Week of 4 Lent – A – 03/26 – 04/01/2017

March 25, 2017

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)

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:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

.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:

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 A

Sunday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 2, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 4 Lent A

Hosea 5:15-6:2 – Hope in the Lord;
Psalm 43 – Repent and be Healed;
Romans 8:1-10 – Life in the Spirit;
Mathew 20:17-28 – True Greatness;

Hosea Paraphrase:

Hosea was a prophet of the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, during the time that they were under attack by the Assyrians.

The Lord declared, through Hosea, that he would withdraw from the (northern) Israelites until they acknowledged their guilt and sought the Lord’s presence and help in their distress, acknowledging that the Lord wounds but also heals, and strikes, but also comforts. “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).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Vindicate us, O Lord; give us justice and deliver us from ungodly, unjust and deceitful people. You are our God in whom we have taken refuge; do not forsake us. Why are we mourning under the oppression of our enemy?

Send forth your light and truth, so that we may be led by them and be brought to your holy hill and your house. Then we will sing praise to you before your altar with great joy, O Lord, our God. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God” (Psalm 43:5).

Romans Paraphrase:

Those who are in Christ are no longer under (God’s eternal) condemnation. The Old Covenant of Law convicted us of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and condemned us to eternal death, but the law of the Spirit, in which we live, through Christ, has freed us from condemnation. Because of the weakness of our flesh, we were unable to fulfill the requirements of God’s law, but God has sent his Son in human flesh to deal with sin and condemn sin, so that we could fulfill the just requirements of the law, as we live according to the Spirit, rather than according to our sinful human nature.

Those who live according to their human nature and desires have their minds set on their physical bodies and appetites. But those who live according to the Spirit focus on spiritual things. Focusing on the flesh leads to eternal death, but focusing on the Spirit leads to true, eternal, life. Those who focus on their physical nature and live in the flesh refuse to submit to God’s law and cannot and will not please God.

“But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your physical bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness” (Romans 8:9-10).

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem where he knew he would be crucified. On the way he called the twelve (original disciples) together and told them that the “Son of man” (Jesus) would be condemned by the Jewish religious authorities and given to the Roman civil authorities to be mocked, beaten, and crucified, “and he would be raised on the third day” (Matthew 20:19b).

Then the mother of James and John brought them to Jesus and asked Jesus to let James and John sit at Jesus’ right and left hands (positions of status and authority) in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus told them they didn’t understand what they were asking. Were they able to endure the same destiny that Jesus faced? They assured him that they were able, but Jesus told them that the position they asked for had already been determined by God and was not within Jesus’ authority to grant.

The other ten disciples were indignant at James and John for their request, so Jesus gathered them around him and told them that Gentiles (worldly people) sought status and authority, and worldly leaders exalted themselves over their subjects, but Jesus’ followers were to live by a different standard. Those who want to be great in God’s kingdom must be the servants of others and the greatest is the one who is the servant of all the others. They were to follow the example of the Son of man (Jesus), who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Commentary:

The Northern Kingdom of Israel had turned away from obedient trust in God, and turned to idolatry. They had been warned by the prophets of God, but had refused to heed the warnings. God declared, through Hosea, that he would withdraw his presence, his providence, and protection from them until they acknowledged their guilt and sought his presence and help, believing that the Lord who wounds also heals, and who strikes also comforts. God promised to revive his Servant after two days, and raise him up that he may live (eternally) before the Lord.

Those who hope in the Lord and make him their refuge will never be forsaken and will be vindicated and delivered from those who are ungodly, unjust and deceitful. We will rejoice in his deliverance.

The Lord has sent forth his light and truth, in the Bible, and in Jesus, the “living Word” (John 1:14), to lead us and bring us to the dwelling of God in heaven. Jesus is the Word of God fulfilled, embodied and demonstrated in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3; 14).

Jesus is both fully human and fully divine (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus usually referred to himself as the Son of man, which is true, but emphasizes his humanity. This allows us to decide for ourselves who Jesus is, with a hint from Scripture (Daniel 7:13-14).

Jesus is the Light of the World; the light of righteousness (John 1:5; 3:19-21; doing what is good, right and true according to God’s Word), the light of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9); and the light of eternal life (John 1:4). Jesus is the only way to salvation from God’s eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right); the only way to have fellowship with God, to know divine truth, and to have true, eternal, life (John 14:6).

Only Jesus 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 Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), the Spirit of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9) who will lead us into all (divine) truth (John 16:13).The Holy Spirit is the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) that leads us through the spiritual darkness of this world into God’s kingdom of light. 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’s Word is eternally true, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Jesus came to earth to teach us, by word and example, how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. Jesus was the perfect Servant of the Lord. God’s Word promises that he will revive his servant and raise him from physical death to eternal life, and he fulfilled that promise in Jesus’ resurrection. That promise also applies to all those who are servants of the Lord,* who trust and obey Jesus. We will be raised from death to eternal life just as Jesus was.

Jesus promised to give the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him. We receive that promise as we meet the conditions for its fulfillment.

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who trust and obey Jesus, applying Jesus’ teaching and example in their lives daily. We are to live no longer according to worldly standards; instead we are to learn to live according to God’s Word and the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus came to be the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, so that we wouldn’t have to die eternally for them ourselves; Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. Our forgiveness and salvation are a free gift, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Is Jesus 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)?


*But note that the Lord will never lead us to harm ourselves or others (consider Matthew 4:6-7).


 

Monday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 3, 2008

Podcast: Monday 4 Lent A

Psalm 116:1-8 – Thanksgiving for Deliverance;

Paraphrase:

Because the Lord has heard my cry for help, I love him; I will call upon him as long as I live. When I was ensnared by death and the pangs of the grave, I was greatly distressed and in anguish. Then I called on the Lord to save my life.

The Lord our God is gracious and merciful. He helps the weak; he saved me when I was in great danger. My soul will be at rest knowing that the Lord has dealt bountifully with me. “For thou has delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling” (Psalm 116:8).

Commentary:

The Lord is worthy of our love for all the goodness he has done for us. He is the only true eternal help and refuge for us when we are in distress and anguish. He can deliver us even from death and the grave.

When we call upon him in faith and sincerity he hears us and will help us. He wants to show us that he is faithful and able to help us far beyond our greatest need.

The greatest danger we face is not physical death, but eternal death, separated eternally from the Lord, the giver of life and the sustainer of all things. Jesus has already paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross. All we have to do is accept and receive forgiveness and salvation through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

I personally join with the Psalmist in testifying that the Lord has delivered me from danger and death, from sorrow and stumbling. The Lord hears and responds when I cry out to him and has given me peace and rest for my soul (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right).

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 – A

First Posted March 4, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Lent A

Ezekiel 37:1-3 (4-10) 11-14 – Dry Bones;

Paraphrase:

Ezekiel was a prophet to Judah before and after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., and during the exile in Babylon. This passage was written after the fall.

The “hand of the Lord” was upon Ezekiel and he was transported by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley (or plain) covered with human bones. There were many bones and they were very dry. The Lord asked Ezekiel if the bones could be brought back to life, and Ezekiel answered that God alone knew. The Lord commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, telling them to hear the Word of the Lord. Ezekiel was to declare that God would cause breath (or wind, or spirit)* to enter them and cause them to live. The Lord declared that he would join the bones, cause sinew, flesh, and skin to cover them and put breath* them and cause them to live. Then they would know that God is Lord.

Ezekiel prophesied as the Lord had commanded, and there was the sound of rattling as the bones began to be joined together in their proper relationship. Then sinew, flesh and skin came upon them, but there was no breath* in them. The Lord told Ezekiel, addressing him as the “son of man” (Ezekiel 37:9), to prophesy to the breath,* commanding it to come from the four winds* and breathe upon the dead so that they may live. So Ezekiel prophesied as the Lord had commanded, and breath* came into them and they stood up, a very great multitude.

The Lord said to Ezekiel, the “son of man,” that the bones represent the entire “house” (family; dynasty) of Israel. The remnant of Israel in exile felt that they were dead and dried up, that they had no hope, and were cut off forever (from their land, life and their Lord). Ezekiel was to prophesy to the people that God promised to open their graves and raise them to life and bring them back to their “Promised Land.” Then Israel would know that God is Lord. The Lord will put his Spirit* within them so that they will live, and he will restore them to their land. Then they will know that the Lord has spoken and has accomplished what he promised.

Commentary:

Judah, the remnant of Israel after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes, felt completely cut off from their Lord and their heritage, and without hope, but no situation is beyond God’s power to heal and restore. God called Ezekiel to prophesy God’s Word of hope to God’s people in exile in Babylon.

Israel had gotten into that situation because they had refused to hear and obey God’s Word and turn away from idolatry (valuing and serving any one or thing as much or more than God). God removed his protection from them and allowed them to be taken into exile. The exile was discipline intended by God to teach them to trust and obey God. He promised to restore them after seventy years (from 587-517 B.C.), and he fulfilled his promise.

The test of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God’s Word is eternally true and it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The history of God’s dealing with Israel in the Bible is also intended to be a metaphor, a “parable,” about life in this world.

In a sense we are all in “exile” in the “Babylon” of this world for about seventy years (a lifetime). This is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God. God’s Word promises to revive us who were spiritually eternally dead through sin (disobedience of God’s Word), fill us with his indwelling Holy Spirit, raise us from the literal and metaphorical grave to eternal life, and lead us into the eternal Promised Land of his heavenly kingdom.

In the era before Christ, only a few individuals like Ezekiel were guided and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to proclaim God’s Word. Jesus came to die as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right), to make it possible for us to be cleansed of sin and filled with the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). The indwelling Holy Spirit within us causes us to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-9) to new, eternal life. Only Jesus 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).

Ezekiel is a forerunner of Christ, the “Son of man” (for example, Matthew 16:13) who proclaims the Gospel of forgiveness, salvation and restoration to those who trust and obey God’s Word. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and demonstration of God’s Word, lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness, salvation and restoration (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

We, particularly in America and the American Church, are in a very similar position as Judah at the time before the exile. They had the outward form of religion, but they didn’t hear, know, trust and obey God’s Word, and were spiritually “adulterous” by allowing other “gods” to rule them. Whatever we worship and serve is our “god.” Our Church and nation are filled with dry bones. We desperately need the mighty wind of the Spirit to breathe new, eternal life into us (Acts 2:2). Then we will know that God is 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)?


*This is a play on words; the same Hebrew word means breath, or wind, or spirit.


 

Wednesday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 5, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 4 Lent A

Romans 8:11-19 – Life in the Spirit;

Paraphrase:

If the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us he will give immortal life to our mortal bodies also, through his indwelling Holy Spirit. So we are obligated to the Spirit, not to our mortal flesh. If we live according to our fleshly desires we will die (eternally) in our flesh, but if we follow the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit we will put to death the desires of the flesh, and we will live (eternally).

“All who are led by the (indwelling) Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God” (Romans 8:14). The Spirit does not enslave us in fear, but makes us sons (and daughters). When we call ecstatically in worship to God our Father in praise and prayer, the indwelling Holy Spirit is testifying with our spirit that we are children of God. If we are children of God then we are his heirs, with Christ, provided that we join in the mission of Christ’s Gospel and bear suffering with Christ (for the Gospel), so that we can also be glorified in him.

The sufferings in this temporal world are insignificant, compared to the glory that we will experience (in eternity). All creation eagerly awaits the revealing of God’s children.

Commentary:

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The indwelling 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 the “first-fruits” (Romans 8:23), the “security deposit” of eternal life.

By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, eternal, life. Only Jesus 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). In order to receive the gift we must commit ourselves to be obedient, trusting disciples of Jesus Christ. We must commit to living in obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If we live according to the Holy Spirit, we are freed from bondage to God’s law, and to sin and death (Romans 8:2; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). We die spiritually to sin and the flesh so that we can live spiritually and eternally with Christ (Romans 8:10).

We fulfill the requirements of God’s law by his love and help, expressed through his indwelling Holy Spirit, and by our response in love and gratitude to him, rather than by fear of his eternal condemnation. We are his beloved children, not his slaves. Jesus is his only begotten son, but we become his adopted children and share in God’s love for Jesus and share Jesus’ glory and eternal inheritance. But we must be willing to surrender and sacrifice our will and become obedient to his will, as Jesus did, and we can expect that we will encounter rejection and abuse from worldly people as Jesus did.

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 – A

First Posted March 6, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 4 Lent A

John 11:1-53 (or 47-53) – Raising of Lazarus;

Paraphrase:

Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, all close friends of Jesus, was ill. They lived in Bethany (two miles from Jerusalem. His sisters sent word to Jesus (at Bethabarah, 25 miles from Nazareth, east of the Jordan River*) that Lazarus was ill, but when Jesus got the message he declared that Lazarus’ illness would not result in death, and that God would be glorified.

Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus, but he delayed going to Bethany for two days. Then Jesus told his disciples that he was going into Judea again. The disciples cautioned him, saying that the Jewish authorities were seeking an opportunity to stone Jesus to death. Jesus told them that he must fulfill his work while he was able.

When Jesus and his disciples arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. Many Jews from Jerusalem had come to console Mary and Martha. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming she went to meet him. She said to Jesus that her brother would not have died if Jesus had been there, and even now she believed that God would do whatever Jesus asked. Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise to life again. Martha declared her belief in the resurrection of the dead at the “last day” (Day of Judgment).

Jesus declared that he is the resurrection and the life; those who believe in Jesus will live even though they die, and those who live and believe in Jesus will never die. Jesus asked Martha if she believed what Jesus said, and she declared that she believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world (according to God’s Word).

Mary was summoned and the Jews who were consoling her followed, and they went to the tomb with Jesus. Jesus commanded the stone covering the entrance to be rolled away. Jesus prayed aloud to God (so that God would be glorified for and by the miracle), and then called aloud for Lazarus to come forth, and Lazarus came out, still wrapped in funeral cloths. Jesus told the people to unbind him and let him go.

Many of the Jews who witnessed the miracle believed in Jesus. But some of the witnesses went and told the Pharisees (Jewish religious authorities), what Jesus had done.

The Pharisees were afraid that the people would believe in Jesus and the Romans would destroy the temple and nation as a result. Caiaphas, the High Priest refuted that, saying that it was advantageous for one person to die for the people so that the whole nation would not perish. He spoke prophetically, because of his office as High Priest. From then on the Jewish leaders plotted to put Jesus to death.

Commentary:

Jesus deliberately delayed going to Bethany until Lazarus had died. He wanted to reveal that he could not only heal the sick, but also raise the dead. He wanted to prepare his disciples and the people for his own resurrection, and to show that there is existence after physical death.

Jesus had raised others from the dead: the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17), and Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:41-42, 49-56). But these took place in Galilee. Lazarus’ resurrection took place in Judea, two miles from Jerusalem, and was witnessed by many people from Jerusalem, virtually in the face of the Jewish authorities.

Lazarus’ resurrection was the precipitating event which led to Jesus’ crucifixion. The Jewish authorities were afraid that Jesus would destroy “their” temple and “their” nation; “their” authority and status. To them, Judaism had become their “religion” to serve them, instead of them serving God.

As High Priest, Caiaphas prophetically spoke God’s Word when he declared that it was expedient that one person should die for the people, not just for the nation, but for all of God’s people (including the Gentiles). By crucifying Jesus, the Jewish leaders actually brought about the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the nation, by the Romans in 70 A.D. Because they rejected and crucified Jesus, God lifted his favor and protection from them. They were scattered throughout the world, and the nation ceased to exist, until re-established following World War II.

In one sense we’re all God’s people because he is our creator. In another sense, God’s people are those who trust and obey Jesus, the Son of God; God’s promised, “anointed” Savior and eternal king, the Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively).

Jesus waited long enough before resurrecting Lazarus so that he was undeniably dead. Jews believed that the soul lingered near the body for three days, and Lazarus had been dead four days. The smell of death when the tomb was opened was undeniable.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 1:4-5; 1 John 5:11-13). Jesus is the only way to forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), restoration to fellowship with God, the only way to know divine eternal truth and to have eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Only Jesus 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). Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus’ disciples are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, 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).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to God for what each has done individually in this lifetime (John 5:28-29). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus and have been “born-again” by the gift of the Holy Spirit will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven; those who have rejected Jesus, and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction in Hell, with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?


* “Bethabara” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, digital module, BibleDatabase freeware, see Free Digital Bible Study Tools, sidebar top right.


 

Friday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 7, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 4 Lent A

Genesis 12:1-3 – The Call of Abraham;
1 Corinthians 1:21-31 – Our Call in Christ;

Genesis Paraphrase:

God spoke to Abraham (Abram) and told him to leave his country and family and go to a land God would show him. God promised that he would make a great nation from Abraham’s descendants and make Abraham’s name great, so that he would be a blessing. Those who bless Abraham would be blessed by God and those who curse him would be cursed by God; and all the families on earth would be blessed by Abraham.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

In his wisdom God designed Creation so that mankind cannot know God through worldly human wisdom, and chose to save those who believe what seems foolish to human wisdom. Jews demand “signs” (“proof”) and Greeks (Gentiles; non-Jews) seek (worldly) wisdom, but the Gospel we proclaim, Christ crucified, causes Jews to stumble, and seems foolish to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jew and Greek, Christ is the power and wisdom of God. God, when he is most foolish, is wiser that any human, and at his weakest, is stronger than we are.

Not many believers, those who were called (and responded), were wise, or powerful, or of high social position. God chooses what is foolish and weak to shame those who, according to worldly standards, consider themselves wise and strong. God chose what the world regards as low and despised and worthless to bring to nothing what is valued by the world, so that no human can boast in God’s presence. God is the source of our life in Jesus Christ, “whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). So, as scripture says (Jeremiah 9:23-24), “Let those who boast, boast of the Lord.”

Commentary:

God’s plan for Creation has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and learn to know God (Acts 17:26-27) and this is only possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has been designed into the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). We have all been created as eternal beings in temporal bodies in a temporal world (John 5:28-29).

God began to reveal his plan with his call to one man, Abraham. Abraham responded to God’s call with obedient trust, and God fulfilled his promise to Abraham. At the time of his call Abraham was already old, and had no children through whom the promise could be fulfilled, and it was a long time before God gave him the son. From the time of his call, Abraham was learning day by day to walk in obedient trust in God, and he learned that God is abundantly able and faithful to do what he promises.

Through Abraham, God fulfilled his promise to send a Savior, God’s “anointed” eternal king, Jesus Christ, into the world, and through Jesus, everyone in the world is blessed (or cursed). Through Jesus we have all been called by God to leave where we’re at, spiritually, to walk in obedient trust in God, and learn to live according to God’s will and direction for our lives.

God has designed Creation so that we cannot know God through human wisdom. Creation has been designed so that we cannot fulfill the requirements of God’s Word by our own human ability, and none are righteous (doing what is right and good and true according to God’s standard) compared to the Lord.

God’s call through Jesus is to everyone, but those who consider themselves wise, powerful, and “good,” according to human standards, do not respond to that call in obedient trust. They don’t recognize and acknowledge their need for a Savior and Lord; they think they can “save” themselves, and want to be their own Lord. They want to see “proof” in order to believe, and the Gospel seems foolish in their worldly wisdom. The physical world and the things in it seem so solid and seem to offer security, while what is spiritual seems “unreal” and “unsubstantial,” but God’s Word declares that this World was created from nothing by God’s Word (Genesis 1:1-3), and will pass away (Matthew 24:35), and only what is spiritual will endure.

Jesus Christ is the only source of righteousness, truth and true, spiritual, eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we fulfill the requirement of God’s standard of righteousness. Only through faith in Jesus can we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, his only “begotten” Son. Only through Jesus can we know divine wisdom and truth (Luke 24:45). Only through Jesus can we be “sanctified;” (cleansed of sin; sin is disobedience of God’s Word) and dedicated to God’s service. Only through Jesus can we be redeemed from condemnation to eternal destruction, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23)

Divine wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30) are possible only 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 indwelling Holy Spirit is the means of our spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, which begins now, in this temporal world. 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).

Have you heard and responded to God’s call 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)?

Saturday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 8, 2008

Podcast: Saturday 4 Lent A

Matthew 10:32-42 – Call to Discipleship;

Paraphrase:

Jesus said that every one who acknowledges Jesus to other people, Jesus will acknowledge to God the Father in heaven, and those who deny Jesus to people, Jesus will also deny to God.

Jesus did not come to “get along” with worldly values; he came to bring change, and his ways are going to collide with worldly ways. His coming will cause division and opposition even among close family relationships. Believers must be willing to sacrifice even family relationships in order to follow Jesus. Believers must be willing to give up their own will and plans for their lives, in order to do God’s will and follow God’s plans. Believers must be willing to bear their own cross in order to follow Jesus; to be willing to make sacrifices.

Those who think that their worldly lives are more important than God’s plan will discover that they never found real life and meaning in this world and have lost the opportunity for true, eternal life. But those who are willing to give up what they have in this lifetime will discover real meaning and purpose in life now and for eternity.

Those who receive a disciple of Jesus receive Jesus, and those who receive Jesus receive God the Father. Those who receive a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and those who receive a righteous person because he is righteous will receive the reward of those who are righteous. Any one who does the slightest favor for a disciple of Jesus because he is a disciple will be rewarded.

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God, our creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, through 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). Spiritual rebirth through the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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).

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. We have the choice of cooperating with God’s plan or pursuing our own plans, but the consequences are eternal. If we reject Jesus now, he will reject us on the Day of Judgment at the end of this temporal age. Jesus is Lord, whether we acknowledge him or not, but the consequences are personal and eternal.

Jesus knew that he would cause division and opposition, but it is the result of human rebellion against God and God’s chosen Savior and Lord of Creation. “Family” is one of the major “idols” of our time. Family is good, but anything or any person we value as much as or more than the Lord is idolatry. “Career,” “success” and “self” are other modern idols.

We need to surrender these things to the will of God. Not that we need to quit our jobs, but that we seek God’s guidance and empowerment to serve him, in whatever our circumstance may be. If God wants to change our circumstance he will make that possible. We will discover that God’s will for our lives is better than what we think we want. When we learn to live to serve the Lord rather than ourselves, we will experience real life, now and for eternity. I personally testify to these truths.

Jesus Christ is the great divide. We will either love and serve him or we will reject and despise him. Those who love God will love Jesus. Those who love Jesus will love Jesus’ disciples. Those who love God’s Word will love the apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) and prophets of God’s Word. What we do in life testifies to what we believe and love, and we will be rewarded accordingly in the Day of Judgment (Matthew 7:21-27; 25:31-46).

Jesus is calling us to be his disciples. He wants us to know that discipleship is costly. We will have to make sacrifices, but we will also be abundantly rewarded now, and eternally.

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 Lent – A – 03/19 – 25/2017

March 18, 2017

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)

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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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:

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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.

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 3 Lent A

Sunday 3 Lent A

First Posted February 24, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 3 Lent A

Isaiah 42:14-21 – Deaf and Blind Servant;
Psalm 142 – Prayer for Deliverance;
Ephesians 5:8-14 – Children of Light;
John 9:13-17, 34-39 – The Man Born Blind;
(or John 9:1-41)

Isaiah:

The Lord has been patient for a long time, but now he will cry out like a woman in childbirth. He will level mountains and hills, and dry up every green thing. He will turn rivers and lakes into desert wastelands.

“I [the Lord] will lead the blind in a way that they know not; in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn their darkness into light, the rough places into level ground” (Isaiah 42:16). The Lord promises to do those things (for the blind), and to not forsake them. Those who trust in idols as their gods will be turned away, and be utterly ashamed.

Listen, you who realize that you are (spiritually) deaf; look, you who acknowledge your (spiritual) blindness. Who is more blind than the people of God who have been chosen and commissioned to be God’s servants and messengers? They see but do not perceive; they hear but do not listen (and obey). The Lord has chosen to magnify his Word and make it glorious for his own righteousness’ sake.

Psalm:

The Psalm for today is attributed to David when he was hiding in the cave at Adullam, from King Saul, who was seeking to kill David (1 Samuel 22:1-4). When David was in desperate circumstances he turned to the Lord for help. David trusted that the Lord knew David’s troubled situation.

David felt that his enemies were lurking around him trying to trap him. He looked around for help but there was no one to care, help and give him refuge.

David acknowledged the Lord as his refuge and his portion “in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5c RSV). David asked the Lord to hear and deliver him from those who were persecuting David. David realized that he was not sufficient in himself to prevail against them. David asked God to deliver David from the prison of his circumstances, so that he could give thanks to God’s name for God’s power to deliver, and for his overflowing blessings to David, and that David might be surrounded with those who do what is right according to God’s Word.

Ephesians:

The Apostle Paul wrote the letter of today’s text, to the congregation at Ephesus and to all believers. We were all once in spiritual darkness, but now are in the light of Jesus Christ [through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus]. We should live according to that light, so that we can produce the fruit of light, which is everything that is right and good and true. We are to take no part in works of darkness, but instead expose and transform them by the light of Jesus’ righteousness. So we should awake (from the sleep of spiritual darkness and death), and receive the light of righteousness and life, which is only through Jesus Christ.

Gospel:

Jesus and his disciples encountered a man who had been born blind (John 9:1). Jesus had made mud of dirt and spit and anointed the man’s eyes, in the manner of healers of the time, and told him to go to the Pool of Siloam (which means “sent) and wash. The man did as Jesus had told him and his sight was restored (John 9:1-12).

The healed man was brought to the Pharisees (legalistic religious leaders). The man had been healed on the Sabbath. The Pharisees asked how and by whom he had been healed. The healed man told them, and some Pharisees declared that the healing could not have been the work of God because Jesus had violated the Sabbath law by making mud. Others said that if Jesus were a sinner he couldn’t have done the healing.

They asked the healed man’s opinion of Jesus and he declared that Jesus was a prophet. The Pharisees rebuked the healed man saying that he had been “born in utter sin” (John 9:34), and his testimony was rejected by the Pharisees who claimed to be his superiors in righteousness, intellect, education and authority. They excommunicated the healed man from the temple.

Jesus heard that the healed man had been expelled from the temple and he came and found the man. Jesus asked the healed man if he believed in the Son of man. The healed man asked Jesus to identify the Son of man so that the man could believe, as Jesus had said. Jesus told him that he was looking at and talking to the Son of man, and the man declared his faith, and worshiped Jesus. Jesus declared that he had come into the world to heal the blind, and to blind those who think they see.

Commentary:

God’s Word (the Bible) contains both promises and warnings, and it is eternal; it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

Through Isaiah God warns that he has been patient with his people, but the time is coming when God will declare his judgment. The Lord will level every mountain and hill (and everyone who exalts himself before the Lord). The Lord has the power and authority, and will turn fertile land into barren desert (and he also has the power and authority to turn deserts into lush and fertile land; Isaiah 41:18).

The Lord promises to lead the spiritually blind in a new and good way that they cannot discover on their own. The Lord will turn their darkness into light, and he will level rough ground so that they will not stumble. The Lord promises not to forsake the blind.

In order for us to receive those promises we must recognize and acknowledge our spiritual blindness and deafness. God’s Word convicts his people, whom God chose to be his servants and messengers, of spiritual blindness and deafness. They see but do not perceive, and hear but do not listen and obey. The Lord has magnified and glorified his Word because of the Lord’s own righteousness; not because his people deserve it or accomplish it by their own worthiness.

In a sense we are all God’s people because God is our Creator, whether we acknowledge him or not. In another sense the Jews were the chosen people of God, but they refused to recognize their spiritual blindness and deafness. They had the Word of God and the promise of the Messiah, but refused to accept, trust and obey God’s Word. They had been chosen as God’s servants and messengers, but didn’t accept the message and serve the Lord.

The Church is the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.” We have been called to be servants and messengers of the Lord. God’s Word applies as much to us today as it did to the Jews at the time of Isaiah, and at the time of Jesus’ physical ministry on earth. Do our eyes see and perceive? Do our ears hear and comprehend? Do we apply God’s Word in our daily lives? Are we serving the Lord or are we serving ourselves? Have we received the fulfillment of the Gospel message within ourselves through obedient trust in Jesus? Have we sought and waited for the empowerment of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit so that we can be messengers of the Gospel?

Jesus is the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied, and demonstrated in human life in this world (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus has glorified God and God has glorified Jesus (Philippians 2:10-11).

David is an example of what God’s servant should be. David was a man with a heart that desired to serve and please God (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20). He trusted in the Lord to save him from his enemies, who are ultimately Satan and death. David trusted in the Lord when he was in desperate circumstances, and the Lord delivered him and fulfilled his promise of the throne of Israel.

David is also the forerunner and illustration of the Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively), the good shepherd-king (John 10:11-14), God’s anointed Savior and eternal king of God’s kingdom in the Promised Land of heaven.

All believers were once spiritually blind, deaf and spiritually dead. Jesus is the Light of the world, who heals our spiritual blindness and deafness, and gives us the light of his righteousness, spiritual insight, and eternal life (John 1:4-5, 9; 3:19-21; 8:12).

Jesus taught his disciples to live according to the light of the Gospel, the Word of God (John 12:35). Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples, after they had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-1, 8; Acts 2:1-13), which only Jesus gives (John 1;31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14: 15-17).

Paul is the prototype and illustration of the “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple (student; servant of the master) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) was confronted on the road to Damascus by the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus (Acts 9:1-21; n.b., 9:3-5). Paul accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5) and obeyed Jesus’ command (Acts 9:6b-8). He acknowledged and repented of his spiritual blindness (Acts 9:9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-16, n.b., 9:10-11), until Paul had been “born-again” by the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18).

Paul was fulfilling the Great Commission, which the risen Jesus gave to his disciples, to make disciples of Jesus Christ and teach them to obey all that Jesus taught. (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul was teaching believers to live according to the light of Jesus Christ.

The man who had been born blind was healed as he acknowledged his blindness, allowed Jesus to treat it, and obeyed Jesus’ command. The Pharisees were like King Saul. They had originally been anointed by God to be the spiritual leaders of God’s people, but had strayed from obedience to God’s Word. Jesus was like David; Jesus had been “anointed” as the new (eternal) king of God’s people, but Satan, like Saul, refused to surrender the throne.

The Pharisees refused to recognize and confess their spiritual blindness. They used their authority and position for their own benefit, instead of serving the Lord and declaring the Lord’s message. The result was a controversy between the authority of God’s Word and the religious leaders.

Hasn’t the (nominal) Church today too often become a “religion” run for the benefit of the leaders? Isn’t the Church divided by the controversy between the authority of God’s Word and the authority of leaders; between the authority of God’s Word and the authority of “tradition?” Hasn’t “theological education” replaced personal experience and testimony?

Salvation is not by “church membership,” but by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through faith (obedient trust), by the 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).

The healed blind man had a personal relationship with Jesus by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. The healed man is an example of a “born-again” Christian disciple growing to spiritual maturity. He trusted and obeyed Jesus and was healed, and he grew in faith to spiritual maturity as he experienced Jesus’ presence and power in his life. Jesus sought him. The man’s experience of physical healing made him willing and eager to trust Jesus again, and in even more.

We have all been born spiritually blind, deaf and spiritually dead. Jesus came into this world to heal those who realize that they are spiritually blind and deaf, and to cause blindness and deafness to those who think that they see and hear the truth apart from God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ.

I personally testify that I have had times when I felt in the same situation as David, overwhelmed by my enemies and in great distress. I cried to the Lord and the Lord heard and answered me and delivered me from my distress and my enemies (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar top right). I also testify to the truth of spiritual rebirth and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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 3 Lent A

First posted February 25, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 3 Lent A

Psalm 43 – Hope in God;

Paraphrase:

Let us pray that the Lord will defend us against unjust, deceitful and ungodly men and vindicate us. Why would the Lord abandon us, since we have made God our refuge?

Send forth you light and your truth, O Lord, that I may be led by them, that I may be brought to your holy hill and your dwelling! Then I will worship at your altar with great joy, and sing praise to you, O Lord, my God.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God” (Psalm 43:5).

Commentary:

I believe that the reason and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, by his 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 only real security in this world is in the Lord. We will encounter ungodly, deceitful and unjust people in this world. If we adopt worldly ways, we will ultimately lose and will have become part of the problem. But if we commit our cause to the Lord we will learn from experience that the Lord is able and faithful to defend and uphold us. We will come to know with certainty that nothing can happen to us in this world that the Lord cannot bring us through and deliver us from.

