November 10, 2019

October 27, 2019 Do Whatever He Says, and Understand Later

 John 2:1-11

The mother of Jesus, Jesus and His disciples went to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. This wedding probably took months to prepare. Unfortunately not enough preparation was done and the wine runs out at the wedding. Mary asks Jesus to do something about this embarrassing predicament. Jesus responds to his mother that He has nothing to do with the wine. Still, Mary goes to the servants and tells them to do whatever her son tells them.  

Jesus tells the servants to fill six large ceremonial jugs with water. Then Jesus turns the water into wine, and not just any wine but the finest wine ever tasted. 

The main reason Jesus came to the wedding was to show His role in the world. Jesus illustrates this fact through the Revelation's wedding super of the Lamb. Jesus came to be the light of life. This earthly wedding is to symbolize the heavenly wedding banquet. 

Mary telling the servants to follow Jesus instructions is an example for us. Jesus is our Lord and we are to listen without questioning or understanding what Jesus tells us. 

 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."
Revelation 19:7-9 ESV

Jesus made wine to show the abundance of life and blessing that will be experienced during the wedding supper.  We need to be excited in anticipation of the great banquet which comes when Jesus returns. Without the anticipation of the banquet, we become complacent and dull.

Jesus foreshadows the last banquet and He prepares us. Anyone who goes to a wedding wears fine clothes and prepares gifts.

it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
Revelation 19:8 ESV

Jesus reveals himself as the light of men to show them what they need but do not know how to get what they cannot get. Jesus shows us how to get the eternal life that we desperately need. Jesus does this by giving instructions which they cannot understand. Jesus only expected them to follow the instructions and not to understand.

Some of the things the Lord asks us to do is beyond our understanding. Our main role is to commit to whatever he tells us even when we do not understand. He must commit even if it is painful or beyond our ability. The only thing to get into the banquet is to be committed to what Jesus us instructs us to do.

Jesus knew the end from the beginning. This is why Jesus did not taste the wine until all six jugs were filled. Jesus knew the end result. We can be confident that Jesus know what He asks us to do. Jesus knows the end of our lives from the beginning. For this reason we can put our trust in Him. Nothing happens by coincidence when Jesus is involved. We can trust Jesus and find courage. 

 Jesus also knows and has the means to get us to the end. It may seem illogical at times, but Jesus just wants us to have faith so we can do His works. For us that are growing into the Son ship of God, we have opportunities to put our faith in action. 

 We can put our trust in Him because He has put in place supporting aid to help us through. Mary was there to tell the servants to follow Jesus. Mary appears to be an insignificant woman, but God used her. God can use insignificant aids and people to show us what to do. Mary had had a personal revelation of who Jesus was.  Let us do the same through our testimony and obedience to Jesus.

November 10, 2019 The Condition of Experiencing Dominion of God

John 3:1-8 

We read in John 3 that Nicodemus goes to Jesus at night with a crucial question. Probably Nicodemus asked Jesus how one could see the Kingdom of God. Jesus gives an answer that we all know, but maybe it is one we still struggle to understand. We need to know a little about Nicodemus before we can start to study Jesus’ answer to his question.

We know from the Bible that Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a ruler. He was also a teacher of the law. 

Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 
John 3:10 ESV 

The Pharisees were holders of the law. The Bible tells us that the Pharisees were given the responsibility to keep the law. They committed themselves to keeping God's law. God gave 10 commandments, but the Pharisees expanded this to 613 commandments. The Mishnah was 840 pages long and detailed the laws. Not all rabbis were teachers of the law. Rabbis had to study and master these laws before they could be become teachers of the law. They were very much respected and were people who did things openly.

It seems a bit odd that Nicodemus went a night and not during the day: however, we do know that at this time the Pharisees had not accepted Jesus. This is probably why Nicodemus came at night, so that it would not be publicly seen. He and some other Pharisees could see that there was something special about Jesus. Nicodemus addresses Jesus as a Rabbi or a teacher from God (John 3:2). This verse tell us that Nicodemus along with others observed Jesus as someone from God. We know in John 2 after Jesus clears the temple, Jesus does many great things and wonders.  

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 
John 2:23 ESV 

Nicodemus saw something different in Jesus and wanted to ask Jesus questions, especially concerning the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells Nicodemus that to see the Kingdom of Heaven you need to be born again. This answer is not what Nicodemus had expected and goes against the Pharisees' beliefs about following the law.  

The Lord tells Nicodemus that one must be born anew to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The language used means to enter the sphere of God's reign and the dominion of God's ruling. Jesus explains that one needs to get help from above. In fact, in John 1, we read about Jesus' purpose on Earth. 

