Archive for May, 2014

Jesus’ Testimony Being Questioned

May 31, 2014

According to dictionary.com, testimony is defined as evidence in support of a fact or statement i.e. proof. In terms of legalities, the statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation.  Testimony may be oral or written, and it is usually made by oath or affirmation as well. In philosophy according to Wikipedia, a testimony is known as statements that are based on personal experience or personal knowledge. A statement is accepted on the basis of person’s testimony if his or her asserting it renders it acceptable. We can also, rationally accept a claim on the basis of another person’s testimony unless at least one of the following is found to be true:

  1. The claim is implausible;
  2. The person or the source in which the claim is quoted lacks credibility;
  3. The claim goes beyond what the person could know from his or her own experience and competence.[4]

In John 8, we see Jesus’ Testimony Being Questioned (v 12-20), Jesus’ identity being questioned (v 21-30) and Jesus’ children being questioned (v 31-47). In verses 12-20, it is clear from the text that the Pharisees, those who are questioning His testimony, wanted more evidence. They were questioning Jesus to find out more but to express their disbelief or doubt over His testimony. They have already questioned Jesus’ personal knowledge and experience in being from/with God and God Himself. They see Jesus’ claim as implausible, incredible, and impossible. As He always does, Jesus communicates the truth about Himself and about the Father. Listen to Jesus address the Pharisees who say that Jesus’ Testimony is not plausible, credible or possible.

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.

In the vernacular, kids would say Jesus “chumped them off”. It’s another way to say that Jesus got them told. He made them eat their words to the point that there was no retort but only further questions. In the dialogue, the Pharisees claim that Jesus’ testimony is not true because He is making claims of Himself by Himself. As they said, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” Jesus basically tells them they don’t know what they are talking about because He is God. He know where He came from and where He is going. He does not need anyone’s affirmation of His testimony. Then, He tells them that God The Father who sent Him stands with Him in affirmation of His testimony. Furthermore, Jesus uses the Law, the Word, against the Pharisees who were supposed to be so learned and versed in the Law. Jesus refers to the Law where it had long been accepted that two could serve as a testimony being true and valid. In effect, Jesus said the Father and I make two witnesses, so according to the Law that you so stand and believe, believe me now. Touche`

That was not enough. The Pharisees now asked where was His Father. They wanted to see the second witness who verified Jesus’ testimony. Jesus further condemned the Pharisees when He told them you do not know me or my Father which He had already stated in John 3. In John 3, Jesus said, “10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

They did not believe then; they do not believe now. Those who question Jesus’ testimony do so because they do not believe. If one believes, He knows that Jesus’ testimony is true. What about you? Do you believe Jesus’ testimony about Himself? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, God incarnate who died on the cross, so that those who believe in Him for the forgiveness of their sins can be considered righteous in the eyes of God averting the consequence of their sin? Are you one who is guilty of Jesus’ Testimony Being Questioned?

I am the Light of the World

May 30, 2014

In the post Who Is Jesus?, I shared with you that people were asking themselves and other Who Is Jesus? I believe that is the most important question in anyone’s life. Each person’s answer is the most important information he/she will ever have. We learned in John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them”. Correctly answering and acting on the question of Who is Jesus  determines whether God’s wrath remains on an individual. In John 6:29, Jesus affirms this when He said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Seemingly, the people wanted to know who Jesus was. There were differing opinions about who He was. Some said he was a good man, some said he deceives people, others said a prophet and still others said the Messiah. Jesus did (does) not allow the question to go unanswered. He, himself, told the people who He was. Jesus said, “I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” He also said “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7)

That reference was of particular importance and relevance for them as the celebration of the Festival of Tabernacle had just concluded. As a reminder, The Festival of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths was a celebration of God’s gracious provision for the Israelites in the wilderness and the completion of the year’s harvest. Exodus 16:35 tells us in the wilderness the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; This is the same manna Jesus contrasted Himself with when He said “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) InJohn 7:38, Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” This contrasted with God providing them water from a rock while in the wilderness on their way to take possession of the land He promised.

