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|Posted on September 3, 2016 at 9:40 PM||comments (0)|
Session 2 – 1 Peter 1:22-25 – Be Holy – Day 5
1 Peter 1:22 (HCSB) By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.
Exactly what is the truth we are to obey? We are to adhere to everything that Jesus taught and lived. Didn’t He say that the Law and Prophets hinged on two main commands? Yes, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). I have a feeling that sounds easier than it really is. I remember that whole discussion Jesus had with Peter about who we are to consider our neighbors. Sounds like another one of those things requiring the Holy Spirit’s assistance.
How do we purify ourselves to be able to love fellow believers from a pure heart? In order to do what the Lord is telling us (through Peter) to do. Here are a couple of verses that may be of help:
Joshua 1:8 (ESV) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Knowing the word of God, meditating on it, and even memorizing, does help a person to be pure. Why do we purify ourselves? It is not just for ourselves that we need to be pure but for our brothers and sisters as well. We encourage one another that living a godly life is possible, worthwhile, and fruitful. Our lives impact the lives of others every day. We must live in a way that influences others toward purity rather than away from it.
Psalm 119:9-11 (VOICE) How can a young person remain pure?
Only by living according to Your word.
10 I have pursued You with my whole heart;
do not let me stray from Your commands.
11 Deep within me I have hidden Your word
so that I will never sin against You.
But reality is that we all sin even after we have surrendered our lives to Jesus because we live in a fallen world. So how do we purify ourselves? Our friend the Apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us:
1 John 1:9 (VOICE) But if we own up to our sins, God shows that He is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done.
Then we will be able to love one another from a pure heart “earnestly” also translated intently and fervently. This would be loving on purpose – choosing to love the other person. In other words, loving them even when they are not very loveable.
1 Peter 1:24 For All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like a flower of the grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.
And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.
Here Peter is quoting from Isaiah:
Isaiah 40:6-8 (HCSB) A voice was saying, “Cry out!” Another said, “What should I cry out?”
“All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the Lord blows on them;
indeed, the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flowers fade,
but the word of our God remains forever.”
In the same way that grass and flowers are temporary, so are our earth-suits we call flesh. The word of God is not like that. It lasts eternally. We should not base our hope, our lives, on the temporary things of this world because eventually they will all fade away like the beautiful, colorful bouquet eventually turns brown and dies. The only completely trustworthy person is the Lord Jesus, and the only infallible book is the word of God. The Gospel, the Good News, the BEST news is found in that word, the Bible.
Challenge: The epitome of Holy living is to love as Jesus loved. Challenge yourself to show His love to others this week – not just to people you like a lot but to people who need a dose of Jesus’ love even though they are not lovely. Unconditional love! Ask the Lord to enable you to love through the power of His Spirit within you.
|Posted on July 14, 2016 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
Out of This World
John 17:6 (ESV) “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Jesus came in part that we would have a better grasp of not just what God looks like but His character, personality, the core of Himself, who He is. Jesus revealed the true nature of God to those whom God had chosen out of the world, the elect. We were the Father’s treasured possession before we were the Son’s. God had chosen us from the foundation of the world before we were ever born to be His own children. Jesus had explained God’s purpose and will to His followers. Here Jesus was talking about the apostles, and they had obeyed what He had taught them about the Father. The main way the disciples had kept God’s word was by acceptance of the One He had sent, the Messiah, Jesus.
John 17:7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
As Jews, the disciples knew much about God the Father, but they did not know Him. The disciples did not know the truth about God before they began to follow Jesus, but now that they had heard and obeyed His words, they understood. Belief in what Jesus had said to them and trusting that His words were given to Him by the Father, was how the disciples had obeyed God’s words. Since the disciples were chosen by God, they were enabled to believe and trust, and in return surrendered their lives to Jesus’ control. Their obedience was evidence that they belonged to God and had trusted Him.
