Sunday, November 21, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Text: John 17
This passage in John 17 contains Jesus’ longest recorded prayer. Jesus made this prayer in sight of His coming death on the cross. In this first part, we will look at six things this prayer teaches us about Jesus’ relationship with the Father.
1. The Father and the Son have an eternal relationship. This is made clear in verses 5 and 24. The Father and the Son shared a love and a glory before the world existed.
2. The Father loves the Son. See verses 23, 24, and 26. This is a boundless, eternal, perfect love. Love begins with God the Father. Because we are made in His image, we can also know love. The love God the Father has for the Son is the same love that He has for us. We can be brought into this love relationship thr0ugh union with Christ. Note that this was prayed with the cross in view; this great love is even in view of the wrath to be poured out upon the Son by the Father on the cross.
3. The Father and the Son are in unity. They are one. See verses 11, 21, and 22.
4. The Father has sent the Son on a particular mission. (v. 3, 4, 8, 21, 23) The Father initiated and sustains His work. Jesus was totally obedient to His Father. Even the content of His teaching was received directly from His Father.
5. The Father has given a people to the Son. (v. 6, 9, 24) The Father has selected certain souls out of the world have given them to the Son. This is important to Jesus. See also John 6:37 and John 10. Jesus keeps referring to this gift from the Father – it is especially important because it is a gift from Someone He loves so dearly.
6. The Father and the Son glorify each other. (v. 1, 4, 5, 22, 24) What is “glory”? It is manifested excellence. Even the cross, with its humiliation and scorn, was a glorious thing. Jesus displayed the love and mercy and grace of God clearly in His death. We see in Philippians 2:8-11 that Jesus humbled himself in obedience to suffer and die on the cross, and it was for this reason that the Father glorified Him highly. And then, in verse 11 of that passage we see that the glory is returned to the Father.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The emphasis in the previous sections of Luke's gospel has been to show Jesus as a genuine man. In this section, Jesus demonstrates His power and compassion.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
- The Spirit of the Lord would be upon Him
- He would preach the gospel to the poor (the poor in every respect, the non-elite)
- He would heal the broken-hearted
- He would deliver the captives
- He would give sight to the blind
- He would deliver the bruised and oppressed
- He would preach the favorable year of the Lord (He would proclaim the Year of Jubilee).
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Text: Luke 4:1-13
Jesus continues in His work as a representation of man in this section. Christ, in His humanity is again shown representing transgressors. He is going out to the battle against temptation that Adam lost, but unlike Adam, Christ (the New Adam) will be victorious.
When Adam was tempted, he was with his wife, in a perfect place with all his needs supplied. Christ, on the other hand, was in the desert and alone and suffering greatly from hunger.
In this passage, Christ is shown as our example, as well as our representative. Through His responses, we can gain insight into foiling Satan’s attempts to tempt us.
In Satan’s first attack (v.3), he begins by saying, “If you are the Son of God turn these stones into bread.” Jesus knew He was the Son of God; He had just been told by the Father that He was the Father’s “beloved Son”. As with Adam, Satan’s first attack is on the accuracy of God’s Word. We see Satan attacking God’s Word in the world all around us, from secular humanists trying to cast doubts on the veracity of the Word, to charismatic churches casting aside the Bible for so-called special revelation. Jesus is not swayed; He responds directly with the Word. He tells Satan that His life is not about material things such as food, but that His true life is His relationship with the Father.
In the second attack (v.5-7), Satan takes Christ to all the kingdoms of the world and offers to give them to Him in exchange for worship. Christ was sent to the world to be a King of a new heavenly kingdom. Here Satan is giving Christ an opportunity to rule without enduring the suffering He was sent for. As always, he is trying to made something sinful look good (wouldn’t it be good for Christ to be king over the whole world?) He is offering the crown without the cross. Jesus responds to worship God only. Jesus was familiar with Scripture and knew how to use the written Word against Satan. We should try to be likewise skilled and to, like Christ, do what God calls us to do in God’s way.
In the final attack, Satan brings Jesus up to the pinnacle of the temple. Note how he misuses the Bible in order to get Jesus to sin. The actual passage (Psalm 91:11-12) says, “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.”, implying that God will keep the one who walks in righteous ways. But to assume that God will keep you when you are going into sin is presumption.
Presumption is not faith; the Devil wanted Jesus to substitute presumption for faith. We can be presumptuous when, for example, we pray for good health but do not take care of our bodies. A similar presumption is praying for salvation, but not seeking God through prayer and Bible reading.
