Week of 2 Lent – Odd – 03/01 – 07/2015

February 28, 2015

2 Lent – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.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 2 Lent – Odd
Sunday 2 Lent – Odd
First posted 02/19/05;
Podcast: Sunday 2 Lent – Odd

This is the Church Season of Lent: forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter (not counting Sundays) of self-examination, fasting and repentance.

Jeremiah 1:1-10   –   Jeremiah’s call;
1 Corinthians 3:11-23    –   Responsibility of teachers;
Mark 3:31-4:9   –   Teaching in parables;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Jeremiah was a descendant of the priest Abiathar who had been banished by Solomon to Anathoth, a city of refuge in the territory of Benjamin. “The Word of the Lord” (the prophetic inspiration; the still, small inner voice of God) came to Jeremiah during the period from 627 B.C., in the reign of Josiah, until 587 B.C., during the reign of Zedekiah, of the southern Kingdom of Judah. God told Jeremiah that he had formed Jeremiah in the womb and had known him profoundly and completely. God had consecrated him before Jeremiah had been born and had appointed him as a prophet to the nations.

Jeremiah responded by saying he didn’t feel adequate for the job because of his youth. But God told Jeremiah not to let his youth and inexperience keep him from going everywhere the Lord would send him and speaking everything the Lord would command. God told him not to be afraid, because the Lord would be with him to deliver him.

The Lord touched Jeremiah’s lips and told Jeremiah that God had put his Word in Jeremiah’s mouth. The Lord told Jeremiah that as of that day the Lord had given Jeremiah authority over nations and kingdoms, “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

The only possible foundation of the Church (the spiritual building; the kingdom of God) is Jesus Christ. Workers in the Church are to build on that foundation with good craftsmanship and with good materials, comparable to builders of an earthly building.

Good materials and workmanship are like precious materials which will endure. Poor materials and workmanship will perish on the Day of Judgment, when everyone’s workmanship will be tested as with fire. Each person will receive a reward or penalty based on his workmanship. The Church collectively, and we individually, are the temple of God if God’s Spirit dwells within us. God’s temple is holy and God will destroy anyone who destroys God’s temple.

We are not to be misled or unduly impressed with worldly wisdom. Anyone who wants to be truly wise in this age must put aside worldly wisdom and become what the world regards as foolish. God regards worldly wisdom as folly. “God catches the wise in their craftiness” (Job 5:13a).

It is God who gives true wisdom; the thoughts of the (worldly) wise are futile. (1 Corinthians 3:20; compare Psalm 94:10b-11). Let us not boast of our human teachers, claiming status and knowledge from being taught by them. We don’t “belong” to our human teachers; they “belong” to us, as do all things, provided that we “belong” to Christ as Christ “belongs” to God.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus was teaching in someone’s house and his mother and brothers came to the door asking for him. Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd, and when he was told that his family was outside asking for him, Jesus looked at the people around him and said that his real, spiritual family were those who had come to listen to Jesus’ teaching.

Another time he was teaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was in a boat a little distance offshore, and he taught a large crowd in parables. One was the parable of the sower who broadcast grain seed over different types of soil. Some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it. Some fell on rocky ground, where it quickly sprang up, but was unable to take root, so it withered away. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked out the seedlings. But some fell on good soil and grew to maturity, producing a harvest many times greater than the original seed. Jesus said that those who have ears to hear what he was saying should use them to understand and apply Jesus’ teaching.

Commentary:

God had created Jeremiah to be God’s prophet to the nations. Jeremiah heard God’s Word, God’s call directly to him, and he responded. Jeremiah had some doubt about his ability to do what God was calling him to do, but God reassured him that God would give Jeremiah what he wanted Jeremiah to say, and would be with Jeremiah to enable him and help him to accomplish what God was calling him to do. God’s Word is active and powerful, and like a two-edged sword, it will build up those who trust and obey, and will destroy those who refuse to heed it (Hebrews 4:12).

Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Christians are those who trust and obey Jesus’ teachings, and have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Lord gives his Holy Spirit only to those who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the indwelling Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b).

It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we hear God’s voice and his call, through whom our minds are opened to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45), and who touches us and puts God’s Word in our mouths, empowering us to proclaim his Word and accomplish the work for the kingdom which he calls us to do. This all begins when we respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and begin to trust and obey Jesus’ teaching. We must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Christians are not disciples of some great human theologian or preacher. Christians are people who come to Jesus in obedient trust, and learn and do what Jesus teaches; those are Jesus’ brothers and sisters. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the seed; Jesus is the sower and we are the soil. Christians are to be the good soil who receive the Gospel and allow it to grow to maturity.

We have the promise of the Holy Spirit, which is like a seed. We must allow God’s Word to grow within us and be nurtured to maturity through trust and obedience. When we receive the fulfillment of that promise of the Holy Spirit, we are equipped and empowered to answer God’s call and build his kingdom. The Lord will be with us and in us; He will put his Word in our mouths. He will bring about the increase of the harvest of our work. We are all called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ disciples are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

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

Monday 2 Lent – Odd
First posted 02/20/05;
Podcast:  Monday 2 Lent – Odd

Jeremiah 1:11-19   –   Jeremiah’s vision;
Romans 1:1-15  –    Salutation and thanksgiving;
John 4:27-42  –   Testimony of the Samaritan woman;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

“The Word of the Lord” (the voice of God in one’s spiritual ear) asked Jeremiah what he saw in a vision Jeremiah was given. Jeremiah reported that he saw a rod of almond wood. The Lord said Jeremiah had seen well; the Lord was watching over his Word to perform it. (A play on words is involved. The Hebrew words for “watching” and “almond” are very similar. Note that Aaron’s rod of almond had sprouted blossoms and produced almonds overnight, confirming Aaron’s priesthood, to quell the rebellion of the sons of Korah; Numbers 17:8).

The Word of the Lord again asked Jeremiah to describe what he was seeing in a vision from God, and Jeremiah answered that he saw a boiling pot facing south. The Lord told Jeremiah that evil would come from the north and the kingdoms of the north would attack Judah and Jerusalem. The Lord declared that the attack would be God’s punishment of Judah’s disobedience and idolatry.

The Lord commanded Jeremiah to take courage and proclaim God’s Word fully and faithfully. Jeremiah was not to be dismayed to proclaim God’s Word, or God would cause Jeremiah to be dismayed for his failure to proclaim God’s Word fully and faithfully. The Lord promised to make Jeremiah invincible against the kingdom of Judah, its leaders and its people. The Lord declared that Judah would oppose Jeremiah but would not prevail, because God promised to be with Jeremiah to deliver him.

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ, called by Jesus to be an apostle (a messenger) set apart to proclaim to the nations the Gospel (Acts 9:5, 15) which God promised beforehand by his prophets and recorded in the Bible. That Gospel is about the coming of God’s Son, who was a descendant of David by his earthly genealogy (through his earthly father) and God’s Son by the Holy Spirit, which was confirmed by his resurrection from the dead.

Jesus Christ is our Lord, through whom we receive the unmerited gift (of forgiveness and salvation) and apostleship (the commission to proclaim the Gospel) “to bring about the obedience of faith (discipleship) for the sake of his (Jesus’) name among all the nations” (compare Matthew 28:18-20). That includes all who hear and respond to the call to belong to Jesus Christ (through his indwelling Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9); all God’s beloved who hear and respond to God’s call to be saints (those who are set apart and dedicated to God’s service).

Grace (God’s unmerited favor) and peace (with God) are only possible through our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul gave thanks to God through Jesus Christ for the testimony to the world of the Christian faith by the first century Roman Church.

God, who Paul served with his innermost being, will affirm that Paul remembered the Roman Church continually in prayer, asking that by God’s will Paul might now come to them, so that he might be able to impart some spiritual gift to strengthen their faith, and that Paul’s own faith might be encouraged by them.

Paul had long desired to visit them to “reap some harvest among them,” but had been prevented. Paul’s obligation to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles included both the educated Greeks (and Romans) and the uneducated barbarians, so Paul was looking forward to preaching to the Church at Rome.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had been talking to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well at Sychar in Samaria. His disciples had gone into the city to buy food. When the disciples returned they were amazed to find Jesus talking to the woman, but they didn’t comment about it.

The woman took her jar of water into the city and she told the townsfolk to come and see a person who had known all the details of her life and she asked if he could be the Christ. Meanwhile the disciples were urging Jesus to eat, but Jesus told them that doing God’s will and mission was more necessary to Jesus than food. Jesus told them that people can tell when a field of grain is ready to harvest by observing its color; the spiritual harvest is comparable if one knows what to look for.

The (spiritual) reaper receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life where sower and reaper will rejoice together. Jesus is the sower, and we are to reap, and we will share with the sower in the harvest, although we did not participate in the labor of sowing (Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross).

Many Samaritans of Sychar believed in Jesus because of the testimony by the Samaritan woman that Jesus knew all she ever did. They invited Jesus to stay with them and Jesus stayed for two days. The result was that many more believed because of Jesus’ words. They had come to believe in Jesus and know that he was the Savior of the world (not just of the Jews) from their own personal experience with him, not just because of the woman’s testimony.

Commentary:

Jeremiah had been created to be a spokesman of God’s Word. Jeremiah heard God’s call to proclaim God’s Word fully and faithfully, and he trusted and obeyed. God tested Jeremiah’s spiritual vision for accuracy and faithfulness, and to give Jeremiah experience and confidence in God’s revelation of his Word. Then God gave Jeremiah a Word warning Judah of the impending consequences of their disobedience and idolatry.

Judah did not heed God’s prophets, and the prophecy was fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (north of Israel) invaded Judah first in 606 B. C. and ultimately deported most of Judah to Babylon by 587 B.C. (Jeremiah’s ministry began in 627 B.C and ended around 580 B. C.)

Paul (known as Saul of Tarsus before his conversion) was an Apostle, sent by God to proclaim God’s Word to the nations (the Gentiles). Paul is the prototype and model of the modern “born- again” Christian disciple. (Paul was the first disciple and apostle who had not known Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry before Jesus’ resurrection.)

Paul was confronted on the road to Damascus by the risen Jesus who revealed Paul’s spiritual blindness; Paul repented of his sins and was baptized and filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18). From then on Paul began to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:20).

God had chosen Paul beforehand to be his spokesman to the nations (Acts 9:15). Paul had heard Jesus’ call to be his spokesman for the Gospel and responded in trust and obedience. Paul had an obligation as a disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles regardless of whether they were educated or ignorant.

Jesus had a call and mission from his heavenly Father to proclaim his Gospel of salvation. Carrying out God’s will and purpose was more important than physical sustenance; more important even than physical life.

Jesus gave priority to proclaiming his gospel to a Samaritan woman (regarded by Jews as a racial and religious “mongrel,” and an inferior in gender), ahead of his own physical hunger, thirst and exhaustion (John 4:6-8). Jesus taught his disciples to become aware of the spiritual need around them and to enter into the spiritual harvest that Jesus made possible (through his sacrificial death on the Cross).

Because she had come to a personal experience of Jesus Christ, the Samaritan woman trusted and obeyed Jesus’ command to go and call others to come to Jesus (John 4:16, 28). She brought not just her husband but other people of the town. They came to Jesus by the woman’s testimony, but as they came to know Jesus personally through his word, they invited Jesus to stay with them, they believed for themselves and came to know through Jesus’ presence with them that Jesus is the Savior of the world.

This is an illustration of how proclaiming the Gospel produces a harvest of faith. Christian disciples are to be reapers; we’re to use our personal experience of Jesus Christ through his word and his indwelling Holy Spirit to invite others to come to Jesus and decide for themselves whether Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God. Our testimony leads others to come to a personal experience of Jesus Christ and to a settled personal conviction that Jesus is the Savior of the world.

One has to have a personal experience of Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit in order to testify to that personal relationship; one has to be a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple in order to make “born-again” disciples. Jesus commissioned his disciples to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), but he warned them to stay in Jerusalem (the Church is the New Jerusalem on earth) until they had received the fulfillment of the promised Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5; Acts Chapter 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)?

Tuesday 2 Lent – Odd
First posted 02/21/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 2 Lent – Odd

Jeremiah 2:1-13, 29-32   –   Apostasy of Israel;
Romans 1:16-25   –   God’s judgment on sin;
John 4:43-54  –   Jesus and the Gentiles;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Jeremiah received a Word from the Lord to tell Jerusalem to remember their devotion to the Lord in the early days of their covenant relationship with God, as his newly wedded “bride.” Israel was the “first fruits” offering (out of all the peoples of the earth) holy and dedicated to the Lord. God protected Israel from those who would come against them.

Had God done any wrong to Israel to cause Israel to leave the Lord to pursue worthlessness and become worthless? Israel had forgotten all that the Lord had done for them by bringing them out of bondage in Egypt, through the wilderness and into the land of plenty.