John 17:9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
Jesus, as our High Priest, was praying for believers, those chosen by God. He was not praying for every person in the world, only those whom God had chosen out of this world. He was praying for His “brothers and sisters,” the familyship of God. As you will see, the things Jesus was praying could only apply to those in intimate relationship with the Lord. The whole predestination vs. free will debate is very complex. The Bible clearly teaches that God chose us from the beginning of the world, but there are also verses the say we must believe in order to be saved. God chooses me so that I can choose Him. We will not try to take a side on that question here. Suffice it to say that God knows how He works our will to be in conformity with His. People have spent their entire doctoral thesis on this issue. I will not attempt to explain it in a brief study. I simply trust God that He knows.
John 17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
Those who belong to God belong also to Jesus and vice versa. This is because Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are ONE GOD. Jesus’ life glorified the Father on earth, and He prayed He would be glorified in His followers. Jesus is glorified when those that are His followers live as He lived, loving and doing for others. He wants the lives of His disciples to reveal His character and presence to the world. We bear this image of God to the world through our relationship with Christ.
Q – God has chosen a remnant of people out of this world to become a part of His eternal family. Jesus prayed that those who followed Him would exemplify His character to the world. If you are a believer, ask yourself whether or not you are glorifying Jesus in your words and actions. If you struggle in some area, confess it and ask the Lord to cleanse and change you (1 John 1:9). Remember you are “Out of This World” even though you are still on this planet.
|Posted on July 8, 2016 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
Ask and You Will Receive
John 16:21 (ESV) When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.
When a mother is in labor, she is in pain and misery – some of the worst pain known – but when the prize of the baby is in her arms, she remembers that no more. The disciples were about to enter the birthing pangs of the church of Jesus Christ – His excruciating death and the fear their fate will be the same. But Jesus was telling them the pain would be followed by inexpressible joy.
John 16:22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
The eleven apostles Jesus addressed were already sorrowful because He had told them He was going back to the Father. Jesus told them He would return and see them again. Can you imagine any greater joy than to see the resurrected Jesus? The fantastic joy they would experience would remain with them permanently due to the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Believers can never be separated from the Lord because of His Spirit within them.
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The sorrow of separation from Jesus would be short-lived for the apostles. We can know that as believers nothing and no one can take God’s presence from us.
John 16:23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
After the Holy Spirit would come upon the disciples at Pentecost, they would no longer ask Jesus anything directly. His name, and asking the Father in His name, would become of paramount importance. What does it mean to ask “in Jesus’ name?” To ask in His name is to pray in accordance with His will, His heart, and with God’s intention at work. We know what God’s intention is by reading His word. The Bible is God’s will and testament. It is important that what we ask would not denigrate the character of Jesus, would not shame His name.
Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
After Christ’s obedience during His sojourn on earth, the Father elevated Jesus’ name to have ultimate power and authority. We do not see every knee bowing and every tongue confessing at this moment in history; but as far as God is concerned, the future is a “done deal.” But the time will come, and (I believe) is soon at hand when all men will have no choice but to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.
John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Until that time, the disciples had been able to ask Jesus anything face to face. After He ascended to the Father, they would need to ask the Father in the name of the Son. When we ask in Jesus’ name, in accordance with His will, we can be certain there is power and authority behind His name which was granted by the Father. Jesus desires us to have joy. When we pray for anything that brings glory to God, He will answer that prayer. Being in the center of God’s will is the most joyful place on this earth.
