Through the Bible Week 45, John 3 – 18


bible_iphone

Towards the end of John, just before His crucifixion, Jesus has some things to say to His disciples and also says a long prayer for them and all believers to come. In this dialogue, Jesus says something about His love for the disciples and for us.

John 15:9 (NKJV) — As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

Now we can only guess at the extent of the Father’s love for Jesus. It must be far greater than our minds can comprehend. It is a love that is absolute and infinite. Jesus says that His love for us is exactly like this. Just as the Father loved Jesus, He loves us….Just as.  That is one of the most encouraging passages from the Bible for me. Jesus loves me just as God the Father loves Jesus.

The question then comes…what am I to do with that?  How do I respond to that kind of love. We never have to worry about finding the answer. The answer is always in scripture. In fact, Jesus follows this up with exactly how we are to respond to His love.

John 15:12 (NKJV)This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Think about that! We are to love one another in just the same way that Jesus loves us. It is a commandment! That means we are to love one another in just the same way that God the Father loves Jesus Christ. Is that what your love looks like?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7  (NKJV)Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Compare your everyday actions to this list. True love is infinitely patient and is always kind, even to those that cause us to suffer. Love never envies another person. Love never wants what the other has and never wants to be important. Love does not parade itself or flaunt knowledge or position. Love isn’t puffed up and haughty and doesn’t think more highly than it should. Love is never rude, but always polite. Love never seeks its own, but always seeks what is best for others.

Love is never provoked. That’s a hard one. Love never gets angry or loses control about what someone else has done. Love does not rejoice in iniquity. That means love does not rejoice in any kind of sin. This includes your enemy’s sin. It’s easy to want our enemy to be seen as a sinner so we spread gossip and use their sin to make ourselves look good. Love does none of that. Love rejoices only in the truth of God.

Most importantly, this is all summed up in verse 7…love bears all things of man, believes all things of God, hopes in all the promises of God and hopes for the good of all people.  Most importantly, love endures all slander hardship and suffering as we wait for our Lord.

 

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – John 19-21
  2. Day 2 – Acts 1-3
  3. Day 3 – Acts 4-6
  4. Day 4 – Acts 7-8
  5. Day 5 – Acts 9-10
  6. Day 6 – Acts 11-13
  7. Day 7 – Acts 14-15

Through the Bible Week 44, Luke 12 – John 2


bible_iphone

Towards the end the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus’ disciples arguing over which one of them will be the greatest in the Kingdom. Importance is an alluring thing. People long to be important. We find this in the office. We find this in schools. We definitely find this in politics. But, unfortunately, we find this to be quite prevalent in the Church. I guess it was inevitable for this to happen in the Church as we see it start here even before Jesus’ death, resurrection, and His ascension to heaven.

Yet Jesus corrects His disciples with the following.

Luke 22:26–27 (NKJV) — 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.

Jesus says if you want to see the greatest in the church, it’s not the person in the pulpit if the person in the pulpit lords his position over the church. It’s not the person leading the men’s group or the women’s group if that person likes to be important. It’s not the assistant pastors or elders or board if they want recognition. It’s none of these. If you want to see the greatest in the church, look for the person quietly serving God and looking for no recognition. Look for the person that puts everyone else before their own needs or wants. Jesus says it is the one who truly serves that is the greatest. It’s not the person receiving the service, it’s the one giving the service. Jesus himself came to serve.

Philippians 2:5–8 (NKJV) — 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Let the mind of Christ be in you. The mind of Christ is not a mind that clamors for recognition or claws for importance. The mind of Christ is not one that sacrifices righteousness to be seen as in charge in the Church. The mind of Christ is not one that seeks to please men for accolades. The mind of Christ is not one that loves to hear their own voice. The mind of Christ is not one that loves applause or the praise of people. The mind of Christ is one that is willing to give up all claim to importance and is a mind that lowers oneself down to be a slave.

Do you have this mind?

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – John 3-4
  2. Day 2 – John 5-6
  3. Day 3 – John 7-8
  4. Day 4 – John 9-10
  5. Day 5 – John 11-12
  6. Day 6 – John 13-15
  7. Day 7 – John 16-18

Through the Bible Week 43, Mark 15 – Luke 11


bible_iphone

Jesus’ words were often spoken in parables. In one he speaks of those people hearing the word as if they are each a different kind of ground: bad ground, rocky ground, good ground, etc. This parable should be familiar to us all, but there is an interesting phrase here that I often miss when studying this.

Luke 8:15 (NKJV) — 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

The interesting phrase is the very last part, “bear fruit with patience”. Fruit is never quick. Fruit can’t be forced. Fruit is the result of a long abiding in Jesus Christ. To do this, we must have patience. Patience is a difficult thing for us. We live in an ever increasingly “instant gratification” world. We get angry when we are behind a slow driver. We get angry if our internet isn’t fast enough. We get angry if church services go too long. Patience is hard.

