Archive for : May, 2019

05/31/19: John 19:23-42; Psalm 119:129-152; Proverbs 16:12-13

John 19:  38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds 

Sometimes I think in our readings we overlook “background” people who quietly but ultimately showed faith in Jesus and His ministry.  A note in my Bible margin reminded me that John 19:39 is the third time we encounter Nicodemus.  In the earlier verses we see just a whisper of his growing faith until at Jesus’s death he stepped from the background and into full exposure.

 

John 3:1  Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 

John 7: 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?

 

05/30/19: John 18:25-19:22; Psalm 119 113-128; Proverbs 16:10-11

As I read the verses in Luke today relaying Jesus’s crucifixion I was reminded of some lyrics from the song “Why” written by Michael Card.

Why did it have to be a friend who chose to betray the Lord?
And why did he use a kiss to show them, that’s not what a kiss is for?
Only a friend can betray a friend, a stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough to ever cause so much pain

Why did it have to be a thorny crown placed upon his head?
It should have been a royal one, made of jewels and gold instead
It had to be a crown of thorns, because in this world that we live
All that would seek to love a thorn is all the world has to give

Why did it have to be a heavy cross he was made to bear?
And why did they nail His feet and hands; His love would have held him there

05/29/29: John 18:1-24; Psalm 119:97-112; Proverbs 16:8-9

Have you ever had one of those middle-of-the-night experiences when you awaken and head to check on a noise outside or just need a glass of water?  If you are like me, I do not want to turn-on a light to keep from waking Liz.  So, I go walking in the dark.  And as I am walking my toes are telling my brain, “Let’s get some light down here — we are the ones who hurt when he stubs his toes on that table leg?”   Your mind could easily be repeating:

Psalm 119:   105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

That light from the inspired Word of God helps us see the hazards in front of us and guides us in our walk.  But we must make the effort to “turn-on” that light (by reading) & then follow it’s path.

05/28/19 – John 17:1-26; Psalm 119:81-96; Proverbs 16:6-7

John 17: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 

Did you note the emboldened words in Jesus’s prayer?  I think it is very important for us to understand that Jesus’s prayer was not to remove his followers from the “world.”  Had they been removed how would evangelism ever occurred?

But note that Jesus did pray that we would be “sanctified” (or made holy) via the truth of God’s inspired Word.  And how can that occur unless we are readers of the Word?

 

05/27/19: John 16:1-33; Psalm 119:65-80; Proverbs 16:4-5

If you have played sports or watched a few sport-related movies you remember that right before the “big game” the coach will inspire the team with his/her “pep talk” (think of Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi, Jim Valvano.) His/her mission is to instill within each player the confidence to overcome the talent on the other team and to earn the pride of winning (of course the other team is also receiving their own pep talk.)

And the coach may sometimes “inflate” the talent of the players and “stretch the truth a bit.”

From my sport’s perspective I have often thought that Jesus provided some pretty weak pep talks for his disciples:

John 16: 1All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.

After reading this very direct and truthful warning am I inspired or ready to “win one for the Gipper?” If I stopped here, probably not. But Jesus’s inspired pep talk continues through John 16 and concludes with a passage that can inspire us all:

John 16: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

05/26/19 – John 15:1-27; Psalm 119:49-64; Proverbs 16:1-3

When reading the inspired word there are often occasions when just a few words are worthy of our stopping and just meditating on all that we have been given — even when times are “tough.”  The following gave me such a moment:

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

05/25/19 – John 14:15-31; Psalm 119:33-48; Proverbs 15:33

John 14:  22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”  23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

From my perspective this Judas (also know as Thaddeus) asks a question that Jesus just not seem to answer.  But Coffman provides an insight into the question that I had not considered:

The belief that Christ would be some kind of overpowering earthly Messiah persisted even among the Twelve, and even after the resurrection.  Thaddeus’ question here was strongly flavored with the ideas of Jesus’ brothers, regarding a “manifestation” in Jerusalem. He did not understand that the death on the cross would be a manifestation before the whole world.

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  Christ was ever interested in the salvation of men’s souls, and that is why he shifted the emphasis back to what had already been taught concerning salvation. Thaddeus’ dream of an earthly kingdom was of no concern at all to Jesus.

 

05/24/19 – John 13:31-14:14; Psalm 119:17-32; Proverbs 15:31-34

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

Regarding verse 34 Coffman writes:

So a new type of love is given, as the Greek expositors generally have urged. There is a deeper intensity in this love than can be found in Moses’ “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” In that commandment which embraces the whole law, self-love is assumed and made the standard for the love of neighbor. The new commandment, on the other hand, is based on a new principle, measured by a higher standard than love of self. This is based on Christ’s love, which was self-abandoning and self-sacrificing love.[

05/23/19 – John 13:1-30; Psalm 119:1-16; Proverbs 15:29-30

Sometimes we may find ourselves thinking about the intricacies of scripture and how a verse may be interpreted. We
refer to commentaries, concordances, Bible dictionaries and other reference books. I certainly find no problem with our
seeking God’s will through His word & through our study.

But more often God’s Word speaks simply and directly to our hearts:

Psalm 119: How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word.

How simple yet elegant & instructive are these words?

05/22/19 – John 12:20-50; Psalm 118:19-29; Proverbs 15:27-28

We are all probably familiar with the intense prayers and requests Jesus made of His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.  For example:

Luke 22: 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

But did you note the following verse in today’s reading (which probably occurred on the Tuesday before his crucifixion)

John 12:   27  “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”  Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

Jesus knew His fate and the that moment of separation from His Father for the first time in eternity would occur.  Yet, He willingly endured out of His love for His creation. — We must bow humbled and grateful.