Q – Do you understand the meaning of praying “in Jesus’ name?” Before you ask something of God, do you evaluate whether it is in keeping with the character and will of Jesus? When you ask in this way, your prayers will be answered, and you will have lasting joy.
|Posted on July 5, 2016 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy
John 16:16 (ESV) “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”
Soon Jesus would die on the cross and be resurrected to life again, but then after 40 days, He would ascend to the Father. The disciples would have to wait until the Feast of Pentecost to “see” Jesus once more. After Jesus ascended to the Father, the disciples would see Jesus through the activity of the Holy Spirit. This is how we see Jesus today, by recognizing the working of the Spirit in the lives of believers. As the beautiful old hymn says, “Let others see Jesus in you…”
John 16:17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”
The disciples did not have a clue what Jesus was talking about or what was going on. They may have felt “a little while” was a bit vague. How long would they be without Him? How could He be with them if He had gone to the Father who obviously was in Heaven? They were left with questions that made their brains go tilt. But instead of asking the Source, they just kept wondering among themselves. Oops, do I do that? Do we grumble among ourselves instead of praying about a confusing situation? Do we go to the phone instead of the throne?
John 16:19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?
Jesus, of course, being omniscient (knowing everything), knew what they had been asking each other. So He calls them on it.
John 16:20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
Jesus told them that while they were crying, even wailing, the world would have a party. The Pharisees would think they had succeeded in defeating the One they feared. They would incorrectly suppose that Jesus could not possibly be a threat to them anymore. WRONG! Once Jesus was resurrected and had returned to the Father, He could be with each believer at the same time through the power of the Holy Spirit within them. Even when they were no longer traveling as a group of disciples, when they would later be scattered due to persecution, the Lord would be with each individual. Therefore, every Christian can experience the joy of His presence no matter where we are! A demonstration of God’s multiplication. He can be everywhere He needs to be all at once. He is not only omniscient (all-knowing) but also omnipresent (everywhere at once). This is accomplished through indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every Christian.
Q – Many times we question what the Lord is doing. When those times occur, we need to take those questions directly to God. He can handle that. As Psalm 103:13-14 reminds us “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” The Father knows we have limited ability to understand, so I am confident He understands when we have questions. Other believers can help us understand things, but never neglect to take the question directly to the Lord. His Holy Spirit can restore your joy even when you still are waiting on His answers.
|Posted on July 3, 2016 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
More of the Holy Spirit's Role
John 16:12 (ESV) “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
The Lord Jesus was a prophet. He held back some things because He discerned that the apostles could not handle it. It was on a need to know basis, and at that moment they did not need to know. When I wished to know the future, I remember being told that the Lord knew it would be too much for me and would only reveal as much as was necessary to stay on His path. Out of His compassion for the apostles, Jesus did not want to overwhelm them. He knew everything they would go through as they built His church – hardship, persecution, even martyrdom – but chose to accentuate the positive promise of the Holy Spirit before going into all that. The Holy Spirit would reveal what they needed to know as they needed to know it.
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
The Holy Spirit would fill in the gaps in due time. Jesus encouraged them to be patient because the Spirit would eventually reveal the next steps to them. The Spirit would have the same authority as the Father and the Son because they tasked Him with revealing their truth to us. Father, Son, and Spirit are all equally God. Each aspect of our Triune God fulfills specific roles in our lives. One role of the Spirit is to reveal truth to us and guide us in God’s will. How does He do that? As we read the Bible, He illumines it. He is there to give us divine discernment. He is also that still, small voice that speaks to us when we are in prayer. He leads us in everyday living as we are yielded to His influence. He enables us to discern truth from lies as we deal with people and awakens our conscience to remember God’s commands.
John 16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Holy Spirit will never lead us in a direction contrary to Jesus’ teaching or the Father’s will. If a proposed action does not glorify God or would put Jesus’ name in a bad light, that idea did NOT come from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to reject those thoughts that are contrary to the Lord’s purposes and choose actions that are in line with His will. The Holy Spirit clarifies the words of Jesus and enables us to apply them to our daily lives.
John 16:15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Holy Spirit gives us truth from the Father and the Son because they are One. The Spirit would reveal Jesus’ plan for spreading the gospel to the apostles and through their teaching and the New Testament to us. The Holy Spirit would instigate the dissemination of the gospel around the entire world. The Holy Spirit does not have His own agenda. His purpose is to reveal Jesus and what Jesus would have man do.
