions, and preoccupations of our religious life and views that we do not even see the One we are to know and follow; we only see our ideas of Him. These are ideas that are distilled from our musings and pride and not from the percepts of Scripture. A mere personal narrative of Christianity does not mean it is not personal, because it is, but so much more communal and connective. The problem is we can reduce it to just being personal so there is no touch back to God or to others, there is no discipleship growth, no maturity, and no effectual impact, just the smug self satisfaction of what we want, think, and feel. Meanwhile, the reality of Christ is missed just as these Pharisees missed it. It becomes all about the way “I” see it, not what it really is supposed to be. Do not allow your Christianity to be dim or held in the darkness of the despair of bad thinking or laziness, or be too busy to learn and grow or turned under to the hindrance of pride. Allow the light of His Word to shine through so that your personal Christianity is impacted and communal and set ablaze to be a growing impact that pleases Him!

Questions to Ponder

What does it mean to you to be a committed follower?

How do you go from one who makes a profession of faith to one who goes beyond belief into practice of the faith in following Christ?

How will you become committed?

More here:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I need a little insight and help

A New Book in the Works! It is about 6 months away from prime time…

And….I need a little insight and help. I have been working on this book for over 10 years, originally called “The Dry Lands” (thinking of changing it to “Christ my Comfort”) it is about “Learning what God is saying to us in times of suffering, waiting and confusion.

What I need to for people to look over the table of contents and see if there is a theme or question you want to be dealt with.

Some unedited Excerpts:

Most of us have learned there is no easy process to automatically know what God is thinking and why He leads us into tough situations. From the Student getting ready to graduate High school, wondering “what will I do now?” Then four or so years later after graduating from college, the same question, “what will I do now?” Then a few years later after losing their job, “what should I do now?” Then the death of a spouse, a business loss, or a sick child, or suffering from sickness, or a paralyzing injury themselves or the consequences of gossip or slander: “what should I do now?” We end up in a place that I call the “Dry Land’s.” It is a place of waiting until the situation changes. In these times it is also a time where we are confronted with uncertainly and strife, where our fears will takeover or our faith will persevere. But is it a time we just wait? Because in these times we have the opportunity to be in a place where we are tested and learn that a firm foundation of faith and God’s promises will lead you out, or the sands of self reliance will get you lost.

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

Life for you is riddled with conflict and strife as you venture in to a desert, barren of meaning, and no matter what direction you walk, no signs to say where to go, no explanation or plan can be seen. Then you finally ask, what is life all about? Has God abounded me, has His hand gone against me, has His love left me, or perhaps it never was with me.

This is not just another book on Suffering or God’s Will, and yet it is. My distinction to you is to help you through the pains and travesties of life. To guide you to build your faith and make wise choices even through tough and difficult situations. To grow and learn what life is all about. And through this adventure of ours we will come across some surprises. We will discover from His Word what life is all about and how our expectations can get in the way. We will learn that there is a purpose and plan for our lives, there is hope, and there is comfort. Even though at times we may feel that God is slaying us, He does indeed love and care for us. We will look at the Word and its characters and what they went through and what I have gone through and learned. I have interviewed numerous people who have been through and even overcame desperate situations. I believe God’s Word has the answers, and what so many Christians go through has a reason and purpose. And we have the opportunities to seize the reasons though the learning, growth and discipleship He has for us.

This lays out my point and theme, that there is a purpose, we may not like it. but it is for our benefit. Because faith will claim the love and purpose that Christ has for us. Faith will turn the shifting chaotic sands of despair into learning and growth opportunities. Faith will give you the beacon to guide you through the darkest times of wondering and confusion, so you are not confused and are confident that the path you are on is His. Faith will make your journey sweet and smooth as it can be as it pulls out the wrinkles made by sin. Faith will even claim love and mercy from God’s sometimes heavy hand. Our fretting will make the same journey a very rough ride. As a missionary who has taken many road trips in old jeeps and rickety vehicles in very dangerous mountain and off road adventures and hash deserts, “this is a kidney buster!” So the choice is ours, a wasteland of inhospitable surroundings with no reprieve or His dry lands nurtured with His living waters and opportunities. Knowing and seeking His purpose will place shocks on our kidney buster rides, and take us onto His highway, into the promised land!