Jesus rejected this temptation, again quoting Scripture.
From Jesus’ example in the wilderness, we should see that trials and temptations are all part of God’s refining us, and we should not seek to short-circuit the work of God, to avoid His baptism of fire. We should be wise and recognize the difference between acting in faith and acting with presumption, and, finally, we should study God’s Word to be equipped to defend ourselves against all temptations.
Here He goes out to the wilderness, where He is tempted by Satan. He is going out to the battle that Adam lost, but unlike Adam, Christ (the New Adam) will be victorious.
First, in this passage, we see Christ in His humanity representing transgressors.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Text: Luke 3:1-14
This section of Luke details the message of John the Baptist. It begins by briefly giving the historical setting, telling us which governors and tetrarchs were in power. Interestingly, there were two high priests at this time. Annas was the original high priest, but he has displeased the Romans, so the Jews had established his son-in-law Caiphas as high priest as well. The Romans only recognized Caiphas, but the Jews recognized both! This was a perversion of their religion, as the Jewish law allowed for only one high priest at a time.
We see again that the word of the Lord did not come through the political establishment, or through the religious structure of the day. Instead, the word of the Lord came to John, out in the desert, apart from the power structure of the time.
“The word of the Lord came”… This is what every true prophet needs. The word of God for us today is what we need as well. We see that God was as work in this situation, bringing John His word and bringing him an audience.
What was the word that was given to John? Repentance, specifically “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. What was this baptism? This baptism had its roots in the Old Covenant – all Gentiles who wanted to enter into the Covenant had to be immersed in water. The Gentile body was considered unclean and had to be put completely under the water.
John famously referred to his hearers as a “brood of vipers”. They had the poison of sin within them, as do all men who have not repented and believed upon Christ. John told them to quit thinking so highly of themselves and trusting in their lineage from Abraham. Likewise, we today must humble ourselves and come to Christ without trusting in our Christian parents or church attendance, or any thing, but come to Him in true humility and true repentance.
True repentance is:
- A complete change of mind – we no longer want to be the ruler of our own destiny; we want God to rule
- A complete change of heart – we have a new love. Instead of loving ourselves supremely, we love Christ.
- A complete change of will – we used to serve ourselves and serve sin. Now we serve Christ and do righteousness.
“What shall we do?” asked the hearers. How should we live our lives? John’s response was that we should continue in our given occupations, working honestly, defrauding no one, giving to those in need.
This is a message for today, as well as for John’s day. Men and women still need to repent, to turn from their sins and receive forgiveness.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
- To marvel and stand amazed at God's goodness
- To embrace Jesus
- To know His presence
- To follow the Spirit and be led by Him
- To rejoice
- and to tell others as we go
Sunday, July 11, 2010
- He was the Savior, the One to save God's people from their sins.
- He was Christ, meaning the Messiah, the Anointed One, the One God had designated.
- He was "the Lord", the Greek title for "God". Jesus was God in the flesh.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Text: Luke 1:67-79
After Zacharias’ tongue was loosened, he burst forth with praise and prophecy. We are told he was filled with the Holy Spirit, meaning he was under the Spirit’s control. He was illuminated by the Spirit; he gained new insights into the Word of God that he was already familiar with.
Two of the aspects of prophecy are present in what Zacharias said: an accurate understanding of the Word, and a view of the future. The entire prophecy of Zacharias is composed of only two sentences. The first is a praise to God, and the second is a prophecy of the ministry of Zacharias’ son John. This post will discuss the first sentence (v. 68-75).
First, we see that Zacharias sees the end outworking of God’s promises to be completely certain at their beginning. So he says God has “visited us and accomplished redemption for His people.” The redemption was so certain to him that he declared it complete.
He mentions that God has raised up a “horn of salvation”. The “horn” refers to power and glory made evident. So this salvation was becoming visible as Jesus Christ was being revealed.
Then Zacharias describes how the coming of Christ is the fulfillment of all the prophets. He specifically mentions Abraham, and how this is the fulfillment of the covenant made to Abraham, the covenant that God condescended to confirm to us with an oath.
Zacharias prophesied that the Redeemer would deliver them from their “enemies”. Who are our enemies that Christ delivers us from?
- Our sinful nature. Man’s natural state is sinful. In this state, you are the center of your life and you are driven to seek what is good for you.
