Week of 6 Easter – C – 05/01 – 07/2016

April 30, 2016

Week of 6 Easter – C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 6 Easter – C 

Sunday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 9, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 6 Easter – C 

Psalm 67 — Thanksgiving for Good Harvest;
Acts 14:8-18 – Mistaken for “gods;”
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 – New Jerusalem;
John 14:23-29 – The “Baptism” of the Holy Spirit;

Psalm 61 Paraphrase:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us” (Psalm 67:1), so that God’s way and his saving power may be known among all the nations of the earth. May all peoples praise the Lord our God!

May all nations rejoice and sing for joy, because our God judges all people with equity and guides all nations upon the earth. May all peoples praise the Lord our God!

“The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God has blessed us. God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him” (Psalm 67:6-7).

Acts 14:8-18 Paraphrase:

On Paul’s first missionary journey, he and Barnabas, Paul’s missionary companion, came to Lystra (in the Roman province of Galatia, in modern-day Turkey). They encountered a man who had been born crippled in his feet and had never walked. The man was listening to Paul preach, and Paul noted that the man had the faith to be healed, so Paul told the man to stand up. The man sprang up and walked.

When the crowd saw what Paul had done they shouted in their native language that the gods had come down in the likeness of men! They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul, Hermes. The priest of Zeus came from the temple at the entrance to the city. Bringing oxen and garlands, intending to offer sacrifice to them with the people. But when Paul and Barnabas heard this, they tore their clothing (in ritual mourning) and cried out, asking why the people were doing this, since Paul and Barnabas were mere mortals like the people themselves.

The occasion provided Paul the opportunity to proclaim the “good news” (the Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ), that people should turn from worshiping vain idols to the living God, the Creator of heaven, earth, sea, and everything in them. In the past God had allowed people to follow their own ways, although the goodness of Creation, rains, fruitful seasons, food and gladness testified to his goodness. Saying this, Paul barely restrained the people from offering them sacrifice. But Paul and Barnabas had been persecuted in previous stops in Antioch and Iconium, and the Jewish leaders came to Lystra and stirred up the people of that region to stone Paul and drag him from the city, thinking that he was dead.

But the disciples gathered around him and he arose and returned to the city. The next day his company went on to Derbe. Having preached the Gospel there and having made many disciples, they returned the way they had come, to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the new converts, encouraging them to persevere in discipleship, and telling them that they must endure hardship and persecution to enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Having appointed elders in each local church, they commended the disciples to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Then they traveled through Pisidia and Pamphylia,  preached the Gospel in Perga, and then went on to Attalia (all in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey), and from there, sailed to Antioch (on the coast of Syria). At Antioch they were commended to God’s grace for the work they had accomplished for the Gospel. There they gathered the Church and told them all that God had done through them, and how he had opened the Gentiles to believe in the Gospel. And the missionaries stayed with the disciples in Antioch for quite some time.

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 Background:

The Apostle John had a series of visions while exiled on the island of Patmos in the Aegean for preaching the Gospel.

Paraphrase:

In the Spirit, John was transported to a high mountain were he could see the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven from God. The city was filled with the radiance of God’s glory, like an extremely rare jewel, like a clear crystal of jasper. The city had a great, high wall with twelve gates, three in each of its four sides, with an angel at each gate. Each gate was named for one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The city wall had twelve foundations, each named for one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Jesus).

There was no temple in the city, for the city itself is the temple of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. The city needs neither sun or moon because God’s glory provides its sunlight and the Lamb is its moonlight (reflecting the glory of God). By the light of the holy city shall all the people of earth walk. The kings of earth will give their glory to the holy city, and the gates will never be closed during daylight, and there will be no night. The earthly kings will bring the glory and honor of all the nations of the earth. But nothing unclean, no one who practices abomination or untruth will be allowed to enter; only those who are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life.

John 14:23-29 Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that that obedience to his teachings is evidence of the disciples’ love for Jesus. Those who don’t keep his teachings don’t truly love Jesus, and Jesus’ teachings are not his own; they are the Word of God who sent Jesus into this world.

Jesus tried to teach his disciples as much as they could handle while Jesus was present with them physically, but when Jesus had departed physically, the Holy Spirit would be sent to them by God the Father, and would continue to teach the disciples all things, and also help them recall all that Jesus had said. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus would give them true peace, unlike worldly peace (which is repeatedly broken) so the disciples would not be troubled or afraid.

Jesus had told them that he was leaving them (physically) but would return to them (through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and at the Second Coming at the Day of Judgment). The disciples were sad to think of Jesus leaving them physically, but instead they should be rejoicing if they loved Jesus because Jesus would be returning to his Father in heaven, because the Father is greater than Jesus. Jesus was telling the disciples this now before Jesus was going to be crucified and ascended into heaven, so that so that when these things took place the disciples would not lose faith.

Commentary:

Psalm:

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This Creation has been designed to allow the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s way is our best interest.

God began to establish his people with his call to Abraham (Abram). God’s dealing with Israel, recorded in the Bible, was intended to be made know to all people to reveal God’s goodness and saving power.

God is God, whether we accept and acknowledge him as our God or not. God guides the nations of earth, whether they are his people or not (for example: Jeremiah 25:8-14; Isaiah 44:28-45:1). God will judge the living (“quickened”) and dead, in both physical and spiritual senses, by Jesus Christ, the righteous judge who experienced all the temptations of human flesh, but without sinning (disobeying God’s Word; Hebrews 4:15). So he is the only one who is qualified to judge us. He is the only one who can judge us with equity.

This Creation will yield a spiritual harvest of God’s obedient, trusting people, who will live in his eternal kingdom restored to paradise in heaven.

Acts:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is intended by God to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. He is also intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple (student) and apostle” (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ as we all can and should be.

Jesus demonstrated the method of disciple-making that his disciples were to follow. Paul is the example of that method of discipleship. He was discipled by a born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-12), until he was born-again, and then Paul began making born-again disciples and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 1:6-7; 2:2).

Jesus taught his disciples to carry on his ministry of physical and spiritual  healing, feeding and resurrection (Matthew 10:7-8) and Paul and James are recorded in the New Testament carrying out that ministry (Acts 14:8-10; James 2:14-17).

When Paul and Barnabas were mistaken for “gods” they vigorously rejected that designation. Note, though, that when Thomas addressed Jesus as his Lord and his God (John 20:28), Jesus did not refute him, because Thomas was right. The Lyconians were willing to accept that Paul and Barnabas were “gods” in human form; but Jesus really was the one and only true God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9).

Paul taught by word and example that Christians must be willing to suffer hardship and persecution, but that the Lord is able to bring them through anything they encounter. Our enemies cannot kill us physically unless God allows it. If we die physically, God will raise us to spiritual, eternal life. So whether we live or die physically, we are eternally secure in the Lord.

Revelation:

John’s vision was of the purified Church coming down from heaven. The nominal Church in the world today consists of the true Church and the false Church; true Christian disciples, and false Christians. Jesus warns that those who don’t live in obedient trust of Jesus’ teachings aren’t going to enter the eternal kingdom of God in heaven (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

The nominal Church includes false prophets and false teachings (see False Teachings, sidebar, right, home). The standard by which all teaching and prophecy can be judged is by the Bible. The Bible can easily be read by any average reader in one year and there are numerous one-year Bible reading plans available (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, right, home).

John’s vision is of the true Church, purified of false teachings, false prophecies and false members. The vision is highly symbolic. Its cubic dimensions symbolize perfection. Its beauty is symbolized as a rare jewel. The city is founded upon the Twelve patriarchs of Israel and the gates are established by the Twelve Apostles (the Eleven original apostles, minus Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, plus Paul, Judas’ replacement).

Jesus’ born-again disciples are individually and collectively the temple of God by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is the light of spiritual enlightenment. By walking by the light of the Holy Spirit we will not stumble (spiritually; John 1:4, 9; 8:12; 11:9-10; Romans 8:4).

One must be born-again to have spiritual, eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). Only Jesus baptizes with (gives the gift of) the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event; it is impossible to be born-again and “hardly know it” (Acts 19:2). Those who have been truly born-again have a personal daily relationship with Jesus Christ, and will be known and acknowledged by him on the Day of Judgment.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience peace beyond what the world falsely calls peace. For example, on numerous occasions I’ve received peace and assurance through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Recently, after three unpleasant experiences on jury duty, I received another summons. The day I received the summons I prayed and asked the Lord to have my summons canceled. The Holy Spirit assured me that my prayer had been heard and that I had obtained my request (1 John 5:15). I had learned from years of experience to recognize and trust the Lord’s assurance, and so I didn’t worry for the ten intervening days, and my summons was canceled as the Lord had promised! Praise the Lord!

It was to Jesus’ advantage to return to his Father in heaven where he would be glorified. On earth he was being abused and persecuted. It was also to his disciples advantage that Jesus return to heaven, because while he was physically present on earth he could be in only one place at a time. But if he was in heaven, the disciples would receive the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit through whom they would have daily access to God the Father and Jesus Christ anywhere at any time (John 16:7; see Personal Testimonies, “Discipleship,” sidebar, right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 10, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 6 Easter – C 

Psalm 47 – King of all Nations;

Paraphrase:

Celebrate with hand-clapping and songs of joy, because God, the Lord, the Most High, is terrifying. He is King over all the earth. He subdues peoples and nations under us. God has chosen our heritage for us who are the pride of Jacob (Israel; father of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel) whom he  loves.

“God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm” (Psalm 47:5-7)!

God is enthroned and reigns over all the nations of earth. “The shields (‘protectors;’ ‘rulers;’ Psalm 89:18) belong to God; he is highly exalted” (Psalm 47:9b)!

Commentary:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10). The fear of the Lord is the awe and respect for the power and authority of God. Until we understand our relationship to God, we know nothing useful to our eternal destiny.

The Lord is King of kings, and Lord of lords. In him we have conquered all earthly authorities, nations, and peoples.

God has chosen our heritage from the beginning of Creation. God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (2 Peter 3:9b; Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). All who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus are spiritual descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9; 14).

God is God, whether we acknowledge, trust and obey him, or not, but God is not obligated to be all that a loving, all-powerful God implies unless we are willing to be his obedient, trusting people. God is not obligated to hear and answer our prayers unless we are willing to hear, trust and obey God’s Word (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, right, home).

God guides the nations of earth according to his will, whether they acknowledge him or not (Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon: Jeremiah 25:11-12; and Cyrus of Persia: Isaiah 44:28, 45:1), for example.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 11, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 6 Easter – C 

Acts 16:6-10 – The Macedonian Call;

Paraphrase:

On the second missionary journey, Paul and his fellow missionaries  had traveled through Phyrigia and Galatia in Asia Minor (Present-day Turkey) without preaching the Gospel, because the Holy Spirit forbade them. In the region of Mysia, a province in north-west Asia Minor, they attempted to enter Bithinia but the Holy Spirit would not permit. So passing Mysia they went to Troas on the westernmost coast of Asia minor. During the night Paul had a dream of a Macedonian man begging Paul and his group to come over to Macedonia and help them. Immediately Paul and his companions prepared to go to Macedonia, a Roman province north of Greece, concluding that God wanted them to preach the Gospel there.

Commentary:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was the first missionary ever to preach the Gospel on European soil at Philippi in Macedonia, and Lydia (Acts 16:14) was the first European convert.

Paul is the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, as we can and should be. Immediately after his conversion he was guided and empowered by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:20-22). From that time he was learning to be guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

New believers are to be discipled by born-again disciples within the Church (the New Jerusalem on earth) until the new believers are born-again, before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8)). We cannot accomplish the mission of Christ in our own strength (Zechariah 4:6).

More than a few times in the more than thirty years since I was born-again, the door for ministry has closed in one area and the Lord guided me to another open door. It is important to seek God’s Word and guidance on a daily basis, with a regular time of Bible-reading with prayer and meditation.

The Eleven remaining original disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While they were  waiting, they decided to pick a replacement for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. Since they didn’t yet have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they chose one of their company, Matthias, by lot (by “chance;” like rolling dice). Matthias is never heard from again in the New Testament (Acts 1:15-26). In contrast, I believe that Paul was the Lord’s chosen replacement. After his conversion, most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul.

It is hard for new believers, especially in the American culture of instant gratification that I live in today, to learn to wait for the baptism and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to be careful not to rely on our own human judgment.

Is Jesus your Lord? Are you Jesus’ disciple? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 12, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 6 Easter – C 

Revelation 22:12-17, 20 – Christ’s Return;

Paraphrase:

Jesus declares that he is coming soon, bringing recompense for what each and every person has done in their lifetime in this world. Jesus is the beginning and end of all things.

Those who wash their robes (in the blood of the Lamb) have the right to the tree of life (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24), and can enter the eternal city of God. “Dogs” (immoral people), sorcerers, fornicators, murderers and idolaters and all who love and practice falsehood will be forbidden to enter.

Jesus sent his “angel” (his Spirit; Revelation 1:1; Acts 12:15) to John with his word of testimony for the Church. Jesus is the root of David (from Jesse, the father of David; Isaiah 11:1, 10), and the Son (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1; 2 Samuel 7:12-13), “the bright morning star” (Numbers 24:17).

The Spirit and the Bride (the Church) say, “Come. And let those who hear, say, ‘Come.’” And may those who are spiritually thirsty come and receive the water of (eternal) life (John 4:14; John 7:38-39) without price.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!”

Commentary:

Jesus has promised that he will return on the Day of Judgment to repay everyone for what they have done individually in this lifetime (Matthew25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). He will judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead (1 Peter 4:5) in both the physical (John 5:28-29; compare John 11:38-44) and spiritual senses.

Jesus has warned that we must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in order to see God’s eternal kingdom, which is all around us now, and to see and enter it ultimately beyond physical death. We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the beginning and end of all things. Jesus was in the beginning with God, and everything in Creation was created by and for Jesus (John 1:1-5). Jesus is the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in this world in human flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is the firstborn from physical death to eternal life (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:13-17). Jesus’ return will end the physical age.

Christ’s return is not far off. It will occur immediately for each of us at the moment of our physical death. Time will end and we will immediately be at the throne of Judgment. At the moment of our physical death our eternal destiny will be fixed and unalterable. No one knows whether he will live another day, and it is also possible that Christ will return while we are still physically alive. It could happen at any moment.

The Tree of Life is the symbol for eternal life. This Creation was created as perfect paradise, but in order to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word, God allowed the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Given freedom, we all choose to do our own will rather than God’s (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home). All the problems in this present world are the result of human sin. God placed the possibility of eternal life beyond our access, so that we could not buy it, steal it or take it by force or deception. The only way to obtain it is by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Throughout the Bible, God has been teaching his people that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). Passover (Exodus 12:1-28) was intended to be a parable, a metaphor for life in this world. Jesus is the New Passover Lamb, sacrificed on the cross, whose flesh provides the feast, and whose blood marks us to be “passed-over” by the destroying angel. Jesus instituted the “New Passover,” the New Covenant (Testament) of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust) on the night of his Last Supper (Matthew 26:1-29) before his crucifixion.

Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin and makes it possible for us, individually, to be temples of the indwelling Holy Spirit. By faith, Jesus’ blood gives us access to eternal life and entrance into God’s eternal city in heaven.

The true Church and truly born-again Christians long for Christ’s return. Here we have tribulation and persecution as we await Christ’s return. Here we have only intermittent, interrupted moments in the presence of the Lord. There we will be in the presence and fellowship of the Lord forever. The suffering of this physical world will be ended forever.

The things of this world can never satisfy our spiritual needs. We are all created as eternal spiritual beings in physical bodies. If we don’t realize and acknowledge our spiritual needs now we will spend eternity in misery without anything eternal. God offers us salvation from eternal destruction for free, but the gift was costly for Jesus, and is priceless to us who are being saved.

Every good thing in this world is supplied by God. Imagine being eternally separated from the providence of God! No healing; no comfort; no satisfaction: that’s Hell!

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 6 Easter – Ascension  Day – C 

First posted May 13, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 6 Easter – C 

Psalm 110 – Ascension of the King;
Acts 1:1-11– Jesus’ Ascension;
Ephesians 1:16-23 – At the Right Hand of God;
Luke 24:44-53 – Jesus’ Ascension;

Psalm 110 Background:

Attributed to David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel. Quoted in the New Testament: Matthew 22:44; Acts 2:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3, 13.

Psalm 110 Paraphrase:

“The Lord (God) said to my Lord (the king; the Messiah): ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool’” (Psalm 110:1).

His scepter comes forth from Zion (the City of God in Heaven) from God. The King will reign in the midst of his enemies. When you lead your army upon the holy mountains, your people will offer themselves willingly. Your youth will come to you like dew from the womb of the morning. “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’” (Psalm 110:4; see Genesis 14:18).

God is at the King’s right hand; by God’s power and authority, kings will be shattered on the day of his wrath. His judgment will be executed upon the nations; they will be filled with corpses. The chiefs of all the wide earth he will shatter. He will drink from the brook on the way; so his head will be lifted up.

Acts Background:

Luke and Acts were both written by Luke, the Physician (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11), a Gentile, converted by Paul.

Acts 1:1-11 Paraphrase:

Luke refers to the “first book” (The Gospel of Luke), and addresses this book to Theophilus, which may be an actual person, or generally to any “lover of God,” which is the meaning of the name. In the Gospel, Luke compiled a narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ from his genealogy and birth to the day of his ascension, after giving his apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) his Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and last instructions to wait until they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1 4-5, 8).

After his resurrection, Jesus presented himself alive to his disciples (the apostles and other followers and students of Jesus) with many proofs (Luke 24:13-53; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8), during a forty-day period, and teaching them about the kingdom of God. While he was staying among them he told them not to depart from Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church) but to wait for the promised “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as Jesus had promised. John had baptized with water (for repentance) but within a few days the disciples would be “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13). While they were gathered, they asked Jesus if he would be restoring the kingdom to Israel (Israel was subject to the Roman Emperor).

Jesus replied that it was not their business to know times and seasons that God has determined by his own authority. They were to focus on receiving the promised Holy Spirit and to being witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, beginning in Jerusalem, and then outward in Judea and Samaria, and ultimately to the “end of the earth” (in both geographic and temporal senses).

After saying this he rose up off the ground as they watched and was carried up out of their sight into heaven on a cloud. While they stood looking into the sky, two men (angels) stood by them in white robes, and addressing them as men of Galilee, asked why they were staring into the sky. The angels told the disciples that Jesus, who they had seen ascend into heaven, would return in the same way.

Ephesians 1:16-23 Paraphrase:

Paul told the Christians in Ephesus (in Western Asia Minor; present day Turkey), established by Paul on his second (Acts 18:19-21) and third missionary journeys (Acts 19:1-41), that he was constantly giving thanks to God for their reception of the Gospel. Paul prayed that they would grow in spiritual wisdom and revelation in knowledge of God; that their spiritual eyes would be opened to see the hope to which they have been called in him, to realize the spiritual riches of their inheritance in glory with the saints (those who are consecrated to God’s service), and the working of immeasurable greatness of his almighty power in believers through faith (obedient trust), which he accomplished in Jesus Christ by raising him from the dead and elevating him to sit at God’s right hand in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. He is elevated far above any earthly rule, authority, power and dominion. His name is above every other name, in this temporal age, and in the eternal age which is coming. God has put all things in submission to Christ, and has made him the ruler of all things for the (true) Church, which is filled with the fullness of his total person and character.

Luke 24:44-53 Paraphrase:

When Jesus appeared, on the day of his Resurrection, to his disciples who were staying in Jerusalem (in the upper room), he told them that he had said that every prophecy about the Messiah in the Old Testament, the Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (The Jewish Bible) had to be fulfilled. “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, ‘ Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that   repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city (Jerusalem; the Church is the modern equivalent) until you are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:45-49).

Then Jesus led them from Jerusalem to Bethany, which was on the Mount of Olives (about two miles east of Jerusalem). There he lifted up his hands and blessed them, and parted from them (was carried up into heaven) and the disciples returned to Jerusalem with tremendous joy, and were continually in the temple thanking and praising God.

Commentary:

Psalm 110 was composed by David, probably for the coronation of a human king, but it is also prophecy fulfilled in Jesus Christ as Jesus told his disciples (Luke 24:44). Jesus is the Son of David, whom God promised would be the eternal king of God’s kingdom in heaven (2 Samuel 7:5-13).

Jesus asked the Pharisees, Jewish authorities in the Bible scriptures, what they understood about Psalm 110:1 and they couldn’t answer him (Matthew 22:41-46). David was the forerunner and illustration of the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). David didn’t ascend into heaven to sit at God’s right hand; Jesus is the fulfillment of of God’s promise to David (Acts 2:34-36).

God has the power and authority to execute judgment upon the nations of this world. But God has delegated that power and authority to Jesus. Jesus is the one righteous judge, who has lived in this world in human flesh, but without sinning (sin is disobedience of God’s Word).

God is righteous and has the power and authority to judge, but we would feel that he is unable to understand our circumstances and weaknesses. Jesus has been tempted in every way just like we are, but without sinning. So he is not unable to sympathize with our situation (Hebrews 4:15), and is able to help us in our weakness.

Luke was converted by Paul (Saul of Tarsus) who had himself been converted after Jesus’ physical ministry on earth (Acts 9:1-21). Neither had known Jesus’ physical life and ministry from firsthand experience. But they had resources among those who had.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel), as all of us can and should be). He had a personal encounter with the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Paul’s conversion demonstrates the execution of the Great Commission, by the “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ. Paul was confronted by the risen and ascended Jesus (Acts 9:3-5). Paul confessed his sin, repented (Acts 9:9), accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5), became obedient, and trusted in Jesus’ commands (Acts 9:6-8), and was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10), until Paul was born-again (Acts 9:17-18), and then immediately began carrying out the Great Commission (Acts 9:20).

Paul’s conversion is unique only in the speed in which it was accomplished. But remember that Paul had been formally educated in Judaism, and that he loved God; he just needed to be pointed to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Paul repeated the process of disciple-making demonstrated by Jesus and his own experience with Ananias, with Timothy, for just one of many examples (2 Timothy 1:6-7) teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

I’m convinced that the Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer. John came into the world to announce the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and to baptize with water for repentance and cleansing so that we could receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event (Acts 19:2).

The Church’s role is to prepare believers to receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, before sending them out into the world to proclaim the Gospel and carry on the mission of Christ. Unfortunately in too many instances, the nominal Church is not making disciples, not encouraging -even discouraging- members from seeking spiritual rebirth through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see false teachings, sidebar, right, home).

Too often, new believers are attracted by “End Times” prophecies, and then want to continue in endless speculation about the Second Coming. I believe that “End Times” preaching is useful to call unbelievers to repent, but once that is accomplished, their discipleship and spiritual rebirth should be the agenda. I think that Jesus’ word to his disciples in Acts 1:6-8 is our mandate: Once we have believed in Jesus and have been filled with the Holy Spirit, our job is not to sit around speculating about when Jesus will return, but to proclaim the Gospel until he comes. The Lord knows where we are and will return in God’s perfect timing.

Jesus promised to return to judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5; Matthew 24:1-51; 25:31-46; Matthew 7:21-27; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Jesus is going to return in the same way as he ascended into heaven.

I proclaimed the Gospel to an individual until he committed to read the Bible in a year. I visited him periodically and re-motivated him several times when he had given up. Finally he did finish the entire Bible, but immediately wanted to start publishing a Bible study like I was doing. He didn’t realize that reading the Bible entirely is just the first step in discipleship; and he wouldn’t listen to me, who had been walking in discipleship for twenty-five years. He’d read the Bible but he hadn’t begun to apply it in his daily life. He had no experience of the knowledge of, faithfulness and power of God. He wasn’t interested in discipleship; he wanted to speculate on end times, and lost respect for me when I told him I wasn’t concerned with End Times.

Jesus is the name above all names (Philippians 2:9-11). There is no other name on earth or in heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings, to the glory of God the Father (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14).

The Holy Spirit fills the true Church and individual Christian members. In too many instances the Holy Spirit has departed from nominal Churches and nominal Christians, and they haven’t even noticed!

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus. The Spirit of the risen Jesus opens our minds to understand the scriptures (Luke24:45; compare Luke 24:32) and recalls to our memory all that Jesus teaches (John 14:26b). A veil ([sic] vail) lays over the minds of unbelievers, preventing them from understanding the scriptures, and only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus is it removed (2 Corinthians 3:14-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 14, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 6 Easter – C 

John 17:20-26 – Jesus’ Prayer for Disciples;

Paraphrase:

Jesus prayed not just for his disciples who he had personally trained, but for all who would believe in Jesus through their testimony. He prayed that they would be unified in Jesus; just as Jesus and God the Father are perfectly one; that they would be in Jesus and Jesus in them, so that the world may believe that Jesus has been sent by God. God has given Jesus glory, and Jesus has given his glory to his disciples so that they may share in Jesus and he in them. Jesus will be in them as God the Father is in Jesus, so that the world will know that Jesus has been sent by God and has loved them just as God has loved Jesus.

Jesus asked God his Father that Jesus’ disciples might be with Jesus in heaven to behold Jesus’ heavenly glory, which God, in his love for Jesus gave him before the creation of this world (John 1:1-3, 14). The world has not known God the righteous Father, but Jesus has, and Jesus has made known to his disciples that God has sent Jesus. Jesus revealed God’s name (his person and character) to his disciples, and will continue to make it known, so that Jesus and God’s love for Jesus may be in them.

Commentary:

Jesus prayed for all believers today who believe through faith in the testimony of the original disciples who were discipled by Jesus during his physical ministry on earth. Those testimonies are recorded in the New Testament, so that we can come to know, trust and obey Jesus.

Those who believe the Bible testimonies and act upon them in faith will come to be modern born-again disciples (like Paul; Saul of Tarsus). They will have been discipled by the risen and ascended Jesus by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and they will add their testimony to that of the New Testament. If there is any disagreement, the New Testament is the standard of truth, and their testimony is false.

Jesus prayed that his disciples would be unified; of one mind in Christ (Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 1:10). The way to be of one mind with Christ is to be discipled by a “born-again” disciple until one has been born-again by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Born-again disciples have unity by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:3-5).

The nominal Church today is divided by false teachings and false prophets. The only way to protect against false teaching and false prophecy is to read the entire Bible for oneself. The Bible is the standard by which all doctrine is tested.

Jesus is fully God and fully human (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Anyone who knows Jesus knows God (John 14:8-11). By the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have the presence of Jesus within us, and the Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the glory of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve experienced moments of the Lord’s glory so powerful that the windows of the church seemed to rattle, and I seemed to float six feet off the ground!

Jesus is the name of the Lord! Jesus is God in human form. Jesus reveals God the Father to whom he chooses (Matthew 11:27).

It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we personally experience the glory and love of God. It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:23).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 15, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 6 Easter – C

John 15:26-16-4 – Witness of the Holy Spirit
(or John 16:12-15);

Jesus was preparing his disciples for his physical departure from them. He told them that when the Counselor (“Paraclete,” from the Greek: Comforter; consoler, intercessor; advocate) came, whom Jesus promised to send from God the Father, the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17), who comes from God, the Spirit will testify to the truth of Jesus. And Jesus’ original disciples were also Jesus’ witnesses because they had been with Jesus from the beginning of Jesus’ physical ministry.

Jesus was telling the disciples these things so that they wouldn’t fall away when Jesus had been crucified. Jesus warned them that they would have persecution; they would be thrown out of synagogues, and would be killed by those who thought they were doing God’s will. Their persecutors would do this because they did not know God and had not recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah. Jesus was telling them this now, so that when it took place they would remember that Jesus had told them. It had not been necessary for Jesus to tell them this until now because Jesus had been physically present with them.

Commentary:

The Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth of Jesus Christ. In his letter written to new believers, the Apostle John tells them not to believe every spirit but to test them to see whether they are of God (1 John 4:1-3). When I was first confronted by the Holy Spirit, before I was “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), I asked who it was I was hearing in my mind, and the Spirit replied, “The Lord and Giver of Life” (as in the third article of the Nicene Creed; see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, right, home).

The Lord is abundantly able to reveal himself to us in a uniquely personal way. When Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was confronted on the road to Damascus, the Holy Spirit identified himself as the risen and ascended Jesus, who Paul was persecuting (Acts 9:5). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).

Through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the love of God and the joy of his presence. When we praise and glorify Jesus we experience the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively; 1 John 5:6-8).

The original Eleven Apostles (messengers; of the Gospel -minus Judas Iscariot, the betrayer; Luke 6:13) had been witnesses to Jesus’ physical public ministry on earth from its beginning. They personally learned the Gospel from Jesus and taught it in the first-century Church from its birth on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Their Biblical Apostolic Doctrine, as received by the Apostles directly from Jesus is recorded in the New Testament.

Jesus sent out the Twelve disciples, whom he designated Apostles, with the message of the Gospel. They had not yet been born-again by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but Jesus was still in the world physically. This was a training session, and an illustration of the mission of Christ which the disciples were to continue after Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples were to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had received the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they were to go into all the world, making (born-again) disciples, and teaching them to obey all Jesus’ teachings (The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20).

The Jewish religious leaders had the Bible Scriptures, but refused to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s Word, the promised Messiah. Jesus had done many miracles  (signs showing that he was from God) in their presence, but they refused to accept him because they wanted to be the rulers of the people. The fact that they did not recognize Jesus proved that they had not known God.

The nominal Church today is in much the same position as Judaism at the time of Jesus’ physical ministry. There are a lot of nominal Church leaders who know a lot about God, but don’t know God personally (compare Job 42:5). Many nominal Church leaders consider ministry a “career choice.” Too often denominations and congregations are run as personal “empires” of their leaders.

The nominal Church is failing to make born-again disciples of Jesus Christ, and has settled for making “members,” “fair-weather Christians,” who participate if it suits them. Some mainline denominations are actually discouraging their members from seeking spiritual “rebirth” by teaching that it is automatically conferred by some church ritual such as water baptism or “confirmation” (see False Teaching, sidebar, right: “Spiritual Rebirth;” “The Emperor’s New Clothes”).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 5 Easter – C – 04/24 -30-2016

April 23, 2016

Week of 5 Easter – C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/a_year/Wklx_a.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/c_year/wklx_c.html

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Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD 

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 5 Easter – C 

Sunday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 2, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 5 Easter – C 

Psalm 145:1-13 – Great is the Lord!
Acts 13:44-52 – Paul’s Sermon at Antioch of Pisidia;
Revelation 21:1-5 – A New Heaven and Earth;
John 13:31-35 – Jesus Glorified!

Psalm 145:1-13 Paraphrase:

Let us extol our God and King. Forever let us daily bless his name.  “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (beyond measure; Psalm 145:3).

Let one generation praise God’s works and mighty acts to the next. Let us meditate on the magnificent splendor of his wondrous works. People will proclaim the greatness and power of God’s awesome acts. Let us declare the fame of God’s abundant goodness and shout aloud of his righteousness.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all and his compassion is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:8-9). All God’s creatures will give thanks to God, and all his saints (those consecrated to God’s service) will bless him. They will proclaim his power and the glory of his kingdom. His kingdom is eternal, and his reign is throughout all generations.

Acts 13:44-52 Background:

On Paul’s first missionary trip, he and those accompanying him came to Antioch of Pisidia, a Roman province in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). On the sabbath they attended the synagogue, and after the customary readings of the Law and Prophets (the Old Testament Jewish scriptures) the synagogue leader invited the missionaries to speak any word of exhortation, and Paul did so (Acts 13:14-16a).

Acts 13:44-52 Paraphrase:

The next sabbath nearly the entire city gathered to the synagogue to hear the Word of God proclaimed by Paul and Barnabas (a leader in the church at Antioch who accompanied Paul). But the Jews were jealous of the multitudes attracted to Paul’s preaching, and contradicted what he said and verbally abused him. So Paul and Barnabas boldly replied that it had been necessary to preach the Gospel (“good news”) of forgiveness and salvation first to the Jews, but since they rejected the Gospel and judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, the missionaries would preach to the Gentiles. They quoted Isaiah 49:6 which prophesied that God would make his apostles (messengers of the Gospel) to be [spiritual] light to the Gentiles, so that the good news of salvation can be carried to every place on earth.

The Gentiles who heard this were delighted, and glorified God’s Word. And those who believed were chosen to receive eternal life. So the Word of the Lord spread throughout the entire region. But the Jewish authorities incited leading men and devout women to stir up persecution against the missionaries and drove Paul and Barnabas out of their district. “But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and went to Iconium” (Acts 13:51; compare Luke 10:10-11; Acts 18:6).

Revelation 21:1-5 Paraphrase:

The Apostle John had a vision of a new heaven and earth; this present earth, sea and heaven had passed away. John saw the new Jerusalem, the Holy City, dressed in finery like a bride for her husband, coming down out of heaven from God. A voice from heaven declared that God’s dwelling would be with mankind. They will be his people and he will dwell with them. God will wipe away all their tears, and there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, because all those former things have passed away.

God, who sits upon the throne, says for us to watch and see, because he makes all things new, and he commanded John to write all these visions in a book, because they were true and worthy of trust.

John 13:31-35 Paraphrase:

On the night of Jesus’ Last Supper, after Judas, his betrayer, had left, Jesus told the remaining disciples that now was the time for Jesus to be glorified, and in Jesus, God would be glorified. If God is glorified in Jesus, God will also glorify Jesus and do so immediately.

Calling his disciples his little children, Jesus told them that he would be with them [physically] only a little longer. They would seek him but, as he had told the Jews, they could not [right then] be where Jesus was going (but would be ultimately; John 14:1-6).

Jesus told them that he was giving them a new commandment: to love one another. His disciples were to love one another as Jesus had loved them. By their love for one another, all people would realize that they were Jesus’ disciples.

Commentary:

Christians are called to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (students) and apostles (messengers) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c). First we are commanded to stay within “Jerusalem” (the Church) until we have been “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Then we are to go into the world with the Gospel message, to make disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we know the Lord personally and experience his greatness, love, power, and his mighty acts on our behalf personally (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home). It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are able to glorify him and give him praise.

We must read the entire Bible, and we must read it daily with meditation and prayer, in order to know and understand God’s Word. Make time daily to read the Bible and get a 1-year Bible-reading schedule, and then use that time daily to follow some devotional Bible study like this one.

How can we proclaim God’s goodness and his great works to others without having read God’s Word and experienced his goodness personally through his indwelling Holy Spirit within us? There are ominous signs in the society around us, particularly in America today, that nominal Christians have not passed on God’s Word and praise of God’s goodness and awesome works to the next generation. Even truly “born-again” Christian parents who make every effort to disciple their children may not succeed because of the secular influences in society and especially in education today.