Warren Wiersbe BE Bible Study Series
It is the ministry of the Spirit to enrich us with the treasures of God’s truth. He enlightens us with God’s truth and enriches us with God’s treasures. The Word of God is a rich mine of gold, silver, and precious jewels (Prov. 3:13-15; 8:10-21). What a joy it is to have the Spirit illumine His Word.
Q – If you are a Christian, if the Holy Spirit resides within you, the Bible can come to life as you read it. Ask the Spirit to help you understand God’s word as you read it. Studying the Bible should not be a chore you check off of your daily “to do” list. It can and should be a delight. Ask the Lord to make it so for you!
|Posted on June 30, 2016 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
Holy Spirit’s Work
John 16:7 (ESV) Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
Even though the disciples were extremely sad and worried about the future, Jesus assured them it was to their benefit that He was going to the Father. This would enable the Holy Spirit, the Clarifier, to come to comfort, guide, and teach them. They had no need of the Holy Spirit when they walked with Jesus every day, but His work would be imperative once Jesus was no longer with them. They could not yet understand how the Holy Spirit within them could be as good as Jesus beside them.
John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
It is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring conviction. It is not the responsibility of the pastor, Sunday school teacher, or family and friends to convict a person. We need to leave that work to the Holy Spirit. All those people just need to share the word of God and allow Him to apply it to the person’s problems. He convicts people concerning three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment which Christ explains in the next few verses.
John 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;
Every small, every large, abhorrent sin can be traced to rejection of Jesus and His way of doing things. Before a person can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, he/she must realize his/her need. The person must be convicted of the fact that he/she is a sinner in need of a Savior. The Holy Spirit is not just sending us on a guilt trip to nowhere, He is showing us we have a problem which has a solution – Jesus. Rejecting Jesus is the sin that condemns a person. The Holy Spirit is the key, and Jesus is the door to the Father. Until we are handed the key, until the Holy Spirit awakens us to our need, we cannot unlock the door.
John 6:44 (NASB) No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
The Father comes to us in the form of the Holy Spirit to draw us out of our life of sin and into a life covered by Jesus’ righteousness.
John 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;
The Holy Spirit convicts us that our righteousness is completely empty, and the only righteousness that has substance is that of the sacrificial Lamb, Jesus.
Isaiah 64:6 (KJV) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
We cannot be righteous enough to please God in our own power because His standard is perfection. Only when we take on the righteousness of Jesus by trusting Him can we be made worthy of fellowship with Almighty God. Paul spent the first part of the third chapter of Philippians listing all the reasons the Jews would consider him righteous, but in the following verses, he explains that all of that fell short of the mark:
Philippians 3:7-9 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
The Holy Spirit convicts us that our access to God comes through faith in Jesus and faith alone. It is not faith in our own self effort, but faith in Jesus’ completed work on the cross. His righteousness is the only righteousness that satisfies the Father’s perfection.
John 16:11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
The ruler of this world, Satan, was judged when Christ died in our place on the cross. Satan is referred to as the ruler or prince of this world, but we must remember that his power is confined to the limits placed upon him by God. The world’s judgment is clouded by Satan’s influence for now, but the Holy Spirit leads sinners to true judgment. Satan is a defeated foe. The Holy Spirit turns those who believe from the world’s judgment of Jesus as false to the redeeming understanding of Jesus as the Son of God. The Holy Spirit gives a person the discernment to see the reality that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that there is no other way to peace with God (John 14:6).
Q – The Holy Spirit is active in our world today. Is He drawing you to faith in Jesus? Are you seeing a need for change that you cannot achieve in your own steam? If God is drawing you, respond with trust. Surrender to Him because His intentions for you are only for your good and His glory.
|Posted on June 28, 2016 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
You WILL be Persecuted
John 16:1 (ESV) “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.