- The practice of sin. The more we sin, the more it becomes a habit. As we get in the habit of pleasing ourselves and we do it more and more, it has an ever-greater grip upon us.
- The devil and his hosts. Satan does all he can to hold men under his power. He works by first bringing a temptation, then if we fall into sinning, and sin willfully, we are inviting him to take more and more power over us.
- Fear. Fear is our enemy and is specifically mentioned in this section (v. 74). All men are gripped by some fear – fear of death, fear of other men, and other fears, some irrational.
Christ has come and delivered us from these enemies. He has performed the mercy promise.
The ultimate end of what Christ has done is not to merely make us Christians to get us out of hell and continue to live our same lives. He has created a people to serve Him. That is the reason He has redeemed us, to serve Him in holiness and righteousness (v. 74, 75). We are no longer sinful in nature, but we have been made holy to serve God in holiness. Thus, we can now do what is right before God.
Finally, the prophecy declared that we would serve God without fear. This must have been astounding to the Jews of that time, who were used to striving under the fear of God, always cognizant of their guilt before the Perfect and Holy One. But this prophecy declared that we should serve Him, without fear, in His very presence – and that we should do so “all our days”. What a wonderful promise: dwelling eternally in God’s presence without fear!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Text: Luke 1:46-55 (opens in new window)
Previous to this passage, Mary had visited Elizabeth and was greeted with warm words of encouragement. Mary responds to that greeting with a song of praise that is recorded in this text.
Interestingly, this song is rather similar to the song of Hannah, recorded in 1 Samuel 2. Also, the song shares similarity with many of the Psalms. Mary was evidently familiar with the Psalms, and the same Spirit was working in her, in Hannah, and in the Psalm writers, so it’s not surprising that there are similarities. Hannah’s song ended with the prophecy of a coming King, and Mary’s song ended with an acknowledgement that this prophecy had been fulfilled.
Two major themes of this song are: God’s accomplishment of His promises at their beginning are as sure as they are at the end. And, God does not work through the civil and religious power structure; instead, He works through humble individuals.
This song can be looked at as being composed of four sections: (1) What God has done for Mary, (2) What God has done for His people, (3) Mercy and Judgment, and (4) God is faithful to His Word.
Looking at the song verse by verse, in verse 46, Mary says that her soul “exalts the Lord”. God is already highly exalted – how can she, or we, exalt Him? By speaking of who God is and the works He is performing.
In verse 47, Mary refers to “God my Savior”. How is God her Savior? Because God has done great things for her and through her. In verses 48 and 49, Mary continues to exalt God and proclaim what He has done for her.
In verse 50, we are reminded that God’s blessings are ongoing, from generation to generation. God is holy, all-powerful, and mighty. He is the Savior of mankind; this blessing is only for those who fear Him.
The next section of the song, from verses 51-53, is a comparison of two peoples: the the humble and weak, whom God uses, and the self-satisfied, the rich, and the powerful, whom God will tear down and destroy. Humility is a prime component of Christianity – God is opposed to the proud, but exalts the humble. Christ, our example, humbled Himself beyond measure by taking upon Himself the form of a man.
We must come to God in humility. If we embrace Jesus in humility and brokenness, we will be received, but if we trust in our own self-sufficiency and self-righteousness, we will be rejected.
The last two verses of this song, verses 54 and 55, are a proclamation of God’s mercy. Throughout all of God’s judgments, He still remembered, and will remember mercy. His mercy is (v.55) forever – there is hope for yet more people who will seek Him today; and His mercy is “to the seed of Abraham”, the father of the faithful.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Throughout the Bible, we see that God deals frequently with remnants. What is a remnant? The dictionary definition is “that which is left over”, “residue”, or “remainder”.
We see God dealing with a small portion and rejecting another portion throughout Old Testament history. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain, dividing humanity in half. In the Flood, God saved only eight people out of the mass of humanity at that time. In the case of Abraham, God chose one man out of Ur of the Chaldees to be the patriarch of His particular people. He continued to reveal Himself exclusively through that small nation. Or take the example of Gideon. God whittled down his strong army to just 300 men, and used them in winning a great victory.
Sometimes we might see the corruption and lack of reality in mainstream denominations and feel as though we are all alone, the only ones truly following God. Elijah, after killing the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, fled to a cave and twice came before God claiming that “he alone” was left. God responded that there were 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Romans 11:5 reminds us that there is a similar remnant today. Whenever we follow God completely, we are not alone – we are part of His remnant in the world.