In John 8, Jesus draws on another parallel from the wilderness. When in the wilderness, we read in Exodus 13:21 “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.  In Jesus’ time, candles were used as part of the celebration of the Feast of Booths. During this feast, the rock that provided water in the wilderness and the pillar of fire that provided light and guidance were remembered. Now in John 8, Jesus said to the people I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”Jesus is saying the God who provided for you then is the same God who is before you now and will provide for you if you believe. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light”; therefore, Jesus’ proclamation are tantamount to a claim of being God. Remember Exodus 3:14, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Now, Jesus is making the same claim about being I AM.

Jesus said to the people I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Just as the Israelites had a cloud to lead them by day and a pillar of fire to lead them by night, Jesus says in Him is the light of life. He will lead your life just as God lead the Israelites to the Promise Land. Jesus is our promise. Ephesians 3:6 says, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” I John 2:24-25 tells us “24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

Jesus I am the light of the world” those who follow Him will have the light of life. Are you following Jesus? Are you consistently reading and applying His Word in your life? Is Jesus the boss of you? Walk into the light.

 

 

 

Who Is Jesus?

May 28, 2014

Since Jesus arrived on the scene as God incarnate, people have been asking Who is Jesus?One person answers that question one way while another says something else about who Jesus is. Still, another will have a different answer. All of us has an opinion about Who is Jesus? One cannot be confronted with The Lord and not face that question. Neither can one attempt to abstain or remain neutral. To not answer Who is Jesus is a denial to who He is.

In our text, John 7, today, Who is Jesus was the topic de jour. Let’s see.

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. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

46 No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.

47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”

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?”

52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

In verses 40 and 41, we see people at that time in that place had differing opinions about Who is Jesus. Prophet and Messiah were the two responses to the question. Out of all the titles the people could have selected, the text tells us that Prophet and Messiah were chosen. Back in verse 14, we are told that this scene unfolds in the temple where Jesus went to teach. Jesus had already provided the answer to the question of Who is Jesus. Furthermore, In verse 16, Jesus tells them that His teaching is from God who sent Him. In saying so, Jesus declares to be God’s prophet. A true prophet served as the mouth piece of God. A prophet told people what God had  given him to say. This was Jesus’ declaration, and His actions aligned with that declaration. In verses 28-29, Jesus again claims to be from God and is the Messiah whom God had promised.

Throughout this text, the ignorance of the people surfaced despite Jesus telling them plainly Who is Jesus – that is who He was and why He came. They made more of where Jesus was from on earth than from where Jesus says He was from truly – God in heaven. By the time of verse 40, some had concluded that Jesus was a Prophet. Some concluded that He was the Messiah. Others had not concluded anything. Verse 43 states that “the people were divided because of Jesus.” Jesus affirms His position in dividing men over choosing Him or not in Matthew 10:34-36. Jesus says one must choose his response to Who is Jesus.

The question is still being debated today. By reading this post, I want you to answer the question that surfaced and will continue to surface. It surfaced again among the people and with The 12. In Matthew 16, Jesus asks The 12 Who do you say I am?

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

In response to Who is Jesus, Peter says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus finalizes Peter’s response while definitively proclaiming the truth about Who is Jesus. Jesus tells Peter that no man revealed that to him, but it was revealed to him by His (my) Father in heaven. This is just as Jesus said in John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

The question remains the same Who is Jesus. In fact, Jesus asks Who do you say I am?Do you believe that Jesus is Prophet, Messiah, and Son of the Living God? Your conclusion means everything. If you aren’t sure, ask God to reveal it to you or are you like those in John 7 who were really not interested in following Jesus in truth.

 

Memorial Day

May 26, 2014

According to History.com, Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

Memorial is defined as something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, etc., as a monument or a holiday. The concept is not new. God The Father directed the Israelites on many occasions to preserve the memory of what He did for His people. Whether coming out of Egypt to coming into the Promised Land or the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ body for His burial, God directed His people to establish a Memorial Day for a variety of His acts. God did so for the same reason any one establishes a memorial – to remember. 

As I sat in church during Communion, Elder Carter presented this idea of paralleling Memorial Day to God’s directive and expectation that we remember the suffering and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for man. God expects us to remember Him – to remember what He has done for us. The greatest of which is sending His Son Jesus, God incarnate, as ransom for the souls of man. In regards to Communion, Jesus established it at The Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11)

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

What is more important than us remembering what God has done for us God declaring that I will remember my covenant between me and you. Covenants almost always involved eating. This is the significance of the Last Supper as well as Communion. We are to eat of Jesus’, the Bread of Life, and drink His blood to remember who He is and what He did to fulfill God’s covenant with man. God’s promises are essential and tantamount to His covenant.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:20-2220 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” The focus is God’s faithfulness to Himself and to His promises. As a consequence, those who are of the body of Christ can expect God to be faithful to fulfill His promises.