In many nominal Churches today the situation is similar to Judaism at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In too many instances, the Church is being run for the benefit of the leaders. The Church selects and controls the doctrines they promote and who they allow to teach. The same false doctrines springing up in the Church in the first century, which are refuted in the New Testament, are still present today (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Some of the most difficult people to teach the Biblical Apostolic Gospel (taught by the original Apostles, including Paul, in the first-century Church and recorded in the New Testament) are Church people. I’ve personally experienced resistance to the Gospel from people in my own congregations in the past, who had never read the entire Bible and didn’t read portions of it regularly.

Some mainline denominations teach that the Holy Spirit is automatically conferred by water baptism or some church rite, and that salvation is by grace (a free gift; true), but without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings (false). Those who have personally experienced spiritual rebirth through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit can testify to them, but “church members” often reject that Gospel truth, and condemn themselves as unworthy of eternal life. The unchurched are often more receptive. I have personally experienced several times having to “shake the dust off of my shoes” against congregations who would not receive my testimony, and go on to the next (Matthew 10:6-15).

The Lord is going to purify his Church. Not everyone who calls himself a Christian or says that Jesus is his Lord is going to survive the Day of Judgment (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). When this present Creation passes away, then John’s vision of a purified Church coming down from heaven from God will be fulfilled. The Church will be the people of God because they have learned to trust and obey God, and so he will be their God and will dwell with them. Death, decay, and all the sorrows of this lifetime will have passed away.

It is hard for worldly people to realize that being crucified is any way to glorify God or to be glorified, but it was because that was God’s will and plan for Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus glorified God by trusting and obeying God’s Word to the point of the most excruciatingly painful death imaginable, and in the eyes of the world, shameful and humiliating. God glorified Jesus by raising him from physical death to eternal life, making him King of kings and Lord of lords, and giving him a name that is above all other names in this world and the next (Ephesians 1:19-23; Philippians 2:7-11).

By leaving his disciples physically, Jesus was making it possible for each of us to have access to him individually and personally at any time or in any place, by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. So it is to his “born-again” disciples’ advantage that Jesus left earth physically (John 16:5-7).

Many nominal Christians talk about love. Certainly if one loves Jesus one will also love his brethren in Christ and all people (our “neighbors;” Matthew 22:35-40), because that is what he commanded; but if one loves Jesus one will be doing all that Jesus commands and teaches (John 14:15). The Great Commission to the Church is to make disciples of Jesus and teach them to know, trust and obey all Jesus’ commandments (Matthew 28:20).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 3, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 5 Easter – C 

Psalm 67 – Thanksgiving for a Good Harvest;

Paraphrase:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2 RSV). May all people praise you, O Lord.

May all nations rejoice and sing for joy, because the Lord judges all people fairly and guides all the nations of earth. May all people praise the Lord.

“The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us; may all the ends of the earth fear him” (Psalm 67:6-7 RSV).

Commentary:

God blesses his people who trust and obey him, so that all people can come to know that God is good and he is God of all people and nations. God withholds his blessings from those who refuse to trust and obey him, in hope that they will come to know that God is the source of all blessings.

God directs the conduct of all nations, whether they acknowledge him as Lord or not. One classic example is his use of Cyrus of Persia to accomplish God’s purpose to bring the remnant of Judah from the Exile in Babylon after seventy years in fulfillment of his Word (Jeremiah 25:11-12; Isaiah 44:28).

God is Lord of the earthly harvests, but, more importantly, of the eternal spiritual harvest. God has designed this Creation to be a spiritual garden to raise his own people who willingly choose to trust and obey God.

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and come to fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). These are only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing experience (Acts 19:2).

Jesus is the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20, Luke 1:34-35) and Son of man[kind], by his mother, Mary. He is fully God, in human form (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5), and is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:14). He has been appointed by God to judge the earth. He alone is qualified to judge the earth because he has lived in flesh like us and has experienced every temptation that we experience, yet without sinning (sin is disobedience of God’s Word; Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus is going to return on the Day of Judgment, to judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead, in both physical and spiritual senses (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46). He will come at the end of the temporal age, while we are still physically alive, or at the end of time for us individually at the moment of our physical death. At that moment, it will be too late to change our individual eternal destinies.

Jesus is the standard of judgment by which all will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (our Lord is him whom we trust and obey), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will have been spiritually “born-again” and will have had a personal relationship with Jesus during this lifetime. Jesus will acknowledge them and they will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom restored to paradise. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46) will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

“The fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 4, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 5 Easter – C 

Acts 14:8-18 – Mistaken for gods.

Paraphrase:

On Paul’s first missionary journey, at Lystra (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey), Paul was preaching, and a man who had been born crippled and had never walked was listening intently. Seeing that he had the faith to be healed, Paul told him in a loud voice to stand up and walk, and the cripple did so. When the crowd saw what Paul had done they said that the gods had come down to them in the likeness of men. They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief spokesperson, they called Hermes. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city brought oxen and garlands, intending to offer sacrifice with the people.

But when Paul and Barnabas saw this they tore their garments (in ritual mourning), and hurried into the crowd, asking why they were doing this, since Paul and Barnabas were mere mortals like the people. The missionaries declared that they were bringing “good news,” that they should turn from vain things  (idols) to the living God who had created all things. In the past God had allowed the nations to follow their own ways; yet he had left them witness by the good he did and the blessings of rain and fruitful seasons, so that they had food and happiness. By these words Paul and Barnabas were scarcely able to keep the people from offering sacrifices to them.

Commentary:

Note the reaction of Paul and Barnabas at being mistaken for gods, and compare that to Jesus’ reaction when Thomas declared him his Lord and his God (John 20:28). Jesus did not correct Thomas, because Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Compare Genesis 1: 9). Jesus is the one true God who has come down to us in human form. Those who have “seen” (personally experienced) Jesus have “seen” (personally experienced) God (John 14:8-11).

God is patient with us, allowing us to pursue our own ways, and blessing us with rain and fruitful harvests, in the hope that we will discover that he is the source of our blessings. The meaning and purpose of life is to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27; John 14:6-7), and to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing experience (Acts 19:2).

The healing miracle done through Paul and Barnabas was not by their own power and will, but by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit working in and through them. My online ministry through My Daily Walk Bible Study is not by my own effort and ability, but by the insight and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Christians are, by definition, disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” and have been sent (as apostles; messengers; of the Gospel). New believers are to be discipled within the Church (the New Jerusalem) by mature, “born-again” disciples (Paul -Saul of Tarsus- is the prototype and example; Acts 9:1-20) until they have been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), before being sent into the world with the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 5, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 5 Easter – C 

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 – New Jerusalem;

Paraphrase:

The Apostle John was transported  by the Holy Spirit in a vision to a “high mountain” where he could see the New Jerusalem, which he saw coming down from heaven from God. The Holy City is the Bride (the Church), the wife of the Lamb (Jesus). The city had the glory of God, radiant like a precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a high wall with twelve gates. The gates were named for the twelve tribes of Israel. The city was cubic with dimensions a multiple of twelve. There were three gates in each wall. The wall had twelve foundations named for the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

There is no temple in the city because the Lord God and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, because its light is the glory of God, and the Lamb is its lamp.

Commentary:

The New Jerusalem is described symbolically: its cubic dimensions symbolize perfection, and its beauty is symbolized by precious jewels. The city is the temple, because the glory and presence of God Almighty and Jesus Christ, the Lamb, fill the city. There is no spiritual darkness there because God and Jesus provide spiritual light; they are the spiritual sun and moon (Isaiah 60:1-3, 19; John 8:12).

The Church is the New Jerusalem on earth, but it is not the purified Church of John’s vision. The nominal Church today contains the true Church, but also false “Churches,” false teachers and teachings (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home), and false, nominal Christians (Matthew 7:21-27). All these false elements will have been removed at the Day of Judgment.

A true Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who has been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is God’s intended replacement for Judas Iscariot, one of the original Twelve disciples, Jesus’ betrayer. Paul is intended by God to be the prototype and example of a modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-20). Paul was discipled by a born-again disciple (Acts 9:10-12) until Paul was “reborn” (Acts 9:17-18), and then began making born-again disciples (2 Timothy 1:6-7) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Unfortunately, many parts of the nominal Church today are failing to make born-again disciples, and in some instances are discouraging members from seeking spiritual rebirth (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 5 Easter – C 

First posted  May 6, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 5 Easter – C 

John 14:23-29 – Last Instructions;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that those who love Jesus will keep Jesus’ word (commands; teachings), and God the Father will love them and the Father and Jesus will come to them and make their home with them. Those who do not love Jesus do not obey Jesus’ word, and Jesus’ word is the Word of God who has sent Jesus.

Jesus had told the disciples these things while he was still with them (physically). “But the Counselor (“Paraclete:” intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter), 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 (John 14:26). Jesus promised to leave his peace with his disciples, giving it to them not as the world gives. So his disciples are not to let their hearts be troubled or afraid. Jesus had told them that Jesus was going away, and would come to them. Those who loved Jesus would rejoice that he was going to the Father, who is greater than Jesus. Jesus had told them these things (his impending crucifixion and death, and the end of his physical presence and ministry) so that when they took place his disciples would believe (trust and obey Jesus’ word).

Commentary:

Obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings is evidence that his disciples love Jesus, and Jesus has promised to “baptize” them with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9-10). Note the doctrine of the Trinity (the word is not found in the Bible but the concept is evident: Matthew 28:19).

Jesus and God the Father are one (John 14:10). Jesus was fully human but also fully God (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is what God “looks like” in human form (John 14:8-10). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have fellowship with Jesus and God the Father.

God is greater than Jesus in the sense that he designed Jesus into Creation from the very beginning, and “fathered” him by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:34-35). Jesus was completely obedient to his Father’s will, to death on the cross. While Jesus was surrendered to the hands of wicked people, God was still in control of Creation.

Only Jesus baptizes with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2).

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this present world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Compare Genesis 1: 9). Anyone who claims to be Christian, and claims Jesus as his Lord, but doesn’t know, trust and obey all that Jesus teaches, is deceiving himself (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) until they were “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then they were to go into all the world and make (born-again; the only true kind of) disciples, teaching them trust and obey all that Jesus teaches his disciples (Matthew 28:19a, 20a), baptizing them in the name of the Triune (Trinitarian) God (Matthew 28:19b). The Church is to bring its members to spiritual rebirth, and then the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit will lead the members in spiritual growth to Christian maturity at the time of Christ’s return.

Christian discipleship is a growth process. God wants us to trust and obey his Word so that he can show us that he is abundantly able and faithful to do what he says. Our spiritual growth begins with our “mustard seed” (Matthew 13:31; 17:20; Luke 17:6), our simple “yes” of faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. As God fulfills his promises to us personally and individually, we will grow spiritually in faith to maturity (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

With the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, we have peace which the world cannot give. We know with absolute assurance that Jesus is eternally alive and that we have what he has promised: eternal life (John 14:6; Hebrews 2:14-15). As we learn to recognize and trust his “voice” and come to know his power and faithfulness to deliver us, we will be spared many anxious hours and days. We need to practice and learn this by experience (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

I am convinced that the meaning and purpose of life is to seek, find and come to fellowship with God, our Creator, and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 7, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 5 Easter – C 

James 1:22-27 – Doers of the Word;

Paraphrase:

The author warns Christians to not only hear but also do the Word. Those who hear the Word but do not apply it in their lives do not retain it in memory. They’re like a person who sees his face in a mirror, and then turns away and immediately forgets what he looks like. One who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty (i.e. the Gospel; Romans 8:1-4), and perseveres, not simply hearing, but applying it daily, will be blessed.

A person who thinks he is religious must learn to bridle his tongue, or he is deceiving himself and his religion is in vain. Pure, undefiled religion in God’s judgment is that which helps the poor, weak, humble and oppressed (Matthew 25:35-40) and keeps us from being polluted by the sinful world around us.

Commentary:

The Bible, the Word of God, has been given to us by God for our own good. It is the “owner’s manual” for life in this world. If we seriously look into God’s Word we will read it entirely, and we will read portions daily, with prayer and meditation, for daily guidance (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, at top right, home).

God’s Word promises that we will be blessed as we read the Bible with the commitment to apply it daily. Jesus warns that those who merely call Jesus Lord and call themselves Christians are not saved, and are deceiving themselves (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

As we begin to trust and obey God’s Word we will be filled with the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The infilling with the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event (Acts 19:2).

The indwelling Holy Spirit is the greatest blessing imaginable! Through the Holy Spirit we have daily access to and fellowship with God our Creator and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). He is the “Paraclete,” our consoler, comforter, intercessor, and advocate (John 14:17). He’s the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) who will teach us all things, and cause us to recall all Jesus’ words (John 14:26). The indwelling Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand scripture (Luke 24:45). The Holy Spirit gives Jesus’ disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). He guides and empowers us to know and do God’s specific individual will for us. Jesus warns us not to depart from Jerusalem (the Church is the New Jerusalem on earth) until we have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

A true Christian is a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who has been born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Christian discipleship is a spiritual growth process. A new believer is to be discipled by a born-again disciple until the new believer is born-again (compare Paul’s -Saul of Tarsus-‘ conversion Acts 9:1-20), and then he is discipled by the Holy Spirit, to spiritual maturity at the Day of the Lord’s Return.

Many nominal Churches today are failing to make disciples and require discipleship of their members. Many nominal Churches today are not “Bible-preaching Churches.” Often there is no reading of the Bible during the service, and the sermon may be based on a single verse, if based on scripture at all. Many nominal Christians have never read the entire Bible, and don’t read it regularly.

Disciples need to learn to bridle their tongues in several ways. Some must break habits of cursing; some must break habits of gossip. We must not verbally abuse those of our own congregation and our family at home, and we must not verbally abuse those who serve us in retail and service industries in the community around us. Treating people poorly in the secular world gives Jesus a bad reputation among worldly people (James 1:19-21).

God is the helper and advocate for the poor, weak, humble and oppressed, and so are we called to do likewise (1 Corinthians 1:26-28; Matthew 25:34-40). Jesus’ ministry of physical healing, feeding and resurrection were intended to show that he could also, and more importantly, heal, feed and resurrect spiritually, but he cared also for their physical conditions. He sent his disciples out to practice carrying on Jesus ministry, telling them to preach the coming of the kingdom of heaven, and to heal the sick, raise the dead and feed the hungry physically and spiritually (Matthew 10:7-8). After they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit they began fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), and carrying on Jesus’ mission (Acts 3:2-8; Acts 9:36-41; James 2:14-17).

Christianity isn’t really a “religion” in the sense of other worldly religions. It isn’t man’s attempt to propitiate God by religious rituals. One can be “religious” without being a Christian; one can be “spiritual” without being born-again. But one cannot be a true Christian without being baptized with the Holy Spirit and having a personal relationship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 5 Easter – C 

First posted  May 8, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 5 Easter – C

John 16:23-30 – Jesus Comforts His Disciples;

Paraphrase:

Jesus’ disciples were sad to hear that Jesus was going to leave them, but Jesus promised that they would see him again and that their sorrow would be turned to joy which would not fade (John 16:22). In that day they would not ask anything of Jesus. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.  Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24; see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus told his disciples that he had been speaking of these things metaphorically but the time was going to come when he would no longer have to use metaphors, but would be able to speak plainly to them about God the Father. Then they would pray in Jesus’ name; they would not need Jesus to pray to the Father for them, because God loves Jesus’ disciples because they have loved Jesus and have believed that Jesus has come from God. Jesus has come into the world by God’s will, and is leaving the world to return to God.

His disciples declared that Jesus had now spoken plainly and not in any metaphor. Now they realized that Jesus knew all things and no one needed to question him, so they were convinced that he had come from God.

Commentary:

The Bible is the history of God’s dealing with Israel, and is a series of metaphors, “parables” of life in this world. Metaphors are necessary to explain spiritual truth in terms of worldly experiences.

The Exodus from Egypt is the central act of God’s deliverance of his people. We are all slaves to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world order. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us out of Egypt, through the “Sea” of baptism into Jesus, through the wilderness of spiritual darkness of this world, by the pillar of fire and cloud (Exodus 13:21-22) of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is our “Joshua” (the name, “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Jeshua” or “Joshua”), who leads us through the “River” of physical death, into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s Kingdom in heaven, restored to perfect paradise.

There are many other metaphors in the Bible. Metaphors allow us to understand spiritual truth, but allow us to not understand, if we choose. This Creation has been designed to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not. That is the reason that Jesus called himself the Son of man, which is true, but which allowed his hearers to decide for themselves whether Jesus was also the Son of God. Jesus was the Son of man through his human mother, Mary, and the Son of God through his conception by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:34-35).

There are conditions for answered prayer. God is under no obligation to hear and answer our prayers unless we are willing to trust and obey God’s Word. Just adding Jesus’ name to our prayers doesn’t obligate God to hear and answer them. Jesus is the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this sinful world.

Genuine Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, daily, ongoing experience (Acts 19:2).

Note well, those who consider themselves Christians! We have direct access to God the Father through prayer in Jesus’ name! We cannot receive answer to our prayer by asking any “saint” to pray in our behalf, or even Jesus himself. The condition for answered prayer is obedient trust in Jesus (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 4 Easter – C – 04/17 – 23/2016

April 16, 2016

Week of 4 Easter – C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/a_year/Wklx_a.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/c_year/wklx_c.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD 

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast: Week of 4 Easter – C 

4 Easter – Sunday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Sunday – C
First posted April 25, 2010;

Psalm 23 – The Good Shepherd;
Acts 13:15-16a, 26-33 – Paul’s Sermon in Antioch of Pisidia;
Revelation 7:9-17 – The Great Multitude of Redeemed;
John 10:22-30 – The Good Shepherd;

Psalm 23 Paraphrase:

Those for whom the Lord is their shepherd will never lack any good thing; the Lord will lead them to green pastures. He will lead them to calm waters; he restores their souls. For his own name’s sake he will lead them in ways of righteousness.

They will fear no evil, even though they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, for the Lord will be present with them, comforting them with the protection of his rod and staff.

In the presence of their enemies, the Lord prepares a table for his people. He anoints their heads with oil; he fills their cups to overflowing. They shall experience goodness and mercy all the days of their lives and they will dwell in the Lord’s house forever.

Acts 13:15-16a, 26-33 Paraphrase:

On Paul’s first missionary journey, he and his fellow missionaries went into the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey) as was their custom. After the synagogue leaders had read from the law and the prophets, the Old Testament scriptures, Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) and the missionaries with him were invited give a word of exhortation. So Paul stood up and began to preach, addressing them as brethren and descendants of Abraham, and those who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) God.

Paul said that the message of salvation (through Jesus Christ; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) had been sent to the Jews. But the people and leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem, although they heard the prophetic scriptures read every sabbath, did not recognize or understand them, so they fulfilled them by condemning Jesus, although they could present no evidence that he deserved to die. Yet they asked Pilate (Roman governor of Judea) to execute him. Thus they fulfilled all the prophecy concerning the Messiah (Christ; God’s anointed prophet, priest and king).

Then they removed him from the cross and placed him in the tomb, but God raised him to life from the dead, and for many (forty: Acts 1:3) days he appeared to his followers who had come with him from Galilee (more than five hundred: 1 Corinthians 15:5-8) who now testify as eyewitnesses. And these eyewitnesses (including Paul) testify that what God promised to the Jewish forefathers (a savior; the Good Shepherd; Psalm 2:7; John 1:14, 29; 3:16-17) he fulfilled to their descendants by raising Jesus from the dead.

Revelation 7:9-17 Paraphrase:

The Apostle John had a vision of a great multitude of every nation, tribe, people and language gathered before the throne of God and the Lamb (Jesus; sacrificed on the cross, whose flesh provides the spiritual feast of the New Passover, the Lord’s Supper; Holy Communion; Eucharist; Matthew 26:26-28; and whose blood marks his disciples to be “passed over” by the destroying angel; Exodus 12:1-9). The multitude was clothed in white robes and holding palm branches. They were shouting that salvation comes from God who reigns upon the throne, and from the Lamb. The angels who surround the throne, the twenty-four elders (the twelve old testament patriarchs and the twelve original Apostles of Jesus Christ) and the four living creatures (symbolizing all living creatures) bowed their faces to the ground and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever. Amen (so be it; note seven-fold, perfect, praise).

Then one of the elders asked John who he thought the ones in white robes were. John deferred to the elder, who said that they are those who had come out of the great tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22) and had washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before his throne and serve him day and night.

Commentary:

God had been promising throughout the Old Testament, that he would provide a Good Shepherd (Isaiah 40:10-11; 63:11; Ezekiel 34:11-17, 23-24; 37:24; and, of course, Psalm 23). Moses prayed for God to appoint a shepherd over the people of Israel and God told Moses to anoint Joshua, the son of Nun, to succeed Moses as the shepherd of Israel (Numbers 27:15-19).

Moses was a forerunner of Christ who illustrated the mission of Christ. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us out of bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world order, through the  “Sea” of baptism into Jesus Christ, separating us from our spiritual enemies, through the wilderness of this lifetime, leading us through the spiritual darkness by the “Pillar of Fire” (Exodus 13:21-22) of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is our “Joshua” (the name “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew words, “Jeshua” or “Joshua”), who leads us through the “River” of physical death and into the “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven (recall Numbers 27:15-19).

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to be the Good Shepherd of his people (Isaiah 40:10-11;  Ezekiel 34:11-16). Jesus is fully God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:8-11). Jesus is the “Strong Hand,” the “Right Arm” of God (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44).

David was a forerunner and illustration of the Christ. David was the great human shepherd-king of Israel. Jesus is the “Son of David” (descendant; Matthew 1:1, 6, 17, 20; 21:9). Jesus confirmed that the Christ was the Son of David (Matthew 22:42-45); but he was also the Son of God (Luke 3:23, 38; Matthew 16:15-18).

Paul proclaimed that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the prophecies of the “Good Shepherd.”  Jesus was the promised Messiah (God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King; “Christ” and “Messiah” each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). Jesus came to seek and save the spiritually “lost” (Matthew 15:24; 18:11; recall God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant (Testament) of Law between God and God’s people. Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) which is received by faith (obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9) in Jesus Christ. Jesus initiated the New Covenant on the night of his betrayal and arrest at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-28).

The Last Supper was the celebration of the Feast of Passover (Exodus 12:1- 14). During the feast, Jesus initiated the New Covenant. The Last Supper became the New Passover. God had taught through the original Passover, and throughout the Old Testament, that a blood sacrifice was necessary for the forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). In the original Passover, a perfect, unblemished lamb was sacrificed, its flesh provided the feast, and its blood marked the faithful to be “passed-over” by the destroying angel (recall Exodus 12:1-14). Jesus became the Lamb of the New Passover,  “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is the New Feast of Passover, the fulfillment of the promise of Psalm 23:5 of a table prepared for us in the midst of our enemies, and of an overflowing cup, and of the “anointing” (baptism) of the Holy Spirit, who is the “oil of gladness” (Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9). Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

John’s vision of the throne of God surrounded by a vast, uncountable number of the redeemed was a vision of the saved who had been washed in the blood of Jesus and were clad in robes of righteousness, not their own, but the righteousness of Jesus, which God attributes to them by their faith in Jesus (Philippians 3:9).

Is Jesus your Shepherd and Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

4 Easter – Monday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Monday – C

First posted April 26, 2010;
Psalm 145:1-13 – God’s Everlasting Kingdom;

Paraphrase:

Those for whom the Lord is God and King, let us praise and bless his name daily for ever and ever. The Lord’s greatness is vast and unsearchable, and worthy of praise.

Let each generation declare the mighty acts of God and exalt him to the next. Let us meditate on God’s glorious splendor and majesty, and his wondrous works. Let the people praise the power of God’s fearsome acts and declare his greatness. Let us spread abroad the fame of God’s abundant goodness, and shout aloud of God’s righteousness.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8). The Lord is good and compassionate to all his creatures.

All that he has created will give thanks to the Lord, and his saints will give him praise. They will testify, to the glory of God’s kingdom, his power, so that the children of mankind may come to know his mighty deeds and the splendor of his glorious kingdom. God’s kingdom is eternal, and he will reign in sovereign authority and power for ever.

Commentary:

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life is to seek, find, and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator, which was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word), to know divine eternal truth, and to have true, eternal life, which begins now in this lifetime.

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey his Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually unborn.

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn,” which is only by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing daily experience (Acts 19:2).

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal, daily fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:23; Revelation 3:20). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we personally experience the goodness, power, greatness, glory and steadfast love of God. As we walk in daily obedience to the Holy Spirit we will personally experience God’s awesome mighty acts (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home). When we do, we will want to testify to all the people of the world.

I recently heard statistics that the number of people in America professing religion has declined significantly in the last generation. I believe that Americans have fallen away from Christ and the Church. Many have failed to become disciples of Jesus Christ, to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to experience personally the fellowship and mighty works of God in their own daily lives, and have thus failed, and are unable to declare the Lord’s greatness to the next generation.

In many instances the nominal Church shares equal responsibility for this failure, by failing to make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples, and teach them to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings. Without born-again disciples, there will not be born-again candidates for ministry. It takes born-again disciples to make born-again disciples.

In some instances denominations are teaching that one is automatically born-again through some ritual such as “water baptism.” Some are teaching that their members are saved as a free gift (true), without the requirement of discipleship and obedience (false; see False Teachings, sidebar top right, home).

Christians should read the entire Bible, and then read portions of the Bible daily for guidance, with meditation and prayer. An average reader can easily read the Bible through in one year and there are numerous 1-year reading aids. See Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right. The Bible is the standard against which all Church doctrine should be measured. Knowing the Bible helps us to avoid false teachings. Unless we have read the entire Bible we don’t know the Bible well enough to proclaim God’s Word. The Bible is where we first experience God’s mighty acts.

Christians should pursue discipleship and the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are guided and empowered to proclaim God’s Word in the world (Zechariah 4:6). In fact, Jesus warns his disciples to stay in Jerusalem (the Church; the City of God on earth) until they have received the indwelling Holy Spirit, before going abroad to spread the fame of God’s goodness and righteousness (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). The Church was born on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured upon Jesus’ disciples, and they were transformed, empowered and guided (Acts 2:1-13).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

4 Easter – Tuesday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Tuesday – C
First posted April 27, 2010;

Acts 13:44-52 – Gospel to the Gentiles;

Background:

On his first missionary journey, Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had preached the Gospel at the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (in present-day Turkey; Acts 13:14-16).

Acts Paraphrase:

The next sabbath practically the entire city gathered to hear God’s Word. But the Jews were jealous when they saw the crowds gather to hear Paul preach, and so they contradicted what Paul said, and vilified him. But Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying that it was necessary to preach the Gospel first to the Jews, but since these rejected God’s Word and condemned themselves as unworthy of eternal life, the missionaries would proclaim it to the Gentiles (non-Jews; most of us), thus fulfilling Isaiah 49:6, in which God declared that Christian evangelists were a light to Gentiles, to bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The Gentiles rejoiced when they heard this, and those who believed were chosen to receive eternal life. And the Word of God spread throughout the region. But the Jews incited persecution against Paul and Barnabas by the leading people of the city and drove them out of the region. “But they shook off the dust from their feet against them” (Acts 13:51a), and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:

God intended that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the “Good News” of peace with God and eternal salvation from sin (disobedience of God’s Word) would come through the Jews to all the people of earth. Jesus Christ was a Jew (John 1:10-12). Most Jews turned aside from their calling, and rejected the Gospel, but the Gentiles received it with joy. Those who reject Jesus condemn themselves (John 3:18-20).

Those who believed in (trusted and obeyed) Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus “baptizes” (“anoints”) with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2).

Christians are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) “disciples” (students; Acts 11:26c) and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church; the City of God on earth) until they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5) and then to go into all the world proclaiming the Gospel, making [“born-again”] disciples of Jesus, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20).

Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again, disciple and apostle” of Jesus Christ. Paul was confronted by the Spirit of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus where Paul (Saul of Tarsus) intended to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-4). Paul repented Acts 9:9), accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5), became obedient to Jesus’ commands (Acts 9:6-8), was discipled by a “born-again” (Acts 9:10) disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:11-17) until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:18), and then Paul began to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his “born-again” disciples (Acts 9:20).

Paul demonstrated the process of “born-again” disciple-making which Jesus had taught by example with the Twelve original disciples. Paul repeated the process with Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6-7), and taught him to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

People who believe the Gospel, accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and begin to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings will be filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will experience the joy of the presence of, salvation, and eternal life, in the Lord.

Jesus taught his disciples to proclaim the Gospel, and to shake off the dust of the communities of those who rejected the Gospel, as a testimony against them. I have personally experienced the rejection of my proclamation of the Gospel in the Church community in which I was raised. I have personally “shaken off the dust of that community” and moved on to other Church communities, several times. It is not I who condemn them but they, themselves.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

4 Easter – Wednesday  – C

 Podcast: 4 Easter Wednesday – C

First posted April 28, 2010;

Revelation 21:1-5 – A New Heaven and Earth;

Paraphrase:

The Apostle John had a vision of a new heaven and earth, because the first heaven and earth had passed away (as prophesied by Isaiah 65:17; 66:22). The sea was no more.  He saw the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, coming down from heaven from God, adorned as a bride. A loud voice from the throne declared that God would dwell with mankind. They will be his people and God will be with them. He will wipe away all their tears and death, mourning, pain and crying will be no more, for all these former things have passed away.

The One who sits on the throne declared said, “Behold, I make all things new.” He also told John to write this down, for the words are true and worthy of trust.

Commentary:

The true Church is the New Jerusalem. It is now the City of God on earth; it will be the restored City of God in heaven, the new Creation restored to perfect paradise. The Church is the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7-9).

God’s Word declares that everything in this material world will pass out of existence. We tend to think that material things have real substance. We can see and touch them. They seem “real.” Spiritual things seen insubstantial and unreal. But it is the spiritual things which are eternal, not what is material.

God has intentionally designed this world to be limited by time and decay. God has always intended to create an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. This Creation has been designed to allow us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God’s Word. This Creation was perfect, but was corrupted by sin (disobedience of God’s Word). But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom.

This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. We have all been born into this temporal life physically (materially) alive but spiritually “unborn.”

Only those who are “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit are spiritually “born-again.” We can only find and have fellowship with God through Jesus Christ by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus “baptizes” with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2).

By the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the love, comforting and joy of God’s presence. The Holy Spirit is the “comforter” (consoler; intercessor; “Paraclete” from the Greek: para`klhtos).

In the New Creation, there won’t be any of the problems of this temporal world because there won’t be any sin, disease or death and decay. That’s the promise from Our Lord and God.

But note that the choice of where we will spend eternity is ours. We can believe God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, and begin to experience spiritual reality now, or we can reject God’s Word in Jesus Christ and spend eternity in spiritual death in Hell with all evil. In Hell, time will be suspended, but not sorrow, sickness, and decay; and suffering and death will be eternal.

It is not true that we cannot know whether heaven and eternal life are true until we die physically. The only people who are unsure are those who are perishing spiritually.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

4 Easter – Thursday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Thursday – C
First posted April 29, 2010;
John 13:31-35 – A New Commandment;

Paraphrase:

At the Last Supper, after Judas, the betrayer, had left, Jesus said to his disciples that the time had come for the Son of man (Jesus) to be glorified, and that he would glorify God. If Jesus glorified God, God would also glorify Jesus in God the Father, at once.

Jesus called his disciples his little children, and said that he would only be with them a short while. They would seek Jesus but could not come where Jesus was going.

Jesus gave them a new commandment, that they should love one another as Jesus has loved them. By their love for one another, all people will know that they are Jesus’ disciples.

Commentary:

God’s wisdom is unlike worldly wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-8). God’s wisdom is eternal and unchanging, but what humans falsely call wisdom is not unchanging: Consider the recent redefinition of planets.

How could Jesus be glorified and glorify God by being executed with criminals? But Jesus was unjustly convicted and executed, and God, in righteous judgment, glorified Jesus by reversing worldly judgment and raising Jesus to eternal life, elevating him to be the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Jesus glorified God by trusting and obeying God’s will even unto physical death.

Jesus told his disciples that he would no longer be present with them physically, and that they would not be able to go with Jesus, where he was going, right away. But Jesus had promised to be with them spiritually through the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:21).

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift; anointing; infilling) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).  The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The infilling of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). “Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ will eventually be reunited with Jesus in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven (Matthew 26:29).

It was necessary for Jesus to depart physically so that the Holy Spirit could be given to his disciples (John 16:7). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, each “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ can have personal access to Jesus anywhere and anytime (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus reduced the Ten Commandments to two: love of God and love of one another (Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus came to give the indwelling Holy Spirit to us so that those who are obedient to the Holy Spirit are freed from slavery to the Law (Romans 8:1-13). No one can satisfy the requirements of the Law. It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can fulfill the demands of the Law (Galatians 2:16). If we live in obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit, it will be evident to others that we are Jesus’ disciples.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

4 Easter – Friday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Friday – C

First posted April 30, 2010

James 1:16-21 – First  Fruits;

Paraphrase:

We need to be aware that  every good and perfect gift is provided from God our Father, creator of the heavenly bodies, coming down to us from heaven. God is eternal and there is no  variation or shadow in him due to change. It was by God’s own will that he brought us forth by “the Word of truth,” God’s Word, the Gospel, to be the “first fruits” (an offering of the first part of the harvest, which is to be consecrated to God’s use; Numbers 15:21; Deuteronomy 18:4) of the harvest of this Creation.

Remember to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, because human anger doesn’t accomplish God’s righteousness. So let us put away all uncleanness and weed out wickedness which fill and overwhelm us, and with humility allow God’s Word, which is able to save our souls, to be implanted in us.

Commentary:

God created this world very good Genesis 1:31. He provided every good and necessary thing for us.

We were all created eternal beings. Death came into the world through sin (Genesis 3:3). Satan lied to Adam and Eve, saying that they would not die (Genesis 3:4), but God was talking about spiritual death. Adam and Eve didn’t physically die immediately, but physical and spiritual death entered Creation through their sin and passed to all humans, because all humans sin (Romans 5:12).

God designed Creation to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not. Disobedience is sin, and sin, death, sorrow and decay are in this world because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

God gave us the stewardship of Creation, and we have often misused resources God gave us to satisfy our selfish desires, rather than what we really need. People go without needed resources because others want and take, by force or deception, more than they need. Witness the recent financial disaster in America.

God knew that, given the choice, we would all choose our will rather than his, so he designed Creation and we ourselves to be limited by time. God is not willing to tolerate sin and rebellion forever. And he designed a Savior (Messiah; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King), Jesus Christ, into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

The meaning and purpose of this lifetime is to seek, find, and have fellowship with our Creator, which was broken by sin (Acts 17:26-27). We are born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8).

This Creation is intended by God to be a “seedbed” to raise a harvest of God’s people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. God taught Israel to dedicate the first portion of their harvests to God’s service, and this is what we are to be. There is a harvest coming on the Day of Judgment when Christ returns (Matthew 13:47-50; 25:31-46).

We are the “first fruits” of that harvest, consecrated to God’s service now by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Gospel is God’s Word of truth, the “good news” of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). His Word is unchanging because God is eternal and unchanging. If we hear it and believe (trust and obey), it will be implanted within us, by the indwelling Holy Spirit and will grow to spiritual maturity at the Day of Christ’s return

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

4 Easter – Saturday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Saturday – C

First posted May 1, 2010;

John 16:5-15 – The Work of the Holy Spirit;

Background:

At the Last Supper, after they had eaten, Jesus gave his disciples his last instructions and encouragement to prepare them for Jesus’ crucifixion.

John 16:5-15:

Jesus told them that now he would be returning to God his Father who had sent him. The disciples didn’t ask where Jesus was going (Jesus had told them, although they didn’t fully understand; John 14:1-6). But the disciples were sad to think of Jesus leaving them. “Never the less I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). When the Counselor comes he will convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment: unbelief in Jesus is sin; God’s righteousness is revealed in the cross of Jesus, and triumph over and judgment of evil.

There was more that Jesus wanted to tell his disciples but they were saddened and upset by what he had said already. But when the Holy Spirit had come, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit would guide them into all divine eternal truth. The Spirit will speak what he hears (from God), not by his own authority, and will reveal to the disciples what is to come. He will reveal Jesus’ glory by taking what belongs to Jesus and declaring it to his disciples. All that the Father has belongs to Jesus.

Commentary:

During Jesus’ physical ministry on earth, he was all-knowing (John 1:47-50; John 4:16-19), but couldn’t be present everywhere at once. When he was on the mountain of transfiguration with Peter, James and John, the other disciples were getting into trouble on their own (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29).

By the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the “born-again” disciples (John 3:3, 5-8) would have access to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God anytime and anywhere. When I’ve been away from telephones in the mountain back-country, my prayers have been heard and answered and I have been comforted and reassured (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, right), and I have experienced miraculous deliverance.

But I had to learn to trust and obey him and wait for his Word. When I was a new Christian, I wanted a solid physical connection and immediate results like most people in our world today. I had to resist temptation to pick up the phone and talk to the pastor. Pastors are mostly well-intentioned, and try to help, but the truth is that they are blessed if they know God’s will for themselves. God doesn’t want to tell them God’s will for us because God wants us to seek it directly from God, one day at a time (Matthew 6:11).

As we learn to seek God’s Word for us personally, directly from the Lord, the Lord teaches that we can trust and do what he says. That is how he causes us to grow in faith to spiritual maturity. He wants us to trust and obey his Word so that he can show us that his Word is absolutely trustworthy and true.

The Holy Spirit is at work through the Church of Jesus’ “born-again” disciples to convince the world that unbelief in Jesus is sin, and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s will to the point of death on the cross, and his resurrection demonstrated that God is the righteous judge. He didn’t allow evil to triumph, and he didn’t let the world’s unrighteous judgment prevail; God reversed it by raising Jesus from the dead.

Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death, and that God is able to vindicate those who trust and obey God’s Word even though they may die physically (Hebrews 2:14-15). The worst the world can do to us is kill us physically, but God has the last Word.

We first learn about God the Father and Jesus Christ through the Bible record. As we begin to trust and obey God’s Word, we will be “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. But God waits to make sure we are really serious, first, because premature spiritual birth can be eternally disastrous if we then turn away (Hebrews 6:4-6). By the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus promises to reveal himself and God the Father to us personally and individually (John 14: 7-11, 21-23). There is more that Jesus wants us to know, which we will learn by experience as the Holy Spirit reveals it to us.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 3 Easter – C – 04/10 – 16/2016

April 9, 2016

Week of 3 Easter – C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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3 Easter – Sunday C

Psalm 30 – Mourning Turned into Dancing;

Acts 9:1-20 – Paul’s Conversion;

Revelation 5:11-14 – Worthy is the Lamb;

John 21:1-14 – Risen Jesus Appears to Disciples in Galilee;

Psalm 30 Paraphrase:

I will glorify and praise you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. When I cried to you, O Lord my God, you healed me. You lifted me up from the land of the dead and restored me to life from the grave.

Let all his saints (those committed to God’s service) praise the Lord, and

give thanks to his holy name, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

When everything was going well for me, I thought nothing could go wrong. I had been established as a strong mountain, by God’s favor; then he hid his face from me and I was beset with trouble.

Then I cried to the Lord and begged for his help. I said that there would be no benefit in my death; I couldn’t praise him from the grave. If my body returned to dust, would it glorify God and testify to his faithfulness? I asked him to hear my plea, and be gracious to me, and be my helper.

He has turned my mourning into dancing, and has replaced the sackcloth of mourning with the mantle of gladness, so that I can praise him in my innermost being and not be silent. I will give thanks to the Lord my God for ever and ever.

Acts 9:1-20 Paraphrase:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was on his way to Damascus with authority from the Jewish council of elders in Jerusalem to arrest and bring Christians (disciples of Jesus Christ; Acts 11:26c; members of the “Way,” the early name for Christianity; see John 14:16) to Jerusalem for trial. As he neared Damascus he was struck to the ground and blinded by a bright flash of light, and he heard a voice asking him by name why he was persecuting the one whose voice he was hearing. Paul asked who was speaking and the voice identified himself as Jesus, and told Paul to enter the city and await further instructions. His traveling companions heard the voice but saw no one. They led Paul into the city where he fasted and prayed, unable to see.

There was a (“born-again” Christian; John 3:3, 5-8) disciple in Damascus named Ananias. In a vision the Lord spoke to him telling him to go to Straight Street to the house of Judas (not Iscariot) and ask to see Saul of Tarsus. The Lord told Ananias that Paul was praying and had seen a man named Ananias come in and lay hands upon Paul and restore Paul’s sight. But Ananias replied that he knew that Paul had done much evil to Christians in Jerusalem and that he had authority from Jerusalem to arrest believers in Damascus. But the Lord told Ananias to go, that Paul was a chosen tool of the Lord to make the Lord’s name known to the Gentiles, to worldly kings, and to the sons of Israel; and that Paul would learn to suffer greatly for the Lord’s namesake.

So Ananias went and entered the house where Paul was staying, telling Paul that Ananias had been sent to restore Paul’s vision and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately something like scales fell from Paul’s eyes and his vision was restored. Then he arose and was baptized, ate food and regained strength.

For several days he stayed with the Christians at Damascus and immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God.

Revelation 5:11-14Paraphrase:

The Apostle John, one of the original Twelve disciples of Jesus, saw in a vision, while he was in exile on the isle of Patmos, the throne of the Lord in heaven. Around the throne were were the four living creatures (probably symbolizing all created beings; Revelation 4:6b-8) and the twenty-four elders (the twelve Old Testament patriarchs and the twelve New Testament Apostles; Revelation 4:4). He heard the voices of millions of millions and thousands of thousands (an uncountable number) of angels saying in unison that the Lamb who was slain (Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of the New Passover) is the only one worthy to receiver power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (perfect, seven-fold praise). And every creature who ever lived on earth gave blessing and honor and glory and might to the Lord God the Father and to the Lamb for ever and ever, Amen (so be it)! And the twenty-four elders fell face-down and worshiped.

John 21:1-14 Paraphrase:

After revealing himself to his disciples twice in the upper room in Jerusalem, Jesus revealed himself to them again in Galilee as he had promised (Matthew 26:32; 28:10). Seven of the disciples, led by Simon Peter, and including Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, and two others went fishing overnight on the Sea of Galilee. They fished all night but caught nothing.

At dawn, Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples did not recognize him. Addressing them as children, Jesus asked if they had caught any fish, and they replied, “No.” Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat and they would find some. They did so and the net was filled with a great weight of fish, so that they were unable to haul it in. The disciple whom Jesus loved (John; by extension, each of us) told Peter it was the Lord. Immediately Peter put on his clothes, because he had undressed for fishing, and jumped into the water to swim to shore, since they were only a hundred yards offshore.

When they got to shore they saw a charcoal fire with fish broiling, and bread nearby. Jesus told them to bring some of the fish they had just caught. Peter went aboard and dragged the net to shore, full of a hundred and fifty-three large fish. Although there were so many large fish the net was not torn. Jesus invited them to come and have breakfast. None of the disciples needed to ask who he was; they knew it was their Lord. Jesus came and gave them bread and fish. This was now the third time Jesus had revealed himself to them.

Commentary:

Psalm 30 is also my own personal testimony (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home)! I thought that I was invincible until the Lord withheld his favor from me.

I was as good as dead, but the Lord raised me to useful service for his kingdom. The Lord’s discipline is painful for the moment but it is so beneficial in the long run, if it causes us to repent and return to obedient trust in God’s Word. When we cry to him in times of distress he is able and faithful to deliver us from all our troubles.

He is abundantly able to turn our sorrow into rejoicing. There is no joy more satisfying than the joy we experience in the presence of the Lord. It is my greatest pleasure to praise and glorify my Lord!

The conversion of Paul is the defining incident of the New Testament after the physical ministry and Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the one intended by God to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. The Eleven original remaining disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift;” “infilling”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), before going out into the world to proclaim the Gospel, in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his disciples. While waiting, they decided to choose, by chance, a successor to replace Judas, since they didn’t have the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 1:15-26). They chose Matthias, who was never heard of again in the New Testament. In contrast, from the time of Paul’s conversion most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul.

Paul is intentionally designed by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8), disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel)” of Jesus Christ, as we can and should be.

Paul apparently did not know Jesus during Jesus’ physical lifetime. Paul was convicted by the Holy Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul repented of his sin (Acts 9:9), accepted Jesus as his personal Lord (Acts 9:5), and became obedient to Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:6-8).

Paul was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (who had a personal relationship with the Lord; Acts 9:10), until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:17-18), and then became obedient to the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:20).

Paul’s conversion was unique for its rapidity. The Twelve were with Jesus for about three and a half years and still were not ready to proclaim the Gospel until they had been “reborn.”

I personally testify that I was confronted by the Holy Spirit and was called to repentance and obedient trust in Jesus. When I did, I was restored to fellowship with the Lord.

Jesus is the unblemished sacrificial Lamb of the New Passover. God has been preparing us to understand his saving plan for this world (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). The Exodus of God’s people from slavery to sin and death in Egypt was intended by God to be a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. We are all in slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world order. Satan is “Pharaoh.” Jesus is the “Moses” who leads us out of Egypt.

Jesus is the Lamb of the New Passover, initiated on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28; compare Exodus 12:1-13). Jesus’ body sacrificed on the cross provides the New Passover feast, and his blood marks believers to be “passed over” by the destroying angel.

Jesus is the ultimate example of obedient trust in God’s Word. Jesus never wavered (Matthew 26:36-46), although sorely tempted. He knew his fate, and yet trusted God’s Word unto the most excruciatingly (meaning “of the Cross) painful death on the cross.

Jesus was fully human. He experienced every human desire and temptation just as we do, but without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He was perfectly obedient to God’s Word. Therefore God has acknowledged that he alone is worthy of glory, honor, power, wisdom, might, honor and blessing, eternally!

Jesus’ miracles of physical feeding (and healing) were intended to show that he is also able to feed (and heal) spiritually. Jesus promised his disciples that he would reveal himself to them in Galilee after his crucifixion, death, and resurrection (Matthew 26:32; 28:7b). This is the fulfillment of that promise.

The feeding of the five thousand with the five barley loaves and two fish (John 5:1-13) is the preview of fellowship with Jesus in the kingdom of God. The breakfast on the beach in Galilee is the beginning of its fulfillment.

The disciples who were involved were experienced fishermen of the Sea of Galilee. They had used their best knowledge and experience and yet, all night, had caught nothing! Still, they were willing to trust and obey Jesus’ command. As the result, they caught a great supernatural catch, and they enjoyed a great supernatural fellowship on the beach with Jesus.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)? 

3 Easter – Monday – C

First posted April 19, 2010;

Psalm 23 – My Shepherd;

Paraphrase:

Because the Lord is my shepherd I can be confident that I will never lack any necessity. He provides green pastures and calm waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the ways of righteousness for the sake of his name (his whole person and character).

I fear no evil although I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, because my shepherd is with me. I am comforted by his rod and staff.

The Lord prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies. He anoints me with oil. He gives me an overflowing cup. Certainly all my days will be accompanied by goodness and mercy, and I will dwell in the Lord’s house for eternity.

Commentary:

Jesus is the one and only Good Shepherd (John 10:11-15). He alone can provide our spiritual food and drink. Jesus’ miracles of physical food, drink and healing were intended to demonstrate that he can also and more importantly satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst and need for spiritual healing.

We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead (unborn). Only Jesus can give us spiritual birth, by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 3:3, 5-8), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

We are all enslaved by sin and the fear of death. Jesus took on our physical nature so that through his physical death on the cross he could free us from fear of death and slavery to sin (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death. By faith (obedient trust) in Jesus we have the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, who is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have a personal daily relationship with the risen and ascended Jesus, and can personally testify that Jesus is eternally alive. When we know that Jesus is with us we can be certain that nothing can happen to us that he cannot deliver us from or bring us safely through.

The Lord has prepared a feast for us in the midst of our enemies. The Old Covenant (Testament) of Law was sealed by a sacrificial feast and God’s people were marked by the blood of the sacrifice (Exodus 12:1-14). Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant. Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) which we receive by faith) obedient trust) in Jesus.

Jesus established the New Covenant on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:17-28). The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is the spiritual feast of the New Passover; Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of the New Passover, whose body sacrificed on the cross provides the feast, and whose blood marks us to be “passed over” by the destroying angel.

Jesus’ physical feeding of the five thousand, for example (John 6:1-14), was intended to point to the “marriage feast” in God’s eternal heavenly kingdom, where his “bride,” the Church, his (born-again) disciples will be united with Christ for eternity. The Lord’s Supper which the Church celebrates is a foretaste of the that wedding feast that is coming in eternity (Matthew 26:29).

Jews were specifically forbidden to consume blood by itself or with its meat. The reason was that it was believed that blood contained the spirit of the animal. The Lord didn’t want his people filled with the spirit of animals, but with his Holy Spirit. The cup of the Lord’s Supper overflows to us; it is abundantly sufficient for our needs. That doesn’t mean that one can partake of the Lord’s Supper and automatically be filled with the Holy Spirit, but if one does so in faith, having been filled with the Holy Spirit, one will be renewed and will have fellowship (“communion”) with the Lord at the table.

Olive oil was used to anoint prophets, priests and kings for God’s service. Oil was used for medicinal purposes to promote healing, and for welcome and celebration. The “anointing” with the Holy Spirit is the the “oil of gladness” (Psalm 45:6-7; Isaiah 61:3c, d). It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can praise the Lord and experience the goodness and joy of his presence within us (1 Corinthians 12:3). Because “born-again” Christians personally experience the risen and ascended Jesus by his indwelling Holy Spirit within us we can be certain that we will live eternally with him in heaven.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

3 Easter – Tuesday – C

First posted April 20, 2010;

Acts 13:15-16a, 26-33 – Paul’s Sermon in Antioch of Pisidia;

Paraphrase:

On his first missionary Paul (Saul of Tarsus) and his missionary companions went into the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey) on the sabbath. After reading from the law and the prophets, as was the Jewish practice, the synagogue leaders invited the missionaries to share a word of exhortation. So Paul stood up and, addressed them as sons of Abraham and those who are God-fearing (having the appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of God).

Paul said that God has sent Israel the message of salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). The Jewish citizens and rulers in Jerusalem had not understood and recognized the fulfillment of the the oracles of the prophets which were read every sabbath, thus fulfilling them by condemning Jesus. Although they had no evidence to charge Jesus for anything deserving death, they asked Pilate to execute him.

When the prophecies about Jesus’ crucifixion had been fulfilled, they took Jesus’ body from the cross and laid it in a tomb. But God raised Jesus from the dead, and over a period of many days, he appeared to his followers who had come to Jerusalem with him from Galilee (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). These followers now testified to the fulfillment of these prophecies. So Paul was bringing the “good news” (“Gospel” means “good news”) that God’s promise to the forefathers he has fulfilled to their children, by raising Jesus, as it is written in Psalm 2:7.

Commentary:

The Jewish leaders and people in Jerusalem had the prophetic scriptures revealing God’s plan for Creation from the fall of mankind in the Garden of Edin (Genesis 3:15), and throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, but they didn’t understand them because they did not receive them with faith (obedient trust). So they fulfilled the prophesies by crucifying Jesus.

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God’s Word contains both wonderful promises but also ominous warnings which are intended to keep us from receiving the consequences of disobedience. We will either receive the promises by obedient trust, or we will receive the consequences of disobedience.

For one example, Psalm 22, attributed to David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel who reigned from 1000 to 961 B.C., is a prophetic picture of Jesus’ crucifixion, which was a manner of execution unknown in Israel until the time of the Roman Empire, beginning in about 27 B.C.. (Compare Psalm 22:7-8 and 16-18 with Matthew 27:35, 38-44). Jesus began to quote Psalm 22 on the cross as he was fulfilling it (Psalm 22:1; compare Matthew 27:46).

The Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah and crucified him, thus fulfilling Biblical prophecy, but they lost the salvation God intended for them. Jesus declared that the Jews would not see their Messiah until they accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior (Matthew 23:37-39). I don’t believe that living Jews are irrevocably lost, although those are eternally lost who have died unregenerate [John 3:3, 5-8; un-”reborn” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16)]. I don’t believe that the Jews are any more guilty than anyone else for crucifying Jesus, because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and have made Jesus’ crucifixion necessary for our eternal salvation (See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel).” He was convicted on the road to Damascus by the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus Acts 9:3-5). He accepted Jesus as Lord (Acts 9:5), became obedient to Jesus’ command (Acts 9:6-8), repented with fasting (Acts 9:9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Act 9:10), until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:11-18), and then Paul, led by the indwelling Holy Spirit began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:19b-20). Paul began to repeat the process of making born-again disciples of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:6-8) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

3 Easter – Wednesday – C

First posted April 21, 2010;

Revelation 7:9-17 – A Great Multitude of Redeemed;

Paraphrase:

After the vision of the hundred and forty-four thousand (a symbolic number) sealed for redemption, the Apostle John had a vision of a great multitude from all nations, tribes and tongues standing before the throne and the Lamb (Jesus). They were clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. The multitude cried out that salvation belongs to our God, who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb! And all the angels and the four living creatures stood around the throne and fell down on their faces, worshiping God and saying, “Amen (so be it)! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might (seven-fold; symbolizing perfect praise) be to our God for ever and ever! Amen!

Then one of the [twenty-four] elders asked John who the white-robed multitude were, and from where had they come? John replied that the elder knew (trusting that the elder would explain it to John). The elder explained that the multitude were those who had been saved during the great tribulation; their robes had been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore they are constantly before God’s throne, and serve him day and night in God’s temple. They are sheltered in God’s presence and will neither hunger or thirst anymore. They will not be stricken by sun or heat. The Lamb who is before the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water; and God will dry the tears from their eyes.

Commentary:

Twelve is the number of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, and also the Twelve original Apostles of Jesus Christ, the Eleven original disciples (minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer) plus Paul (Saul of Tarsus) the original “modern, post-resurrection, born-again, disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel)” of Jesus Christ. The twenty-four elders are the twelve patriarchs of the twelve tribes and the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. One hundred and forty-four thousand is twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel times twelve, symbolizing completeness; not one is missing. Seven is a symbol of perfection and completeness.

Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29, 35-36) of the New Passover, which Jesus instituted on the eve of his crucifixion (Matthew 26:26-28). The New Passover was sealed with a spiritual feast, the Last Supper; the Lord’s Supper; Holy Communion; Eucharist (compare Exodus 12:1-14).

Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross cleanses us from sin and clothes us with the robes of Jesus’ righteousness (John 7:14). Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the week of his crucifixion was hailed with palm branches by his disciples (Matthew 21:1-11). The Church is the New Jerusalem, the New City of God on earth.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10:11-15). The Good Shepherd provides his sheep with their daily needs abundantly, beyond expectation. He doesn’t just provide water, but “living water” (John 4:10-11; 7:37-39), the spiritual water of eternal life.

If you believe God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14), you will trust and obey it. You will apply God’s Word in your daily life. As the result you will come to know personally with certainty that God’s Word is true and reliable and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. That is how God causes our faith to grow to spiritual maturity. There is no hope and security in this world apart from faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

 

3 Easter – Thursday C

First posted April 22, 2010

John 10:22-30 – Jesus and God are One;

Paraphrase:

At the feast of Dedication (celebrating the re-dedication of the temple in 164 B.C., after being desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C.; the origin of Hanukkah), Jesus was walking in the portico of Solomon (a relic of Solomon’s temple left standing after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 587 B.C. by the Nebuchadnezzar, whose army carried Judah into exile in Babylon for seventy years). The Jews (Jewish leaders) surrounded him and asked Jesus to tell them plainly if he were the Christ (Messiah).

Jesus replied that he had told them, but they had not believed. Jesus was doing works (miracles) in the name of God his Father which reveal that he is the Christ, but they did not believe because they did not belong to Jesus’ “sheep” (Jesus’ followers; John 10:7-15). Jesus’ followers recognize Jesus’ voice and follow him, and he recognizes them as his followers. Jesus gives them eternal life, and they will never perish, nor can anyone take them from Jesus’ control. Jesus’ Father is God, who is greater than anyone, and no one is able to separate Jesus’ followers from God. “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

Commentary:

It wasn’t that Jesus hadn’t revealed himself as the Messiah, but the Jewish authorities hadn’t accepted him by faith (obedient trust). Jesus was doing miracles which only God could do, but they refused to acknowledge him as the Son of God, the Messiah, and submit to him in faith. Instead they accused him of blasphemy (John 10:31-33).

When we hear Jesus’ words in the Bible and accept them in faith, we will begin to trust and obey them in our daily lives. As we do so, he will come to us and begin to talk to us. We will know that it is Jesus who is talking to us because we have learned to know his “voice” from the Bible. There are also demonic “voices” speaking to us, so we must use the Bible to test the “voices” to know whether they are of God (1 John 4:1-3).

We are all born physically alive but spiritually unborn. We must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2). If one is uncertain, one hasn’t been.

By the indwelling Holy Spirit, truly born-again Christians have daily personal fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father (John 14:23). Jesus is God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:8-11). Jesus is the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Compare Genesis 1:3, 9).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

 

3 Easter – Friday C

First posted April 23, 2010;

1 Peter 2:11-20 – Christian Lifestyle;

Paraphrase:

We are reminded that we are aliens and exiles in this world (we are citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom). We must abstain from lusts of the flesh which fight against our souls (the part of us which is eternal). Our good behavior among the Gentiles (unbelievers) will testify to God’s glory when they are confronted by God’s divine eternal truth, and will refute their false accusations of wrongdoing by us.

We must submit to every human institution, whether to the sovereign leader or to his delegates sent to reward right-doing and to punish wrong-doing. It is God’s will that by doing what is right we may silence the ignorant. Let us live as those who are free, but without using our freedom as license to do what is evil; instead, let us live as servants of God. Let us dishonor no one. Let us love our fellow believers as our family. Let us fear (have awe and respect for the power and authority of) God. Let us respect our worldly leaders.

Let those who are under the authority of others, as slaves, subjects or employees, be submissive, regardless of the nature of the authorities, whether gentle and kind, or brutal and abusive. Those who endure abuse while suffering unjustly will be rewarded by God. But when one suffers deservedly for wrongdoing, what credit will he receive for patient endurance? But if you suffer unjustly for doing what is right in God’s judgment, you will have God’s approval.

Commentary:

The Bible contains a series of parables (stories of everyday common experience used to teach spiritual truth). The central parable of the Bible is the Exodus from slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this current world order, through baptism into Jesus in the “Red Sea” (on dry ground; Exodus 14:21-29), through the wilderness of this lifetime, through the “Jordan River” of physical death, and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us. The Holy Spirit is the pillar of fire who leads us through the spiritual darkness (Exodus 13:21-22). Jesus is the “Joshua” [Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Jeshua” or Joshua; the Son of Nun, who led Israel through the Jordan River (on dry ground; Joshua 3:14-17) and into the Promised Land].

Like Israel, the people of God, who wandered in the wilderness for forty years, we are nomads in this lifetime, waiting for Jesus to lead us through the “River” of physical death into the eternal promised land. Our citizenship is not of this world. This lifetime is a spiritual battlefield. Satan and his demons are our spiritual enemies, seeking to destroy us eternally. Our weapon is the Word of God, the Bible, which is our spiritual sword, and our faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ is our armor that protects us from spiritual death. Our spiritual enemies will attempt to discredit us, but our good behavior will testify in our behalf; so let us not yield to temptation, but continue in obedient trust in Jesus.

Worldly rulers are ultimately accountable to God. There are situations in which Christians must disobey worldly rulers, when their commands are clearly in opposition to the Bible, such as were Hitler’s ( *See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6). But one must be willing to suffer the physical consequences: Bonhoeffer was hanged in the last days of World War II.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

 

3 Easter – Saturday C

First posted April 24, 2010;

John 16:16-23 – Jesus’ Resurrection;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that soon they would be separated from him for a while, and then, “after a little while,” they would be restored to his presence. His disciples puzzled over this saying. They wondered about what Jesus meant by saying that he was going to the Father. What did Jesus mean by “a little while?’ Jesus knew what they were wondering about and stated their questions plainly.

Jesus told them they would be sorrowful over that which the world was rejoicing, but their sorrow would turn to joy. Jesus told them that their sorrow would be like the travail of childbirth. It would be turned to joy by the delivery of that which is being born into the world. So they would experience sorrow for a time, but their sorrow would be turned to joy which no one could take from them. In that day they would be reunited with Jesus and they would have no unfulfilled needs. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name” (John 16:23).

Commentary:

Jesus was arrested on Thursday of Holy Week after the Last Supper. He was crucified on Good Friday. He was in the tomb from Friday at sundown until Easter Sunday, the third day. From Jesus’ arrest, the disciples were scattered, as Jesus had foretold (Matthew 26:31). They were in mourning for the apparent loss of their hope for a restored Israel (Luke 24:21) and the loss of their beloved Lord, and they were in fear that they could suffer the same fate (John 20:19).

When the women who had gone to the tomb on Easter Sunday reported that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had risen from the dead, the disciples at first couldn’t believe it (Luke 24:9-11). Jesus continued to reveal himself to his followers over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1-7), in Jerusalem and later in Galilee. The disciples had a couple rough days until they heard and accepted Jesus’ resurrection and he appeared to them. Then their sorrow was turned to joy.

Jesus had promised the disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9) to be with and in them forever (John 14:21, 23). The only way to receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is to believe (trust and obey) Jesus. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The infilling of the Holy Spirit within us is a personally discernible, ongoing daily experience (Acts 19:2).

It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience a close personal daily fellowship with the Lord. It is by the Holy Spirit that we experience the joy of his presence (Romans 14:7; 15:13; I Thessalonians 1:6). It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can truly praise and worship the Lord (Romans 8:15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is our spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8). The indwelling Holy Spirit the joy which no one can take from us (10:28-30).

Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for us to be cleansed by his blood sacrifice, so that we could be temples of the Holy Spirit, and made it possible for him to send his Holy Spirit to us (John 16:7). Jesus told his disciples to stay within Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church, the city of God on earth) until they had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Luke24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Jesus promised that it would not be many days before the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).

Jesus’ death on the cross was the travail of childbirth leading to the joy of delivery. The Church was born into the world on the day of Pentecost, when the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus promises that we can ask the Father in Jesus’ name, and he will guide us individually to our spiritual rebirth as we begin to follow Jesus’ commands. I personally testify to these truths (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

Sadly, in two many instances the nominal Church has failed to make “born-again” disciples. It has failed to teach obedience to Jesus’ teachings. Nominally Christian denominations are actually teaching that spiritual rebirth is automatically given at water baptism, or some other church ritual, which actually hinders members from seeking the indwelling Holy Spirit (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

The way to protect ourselves from false teachings is to read the entire Bible for ourselves, and to read it daily for guidance, with prayer and meditation. Any average reader can easily read the entire Bible in one year and there are numerous 1-year plans available (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

 

Week of 2 Easter C — 04/03 – 09/2016

April 2, 2016

Week of 2 Easter C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/a_year/Wklx_a.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/c_year/wklx_c.html

Please Note: I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast: Week of 2 Easter C

2 Easter – Sunday C

First posted April 11, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Sunday C

Psalm 149 – Festival Celebration;

Acts 5:12, 17-32 – Apostles Arrested;

Revelation 1:4-18 – Preparatory Vision;

Matthew 28:1-15 – Easter Morning;

John 20:19-31 – Jesus Appears to His Disciples;

Psalm 149:

Let us praise the Lord! Let us sing a new song of praise to him in the congregation of the faithful! Let Israel (the people of God; the Church) rejoice in his maker. Let the sons of Zion (the city of God on earth; the Church) rejoice in their king. Let us praise his name (his whole person and character) with dancing accompanied by the music of tambourine and harp. The Lord delights in his people, and clothes the humble in victory. Let his faithful ones exalt in glory; let them rejoice on their beds. May their throats be filled with God’s praises and their hands wield two-edged swords to inflict vengeance upon worldly nations and chastisement upon worldly people, to bind worldly kings with chains and worldly nobles with iron shackles; to execute the written judgment upon them. In this all his faithful ones will be glorified. Praise the Lord!

Acts 5:12, 17-32:

The apostles (Jesus’ original Twelve disciples minus Judas the betrayer) were together in Solomon’s Portico (a remnant of Solomon’s temple left when the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, on the east side of the rebuilt temple). The apostles were doing many miracles among the people.

But the high priest and the party of the Sadduccees (one of the ruling parties of the Jews; members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court of seventy elders) were filled with jealousy and had the apostles arrested and put in prison. That night, an angel of the Lord opened the prison door and led them out. The angel told them to return to the temple and preach the words of “this Life” (the Gospel), so they entered the temple at dawn and resumed teaching.

The high priest and Sadducees gathered the council of elders (the Sanhedrin) and sent to the prison to have the apostles brought before the council. But the officers who had been sent didn’t find the apostles in the prison, so they returned and reported to the council that they had found the prison securely locked and guarded, but that there was no one inside. The Jewish leaders were very puzzled and wondered how this would turn out. Then someone came and reported that the missing apostles were in the temple teaching the people. The captain and temple guards went and brought the apostles to the council, without treating them violently, because the guards were afraid the people would stone them.

When the apostles were delivered to the council, the high priest questioned them, saying that the council had strictly commanded them not to teach in [Jesus’] name, and yet the apostles had filled Jerusalem with their teaching. He accused them of trying to make the Jews accountable for shedding Jesus’ blood. But Peter and the other apostles answered: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The apostles said that the Jews had killed Jesus by hanging him on a “tree” (a pole made from a tree-trunk to which a crossbeam was attached), but the God of the Jewish patriarchs raised Jesus from physical death and exalted him at God’s right hand as Lord (King) and Savior to provide Israel with repentance and forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). “And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit which God has given to those who obey him.

Revelation 1:4-18:

The Apostle John was writing to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia (Asia Minor; present-day Turkey). Grace and peace (the traditional Greek and Hebrew salutations, respectively, which are only attainable through Jesus Christ) from God who always was, who is, and who always will be (I AM; Exodus 3:14), and from the the seven angels who are before the throne [or the fullness; completeness of the Holy Spirit] and from Jesus Christ, who is (eternally alive), who always was (from the foundation of the world: John 1:1-3), and who is to come again at the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-32; John 5:28-29). Jesus is the faithful witness (who obeyed God’s will unto death on the cross), the first-born from the dead and the ruler of earthly kings.

Give eternal glory and dominion to him [Jesus] who loves us and has freed us from sin (disobedience of God’s Word; and eternal death which is the penalty for sin) by his blood (shed on the cross; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right), and has made us a kingdom of priests of his God and Father. Amen! Watch, he is coming on the clouds (Acts 1:9-11). Every eye will see him, everyone who pierced him and every tribe of earth will mourn on his account. Nevertheless, so be it!

The Lord God is the “Alpha and Omega” ( the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), the one who is, who always was, and always will be, the Almighty.

John is the brother of all believers. All of us will suffer tribulation and share in the kingdom of God (now and in eternity) in Jesus Christ, and all will need patient endurance. John was exiled to the isle of Patmos in the Agean Sea, because of his proclamation of God’s Word and his testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day (Sunday) he was filled with the Holy Spirit and heard a loud voice behind him as loud as a trumpet, commanding him to write down in a book what he was about to see in visions, to send to the seven churches in Asia, to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

He turned in the perceived direction of the voice and saw seven lampstands of gold. In their midst he saw one with the appearance of a “son of man” (compare Daniel 7:13-14) whose clothing is symbolic of royalty, eternity, wisdom and immutability. The Son of man held seven stars in his right hand, a sharp two-edged sword came forth from his mouth, and his face shown like the sun at full strength.

John fainted with fear at his feet, but the Son of man put his right hand upon John and told him not to be afraid. He declared that he is the first and last (Acts 1:8), he is the living one who died physically and rose to eternal life. He has the keys to death and hell (the word used means kingdom of the dead). He commanded John to write the visions he sees, both what now is, and what is to take place hereafter. The seven lampstands symbolize the seven churches, and the seven stars symbolize the seven angels assigned to them.

Matthew 28:1-15:

After the Jewish Sabbath (from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) early on the first day of the week (Monday, at dawn), Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary (the sister of Jesus’ mother, the wife of Clopas and mother of “little” James), went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, and an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled away the stone sealing the tomb, and sat upon it. The angels appearance was supernaturally bright like lightening and his clothing was as white as snow. Guards posted at the tomb were paralyzed with fear. The angel told the women to not be afraid; he knew they were looking for Jesus but that Jesus was no longer there, for he had risen as Jesus had told them.

The angel told the women to see where Jesus had been laid, that was now empty, and then to go to the disciples and tell them that Jesus had risen from the dead and that they would see him in Galilee. The angel had delivered the message he’d been given for them. So the women left the tomb and hurried to tell the disciples.

On the way Jesus came to them and said, “Hello!” The women fell at his feet, took hold of them and worshiped him. Then Jesus told them not to be afraid; they were to go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee where they would see Jesus.

While the women were going to the disciples, the guards went into Jerusalem and told the Jewish leaders what had taken place. The leaders convened the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, and the council decided to bribe the guards with money and protection from the Roman civil government, and told the guards to say that the disciples had removed Jesus’ body while the guards were asleep on duty. The guards took the money and assurance and did as the council told them; and this story was circulating among the people at the time this Gospel was written (probably in the last third of the first century A.D.).