Although we may seem like a part of a tiny group of believers today, at the end of the world (Rev 7:9), God’s people through the ages will amass as a great multitude, too vast for any man to count. Therefore, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32).
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Text: Luke 1:39-45
In the previous section of Luke, the angel came to Mary and told her she would bear the Messiah. Although she did ask, “How can (literally “shall”) this be?” she – unlike Zacharias – had faith in the word that God had sent her and believed the angel, understanding that “nothing is impossible with God.”
In this section, Mary came to visit Elizabeth. Mary wanted to get together with someone else who had experienced God. This is natural – people who have experienced God want to be together.
In verse 40, we see that Mary entered the house and “greeted” Elizabeth. What was this greeting? It was probably more than just a “hello”. Mary must have been telling Elizabeth about the news the angel had given her because, in verse 41, we see that the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb.
When the baby leaped, Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Much could be said about the filling of the Holy Spirit. We remember that Elizabeth had “kept herself in seclusion” for five months. She was thinking of the Lord and walking circumspectly. Walking with the Lord allows us to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:15-20 describes how we are to walk carefully and use our time wisely, and to give ourselves over to the Holy Spirit, in comparison to how one who is ruled by drink gives himself over to wine.
It is interesting to note that Elizabeth was already regenerate, what we today would call “a Christian” before this filling of the ?Holy Spirit occurred.
The filling of the Holy Spirit caused Elizabeth to “cry out”. She is excited, emotionally engaged. She had been told that her baby would grow up to be the forerunner of the Messiah, but she did not know when the Messiah would come, until this point.
In the following verses, Elizabeth encouraged Mary, showing great humility (v.43) even though she was older than Mary. She encouraged Mary by telling her what God had done.
She proclaimed Mary to be blessed in v. 44. Mary was blessed in the same way as we are – she was saved through the work of Christ. She also had a special blessing, in the service she performed in carrying Jesus. For her, as well as us, blessedness is obtained through service.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Text: Luke 1: 5-25
The first incident that Luke relates is the angel’s visitation of Zacharias and the subsequent birth of John the Baptist. This section demonstrates Luke’s inclination to describe events in careful detail and the emphasis he places on people as individuals.
Zacharias, we see, was a priest who was married to the daughter of a priest. From this, he would expect to be the recipient of a double blessing, according to the Jewish tradition. Zacharias and his wife were both faithful and righteous before God. Although they had no children, they continued on faithfully worshipping and loving God. They had no idea what blessings He had in store for them, but they pressed on regardless.
Judea had fallen into a state of deep decline, as had been detailed in the book of Malachi, written 400 years before Christ. In the silent years after Malachi, the decline surely became deeper. Judea was being ruled by a horrible, evil king, Herod. Things couldn’t seem to get any darker for those who followed God truly. Yet it was in this dark time that God sent His Redeemer. Likewise, we today should not be discouraged by the state of the world around us – God is able to break through in any situation!
Zacharias had been chosen, by lot, to enter the temple and burn incense. This was the highest position of service that a regular priest could perform. He stood next to the Holy of Holies and offered incense that flowed over the whole temple – and into the Holy of Holies as well. The position of presenting the incense was so highly regarded that each priest was allowed to perform it only once in his life. It was during this service that the angel came to Zacharias.
The angel came to Zacharias and spoke ten different things to him:
- Their prayer had been answered! What prayer? Both their prayer for a Redeemer, who was to come, and…
- They would have a son.
- His name would be “John” (a gift from God), meaning he was to be the gift of God and filled with the grace of God.
- He would be greatly used by God.
- He would drink no strong drink.
- He would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth.
- He would turn many to God.
- This son was the one prophesied who would be coming in the spirit of Elijah.
- He would reconcile families.
- He would prepare a people for the Lord.
John’s ministry would be like ours – we cannot save anyone, but we can lead men to Him who can. We can cry out against sin in the world and point to the Redeemer.
Sadly, Zacharias’s response was one of unbelief. He was hearing a word directly from an angel, but it was not sufficient for him. He was staggered by the thought that God would use him and his wife to bring this great prophet. But God, then as today, does use ordinary people to do his work. Why do we doubt that God will use us to work out His promises?
