Friday, 8 January 2016
OUR CAUSE AND EFFECT REALITY
ISAIAH 64:6 -- All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and LIKE THE WIND OUR SINS SWEEP US AWAY.
I apologize for not including the entire passage of Isaiah 64 because it provides a context for this passage. In this passage the prophet Isaiah states that he sees that no one, and I think he means all of mankind, not one person really wants anything to do with the LORD. Consequently, the LORD's face is hidden from us. I have to ask myself whether or not this is because the LORD refuses to look at us-or because WE REFUSE TO LOOK AT HIM. We see ourselves as the captains of our own ships, echoing the writer of the poem Invictus. Now here's the thing: OUR SHIPS ARE SINKING!
We make choices every day, every moment; and these choices become habitual; they become habits or way of life; and that determines our characters, which ultimately determines our destinies. Or to put it another way, we set off events which set off other events; and before you know it, we aren't in control of events-THEY CONTROL US-WE ARE SWEPT AWAY BY OUR SINS.
And you might want to think about the ultimate destination. John 3:16, from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), describes the situation this way:
--"For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, INSTEAD OF BEING UTTERLY DESTROYED.
But here's the deal: GOD promised to take care of this for us, if we let Him. Just at the right time, GOD THE FATHER sent GOD THE SON to die for our sins; just when all events are about to come together in our destruction, JESUS is there to take all of the ultimate consequences for us. And then He cleanses our dead and dying inner being with His blood and we are able to seek the face of GOD, the One who gave us life and maintains it. SELAH
Posted on 01/08/2016 10:26 AM by Larry G
Friday, 8 January 2016
Praying in the Name of Jesus
12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
(following excerpts from BibleTrack.org)
Verses 12-14 have often been abused by well-meaning Believers who want to get things moving. Let's not beat around the bush on this one. They had seen Jesus perform some awesome miracles during the previous three-plus years of ministry. So...when Jesus says in verse 12, "I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father," what do you think Jesus intends to convey? I don't think we need to try to explain away this statement; we simply need to add the formula found in verses 13-14 - the "in my name" formula.
It is common to append the words "in my name" to the end of our prayers. That appendage doesn't make it so. "In my name" absolutely means "under the authorization of." Here's an example: When I was in college, I worked full-time in a bank and eventually became a lending officer/assistant branch manager. As such, I was authorized by the bank under very strict circumstances to sign cashier's checks - sometimes very large. I had NO authority whatsoever to indiscriminately write checks - ONLY when the bank's criteria for doing so was met, and I was authorized by the bank to do so. THAT'S WHAT "IN MY NAME" MEANS!
I am convinced that God still performs miracles today through Believers who are in tune with what God is authorizing IN HIS NAME. Here's the problem today: Many have been taught that there is something magical about the words "in Jesus' name." Armed with that misunderstanding, they claim frivolous things "in Jesus' name" only to be disappointed at their success track record...or lack thereof.
I John 5:14-15 (see notes) provides valuable insight into this issue of prayer where John writes, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." Praying "in Jesus' name" literally means praying "according to His will." When we pray "according to his will," he will always answer that prayer. Of course the key here is to pray "according to his will." How does one know he is doing that? The key to praying "according to His will" is found in James 1:5 (see notes), "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." You can pray with absolute assurance that you are praying "according to His will" when you first pray for wisdom. "Wisdom" in this context is knowing the will of God. After I have prayed for wisdom, I will be impressed by the Holy Spirit with a knowledge of the will of God; that's what wisdom is. Then, I can pray specifically and with confidence in exactly the way God has shown me to pray. Only then can I legitimately pray "in Jesus' name."
Posted on 01/08/2016 10:17 AM by Larry G
Thursday, 7 January 2016
Jesus prepares his disciples for the crucifixion (John 14)
(Following taken from BibleTrack.org)
Jesus has talked a great deal about the Kingdom on earth through his ministry. That Kingdom is the one prophesied by the Old Testament prophets foretelling the reign of the Messiah over the entire earth. Jesus is that Messiah, but in accordance with the prophets, the Messiah must suffer and be crucified first. The discourse of Jesus in chapters 14-16 takes place after the Passover supper the night before Jesus is crucified. Jesus goes into great detail giving perspective to the disciples on what to expect.
The way, the truth and the life (John 14:1-6)
|1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
4 And where I go you know, and the way you know."
5 ¶ Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"
6 ¶ Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
It's obvious at the beginning of John 14 that the disciples are on a different thinking track than Jesus. Their questions and comments indicate that they are thinking about an earthly kingdom while Jesus is NOW talking about a spiritual kingdom. As Jesus had preached to the Jewish masses for the three-plus years previous to this time, he had talked frequently about the earthly Messianic kingdom, but not here. The emphasis here has changed so as to equip them for the immediate future.
Jesus begins by talking about the house prepared for them in Heaven in verses 1-4. Verse 5 demonstrates that this talk of Heaven rather than an earthly rule was confusing to Thomas; he indicates that he does not quite understand when he says, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Verse 6 is your apologetics verse for proclaiming your position in Christ, "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." There's no need to argue or explain; just quote John 14:6. Someone may reply to you, "Don't you think that all religions are about the same if you're sincere?" Don't argue; just, once again, quote John 14:6. It explains itself, and these are the very words of Jesus. Someone may come back to you with a question like this, "Do you mean to tell me that everyone who doesn't believe in Jesus is going to Hell?" Don't argue; just quote, once again, John 14:6. That verse says it all.