Like those of old, we should establish memorials of God’s faithfulness to His covenant/promises in our lives. If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, that is God’s proof that He remembers His covenant. God’s goal and promise was to create a people for Himself. After the Father drew me to Jesus, God gave me the faith to believe that Jesus is not only His Son but Savior.  As a result, I believed. My life is supposed to be consumed with having a Memorial Day daily for His faithfulness.

In my recent trail in life, God reiterated His promise and faithfulness to me in Psalms 107:1-2

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

I fully expect to be able to proclaim to you or tell my story of God’s redemption not only for my soul but from trials where I have the opportunity to exercise my faith in Christ and thus God’s faithfulness to His covenant in my life. Hallelujah. I thank God for the sacrifices and sufferings of my Lord and Savior for in them I have my life and being. I have hope in the midst of any story. Happy Memorial Day.

What Are You Thinking?

May 25, 2014

In the post What Are You Teaching?, I asked you to examine if you were sharing about God what Jesus and His followers documented through His Word. Today, I am asking you What Are You Thinking? Actually, one could state that thinking should have proceeded teaching because we are a function of what we think. If we repeatedly think something without an alternative view, we will say and do what we have been thinking. It is in the correct teaching that the alternative view can be provided to correct us.

In John 7, the Jews were divided in answering What Are You Thinking? about Jesus. The text below shows us that some said “He is a good man” while others said “No, he deceives people”. Let me say this now. What Are You Thinking? about Jesus will ultimately determine whether you will spend eternity with God or away from God. Jesus taught the truth, so the correct view could be obtained. What did Jesus teach? In short, we are told in What Are You Teaching?. The cliffnote response is that Jesus taught that He was God and was sent from God to atone for man’s sins. In doing so, Christ offers man the opportunity to be forgiven of his sins which enables man to be in union with God. That is to have a relationship with God where man experiences God as God intended before sin entered the world with Adam and Eve.

Here is this text though, the people primarily did not have the most honoring and positive thoughts about Jesus. We can surmise that from the text and what Jesus spoke about.

11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” 20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

Jesus answered their expressed question and their implied purpose. They did not want to know the truth because their goal was not to do the will of God, but their very own. Jesus puts it bluntly when He said, “Why are you trying to kill me?” Does that not reveal What Are You Thinking? about Jesus. They were trying to kill Jesus because He was a threat to their position and limited power the Romans gave them.

In essence, Jesus is saying that we can assess What Are You Thinking? about Jesus by your actions. If one chooses to do the will of God, they will find out that Jesus came from God teaching what God directed. On the contrary, those who choose not to pursue Christ evidences what they think about Jesus. It comes down to how you pursue life. If you are pursuing life for yourself, Jesus conveyed that you are living a lie. You are not living life as God intended; however, if you are pursuing life to glorify God, Jesus conveys that you are a man/woman of truth.

Which are you? A person of truth or a person of lies. You can tell us whatever you want, but Jesus says you reveal What Are You Thinking? by your actions. Examine yourself. Where are you, pursuing self or pursuing the Savior?

What Are You Teaching?

May 24, 2014

A number of years ago, I heard one of my favorite Atlanta Falcons speak. His name is Wallace Francis. As a native Atlantan and avid Falcons fan, I was delighted to hear him speak, but he did not speak about being a football player or athlete. He spoke about being a follower of Jesus Christ. On that day, he said something that has resonated with me for all these years. He said, “Let your life speak, love demonstrate and your lips testify.”

Now in our text, John 7, today, Jesus responds to the question, What Are You Teaching? The Jews asked that question among themselves about how Jesus had such teaching without having been taught Himself. Their view of Jesus was completely wrong. They saw Him as simply a man. While He was a man, He was also God incarnate. They did not recognize that He was God, so Jesus responded to their personal inquiry about how He was so learned.