Because Zacharias spoke his unbelief, he was struck dumb for a time. Yet God was merciful and later restored his ability to speak. May God forgive us for doubting His ability to use us to accomplish all He has for us to do!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Text: Luke 1:1-4
Some controversy exists about when the book of Luke was originally written, but it was probably written around AD 60-63 or so.
Who was Luke? Interestingly, Luke was not one of the twelve disciples, and was in fact not an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry at all. Luke was a Gentile. Luke was a doctor, a physician. He was familiar with Greek, as is evidenced by his writing style, a style of Greek written by the educated for the educated.
Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. They may be seen as a set, and this text serves as an introduction to them both.
One key point Luke makes in his introduction is that he was not an eyewitness. He identifies his sources as eyewitnesses and “servants of the word”, probably corresponding to the Gospel of Luke and Acts, respectively. Luke had contact with the original sources. His detailed account of Christ’s birth would indicate that He had contact with Mary. We know that he was one of Paul’s traveling companions.
Luke states that he has carefully investigated everything in this book and identifies what he has written as “the exact truth”. The word translated “exact truth” might be rendered “infallible truth.” He is reminding the reader that the things written herein are truthful and that they are the Word of God. This is a story that really happened and it changes lives because it is the story of Christ.
The things in this book are things “accomplished” (v.1) or fulfilled. Luke contains many examples of fulfilled prophecies: that the Messiah would be from Judah, from the seed of Isaac, and born in Bethlehem. He details the time of Christ’s birth, as foretold in Daniel.
This book was written to “Theophilus”. These things were written to give him knowledge and certainty. Luke’s objective was that Theophilus would have both factual understanding (“head knowledge”) and real relational, experiential knowledge of the things of God.
Who is Theophilus? To whom did Luke write? It’s generally accepted that he was writing to a real person. Luke uses the title, “most excellent” in referring to him, the same title was was used for Roman governors Felix and Festus. So Theophilus is thought by many to have had some relation to the government. The word “Theophilus” means “lover of God” or “one loved by God”. Luke is writing to someone who has been instructed in the Word of God and want to know more of Him. We can put ourselves, then, in the place of “Theophilus” because this describes all the children of God, and we have also been made to be “most excellent” members of a royal priesthood through Christ’s death and resurrection!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The book of Ecclesiastes, as mentioned previously, can be a tricky book to read. The key to understanding it lies in the phrase “under the sun..” When Solomon writes of the world “under the sun”, he is referring to the world from a humanist view; the world without sight of God.
Ecclesiastes is full of a number of pictures and proverbs. These are written to show us where our attention and focus in life should be. A few of these pictures and proverbs are discussed below:
1) The Oppressed and the Oppressors – Ecclesiastes 4:1-3
In this section, oppression is discussed. There are oppressors all around us: wicked governments, greedy businessmen, corrupt bosses, and so on. Oppression is universal in the world, and severe and harsh oppression is not uncommon. The unique thing Solomon points out in this passage is that not only the oppressed need a comforter, but the oppressors do too. The brutal prison guard, for example, is oppressed by his brutal commander. All men suffer, and all are without a comforter from the “under the sun” perspective. It is such a grim existence that Solomon declares that the living should envy the dead, or those who have not existed. Yet this all from the worldly view – there is a Comforter for those who know Christ!
2) The Benefit of Adversity – Ecclesiastes 7:1-6
There is a benefit to adversity. Difficulties can make us sober and rescue us from a life of frivolity. The general attitude of men today is that of children who have never grown up – everything is frivolity, joking, and silliness. But life is serious; the deep questions of life demand our full thought and grave attention.
3) Value in Contentment – Ecclesiastes 8:14-17
Sometimes, the wicked prosper and the good suffer (v14). It can be pointless to struggle against this, or against a great oppressive regime. Also, we cannot know the working of God – we cannot know the future and how all things will turn out. We should live today in God’s providence and be content in it, enjoying the basic happiness that can be found in living life. (It is only by being right spiritually with our Creator that we can life a full and joyous life here on earth.)
4) All Shall Die – Ecclesiastes 9:1-4
As mentioned in the previous chapter, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. You cannot tell the standing of a person before God by looking at their circumstances (men have incorrectly tried to equate prosperity and rightness with God for centuries.) And there is one thing that happens to both good and bad men – all men die. Verse four reminds us that there is hope while a person is living; after you die your destiny is fixed.