John 20:19-31:

On the evening of the first Easter Sunday the disciples were were probably in the upper room (where they had shared the Last Supper with Jesus) and the doors were locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus appeared and stood among them, saying “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). Then Jesus showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were happy when they saw the Lord. Jesus again offered his peace to them and told them that he was sending them as the Father had sent Jesus. Then he breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. He told them they had the responsibility to forgive or retain the sins of anyone.

Thomas, one of the Twelve original disciples, called the Twin, was not present when Jesus appeared. So when the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that he would not believe unless he could see and touch the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and touch the sword wound in Jesus’ side.

Eight days later the disciples were again in the upper room, and Thomas was also there. Again Jesus appeared and stood among them. Again he offered them his peace, and then he told Thomas to touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side, so that Thomas would not be faithless but believing. Thomas said, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus replied that Thomas had believed because he had seen Jesus; but those who believe without seeing will be blessed. There are many other miracles which Jesus did which are not recorded in this book (the Gospel of John), but the ones that are recorded here were written in order for its readers to believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God, and that through believing they may have life in Jesus’ name.

Commentary:

“The Word of God is living (“quickened”) and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). It is the weapon of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:17). The indwelling Holy Spirit will help “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples recall all Jesus’ teachings (Acts 14:26) and give us what to say at the moment it’s needed (Luke 21:11-1221:13-15). It is by the Word of God that worldly nations and people will be chastised, and worldly kings and nobles will be restrained.

We cannot accomplish God’s purpose in our own human strength, but only by the guidance and empowerment of the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had been “born-again, before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The Holy Spirit cannot recall to our memory what we have not read. To equip ourselves with the sword of the Spirit we must read the entire Bible at least once, and then we must read portions daily with meditation and prayer, with a lectionary such as this, which will help us prepare for Sunday worship.

Any average reader can easily read the entire Bible in one year. There are numerous one-year reading plans available. I favor ones which include portions of Old and New Testaments each day (see free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right).

It is by the “baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are spiritually “born-again.” Only Jesus “baptizes” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The infilling with the Holy Spirit is not automatically conferred by some Church ritual such as water baptism (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

Worldly rulers tried to restrain the Apostles from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it was not God’s will for them to be restrained. The angel (or Spirit) of the Lord released them from imprisonment, guided and empowered them to return to the temple to continue preaching Jesus, and gave them what to say before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council of seventy elders. When the rulings of worldly authorities conflict with the Word of God we must obey God rather than men.

Jesus’ miracles of resurrection and his own resurrection were intended to show that there is existence beyond physical death, and that Jesus can raise the physically dead to eternal life. Jesus is the pioneer who “blazed the trail” to eternal life (Hebrews 2:10-11). He is the first-born from physical death to eternal life. Jesus is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, and nations, and people and worldly rulers and nobles will be accountable to him on the Day of Judgment at Christ’s return (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

The Day of Judgment will come for everyone who has ever lived in this world. Christ will come on the clouds of heaven as he ascended into heaven. This world began with God and will end with God (John 1:1-5, 14).

“Born-again” Christians are called to be a kingdom of priests of God the Father. We are to be mediators between God and mankind. We have an obligation to proclaim the full Gospel, both the wonderful promises and the fearsome warnings, so that mankind will repent of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and turn to the Lord in obedient trust.

Jesus usually referred to himself as the Son of man, which is true because he had a human mother. He is Son of God because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:31-35) and has the fullness of God within him (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man so that the listeners could decide for themselves who Jesus is, with a hint from Daniel 7:13-14.

The sharp two-edged sword coming forth from the mouth of Jesus in John’s vision symbolizes the Word of God. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:14).

On the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9), Jesus’ face and his clothing became supernaturally luminous with the glory he had in heaven before his coming and the glory he had when he ascended.

Moses is the forerunner and preview of the Christ, the mediator between God and his people. When Moses had been in God’s presence on Mt. Sinai (Horeb), his face shone with supernatural radiance, so that the people were afraid to see it (Exodus 34:29-35).

When God’s face “shines upon us” it is a sign of his favor. We receive the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The face and clothing of the angel at the tomb also were supernaturally luminescent, indicating that he had come from the presence of God in heaven.

Jesus had told his disciples at least three times beforehand that they were going to Jerusalem where Jesus would be arrested, crucified, buried and then rise from the dead on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-3; 20:17-19), but they didn’t understand and were afraid to ask (Luke 18:31-34), so they did not remember these sayings of Jesus until the angel reminded the women at the tomb. They didn’t remember that Jesus had told them beforehand that they would see him in Galilee after his resurrection (Matthew 26:31-32), until the angel reminded the women. Even then the disciples were slow to believe the women’s testimony (Luke 24:10-11).

The Jewish leaders had asked Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, to post guards at the tomb to prevent the disciples from faking Jesus’ resurrection. When their best efforts failed to prevent Jesus’ resurrection, the Jewish leaders then bribed the guards to spread the lie that this is what had happened. To this day there are heresies spread in the world and even within the Church, denying Jesus’ resurrection. For example, some suggest that Jesus wasn’t actually dead, and revived in the cool tomb. Some suggest that it was not necessary for Jesus to actually rise from the dead.

Paul refutes these types of heresies, which were present in the first-century church and persist to this day, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-28. Furthermore, every truly “born-again” Christian has personally experienced the risen Christ and testifies that Jesus is eternally alive.

After the crucifixion, the disciples were in hiding behind closed doors, afraid that the Jewish leaders would have them crucified next. They had barred the doors, but that didn’t prevent Jesus from appearing among them any more than posting guards and sealing the tomb could prevent his resurrection.

Jesus told his disciples that he was sending them to complete the mission which God had sent Jesus to begin. He told them to wait and receive the Holy Spirit first Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

He told them it was their responsibility to forgive sins or retain them. To the repentant they are to pronounce forgiveness; but to the unrepentant, they are to excommunicate them from Church membership so that they can realize their sinful condition and receive forgiveness through repentance, and then return to obedient trust in God’s Word.

Too often the nominal Church today tolerates sin among its membership, such as homosexuality and adultery, even among its ordained clergy. The Church is not doing its members or leaders any favor by tolerating sin. As long as an unrepentant sinner is a member in good standing he (or she) has tacit (implied; inferred) Church approval, and has no reason to repent and change his (or her) lifestyle.

Jesus gave instructions on Church discipline to his disciples (Matthew 18:15-18), Peter’s rebuke of Simon the magician (Acts 8:9-24),and his rebuke of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), for example. Paul demonstrated Church discipline in dealing with immorality in the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.

Thomas and the other disciples had witnessed Jesus’ miracles of resurrection of the dead, most notably Lazarus of Bethany (John 11:38-44). I presume that Lazarus did eventually die physically again and was ultimately raised to eternal life. Still, Thomas refused to believe Jesus’ resurrection without seeing physical proof.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be unbelieving and thus lose eternal life. We haven’t had the opportunity to witness Jesus’ miracles during Jesus’ earthly ministry, but we can still witness his resurrection and his miracles worked for us in our lives, if we will trust the eyewitness testimony in the New Testament and begin to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings.

As we do so he will manifest himself to us (John 14:21). We will come to know personally with certainty for ourselves that he is risen indeed, and is eternally alive. As we walk in obedient trust in the Holy Spirit we will experience numerous healing, feeding, and redeeming miracles in our life (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right.

Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:8-11; John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative power of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; compare Genesis 1:3, 9). When Thomas declared that Jesus is his Lord and God, Jesus did not deny or correct it. In contrast, when Paul and Barnabas were mistaken for gods in Lystra on Paul’s first missionary journey they refused the designation (Acts 14:8-18).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

2 Easter – Monday C

First posted April 12, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Monday C

Psalm 30 – Thanksgiving for Healing;

I will praise and magnify you, O Lord, since you have lifted me up and not allowed my enemies to rejoice over me. When I cried to you for help you healed me. You have raised up my soul from the land of the dead and restored me to life from the grave.

Let all his saints (those who are committed to God’s service) give thanks and praise to the Lord. His anger is only momentary, but his favor is for a lifetime. Sorrow may linger for a night, but joy comes with the morning. When I was prosperous, I thought I couldn’t be shaken. The Lord’s favor had made me as strong as a mountain. Then the Lord hid his face, and I was undone.

I cried and made supplication to the Lord. How would my death glorify the Lord? Would my dust praise him? Would my dust testify to his faithfulness? O Lord, hear my cry and be gracious to me. Be my helper.

You have turned my mourning into dancing. You have changed my sackcloth to clothing of gladness. My soul must praise you and not be silent. I will give thanks to you for ever, O Lord!

Commentary:

When things are going well for us we tend to think that we have God’s favor and that we deserve it. None are worthy of God’s favor. We have it only because of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

Only God can save us from our spiritual enemies. It is only when we acknowledge this and cry to God for help that we can be lifted up above their power. Our spiritual enemy, who is ultimately Satan, seeks our eternal death. Only Jesus can save us from eternal death and give us eternal life (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God disciplines us for our good, like any good father. For the moment all discipline is painful, but his discipline yields eternal benefits (Hebrews 12:11). God’s promise is that, if we will endure through the long night of mourning, we will experience his eternal joy.

When we are successful we consider it our own deserved achievement. The Lord lifts his favor and protection and allows us to experience our vulnerability so that we will realize our need for him. We need to learn to call upon him in difficult times.

The Lord wants us to call upon him in times of trouble so that we can experience his power and ability to help us. As we do so, he causes our faith to grow from a tiny mustardseed, our “yes,” to informed certainty.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

2 Easter – Tuesday C

First posted April 13, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Tuesday C

Acts 9:1-20 – Paul’s Conversion;

Paul (Saul of Tarsus), hating and threatening the disciples of Jesus with murder, asked the high priest for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, authorizing Paul to arrest followers of the Way (one of the earliest names for Christianity; see John 14:6) and bring them them to Jerusalem. As he approached Damascus he was struck down by a bright light. He heard a voice addressing him as Saul, and asking why Saul was persecuting him. Paul asked, “Who are you, Lord” (Acts 1:5a)?

The voice replied that it was Jesus who Saul was persecuting. The voice of Jesus told Saul to arise and go into the city and he would be told what to do. The men accompanying Saul heard the voice but saw no one and were speechless. Saul arose, but when he opened his eyes he wasn’t able to see anything, so his traveling companions led him into Damascus by his hand. For three days Saul was blind, and ate or drank nothing.

At Damascus there was a (“born-again”) disciple, Ananias. The Lord called to him by name and told Ananias to go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas and ask for Saul of Tarsus, who was staying there. Saul had seen a vision of a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on Saul and restore his sight.

Ananias replied that he had heard that Saul had done much evil to Christians at Jerusalem, and that he knew Saul had come to Damascus with authority from the high priests to arrest Christians. But the Lord told Ananias to go, because the Lord had chosen Saul to be his instrument to carry the Lord’s name to the Gentiles, earthly kings, and the children of Israel; and Saul would suffer much for the sake of Jesus’ name.

So Ananias went and entered the house where Saul was staying, saying to Saul that he had come to restore his sight and help him be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he was able to see again. Then he arose and was baptized, ate food, and was strengthened. For several days he was among the disciples at Damascus and immediately proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God.

Commentary:

I’m convinced that Paul is the one intended by God to replace Judas Iscariot, one of the original Twelve disciples and apostles; Judas had betrayed Jesus. The Eleven remaining disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the “baptism” (“gift;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit). While they were waiting they decided to choose one to replace Judas, but they didn’t have the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. They chose Mattias by chance; like rolling dice (Acts 1:15-26). Matthias was never heard from again in the New Testament record. In contrast, after Paul’s conversion, most of the rest of the New Testament is written by or about Paul.

Paul is the prototype and illustration of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, as all of us can and should be. He didn’t know Jesus during Jesus’ physical ministry on earth. He was confronted by the Holy Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus (Acts 1:4), he accepted Jesus as Lord (Acts 1:5a), became obedient to Jesus (Acts 1:6-8) repented of his sin (Acts 1:9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 1:10-17), was “born-again” (Acts 1:18) and then began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:20). I know that Ananias was a “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ because he had a personal relationship with the Lord (Acts 1:10).

Paul was as much an Apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) as the original Eleven). He was fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which was given to the disciples of Jesus Christ to be fulfilled after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). He was making “born-again” disciples (2 Timothy 1:6-7) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Too often, the nominal Church today is failing to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ and is settling for making members, “fair-weather” “Christians,” and building “buildings” instead of building the Kingdom of God. If the Church doesn’t make “born-again” disciples there will be no “born-again” leaders. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. If one knew how to be “born-again” one would not be unregenerate (un-reborn).

The Church has inherited the role of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent and be baptized with water for the forgiveness of sins, to cleanse them spiritually to prepare them to receive Jesus Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

2 Easter – Wednesday C

First posted April 14, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Wednesday C

Revelation 5:11-14 – Worthy is the Lamb;

The Apostle John had a vision of God on his throne. Around the throne were twenty-four elders (symbolizing the twelve Old Testament patriarchs, and the twelve New Testament Apostles). There were four living creatures at the sides of the throne (perhaps symbolizing man and all creatures) with six wings, constantly singing “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 4:1-11; Compare Isaiah 6:2-3). Around the throne were myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands (a number too large to be calculated) of angels, saying, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (seven-fold praise; seven indicates perfection, completeness). John heard every creature in heaven and on earth declare that both God and the Lamb are equally worthy of eternal praise. The four living creatures said, “Amen” (so be it) and the elders fell down and worshiped God and the Lamb.

Commentary:

This is the Apostle John’s vision of the risen and ascended Jesus at the right hand of God in heaven [the second article of the Apostle’s Creed, the statement of the Biblical (as recorded in the New Testament) Apostolic (as received directly from Jesus and taught by the original Apostles, including Paul) doctrine (the basic tenets of Christian faith); Acts 2:34].

The Church is the “New Israel” (people of God), the “New Jerusalem” (city of God on earth), the heir of the Old Testament patriarchs; Galatians 3:6-9). Jesus is the “New Moses,” the mediator of the New Covenant (Testament) of Grace which is received by faith in Jesus Christ, which Jesus initiated on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-29). The Last Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is the “New Feast of Passover.” Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of Passover, the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right) whose flesh provides the spiritual feast and whose blood marks believers to be “passed over” by the destroying angel (Exodus 12:1-14). Jesus’ Apostles (the Eleven of the original Twelve, minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, plus Paul -Saul of Tarsus- the “modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, whom God intended to be Judas’ replacement) are the patriarchs of the “New Israel,” the “New Covenant.”

There is a Day coming when every tongue, in heaven and on earth, will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God (Philippians 2:9-11). This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, by the “baptism” (“gift;” “anointing;” “infilling”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God has designed this lifetime so that we have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and the opportunity to learn by trial-and-error that God’s will is our best interest. Right now we have the freedom to reject Jesus as Lord, and to refuse to trust and obey him, but there is a Day coming when he will command and we will have no choice but to obey. In that Day we will declare that he is the Lord, but it will be too late to change our eternal destiny. If we have rejected him as Lord and have refused to trust and obey him now, during this lifetime, we will spend eternity separated from his love and providence in eternal destruction in hell with all evil.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

2 Easter – Thursday C

First posted April 15, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Thursday C

John 21:1-14 – Risen Jesus in Galilee;

After appearing to the disciples in Jerusalem (John 20:19-29), Jesus revealed himself to the disciples in Galilee as he had said (Matthew 26:32; 28:7), at the Sea of Tiberius (Sea of Galilee). Seven of his disciples were together: Peter, Thomas, called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Peter decided to go fishing, and the others came with him.

After the disciples had fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus stood on the beach at dawn, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus asked them if they had caught anything and they told him they hadn’t. Jesus told them to let down the net on the right side of the boat and they would find some. When they did so, their nets were filled so that they were unable to haul it in because of the weight of the fish. Then “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John) recognized Jesus and told the others that it was the Lord. When Peter heard this he put on his clothes, since he had stripped for work, and jumped into the sea. The others came in the boat dragging the net, since they were only about a hundred yards off.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire, with fish on it and bread. Jesus told them to bring some of the fish they had just caught. So Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, filled with one hundred and fifty-three large fish. Despite the number and weight of fish the net was not torn. Jesus told them to come and eat breakfast. Everyone knew it was Jesus and none needed to ask. Jesus took bread and fish and distributed it to them. For the third time, Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples since his resurrection.

Commentary:

This moment of fellowship with the risen Jesus is reminiscent of the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-14), and both are previews of the fellowship we will have with Jesus in heaven. The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is a foretaste of the fulfillment of the New Passover feast in heaven.

Jesus’ miracles of physical feeding (and healing) were intended to show that he can feed (and heal) us spiritually. Physical feeding only lasts until the next mealtime; physical healing only lasts until the next time we get sick. But spiritual feeding and healing last for eternity.

Many people were coming to Jesus only for what he could do for them physically. The five thousand who were fed with the five barley loves and two fish wanted to take Jesus by force to make him their “food king” (John 6:15). When they couldn’t find Jesus they went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee looking for him, seeking more free bread and fish (John 6:26-27).

God’s Word declares that we are all sinners who fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23: 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want any of us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Unless and until we recognize and acknowledge our sinfulness, we cannot seek and receive the spiritual healing and feeding which only Jesus can supply.

The disciples had learned to trust and obey Jesus and had experienced his supernatural power and faithfulness. They were experienced fishermen with long experience fishing the Sea of Galilee. They’d fished all night and caught nothing. Why should they obey Jesus’ command to let down their nets again?

We can’t receive the blessings that Jesus wants to give us unless we are willing to trust and obey Jesus. Jesus asks why we call him our Lord if we are unwilling to trust and obey his commands (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

Faith is not getting whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Faith is not “wishing on a star” or on birthday candles. Saving faith is only by obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

The risen Jesus appears to his disciples who trust and obey him today. Every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ testifies to this truth. Jesus promises that if we love him we will keep his commandments and he will manifest himself to us through his indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (“baptizes with;” John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

2 Easter – Friday C

First posted April 16, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Friday C

1 Peter 2:21-25 – Call to Discipleship;

Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who suffered for us. So we also endure suffering for the sake of the Gospel, to save the lost. Jesus was completely sinless (Hebrews 4:15); he did not lie; he did not revile those who reviled him. When he suffered he did not make threats; instead he entrusted his cause to God the Father who judges justly. He took upon himself, on the cross, the punishment for our sins, so that, having died to sin, we might live for righteousness. Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, we have been healed by the wounds he received. We had all gone astray, but have now returned to our Shepherd, who is the guardian of our souls.

Commentary:

Christians are by definition disciples (students) of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing experience (Acts 19:2).

Jesus’ physical ministry was intended to show us by word and example how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate obedient trust by submitting to the most excruciatingly (Merriam-Webster: Latin: “from crucifixion; from the cross) painful death, on the cross. Crucifixion represents the ultimate painful physical death by torture.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrates that there is existence beyond this physical lifetime, and that God is able to save us even from physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15). We are not to pursue justice for ourselves, because we can’t know everything, and cannot judge justly.

God’s justice doesn’t strike us dead the first time we sin. He doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally but for all to be saved and have eternal life (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right). He has designed this world so that we have freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s way is our best interest.

The Lord forgives us over and over, as often as we need forgiveness, provided that we are making an effort to trust and obey his Word; but we cannot deceive him. He knows our innermost thoughts and attitudes. He knows when we’re not making a serious effort to know and do his will. The danger is that we may become callous to the promptings of our conscience, and that we may postpone commitment until it is too late (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when Christ will return to Judge the living (“quickened”) and dead in both physical and spiritual senses (Matthew 25:31-46). Everyone who has ever lived in this world will be accountable to him for what we have done with the Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” in this lifetime and will enter eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have refused to accept Jesus as Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (John 5:28-29; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

We are all eternal beings in physical bodies. We will spend eternity in only one of two places: God’s Kingdom restored to perfect paradise in heaven with the Lord, or hell; “outer darkness” with all evil, eternally separated from the Lord. We have had the opportunity to learn in this lifetime that God is the source of every blessing. We are healed physically and spiritually by God’s providence and grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), we are fed physically and spiritually by God’s providence and grace.

Imagine what eternity will be for those who are eternally separated from that grace and providence of God. Physical bodies fail and decay, but those who have not been spiritually “born-again” have no eternal spiritual body in which to continue in eternity. They will be cut off eternally from all the love, grace and providence of God, and will only experience anguish, suffering and grief for all eternity. Furthermore they will be fully aware of what great blessings they have lost.

Excruciating physical death by crucifixion cannot begin to compare to the eternal agony of destruction in hell. Would you rather spend three hours dying physically on the cross, with the assurance of eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom, or dying an even more excruciating spiritual death which will never end?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

2 Easter – Saturday C

First posted April 17, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Saturday C

John 10:11-16 – The Good Shepherd;

Jesus declared that he is the Good Shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep. A hired servant has no concern for the sheep. Seeing the wolf coming, he abandons them and flees, and the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees because he has no emotional or material investment in the sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd; he knows each of his sheep and they know him. Jesus has other sheep (the Gentiles) who are not of this fold (the Jews). Jesus’ sheep, both Jew and Gentile, will obey his voice and will be one flock, and Jesus will be their one and only shepherd.

Commentary:

From the very beginning of Creation, God has designed a Savior, the Good Shepherd, into Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). The promise of a shepherd-king was prefigured and demonstrated in David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel. The promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Psalm 23; 80:1-3; Isaiah 40:10-11; Ezekiel 37:23-24; John 10:11), the Son (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1; 21:9, 15; 22:42-43).

Jesus’ sheep are disciples of Jesus who trust and obey Jesus and have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

By the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have a daily personal fellowship with the risen and ascended Jesus. We learn to recognize his voice and to trust and obey his commands. His indwelling Holy Spirit within us acknowledges that he knows us.

There is no longer a special category of God’s particular people. Everyone who has been”born-again” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is one of Jesus’ flock.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of Easter – C – 03/27 – 04/02/2016

March 26, 2016

Week of Easter – C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

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http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/c_year/wklx_c.html

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of Easter – C 

Sunday Easter – C 
First posted  04/04/2010;
Podcast: Sunday Easter – C 

Exodus 15:1-11 – Song of Moses;

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24 – The Right Hand of the Lord;

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – Paul’s Gospel;

Luke 24:1-11 – The First Easter;

or John 20:1-9 (10-18) – The Resurrection;

Exodus Background:

The Song of Moses begins by quoting the Song of Miriam (Exodus 15:21), one of the oldest poetic texts in the Bible, and which is attributed to Moses’ sister, Miriam. It is believed to have been composed by an eyewitness of the crossing of the Red Sea.

Exodus 15:1-11 Paraphrase:

Moses and the people celebrated unto the Lord, declaring the Lord’s glorious triumph over the Egyptians. The Lord had cast horse and rider (or chariot) into the sea. The Lord is the strength and song of Israel and has become their salvation. He is the God of Israel and of their forefathers; they will praise and exalt him. The Lord is a great warrior and his name is the Lord.

Pharaoh’s army and his chariots have been cast into the Red Sea and sunk. They are covered by the flood; they sank like a stone. The right hand of the Lord is glorious in power; his right hand shatters the enemy. By God’s great majesty he overthrows his adversaries; his anger goes forth and they are consumed like stubble. By the breath of his nostrils the waters were heaped up and the depths were congealed.

The enemy decided to pursue Israel through the sea, thinking that they would overtake Israel, plunder them, and destroy them by the sword. Then the Lord blew with his wind, and the waters returned and covered the Egyptian army; they sank like lead. “Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, majestic in holiness, terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders (Exodus 15:11)?

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24 Paraphrase:

Let us give thanks to the Lord for his goodness; his steadfast love is eternal. Let Israel (God’s people; the Church) declare that the Lord’s love is steadfast and eternal.

Listen! Hear glad songs in the houses of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly!” The right hand of the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly” (Psalm 118:15)! We shall not die, but live and recount the Lord’s deeds. The Lord chastens us strongly, but will not abandon us to eternal death.

The Lord opens to us the gates of righteousness so that we may enter and give him thanks.

“This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it” (Psalm 118:20).

Let us give thanks to the Lord for answering our prayer and becoming our salvation. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes (quoted in Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7). This is the day (Sunday; the day of Jesus’ resurrection; all of our days) which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)!

1 Corinthians Background:

Paul had founded the Church at Corinth by his preaching of the Gospel (“Good News”) of Jesus Christ, and he was continuing to disciple the believers by letter from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8). There were some false teachings arising in the congregation and Paul was writing to correct them.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Paraphrase:

Remember the key beliefs of the Gospel set forth by Paul, which the Corinthians had received, by which they are firmly established and by which they are saved, if they hold firmly to them. Otherwise their faith would be in vain. Paul had received the Gospel, and was transmitting it faithfully and accurately. Christ died for our sins in agreement with the Bible scriptures. He was buried and arose from physical death on the third day, as the scriptures had said. Then he appeared to over five hundred eyewitnesses, including Cephas (meaning “rock” the Aramaic equivalent of the Greek word “Petros: i. e. Simon Peter), the remainder of the Twelve original Apostles (minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer), James the brother (or cousin) of Jesus, and lastly to Paul (Saul of Tarsus; Acts 9:3-6).

Paul felt unworthy to be included among the Apostles because he had formerly persecuted the Church. But he was an Apostle by the grace (unmerited favor; free gift) of God, and he didn’t waste the opportunity that grace provided. In fact Paul worked harder at his Apostleship, although it was not by his work but by the grace of God within him. So regardless of who preached the Gospel, the Apostles proclaimed it and so the Corinthian Christians had believed.

Luke Background:

Jesus had been crucified on what became know by the Church as “Good Friday.” He was placed in a tomb before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath Friday at sundown.

Luke 24:1-11Paraphrase:

On the first day of the week (Sunday; after the Jewish Sabbath, which ended at sundown on Saturday), the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee (Luke 23:55; Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and the other Mary, the mother of James and Salome and wife of Clopas, and other women; Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10) went to the tomb at the first light of dawn, taking the burial spices they had prepared (Luke 23:56). They found that the stone sealing the door of the tomb had been rolled away, and on entering they could not find Jesus’ body.

While struggling to understand, two men in radiant apparel appeared beside them. The frightened women bowed their faces to the ground, but the men asked them why they were seeking the living among the dead. They reminded the women that Jesus had told them, before they left Galilee, that he would be delivered into the authority of sinners and crucified, and rise from the dead on the third day. The women remembered this, and they returned from the tomb and told the Eleven (Apostles) and the other followers of Jesus, but the Apostles and followers didn’t believe their story because it seemed like nonsense.

John 20:1-9 (10-18) Paraphrase:

Early on the first day of the week (Sunday), Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb while it was still dark. She saw that the stone sealing the entrance had been rolled aside, so she ran, returning to Simon Peter and “the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2; John; a device which allows us to see ourselves as Jesus’ beloved disciples), and told them that Jesus’ body had been removed and that [the women] didn’t know where it was.

Peter and the “other” disciple ran toward the tomb, but the “other” disciple ran faster and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the burial cloths lying there, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter arrived and went right into the tomb. Peter saw the burial shroud lying there and the “napkin,” used as a burial face covering, rolled up by itself. Then the “other” disciple entered the tomb and saw and believed, because until then they hadn’t understood the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the two returned to the place where they were staying.

But Mary stayed outside the tomb, weeping. Stooping to look into the tomb, she saw two angels in white, sitting where Jesus’ body had lain, one at head, and one at feet. They asked Mary why she was weeping and she told them that the body of her Lord had been removed and she didn’t know what had happened to it.

As she said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing nearby, but didn’t recognize him. He asked why she was weeping and whom she sought. She supposed that he was the gardener and asked him what had become of Jesus’ body, so she could take care of it. Jesus addressed her by name, and she replied in recognition: “Rabboni!” (Rabbi; “Teacher”). Jesus asked her not to hold him, because he had not yet ascended to God the Father. He told Mary to tell his disciples that he was ascending to God his Father and their God and Father. Mary returned to the disciples and told them that she had seen the [risen] Lord, and she told them all these things.

Commentary:

This history of God’s dealing with Israel is also deliberately intended by God to be a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. We are all in slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world. Satan is the “Pharaoh,” the present ruler of this age. Jesus is the “New Moses,” who leads us out of “Egypt” through the “Sea” of Baptism into Jesus Christ, which separates us from our spiritual enemies, through the wilderness of this present lifetime by the Holy Spirit which is the “Pillar of Cloud and Fire” (Exodus 13:21-22). Jesus is the “New Joshua” (“Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of “Joshua,” or “Jeshua”) who leads us through the “River” of physical death without getting our feet wet (Joshua 3:14-17; physical death will have no effect upon us), and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom restored to paradise in Heaven.

Jesus is the right hand of the Lord, who has defeated our spiritual enemies and has won the victory for us (Exodus 15:6, 12; Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 118:15-16; compare Matthew 22:44; 26:64; 1 Peter 3:22). As the result, we will not die eternally, but will live in his heavenly kingdom, where we will delight in recounting the great deeds the Lord has done for us. Indeed, for those who have come to experience those deeds personally, it is a delight to recount them now.

Jesus is the door to eternal life and fellowship with God our Creator in his heavenly kingdom (John 10:7-9). Jesus is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, the only way to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, the only way to have true, eternal life in Heaven with the Lord (John 14:6).

Jesus is the gate of righteousness. It is his righteousness which is attributed to us by faith (obedient trust; see Romans 3:22; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:8-9) in Jesus, which makes it possible to enter into God’s righteousness in Heaven.

Jesus is the cornerstone which was rejected by the Jews, who were commissioned to build God’s house, who has become the foundation of God’s Church.

Jesus is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the entire forgiveness of all our sins. Jesus is God’s one and only plan for our salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12). Jesus has been designed into the world from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus prophesied his crucifixion, death and resurrection to his disciples at least three times, beginning in Galilee, before it took place (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 26:2). The Bible has been progressively revealing God’s Plan of Salvation (see sidebar, top right, home) from the beginning (Genesis 3:15). All those scriptures were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ miracles of resurrection from physical death (The son of the widow of Nain: Luke 7:11-15; Lazarus: John 11:38-44; Jairus’ daughter: Luke 8:41-56) and Jesus’ own resurrection from physical death are intended to show that there is existence beyond physical death and that Jesus has the power to raise us from physical death to eternal life. Jesus reveals himself to those who believe. “Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples personally experience the risen and ascended Jesus by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, and so testify to his resurrection.

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift; anointing) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is impossible for one to be “born-again” and not personally know it with certainty for oneself (Acts 19:2).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was deliberately intended by God to replace Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. Jesus had told the Eleven to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-13). Instead, while they waited they decided to choose Judas’ replacement, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which they had not yet received. They chose Matthias, who is never heard of again in the New Testament (Acts 1:15-26). In contrast, after Paul was “born-again” most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul’s ministry.

Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle” of Jesus Christ, as we all can and should become. Paul was confronted by the Holy Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3), accepted Jesus’ rebuke and accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5). He became obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:6-8), repented of his sins (Acts 9:9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17), was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18, and then began to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 9:20-22). Paul began to make “born-again” disciples (in fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and to teach them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 1:6-7; 2:2).

We can hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but unless we act in faith (obedient trust) upon it, it will be of no benefit to us. If we believe in Jesus we will do what he teaches (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). We will seek to know Jesus’ teachings and to apply them in our daily lives, one day at a time. Paul recognized that he was an Apostle only by God’s grace, but he didn’t waste the opportunity by hesitating to act.

John outran Peter to the tomb, but John hesitated at the entrance. Peter was always impulsive. Peter didn’t get there first, but he didn’t hesitate once he arrived. So he experienced the reality of the resurrection before John.

Jesus had told his disciples in advance that he would rise from the dead. His disciples had witnessed Jesus’ miracles of resurrection, and still they couldn’t understand how what Jesus said could be true. Jesus’ prophecy hadn’t been remembered because it hadn’t been understood and believed, and even when they witnessed it they couldn’t remember the prophecy, until the risen Jesus revealed himself to them.

We’ve heard the Gospel: that the scriptures regarding Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection were fulfilled; that Jesus died and arose again from physical death; that he reveals himself to his followers. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and begin to follow his teachings he will reveal himself to us personally and individually and we will come to know from direct personal experience that he is risen and is eternally alive.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday Easter – C 
First posted 04/05/2010;

Podcast: Monday Easter – C 

Psalm 149 – Festival Celebration;

Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord! Let us sing a new song to him and praise him in the gathering of his saints (those who are committed to serving the Lord). Let us rejoice in our Maker, O Israel (the people of God; Christians) and rejoice in our King, O Zion (the Church). Let us praise his name with dancing and music-making with tambourine and harp. The people of the Lord are his delight; he gives victory to the humble. Let his saints rejoice in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches. Let there be great praises of God in their throats, and and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance upon the nations (Gentiles) and chastisement on the peoples. God’s people are called to bind the kings of earth with iron chains, and restrain the rich and powerful with bars of iron. To execute the written judgment upon them is our glorious honor. Let us glorify the Lord!

Commentary:

Christians are by definition disciples of Jesus (Acts 11:26c), who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). When believers have been filled with the Holy Spirit, they will have a new song of praise to the Lord within the congregation of other “born-again” Christians. It is only by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we can truly praise and glorify the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3).

Particularly in America and in other countries where citizens have the opportunity to influence government, business and the economy, Christians have the responsibility to oppose the exploitation and oppression of the weak and helpless by the rich and powerful. For the past ten years the U.S. Government has deregulated industry and the economy and allowed a few rich and powerful people to rape and plunder America and its citizens. Those regulations were set up in the wake of the first era of the Robber Barons, and the first Great Depression, to prevent just such abuse. Trillions of economic assets have been stolen, apparently with no hope of recovery, leaving America in shambles.

America no longer has a Christian majority. Every “religion” in America today is encouraged, but Christianity is opposed and suppressed.

But the Lord is the ultimate mighty warrior who gives victory to the humble. A Christian minority, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit can accomplish what is impossible in a worldly sense. God’s purpose cannot be accomplished by human resources, but only by the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

The Christian Church is to be a disciple-making organization, following the example of Jesus, and the example of Paul (Saul of Tarsus; 2 Timothy 1:6-7; 2:2). The Church is called to baptize believers with water to spiritually cleanse and prepare them to receive the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, following the example of John the Baptizer. The Church is called to disciple new believers within the Church (the New Jerusalem; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) until they have been spiritually “born-again” (“born-anew;” “baptized” with the Holy Spirit; Acts 2:1-13), and only then to send them out into the world to proclaim the Word of God, following the example of Ananias (Acts 9:10-17) and Paul.