Incidentally, the Greek word for "mansion" in verse 2 is "mone." It's only used twice in the New Testament - here and verse 23 where it is translated "home." Quite literally, it simply means "a place to stay." So, will our "place to stay" in Heaven be mansion-style nice? Need you ask?
You will also notice that in verse 3 Jesus indicates that he, at first, must go and prepare a place for his disciples after which he will come and receive them. This is undoubtedly a reference to the rapture of the church discussed by Paul in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (see notes) and I Corinthians 15:51-58 (see notes). The second coming of Jesus Christ takes place later when Jesus actually comes back to earth to establish the earthly rule about which Jesus had been speaking in earlier discourses
Posted on 01/07/2016 9:57 AM by Larry G
Wednesday, 6 January 2016
The Lord's supper instituted
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves;
18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
(excerpt from BibleTrack.org)
Here's where our ordinance began. All three synoptic gospels detail the event that followed their passover meal. However,only Luke includes the words of Jesus in verse 19, "...do this in remembrance of Me." Paul further adds support to the continual observance of communion by believers when he says in I Corinthians 11:26 "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."
Posted on 01/06/2016 9:33 AM by Larry G
Tuesday, 5 January 2016
Who's the greatest?
21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.
22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!"
23 ¶ Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.
24 ¶ Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.
25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors.'
26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.
27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
28 ¶ "But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials.
29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,
30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
(following taken from BibleTrack.org)
As the disciples are there talking about the identity of the betrayer, they wander into a discussion about who's the greatest among them. John doesn't record this discussion, but it is interesting that the foot-washing ceremony happens at the same sitting. It is logical to assume that Jesus' words, "you also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14) are spoken to emphasize the servant component rather than the leadership component of being one of Jesus' disciples.
One more aspect of this is interesting. John doesn't record the "who's the greatest" discussion, but he does record the foot washing which, I believe, is related. John also doesn't record another incident which took place some time back as was recorded in Matthew 20:20-28 and Mark 10:35-45 (see notes). On that occasion it was John himself and his brother, James, who sought some guarantees about their future place in the coming kingdom. They even used their mama as their agent on that occasion. Jesus used that occasion to emphasize "serving" as the essential quality of a disciple back then as well. Incidentally, on that occasion the other disciples were "greatly displeased with the two brothers."
This competition for ruling supremacy among the twelve had a basis in Jesus' previous teaching. Jesus said in Matthew 19:28 (see notes), "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." But wait! There's more. We see the New Jerusalem which is established in Revelation 21. Look at Revelation 21:14 (see notes), "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. " So, who gets to be the big man among the twelve? Well...Jesus...of course.
Posted on 01/05/2016 9:29 AM by Larry G
Monday, 4 January 2016
The Tell Tale marks of True Believers
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
(following excerpt taken from BibleTrack.org)
John 13:34-35 are foundational verses for several exhortations in the epistles regarding the attitude of Believers toward one another. Notice what Jesus says here on this subject, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Simply put, Believers are to be known by the fact that they demonstrate love toward other Believers.
Posted on 01/04/2016 9:13 AM by Larry G
Friday, 1 January 2016
AN UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE AND A SAD PROPHECY
11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry.
13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
14 In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." And His disciples heard it.
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,
44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
(taken from BibleTrack.Org)
â€¦Many teachers today have linked the fig tree here to Israel. Jesus causes the fig tree to wither because it did not bear figs. Likewise, many teach, that Jesus passes the same judgment on Israel because of their rejection of his Messiahship. To others, that may seem to be a significant overreaction to the incident. However, it should be pointed out that while Matthew and Mark are reporting the withering of the fig tree, Luke is reporting, within the same time frame, the Jesus citation concerning the blindness and rejection of the Messiah in Luke 19:42 (see above) as he prophesies over Jerusalem. Within this prophecy he pronounces the total destruction of the Temple, which took place later, in 70 A.D. While none of the Gospel writers make the linkage here, it is undeniable that the cursing of the fig tree took place at nearly the same time as the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem; perhaps they even took place within the same discourse. Well...maybe the fig tree incident is more than just a lesson on faith; you make the call. Incidentally, you see more when you read all the eyewitness accounts simultaneously, don't you?
Let's add one more piece of evidence to the fig tree incident here. Jesus had given a temporary reprieve to a fig tree in his parable of Luke 13:6-9 (see notes). In that parable Jesus seems to be comparing his appeal to Jerusalem with the nurturing of a fig tree. In that parable, if the fig tree did not bear fruit within the year, it was to be destroyed. Jesus specifically references "three years" in that parable, presumably the same length of time Jesus had been reaching out to Jerusalem. There are strong indications that the fig tree in Luke 13 is a metaphor for Jerusalem/Israel and that the "dresser" is Jesus. That consideration seems to add strength to the notion that the cursing of the fig tree here just prior to the crucifixion has linkage and significance; the year of Luke 13:8 is upâ€¦.
Posted on 01/01/2016 10:14 AM by Larry G