5) Remember Your Creator in the Days of Your Youth – Ecclesiastes 12
This chapter begins with a vivid description of the decay of one’s faculties as he is overcome by age, with a reminder: don’t waste your life! Don’t waste your short time of health and fitness in selfish pursuits, use your life for God’s glory!
To sum up the message of Ecclesiastes, we are all heading to our “long home” – our eternal home. This will be either a place of eternal glory or eternal damnation. Let us keep this future in our minds as we walk this world “under the sun”. Let us be focused on our eternal purpose, rather than consumed by the vanities of a life spend seeking the things of this earth. Let us see (v.11) the strength of the framework laid out by God’s Word and let us seek to live lives based on the principles of His Word, in loving service to Him for His glory!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Text: Ecclesiastes 1:17 – 2:26
Ecclesiastes can be a difficult book of the Bible to read and understand. The key to Ecclesiastes lies in the phrase “under the sun.” Throughout the book, Solomon is writing from a worldy perspective, discussing things as they are for the man without God. This is the humanist perspective. It is incredibly common in life today, as men continue to set up their thoughts and lives in a way that is separate from God.
Throughout the book, Solomon describes a search for meaning and purpose in life. Without God, however, he finds no meaning – all is vanity. In the previous section of Ecclesiastes, Solomon discussed the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge for its own sake, surmising in v. 18 of Chapter 1 that the acquisition of much wisdom ends only in grief and pain.
So Solomon takes another approach. First, he seeks to find meaning in the pursuit of pleasure. He decides to “live it up”, enjoying laughter and much wine, yet with his mind engaged. He’s still trying to find a meaning to life within the pleasure. This might be compared to the philosophy of the 60’s, when people were taking drugs and attempting to find enlightenment. But in the end, Solomon declares that this too is vanity, futility, madness.
Then, he seeks to find meaning in life through building great works. He builds houses, gardens, and orchards. He acquires flocks and servants to tend them. He obtains gold and silver and many singers and concubines. In the end, however, this pursuit is also vanity, and is striving after the wind.
The next section (v. 12 through 23) contains a brief reflection on what Solomon has learned up to this point. He declares that the pursuit of wisdom for its own sake, though bitter, is still better than the mere pursuit of pleasure. Yet everything is futile for the humanist, because all men die, whether wise or foolish, rich or poor. For the rich man, what is the profit of his riches when he dies? He cannot take it with him; they will pass on to another whom he does not know. For the man who pursued pleasure, what does that profit him when he dies?
The end of this passage contains some final thoughts on where meaning can be found in life. Verse 24 is difficult to translate, but may be translated, “There is no good in a man on his own to find joy...” Verse 25 continues that man cannot find true joy on his own. It is only through a relationship with God that man can be fulfilled and find real joy and happiness in this life. Verse 26 concludes, noting that God gives happiness, wisdom and joy to His children.
Let us not be like the humanistic world around us, running from our Maker and seeking vainly to find joy in this life. We must seek Him first, and it is only when we are in a right relationship with God that we can enjoy his gifts in this world fully.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
God’s love is primarily towards His children. However, He also sees fit to show His love towards the unsaved. (Psalm 145:9 -- “The Lord is good to all.”) In Luke 6:35, God calls us to love our enemies and do good to all. In this way, we can be like Him, because He is kind on ungrateful and evil men.
Primarily, though, God’s love is towards His children. Here are seven aspects of God’s love, as known by the Christian:
- God is love. The description of God and the description of God’s love (1 Cor. 13) are the same. God is sovereign; His love is sovereign. God is unchangeable; His love is unchangeable. God is perfect; His love is perfect, and so on…
- God’s love flows through Jesus Christ to His people. Read through Ephesians 1, and see how many times the blessings we enjoy are described as being “in Christ”. All that we enjoy of God as Christians is through His Son. How do we experience this love? By believing in Christ. It is all that is required of us, but it is required of us.
- The love of God does not begin with us. God’s love begins with Himself. We love Him because He first loved us.
Because of the three first points, the following aspects of God’s love are true:
- The love of God in Christ Jesus is attracted by nothing in its object. We do not earn His love or do anything to make Him love us.
- The love of God cannot be repelled by anything that is in us. God loved us long before we knew Him. He loved us when we were still sinners. Now, as His children, when we stumble, He is not repelled by our sin; He will not leave us or forsake us.
- The love of God is not apportioned to His children by their fruitfulness. God loves all His children the same: He has a superabundance of love for us. He loves us all the same, all the time.