The path to growth and maturity is a difficult path, perhaps because of sin, our wrong decisions, or to make us better, stronger, faster to do His will. Faith and hope may not give us the answers, but it gives us the fuel and provisions for the journey. Because under the desserts of disappear lay pools of abundant living water. What we see are the Dry Lands, what is under them are streams of His presence working below what we can see. Christ is indeed there, we may not always feel Him, nevertheless, He is.

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes," says the LORD.” (Zeph 3:17; 20)

Dry Lands is about hope, Christ’s hope and comfort to us. Intended for us to recapture the joy and happiness of being a Christian. Because the greatest glory we can give our Lord personally is to enjoy Him, to be happy and content as His child, even when things are not going our way! He does have a plan for us, it is the best one that can ever be, weather you are bound to a bed paralyzed, feeling you are nailed down unable to make a move. Or you are healthy and happy, but do not know what direction to go in life, this is the book for you. No matter how successful your enemies are, or how desperate your path is, Christ is there. You can trust in Him, He will deal with you bountifully and wonderfully.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. (Psalm 119:50)

Table of Contents

Preface The Dry Lands

Chapter I My Journey in the Dry Lands

Chapter II The Problem of Suffering

Chapter III The Why of Suffering

Chapter IV Sufferings have a Reason and a Purpose

Chapter V Sufferings Draw Us Closer to Christ

Chapter VI Sufferings Exhibit a Greater Good

Chapter VII Sufferings Show Others that God is at Work

Chapter VIII Sufferings Cause Us to Learn and Grow

Chapter IX Sufferings Show the Character of Christ

Chapter X What we Need to Take to Heart

Chapter XI Christ our Hope!

Chapter XII The Comfort of His Sovereignty

Chapter XIII Faith, Fear and Doubt

Chapter XIV How to Get Out of Doubt!

Chapter XV What Can We Give God?

Chapter XVI Learning to Count it all Joy

Chapter XVII Christ our Guidance

Chapter XVIII Suffering People Hurt Others!

Chapter XIX Learning to Focus on Christ

Chapter XX How Do We Get Help in our Sufferings?

(order and titles will be tweaked)

Some passages that will be explored: Psalm 119: Matthew 5:10; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 12:9 Philippians 1:19-25; 2:17; Hebrews 10:24; James 1:2; 1 Peter 4:12-19

Thanks and be blessed!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is John 7:53-8:11 a problem because it is not found in the earliest manuscripts?

The Woman in Adultery!

There is a debate about whether the context of this passage fits, as this passage is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. There is the possibility that this event did occur in the sequence of events during the feast in-between time of Jesus’ speaking engagements, but it is more probable that this occurred at another time. Of the earliest manuscripts that do have this passage, it is found in different sections of John and it is even in some manuscripts of Luke by verse 21:38. In addition, none of the early Church Fathers commented on this passage; over 90% of the NT was commented on. In the “textual criticism” of this passage, the Greek syntax is very different than the rest of John or Luke. Although, many stories in ancient religious cultures, including Judaism, had rich oral traditions and people memorized passages that were not written down until much later. So, is this a problem? Yes and no. Yes, because we have to play detective and see if this is an actual historical and accurate account of Jesus. After careful investigation, it is, so “no,” it is not a problem for our learning and edification of God’s Word. Even though this is a later addition that did not come to be in John until the fourth century, there is no indication that the narrative is wrong. This story follows the character of Jesus, the customs and historicity of the times (as in, this is a factual account that was known, along with many other stories about Jesus then, which have been lost to history.) This one, being of such importance, finds its way back. It can also be a testimony of the Bible’s reliability and impact, that if we wonder if anything was left out that we might need for our spiritual growth or understanding of God, the answer is “no.” We have what God wants us to have and it is up to us to get busy in the study and application of His most precious Word (John 21:25)!

But such debates often miss what is really important and the real point of the passage!

Adultery destroys relationships and affects generations. It is evil because it takes and steals what does not belong to the person. God wants us to be righteous with our current and future relationships, so when we are married, we will have a more solid marriage that will last, grow, and be much happier and joyful for us. Remember, God is the author of sexuality. In addition, He desires the expression of exclusive intimacy to be between a husband and wife. Adultery and premarital sex will ruin both our current and future relationships. Adultery does not stay private, or remain in secret or behind closed doors; it will be found out. It is sin; it migrates with you in the long term with all of your relationships, as well as into your marriage or future marriage. Many others will be affected too, such as the spouse or future spouse, the spouse of the person you were with who is robbed of what belongs to him or her, each one’s family and friends, and so on. The tranquility of the entire local Jewish culture would have been affected—family, friends, and the entire community sharing in the shame (Prov. 16:32; 25:28; Rom. 13:12-14; 1 Cor. 6:12; 9:25-27; Galatians 5:18-21; 1 Thess. 5: 22; Titus 2:12; Heb. 12:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7).