When we experience trouble, it is easy for us to feel that the Lord has abandoned us. We need to hold on and continue to hope in the Lord with the assurance that we will again have reason to praise him for his help and deliverance. It is through such experiences that the Lord causes our faith to grow.

The Lord has sent forth his light and his truth, in the Bible, the Word of God, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12); the light of righteousness (John 3:19-21), the light of spiritual insight (John 1:9), and the light of eternal life (John 1:4-5).

Jesus is the truth; the only way to be forgiven of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), restored to fellowship with God and to eternal life, through his indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; 15-17; John 3:3, 5-8; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

The Lord has sent forth his light and his truth to lead us through the trials and difficulties of this life and into the presence of the Lord on his holy hill, in his dwelling, before his altar. We can begin to experience the joy of his presence now, in this world, as we allow ourselves to be guided by God’s Word.

Have we committed to seeking refuge in the Lord, rather than relying on our human resources? Have we made the commitment to know and be guided by God’s Word, one day at a time? Have we experienced the great joy of his presence within us daily, and within his house and before his altar?

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 3 Lent A

First posted February 26, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 3 Lent A

Hosea 5:15-6:2 – Repent and be Healed;

Paraphrase:

The Lord will withdraw from his people until they recognize and confess their guilt and seek the Lord’s face. In distress they may seek the Lord and return to him, realizing that the Lord tears apart but will also bind up; he wounds but also heals. “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).

The Northern Kingdom, Israel, had turned away from obedience to the Lord and to idolatry. For a time they were successful and prosperous, and they didn’t heed God’s Word of warning through his prophets. They regarded their prosperity as a sign on God’s favor.

The Lord declared through Hosea that he was withdrawing his favor and protection from them and would allow them to suffer the consequences of their disobedience and idolatry in the hope that they would realize their guilt, confess their sin, and seek the Lord’s presence again. The Northern Kingdom did not repent and return to the Lord when they were under attack by the Assyrians, and their kingdom was conquered and destroyed in 721 B.C. The kingdom of the ten tribes ceased to exist.

Commentary:

Jesus is the perfect sinless example of a servant and child of God. Jesus came to make it possible for us to be cleansed of sin and filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can live according to God’s will like Jesus did. We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) 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). God has given us his Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-3, 14), so that we can realize and confess our sin, and turn to him and seek his presence and his healing (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God allowed Jesus to suffer and die physically on the Cross as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we wouldn’t have to die eternally for them ourselves. God revived Jesus from the dead after two days, and raised him to eternal life on the third day, so that Jesus could live eternally with God. Jesus is the example and illustration of what God promises to do for us if we will trust and obey him.

If we will turn away from disobedience and idolatry, confess our sin, return to God and seek his presence, he will heal us spiritually. He will revive us and restore us to eternal life in his presence. This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), by the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom we are spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8).

Only Jesus 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).

America and the American Church are in much the same position as the Northern Kingdom and their religion in the time leading up to destruction by the Assyrians. They thought that their success and prosperity was evidence of God’s favor, and they couldn’t imagine that their success and prosperity would not go on forever.

The Lord has the sovereign power and authority to lift his favor and protection from us and allow us to experience the consequences of our sin and idolatry. Are we willing to hear God’s warning? Are we willing to examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word and acknowledge our sin and idolatry? Are we willing to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord, or must we experience the consequences before we are willing to repent?

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 3 Lent A

First Posted February 27, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 3 Lent A

Romans 8:1-10 – Life in the Spirit;

Paraphrase:

Those who are in Christ Jesus are no longer under condemnation. We have been set free from the law of sin and death, if we are obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God has provided what the law could not accomplish because of the weakness of our flesh. Sending Jesus in the flesh, sharing our sinful nature, to deal with sin, he condemned sin of the flesh, so that we could fulfill what the law justly requires, by living in obedience to the Holy Spirit, instead of our flesh.

Those who live according to their flesh focus on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit focus on spiritual things. Living in the flesh results in eternal death, but living according to the Spirit leads to eternal life. Those who focus on the flesh are hostile to God; they will not and cannot submit to God’s laws, and so they cannot please God; but those who live according to the Holy Spirit have peace with God.

Commentary:

God has designed this Creation so that we could have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, so he allowed the possibility of sin, which is disobedience of God’s Word. But he also intended from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. He designed Jesus Christ into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

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. Jesus is God’s one and only promised Savior, provided for the forgiveness of our sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), who makes it possible for us to have eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (John 16:7), through spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus came in human flesh, sharing all our weaknesses, but filled with God’s Spirit (Colossians 2:8-9; John 1:31-34), to show us how to live according to the Spirit instead of our flesh. 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). “Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9b). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself, whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

God has given us his Word to show us what he requires, but we can only fulfill his requirements by the indwelling Holy Spirit. When we commit ourselves to trust and obey Jesus we receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who cleanses us, guides, and empowers us to know and do God’s will. We are freed from the eternal condemnation of God’s law, if we live according to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit motivates us to do God’s will from love, rather than from fear.

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 3 Lent A

First posted February 28, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 3 Lent A

Mathew 20:17-28 – True Greatness;

Paraphrase:

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus took the Twelve (original disciples) aside and told them that the “Son of man” (Jesus) would be handed over to the Jewish religious authorities who would condemn him to death. They would turn him over to the Roman civil authorities who would mock, scourge, and crucify him, and he would be raised on the third day.

The mother of James and John (Salome) came with her sons and knelt down and asked that her sons might sit at Jesus’ right and left hands in his kingdom. Jesus said that they didn’t realize what they were asking. He asked if they were able to endure the same destiny that Jesus faced, and they replied that they were able. Jesus told them that they would suffer the same destiny, but that who would sit at Jesus’ right and left hand had been determined by God the Father and was not Jesus’ to grant.

The other ten disciples were indignant at the request of James and John, so Jesus called them and told them that worldly leaders exalt themselves over the people they rule, but Jesus’ followers were not to follow worldly standards. Instead, those who are great in God’s kingdom are the servants of others. The greatest is the one who is the servant of all. Jesus is the example we are to follow; he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem where he knew he would be crucified. He told his disciples, for the third time, that he would be crucified and rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23). Jesus usually referred to himself as the Son of man; he is both Son of man and Son of God. Jesus emphasized the Son of man, because it allows people to decide for themselves who Jesus is, with a hint from Daniel 7:13-14.

His disciples were still thinking in worldly terms. They were hoping for a political kingdom and for Israel to be delivered from Roman domination (Acts 1:6). Jesus told them that his disciples must follow Jesus’ example, to give up worldly glory and to serve others, and to share in mistreatment and suffering for the sake of the Gospel.

Jesus gave his life on the cross as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins. 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). Jesus paid the price, the ransom, for our sins, on the cross, so that we would not have to die for them eternally ourselves. Salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal destruction is only by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), to be received by faith (obedient trust), in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus’ words were fulfilled. He was crucified, died and was buried, and he rose from physical death to eternal life on the third day, in fulfillment of God’s Word (Hosea 6:2; see entry for Tuesday, 3 Lent A, this week, above). Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:3-9), and is personally attested to by every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian, including myself.

How are we doing, Church? Are we willing to be disciples and servants of others for the sake of the Gospel, or do we expect the Church to serve us? Are we willing to forgo some worldly comforts and benefits for the sake of the Gospel or are we seeking worldly comfort, status and authority in the Church and in the world? Are we serving the Lord or do we expect him to serve 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)?

Friday 3 Lent A

First posted February 29, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 3 Lent A

Isaiah 49:8-13 – Return and Restoration;
John 6:35-51 – Bread of Life;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Judah, the southern kingdom, the remnant of Israel, was in exile in Babylon. The Lord declared through Isaiah that he has answered their cry for return and restoration in a time of favor, and has helped them in a day of salvation. He has kept them so that God’s promise to all people can be fulfilled through them, to establish a land in which the desolate share an inheritance, to free the prisoners, and to give light to those in darkness.

The Lord will lead them and feed them on the way; barren heights will become their pastures. They will not hunger or thirst; they will be protected from wind and scorching heat. The Lord has had pity on them, and he will lead them by springs of water. He will level mountains and raise up a highway. God’s people will return from the farthest corners of the earth, from the north (Babylon), from the west, and from the south (Syene is the southern border of Egypt). Rejoice and sing to the Lord all heaven and earth; the Lord has had compassion on his people and has comforted his afflicted.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus said to the crowd, who had followed him seeking physical bread, that he was the (spiritual) bread of life. Those who come to Jesus and believe in him will never hunger or thirst. They had seen firsthand and experienced the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand but did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah (Christ; God’s anointed Savior and eternal King).

God has given to Jesus all who will come to Jesus in faith (obedient trust), and Jesus will reject no one who comes to him. Jesus has come down from heaven to physical life on earth in order to accomplish God’s will; not his own. It is God’s will that no one whom God has given to Jesus should be lost, but raised up (to eternal life) at the last day (the Day of Judgment). It is God’s will that those who see and believe in (trust and obey) the Son, will have eternal life.

People questioned Jesus’ claim to have come down from heaven (John 6:38a), because they thought they knew Jesus’ mother and (human) father, Joseph. Jesus told them not to argue with each other. No one can come to Jesus except by being “drawn” by God (the Father; the Holy Spirit) and Jesus promises to raise them to eternal life on the last day. Jesus said that those who had been taught by God (Isaiah 54:13; by his Word; the Bible) would come to Jesus. We can hear and learn from God the Father, but only Jesus has seen him (Matthew 11:27; John 1:18; 14:7). Jesus promised that those who believe in Jesus have eternal life.

Again, Jesus said that he is the bread of life. The patriarchs ate manna, the bread of heaven, in the wilderness, but manna didn’t give eternal life. Jesus is the “living” bread which came from heaven and gives eternal life to those who eat it; “and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51c).

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternally true, and is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The prophecy of Isaiah was addressed to the remnant of Israel in exile in Babylon, but it also foretells the Messiah, God’s Servant, who would redeem his people spiritually from spiritual “Babylon.” The prophecy is also for us today. We are all, in one sense, God’s people in exile in “Babylon” and Jesus is God’s promised Savior who delivers us and restores us to the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s kingdom in heaven.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of restoration. Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” who leads, feeds and provides water on the journey to the “Promised Land” (Isaiah 49:9b-10; compare Psalm 23, John 10:10-15). Jesus’ mission is to free those who are imprisoned by sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and (eternal) death (See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home), and to give the light of righteousness (doing what is right according to God’s Word; John 3:19-21), spiritual insight (John 1:9), and eternal life (John 1:4-5) to those who are in spiritual darkness.

Israel was God’s chosen people through whom the promised Savior came. Israel was to be God’s servant people to bring God’s salvation to the world. The Church is the “New Israel;” we are to be the servants of God to bring salvation to the world.

The Jews had the Word of God but did not recognize that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah. They had heard and read the Word of God, but hadn’t learned from it. They were focused on the physical world and did not recognize their spiritual need. They did not recognize their bondage to sin and death, and their spiritual blindness.

God was drawing the Jews by his Word, the manifestation of Jesus and his miracles, but they weren’t allowing themselves to be drawn. Jesus was the example of the Servant of God that Israel was called to be, but they weren’t willing to seek and do God’s will.

God has always intended from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. God has designed this temporal world to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s will is our best interest. Jesus has been designed into the structure of this world from the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-3, 14).

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). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction, and for eternal life and fellowship with God in his eternal kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross makes it possible for us to be cleansed of sin so that we can receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We are spiritually “re-born” to eternal life through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (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).

Today is the Day of Salvation; today is the Day of Grace, (the day of divine, unmerited favor; 2 Corinthians 6:2). No one can be sure that there will be a “tomorrow.” There is a Day of Judgment coming when every one who has ever lived will be accountable to God for what we have done in this lifetime (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

Saturday 3 Lent A

First posted March 1, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 3 Lent A

2 Peter 1:2-11 – Call to Holiness;

Paraphrase:

Grace (God’s unmerited favor) and peace are only truly found through our knowledge of God and Jesus Christ our Lord. We have been given all things necessary for life and godliness by the divine power of our Lord who has “called us to his own glory and excellence” (or “virtue;” 2 Peter 1:3b). He has given us great and precious promises by which we may be freed from the worldly corruptions of the flesh and partake of the divine nature. So, in addition to faith, we should make every effort to grow in virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. If we practice these virtues faithfully our knowledge of the Lord will not be ineffective and unfruitful.

Anyone who lacks these virtues is spiritually blind and ignorant, forgetting that he has been cleansed of sin. So let our lives demonstrate that we have been saved, and if we do this we will never fail or have cause for shame, and will be warmly welcomed into the kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Commentary:

Salvation is not just knowing “about” Jesus Christ, but knowing him personally through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Faith is not getting whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Believing that God is the one true God isn’t saving faith; even demons believe that (James 2:19). Even demons believe and acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah (Mark 1:24c; Luke 4:34d).

True grace and peace are only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father, 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).

We have been given everything necessary for godliness and true, eternal, life, now and eternally, but we must claim the promises and apply them in our daily lives. Those who believe in Jesus have been given the power and authority to become children of God (John 1:12), but we must exercise that power by obedient trust in Jesus.

As we begin to know, trust and obey Jesus’ teachings, he will give us the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit within us, through whom we are guided and empowered to escape and resist worldly corruptions, and through whom we partake of the divine nature. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “re-born” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8).

Saving Christian faith is a process of spiritual growth. One must be a “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ in order to make “born-again” disciples, as Jesus demonstrated and has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8). Believers are to be “discipled” by “born-again” disciples until they have been “born-again” by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and then they are to be further discipled daily by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13).

We must act according to what we profess and believe, or our knowledge of the Gospel will be unfruitful and we will be ineffective. Jesus said that just calling him Lord doesn’t make it so; if he is truly our Lord we will be living daily in accordance with his teaching and example (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)?

Week of 2 Lent – A – 3/12 – 18/2017

March 11, 2017

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)

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.

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Podcast Download: Week of 2 Lent – A

Sunday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 17, 2008

Podcast: Sunday 2 Lent – A

Genesis 12:1-8 – Abraham’s Call;
Psalm 105:4-11 – Heirs to Abraham’s Call;
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 – Spiritual Forefather;
John 4:5-26 – Woman at the Well;

Genesis Paraphrase:

The Lord God called Abraham (Abram) to leave his home in Haran (25 miles southeast of Urfa, Turkey*) and his extended family, and go to a new land God would show him. God promised to make him the father of a great nation and to bless Abraham (and his descendants), so that they would be a blessing, and to make Abraham famous. God promised to bless those who bless Abraham, and curse those who curse him, and bless all the people of earth through Abraham.

Abraham went, taking his wife Sarah (Sarai) and his nephew, Lot, and their servants and all their possessions and set out for Canaan (to the south). When they came to Canaan they went on south to about the middle of the country and came to Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the land was occupied by Canaanites.

At Shechem, between Mt Ebal and Mt Gerizim, the Lord appeared to Abraham and promised to give the land to Abraham’s descendants. Abraham built an altar to commemorate God’s appearance to him there, and then moved south and camped on the mountain between Bethel and Ai (in the hill country of Judah), and built another altar there.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us seek the Lord, his strength, and presence, continually! Let us, the descendants of Abraham, the sons of Jacob (Israel), God’s chosen ones, remember his great works and miracles, and his wise counsel.

The Lord our God is judge of all the earth. He never forgets his promises and is faithful to his Word to thousands of generations. The covenant which he made with Abraham, promised to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob (Israel) is an everlasting covenant to give us a portion in the Promised Land as an eternal inheritance.

Romans Paraphrase:

If Abraham, our forefather, had been justified by works (keeping) of the law he would have had something to boast about to other people, but not to God. The scripture says that Abraham believed God and his faith was accounted as righteousness (doing right and good in God’s judgment). A worker’s wages are not a gift but payment for his labor. One who trusts in God, who justifies (attributes righteousness to) the ungodly, is accounted as righteous by faith.

The promise to Abraham and his descendants that they would inherit the world came through the righteousness of faith rather than keeping the law. If the inheritance were by keeping the law it would not be a promise, and faith would be worthless.

That is why God’s promise depends on faith, so that the promise is a gift based on God’s grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) guaranteed to all Abraham’s descendants, not just the Jews under the Covenant of Law, but to all (including the Gentiles), who share Abraham’s faith in God’s Word. So Abraham is the father of us all, fulfilling God’s Word that Abraham would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5). The promise is by the Word of God, whose Word restores to life the dead, and creates the things that exist out of nothing (Genesis 1:1-3).

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was going from Judah to Galilee and passed through Samaria, stopping at noon at Jacob’s Well outside of Sychar (Shechem*). Jesus was tired from traveling (on foot) and sat down at the well to rest while the disciples went into the city to buy food.

A Samaritan woman from Sychar came to the well to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink. She was surprised that a Jew would speak to a Samaritan, and Rabbis do not speak to women in public (see John 4:27). Jesus said that if she knew God’s gift and realized who she was speaking with she would ask him, and he would give her “living water.”

She addressed him as “Sir,” and asked where he would get living water, since the well was deep and he had no rope or bucket. She asked if Jesus was greater than Jacob who drank from the well and gave it to his descendants.

Jesus told her that the water from Jacob’s well only temporarily satisfies physical thirst, but the living water Jesus was referring to is eternally spiritually satisfying, and gives eternal life. The woman asked Jesus to give her the living water so that she wouldn’t thirst or need to come to the well any more.

Jesus told her to go and fetch her husband, and the woman replied that she had no husband. Jesus revealed that he knew all about her; she had been married five times and was now living with a man to whom she was not married. The woman realized that Jesus must be a prophet, or he could not know those details of her life, so she asked him to settle a religious controversy between Jews and Samaritans.

Samaritans worshiped God on Mt. Gerazim, but Jews said that one could worship only in Jerusalem. Jesus replied that from now on it didn’t matter where, but how one worshiped God. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

The woman declared her belief in the coming Messiah (Christ) and said that when he comes he will reveal all things. Jesus answered that she was speaking with the Messiah.

Commentary:

God has had a plan for this Creation from the very beginning. With Abraham, God began revealing his plan, and that plan began to be recorded in the Bible. God asked Abraham, who was then seventy-five years old, to trust and obey God’s promise, to leave home and family, and go to a strange place which God would show him. God promised to give him descendants, although Abraham was already old, and had none.

Abraham responded to God’s call in faith (trust and obedience). He and his household went to Canaan, and in the middle of the land God appeared to Abraham at Shechem, near Mt. Gerizim, and Abraham worshiped God there.

The psalmist’s commemoration of the history of Israel is also prophetic. Christians are the “new (spiritual) descendants of Abraham,” the “New Israel,” the “new chosen ones” through faith. Christians are the heirs of the promise made to Abraham, to be a great nation, and have an eternal inheritance in the eternal Promised Land of the Kingdom of God in Heaven. Christians are the ones who are blessed through Abraham and his descendants.

Abraham is the spiritual forefather of all Christians. He trusted and obeyed God’s Word. God’s promise was not conditional upon works (keeping) of the Law, but upon faith (obedient trust). The giving of the Law occurred some four hundred and thirty years later (Galatians 3:17), to Moses, at Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb).

God has designed this Creation so that all of us are guilty of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and none of us deserve forgiveness and salvation (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:5-8). The penalty of sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23), and salvation is a free gift to be received through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians, 2:8-9, Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Samaritans were of mixed race and religion, as the result of the conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the ten of twelve tribes, by the Assyrians. The remnant which avoided deportation by the Assyrians intermarried with aliens imported from other conquered Gentile nations, and their religion was a mixture of Judaism and that of the aliens.

Jesus could have avoided passing through Samaria on his way from Judah to Galilee, but he chose to go through it. He foreknew all about the woman at the well and arrived at the right time to meet her.

Jesus opened the conversation by asking her for a drink of water. Then he turned the conversation from physical to spiritual water.

The woman’s understanding of who Jesus is was growing as she talked with Jesus. At first he was a Jew and a rabbi, who didn’t have dealings with Samaritans, and women in general (John 4:9). When he did not respond with a rebuke, she addressed him as “Sir” (John 4:10-11). She asked Jesus if he were greater than Jacob (Israel) the patriarch who had dug and used the well and left it to his descendants (John 4:12. Then she realized that Jesus is a prophet (John 4:19. Finally she expressed her faith in God’s promise of a Messiah (John 4:25), and Jesus revealed himself to her (John 4:26; compare John 14:21).

Jesus is indeed greater than Jacob, because Jesus gives “living water” which quenches spiritual thirst eternally and gives eternal life. Living water wells up from within one’s soul, and is received by faith (obedient trust). All we need to do to obtain it is to ask Jesus in faith. Jacob only gave physical water, which only satisfies thirst momentarily, is of no help in gaining longer life, and requires exertion and equipment to obtain.

The gift of God is forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal destruction, and eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (unblemished paradise). Jesus is the only way, truth and life (John 14:6), God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin, salvation, and eternal life (Acts 4:12).

The “living water” which Jesus was referring to is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), 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).

True worship is not an issue of where to worship, but of how. God is spirit and truth and those who worship him must do so in spirit and truth. Only by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able to call God our Father. When we worship God, the indwelling Holy Spirit prompts ecstatic praise (Galatians 4:6) and enables us to call God our father in worship in spirit and truth, bearing witness that we are God’s children, (Romans 8:14-16).

Abraham had worshiped the Lord at Shechem, in the pass between Mt Ebal and Mt Gerizim. He also worshiped the Lord wherever Abraham went, because he trusted and obeyed the Lord. We can worship the Lord wherever we are, if we seek the Lord, his presence, and strength continually.

God incarnate (in human flesh) appeared in Jesus Christ to the Samaritan woman at Sychar at the place where God had appeared to Abraham at Shechem. The promise to Abraham of an eternal inheritance in the eternal Promised Land of God’s heavenly kingdom is fulfilled in Jesus Christ by faith (obedient trust).

People who claim to be Christian, without being obedient and trusting disciples of Jesus Christ, cannot not worship in spirit or truth. Their “worship” is merely tradition and ritual.

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)?


*Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, David Noel Freedman, ”Haran,” p.551, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5

**ibid, “Sychar,” p.1260; “Jacob’s Well,” p. 667

Some authorities associate Sychar with Shechem. Others associate it with a town about a mile north of Jacob’s Well. Archaeological evidence indicates that Shechem no longer existed in the First Century A.D. In any case it is close to Jacob’s Well.


Monday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 18, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 2 Lent – A

Psalm 142 Prayer for Deliverance

This psalm is attributed to David, when he was hiding in the cave at Adullam from King Saul who was seeking to kill David (Psalm 142 superscription, RSV; 1 Samuel 22:1-4).

When David was in danger he called to the Lord. He told the Lord his distressing circumstances, although trusting that the Lord already knew (see John 1:48-49; John 4:18-19, 29). David felt surrounded by enemies seeking to trap him. He looked around but there was no one to care, or help to deliver him and provide refuge.

David declared that the Lord alone is his refuge and his portion “in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5 RSV).

In the depths of despair David called out to the Lord. David asked the Lord to deliver David from his enemies, who were too powerful for David to resist and overcome in his own strength. David felt trapped in prison, and asked the Lord to set him free, so that David could praise and give thanks to God. Then David will be surrounded by the righteous (instead of evildoers), because he trusted the Lord to deal generously with him.

Commentary:

The Lord does indeed know all about us before we even ask, but he wants us to seek and trust in his help, instead of trying to rely on our own resources or the help of other humans. Often when we find ourselves in distress, our friends seem to disappear. Often it is not until we come to the end of our own resources that we turn to the Lord.

Trust in help from any source other than the Lord will ultimately disappoint and fail. David committed his life and circumstances to the Lord. When the Lord is our refuge nothing can happen to us that the Lord cannot shelter us and deliver us from, even physical death, because in him we have an inheritance in the eternal land of the living (Hebrews 2:14-15).

I can personally testify that I have been where David was spiritually. I had not been walking daily with the Lord, so I had no previous personal experience with the Lord’s power and faithfulness. I did turn to the Bible seeking deliverance, and I did begin to experience the Lord’s goodness, power and faithfulness as I began to walk in daily obedient trust in his Word. (See Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right.)

The historical Biblical record of King Saul is also intended by God as a symbol and metaphor for Satan. King Saul was still in worldly power, but had been defeated and supplanted by God’s anointed King, David, who is the forerunner of the Christ.

Satan, the ruler of this present world, is our real enemy. He still rules, but he was defeated at the Cross by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; Matthew 28:18; Revelation 20:7-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). He is too powerful for us to resist and prevail against in our own human strength and ability. He surrounds us and sets traps for us, hoping to destroy us eternally. He enslaves and imprisons us by temptation and sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

Only Jesus can set us free from bondage to sin and death (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Then we will be surrounded by the righteous (those who do what is good, right and true, according to God’s Word) and will receive the abundant blessings which only the Lord gives.

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 2 Lent – A

Posted February 19, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Lent – A

Isaiah 42:14-21 – Blind and Deaf Servants;

The Lord has been patient and restrained with Israel for a long time but now he will cry out like a woman in childbirth. The Lord will dry up rivers and pools and plants. The Lord will lead the blind in a way and paths they haven’t known. The Lord will turn their darkness into light and make rough paths smooth. The Lord will not forsake them. Those who trust in idols will be defeated and put to shame.

Listen, you who are deaf; look, you who are blind! Who is more blind and deaf than Israel, the Lord’s servant, the messenger whom the Lord has sent? He sees but does not observe; his ears hear but he does not listen. The Lord has exalted his law (God’s Word) and made it glorious for his righteousness’ sake.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternally true and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. It applied to Israel in the time of Isaiah, and it applies to the Church and Nation, particularly, of America, today. The Lord has been patient with his people, but the time is coming soon when the Lord will cry out in judgment. It is the Lord who blesses the land with fertility and prosperity, and the Lord, also, who takes them away and replaces them with drought and barrenness.

The Lord will lead his blind people in the new and right direction which they hadn’t found on their own. He will turn the darkness ahead into light. He will smooth the path, and he will not abandon them. But those who follow and trust in idols will be turned back and suffer eternal shame.

The Lord calls to his blind and deaf people to see and listen to the Lord. The Lord’s people have been chosen and dedicated to be the servants and messengers of the Lord, but they are more blind than the nations to whom God sends them. God’s people see and hear but without comprehension and application. God has made his Word exalted and glorious for his righteousness’ sake.

Are we willing to acknowledge our spiritual blindness and deafness? Are we using our eyes and ears to know and obey God’s Word? Are we committed to serving the Lord, or are we serving other “gods,” of wealth, power, pleasure, success, home, family, and self? Are we disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ, or are we merely church “members?”

The Lord can heal our spiritual blindness and deafness. He can show us a new and better way to live. He can lead us through the darkness and give us light. He can smooth the path and keep us from stumbling. He will never forsake us. But we must be willing to be his servants and messengers.

We will all either serve the true Lord God or we will serve false “gods.” There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived on the earth will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this lifetime. Those who serve any thing or person other than the Lord will be turned back from God’s eternal paradise in heaven, and will suffer eternal punishment and shame in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

God has given us his Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). God has exalted and glorified Jesus because God is right and good in every way.

Jesus is God’s one and only designated eternal Savior and King. There is salvation in no one else (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way, eternal truth and eternal life (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is the light of righteousness, of divine truth, and eternal life (John 1:4-5, 9; 3:19-21; 8:12), whom God has given us to lead us through the spiritual darkness of this world.

Jesus opens our minds to understand God’s Word (Luke 24:45), through the gift 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)?

Wednesday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 20, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 2 Lent – A

Ephesians 5:8-14 – Light of the Lord;

Paraphrase:

Once we all lived in spiritual darkness, but now we have the light of the Lord, so we should live as children of the light. Living in the light produces results that are good, right and true. We should seek to know and do what pleases our Lord.

We must not take part in works of darkness which produce nothing worthwhile, but rather expose them. The works the people of darkness do in secret are shameful even to mention (or think about). Light reveals everything. We are in the spiritual night of this world and spiritually dead until we hear the call to rise from spiritual sleep and death and receive Jesus, who will give us light.

Commentary:

This world is in the spiritual night of blindness, ignorance, sleep, and wickedness. All have sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of the Lord’s righteousness (doing what is good, right and true according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death; Romans 6:23). Jesus came into the world to give us light; to heal our spiritual illness (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is the light of the World and the light of eternal life (John 8:12; John 1:4-5). Jesus is the light of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9; Luke 24:45); the light of righteousness (John 3:19-21).

Jesus reveals our sinfulness and our need for a savior. Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross paid the penalty for our sin, so that we would not have to die eternally for them ourselves. Jesus restores us to peace and fellowship with God and to eternal life through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus shows us how to live according to the light of God’s Word.

All who trust and obey Jesus are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) 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; 21, 23-24). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit will teach us all things, all spiritual truth, and will remind us of all that Jesus teaches (John 14:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) which leads us through the spiritual darkness of the wilderness of this life and into the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. 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 makes it possible for us to know and do what is pleasing to God. Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the New Jerusalem on earth) for the promised Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then to go and make (born-again) disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20). The disciples waited in Jerusalem, and did receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), and then were guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish Christ’s mission. It is not by human ability or might but by the guidance and power working in and through us that God’s will is accomplished (Zechariah 4:6). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit can we be children of light, live according to the light, and produce the fruits of light.

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 2 Lent – A

Posted February 21, 2008

Podcast: Thursday 2 Lent – A

John 9:13-17, 34-39 – Spiritual Blindness;

Paraphrase:

Jesus encountered a man born blind (John 9:1). Jesus made clay from spit and dirt in the manner of healers of that time, and anointed the man’s eyes. Jesus told the man to go to the Pool of Siloam (the name means “sent;” John 9:6-12) and wash.

The man did as Jesus had commanded, and came back healed of his blindness. Since it was the Sabbath the Pharisees (legalistic religious leaders) asked the healed man what had been done and by whom, that he had been healed. When the man did, the Pharisees told the healed man the healing was not of God because Jesus had broken the Sabbath by making clay. Others said that a sinner could not have healed the man, so it must be of God. The Pharisees asked the healed man what he said about the healer, and the man declared him a prophet.

The Pharisees tried to convince the man that they were righteous and had religious authority above Jesus. The healed man refused to accept their judgment of Jesus, and the Pharisees refused to accept the healed man’s testimony to the contrary. The Pharisees excommunicated the healed man from the temple.

Jesus went to the healed man, who he knew had been cast out. Jesus asked the man if he believed in the Son of man, and the healed man asked who the Son of man was so that he could do so. Jesus told the man he was looking at the Son of man, who was speaking to him, and the healed man addressed Jesus as Lord and declared his belief. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind” (John 9:39).

Commentary:

We are all born spiritually blind (and spiritually dead). All have sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision of a Savior for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

The blind man believed Jesus and trusted and obeyed Jesus’ word. He went to the pool and washed as Jesus had told him, and his blindness was healed. He “saw” that Jesus was the Savior. That’s what the Lord wants to do for us! As we begin to trust and obey him our spiritual eyes will be opened; our spiritual blindness will be healed (Luke 24:45).

The religious leaders had created a religious empire for themselves. Note that it was “their religion,” not their “faith” in God and God’s Word. They believed in their “tradition.” They wanted to be in charge. They wanted to be “god,” the original sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:5).

The religious leaders hated Jesus because he threatened their status and careers. Instead of rejoicing that the man had been healed, they criticized Jesus for breaking their religious tradition. A religious argument ensued. The religious leaders denied that the healing was God’s work because it was done on the Sabbath. Others accepted it as the work of God because a sinner could not have healed the man. The Pharisees asked the healed man, and the healed man declared that the one (Jesus) who had healed him was a prophet.

The Pharisees asserted their authority and their righteousness above that of Jesus, and the healed man refused to accept their authority. The Pharisees became more spiritually blind because they refused to accept the healing and the man’s testimony. They condemned the healed man as an ignorant sinner, and they excommunicated him from “their religion.”

The healed man’s spiritual sight was being healed. He had trusted in Jesus, had experienced healing, had come to personal knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ, and he refused to submit to the worldly authority of the Pharisees.

The healed man had experienced healing from Jesus and he grew in faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. He perceived that Jesus was a prophet, although religious authorities did not. Jesus found and came to the healed man and revealed himself fully to him because the healed man was willing to trust and obey whatever Jesus asked. The healed man had lost his “membership” in the Jewish “religion,” but it was no longer the congregation of God’s people. Those who trust and obey Jesus are the new people of God.