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” 16 Jesus answered, My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

In response to Jesus, the people asked themselves What Are You Teaching? Jesus plainly told the Jews gathered there that His teaching was not His own. His teaching came from the one who sent him. Remember what Jesus told them in John 6, John 5, and John 4 about who sent Him. If not, here is the text:

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

John 5:19-21; 43 says, “19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it...43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.

John 4 says, “22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

What Are You Teaching? Jesus message was consistent. He came from the Father to do what the Father had commanded or directed Him to do. As a consequence, all that Jesus taught were things that the Father told Him to teach. What about us? What does our life teach? What does our love teach? What does our lips teach? I hope the answer to those question is all that Jesus taught. If not, we must repent of our sins; confess them to God to receive forgiveness and start anew ensuring that Jesus’ teaching are evidenced in our life, our love and our lips. What Are You Teaching?

Who Directs Your Time?

May 23, 2014

In life, timing is very crucial. In fact, some say it’s everything. I am not sure about that, but I know that there is a time for everything. King Solomon conveys that in Ecclesiastes 3. The question is Who Directs Your Time? Listen to what Solomon said.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Who Directs Your Time? God’s wisdom provides direction in the timing of what we should think, see, say and/or do. Despite that, people will always attempt to get you to follow a schedule of their own timing, but Solomon instructs us that “There is a time for everything”.

In John 7, the Lord Jesus even faces the question of Who Directs Your Time? Jesus has to decide to respond to man’s timing or God’s timing. In this case, the pull is even greater because His own brothers, not the 12, wanted Him to reveal Himself to the world.

John 7

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want 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.

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 going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”

12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”

Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

As a point of reference, The Festival of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths was a celebration of God’s gracious provision for the Israelites in the wilderness and the completion of the year’s harvest. The Festival started on the 15th day of the seventh month and lasted for seven days. It is important to note that this festival followed the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. All Israelites were to live in temporary shelters (booths) for seven days. This was to commemorate that how God had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. God wanted the people and their descendants to know how He brought them out of Egypt and that He is the Lord their God.

Who Directs Your Time? It was at the inception of the Festival of Tabernacles that Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to come out in public proclaiming His message and make His ministry public to all, but Jesus told them His time had not yet come. This is reminiscent of John 2 when Jesus’ mother wanted Him to do something when the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana. Jesus’ brothers were there too. Verse 14 tells us that halfway through the festival, Jesus began to teach. Jesus did not perform a miracle. He taught just as God instituted the Festival of Tabernacle was established to teach the people how God brought their descendants out of Egypt and that He is the Lord their God.

Who Directs Your Time? God wants you to know that He desires to control your time as well as when and what you convey to people about who He is to you. He wants you to share that He is the Lord your God. This is what Jesus taught. If you call yourself a Christian, then you must do as Jesus did. Submit to God’s timing and submit to God’s plan of having you proclaim that He is the Lord and Savior. Will you allow the agenda of people or the agenda of God to direct your time? God’s expecting you to serve Him. Serve Him.

Chosen and Redeemed for Praise

May 20, 2014

As I was preparing to post a follow-up to I Am the Bread of Life, something in me caused me to think about the creator and the created. As I began to search those verses, I ran across Isaiah 43. Specifically, I read verses six and seven which says, we are Chosen and Redeemed for Praise.

I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

I was drawn to created and creator from reading John 6 where Jesus was responding to the fringe disciples who had walked away from Him when He preached that followers needed to feed on His flesh as the bread of life. Jesus said, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” He asked The 12 if they wanted to leave too. Peter responded by saying “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus told them that He had chosen them. Chosen and Redeemed for Praise. That’s what intrigued me. It caused me to ask why had God chosen me. Of course, I already knew the answer when I asked, but it was to make me rethink John 15:16 which says, “16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. ” Jesus knew whom He had chosen then and He knows now.

As I searched the scriptures, Isaiah 43 surfaced in terms whom He called. God says that those who are called by His name He created for His glory. Since I am utterly convinced that God called me unto salvation through Jesus Christ, it tells me that God created me, formed me and made me for His glory. Later in Isaiah 43:21, we see God says that I formed the people for myself that they may proclaim my praise. They are Chosen and Redeemed for Praise.