Israel had defiled the land and had given the heritage of the Lord a bad reputation. The priests had not called the people to remember the Lord, the Judges and teachers of the Law did not know the Lord, Israel’s rulers sinned against God, and the prophets prophesied for false gods and pursued what is worthless.

Because of these things, the Lord will contend with Israel from the present generation through their grandchildren’s generation. Consider the other nations of the earth, west toward Cyprus, and east toward Kedar, as far as you can see. Has any nation ever forsaken its gods, even though their gods are not gods? But the people of God have exchanged God’s glory for what is worthless.

All the heavenly beings are shocked and appalled. Israel has committed two evils: they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water, and they have dug leaky (spiritual) cisterns which can hold no water. Israel has no reason to complain against the Lord, for it is they who have rebelled.

The Lord disciplined Israel, but they refused to accept correction. Israel had slain God’s prophets. Has God failed to provide for them, that they think they are free to turn away from God? An earthly bride cannot forget her husband, but Israel has forgotten the Lord.

Romans Paraphrase:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel (of Jesus Christ): it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Gentile; Romans 1:16). Through the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed to and in those who believe it, so that faith will be increased and strengthened. Those who believe God through the gospel will be accounted righteous and will receive eternal life. God’s wrath is upon all ungodliness and wickedness by those who suppress the truth.

God has revealed his eternal power and deity to all people through what he has created, so they have no excuse. But people have chosen not to honor and give thanks to God, so “they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.” (Romans 1:21). They exchanged God’s divine wisdom for man’s foolishness (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-25), and exchanged God’s glory for man-made images of creatures. So God let them pursue and receive the consequences of their sin, “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator” (Romans 1:25).

John Paraphrase:

Jesus returned to Galilee from Jerusalem after the Feast of Passover (John 2:23). Jesus had said that a prophet is not honored among his own people. The Galileans welcomed Jesus, because they had seen what Jesus had done in Jerusalem at the Feast, which they had also attended. Jesus went back to Cana, where he had changed the water into wine.

There was a Roman military officer at Capernaum (about 18 miles away) whose son was ill, and when he learned that Jesus was at Cana, he went to Jesus to urge him to come and heal his son. Jesus said “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” (John 4:48). The officer just repeated his plea for Jesus to come and heal the boy before the boy died. Jesus told the officer that the boy would live.

The officer believed Jesus’ words and went his way. The next day, as the officer returned to his home, his servants met him and told him that the boy had been healed. The officer asked the time when the boy began to get well, and the servants told him it had been around 1:00 pm the previous day. The officer knew that was the time Jesus had told him the boy would live, and the officer and his entire household believed. This was the second miracle Jesus had done in Galilee.

Commentary:

Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry in 627 B.C. in the period leading up to the invasion of Judah by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, beginning in 606 B.C. and the final deportation of the southern kingdom of Judah to Babylon by 587 B.C.  Jeremiah warned Judah that God’s judgment was coming upon them because they had forsaken the Lord, who is the source of “living water” (John 4:10; 7:37-39) and had dug leaky spiritual cisterns for their own source of spiritual water.

They had forgotten all that God had done for them, and they refused to heed God’s Word and accept his correction. Judah had turned away from what was spiritually precious to pursue what was eternally worthless.

Israel’s priests, prophets, rulers, judges and teachers had not fulfilled their obligation to uphold the covenant with God and to call the people to repent and return to the Lord.  Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled; Judah was exiled in Babylon for seventy years (about three generations; compare Jeremiah 2:9).

God has revealed himself through his creation, so there is abundant evidence to believe in God, if one chooses, but sinful mankind prefers to reject the testimony of Creation, because he wants to be his own god. For those who seek the truth, God reveals himself through his Word, the Bible, and ultimately through Jesus Christ, by his indwelling Holy Spirit. God allows those who choose not to honor and give thanks to God to receive the eternal consequences.

Jesus was not well thought of in his own community and his own people (John 1:10-11). In Nazareth when he preached in his hometown synagogue, his home community was offended by his message and tried to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:14-30).

The Galileans welcomed Jesus when he returned from the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem, because they had seen signs and wonders done by him in Jerusalem. A Gentile officer of the Roman occupying forces believed Jesus’ word, without seeing or demanding proof, and as the result his son was healed.

Isn’t the situation in Judah in the time of Jeremiah strikingly similar to the situation in America and in the Church today? Haven’t many forgotten what God has done for us and turned from our covenant with God in Jesus Christ? Aren’t there many unfaithful priests, prophets and leaders who are telling us we have peace with God, while we have exchanged the Glory of God for what is eternally worthless? Haven’t we exchanged God’s wisdom for what the world mistakenly calls wisdom?

Haven’t many of us been digging our own leaky cisterns instead of trusting and obeying Jesus Christ, the only source of “living water?” Haven’t we defiled our land and given the name “Christian” a bad reputation?

We are spiritually sick, and in danger of God’s wrath. Trust and obedience of Jesus Christ is the only way we can be spiritually healed. Jesus is the only one who can deliver us from God’s wrath and restore us to eternal life and fellowship with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

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

Wednesday 2 Lent – Odd
First posted 02/22/05;
Podcast: Wednesday 2 Lent – Odd

Jeremiah 3:6-18    –   Return of Israel;
Romans 1: (26-27) 28-2:11  –   God’s judgment on sin;
John 5:1-18   –   Healing on the Sabbath;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

During the reign of King Josiah (of the Southern Kingdom of Judah; 640-610 B.C.), the Lord spoke to Jeremiah concerning the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Lord said that Israel had committed spiritual adultery. (Hills and evergreen trees were considered sacred spots.) The Lord hoped Israel would repent and return to the Lord, but she did not. The Lord sent Israel away with a “decree of divorce” (God allowed the Northern Kingdom to be carried into exile by Assyria), but Judah didn’t learn from Israel’s punishment.

Judah also committed spiritual adultery and polluted the land and only pretended to repent and return to the Lord. Judah’s sin is worse than Israel’s. Jeremiah was to urge Israel to repent, confess her sin and return to the Lord and the Lord would be merciful and would bring them to Zion (the Holy City of God). “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). Israel and Judah would return from exile reunited in one kingdom, and the Ark of the Covenant would be replaced by Jerusalem as the throne of God. All the nations will gather in Jerusalem before the Lord, and people will “no longer stubbornly follow their own evil heart” (Jeremiah 3:18).

Romans Paraphrase:

People exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25) so God gave them over to their dishonorable passions of homosexuality and lesbianism to their ultimate destructive penalty. Those who do not acknowledge God, God gives over to all types of evil and wickedness.

Although they know that God’s Word condemns those who do such things to eternal death, they not only do such things but approve of all others who do them. When we pass judgment upon others we condemn ourselves, because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). God’s judgment rightly falls on sinners.

If we continue doing what we know is wrong we abuse God’s kindness, forbearance and patience; “God’s kindness is meant to lead (us) to repentance” (Romans 2:4). But those whose hearts remain hard and unrepentant are storing up God’s wrath for the Day of Judgment.

God will judge every person according to what each has done in life. Those who have sought to do right by God’s standards will receive eternal life, but those who are rebellious, and who reject God’s truth and follow their own wickedness, will receive God’s wrath. There will be eternal punishment for everyone who has done evil, whether they consider themselves members of God’s people (Matthew 7:21:24) or are pagans; and God’s peace for all who have done what is right in God’s eyes. God’s people will be judged first, because those who have received privileges will bear greater responsibility. God will show no partiality.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was in Jerusalem for a Jewish feast day, and on a Sabbath, Jesus was passing a pool where many invalids lay. They hoped to be healed by stepping into the pool when the water was “troubled.” Jesus saw a man laying there who Jesus knew had been ill for thirty-eight years.

Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed. The man replied that he hadn’t been healed because he had no one to help him get into the pool at the right time. Jesus told the man to get up, pick up his bed and walk. The man did so immediately and was healed.

The Jewish religious leaders rebuked the man for breaking the Sabbath law by carrying his bed, but the man told them that the one who had healed him had told him to carry his bed. The leaders asked the name of the one who had healed the man, but the healed man didn’t know, and Jesus had left.

Later Jesus found the healed man in the temple and told the man that he was healed and should not sin anymore, so that nothing worse would happen to him. The man went to the religious authorities and told them it was Jesus who had healed him.

The Jewish leaders hated Jesus because he broke the Sabbath law by healing on the Sabbath, but Jesus answered, “My Father is working still, and I am working” (John 5:17). Jesus’ answer made the Jews hate him even more, because he equated himself with God.

Commentary:

Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, was besieged and conquered by King Shalmaneser of Assyria in 721 B.C. The people of the northern kingdom were deported to other lands and people from other lands were brought in to settle the new Assyrian province of Samaria, intermingled with the the remnant of Jews, and becoming the Samaritans. The northern kingdom ceased to exist. Judah didn’t learn from the example of Israel, and in 587 B. C. was exiled by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon.

After seventy years, Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylon, allowed the Judeans to return to the Promised Land. It is possible that some Jews from the Assyrian exile returned with them, but they were reunited in one kingdom as Jeremiah’s prophecy foretold.

Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled, but God’s Word is eternally true, so it remains to be fulfilled again as conditions for it’s fulfillment are met, and the prophecy of God’s universal reign from Jerusalem remains to be fulfilled at Jesus’ return. Have we learned from the lessons of Israel and Judah? This text should speak to us today about God’s judgment on spiritual adultery, disobedience of God’s Word, and lack of, or insincerity of, repentance and confession.

God has an absolute standard of right and wrong; it’s not all just relative. God’s standard is his Word, the Bible, and ultimately Jesus Christ, who is the Word incarnate (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the example of the perfect sinless human being.

God is gracious and merciful towards us but that kindness and forbearance is meant to lead us to repentance and obedience. If we waste the opportunity of this lifetime doing what is contrary to God’s standards we will ultimately receive eternal destruction and spiritual death. If we approve others who are violating God’s standards we are condemning ourselves.

God is merciful and forbearing, but he has appointed a Day of Judgment when everyone who has ever lived will be judged by the standard of Jesus Christ. Those who are in Christ, who have trusted and obeyed him, will receive eternal life; but those who have rejected Jesus or refused, or failed, to obey him will receive eternal destruction and death. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

We are all sinners and thus spiritual “invalids.” We are just wasting our time and our lives if we are trying to heal ourselves, or are trusting in healing from any other source than Jesus Christ. Conforming to the beliefs of the culture around us will ultimately result in our spiritual, eternal death.

Do we recognize that we are “sick?” Do we want to be healed? If we want to be healed and live eternally we must begin to trust and obey Jesus. Jesus healed the invalid of his physical disease, but he warned him to stop sinning, or something worse than physical illness and physical death would befall him.

The Jewish religious leaders hated Jesus because they were really using their religion for their own personal benefit. They claimed to love and obey God but they really wanted to be their own god. They were in charge and were making and enforcing their rules. Jesus threatened the personal “empires” they had built for themselves from their religion. If they had known and loved God they would have recognized and loved God’s son.

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 – Odd
First posted 02/23/05;
Podcast: Thursday 2 Lent – Odd

Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28   –   The day of God’s wrath;
Romans 2:12-24   –   Rule of judgment;
John 5:19-29  –  Jesus’ relation to God;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

In the day of God’s wrath “courage shall fail both king and princes; the priests will be appalled and the prophets astounded” (Jeremiah 4:9).The people have been deceived, thinking all would be well for them, but the sword has reached their individual lives.

The prophet is in great anguish at the disaster which befalls his people, laying waste to the entire land. The people have not known the Lord. They have been like stupid children, skilled in doing evil but not knowing how to do what is good.

The prophet foresees the results of God’s judgment of the earth. The whole earth is laid waste. There are no longer any humans or animals. Fertile fields have become deserts and cities are in ruins. The whole land will be desolate, but not completely destroyed. The earth will mourn; the heavens will be darkened. God’s judgment cannot be altered or avoided.

Romans Paraphrase:

Those who are without the law (outside of the Old Covenant of Law; i.e. Gentiles) who sin, will perish, even though they didn’t have the obligation of the law. Those who are under the law will be judged by the law. “It is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God but the doers of the law who will be justified (judged righteous)” (Romans 2:13).

When Gentiles, who are not under covenant to keep the law, do what the law requires, their conscience is their law. They show that God’s law is righteous, so they may think that because they have done what is right they are excused from trusting and obeying Jesus, but the fact that they know what is right and yet didn’t trust and obey Jesus condemns them, because Jesus Christ is the standard by which God will judge everyone.