Top make it even more difficult, patience is a fruit itself. To bear fruit we must have patience and to have patience we must bear fruit. It seems like a paradox. But it isn’t a paradox, it is quite simple. When we abide in Jesus Christ, truly abide, patience is itself an outflow.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NKJV) — 5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

The Lord directs our heart into the love and patience. And when we allow the Lord to do this, all kinds of other fruit will come of it.

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – Luke 12-13
  2. Day 2 – Luke 14-16
  3. Day 3 – Luke 17-18
  4. Day 4 – Luke 19-20
  5. Day 5 – Luke 21-22
  6. Day 6 – Luke 23-24
  7. Day 7 – John 1-2

Through the Bible Week 42, Mark 1 – Mark 14


bible_iphone

As we continue through the Gospels, we get to read the many words of Jesus. There are so many from which to choose that it is hard to single out any one thing. We do find one passage in the Gospels that stands out. It is a question asked of Jesus.

Mark 12:28–31 (NKJV) — 28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

What is the greatest commandment? Jesus says it is love. Notice, this commandment is not one of the Ten Commandments. We love to post and quote and hang signs and make monuments to the Ten Commandments, but Jesus says none of those is the greatest commandment. We find the first commandment Jesus lists…Love God with all your heart…in Deuteronomy 10:12. We find the second commandment Jesus lists…Love your neighbor as yourself…in Leviticus 19:18. They were commandments given to the children of Israel. These are repeated in word or spirit often in scripture.

These two commandments are the commandments we should be quoting, and hanging in our homes, and making monuments with. You see, all the other commandments, including the Ten Commandments, are really just ways in which a person who is loving God and loving his neighbor will act. These two commandments encompass all commandments.

Romans 13:9–10 (NKJV) — 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

 It is interesting that these commandments really aren’t something you “do” as much as something that is true in you. It is by fulfilling these that we fulfill obedience to God.

Love…real Godly love… is the answer to all questions. Faith is rooted in love. Obedience is rooted in love. Forgiveness is rooted in love. Humility is rooted in love. Selflessness is rooted in love. Righteousness is rooted in Love.

1 John 4:7 (NKJV) — 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – Mark 15-16
  2. Day 2 – Luke 1
  3. Day 3 – Luke 2-3
  4. Day 4 – Luke 4-5
  5. Day 5 – Luke 6-7
  6. Day 6 – Luke 8-9
  7. Day 7 – Luke 10-11

Through the Bible Week 41, Matthew 15 – 28


bible_iphone

In Matthew 26, we come to the arrest, betrayal, and trial of Jesus. Simon Peter has an interesting place during these events. At the passover dinner, Jesus proclaims that all of the disciples will abandon him.

Matthew 26:31–35 (NKJV) — 31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.

Peter proclaims that even if everyone else stumbles, he will never stumble. Jesus then tells Peter that he will deny Jesus three times that very night. We can see that Peter’s intent is good. He really does believe he won’t stumble. Later in the night, we see Peter even boldly decide he is going to fight for Jesus.

Matthew 26:51 (NKJV) — 51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

The Gospel of John gives the same account and tells us that the one with the sword is Peter.

John 18:10 (NKJV) — 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

It is interesting that Peter, against all these guards, has the courage to start swinging a sword. Yet, Jesus stops him and proclaims that he doesn’t need Peter’s help.

Matthew 26:52–54 (NKJV) — 52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

Jesus tells Peter, “I can call on my Father and get twelve legions of angels. Peter, you really can’t help me and I don’t want you to help me. Peter, this has been the plan all along.”  Now, later, during Jesus’ trial before the elders of Israel, Peter no longer is so brave.

Matthew 26:69–75 (NKJV) — 69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” 71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” 73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” 74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

What happened? Why the change in Peter? In one case, he is willing to swing a sword and fight outstanding odds of guards. In the second case, Peter seems afraid of even the servants knowing he was a disciple of Jesus.

I find that we can all be like this. We are all zealous for the Lord at times and at others we cower. What is it? If we look closely at the two cases, we see a distinct difference. In the case where Peter is courageous, Jesus is standing there, not bound, and showing His great power (John 18 tells us that Jesus makes the multitude of guards fall back with the power of his voice).  Yet, in the case were Peter denies Jesus, Jesus is bound, being tried, being struck by officials, and is silent and not defending Himself. Peter is brave when he thinks Jesus is going to fight. Peter is a coward when he thinks Jesus is powerless.

We often think we need to fight for Jesus, or fight through a trial, or make sure we do the exact right thing or say the exact right thing. It’s easy when things seem to be going right. But, when it doesn’t look like the Lord is doing what we want, we get nervous or afraid that we will get it wrong. We fear that someone won’t be saved because we don’t have the right words. We think someone can’t be healed if we don’t pray enough. We need to remember what Jesus told Peter about legions of Angels. Jesus doesn’t need any of us. Jesus isn’t going to leave someone’s salvation up to us. Jesus isn’t going to let someone’s healing be up to us. Yes, Jesus does answer prayers. He often uses our prayers to prove Himself to us. But, Jesus doesn’t need me and He doesn’t need you. True faith is knowing this simple truth. And in knowing this, you can really be free to serve him.

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – Mark 1-3
  2. Day 2 – Mark 4-5
  3. Day 3 – Mark 6-7
  4. Day 4 – Mark 8-9
  5. Day 5 – Mark 10-11
  6. Day 6 – Mark 12-13
  7. Day 7 – Mark 14

Through the Bible Week 40, Malachi 1 – Matthew 14


bible_iphone

Through this section of scripture, we see the closing of pre-Christ prophecy. However, it is a closing only of the Old-Testament prophets, not a complete fulfillment or even and end to new prophecy. After this, what we see with the book of Matthew is the beginning of the fulfillment of all of that prophecy. The coming of Christ is the beginning of the end of the old age and a beginning of the coming of a new age.

In the very last chapter of the Old-Testament, Malachi repeats some words he hears from God. These words are prophesying of the final triumphant coming of Lord to rule the earth. Immediately following this, in the New-Testament, we have the coming of the Lord as an infant, as a fragile, needy baby. In Malachi is a conquering King and in Matthew is a helpless babe. Buried in the Malachi passage that talks of the Lord’s return, where the day is “Burning like an oven” and the wicked fall, there is a grace and hope poured out.

Malachi 4:2 (NKJV)2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings…

A promise is given to the children of Israel. The Lord will come with healing. He will heal His people. He will heal from infirmary and He will heal all the sin of the nation. That is the specific promise. Yet, in this specific promise is a general promise to the whole earth. The Lord is coming to heal us.

The very next chapter in the Bible occurs over 400 years later, but in this chapter is the same promise. An angel comes to a man named Joseph in a dream to tell him that he should go ahead and take Mary as his wife because the child she is carrying is conceived of the Holy Spirit. The angel makes the same promise that was made to Malachi.

Matthew 1:21 (NKJV) — 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Do you get this theme? It is a theme found throughout all scripture. The Lord saves. That is His heart and His purpose towards you. Again, the specific promise is to the nation of Israel, but the general promise is to each of us. Even later, we who aren’t of the nation of Israel, are also clearly given this promise. In Matthew 8, Jesus says something about the gentiles in contrast to the unbelievers among the Jews.

Matthew 8:11 (NKJV) — 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Many who are not the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be in the kingdom. It is a promise to all who believe, no matter your background. This is reiterated much in scripture.

Ephesians 3:6 (NKJV) — 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

We are called to be fellow heirs. Back in our reading, Jesus calls each of us with some of the most graceful words I have ever heard or read.

Matthew 11:28–30 (NKJV) — 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Come to Jesus and find rest. Come to Jesus and find peace. Come to Jesus and find everlasting life.

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – Matthew 15-17
  2. Day 2 – Matthew 18-19
  3. Day 3 – Matthew 20-21
  4. Day 4 – Matthew 22-23
  5. Day 5 – Matthew 24-25
  6. Day 6 – Matthew 26
  7. Day 7 – Matthew 27-28

Through the Bible Week 39, Obediah – Zechariah 14


bible_iphone

In this section of scripture, we come across a few of the prophets. It is here that God starts providing a glimpse of a glorious future. A future to which the nation of Israel looks. It is a future to which I look and a future to which I hope every christian looks.

In the very first chapter of Zechariah, Zechariah is in Jerusalem with a number of people that were allowed to return after their 70 year captivity. Zechariah receives a vision from God in which an angel asks God how long it will be before He has mercy on Jerusalem again. The Lord gives the following answer.

Zechariah 1:16–17 (NKJV) —
16 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord: “I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,” says the Lord of hosts, “And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.” ’
17 “Again proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; The Lord will again comfort Zion, And will again choose Jerusalem.” ’ ”

The promise that sticks out to me in this is “I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy”. The Lord is going to return to Jerusalem with mercy. Jerusalem needed a lot of mercy. We need a lot of mercy. It is not long after these events that the Bible goes silent for a period of time. The next major event we see in scripture is the coming of Jesus Christ. This first coming of Jesus was a moment of God returning to Jerusalem with mercy. Yet, it is not the complete fulfillment of this promise. Zechariah sees another vision in which the Lord says a little more about this.

Zechariah 2:10–11 (NKJV) —
10 “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord.
11 “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.

“Sing and rejoice” God says! Sing and rejoice. The Lord is coming to dwell in the midst of His people Israel. And, many nations will be joined to the Lord in that day and they will be His people. Those nations are you and me. Jesus is returning. Jesus is returning for me. Jesus is returning for you. Jesus is returning for His people. He is returning in mercy and He will be crowned both King and High Priest. He is our ruler and our intermediator. His atonement for our sins covers us now and then. What a blessed promise from God. Come Lord Jesus.

 

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – Malachi 1-4
  2. Day 2 – Matthew 1-4
  3. Day 3 – Matthew 5-6
  4. Day 4 – Matthew 7-8
  5. Day 5 – Matthew 9-10
  6. Day 6 – Mathew 11-12
  7. Day 7 – Matthew 13-14