How are we doing, Church? I assert that the (nominal) Church, at least in America, has settled for making members and building buildings instead of making disciples and building the kingdom of God. If the Church does not make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ there will be no “born-again” disciples to lead the Church. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. If an “unregenerate” (un-born-again) knew how to be “born-again” he would not be unregenerate.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday Easter – C 
First posted 04/06/2010;

Podcast: Tuesday Easter – C 

Acts 5:12, 17-32 – Second Arrest of Apostles;

Paraphrase:

The Apostles (messengers; of the Gospel; the original eleven remaining disciples) were doing many powerful miracles and signs, and they were in Solomon’s Portico, probably on the east side of the temple.

But the high priest and the Jewish authorities, particularly the Sadducees were jealous, so they arrested the apostles and put them in prison. But during the night the angel (Spirit) of the Lord opened the prison doors and released them, telling them to go and stand in the temple and testify to the people the true eternal life of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So the Apostles entered the temple at daybreak and taught.

The high priest called the Sanhedrin (the religious Supreme Court of Israel) and they sent to the prison to have the Apostles summoned, but the Apostles were not there. The officers of the Sanhedrin reported that the cells were securely locked and that there were sentries at the doors but that there were no Apostles inside. This report perplexed the chief priests and the temple guard, and they wondered where this would lead. Someone came and reported that the Apostles were in the temple, teaching the people. So the Captain of the temple police went and brought them to the Sanhedrin, but without violence, because they were afraid of the reaction of the common people.

When the Apostles arrived, the high priest questioned them, accusing them of having disobeyed the ruling of the Sanhedrin to not teach in the name of Jesus, and yet the Apostles seemed determined to make the Jews guilty of Jesus’ blood. Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:29b-32).

Commentary:

The disciples of Jesus Christ had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), guided, and empowered by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The religious establishment felt threatened by their power and authority, and tried to forbid them from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and doing signs and wonders.

That same situation exists in the nominal Church today, at least in America. In many instances the nominal Church has failed to make “born-again” disciples, and has chosen leaders from its “unregenerate” membership. The denominational establishment controls who can teach, according to their denominational doctrines, rather than the Apostolic (as taught by the Apostles) Biblical  doctrines (recorded in the New Testament scriptures.

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” by the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is not possible to have been “born-again” and not know it with certainty for oneself.

Denominations that assure their members that they are “born-again” by water baptism by the Church are actually doing spiritual damage to their members by discouraging them from seeking spiritual rebirth. The situation reminds me of the folktale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Not only are the leaders strutting around spiritually stark naked thinking they are fully clothed, but so are their members.

“Born-again” Christian disciples must be guided and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We must obey God rather than men. It is important to seek God’s guidance through reading his Word, the Bible, daily, with prayer and meditation. If we seek his will with the commitment to doing it, he will reveal it to us. When we receive his Word we should pray it back, to make sure that we have correctly understood. Remember that the Lord will never ask us to do anything that will harm ourselves or others, or anything that is contrary to the Bible scriptures.

“Born-again” Christians testify to what we have personally experienced and come to know, and the Holy Spirit within us confirms that testimony within us.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday Easter – C 
First posted 04/07/2010;
Podcast:
Wednesday Easter – C 


Revelation 1:4-18 – John’s Initial Vision;

Background:

The Apostle John had been banished to the tiny island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea by Roman Emperor Domitian toward the end of his reign. Domitian reigned from 81 to 96 A.D.. The revelation is a series of visions given to John by the Holy Spirit (“angel;” compare Acts 12:13-16) of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1), described symbolically. John was writing this letter to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia (western Asia Minor). He combined the customary Greek and Hebrew salutations, but John was conveying the grace and peace which are only possible through Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:4-18 Paraphrase:

From John to the seven churches in Asia from he (God; Exodus 3:14), who is, who was and is to come (John 1:1-3, 14), and from the seven angels (or the completeness of the energies of the Holy Spirit) before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the perfectly faithful witness [testifying to the Gospel of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), restoration of fellowship with God the Father which was broken by sin, and salvation from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23)]. Jesus is the first-born of the dead and the ruler of worldly kings.

To Jesus, who loves us and has given his life’s blood as a sacrifice on the cross to save us from the consequences of our sin, be eternal glory and dominion. Amen (yes; so be it)! Watch! Jesus is going to return with the clouds (compare Acts 1:9-11). Everyone who has ever lived will see him come. Everyone who has ever lived is guilty of crucifying Jesus because we have all sinned and made his sacrifice on the cross necessary for our forgiveness and salvation. Every nation and people on earth will mourn on Jesus’ account. Even so: Amen!

The Lord God declares that he is the beginning and end of all things. He has always been, he is now, and he eternally will be. He is the Almighty!

All believers must endure persecution for the Gospel of Jesus Christ with patient endurance, as John is an example. John was banished to the isle of Patmos for proclaiming the Word of God and his testimony to Jesus Christ. On the Lord’s Day (Sunday; the day of Jesus’ resurrection) he was experiencing the full anointing of the Holy Spirit, and he heard a voice behind  [or within] him, as loud as a trumpet-blast (compare 1 Samuel 3:1-14). The voice told John to record his vision in a book to be sent to the seven churches in Asia, to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

John turned toward the voice and saw a vision of seven lampstands of gold, and in their midst “one like a son of man” (compare Daniel 7:13; Matthew 9:6; 16:13-15). His royalty, eternity, wisdom and immutability are described symbolically. Jesus holds in his hand the angels assigned to the seven churches of Asia, and Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:8-10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41), a sharp two-edged sword (compare Hebrews 4:12). Jesus’ face glows with the knowledge of God (II Corinthians 4:6; Exodus 34:29-35; Moses is deliberately intended by God to be a forerunner and illustration of Christ).

John fainted with fear when he saw the vision, but Jesus touched him and told him not to be afraid. Jesus said to him that Jesus was the first and last (Alpha and Omega; the equivalent of “A” and “Z” in the Greek alphabet; compare Revelation 1:8). Jesus is the “living one” (he lived in human flesh in this world, died physically and was raised to live eternally. Every truly “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ personally testifies that Jesus has arisen from physical death and is eternally alive).

Jesus has the one and only key which can release us from eternal death and destruction in Hell. He commanded John to write down what he had seen which existed then and which would occur thereafter. The seven lampstands represent the seven churches of Asia, and the seven stars represent the seven angels assigned to the seven churches.

Commentary:

The number “seven” is symbolic of completeness. The seven churches of Asia Minor (present-day western Turkey) are representative of all the various conditions within the nominal Church today (Revelation 2:1-3:22). Every denomination and every congregation is one of the seven types.

God is the one who is the “I AM,” the one who is, who has always been, and who always will be (Exodus 3:14). God is the beginning and end of all things. He is the Creator and the final judge (Revelation 1:8).

Jesus is the fullness of God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9), but he was also fully human. Jesus truly is also the first and last of all things (Revelation1:17; John 1:1-3, 14). Those who have “seen” (experienced) Jesus have “seen” God the Father. When Jesus reveals himself to us (John 14:21) he reveals God the Father (John 14:8-11; 23-24).

Jesus usually identified himself as the Son of man, which is true, because he was fully God (Colossians 2:8-9) and also fully human (Philippians 2:8). He was born of a human woman, Mary, by the creative power of God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:31-35). The Lord wants us to be free to decide for ourselves whether to believe, trust and obey Jesus or not. Calling himself the Son of man allows us to decide whether he is also the Son of God, with a hint from Daniel 7:13-14 (Matthew 16:13-17).

Who do you say that Jesus is? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Thursday Easter – C 

First posted 04/08/2010;
Podcast: Thursday Easter – C 

 

Matthew 28:1-15 — The First Easter;

Paraphrase:

After the Jewish Sabbath (from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown), early on the first day of the week, Sunday (which came to be the Lord’s Day, the day of Christ’s resurrection), Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary, Mary, the sister of Jesus’ mother, wife of Clopas (or Cleopas) and mother of “little” James, went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for entombment. There was a great earthquake; an angel of the Lord had descended from Heaven and had rolled away the stone sealing the tomb, and was sitting upon it. His appearance was as bright as lightening, and his clothing was supernaturally whiter than snow.

The Jewish religious leaders had asked Pilate to post guards and seal the tomb, in order to prevent the disciples from faking Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 27:62-66). The posted guards were so frightened by the appearance of the angel that they were paralyzed by fear. But the angel reassured the women not to be afraid. The angel said he knew they sought Jesus, but that Jesus was not there. Jesus had risen as he had said. The angel told them to look at the place where Jesus had been laid, to assure them that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, and then they were  to go and tell the other disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. The angel said that they would see him in Galilee as Jesus had told them. The angel had completed his message.

So the women quickly left the tomb with fear and also great joy, running to tell the disciples. Jesus came to them and greeted them, saying, “Hello!” They bowed down and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus told them not to be afraid and reassured them that they would see him in Galilee.

While the women were returning, the posted guards reported what had happened at the tomb to the Jewish leaders. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council of seventy elders, assembled and decided to give money to the soldiers to tell the people that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body during the night, while the guards were sleeping. The Jewish authorities promised to protect the guards from punishment if this story came to the attention of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. So the soldiers took the bribe and spread the story among the Jews, where it was well-known at the time of the writing of the Gospel of Matthew (probably in the last third of the first century).

Commentary:

Jesus was crucified on “Good” Friday, the day his body was offered as the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for our salvation from sin and eternal death (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). As sundown and the beginning of Sabbath approached, Jesus had already died but the two criminals crucified with him had their legs broken to hasten their death so as not to violate the Sabbath laws (John 19:31-37). Jesus was laid in the tomb during the Sabbath, and the women returned on Sunday morning to prepare his body for entombment.

The angel’s body and clothing glowed supernaturally with heavenly glory, as had Jesus, Moses and Elijah on the mountain of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3). The angel spoke reassurance to the women but apparently not to the guards.

Jesus had told his disciples at least three times that he would rise on the third day after his crucifixion (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). But his disciples didn’t remember Jesus’ saying, because they hadn’t understood and accepted it (Luke 18:31-34). Jesus had told them that they would see him again  in Galilee after his resurrection (Matthew 26:32; John 21:1-14).

The Jewish leaders first tried to prevent the disciples from faking Jesus’ resurrection by posting guards, and when the guards did not prevent Jesus’ resurrection, they bribed the guards to say that the disciples had faked Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples had actually forgotten Jesus’ prophecy of his resurrection, and when Jesus wasn’t in the tomb on the first Easter, they had to be reminded. They were slow to realize and accept Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 26:31, 56b; , even though they had seen Jesus raise the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15), Lazarus (John 11:38-44), and Jairus’ daughter (Matthew  9:18, 23-26).

The secular world has been trying to deny Jesus’ death and resurrection ever since. Even some theologians and nominal Churches deny this today, and  have done so since the Church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Some have said that Jesus wasn’t really dead; that he was unconscious and revived in the cool tomb. Some modern theologians say that it is not necessary for Jesus to have actually risen from the dead. These and other heresies regarding the resurrection were present in the early Church and are refuted by the original Apostles, including Paul, in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 1:15-28).

Jesus’ resurrection was eye-witnessed by over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:6), and is personally witnessed and testified to by every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian. Satan, the present earthly ruler, attempted, by those under his influence, to destroy God’s anointed eternal Savior and King, but was defeated at Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

The only way to guard against heresy and false teaching is to read the entire Bible for oneself. The Bible is the standard by which all doctrine must be judged. The New Testament is the record of the Biblical (as recorded in the Bible) Apostolic (as learned by the original Apostles including Paul, directly from Jesus, and taught by them in the first century Church) Doctrine. It is sufficient to read it once in entirety, and then to read a portion daily, such as with this lectionary. Any average reader can easily read it in entirety in one year (or less). Then a believer must begin to apply it one day at a time. As a believer applies the Bible to his everyday life, he will be “born-again” (John 14:15-17), and the Holy Spirit (angel of God; Revelation 1:1; Acts 12:13-15) within him will bring to his remembrance all that Jesus teaches (John 14:25-26).

Only Jesus baptizes with (gives the gift of) the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is impossible to be spiritually “born-again” and not know it personally for oneself (Acts 19:2).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday Easter – C 
First posted 04/09/2010;
Podcast: Friday Easter – C 

1 John 5:4-12 – Christian Faith and Assurance;

Paraphrase:

Whatever [any one who] is born of God overcomes the world. Our faith gives us the victory that overcomes the world. Faith that Jesus is the Son of God is how we overcome the world.

Jesus comes by water and blood, not by water alone; and the Spirit is the witness to this, because he is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:16-17). There are three witnesses to Jesus as the Son of God: the water of Jesus’ baptism, the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, and the Holy Spirit. If we believe the testimony of humans, God’s testimony is greater, for by the Spirit, water and blood are the testimony God has born witness to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony within themselves. Those who do not believe God’s testimony to his Son are calling God a liar. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Commentary:

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God have overcome slavery to sin and death in this world, through spiritual rebirth to eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom which begins now, in this world. Jesus says that one must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in order to see the kingdom of God that is all around us now, and to see and enter it ultimately in eternity.

I believe that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and find fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus gives the gift of (baptizes with) the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is impossible to be filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit and not know it personally with certainty (Acts 19:2).

At Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptizer, John testified that God had given John the role of revealing the Messiah, and God had given him a sign confirming that Jesus was the one: the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove (John 1:31-34). The other Evangelists (Matthew, Mark and Luke) testify that Jesus’ baptism was accompanied by the voice of God from Heaven declaring that Jesus was God’s well-pleasing and beloved Son (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:22).

At the moment of Jesus’ death there were disturbances of nature that convinced even a Centurion guard at the cross that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:44-48).

Our water-baptism cleanses us spiritually and makes it possible for us to receive the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, but the Holy Spirit is not automatically conferred by water baptism or some other church ritual. We must claim the promise for ourselves by beginning to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings (John 1:11-12).

The Exodus, wilderness wandering, and ultimate entry into the Promised Land is the great metaphor of God’s redeeming work for his people in Jesus Christ, our “Moses” who leads us out of slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world. Passing through the Red Sea is the metaphor for baptism into Jesus Christ, which separates us from our spiritual enemies. The Holy Spirit is the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21-22) that leads us through the “wilderness” and spiritual darkness of this lifetime. Jesus is our “Joshua” (Joshua, or Jeshua, is the Hebrew name for Jesus, which is the Greek equivalent) who leads us through the “river” of physical death and into eternal life in the  “Promised Land” of God’s eternal heavenly kingdom.

Christian baptism makes it possible for us to be filled, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit as we begin to trust and obey Jesus. God wants our commitment to obedient trust in Jesus before giving us the Holy Spirit. Premature spiritual rebirth would be a disaster, because if one then turns away, one can no longer be restored (Hebrews 6:4-6).

On the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus instituted the New Covenant of Grace, which is received through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) at his “Last Supper” celebration of Passover, which became the “New Passover” celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist). The New Passover marks us with the blood of Jesus Christ, the New Passover Lamb, whose flesh provides the feast, and whose blood marks us to be passed-over by the destroying angel when the enemies of God and his people are destroyed on the Day of Judgment.

Jews were strictly forbidden to consume blood, or meat which had not been bled (Leviticus 3:17). Blood was believed to contain the spirit of the animal. God doesn’t want us to be filled with the spirit of animals but by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9).

Jesus declared that the elements of Holy Communion, the bread and wine, were his flesh and blood. He didn’t say they were merely symbols. Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Genesis 1:3, 9). When we trust and obey Jesus’ teachings in our daily lives we receive the promises of his words when we “take, eat… drink of it, all of you…” (in the words of the institution of the Last Supper; Matthew 26:26-28).

This doesn’t mean that anyone who partakes of the elements of Holy Communion receives the Spirit of Jesus. Those who do not receive the elements in a worthy manner -in faith (obedient trust)- are eating and drinking condemnation upon themselves, because they have not believed (1 Corinthians 11:29).

Faith is not wishing on a star; it is not getting whatever one believes if one believes “hard enough.” Faith is acting in obedient trust upon what one believes.

When we have been baptized, have believed (trusted and obeyed) Jesus, have received Jesus’ flesh and blood in the New Passover meal which seals the New Covenant, and have received the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have the testimony of God within us that Jesus is the Messiah, and that we are in Christ and have eternal life (see 1 John 5:13).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Saturday Easter – C 

First posted 04/10/2010;
Podcast: Saturday Easter – C

John 20:19-31 – Jesus Appears to His Disciples;

Paraphrase:

On Sunday evening, the first Easter, the disciples were in the upper room (where they had celebrated the Last Supper with Jesus) and they had locked the doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Jesus appeared and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19c). Jesus told them that as God the Father had sent Jesus, so Jesus was sending them. Then, breathing on them he told them to receive the Holy Spirit. He said that they had the power to forgive or to retain sins upon anyone.

Thomas, known as the Twin, one of the original Twelve disciples wasn’t present. When the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, Thomas replied that unless he saw and touched the nail-prints in Jesus hands and placed his hand on Jesus’ side, (where Jesus had been pierced by a Roman spear; John 19:34), Thomas would not believe.

The disciples were gathered in the upper room eight days later and Thomas was among them. The door was locked, but Jesus appeared among them and again offered them his peace. Then he told Thomas to touch the nail- and spear-wounds in Jesus’ body, so that Thomas would not be faithless but believing. Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)! Jesus said that Thomas had needed to see in order to believe, but more blessed would be those who believed without having to see. “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

Commentary:

The disciples had been told by the women that Jesus had risen but the Eleven remaining original disciples had not yet believed the women’s testimony (Luke 24:9-11). They were afraid that the Jewish authorities might arrest and crucify them next, so they were hiding behind locked doors. Jesus came and appeared among them despite the locked doors.

We are all sinners (have disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and have been separated (Romans 6:23; separation from God is eternal death) from fellowship with God because of sin. Through Jesus’ sacrifice we are forgiven and restored to fellowship with God by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, by the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus had been sent to preach the Gospel (“Good News”) of reconciliation with God; to bring spiritual healing, feeding and life to the spiritually dead. He chose Twelve disciples who he trained by word and example to carry on his ministry of reconciliation, and commanded them to preach the Gospel to all nations and make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples, teaching them to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 28:19-20). But the disciples were to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, the “birthday” of the Church (Acts 2:1-13).

One of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was specifically intended by God to be Judas’ replacement, and the prototype and illustration of a “modern, post-resurrection, ‘born-again’ disciple and apostle (messenger of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ” (Acts 9:1-20). Paul was carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:6-7) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

At the Day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the formerly fearful Eleven became bold and fearless in proclaiming the Gospel. For example, Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times, even to the menial servant of the high priest, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal (Luke 22:54-62). On the Day of Pentecost Peter, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, gave a powerful proclamation of the Gospel with great boldness to a large crowd (Acts 2:14-36).

Jesus gave his Apostles the power to forgive or retain sins. Apostles are “born-again” disciples who are carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The Church is led by Apostles, and they have the responsibility to forgive or retain sins. Members of the Church who refuse to repent of sin are to be excommunicated, in the hope that they will come to repentance and restoration (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Allowing them to continue in Church membership is not doing them any favor; it implies Church forgiveness and approval.

In Samaria a magician called Simon saw the disciples bestow the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit with the laying on of their hands, and he offered money to receive the power to confer the Holy Spirit and Peter cursed Simon and his money. At Peter’s rebuke Simon repented and asked that Peter pray for Simon’s forgiveness (Acts 8:9-24).

In Jerusalem, the Church practiced a communal lifestyle (Acts 4:32-37), which became necessary because of the persecution of Christians which would soon arise with the death of Stephen (Acts 7:54-8:1). Two members of the Church in Jerusalem were Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. With the knowledge of his wife, Ananias sold a piece of property, but kept back a portion of the proceeds for themselves. Peter rebuked them, saying that they were not obligated to sell the property, and after it was sold they were not obligated to contribute the full amount. But they lied to the Holy Spirit (and to the Church), claiming to be generous in contributing the full amount. Their sin was against God. At Peter’s rebuke Ananias fell down and died (Acts 5:1-6).

Sapphira was not present when Ananias died, but came in about three hours later. Peter asked her the amount of the proceeds of the sale and she stated the amount she and her husband had agreed to claim as the amount of proceeds and contribution. Peter then rebuked her for conspiring with her husband to lie to the Spirit, and told her that her husband had been struck down and died, and that the same fate awaited her. Immediately she also fell down and died Acts 5:7-11).

In too many instances the nominal Church today doesn’t rebuke sin and excommunicate members. I don’t believe that homosexuals should be allowed Church membership unless they are not practicing the homosexual lifestyle. Some denominations are even ordaining openly homosexual leaders, which is a terrible perversion of God’s Word and the authority and responsibility of the Church. Jesus taught guidelines for applying Church discipline (Matthew 18:15-18).

Jesus knew what Thomas had said, and he showed Thomas his hands and side so that Thomas could believe. The disciples had been eyewitnesses to Jesus’ miracles, and had seen Jesus raise the dead (son of the widow of Nain: Luke 7:11-15; Lazarus: John 11:38-44; Jairus’ daughter: Luke 8:41-2, 49-56). But Thomas needed to see in order to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.

When Thomas believed Jesus’ resurrection, he declared Jesus his Lord and God. When Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra (in Asia Minor; modern-day Turkey) on Paul’s first missionary journey, Paul healed a cripple. The people who witnessed the miracle mistook Paul and Barnabas for gods in the likeness of men and prepared to offer animal sacrifices to them. But Paul and Barnabas tore their garments as signs of ritual mourning and told them that Paul and Barnabas were mere men. They then proclaimed to the people the one true living God. Notice that Jesus didn’t correct Thomas, because Jesus is the true, living Lord and God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 1:1-3, 14).

We, like Paul, don’t have the advantage of having personally witnessing Jesus’ ministry during his physical lifetime, but we have the eyewitness accounts in the New Testament. They have been written in order that we can believe and thus receive eternal life through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. When we believe the Bible and begin to act upon it in our daily lives Jesus will reveal himself to us (John 14:21). He will be present along side us until we have been spiritually “born-again,” and then he will be present within us by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

As we begin to live according to the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit we will personally experience miracles for and around us. We will be eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and will testify that Jesus is eternally alive. We will experience and testify to the great things the Lord has done and is doing in our lives (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Holy Week – C -03/20 – 26/2016

March 19, 2016

Holy Week – C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/a_year/Wklx_a.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/c_year/wklx_c.html

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This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

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Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Holy Week – C

Palm – Passion Sunday C
First posted March 28, 2010;
Podcast: Palm Sunday C

Deuteronomy 32:36-39 — Vindication;

Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16 — Deliverance;

Philippians 2:5-11 — Example of Christ;

Luke 22:7-20 — The Lord’s Supper;

Luke 23:1-49 — Christ’s Trial and Crucifixion;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

“The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion for his servants” (Deuteronomy 32:36), when he sees that they are powerless; when none survive, either enslaved or free.

Then he will ask, “Where are the gods upon whom they have relied; their rocks of refuge? To whom have they offered their sacrifices of fat and wine? Let them rise up and protect them!”

Look now and see that God the Lord is the only true God. God has the power of life and death; illness and healing. No one can escape from the power and judgment of God!

Psalm Background:

Attributed to David, the Great Shepherd-king of Israel.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The Psalmist seeks refuge in the Lord. He claims the promise that God’s servants will never be put to shame. He claims the promise that God’s servants will be delivered by God’s righteousness. The Lord will listen to and hear the prayers of his servants. If we know that he hears us we can be sure that we have received the requests we have made (1 John 1:5:14-15; see Condition for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

“Be gracious to me, O, Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief, my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing: my strength fails because of of my misery, and my bones waste away” (Psalm 31:9-10).

“I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me” (Psalm 31:11).

“I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel” (Psalm 31:12)

“Yea, I hear the whispering of many – terror on every side!- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life” (Psalm 31:13)

My trust is in the Lord; he is my God! My times are in his hands! He will deliver me from the power of my enemies and persecutors!

Let the Lord’s face shine upon his servant, and may his servant be saved by the Lord’s steadfast love!

Philippians Paraphrase:

Let us have the same attitude that Christ taught by word and example. Although he was of the same nature as God, pre-existent and divine, he did not seek to be equal with God. Instead he emptied himself of self-interest and took the form of a servant, being born in human flesh as we are. And being fully human, he humbled himself and became obedient to God’s will, even unto physical death on the cross. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which 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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Luke 22 Background:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem knowing and foretelling three times that he would be crucified (Luke 9:22, 44-45; 17:25). This would happen according to God’s plan and timing.

Luke 22 Paraphrase:

On the Day of Unleavened Bread (the Feast of Passover), Jesus told Peter and John to go and prepare the Passover for Jesus and his disciples. They asked him where he wanted them to prepare it, and he told them that when they entered the city they would meet a man carrying a jar of water. They were to follow him into the house which he entered and say to the householder that the Teacher (Jesus) was asking the householder to show the two disciples the guest room where Jesus and his disciples were to celebrate the Passover. The householder would show them a large furnished upper room, where they were to finish the preparations.

At the hour of the meal (after sundown) Jesus told his disciples as he sat at table with them, that he had longed to celebrate this Passover with them before he suffered. Jesus said he would not celebrate it again until it was fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Jesus took a cup of wine and when he had prayed in thanksgiving, he passed it to his disciples to share among themselves. Jesus told them he would not drink wine again until the kingdom of God had come. Then he took bread, and having given thanks, broke it and distributed it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body. “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20; see RSV footnote J; compare 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Luke 23:1-49 Paraphrase:

The Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious supreme court of seventy priests, scribes (teachers of the Law of Moses, the Jewish Bible) and elders, condemned Jesus (Luke 22:66-71) and took him to Pontius Pilate for the Roman method of execution by crucifixion. The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of perverting the Jewish nation, forbidding them to pay tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be a king. So Pilate asked Jesus if he were the King of the Jews, and Jesus replied that it was Pilate (and the Jews) who had said so. Pilate told the Jews that Jesus had done nothing criminal, but the Jews were insistent.

When they told Pilate that Jesus was a Galilean, and thus in Herod’s jurisdiction (Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who governed Galilee), Pilate decided to sent him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at the time. Herod was glad to have the opportunity to see and hear Jesus, hoping to see him do some sign (miracle). Herod questioned Jesus at length, but Jesus made no reply, while the members of the Sanhedrin made accusations. Then Herod had his soldiers mock and treat Jesus with contempt. They dressed Jesus in kingly attire, and sent him back to Pilate. As a result Herod and Pilate became friends that day.

Pilate announced to the Sanhedrin that neither Pilate nor Herod had found Jesus guilty of anything deserving death. Pilate suggested that he would have Jesus (physically) chastised and released. The Jewish leaders demanded that Pilate release a man named Barabbas, a notorious insurrectionist and murderer, as was the custom at the Passover celebration, and crucify Jesus. Three times Pilate tried to release Jesus but the Jews wouldn’t hear of it (tolerate it). So Pilate gave in to their demands, released Barabbas and had Jesus delivered to be crucified.

As the Roman soldiers led Jesus away to crucifixion, they conscripted Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the countryside, to carry Jesus’ cross behind Jesus. A large crowd and women bewailed and lamented Jesus’ execution, but Jesus turned to them and told them to rather mourn for themselves and their children. Jesus said that the day would come, when they would consider blessed, the barren who had never had children. The day would come when they would long for the mountains to fall upon them and the hills to cover them. “For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry” (Luke 23:31). Two criminals were led away to be crucified, one on each side of Jesus.

Jesus prayed to God his Father to forgive those who crucified him, because they didn’t realize what they were doing. The soldiers cast lots (like rolling dice) to divide his garments among them. The people stood by, watching, but the Jewish leaders mocked Jesus, saying that Jesus saved others; he should save himself if he really was the Christ of God, God’s Chosen One. The soldiers also mocked him telling Jesus to save himself if he were the King of the Jews. There was an inscription on Jesus’ cross identifying him as King of the Jews.

One of the criminals crucified with Jesus also taunted Jesus to save himself and them, if he were the Christ, but the other criminal rebuked his fellow criminal: Did he not fear God, since he was under the same condemnation, justly, while Jesus had done nothing wrong? The second criminal asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus received his kingly power. Jesus replied that this criminal would be with him in Paradise that very day.

From about the sixth to ninth hour (noon to 3:00 pm). there was an eclipse of the sun. “and the curtain of the temple was torn in two” (Luke 23:45b). Jesus cried out, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) and stopped breathing. When the Centurion saw what had taken place he  declared that Jesus was surely innocent. The onlookers, seeing what took place returned to their homes beating their breasts in ritual mourning. All Jesus’ followers and the women who had accompanied them from Galilee witnessed these things from a distance.

Commentary:

Deuteronomy:

The Lord will not abandon his people, his servants; it is they who abandon him for false gods, for false security and refuge in worldly things. When God’s people turn away from obedient trust in God to pursue their own wills and interests, God removes his favor and providence from them and allows them to experience troubles, in hope that they will realize that true security and refuge, help and protection are only through obedient trust in God, and that they will therefore return to him.

The enemies of God’s people, who serve false gods, will be accountable to God. Nothing can protect them from God’s power and judgment.

Psalm:

David acted upon the promise of God’s Word that God would deliver God’s servants by God’s righteousness. When God took David from being a shepherd and gave him victory over Goliath, the enemy of God’s people, David  began to learn by experience the fulfillment of that promise (1 Samuel 17:1-51).

David eventually became the great human Shepherd-King of Israel. David prefigured the ultimate perfect eternal King of Israel, Jesus Christ, the Son (descendant) of David. God said of David that he was a man after (i.e sharing) God’s own heart, who would do all God’s will (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20; 1 Samuel 13:14). David was not perfect; he committed  a terrible sin of adultery and murder with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah, the Hittite, respectively, and he suffered the consequences, but he was forgiven (2 Samuel 11:2-12:26).

David wasn’t delivered by his own righteousness, but by the righteousness and faithfulness of God. John, one of of the Twelve original disciples and apostles, a son of Zebedee, taught that if we pray according to God’s will we can be sure that he will hear us, and if we know that he hears us we can be certain that we have received the requests we have made ( 1John 5:14-15).

Psalm 31:9-13 prefigures the situation of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (the Son of David). David, and ultimately Jesus, committed themselves to God, and trusted in God to deliver them from their enemies and persecutors. Jesus’ resurrection from physical death to eternal life is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to save his servants.

Epistle:

Jesus was fully human and fully God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). He was fully human but sinless (Hebrews  2:14-15; 4:15).

Jesus has been God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1John 1:8-10) and salvation (from eternal destruction, which is the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home), from the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

At the perfect moment in history, Jesus came into the world in human flesh, and became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal condemnation.

Gospel #1

The Jewish leaders had wanted to destroy Jesus, but they were unable to do so until it suited God’s will and timing. Jesus came into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with his disciples and institute a New Covenant (Testament) of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust), the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist), on the night of his betrayal and arrest, to replace the Old Covenant of Law (Romans 8:1-9).

Passover represents the sacrificial feast that sealed the Old Covenant; the Lord’s Supper represents the “New Passover,” the sacrificial feast that seals the New Covenant.

Note that Jews were strictly forbidden to drink blood or consume it with flesh (Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:23). It was believed that blood contained the spirit of the animal. God doesn’t want his people to be filled with the spirit of animals, but with his Holy Spirit. The element of wine is an appropriate symbol because it is the “blood” (Genesis 49:11) of grapes with “spirit” (alcohol). Jesus declared that the cup of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) was his blood. But realize that one cannot receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit just by receiving Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

Gospel #2:

The Jewish leaders wanted to, but were prevented from physically killing Jesus until the fullness of God’s timing. Jesus did not surrender to physical death until he chose to do so (Luke 23:46).

Judaism was a “green” (living) relationship with God until Jesus’ crucifixion. Judaism today is a very “dry” (dead) religion. Judaism today is more cultural than spiritual; God has departed, but no one seems to have noticed.

Many Jews today curse God for allowing the Holocaust, but fail to realize that the Holocaust was because they rejected their Messiah. Where was God during the Holocaust? Where were they during Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:25)? The Jews are not irreconcilably lost for eternity, but Jesus is the only way to be restored. Jesus said that he is the only way, truth, and life; and no one comes to the Father but through Jesus (John 14:6). Jesus himself said that Jerusalem could not be restored to God until they confessed that Jesus is the One who comes in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 13:35).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday Holy Week – C
First Posted March 29, 2010;

Podcast: Monday Holy Week – C

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24 – Song of Victory;

Background:

This is one of the Psalms sung at the end of the meal of the Passover feast.

Psalm Paraphrase:

O thank the Lord for his goodness. His love is steadfast and eternal. May God’s people declare his steadfast, eternally enduring love.

Listen! Hear joyful songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: The Lord’s right hand does valiantly; the Lord’s right hand is exalted; valiant is the Lord’s right hand. We shall live and not die. We will recount the Lord’s deeds. The Lord disciplines us severely, but won’t abandon us to death.

May the gates of righteousness be opened unto us that we may enter and give thanks to the Lord. The temple of the Lord is the gate; only the righteous shall enter through it. I give thanks to the Lord, that he has answered me and has become my salvation. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes (compare Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10-11). This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:22-24)!

Commentary:

God’s people aren’t those who call themselves Christians and call Jesus their Lord (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46), but those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus’ teachings, and have been spiritually “born-again” by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2).  Anyone who isn’t sure and must ask a religious authority hasn’t been! The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Just being a member and regularly attending Church doesn’t qualify us to enter the “gates of righteousness,” the doors of eternal life into God’s heavenly kingdom. No one is righteous in God’s judgment by being a “good person” (Galatians 2:16; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Not everyone who dies physically is going to “a better place!” Only those who are accounted righteous by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Romans 3:22; Philippians 3:9) may enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom.

It is only by the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can personally know and have fellowship with Jesus (John 14:21). It is only by being “born-again” that we experience and can testify to the Lord’s goodness and steadfast love (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12; Romans 8:15-16).

It is only after we have been spiritually “reborn” that we can personally testify that Jesus lives, and testify to his deeds that we have personally experienced (see personal testimonies, sidebar, top right, home). It is only after we have been “born-again” that we can personally testify to his steadfast, enduring love.

Jesus is the Lord’s right hand (Matthew 26:64; Mark 12:36; Ephesians 1:20). Jesus has won the victory over sin. Through faith in him we will not die eternally.

God disciplines us like a good father. No one enjoys discipline at the moment, but it yields benefits to us long beyond the chastisement (Hebrews 12:9-13).

Jesus is the “cornerstone.” He is the foundation of the “New Covenant” (Testament). The Christian Church has replaced Judaism.

Jesus is the stumbling block of those who refuse to accept him as Lord and Savior (1 Peter 2:7-8). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal death which is the penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word). No one can come to personal knowledge of divine eternal truth, fellowship with God, and eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom except through Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Colossians 2:8-9)

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday Holy Week – C
First Posted March 30, 2010;

Podcast: Tuesday Holy Week – C

Exodus 15:1-11 – The Song of Moses;

Background:

After being delivered from the Egyptian army by passing miraculously through the Red Sea on dry ground, Moses sang the ancient Song of Miriam (Exodus 15:21), which is believed to have been composed by an eyewitness to the crossing of the Red Sea.