Jesus had just forewarned the apostles of persecution to come. He had also assured them that in the persecution, they would have comfort through the presence of the Holy Spirit. He had promised them He would not leave them as orphans. By this He was saying they would still have access to the Father through the Holy Spirit, and they were still a part of the family even though Jesus would not be present with them in bodily form. Since He had told them all these things, they would be better prepared to stand firm when persecution came. They would be enabled to “stick to their guns.”
John 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
It just gets worse. Jesus was definitely not one for sugar coating reality! He tells them they will be thrown out of Jewish worship. Even more frightening, when the executioners kill them, they will claim that they are doing God’s work. The apostle Paul (Saul) had been one of these before his conversion as he persecuted Christians from town to town.
Acts 9:1-2 (NLT) Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.
Saul zealously persecuted the believers thinking he was doing God’s bidding.
John 16:3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Paul eventually saw the light (LITERALLY) and became a believer himself. Of course, it would be non-believers persecuting them. But remember that many of these who did not trust in Jesus were the Jewish religious leaders of the day like Saul (Paul). Therefore, they would be persecuted by their own people. The persecutors acted this way because they had no intimate, personal relationship with Jesus. They knew Him in the sense that they could identify Him on the street and could even quote some of His teachings, but they had not believed or trusted Him as Savior and Lord.
John 16:4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
Jesus had shared the information about persecution with them so that when it began to happen they would not be completely blindsided by it. They would remember His words and realize that things were still going according to God’s plan. Had Jesus not told them ahead of time, in their humanity they may have questioned, “What’s happening? Where is God in all of this? Have we done something to cause God to abandon us?” Instead they would know that God foreknew and even destined these persecutions for His glory. Looking back on history, we can see how the persecution of the believers scattered them throughout the world in order to lead more men to Jesus. God used the persecution to spread and multiply the Gospel to all of the known world at that time. Since this eventually brought the Gospel to the non-Jewish people, the Gentiles, Susan and I (and many of you) were able to be saved since neither one of us has Jewish heritage.
John 16:4 “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
As long as Jesus was by their side in the flesh, the apostles did not have need of the Holy Spirit internally because Jesus was right there to answer their questions. He did not need to explain the Holy Spirit’s work to them until His departure was imminent. But now He was preparing to return to Heaven and the Father’s side. At this point, the disciples were consumed with sorrow and self-preservation not knowing what would become of them after Jesus was betrayed. Often, if the leader of a movement was arrested, all of his followers were rounded up as well.
John 16:6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
Jesus recognized and acknowledged their feelings of sorrow. The disciples could only see what was right in front of them. They did not and could not perceive the bigger picture. Since they had not yet experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they could not comprehend the comfort He would bring. Eventually, the Holy Spirit would enable them to understand God’s larger plan, but right now they were consumed with grief and fear. They were worried about their own skins.
Q – Jesus was preparing the apostles and really all of His followers through their eventually teaching for the fact that they would face persecution. We should not be surprised when our Christian testimony meets with ridicule or worse. Jesus knew this would happen. However, we have the Holy Spirit to encourage and strengthen us. We can have joy even when following Jesus is hard because we trust that God is in control. As Stephen Curtis Chapman expresses in song, “His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.”
|Posted on June 26, 2016 at 6:15 PM||comments (0)|
The World Will Hate You
John 15:18 (ESV) “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
If you are not with Jesus, you are against Him. This may sound strong, but to be “of the world” is to be on the devil’s side. Worldly people do not necessarily see themselves as hating Jesus, but in reality everything they stand for works against Him and His chosen ones. They do not follow, nor do they intend to follow His kingdom principles. Jesus was and is hated by the world, those who do not believe Him to be the Son of God, equal with God. The disciples would be cherished by the family of faith but persecuted by the world. It stands to reason that if we are the offspring of God; and the world hates God and Jesus, His firstborn Son, then the world will hate any son or daughter adopted into God’s family. Jesus chose us out of the world to be “in the world but not of it” (see John 17:14) Our lives should stick out as drastically different from the non-believers around us. The world hates those who do not conform to its way of life, and we are told not to conform:
Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I particularly like the way J.B. Phillips rendered this verse:
Romans 12:2 (Phillips New Testament) Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.
Our lives should be so transformed by Jesus that we stick out like a sore thumb. Our lives should be so changed by the Lord that we are unrecognizable to our friends and loved-ones, truly a new creation after trusting Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP) Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].
Reformation Study Bible notes on 2 Corinthians 5:17:
In Christ. Union with Christ summarizes our experience of redemption. Believers are elected (Eph. 1:4, 11), justified (Rom. 8:1), sanctified (1 Cor. 1:2), and glorified (3:18 ) “in Christ.” Here Paul focuses on the momentous significance of the believer’s union with the Savior. Because Christ is the “last Adam,” the One in whom humanity is recreated (1 Cor. 15:45; Eph. 2:10) and who inaugurates the new age of messianic blessing (Gal. 1:4; cf. Matt. 11:2–6), the believer’s spiritual union with Christ is nothing less than participation in the “new creation.” Translating “there is a new creation” instead of “he is a new creation” draws this conclusion more clearly, but the thought is there either way.
Other believers will recognize this change as coming from the Holy Spirit and will welcome us into the family of faith. Worldly friends will wonder what made us “weird,” and may confront us about our manner. An excellent opportunity to share the gospel!
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
Jesus is our Master and was persecuted to the point of death on the cross. We are not better than our Master. It would, therefore, be foolish to expect better treatment than our Master. Jesus does not say that we might be persecuted but that we WILL be persecuted. Today we think of the persecuted church as those in communist or Islamic countries far away. However, I believe persecution is beginning in America. If we are living a life that is completely different from the main worldview, we will be ostracized, have difficulties, and someday (maybe soon) suffer true persecution. However, those who are faithful to Jesus will remain faithful to Him and their brothers and sisters in Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit within us will enable us to stand firm in our faith and persevere to the end. The persecution is a result of the world not knowing Father God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.
John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
If Jesus had not come, men would not be guilty of the sin of rejecting His message of salvation. But because He had come, taught publicly, and performed many miracles, they were guilty of rejecting the truth. The men of His time and those today who have the entire word of God, have no excuse for this sin. If you reject Jesus, you reject not only His message but the one who sent Him who is the Father.
John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
If Jesus had not proven Himself to be equal to God and to have the authority of God by performing miracles, their unbelief would be understandable. But they saw and hated both Jesus and His Father with no cause except that He complicated the Pharisees’ political agenda. This was all in fulfillment of prophecy, but those who hated without cause were still responsible for that choice. Like the Pharisees, many people see Jesus as someone wanting to take things from them – the Cosmic Killjoy. If only they could see that He truly wants to give them more than they could ever imagine.
John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
Everything that Jesus had taught the apostles would be brought into focus when the Holy Spirit came. He is still the part of the God-head who clarifies God’s word and will for the believer as He indwells us. The apostles, the eleven faithful, had been with Jesus since the beginning of His ministry. They had been present for all of His teaching. His plan was for them to be the initial witnesses to the truth of His sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection. They would be the beginning of His church. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us today to actualize what Jesus taught them, and through them, taught us.
Q – Sometimes we are led to believe that becoming a Christian will immediately solve every problem we have and bring us prosperity as the world thinks of prosperity. However, Jesus promises us persecution. Are you suffering some difficulty as a direct result of following Jesus? If so, do not despair. Keep following. He does not keep you from hard circumstances, but He promises to be with you in the midst of them. This life is but a breath. We will have eternity in His presence, a presence of pure joy.
|Posted on June 19, 2016 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
Holy Spirit and Perfect Peace
John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
A person can have head knowledge, “know” God’s commandments and not obey them. If we are not demonstrating the heart knowledge as defined by obedience, we are not doing what Jesus commanded. As we said before, our obedience is the evidence that we love Jesus. When we love and trust Jesus, He places the Holy Spirit within us to enable us to obey. We do not obey in order to be clean enough to come to Jesus. When we know Jesus, He cleanses us and creates a desire to obey Him in our hearts. Our obedience is a heart action, not words on our lips alone. Since He has changed our hearts from stone to flesh, we are attuned to His will.
Ezekiel 36:26 (VOICE) I will plant a new heart and new spirit inside of you. I will take out your stubborn, stony heart and give you a willing, tender heart of flesh.
Because Jesus loves us, we can return His love; and, therefore, we have the capacity to love one another. Jesus said that is how people would know that we follow Him – non-believers recognize that we belong to Jesus when they see us demonstrating His love. Since Jesus loves us, the Father certainly loves us because they are one and the same. Disobedience in a believer’s life cannot undo that fact that he is saved, chosen by God. However, it can put a road block in our communication with Him. Conversely, the more completely we obey the Lord’s commands, the more clearly He will make Himself and His will known to us. The more we willingly choose to obey, the more the Lord, through our intimate relationship with Him, will reveal more of who He is and how He wants to move in our lives. His purpose for our lives will then be more easily discerned.
John 14:22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Judas wanted to know how Jesus would come exclusively to the disciples and not to everyone else. I think the disciples still could not conceive the idea of the Holy Spirit moving invisibly in their hearts and minds. Therefore, they could not figure out how Jesus could be in communication with them and not everyone else around them. Remember, they did not have phones or the internet! They could not wrap their heads around Jesus dying either. So they could not understand that an invisible Holy Spirit could be sent after He died, rose again, and returned to the Father. We are looking back in history, but they were living it; so we must cut them some slack when they had a hard time grasping the things Jesus was telling them.
John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
To love Jesus is also to believe He is the Son of God which is the way to salvation. Jesus said He and the Father would take up residence, make their dwelling place, the place they reside within the believer. They will abide in the believer, and the believer will abide in them. We will discuss that even more in the next chapter. I am not sure the disciples were understanding this concept of the Lord dwelling with them even after He was no longer on earth in bodily form. However, this truth would become a mainstay of their faith after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as seen in the book of Acts. The Lord being present in our lives is what carries Susan and I through each day.
John 14:24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
When you reject Jesus, you are rejecting God the Father. God sent Jesus as His representative to enlighten humanity about the Father’s attributes by seeing Him in living, tangible color. Therefore, they could relate to and understand Him as a man. Jesus said many times that He spoke only that which the Father told Him. So to discard Jesus’ words is to discard God’s words. To disobey Jesus is to disobey Father God. If one does not love and trust Jesus, he is incapable of obeying His word.
John 14:25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
The Holy Spirit serves the clarifier when we read scripture. It is the Holy Spirit that helps us understand the word of God. The Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that gives us insight into the thought processes of Jesus, to explain it in a way that we can comprehend. The Holy Spirit is also who enabled the apostles to remember everything Jesus had taught them in the course of over three years in order to teach it to new believers. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired Matthew and John to write their Gospels.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Jesus left them with peace that passes any comprehension, supernatural peace that is not dependent on circumstances, peace that cannot be up or down like a yo-yo.
Philippians 4:6-7 (HCSB) Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
In Christ, we can be at peace even during troubling times. We do not need to fear or fret when we remember that God is in control, and He loves us!
John 14:28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
Until Jesus ascended back to His glory with the Father, the disciples could not get on with the work He had ordained for them. When Jesus came to earth, allowing Himself to be wrapped in human flesh, He willingly laid aside completely exercising His power in order to function as a man. His power was still available to Him since He was fully God, but He chose not to access it. When He returned to the Father, the glory He had purposely laid aside was completely His again. The Holy Spirit did not begin His work in and through the disciples until Jesus was back at the throne of God.
John 14:29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.
By dying and appearing to them after the resurrection, Jesus would greatly increase their belief. It would surely increase my faith to see Jesus walk through a closed door! It would also beef up their faith when Jesus came upon them in the form of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). But in order to come to them in this manner, He had to go away. Jesus told them about the Holy Spirit before He actually came upon them, so they would recognize Him as coming from the Lord.