Isn’t the nominal Church today divided by controversy over the role of “tradition” versus Scripture? Aren’t there Church leaders for whom “ministry” is just a career choice? Aren’t there people within the Church who regard it as their personal “empire?” Aren’t there Churches which are making “members” instead of “born-again” disciples, and building “buildings” instead of building the kingdom of God?

Jesus’ coming is the judgment of this world. Those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus will be healed of spiritual blindness, raised from spiritual death, and “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to new spiritual life 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).

Those who reject Jesus and refuse to trust and obey him remain in spiritual blindness and become more and more spiritually blind, cutting themselves off from the only source of healing. Jesus is the only way to forgiveness and restoration of fellowship with God, the only way to know divine eternal truth, and the only source of true eternal life (John 14:6). By rejecting Jesus and denying their spiritual blindness and need for spiritual healing, the Pharisees condemned themselves (John 3:16-21).

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment. Every one who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what we have done in our lifetime on earth. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus and have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven, but those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to obey Jesus will be contemned to eternal destruction and death in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

Friday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 22, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 2 Lent – A

2 Samuel 22:1-7 – Song of Deliverance;

Paraphrase:

This is the psalm David sang to the Lord on the day the Lord delivered David from all David’s enemies including King Saul. This psalm and its superscription are also included in the Book of Psalms as Psalm 18. (See also entry for Monday, 2 Lent, year A, above.)

David declared that the Lord is his rock, his refuge, his fortress, his deliverer, his shield, his “horn of refuge” (Exodus 27:1-2; 29:37; 1 Kings 1:51; 2:28), and his Savior, who had saved him from violence. David had called on the Lord, who is worthy of all praise, and the Lord heard David’s cry and delivered David from his enemies.

David had felt that he was facing death, overwhelmed by the enemy, and ensnared by death, Sheol, perdition and the grave (2 Samuel 22:5-6 RSV). In distress, David called upon the Lord, and from his temple in heaven the Lord heard his cry.

Commentary:

When David’s situation was desperate, he prayed to the Lord, and the Lord heard and answered David’s prayer. The Lord delivered David from death and from the power of his enemies.

King Saul was the first “anointed” human king of Israel. But Saul strayed from obedience to God. The Lord anointed David to replace Saul as king of Israel, and on that day the Holy Spirit came upon David and departed from Saul. Saul had lost the Holy Spirit and was troubled by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:13-14). David was chosen to sing for King Saul when he was in an evil mood, and David became a commander in Saul’s army.

Saul became jealous of David because David was popular with the people, and was a threat to Saul’s throne, so he sought to kill David. David was forced to flee for his life and hide from Saul, until Saul was killed in battle by the Philistines (2 Samuel 1:1-4).

The history of God’s dealings with his people recorded in the Bible is also intended to be a parable, a metaphor for life in this world. Saul is a metaphor for Satan, one of God’s angels, who rebelled against God and was cast down to earth (Revelation 12:7-12). He is still the present ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30), although God has “anointed” Jesus Christ to be the eternal King and Savior. Christ won the victory over Satan at the Cross, and his resurrection from physical death to eternal life proves it (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; Matthew 28:18; Revelation 20:7-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

David is the forerunner of the Christ. David suffered and was persecuted by the worldly king, Saul, but God delivered him from the hand of his enemies and set him on the throne of Israel. David represents the good shepherd-king. Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek respectively), God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-14).

David and a small army of four hundred men who were loyal to David were forced to hide in a cave of Adullam while Saul sought to destroy them (1 Samuel 22:1-4) but the Lord protected them and gave them the ultimate victory.

Saul’s persecution of David and his men describes the situation of the Church and Christian disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today. Those who are loyal to Jesus will find themselves persecuted by the forces of Satan and Satan’s allies. The Lord is our refuge as he was for David. When we are suffering for the Gospel of Jesus we can call on the Lord with the assurance that the Lord will deliver us as he did David (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right).

When we are threatened by death, we can be confident that by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ we are delivered from “Sheol” (the land of the dead), “perdition” (eternal destruction) and will spend eternity in the “land of the living” in God’s kingdom in heaven (2 Samuel 22:5-6; Hebrews 2:14-15).

Before Jesus came in human flesh, only a few individuals had fellowship with God through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus came to make it possible for us to be cleansed of evil and receive the Holy Spirit which is only received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 1:31-34; 14:15-17). Through the gift of 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).

I personally testify that I have had times when I felt in the same situation as David, overwhelmed by my enemies and in great distress. I cried to the Lord and the Lord heard and answered me and delivered me from my distress and my enemies (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar top right). I also testify to the truth of spiritual rebirth and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 23, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 2 Lent – A

Revelation 2:1-7 – Repent and Revive;
John 8:42-51 – Hear God’s Word;

Revelation Paraphrase:

John, the Apostle, in exile on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, had a vision from God through Jesus Christ. He was commanded to write the vision in a book (scroll) and send it to the seven Churches in western Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). He saw seven golden lampstands, and one like a son of man (Jesus Christ; see Daniel 7:13) in the midst of the lampstands, holding seven stars in his hand. The lampstands represent the seven churches and the seven stars represent seven angels, one assigned for each church (Revelation 1:1-20).

John was to write, to the church at Ephesus, the words Jesus revealed to him for them. Jesus commended them for their deeds, their effort and patient endurance, their rejection of evil, and their discernment and rejection of false apostles. They were enduring patiently for the sake of Jesus’ name, without wavering or weakening, but they had lost the love they had at first. The Ephesians were urged to remember what they had had at first and repent and return to what they had before. Unless they repent and revive the Lord will remove their lampstand from them. The Lord commends them for hating the Nicolaitans, (advocating the doctrine of Balaam; Revelation 2:14; those who advocate licentiousness in the name of religion; “cheap grace” *). “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7; compare Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24).

John Paraphrase:

The Jews claimed to be the children of Abraham and the children of God, but by their rejection of Jesus they prove to be neither, but instead, children of Satan (John 8:39-41). Jesus said that if God were truly their father they would love Jesus, because Jesus has come from God by God’s authority. They do not understand Jesus’ words because they can’t bear to hear them. They share the nature of their father, Satan, and do Satan’s will. Satan is a liar and a murderer and has been so from the beginning.

Satan lies because it is his nature, and he is the father of lies. Jesus speaks the truth, but the Jews do not believe him. Who among them can convict Jesus of sin? If Jesus tells the truth, why do the Jews not believe him? Those who are of God recognize and heed God’s Word. The reason these Jews don’t recognize and heed God’s Word is because they are not of God.

The Jews replied with an insult, suggesting that Jesus was a demon-possessed Samaritan. Jesus refuted their claim and said that he honors his Father, but the Jews dishonor Jesus. Jesus told them he didn’t need to glorify himself; God wants Jesus to be glorified, and he will be the righteous judge. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see (eternal) death” (John 8:51).

Commentary:

The Church and individual members need to conduct self-examination. The first-century, New Testament Church had problems with false teachings and false apostles from the beginning. Nicolaitanism was the false teaching of freedom and immorality; that they had God’s grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) without the requirement of obedience of God’s Word. The doctrine of Balaam is a similar error. The Jews came to think that they were God’s chosen people and they would enjoy God’s grace regardless of their disobedience of God’s Word (see Revelation 2:14). This false teaching is one of several present in many instances in the nominal Church today, and refuted in the New Testament*.

The Ephesian Church was commendable in many ways, but they had lost the fervor and love they had when they first believed. All of us have that tendency to allow worship and participation in church to become “routine.” We need to be careful not to allow church to become merely ritual and tradition.

The Ephesian congregation had been founded in the lifetime of Jesus’ original disciples. They had been discipled and filled with the Holy Spirit, but they were already losing the passion they had felt at first. There are many church members today who have been physically “born into” the church, but have never been discipled and spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). They can’t return to what they had before and had drifted from, but they can experience “rebirth” and new life in the Holy Spirit. What we need in the Church and in the World, particularly in America, is not “revival” so much as another “Great Awakening!”**

In many ways, the Church and America as a nation in particular, are in much the same situation as Judaism and Israel at the time of Jesus Christ. We have drifted away from our (Christian) heritage. We claim to believe in God and Jesus Christ; but are we hearing and applying the Word of God in the Bible and fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3, 14)? Whose “children” are we?

Do we know and follow the scriptural (recorded in the Bible) apostolic (received from Jesus and taught by his original apostles, including Paul) Gospel, or are we misled by false teachings and false apostles? Are we being discipled unto spiritual “rebirth” by “born-again” disciples? Are we being taught to trust and obey all that Jesus taught? Are we seeking sound teaching, or are we seeking teachers to teach what we want to hear, and wandering into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4)?

Jesus was teaching God’s Word by word and example, but the Jews refused to receive him. They insulted him with the worst of insults, accusing him of being a Samaritan (genetically and spiritually polluted; not a Jew in the genetic or spiritual sense), and blaspheming the Holy Spirit within Jesus (John 1:31-34) as demonic. If their desire was to honor God they would not have dishonored Jesus. At the Day of Judgment it will be clearly seen who has honored God and who has dishonored him.

Jesus warns that those who hear, trust and obey his word will never perish eternally. Do we know what Jesus teaches? Do we live according to his teachings? Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you” (Luke 6:46; compare Matthew 7:21-27)?

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).

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)?


* See: False Teachings, sidebar, top right. See also: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6

** The First Great Awakening began in 1734 with the preaching of Jonathan Edwards; Marshall, Peter, J., Jr. and Manuel, David, The Light and the Glory, Fleming H. Revell, Baker Books, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Mich. 41956-6287. ISBN 0-8007-5054-3 (paper).

The Second Great Awakening began in Kentucky in1799 with the preaching of James McGready; Marshall, Peter, J., Jr. and Manuel, David, From Sea to Shining Sea, p. 61; Fleming H. Revell, Baker Books, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Mich. 41956-6287. ISBN 0-8007-5


Week of 1 Lent A – 03/05 – 11/2017

March 4, 2017

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)

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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Podcast Download: Week of 1 Lent A

Sunday – 1 Lent – A

First Posted February 10, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 1 Lent A

Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17; 3:1-7 – Fall of Mankind;
Psalm 130 – A Penitential Psalm;
Romans 5:12 (13-16) 17-19 – Peace with God;
Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness;

Genesis Paraphrase:

God formed man from the dust of the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living being. God created a garden in Eden with every tree that is beautiful and good for producing food. God also placed in the middle of the garden the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The Lord placed the man in the garden to cultivate and tend it. God told the man that he could use any of the trees of the garden for food, except for the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God told the man that the man would die on the day he ate the forbidden fruit.

Of all the creatures the Lord had created, the serpent was the most cunning and deceptive. He asked the woman, whom God had made as a mate and companion for the man (Genesis 2:20b-25), whether God had forbidden them the fruit of any tree in the garden. The woman told the serpent that God had forbidden them to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge or they would die in that day.

The serpent told the woman that she would not die, but that she would become “like God,” knowing good and evil. So the woman realized that the fruit of the tree was pleasing to look at, good for food, and to be desired to make her wise, she ate its fruit, and gave some to her husband, who also ate. Then they realized that they were naked, and so they sewed fig leaves together to form aprons for themselves.

Psalm Background:

The Psalms of “Ascents” were to be used by pilgrims ascending the temple mount in Jerusalem at religious festivals. This is a penitential psalm.

Psalm Paraphrase:

When we are in the depths of trouble and despair we cry to the Lord and beseech him to hear our plea as we make our need known to him.

If the Lord punished every sin (disobedience of God’s Word), no one could be exonerated in God’s judgment. But God is forgiving, so that he may be feared (that his power and authority may be appropriately respected).

Those who trust in the Lord and look to him for forgiveness and deliverance are like night watchmen. They believe that relief is coming as certainly as the dawn.

People of God: hope in the Lord! For the Lord has unwavering love, unlimited redemption, and he will faithfully deliver his people from all their sins.

Romans Paraphrase:

Sin came into the perfect paradise that God had created, through man’s disobedience of God’s Word, and with sin came eternal death. Sin and eternal death spread to all humans because all humans have sinned (compare Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Sin was in the world before God gave his Law to Moses, but God did not hold the world accountable for disobedience before he gave us his commandments through Moses.

Adam and Christ are contrasting types. We have inherited sin and eternal death from Adam, but we inherit God’s unmerited favor and eternal life as a free gift to be received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. One sin by Adam brought condemnation and eternal death; but Jesus gives forgiveness and reconciliation with God for all our sins, no matter how many! If eternal spiritual death reigned in all our lives through one man’s sin, much more will eternal life reign in us through the righteousness and salvation freely given by faith in Jesus Christ!

Matthew Paraphrase:

After Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptizer, the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34) led Jesus into the wilderness where Jesus fasted for forty days and nights (a day for every year of the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness), and was tempted by Satan. Since Jesus was fasting and hungry, Satan tempted Jesus to turn the stones in the wilderness into bread. Jesus replied with God’s Word, from Deuteronomy 8:3: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word which proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem, and showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth. Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the roof of the temple to prove that Jesus was the Son of God, quoting Psalm 91:11-12, and suggesting that God’s angels would catch Jesus and save him. Jesus responded with God’s Word, quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, that we must not demand that the Lord God prove himself to us.

Satan took Jesus to the top of a mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of earth. He promised to give Jesus all earthly kingdoms and their glory if Jesus would worship Satan. Jesus responded by telling Satan to leave, quoting God’s Word in Deuteronomy 6:13 that we must worship only the Lord our God. At this, Satan departed, and angels of God came to Jesus and attended to Jesus’ needs.

Commentary:

God has intended from the beginning to create an eternal kingdom of his people, who willingly choose to trust and obey God. God knew before the beginning of Creation that if we were given free choice we would choose to disobey God and would have to learn to trust and obey him by trial and error.

God has designed this Creation to be limited by time: the existence of this creation, and our own lifetimes. God is not going to allow us to disobey him forever, and he is not going to allow disobedience in his eternal kingdom or it would not be Heaven. Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness of our disobedience, and our salvation from eternal destruction, and Jesus has been designed into the structure of Creation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Adam and Eve knew that God had forbidden them to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and they knew that God had told them they would die the day they disobeyed, but they listened to the serpent instead. They did die, spiritually and eternally, the day they disobeyed God, but they didn’t immediately die physically or realize their spiritual eternal death.

Satan is the antithesis of God. God wants to give us eternal life; Satan wants us to die eternally with him in Hell. We are all eternal (John 5:28-29). This lifetime is our opportunity to choose where and how we will spend eternity.

God has designed this temporal Creation so that we are all guilty of sin and none deserve forgiveness and salvation. God loves us and doesn’t want us to be eternally destroyed (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17), so he has given us forgiveness and salvation as a free, undeserved gift, to all who are willing to accept Jesus as their Lord and trust and obey Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

When we are in trouble and need help, the Lord is the only one who we can truly rely on who has the power, faithfulness and desire to help and save us. The Lord is the only one who will not ultimately disappoint and fail us.

All God’s ways and nature are good. God wants to forgive us so that we will trust and obey him out of love for his kindness and mercy to us. God truly wants what is best for us.

Those who have trusted in the Lord have experienced his love, faithfulness and power. We join with the psalmist in testifying that there is true help and deliverance in no one else.

God created a perfect paradise on earth, except for the possibility of sin, which he allowed in order for us to have truly free choice of whether to obey God or not. In eminent fairness, he does not hold accountable those who have not had the opportunity to hear and know God’s Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed to us, we have no excuse for not living in obedient trust in that Gospel, and we will be held accountable to God for what we have done with his Word in our lifetime. God’s Law condemns everyone who has failed in any instance to keep the Law (James 2:10), but God’s salvation provides forgiveness and salvation from all of our many sins.

Jesus was fully God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9). He was subject to the same temptations we face, but he didn’t yield to temptation. When Adam and Eve were tempted they were tempted in three areas of vulnerability: lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and human pride. Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was beautiful, it was good for food, and desirable to make one “like God.”

Because Jesus was fully human, with all the desires of humans, Satan tempted Jesus with the lust of the eyes: he showed Jesus all the kingdoms and glory of earth. Satan tempted him with lust of the flesh: Jesus was hungry after fasting for forty days. Satan tempted Jesus with human pride: the desire to be God; to prove to the world that he was God by jumping from the temple roof and being rescued by angels.

Each of us face temptation in each of these areas, and Jesus has shown us how we can resist succumbing to temptation. In each case Jesus quoted scripture; he fought temptation with God’s Word. We also can triumph over temptation by recalling God’s Word, provided that we know it. We must have read God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit can recall it to our memory as needed (John 14:26; Luke 24:45).

Notice that Satan also knows and can quote scripture, even to the Son of God, in order to deceive us. Satan tried to convince Jesus to try to provide for Jesus’ own needs, but Jesus trusted in God his Father to supply those needs, and when Jesus had withstood temptation God gave Jesus what he needed through the ministry of God’s angels. Jesus could have received his physical needs from Satan, at the cost of his immortal soul, but God the Father provided for them, and gave him glory and eternal life as well.

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 1 Lent A

First Posted February 11, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 1 Lent A

Psalm 105:4-11 – Seek the Lord;

Paraphrase:

Let us continually seek the Lord, his presence, and his strength. Let us remember all his wonderful works and his wise counsel. We are the spiritual offspring of Abraham, the sons and daughters of Jacob (Israel), his elect.

The Lord is our God. His judgment (authority) is over the entire earth. He is faithful to his covenant with his people forever. His Word will endure for thousands of generations. His covenant made with Abraham, passed on to Isaac and Jacob, is an everlasting covenant to Israel (God’s People) to give us the land of Canaan as an eternal inheritance.

Commentary:

I believe that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know and have fellowship with the Lord (Acts 17:26-27). That personal fellowship with the Lord which Adam had until it was broken by sin is restored through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to forgiveness of sin, restoration of fellowship with God and eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven (Acts 4:12; John 14:6, see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

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), we have personal fellowship with the Lord. We have his strength empowering us and working through us, and we have his wise counsel to guide us. Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “re-born” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life; we become the spiritual offspring of Abraham and obtain God’s promise of eternal inheritance in the Promised Land in God’s kingdom (Galatians 3:5-9). 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 given us his Word, in the Bible, and in the “living Word” in Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). The Bible and Jesus’ example testify to the faithfulness of God’s Word. What God promises is fulfilled. We need to know and apply God’s Word in our daily lives, so we will receive God’s promises (Matthew 7:21-27). We need to remember God’s faithfulness to his people throughout the Bible history of Israel. As we apply God’s Word in our daily lives we will come to experience and know personally God’s faithfulness in our lives.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived on earth will be accountable to God, and the standard of judgment will be God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive the inheritance of eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10)

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 1 Lent A

First Posted February 12, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 1 Lent A

Genesis 12:1-8 – Abraham’s Call;

Paraphrase:

God called Abraham (then known as Abram) to leave his extended family in Haran (25 miles southeast of Urfa, Turkey*) and go to a new land that the Lord would show Abraham). The Lord promised to make Abraham’s descendants a great nation. God promised to bless Abraham and make his name famous, so that Abraham would be a blessing. God promised to bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse Abraham. All the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham.

Abraham did as the Lord had said. Abraham was seventy-five at the time. He left Haran with his wife Sarah (then known as Sarai) and his nephew Lot, with all their possessions, and with Abraham’s household servants. They went to Canaan and traveled through the land until they came to Shechem (in the middle of Israel, between Mount Ebal, and Mount Gerizim), to the oak of Moreh, a sacred tree there.

At the time, the Canaanites occupied the land. The Lord appeared to Abraham and promised to give the land to Abraham’s descendants, so Abraham built an altar there where the Lord had appeared to Abraham. Then Abraham moved south and camped between Bethel and Ai. There Abraham built an altar and worshiped the Lord.

Abraham was already old when God called him to leave his extended family and go to a strange place. But Abraham believed God’s promise and did what God told him to do.

Commentary:

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. In order for us to have the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God, he created this world with the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). But he put a time-limit on this Creation, and our lifetimes, and he designed Creation with a plan for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation built in. That provision of a Savior is Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14; Matthew 1:21).

When Abraham trusted and obeyed God’s call to go to a new land and establish a new nation and people, God’s plan began to be fulfilled through that one man’s obedience. Abraham didn’t know the land that God was going to show him (Hebrews 11:8).

In order to be the head of a great nation, Abraham and Sarah needed a son, through whom God’s promise would be fulfilled. But Abraham and Sarah were beyond the age of conception. Nevertheless, after a long wait and unlikely circumstances Isaac, the son of the promise, was born (Genesis 21:1-2).

God was revealing his eternal purpose. Isaac became the forerunner of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal king (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew respectively).

God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son of the promise, and Abraham went to do what God had commanded (see Hebrews. 11:17-19). Isaac was spared at the last moment, and a substitute which God provided was offered as a sacrifice instead (Genesis 22:1-14).

The intended sacrifice of Isaac was an illustration, a preview, of what God intended to do for us from the very beginning of Creation. Jesus is the Son, the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior to be offered as a sacrifice for our sins, and he is the substitution provided by God so that we would not die eternally for them ourselves. Jesus is the Son through whom the whole world is blessed, through whom we become the great eternal nation of God’s people, and inherit the Promised Land of God’s heavenly kingdom.

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)?


*Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, David Noel Freedman, ”Haran,” p.551, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5


Wednesday – 1 Lent – A

First Posted February 13, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 1 Lent A

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 – Justified by Faith;

Paraphrase:

Abraham is the forefather of the Jews through the flesh. If Abraham were judged righteous in God’s judgment he would have reason to boast (before men) but not before God. According to Genesis 15:6, Abraham’s righteousness was reckoned to him because he believed God. If righteousness were earned by works (keeping) of the law, righteousness would not be a gift, but payment for work done. One who doesn’t rely on works of the law but trusts in the Lord who justifies the ungodly is reckoned righteous by faith (obedient trust).

“The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13). If only those who keep the law inherit the promise, then faith would be useless and the promise void. The law brings punishment, but transgression is not counted where there is no law.

“That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) and be guaranteed to all his descendants – not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16). God, in whom Abraham believed, who gives life to the dead and creates things from nothing by his Word, has declared in scripture that he would make Abraham the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5).

Commentary:

Abraham is the forefather of Jews by the flesh, but the spiritual forefather of all believers through faith. Abraham did not become our forefather by keeping God’s law, but by faith (obedient trust) in God’s Word. Abraham’s righteousness (doing right in God’s judgment) was attributed to him by his faith in God, so he cannot boast in himself before God; his righteousness is a gift, not his own accomplishment (Ephesians 2:8-9). One would be entitled to a judgment of righteousness if righteousness was “earned” by keeping the law, but God justifies (judges as righteous) sinners who trust and obey his Word (see Galatians 2:16).

The law brings condemnation. Violating any part of the law brings judgment (James 2:10), and the penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is eternal death (Romans 6:23). We have all sinned and come short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). But where there is no law, transgressions are not counted. If we want to be saved from God’s eternal condemnation and inherit God’s promise through Abraham we must receive it through faith in God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness, salvation from eternal destruction, and restoration to eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). We are freed from the condemnation of the law, provided that we are obedient to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9) 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).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when Jesus will return to judge everyone who has ever lived on earth. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, who have been spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven, but those who have rejected and refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

Thursday – 1 Lent – A

First Posted February 14, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 1 Lent A

John 4:5-26 (27-30, 39-42) – Living Water;

Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples were returning from Judea to Galilee through Samaria, and at noon, they came to Jacob’s Well at Sychar (or “Shechem;” Genesis 33:18-19). Jesus was tired from his journey and sat down at the well, while the disciples went into the city to buy food.

A Samaritan woman came to get water and Jesus asked her for a drink. The woman was surprised that a Jew would speak to a Samaritan woman (Samaritans were of mixed Jewish race and religion). Jesus told her that if she knew who she was speaking with, she would ask and he would give her “living water.”

The woman noted that Jesus hadn’t anything with which to draw water, and the well was deep. She asked where Jesus got “living water.” She asked Jesus if he were greater than Jacob, who had dug and used the well, who the Samaritans considered their patriarch, as did the Jews.

Jesus said that water from Jacob’s well satisfies (physical) thirst only temporarily, but the “living water” that Jesus gives satisfies (spiritual) thirst for eternity. The living water Jesus gives is a spring (not a deep, hard-to-reach well) which bubbles up to eternal life. The woman asked Jesus to give her living water so she would not thirst or draw from the well.

Jesus told her to fetch her husband, and the woman said she had no husband. Jesus revealed that he knew that she had been married five times and was now living with a man whom she had not married. The woman realized and acknowledged that Jesus must be a prophet, and asked him to settle a religious controversy between Jews and Samaritans.

She said that her ancestors had worshiped on Mount Gerizim nearby, But Jews said that Jerusalem was the only proper place of worship. Jesus said the time was coming when people would not worship in Jerusalem or on Mount Gerizim. Samaritans were worshiping what they didn’t know, but salvation was through the Jews, who knew God.

Jesus told her that the time was coming when those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth, which is what God desires. “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The woman expressed her faith that the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek; i.e. God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King) was coming, and that when he came he would reveal all things. Jesus responded that she was speaking to the Messiah.

Commentary:

Jesus could have avoided going through Samaria, but chose to do so (John 4:4). He foreknew all about the woman, had come specifically to talk to her, and had arrived at the perfect time.

When Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel (of the ten tribes), they deported the Jews to other conquered lands of their empire and repopulated the land with aliens. Samaritans were a result of the remnant of the ten tribes who had avoided deportation and had intermarried with the aliens. They were racially and religiously mixed.

Jesus opened the conversation by asking for a drink of water. At first the woman regarded him as a Jew, who didn’t have any dealings with Samaritans. When Jesus responded with an invitation instead of a rebuke, she addressed him as “Sir.”

Jesus offered her “living water” contrasted with physical well water. Physical water was deep in the well, and required equipment and effort to draw and carry, and continually needed to be re-drawn. Physical water cannot eternally satisfy, and does not give eternal life.

Jacob had dug the physical well and left it for his descendants, but only Jesus can provide the “living water.” Living water satisfies spiritual thirst eternally, and gives eternal life. We don’t have to fetch it; it is within “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciples, and it is a spring flowing up within us and out into the world around us. The woman asked Jesus to give her that living water, and he told her to go and fetch her husband.

The woman confessed that she had no husband, and Jesus revealed that he knew all about her and her marital status. The woman realized and acknowledged that Jesus must be a prophet, to have known about her, so she asked Jesus to settle a dispute between Jews and Samaritans over where to worship.

Jesus told her that it is not where to worship which is important, but how. Jews had the scriptures and the covenant relationship with God, through whom God sent the Messiah. The Samaritans claimed the same ancestors and same religion, but that claim was imperfect; it was tradition; it was ritual and not relationship. Jesus told her that from then on, true worshipers of God must worship in spirit and truth.

God is Spirit and divine truth. In order to truly worship God we must worship in the same Spirit and truth. Jesus is the Son of God, who shares God’s Spirit (Colossians 2:8-9; John 1:32; 20:28) and his words are God’s Word (John 14:10, 24). Jesus is the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and demonstrated in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14).

The woman heard Jesus’ words and had a growing understanding of who he was (John 4:9, 11, 19). She believed in Jesus’ claim to give “living water” and asked for it for herself (John 4:15). She confessed her sinful condition (John 4:17). She declared her belief in the Biblical promise of the coming Messiah (John 4:25), and Jesus revealed himself to her (John 4:26; compare John 14:21). She obeyed Jesus’ command (John 4:16) to bring her “husband” (John 4:28).

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “living water” to which Jesus referred (John 7:38-39). Only Jesus 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 Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).

Jesus is the fulfillment of scripture. He is the fulfillment of the symbol of water from the rock in the wilderness (Numbers 20:2-11; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Jesus is the fulfillment of the signs of the Messianic age (Isaiah 12:3; 44:3; 55:1).

Jesus promised his disciples that they would receive the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23), that they were to wait for that outpouring (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-13), and then fulfill the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ disciples on the Day of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.

The true Church is composed of the “born-again” disciples who are Apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection”, “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-21).The indwelling Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29 (compare Acts 2:14-18).

True worship is only possible by “born-again” disciples who trust and obey Jesus, and have been filled with his indwelling Holy Spirit. They have experienced and know the divine truth of the Gospel personally, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by his indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus is the only way, the divine, eternal truth, and only giver of true eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). When we worship God, the indwelling Holy Spirit prompts ecstatic praise (Galatians 4:6) and enables us to call God our father in worship and truth, bearing witness that we are God’s children, (Romans 8:14-16).

People who claim to be Christian, without being obedient disciples of Jesus Christ, cannot not worship in spirit or truth. Their “worship” is merely tradition and ritual.

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 -1 Lent – A

First Posted February 15, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 1 Lent A

Isaiah 45:20-25 – Pray to the True God;

Paraphrase:

The Lord calls the survivors of nations (of Cyrus’ conquest). The Gentiles who worship and serve idols which don’t have even power to transport themselves, but must be carried by their believers, lack knowledge. They keep praying to idols which cannot save. God has declared from ancient times that he alone is God; he alone is righteous, and there is no other Savior besides the Lord.

The Lord calls all people, even from the farthest places on earth, to turn to the Lord and be saved. The Lord is the only God. The Lord has promised in righteousness; his Word has gone forth and will not return. The Lord declares that every knee will bow and every tongue confess to him.

Righteousness and strength are only in the Lord; those who have been rebellious against the Lord will come before him and be ashamed. “In the Lord all the offspring of Israel (Jacob; the descendants of Abraham; Romans 4:16-17a RSV; see entries for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week) shall triumph and glory” (Isaiah 45:25).

Commentary:

The Lord had commissioned Cyrus of Persia (Isaiah 45:1) to overthrow the Babylonian empire, which made it possible for the remnant of Judah to return to the Promised Land from Babylonian exile (Ezra 1:1-3) after seventy years in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 25:12).

The Lord God is the only true God, our Creator; all other “gods” are idols, the creation of human hands and imaginations (modern examples of “gods” are money, possessions, fame, success, power, family, or career; anything one values as much or more than God). They can do nothing for their believers; they cannot even transport themselves but instead become a burden to their worshipers. Only by lack of knowledge would one believe in, serve and pray to an idol.

God has made himself known from ancient times. He is the only Savior. He has created this world with his eternal salvation designed into Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). God alone is righteous (doing what is right and good and true according to God’s Word) in all his ways. God has given us his Word in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, who is the “living” Word; God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and demonstrated in this world in human flesh John 1:14).

God’s Word declares that every knee of everyone who has ever lived in this world will bow and every tongue will confess to God (Romans 14:11) “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

God alone is righteous and all-powerful, and we can have the benefit if we call upon him in faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14; see Conditions for Answered Prayer). If we want God to hear and answer our prayers, we must be willing to hear and obey his Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is God’s only (begotten) Son (John 1:18; 3:16, 18), his promised Savior (Matthew 1:21) and eternal King, the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek respectively), Emmanuel (God with us; Matthew 1:23). Faith in Jesus is the only way to know divine truth, the only way to forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction, to have fellowship with God, and to receive eternal life (John 14:6).

There is a Day of Judgment coming, for everyone who has ever lived on this earth, when every knee will bow to the Lord and everyone will confess that Jesus is Lord and glorify God. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord now, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, have received 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), will receive eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. But those who have rejected Jesus as Lord now, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will receive eternal condemnation to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

In that Day the Saints (those who are sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit, through faith in Jesus), the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Romans 4:16), will experience triumph and glory, but the unregenerate (not spiritually “reborn;” John 3:3, 5-8) will be eternally ashamed and sorry.

God’s Plan of Salvation (which see, sidebar, top right) is available to all who will receive it through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. All have an opportunity to know the Gospel truth. All we have to do to receive God’s forgiveness and eternal salvation is to pray to God in Jesus’ name, confessing our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) in repentance, and asking Jesus to be our Lord and Savior.

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 – 1 Lent – A

First Posted February 16, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 1 Lent A

James 5:13-20 – Effective Prayer;
Mark 9:17-29 – Faith and Prayer;

James Paraphrase:

When suffering, Christians should pray. When joyful, they should sing praise. When sick they should ask the elders of the church to pray with them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer made in faith on behalf of the sick will raise them up, and if one has sinned, bring forgiveness. So members of the congregation should confess their sins to one another and pray for one another for their healing.

“The prayer of a righteous [person] has great power in its effects” (James 5:16). For example, remember that Elijah was righteous (did what was right and good, according to God’s Word) and had a personal relationship with the Lord. He prayed for drought, and the Lord withheld rain for three and a half years. Then Elijah prayed for rain and the Lord gave rain, and the earth became fruitful again.

If anyone in the congregation strays from the truth (God’s Word), and a fellow member brings him back, whoever restores that member from error will save his own soul and will be forgiven a multitude of sins.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus, Peter, James, and John were returning from Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain (Mark 9:2-9). The other disciples who remained behind were surrounded by a crowd, arguing with some scribes (teachers of the law; i.e. scripture). Jesus asked what they were discussing and a man in the crowd told Jesus that he had brought his son to Jesus for healing, because the son had a mute evil spirit. The boy would often have convulsions. The father had asked Jesus’ disciples to heal the boy but they were unable.

Jesus expressed exasperation at the faithlessness of people, and told the father to bring the boy to him. As soon as the boy came near, he went into convulsions. Jesus asked the father how long the boy had had this condition and the father replied that the boy had been that way since childhood, and that the convulsions endangered his life when they occurred near water or an open fire. The man said that “if Jesus could” do anything, to have pity and help them.

Jesus replied that it was not a question of whether Jesus could, but rather if the man could. Anything is possible to one who believes. The man declared that he did believe, and asked Jesus to help him overcome unbelief.

As a large crowd was gathering, Jesus commanded the evil spirit to come out of the boy and never return. At once, the spirit cried out, and with a great convulsion, left the boy. The boy appeared to be dead, but Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him and the boy got up.

When Jesus and his disciples were alone they asked him why they had been unable to heal the boy. Jesus told them that this type of healing could only be accomplished by (believing) prayer.

James is giving practical advice for believers. When we’re happy we should remember to thank and praise the Lord. When we are suffering we need to pray to the Lord and he will comfort and sustain us. When we are sick we should remember to seek spiritual healing from the Lord through the Church. Olive oil was used as a medicinal remedy, and also as a symbol of God’s blessing. When done in the name of Jesus with believing prayer, the power of the Lord is invoked for healing and forgiveness of sin. The power isn’t in the oil, or the ritual, or the officiant (elder), but in the Lord who responds to obedient trust in his Word.

The Church is to be a body of “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples who trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and demonstrated in Jesus Christ. The members are to be concerned with the spiritual health of their fellow members. If a member is straying from the Gospel truth, the scriptural (recorded in the Bible) apostolic (received directly from Jesus and taught by the apostles, including Paul) Gospel, the members of the congregation have a responsibility to restore the member to true faith.

Elijah is an example of effective believing prayer. He was righteous in God’s judgment, and had a personal relationship with the Lord. In his time, only a very few individuals had that relationship, Jesus came to give us his righteousness and his Holy Spirit, so that we can have that kind of personal relationship with the Lord.

Elijah prayed for drought at the Lord’s guidance and according to God’s will (1 Kings 17:1-9; 18:1). There are conditions for answered prayer (which see sidebar, top right). The Lord does not listen and respond to the prayers of people who do not listen and respond with obedient trust to God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ.

While Jesus and the three disciples closest to Jesus were away on the mountain of transfiguration, the other disciples were unable to heal the boy of the convulsive disorder. For one thing they had not been specifically commissioned to do that on their own yet (see Mark 6:7-13). They were still in training and had not yet received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-13).

They had probably been told to wait for Jesus’ return. The man with the sick boy had intended to bring him to Jesus, but the disciples were attempting to heal him in their own human strength and authority, rather than asking the Lord in prayer. A rivalry over (human) authority had developed into an argument between the disciples and some scribes (Mark 9:14).

The father of the boy also could have waited for Jesus, but was willing to turn elsewhere for more immediate results. The father barely had enough faith in Jesus to have his son healed. When he expressed (a tiny “mustard-seed;” Matthew 13:31) faith and asked Jesus to increase it, Jesus did. The man, who hadn’t been sure Jesus could do what the man asked, experienced Jesus’ power and faithfulness personally.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, he gave his disciples authority to carry on his ministry of forgiveness, healing, and salvation (Matthew 28:18-20). Their specific duty was to make (“born-again”) disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19a RSV) and teach them to obey all that Jesus taught (Matthew 28:20), but only after they had been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

While the disciples were awaiting the promised Holy Spirit, they again decided to act on their own and appoint a replacement for the 12th disciple, Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Jesus. They selected Matthias by “lot” (by “chance;” like drawing straws; since they had not yet received the Holy Spirit). Matthias is never mentioned again in the New Testament (Acts 1:15-26). The promised Holy Spirit began to be given to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), and from then on they were guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Instead of Matthias, the Lord chose Paul to be Judas’ replacement. Paul became the prototype and illustration of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-23). Paul was discipled unto spiritual “re-birth” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-18). Most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul.

How are we doing, Church? Are we willing to be disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26)? Are we becoming “born-again” through obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings? Are we making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings, or are we merely church “members” making “members?” Are we building and strengthening God’s eternal kingdom or are we merely building buildings? Do we expect the Lord to answer our prayers without our obedient trust in his Word? Are we willing to wait for Jesus or do we turn to anyone who might be available?

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). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself, whether one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (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)?

Week of Transfiguration – Lent A – 02/26 – 03/04/2017

February 25, 2017

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)

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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.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 Transfiguration A

Sunday Transfiguration A

First Posted February 3, 2008;

Podcast: SundayTransfiguration A

Exodus 24:12, 15-18 – Moses receives the Law;
Psalm 2:6-12 – The King Enthroned;
2 Peter 1:16-19 (20-21) – Peter Testifies to the Transfiguration;
Matthew 17:1-9 – The Transfiguration;

Exodus Paraphrase:

The Lord commanded Moses to ascend to the top of Mt Sinai (Horeb) where the Lord would give him the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone. The glory of the Lord descended upon the mountain top and stayed for six days. On the seventh day God called Moses, who entered the cloud on the mountaintop, and remained there for forty days and nights.

The Lord declares that he has established his king on Zion (the temple hill). The Lord has declared the king his son (his Son the king), begotten by God. The Lord will give the nations his inheritance and the entire earth as his possession. The King will have authority over them as a rod of iron over a clay pot.

God warns the kings and rulers of earth to serve the Lord with fear and trembling; let them humble themselves before the Lord, to avoid perishing by his wrath, for it is quickly aroused. Those who take refuge in him will be glad they did.

2 Peter Paraphrase:

The Christian Gospel is not a myth cleverly devised by mankind, but eyewitness testimony to the power, majesty and manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ. When God glorified and honored Jesus (on the mountaintop at Jesus’ transfiguration), Peter, with James and John, were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ heavenly splendor, and heard and testified to the voice of God declaring Jesus to be his beloved Son, who was well-pleasing to God.

They were eyewitnesses to the fulfillment of prophecy. So believers are well-advised to take heed of this (the apostolic testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ) until the (spiritual) day dawns and “the bright morning star” rises in their own hearts (through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit). The Bible isn’t to be subject to personal interpretation because it is not mankind’s word, but the Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus took Peter (Cephus; Simon), and brothers James and John to a mountaintop, and there Jesus’ appearance was supernaturally altered. Jesus’ face became bright like the sun, and his clothing was radiant as light. Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and were talking with him.

Peter suggested to Jesus that the three disciples should build three booths, one each, for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. While Peter was saying this, a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice said that Jesus was God’s beloved Son who was well-pleasing to God, and that they should listen to Jesus.

When the disciples heard the voice, they were afraid and prostrated themselves. Jesus came to them and touched them, telling them to get up and not to be afraid. When they arose, they saw only Jesus.

Coming down from the mountain, Jesus told them to tell no one what they had seen “until the Son of man is raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9).

Commentary:

The manifestation of God to the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai is called a “theophany,” a visible manifestation of God. (Epiphany means “manifestation.”) At Mt. Sinai, only Moses was allowed to go up the mountain and enter into the presence of God.

Moses received the Ten Commandments, the basis of the Old Covenant of Law, and the beginning of the Bible, the collected Word of God. The people of Israel had heard the voice of God at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:16-20) and it had so terrified them that they asked Moses to be their intermediary (Deuteronomy 5:22-27). Moses was to hear God’s Word and then relay it to the Israelites.

When Moses had been in God’s presence his face was supernaturally radiant when he returned to the people to relay God’s Word. The people saw his face and were afraid, but Moses called them to him. Moses’ face would be uncovered as he proclaimed God’s Word (so that they knew he had been in God’s presence and was speaking God’s Word) and then he would cover his face with a veil so that the Israelites would not see the fading splendor (Exodus 34:29-35).

Psalm 2 was composed for use in coronation of Israel’s kings. The Lord was the true intended king of Israel, but Israel asked for a human king, like the surrounding nations (1 Samuel 8:4-9). The Lord allowed them to have a human king, but warned them that there would be disadvantageous consequences for the people (1 Samuel 8:10-18). The king would assess taxes, conscript armies and servants, and take possession of resources. Saul was the first king of Israel, chosen by God, who arranged for Saul to be “anointed” with oil by Samuel, the Prophet (1 Samuel 9:15-10:27).

Psalm 2 was used to enthrone Israel’s human kings but it is also Messianic prophecy. The Messiah is the fulfillment of God’s plan to provide an eternal Savior and King, God’s own Son. Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy. Jesus is God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). Jesus Christ has been God’s plan from the very beginning of Creation, and has been designed into the very structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

John the Baptist testified that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. God had told him that the one on whom John saw the Holy Spirit, manifested as a dove, descend and remain, was the Christ. John testified that he had witnessed this sign (John 1:31-34) and also that he heard a voice from heaven declare that Jesus was [God’s] beloved Son, “with whom [God] is well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).

Jesus took the three disciples of his inner circle to the mountaintop where they witnessed Jesus transfigured in heavenly glory, and his meeting with Moses, the “Law-receiver,” and Elijah, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Peter suggested building booths to Moses, Elijah and Jesus, and while Peter was speaking, a voice from heaven declared that Jesus was God’s beloved Son, with whom God is well pleased, and to listen (hear and obey) Jesus.

Booths were temporary shelters set up during the harvest season as part of the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths). Booths commemorated the nomadic life of Israel in the wilderness, but had become religious symbols; even shrines. Peter was proposing that they establish three shrines, one each for Moses, Elijah and Jesus. Moses and Elijah were patriarchs of Judaism, but they were only humans; Jesus is God’s only begotten Son. Jesus’ teaching takes precedence over Jewish Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament scriptures; the Old Covenant of Law).

Moses’ face had glowed after being in God’s presence but it was the reflection of God’s glory; Jesus’ face glowed with a greater magnitude of glory, and not only his face but his clothes as well. His radiance was not only God’s glory but his own (2 Peter 1:17).

Moses was a human mediator between God and humans. Jesus is the new divine eternal mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6-13; Matthew 26:26-29, RSV note “g”) of Grace (unmerited favor; free gift) through faith (obedient trust in Jesus; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus speaks the Word of God in a way that is not terrifying to people. Jesus is the new “Moses,” who leads us out of slavery to sin and death in Egypt, through the “Sea” of Christian Baptism, through the wilderness of this sinful world, through the “River” of physical death and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s heavenly kingdom.

Jesus told the three disciples not to tell what they had witnessed on the mountaintop until after Jesus had risen from the dead. Jesus wanted people to be free to decide for themselves who Jesus is.

The three disciples asked Jesus why the scribes (teachers of scripture) said that Elijah would come before the Messiah, and Jesus told them that prophecy had been fulfilled by John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13). Jesus declared that John the Baptizer was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 11:2-15). But the three disciples had also witnessed the fulfillment by Elijah’s presence on the mountaintop.

The New Testament is the Biblical record of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the testimony and teaching of the Apostles (including Paul) who had received it directly from Jesus Christ. Peter testified that the Gospel was not a clever myth devised by humans. It was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Old Testament Scriptures, and the New Testament is the testimony of the eyewitnesses to that fulfillment. Peter testified that he was there on the mountain of transfiguration, and he saw it and heard God’s voice from heaven.

Peter was fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples to make (born-again) disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-21). Peter was a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and Apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, discipling new believers, teaching them to seek and receive spiritual “re-birth” through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. New believers are well-advised to give heed to the whole Bible as a lamp in the darkness, until the spiritual dawn and the rising of “the morning star” (Revelation 2:27-28; 22:16) within their hearts. Spiritual re-birth is the dawn of eternal life and personal fellowship with Jesus and God the Father.

Every “Christian” is a “new believer” until they have read the entire Bible and been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus 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).

Peter also taught that we must not interpret the Bible to suit ourselves! Faith is not getting whatever you believe if you believe “hard enough.” There are a lot of false beliefs and false teachings in the world today (see “False Teachings,” sidebar, top right). The standard by which to discern truth is the Word of God, the Bible. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Biblical Apostolic Doctrine, as received personally from Jesus by his Apostles (including Paul, the first “modern,” “post-resurrection” “born-again” disciple and Apostle), taught by them, and recorded in the New Testament.

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 Transfiguration A

First Posted March 7, 2011;

Podcast: Monday Transfiguration A

Joel 2:12-19 – Return to the Lord;
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:2 – Be Reconciled with God;

Joel Paraphrase:

‘“Yet even now,” says the Lord, “return to me will all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments”’ (Joel 2:12). Return to the Lord, your God, and receive grace (unmerited favor) and mercy (undeserved forgiveness) for he is patient, forbearing, and abounding in unwavering love, who does not delight in punishing. Who knows? Perhaps he will have pity on us and bless us when we present right offerings to the Lord.

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants” (Joel 2:15-16). Don’t let even wedding celebration interfere with this fasting.

Let the priests weep before the altar of the Lord, and intercede for God’s mercy on behalf of the people. Let God’s heritage not become a reproach and an epithet among the nations. Why should worldly people have reason to say that God has abandoned his chosen people?

Then the Lord will remember his land and have mercy on his people. The Lord will answer his people and promise to return prosperity and fertility to the land and remove the reproach from his people.

Corinthians Paraphrase:

“We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20b). For our sake, God placed the burden of our sin upon his sinless Son, so that we could become the righteousness of God. Working in harmony with the Lord’s purpose, we beg you not to receive God’s grace in vain. God declares that at the right time he has heard his people and has helped them on the day of salvation (Isaiah 49:8). Note well: today is the right time; today is the day of salvation.

Commentary:

In Joel’s time, Israel was suffering a plague of locusts, which Joel realized was a “wake-up” call to Israel to return to obedient trust in the Lord. In one sense, America is the “New Israel,” the “New Promised Land,” and we are in a similar position today. How much crime and violence does it take to wake us up to the spiritual illness of our people? How many weather-related disasters will it take to convince us that we have drifted far from the Lord, and that he has lifted his protection from us?

We need to hear the prophet’s call to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord. We need to repent and change our ways in our innermost being, not just go through the outward motions of religious ritual. We need to present right offerings to the Lord: our obedient trust, our commitment to do what is right according to God’s Word, and to work for justice for all people (compare Micah 6:8).

Will we allow the blessings God has given us to become a reproach and an epithet in the world? Are we glorifying the Lord by what we do and say, or are we bringing reproach and scorn upon his name?

God has designed this creation for his purpose. He has always intended to create an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. We are all eternal beings (John 5:28-29). This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God (Acts 17:26-27) and learn to trust and obey him. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). This lifetime is our opportunity to determine where we will spend eternity.

Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for us to be saved from God’s eternal condemnation, and restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus came to become the one and only blood sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins.

God’s Word declares that the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus took the burden of our sins upon himself, so that we could have his righteousness attributed to us by faith as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God knew from the beginning of Creation that we were going to need a Savior, and Jesus has been designed into the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus died for our sins (Romans 5:8), before we realized that we were sinners. God’s plan was fulfilled at the perfectly right time.

Jesus’ mission was to bring forgiveness and peace with God to a spiritually lost and dying world. We are living in the “day” of grace (unmerited favor). As sinners we are all under the sentence of eternal death, unless and until we accept God’s grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus’ “born-again” disciples are to carry on Jesus’ mission of forgiveness and reconciliation until Jesus returns on the Day of Judgment at the end of time and this age of grace.

Those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, who begin to trust and obey Jesus, receive 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 the Holy Spirit within us who gives us true spiritual 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).

Today is the day of grace; today is the day of salvation. Forgiveness, salvation, peace with God and eternal life are freely given, but we must accept and receive them through 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)?

Tuesday Transfiguration A

First Posted February 5, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday – Transfiguration A

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-20 – True Repentance;

Paraphrase:

Jesus warns us that religious ritual done to impress other people is worthless. God sees the inner condition of our hearts and our motives, and will not reward such behavior.

When we give charitable donations we should not be like hypocrites (people who make an outward pretense of religion) who announce their charitable giving so that others will be impressed and praise them, because then that is all the reward they will receive. Instead we should give so quietly and unpretentiously that our left hand doesn’t know what our right hand is doing. The Lord knows what we are doing secretly, and he will reward us.

When we pray, we must not be like hypocrites who like to be seen and heard by others; who pray publicly in church and on street corners, making long prayers with eloquent words. The praise of men will be their only reward. When we pray we should pray privately in our room, with the door shut, so that our prayer will be between ourselves and God, and God will reward us, because he knows our inner attitude and motive.

When we fast, we should not be like hypocrites who elaborate the outward signs of fasting and make long faces to impress others, since that is the only reward they will receive. We should not fast outwardly but inwardly instead, so that only God knows that we are fasting, and then he will reward us.

Commentary:

God desires sincere repentance and obedient trust, not religious ritual. Ostentatious display may impress other people but not God. The Lord’s nature is truth. His Word is true. Jesus is God’s truth in human form (John 14:6), and those who seek the Lord must do so in sincerity and truth (John 4:23-24).

The Lord cannot be deceived; he already knows all about us (John 1:48; 4:29. The Lord knows how to reward those who are humble and obedient, and his reward is eternal. Those who make pleasing the Lord their goal, experience his reward now in this lifetime, as a foretaste of the reward to come in God’s eternal kingdom. Only unbelievers would be willing to exchange God’s promise of eternal reward for the praise of other people.

This season is our opportunity to repent of our straying from true obedient trust in the Lord, to return to him and recommit to serve and please him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

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)?

Ash Wednesday A

First Posted February 6, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday Transfiguration A

Psalm 51:1-13 – Penitential Psalm;

The superscription of this Psalm attributes it to David when he was confronted by Nathan after David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah (2 Sam. 11:2-12:24).

Paraphrase:

Let us seek God’s abundant mercy and steadfast love. May he blot out all our transgressions, wash away our sins, and make us spiritually clean.

Let us realize and confess our sins to God. Our sins are ultimately against God, and we are accountable to his judgment. God’s judgment is justified and faultless. We acknowledge that we were conceived and born into sin.

The Lord desires our truthfulness in our innermost being, so may he teach us true divine wisdom in our secret heart. Lord, purge our sins from us like hyssop (an aromatic herb used for ritual purification) so that we may be truly spiritually clean. Wash the stains of sin from us so that we are purer than new-fallen snow. Fill us with joy and gladness; even the bones which you have broken (in punishment) will rejoice. Avert your eyes from our sins and blot them all out.

Create clean hearts within us, and fill us with a new and right Spirit. Don’t cast us away from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from us. Restore us to the joy of your salvation, and uphold us with your willing Spirit. Then we will be able to teach other sinners your ways, so that they can be restored to you.

Commentary:

We are all born with a sinful nature. Sin is disobedience of God’s Word. God has designed this Creation and ourselves to allow the possibility of sin, so that we can freely choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and so that we can learn by trial and error that God’s will is our very best interest.

God has given us his Word, in the Bible, and in the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3, 14), so that we can know God’s righteousness and our sinfulness. We need to be honest in examining ourselves according to God’s standards in God’s Word, so that we can realize and confess our shortcomings and receive mercy and forgiveness.

Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction in God’s judgment (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Unless we recognize our sinfulness and our need of forgiveness and salvation, we won’t be able to confess and receive them.

When we are willing to agree with God that his ways are best and that we have come short, he will cleanse us spiritually and make it possible for us to receive the Holy Spirit, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The Holy Spirit is the new and right Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) within us who makes it possible to live according to God’s Word and to have eternal life. The Holy Spirit gives us a clean heart and conscience in God’s presence. We are restored, through the Holy Spirit, to fellowship with Jesus and God the Father that was broken by sin. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the joy of salvation in Jesus Christ, and we are taught and upheld by the Holy Spirit. Only then are we able to lead others to Christ, to teach them God’s Word so that Christ’s mission of forgiveness and salvation can be carried on in this lost and dying world.

David was the shepherd boy who became the great human king of Israel. God’s Word says that David was a man whose heart followed God’s will (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20). But David yielded to temptation and committed adultery with Bathsheba. She became pregnant while her husband was away from home serving with the Israeli army.

David tried to trick Uriah into sleeping with Bathsheba during leave, but Uriah was too honorable to accept the opportunity, since his fellow soldiers were enduring separation from their families. So David conspired to have Uriah placed in the front lines, and then left exposed so that he was killed by the enemy.

David didn’t acknowledge his sin until Nathan the prophet, led by the Holy Spirit, confronted David. Then David confessed, was forgiven and restored (although he had to endure unhappy consequences as a result of his sin; 2 Samuel 12:13-18a). Because of David’s sin, the Lord’s name was dishonored among the enemies of God (2 Samuel 12:14).

Are you willing to be confronted by God’s Word? Are you willing to recognize and confess your sins?

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)?

Lent – Thursday A

First Posted February 7, 2008;

Podcast: Lent Thursday A

Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17; 3:1-7 – Fall of Mankind;
Psalm 130 – Prayer for Redemption;

Genesis Paraphrase:

The Lord formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him, and the man became a living being. The Lord prepared a garden in Eden (in the east). In it God planted all the trees which are beautiful to see and good for food, and the tree of life, in the middle of the garden, and also the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

God placed man in the garden, to take care of it and maintain it. The Lord told the man that he could eat freely of the fruit of every tree in the garden except from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God warned the man that the day he ate of the tree of knowledge he would die.

The serpent was more devious and cunning than any other creature which the Lord had made. He asked the woman, who God had made to be a companion for man (Genesis 2:20-25), whether God had told them not to eat of any tree in the garden. The woman replied that God had permitted them to eat of any tree of the garden except of the tree of knowledge. The man and woman were not to eat or even touch it or they would die.

The serpent told the woman that they would not die; God knew that their eyes would be opened and they would be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman realized that the “forbidden fruit” was beautiful to look at, good to eat, and desirable to make one wise, she ate, and she gave some to the man and he ate. Then their eyes were opened and they were aware that they were naked, so they fashioned aprons out of fig leaves to cover themselves.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Out of the depths of anguish and despair let us cry to the Lord. May his ears be attentive to our cries for help.

If the Lord were to punish every iniquity, none of us would be unpunished. But the Lord is forgiving so that he may be feared (respected for his power and authority to judge and punish).

Let us wait for the Lord. May our souls be patient and hope in the Lord. Let us hope in the Lord even more than a watchman waits for the dawn.

People of God, hope in the Lord! The Lord’s love is unwavering and his redemption is inexhaustible. He will surely redeem his people from all their sins.

Commentary:

The world that God created was good, an unspoiled paradise (Genesis 1:31), but God gave us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God. The serpent is the tempter, Satan, the one who opposes and contradicts God’s Word.

The serpent cast doubt on God’s Word that mankind would die on the day they disobeyed God’s Word, and lied, saying that they would not die. Mankind didn’t die physically but spiritually. We were created as eternal beings; we are born physically alive, but are dead spiritually, because we have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is eternal death (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Adam and Eve were tempted to eat the forbidden fruit in three areas of vulnerability: the lust of the eyes (it was pretty to look at), the lust of the flesh (it was good to eat), and the pride of life (to be like God; to be wise). Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness in each of these areas, but without sinning, by resisting Satan’s temptations by the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-11).

We all share the fallen human nature of Adam and Eve. If God were to punish us for our sins none of us could be saved from eternal condemnation and death. But God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17)

God has intended from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey him. God knew we would sin if given the freedom, and that we would have to learn by trial and error to trust and obey God. He designed Creation with his only provision for our salvation, Jesus Christ, built in (John 1:1-5, 14).

God freely offers the complete forgiveness of all our sins, restoration to eternal life and fellowship with the Lord to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10a, Psalm 111:10). Adam and Eve wanted to be wise and knowing, but they didn’t fear the consequences of disobeying God’s Word. As a result they lost eternal life in paradise, and got kicked out of the garden.

The people of God are disciples of Jesus Christ, who trust and obey Jesus. They will be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), as they 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).

Adam and Eve trusted in the serpent and in their own judgment, without realizing their spiritual blindness. They tried to get their spiritual enlightenment somewhere other than God’s Word. They wound up seeing their sinfulness and experiencing their expulsion from God’s presence in paradise. This is a parable and a metaphor of warning of God’s judgment.

There is a Day of Judgment when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord (master) will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (paradise). But those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to trust and obey him will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

God’s Word warns us to wait for and hope in the Lord. The coming Day of the Lord is just as certain as the sunrise. Our only hope is in the Lord and his unwavering love, his inexhaustible power and willingness to redeem his people from their sins if they will wait on him and trust in his Word.

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)?

Lent – Friday A

First Posted February 8, 2008;

Podcast: Lent Friday A

Romans 5:12 (13-16) 17-19 – Grace in Christ;

Paraphrase:

Adam is contrasted with Jesus. Adam introduced sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and (spiritual) death (the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23) into the world, and sin and death spread to us because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Sin has existed in the world before the giving of the Law, but sin is not punished where there is no law. But death reigned over mankind from Adam to Moses, even though their sins were not like Adam’s, who is a symbol and example of sinful mankind, contrasted with Christ (who is the symbol and example of the righteous, trusting, and obedient servant and Son of God).

The free gift (grace: God’s unmerited favor; eternal salvation) is unlike sin. Through Adam’s sin we are all subject to death, but through Jesus Christ the free gift of eternal salvation is abundantly available to many. Comparing trespass (sin) with grace, whereas one trespass brought condemnation, grace following many trespasses brings justification (the opposite of condemnation; satisfying the demands of the law). So if death reigned over us through Adam’s sin, life will much more surely reign in us who receive the abundance of grace and righteousness which is through Jesus Christ.

As Adam’s trespass resulted in condemnation for all mankind, so Christ’s righteousness results in acquittal and life for all (who are willing to receive it). Adam’s disobedience made us all sinners, but Jesus’ obedience makes many righteous.

Commentary:

Adam is our earthly patriarch, through whom we inherit our fleshly nature. People are sinful, but were not held accountable until Moses received the Law from God. Adam’s sin was disobedience of God’s Word (the definition of “sin”).

Now God has revealed his Word, in the Bible, and in the “living Word,” Jesus Christ who is God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Adam is the example of what we are without Jesus; Jesus is the example of what we can be through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

Disobeying God’s Word in any instance brings eternal condemnation (James 2:10), but God’s free gift of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus gives the forgiveness of all our sins, and restores us from death to eternal life. We were enslaved and condemned to eternal death through Adam, but we are freed and governed by the power of eternal life through the abundant gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 2:14-15).

We have all been created as eternal beings. We are all like our father, Adam; we have lost eternal life through sin (disobedience of God’s Word). We cannot plead ignorance of God’s Word because God has made his Word known through the Bible and through Jesus Christ.

Jesus came into the world to reveal God’s Word, to be an example of God’s Word, lived out in this world in human flesh, and to make it possible for us to fulfill God’s Law and be saved from eternal condemnation and death. Jesus’ death on the Cross is the one and only blood sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of all sin for all time and all people who are willing to receive it (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross made it possible for us to be spiritually cleansed and receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually, to eternal life, through the 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).

Through Jesus Christ we become the adopted children of God and become the righteous obedient sons and daughters of God, as Christ is our example, through his indwelling Holy Spirit 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)?

Lent – Saturday A

First Posted February 9, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday Transfiguration A

Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus’ Temptation;

Paraphrase:

After his baptism by John the Baptizer, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan. After Jesus had been fasting for forty days and nights he was hungry, and Satan tempted him to turn stones in the wilderness into bread, “if Jesus was the Son of God.” Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3b, saying that man does not live only by bread, but by every Word of God.

Satan took Jesus to the roof of the temple in Jerusalem and told Jesus to jump off, “if he were the Son of God,” quoting Psalm 91:11-12 which says that God would provide angels to catch Jesus, so that he would not be injured. Jesus replied by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 which says that we are not to tempt the Lord our God (see also Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Satan took Jesus to the top of a mountain and showed Jesus all the kingdoms of earth and their glory. He offered all of them to Jesus if Jesus would worship Satan. Jesus replied that we are to worship and serve only the Lord God, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13. Then Satan left and angels of God came and attended to Jesus.

Commentary:

As Israel had been tested by God in the wilderness for forty years, Jesus was tested for forty days in the wilderness at the beginning of his public ministry. Fasting was an appropriate and traditional Jewish form of spiritual preparation. At the end of the fasting, Satan tempted Jesus.

Satan tempted Jesus in the three areas of human weakness: the lust of the eyes (covetousness), the lust of the flesh (physical desire) and pride of life (self-centeredness). These are the same temptations which the serpent used on Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:5-6).

Satan tempted Jesus in Jesus’ most vulnerable moment. In each instance Jesus resisted temptation by quoting God’s Word. Notice that Satan knows God’s Word also, and will try to pervert it to suit Satan’s purpose (Matthew 4:6). If we don’t want to be enslaved by sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), we need to know God’s Word. Jesus was demonstrating the truth of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 8:3b) that life is not just physical survival or physical gratification; true, eternal life is only by the whole Word of God, applied in our circumstances daily, and not just certain parts that suit our purposes, as Satan was doing.

The Lenten season began with Ash Wednesday. It is forty days, not counting Sundays, until Easter. It is an opportunity to “fast in the wilderness,” examining ourselves and spiritually preparing ourselves for the Easter season, which brings new spiritual life.

The Easter season, from Easter until Pentecost, the fiftieth day of Easter, begins with Jesus’ resurrection from death to eternal life. As we believe Jesus’ resurrection and believe that we will also share in his resurrection as we trust and obey Jesus, we are individually “reborn” to spiritual eternal life, now, by the promised indwelling Holy Spirit, which began to be fulfilled in the Church on the Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 2:1-18).

Only Jesus gives the gift of the 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).

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 7 Epiphany A – 02/19 – 25/2017

February 18, 2017

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:

ttp://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

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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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 7 Epiphany A

Sunday 7 Epiphany A

First Posted February 20, 2011;

Podcast: Sunday 7 Epiphany A

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 – God’s People Must be Holy;
Psalm 103:1-13 – God’s Steadfast Love;
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 – Call to Holiness;
Matthew 5:38-48 – Higher Righteousness;

Leviticus Paraphrase:

The Lord declared through Moses, that God’s people (the people of Israel; the Church) must be holy (purified from sin: disobedience of God’s Word; consecrated to God’s service), because God is holy (pure and sinless).

We are not to hate one another but instead reason with them, or we will be guilty of sin against them. We are not to take vengeance or bear a grudge against others, but instead love them just as we love ourselves. This is the Lord’s command.

Psalm Paraphrase:

With my soul, may I bless the Lord and his holy name with all that is within me. May I not ever forget all his blessings: he has forgiven all my sins, he heals all my diseases, he redeems my soul from death and the grave, he has anointed me with steadfast love and mercy, he will bless me with everything good all my life long, so that my youth is renewed like that of the eagle’s.

For all those who are oppressed, the Lord works vindication and justice. He revealed his ways to Moses and the people of Israel. Merciful and gracious is the Lord; slow to get angry, and overflowing with unwavering love. He does not always criticize, nor remain angry forever. He hasn’t given us the punishment our sins deserve, or repaid us according to our iniquities. As high as the heavens are above earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him. He removes our sin as far from us as the east is from the west. He pities those who fear him, like any good father pities his children.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul was given a commission to lay a (spiritual) foundation (of the church; by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) as an experienced master builder lays a solid foundation for a building. Now others are building on that foundation. Each worker must be careful to build soundly upon it; there is no other foundation upon which to build but the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (which Paul had built).

We must realize that we are (individually and collectively) God’s temple, in whom God’s Spirit dwells. God’s temple is holy (free of sin; set apart to God’s service) and so we must be. God will destroy anyone who destroys God’s temple.

Let no one be deceived; if anyone wants to become wise, let him become a fool (according to the standards of this age) so that he may become truly wise (see 1 Corinthians 1:17-25). “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19a). Paul quotes Job 5:13: “[God] catches the wise in their craftiness,” and Psalm 94:11: “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile” (1 Corinthians 3:19b-20). So let us not boast of mankind. We do not belong to any human teacher, but they instead belong to us, but only because we belong to Christ, and through Christ to God.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Background:

Jesus taught the multitudes which thronged to him, telling them that they needed to pursue higher righteousness than merely obeying the letter of the Law of Moses.

Text:

Jesus said that they knew the law concerning retaliation: An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. But Jesus taught them not to resist evil people. If someone strikes a person on the right cheek, that person should offer the other cheek as well. If someone wants to take a person’s cloak, that person should offer his coat as well. If someone forces a person to go a mile with him, that person should go a second mile as well. One should give to someone who begs, and loan to those who ask to borrow.

Jesus said that it not sufficient to love one’s neighbors and hate one’s enemies. We are to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. God himself gives the blessings of sun and rain to both good and evil people. How better are we than anyone else, when we love those who love us? How can we expect a reward? Even the worst of people, gentiles (pagans) and tax collectors (Jewish collaborators with the Roman occupying government), love their friends and hate their enemies. So we must be righteous (doing what is good, right and true, according to God’s Word) as God himself is righteous.

Commentary:

God himself is pure and sinless and so we must be also. God is not willing to tolerate sin and rebellion forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, or it wouldn’t be heaven.

We are all sinners who fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (doing what is good, right, and true, according to God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the living Word. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). Only by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we be cleansed of sin.

God has been teaching his people that sin can only be forgiven by blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Covenant (Old Testament) of Law, priests had to continually offer animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of the sin of the people and themselves. Jesus has become the only sacrifice acceptable to God for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Only by the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can we be cleansed of sin, and be able to be individually temples of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; note the concept of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: one God in three persons, or “expressions”). Only by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able to become “living” stones from which the Church is built, upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ.

Only Jesus gives the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Only by the baptism of the Holy Spirit are we spiritually “born-again” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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).

God’s original Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) were intended to restrain God’s People from doing evil, until the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus summarized the Commandment to just two: to love God, and to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:35-40). If we truly love God we will earnestly want to obey his commandments, and if we truly love our neighbor (anyone we encounter), we will do them no wrong, but instead treat them just as we ourselves want to be treated (Matthew 7:12, 22:39).

The law of retribution (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-20; Deuteronomy 19:21) was intended to limit retaliation to not exceed the original offense. This is an example of how the original Ten Commandments were modified by statute to make it possible to keep the “letter” (though not the “spirit”) of the Law, until the coming of the Messiah (Christ; both words mean [God’s] anointed in Hebrew and Greek, respectively).

Jesus taught a new righteousness, not based on the keeping of the letter of the Law, but emulating the righteousness of God based on God’s Word and the example of Jesus Christ himself. The commandment to love our neighbor goes beyond just loving our friends and family. We are called to love our enemies and those who don’t love us; to go beyond what the Law requires; to forgive, rather than retaliating.

The “coming” of the Messiah, Jesus, is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament* (Psalm 2:1-12; Isaiah 53:1-12; 2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus came in human flesh, but he also comes personally and individually to those who believe (who trust and obey) Jesus, by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:17; Romans 8:9).

No one was able to keep all the Law all the time (Galatians 2:16; James 2:10). Jesus came to initiate a New Covenant (Testament) of Grace (undeserved favor) as a free gift, to be received by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 8:8-10, 13; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 26:26-28 KJV; RSV: see note “g”). Under the New Covenant, we are freed from the obligation of the Law, provided that we are obedient to the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-10). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able to do what the Law requires, motivated by love instead of fear.

I am convinced that 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, as we all can and should be. I believe that Paul was intended by God to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, rather than Matthias, whom the disciples chose by lot (rather than by the guidance of the Holy Spirit; Acts 1:15-26, which they had not yet received), while they were supposed to be waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8). Matthias was never heard from again, after his appointment, whereas, after Paul’s conversion, most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul.

The members of the Church are to be “living” stones to be built into the temple of God. We are called, individually and collectively to be “holy.” In too many instances, the nominal Church today is tolerating “unholiness” among its leaders and members. We should not be allowing God’s grace** to become license for immorality (such as sexual sin,*** adultery, or homosexuality****) within the Church.

All who are led by the Spirit are children of God (Romans 8:9b, 14-16). Anyone who hasn’t been spiritually born-again does not belong to 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)?


*See also:
http://www.bibleprobe.com/over-300-prophecies.pdf

**See: “Cheap Grace:” See: Ephesians 4:17-24; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20. See also: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6.

***1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (6-13).

****See 1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Romans 1:24-27; from two Greek words meaning “men bedding (or conceiving) with men” (Strong’s #730 & 2845; see Strong’s #733); i.e., “sodomites,” after the city of Sodom, destroyed by God for its homosexual practice (Genesis 19:4-5 (24-25); men who have unnatural sexual relations with men (and, by extension, women who have unnatural sexual relations with women). The KJV translates as: “men defiling themselves with men.


Monday Before Last Epiphany – A

To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Epiphany until Transfiguration.
First Posted 2/28/2011;

Podcast: Monday 8 Epiphany A

Psalm 2:6-13 – The Lord’s Anointed King;

Paraphrase:

The Lord declares that he has enthroned his “anointed” (eternal) king on Zion (the temple mount; Jerusalem; the people of God; the Church; the heavenly city), God’s holy hill.

The Lord has declared that the Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively) is God’s (only; John 1:14b; 3:16) “begotten” Son [begotten physically by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20, 23; Luke 1:34-35) and spiritually (John 1:32-34; Matthew 3:17) by the Holy Spirit (John 1:33]. God has given all nations and all people to the inheritance of Jesus Christ. God has given the power of physical and spiritual life and death over all the earth and all people to Jesus Christ. Christ’s authority is like a rod of iron against a clay pot.

The kings and rulers of earth are warned to serve the Lord with fear and trembling (having a healthy respect for the power and authority of the Lord), to avoid perishing (eternally) by the wrath of God. Those who take refuge in the Lord will be glad that they did.

Commentary:

The Lord has always been the intended King of God’s people (1 Samuel 8:5-7). When Israel asked for a human king, God allowed them to have one, although he warned them of the consequences (1 Samuel 8:11-18). The king was chosen by the “anointing” of the Lord (1 Samuel 9:15-17; 10:1-9). God has given all power and authority, in heaven and earth, to Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus came to be the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right) and restoration to fellowship with God and to eternal life, both lost through sin.

Jesus is the righteous Judge, who is coming again, at the end of time (this temporal age; our lifetime), to judge the living (“quickened”) and dead in both the physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5; John 5:28-29). All who have ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this temporal lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (eternal King) and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven; those who have refused to accept Jesus as Lord and have not trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1: 5-10).

Jesus is the Lord of lords and King of kings, whether we recognize him as our Lord and King or not. 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 Before Last Epiphany – A

To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Epiphany until Transfiguration
First Posted March 1, 2011;

Podcast: Tuesday Before Last Epiphany A

Exodus 24:12, 15-18 – Moses in God’s Presence;

Paraphrase:

The Lord told Moses to come to the top of Mt. Sinai and wait, and the Lord would give Moses the Law written on stone tablets. Moses did as God commanded and the cloud (and fire; of God’s presence) settled on the top of the mountain. Moses waited and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. The Glory of the Lord appeared as a “devouring fire” on the mountaintop and was visible to the Israelites waiting below. Moses entered the cloud and was on the mountaintop forty days and nights.

Moses and the Israelites were led through the wilderness by God’s presence manifested as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). When God descended upon Mt. Sinai, he was manifested in a cloud and fire to the Israelites waiting below, but only Moses was allowed to enter into God’s presence.

Commentary:

Jesus came to make it possible, by the blood sacrifice of his body on the Cross, for us to be forgiven and cleansed of sin so that we can enter into God’s presence. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection made it possible for us to be filled with 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 Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit is the manifestation of God’s presence within us, through whom we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord. The Holy Spirit is the “pillar of cloud and fire” (Acts 2:3; Matthew 3:11) within us to guide us safely through the “wilderness of the spiritually dark night of this world, and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom of heaven. 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 calls us to come and enter into his presence through Jesus Christ who is the only way, the only door, to God’s presence and God’s eternal kingdom. We must act at once in faith (obedient trust) in Jesus and God’s Word, and then we must be willing to wait for God’s timing.

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 Before Last Epiphany – A

To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Epiphany until Transfiguration.
First Posted March 2, 2011;

Podcast: Wednesday 8 Epiphany A

2 Peter 1:16-19 (20-21) – Apostolic Doctrine;

Paraphrase:

The Gospel is not a collection of myths devised by humans, but the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and his power. Peter (and James and John) were present with Jesus on the mountain at Jesus’ transfiguration, when the voice of God from heaven declared that Jesus is God’s beloved Son, with whom God was pleased. They heard and so testified. Their testimony verifies that the Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament prophecies and the Apostolic testimony should be studied, as a light in the darkness, until we have received the indwelling Holy Spirit. The prophecy of scripture is not man’s insight or interpretation, but humans inspired by the Holy Spirit proclaimed the Word of God.

The Apostle Peter was one of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples who was present at the Transfiguration. He witnessed Jesus’ meeting with Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop. He saw Jesus become supernaturally radiant (Matthew 17:1-8). Peter heard the voice from heaven declare that Jesus was God’s beloved Son (Matthew 17:5). Peter testified that Jesus had declared that the prophecy of Elijah coming before the manifestation of the Messiah had been fulfilled by John the Baptist (Matthew 17:9-13). Peter witnessed that prophecy fulfilled in both events.

This Letter of 2 Peter is part of the Apostolic (as taught by the Apostles) Gospel which the Apostles had received directly from Jesus Christ, and were passing on to new believers. New believers are to study the Old Testament and the New Testament as they await “rebirth” through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Old Testament contains the prophecies of the Messiah (Christ) and the New Testament is the eyewitness testimony of their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

New believers are to be trained as disciples of Jesus Christ by “born-again” disciples until the new believers have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19b). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit ends the spiritual night of eternal death and rises as the dawn and the bright morning star (compare Revelation 22:16) to give us the light of Spiritual life and insight within our hearts.

The Apostle Paul is the prototype and example of a modern “born-again” disciple and Apostle of Jesus Christ, as we all can be. Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) was confronted by the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-4). Paul repented, accepted Jesus as Lord (Acts 9:5), obeyed Jesus’ command to wait for further instructions (Acts 9:6-9), was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple (Acts 9:10-16), until Paul had received the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18). Then he began proclaiming the Gospel (Acts 9:19-20).

Paul’s example is unique in the speed with which he was born-again and became an Apostle. The original Twelve disciples spent two and a half years with Jesus night and day and still had to wait (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, &8) until the Day of Pentecost when they were “reborn” (Acts 2:1-13). Paul had already been formally educated in the Jewish scriptures (The Old Testament) and was zealous for God. He just needed to be pointed to the Messiah, Jesus.

Once Paul had been “reborn” he was guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and he testified to the risen Jesus of whom he had personal experience and knowledge. He became as much an Apostle as the others.

Jesus comes to his disciples individually and personally as they trust and obey him (John 14:15-17). Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34). 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).

There is a Day of Judgment coming, at the end of the temporal age, when Jesus will return to judge everyone who has ever lived (John 5:28-29). Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life with the Lord in the eternal kingdom of heaven, but those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). No one knows when Jesus will return, but we have only this lifetime to be spiritually “reborn” and no one can be certain that one will live to see tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation; today is the day to receive Jesus and to begin learning to trust and obey him.

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)?


*I believe that Paul is the one the Lord chose to take the place of Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, not Matthias (Acts 2:12-26).


Thursday Before Last Epiphany – A

To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Epiphany until Transfiguration.
First Posted March 3, 2011;

Podcast: Thursday 8 Epiphany A

Matthew 17:1-9 – Transfiguration;

Paraphrase:

Jesus took Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, and went up to the top of a mountain. Jesus was transfigured in their presence: his face became bright as the sun, and his clothes became radiant as light. Two figures, Moses and Elijah, appeared with Jesus and were talking with him.

Peter suggested that the disciples should build three booths: one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. While Peter was saying this a bright cloud overshadowed and a voice from the cloud declared that Jesus was [God’s] beloved Son, that God was well pleased with him, and that the disciples should listen (hear and obey) him. The disciples were frightened by what they had heard and seen, and prostrated themselves, but Jesus came and touched them and told them not to be afraid.

When they looked around there was no one with them but Jesus. As they came down from the mountaintop Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had witnessed “until the Son of Man is raised from the Dead” (Matthew 17:9).

Commentary:

Peter (Cephas; Simon), James and John were the three disciples of Jesus’ inner circle. They had also accompanied Jesus into the home of Jairus, when the daughter was raised from the dead (Luke 8:41-56). The Apostle Paul later stated that they were pillars of the Church in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9). They were chosen by Jesus to witness Jesus’ transfiguration and the presence of Moses and Elijah during that transfiguration.

The scribes (teachers of the Law; the Jewish Scripture) taught that Elijah was expected to return to prepare Israel for the coming of Messiah. The three disciples asked Jesus about this on the way down from the mountaintop, and Jesus told them that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that prophecy (Matthew 17:10-13). The three disciples had also witnessed the fulfillment of that prophecy on the mountaintop in the appearance of Moses and Elijah.

Peter suggested building three booths. Booths were temporary shelters set up during the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) to commemorate the Israel’s wilderness experience. Booths had become a religious symbol and shrine. Peter wanted to create a memorial to Moses, the “lawgiver,” and Elijah, the great prophet, as well as Jesus, but the voice of God made it clear that Jesus was of greater magnitude than the Jewish patriarchs; Jesus was the beloved (and only begotten) Son of God, and that we are to trust and obey Jesus, rather than being loyal to the Jewish patriarchs and Jewish tradition. The three disciples were witness to the transfiguration of Jesus and the appearance of Moses and Elijah, but were not to testify to that experience until after Jesus had been raised from the dead.

Moses’ face had become radiant after being in the presence of God on the mountaintop (Exodus 34:29-35). Jesus’ face was as radiant as the sun and his clothes were also supernaturally radiant. Jesus’ radiance was a greater order of magnitude.

Jesus is the new spiritual “Moses.” He is not only fully human but fully divine (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus is the new mediator between God and mankind. Jesus is the new leader who brings us through the spiritual wilderness into the eternal Promised Land. Jesus doesn’t just reflect God’s presence; he radiates it.

The three disciples were allowed to witness Jesus’ heavenly glory, and to testify about it after Jesus’ death and resurrection, but Jesus did not demonstrate it publicly, so that people would have the freedom to decide for themselves who 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)?

Friday Before Last Epiphany – A

To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Epiphany until Transfiguration.
First Posted March 4, 2011;

Podcast:Friday Before Last Epiphany A

Isaiah 35:3-7 – Promise of Salvation;

1 Peter 3:18-22 – Salvation through Baptism;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Take strength, weak hands; be firm, feeble knees; be strong, fear not, fearful heart! Look and see; your God is coming with vengeance and recompense, to save you.

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped” (Isaiah 35:5); then the lame will leap like a [deer] (see Acts 3:8), the mute will sing for joy. Springs of water will arise in the wilderness, and streams will flow in the desert. Dry ground will be transformed into pools of water, and dry wilderness will become a swamp; reeds and rushes will replace grass.

1 Peter Paraphrase:

Christ died for sin once for all time and all people, the righteous one for the unrighteous, in order to reconcile us to God. He died in the flesh but was made alive in the spirit. He proclaimed the Gospel to those in prison who formerly did not obey God.

In the days of Noah God waited patiently during the building of the ark, by which eight people were saved through water. The Flood corresponds to Christian Baptism which now saves us through water, not as the cleansing of physical dirt from our physical bodies, “but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21) who has entered into heaven and sits at the place of honor at God’s right hand, with authority over angels and all powers (in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).

Commentary:

Throughout the Old Testament God has promised to bring forth a Savior, the Messiah. God has designed his plan of salvation into the structure of Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Isaiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah, during the period of the destruction of the northern kingdom of the ten tribes, Israel.

In this text God promises to come and save those who are trusting in him, bringing vengeance on those who do not trust and obey him and who oppress his people. The Lord will come to repay everyone who has ever lived, according to what they have done in life.

One of the signs of the coming of the Messiah will be the healing of the blind, deaf, lame and mute (Isaiah 35:6a). Spiritually dry wasteland will be transformed by the living water of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39)

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promised Savior, the Messiah (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). Jesus is God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King.

Jesus’ first coming (advent) was distinguished by the healing of the physically blind, deaf, mute and lame (Matthew 9:2-7, 27-33, Mark 7:31-37; John 5:1-9). Jesus also healed the sick and raised the dead (Luke 17:11-19; Matthew 9:18-26). The purpose of Jesus’ miracles of physical healing and restoration were intended to show that he was the promised Messiah, and that he could also heal those who are spiritually blind, deaf, mute, lame, sick, and dead.

Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus’ words are the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), and have the creative force of God’s Word (Matthew 8:23-26; Genesis 1:3). Jesus manifests God to those who trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 11:27; John 14:6-11 21, 23).

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment at the end of time, to judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead, in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5). He is coming with the recompense of God. He will save from God’s vengeance and punishment those who are trusting and obeying Jesus (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right), but he will condemn and eternally destroy those who have refused to accept Jesus and have refused to trust and obey him, who have opposed God and have oppressed God’s people (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Jesus is the one and only blood sacrifice acceptable to God for sin for all time and all people who will accept it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus is the (Passover) Lamb of God (John 1:35-36); the perfect, blemish-free Lamb sacrificed for the Passover Feast, which protected God’s people from the angel of death, when God destroyed the first-born of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:5-14).

Jesus and God the Father alone are righteous; we are all unrighteous sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). We have been alienated from God because of sin. Jesus is the only way to restore us to fellowship with God and eternal life in his heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12, John 14:6).

Jesus died in the flesh but was raised from physical death to spiritual, eternal life. In a sense we are all imprisoned by sin and death. Jesus has come to free us from sin and death and give us eternal life (Hebrews 2:14-15; John 10:10).

God once destroyed the earth by the Flood. The people were wicked and didn’t heed God’s Word of warning, but Noah did, and saved his family through God’s provision, by believing God’s Word and following God’s instruction by building the Ark (Genesis 6:5-8:22).

God has given his Word of warning that he is going to destroy the wicked, the rebellious and disobedient; this time by fire in Hell. Jesus Christ is the “Ark” which he has provided to save those who trust and obey God’s Word.

The historical Flood is also a metaphor for the waters of Baptism, through which those who trust and obey Jesus will escape destruction and receive eternal life. We are saved through Baptism by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. In Baptism we have the “promise” of Salvation, but we have to claim and “own” it through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. To all who receive Jesus (Revelation 3:20), who believe (trust and obey) in his name (character and person; i.e. God’s only begotten Son; God’s anointed Savior and eternal King), he gives the *power* (the promise and the ability) to become spiritual children of God, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, by the power and will of God (not by flesh or the effort and will of mankind; John 1:12-13).

We must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), 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). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

Those who have been “born-again” have been forgiven all their sins, and have a clear conscience in God’s judgment (Hebrews 9:13-14). God attributes to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ and we have eternal life through Jesus’ resurrection.

We who have been “born-again” can be reassured and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the risen Jesus within us (Romans 8:9), as we approach the Day of Judgment. We can be confident that we will receive a share in the reward of Jesus Christ in heaven (Romans 8:17). We need not fear God’s vengeance and condemnation.

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 Before Last Epiphany – A

To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Epiphany until Transfiguration;
First Posted March 5, 2011;

Podcast: Saturday Before Last Epiphany A

John 12:23-36 – The Hour of Salvation;

Paraphrase:

Jesus declared that his “hour” had come for him to be glorified. Jesus compared his death to the process of sprouting seeds. Seeds must be buried in order to sprout and bear fruit. A person who loves life in this world will lose it, but one who hates his life now will keep it for eternity. Anyone who serves the Lord must follow his example and teaching. His servant will be where Jesus is, and God the Father will honor him.

Jesus’ soul was troubled at the knowledge of what was coming, and his flesh would prefer if God would save him from his crucifixion, but he recognized that this was his purpose in coming. So Jesus instead prayed that God would glorify God’s name. A voice from heaven said “I have glorified it and I will glorify it again” (John 12:28). Some who heard, thought it had thundered; others said that an angel had spoken to Jesus. Jesus said that the voice had come for the crowd’s benefit, not Jesus’.

Jesus declared that now, in Jesus’ hour, was the judgment of the world, and the ruler of this world (Satan) would be defeated and cast out. Jesus declared that when Jesus was lifted up from earth (indicating that he would die on the Cross) he would draw all people to himself. People in the crowd said that according to scripture the Christ would remain for ever, so how could Jesus say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is the Son of man?

Jesus replied that the light was present with them a little longer. So they should walk in the light while they had the light, so that they would not overtaken by the darkness. A person walking in darkness does not know where he is going. While the light is present, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.

Commentary:

The timing of Jesus’ coming and sacrifice were according to God’s will, not the world’s (compare John 2:4). Jesus’ death on the Cross was absolutely essential for our salvation, and would produce eternal fruit for all who receive that salvation by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

People who think they have everything in life the way they want it now will lose it all, but people who realize that this life is not as it should be, because of wickedness and sin, will realize that they are just passing through the “wilderness” of this present lifetime and that the destination is the eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who are willing to die to the things of this world will live eternally; those who live for the things of this world will die eternally.

Jesus came to teach us by word and example how to be sons and daughters of God. His followers must follow his word and example. His servants will be doing what Jesus is doing, and be working where Jesus is working. Those who do so will be honored by God the Father.

Jesus was the fullness of God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). He knew what was coming at his crucifixion, and he would have preferred not to go through that agony, but instead of doing what his flesh wanted to do he resolved to trust and obey God’s will.

At Jesus’ death on the Cross, the world has been judged and Satan has been defeated. Jesus’ Crucifixion demonstrates that mankind is sinful. We have all sinned and have made Jesus’ sacrificial death necessary for our salvation (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus died once, for all time and all people who are willing to trust and obey Jesus for their salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Satan is the enemy of God and of our eternal souls, and his power is sin and death. He has been defeated at the Cross of Jesus Christ, because Jesus demonstrated that those who trust and obey God are raised from physical death to eternal life (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Those who trust and obey Jesus are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), 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 have the proof within ourselves, by faith in Jesus. 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 possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

The voice from heaven is the voice of God. People who trust and obey God can hear that voice, but those who don’t explain it away as some other phenomenon, or as for someone else.

People in the crowd continued to doubt Jesus’ testimony. From scripture, they believed that the Christ was to remain forever. They didn’t understand what Jesus meant about being lifted up, and they didn’t understand what Jesus meant by the “Son of man.” They needed to accept and believe what Jesus was saying, but instead they wanted proof.

Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man, which is true, but which allows his hearers to decide for themselves who Jesus is, with a hint from scripture (Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus is the “light” of righteousness (John 3:19-21), spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9), and eternal life (John 1:4-5, 8:12). Jesus told the people that they should believe and act on that light while they had the opportunity, so that they could become children of light (children of God).

Now is the hour of Salvation! Now is the time to follow Jesus’ word and example in obedient trust. Now is the time to learn to walk in the light of his righteousness, enlightenment and eternal life. Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to and know God; Jesus is divine, eternal truth; Jesus’ word and example is our only opportunity to have real, eternal life (John 14:6). Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we be saved (from our eternal condemnation and destruction by God’s judgment; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 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)?

Week of 6 Epiphany A – 02/19 – 25/2017

February 11, 2017

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:

ttp://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

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

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 6 Epiphany A

Sunday 6 Epiphany A

First Posted February 13, 2011;

Podcast: Sunday 6 Epiphany A

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 – Blessing and Curse;
Psalm 119:1-16 – The Law of God;
1 Corinthians 2:6-13 – Spiritual Wisdom;
Matthew 5:20-37 – Higher Righteousness;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Through Moses, God laid a challenge upon the people of Israel to choose (true, spiritual, eternal) life and good (according to God’s Word, and our best interest) or (eternal) death and evil. Those who choose to obey God’s Word, his standard of righteousness recorded in the Bible, will love the Lord, will live according to his ways, obeying his commandments. They will have long life and will prosper (in their endeavors; but not necessarily by worldly standards), and the Lord will bless them in the Land the Lord is giving them to enter and possess (the earthly Promised Land, and its ultimate spiritual fulfillment in God’s kingdom in Heaven).

But the Lord declares that if his people turn away from obedient trust in the Lord and are drawn to worship and serve “idols” (anything one loves and serves as much or more than the Lord), they will perish (eternally). They will lose the (eternal) life in Heaven they have been commanded to enter and possess.

All heaven and earth are witnesses to God’s Covenant with his people; God’s people are to choose life or death, blessing or curse. So we are urged to choose life for ourselves and our descendants, that we may love God and live, obeying his “voice” (in his Word in the Bible, and in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified: John 1:1-5, 14; and in the prompting of the indwelling Holy Spirit: John 14:15-17, 26). Obedient trust in the Lord means long (eternal) life for us, and a place in the eternal Promised Land which God has promised give us.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Those who live according to God’s Word (in the Bible and in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ), will be blameless in God’s judgment, and will be blessed (favored; have beneficial attributes or qualities invoked or conferred upon). Those who seek him with their entire being, and learn and keep his testimonies (his witness), who do no wrong according to God’s Word, but live according to his teachings will be blessed.

The Lord has commanded that his precepts (instructions) be kept diligently. Let us pray for steadfastness in keeping the Lord’s commandments. When we know and obey God’s Word, we will have no reason to be put to shame. When we learn the Lord’s righteous statutes we will be able to praise the Lord with upright hearts. Let us obey his Word; then we will not be utterly forsaken.

“How can a young [person] keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy Word” (Psalm 119:9). Let us seek the Lord with all our hearts; let us not stray from obedience to his Word. “I have laid up thy Word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). May the Lord be blessed; may he teach us his Word.

Let us declare his Word with our voices. As much as in great wealth, we shall delight in living according to his teachings. Let us meditate on his Word and make obedience our goal. Let us experience the delight of obedience to his teachings; let us never forget his Word.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

The wisdom that apostles (messengers; of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) teach is not worldly wisdom, nor of the rulers of the present world order, whose fate is to pass away. Our (divine, eternal) wisdom is hidden and secret (a mystery), only understood by those who are spiritually mature (those who have been spiritually enlightened), which God intended from the beginning of Creation, for our glorification. The rulers of this age (Satan and his demons, behind worldly rulers) didn’t know this, or they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord (One who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor) of glory (splendor, majesty; infinite perfection of moral attributes of God; bliss of heaven).

Paul quoted Isaiah 64:4 to the point that humans have not seen or heard, nor imagined (the glory of) what God has prepared for those who love God. But God has revealed it to his (“born-again;” John 3:3, 5-8) people, by the Holy Spirit. Who knows a person’s own deepest thoughts except his own spirit? Likewise, no one knows the thoughts and intentions of God except the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9). The Spirit which we (born-again) Christians have received is not the spirit of the World, but the Spirit of God, so that we can be able to understand spiritual gifts given us by God. And apostles teach what has been imparted to them by the Holy Spirit, explaining spiritual truths to those who have received the (“baptism” of the indwelling) Holy Spirit.

Matthew:

Background:

Matthew chapters 5-7 is known as the Sermon on the Mount. It is a collection of the typical teachings of Jesus.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus warns us that our righteousness must exceed than that of the scribes (teachers of The Law of Moses, the Old Testament; the Jewish Scriptures) and Pharisees (a faction of legalistic leaders of Judaism), in order to enter God’s eternal heavenly kingdom.

Jesus quoted Exodus 20:13, (compare Deuteronomy 5:17), and Deuteronomy 16:18, to teach that it is not enough to simply refrain from actual murder in order to avoid eternal condemnation (Deuteronomy 16:18); anger and insults against a brother are equally damaging and subject to condemnation. So before making an offering to the Lord, one should first seek reconciliation with anyone with whom one is at enmity (discord). Then your offering will be acceptable to the Lord. One would be wise to settle with an accuser “out of court,” before trial. Otherwise, the judge might find him guilty and hand him over to the jailer to be imprisoned until he has made complete restitution.

Commentary:

The history of Israel, recorded in the Bible, is also deliberately intended by God to be a metaphor for the meaning and purpose of life in this world. Moses prefigures Christ (God’s “anointed” eternal savior and king of God’s eternal heavenly kingdom). Jesus is the “New Moses” who leads us out of bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world order, through the “sea” of water baptism into Jesus Christ, through the “wilderness” of this temporal lifetime by the indwelling Holy Spirit, “the pillar of fire and cloud” (Exodus 13:21), through the “river” of physical death and into the eternal “promised land” of God’s heavenly kingdom.

This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible and in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified (John 1:1-5, 14), and thus become people of God in God’s eternal kingdom. We are challenged to choose to trust and obey God’s Word and thus receive what is good, and true eternal life, or not trust and obey God, and receive evil (bad things), and eternal destruction.

God’s Word contains both great and precious promises, and ominous warnings. God’s Word is eternally true and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Those who trust and obey God’s Word will receive the blessings he has promised; those who reject and refuse to obey God’s Word will receive the consequences the warnings were intended to help us avoid.

The meaning and purpose of life in this temporal world is to seek, find and have fellowship with the Lord (Acts 17:26-27). The Lord promises to reveal himself to those who love him and earnestly seek him and diligently learn to trust and obey his teachings (John 14:21, 23). Let us pray for steadfastness in keeping the Lord’s commandments (compare Psalm 119:4-5).

Those who seek the Lord will first learn about his nature and character in his Word. The Lord is good and loving toward all people. Good people respond to love with love in return. If we truly love the Lord we will want to know his Word so that we can trust and obey him.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is 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. On his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, Paul was convicted by the risen Jesus, was converted (Acts 9:1-9), and then discipled by a born-again disciple, Ananias, until Paul was spiritually “reborn” (Acts 9:10-19a). Then Paul began to fulfill Lord’s Great Commission to his born-again disciples (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, &8) to make (born-again) disciples of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:6) and to teach them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

God has designed this temporal Creation to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey his Word or not. He has designed Creation with divine wisdom, which is unlike what the world falsely calls “wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:8-25, 2:1-5).

Jesus is the demonstration of the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24b; 2:4-5). Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). God’s wisdom seems foolish to worldly people (1 Corinthians 1:24-25). Worldly people would not understand how the Lord could win victory by giving himself up to death at the hands of his enemies.

God’s wisdom can only be understood by those who are spiritually enlightened by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The gift (“baptism”) of the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, within them, teaches born-again disciples all spiritual truth and recalls to their minds all Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26).

It takes born-again disciples to make born-again disciples of Jesus Christ. How can an “unregenerate” (not born-again) person lead someone else to spiritual rebirth? If the unregenerate knew what they were missing and how to get it, they would not be unregenerate.

Sadly, the nominal Church today has failed to make born-again disciples, and has focused on attracting “members, “fair-weather Christians,” and building buildings, instead. Because they haven’t made born-again disciples, there are none in their membership from whom to choose leaders (“apostles;” teachers).

Fortunately, God is faithful, and is able to “convict” people of sin, as he convicted Paul on the road to Damascus. People can be discipled by “born-again” disciples through media, such as this Bible study. I personally testify that I was influenced by the radio ministries of several “born-again” disciples (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

I was also discipled by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Jesus (Romans 8:9), as I carried out my commitment to read the entire Bible. But unless one has read the entire Bible for oneself, one is vulnerable to false teaching in media and in nominal Churches.

The Bible is the Word of God, and the standard by which all “Christian” teaching must be evaluated. But is not enough to know God’s Word without the commitment of trust and obedience. How can one offer meaningful and acceptable worship and praise to the Lord, unless one is obedient to, and trusting in, his Word?

Jesus taught in “parables:” Common earthly experiences to teach spiritual truth. Worldly people are often wise in worldly things; the example of worldly justice and reconciliation with one’s accuser is an example. We are all guilty of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and liable to the condemnation of eternal death (Romans 6:23). God’s Word will be our accuser. We are at enmity with the Lord because of sin.

We’re all on the way to judgment at the Day of Christ’s return, or at the moment of our death. Jesus is the righteous judge, and the standard of judgment by whom we will be judged. We would be wise to seek reconciliation with God’s Word by obedient trust, now, while it is possible.

At the Day of Judgment it will be too late to change our eternal destiny; no restitution will be possible. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (One who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor) and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven; those who have refused or failed to accept Jesus as their Lord and trust and obey him will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

Monday 6 Epiphany A

To be used only if there is a 7 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted February 14, 2011;

Podcast: Monday 6 Epiphany A

Psalm 103:1-13 – Thanksgiving for Healing;

Let us bless the Lord in our innermost selves, and praise his name with all our strength. Let us bless the Lord and remember all his benefits: he has forgiven all our sin, he has healed us from all physical and spiritual illnesses, and he has redeemed our lives from death and grave. He has blessed us with unfailing love and mercy, he gives us what is good, throughout our lives, so that our vigor is renewed like that of an eagle’s.

The Lord gives justice and vindication to all the oppressed. He revealed his nature to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. “The Lord is merciful and gracious (giving undeserved favor) to us; he doesn’t become angry with us quickly, and his love is steadfast and abundant. He is not always criticizing us, and is not angry with us forever. He doesn’t give us the punishment our sins rightly deserve. His unwavering love for us is as great as the highest heavens. He removes our sins from us as far as east is from west. He has pity upon those who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) him, as a good father pities his children.

Commentary:

This psalm is my own personal testimony also. The Lord has restored me from heart disease and cancer to physical health, to mental health from emotional turmoil and anxiety, and to spiritual health, from eternal death 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 baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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).

The presence of the Holy Spirit within us gives us peace, even in the midst of troubles, which only Jesus can give (John 14:27). His presence reassures us that we are not alone. By experience, we learn to know with assurance that the Lord can deliver us from, or bring us through, anything that happens to us, even physical death (John 6:68-69).

Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us can know and do God’s will (Zechariah 4:6c). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit can we truly praise and worship the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:15-16). The indwelling Holy Spirit teaches Jesus’ disciples everything they need to know, recalls to our minds all Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26 and gives us what to say in testimony at the time it’s needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

I keep a list of the blessings the Lord has given me. When troubles assail, I can recall the blessings he has given me in the past and be confident that he will deliver me again (see 1 Peter 5:6-10). In times of stress, I read the Psalms also, beginning with Psalm 1:1, and read until I feel better! The Lord will give us vindication and justice often enough in this world so that we can be sure of his ultimate vindication and justice in his eternal kingdom.

The Lord has promised to reveal himself to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:21, 23). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit makes it possible for Jesus’ disciples to have the intimate fellowship with God the Father, and Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9), which only a few Old Testament prophets and leaders, like Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10), enjoyed. Through the Holy Spirit we will come to know personally the mercy and grace (undeserved favor) of the Lord, and his steadfast, overflowing love. We will learn from experience that the Lord is not always angry and critical of us. Like a loving father, The Lord has pity on us, and disciplines his children for their own benefit (Hebrews 12:9-13). He doesn’t give us the punishment for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) which we rightly deserve (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, 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)?

Tuesday 6 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 7 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted February 15, 2011;

Podcast: Tuesday 6 Epiphany A

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 – Life of Holiness;

The Lord told Moses to declare to the congregation of Israel that they will be required to be holy (purified from sin; consecrated to God’s service), because God himself is pure and sinless.

God’s people must not hate brother or neighbor; instead, let us seek agreement and reconciliation with one another, or it will be accounted to us as sin. God’s people must not take vengeance upon or bear a grudge against our own people, but rather love our neighbors as we love ourselves: it is our Lord God who commands this.

Commentary:

God’s people are those who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible, and in the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). God’s people are not holy by their own intrinsic nature; they are made holy by their relationship with the holy God, through a covenant he established with them.

Through the Old Covenant (“Testament”) of Law which God established with his people through Moses, disobedience of the Law was the definition of sin. No one was able to keep all the Law all the time, so all were sinners, who needed to be cleansed over and over by the offering of blood sacrifices of animals (Hebrews 9:22-26). The Old Covenant was intended to be a “guardian” (“baby-sitter”) to keep God’s people from disobeying God’s Word.

When Jesus, the promised Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively) the “Savior” God designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-3), came in human flesh (John 1:14), Jesus became the “New Moses,” the mediator of the New Covenant (“Testament”) of grace (undeserved favor) which we receive by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus established the New Covenant at his “Last Supper,” the “New Passover” feast, (which has become Holy Communion; Eucharist) on the eve of his trial and crucifixion (Matthew 26:17, 26-29, KJV; see RSV note g).

By Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, he became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection demonstrated that there is existence and the possibility of eternal life after physical death. Jesus’ death made it possible for his obedient, trusting disciples to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life by the “baptism” (gift; anointing) 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 baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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).

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), is given only to disciples of Jesus who are committed to trusting and obeying Jesus. We are cleansed and sanctified (made holy) by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, so that we can individually be temples of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Those who live in obedient trust in the Holy Spirit, are not obligated to fulfill the requirements of the Law (Romans 8:1-9); they will fulfill them out of love for the free gift of salvation through Jesus rather than fear of punishment, and are forgiven when they fail.

Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments, the basis of the Holiness Code, in two commandments: Love of God, which makes us willing to trust and obey him; and love of others, as we love ourselves (John 13:34-35). Jesus also taught that it is not enough to love our brethren and neighbors only; we must follow Jesus’ example and love our enemies and those who hate us (Matthew 5:43-45; compare Luke 23:34). The only way we can fulfill the Law of Love (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14), is by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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 6 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 7 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted February 16, 2011;

Podcast: Wednesday 6 Epiphany A

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 – Responsibility of Teachers;

Paul compared his ministry to that of a skilled master builder (contractor). Paul laid the foundation, which is Jesus Christ; no other foundation will do. Now other workers are building upon that foundation, and must build with care, as has the master builder.

Spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciples (Acts 11:26c) are (individually and collectively) God’s temple, because God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) dwells within them. God will destroy those who destroy (damage; divide) God’s temple, because God’s temple is holy (purified; consecrated to God’s use), and that is what we believers are. So let us not be deceived; Those who consider themselves wise according to worldly wisdom, should instead become foolish (according to worldly wisdom) so that they may be truly wise with true, divine, eternal wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:8).

God considers “worldly wisdom” to be folly. God declares that the craftiness of the “wise” in earthly standards, will be their downfall (1 Corinthians 3:19b; quoting Job 5:13). “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile” (1 Corinthians 3:20; quoting Psalm 94:11). So Christians are not “disciples” of, do not belong to, and should not boast of, any spiritual leader, such as Paul or Apollos, or Cephas (from Aramaic word -which Jesus spoke: “Kepha,” meaning “rock,” which Jesus gave to Peter: Matthew 16:18. The Corinthian congregation had in fact been guilty of this: 1 Corinthians 3:3-9). All the church leaders are for the benefit of believers, along with every other thing, whether earthly or heavenly; whether life or death (in both physical and spiritual senses), present or future, since believers belong to Christ, and Christ to God.

Commentary:

Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) had established the church at Corinth on his second missionary journey, accompanied by Timothy and Silas (Acts 15:36-16:5), by Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had learned the Gospel message from the risen, ascended Jesus, by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:1-18). Paul’s preaching of the Gospel to the Corinthian Christians was the same as he preached in every congregation (Acts 9:20-22), and was in agreement with the preaching of the Gospel by Jesus’ original Apostles (Acts 15:1-29; the Eleven of the remaining Twelve disciples, whom Jesus had appointed to be messengers of that Gospel: Luke 6:13-15).

Paul was as much an Apostle as the original Eleven remaining apostles of the Twelve (minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer). Paul was deliberately chosen and called by God to be Judas’ replacement, instead of Matthias, whom the Eleven had chosen while they were to be waiting for the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, and without the presence and counsel of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:15-26). Matthias is never heard of again in the New Testament, but after Paul’s conversion, most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul.

Paul was intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again, disciple and apostle” of Jesus Christ, as all believers can and should be. After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he was “discipled” by a born-again disciple, Ananias (who had a personal relationship with the Lord: Acts 9:10-16, which is only possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit), until Paul was spiritually “reborn” by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and then immediately began the process of proclaiming the Gospel, and making born-again disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-22; 2 Timothy 1:6-7; 2 Timothy 2:2), fulfilling the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his disciples to be carried out after they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

There was dissension within the Corinthian congregation (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:3-9) caused by rivalry among them regarding the teachings of Paul, Peter and Apollos (Acts 18:24, 26-27; 19:1; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:5-7, 22). The same dissension and divisiveness are present in the nominal Church today. Christian teachers and students must remember that the disciples being made are disciples of Jesus Christ, who are being guided to spiritual rebirth, so that they can be further discipled to spiritual maturity by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen, ascended Jesus.

Paul was confronted by, but not filled with, the Holy Spirit, on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5), until Ananias had led Paul to be born-again by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-20). Paul’s conversion was remarkably rapid. The original disciples had been with Jesus for three years, and still were not ready to preach the Gospel until they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). But remember that Paul was already formally educated in the Bible and loved God; he only needed to be pointed to Jesus as the Messiah (Christ; “God’s Anointed,” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively).

The foundation of the true Church is the Gospel (“good news:” forgiveness of sin, salvation from eternal condemnation and death which is the penalty for sin, and reconciliation with God which was broken by sin) of Jesus Christ was first taught by Jesus, learned by the disciples by Jesus’ teaching and example, and recorded in the Bible. All scripture is inspired by God, and is to be used for doctrine, refutation, correction (of ignorance, misunderstanding, and false teaching), and instruction in righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word; 2 Timothy 3:16). But the Old Testament must be understood from the perspective of the New Testament.

For example, Jesus is the end of the Old Covenant of Law (Romans 10:4); he established the New Covenant of Grace (undeserved favor) at his “Last Supper” on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28 KJV; see RSV note “g”). Only Jesus gives the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (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, daily 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). Those who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8 by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit are no longer obligated to the Law of Moses, provided that they live according to the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9).

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)?

Thursday 6 Epiphany A

First Posted February 17. 2011;

Podcast: Thursday 6 Epiphany A

Matthew 5:38-48 – Understanding the Law;

Jesus used the example of the Law concerning retaliation (eye for eye; tooth for tooth; Exodus 21:23-25), to teach that it is not enough for one to keep the “letter” of the Law. Jesus said that one must not resist evil people, or return evil for evil. Instead of retaliating in kind, one should submit to one’s enemy. If an enemy slaps a person on the cheek, the person should offer the other cheek as well. If one’s enemy takes one’s coat, one should offer his overcoat as well. One should offer to go the second mile with a person who has forced one to go a mile. One should contribute to a person who begs, and loan to one who asks to borrow.

The common human response toward others is to love our neighbors (one who is neighborly to us), and hate our enemies. But Jesus commands his followers to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors. What credit is it to us if we love our friends and hate our enemies? Don’t even “tax-collectors” (regarded as among the worst of people) do likewise? If we greet our friends and shun our enemies, what credit is that to us? Even Gentiles (non-Jews; pagans) do likewise. So Jesus’ followers must be perfect (spiritually and morally mature; free of defect), like God is perfect.

Commentary:

The spiritual leaders of Judaism at the time of Jesus’ physical ministry were legalistic: They insisted on the keeping of the Law of (given to) Moses in minute detail, but failed to keep the intent of the Law. Jesus said that it isn’t sufficient to refrain from actual physical murder; anger, insult and verbal abuse are as damaging morally and spiritually, and are likely to escalate to physical violence. Instead of perpetuating animosity (active hatred), we should seek reconciliation with our enemies (Matthew 5:21-24).

The original intent of the Law was to restrain God’s people from doing evil until the coming of the Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King). “An eye for an eye” limited retaliation to no more revenge than initial attack warranted. It was not intended to justify revenge. Instead of sustaining and escalating animosity, “turning the other cheek,” and going “the second mile” promotes peace and reconciliation.

The religious leaders of that time thought that they would be judged “perfect” by God by their keeping of the letter of the Law. But Jesus pointed out that their behavior was no better than those these leaders considered the worst sinners.

Tax collectors were those Jews who made their living by collaborating with the enemy, the Roman occupying government. They were forcing other Jews to pay Roman taxes, and were in a position to also cheat their fellow Jews, collecting more than the required amount of the taxes.

The false teaching of “legalism” (“righteousness” by doing good deeds; “keeping the Law”) was a problem in the first-century Church, and it is a false teaching that still exists in the nominal Church today (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home; see also Galatians 2:12, 16, 21-3:14; 5:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-10).

Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross became the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Jesus’ blood sacrifice cleanses believers by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, so that we can become, individually and collectively, the temple of God (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus’ death and resurrection made it possible for us to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:7).

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The “infilling” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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). One who has been “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit has been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, and has been freed from obligation to obey the Law, provided that one is obedient to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-8).

There is a Day of Judgment coming for everyone who has ever lived physically on earth (John 5:28-29). Jesus has promised to return to judge the “living” (“quickened”) and the “dead” in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5). Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor) and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually reborn to eternal life in this lifetime, and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in Heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

Friday 6 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 7 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted February 18, 2011;

Podcast:  Friday 6 Epiphany A

Jeremiah 1:4-10 – Jeremiah’s Call;

God’s Word came to Jeremiah, saying that the Lord had known (everything about) Jeremiah before the Lord had even formed him in the womb. Jeremiah had been consecrated by the Lord before he had been born. The Lord had appointed Jeremiah to be his prophet to the nations (heathen peoples; Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Judah).

Jeremiah protested that he was young and inexperienced and didn’t know how to speak. But the Lord reassured Jeremiah; Jeremiah was to stop thinking that he was too young and inexperienced. The Lord told him that he would go wherever the Lord sent him, and would say everything the Lord commanded him to speak. The Lord told Jeremiah not to fear the ones to whom the Lord sent him, because the Lord would be with Jeremiah to deliver him.

The Lord stretched out his hand and touched Jeremiah’s mouth, and said that the Lord had put his words in Jeremiah’s mouth. The Lord told Jeremiah to watch and see: The Lord had put Jeremiah over kingdoms and nations, to lift up and to throw down; to overthrow and destroy, and to build up and establish.

Commentary:

The test of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22), and it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for fulfillment are met. The Lord gave me a specific call from Jeremiah 1:17-19 on January 18, 1996, which led me into evangelism, first in my local congregation, and then ultimately to my present Internet ministry, begun August 8, 2003 on journalspace.com.

Jeremiah’s name means “raised up,” [or] “appointed,” by Jehovah. He was one of the major Old Testament prophets, who prophesied to Judah, the remnant of Israel (the Northern Kingdom of the ten of twelve tribes of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.), beginning in 628 B. C., prior to the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, and Judah’s seventy-year exile in Babylon, which he prophesied (Jeremiah 25:11-12). The seventy years is counted from the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (588~587 B.C.; 2 Kings 25:8-10) to its complete restoration (517 B. C.; Ezra 6:15-16).

Jeremiah’s message was not popular with, or accepted by, the leaders and people of Judah, and Jeremiah suffered great persecution for it (Jeremiah 36:5). King Jehoiakim destroyed the scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecies (Jeremiah 36:20-25) which his secretary, Baruch, had recorded (Jeremiah 36:4), but could not destroy the message (Jeremiah 36:27-32).

Judah could have avoided conquest, destruction, and deportation if they had heeded the example of the Northern Kingdom, had accepted Jeremiah’s message, and had repented (changed their ways and doings; returned to obedient trust in God), prior to the fall of Jerusalem and the temple. The seventy-year exile was a life sentence for those who were adults at the time of the deportation. A renewed Judah was restored to their Promised Land, but they were new people; not the same ones who went into exile.

The experience of the exile of Judah to Babylon is similar to the forty-year wilderness wandering of Israel. Israel had rebelled against the Lord’s command to enter and possess the Promised Land (Numbers 14:26-35), and so were condemned to wander in the wilderness until those who had rebelled against the Lord had died in the wilderness (Joshua 4:19; 5:6). Only Joshua and Caleb (, the scouts among the twelve who had brought back a favorable report on the Promised Land (Numbers 13:6, 8, 16b; 14:6-9), were allowed to live and enter it.

I personally testify that when the Lord calls one to proclaim God’s Word, he provides the resources and abilities needed to do so, by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Jesus has commanded his disciples to go into the world to proclaim the Gospel (God’s Word; “good news” of forgiveness and reconciliation with God through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, and to make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20) who will repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Note that Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church), until they had been baptized with the indwelling Holy Spirit before going into the world to proclaim the Gospel message (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8). Apostles (messengers; of the Gospel), and prophets of God’s Word can only fulfill their call by the gifts, guidance and empowerment given by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (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, daily 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).

God’s Word contains precious promises, but also ominous warnings which are designed to help us avoid the consequences of disobedience of God’s Word. The world doesn’t enjoy hearing God’s Word any more today than in the time of Jeremiah (2 Timothy 4:3-4). We are free to choose to hear God’s Word and receive the promises, or reject God’s Word and suffer the consequence of disobedience (of God’s Word; the definition of sin), which is eternal death in Hell with all evil (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, 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)?

Saturday 6 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 7 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted February 19, 2010
Podcast: Saturday
6 Epiphany A

Acts 17:22-34 – The Meaning and Purpose of Life; Matthew 25:14-30 – Parable of the Talents;

Acts Background:

Paul was waiting in Athens for his missionary associates, Silas and Timothy, to join him. While he waited, Paul went to the Jewish synagogue and to the marketplace, and debated with those present, preaching Jesus and the resurrection. So the Athenians took Paul to the Areopagus (the open-air forum; the hill on which the City Council met, west of the Acropolis), where the Athenians and resident foreigners gathered to hear Paul. (At the time, the Athenians were famous for their curiosity.)

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul addressed the people of Athens, saying that he noted that they were very religious, since he had observed that Athens was full of altars and shrines to the “gods” (idols) of the Athenians. Paul mentioned having seen an altar dedicated to an unknown god. Paul proclaimed to them that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and everything in them, was this “unknown” God.

Paul told them that God doesn’t need to live in shrines built by human hands, nor does he need human hands to supply him with anything, since he provides mankind with everything, including life and breath. “And he made from one every nation of [mankind] to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after (“grope” after) him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for ‘in him we live and move and have our being;’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring’” (Acts 17:26-28; the first quotation is attributed to Epimenides, and the second is from Aratus’ Phaenomena).

Since we are God’s offspring, we should not suppose that God is like some representation made by the art and imagination of mankind, of gold, silver, or stone. God overlooked former times of ignorance, but now he commands all people to repent (change their ways of thinking and doing), because God has set a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness, by a person (Jesus) whom he has appointed, whom he has certified by raising him from physical death.

When they heard Paul claim the resurrection of the dead, some ridiculed him, but others wanted to hear more about this at another time. So Paul left the assembly, but some people believed Paul and joined him. Dionysius, the Areopagite (a member of the council), and a woman named Damaris and others followed Paul’s teaching.

Matthew Paraphrase:

It (the coming of the Kingdom of God) will be like a person who was leaving on a journey, and he assembled his servants and entrusted them with his property. To one he gave five talents (each talent worth about a thousand dollars), to another two talents, and to another one talent, according to the ability of each servant. The servant who had been entrusted with five talents invested them and doubled the money, and the servant entrusted with two talents did likewise. But the one who was entrusted with one talent buried it in the ground.

After a long time, the master returned and summoned his servants to settle accounts with them. The servant who had received five talents, returned them and the profit of five more talents, and was commended by the master for having been a good and faithful servant. The master said that as that servant had been faithful in a “small” matter, he would be entrusted with greater responsibility. So likewise, with the servant who had received two talents.

The servant who had received the one talent came forward and told his master that the servant knew the master expected to gain from another’s work, so the servant had been afraid, and had buried the master’s money in the ground. The master declared that this servant was wicked and lazy. The servant should have at least put the talent in the bank, where it would have earned interest for the master. The master commanded that the talent be taken from the unfaithful servant and given to the servant who had the ten talents.

Jesus declared that, likewise, more will be given to those who appreciate what they have been given, and use it well; but those who fail to appreciate and use what they have been given will lose even what they had. The master will cast the unproductive servant into outer darkness, where people will wail and gnash their teeth.

Commentary:

I am impressed with how Paul used his observation of Athenian culture to present the Gospel in a way that would uniquely appeal to the Athenians. Paul had been formally educated, and was familiar with Greek classical authors and writings. He used the time he spent waiting in Athens to observe the Athenians’ religious practices, and used the situation of the altar to an unknown god to present the Gospel of the true God who is and can be known personally (John 14:21, 23; Jeremiah 29:13-14a). It is important to present the Gospel to people in the context of their present circumstances and understanding.

Paul was provoked by the idolatry of the Athenians, but instead of berating them, he commended them for their religiosity. They simply needed (as Paul had) to be pointed to the true God. Paul, zealous for Judaism, had persecuted Christians as heretics until the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus (Romans 8:9) confronted Paul on his way to Damascus, and Paul was pointed to Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah by a faithful servant of Jesus Christ: Ananias (Acts 9:1-18).

Note the difference between Paul’s approach in presenting the Gospel to the Athenians and the unfaithful servant’s approach toward his master. Paul was provoked by the idolatry of the Athenians, but instead of berating them for their idolatry, he commended them for their interest in spiritual things, and for their willingness to acknowledge that they didn’t know all there is to know about God. So the Athenians were willing to hear Paul, and some were converted, or at least willing to listen further. In contrast the unfaithful servant attacked the master for perceived selfishness and greed. The unfaithful servant’s approach ended dialog, rather than opening it. Christian witnesses should note the right way and the wrong way of presenting the Gospel.

Religion is mankind’s attempt to manipulate God to do our own will; Christianity is our attempt to know and do God’s will, which is only possible by the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus “baptizes” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The “baptism” (gift; anointing) of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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).

God is our father, because he is our Creator, whether we acknowledge him or not. But he has designed Creation to allow us the opportunity to become his offspring, by spiritual rebirth, through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15-17, 23).

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to allow us the opportunity to seek, find, and have fellowship with God. The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to know personally and have fellowship with God our Creator, and our Lord Jesus Christ (note the Trinity; compare Romans 8:9; Matthew 28:19). God has designed Creation from the very beginning to allow us the opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), and the time to learn by trial-and-error that God’s way is our very best interest.

God wants us to willingly choose to trust and obey him. Sin is disobedience of God’s Word. God has deliberately designed Creation with the possibility of sin, so that we would have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not. This Creation and we ourselves are limited by time, because God is unwilling to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom.

There is a Day of Judgment coming for all who have ever lived in this world (John 5:28-29). Jesus has promised to return to judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead (1 Peter 4:5) in both the physical and spiritual senses. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, now in this lifetime, and will enter eternity in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord, and/or have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 7:21-26; Luke 6:46), will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

We have all been given physical life, and time to seek and come to a relationship with the Lord, our Creator. Are we seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit? When we have been born-again, are we making the most of the time we have, to proclaim the Gospel and build and strengthen God’s eternal kingdom, before Jesus returns?

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 Epiphany A – 02/05 – 18/2017

February 4, 2017

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)

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 Download: Week of 5 Epiphany – A

Sunday 5 Epiphany A

First Posted February 6, 2011;

Podcast: Sunday 5 Epiphany A

Isaiah 58:5-9a – What the Lord Requires;
Psalm 112 – Fate of Righteous and Wicked;
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 – Divine Wisdom;
Matthew 5:13-20 – Law and Gospel;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord does not desire ritual fasting, the outward show of humility, bowing down before the Lord in sackcloth and ashes. That kind of fasting does not please the Lord. What the Lord desires is the freeing of those who are in bondage to wickedness and oppression. The kind of self-denial the Lord desires is for us to share our food with the hungry, our homes with the homeless, our clothing with the naked; for us not to ignore the needs of our fellow humans around us.

When we practice those kinds of self-sacrifice, the light of our righteousness will break forth like dawn in the spiritual darkness of this world. We will quickly be spiritually healed, our righteousness will be seen and acknowledged, and God will be glorified. Then, when we call upon the Lord he will hear and answer us.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord! Happy is the person who fears (has appropriate respect for the power and authority of) God, and who greatly delights in God’s Word. His descendants will be great in the land and his generation will be blessed. His family will prosper and his righteousness will endure for ever.

“Light rises in the darkness for the upright; the Lord is gracious, merciful and righteous” (Psalm 112:4). All will be well with those who conduct their affairs with justice and generosity and lend to others. Those who do what is right will prevail and be remembered for their righteousness. They need not be afraid of bad news; they will trust in the Lord and not be afraid. They will wait patiently and will see the just punishment of their enemies.

Those who have been generous and have given to the poor will be honored and their righteousness will endure for ever. The wicked will see and be angry, and hate the righteous, but they will disappear, and their desires will accomplish nothing.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

God wisely chose not to make himself known through what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:21), so that eternal life cannot be earned, bought, or taken by force or deception. Paul refused to make the Gospel more attractive to his hearers by lofty rhetoric or display of worldly wisdom. He just presented the truth that Jesus is the Messiah, who was crucified as the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Although the messenger was humanly weak, the power of the message was by God’s Spirit working through Paul and within the Corinthians, so that their faith was not in human wisdom but in God’s power.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus taught his disciples that they were to be the “salt” (having seasoning, purifying and preserving properties) of the earth. If salt were to lose its “salty” properties, it would be worthless.

Disciples are also to be the “light” of righteousness, spiritual insight, and true eternal life, in a spiritually dark and dying world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. One does not light a lamp and hide it under a basket or under a bed. So disciples are to shine as lights in the darkness so that others will see their good works, and praise and glorify God.

Jesus came to fulfill, not do away with the Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets (the Old Testament of the Bible; God’s Word). This world will pass away but God’s Word will endure for ever. Those who relax the least commandment and teach others to do so will be called least in God’s eternal kingdom; but those who do God’s commandments and teach others to do so will be called great in God’s kingdom. Jesus warns that our righteousness must be greater than that of the scribes (teachers of the Law) and the Pharisees (predominant legalistic faction of Judaism), or we will never enter God’s eternal kingdom.

Commentary:

God wants his people to trust and obey God’s Word. God wants obedient trust instead of religious ritual. God wants us to be kind and just in our relations with one another; to work to oppose wickedness and oppression, hunger, poverty and homelessness. That is the kind of sacrifice God desires.

God promises that when we do what he wants we will receive spiritual enlightenment and healing, so that we can bring light to others and glorify God. God promises to hear and answer our prayers and our needs when we trust and obey his will (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right).

“The fear (appropriate respect for the power and authority) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). One cannot begin to know anything useful until one realizes his true relationship to God our Creator. God is the Lord of all Creation, whether we acknowledge him or not, and he has the power of eternal life or death over us.

God’s Word promises that those who trust and obey God’s Word will be blessed. They will prosper, and prevail over their enemies; they will have no fear, because they have learned that the Lord is able and faithful to protect and deliver them from any trouble or adversary. They will have light in the spiritual darkness, and grace, mercy, true eternal life, and the blessing of the Lord. They will learn that God’s commandments become a delight and a blessing to them.

All that God requires is that we love, honor and trust him enough to obey his commands, and that we love one another enough to treat them as we would want to be treated: with kindness and justice (Micah 6:8b).

Salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction is a gift from God to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians, 2:8-9), God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:21-24; Luke 6:46). Just calling ourselves Christians doesn’t save us; church membership won’t save us; religious rituals won’t save us; knowing the Bible won’t save us.

The Corinthians weren’t saved by Paul’s oratorical eloquence, or by human wisdom, but by the power of God’s Spirit, as they as they accepted Jesus as the Messiah, God’s anointed eternal Savior and King, and began to trust and obey Jesus.

Jesus wants his disciples to be “salt” in the world. If his disciples don’t have distinctive properties which differentiate them from worldly people, then they are worthless, and in danger of being thrown out. The characteristic which distinguishes them from worldly people is obedient trust in God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-3, 14).

Jesus’ disciples are to be “light” in the world. They become “light” as they receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), the “light of the World” (John 8:12), the light of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9; 14:15-17, 26; 16:13-14), the light of God’s righteousness (John 3:19-21; Philippians 3:9), the light of eternal life (John 1:4-5; 8:12). Christians must be “re-born” by obedient trust in Jesus, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit they are to go out into the world to be “salt” and “light.”

Jesus is not the end of the Law of Moses, the Word of God, but its fulfillment. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). The Old Covenant of Law (the Old Testament; the Law of Moses) teaches us the righteousness which God requires, and restrains us until we have been “born-again” to spiritual, eternal life through the gift 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).

No one can fulfill the requirements of the Law, God’s Word (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), except through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, by his indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:16). Those who trust and obey Jesus receive the Holy Spirit and are freed from condemnation under the Law, provided that they live according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus warns that those who don’t obey God’s Word, and teach others not to obey, will be disgraced in the kingdom of God, but those who obey and teach others to do so will be glorified and rewarded in God’s eternal kingdom. There are those in the nominal “Church” today who teach salvation (from eternal condemnation) by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust (“Cheap Grace;” see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

Jesus also warned that those who depend upon their own keeping of the Law of Moses for their salvation, like the scribes and Pharisees, will never enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom, because salvation is only by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus and “rebirth” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (see “Legalism,” False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

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 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 6 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 7, 2011;

Podcast: Monday 5 Epiphany A

Psalm 119:1-16 — Living According to God’s Word;

Paraphrase:

Happy are those who live according to God’s Word and are blameless in his judgment. Happy are those who keep God’s commandments and earnestly seek him; who avoid wrongdoing, and follow God’s ways. God has commanded us to keep his commands with diligence and steadfastness. Then we will have no reason to be ashamed, because we have committed ourselves to keep all of God’s commandments. When we have learned his righteous ordinances we will be able to praise the Lord with an upright heart. Let us be committed to keeping God’s laws, so that the Lord will not completely forsake us.

“How can a young man [person] keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy Word” (Psalm 119:9). Let us seek the Lord with all our hearts, and not stray from obedience to his teachings. “I have laid up thy Word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). May the Lord be blessed and may he teach me his ways. I will proclaim thy Word. I will delight in God’s Word as much as all riches. I will meditate on God’s Word and live according to his teachings. Let me not forget his Word.

Commentary:

God has designed this Creation for a purpose. From the very beginning God has always intended to create an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. In order to give us the freedom to choose whether or not to obey God, he designed this Creation with the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), but God is not going to tolerate disobedience and rebellion in his eternal kingdom. God has set a time-limit on this Creation and our lifetimes. This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to know, trust and obey God.

God knew that by giving us the choice, we would all sin and come short of his righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). But God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8), so he provided forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal condemnation as a free gift to all who are willing to accept it through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek God our Creator and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). God wants to be found by us (Matthew 7:7). He wants us to know his purpose for Creation, so he has revealed it in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the Messiah (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew respectively; i.e. God’s chosen and designated eternal Savior and King).

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24). Jesus has promised to reveal himself and God the Father to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:21, 23).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8), and this is only possible through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus 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).

There is a Day of Judgment coming at the end of this temporal age (and our lifetimes). Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to God for what they have done in this lifetime. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in the kingdom of heaven in a new, perfect Creation freed of sin and death. Those who have refused to accept Jesus and have not trusted and obey him will be condemned to 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)?

Tuesday 5 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 6 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 8, 2011;

Podcast: Tuesday 5 Epiphany A

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 – Our Choice;

Paraphrase:

God has set before us a choice of either life and good, or death and evil. God will bless with life and prosperity in the land he promised to give us, if we obey God’s Word (his commandments, in the Bible, and in the word and example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who refuse to hear and obey God’s Word, and are drawn to worship and serve idols (some modern examples are success, wealth, possessions, pleasure, or self; anything we love as much as or more than God) will perish eternally; instead of living forever in the Promised Land (of heaven) which God has promised to give us, “over the Jordan River” (the “river” of physical death).