Exodus Paraphrase:

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exodus 15:1-2). The Lord is a mighty warrior; his name is the Lord.

The Lord has cast Pharaoh’s chariots and army into the Sea. They went down into the depths like a stone, and the waters cover them. The Lord’s right hand, glorious in power, shatters the enemy. God, in the greatness of his majesty, sends forth his fury, which consumes them like dry straw (in a flame). By his breath the waters piled up in a heap and the depths of the sea dried up. The enemy thought they could pursue and overtake Israel and plunder and destroy them. But at the breath of the Lord the sea returned and covered them and they sank like lead.

“Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, majestic in holiness, terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders” (Exodus 15:11)?

Commentary:

The Exodus from bondage to slavery and death in Egypt was one of the great saving acts of God for Israel. It is also deliberately intended by God to be a metaphor, a parable, of life in this world. Jesus is the “New Moses” who leads God’s people, the “New Israel,” the Church, out of bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world order. Satan is the present “Pharaoh,” the leader of our spiritual enemies.

Baptism into Jesus Christ is the “parting of the Sea” which allows us to escape from our spiritual enemies, while preventing them from following, plundering and destroying us. Jesus leads us through the spiritual wilderness of this lifetime, our “Joshua” who leads us through the “River” of physical death, parting the waters again, so that we don’t get our feet “wet,” and into the eternal “Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven.

The gift (baptism) of the Holy Spirit is the “pillar of cloud and fire” (Exodus 13:21-22), that leads us through the wilderness and spiritual darkness of this present world. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing event, through whom we have personal daily fellowship with the risen Jesus and God the Father.

Jesus is the Lord’s right hand, God’s mighty arm, who has won for us the victory over sin and death. Jesus is the name of the Lord.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday Holy Week – C
First posted March 31, 2010;
Podcast:
Wednesday Holy Week – C


1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – Paul’s Gospel;

Background:

The Church at Corinth had been founded by Paul’s preaching. Paul was continuing to disciple the Corinthian Christians by letter, and was writing to correct doctrinal and ethical errors that were troubling the Church.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul reminded the Congregation the fundamental doctrines of the faith which Paul had preached, in which the Corinthians stood, by which they were saved, if they held firmly to them, if their faith was not ineffective.

Paul faithfully transmitted the main tenants of the faith which he had received (from Jesus, by the Holy Spirit), that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and was raised from physical death to eternal life on the third day, in agreement with the scriptures. Jesus appeared to the remaining of the original Twelve apostles (disciples commissioned to be messengers of the Gospel), and then to more than five hundred believers at one time, most of whom were still alive at the time Paul was writing. Then he appeared to James (the Lord’s brother) and then to all the apostles. Last, he appeared to Paul “as one untimely born” (a reference to Paul’s late conversion, after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension).

Paul considered himself the least of the apostles, not worthy to be considered equal with the others, because he had formerly persecuted the Church. But God’s grace had made it possible for Paul to be included among the apostles, and Paul had made the most of the opportunity he had been given by that grace. By God’s grace, Paul worked harder than the other apostles (in appreciation of the grace he had received). So whether by the preaching of Paul or the other apostles, the Corinthian Christians had believed the Gospel.

Commentary:

Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the original and model of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel)” of Jesus Christ, as we can and should be. I believe that Paul was the one God intended to replace Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, instead of Matthias, whom the disciples selected while they were supposed to be waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit that would guide and empower them (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 15-26).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had been convicted by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus, on the road to Damascus where he intended to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-5). Paul accepted Jesus’ conviction, repented and became obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:6-9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10) until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:17-18). Then, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, he began proclaiming the Gospel and making “born-again” disciples (2 Timothy 1:6-7), teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2), in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), which Jesus gave to his disciples to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The same doctrinal and ethical errors which were besetting the Corinthian congregation beset the nominal “Church” today. Elements within the nominal Church deny the Resurrection. Some deny that Jesus’ death was the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the entire forgiveness of all our sins; that we must earn forgiveness by keeping the Law (scriptures) and doing good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10). Some teach that Salvation is a free gift (true) but without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus (false;  see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Some nominal “Churches” have settled for making “members,” “fair-weather” Christians, and building buildings instead of making disciples and building the kingdom of God. Discipleship is not an optional category of “super-Christian.” A Christian is by definition, a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c).

Discipleship is a spiritual growth process. Paul’s conversion was exceptional for it’s speed, but remember that Paul was already formally trained in the Bible scriptures and loved God, he just needed to be pointed to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The other original disciples were with Jesus virtually night and day for about three years, and still weren’t ready to leave Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) to go into the world with the Gospel until they had been “born-again.”

Only Jesus “baptizes” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event; one should not rely on a Church authority or theologian as to whether they have been “born-again” or not (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Faith is not like wishing on a star; we don’t get whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Faith that is not applied in our daily lives by obedient trust in Jesus is ineffective faith. If we truly believe in Jesus we will do what he teaches (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

The standard for determining truth from false doctrine is the Bible. Paul’s Gospel was in accordance with the Bible. Unless one has read the Bible and reads it on a daily basis, one has no way to distinguish truth from error. Any average reader can easily read the Bible in one year. There are several plans available which include a portion of Old and New Testaments each day.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Maundy Thursday – C

First posted April 1, 2010;
Podcast: Maundy Thursday – C

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – A New Covenant;

Psalm 116:10-17 – The Cup of Salvation;

Hebrews 10:15-39 – Fulfillment of the New Covenant;

Matthew 26:17-29 (Luke 22:7-20) – The Last Supper;

Maundy Thursday is the commemoration of the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist). Maundy means “mandate;” or command, from John 13:34. In the Gospel of John the Lord’s Supper itself, with the elements of bread and wine are not mentioned. Instead, John focuses on Jesus’ foot-washing of the disciples and his command to follow his example (John 13:3-17).

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Jeremiah prophesied that the day was coming when the Lord would make a new covenant with Israel (God’s chosen people) and Judah (the remnant of Israel). It would be different than the covenant God made with Israel when he led them out of bondage to sin and death in Egypt. Although God’s relationship with Israel was as husband and wife, Israel broke the covenant.

In the New Covenant, God would put his law within them and write it upon their hearts. He will be their God and they will be his people. It will no longer be necessary for everyone to teach their neighbor and brother to know the Lord because they will all know the Lord, from the least to the greatest of them, because the Lord will forgive and remove their sin from his memory.

Psalm 116:10-17 Paraphrase:

The psalmist kept trusting in God even when he was profoundly afflicted; he realized that other people could provide no real help. How can we thank the Lord for his goodness to us? By lifting up the “cup of salvation” and calling on the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:13). By keeping our promise to trust and obey the Lord, witnessed among God’s people.

The Lord values saints (those dedicated to God’s service) who give their lives for the Lord. We declare that we are God’s servants, born by his handmaid, and freed from bondage to sin and death by God’s power and grace. We will offer him the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord.

Hebrews 10:15-39 Paraphrase:

The Holy Spirit testifies by the Word of the Lord that God has made a new covenant with his people and put his Laws on their hearts and in their minds. He also adds that he will remember their sins no more. Where there is forgiveness of sin there is no longer need to provide offerings for sin.

Because of our cleansing by Jesus’ blood we dare to enter the sanctuary, by the new, living way he opened through the curtain (his flesh; Luke 23:45). Since we have such a great high priest over God’s house, let us draw near, fully relying on our faith and with our hearts, consciences and bodies cleansed by pure water. Let us hold firmly to our confession of hope without wavering, because he who promised is faithful. Let us find ways to stir up one another to love and good works. Let us not neglect to meet together and encourage one another as the Day (of Christ’s return) draws near.

If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there is no further sacrifice for sin; instead there is the fearful prospect of judgment of consuming fire which will destroy God’s adversaries. One who violates the law of Moses is executed without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse will the punishment be for one who has rejected the Son of God, has profaned the blood of covenant through which he was sanctified, and angered the Holy Spirit through whom we have received grace (the free gift of forgiveness and salvation). We know that vengeance belongs to God to repay, and he will judge his people. It is terrible to come under condemnation by God.

Remember how, in former days, after we had been enlightened, we endured struggles and suffering, sometimes publicly suffering abuse and affliction, and sometimes sharing in the abuse and suffering of our fellow believers. We had sympathy for those imprisoned (for the Gospel) and accepted the plundering of our property with joy, since we knew we had a better, lasting one.

So let us not discard our confidence, which has great reward. We need endurance in order to do God’s will and receive what he has promised. God’s Word declares that, in just a little while, the one who has been promised will come; he will not be delayed.

Those who are righteous in God’s judgment will live by faith, and God will be displeased by anyone who turns back. We are not among those who turn back and are destroyed, but among those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Matthew 26:17-29 Paraphrase:

Background:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with his disciples, knowing that he would be crucified and would rise from the dead (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19).

Matthew Paraphrase:

On the first day of Unleavened Bread (Passover) his disciples asked Jesus where he wanted them to prepare the the Feast. Jesus told them to go into the city to a certain individual and say that the “Teacher’s” (Jesus’) time had come; he would keep the Passover at this person’s house with his disciples. The disciples did as Jesus had said and prepared the Passover.

That evening at dinner with his disciples Jesus declared that one of the disciples eating with him would betray him. The disciples were sorrowful and each began to ask Jesus if it was he whom Jesus meant. Jesus said that one who had dipped from the same dish would betray Jesus. Jesus said that the fate of the Son of man (Jesus) would be fulfilled as the scriptures foretold, but the betrayer would suffer great woe, such that it would have been better if he had not been born. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, asked Jesus if it was he to whom Jesus referred, and Jesus said Judas had said so.

As they ate, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and distributed it to his disciples, telling them to take and eat; the bread is Jesus’ body. Then Jesus took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and passed it to them, telling them to all drink of it; this is the blood of the (new; RSV note “g”) covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus said that he would not drink the wine again until he celebrated anew with his disciples in God’s kingdom in heaven.

Commentary:

God has designed Jesus Christ into the very foundation of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). God designed this Creation to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, knowing that given that freedom we would all choose to do our own will rather than God’s. Disobedience of God’s Word is sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:5-8) and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

The Old Covenant (Testament) of Law was given to restrain evil until the coming of Jesus Christ who would institute the New Covenant of Grace to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). When Jesus came, he instituted the New Passover Feast, the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) on the eve of his sacrificial death on the Cross. Jesus is the “Lamb” of the New Passover who gave his flesh for the sacrificial feast and his blood to mark his people to be “passed over” by the destroyer (Exodus 12:13).

God promised through Jeremiah to create a New Covenant through which he would “write” his laws on the hearts of his people. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17), is the fulfillment of that promise. By the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Holy Spirit is given to help us understand the scriptures (the risen Jesus; Luke 24:32, 45) , to recall all that Jesus teaches (John 14:25-26) and to guide and empower us to know and do God’s will (“Not by power, or by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord;” Zechariah 4:6). The disciples were commanded to stay in Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church) until they had received the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; compare Acts 2:1-13). The Holy Spirit gives Jesus’ disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

Those who have received the indwelling Holy Spirit are freed from the condemnation of the Law, provided that they live according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11). No person has ever been able to keep the Law perfectly (Galatians 2:16), and if one fails at any point one is guilty of all (James 2:10). Those who rely on keeping the Law are cutting themselves off from Christ (Galatians 5:3-4).

The blood of Jesus has become the “cup of salvation” God has promised. Jesus is the ideal Servant of the Lord who gave his life for the Lord. Jesus is the example and assurance that we are to follow. We may not have to be martyred physically, but in some way we will all have to surrender our lives to serve the Lord. But Jesus’ resurrection assures us that those who lose their lives for the Lord’s sake will have eternal life in heaven with the Lord. Every truly “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ personally knows and has fellowship with the risen Jesus, and testifies that Jesus is risen and eternally alive.

The Holy Spirit inspired the prophecy of Jeremiah of a New Covenant, and he testifies to us through Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit that God has made a New Covenant with his people. We experience the fulfillment of the promise to write God’s Laws on our hearts and in our minds, and we experience the forgiveness of all our sins.

At Jesus’ crucifixion, at the moment of his death the veil of the temple, separating the congregation from the holy-of-holies and the presence of God, was supernaturally torn in two from top to bottom, symbolizing that Jesus  had opened a new and better way into God’s presence through the sacrifice of Jesus’ flesh. Those who reject Jesus, who profane the blood of the Covenant and blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32), will be accountable to eternal destruction at Christ’s return on the Day of Judgment.

Christians are by definition “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (Acts 11:26c) of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is not some optional category of “Super-Christian.” Discipleship is an ongoing spiritual growth process. Disciples need to be discipled by “born-again” mature disciples until they have been “born-again” and then must learn over the course of years to know the Lord’s voice and learn to trust and obey him. The original Twelve were with Jesus day and night for three years, and yet were not ready to go into the world with the Gospel message until they had been “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity is not simply a matter of being baptized with water, or joining a church, or going to an altar call.

Discipleship takes perseverance and endurance. There will be tribulations and persecutions along the way. We must keep claiming and trusting in the promises of God’s Word, even when the going gets rough.

The Jews had long wanted to destroy Jesus, but were unable to until God’s timing. It had been God’s will for Jesus to establish the New Passover at the Passover celebration on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. Someone was going to betray Jesus, but it wasn’t Judas’ unalterable fate. Judas volunteered.

No one took Jesus’ life from him; he laid it down voluntarily; trusting that God had given him the power and promise to take it up again (John 10:17-18). Jesus didn’t die until he had committed himself into God’s hand and acknowledged that the mission he had come to accomplish was finished (Luke 23:45-46; John 19:28-30).

Jesus’ death destroyed the power of death and delivers us from the fear of death, by which we have been in bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus’ resurrection from death to eternal life demonstrates that there is existence after physical death, and that those who trust and obey Jesus will be raised from physical death to eternal life as Jesus was, and will live in paradise with him for eternity (Romans 8:11).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Good Friday – C

The anniversary of Christ’s Crucifixion;
First Posted April 2, 2010;

Podcast: Good Friday – C

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 — The Fourth Servant Song;

Psalm 22:1-23 — Prayer for Deliverance;

Hosea 6:1-6 —  Healing and Restoration;

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 — Our Great High Priest;

John 19:17-30 — Jesus’ Crucifixion;

(or John 18:1-19:42 — Jesus’ Arrest, Trial and Crucifixion);

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Paraphrase:

My Servant will have good success. He will be highly exalted and lifted up very high. Many were astonished by his appearance because he had been marred beyond human resemblance, and his body so damaged that he didn’t look like a human being. Nations will be shocked and kings will be speechless, because what they have not been told they will see, and they will understand what they have not heard.

Have you believed what we have heard? Has the Lord’s arm been revealed to you? He grew up like a shoot rooted in dry ground. He didn’t have a beautiful body that we would desire to look at, and desire him for his physical attractiveness. People despised and rejected him; his life was characterized by sorrow and grief. He was like one from whom people avert their faces. He was despised and we did not appreciate him.

Truly, he has taken our griefs and sorrows upon himself. We thought he deserved to be stricken, punished and afflicted by God. But it was for our sins that he was battered and bruised. The chastisement he bore for us makes us whole, and we are healed by the wounds which he received. We are all like straying sheep; we have turned aside and have followed our own interests, rather than the Lord’s; and God has laid the sins of each of us upon his Servant.

Although he was oppressed and afflicted he didn’t complain. Jesus didn’t respond to the false accusations which were made against him, the way that sheep being sheared are mute. He was oppressed and denied justice. Who of his generation considered that his life was taken from him and he was punished for the sins of God’s people? He was entombed with the wicked and with a rich man, although he was not guilty of any violence or deceit.

But it was God’s will that he be afflicted and put to grief. When the Servant allows himself to become an offering for sin, he will see his (spiritual) offspring, he will have long life. God’s will will prosper through his Servant. He will be satisfied when he sees the result of the tribulation of his soul. By his knowledge the righteous one, God’s Servant, will make many to be accounted righteous, and he will carry off their sins. So God will give him an inheritance with the great, and the Servant will divide the booty (proceeds of victory) with the strong. God’s Servant gave his soul unto physical death, and was accounted among sinners. He carried the sins of many and interceded for transgressors.

Psalm 22:1-23 Paraphrase:

Background:

This Psalm is attributed to David, the great human Shepherd-King of Israel and forerunner of the Christ.

Psalm Paraphrase:

“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Psalm 22:1a)? Why does my Lord seem so far from helping me; doesn’t he hear my groaning? I cry to God each day, but he doesn’t answer me. I cry to him at night, but receive no rest.

But God is Holy, and he is present in the praises of Israel. Our forefathers trusted in the Lord and the Lord delivered them. When they cried to the Lord they were saved. When they placed their trust in the Lord they were not disappointed.

But the Lord’s servant is regarded as a worm rather than a man; he is scorned and despised by the people. Those who see him mock him, make faces at him and wag their heads. They say that the Servant entrusted his cause to the Lord, so let the Lord rescue him, since he delights in his Servant.

But God brought him forth from his mother’s womb, and kept him safe as a nursing infant. The Servant was dependent upon the Lord from birth, and from his birth the Lord has been his God.

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; thou dost lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15).

“Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; They have pierced my hands and feet– I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots” (Psalm 22:16-18).

Be not far off, O Lord. You who are my source of help, hasten to help me. Deliver my soul and my life from the sword and from the power of dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lion, and my soul from the horns of wild oxen.

I will proclaim your name (entire person and character) to my brethren, and I will praise you in the midst of the congregation. Let all who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) the Lord, praise him. All who are the sons (descendants) of Jacob (Israel; the father of the heads of the twelve tribes; Christians are the spiritual descendants of Jacob; they’re the New sons of Israel), glorify him and stand in awe of him.

Hosea 6:1-6 Paraphrase:

Let us return to the Lord that he may heal us, since he has torn us; he has stricken us, but he will bind us up. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:2), Let us press ahead, that we may know the Lord. He comes forth as surely as the dawn. He comes to us as the spring rain with gentle showers to water the earth.

What shall the Lord do with Ephraim (the second son of Joseph who nevertheless, against custom, received a double portion of the inheritance of Jacob above his brother). What shall the Lord do with Judah (the fourth son of Jacob by Leah; one of the heads of the twelve tribes. Judah became the remnant of Israel after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes). Their love is like a morning cloud or dew that soon disappears. So the Lord has hewn them with his prophets, and the words of his mouth have slain them. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6)

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 Paraphrase:

Because we have a great high priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who has passed into heaven, let us hold on to what we have declared that we believe. Our high priest is not unable to empathize with us in our weaknesses; he has experienced every temptation we do, but he didn’t yield to sin. So let us then draw near to his throne which is the source of grace (unmerited favor; undeserved free gift) to receive mercy and grace when we need it.

When Jesus was in human flesh, he prayed, with supplication, with tears and loud cries to God, who was alone able to save him, and he was heard because of his fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of God. He was God’s Son, but he learned obedience to God through suffering, and when he had become spiritually mature, “he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9b).

John 19:17-30 Paraphrase

After Jesus had been sentenced to crucifixion, Roman soldiers took Jesus, carrying his own cross (just the horizontal crosspiece), to Golgotha, meaning the place of a skull (a hill with a skull-like appearance, west of the “New City,” an extension built by Herod the Great). There Jesus was crucified with two others, with Jesus between them. Pilate wrote a sign which was placed on Jesus’ cross, saying, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19), in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. This sign was read by many of the Jews because it was right outside the city gate (possibly the Gennath Gate).

The Jewish authorities objected to Pilate about the wording, saying that it should say that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews (untrue; John 18:33-37) but Pilate refused to change the sign. When Jesus had been crucified, the four soldiers divided his clothing among themselves, but since his tunic was one seamless woven garment they decided to cast lots for it (like rolling dice). Thus the prophecy of Psalm 22:18 was fulfilled: “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (John 19:24).

Mary, Jesus’ mother, Mary her sister, wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, stood by observing the crucifixion. When Jesus saw his mother, and John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”) standing near, he told his mother to consider John her son, and told John to consider Mary his mother, and from then on John took Mary into his home.

Then, knowing that all was now finished, said, “I thirst” (in fulfillment of scripture; Psalm 69:21b). There was a bowl of vinegar (sour wine) at hand, so someone put a sponge full of vinegar on hyssop (a reedy stem) and held it to Jesus’ mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he declared, “It is finished,” bowed his head and yielded up his spirit.

Commentary:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

This portion of Isaiah is generally believed to have been written around the time of Cyrus of Persia (539), which ended the Exile of Judah in Babylon. The defining characteristic of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God’s Word is always fulfilled, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

Jesus allowed himself to be “lifted up” on the cross (John 3:14; 12:32-33). Jesus’ crucifixion was brutal, preceded by physical abuse (Matthew 27:26b-31; Luke 22:63-65).

We have heard the Gospel, the “Good News” of forgiveness of sin and restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, but have we believed? Faith is more than intellectual assent. Faith is not like wishing on a star; we don’t get whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

We are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally but to have eternal life with him in his heavenly kingdom (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). God has designed Jesus into this Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Sin is disobedience of God’s Word, which he has made available to us in the Bible. We will all be accountable to God for disobedience of God’s Word. Jesus became the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sins for all who will receive it by faith (obedient trust). Jesus became the “Lamb” of the “New Passover,” whose blood marks believers to be “passed over” by the destroying angel, and whose flesh provides for the Passover Feast, The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist). Jesus was perfectly sinless (Hebrews 4:15) but took our sins upon himself on the cross. He took our punishment for us, so that we could be forgiven.

Jesus didn’t argue against false accusations brought against him by the Jews, and was mute before his judges and accusers like a sheep being sheared (Matthew 27:11-14). There is no question that he was denied justice (Matthew 26:59-66). Jesus went to the grave with the wicked (dying on the cross between two criminals; Luke 23:39-43; Matthew 27:44). He was entombed in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60).

Jesus is the ultimate, perfect Servant of the Lord. It was God’s will that he suffer and be crucified for our salvation, and Jesus was obedient unto death on the cross. Believers are his spiritual offspring. By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

By Jesus’ obedient trust in God’s Word he was raised from physical death to eternal life. Jesus reveals his personal knowledge of God his Father and of God’s will by word and example to all who are willing to trust and obey him (Matthew 11:27). Jesus has been highly exalted and has been given the inheritance of God his Father. Jesus will share his inheritance with his spiritual children (“born-again” believers; the strong: those who persevere and endure in faith).

Psalm 22:1-23

Jesus began quoting, in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, this Psalm on the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” (Mark 15:34).

Jesus is the ultimate, perfect fulfillment of the Lord’s Servant, but he was rejected and despised by people. Jesus was mocked and derided by observers at his crucifixion, in fulfillment of prophecy of Psalm 22:7-8 (compare Matthew 27:39-44).

God brought Jesus forth from his mother’s womb supernaturally, by the Holy Spirit, since Mary was a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:30-35). God preserved his life as an infant, when Herod sought to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13-16).

Psalm 22:14-18, which is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel, is the prophetic image of Jesus’ crucifixion, composed about a thousand years before it occurred (Matthew 27:35-44; Mark 15:29-32). Jesus trusted in God to deliver soul and life from physical death (the sword; the power of dogs; the mouth of the lion; the horns of wild oxen) and God answered Jesus’ prayer.

Hosea 6:1-6

Hosea’s ministry occurred during a sixty year period from the reign of Jereboam II (786-746 B.C.) of the Northern Kingdom  of the ten tribes of the Divided Monarchy.

Jesus is the demonstration of the fulfillment of this prophecy that the Lord tears but also heals, afflicts but also binds up. Jesus claimed the promise and demonstrated the fulfillment that God would revive and raise him up on the third day.

Jesus urges us to press on to know the Lord. If we seek the Lord he will allow himself to be found by us (I Chronicles 28:9c; Jeremiah 29:13-14a;  Deuteronomy 4:29). I am convinced that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), but this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). The Lord will come to us and reveal himself to us (John 14:21) as surely as dawn comes each day, and as gently as spring showers.

In the history of Israel recorded in the Old Testament (Covenant) Israel was continually forgetting the great blessings God had given them and turning from love for God to love of self. Obedient trust is the test of true love (John 14:15-17, 23-24). Israel was like Ephraim, who received a double portion of the inheritance without deserving or appreciating it.

Judah was the remnant of Israel after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes in 721 B.C. Judah ignored the warnings of the prophets so they were “hewn” by the prophets and slain by the Word of his mouth. The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah that if they didn’t return to obedient trust in God, they would be carried into exile in Babylon (the land of the Chaldeans) for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12).

Judah could have avoided exile by repenting and returning to the Lord any time before the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in 587 B.C., but they refused to obey God’s Word spoken by the prophet. As a result they were driven into exile. Note that seventy years was a virtual life sentence for anyone who was an adult at the beginning of the exile. Judah had been slain by the Word of God spoken by the prophet, and hewn into a renewed People of God during the exile.

After seventy years, in 517 B.C., God used Cyrus, King of Persia, to conquer Babylon, and free Judah to return to their Promised Land. Cyrus not only allowed them to leave but returned to them the treasures that had been looted from the temple in Jerusalem, and gave them money and assistance from Babylonian provincial governors in Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Isn’t that amazing?

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Through Jesus we receive, like Ephraim (Genesis 48:10-20),  a “double portion” of an inheritance we do not deserve; it is by God’s grace (a free gift; unmerited favor), and from the throne of grace we receive abundant mercy and grace when we need it.

Jesus trusted in God alone to save him and his faith was rewarded; God heard and answered his prayer for deliverance because of Jesus’ fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of God. Jesus was God’s Son, but he learned obedience through suffering. Obedience to God’s will cost Jesus everything he had physically.

John 19:17-30

The eyewitness accounts by evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John testify to the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies regarding the Lord’s Servant, the Messiah (Christ). The Jewish leaders falsely accused Jesus of claiming to be King of Israel (John 18:33-36; 19:12). The Roman soldiers divided his clothes and cast lots (like rolling dice) for his seamless woven tunic to determine which one would get it (Psalm 22:18). Jesus declared his thirst as prophesied in Psalm 22:15 and was given vinegar as prophesied in Psalm 69:21b. The scene of his crucifixion was the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:1-12 and Psalm 22:1a, 7-8, 14-18.

It is enlightening to realize that crucifixion was a unique Roman form of execution unknown in Israel. Israel’s method of execution was by stoning: a group threw stones at the condemned until he was killed. It took more than a couple stones and a couple individuals to carry out, so there was agreement among the condemned’s peers as to the death sentence.

The Old Testament has not been made irrelevant by the New Testament. Jesus has been God’s Plan from the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14) and God has gradually been revealing that Plan in his Word, The Bible, and in the “Living Word,” Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this fallen world, from the very beginning (Genesis 3:15). God was not surprised that the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, sinned by disobeying God’s Word not to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-11). Jesus was not “Plan B” after sin was introduced into Creation.

Have you received Jesus as your Savior and Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday – Easter Vigil – C

First Posted April 3, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday Easter Vigil C

Luke 24:1-11– The First Easter;

John 20:1-9 (10-18) – The Resurrection;

Luke Paraphrase:

After resting on the sabbath, on the first day of the Week (Sunday), the women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and the “other” Mary, the mother of James and Salome and wife of Clopas, and other women; Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10) returned to the tomb where Jesus had been placed, bringing the spices and ointments they had prepared for Jesus’ burial. They discovered that the door to the tomb had been rolled away, and when they entered they could not find Jesus’ body.

As they tried to understand what was happening, two men (angels), whose garments glowed supernaturally, appeared beside them. The women were frightened and bowed down to the ground. The men asked why the women were looking for the living among the dead.

The men reminded them that Jesus had told them in Galilee that the “Son of man” would be delivered into the authority of sinful people, would be crucified, and rise on the third day. The women remembered Jesus’ words, and returned and announced Jesus’ resurrection to the “Eleven” remaining original disciples and the other followers, but they did not think their “story” was credible and did not believe them.

John Paraphrase:

Early, before dawn on the first day of the Week (Sunday), Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus had been placed and saw that the stone sealing the tomb had been rolled away. So she ran to Simon Peter and the “other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2a) and told them that Jesus’ body had been removed, and the women did not know where the body was.

Peter and the “other” disciple left, running for the tomb, but the “other” disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He looked in and saw that the linen grave clothes had been removed and were lying there. The “napkin” (a sweat cloth; an item of apparel, part of the grave clothes: John 11:44), was rolled up separately. Then the “other” disciple also entered the tomb, after Peter, and he saw and believed. Until then, they had not understood the scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead (Matthew 16:21-23; 20:17-19; Luke 18:31-34).

The disciples had gone back to their lodgings, but Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept she looked into the tomb and saw two angels sitting where Jesus’ body had lain. The angels asked her why she was weeping and she told them that it was because Jesus’ body had been removed and she didn’t know where it was.

Having said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing nearby, but she didn’t recognize him; she supposed that it must be the cemetery gardener. She asked him to show her where Jesus’ body had been taken. Jesus spoke Mary’s name and she recognized him as the “Teacher” (Jesus Christ).

Jesus asked her not to detain him, because he had not yet ascended to God the Father. He told her to tell his followers that Jesus was ascending to his Father and his God, who is also their Father and their God. Mary returned to the followers and testified to these things which she had witnessed.

Commentary – Luke:

The Jewish Sabbath was Saturday, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, according to the Old Covenant (Testament) of Law of Moses. On the night of his betrayal and arrest, Jesus initiated the New Covenant of Grace (God’s unmerited favor; a free gift), which is received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Luke 22:14-20 RSV note “j;” Matthew 26:26-29 RSV note “g;” Hebrews 8:8-13; 12:24). Those who are in Jesus are no longer under the obligation of the Old Covenant of Law, provided that we live according to the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11).

The Christian Church celebrates the “Lord’s Day” on Sunday, the day of Jesus’ resurrection, the fulfillment of God’s plan for this Creation. In the Christian Church, Saturday of Holy Week is the Easter Vigil. Jesus has been crucified and we await the fulfillment of the promised resurrection. Likewise, we are to wait within the Church (the New Jerusalem on earth; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) until we are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) and personally experience the risen Jesus through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus had foretold to his disciples at least three times that he would go to Jerusalem, be abused by the Jews, be crucified, and rise on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 26:1-2), but the disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying (Luke 9: 44-45; 18:31-34, Mark 9:31-32).

They didn’t understand because they didn’t want to hear of Jesus’ death (Matthew 16:21-23), and were afraid to ask him. They had seen Jesus raise the dead (for example: John 11:1-44), but hadn’t accepted resurrection beyond an exceptional, rare event. The women hadn’t understood Jesus’ prophecy so they didn’t remember it until they were reminded, and the rest of the disciples didn’t believe the women’s testimony.

Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of man,” which is true, and which allows us to decide for ourselves whether his is also the Son of God, with a hint from Daniel 7:13 (see also Revelation 1:13; 14:14).

John:

John refers to himself as the “other disciple, whom Jesus loved,” allowing him to give his eyewitness testimony,  but also making it possible for each of us to see ourselves in that relationship with Jesus in the Gospel message. We can also be the “other” disciple, whom Jesus loves.

John was the faster runner, but Peter was the impulsive disciple. John got there first, but hesitated; Peter charged right in and became the first of the two to experience the miracle of the resurrection and the empty tomb. I conclude that it doesn’t matter if one knows God’s Word unless one acts upon it in daily life (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

Jesus’ followers didn’t recognize the risen Jesus at first because his appearance had been marred by the crucifixion (Isaiah 52:14) and because they didn’t expect Jesus’ resurrection, despite of Jesus’ prophecies, until Jesus revealed himself personally to them (Luke 24:21-35). The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know and have relationship with God (Acts 17:26-27) and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

Jesus is near to each one of us, but he will not reveal himself to us until we invite him (Revelation 3:20; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). When we do, he will make himself known to us in a uniquely personal way (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

“Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples have personally experienced the risen and ascended Jesus (for example: Acts 9:1-5) through the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). We testify to the world and to “nominal” Christians that Jesus is risen and eternally alive, but who regards our testimony as credible and believes our testimony?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 5 Lent – C – 03/13 – 19/2016

March 12, 2016

Week of 5 Lent C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/

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https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival Text-to-speech are available at:

Daily Walk 2 Year C Weekly Lectionary

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Podcast: Week of 5 Lent C

5 Lent – Sunday C

First posted March 21, 2010

Podcast: 5 Lent – Sunday C

Isaiah 43:16-21 – A New Thing;

Psalm 28:1-3, 7-9 – Shepherd of God’s People;

Philippians 3:8-14 – Righteousness by Faith;

Luke 20:9-19 – Parable of the Vineyard;

Isaiah:

This is the Word of God, who makes a path in the sea. He brings forth chariot and horse, warrior and army. They are bogged down and cannot rise; like a wick they are quenched, extinguished. Don’t focus on the old, former things. Watch; the Lord is doing a new thing! Can you see it springing forth? The Lord will make a way in the wilderness; he will create a river in the desert. The wild animals will give thanks to God for giving them water; rivers in the desert to provide drink for God’s people, whom God has created to give him praise.

Psalm:

I call to the Lord, my rock. Don’t be deaf to my cry, lest I be like those who go down to their grave. Hear my supplication as I cry to the Lord for help; toward your holy sanctuary I lift up my hands.

I trust in the Lord with my whole heart; he is my shield and my strength! Therefore he helps me, and I give thanks to him with songs of praise. The Lord gives strength to his people, and refuge to his anointed. Save your people, Lord, and strengthen your heritage. Be our shepherd, Lord, and provide our care forever.

Philippians:

The great value of knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord surpasses every other thing in this world; in comparison they become worthless. I willingly surrender everything, and regard them as refuse, in order to gain Christ. May I be found in him, having righteousness which doesn’t come from obeying the law, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which is attributed to us by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. I pray that I may have personal knowledge of Jesus and the power of his resurrection, so that I can have resurrection from death like him.

I don’t presume to already possess this, nor that I’m already spiritually perfect, but I pursue this for my own, because Jesus has made me his own. One thing I do is to forget the past and press on toward what lies ahead. I pursue the goal, to receive the prize, which is the upward call of God in Christ.

Luke:

Jesus told this parable (a common worldly experience used to teach spiritual truth): A person planted a vineyard and rented it to tenants while he was on a journey to a distant land. At the harvest season he sent a servant to collect his share of the proceeds. But the tenants beat his servant and sent him away empty-handed. The landlord sent another servant, and the tenants did the same to him. A third time the landlord sent a servant and this one they injured and cast out. The landlord considered what more he could do, and he decided to send his son, hoping that the tenants would respect him. But the tenants realized that the son was the heir and killed him, thinking that when the landlord died, the vineyard would belong to the tenants. What was left to the owner but to come and destroy the wicked tenants and give the vineyard to others.