Those who call themselves Jews (or Christians), who rely upon the law (or upon Jesus Christ), and boast of their relationship with God (or Jesus), and claim to know his will and think they can teach others, should be careful to practice what they preach. Those who do not keep the Law of Moses (or do not live according to Jesus’ teachings) dishonor God (or Jesus) and give God (or Jesus) a bad reputation among unbelievers.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus’ will and mission was not his own, but was the demonstration and fulfillment of God’s will and mission. Jesus’ works are God’s doing. Jesus will do greater works than what has been recorded in scripture, and those greater works are the giving of eternal life and of judgment of the earth.

God has given the authority of judgment to Jesus, so that all may honor Jesus as they honor God. “He who does not honor the Son (Jesus) does not honor the Father (God) who sent him” (John 5:23). “He who hears (Jesus’) word and believes him (God) who sent Jesus, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from (spiritual; eternal) death to life” (John 5:24).

Eternal life begins now, when the spiritually dead hear and understand, through faith (obedient trust), Jesus’ words. God has the power to give eternal life, and he has given Jesus that power. God has given Jesus the authority to judge humans, because Jesus lived as a human among us. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his (Jesus’) voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of (eternal) life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of (eternal) judgment (condemnation)” ( John 5:28-29).

Commentary:

Jeremiah mourned for his people and his land. Their civic and religious leaders had failed to heed God’s warnings through Jeremiah and from the example of God’s judgment of the Northern Kingdom (see entry for yesterday, Wednesday, 2 Lent, odd year). The people had a false sense of security; they thought they were God’s chosen people and that God would protect them, although they had not obeyed God’s Word. They didn’t heed Jeremiah’s call for his people to repent and return to trust and obedience to God. Are our civic and spiritual leaders giving us a false sense of security; assuring us that all is well, that we are God’s chosen and favored people, while telling us we don’t need to obey God’s Word, or failing to warn us of the consequences of disobedience?

All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). The Gentiles, who were not bound by covenant to keep God’s law, are not excused from the judgment and penalty for sin. Jews, who are bound by covenant to keep God’s law, will be judged according to the law. One must keep all the law all the time, or one will be judged guilty of all (James 2:10). No one has ever been able to keep all the law, except Jesus, who was perfect and sinless.

The only way the Covenant of Law worked before Jesus, is by the priestly sacrificial system for the forgiveness of sins. Since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. there is no longer any provision for offering sacrifices. This was according to God’s will and purpose, because Jesus’ death on the cross was the sacrifice once for all time and all people (who trust and obey Jesus) which replaced the Jewish sacrificial system (Hebrews 7:23-28), and this was demonstrated at Jesus’ Crucifixion by the tearing of the curtain of the temple which separated the people from the inner chamber of God’s presence in the Holy of Holies (Matthew 27:51).

Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Unbelievers who do what is right according to God’s standards are condemned because they have not trusted and obeyed Jesus (or God, because God has revealed his plan of salvation through Jesus and through his Word; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right). Salvation is not by works (“good deeds,” or keeping the law), but by God’s grace (unmerited favor; free gift) through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

One cannot truly believe in Jesus and yet not do what he teaches. Not everyone who calls him Lord will be saved (Matthew 7:21-24); only those who trust and obey him and have personal fellowship with Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit have eternal life. Only Jesus gives his Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to those who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17).

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the indwelling Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of man. “In him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:8-9) in human flesh. Jesus came to reveal God to us, and to demonstrate obedient trust in God. Jesus came to die on the Cross as a sacrifice once for all for the forgiveness of our sins.

God has the power of eternal life or death, and he has given this power to Jesus. As God raised Jesus to eternal life, Jesus will raise believers to eternal life with him. Jesus is our ideal High Priest and righteous Judge, who understands our human weaknesses, who offered himself for our forgiveness and who intercedes for us in God’s presence.

Eternal life begins now. Those who hear Jesus’ words now, who comprehend and respond in trust and obedience now, have life now and eternally through the indwelling Holy Spirit of Jesus. For those who reject Jesus or refuse to obey him now, the Day of Judgment is coming when Jesus will command, and they will not have a choice of whether to obey him or not. They will come forth from physical death to eternal 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)?

Friday 2 Lent – Odd
First posted 02/24/05;
Podcast: Friday 2 Lent – Odd

Jeremiah 5:1-9   –    Corruption to be judged;
Romans 2:25-3:18  –   All are guilty;
John 5:30-47   –  Jesus’ judgment;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Jeremiah searched Jerusalem in vain, seeking one just and truthful person, so that the Lord would be willing to pardon Jerusalem. They swear by the Lord’s name to deceive. They have refused to accept the Lord’s correction. The Lord has convicted them but they felt no anguish. They have stubbornly refused to repent.

Jeremiah thought that perhaps this was just the attitude of the common uneducated people who don’t know God’s ways and God’s law. He would seek among the great people, but although they knew God’s ways and his law they didn’t obey it.

Therefore the Lord will unleash beasts of prey upon his people, because of their many sins and their great apostasies (abandoning their faith). Israel’s children have forsaken the Lord, and have committed spiritual adultery with idols. They are like animals, gratifying their carnal lusts with their neighbors’ wives. Can that behavior go unpunished by the righteous Lord; will the Lord not punish a nation such as this?

Romans Paraphrase:

Circumcision is an advantage only if one obeys all the law (of Moses; God’s Word; James 2:10). True circumcision is inner commitment to obey God’s law, not merely an outward physical appearance. The behavior of those who are outwardly uncircumcised but who keep the law will condemn the circumcised who break the law.
People of God are those who are obedient to the Lord in their innermost selves. Real circumcision is a matter of heart attitude; spiritual rather than physical. True people of God seek praise from God rather than from mankind.

Is there any advantage in being a Jew (or a church member), or in circumcision? Yes, because the Jews have received the oracles of God in the scriptures. The faithlessness of God’s people doesn’t nullify the faithfulness of God, but it doesn’t glorify it either.
We must not excuse our faithlessness by thinking that because of it, God’s grace (unmerited favor; free gift) and faithfulness will be revealed and magnified. Does being a Jew (or a church member) make one more righteous or “spiritual”? No, because all people are under the power of sin.

All people by nature pursue self-interest rather than God’s will. They are all guilty of using their mouths to lie to and hurt others. They are quick to get angry and seek retribution. If they follow their own natures they wind up in misery and ruin, because they do not know the ways of God which lead to peace. They do not fear (have respect for the power and authority of) God.

John Paraphrase

Jesus’ judgment is according to God’s will and standards. Jesus is validated not by his own witness, but by the testimony of God through the ministry of John the Baptizer, by the works which Jesus did by God’s power and authority, and by God’s Word in the Bible.

Those who have heard God’s voice in the Bible will recognize and acknowledge Jesus, who God has sent in the fulfillment of his promise. If one loves God one would welcome Jesus as coming in God’s name and authority. Those who think they have salvation and eternal life through the promises of scripture apart from faith (obedient trust) in Jesus are wrong.

Jesus condemned the Jews who rejected him because they knew the scriptures and the promise of God but didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. Jesus condemns those who seek and bestow worldly human honor and approval among each other, but don’t seek God’s approval, or honor God.

The Jews who rejected Jesus will be condemned in God’s presence by Moses (and the Scriptures) because they put their hope of salvation in their keeping the law instead of believing in God’s promise in scripture to send a Savior, which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. If they had believed the scripture, they would have believed Jesus’ words.

Commentary:

Christians are the “New Jews” (Israel; the people of God), and the Church and, in a sense, America, are the “New Jerusalem.” Do we know God’s ways? Are we obeying God’s Word? Are we willing to accept the Lord’s correction? Are we willing to repent? Are we using religion to deceive; are we using religion to give us worldly approval? Have we committed spiritual adultery, worshiping the “gods” of success, money, power, material possessions, or physical pleasure? Have our children forsaken the Lord? Will our nation continue to go unpunished?

Like circumcision, Christianity is a matter of inner obedience, rather than outward appearance. Professing faith in Jesus does not make us Christians. Christians are disciples who trust and obey Jesus’ words (Matthew 7:21-24). We may have been born into a “Christian” home and into membership in a Christian church. We have the advantage of the New Testament scriptures as well as the Old.

Do we read and study the Bible; do we know what it says? Do we presume upon the grace of God to forgive our disobedience? Do we imagine that our disobedience glorifies the Lord? Are we more concerned with serving and pleasing our Lord than in gaining success and approval in our worldly lives? Do we know the ways of God which lead to real eternal peace, or are we pursuing worldly ways that lead to eternal destruction? Do we realize and respect the power and authority of God, or do we imagine that we can manipulate his favor through “religion?”

God has given Jesus the power and authority to judge the World. All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). There is a Day of Judgment coming. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus and have been “born-again” by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit will receive eternal life with the Lord in Heaven; those who have rejected Jesus or have refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right). Are we putting our faith and trust in Jesus, or are we trying to find some other way of salvation, by “good deeds,” or by religious ritual? Have we learned from the examples in scripture of God’s relationship with the Jews, or are we repeating their errors?

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 – Odd
First posted 02/25/05;
Podcast: Saturday 2 Lent – Odd

Jeremiah 5:20-31,      Apostasy and punishment;
Romans 3:19-31,      All have sinned;
John 7:1-13     The Feast of Tabernacles;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

The Lord told Jeremiah to proclaim to the people of the Kingdom of Judah that they are foolish and senseless people who don’t use their eyes and ears to see and hear what is what is right and most important. Everything else in creation conforms to the will of its Creator. The seas know their bounds, but God’s own people rebel and go their own way. They don’t remember the providence of God who provides the spring and autumn rains for good crops, and who restrains the rain during the harvest period so the crops won’t be ruined.

Judah’s wickedness and sin has kept her from receiving the blessings God intended. God’s people have allowed the wicked to prey upon the people. They have grown wealthy and powerful by preying upon the poor and needy. Their wickedness knows no bounds. Their justice is perverted. They do not defend the cause of the orphans nor defend the rights of the needy.

“Shall I not punish them for these things, says the Lord, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?” (Jeremiah 5:29). “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes” (Jeremiah 5:30-31)?

Romans Paraphrase:

God’s law was given to reveal mankind’s sin, so that no one can argue with God, and the whole world will be accountable to God. “For no human being will be justified (accounted righteous) in his sight by works of the law (keeping the law; doing “good deeds”), since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). God’s righteousness has now been revealed apart from the law although the law and prophets (the scriptures; the Old Testament) bear witness to it. True righteousness is through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (trust and obey) Jesus.

God’s judgment is impartial; “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (which includes God’s righteousness), they are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption (ransom; “buying back;” paying the penalty on our behalf) which is in Christ Jesus, who God sent to expiate (remove the guilt of our sins) by his blood sacrifice on the Cross to be received by faith.

This salvation demonstrates God’s righteousness by his divine forbearance of our former sins, and his present justification of those who have faith in Jesus. Therefore we have no reason for boasting, because we are not saved by our “good deeds” “for we hold that a (person) is justified by faith, apart from works (keeping) of law” (Romans 3:28). God is God of both Jew and Gentile, and he has provided the same standard of righteousness and judgment for both.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was no longer ministering openly in Judea, because the religious authorities were seeking to kill him. The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths; the harvest festival, commemorating the wilderness wanderings; September-October) was approaching and Jesus’ brothers suggested that Jesus go with them to Jerusalem for the celebration. They advised Jesus to show himself and do his works in Jerusalem, so that his disciples would see what Jesus was doing, and Jesus would become known publicly.

Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Jesus. Jesus told them to go to the feast themselves, because God’s timing of Jesus’ public self-manifestation had not yet come. After his brothers had left, Jesus went to Jerusalem also, but privately.

The Jewish religious leaders were looking for Jesus, expecting him to make an appearance, and there was controversy among the people over who Jesus was. Some thought Jesus was a good man, but others thought he was leading the people astray. But the people didn’t discuss Jesus openly for fear of the religious leaders.

Commentary:

The Lord condemned Judah for allowing the rich and powerful to prey upon the poor and needy. Their justice was perverted, upholding the rights of the wealthy and denying rights to the poor. Their religious leaders had become perverted, telling the people that they had God’s favor and protection instead of calling them to repentance and obedient trust in God, while God was preparing to punish them for their wickedness.

Can we see ourselves in this “mirror?” Isn’t America becoming a very divided two-class society? Haven’t our political leaders used religion to validate their own agendas? Haven’t our churches given God’s blessing upon the status quo? Haven’t our religious leaders failed to call us to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord? Haven’t our political leaders shifted the responsibility for poverty from the greedy who caused it, to the Churches? Hasn’t it become Government for the rich, and the Church for everyone else? And aren’t many in the Churches indifferent to social inequity?

God is impartial and he has established in Jesus Christ a standard of righteousness and judgment by which the world will be judged. Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ will obey his teachings, they will be filled with and guided by his Holy Spirit, and they will receive eternal life in the kingdom of God in Heaven. Those who reject God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell. We will each individually be accountable to the Lord for what we have done for the least members of our world (Matthew 25:31-46).

Jeremiah’s prophecy of God’s judgment was fulfilled; Judah had been exiled to Babylon for 70 years from 587 to 517 B.C.  Israel hadn’t learned from scripture and experience the lesson of God’s condemnation and punishment for the conditions in Judah in the time of Jeremiah. In the time of Jesus, the same conditions existed again. The Jewish religious and political leaders were wealthy and powerful at the expense of the people.

The religious leaders were assuring the people that they had God’s favor through the Old Covenant of law, while rejecting the New Covenant of grace through faith in Jesus. Their trial and crucifixion of Jesus was the ultimate example of their perverted “justice.” As the result, God again punished Israel with exile, beginning in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans. The Jews were scattered throughout the world, and they didn’t begin to return to their Promised Land until after World War II.

Have we ears that hear and eyes that see? Have we learned the lessons from Scripture and the experience of God’s dealing with his people? Are we missing the blessings that God intended us to have because of our rebelliousness and sin?

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 1 Lent – Odd – 02/22-28/2015

February 24, 2015

Week of 1 Lent – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.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 1 Lent – Odd

Sunday 1 Lent – Odd

First posted 02/12/05;
Podcast: Sunday 1 Lent – Odd

This is the Church Season of Lent, forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter (not counting Sundays) of self-examination, fasting and repentance.

Jeremiah 9:23-24   –  True Glory;
1 Corinthians 1:18-31   –   The Wisdom of God;
Mark 2:18-22   –   New Wine;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practice steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, says the Lord’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Those who are spiritually lost and perishing regard the Gospel of the Cross as folly, but it is God’s power manifested to the world and working in us who are being saved. God has declared in his Word that man’s wisdom will be destroyed, and man’s cleverness will be thwarted. The wise and clever pass away, and what is regarded as wisdom is later shown to be wrong. God’s wisdom makes worldly wisdom foolish. It pleased God in his wisdom to design creation so that man cannot come to know and have a personal relationship with God through worldly wisdom, so that what is regarded as folly by those who have worldly wisdom would save those who believe (trust and obey) God.

Jews (the “religious”) seek miraculous proof, and Greeks (the “educated”) seek (worldly) wisdom, but Christians proclaim Christ crucified, which is an obstacle to Jews, and folly to the “wise and educated.” “But to those who are called (who know and respond to God’s call upon them), both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).  God’s “foolishness” is wiser than man’s highest wisdom, and God’s “weakness” is greater than man’s greatest might.

Not many followers of Jesus were wise, or powerful or of noble birth by worldly standards. God uses what is foolish, weak, and humble in the world to put to shame the wise, powerful and proud. God even uses what is regarded as nothing, to bring to nothing the things we regard as important. No human has anything to boast about in God’s presence. Jesus Christ is the source of our physical and spiritual life, Jesus is “our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification (cleansing; spiritual maturity; completion of spiritual rebirth; the result of entire consecration to God) and our redemption (ransom from sin and death); therefore let him who boasts, boast of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

Mark Paraphrase:

John’s disciples and the Pharisees (strict legalistic Jews) were fasting, and people asked Jesus why his disciples weren’t fasting also. Jesus compared the situation to that of a wedding feast, and himself as the bridegroom and his followers (the Church), the bride. While Jesus is present with them they cannot fast, but the time would come when Jesus will be taken from them and then they would fast.

Jesus said one cannot patch an old garment with new, unshrunk cloth, because the first time it was washed the patch would shrink and tear the garment. So also, one does not put new wine into old wineskins, because the old skins aren’t elastic enough to handle the pressure of the fermenting wine; they will burst and both the wine and the skins will be lost. New wine requires fresh skins.

Commentary:

It doesn’t matter how much we know if we haven’t come to know the Lord personally through his indwelling Holy Spirit. All our human accomplishments become meaningless and pass away, if we haven’t used the opportunity of this lifetime to come into personal fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. No one can come to God except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

The Creator of the universe has designed it with the plan of creating an eternal kingdom of his people. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and find the Lord, and come into fellowship with him (Acts 17:26-27). God designed us to be eternal, and he designed creation so that we could have fellowship with him. Man lost that fellowship through disobedience (Genesis Chapter 3), but God’s creation was planned with that possibility in mind.

God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ existed at creation (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12). This lifetime is our opportunity to prepare for eternity. Are we using our lifetimes wisely, or are we pursuing things which will not exist in eternity?

People wanted to know why Jesus did not require his disciples to keep the Jewish religious rituals and traditions. Judaism represented the Old Covenant of Law which was intended to be the guardian of God’s people until the coming of Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:24-25). Jesus didn’t come to patch up the old covenant, but to mediate a New Covenant of Grace (the free gift of salvation) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 9:15). Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of a redeemer (see Genesis 49:10-11, and compare Matthew 21:5). Jesus came to provide the “New Wine” of cleansing and spiritual rebirth through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 2:13).

Wine is a great symbol because it contains “spirit” (alcohol); it lifts our mood which is why it is used at celebrations. New wine is active and powerful due to fermentation. It is the spiritual “blood” of Jesus of the Sacrament of Communion which Jesus instituted at his Last Supper (Mark 14:24).

Blood was believed by ancient people to contain the spirit of the animal, and Jews were forbidden to drink blood or eat flesh with its blood (Genesis 9:4). [However, one does not receive the fulness of the indwelling Holy Spirit just by showing up for Communion on Sunday morning.] New wine requires fresh skins. Likewise we must repent and turn to Jesus in obedient trust to be reborn so that we can contain his Holy Spirit. Then we individually become the spiritual Temple of the Lord, and collectively the reborn Christians are the Church, the bride of 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)?

Monday 1 Lent – Odd

First posted 02/13/05;
Podcast: Monday 1 Lent – Odd

Deuteronomy 8:1-20   –    The Sin of Pride and Self-sufficiency;
Hebrews 2:11-18  –   Jesus’ Suffering;
John 2:1-12  –    The Wedding at Cana;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Through Moses, the Lord warned his people to be careful to keep the commandments God had given them so that they would live and prosper and possess the Promised Land. They were warned to remember the lessons learned in their forty years of being led by the Lord in the wilderness, where they were tested to see if they would follow and obey the Lord.

The Lord humbled them in the wilderness and allowed them to experience hunger, and he fed them with manna, which they had never known, so that they “would know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3). During the forty years of wandering their clothes didn’t wear out and their feet didn’t swell.

The Lord disciplines his people like a good father disciplines his children, so his people are to keep his commands and follow his ways, in healthy fear of God’s power and respect of his authority. The Lord is bringing them into a good land which is fertile and abundant in water and natural resources, where they will have plenty to eat and will lack nothing. God’s people are warned not to forget the Lord by neglecting to keep his commandments, or by forgetting all that the Lord has done to bring them out of bondage in Egypt, through the hardships and dangers of the wilderness and into their Promised Land.

When God’s people have become settled and prosperous they are to remember that it is the Lord who has given them the land, and has blessed and prospered them, so that they won’t yield to the temptation to think that they have become successful by their own abilities. If the people forget the Lord and pursue and worship other gods, God warns that they will surely perish, as God has promised to cause the nations who possessed the land before Israel to perish.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Jesus, our sanctifier (the one who cleanses our sins), and we, who have been cleansed [through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ], have the same origin: God, our spiritual father. So Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brethren, as in Psalm 22:22, and his children, as in Isaiah 8:17-18. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same nature (came and lived in flesh and blood among us, subject to physical death), that through (physical) death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is the devil (Satan), and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus did this for us, the spiritual descendants of Abraham (through faith in Jesus). He had to be fully human, like us, so that he could be our merciful and faithful high priest in God’s service, so that he could reconcile us to God by paying the penalty for our sins. Since Jesus has experienced every temptation we face, he is able to sympathize with us and faithful to help us resist temptation and to forgive our sins.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was invited to a wedding at Cana (near Capernaum in Galilee) with his disciples. His mother was also invited. The bridegroom ran out of wine, and Jesus’ mother told this to Jesus.  Jesus addressed his mother respectfully, and asked why she was telling him this, since Jesus’ hour (God’s perfect timing for Jesus’ self-disclosure) had not yet come.

His mother told the bridegroom’s servants to do whatever Jesus might tell them. There were 6 jars, each holding about 25 gallons, at hand for the Jewish purification ritual, and Jesus told the servants to fill the jars to the brim with water, and then take some to the steward of the feast. They did as Jesus had told them.

When the steward tasted the sample of the water that had become wine, and not knowing where the wine had come from, although the servants did, the steward called the bridegroom and told him that everyone knows that one should serve the good wine first, and then the lesser wine after the guests’ senses have become dulled, but this bridegroom had apparently saved the best wine for last. This was the first manifestation of Jesus’ glory, done in Galilee, and his disciples’ faith in Jesus was strengthened. After the wedding Jesus went with his disciples and his mother and brothers to Capernaum, and they stayed there a few days.

Commentary:

It is so easy and tempting for us, individually and collectively, to forget what God has done for us, and to imagine that our individual success and the prosperity of our land is the result of our own effort. America’s situation is similar to that of Israel’s when they entered the Promised Land. Our first settlers were aware of their dependence upon God’s providence, but now having become “great” we’ve forgotten how we got here.

We imagine that we can provide our own daily bread; we’re “self-sufficient,” not realizing that it is not just by physical “bread” that we have life, but by God’s Word.  We must live by (in obedience to) God’s Word if we want real life now and eternally. Those who live by God’s Word will be led by his Holy Spirit through the wilderness of life in this world, through the river of physical death, and enter into the eternal Promised Land in Heaven. Those who pursue and worship other gods, such as wealth, power, ambition, pleasure, or any thing or person that interferes with our worship and obedience of the Lord, will perish eternally.

Jesus Christ is God’s Word made visible in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). The whole fullness of God dwelt bodily in Jesus (Colossians 2:8-9) but Jesus was fully human, so that he could show us how to live in our flesh, and through his resurrection and his assurance of eternal life, to deliver us from the power of Satan and the fear of physical death. Jesus is the merciful and faithful High Priest of those who trust and obey him, making intercession to God for us through his blood sacrifice on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sin. Jesus is the one who baptizes us with his Holy Spirit, our Counselor and Helper, who strengthens our faith and gives us the power to resist sin and temptation.

Jesus didn’t change the water into wine at Cana because his mother asked him to, nor to impress others and build his own reputation. He did so by God’s will and timing. His mother told Jesus about the lack of wine because she believed that Jesus could remedy the situation. Even when Jesus told her that it was not God’s will and timing, she believed that he would, and she told the servants to be ready to do whatever he asked. Do we believe that Jesus can do what we ask in God’s will and timing? Are we ready to do whatever Jesus asks us to do? (See Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home)

Jesus is the bridegroom and his followers are his Church, his Bride. Jesus is the only one who can change the water of our worldly situation into the New Wine of spiritual rebirth and the celebration of our “marriage” to the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the New Wine that cheers us, strengthens our faith, empowers us, and gives us real, eternal life (see also entry for yesterday, Sunday, 1 Lent, odd year). Jesus saves the best wine for last, but we can begin to taste it now.

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 – Odd

First posted 02/14/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 1 Lent – Odd

Deuteronomy 9:(1-3) 4-12   –   Temptation to Self-righteousness;
Hebrews 3:1-11  –   Christ Superior to Moses;
John 2:13-22  –   Cleansing the Temple;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

As Israel prepared to pass over the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land, Moses told them that they would take the land from nations and peoples greater than themselves. It was by the power of God that Israel would destroy and drive them out.

Israel was warned not to think that it was because of their righteousness that God was giving them victory and possession of the land. Instead, it was because of the wickedness of the people who occupied the land, and because of God’s faithfulness to keep his promise to the patriarchs of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israel was not being given the land because they deserved it, because Israel had demonstrated their stubbornness and rebelliousness against the Lord since they left Egypt during forty years in the wilderness.

Moses reminded them that while he was on Mt. Horeb, when God manifested himself to Israel and gave Moses the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God on stone tablets, Moses stayed on the mountain for forty days and nights, and ate and drank nothing. The tablets contained the Laws of the Covenant which God had spoken to Israel on the day God came down upon Mt. Horeb, manifesting himself to Israel (Exodus 19:16-20:20). While Moses was on Mt. Horeb receiving the tablets of the Covenant, the people, after seeing God come down on Mt Horeb and hearing him speak to them, had become impatient when Moses didn’t return, and had made themselves a molten image (an idol).

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Followers of Jesus are a holy (consecrated to God) brotherhood, sharing a heavenly call (not just an earthly one). We are to remember Jesus, the apostle (the original messenger of the Gospel, from God in heaven), and high priest of our Christian faith. Jesus was faithful to God’s call as Moses was. But Christ is as much greater than Moses, as the builder of a house has more honor than the house he builds (and God is the ultimate builder of all things). Moses was faithful as a servant in God’s house, but Jesus is the Son and heir of the builder and Master of God’s house.

We are members of his household, if we hold firmly to our faith (obedient trust) and hope in Jesus. The Holy Spirit says, through the scripture, “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion (“Meribah”) on the day of testing (“Massah”) in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:7-8; compare Psalm 95:8; Exodus 17:7).

Israel saw God’s faithfulness and providence during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and yet were still rebellious and demanded proof of God. God was provoked with that generation, because they didn’t learn God’s ways from their many opportunities, and thus were forbidden to enter the rest God had promised in the Promised Land.

John Paraphrase:

At the time for the celebration of the Passover, Jesus went to Jerusalem. Jesus entered the temple, and found moneychangers (Roman coins had to be exchanged for Jewish coins to pay the temple tax) and merchants selling animals for temple sacrifice. Jesus made a whip of cords, and drove the merchants and their livestock out of the temple; he dumped the coins and overturned the vendors’ tables, and ordered the sellers of birds to take them away. Jesus said, “…you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade” (John 2:16).

His disciples recalled that the scriptures (Psalm 69:9) had foretold that the Messiah would be zealous for the purity of God’s house. The Jews asked Jesus to prove his authority for doing this by some miraculous demonstration. Jesus told them “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).

The Jews pointed out that it had taken forty-six years to build the temple, and they could not believe that Jesus could rebuild it in three days, but Jesus was referring his body as the temple of God, not the building. After Jesus had been resurrected from the dead, his disciples remembered this saying, and they believed the scriptures and Jesus’ words.

Commentary:

The people of Israel had seen the plagues God brought upon Egypt, and the parting of the Sea when God delivered them from Egypt. They had seen God descend on Mt. Horeb, and heard him speak, and yet within forty days, while Moses was on the mountain receiving the stone tablets of the Commandments, Israel had turned from faith in God to the worship of idols.

Israel didn’t trust and obey God’s command to enter the Promised Land the first time, so God made them wander in the wilderness for forty years until all that generation which had rebelled had died in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb, who had trusted the Lord and had been ready to obey (Numbers 13:25-14:25). God’s people are warned not to imagine that our personal success and the prosperity of our land is because we’re righteous and worthy of God’s blessings.

We are all like “Israelites” in the wilderness of this earthly life. We are to learn to trust and obey God and be led by him. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us by his indwelling Holy Spirit, but in one sense, he is away on the mountain of God, and we are awaiting his return.

God’s people are to remember that we are to be consecrated to God’s service, and that we have a heavenly calling, not just an earthly one. We are to be obedient to God’s Word; not rebellious. There are many signs of the truth and faithfulness of God’s Word which we can see during this lifetime if we look in trust and obedience.

If we don’t learn to trust and obey the Lord in this lifetime we will die in this wilderness and not be allowed to enter God’s rest in the Promised Land of his kingdom in Heaven. Believers in Jesus haven’t received forgiveness, salvation and eternal life because we’re righteous and worthy, but because of God’s love, mercy and faithfulness through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Those who refuse to accept God’s forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ will perish eternally because of their own wickedness and rebelliousness. Are we continuing to trust and obey Jesus while he’s “on the mountain,” or are we turning to idols of our own making?

It was the time of the Passover celebration, when Israel was to remember their deliverance by God from slavery and death in Egypt. The Jews were supposed to be looking for the coming of the Messiah (who would be the new “Moses” to lead them into the heavenly Promised Land of the kingdom of God).

While they had been awaiting the coming Messiah, they had turned to “other gods;” materialism, wealth, and power, for example. They didn’t remember what God had done for them in giving them the Promised Land. They didn’t appreciate their release from slavery and death in Egypt. They didn’t remember the lessons their people should have learned in the wilderness.

They were still rebellious and still demanding that God prove himself to them. They demanded miraculous demonstration, when there were miraculous demonstrations all around for them to see. Jesus told them he was going to rise from the dead, but his word was not understood because of their unwillingness to hear and believe.

Jesus did rise on the third day; they had their sign, but they still didn’t believe. They had come to believe that they were God’s chosen people and had inherited the Promised Land because of their own righteousness, as Moses had warned; they were unwilling to acknowledge their sinfulness.

Have we as individuals and America as a nation forgotten who brought us into this land; have we forgotten our own wilderness experience? Have we forgotten what Jesus did for us on the Cross? Are we learning God’s ways during our earthly wilderness experience?

Do we realize that our bodies are to be temples of the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit? Have we allowed the Church to become a “business” or a social organization? Are we seeking signs from God to prove himself to us, when they’re all around us? Are we holding firmly to our faith and waiting expectantly for Jesus’ return, or are we turning to idols of our own making?

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 1 Lent – Odd

First posted 02/15/05;
Podcast: Wednesday 1 Lent – Odd

Deuteronomy 9:13-21  –  Israel’s stubbornness;
Hebrews 3:12-19   –  Warning against rebelliousness;
John 2:23-3:15  –   Nicodemus;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

While Moses was on the mountain receiving the covenant of law from God, the people had turned to idolatry. The Lord knew and told Moses (Deuteronomy 9:12). The Lord was angry at the people and was ready to destroy them and start over with Moses and his descendants.

Moses came down, carrying the stone tablets of the law, and he saw that the people had turned from the Lord and had made an idol. So Moses threw down the stone tablets and broke them. Moses prostrated himself before the Lord and fasted for forty days seeking God’s forgiveness for Israel, and the Lord forgave them and did not destroy them. Moses also prayed for God’s forgiveness of Aaron (at the time, Moses’ spokesman who was in command during Moses’ absence and who facilitated the idolatry of the people).

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Christians are warned to take care that they not allow evil and unbelief to lead them away from the Lord. We are to exhort one another daily so that our consciences will not be hardened by the deceptive nature of sin. Remaining in Christ requires perseverance, so that we don’t lose the confidence in Christ we had when we first believed in him.

The scriptures warn us to learn from the experience of Israel and not let our hearts become hardened and rebellious as Israel did. Those who were rebellious had all been led out of Egypt, and they continued in rebelliousness throughout the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. They perished in the wilderness because of their sin. God swore that those who were disobedient would never enter God’s rest (settlement in the Promised Land). Those who were disobedient were unable to enter because of unbelief.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was in Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover. Many people believed in Jesus because of the “signs” (miracles revealing who Jesus is) which Jesus did. But Jesus understood our human nature, and he did not trust himself to them.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee (the strictest, most legalistic group of Jews), and he was a member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court). Nicodemus went to visit Jesus after dark, and he addressed Jesus as “Teacher” (Rabbi) and acknowledged that Jesus must have come from God and been doing God’s will or Jesus could not do the miracles he had done. Jesus answered that one cannot see the kingdom of God unless one is “born anew” (or “born from above;” thus “born again”).

Nicodemus asked Jesus how one could be born again; could a person have a second physical birth? Jesus replied that one needs to be born by the water of Baptism and by (the “baptism;”  indwelling; anointing of; see Acts Chapter 2) the Holy Spirit or else one cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Commentary:

Our physical bodies are born physically; our spirits are born by the Holy Spirit within us. Do not be amazed about spiritual rebirth. “The wind (the same word means both wind and spirit) blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:9).

Nicodemus asked Jesus how this could be, and Jesus asked how Nicodemus could be a teacher of Israel and not understand this. Jesus was testifying to what he knew and had seen, but Nicodemus was not believing Jesus’ testimony. If Nicodemus could not understand the parable of the wind, a familiar earthly experience, how could he understand spiritual things Nicodemus had never experienced?

No one on earth has ever experienced heaven, except Jesus, who came from heaven.  Jesus declared that he would be lifted up (on the Cross), and would be like the bronze serpent which Moses raised up on a pole, during the wilderness wandering (Numbers 21:9). As snake-bitten Israelites who looked at the bronze serpent were saved from physical death, so Jesus would be lifted up on the Cross so that those who believe in Jesus will be saved from eternal spiritual death and instead receive eternal life.

God knows the sin of his people. The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Moses trusted and obeyed God and he found the situation just as God had said. Moses broke the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, because the people had “broken” the covenant with God. Moses interceded for the people for forty days of fasting and prayer. Because of Moses’ intercession God was willing to forgive their sin.

Jesus is the “New Moses” who leads us through the wilderness of this world and intercedes for us to God for our forgiveness. Until his return from the “mountain of God” in Heaven, those who are the Lord’s interim spokesmen and leaders of the people of God must be careful not to facilitate disobedience and idolatry among God’s people.

Disobedience of God’s Word is rebellion and unbelief. Sin is deceptive; the serpent in the Garden of Eden told Eve she wouldn’t die as God had said she would if she disobeyed God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:3-4). Eve didn’t die physically when she disobeyed, but she lost eternal life and became subject to physical death.

Christians need to examine ourselves to see if we are allowing sin (disobedience) and unbelief to grow within us. The generation of Israelites who God freed and led from bondage in Egypt perished in the wilderness because of disobedience and disbelief despite many “signs” which God had done for them: the plagues in Egypt, crossing through the Sea, manna, and water from the rock, for example.

Many people believed in Jesus because of the miracles they saw him do. Do we seek “signs” in order to believe? Do we only believe in Jesus as long as he does what we ask of him? Nicodemus came to Jesus because Nicodemus saw “signs” which indicated that Jesus had come from God and was doing miracles by God’s power and approval, but Nicodemus came by night because he was not ready to commit publicly to believing, and he wasn’t sure that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus told him that one must be reborn spiritually through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit for one to see the kingdom of God which is all around us right now, and also to enter the eternal kingdom of God in heaven.

Nicodemus saw “signs” but wanted more information before making a commitment; he wanted to understand everything first. Jesus tried to explain spiritual rebirth in terms Nicodemus could understand, but Nicodemus was still not willing to commit.

We don’t need to understand what causes the wind to blow in order to believe in wind; we can see and hear its effects. We cannot fully understand everything spiritual now. We have to decide whether to trust and obey Jesus based on the Biblical record of his earthly ministry. Jesus foretold his crucifixion (and resurrection) and his prophecy was fulfilled. He promised that those who believe in him will have eternal life.

Seeking “signs” won’t save us. All the information we need in order to come to salvation and eternal life is in the Bible. We need to read it and act on it in faith. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation; Jesus is our only intercessor who can save us from God’s wrath 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)?

Thursday 1 Lent – Odd

First posted 02/16/05;
Podcast: Thursday 1 Lent – Odd

Deuteronomy 9:23-10:5   –   Moses the Intercessor;
Hebrews 4:1-10   –   God’s Promise of Rest;
John 3:16-21  –    God’s Saving Purpose;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

The people of Israel have rebelled and disobeyed God from the day they left Egypt. Israel had refused God’s command at Kadesh-barnea to enter the Promised Land (Numbers Chapters 13-14). Moses prostrated himself before the Lord for forty days and nights interceding with God not to destroy the Israelites. Moses recalled the mighty acts of God in bringing them out of Egypt. Moses asked God to remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to forget the stubbornness, wickedness and sin of Israel for the sake of God’s name, so that the Egyptians wouldn’t be able to say that God didn’t fulfill his promise, or that God hated Israel and planned to kill them in the wilderness.

The Israelites are God’s people and his heritage, who he delivered by his great power. The Lord commanded Moses to prepare two new stone tablets (like the previous ones which had been broken; Deuteronomy 9:12-17) and to make a wooden ark (chest) to contain the tablets. The Lord would again write on the tablets the Ten Commandments which had been spoken by God to the people on the day of assembly when God came down upon the mountain (Exodus 19:16-20:26). So Moses prepared the tablets and ark, and he ascended the mountain with the tablets. God wrote the commandments again on the new tablets. Then Moses brought the tablets down and put them in the Ark.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

God has promised that his people will enter his rest [from their wilderness wandering, in the Promised Land; also the Sabbath rest, when God rested from the work of creation on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2) and the eternal rest in heaven after the toils of this life] . The Israelites who didn’t obey God’s Word were not allowed to enter the Promised Land (Hebrews 3:7-11, quoting Psalm 95:7-11). God’s promise will be fulfilled, but must be appropriated by Christians by faith (obedient trust). We have heard the same good news that the Israelites heard, but they received no benefit from it because they didn’t believe and obey.

John Paraphrase:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12; the light of righteousness) who came into the world. Mankind loved darkness (unrighteousness) instead of light, because their deeds were evil. Those who do evil hide in the darkness hoping that their sins will not be exposed (but our sins cannot be hidden from God). Those who do what is right come to the light so that it can be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in accord with God’s will and nature.