God’s Word tells us that we choose the ways of adultery, fornication, and impure thoughts that make us eager for destructive behaviors, and pronounce them to be pleasure. These are what the Bible calls uncleanness. These are what create relationships filled with hostility, quarreling, jealously, anger, selfish ambitions, and divisions between people and God. The focus is on envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and all kinds of sin. This attitude conveys the idea that everyone else is wrong, and those who will agree with you become desired allies! The Bible gives us a harsh warning that if we pursue these things, workable relationships cannot be built with God or others. Nor can a relationship even be formed with God, as you will impede His presence with you, and His work to others through you. You will not inherit the kingdom of God (Psalm 55:16; Prov. 6:32-35; 16:32; Eccl. 4:8-10; Matt. 11:28-30; John 21:15-19; Heb. 13:4; 1 Pet. 5:1-2).

Questions to Ponder

1. Do you think this passage is a problem because it is not found in the earliest manuscripts or Early Church Fathers?

2. How would you feel if someone showcased your sin? Why do you think Jesus’ entrappers started to leave?

3. How is this passage a testimony of the Bible’s reliability and impact?

4. Have you ever wondered if there were something not included that we may need for our spiritual growth or understanding of God? How does “the answer is no” motivate you?

5. What do you need to do to allow the Word to touch your thinking, conduct, and character so you can then touch others by His Word and example?

More here:

Monday, January 04, 2010

Perplexed about Jesus?

John 7:25-52

The people who lived in Jerusalem were perplexed about Jesus. He was from the small, dirty, field town people, yet spoke the truth with confidence and did miraculous things that could not be duplicated or understood. In addition, their leaders were conniving against Him, even trying to kill Him. This caused many to wonder if He could be the Messiah; the leaders were afraid for their positions and traditions. The leaders could not speak against what He was saying or doing, but they also knew of His humble origins and family. He talked the talk and did the unbelievable, but they had a belief, not from Scripture, that the Messiah was supposed to come out of nowhere, not from a local village. Jesus addressed them on this: yes, you know me and where I come from, but you do not know my true origins or who sent me; but I do. This further infuriated the leaders who tried to arrest Him. But, they were not able to do so because Jesus' time had not yet come. But again; what more could a Messiah do that Jesus had not done? Jesus responded, I will be here just a while longer, but then you will not be able to find me nor come to where I am. They did not understand that their faith was absent and this was their one and only opportunity to really come to God. So, they rebuked Jesus because of pride, and said He was trying to flee the country and go to the heathen, so they were in a hurry to get Him arrested.

This passage continues Jesus' challenge to the people to have faith and motivation, to think and not bow to emotionalism or gossip or to superficial leaders who skew truths for their own traditions and ideas. At the same time, many people continued to lose their confidence in Jesus because He did not fulfill their distorted expectations.

Here is a call to trust and rely on God's provision and timing. As Christians, we should not only reverence God's Holiness, but also submit to His control and timetable through attitude and deed. As Jesus demonstrated a trust and reliance upon God and His provision and timing, so are we to follow suit. In contrast, people who are self-centered, prideful, control freaks, or do not know God will hate this with a passion. They want things their way, they want control; and, because God is the Ultimate Sovereign and is really in control, they will fight against God and hate those who represent Him. Such a mindset hates God and will act in the opposite character and fruit of the Spirit, seeking to contradict and fight any good thing the Scripture or God's people have to say. This is the wisdom of the world; do what feels good, be number one, all religions are the same-all of these lead to brokenness and bitterness. God calls us to trust Him and align our lives with Him so we honor His schedule and can better receive His help.

To Ponder:

1. Are you ready to live or ready to die? What does this say about your walk with Christ? What do you need to do?

2. What more can you and your church do to challenge people to have faith and reason, to think and not bow to emotionalism, gossip, or to superficial leaders who skew the truth for their own traditions and ideas?

3. How do you see some people today go to the Scriptures to somehow prove that their feelings, their will, views, ideas, and perceptions are true, clinging to sensationalism and false doctrines instead of seeking how they can line themselves up to God's will and biblical Truth?

More here: