Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who Authorized What You Teach?

John 7:14-16 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. (15) And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? (16) Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

So often, Jesus makes such simple, basic statements, that when contemplated, have real profound meanings. Such is our study today.

First, let’s set the stage. As one drives down the road these days, it is quite common to see messages on the backs of tractor-trailers that say: “Attend the church of your choice.” The message implies that of all of the varieties of religious groups in the world, you can select the one that best fits your wishes and desires. That leads us to the next obvious question: Why is there so many choices? Did God leave a pattern to structure His church with thousands of options and varieties. If you listen to Jesus he did not indicate so....

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (14) Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

So how then, are there so many varieties and versions of the ONE religion that Jesus established? Because, for every individual denomination, they have their own doctrine. The doctrine that they teach is what individualizes them from all the rest.

But wait! Let’s look at what Jesus said in our text today. Jesus was teaching in the temple and the Jews were amazed that he taught so well having no formal education. Here is Jesus simple and basic answer. His doctrine (that which he taught) was not his own, but rather he taught what God told him to. So if Jesus was not able to teach any thing he wanted...What do we think we can?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

With Jesus...It’s NOT the Thought that Counts!

John 6:25-27 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? (26) Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. (27) Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

If this Christmas is like most, many of us will receive gifts that we did not ask for and do not want. However, we often receive them with joy because it is “the thought that counts”. We use this philosophical outlook in many walks of life...including religion.

The religious world typically promotes the concept that as long as you claim to follow Jesus, then that is ALL that really matters. It does not matter HOW you follow Jesus nor does it matter WHY you follow Jesus. It seems that the religious world views God as a desolate grandfather that is so desperate to get attention, he’ll take anything.

In our text today, Jesus says other wise. In the opening verses of this chapter, we find Jesus miraculously feeding a huge crowd of people. The next day they seek him again and ultimately find him (verse 26). But does Jesus praise them for seeking him? Is he thankful that they put in an attempt regardless of the reason? NO he doesn’t. In fact, he chastises them. He said that you sought me for the wrong reason. You did it for selfish, worldly reason...you wanted another free meal.

In verse 27 Jesus tells us the kind of disciples that he wants. Jesus says that we should not focus on the “meat” of this world, but we should focus on spiritual “meat”.

Christianity should not be a peripheral item in our lives. It must be who we are and the priority of our lives!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Do We Think We Are Better Than Jesus?

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

In the opening verses of the book of John, we learn some very important truths about Jesus:

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

1. Jesus is Eternal

2. Jesus is Deity

3. Jesus was Integral in all of creation

These truths are the foundation for our discussion today. Even though Jesus is God. Even though Jesus is Eternal. Even though Jesus was integral in all of creation, Jesus says...Of himself, he could do NOTHING! Of all the people that have ever existed in this world, Jesus of all people had the right and the power to come to this earth and do as HE chose. But he didn’t! He only did the will of his father. Jesus could have said to God “You know what, I am the one doing all of the sacrificing here. I am the one that gave up heaven to come down here. I am the one with the boots on the ground. Because of that, I am going to make the calls here” But he didn’t. He only did the will of his father.

So what about us? What does it say about us that we think we ought to, or have the right to, or just choose to Do as we wish regardless of God’s will?

That is the height of ARROGANCE! If Jesus, being God, saw it necessary to submit to the will of the Father then we MUST too! If not, We must think we are better than Jesus!

We must worship as God desires! We must think as God desires! We must behave as God desires! We must restrict our lifestyles as God desires without justification, rationalization or in any way trying to defend what we want.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Genuine Miracle!

John 5:1-9 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (2) Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. (3) In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. (4) For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. (5) And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? (7) The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. (8) Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. (9) And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

Not long ago, I was flipping through the many TV channels choices and stopped on one that caught my eye. It was a “televangelist” that always humors me. He was performing a so-called “miracle service. One person came on stage that I will remember the rest of my life. It was told that this woman was deaf and mute from birth and that they had healed her off-stage but they brought her on stage to “glorify God”. While on stage the televangelist wanted to demonstrate the evidence of this “miracle” so he asked this newly “healed” person to say “B-A-B-Y”. On three separate tries, the lady tried her best to make the proper sounds, but was never able to form the word in a recognizable manner. After the third attempt, the preacher quickly ushered her offstage and then offered this excuse. “Well, she was really healed....but now she will have to learn to talk” Really?

That was NOT a miracle according to the Bible!

In our text today we have a real miracle recorded. Jesus found a man that had been crippled for 38 years. He had been left at a pool where it was believed that if one was able to get into the pool at the right time, they would be healed. This man was desperate and had no hope. Jesus, realizing the deteriorated condition of this man, decides to heal him. Notice though in verse 8, there is no elaborate stage show. There is no hocus pocus. There is no drama, no head pounding, no selling of tickets. Jesus simply speaks a basic sentence:

John 5:8 ...Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

In verse 9, we have the results. IMMEDIATELY, the man was made whole and from that moment he was able to walk. No physical therapy required. No building up of muscles, No learning to walk. God made it happen with the spoken word.

There are so many people that throw around the term “miracle” to describe less than miraculous events. The one that comes to mind is childbirth. While it is an event that is awe inspiring, it is NO miracle. It happens thousands of times a day. So what is a miracle? Miracles that are described in the bible follow this definition

1. TRUE Miracles Break or Suspend the laws of nature!

Miracles are much much more that hard to explain, they literally are IMPOSSIBLE with out the intervention of God.

2. TRUE Miracles are Instantaneous

Miracles are not like medicine that have to get into one’s system. Nor does it take time to work, but rather, when God acts his will is DONE!

3. TRUE Miracles are Thorough

Again, a true miracle does not wear off nor need additional installments to be effective. Nor does it need assistance from other sources like the medical community.

4. TRUE Miracles are Provable

Too many times folks on TV tell us they have performed a miracle but we have to take their word for it. In the Bible, there are generally always lots of witness that both see the miraculous event, and can testify to knowledge that the person was really sick to start with.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Jesus Diet!

John 4:31-34 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. (32) But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. (33) Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? (34) Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

In our culture, food is used for many things besides just the gaining of sustenance for our bodies. Eating is done for reasons like entertainment, relief of boredom, fellowshipping with others and the list can go on and on. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we are motivated an focused on food a great deal. Case in point, In just about a week, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. By far, with this holiday, comes the most anticipated, the most planned, and the most elaborate meal most of us will eat all year. But notice Jesus’ attitude about food.

While Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman, his disciples were off somewhere else and in verse 31 they meet back up with him. They had apparently been apart for some time and when they were reunited, the disciples were concerned that Jesus had not properly eaten. So like caring friends, they urged him to eat. Notice now Jesus’ response in verse 32.

John 4:32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

The disciples were not suggesting a meaningless dinner party or superfluous snacks to eat during a ball game. They were concerned about him needing to eat for his health. And yet Jesus essentially is saying his work...his mission...pleasing his father is his food. That is what satisfies him. That is what sustains him.

I am not suggesting that we eat fewer meals to be like Jesus. However, do we have our priorities where they should be? Is doing our father’s will rank up there in our priority list with the essentials of life like food, water and oxygen? Will we spend more time fixing,,,or even eating next week’s Thanksgiving meal than we do focused on doing the work of our father? May we each someday be able to say that “My meat is to do the will that sent me...”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If They Only Knew!

John 4:10-15 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (11) The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? (12) Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? (13) Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (15) The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

We continue looking at the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4. In the context of previous verses, Jesus was passing through the region of Samaria and stop to rest at a well. While there, a Samaritan woman comes by to draw waters so Jesus asked her for a drink of water. She was perplexed at the question because social prejudices frowned upon the two interacting.

Jesus’ response is very interesting. He tells her, (and I am paraphrasing) If you only knew who I am, you would ask for me to give you Living Water.

So what is this Living Water of which he speaks? He tells us in verse 14. Unlike ordinary or physical water in which one has to continually partake of it in order for it to be beneficial, The Living water is eternal. In other words, we get thirsty several times a day and so we have to drink several times a day to refresh ourselves. Water is not just needed to quench thirst, our bodies NEED it to sustain life. In fact, it may be even more vital than food. If we do not get the proper amount of water we will die.

Therefore, Jesus is using that principle to teach that he is offering us LIFE. But it is not just an extension of this life....but rather Eternal Spiritual life!

Why then do so few people take advantage of such an offer? Who wouldn’t want to live spiritually forever rather than die in eternal punishment? The same reason the Samaritan didn’t ask Jesus for the Living Water. Jesus says...If they only knew! If they only knew the gift of God and if they only knew who Jesus was. That may seem ridiculous since most of the world has heard of Jesus. Most of the world may have heard of Jesus, but most are not willing to do what it takes to drink the water that he offers. Jesus says that you must Follow HIm (Matt 16:24). Following is much more than just understanding his existence. It requires making sacrifices like living the manner of life that he requires of us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jesus Disapproves of Discrimination!

John 4:5-9 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. (6) Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. (7) There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (8) (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) (9) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

As great as this country is, one of the embarrassing and shameful parts of our history is our past approval of slavery. Because of that black-eye in our history, the people of this nation continues to struggle with relations between races. Folks on both sides of this racial divide continue to perpetuate hatred just because of the color of one’s skin.

In a very similar struggle, the Jews during the time of Jesus, had a similar attitude towards the Samaritans. Many Jews looked at the Samaritans with hatred and disdain. So much so that they would often travel, at much greater distances, around the Samaritan region, so they could avoid them altogether.

With that background understood, In our text Jesus is making one of those journeys, but instead of traveling around the region, he walks through it as if there is no problem. During his trip, he gets tired and decides to sit down at a public well to rest and get a drink. While he was resting, a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. While there, Jesus asks this woman to draw him some water and it inspired the woman to ask this question in verse 9.