 

05/21/19 – John 11:55-12:19; Psalm 118:1-18; Proverbs 15:24-26

As we read the Gospels sometimes a verse arises that makes it difficult for me to understand how Israel’s leaders could not recognize who Christ is — the Messiah and the Son of God.

John 12: 9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

So, the chief priests must have acknowledged that Lazarus was raised from the dead.  And what “man” could raise the dead?  How could they not believe?

But then I realize that we are blessed with the written Word of God – easily available and in multiple translations of our own language.  We can read but how many people still refuse to believe?

 

 

05/20/19 – John 11:1-54; Psalm 117:1-2; Proverbs 15:22-23

In addition to describing the miraculous and emotional story of Lazarus’s resurrection today’s reading relays more insight into the earthly reason Jesus was eventually condemned to death.

John 11:47   “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”  49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.

The leaders feared the loss of their political power base and were more than willing for one “man” to die than for their “nation” to perish.

 

05/19/19 – John 10:22-42; Psalm 116:1-19; Proverbs 15:20-21

Today’s reading contains a “word-picture” that I have always found reassuring:

John 1025 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.

I think of a child walking on a journey with their hand held safely in the hand of a loved one — guiding and reassuring.

05/18/19 – John 10:1-21; Psalm 115:1-18; Proverbs 15:18-19

In tomorrow’s reading we will see Jesus teach that the purpose of His miracles was to verify His authority and who He is — the Son of the Lord God, Almighty.  And we see the impact of these miracles today:

John 10:  1The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

 

05/17/19 John 9:1-41; Psalm 113:1-114:8; Proverbs 15:15-17

In Liz and my home town there is a very local & one person (Charles ***) operator TV “station.”  While flipping through channels one night we viewed two preachers discussing a very “fine point” of a scripture passage on this station.

Well, in actuality they were not discussing.  They were arguing — loudly, red-faced (as near as we could tell) with much finger pointing.  In our opinion their theatrics would have driven away anyone looking to understand the scripture or who could have been interested in their church (sadly, one was  a church of Christ.)

I was reminded of this episode today when I read John 9 and the response of the healed blind man to the accusations of the Pharisees:

John 9:  24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

No elaborate debate – no argument – only a statement of reality.  As we witness sometimes I think, like the healed blind man, simplicity is the best response.

Something like — “I may not fully understand all of the fine points and theological implications but what I do know is that through Christ my life has been changed for the better.” 

 

05/16/19 – John 8:31-59; Psalm 112:1-10; Proverbs 15:12-14

As Jim has been leading us through the Sunday morning study of Ecclesiastes we see Solomon making the point that our trust and our happiness cannot be on possessions or what we collect.   I think the following passage from Psalm 112 echoes this reality:

Psalm 112:

Surely the righteous will never be shakenthey will be remembered forever.                                                                                                    They will have no fear of bad newstheir hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.                                                                                                                          Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.                                                                                                    They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forevertheir horn will be lifted high in honor.                                        10 The wicked will see and be vexed,  they will gnash their teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

05/15/19 – John 8:21-30; Psalm 111:1-10; Proverbs 15:11

As we have read through the last several days in John (Chapters 6-7) we have seen that Jesus’s teaching on who He is has had been hard to accept not only by the religious leaders but by some of His followers, as well.

That is why is was encouraged by today’s reading, particularly the last verse:

John 8:30Even as he spoke many believed in Him.”

Today when believers are assaulted on all fronts – both politically and socially it is refreshing to realize that “many still believe in Him.

 

 

05/14/19 – John 8:1-20; Psalm 110:1-7; Proverbs 15:8-10

To me the verses in John 8:2-11 contain one of the most dramatic and emotional events in Jesus’s ministry — the trap of the woman “caught in adultery.”

The very question asked is a trap: John 8: The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?

Had Jesus responded “Yes” he would have violated Roman law since only Rome could authorize an execution.  If he responded “No”  He would have, perhaps, turned the people against Him for violating a Law of Moses.

Thus the inspired wisdom in His response.   John 8: When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.

And in the quiet of that early morning can you not hear the sound of stones hitting the ground as they are dropped one-by-one by the woman’s accusers?

 

05/13/19 – John 7:31-53; Psalm 109:1-31; Proverbs 15:5-7

In today’s reading I see a reality that remains with us to this day — many people asking “who is this Jesus?”

John 7: 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” 

John 7:  40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?”  43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.

And this apparent confusion among the people reminds me that our mission is to continue reading God’s inspired word and be prepared with answers.  This way we  can share the answers contained in scripture — including a very important one — “who is this Jesus?”

 

05/12/19 – John 7:1-30; Psalm 108:1-13; Proverbs 15:4

You have probably hard the expression “blood is thicker than water” which traditionally means that family bonds are closer than those of outsiders.

But often in our loves this is just not true — the bonds with our friends we develop over years may be stronger than those of family.  In today’s verses we see that in the life of Jesus.

John 7:1  After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do.No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Jesus human brothers (or half-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (from Matt 13:55) were, in all probability, additional sons of Mary and Joseph. His brothers at this time did not believe in him and per Coffman were saying   “Get on down to Jerusalem and perform some more miracles to encourage the people down there who believe in you.”

And we see Jesus set an example for all of us — regardless of the pressure or negativity we may feel from our earthly family our mission is to follow God’s will!

Therefore Jesus told them, My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not[b] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”