Commentary:

The Israelites who had been led out of Egypt had the opportunity to enter the Promised Land directly but they lost that opportunity through disobedience. After seeing God’s mighty acts of deliverance from slavery in Egypt, they still didn’t trust and obey God’s Word to enter and take possession of the Promised Land. So God allowed that generation to wander in the wilderness for forty years until all those who had rebelled and disobeyed God were dead. Moses interceded for them to God, and God spared them from immediate destruction, and God renewed his covenant with the people who had broken it.

God’s promises will be fulfilled, but it is up to us to claim them for ourselves by faith (obedient trust). We should learn from the example of Israel’s history that it is not those who call themselves God’s people who receive his promises, but those who trust and obey God’s Word. It’s not those who call Jesus their Lord who are saved, but those who are obedient to God’s Word through Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:21-24; Luke 6:46; Jesus is God’s Word in human flesh: John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the New Covenant whose blood intercedes for us to God to forget our sins for Jesus’ name’s sake, provided that we trust and obey Jesus. Jesus is the name of the Lord!

God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save us from condemnation and give us eternal life. 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). We are all under condemnation except those who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus.

Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world but to save us from God’s righteous condemnation. God promised that those who trust and obey Jesus will not be condemned to eternal death but will instead receive eternal life in the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom in heaven. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is our intercessor to God for the forgiveness of our sins, and he’s our leader who will lead us into the Promised Land if we 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)?

Friday 1 Lent – Odd

First posted 02/17/05;
Podcast: Friday 1 Lent – Odd

Deuteronomy 10:12-22  –    What the Lord requires;
Hebrews 4:11-16   –   Jesus our high priest;
John 3:22-36    –    John’s further testimony;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

God’s people are to fear (respect the power and authority of) God, to conform to his ways, to love and serve him with all our hearts and souls, and to keep all his commands. God’s requirements are for our own benefit. Everything in heaven and on earth belongs to God, but in love God has chosen us above all people.  We are to stop being disobedient and rebellious, and to open our innermost self to trust and obey him, fulfilling our responsibility of our covenant with God.

The Lord is God of gods and Lord of lords, whose glory and might are unrivaled, and who is impartial, just, and cannot be bribed. God upholds the rights of the poor and helpless; widows, orphans and sojourners. God loves and cares for the sojourner and so must we, remembering that we were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

We are to fear, serve, trust and obey the Lord faithfully without wavering. He is the one we praise, our God, who has done great things for us, which we have seen and experienced. The Lord has kept his promise to make the descendants of Abraham a vast multitude beyond counting.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Believers are to make every effort to enter God’s rest which God has promised (the rest in the Promised Land from the wilderness wandering; the Sabbath rest: Genesis 2:2; the final rest from the toils of earthly life in the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom in heaven), so that we don’t fail by disobedience and unbelief as the Israelites did (Hebrews 3:15-19).

“God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). No one can hide anything from God, and everyone will be accountable to God for what they have done in life (John 5:28-29).

Jesus Christ is our great high priest who has ascended into heaven (to intercede for us in God’s presence; in the heavenly temple), so let us hold firmly to our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is able to help us in our weaknesses, because he has been tempted in every way as we are, but without sinning, so he can sympathize with us and he can give us his power to resist temptation. So let us come to the Lord in trust and confidence through Jesus Christ and receive mercy (forgiveness) and find grace (unmerited favor) to help us as we have need.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples were in Judea (southern Israel) baptizing. John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim (between Samaria and Galilee, north of Judea). John had baptized Jesus and had testified that Jesus was the Son of God (the Messiah) who would baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34). John’s disciples got into a discussion with a Jew over Jewish purifying rituals, and the disciples went to John and told him that Jesus was baptizing and that all the people were going to Jesus.

John told them “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). John had told his disciples that he wasn’t the Christ, but the messenger sent ahead to announce him. Jesus is the bridegroom to whom the bride (Israel; God’s people) belongs. John was like the “Best Man;” the groomsman. He hears the bridegroom and rejoices in his coming. When the bride and bridegroom are united the groomsman’s role has been accomplished, and the bridegroom begins his role. Jesus is from heaven and he is above all. Those who are of earth have only earthly experience and knowledge; Jesus testifies to what he has seen and heard in heaven, but many don’t believe him.

Those who have believed in Jesus testify that God is true and that Jesus, whom God sent, speaks God’s Word. God didn’t just give a little bit of his Spirit, but its fullness, to Jesus (John 1:33; Colossians 2: 8-9), and Jesus baptizes his disciples who trust and obey him with the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

God loves his Son, Jesus, and has given him authority over all things (Matthew 28:18). Those who believe (trust and obey) God’s Son, Jesus Christ, have eternal life. Those who do not obey God’s Son will never know what is truly life, because they are under the condemnation of God’s wrath.

Commentary:

God requires obedience and respect from his people. Do we understand the concepts of God and Lord, or do we imagine God as some guy in a bottle that we can summon to do our bidding? Physical circumcision was the requirement and sign of the Old Covenant of Law between God and Israel, but the covenant also required obedience to the Law.

Circumcision of the heart (our obedient submission to God in our innermost being) is the requirement and sign of the New Covenant of Grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. God’s people are not those who are only outwardly, nominally God’s people. God’s people are to care for and uphold the rights of the poor and helpless and sojourners because God does. We are to remember that we were once sojourners in the bondage of sin and death of the “Egypt” of this earthly life. Christian disciples are the spiritual descendants of Abraham.

God has promised rest, now and eternally. We are to appropriate that promise for ourselves through trust and obedience of Jesus Christ. The Israelites who perished in the wilderness were not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of unbelief and disobedience. God’s Word is not like our word; God’s Word is unfailingly true and it has creative power. God’s Word will either give us life or condemn us.

God knows our innermost thoughts and intentions, and each one of us will be personally accountable to God for what we have done in our earthly life. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and our salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Jesus Christ is God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14), demonstrated through his life. We must hold onto our faith in Jesus and come to him to receive his help.

Jesus is the only one who baptizes with Holy Spirit. John baptized with water for people’s repentance to prepare them to receive Jesus who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. John was just doing what God had given him to do; forgiveness and salvation are not from John (or any mortal), but from God through his Son Jesus Christ. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus can testify to the truth of God’s Word, Jesus Christ, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They have experienced the fulfillment of promises we see in the Bible.

Those who trust and obey Jesus have eternal life and personal fellowship with the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit, which is the seal and guarantee of that salvation and eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the indwelling Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

Those who do not trust and obey Jesus (regardless of whether they call themselves Christians or profess faith in Jesus or not) are under eternal condemnation. Faith in Jesus is not a matter of outward appearance but of inner submission. Obedience to God’s Word must be understood from the perspective of Jesus’ teachings.

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 – Odd

First posted 02/18/05;
Podcast: Saturday 1 Lent – Odd

Deuteronomy 11:18-28  –  Blessing and Curse;
Hebrews 5:1-10   –   Jesus Our High Priest;
John 4:1-26  –   The Samaritan Woman;

Deuteronomy Summary:

God’s people are to lay up God’s Word in their hearts and in their souls, so that God’s Word will be available at all times in our daily lives. We are to use God’s Word to guide us constantly, so that we will be obedient to God’s will in all things, and we are to teach obedience of God’s Word to our children. The blessing of obedience to God’s Word is long life, “as long as the heavens are above the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:21 RSV), in the land God has promised us.

The Lord promised Israel that if they were obedient in all things to God’s Word, that God would drive out the great and powerful heathen nations which occupied the Promised Land so that Israel could occupy it. God promised to give Israel everything from the wilderness (in the south) to the Lebanon (in the northwest) and the Euphrates River (in the northeast) to the Mediterranean Sea. The Lord promised that no person could withstand Israel and that God would cause the occupants of the land to be afraid of Israel. The Lord gave his people a blessing if they chose to obey him and a curse if they chose not to obey and turned to idols.

Hebrews Summary:

A high priest is appointed by God, as Aaron was (Hebrews 5:4), as a mediator between the people and God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. He is able to sympathize and gently correct those who are straying because he also suffers temptation and human weakness. Thus he needs to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as for the people. So Christ also was appointed, not by his own choice, but by God, who declared (in Psalm 2:7) that he was the (only) begotten Son of God, and (in Psalm 110:4) that he is priest forever according to the priesthood of Melchizedek.

Jesus learned spiritual discipline through obedience from his suffering unto his death on the Cross. Jesus trusted that God was able to save him from physical death and his prayer was heard because of his godly (reverent) fear (appropriate respect for God’s power and authority). By persevering in obedience Jesus came to spiritual maturity and completion of his qualifications for priesthood and Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9).

John Summary:

On the way from Judea to Galilee, Jesus and his disciples passed through Samaria and stopped around noon to rest at Jacob’s Well near Sychar. (Jesus’ disciples had gone into the city to buy lunch; John 4:27). A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus asked her for a drink. She asked Jesus why he was asking her, since Jews ostracized Samaritans as racial and religious “mongrels” (and Rabbis did not speak to women in public; John 4:27). Jesus replied that if she knew the “gift of God” and who was asking her for water, she would have asked Jesus for “living water” (John 4:10).

The woman noted that Jesus wasn’t equipped to draw water from Jacob’s Well, and asked where one gets living water. She asked if he were greater than the patriarch, Jacob, who had given them the well and had used it himself. Jesus told her that those who drink from Jacob’s Well will soon be thirsty again, but those who drink the living water Jesus gives will never thirst again; the living water Jesus gives becomes a spring of water within the recipient which wells up into eternal life. The woman addressed Jesus as “Sir” and asked him to give her that living water, so that she wouldn’t have to keep coming to Jacob’s Well for water.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman to go and fetch her husband, and the woman replied that she had no husband. Jesus said he knew that she had been married five times, and was now living with a man who was not married to her. The woman now acknowledged that Jesus was a prophet, and she asked him to settle a controversy between Jews and Samaritans over where one should worship God.

The Jews worshiped in the temple in Jerusalem, but Samaritans had not been allowed to worship there, and had instead worshiped on Mt Gerizim in the Samaritan temple. Jesus told her to believe him that the time was coming when she wouldn’t worship God in Jerusalem or on Mt. Gerizim. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. The woman declared that she believed the Messiah was coming, “and that “he will show us all things” (John 4:25). Jesus told her that he was the Messiah.

Commentary:

God’s people are to store up God’s Word in their hearts and souls, so that it will be constantly available to guide us, and we must be obedient to God’s Word. We’re to teach God’s Word and obedience to God’s Word to our children. We need to read the whole Bible, and we need to read the Bible daily. God promises eternal life in the Promised Land of his kingdom in heaven to those who trust and obey his Word, but warns that those who do not trust and obey God will be cursed. Jesus Christ is God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation and eternal life, and he is the example of a life lived in trust and obedience to God’s Word.

Jesus is the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Hebrews 5:9). He is God’s only anointed Savior and eternal Priest, who offered once for all the sacrifice of his death on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Jesus’ life demonstrates how to live as a son or daughter of God. We are to grow in spiritual discipline to spiritual maturity by persevering in trust and obedience to Jesus. We are to be Jesus’ disciples.

Jesus is the only source of “living water.” The living water he is referring to is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34; Matthew 3:11). Jesus told the woman that if she realized who Jesus was she would ask him and he would give her that “living water.”

During her conversation, she had a growing awareness of who Jesus was. First she thought of him as a Jew (John 4:9). Then she called him “Sir” (John 4:11). Then she declared him a prophet (John 4:19). Then she confessed her belief in the Messiah (John 4:25), and Jesus revealed himself to her (John 4:26).

God’s Word is eternally true. When we trust in it and act upon it we receive what God promises. These texts are an illustration of Christian discipleship and spiritual growth. As we begin to lay up God’s Word in our hearts and to apply it in our daily lives, we grow in understanding of who Jesus really is. If we commit to believe in him, he will reveal himself to us. If we trust Jesus and obey him, he will give us the “living water” of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17).

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the indwelling Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). True worship of God isn’t just matter of Church attendance, but also of our trust and obedience of Jesus and the anointing of his 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)?

Week of Transfiguration – Lent – Odd 02/15-21/2015

February 14, 2015

Week of Transfiguration – Lent – Odd  

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


 

A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.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  Transfiguration – Lent

Sunday Transfiguration – Odd

First posted 02/05/05;

Podcast: Sunday Transfiguration Odd

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14  –    Divine judgment;
2 Corinthians 3:1-9   –   The New Covenant;
John 12:27-36a   –   Judgment of the world;

Daniel Summary:

Daniel foresaw the Day of Judgment. God, the ancient one, was on his throne surrounded by his court. “The court sat in judgment and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:10c). “…with the clouds of heaven came one like a son of man” (Daniel 7:13a;  compare Acts 1:9, 11). He was presented to God, who gave him dominion and glory and kingdom over all people, and nations, and they are to serve him. His dominion and his kingdom are eternal and imperishable.