John 4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Jesus’ behavior was so unexpected, so out of the norm, so against society, that the woman could not help herself from asking...Why are you talking to me? Jesus’ answer was a much deeper, more significant, more eternal...dealing with him being the savior, but his actions answers it loud and clear!

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

James 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

Jesus did not care that she was a Samaritan! He was not going to allow society’s ignorance or hatred to influence him. Instead, he acts as his and God’s nature dictates. God does not judge mankind because of the color of skin or any other physical characteristics...and Neither can we! If we want to be like our savior...If we want to be like God, we must learn to love everyone and judge them by their actions and NOT by their looks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Are You Decreasing?

John the Baptist made this statement early on in Jesus’ ministry. Let’s notice the context of this passage.

John 3:25-29 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. (26) And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. (27) John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. (28) Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. (29) He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

By the time that Jesus began his ministry, John the Baptist had already developed a following of his own. So much so that his followers were concerned about the “competition” that they perceived Jesus offered John (verse 26).

The statement that John makes in verse 30, that we are focusing on today, was part of a response to those followers. John is explaining to them his ultimate role. He says that “I am not the Christ” (verse 28), but rather just preparing the way for him. John understood his place in the grand scheme of things....The question is Do We understand OUR Place?

This statement: “He must increase, but I must decrease” is also applicable to each of us that desire to be followers of Jesus! When we become Christians, we are to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus.

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

If Jesus is to be the Lord, Ruler, Controller of our lives, He must continue to increase in authority and the influence in our lives. For that to happen, we must, by necessity, continue to decrease in control of our own lives.

Matthew 6:24 & 33 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.....(33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Are you decreasing so Jesus can increase?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Avoiding Condemnation

John 3:17-18 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

So much attention in John chapter 3 is directed at verse 16. However, we find a very powerful truth in our text today. We are told that the purpose of Jesus’ coming was not to condemn the world but that world might have the opportunity to be saved.

However, we must not read this too quickly. We should not conclude that because he did not come for the purpose of condemning the world that condemnation is not possible. That may not have been the reason for which he came but it is an unfortunate outcome none the less. In verse 18 is the real key here. You see, Jesus did not need to condemn the world, because it was condemned already! The world is condemned because of the sin in our individual lives. That is the reason we needed Jesus to come to offer salvation...because without him and his enormous sacrifice, we were already lost.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Proper Love Towards God!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This passage is probably the most recognizable verse in all of the Bible. It informs us about how much our creator loves us and desires that w have everlasting life. So much so that he gave his only begotten Son as a sacrifice.

What I want to focus on this morning is the manifestation of God’s love and the example that it sets for us. God SO loved that he GAVE! He was so motivated by his love for us that it moved him to take action in a positive way to help us. So what does that mean for us? At one point in time, Jesus was asked what was the most commandment in the Law? Here is his response....

Matthew 22:36-38 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? (37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment.

Jesus says that the greatest, most important commandment that God wants from us... Is to Love him with ALL of our beings. So what does it mean to love God? I think the example that God made for us in John 3:16 is the answer. We should love him back...by giving of ourselves!

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We should give of our time to God. We should give of our talents to God. We should give of our money to God. We should give our all! Christianity should not be a spectator “sport”. Neither should it be only when we worship.

God SO loved that he GAVE...should we love him back any less?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Great Do-Over

John 3:1-3 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: (2) The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. (3) Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

When I was a child, I would often play games, like tag, with a number of neighborhood kids. Almost every game there would be a dispute among players. To end the dispute quickly, some one would simply yell out “Do Over” and magically we would act like nothing ever happened and we would resume the game.

Have you ever wanted a “Do-Over” in your adult life. I certainly have more times than I care to remember. But in real life it is not that easy.

However, Jesus, while talking to a follower named Nicodemus, informs us about a spiritual “Do-Over”. As humans, we disappoint our creator because of sin in our lives. Because of that sin we are separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do on our own to create this “Do-Over” effect that would allow us to be reconciled back to God.

But Jesus says there is a “Do-Over”. We must be born again! It is not a physical rebirth as Ncodemus imagined, but a spiritual rebirth. Jesus does not give us all of the details of how this is achieved in this passage, but simply makes us aware of its possibility. However, throughout the rest of his ministry, he fills in the gaps. Jesus says that we MUST:

1. Believe in Him: John 3:16

2. Repent of our Sins: Luke 13:3

3. Confess Him Before Men: Matt 10:32-33

4. Be Baptized for the Remission of Sins : Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16

5. Be Faithful Until Death: Rev. 2:10

If your life is not what you need it to be...if you know that you are separated from God, If you need a Spiritual “Do-Over, there is nothing that you can do on your own to repair that damage. However, God has put a system in place by which he will accept us back as his children and allow us to be reborn to walk in the NEWNESS of life. What a beautiful thought that we can have such an awesome blessing from a God that loves us so much!