On hearing this parable the people responded, saying, “God forbid!” Then Jesus quoted scripture: “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner” (Psalm 118:22; compare Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7-8). Every one who trips on that stone will be broken to pieces and those it falls upon will be crushed (Isaiah 8:14-15).

Commentary:

The Exodus from Egypt is a great saving act of God on behalf of his people. He made a path through the Red Sea, so that his people could pass through on dry ground, but the chariots and cavalry of Pharaoh became bogged down and were drowned when God allowed the Red Sea to revert to its normal condition (Exodus 14:13-31). Likewise, God made a way in the wilderness for his people and provided them with water from the Rock during their forty years as nomads (Deuteronomy 2:7; 8:2-4).

The historical Exodus is also intended by God to be a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. Jesus is the “New Moses” who frees us from bondage to “Pharaoh,” Satan, in the “Egypt” of this present world order, and leads us into baptism into Jesus Christ in the “sea.” Christian baptism into Jesus Christ separates us from our spiritual enemies.

God creates for us a way through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, and provides us with our physical needs, such as bread (Exodus 16:15), meat (Exodus 16:8), and water (Exodus 17:6; compare 1 Corinthians 10:4). The Lord promises that if we will seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, these necessary things will be provide for us as well (Matthew 6:31-34).

Jesus is the solid rock on which we must build our spiritual life (Matthew 7:24- 27). Jesus is the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10:11-14).

There are conditions which must be fulfilled for God to hear and answer prayer (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home). We can’t expect God to listen to us when we don’t listen to, trust and obey God’s Word.

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life is to seek and find God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27) and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Only Jesus gives the gift (“anointing;” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Only by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are we “born-again” to eternal life. By the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience a personal relationship with Jesus, and the joy of his love and salvation. By his indwelling Holy Spirit we know with certainty that Jesus is risen and eternally alive, and that we will share in his resurrection and eternal life.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus), the author of the letter to the Philippians, had formerly persecuted Christians. After his conversion (Acts 9:1-22), he didn’t dwell on his past; he pressed on to his future as a saint (consecrated to God’s service), a disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel).

I was born and raised in the Protestant Church, but I didn’t come to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior until mid-life (late thirties). The Lord has forgiven me of my past; the thing I must do is apply myself to the calling I have been given by God now.

I could wish that I had come to saving faith in Jesus earlier, but I might have never found a personal relationship with Jesus, if I had accepted church doctrine and not tested life in the world (see False Teachings: The Emperor’s New Clothes, sidebar, top right, home).

The parable of the vineyard is a metaphor for life in this creation. This world is God’s vineyard and we are tenants in it. The spiritual harvest is our eternal souls. The Lord has sent numerous servants, prophets of God, to call us to give to God what he desires of the harvest: our obedient trust, and our eternal souls, in order to become his children.

Ultimately God sent his beloved only begotten son. We are all guilty of crucifying Jesus because we have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and made his sacrificial death on the cross necessary.

We are not irrevocably “lost” from God’s forgiveness unless we refuse to accept the gift of salvation, from God’s eternal condemnation, which is only available through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. We can be completely forgiven of the sins we have done in the past. The important thing is what we do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ from now on.

Christ has promised to return at the end of time to judge the living (quickened) and the dead in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5). Those who have repented of sin, who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, will be acknowledged by Jesus, and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or neglected to trust and obey Jesus will be spiritually dead (unborn) and will be condemned to hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Jesus’ Second Coming, at the Day of Judgment, is not far off. It will occur for each of us within the span of our lifetimes. Jesus will either come physically the same way he ascended (Acts 1:9-11), while we are living, or at the moment of our physical death, and no one knows when that will be.

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be “born-again” to spiritual, eternal life. At the moment of our physical death our eternal destinies will be forever fixed and unalterable.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

5 Lent – Monday C

First posted March 22, 2010

Podcast: 5 Lent – Monday C

Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16 – Prayer for Deliverance;

I seek refuge in you, O Lord. Let me never be put to shame. Deliver me because of your righteousness! Hear my plea and deliver me quickly. Be my rock of refuge, my strong fortress to save me.

Yes! You are my rock and my fortress; lead and guide me for your name’s sake. Rescue me from the hidden net that has been set for me, because you are my refuge. “Into thy hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me , O Lord, faithful God” (Psalm 31:5).

Have pity upon me, O Lord, because I am distressed. My eye is worn out with grief, and so are my soul and body. I have spent my life in sorrow; my years are spent in sighing; because of my misery my strength fails me and my bones are consumed.

My adversaries scorn me: My neighbors are horrified by me, I am dreaded by my acquaintances. When I am seen on the street they flee from me. I am forgotten, like one who has died; I am like a broken pot. “Yea, I hear the whispering of many- terror on every side! -as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life” (Psalm 31:13). But my trust is in you, O Lord, my God. You control my destiny; deliver me from the power of my enemies and those who persecute me. Let your face shine upon me; save me because of your steadfast love.

Commentary:

This Psalm is attributed to David, the great (human) shepherd-king of Israel. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the Good Shepherd and the descendant of David; the eternal King to fulfill God’s promise to David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29).

At his crucifixion, Jesus quoted Psalm 31:5 on the cross (Luke 23:46). Psalm 31:9-16 was prophecy of the Messiah, fulfilled at Jesus’ crucifixion (compare Matthew 27:39-43).

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Jesus is the “pioneer” (Hebrews 2:10) who created the way for us and showed us how to follow him. As we follow Jesus we will experience persecution. When we are beset with troubles we can claim the promises of this psalm for ourselves.

I personally testify that when I have been beset with troubles, I have turned to the Psalms for reassurance and deliverance. I have started with Psalm 1 and read until I felt better! Since I have laid up the Psalms in my heart, the Holy Spirit can recall to my memory promises they contain as they are needed to apply to my circumstances.

Jesus trusted and obeyed God the Father and claimed the promise of this psalm. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrated the fulfillment of the promise. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death. Jesus withstood and overcame the worst that the world could do to him, by his trust in God’s Word. Jesus’ resurrection frees believers from the fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

5 Lent – Tuesday C

First posted March 23, 2010

Podcast: 5 Lent – Tuesday C

Deuteronomy 32:36-39 – Vindication of God’s People;

The Lord promises to vindicate his people when they recognize their powerlessness; when they recognize that there is no help in idols. Those who take refuge in idols, who sacrifice fat offerings and drink offerings to them, will find no help and no protection, no rock of refuge in them.

Realize that the Lord is God alone; there is no other god. God alone is sovereign; he declares, “I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal” (Deuteronomy 32:39b). No one can deliver us from his power.

Commentary:

In the history of God’s dealing with his people, Israel, recorded in the Bible, Israel repeatedly fell away from obedient trust in God and into idolatry. God would lift his favor and protection from them and allow them to experience trouble, so that they would realize the part God was doing for them, and would return to obedient trust in him.

When things are going well for us, we think it is because we are worthy in our own ability. God must lift his favor and protection in order for us to recognize the part he has been doing for us that we hadn’t noticed.

In a sense America is the New Promised Land; the New People of God. I believe that the Lord has begun to lift his favor and protection from America, and has begun to allow us to experience trouble so that we will recognize our need for him and will return to obedient trust in the Lord (see How Bad Must Things Get…, sidebar, top right, home).

Money, political power, success, career, and family are examples of modern idolatries. Anything which we love as much or more that God is idolatry.

God alone has the power to kill eternally, and to give life eternal. We will all die physically once. Then comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). The meaning and purpose of life in this temporal world is to seek and find knowledge of and fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27).

This lifetime is our one and only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Only Jesus “baptizes” with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible (Acts 19:2), ongoing event. It is impossible to be “born-again” and “hardly know it.”

God has the power to kill and make alive eternally, and the power to heal us spiritually. Jesus’ physical ministry on earth was to demonstrate, by his physical healing, feeding and resurrection miracles, that he could heal, feed and resurrect spiritually.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

5 Lent – Wednesday C

First posted March 24, 2010

Podcast: 5 Lent – Wednesday C

Philippians 2:5-11 – Christ’s Example;

Have the same attitude that Christ exemplified. Although Christ was pre-existent and divine, he didn’t try to be recognized as equal with God. Instead, he emptied himself (the ultimate act of self-denial) and became obedient unto death, even to the extreme form of death on a cross. Thus God has exalted him above all others, and has given him the name which is above all names. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Commentary:

One of the reasons that Christ came in human flesh was to show us how to live as children of God. He shared the same human nature that we have; he was tempted in the same ways we are, but was completely sinless (Hebrews 4:15). He was the pioneer of faith, blazing the trail we can follow (Hebrews 2:10) by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was pre-existent with God before the world was created and everything in creation was created by and for him (John 1:1-5, 14). He was fully human but also fully divine (Colossians 2:8-9). He could have commanded and we would have had no choice but to obey him, but this Creation has been designed to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey him or not. That is why Jesus usually referred to himself as the Son of man, rather than the Son of God. He was allowing us to decide for ourselves who Jesus is.

God has designed this Creation for a specific purpose: to produce an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Father, our Creator. By God’s intentional design, this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Only through faith in Jesus can we know divine, eternal truth, be restored to fellowship with God our Creator which was broken by sin, and have eternal life (John 14:6)

By God’s intentional design, this lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus “baptizes” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Spiritual “re-birth” is a personally discernible, ongoing experience (Acts 19:2). It is impossible to be “born-again” and “hardly know it.”

God knew that in giving us freedom to choose whether to obey God’s Word or our own desires, we would choose to do our own will. Sin is disobedience of God’s will, and we have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally so he has designed a Savior into Creation (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17), through whom we are forgiven and restored to fellowship with God as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is the name above all names (Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus is the only name by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to the world in human flesh (John 14:8-11). The “baptism” (gift; “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the ultimate revelation of God the Father and Jesus Christ to us individually and personally.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

5 Lent – Thursday C

First posted March 25, 2010

Podcast: 5 Lent – Thursday C

Luke 22:7-20 – The Lord’s Supper;

On the Day of Preparation, when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed, Jesus told Peter and John to go and prepare the Passover for Jesus and his disciples. They asked Jesus where he wanted to celebrate it, and Jesus told them to enter the city and they would meet a man carrying a jar of water. They were to follow him to the house he entered, and and ask the householder for the guest room where they were to prepare the passover for the Teacher and his disciples. The Householder would show them a large furnished upper room where they were to make ready. They went and found everything exactly as the Jesus had said, and did according to his instructions.

At the appointed hour, Jesus sat down at the table with his disciples. He said that he had really wanted to celebrate the Passover feast with his disciples before he was to suffer, because Jesus knew that he would not have another Passover feast with them until it was fulfilled in God’s kingdom in heaven. Jesus took a cup of wine and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. Then he passed it to his disciples, telling them each to drink of it; Jesus told them he wouldn’t drink the wine of Passover until he celebrated its fulfillment in the kingdom of God in heaven. He also took bread and when he had give thanks to God he broke it and passed it to his disciples, telling them that it was his body.

Commentary:

God has been preparing and revealing his eternal plan from the beginning of Creation, first in the perfection and complexity of Creation; then in the history of his dealing with Israel recorded in the Bible. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to his Creation. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15 -17) is the ultimate revelation of the Lord to his people individually and personally. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The history of the Exodus from Egypt is deliberately intended by God to be a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. In a sense we are all in slavery to sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and (eternal) death (the penalty for sin; (Romans 6:23). Jesus is the “New Moses,” who leads us out of Egypt, through the “sea” of baptism into Jesus Christ, and through the “wilderness” of this lifetime. He is the “New Joshua” who leads us through the “river” of physical death, and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s kingdom in heaven.

The Passover Feast was the commemoration of God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery to sin and death in Egypt. It was initiated on the eve of Israel’s Exodus (Exodus 12:1-51). It was intended by God to be the prototype and illustration God’s deliverance of his people through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus’ created a new Passover feast, the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist; Matthew 26:26-28) on the night of his betrayal. Jesus is the New Passover Lamb. The bread of passover is his flesh, broken on the cross; the wine (or grape juice) is the blood of the sacrificial lamb, which marks his disciples to be “passed over” by the destroying angel (Exodus 12:13).

The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of the marriage feast of the Lamb and his bride, the Church, in heaven. Jesus is present now and reveals himself to his disciples in the elements of Communion, but that is only a shadow of the things to come in the fulfillment of his kingdom in heaven.

Jesus is present now to his “born-again” disciples. Jesus will lead us by his indwelling Holy Spirit. As we trust and obey Jesus’ commands we will find situations exactly as he has said. The disciples followed Jesus’ instruction about acquiring a donkey for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on “Palm Sunday,” the week before his crucifixion (Matthew 21:1-11). They found Jesus’ instructions about preparation for the Passover exactly as Jesus described them (Luke 22:13).

Jesus wants us to begin to trust and obey him now in this lifetime, in this world. If we will seek his will daily, he will reveal it to us. But remember that the Lord will never tell us to anything which will hurt ourselves or others, or which is contrary to the Word of God.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

5 Lent – Friday C

First posted March 26, 2010

Podcast: 5 Lent – Friday C

Luke 23:1-49 – Jesus’ Trial and Crucifixion;

At sunrise the Jewish authorities brought Jesus before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court. (Luke 22:66). They pronounced Jesus guilty and dragged him before Pontius Pilate, the Roman financial administrator of the Roman Province of Judea (His headquarters was Cessarea, but he frequently came to Jerusalem). The Jewish authorities began to accuse Jesus of being a rebel who was subverting the Roman government, who told the Jews not to pay tribute to Caesar, and had claimed to be the Christ (Messiah) who would be king of the Jews.

Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews and Jesus replied that it was the officials who had said that about him. Pilate told the Jewish officials that he found Jesus not guilty any crime. But the Jewish leaders urged Pilate, claiming that Jesus was stirring up the people throughout Galilee and Judea. When Pilate heard this he asked if Jesus was a Galilean, and when he heard that Jesus was under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas,* he sent Jesus to Herod who was also in Jerusalem at the time.

Herod was pleased to see Jesus, because he had heard what Jesus had been doing, and hoped to see some sign (miracle) done by Jesus. Herod questioned Jesus for some time, but Jesus didn’t answer him. The Jewish leaders were nearby and accused Jesus vehemently. Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt and mocked him. Then Herod had Jesus dressed in king’s apparel and sent him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod became friends that day, whereas they had formerly been hostile to one another.

Pilate summoned the Chief priests and leaders of the people. Pilate told them that, having examined Jesus, he found him not guilty of any of their accusations, and neither had Herod. Pilate ruled that Jesus had done nothing deserving death, so Pilate would have Jesus chastised (with some form of corporal punishment), and then would release him. But the leaders and the multitude of Jews cried out loudly, asking Pilate to execute Jesus and release Barabbas, who had been found guilty and imprisoned for insurrection and murder. Pilate tried three times to release Jesus, but the Jews wouldn’t hear it and kept shouting for Jesus to be crucified. Fearing a riot, Pilate gave in to their demands; He released Barabbas who was an insurrectionist and murderer, and delivered Jesus to be crucified.

They led Jesus away to be crucified, and along the way they seized Simon of Cyrene and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. A large multitude of people and many women followed, wailing and mourning him. Jesus turned to them and told them not to weep for Jesus, but rather for themselves and their children. Jesus told them that a day was coming when people would say that those who were barren and had never nursed babies were blessed. In that day people would pray for mountains to fall on them and cover them. Jesus quoted a proverb saying that if this took place when the wood was green, what would happen when the wood was dry?

Two others who were criminals were led to crucifixion with Jesus to “Golgotha;” meaning “the place of a skull” (Mark 15:22). There they crucified Jesus and the criminals, one on his left and one on his right. And Jesus prayed for God’s forgiveness for the people who crucified him, because they did not understand what they were doing. The (Roman) soldiers divided his garments by casting lots (like rolling dice; fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 22:18).

The Jewish leaders jeered, saying that if Jesus was the Christ (Messiah) he should save himself as he had saved others. The soldiers also mocked Jesus, offering him vinegar, and saying that Jesus should save himself if he really was the King of the Jews. One of the criminals crucified with Jesus told him that, if Jesus was the King of the Jews, he should save himself and the criminals also. But the other criminal rebuked him for not fearing God, since they were under the same condemnation. The criminals were justly condemned and were receiving the penalty due them, but Jesus had done nothing wrong. This criminal asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingly power. Jesus replied that this criminal would be with Jesus in Paradise that day.

It was about noon, and there was darkness over the land until three p.m. (because of a solar eclipse: Luke 23:45a, note “r,” RSV), “and the curtain of the temple (separating the people from the presence of God in the ‘holy-of- holies,’) was torn in two.” Then Jesus, quoting Psalm 31:5, commended his soul to God and breathed his last breath. When the Centurion (Roman soldier) saw this he praised God, and was convinced that Jesus was innocent. The multitudes witnessing this went home, beating their breasts (a sign of mourning), and all Jesus’ followers and the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance and witnessed these things.

Commentary:

It wasn’t legal for the Sanhedrin to meet at night. According to Matthew’s account, Jesus was tried at night (Matthew 26:57-66, 27:1), and at sunrise they took him to the Sanhedrin to formalize their verdict.

A person could not be convicted except by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Matthew 26:60-66). They found two witnesses who testified that Jesus had claimed to be able to destroy the temple and to rebuild it in three days. Jesus had said that they would destroy the temple (of Jesus’ body) and he would raise it up in three days (John 2:19-22).

They asked Jesus if he was the Christ (Messiah) and Jesus refused to answer, saying that they would not believe if he told them, and that they would not answer if Jesus asked them. They accused Jesus of claiming to be the Son of God, and Jesus replied that it was they who had said that he was the Son of God. The court found him guilty on the basis of that claim, although Jesus hadn’t made the claim.

Jesus usually identified himself as the Son of man (Luke 22:67-71); when Jesus identified himself as the Son of God it was to believers (John 9:35-37). Jesus identified himself as the Son of man, which was true, but which allowed his hearers to decide for themselves who Jesus was.

The Pharisees accused him of teaching against paying tribute to Caesar, but it was they who had tried and failed to get Jesus to make that statement (Matthew 22:15-22). The title “Christ” (the Greek equivalent of Hebrew word, “Messiah”) implied that Jesus was the eternal King of the Jews, to reign eternally on the throne of David, as God’s Word had promised (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29), but Jesus resisted the attempt of people to make him the worldly King of the Jews (John 6:15; Acts 1:6).

Jesus was mute in the presence of his worldly judges (Matthew 27:11-14; Luke 23:9), fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7.

Simon of Cyrene, a city of North Africa, in the Roman province of Lybia, was probably coming into Jerusalem for the observance of Passover. He was seized by the Roman soldiers and forced to carry Jesus’ cross which Jesus was too weakened to continue to carry. Simon was known to the Christian community as the Father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21), and may have been one of the evangelists who preached the Gospel to the Greeks at Antioch (Acts 11:20).

Jesus declared that the time was coming when the Jews (and all unbelievers) would pray that the mountains would fall on them and cover them because they would be fainting with fear at what what was coming upon the earth (there would be no place to hide; Luke 21:24-28). Jesus declared that if the people of God did thus to Jesus when they were alive (“quickened”), what will happen when they are dead (physically or spiritually; 1 Peter 4:5), and face Jesus’ judgment (Luke 23:31)?

Psalm 22 is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel, who reigned from about 1000 B.C. to 961 B.C.. Its prophecy must have been written about a thousand years before it was fulfilled at Jesus’ crucifixion: his garments were divided among the Roman soldiers by a game of chance (Psalm 22:18). Jesus also quoted Psalm 22:1 as he fulfilled its prophecy (Matthew 27:46). In Aramaic it is “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” The bystanders thought he was calling Elijah, who was to precede the Messianic era. The entire Psalm is a prophetic description of Jesus’ crucifixion; note especially verses 7, 14-18.

The repentant criminal expressed faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, and was saved from eternal destruction by the word of Jesus Christ.

At the moment of his death the curtain (veil) of the temple, separating the people from the presence of God in the holy-of-holies was torn in two (Luke 23:45b; Matthew 27:51), from top to bottom. This was the sign that Jesus had opened a new and better way into the presence of God. The Old Covenant (Testament) of Law of Judaism had ended and the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ had begun.

The temple had been completed in 65 A.D.. The temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. The Jews were scattered throughout the world and Israel ceased to exist as a nation until re-established following World War II. Jesus has become the only way to know divine, eternal truth (1 Corinthians 1:17-25), the only way to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and the only way to be restored to eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven (John 14:6, Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

A pagan soldier, the Centurion (a Gentile; pagan) who witnessed the death of Jesus was convinced that Jesus was the innocent Son of God (Luke 23:47). The Jewish crowd that witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion realized the sin of what they had done and went home in mourning.

Jesus had prayed that God would forgive those who crucified him, because they didn’t understand what they were doing. The multitudes that mourned were forgiven.

In a sense we have all been guilty of Jesus’ crucifixion, because we are all guilty of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) against God and made Jesus’ crucifixion necessary for our forgiveness. When we acknowledge our sin we will be forgiven, but those who refuse to acknowledge their sin will be eternally condemned.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*Antipas was a son of Herod the Great and was governor of one subdivision of a province (Galilee and Peraea; Galilee in the northern part of Israel, and Peraea on the eastern bank of the dead sea).


5 Lent – Saturday C

Podcast: 5 Lent – Saturday C

Matthew 21:1-9 – Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem;

Jesus was going to Jerusalem, where he knew that he would be crucified (Matthew 16:21; 17:22; 20:17-19). At Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, near Bethany, he sent two of his disciples to fetch a donkey (donkeys) from the village, telling them that they would find it tied. If questioned, they were to say that the Lord needed it and would return it immediately. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, that the king of the “daughter of Zion” (God’s people) would come to her humbly, on a young donkey.

The disciples did as Jesus had instructed, and found it exactly as he had said. They brought it and put their garments on it for Jesus to sit upon. Some in the crowd that followed them spread their cloaks on the road and others cut branches and spread them on the road. Some of the crowd went ahead and some followed behind, and they shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

Commentary:

Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a young donkey not fully grown. One cannot imagine a more humble entry. When kings of that era entered cities victoriously they entered in chariots, accompanied by their armies.

The followers of Jesus spread their cloaks or palm fronds on the road to give him a royal entry, like we would roll out a “red carpet.” This is the event that the Church celebrates on Palm Sunday.

Hosanna means “save now,” or “Save, we beseech.” “Son of David” implies the eternal King and heir to the throne of David according to God’s promise (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the Messiah (Messiah and Christ each mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek respectively), God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King. Jesus is the name of the Lord!

The meaning and purpose of life is to seek and find God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27) and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal condemnation to eternal death and destruction (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Spiritual re-birth is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

4 Lent – C -03/06 – 12/2016

March 5, 2016

Week of 4 Lent – C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 4 Lent – C

Sunday 4 Lent – C
First posted March 14, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 4 Lent – C

Isaiah 12:1-6 – Deliverance and Thanksgiving;

Psalm 32 – Thanksgiving for Healing;

1 Corinthians 1:18 (19-21) 22-25 (26-31) Divine Wisdom;

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 – The Prodigal Son;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

In the coming reign of Messiah, we will give thanks to God that though he was angry with us he set aside his anger and comforted us. Watch and see: our Salvation is in God. We will trust and not be afraid. God has given us strength and a song, and in him is our salvation.

In the Day of the Lord, we will draw water from the wells of salvation. We will call all to give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name. We will proclaim his great deeds and make his name exalted among the nations (Gentiles).

Let us sing praises to the Lord for his glorious deeds. Let them be known to all the earth. Let us shout and sing for joy, all the inhabitants of Zion (the Church). Great is the presence of the Holy One of Israel among us.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Blessed are those who have received forgiveness of sin and whose transgressions are blotted out. Blessed are those who the Lord judges not guilty of sin and free of deceit in his spirit.

The Psalmist testified that as long as he denied his sin his body wasted away with groaning all day long. The Lord’s hand was heavy upon him. His strength evaporated as by the heat of summer. Then he acknowledged his sin and no longer hid his iniquity. Then he confessed his transgressions and the Lord forgave his guilt.

So let all godly people pray to the Lord in times of distress, when troubles seem to overwhelm them as in a flood of waters, and the Lord will surround them with deliverance.

Learn from the Psalmist the way to go. Don’t be like a horse or mule who has no understanding, and must be controlled by bit and bridle, to do his master’s will.

The wicked will experience many pangs, but those who trust in the Lord will be surrounded by his steadfast love. Let the righteous be glad and rejoice. Let those who are upright in their inner being shout for joy!

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Jesus’ crucifixion seems foolish to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God. God’s Word declares that he will destroy worldly wisdom and thwart worldly cleverness. Where are the wise, the teachers, and the debaters of this age? It is not the wise, rich or powerful according to worldly standards who will be saved, but those who believe the Gospel. In God’s wisdom he designed Creation so that God cannot be known by worldly wisdom, so that those who believe the Gospel, which seems foolish by worldly standards, saves those who believe. Jews demand signs (miracles proving they are from God), and Greeks seek worldly wisdom, but what we preach is a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles. But to those who respond to God’s call, both Jew and Greek, Christ is the power and wisdom of God, for God at his most foolishness is wiser than mankind, and at his weakest is stronger that mankind.

Luke Paraphrase:

Tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to hear him, and the Pharisees (strict, legalistic Jewish leaders) criticized Jesus for allowing them and even eating with them. So Jesus told them a parable (a fictional story of common earthly experience to teach spiritual truth).

Jesus said that a man had two sons and the younger asked his father to give him his share of the inheritance, so his father divided his property between his two sons. Not many days later the youngest son took his share of the inheritance and went to a distant land where he squandered it in loose living. When he had spent everything a great famine arose, and he began to be in need. So he took a job with a citizen of that land, feeding the citizen’s pigs. He would have been glad to eat what he was giving to the pigs, but that wasn’t allowed.

When he came to his senses, he realized that his father’s servants had plenty of food while he was starving. He decided to return to his father, confess his sin before heaven and his father, admit that he was unworthy to be his father’s son, and ask to be one of his father’s hired servants. So he left and went to his father.

But while he was far off, his father saw him coming and went to welcome him. His father had compassion on him and embraced and kissed him. The son confessed his unworthiness, but the father told his servants to bring the finest robe and shoes and to prepare a feast of a fatted calf to celebrate the son’s return from death to life; from lost to found. So they began to celebrate.

Commentary:

God is our Creator, and thus our spiritual father, whether we acknowledge him or not. We have all been given a share in the eternal inheritance of our father, but what are we doing with it? Are we squandering it on worldly pleasures? There is a day coming when there will be a spiritual famine and the only source of relief will be in faith in God. If we realize that God offers so much more than the world can provide, will we confess our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and ask to be his servant?

God is watching us and is ready to welcome us as soon as we turn toward him, even though far off. God will give us the finest of robes, and will prepare the finest feast for us, even though we are unworthy.

All of us are guilty of sin and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). But God loves us and doesn’t want any of us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17), which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Are we so stubborn that we would rather spiritually starve to eternal death than return to God our Father and confess our sin and our unworthiness?

God has always intended, from the very beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God’s Word. God has designed this Creation to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). This Creation and we, ourselves, are intentionally limited by time, because God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom.

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find, know, and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through Jesus Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 4 Lent – C
First posted March 15, 2010;

Podcast: Monday 4 Lent – C

Psalm 28:1-3, 7-11

Pharaphrase:

I call to you O Lord; do not be deaf to my plea. Unless you respond, I’m as good as dead. Hear my plea when I call to you for help; as I lift up my hands toward your holy sanctuary.

Don’t cast me off with the wicked, with those who do evil, who declare peace with their lips while their hearts plan mischief.

Lord, you are my strength and shield; my heart trusts in you; so you have helped me, and my heart rejoices; I give thanks to you in song.

You give strength to your people, and saving refuge to your anointed. Save your people and bless your heritage. Be our shepherd and sustain us forever.

Commentary:

God is not obligated to hear and answer our prayers. Just putting the name of Jesus at the end of our prayers does not obligate God to give us what we ask. There are conditions for answered prayer (see “Condition for Answered Prayer,” sidebar, top right, home).

In the same way, how can we pray effectively unless we have read God’s Word? Why should God listen to us unless we are willing to listen to him? God is willing to honor the prayer of faith, as long as we have made a commitment to read and follow his Word. The average reader can easily read the entire Bible in one year. There are numerous reading plans available. I prefer plans which include both Old and New Testament readings each day (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right, home).

When we truly seek to know and follow God’s guidance we should do so one day at a time (Matthew 6:11; 34). One’s daily devotional can begin with a Bible-in-one-year reading plan. Then it can follow one of the lectionaries such as this or those listed on my homepage: “My Daily Walk,” (http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/) under the Links menu, sidebar, right, home.

God is God, the one true and only God, whether we believe in him or not. But God is not obligated to be all that an all-powerful, all-knowing,  loving God implies, unless we are willing to be God’s obedient, trusting people (Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 11:20; Leviticus 26:3, 12; see also Jeremiah 11:3-4).

We are all eternal beings in temporal bodies. We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and know God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Unless we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), we will spend eternity in eternal death in hell with all evil, eternally separated from God who is the source of everything good.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 4 Lent – C
First posted March 16, 2010;

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Lent – C

Isaiah 43:16-21– Rivers in the Desert;

Paraphrase:

The Lord is he who makes a path through the sea (the Exodus of Israel through the Red Sea), who brings forth and causes chariot and horse, army and warrior, to lie down, unable to rise, extinguished, quenched like a wick (Pharaoh’s Army; Exodus 14:5-29). The Lord declares that we should not focus on what the Lord has done in the past. The Lord is doing a new thing. It is coming forth; can we perceive it? He is making a way in the wilderness (Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness: Numbers 14:31-34; the messianic age: Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23) and rivers in the desert (water from the rock: Exodus 17:1-7; the messianic age: John 7:38; 1 Corinthians 10:4). God will provide water in the wilderness for his people, that they may praise and glorify God. Wild beasts, jackals and ostriches, will appreciate God’s providence.

Commentary:

Do we appreciate God’s providence of forgiveness and salvation to all trust and obey Jesus?

The history of Israel’s exodus from Egypt is also deliberately intended to be a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. Baptism into Jesus Christ is the new path through the sea which saves us from our spiritual enemies, because they are unable to pass through.

Jesus Christ is the new and better way into God’s presence (Hebrews 10:20; Matthew 27:51); the new and better way to be justified in God’s judgment than the old way of the Law of Moses (Romans 8:1-8).

Jesus is the way, the only way, to know divine, eternal truth, to be forgiven for sin (disobedience of God’s Word), to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and to have eternal life. (John 14:6).

We are all enslaved to Satan, the “Pharaoh” of this present world. Jesus is the “New Moses” who can free us and lead us out of the “Egypt” of this world order. Our baptism into Jesus Christ separates us from the forces of evil in this world. The Holy Spirit, who only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17) is the pillar of fire and cloud (Exodus 13:21-22) who leads us through the wilderness of this lifetime.

Jesus is the rock who gives us water in the wilderness. Only Jesus can give us the living water of eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the river of living water which only Jesus gives, only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 7:37-39).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 4 Lent – C
First posted March 17, 2010;
Podcast:
Wednesday 4 Lent – C

Philippians 3:8-14 – Christ’s Upward Call;

Paul testified that he counted every other thing in this world as worthless, compared to the greater value of knowing Jesus personally. Paul allowed himself to suffer the loss of every other thing, counting them as worthless trash, in order to gain Christ, being found in him having the righteousness not gained through works of the Law, but the righteousness that is attributed to him from God through faith in Christ. Paul’s hope is to know the Lord and the power of his resurrection. Paul is willing to share in Christ’s sufferings, and death in Christ so that he can share in Christ’s resurrection from physical death to eternal life.

Paul doesn’t claim that he has already obtained righteousness or spiritual perfection, but he presses on to claim the promise because Christ has already claimed him. Paul presses on, forgetting his past, and straining forward toward what is coming, Paul presses on toward the goal, to the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Commentary:

I believe that the meaning and purpose life in this temporal world is to seek, find and know God, our Creator, personally, as Paul testified in Acts 17:26-27. This lifetime is our “audition” for eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven.

This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God’s Word. Disobedience of God’s Word is the definition of sin. God designed this Creation to allow the time and freedom to learn by trial and error that God’s way is our very best interest, but God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, so he has limited this present Creation, and we ourselves, by time.

God knew that, given the opportunity to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word, we would choose to do our own will rather than his. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17; Acts 4:12). Jesus has been designed into the framework of Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the only way to be restored to fellowship with God that was broken by sin, the only way to know divine, eternal truth, and the only to have true, eternal life (John 14:6).

Eternal life begins now in this present world, by the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).  It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal knowledge of, and fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21, 23). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a distinct, ongoing event (Acts 19:2); anyone who isn’t sure, or relies on the word of a clergy person or theologian hasn’t been “born-again.” By the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually“born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype of a modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple of Jesus Christ, as we all can be. Paul didn’t know Jesus during Jesus’ physical earthly ministry. He was confronted on the road to Damascus by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen and ascended Christ (Romans 8:9). He repented, accepted Jesus as Lord and became obedient (Acts 9:1-9). He was discipled by a born-again disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17), until Paul was born-again, and then Paul began fulfilling the Great Commission Jesus gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) to be carried out after they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:20-22; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), proclaiming the Gospel and discipling others until they had been born-again (2 Timothy 1:6) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Righteousness by faith in Jesus is a free gift but we must claim it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is not getting whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough;” it isn’t like wishing on a star. We can’t earn righteousness by doing good deeds (keeping the law). If we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we’ll do what Paul did: we’ll repent, and become obedient to Jesus’ teachings.

A Christian is a born-again disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c). Jesus warns that it isn’t those who call themselves Christians and call Jesus their Lord who will be saved; it is those who trust and obey Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Thursday 4 Lent – C

First posted March 18, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 4 Lent – C

Luke 20:9-19 – Parable of the Vineyard;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told this parable (a story of common earthly experience to teach spiritual truth) of a vineyard. A man planted a vineyard and rented it to tenants. Then he went to a distant country for a long time. When the time came to receive the harvest of the vineyard, he sent a servant to collect his portion, but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. The vineyard owner sent another servant, and the tenants treated him shamefully and sent him away without the man’s proceeds from the vintage. A third time the owner sent a servant to collect his proceeds, and the tenants beat him and sent him away injured and empty-handed. The vineyard owner decided to send his beloved son, in hope that the tenants would respect him, but the tenants, realizing that the son was heir to the vineyard, killed the son, thinking that, when the owner died, they would possess the vineyard. What then will the owner do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

When the people heard this parable they exclaimed, “God forbid!” But Jesus replied, citing Psalm 118:22,  that the stone the builders rejected would become the corner stone. Those who fall upon that stone will be destroyed; when it falls upon anyone they will be destroyed.