2 Corinthians Summary:

Paul had apparently been accused of building up his own image and reputation. Paul doesn’t need anyone to attest for him to the Corinthians, nor does he need a character reference from the Corinthians to anyone else. The work of the Holy Spirit within the Corinthians is Paul’s letter of commendation. That commendation is a letter from Christ; Paul is merely the “postman” delivering the message. The message is written on human hearts by God’s Spirit, rather than engraved in stone or written with ink on paper. Paul’s confidence before God is not in his own ability or merit, but through Jesus Christ.

Paul’s qualification to be a minister of the new covenant is by God’s work, not Paul’s ability. The old covenant (of law) written on stone tablets (the Ten Commandments given at Mt Sinai to Moses) kills, but the new covenant is written by the Holy Spirit (on our hearts), and the Spirit gives (eternal) life.

If the old covenant demanding death came with such splendor in Moses’ face that he had to wear a veil because of its brightness, although fading (Exodus 34:29-35), won’t the new covenant of life in the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? If there was splendor in the giving of the Law of condemnation, the giving of the new covenant of righteousness must be far greater in splendor.

John Summary:

Jesus’ soul was troubled (at the prospect of his crucifixion) and his human response would have been to ask God to save him from going through that, but he recognized that this was his purpose and God’s will, so he prayed that God would glorify his name through Jesus. A voice from heaven declared that God had glorified it and would glorify it again. The crowd around heard it, and some thought it was thunder, but others thought an angel had spoken to Jesus. Jesus told them that the voice has spoken for their benefit, not for Jesus’ sake.

Jesus said that now is the judgment of the world, and the ruler of the world (Satan) would be overthrown. Jesus declared, revealing how he would die, that when he was lifted up (on the cross of crucifixion) he would draw all people to him. But the crowd said they had heard that the Christ would remain forever, and they did not understand who the Son of man was or why Jesus said he must be lifted up.

Jesus replied that the light was with them a little longer, and while they had light they should walk in the light, so that they wouldn’t be overtaken by darkness. Anyone walking in darkness does not know where he is going. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be come sons of light” (John 12:36a).

Commentary:

God has declared that there is going to be a Day of Judgment when all who have ever lived will be judged by the Son of man, Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:31-46), who has been given dominion, glory and kingdom. Jesus is the King of Kings, the King of the Universe, and his dominion and kingdom are eternal.

Paul’s ministry was not by the authority of men, but by the call and empowerment of God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit (Paul was formerly known as Saul: Acts Chapter 9, Galatians 1:1). His message was not man’s message, but God’s (Galatians 1:11-12). It didn’t matter to Paul whether other people thought he was righteous or not. Paul’s confidence in his standing before God was based not on his own works or merit, but by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant of Law condemns us to eternal death (Romans 6:23) because no one is able to keep all of God’s Law. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

God created a New Covenant of righteousness in Jesus Christ. Those who trust and obey Jesus receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and those who live by the guidance of the Holy Spirit are freed from the Old Covenant of condemnation. The Lord only gives his Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).  It is possible for one to know with certainty whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

On the Day of Judgment, those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected Jesus and refused to obey him will be condemned to eternal death in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus declared that the judgment of the world and the defeat of Satan would take place at the cross of his crucifixion, and so it has. Those who accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord are freed from the condemnation of God’s Law, provided that they live in obedience to his Holy Spirit. Those who reject Jesus and refuse to obey him are under eternal condemnation.

Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man. That reference allows each of us to decide for ourselves who we believe Jesus to be. Jesus declared that he was the light of the world (John 8:12). Jesus called us to believe in the light and walk in his light. Those who do not walk in Jesus’ light are walking in darkness (of sin and spiritual ignorance) and don’t realize where they are going. Do you know the Son of man? Are you walking in his 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)?

Monday Transfiguration Odd

First posted 02/06/05;
Podcast: Monday Transfiguration Odd

Deuteronomy 6:1-15   –    The great commandment;
Hebrews 1:1-14   –    Superiority of Christ to angels;
John 1:1-18   –   God’s Word become flesh;

Deuteronomy Summary:

The Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses to teach to the people of God, so that they would keep them and live by them in the Promised Land. We and our children and grandchildren are to fear, love and respect God by obeying God’s commandments, so that our lives can be prolonged, now and eternally. So listen and be careful to do them, so that we prosper and multiply in the paradise God has promised to our ancestors.

Listen, people of God, the Lord our God is the one and only God, and we are to love God with all our hearts, souls (our eternal spirits) and our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. God’s commandments shall be so much a part of our daily life that we are mindful of them and guided by them in every aspect of our daily life.  We are to  teach them to our children so that they will practice them in every aspect of their daily lives also. God is going to bring his people into an eternal paradise which they haven’t earned or done anything to create or deserve.

We must be careful not to forget who has delivered us from slavery to sin and death and who blesses us and provides for us. We are to fear, honor and respect our God, and trust and obey him alone. We are not to desire, love, pursue or serve any other thing or person but our Lord. We are not to follow the idols of the society which surrounds us. The Lord will not share his glory with any other thing or person. Those who do not honor and serve God will be utterly destroyed.

Hebrews Summary:

God spoke in the past to his people through the prophets, but now he has spoken to us by his Son, his ultimate prophet. Jesus took part in creation (John 1:3) and sustains it by his Word which has creative power. He is God’s heir, inheriting all things. He is the very likeness and nature of God (Colossians 2:8-9). He is our High Priest, having accomplished the purification of our sins, and he is enthroned at the right hand of God in heaven as King of the Universe. He is far greater than the angels, who are like household servants in comparison to the firstborn son and heir of the master of the household. His kingdom is eternal. Creation will age and change, but the Lord is eternal and unchanging. The angels are his servants in the ministry of our salvation.

John Summary

The Word of God is his creative force. Jesus is God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:14). He existed from the beginning of Creation, and participated in Creation. He was with God and he is God. In him is real, eternal life, which is the light (of righteousness and hope) of mankind, which shines in the darkness (of sin and hopelessness) of this present world, and that darkness has not prevailed over it. John (the baptizer) was sent by God to testify to the light (Jesus) so that people would believe in Jesus. John was not the light (the Christ) but he came to point people to the Christ.

Jesus is the true light which makes all other sources of light dim by comparison. He came into the world which he created, and he came to his own people (the Jews) but the people he had created, and the Jews, to whom he was promised and expected, didn’t recognize and believe in him. But to all who welcomed him and believed in him, he gave the power to become God’s (adopted) children, through their spiritual rebirth, not by their physical heritage, their own desire, or their own merit, but by God’s will (through his indwelling Holy Spirit).

God’s Word became flesh and lived among us, the fullness of God’s grace (unmerited favor) and truth (faithful promises). We have seen that he possesses the glory of the only begotten Son of God. John testified that although John came before Jesus chronologically, that Jesus ranks far above him in glory. Jesus is an inexhaustible source of God’s unmerited favor. The Law (of judgment and condemnation) was given through Moses but through Jesus comes grace and truth (forgiveness and salvation). No one is able to see God, but Jesus, who is God’s exact likeness and nature in human form makes God visible to us.

Commentary:

God alone is the one true God, the creator of the universe. He has had a purpose from the beginning of creation to create an eternal kingdom of his people. He had a personal relationship with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which was broken by their disobedience of God’s Word (Genesis Chapter 3). Adam and Eve were eternal (as are we); they lost eternal life and came under the condemnation of eternal death through their disobedience (Genesis 3:3; John 5:28-29).

Since that time God has been trying to save us from the eternal death which is the penalty for disobedience of God’s Word (Romans 6:23). He called Abraham, who trusted and obeyed God and became the patriarch of God’s people. God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, to be taught and obeyed. Through Israel God gave us his Word through the Old Testament Scriptures, and he has given us the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Word of God in human flesh. Jesus is the embodiment of the obedient servant of God, and the example of how we are to live. Jesus is the invisible God made visible in human form. Jesus is God’s message of self-sacrificing love for us. Jesus is our High Priest who offered up the sacrifice of himself on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus is the anointed King of God’s eternal kingdom.

God’s Word has a creative power that human words do not possess. God created heaven and earth by his Word. He could make us obey him by his command. Instead he has given us the power to choose whether to obey him or not, but that choice has eternal consequences for us personally. God wants people who serve him gladly out of love for him. Jesus is God’s revelation of himself in this world.

Jesus came to give us forgiveness of our sins, to restore the fellowship with God which was broken because of sin (our disobedience of God’s Word), and to restore us to eternal life which was lost through sin. No one can come to God and know God except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). There is forgiveness of sins in no other way or person than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Jesus speaks the Word of God. To those who believe in Jesus, he gives the power to become God’s adopted children (but note that this is a promise which must be acted upon by the receiver; we must trust Jesus’ words and act on them in obedience).

Jesus promises that those who are his disciples, who trust and obey Jesus, will have personal fellowship with Jesus and God the Father through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus in flesh couldn’t be everywhere at once, and couldn’t be in as close fellowship with his disciples as he can in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate revelation of God to us personally. It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can hear the Lord speak directly to us and it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can obey and serve the Lord.

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

Tuesday Transfiguration Odd

First posted 02/07/05;
Podcast: Tuesday Transfiguration Odd

Deuteronomy 6:16-25   –  The great commandment;
Hebrews 2:1-10   –    Christ superior to angels;
John 1:19-28  –   Testimony of John the Baptizer;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

We are warned not to ask God to prove himself to us like the Israelites did at Massah (when Moses drew water from the rock; Exodus 17:2-7). We are to be diligent in obeying God’s commandments. We are to do what is right and pleasing to the Lord (and avoid what is not right and pleasing), so that things will go well for us and that we may enter and possess the Promised Land.

We are to teach our children God’s acts of redemption; how he delivered his people from bondage of sin and death in Egypt, through the sea and through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land. We are to obey his commands, and to have a healthy fear (awe and reverence for the power and authority) of the Lord always, for our good, and we are to teach that to our children, so that God will preserve us and judge us as righteous.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

The author of Hebrews warns that we must pay closer attention to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or else we will drift away from it. If the Old Covenant of God’s Law was valid and every sin or disobedience received a just retribution, we cannot hope to escape God’s condemnation if we ignore his plan of salvation. God’s plan of salvation “was declared at first by the Lord, and has been attested to us by those who heard him” (Hebrews 2:4) and by signs and miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The world to come (the new creation; the kingdom of God in Heaven; Paradise), is not to be ruled by and for angels, but by Jesus, and for his followers. Jesus, although much higher than the angels, became lower than them for a short time (during his earthly ministry to bring us to salvation) but now has been glorified, has been given authority and dominion over all creation.

We do not see the complete subjugation of all things in creation to him yet. But we do see Jesus, having become humble and obedient, enduring suffering and death so that he might experience death for each one of us, now crowned with glory and honor. It was God’s gracious will to allow Jesus to come to spiritual maturity through suffering, so that he could be our leader to guide us to spiritual maturity and our eternal inheritance.

John Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer was asked, by religious leaders from Jerusalem, who it was that John claimed to be. John confessed that he was not the Christ (Messiah). The authorities asked if John were Elijah (who was expected to return to prepare for Christ’s coming), or the prophet (another Messianic forerunner) and John answered that he was not. So they asked what John said about himself, and John quoted Isaiah 40:3, saying that he was a voice crying out in the wilderness, calling Israel to repent and prepare for the Lord’s coming.

The religious authorities asked why, then, John was baptizing. John said that he baptized with water, but the Messiah, who was to be revealed after John, was present among them, unrecognized. The Messiah was so much greater than John, that John felt unworthy to be his most menial servant. This took place at “Bethany beyond the Jordan” (unknown but presumably close to and east of the river; not to be confused with Bethany on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem).

Commentary:

Christians are to trust and obey God’s Word in the Bible. We need to read the Bible thoroughly and regularly.  We are to apply God’s Word in our daily lives and we are to teach the Bible to our children. We are to learn and pass on what God has revealed about himself in his dealings with Israel. How are we doing? Do we expect the Lord to reveal himself to people who do not trust and obey him?

The author of Hebrews says that if we don’t pay close attention to the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will drift away from it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s only plan of salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home); it originated with God. It was attested to in the New Testament by those who heard the Gospel from Jesus during his earthly ministry.

It needs to continue to be attested to by “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ who have heard it from the risen Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit, like Paul (Acts Chapter 9). Discipleship is a spiritual growth process by which we are to grow to spiritual maturity following Jesus’ example of obedient trust in God. Only a disciple can make disciples; we have to be willing to be disciples, and be willing to grow to spiritual maturity first.

The mission of the Church is to make disciples, but often the Church just makes members, fair-weather Christians who expect God to bless their lives, and then ask where God is at the first sign of trouble.