Heaven and earth bear witness: God’s prophets (those who declare God’s Word fully and accurately) have made our choice of life or death, blessing or curse, known to us. So let us choose life for ourselves, and our choice will influence our descendants lives, that we may live in obedience and adhere closely to the Lord, because that will mean true and long (eternal) life for us in the land God has promised to our spiritual forefathers.

Commentary:

The history of God’s dealings with Israel were intended to be metaphors for life in this world. The history of Israel’s exodus from Egypt is an illustration. Jesus is the “New Moses, who leads his people out of bondage to sin and death under “Pharaoh” Satan) in the “Egypt” of this present world order, separating us from our spiritual enemies through the “sea” of baptism into Jesus Christ, through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, by the pillar of fire and cloud (the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit), through the “river” of physical death, and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s kingdom in Heaven.

God has always intended to produce a kingdom of his people who willingly choose to obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to choose whether to trust and obey God, and the opportunity to learn from trial and error that God’s way is our best interest. This Creation has been designed to allow for the possibility for sin, so that we would have free choice. But God will not tolerate rebellion forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, so this Creation and we ourselves have been limited by time.

God has made his Word known to us in the Bible, and in the “living Word,” Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh, in this world. We have been given a choice, whether to live according to God’s Word, and be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in this lifetime 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 baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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), or to live according to our own will, and receive eternal condemnation and death in Hell with all evil, separated eternally from the Lord, who is the source of life and every good thing.

Faith (obedient trust) in Jesus is the only way to be saved from eternal damnation, the only way to know divine eternal truth, which is unlike what the world falsely considers truth (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-8), and the only way to obtain true eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). This lifetime is our only opportunity to learn to trust and obey Jesus and to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life. At the moment of our physical death, or at the advent of some mental impairment such as stroke or dementia, our eternal destinies will be fixed and unalterable.

“Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name “Joshua.” Jesus is the “New Joshua,” who can lead us through the “river” of physical death and into the eternal “Promised Land” without getting our feet “wet” (Joshua 3:7-8, 13-17); without being affected by physical death. People who try to pass over without Jesus, won’t make it, any more than the Egyptian army was able to pass through the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:36-41; 15:19).

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 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 6 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 9, 2011;

Podcast: Wednesday 5 Epiphany A

1 Corinthians 2:6-13 – Spiritual Wisdom;

Paraphrase:

Spiritually mature (“born-again;” John 3:3, 5-8) Christians proclaim spiritual wisdom, which cannot be understood by worldly, “unregenerate” (“un-born-again”) people, but only those who have been spiritually “reborn” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. What the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-25), is doomed to pass away (die eternally), along with worldly leaders, and worldly people. The divine, spiritual wisdom that mature, born-again Christians proclaim is the secret, hidden wisdom of God (the redemption which is only in Jesus), which God designed into Creation from the very beginning, so that we can be glorified. Worldly leaders and people (those under the influence of Satan and demonic powers) didn’t know this or they would not have crucified Jesus, who is Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor) of glory (the place and the attribute). So they were defeated by Jesus’ crucifixion (Colossians 2:14-15).

This is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 64:4), of what God has prepared for those who love (believe in -trust and obey- the promises of God’s Word, and wait for them) the Lord, although no human has seen, heard, nor imagined what that fulfillment will be like. These things are revealed to us through (the baptism of) the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit knows everything, even the deepest things of God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God (the Spirit of Christ: Romans 8:9); and who knows God’s thoughts more fully than God’s own Spirit? Believers receive the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is from God, not a worldly spirit (of Satan; demonic), so that we can understand the gifts of God given through the Spirit. So born-again teachers teach not their own human wisdom but the spiritual wisdom which has been given to them through the indwelling Holy Spirit, interpreting spiritual truth to those who possess the Spirit.

Commentary:

God has designed Creation so that it is impossible to come to know and have fellowship with God through human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:21), but only by faith (obedient trust) in God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14). To unbelievers, the Word of God seems foolish; it makes no earthly sense to them because they are spiritually blind and are perishing eternally (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).

Humans cannot know divine, eternal, spiritual truth except as it is revealed to them by and through the indwelling Holy Spirit. God has designed this temporal Creation as a “garden” in which to “grow” obedient, trusting people for his eternal kingdom.

We are all born physically into this world, but are spiritually “un-born.” This temporal lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to true, eternal life, and this is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and for eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

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 baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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).

Those who were of the world tried to destroy Jesus by crucifying him, but if they had known the secret, hidden wisdom of God they would not have crucified Jesus. By crucifying Jesus they actually helped fulfill God’s plan, so crucifying Jesus was against their own self-interest.

No one can see, know or imagine what God has prepared for his obedient, trusting people. This Creation was created to be very good (Genesis 1:31a). But God wanted us to have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey him or not, so he allowed for the possibility for sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

The bad things that exist in this world are caused by human sin. Creation will be restored to perfect paradise in God’s eternal kingdom in Heaven. People who don’t trust and obey God won’t be allowed in. Heaven will be the perfect paradise that this world could have been if all had chosen to trust and obey God. We believe that, without being able to see, hear, or imagine it.

The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “first-fruit,” the “down-payment,” the “security-deposit’ from God to us, guaranteeing spiritual, eternal life. We experience, now, a small taste of the love and fellowship we will have with the Lord in eternity.

People who have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and have not experienced the love and fellowship with the Lord, now, in this world, can’t understand spiritual things, because they are only understood by the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit opens the minds of believers to understand the scripture (the Bible; Luke 24:45), teaches us all things (all spiritual truth) and recalls to our minds all that Jesus teaches (John 14:26) He will declare all the things to come (John 16:13; the test 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).

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 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 6 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 10, 2011;

Podcast: Thursday 5 Epiphany A

Matthew 5:20-37 – Higher Righteousness;

Paraphrase:

Jesus declared that our righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true, according to God’s Word, the Bible, and in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified: John 1:1-3, 14) must exceed that of the religious leaders of Judaism at the time of Jesus’ physical coming, in order to enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

As examples of higher righteousness, Jesus said that one should not merely avoid actual physical murder; one should not even be angry, insult or curse a “brother” (“neighbor;” any other person) or will be held guilty in the Day of Judgment. So if one wants to give an offering to the Lord, but is estranged from his brother, one should first seek reconciliation with his brother before making an offering to God. If someone is accused and summoned to refute the accusation before a judge, one should try to settle the matter with his accuser before they get to court. Otherwise the accused may be found guilty and will be sent to prison, where he will never get out until he has made full restitution.

Commentary:

Jesus criticized the leaders of Judaism at the time, for keeping the letter of the Law of Moses (the Old Testament books of Moses), but violating the spirit of the Law. The Commandment to not kill another person is fulfilled by not harming the person in any way.

The Law was given to Moses by God, to restrain evil among God’s people until the coming of the Messiah (Christ), and to teach them the standard of righteousness that God requires. The Jews expanded the Ten Commandments into books full of laws to more narrowly define the meanings of the Commandments, so they could appear to fulfill them and excuse exceptions.

One of the purposes of the Law of Moses was to show that, even with man-made exceptions, it was impossible for humans to keep all the Law all of the time. Failure to keep the Law at any point made one guilty of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; see James 2:10). Sacrifices had to be made continually, because God’s people couldn’t keep the Law by their own ability.

Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). We are all sinners, and have fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin, salvation from eternal death (which is the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23), and restoration of fellowship with God our Creator, which was broken by sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

With the giving of the Law, God provided a system of blood sacrifice to teach his people that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). When Jesus was crucified, his blood sacrifice on the cross became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin.

Jesus’ death on the cross makes it possible to be spiritually cleansed by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, so that we can become temples 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 baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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). Jesus came and died to make it possible for us to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life now, in this lifetime (John 16:7), so that we can enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

We can fulfill the Law only by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to know and fulfill God’s Word. The Lord gives his indwelling Holy Spirit only to those who are committed to living according to the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9). We are judged “righteous” by faith in Jesus, not by any righteousness of our own (Romans 3:22; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 2:16).

This temporal lifetime is intended by God to allow us the time and opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This lifetime is intended to provide us with time and opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s will is good, possible, and our best interest (Romans 12:2).

Unfortunately, Christianity today is in the same condition as Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first advent (coming). Religious leaders are defining and teaching, by word and example, God’s Word, in the narrowest possible way. There are two major heresies in the nominal Church today which were present in the Church in the first century, and are refuted in the New Testament. One is “legalism,” which is teaching that one must keep the Law of Moses and do “good deeds” according to the Law, in order to be saved from eternal condemnation. The other is “Cheap Grace,” which is teaching that salvation is by grace (a free gift; unmerited favor; which is true), but without the requirement of obedient trust in Jesus (false; see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home). One can see from this text today that these teachings are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when Christ has promised to return to judge the living (“quickened”) and dead in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5; John 5:28-29). Jesus is the righteous judge and the standard of judgment by whom all will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been born-again in this lifetime and will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus’ Lordship, and have refused or failed to trust and obey him, will be “un-born-again” (“unregenerate”), and will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

Friday 5 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 6 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 11, 2011;

Podcast:Friday 5 Epiphany A

Isaiah 61:10-11 – Mission to Zion;

Background:

This portion of Isaiah was probably written right before the fall of Babylon to Cyrus of Persia (October 29, 539 B. C.) and during the following generation. Chapters 56-66 were probably written between 530-510, around the time of the return of Judah from exile in Babylon (about 517 B.C.)*.

Paraphrase:

Because the Lord has clothed us with the garments of salvation and righteousness, like a bride adorns herself with jewelry and the groom wears a garland, let us rejoice greatly in the Lord and exalt our God.

In the sight of all the nations, the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth, like the earth brings forth new shoots, and as a garden causes seeds to sprout and grow.

Commentary:

The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “garment” of salvation and righteousness which all must have to attend the wedding feast of the bride (the Church) and the “Lamb,” (the bridegroom; Jesus) in heaven. That feast is the fulfillment of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist), the “New Passover,” which Jesus instituted on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-29), the eve of his crucifixion.

Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross provides us with the garment of salvation and righteousness, which we receive by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. We are all sinners and fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for the forgiveness of our sin, our salvation from eternal death, and restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

We can’t earn, buy or take salvation and righteousness by force or deception (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our righteousness is attributed to us by God 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 baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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).

The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the anointing with the “oil of gladness” (Psalm 45:7). It is only possible to truly praise and rejoice in the Lord by the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:15-17).

This temporal Creation has always been intended by God to be a garden for the “sprouting and growing” of his spiritual children. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith in Jesus. Christians are by definition disciples of Jesus Christ, who have been “born-again” to spiritual, eternal life, by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the way that a seed is similarly born again to new life as a seedling, and grows to spiritual maturity at the Day of Judgment at Christ’s Second Coming.

Christ’s promised Second Coming will be the spiritual harvest of God’s “garden” (Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43). Jesus will judge the “living” (“quickened”) and “dead” in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5; John 5:28-29). Every one who has ever lived in this Creation will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done individually in this lifetime; those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually born again to eternal life, now, in this lifetime, and will enter God’s eternal kingdom, paradise restored, in Heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus as Savior and Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Introduction to Isaiah, p. 822, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Saturday 5 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 6 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 12, 2011;

Podcast: Saturday 5 Epiphany A

2 Corinthians 4:5-6 – Face of Christ;
Matthew 11:25-27 – Revealing God

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul (and all “born-again” apostles -messengers of the Gospel) are preaching the Lordship of Jesus Christ, rather than themselves, as servants of Jesus Christ on behalf of their hearers. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, by his Word, commanded light to shine forth in darkness (Genesis 1:3), and has caused the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Christ, to shine in our hearts.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus upbraided the cities where he had done most of his miracles, because they had seen but had not repented. Then Jesus thanked God the Father that God had, by his gracious will, hidden divine eternal truth for those who consider themselves sophisticated and wise by worldly standards, and had revealed them to those whom the world regarded as intellectually immature. Jesus declared that God had given Jesus all power and wisdom. Nobody knows God the Father except Jesus, and those to whom Jesus chooses to reveal him.

Commentary:

God’s first act of Creation was to call forth light by the creative power of his Word (Genesis 1:3). God created light to enlighten darkness in physical, intellectual and spiritual senses. Light is deliberately intended by God to symbolize righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word; John 3:19-21), enlightenment, in the intellectual and spiritual senses (John 1:9), and true, eternal life (John 1:1:4; notice how John 1:1-5 follows the structure of Genesis 1:1-5).

Light also seems to be the built-in speed limit of this temporal Universe. According to my 1960’s high school education in physics, time slows down as one approaches the speed of light. Mankind does not seem to be able to go faster than the speed of light; and at the speed of light time apparently stops: the definition of eternity.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God made visible in human flesh. Jesus was fully human, and also fully God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:7-10). No one has seen or can see God; Jesus has revealed him (John 1:18). Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to the world.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; note the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Jesus promises to manifest himself to his obedient, trusting disciples (John 14:21). Only Jesus baptizes (“anoints”) with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34, only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have a personal, daily relationship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The anointing of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily 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).

We can see the see and know the supernatural glory of God in Jesus’ face, as when the three disciples of Jesus’ inner circle experienced it when Jesus was transformed on the mountaintop (Matthew 17:1-8).

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 Epiphany A – 01/29 – 02/04/2017

January 28, 2017

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)

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 4 Epiphany A

Sunday 4 Epiphany A

First Posted January 30, 2011;

Podcast: Sunday 4 Epiphany A

Micah 6:1-8 – What God Requires;
Psalm 1 – The Reward of Righteousness;
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – Boast in the Lord;
Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes;

Micah Paraphrase:

Listen to the Word of the Lord: God has a controversy with his people. Who can judge between God and his people? Plead your case before the mountains, before the foundations of the earth.

What has the Lord done to his people to cause them to be weary of the Lord? Remember how he redeemed them from Egypt and slavery. Remember how God raised up Moses, Aaron and Miriam to lead them. Remember what Balak, king of Moab plotted to do against Israel, and how Balaam answered him. Remember what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, so that God’s people will realize the saving acts of God on their behalf.

What can God’s people bring to come before God and worship him? Will burnt offerings and sacrifices gain his acceptance? Would even thousands of animal sacrifices and ten thousand rivers of oil please the Lord? Would even the sacrifice of our first-born make amends for our sins? God has shown us what is good; what God wants is for us to act justly, be loving and kind, and humbly follow God.

Psalm Paraphrase:

God blesses the person who does not follow the counsel or examples of those who are wicked, who scoff at and disobey God’s Word, but instead who delights in God’s Word and meditates on it constantly. That person will be like a tree planted by a stream; its leaves never wither and it bears its fruit in the proper season. That person will prosper in all that he does.

Conversely, the wicked will be like chaff blown away by the wind. The wicked will not be upheld in the Day of Judgment, and sinners will not be admitted into the congregation of the righteous. The Lord knows who has been righteous and who is wicked; he will reward the righteous, but the wicked will perish.

Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul had made the point that the Gospel seems like foolishness to people who are perishing from sin (disobedience of God’s Word), but to those who believe, it is the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:17-25). As an example, believers should consider their own circumstances. Not many Christian disciples are rich, powerful or noble by worldly standards. God uses those who seem foolish and weak to shame those who consider themselves smart, strong and important. God has chosen what are low and despised, and even spiritual things which seem like nothing to the world, to bring to nothing the material things which seem so real to us now, so that no one will be able to boast in God’s presence. God is the source of true, eternal life in Jesus Christ, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness, sanctification (purification and dedication to God’s use), and redemption, so we have no reason to boast except in the Lord.

Matthew Paraphrase:

When crowds gathered around Jesus, he took them up the side of a mountain and had them sit down, and began to teach his disciples. Jesus said that:

 

  • God blesses those who realize they are spiritually poor and needy.
  • Those who mourn now (as sinners in a sinful world) will be comforted, strengthened and restored.
  • The meek will outlast the arrogant and ruthless.
  • Those who realize that righteousness (in God’s judgment) is as spiritually necessary as physical food and drink is to physical life, will have their spiritual hunger satisfied.
  • Those who realize their need for mercy, from God and their fellows, will be merciful to others.
  • Only those who are pure in heart will see God, [and only Jesus can purify our hearts, 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)].
  • Those who work to bring peace will be accepted by God as his children.
  • Those who are willing to accept persecution for righteousness’ sake will enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • Disciples who endure reviling, persecution, slander and evil for the sake of Jesus will be rewarded in heaven. This is the way the world has always responded to the Word of God and his prophets.

Commentary:

This Universe is God’s Creation and from the beginning he has intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who trust and obey God. God has revealed himself and his plan in his relationship with Israel, recorded as God’s Word, the Bible. He has revealed himself and his plan in the flesh in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ has always been the one and only plan of God from the beginning of Creation. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived out in obedient trust in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). This world has been created to allow us free choice whether or not to trust and obey God’s Word, and to learn by trial and error that God’s will is good and our best interest. But God is not going to tolerate rebellion and disobedience of his Word forever, so he has set a time limit on this Creation, and our individual lifetimes.

God is Lord of Creation whether we acknowledge him as our Lord or not. We are his people whether we accept his Lordship or not, because he is our creator. God has made known his standard of righteousness in the Bible and in Jesus Christ. He has designed Creation so that no one is righteous (doing right according to God’s Word and judgment) on his own merit (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). God’s Word declares that the penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is eternal death. God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17), so he gave his only begotten Son Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins, salvation from condemnation and eternal destruction, and restoration of peace and fellowship with God (see God’s plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God’s requirements are not too difficult for us. He wants us to treat others with justice, love and kindness, and to trust and obey God’s Word. He has given us an example of what he requires in Jesus Christ, and through obedient trust in Jesus we are cleansed and freed from slavery to sin, and empowered to live according to God’s Word by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which Jesus makes possible for us to receive.

If we were to face God’s judgment in our own human ability there would be no mediator between our sinful nature and God’s unlimited power and righteousness. We would be in the situation described by Micah, with only the mountains to hear our plea for mercy and forgiveness. Have you tried hollering at the mountains lately? The only reply is an echo.

But God has given us his only completely righteous and sinless Son, Jesus Christ, to be our mediator, to appeal on our behalf for mercy and forgiveness. Unlike the mountains, Jesus is eternally alive, and he reveals himself to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:21). When we cry to him he hears and answers!

The Bible is the record of what God has done for his people in Jesus Christ, but do we know and remember them? As we see what God did for Israel through Moses to bring them out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness and into the Promised Land, we can believe that God will also do that for us in Jesus Christ as he has promised.

Balak was the king of Moab, who tried to hire a seer, Balaam, to curse God’s people, because Balak was afraid of them. Balaam refused to allow his prophecy to be bought with money, and instead accurately prophesied what God revealed to him: that they would be blessed.

Shittim was the encampment of the Israelites in Moab on the east bank of the Jordan River in preparation to enter the Promised Land. There the Israelites sinned by fornicating with the women of Moab, which was against God’s specific commandment, but the Israelites were saved from the resulting plague by the intervention of the priest, Phinehas, grandson of Aaron (Numbers 25:1-8).

Jesus is our high priest who intervenes for us before God to save us from the just punishment of our sins. The Jordan River symbolizes physical death which separates us from the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. As the Lord parted the waters of the Jordan River so that the Israelites entered the Promised Land without getting their feet wet, Jesus makes it possible to pass through the river of death from the wilderness of this world and into eternal life in the kingdom of God in heaven.

No amount of animal sacrifices, offerings of material possessions, or religious ritual, can buy God’s favor. Even the sacrifice of our first-born would not buy our forgiveness. Only the sacrifice of God’s own first-born is acceptable to God for our forgiveness and salvation. All that God wants from us is our obedient trust in his Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ.

God blesses those who trust and obey Jesus, and will destroy those who reject and refuse to trust and obey Jesus. God has given us his Word to show us what God blesses and what he will curse and destroy. God’s Word seems like foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, Jesus is the power and wisdom of God, our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

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 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted: January 31, 2011;

Podcast: Monday 4 Epiphany A

Psalm 112 – Rewards of Righteousness;

Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord! Happy is the person who fears (has proper respect for the power and authority of) the Lord, who greatly delights in God’s commandments. The descendants of the righteous will be mighty in the land; his posterity will be blessed. His household will prosper and their righteousness will endure for ever. “Light rises in the darkness for the upright; the Lord is gracious, merciful, and righteous” (Psalm 112:4).

The Lord will bless and prosper the righteous who conduct their affairs with generosity and justice. The righteous will be secure, and will be remembered forever. They will not be afraid of bad news, but will trust in the Lord with confidence. They will not waver, or be afraid until they see the just punishment of their adversaries. The righteousness of those who are generous and give to the poor will endure for ever and they will be exalted and honored. The wicked see the righteous prosper and are angry; the wicked will not endure; their desires will not succeed.

People who seek happiness and long life should seek the Lord and his Word. The Bible is God’s Word, the “owners’ manual” for blessing and long life.

Commentary:

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know the Lord, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). God wants us to seek him so that he can reveal himself to us. The place to begin is the Bible.

Jesus is the only way to have peace and real, eternal, life in fellowship with God (John 14:6); God has intentionally designed Jesus into Creation. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to learn to live in fellowship with the Lord, and to be “re-born” to spiritual eternal life. Those who learn Jesus’ teachings and begin to trust and obey him are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life 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).

God has given us his Word in the Bible and in the example of Jesus Christ, to show us how to get the most out of life. God has revealed himself in the Bible and in Jesus Christ. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9), God the Father and Jesus Christ are revealed to us personally and individually (John 14:21; 23).

As we begin to trust God’s Word he reveals his goodness, love, faithfulness and power to fulfill his promises, and as he does so, our faith is increased and strengthened. We learn and come to know from experience that his commands are not burdensome and that his way is our very best interest. We will learn to delight in God’s Word. We will learn to walk by the spiritual light of Jesus (John 8:12; 12:46) without stumbling, through the spiritual darkness of this present world. The light of Jesus is the light of eternal life (John 1:4-5).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of true, divine, wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10a, Ps 111:10), distinct from what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8). Until we understand that God is our Creator and that he has created us for his purpose, we cannot begin to learn what God wants to teach us. We must understand that God has ultimate power and authority over us and our eternal destiny before we can begin to learn what is eternally important (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God’s Word is testimony to God’s existence, goodness, power, authority, faithfulness, and love. Those who have trusted and obeyed God’s Word in the Bible and Jesus Christ affirm that testimony and truth.

Those who trust God’s Word in Jesus Christ have security which the world cannot give. We have come to know that the Lord and his promises are true. The Lord blesses and prospers us daily. There is nothing that can happen to us from which the Lord cannot deliver us, including 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)?

Tuesday 4 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted: February 1, 2011;

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Epiphany A

Isaiah 58:5-9a

Does the Lord delight in human fasting where a man humbles himself and bows down in sackcloth and ashes? Will we call that a fasting acceptable to the Lord? Rather, doesn’t the Lord prefer that we loosen the bonds of wickedness and yoke of oppression?

The Lord wants us to share our food with the hungry, our homes with the homeless, and our clothing with the naked, and not ignore the needs of our fellow humans. When we learn to do so, we will be a light in the world like the breaking of dawn and we will be quickly healed. Our righteousness will be obvious and the glory of the Lord will accompany us. Then the Lord will hear and answer when we call on him.

Commentary:

The Lord is not pleased with religious ritual. Religious ritual has the appearance of devotion, but real devotion to the Lord means trusting and obeying God’s Word (John 14:15-17, 21). Religious ritual does nothing to heal us or our society of our spiritual illness. Obedience is the act of self-denial that the Lord desires, which will heal us.

If (as the Lord has commanded, we truly love one another as we love ourselves, then we will work to break the bonds of wickedness and oppression. We will work to change the conditions in society which cause poverty and homelessness.

Don’t blame poverty on the poor! Poverty happens because there is an unfair distribution of the resources God intended for us to share. The gap between rich and poor in America today is greater than it has ever been.

Tax breaks for the rich? “Outsourcing” jobs? Failed retirement programs? Illegal immigration? Gang violence? The symptoms of spiritual illness are all around us.

The Church needs to be the conscience of society and the advocate for the poor, but it is not solely the Church’s responsibility to solve the problems of society. We need to work with the Church to hold government and business accountable and responsive to the needs of all our people.

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 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted February 4, 2011;

Podcast: Wednesday 4 Epiphany A

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 — Not by Worldly Wisdom;

Paul did not try to embellish the Gospel or make it more convincing by lofty rhetoric. Paul didn’t claim any worldly wisdom or human insight into the mystery of God’s plan. Instead he acknowledged and accepted his human limitations and merely proclaimed the truth of Jesus, the Messiah, crucified. So the faith of the Corinthians was the work of the Holy Spirit working through Paul and in the Corinthians, and not based on human wisdom or worldly oratory.

Commentary:

God, in wisdom, designed Creation so that mankind cannot come to know God through what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:21; 1:17-25). So mankind can never figure out how to possess eternal life through human wisdom. Instead, the only way to come to know God and have fellowship and eternal life in God’s kingdom is through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again,” disciple and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, like we can be. He was “discipled” by a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10), until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:17-18). Paul was making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, as the examples of the Corinthians and Paul’s protégé Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6-7) illustrate, in fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to his (born-again; Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, &8) disciples.

Paul was determined to claim no special knowledge except Jesus Christ. Paul didn’t just know “about” Jesus; he knew Jesus personally through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), and Paul knew personally that Jesus had risen from the dead to eternal life.

The mission of Christ to bring forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction to a lost and dying world cannot be accomplished in human strength, but only by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Note also that one cannot testify about what one has not personally experienced.

Paul taught Timothy to repeat the process of born-again disciples making born-again disciples (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul warned Timothy that the time was coming when people would not accept sound teaching but would seek teachers who would teach what they wanted to hear; to “tickle their ears” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Paul warned that there were many who were [merely] “peddlers” of God’s Word (a way of earning a living; 2 Corinthians 2:17). Paul refused to tamper with God’s Word to make it “popular” (2 Corinthians 4:2).

Sound teaching is Biblical (recorded in the Bible) and Apostolic (as taught by the Apostles, including Paul). The Bible is the standard by which to discern true and false doctrines. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:15-17) who will teach the “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ all things, remind them of all Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26), and will guide them into all truth (John 16:13).

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).

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 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 3, 2011;

Podcast:Thursday 4 Epiphany A

Matthew 5:13-20 – Jesus and Law;

The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:1-7:27, is representative of Jesus’ teachings.

Paraphrase:

Jesus taught that his disciples are to be the salt (a spice, a purifier and preservative) of the earth; but if salt loses its distinctive qualities, how would one restore them, and what would salt be good for without them? Savorless salt would be worthless.

His disciples are to be the light of the world; the light of righteousness, divine insight, and life in the spiritual darkness of this world. The light of disciples who are following Jesus’ example and teaching cannot be hidden any more than a city set on a hill. No one lights a lamp and tries to keep the light hidden under a basket or under a bed. Instead one places it on a stand where it will give light to everything around it. So let us shine, that people will see our good works and praise God our Father in heaven.

Jesus came, not to abolish the Law of Moses and the prophets (the Old Testament Scriptures), but to fulfill them. This Creation will pass away but God’s Word will continue forever. Whoever relaxes the least of God’s commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in God’s eternal kingdom, but those who keep them and teach others to do so will be called great in God’s kingdom. Jesus warned that unless one’s righteousness is greater than the scribes (teachers of God’s Law; scripture) and Pharisees (strict legalistic faction of Judaism), one will never enter God’s eternal heavenly kingdom.

Commentary:

All Christians are to be Jesus’ disciples (Acts 11:26c). Jesus’ disciples are to be distinct from worldly people, by living according to Jesus’ teaching and example, so that we will influence those we come into contact with in our daily lives, like salt seasons, purifies and preserves what it is put into. People who call themselves “Christians” but who are not “disciples,” who are indistinguishable from worldly people, and are not interacting with the world to change those they come in contact with are worthless and near to being discarded.

Christians are to be the “light” of righteousness, divine wisdom and life in a spiritually dark and dying world. If we have seen the light of Jesus Christ we are to reflect and spread that light. We are to live so that those who are in darkness may see by our good works that we have the light of righteousness, spiritual wisdom and eternal life, so that God will be glorified through us.

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus came into the world to give the light of God’s righteousness (John 3:19-21; 8:12), spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9), and eternal life (John 1:4-5) to all who are willing to receive it.

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death. Jesus came into the world to become the only blood sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word), to save from our eternal condemnation by God, and to restore us to fellowship with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right).

Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, we receive 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 re-born (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life and personal fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:21, 23). 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 Law was given to teach God’s people what God requires, and to show that we are unable to meet the requirements except by God’s grace through faith in Jesus (Galatians 2:16). It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are able to meet the demands of the Law

Those who are reborn fulfill the requirements of the Law by grace (God’s unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), provided that we walk in obedient trust in the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-10). Through rebirth, we are able to trust and obey God through love instead of through fear of condemnation and punishment.

Jesus warned us not to think that because of God’s grace we don’t need to trust and obey God’s Word or do “good works” (compare Ephesians 2:8-10), but not to think that we are righteous by “keeping” the Law, as the scribes and Pharisees taught, either (Galatians 2:16). These were two false interpretations of God’s Word prevalent in the time of Jesus’ physical ministry and in the first century Church, recorded and refuted in the New Testament, and they continue to be a problem in the Church today (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)?

Friday 4 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 4, 2011;

Podcast: Friday 4 Epiphany A

Jeremiah 17:5-10 – Trust in the Lord;

Paraphrase:

The Lord says that the person who trusts in another human or in human ability will be cursed; he will be like a shrub in the desert; he will dwell in desolation, and experience no good. Blessed is the one who puts his trust in the Lord. He is like a tree which grows beside a stream. He will not worry about heat or drought. When drought comes, his leaves will remain green and he will continue to bear fruit.

The human heart is deceitful and corrupt beyond understanding. The Lord searches the mind and tests the heart of every person, and will repay each person according to the results of what he has done.

Commentary:

Trust in any thing or person other than the Lord will ultimately disappoint and destroy us. It is hard to begin to trust the Lord. We believe material and human resources are what we need and the solution to our problems. We have to let go of those physical resources and trust in spiritual resources which seem less substantial and real to us. It is hard to trust in the Lord until we come to the end of our own resources and realize that we need him and the help that only he can provide.

This lifetime has been designed so that we can have the opportunity to learn to trust in the Lord. If we will begin to trust the Lord he will show us that we can believe and count on him. As we learn to trust him he will cause our trust in him to grow.

When I began to seek the Lord in daily devotional Bible reading, meditation and prayer, he began leading me one day at a time. That in itself is hard for us, because we have all sorts of future plans for ourselves, and we plan well in advance.

As we begin to seek his guidance, he will show us things in his Word, and as we begin to act on those things he will cause our faith to grow. The Lord gave me a series of experiences which increased my trust in him (see particularly “Discipleship,” and “Spiritual Growth,” Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right). The Lord showed me that unlike human and material resources, he is never unavailable and there is no problem too difficult for him to solve.

I didn’t turn to the Lord until mid-life and a career crisis. Since then I’ve been letting the Lord lead me. I haven’t accomplished anything great by worldly standards, but he has given me many great opportunities for ministry of the Gospel. I realize now that the things I did in my secular career were not important or useful eternally. Only what I have done by the guidance and empowerment of the Lord has been worthwhile.

We can’t trust our own hearts, because our flesh causes us to desire what is not good for us. Following our own hearts will lead to disaster. Only when we give our hearts to the Lord and allow him to cleanse and fill them with his Holy Spirit can we seek and do what is truly good and worthwhile.

Don’t come to the end of your life to discover that everything you did is going to burn up in the Day of Judgment (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), and that you failed to do what is truly and eternally important. Be planted by the river of living water, the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), and then you will bear fruit that will endure for eternal life.

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 Epiphany A

To Be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted February 5, 2011;

Podcast: Saturday 4 Epiphany A

1 Corinthians 3:3-23 – Spiritual Growth;
Matthew 13:44-52 – Parables of the Kingdom;

Corinthians Paraphrase:

The Corinthian Church was divided by factions over loyalty to Apollos, a leader of the congregation, or Paul, who had brought the Gospel to them. Paul told them that jealousy and strife among them indicated that they were living according to their flesh instead of the Holy Spirit, and were no different than worldly people.

Church leaders are servants of the congregation (not rulers of an “empire” as are worldly leaders). In an analogy to farming, Paul had planted, and Apollos had watered, but it was God who produced the growth. Paul and Apollos are merely laborers, and the congregation is God’s field; God is the one over all, to whom all are accountable.