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 
John 1:11-13 ESV 

Jesus tells Nicodemus that it is not our actions to bring us into Heaven, but rather our willingness to be born anew from Heaven. Nicodemus could not accept this, but many of us have. However, even those who accept rebirth still ask how we can enter heaven. By accepting the rebirth we allow God to control of our lives. We have to let go of our old lives, traditions and beliefs. Often times we rejoice that God has forgiven our sins and accepted us, but we refuse to allow His dominion over our lives. We do not know Him as our Lord. We have to sacrifice our self all the time and allow God full control. 

Those of us who are reborn also need to be led and moved by the Spirit. The Spirit is like the wind which moves objects, but no one knows where it comes from or where it goes. We do not know what our future holds, but we can trust the Spirit of God will move us in  

Jesus warns us that we cannot earn our salvation. Paul tells us the same in Romans. 

as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." 
Romans 3:10-12 ESV 

We need to learn to live and be governed by the Holy Spirit. The sooner we submit to God and surrender to the fact that we always fall short, the sooner God can use us. We need to stop striving to enter Heaven on our own. Let Jesus' spirit shape us to develop a Kingdom culture. 

These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. 
1 Corinthians 2:10-16 ESV 

Although we have been born from heaven, we still need to allow the spirit of God to move us. 

November 3, 2019

November 03, 2019 Jesus, the Only Hope for Humanity

 John 2:13-23

 One of the memories of the Israelites regarding their travels to the Promised Land is the Passover. Moses goes before Pharaoh to say that God wants the children of Israel to leave Egypt to the Promised Land and to serve their God. To commemorate this event God gave the Passover holiday. 

 Similar to the Israelites who had been passed over by the Angel of death, each one of us has been called to eternal life, so we can escape eternal death. Also we may serve our God and worship Him. As Christians we need to be conscious of the eternal life ahead of us and our purpose to serve God. These two goals need to be steering our lives.

The night of the Passover was a paradigm shift of life and death as well as serving God. God took on the responsibility to redeem His people. God knew that in order for the Israelites to live in the Promised Land, they had to serve God. God gave the Passover event to remind the Israelites of who God was and what God had done to deliver the Israelites from Egypt.

God gave several different events to the Israelites to help remind them about God's promises and to draw them closer to God. God asks the Israelites to repeatedly honour these events so that the Israelites would be close to God. 

 Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 12:28 ESV

When Jesus comes to Jerusalem to observe God’s instituted celebrations, He finds that they have been corrupted. Instead of ceremonies which would remind and strengthen the Jews until they reach Heaven, money and greed had replaced God's ceremony.

 Money traders came into the temples because Jews from all over the known world came to celebrate. The Jews had been told to bring something to worship God, but there were those who took advantage of this. In fact, the animal market had been brought to the temple to sell sacrifice. The merchants selling the animals would haggle prices and exchange currencies to make profit over worshiping God. Jesus could not take this trade where some wanted a bargain while others wanted to make profit.

Traditionally for seven days people needed to purify themselves. As part of the purification, God commanded the Israelites to eat unleavened food for seven days. The Israelites needed time to get back to God and remove all leavened products from their homes and bodies. What was in the temple was not purification but rather defilement. There were many people who wanted to worship God and experience God's mercy; however, there were many others who wanted to benefit themselves with earthly desires. Sadly the priests were not doing their job to protect the people from defilers. 

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
John 2:23 ESV

 After Jesus came into the temple and cleaned out the defilers, people saw the miracles which came with Jesus. Just like the miracles witnessed during the Israelites leaving Egypt, so Jesus did. Jesus is the new Passover.

Like the Israelites who yearned to go the Promised Land, we Christians have not yet come to Heaven. We need to celebrate the Sabbath, Bible Studies, Christian holidays and other God appointed times. We need to purposely put value on these times or else they become rituals.

 Jesus walked into the temple and brought hope. As we struggle to know Jesus and serve Him, Jesus will help us and never leave us. As we walk with Jesus, let us reflect on our walk with Jesus with intention. Seek to do what Jesus tells us and do it the way Jesus wants us to do.

October 21, 2019

October 20, 2019 A Willing Heart, the Key to Experiencing Life Giving Light

Following God is active and willful obedience. There needs to be a willingness to choose to follow God's instructions. The Lord will guides us and instructs us, but we need to listen and follow God's instructions if we are to experience the full benefits from the Lord. 

In John 1:9-18, we read about the true light. This light of God which is in us, shows us the truth, and we must accept the truth as difficult as this can be to accept. By acknowledging, confessing, and repenting our sins, we can experience the abundance of life. 

We also read in John 1 that the light of life shines on every man in the world (John 1:9-10). 

When Jesus came into the world, He revealed himself and the Father to the world. People were drawn to this light which is the light of life. Later, the disciples of Jesus went out into the world and spread what the Light had done. This continues now even in our generation.  Jesus has made God known to every human being. 

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 
John 1:9-10 ESV 

This is the function of the light. The light has been given to everyone so we would know objectively who we are and also know the Father. 