The religious leaders and teachers wanted to arrest Jesus then and there, because they realized that Jesus had told this parable against them, but they were afraid of the multitude.

Commentary:

This world is God’s “vineyard” which he established. He has allowed us to be tenants and receive a portion of the fruit, but God expects a portion of the fruit in return. We individually are tenants. Are we returning a portion of the harvest to our landlord?

The Lord has sent numerous servants, prophets of the Lord, who proclaim God’s Word. They are to receive the landlord’s portion of the harvest, but many have rejected the Lord’s servants and ignored the Lord’s message. At last God has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, but many have rejected the Son and have crucified him because they wanted all of the proceeds of the vineyard for themselves.

Jesus has promised to return at the end of the age, and he will judge the tenants of this vineyard individually. Have we given the Lord’s portion of the fruit of the vineyard to him, or are we keeping it for ourselves? The Lord’s portion is that we should hear and obey God’s Word from the Bible, from his servants, and from his Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord’s portion is also a tithe (a tenth) of all that we receive in this lifetime. The Lord’s portion is also that we should pause from our earthly pursuits one day a week, and to use that day to worship and give thanks and praise to the Lord, acknowledging that this is the Lord’s vineyard and that we are his tenants of it.

The Day of Judgment at Christ’s Second Coming is not far off. It will come for each of us individually at the end of our lifetimes, and no one can be certain of living to see tomorrow. At the moment of our death, our eternal destinies are fixed and unalterable.

Jesus is the cornerstone of God’s eternal kingdom. Jesus has been designed into the structure of this Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-45, 14). Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sins, and our salvation from eternal destruction and death (Acts 4:11-12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

The Jewish religious leaders and teachers at the time of Jesus’ first coming, his physical ministry on earth, were treating the Lord’s vineyard as their own, They denied their responsibility to tend the vineyard for the Lord and give him a portion of the “harvest.” They wanted it all for themselves. They were taking the worship and praise which belonged to God for themselves, and they were not caring for the spiritual wellbeing of God’s people.  For example, they paid Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ Twelve original disciples, to betray Jesus, and later when Judas repented they cared nothing for Judas’ spiritual condition (Matthew 27:3-5).

Jesus is the rock on which we must build our lives in order to survive the troubles of life and God’s judgment (Matthew 7:24-27). Otherwise Jesus will be the stone on which we stumble, and are destroyed (Romans 9:32-33; 1 Peter 2:8). Jesus is the rock in the “wilderness” of this lifetime from which we get eternal life-giving water (1 Corinthians 10:4; Exodus 17:3-6).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 4 Lent – C
First posted March 19, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 4 Lent – C

Hebrews 9:11-15 – The New Covenant;

Paraphrase:

Jesus is the high priest of the good things that are coming (through him). Jesus entered once for all through the heavenly Tabernacle into the most Holy Place, not the earthly replica, not with the blood of animals, but with his own blood, securing for us an eternal redemption. If the sprinkling of the blood and ashes of animal sacrifices can cleanse us of sin, how much more will the blood of Christ, perfect and free from blemish, offered through the eternal Spirit, purify us from works that lead to eternal death, so that we can serve the living God. So Jesus has become the mediator of a new covenant (testament; will) and died so that we (who respond to God’s call), can be redeemed from the transgressions under the first covenant and receive the promise of eternal inheritance of the New Covenant.

Commentary:

From the very beginning God has been preparing us for, and teaching us, his eternal purpose for Creation. God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27) and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, God’s one and only “anointed” Savior and eternal king (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, to be restored to fellowship with God which is broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and to have eternal life (John 14:6).

We have all been born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” We are all eternal souls in physical bodies. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus baptizes with (gives the gift of) the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God has been revealing himself and his purpose through his relationship with Israel, recorded in the Bible for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11). God told Israel to create an earthly replica of God’s eternal temple in heaven. God taught the Israelites what are sins against God, and how to be cleansed of those sins.

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and illustration of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14). He is the ultimate revelation of God and God’s Word in human flesh in this world. The Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), is the ultimate revelation of God to believers individually and personally.

The Old Covenant of Law, mediated by Moses, foreshadowed the New Covenant instituted and mediated by Jesus Christ, the “New Moses.” God delivered Israel from slavery to sin and death in “Egypt” by the Passover Feast, and that ritual prefigures the “Lord’s Supper” (Holy Communion; the Eucharist) which Jesus instituted on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28).

The Exodus from Egypt is a “parable,” a metaphor for life in this world. We are all in slavery to sin and spiritual, eternal, death. Jesus is the new “Moses” who can lead us out of slavery in Egypt, through the “sea” of baptism into Jesus, separating us from our spiritual enemies, through the wilderness of this lifetime, through the “river” of physical death, and into the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Saturday 4 Lent – C

First posted March 20, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 4 Lent – C

John 8:46-59 – Refusal to Believe;

Paraphrase:

Jesus challenged the Jewish leaders to convict him of sin. If Jesus was telling the truth, why did they not believe him? Those who are Godly recognize God’s Word; the reason that the Jews did not heed the Word of God which Jesus proclaimed is because they were not of God.

The Jewish authorities accused Jesus of being a Samaritan (one of mixed race and religion; a great insult) and being possessed by a demon. Jesus replied that he was not possessed by a demon; He was honoring God, his Father, and the Jewish authorities were dishonoring Jesus. But Jesus was not seeking his own honor; God seeks Jesus’ honor, and God will be the judge. Jesus declared that if anyone obeys Jesus’ teaching, he will not suffer (spiritual, eternal) death. Then the Jewish authorities declared that this was evidence that Jesus was demented. They cited the death of Abraham and the prophets. Did Jesus claim to be greater than Abraham and the prophets? Who was Jesus claiming to be?

Jesus replied that glorifying himself would be useless; God, who the Jews claimed as their God, would glorify him. But the Jews did not know God. Jesus knows God (intimately). Jesus cannot deny knowing God without lying, as the Jewish authorities were. Jesus knows God and keeps God’s Word. Abraham longed to see Jesus’ day, and he saw it and rejoiced. The Jewish authorities replied that Jesus was less than fifty years old and could not have possibly known Abraham. Jesus answered that he was pre-existent before Abraham, using the name “I am” (which is a claim to pre-existence and oneness with God; Exodus 3:14). So the Jewish authorities prepared to stone Jesus to death, but Jesus hid himself and left the temple.

Commentary:

Jesus is God’s one and only Savior and Lord, designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and illustration of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world. If the Jewish authorities had actually known God they would have recognized that Jesus is God’s Son and the fulfillment of God’s Word.

This is a common problem in the nominal Church today. Leaders claim to know God and Jesus Christ, but they have not known him by the indwelling Holy Spirit, but only by the Bible scriptures. This is the problem illustrated by the Book of Job. Job had not known God personally until God revealed himself to Job (Job 42:5). Many theologians know a lot about God but don’t know God personally.

God has deliberately designed Creation so that it is impossible to know God through (worldly) wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-25). Jesus promised that he would reveal himself to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:21).

There is only one sin which is unforgivable: the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31). This sin separates one from the only source of forgiveness and salvation. If people cannot tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and demons they are beyond redemption.

The Jewish authorities rejected Jesus’ claim to give eternal life. Everyone dies physically once, and then comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). The authorities were only thinking of physical death. Jesus’ miracles of physical resurrection (Lazarus for example: John 11: 38-44; Jairus’ daughter: Luke 8:41-56), and Jesus’ own resurrection (John 20:1-18) are intended to demonstrate that there is existence beyond physical death.

At the original temptation in the Garden of Eden God had told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would die (Genesis 3:3) but Satan told them that they wouldn’t die (Genesis 3:4). They didn’t drop physically dead the moment they ate, but they lost the eternal life in paradise that God had given them. Jesus Christ is the only way to be restored to eternal life in paradise with the Lord.

Abraham and the prophets died physically, but the three disciples, Peter, James and John, of Jesus’ inner circle, witnessed the return of Moses and Elijah on the mountain of Jesus’ transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13).

Every truly “born-again” disciple personally knows and testifies that Jesus is risen from physical death to eternal life. The “baptism” (“gift;” “infilling”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), is our spiritual “rebirth” to eternal life and fellowship with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*Job may be the oldest book in the Bible. It existed as an oral tradition from around 2000 B.C.. It may precede the Creation account in Genesis by several hundred years.


3 Lent – C – 02/28 – 03/05/2016

February 27, 2016

Week of 3 Lent C

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/

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Podcast: Week of 3 Lent C

3 Lent – Sunday C

First posted March 7, 2010

Podcast: 3 Lent Sunday C

Exodus 3:1-8b, (10-15) – The Burning Bush;

Psalm 126 – Restore Our Fortunes, Lord;

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 – Warning Against Overconfidence;

Luke 13:1-9 – Repent or Perish;

Exodus:

Moses had fled from Egypt to the wilderness, where he married the daughter of Jethro (Hobab), a Midianite Priest. (Midianites were a tribe distantly related to the Israelites). Moses was herding his Father-in-law’s flock and found himself at Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai), the Mountain of God and a holy place for both Israel and Midian. The angel of the Lord (the Spirit of God; not a heavenly messenger) manifested himself in visible form as a flame of fire (compare Acts 2:3) in the burning bush. Moses was amazed to see that the bush was burning but not consumed, so Moses approached the bush to see better. From the bush, the Lord called to Moses to remove his shoes, because the place where Moses stood was holy ground. The Lord identified himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs of Israel. Moses covered his eyes because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord told Moses that he had seen the suffering of God’s people in Egypt and had heard their cries. The Lord had come to deliver them from slavery in Egypt and to bring them to a land of their own, a good spacious land, flowing with milk and honey; the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perezzites Hivites and Jebusites.

The Lord told Moses to go to Pharaoh so that Moses could lead God’s people out of Egypt. But Moses objected, saying that he was not able to come before Pharaoh and convince him to let the Israelites go. But the Lord told Moses that the Lord would be with him, and as a sign, Moses would serve God upon the mountain (Horeb; Sinai) when he had brought the people out. Moses asked God what name he was to be known by when the Israelites asked, and God said “I AM who I AM.”* God told Moses to say that I AM had sent him. God also told Moses that God was to be known forever, throughout all generations, as the “Lord, the God of the fathers of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Psalm:

The Psalmist recalled when the Lord had restored the fortunes of Zion (Jerusalem; God’s chosen people; the Church). In the past. The people thought they were dreaming. They were filled with joy and laughter. The nations (Gentiles) realized that God had done wonderful things for Israel and Israel was glad that he had.

So let us pray that the Lord will again restore our fortunes, like irrigation can cause the desert to bloom. “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy! He that goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).

1 Corinthians:

Remember that the Israelites were all under the cloud (pillar of cloud; Exodus 13:21) and passed through the sea (Exodus 14:22), “and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2). They all ate supernatural (or spiritual) food (manna; Exodus 16:4, 35), and all drank from the supernatural Rock (Exodus 17:6). Nevertheless, most of them failed to please God and died in the wilderness (Numbers 14:29-30).

The history of God’s relationship with Israel is a warning to us, not to follow their example; not to desire what is evil. We must not be idolatrous as they were, as recorded in Exodus 32:4-6: “the people sat down to eat, and rose up to dance (play; make merry).” We must not participate in immorality (Numbers 25:1-9); we must not put the Lord to the test (Numbers 21:5-6); nor grumble (Numbers 16:12-14, 28-33). All who did so were destroyed in the wilderness. “Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon who the end of the ages has come. Therefore let any one who thinks he stands (secure) take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). Whatever temptation we face is common to all people. God is faithful in not allowing us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist. With every temptation, he provides a means of escape so that we can withstand it.

Thus we are warned to shun all forms of idolatry (any thing we love as much or more than we love God); if we are wise, we will give heed to these exhortations.

Luke:

Pilate (a Roman administrator of Judea) had some Galileans slain as they offered sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem. The crowd told Jesus of this, and Jesus replied that those Galileans were no worse sinners than any; but unless people repent all will likewise perish (eternally). Jesus said that a tower in Siloam (a section of southern Jerusalem) had collapsed and killed eighteen, but they were no worse sinners than any others. But Jesus warned that unless we repent we will all face the same fate (eternal destruction).

Jesus told this parable: a man planted a fig tree in his vineyard, and came, in season, to gather its fruit for three years, but there was none. So the man told his vinedresser to cut the fig tree down; if it didn’t produce, why should it take up space in the vineyard. The vinedresser suggested that the man allow another season, during which the vinedresser cultivate and fertilize the ground around it. Then, if it didn’t produce, he would cut it down.

Commentary:

The word “angel” can be understood to mean “spirit” (Acts 12:15; Revelation 1:1).

The Exodus from slavery to sin and death in Egypt is intended to be a parable (a common earthly experience used to teach spiritual truth), a metaphor for life in this world. We are all in bondage to sin and death in this world. Satan is Pharaoh; Jesus is the new Moses.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek, find and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through Jesus Christ, by God’s intentional design. God has designed this temporal world so that all of us are sinners (disobedient of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty of sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin and salvation from eternal death (Romans 5:8; John 3:3:16-17; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is the only God who is, truly and eternally, God.

The Exodus, baptism into the Sea, wilderness wandering, and entrance into the Promised Land are deliberately intended to be a parable, a metaphor for our lifetime. We are intended to be baptized in water into Jesus Christ, the “New Moses,” and spiritually into the “cloud,” the baptism of the Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. This Creation and lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know, trust and obey God’s Word, revealed in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14), God’s Word lived in human flesh, in this temporal world. This lifetime is God’s garden, to sprout and grow God’s people.

The eternal kingdom of God in heaven is the eternal “Promised Land;” Paradise restored, unblemished by sin. Jesus is the spiritual Joshua (the Greek form of the Hebrew name); the successor to Moses; sent ahead of Israel to search the Promised Land (Numbers 13:16-17), and then to lead them through the wilderness of this lifetime and through the “river” of physical death, into the eternal Promised Land.

The Psalmist describes the situation of Judah, the remnant of Israel, returning from exile in Babylon, to their Promised Land, after seventy years, as the Prophet Jeremiah had proclaimed (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Exile in Babylon is another metaphor. We are all in exile in the Babylon of this world, and Jesus leads us out of exile and into the eternal Promised Land. Without Jesus, we will die eternally in “Babylon.”

The Israelites who returned were a revived nation, not the same people who went into exile. Seventy years is a virtual life sentence for those who were adults (twenty years old) at the time. We are also “reborn” during our exile in “Babylon,” by the “baptism” (gift; anointing) of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the spring of living water welling up within us, making our barrenness bloom, and spreading through us into the world around us (John 4:14; 7:38-39). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Israel’s return from Exile was truly amazing! Who would have believed that Babylon would be overthrown by Cyrus of Persia, and that the Israelites would be allowed to return to their land? Who would have believed that the sacred vessels of gold and silver which had been looted from the temple would be returned to them? Who would have believed that the new government of Babylon would give them money and assistance from the provincial governors to rebuild the temple?

Christians are to be discipled within the Church (the “New Jerusalem;” Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) until they have been “born-again” by the Holy Spirit before they go into the world bearing the “seed” which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That “seed” will be sown with tears, because the world hates Jesus and his disciples, but when we return to God’s heavenly kingdom we will be like the returning exiles, rejoicing and carrying home the fruits of the harvest, like the Israelites carried home the treasures of the temple.

Not everyone who calls themselves “Christian” and calls Jesus “Lord” is saved from God’s condemnation and eternal destruction. We are not saved by church membership or participation in church rituals, such as water Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist). Jesus says we must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which we only receive by becoming obedient to and trusting in Jesus.

The Bible is the record of God’s dealing with Israel. It contains both great promises and ominous warnings. It is written for us, so that we will be able to avoid the consequences of disobedience and receive the promises through obedience.

There are several false teachings in the nominal Church today which were present in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. One is “Cheap Grace;”** that is the teaching that we are saved by grace (unmerited favor) which is true, but without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teachings, which is false. The other is teaching “works righteousness;” that we must earn and deserve our salvation by doing good “deeds” (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

Worldly prosperity and success are not necessarily signs of God’s favor, and worldly failure, poverty and various troubles are not signs of God’s disapproval and punishment. The important thing in this life is to learn to seek, know and have fellowship with God, through Jesus Christ, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We can’t change yesterday, and today is the only day we can be sure of; tomorrow may never come. People die of natural causes or by misfortune. The cause of their death is not a measure of their spiritual condition. Unless they have been spiritually “born-again” in this lifetime they perish eternally.

The Lord has given us a place in his “vineyard,” his “garden,” and has blessed us with every good thing we need to blossom, grow and bear eternal fruit. He’s given us time that we need to learn to trust and obey him and become spiritually mature. But many people are seeking physical gratification without any thought to their spiritual needs, or seeking spiritual nurture in the wrong places.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*This is the meaning of the Israelite name for God: YHWH, probably pronounced “Yahweh.” The name “Jehovah” in earlier translations was a misunderstanding: earlier translations included only the consonants, and later translators added the vowels for an entirely different word. Jehovah is not an accurate translation of any form of God’s name ever used in Israel.

**See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6.


3 Lent – Monday C

First posted March 8, 2010

Podcast: 3 Lent Monday C

Psalm 32 – The Psalmist’s Testimony;

How blessed is the person whose transgression is forgiven; whose sin is blotted out. Blessed is he whom the Lord judges not guilty of sin and deceit.

When the psalmist denied his sin he was afflicted. His body withered; he groaned all day long. The hand of the Lord was heavy upon him. His strength was dried up as by summer’s heat.

When the psalmist acknowledged and confessed his sin to the Lord, and stopped trying to hide his sin, then the Lord forgave him and removed his guilt.

So let all those who are godly pray to the Lord. Then when beset with troubles and distress, as with a mighty flood, they shall not reach them. The Lord will be a place of refuge for them. The Lord will preserve and deliver them from troubles.

The psalmist will teach us how we should go. Let us not be like a horse or mule, unable to understand, and which must be controlled by bit and bridal.

The wicked have many troubles, but those who trust in the Lord will be surrounded by steadfast love. Let the righteous and upright in heart rejoice and be glad in the Lord!

Commentary:

We’re all sinners (disobedient of God’s Word) who fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), revealed in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word;” God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh in this fallen world (John 1:1-5, 14). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17), so he has provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). All our sins can be forgiven and blotted out by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God allows us to suffer various trials in life in hope that we will realize and acknowledge our need for him. Denying that we are sinners will lead to destruction. Confessing our sinfulness will lead to forgiveness, salvation and eternal life.

When we put our faith in the Lord we will experience his love and protection Ephesians 1:13-14)?through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus came to give us new, spiritual, eternal life through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Then even physical death has no power to harm us (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The New Testament is the recorded testimony of first-century “born-again” Christians (Acts 2:1-13) who knew Christ personally during his physical ministry, and those like Paul (Saul of Tarsus; Acts 9:1-18) and others who didn’t know Jesus during Jesus’ physical ministry, and so are post-resurrection “born-again” disciples like we can be.

Mature “born-again” Christians today add their testimony to that of the New Testament witnesses, that Jesus has risen from physical death and is eternally alive. We testify from personal experience that the Lord is our refuge and he delivers us from trouble. The love of the Lord surrounds us and makes it possible for us to rejoice and be glad in all circumstances.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

3 Lent – Tuesday C

First posted March 9, 2010

Podcast: 3 Lent Tuesday C

Isaiah 12:1-6 – Deliverance and Thanksgiving;

In the day of deliverance we will we will give thanks to the Lord, for although he was angry with us he turned from anger and comforted us.

Look and see! God is our savior; let us trust in him and be unafraid. The Lord God is our strength and our song, for he has become our salvation.

With joy we “will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). In that day we will exhort our brethren to give thanks to the Lord, to call upon his name; to make his deeds known to the nations (Gentiles), and to declare that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;” (Isaiah 12:5) make his great deeds known throughout the world. “Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion (the Church), for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 12:6)

Commentary:

The Lord is a good Father. He gets angry with us when we sin (disobey God’s Word), and he disciplines us for our good (Hebrews 12:7-13), but he loves us and doesn’t want us to perish. He’s always ready to forgive us when we are truly sorry and repent (regret sin and change our ways).

The indwelling Holy Spirit is our Great Comforter (“Paraclete,” from the Greek; KJV uses “Comforter” or “Advocate;” RSV uses “Counselor;” “Helper”). The presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). When we confess and repent of our sin, the Holy Spirit reassures us that we are entirely forgiven. When we’re in the midst of troubles in life, the Holy Spirit reassures us that he is with us, and will bring us through them. Through his presence we experience the Lord’s love, safety, help and protection (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right).

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift; anointing) of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the spiritual “living water” that only Jesus gives (John 4:12-14; 7:37-39). That water is to flow out through us into the wilderness of this world to give life and salvation to the spiritually lost.

We can only truly praise the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14-16). We can only accomplish God’s will by the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). We’re admonished to stay within the Church (the New Jerusalem on earth) until we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). When we testify, it is the Holy Spirit within us who gives us what we’re to say in the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

3 Lent – Wednesday C

First posted March 10, 2010

Podcast: 3 Lent Wednesday C

1 Corinthians 1:18 (19-21) 22-25 (26-31) – The Wisdom of God;

The preaching of the cross of Christ seems foolish to those who are perishing spiritually, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God. Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14, who declared that God will destroy the wisdom of those who are wise by earthly standards, and will thwart the clever in their cleverness.

Paul says to consider those who are considered wise, teachers, and debaters of this age. Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom to be foolish? God in his infinite wisdom has designed this world so that one cannot know God through human wisdom; but to save those who believe our preaching, which the world considers folly. Jews seek “signs,” “proof” by supernatural acts, and Greeks pursue (worldly) wisdom, but Christians preach Christ crucified, which is a stumbling block to Jews, and folly to Gentiles; but to those who respond to the invitation of the Gospel, both Jew and Greek, Christ is the power and wisdom of God. God’s wisdom is wiser than mankind’s, and God’s weakness is stronger than mankind’s.

Consider our situation when we responded to God’s invitation. Most were not wise, powerful or born to nobility. God chooses the foolish and weak of this world to shame the wise and powerful. He chooses the lowly and despised and things that seem worthless, to bring to nothing the things the world values, so that no one can boast in God’s presence. God “is the source of our life in Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 30); therefore, as God’s Word says “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31; compare Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Commentary:

God has designed this universe to accomplish his eternal purpose which is to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God’s Word. He has designed Creation to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) so that we can have freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s way is our best interest. But God is not going to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever or at all in his eternal kingdom, so he has limited Creation and we ourselves by time.

God’s Word declares that we are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want any of us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

We are all born physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. Only by the “baptism” (anointing; gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit are we spiritually reborn. Only Jesus “baptizes” with the Holy Spirit, (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Consider the Creation story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:1-24. It is intended to be a parable (a common earthly experience used to teach spiritual truth), a metaphor for God’s purpose for Creation. God created a perfect paradise here, but Adam and Eve introduced sin into Creation by succumbing to temptation and disobeying God’s Word.

They were in a perfect paradise, had personal daily fellowship with God, their Creator, and eternal life. God had warned them that they would die if they ate the forbidden fruit, but they listened to the tempter, who said they wouldn’t die. They didn’t die physically, immediately, but they lost eternal life. They were driven out of the garden, and the tree of life was guarded so that they couldn’t take it by force.

Mankind’s yielding to sin did not surprise God. God knew that in giving mankind free will we would all initially choose to do our will rather than God’s. That’s why the Savior Jesus Christ was designed into Creation from the beginning.

God’s Word began to reveal the coming Messiah (Savior; God’s “anointed” prophet, priest and king) in Genesis 3:15 and progressively throughout the Old Testament. Jesus came to become the only sacrificial offering acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin, restoration to fellowship with God and eternal life which was broken by sin (John 14:6).

That forgiveness, salvation and restoration are only received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Wise and clever worldly people can’t earn, deserve, or take salvation and eternal life by force or deception.

The Jews stumbled because they didn’t accept Jesus as their Messiah. They kept asking for “signs,” miracles of God’s supernatural working. Jesus did many miracles openly in public, but they didn’t accept them as from God.

Jesus can only heal and restore those who realize and acknowledge their sinful nature and need for a savior (Matthew 9:12-13). Someone said that there are two kinds of people in the world: sinners who think they’re righteous, and the righteous who know they’re sinners.

The Greeks couldn’t accept Jesus because he defied worldly wisdom and logic. Divine wisdom is eternal and unchanging. God is all-knowing; he knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30), and every star in the sky (Psalm 147:4). But worldly wisdom is constantly changing, as human knowledge increases. Consider the recent controversy over the definition and number of planets in our solar system, for example.

For people who demand proof in order to believe, there is none, because salvation depends on faith. But for people who believe, there is abundant “proof.” It not true that one cannot know with certainty what comes after physical death. The only people who don’t know where they will spend eternity are the spiritually lost and perishing.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

3 Lent – Thursday C

First posted March 11, 2010

Podcast: 3 Lent Thursday C

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 – The Prodigal Son;

The scribes (teachers of scripture) and Pharisees (legalistic party of Judaism) criticized Jesus for receiving and associating with sinners and tax collectors. So Jesus told a parable (a common earthly experience to teach spiritual truth). A man had two sons, and the younger asked his father to give him his share of the inheritance. Soon after, the younger son went to a country far away, taking his inheritance, where he squandered it by loose living.

After he had spent his inheritance, a great famine arose and he began to experience deprivation, so he got a job with a citizen of that country as a field hand, feeding the citizen’s pigs. He would have been happy to eat the pods on which the pigs fed, but wasn’t given any. He came to realize that his father’s servants had enough bread to spare, but the son was starving. He decided to return to his father, confess his sin against heaven and his father, and ask to be treated as his father’s servant.

So the man returned to his father. While he was far off his father saw him coming and ran to him and embraced him. The son told his father that he was unworthy to be his son, and asked to be treated as a servant, but the father gave him the finest robe, shoes for his feet, and a ring for his finger. The father had a fattened calf killed and a feast prepared for his son who had returned. He celebrated the return of his son who once was as dead but returned to life; who had been lost but now was found.

The elder son had been in his father’s field. When he returned to the house, he heard the celebration, and asked a servant what had happened. He was told that his father was celebrating the return of his younger brother. The elder son was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and begged him, but the son told his father that he had been obedient to his father all these years and yet the father had never given him a party with his friends. Now his father had given a party for the younger son who had wasted his inheritance on prostitutes and immoral living. The father replied that the eldest son had always been with the father and all that the father possessed belonged to him. It was fitting for the father to celebrate the return of the younger son, who had been as one dead who returned to life; one who was lost but had been found.

Commentary:

The scribes and Pharisees were like the older son, jealous of the prodigal’s welcome and restoration. We are all like the younger son. We have all taken the eternal inheritance we have received from our eternal heavenly father, and squandered it in loose living. This Creation is the far country. Tending pigs was the ultimate degradation for Jews; pigs were spiritually unclean.

The eldest son is like people who are born into the Church. They don’t have special spiritual status just because they haven’t departed from their father’s house. We should have the same concern for those who are spiritually lost and dead that God has.

The older son hadn’t rebelled and gone astray, but he hadn’t learned to be like his father, caring for the lost and dying, and forgiving sinners. He was only concerned for himself. That is too often the attitude of nominal church members. Nominal churches that fail to teach and require discipleship produce church members like the older son.

God our Father seeks us when we go astray. When we turn to him he comes and meets us. He forgives us and restores us to his family. He clothes us with the robe of salvation. The ring is a symbol of authority in the household. He prepares a feast for us and celebrates our return with a banquet.

God freely forgives those who are repentant and turn to him. He restores us to full fellowship in his household, not merely as hired servants but fully sons and daughters.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

3 Lent – Friday C

First posted March 12, 2010

Podcast: 3 Lent Friday C

Galatians 4:21-31 – Allegory of Sarah and Hagar;

Background:

Some of the Jewish Christians (the circumcision party; Acts 11:1-18; Acts 15:5) wanted to require the Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians to keep Jewish Laws (Galatians 2:16; 5:3-5). Paul used an allegory of Abraham’s wife Sarah and his concubine Hagar.

Galatians:

Paul said that those who wanted to maintain the old covenant of law did not understand the law. Abraham had two sons; one was Isaac, the descendant God promised to Abraham (Abram; Genesis 13:15-16; 15:1), born of Abraham’s, wife Sarah (Sarai) a free woman. The other, Ishmael, was born to Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian slave. Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promise, but Ishmael was born according to the flesh. Ishmael had twelve sons who became the heads of various tribes of Arabs (Gen. 37:25, 27, 28; 39:1).

The two women represent the two Covenants; Hagar is of Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Law from God and ratified the Old Covenant of Law. Hagar and her child represent Jerusalem, the Jews in slavery to the Law. Sarah and her child represent the New Covenant, the Church, the New Jerusalem on earth and the city of God in heaven where we are free of the Law (provided that we are obedient to the indwelling Holy Spirit; Romans 8:1-14). She is the mother of all those who believe. Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1 to show that the children of Abraham by Sarah, who was barren, will exceed the children of Hagar.

We believers are like Isaac, children of the promise. After Isaac was born, Hagar and Ishmael harassed Sarah and Isaac (Genesis 21:9-10). Hagar and Ishmael rivaled Sarah and Isaac for Abraham’s attention. So it is today that the children of slavery to Satan harass the children of faith and freedom. Paul quoted Genesis 21:9-12, showing that the children of slavery are cast out from the household of Abraham and do not inherit God’s promise. It is the children of the New Covenant of grace through faith in Jesus (Hebrews 12:24) who are the spiritual children of Abraham (Galatians 3:5-9) and will inherit the promise of God through Jesus Christ.

Commentary:

The Old Covenant of Law was intended to be a restraint of God’s people until the coming of the Messiah (Galatians 3:23-25; 4:1-7), Jesus Christ (Messiah and Christ both mean [God’s] “anointed,”in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (Matthew 26-26-28 KJV; RSV note “g;”) of Grace (a free gift; unmerited favor; (Hebrews 12:24) which we receive by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

The New Testament (New Covenant) is the record of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, his ministry, his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, his promise to return to judge the living (quickened) and dead at the Day of Judgment at the end of time. It is also the history of the first-century Church, the Apostolic teaching (received directly from Jesus) of the Eleven original disciples and from Paul, whom God intended to replace Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. Paul is the prototype and example of a modern, post-resurrection “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ as we can and should be.

The first-century Church was beset by false teachings, which are refuted in the New Testament, and those same teachings are still in the Church and the World today. One was the teaching of salvation by doing works of the Law (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right). Paul had been one of the most ardent of Jews (Acts 22:1-3), but he resisted the Jewish Christians who wanted to burden new Gentile Christians with circumcision and Jewish Laws (Acts 15:1-5).

Are you the child of Sarah or Hagar? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

3 Lent – Saturday C

First posted March 13, 2010

Podcast: 3 Lent Saturday C

John 6:1-15 – Feeding the Five Thousand;

Jesus took his disciples across to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Multitudes followed them because they had seen “signs” (miracles of healing revealing Jesus as God’s Son) which Jesus did on those who were sick. Jesus went up into the hills and sat down with his disciples.

The Passover Feast was near. Jesus, seeing the multitude coming, asked Phillip how they could get enough bread for the people to eat. Jesus was testing Phillip, because Jesus knew what he would do. Phillip replied that two hundred denarii (a denarius was the daily wage of a laborer), wouldn’t buy enough bread to give each a small portion. Andrew mentioned that there was a lad present who had 5 barley loaves and two fish, but they wouldn’t go far in feeding the crowd. The place was grassy and Jesus told the crowd to sit down (on the grass). There were about five thousand people.

Jesus took the loaves, and after praying in thanksgiving to God, gave them to the disciples to distribute, along with the fish. The crowd ate all that they wanted, and when they were satisfied, Jesus told the disciples to collect the left-overs, so as not to waste any food, so they collected twelve baskets full of the fragments left over from the barley loaves. The people in the crowd, having seen the “sign” Jesus had done, realized that he must be the prophet who was expected to return to herald the Messiah. Knowing that they were intending to take Jesus by force to make him king, Jesus left and went into the hills by himself.

Commentary:

This “sign” foreshadows Jesus’ institution of the New Passover feast, the Lord’s Supper, (Holy Communion; Eucharist) on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28). During the Passover Feast, Jesus distributed bread and wine to his disciples, saying that the bread was Jesus’ body and the wine was Jesus’ blood, to be broken and shed at the crucifixion which was soon to occur.

The multitude shared fellowship with Jesus during the meal, and their hunger was completely satisfied. The first century Church at first continued the Lord’s Supper in the context of a meal, but later as a spiritual “feast” in which small elements of bread and wine were distributed. Small portions provide complete satisfaction, because the “feast” is spiritual.

“Born-again” Christians enter and experience the presence and fellowship with the Lord through this ritual (sacrament), and daily as well. Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of Passover; bread is his broken body, and wine (or grape juice) is his blood, shed for us on the cross, which marks us as belonging to him, so that the destroyer “passes over” us (Exodus 12:11-13). I personally believe that wine makes a better element than grape juice, because it has “spirit” (alcohol), which can be detected.

Under the Old Covenant of Law, God was teaching his people that (animal) blood sacrifices were necessary for the forgiveness of sin. Those sacrifices were often occasions of feasts (Exodus 12:3-10; 1 Samuel 9:9-19). Forgiveness required the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22), which was believed to contain the spirit, the life-force, of the animal. Jews were forbidden to consume the blood of animals for that very reason (Leviticus 3:17). But Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper declared the wine to be Jesus’ blood. God doesn’t want us to be filled with the spirit of animals, but with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9).

Under the Old Covenant of Law animal sacrifices had to be repeated over and over because of mankind’s sinfulness, but Jesus is the new sacrifice, of the New Covenant, once for all time and all people who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust; Hebrews 7:27; 9:25-28).

Note that one cannot receive the Holy Spirit by merely participating in the Lord’s Supper. Only Jesus “baptizes” with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus’ miracles of physical healing and feeding were intended to show that he is of God, and that he can heal and feed us spiritually. We have greater need for spiritual healing than for physical healing. We can be healed or fed physically, but that only lasts until the next meal or illness. Spiritual healing and feeding are eternal. If we are healed and fed spiritually, famine and physical death cannot hurt us. Jesus drew large crowds of people seeking physical healing and feeding, but unless and until they realized that their spiritual needs were greater, they missed the spiritual healing and feeding that only Jesus can provide (John 6:26-27).

The parables that Jesus told were for the same reason. How can one teach spiritual truth to people who only know physical “reality?” Jesus used common earthly experiences to teach spiritual truth, which is the definition of parable.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


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