- God heals our backslidings. He pours His love out upon us, in the form of chastening, when we sin. In His love, He forgives us when we return to Him.
God’s love for us does not grow, but we can grow to know that love more. So we should come to God knowing that He loves us. We should make our prayers and requests known with His love for us in mind, and we should meditate much on the love that is ours in Christ.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The passage listed in Leviticus above describes the institution of the remembrance of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread that directly follows it. In order to understand this remembrance, we must look back to the first Passover, in Exodus 12.
The first verse of that passage says that this is to be their first month. God was telling the Israelites that what He was doing here was of paramount importance. This would be the event they set their calendars to. And this would be a great and new thing, a new beginning at the beginning of a new year.
Next, the Israelites were told to take a lamb on the 10th day. This lamb was to be selected – chosen with a purpose – and to be without any blemish, looking forward to Christ who was the spotless Sacrifice. Many years later, when Christ came, this would be the day He entered Jerusalem.
They were to keep the lamb until the 14th day (the day Christ would die). This gave them time to ensure that it really was a perfect sacrifice. Then they were to kill the lamb at evening (about the time Christ died).
They were to roast the lamb whole, signifying Christ’s wholeness and perfection, and were to eat it in haste, remembering their deliverance from Egypt.
The lamb was to be eaten with unleavened bread. Leaven frequently is a symbol for sin; the Israelites were leaving sin behind in Egypt. They ate with bitter herbs, to remind them of the hardness and bitterness of sin.
The blood of the lamb was to be placed over and beside the door posts. They had to be “under the blood”, as we have to be covered by the blood-sacrifice of Christ today.
In verse 14 of Exodus 12, God told the Israelites that He was instituting a memorial that would be celebrated yearly until it was fulfilled in Christ. Furthermore, God told them to be sure to keep this as a reminder to their children (v 26, 27) and be ready to explain the significance of the ritual to them. In the same way, we should be constantly teaching our children the glorious gospel of Christ.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
The first chapter of John is well-known as an explanation and description of how The Word (Jesus Christ) became a man and came to live upon this world. John 1:14 describes how Christ “dwelt among” the disciples and how His glory was evident and “full of grace and truth”.
What is this glory? We often say that our objective is to “bring glory to God”. What does that mean?
John is saying that Jesus Christ is the glory of God. And that Jesus was making known God in all His glory. Some aspects of the glory of God – or of glory in general—are:
- Glory must be revealed. It does not exist until it is seen and made known.
- Glory is excellent. Things that are glorious are not humdrum, not ordinary.
- Glory is victorious. In Jesus, we see the victory of Life over death, of mercy over misery, and of grace over sin.
This brings us to the well-known passage in Philippians 4:8. In this verse, Paul defines a number of wonderful things to think upon. Although one can think upon what is true, honorable, just, etc., without thinking directly of Christ, these characteristics are most perfectly embodied in the Lord Jesus. As John put it in John 1:14, Jesus is the glory of God. The glory of God in Jesus Christ is displayed in each of these attributes. Let’s consider them:
- Whatever things are true – this word means “not hidden”, “unconcealed”, “manifested”. Something that is true is an actual occurrence, an event that can be trusted.
- Whatever things are honorable – synonyms: “venerable:”, “revered”. This indicates something that is deep, substantial, weighty, grave. This is in contrast to the shallow, even flippant, examples of Christianity we see around today.
- Whatever things are just – This word means “is as it should be, always.” Christ is what he should be, always, as He ever lives to make intercession for us.
- Whatever things are pure – The idea of this word is things that excite reverence, things that are free from carnality, modest, immaculate, and unmixed with error. Christ exemplified purity, in that He was “holy, harmless, and undefiled”.
- Whatever things are lovely or loveable – This word is not found elsewhere in the Bible. It is a completely subjective idea – what is lovely to one may not be to another. But Paul was certain the Christians in Philippi would know what is truly lovely, and would know that true loveliness starts with the loveliness of Christ.
- Whatever is of good repute – These are things that sound well, that are words of a good omen, or words of good will toward others. The “good news” of the gospel of Christ is the ultimate word of good repute.
- If there be and virtue – Moral goodness, excellence in thought, feelings, and actions. Again, Jesus is our Example of virtuous life.
- If anything is worthy of praise – or commendable. Who is more worthy of our praise than our Lord and Savior?
As we consider these things, let us strive to consider Christ and to think upon Him – the glory of God – in the days ahead.