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. 
John 1:18 ESV 

Although the most of the Jews did not accept him, there were others who did accept Jesus. It is only a willing heart that can accept the light. The light was given to everyone, but you must have a receptive heart to receive it. 

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 
John 1:11-12 ESV 

In the end, we have to choose. It is only by our willingness to choose to follow God that we can truly show our dedication and love for God. God has given people the freedom to choose. People have no excuse for making good or bad choices. They chose to follow or not to follow God. Often times when we fail in righteousness, so we look for excuses. The truth is that God has given us everything to make the right choices. We just need to be willing. 

The Light of Life operates in coordination with the willingness of our hearts (John 1:11-13). 

These days the church is everywhere. There are very few people who have not heard about Jesus or the church. People know when they have done wrong. We feel guilty when we do immoral acts. Even in a world of improbity, we know what proper behavior is. Moreover, the Lord reveals himself to us at a personal level. 

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." 
John 3:19-21 ESV 

There are those people who seem good and keep busy with good works. Yet, these people who may seem good actually like the darkness. They do not want people to see, or for themselves to see how weak and awful they are. These people are content in living in the darkness. These same people see themselves as righteous although they are not. 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 
John 1:12-13 ESV 

The people who are willing to believe in Jesus will be given the life that was lost at the fall of man. The truth about who we are is that we have been born according to the will of God. We are not made but born. We know that no one is born fully mature. We grow and it takes time. 

John tells us that the light shines on everyone, but it is only when we accept that life that it lets us grow. There still needs to be a willingness to let the light work in us. Growth and development takes time and is not a linear as we would like. We will make mistakes and sometimes lose growth. 

Imperfection does not equate to abnormality. The day to day failures we experience is an opportunity for us to work on the willingness of our heart. When we are shown when we have sinned, it is the light of God showing us that we need to return to God. This revelation of weakness shows a healthy relationship and can lead to growth. 

God wants us to make good choices, but He will not do it for us. Memorizing the scriptures and knowing God is meaningless unless we are willing to allow God to work in us. To experience growth requires our willingness. It must be a total willingness. In fact, we fall sometimes because of our compromises. If we keep resisting, we will not grow.  

Some of us have locked ourselves in a state of stagnation because we are not willing to listen to God. Whatever we are struggling with, we need to ask how our heart is responding to this. Let the light of life shine on our hearts so we may choose growth in righteousness.

October 13, 2019

October 13, 2019 You Have the Light Giver; You Have Life

John 1:1-9 

There are four views of the gospel, but there is only one Gospel. The good news is Jesus Christ who was in the beginning. Also, there are two other identities of Jesus which are light and life. 

The book of John's first chapter is an introduction or summary of the Gospel. John introduces the God who always existed and created everything. 

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
John 1:4-5 ESV 

When John talks about life he means that the Word was personified and carried life because the Word was life. Because the Word was life, it was able to transmit life through creation. Jesus existed by himself and was a life by itself which is beyond explanation of His origin. In other words, he was self-contained. Many Christians debated whether or not Jesus was subordinate to God, but John made it clear that Jesus was the same essence of God and was a life giver. 

Science tells us that there is a causal relationship with all things. Something is created by something. Aristotle, the renowned philosopher, studied the behavior of nature and the study of creation. He looked back at nature and realized causal effects are found in all nature. Everything has been caused by something. Aristotle could not go far back enough to show the original cause of all things, so he looked to the heavens. The “unmovable mover” caused everything to go into motion and therefore was the origin of creation.  

Jesus was a self-existing god and did not require creation to define Him. Jesus existed before creation and was still God. Jesus is no mere teacher or deity. Jesus does not need us but rather we need God. Jesus remains to be God whether we acknowledge Him or not. 

Since Jesus is a self-existing god, He can also be a life giver. John goes back to Genesis to the beginning; however, John also wants us to focus on the creation of man. 

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 
Genesis 2:7 ESV 

We read in Genesis that God created all animals but it is only man that it is mentioned that God breathed in the breath of life to man.   

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." 
Genesis 2:16-17 ESV 

The breath of life is the eternal life of God. That was the death that Adam and Eve experienced. God intended all men to have this life. Jesus came to us in physical form to bring back the breath of life. 

The light of men is another quality of Jesus. John declares that Jesus is the light of men. This light acts as the power to allow men to love God and to access eternity. 

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 
John 1:9-10 ESV 

 John is not just talking about the difference of darkness and light, but is about the spiritual illumination which shows us the need of God and a savior. Jesus comes into our human world so that men can see what they are lacking. 

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 
Genesis 1:2-3 ESV 

Later John makes it clear that God choses us when he quotes Jesus. God is working in us when that light illuminates our failings and we draw closer to God to be sustained in love and saved. The light is not to harm us  

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 
John 6:44 ESV 

Let us draw to that light so that we may repent of our sins and become closer to God.