John 14:30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
Jesus let them know Satan was about to show his ugly face through the betrayal, mock trial, and execution. He also made it clear that Satan really had no control over Him, that He was allowing these things to happen in order to fulfill the Father’s will. The disciples must have been thinking that everything made sense to Jesus, but it was not making sense to them yet. They needed help for their finite brains set in human frailty. Which is exactly why Jesus was sending the Holy Spirit! Then He just got up and urged them to leave with Him. The scripture does not tell us where they went at this time – perhaps Jesus continued talking with them on their way to the Mount of Olives.
Q – Many people today seem to be controlled by fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of financial crisis, fear of the choices in this election year, fear of the future in general. However, Jesus said He left us with His peace. The gift of His Holy Spirit indwelling us helps us turn from fear to faith, from anxiety to peace. Are you fearful about something today? Pray! The words “fear not,” “do not be afraid,” “be anxious for nothing,” and “do not worry” are found in many scripture passages. Use a concordance or online bible tool such as www.biblegateway.com to look these up. You will be encouraged as you are reminded that God is sovereign. He has not lost His grip on the world. You can be at peace in the midst of the chaos around you.
|Posted on June 16, 2016 at 9:35 PM||comments (0)|
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
John 14:15 (ESV) “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Wait! I thought it was all about grace. What’s with the keeping commandments thing? Jesus was saying their (and our) love for Him is demonstrated by our obedience to His word, to the things He taught. In ways Jesus taught an obedience much harder than the basic ten commandments. Things like even lusting is committing adultery in your heart, and hatred is as bad as murder. Jesus taught that behavior did not begin with the action but with the thought leading to the behavior. However, once we belong to Jesus, His Holy Spirit enters us and enables us to say “no” to sin and “yes” to Him. Our obedience does not enable us to be saved (we can never be perfect), but our salvation enables us to obey.
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
The disciples had the benefit of learning directly at the feet of the Master, but He was about to leave them. However, they would not be alone. He told them He would ask the Father to send them a Helper. Jesus introduced the concept of the Holy Spirit – the comforter, teacher, helper, and friend – who would indwell all believers. Those who are in the world, who have not trusted Jesus, do not have the benefit of the Holy Spirit; they do not know or understand Him.
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
Jesus promised He would not leave them without a parent since He had been a mentor and parent to them. They would not be fatherless because the Holy Spirit would keep them in constant relationship with the Lord. The world would see the incarnate Jesus no more, but the disciples would see Him after the resurrection and be indwelt by His Holy Spirit from Pentecost on. We may not see Jesus with our eyes, but we have an intimate relationship with Him through prayer, the study of His word, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live.” Jesus assured the disciples they (and we) had a future with Him. He was saying this prior to His resurrection. He had just explained that He was the only way to eternal life, but soon they would see that demonstrated in His death and resurrection. Jesus knew He was going to overcome the grave in just a few days. He would be the firstborn from the dead. He would become their sacrifice through His death on the cross, but then He would be raised from dead. They (and we) could be assured that because they believed in Him, they (and we) also would be raised in time.
John 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Jesus knew He would appear to the disciples many times after the resurrection, and they would be convinced that He was God. They would finally understand that He and the Father were one for real. They would also begin to understand that they, too, would be unified with the Lord. We will see the Lord Jesus praying for this very thing in chapter 17. Can hardly wait until we get there because there is some meaty, good stuff in Jesus’ high priestly prayer!
Q – God’s unmerited favor, His grace, is the key to entering into a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ. Obedience is the proof that the door has been unlocked. When we are saved, we enter into the presence of God; but that door swings both ways as the presence of God enters us in the Person of His Holy Spirit. That does not mean we will never sin again but that we are given the power to resist temptation. Can others see evidence of your changed life in your behavior? The old hymn says, “Let others see Jesus in me.” Do others see Jesus in you?