In an analogy to building, Paul laid the foundation like a skilled master builder. Now others were building upon that foundation. Each person who builds upon the foundation must be careful to use good materials and workmanship. The foundation is Jesus Christ; without that any other labor and materials would be wasted. But upon that sound foundation, the workmanship and materials of the builders will be tested, as with fire, on the Day of Judgment. Shoddy materials and workmanship will be destroyed by fire, but good materials and workmanship will be evident and will survive. If a laborer’s work survives, he will receive a reward. If a laborer’s work is destroyed, he will suffer loss, although he himself will survive.

Each “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) believer is a temple of God’s Spirit dwelling within them. As a temple each one is holy. If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.

Don’t deceive yourself. Worldly wisdom is folly compared to God’s (divine) wisdom which the world considers foolish. In order to become truly wise one must become a fool according to worldly standards (see 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8). God’s Word warns that the wise are snared in their own cunning (Job 5:13), and the plans of the wise are futile (Psalm 94:11). So we should not boast of humans. We don’t belong to any mortal, but to God in Christ, and church leaders belong to us; not we to them.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus used three parables to describe the kingdom of heaven. It is like treasure buried in a field. If one finds the treasure, he will gladly sell everything he has to buy the field so that he can possess the treasure.

The kingdom of God is like a pearl of great value. A merchant looking for fine pearls sells all he has so that he can possess it.

The kingdom of heaven is also compared to a fishing net. When thrown into the sea it collects every fish in its path. When full, it is drawn in and fishermen sort through the fish, keeping the good, and throwing back the bad. The net represents the close of this age, when the angels will separate the evil from the righteous. The evil will be thrown into the fires of hell, where people will spend eternity in sorrow and anguish.

Jesus asked his hearers if they had understood what he was saying, and then said that a scribe (a teacher of the Law of Moses) who is trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a homeowner who selects from his possessions both what is new and what is old.

Commentary:

The Church is intended to be a disciple-making organization, as Jesus demonstrated, during his earthly ministry. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-22), carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his disciples to carry out after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-13).

Paul had laid the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at Corinth, and was “building” disciples on that foundation. Christian discipleship is a process of spiritual growing to maturity. The Corinthians were immature Christians. They were still living according to worldly ways and standards. They thought that their new knowledge of the Gospel, and which leader they were following, made them superior to others. The fact that there were divisions among them demonstrated that they were spiritually immature.

The foundation of the Church is the biblical apostolic Gospel of Jesus Christ; the Gospel recorded in the Bible and taught by the Apostles including Paul. Congregational leaders build upon that foundation, but each believer is also a builder of his own temple within him on that Gospel foundation. Each builder’s work will be tested at the Day of Judgment.

Instead of developing a personal relationship with Jesus and learning to know, trust and obey his teaching, nominal “Christians” are not building and not growing spiritually. Instead they select a leader to “belong to.” Instead of building on the biblical apostolic Gospel, they emphasize the distinctives of their particular leader, to the effect of division within the Church. In too many instances Churches are settling for making members and building church buildings, and promoting to leadership people who have not been “born-again.”

Discipleship and “re-birth” are not optional but essential. Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. They are to be guided and empowered by indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God and of Christ within them (Romans 8:9)

In order to make “born-again” disciples one must be a “born-again” disciple, as Paul’s example illustrates (Acts 9:10, 17). In order to be a witness testifying to the Gospel, one must have personally experienced Jesus Christ through 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). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself if one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

If we have understood and believed the Gospel we will be willing to give whatever it takes to acquire the buried treasure, the pearl of great price. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, the Spirit of Jesus within us, without whom we cannot be a builder or laborer in God’s kingdom.

Jesus warns that there is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived in this world will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this life. Those who have not been spiritually reborn will spend eternity in the fires of Hell in great sorrow and anguish. Only those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, who have been reborn to spiritual, eternal life, will spend eternity in the kingdom of God in heaven.

Jesus said that those who had been trained in Judaism did not need to discard everything and start over, but to reinterpret the Old Testament scriptures in the light of the New Testament. It also applies to us. All scripture (the Bible) is inspired by God and useful to know and apply in our lives (2 Timothy 3:16), but the Old Testament must be understood in the light of the New Testament Gospel.

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 Epiphany A – 01/22-02/28/2016

January 21, 2017

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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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 3 Epiphany A

Sunday 3 Epiphany A

First Posted January 23, 2011;

Podcast: Sunday 3 Epiphany A

Isaiah 9:1b-4 – Light in Darkness;
Psalm 27:1-9 – Light and Salvation;
or Amos 3:1-8 – Judgment;
1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – Unity;
Matthew 4:12-23 – Prophetic Fulfillment;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

In the past the Lord had brought contempt to Zebulun and Naphtali (constituent territories of Galilee), but the prophet declares that in the future the Lord will glorify (by the coming of the Messiah) “the way of the sea” (the highway from Damascus to the Mediterranean), the “land beyond the Jordan” (the Persian Province, “Beyond the River;” of the time of Isaiah), “Galilee of the nations” (of the Gentiles; a Roman province).

The people have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness (“shadow of death;” KJV), on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). The Lord has increased the nation and its joy (of its salvation) as at harvest, or as when an army divides the plunder. The Lord has broken the yoke and burden of oppression and has broken the oppressor’s power, as in the day of Midian.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Those who accept the Lord as their (spiritual) light and salvation and take refuge in him won’t fear anyone or thing. The enemies of the Lord’s people will not prevail in their opposition. Though the enemy greatly outnumbers them and attacks them, God’s people will not fear or lose confidence.

Those who seek, trust and obey the Lord desire one thing above all others; to dwell in the Lord’s house all their days, to see the beauty of the Lord and to learn from him. The Lord will conceal and shelter his people in his tent in the day of trouble, and set them upon a high rock (Jesus), so that they will be above their enemies and they will offer sacrifices with joy and sing and praise the Lord.

God’s Word tells us to seek God’s face. To those who desire in their hearts to see God’s face, God will not hide from them, and will answer them when they cry to him. God will not turn away from his servants in anger. He will not cast off or forsake those who have trusted in him for their salvation. Those whom God has helped in the past can be assured that God will continue to help those who trust and obey him.

Amos Paraphrase:

Through Amos the Lord declared a Word of judgment against his people, the whole family of descendants of Israel whom he had delivered from Egypt. Because God has had a personal covenant relationship with Israel alone, of all the people of earth, God will punish them for their iniquities (disobedience, immorality, idolatry, injustice, and superficial religion).

The prophet uses proverbial wisdom to show that there are consequences to their actions. Two people do not walk together without prior arrangement. Lions don’t roar when they are hungry (or they’d never catch any prey). Birds cannot be caught without setting a snare, and snares do not trip without something tripping it. The watchman doesn’t blow his trumpet unless there’s a reason for warning. Evil does not befall a city unless the Lord allows it.

The Lord makes known to his prophets what he is doing. “The Lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy” (Amos 3:8)?

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

The Corinthian Church had been founded by Paul’s ministry and Paul was continuing to “disciple” its members by letter. Paul had heard that there was dissension among the members. Some members favored the preaching of Apollos, and others favored Peter. Paul told them that whom they had been converted by or baptized by was not important; the importance was Jesus’ crucifixion, and the Gospel of Jesus, which should unite all believers.

Paul emphasized that he had not baptized many at Corinth, for which he was glad, so that his baptizing would not be a point of division among the members; and Paul hadn’t preached the Gospel with eloquence, either. The power of the Gospel does not depend upon human eloquence or wisdom, but on the power and wisdom of God.

Matthew Paraphrase:

After being baptized by John and being tested in the wilderness, Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum in Galilee (the people in Nazareth had not welcomed his ministry and virtually threw Jesus out; Luke 4:16-31). After John had been imprisoned, Jesus began traveling throughout the villages of Galilee calling people to repent (turn from disobedience to faith and obedience to God), saying that the kingdom of God was imminent.

This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2. Galilee, including the tribal lands of Zebulun and Naphtali was, at the time of Jesus, the Galilee of the nations (Gentiles; i.e., the Roman province of that name). Isaiah had prophesied that the people who had been in spiritual darkness would see the spiritual light of righteousness, and divine revelation, and those living in the shadow of death would see the light of eternal life, which was fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

As Jesus walked on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he encountered two brothers, Peter and Andrew, fishing with a casting net. Jesus invited them to follow him and become fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and came along with Jesus. Further on Jesus encountered two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, in a boat with their father, mending nets. Jesus called them and they immediately left their father and the boat and followed Jesus.

Jesus began going throughout Galilee teaching and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and healing all sorts of diseases and disabilities.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal, absolutely true, and trustworthy. What God says, will be fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God has always intended from the beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who would willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and learn to know trust and obey God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s one and only plan of salvation (from sin, i.e. disobedience of God’s Word; and eternal destruction, which is the penalty for sin; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah, God’s “anointed” eternal savior and king, from “Galilee of the Gentiles” during the Roman occupation and Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy. God’s Word through Isaiah promised that the Messiah would be the light of righteousness, divine wisdom, and eternal life, and Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy. Those who accept Jesus as the light of enlightenment, righteousness and true eternal life will have nothing to fear. They can be certain that the enemies of light will not prevail.

God’s Word promises that, to those who earnestly and sincerely seek to find and know God, God will reveal himself. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is the fullest revelation of God’s character and person in this world (John 14:8-10). The gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), is the fullest revelation of God the Father and Jesus Christ to us individually and personally. Jesus promised that he would manifest himself, and God the Father, to his disciples who keep Jesus’ commandments (John 14:21, 23).

At the Cross, Jesus won the victory over our spiritual enemy Satan and our slavery to sin and death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus is the high rock which elevates us above our enemy and gives us sure footing.

Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we have God’s guidance, protection, and teaching; we have daily fellowship with the Lord and the assurance of eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God’s Word contains great promises but also ominous warnings. God has given us forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ as a free gift to be received by faith (obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9). But for those who refuse God’s gracious gift there will be eternal condemnation and punishment.

Amos was a shepherd who was called by God to proclaim God’s warning of Judgment to the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes of the divided monarchy. The Northern Kingdom was at the height of its prosperity and power, and the people considered themselves God’s chosen and favored people. But Amos denounced them for their disobedience of God’s Word, reliance on their own human ability and resources instead of on God, and of idolatry, immorality, social injustice, and superficial religion.

Amos called them to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord, but they refused to heed the prophetic warnings. The religious leaders of the Northern Kingdom forbade Amos to prophesy and sent him away. The Assyrians came by “the way of the sea” in 733-732 B.C.* (Isaiah 9:1), and the Northern Kingdom was completely destroyed and ceased to exist in 721 B.C. .

The Church at Corinth had been established by Paul’s ministry and he continued to “disciple” the members by letter. The Corinthian Church was suffering division, because the members were relying on human strength and resources, and relying too much on their “chosen-ness” and God’s grace (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right) without the commitment of discipleship and obedient trust in God’s Word.

The Lord had brought contempt and condemnation upon the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, but Judah, the remnant of Israel did not learn the lesson of the Northern Kingdom’s punishment. As a result, Judah went into a seventy-year exile in Babylon (from 587-517 B.C.**) and then was restored. But the remnant again forgot the lessons of the Northern Kingdom, and of their own Babylonian Exile, and were unprepared for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

When the Lord brought blessing to Israel through Zebulun and Naphtali by the coming of the promised Messiah, Judah rejected Jesus, as Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, had. They missed the spiritual healing, nurture and restoration that only Jesus can give. The result was that Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 A.D.*** Israel ceased to exist as a nation, and the Jews were scattered throughout the world, until the nation was reestablished following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

America and the Church, at least in America, are each, in a sense the New Israel, the “chosen” people of God in the national and spiritual senses. We’re in the same position as Israel at the time of Jesus. In many ways our religious and political leaders regard their office as their private empire for their benefit, rather than as stewardship on behalf of God’s people. We need to hear the prophetic Word of God’s judgment as much today as Israel did in the time of Jesus or of Amos.

Haven’t many Americans and Christians turned away from obedient trust in God’s Word? Haven’t many become immoral and idolatrous? Aren’t there great social injustices in our land? Hasn’t religion become a meaningless ritual for many?

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)?


* The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Isaiah 9:1n, p. 833, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

** Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Exile,” digital edition, bibledatabase.org – http://bibledatabase.org/eastons.html

*** ibid, Temple, Herod’s


 

Monday 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted January 24, 2011;

Podcast: Monday 3 Epiphany A

Psalm 1 – Rewards of Righteousness;

Paraphrase:

Happy is the person who does not follow the counsel of the wicked, who does not follow the example of sinners or scoffers. Instead, he delights in the law of the Lord and he meditates on God’s Word day and night. He will thrive like a tree planted near a stream, where it will bear fruit in season and its leaves won’t wither. He will prosper in all that he does.

The wicked are not like the righteous; they are like chaff which will be blown away by the wind. They will not stand in God’s judgment, nor will they have fellowship with the righteous. The Lord knows who the righteous are, but the wicked will perish.

Commentary:

Sometimes it seems that the wicked flourish, but their reward is perishable, and will not survive the Day of Judgment. Sometimes worldly people equate worldly success with God’s approval. What God wants is obedient trust in his Word. God wants economic, moral, and social justice, mercy, and humble obedience to his Word (Micah 6:8).

Jesus taught that we should not lay up temporal worldly treasures, but instead seek eternal spiritual treasures (Matthew 6:19-21). Jesus taught his disciples to seek God’s eternal kingdom and his righteousness before even the physical necessities of life (Matthew 6:25-33), because God will provide those physical necessities as well. But if we focus on physical needs we’ll never get around to the spiritual necessities which are eternal.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is not to accumulate material things, worldly honor and recognition, or to seek physical pleasure. The meaning and purpose of life is to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and be spiritually reborn to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8).

Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus has been designed into the very structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus has promised to manifest himself and God the Father to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:21, 23). Only Jesus 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 gift of the Holy Spirit is the only way we can have a personal fellowship with the Lord. 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 not just a stream, but a river of living water (John 7:38-39) which enables us to thrive spiritually and produce spiritual fruit for eternity. Have you read God’s Word? Do you meditate on it daily? Are you seeking the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit in the river of eternal life?

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 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted January 25, 2011;

Podcast: Tuesday 3 Epiphany A

Micah 6:1-8 – What the Lord Requires;

Paraphrase:

The Lord has a controversy with his people because they have forgotten his saving acts on their behalf. To what court can they appeal? Let them make their case before the mountains and the very foundations of the earth.

What has the Lord done to weary his people? The Lord brought them out of slavery in Egypt and raised up Moses, Aaron and Miriam to lead them. Remember how, when Balak, king of Moab, tried to have Balaam, the seer, curse God’s people, Balaam refused and blessed them instead (Numbers 22:1-6; 36-38).

Shittim was the camp east of the Jordan across from Jericho. From there they crossed the Jordan on dry ground, since the Lord stopped the flow of the river while they crossed. They took up stones from the riverbed and made a cairn (a memorial of piled rocks) at Gilgal where they first camped in the Promised Land, to commemorate God’s saving acts.

What can God’s people bring to God as a worthy offering? Would even a thousand rams and ten thousand rivers of oil be enough to please God? Could sacrificing one’s first-born atone for one’s sin; the fruit of the flesh for the sin of the soul? “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Commentary:

In one sense we are all God’s people because he has created us. In another sense God’s people are those who acknowledge God and what he has done for us, and trust and obey him. Have we heard and believed what God has done for us in Jesus Christ?

God does not need burnt offerings and sacrifices. No amount of sacrifices and offerings, or religious “rituals,” can atone for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), or “earn” our forgiveness. Even the sacrifice of our first-born is not sufficient. But God has done that for us; he gave his first-born, Jesus Christ, as the one and only sacrifice for all time and all people for the complete forgiveness of all our sin, to be received by faith (obedient trust; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God has done nothing to bore or weary us; it is we who weary him. God has shown great patience and forbearance toward us. God has revealed his Salvation for all to see. Salvation is a free gift to all who are willing to receive it by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). How will God feel if we reject his gift of forgiveness which he has provided at the cost of his Son?

Who will be our arbitrator on our behalf before God? Only Jesus Christ! Jesus is our “Moses” and our High Priest. The blood of his sacrifice on the Cross cleanses us of sin.

In a sense the Jordan River represents physical death. God’s people will pass through the “river” of physical death without getting “wet,” by obedient trust in Jesus Christ, our “Joshua,” who will lead us from the “Shittim” of this world into the “Gilgal” in the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

God does not require of us more than we can give. The only thing we can really give God is our obedient trust. We can choose to be just or unjust with others. We can choose whether to be kind and loving to others. We can choose to humbly trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

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 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted January 26, 2011;

Podcast: Wednesday 3 Epiphany A

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – Spiritual Maturity;

The Corinthian Church had been founded through Paul’s ministry. Paul was continuing to disciple the members. There was division in the Church by some who thought they were spiritually wise and mature.

Paraphrase:

Paul had taught that divine wisdom is unlike what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-25). He asked the Corinthians to consider their call to faith. They were not wise, powerful or socially elite by worldly standards. God chooses what is week and foolish according to worldly standards, even spiritual things which the world thinks are nothing compared to the apparent solidity of physical things, to show that the worldly standards are wrong. No one will be able to boast in God’s presence. God is the source of (eternal) life through Jesus Christ who is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification (purification and dedication to God’s service), and redemption (ransom from the penalty for sin). Paul quoted Jeremiah 9:23-24, to suggest that one can boast only of the Lord.

Commentary:

A Christian is a “born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26b). Paul is the prototype of the ‘modern,” “post-resurrection” “born-again” disciple and apostle that all believers are called to be. As Saul of Tarsus, he was confronted by the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-7); he repented and became obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:5, 8-9). He was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17) until Paul was “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and then Paul began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:18-20).

Paul’s conversion was exceptional for its speed. The original Twelve disciples, spent day and night, seven days a week, for two and a half years with Jesus, yet were unable to carry out his Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) until they had received the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-13). But Paul was already formally educated in Judaism, and zealous for God; he just needed to be pointed to Jesus, the Messiah, confess his sin and receive the Holy Spirit.

Paul discipled Timothy that way and taught him to repeat it with others (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul was continuing the discipling process with the Corinthian Christians. This is what the Church should be doing, but in too many cases isn’t.

The Corinthian Christians were like a lot of new Christians, who have been converted but who want the instant benefit and recognition of spiritual maturity without experiencing the effort and discipline of spiritual growth. The Corinthian Church was divided between factions boasting that their baptism was better because of the church leader who baptized them (1 Corinthians 1:11-17). They were not ready for spiritual “meat;” they were still on a diet of spiritual “baby-food” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).

The Corinthian Christians considered themselves spiritually wise and sophisticated, while tolerating immorality within the congregation (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; 9-13; 6:1-20). Some also thought that it was OK to eat food sacrificed to idols because they knew that idols are inanimate objects and they suggested that the ones who had concerns were less spiritually wise and sophisticated (1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Paul showed them that they were not as wise and sophisticated as they thought, because there are demons behind idols, and their attitude toward their fellow believers was not loving (1 Corinthians 10:18-33).

The same problems and attitudes are present within the Church today. Members tend to think that they are spiritually mature when they become members of the Church. Many think that discipleship is optional, and only for “super-Christians.” Just reading the entire Bible through once does not make one spiritually mature. We need to read the Bible daily, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and learn to apply God’s Word in our personal lives daily.

There are two major heresies being taught in the (nominal) “Church” today which existed in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. One is “legalism:” salvation by doing “good works;” the “circumcision party,” who insisted that Gentile converts must keep Jewish law, including circumcision and dietary laws, dealt with here (see also Galatians 2:12, 16, 21-3:14; 5:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-10). The other is “Cheap Grace:” salvation by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), without the obligation of discipleship and obedient trust; “Libertinism;” “Nicolaitanism;” false freedom from self-discipline; i.e., licentiousness; (see Ephesians 4:17-24; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 6:9-20), which is also dealt with here. Each is a deviation, in opposite directions, from the central apostolic doctrine of the New Testament (Ephesians 2:8-10).

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)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Thursday 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted January 27, 2011;

Podcast:  Thursday 3 Epiphany A

Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes;

This is the beginning of what is called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:27), which is representative of Jesus’ teachings.

Paraphrase:

Crowds came to Jesus and he went up on the side of a mountain and sat down and began to teach his disciples.

· God blesses those who realize their spiritual poverty and need, for they will enter God’s kingdom.

· Blessed also are those who mourn, for they will be comforted and strengthened.

· Those who are meek will inherit the earth.

· Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.

· Those who are merciful will receive mercy.

· Those who are pure in heart will see God

· Those who work for peace will be called God’s children.

· Those who are persecuted for righteousness will enter God’s kingdom.

· When Jesus’ disciples are reviled, persecuted and slandered they can rejoice, because they will be rewarded in heaven. The world has always responded with evil toward God’s servants and prophets.

Commentary:

The Lord will bless those who seek to live in his kingdom under his reign. If we realize our spiritual need we can ask and he will satisfy us with spiritual healing and nurture. Jesus’ miracles of physical healing and feeding were intended to reveal that he is the Son of God, with the power and authority of God’s Word, and that he alone can provide the spiritual healing and feeding that we must have to live eternally in God’s kingdom in heaven.

Those who mourn for their sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and for the “lost-ness” of this world will be comforted, encouraged, and restored.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace (unmerited favor) to the humble” (James 4:6b; compare 1 Peter 5:5b RSV). Worldly people are successful by being arrogant and ruthless, but those ways do not work with God. Eternal life and citizenship in God’s kingdom cannot be bought or earned, or taken by force or deception.

Those who desire righteousness, according to God’s Word, and understand that it is as necessary for spiritual life and health, as physical food is to physical life, will receive the righteousness they desire and be spiritually satisfied.

We all need God’s mercy, because we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). If we hope to receive and recognize that we have received God’s mercy, we will show mercy to others who need our mercy.

Jesus is the only one who can purify our hearts. Only Jesus 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). If we accept Jesus as our Lord and begin to trust and obey him, he will purify our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is only through Jesus Christ that we can have peace with God. Jesus came to bring reconciliation and peace with God to the world, and if we have experienced that peace which only Jesus can give, we will carry on his mission to bring God’s peace to others.

God raised up many prophets among the people to proclaim God’s righteousness, and the people hated, persecuted and killed the prophets of God. Jesus was the only perfect, righteous, sinless Son of God, but the people of the world responded with hate and persecution and crucified him. The message of the Gospel is no more popular in the world today than it ever was.

If they did those things to Jesus, his disciples cannot expect better treatment. Being a disciple requires faithfulness in proclaiming the Gospel fully and accurately; not just the parts that are popular and make us feel good.

The Beatitudes describe what God blesses; but there are corresponding woes to those who choose the alternatives (see Luke 6:20-26).

· Woe to those who don’t recognize their spiritual neediness.

· Woe to those who don’t mourn their own sinfulness and the lost condition of this present world.

· Woe to those who are prideful and arrogant.

· Woe to those who are satisfied with their assessment of their own righteousness.

· Woe to those who are ruthless and merciless.

· Woe to those who don’t recognize the impurity and sinfulness of their own hearts.

· Woe to those who don’t seek peace with God and others.

· Woe to those who are popular and highly regarded according to worldly standards.

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead (in both physical and spiritual senses; 1 Peter 4:5). Every one who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted, trusted and obeyed Jesus as their Lord will receive eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus, and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

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 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted January 28, 2011;

Podcast: Friday 3 Epiphany A

Isaiah 43:1-3 – Israel’s Redemption;

Paraphrase:

God had punished the remnant of Israel with Babylonian exile for Israel’s disobedience and idolatry. But the Lord promised to redeem Israel. The Lord was the creator of Jacob (the inheritor of the birthright); the Lord had formed Israel. The Lord had named Israel, marking them as his people (Genesis 32:28).

The Lord promised that he would be with his people through all dangers; through flood and through fire, and would protect and preserve them. “When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2; compare Daniel 3:13-28).

The Lord God is the Holy One of Israel, her Savior. The Lord was going to give Egypt and Ethiopia (nations of Africa) and Seba (Arabia)* as a ransom for his people.

Commentary:

The Southern Kingdom, Judah, was the remnant of Israel, after the Northern Kingdom of the divided monarchy was destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.** Judah had not heeded the warnings of the prophets and the example of the fall of the Northern Kingdom, so God withdrew his favor and protection and allowed the Chaldean army of Nebuchadnezzar to carry Judah into exile in Babylon.

God told Judah beforehand what was going to happen, and promised that he would bring them back to the Promised Land after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12). Judah could have repented and avoided the exile at any time, up to the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 587 B.C.**

God’s Word was fulfilled. Judah went into Babylonian exile for seventy years. Then God used Cyrus of Persia to conquer the Chaldeans and release Judah to return to the Promised Land. The seventy years ended in 517 B.C.** with the dedication of the second temple.

God’s Word was fulfilled. The remnant of Israel had passed through the flood and fire and had not been consumed. God brought a renewed Israel back from Babylonian exile.

God’s Word was fulfilled. God gave Egypt, Ethiopia, and Arabia into the hands of Cyrus as a ransom for God’s people.

Egypt was attacked and made a province of the Persian Empire in 525 B.C. for about thirty years.*** Ethiopia had succumbed to the Assyrians and was briefly a province of the Persian Empire (Esther 1:1, 8:9).**** Seba was probably also a province of the Persian Empire under Cyrus.*

Jacob was the grandson of Abraham (Abram) who inherited the “birthright” (Gen. 25:29-34; 27:1-45), the promise of God to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) through Isaac, the son of the promise (Genesis 15:1-5), through whom God would make a great nation and give them the Promised Land.

God “named” Israel. God re-named Jacob “Israel” after he had wrestled with God (Genesis 32:28) as Jacob was returning to the Promised Land from Haran, the homeland of Abraham, later part of the Assyrian and Babylonian (Chaldean) Empires.

Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians, and God parted the waters so they passed through on dry ground, while the Egyptian pursuers were drowned by the returning waters (Ex. 14:22-31). God brought Israel into the Promised Land through the Jordan River, stopping its flow so that they could pass through on dry ground without getting their feet wet (Josh. 3:14-17).

The Red Sea is a metaphor for baptism into Jesus Christ, and the Jordan River is a metaphor for physical death. Jesus delivers us from slavery to Satan and sin in the Egypt of this world, through the waters of baptism. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us through the wilderness of life; our “Joshua” who leads us across the Jordan River of physical death and into the Promised Land of eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. Christians are the “namesake” and heirs of the promise and birthright of Israel through Jesus Christ.

God condemned and destroyed the world once by flood (Genesis 6:11-8:19). God promised never to destroy the world again by flood (Genesis 9:8-17). The next time God Judges the earth, he will destroy the wicked by fire, (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10), as was Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:16-21; 19:1-29).

Jesus is the “Son of God” who delivers believers, who trust and obey him, from destruction by fire in Hell, as Daniel was delivered from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:24-25; 28) in Babylon.

Jesus has promised to return, on the Day of Judgment at the end of the (temporal) age, to judge all who have ever lived on earth. Everyone will be accountable to him for what they have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus and have trusted and obeyed him will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in fiery Hell (John 5:28-29, Matthew 25:31-46).

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)?


* The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Isaiah 43.3c-7n, p. 875, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

** Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Exile, Captivity” digital edition, bibledatabase.org – http://bibledatabase.org/eastons.html

*** Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, “Egypt; Saite-Persian Period, p. 380,” David Noel Freedman, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5

**** ibid. “Ethiopia,” p. 432.


Saturday 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted January 29, 2011;

Podcast: Saturday 3 Epiphany A

Romans 4:16-25 – Justified by Faith;
Matthew 14:22-33 – Faith and Doubt;

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul taught that God’s plan of Salvation (see sidebar) is based on faith (obedient trust), so that the promise is through God’s grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) and guaranteed to all the (spiritual) descendants of Abraham who share Abraham’s faith (which came before the Covenant of Law; Romans 4:10-12). Abraham is the spiritual father of us all, in fulfillment of Genesis 17.5: “I have made you a father of many nations.” The promise is guaranteed by God, in whom Abraham believed, who gives life to the dead and existence to things that do not exist.

Abraham believed God’s promise, even when it seemed hopeless, that he would be the father of many nations. His faith didn’t weaken when he considered that his body was at the end of his life, because he was about a hundred years old, or that Sarah was barren. “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave God glory, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). For that reason his faith was accounted as righteousness, and his experience is recorded in the Bible for our benefit, so that we also will be accounted righteous who believe in God who raised, from the dead, Jesus, who died for our sins, and was raised from death for our justification (acquittal; imputation of Jesus’ righteousness to us through faith in Jesus).

Matthew Paraphrase:

After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus sent the disciples back to Capernaum by boat while Jesus dismissed the crowd. Then Jesus went into the surrounding hills by himself to pray. When night came, Jesus was alone, and the boat with the disciples was far from land and not making much progress because the wind and waves were against them.

Just before dawn Jesus came to them walking on the surface of the sea. When the disciples saw him they were terrified, thinking that he was a ghost. But Jesus identified himself and told them not to be afraid.

Peter replied that if it was indeed Jesus, he should tell Peter to come to Jesus on the water. Jesus did so, and Peter got out of the boat and came toward Jesus. But when Peter experienced the wind he became afraid and started to sink. Jesus reached out and caught him by the hand and asked Peter why he had so little faith and had doubted. When they got into the boat the wind stopped, and the others in the boat were convinced that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

Commentary:

God’s Word is absolutely true and trustworthy. God has given us his Word so that we will learn to trust and obey him. Our salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction depends on our trusting and obeying Jesus. Jesus is God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus Christ is God’s only provision by whom we can and must be saved (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23) and the penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is eternal death. Salvation from God’s eternal judgment and condemnation is by grace as a free gift to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation cannot be bought or earned, or taken by force or deception.

Paul was making disciples of Jesus Christ in accordance with Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Abraham is an example of faith in God’s Word. Abraham heard God’s call and trusted and obeyed. As he went forward in obedient trust in God’s Word he grew strong in faith, and because he trusted and obeyed God’s Word, he was accounted righteous in God’s judgment. This is the pattern of spiritual growth that takes place when we say “yes” to God’s Word.

Abraham believed that God can raise the dead, and God demonstrated that truth in raising Jesus from the dead. The witnesses in the New Testament, and every “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian since, testifies to the truth that Jesus has been raised to eternal life. Those who trust and obey Jesus will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17), which only Jesus can give (John 1:31-34). 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 miracle of Jesus’ walking on the water is also a lesson in faith. They set out on their own, at Jesus’ command, but spent nearly all night getting far from land but not reaching their destination because wind and wave were against them. Jesus came to them and at first they were frightened, thinking he was a ghost. Jesus identified himself and calmed their fears.

Peter was eager to trust and obey Jesus, but he let doubt arise within him because of the forces seemingly against him. But Jesus was there to reach out his hand and steady Peter when he started to sink. When Jesus got into the boat, the wind and waves ceased (and in John’s Gospel, they immediately reached their destination; John 6:21).

The disciples were following Jesus’ word, but they didn’t have Jesus with them. They’re like believers who have the word of Jesus in the Bible, but haven’t yet been “born-again.” Supernatural forces are against them and they cannot make headway in their own human strength. The mission of Jesus Christ must be carried on by “born-again” disciples in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6c; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Only when Jesus is in our “boat” with us can we accomplish his command and reach the destination.

Peter was eager to act in faith, but he allowed doubt to cause him to waver. But Jesus was nearby and was able to help Peter by touching him and strengthening his faith. That’s what the Lord can do for those who are born-again. But if Peter had gotten out of the boat in the middle of the sea in the middle of the night without Jesus, he would have sunk. Jesus is able through his Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith and cause us to grow spiritually when we have trusted and obeyed him and have been born-again.

God’s Word warns us not to believe every spirit (1 John 4:1-3). The disciples were frightened that Jesus might be a ghost (demonic), but Jesus identified himself to them and they recognized him. Likewise Jesus will identify himself to us so that we will recognize him, and we must recognize him, instead of receiving false and lying spirits. False spirits may claim to be “god,” but the true Spirit of God will never tell us to do what is contrary to God’s Word, or anything that will harm ourselves or others.

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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