Praise. Now, I understand the first two verses of Isaiah 43 a little better.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

He redeemed me or served as a ransom for me to have me praise Him. He will cause me to stand in the strong currents of life and the fires of life to have me praise Him. He confirms this in Psalms 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,” God wants devotion and praise as we see in Daniel 3. God can save, but if He does not, He still wants our praise and worship. He is deserving of it. After all, we are Chosen and Redeemed for Praise.

 

I Am the Bread of Life

May 19, 2014

One thing that we learn in John 6 is that Jesus hears our thoughts and provides clarification. Once again, the text immediately below is the second response to the people who had asked for a sign that Jesus was from God, that Jesus was God. Jesus had told them not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

Over and over in that passage, Jesus explains that is he “true bread from heaven, or the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” The people wanted a sign similar to the manna which their ancestors received from God. Jesus tells them to focus on that which will last for eternity not that which is their next meal. He says, “I am the bread of life.

I hear God telling me to make sure that I focus on that which will last for eternity. In verse 27, Jesus says work for food that enduresto eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. Jesus will give us the food that last for eternity. Later, Jesus says, “The work of God is this: to believein the one he has sent.” Jesus is in essence saying that He is the work. We must believe in Him and do what He says. That is the work of God.

Jesus further supports that notion when the people ask Jesus for the bread that will cause them to never hunger again.

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.

Jesus tells them I am the bread of life.

Further in the text, Jesus reiterates who He is

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Jesus uses one of His favorite teaching tools, compare/contrast, to enlighten those whom He has entered into discourse. They were focusing on temporary things such as food (manna) to eat physically. He was focused on eternal things such as food they would eat eternally – Himself. Jesus proclaimed to them and to us that He should be our pursuit not money, food, a house, and other things such as retirement (my focus). God wants to be our focus. If we claim to know Him, He will remove those things that rival His place as focus of our lives.

Jesus says the bread is His flesh which He gave for the life of the world. Jesus is telling me I am the bread of life. What is He telling you? If we want life, we must desire Jesus and him crucified. This is exactly what Paul model for us in 1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

 

God Hears, Delivers and Redeems

May 17, 2014

There are times in our lives when life experiences discourage us. There are times when we walk through the valley seemingly alone. There are days when the dark clouds blot out the light of day. There are days when the load feels too heavy to shoulder. While those are realities in our lives, they are not truths. God is the remedy for them all. I heard the Spirit say God Hears, Delivers and Redeems. As I sat here with my wife this morning, reading Genesis 15:1, I knew that I had to post that verse and the cross references that align to that directive from God. Here is 15:1

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
    I am your shield,
    your very great reward.”

Before I share the other verses with you, let’s consider the directive from God. Do not be afraid. Whatever you are facing in your life, whether financial, illness, relational, death of a loved one or any uncertainty, God has said “Do not be afraid”. Why has He told us to not be afraid? In Genesis 15:1, God says we do not have to be afraid because I AM your shield and our very great reward. A shield protects. God is saying here that He is our protector, your defense. In terms of reward, God was telling Abram not to worry about earthly riches or possessions. God was saying to him that I AM  your reward which can never be taken away from you. You may lose riches, health, relationships and loved ones, but you never have to be uncertain about losing God if you have given yourself to Him through Christ Jesus. Remember, God Hears, Delivers and Redeems.

Now, here are the other verses where God tells us to not be afraid but to trust Him. All are NIV

Genesis 21:17

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.

Genesis 26:24

24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”

Genesis 46:3

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.

Exodus 14:13

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.

Exodus 20:20

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

2 Kings 6:16

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

2 Chronicles 20:15

15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

2 Chronicles 20:17

17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

Psalm 27:1

Of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 7:4

Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.

Isaiah 41:10

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:13-14

13 For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
    little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 43:1

43 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Isaiah 43:5

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.

Jeremiah 1:8

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Haggai 2:5

‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’

In your trouble, you may feel alone. Remember, God Hears, Delivers and Redeems. God wanted me to reflect over the time when I first graduated from college. I turned down a job with Edward Jones because I thought God wanted me to work with Campus Outreach. As it turned out, He did not. He had a different plan. He used that year to align the circumstances that would be just right when He told me to become a teacher. At first, I was hurt and felt abandoned by God. This is what He told me to tell you. God   did not leave me; He led me. Hallelujah. If you feel God has left you, He promises never to leave nor forsake us. Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Do not be afraid for God Hears, Delivers and Redeems.