John the Baptizer trusted and obeyed God. He knew the scriptures and he applied and lived them. He didn’t consider himself as someone great, like Elijah or some other prophet, although that is what he was (Matthew 11:14; Mark 9:13), because as he acted on God’s Word he fulfilled the prophecy.

John the Baptist is a role-model for Christians. There is a society around us which is oblivious to the presence of Jesus among us; who do not recognize Jesus as Savior and Lord, God’s only plan of salvation. We need to be voices calling out in the wilderness, calling people to repent and turn to the Lord in trust and obedience; to prepare people for the Lord’s return.

In order to do that we must be disciples filled and led by the Holy Spirit. We cannot accomplish God’s call by our own worldly strength and ability, but only through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus commanded his disciples to stay in Jerusalem (the Church, which is the “New Jerusalem;” Luke 24:47-49) until they had received the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).  John baptized with water for repentance; only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33; Acts Chapter 2). Jesus gives his Holy Spirit only to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). I add my testimony to the truth of the Gospel of 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)?

Ash Wednesday Lent Odd

First posted 02/08/05;
Podcast: Ash Wednesday Lent Odd

Jonah 3:1-4:11   –   Jonah and Nineveh;
Hebrews 12:1-14   –   Christian discipline;
Luke 18:9-14    –    The Pharisee and the tax collector;

Jonah Paraphrase:

The Lord gave Jonah a second chance to obey God’s command to go and preach to Nineveh, so Jonah rose and went to Nineveh. Nineveh was such a large city that it took three days to travel through it. Jonah went one day’s journey into the city and began to proclaim that Nineveh would be overthrown after forty days.

The people of Nineveh believed God’s Word and they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth (ritual garb of mourning and repentance). Even the King of Nineveh arose from his throne, took off his robe and put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. The King proclaimed a period of fasting and repentance, calling everyone to turn from their evil ways and from violence, in the hope that God might repent of his judgment against them and spare them from perishing. When God saw that the people of Nineveh turned from evil, he had mercy on them and did not carry out his judgment against them.

But Jonah was angry with God for sparing Nineveh. Jonah complained to God that he had not wanted to go to Nineveh the first time because he knew the Lord is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil” (Jonah 4:2c). Jonah asked the Lord to allow Jonah to die, because he was so unhappy he didn’t want to live anymore. The Lord asked Jonah if Jonah was doing right to be angry over this. Jonah went outside the city and made a temporary shelter for himself, to wait and see what would happen to the city.

The Lord appointed a plant to grow over Jonah to provide some shade, and Jonah was glad to have the plant for shade. Then God appointed a worm to attack the plant, causing it to wither. God also caused the sun to beat down on Jonah and a hot dry wind to blow, and Jonah was again so angry that he no longer wanted to live. God asked him again if Jonah was doing right to be so angry, but Jonah insisted that he was. Then God told Jonah that Jonah was angered by the death of a plant that Jonah had done nothing to grow and that had existed for only a single day, and yet Jonah was angry at God for having pity for Nineveh, with more than a hundred and twenty thousand people (and their livestock), because of their lack of knowledge of God’s ways.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Our Christian lives are like an athletic competition and the great multitude of saints who have gone before us are like spectators. So we are urged to be like athletes, putting aside anything which will hinder our performance and to run the race with perseverance, following the example of Jesus Christ, who is the pioneer (who blazed the trail for us to follow) and perfecter (who makes it possible for us to “win the race”) of our faith.

Jesus endured the cross and its shame for the joy which was promised to the winner, and he has now been enthroned at the right hand of God. Think about the tremendous hostility Jesus endured from sinners, so that we may be encouraged to persevere and not lose hope. Most of us have never had to shed our own blood in our resistance against sin. Remember also that the Lord disciplines us, like a good father disciplines his children for their own good, out of his love for us. We must endure that discipline so that we can receive the benefit.

Those who do not receive discipline would be like illegitimate children, lacking a proper father. Most of us have been subject to the discipline of earthly fathers and loved and respected them. Shouldn’t we be willing to accept the discipline of our spiritual Father to prepare us for eternal life? Our earthly fathers may have disciplined us according to their desires; God disciplines us for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness.

At the moment, all discipline is unpleasant, but ultimately it brings “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11) to those who allow themselves to be trained by it. So let’s not whine and complain; let us strengthen our resolve, and correct our ways so that we will be healed by the discipline, rather than injured further. “Strive for peace with all (people) and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12: 14).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee (legalistic Jew) and a tax collector (a sinner; Jewish collaborator with the Roman government), as a warning to correct those who trusted in their own righteousness and despised others. The Pharisee and the tax collector both went into the temple to pray.

The Pharisee stood (rather than bowing in reverence and humility) and “prayed… with himself” (Luke 18:11), saying that he thanked God that he was better than other people, because he was not an extortioner, adulterer, unjust or even like the tax collector. He was proud that he fasted twice a week and tithed (gave ten percent to God) of all he received.

But the tax collector bowed and beat his breast (an act of ritual mourning and repentance), and prayed, acknowledging that he was a sinner and requesting God’s mercy. Jesus declared that the tax collector returned home forgiven and accepted by God, but the Pharisee was not forgiven or accepted by God. Jesus declared, “…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

Commentary:

God is our father because he is our Creator, whether we acknowledge him or not. The Lord loves each one of us and doesn’t want any to perish. The Lord loved Nineveh and sent Jonah, his prophet, to call Nineveh to repentance and salvation. But Jonah was a reluctant and spiritually immature prophet. Jonah didn’t want to do what God had called him to do, and he seemed more interested in declaring God’s Word of condemnation than in ministering God’s Word of forgiveness and salvation. He judged the people of Ninevah to be sinners, and wanted to see them punished rather than saved.

Jonah was a spiritually immature disciple. Because he refused to obey God’s call, God disciplined Jonah for Jonah’s own eternal benefit. First he caused Jonah to be swallowed up in the belly of the whale, until Jonah prayed to the Lord for deliverance (Jonah 2:1-10). Then God gave Jonah a second chance to fulfill God’s call to preach repentance in Nineveh. God wanted Nineveh to have a second chance also. Jonah did as God commanded, but he still was unhappy that Nineveh repented and was saved from God’s wrath (Jonah 4:1).

Jonah was angry with God and kept vigil over the city of Nineveh to see what would happen. The city had repented and Jonah should have no doubt of the outcome because he knew that God is gracious, slow to anger, with steadfast love and mercy (Jonah 4:2d). So God disciplined Jonah first by giving Jonah a plant to shade him from the heat of the sun and then taking it away.

Jonah was more angry about the loss of a plant he had done nothing to bring into existence, than he was about the potential destruction of a hundred and twenty thousand people. God had brought the people of Nineveh into existence, and he cared about them and even their livestock, which Jonah hadn’t even considered.

God recognized that Nineveh’s sin was because of lack of knowledge of God’s ways, but Jonah hadn’t felt any obligation or desire to share God’s ways with the Ninevites so that the Ninevites would have an opportunity to know God’s ways, to examine their behavior, repent and turn to the Lord in obedience, receiving salvation and avoiding eternal destruction. Following God’s ways allows us to have the good life that God intended for us, now and eternally.

God doesn’t desire the destruction of sinners and neither should we, but Christians are called to proclaim God’s Word honestly and faithfully. Christian evangelists are not calling down God’s wrath and destruction on sinners, but are offering them an opportunity to know God’s ways and to examine themselves, repent and turn to the Lord in trust and obedience.

When Jonah was obedient to God’s call, one single individual, going only part way into the city, was able to lead the entire city, from the King to the poorest peasant, to repentance. It was God’s doing, because Jonah didn’t want to save Nineveh. But we must first know and apply God’s Word in our own lives.

The author of Hebrews was teaching Christians to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Christians are to be like athletes. To be “winners,” we have to put aside things which will impair our conditioning, and train to develop the needed skills. Then we must run the course of the race; we have to stay in the lane and run the distance with perseverance.

Jesus is our example and our coach who enables us to finish the race in victory. He disciplines us for our good, so that we don’t slack off or give up. Physical exercise “hurts” but it eventually strengthens us if we keep at it, and the same is true of spiritual “exercise.”

We couldn’t get far in our worldly careers if we only devoted one hour a week to them, and yet some who claim to be Christians don’t have that much discipline. Jesus promises that we will win the Christian “race” if we train by trusting and obeying Jesus and if we show up daily for practice and “competition.”

The Pharisee was like Jonah. He considered himself a righteous (right in God’s judgment) member of God’s people, without true obedience to God’s Word. He had the outward appearance of righteousness, but he didn’t love God or his fellow mankind. He condemned the tax collector as a sinner, without any concern or attempt to offer God’s forgiveness, salvation, and encouragement to the tax collector.

The tax collector was like the Ninevites; he heard God’s Word, recognized and acknowledged his sin to the Lord and asked for forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with God, and he was forgiven and accepted.

The “Church” contains Jonahs, Pharisees, and tax collectors as well as disciples and apostles (messengers of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Apostles are Christian disciples who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the Holy Spirit, and who have responded to Jesus’ Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:45-49), and helping them continue the disciple-making process with 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)?

Thursday Lent Odd

First posted 02/09/05;
Podcast: Thursday Lent Odd

Deuteronomy 7:6-11   –   Covenanted people;
Titus 1:1-16   –   Administration of the Church;
John 1:29-34  –   Testimony of John the Baptizer;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

God’s people are consecrated to his service. God has chosen them for his own possession out of all the peoples of the earth. God didn’t choose them because they were the most numerous; in fact they were the fewest of all peoples. The reason God has delivered his people from bondage and the power of Pharaoh in Egypt is because he loves his people and is faithful in keeping his promise to their forefathers.

Know and remember that God is faithful in keeping his Word, and he loves those who love him and obey his commandments, and he will love their descendants to a thousand generations. But he will avenge himself on those who hate him and disobey him by destroying them (eternally). He will not fail to punish them individually. God’s people must be careful to obey God’s Word and his commands.

Titus Paraphrase:

Titus was a Gentile Christian missionary who worked with Paul, and was given responsibility for overseeing the Church at Crete (Titus 1:5). The letter was written to further the faith of the Church, God’s elect, and to further their knowledge of the truth (the Gospel) in accordance with godliness (piety; conformation to God’s will and character), “in hope of eternal life which God, who never lies,  promised ages ago” (in the Old Testament scriptures, by his prophets; Titus 1:2). Titus was Paul’s spiritual child, having been converted by Paul’s preaching of the Gospel, and having been trained by him in missionary service. Paul had left him in Crete to reform and organize the Church there.

Church leaders are to be above reproach, faithful in marriage, exemplary parents. Leaders (elders and bishops are mentioned) are God’s stewards (the servant in charge of administration of the master’s household). They must be godly; blameless, not arrogant, quick-tempered, a drunkard, violent, or greedy, but instead, must be hospitable, love what is good, exercise self-control. They “must hold fast to the sure word as taught (the apostolic, scriptural Gospel), so that (they) may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine, and also to confute (refute conclusively) those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

Titus was warned to guard against false teachers, those who are not obedient to their superiors, and who make empty claims, and lie. The circumcision party (a group of Jewish Christians who were teaching that gentiles must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses; see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home) is an example of false teachers who were upsetting entire families in the church, and teaching for their own benefit what they had no divine authority to teach. One such false teacher claimed that all Cretans were liars, evil, subhuman, lazy, and hedonistic (quoting Epimenides, an ancient Cretan poet).

Titus was advised to rebuke false teaching and false teachers forcefully so that they (and the entire congregation) may have sound faith instead of being led astray by Jewish myths and liars who have rejected the truth. The pure are pure in all things, but the corrupt are not pure in anything, because their minds and consciences are corrupt. “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).

John Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer declared that Jesus is “the Lamb of God (the sacrificial lamb of Passover) who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John testified that Jesus is the one who John declared was coming after him, but who ranks before him. John hadn’t known who the Messiah was until God revealed it to John (as he baptized Jesus).

John had seen the Holy Spirit descend and remain on Jesus “as a dove from heaven” (John 1:32). God had told John beforehand that this would be how God would reveal the Messiah to him. John baptized with water by God’s command, but Jesus is the (only) one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. John testified to what he had seen, and he declared that Jesus is the Son of God.

Commentary:

God’s Word is timeless and eternal. This text applied to the People of Israel in Moses’ time, and it applies to the Church today. Through Jesus Christ we are delivered from bondage to sin and death and the power of Satan (the Pharaoh of the “Egypt” of this world). Jesus leads us through “Sea” (of Baptism) into new life (through his indwelling Holy Spirit) and through the “Wilderness” of this life, through the “River” (of physical death) and into the “Promised Land” of his eternal kingdom in Heaven. We need to know and remember what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, and to know that God is faithful. God’s promises never fail. God declares that there are only two kinds of people in this world: Those who trust and obey him and those who don’t.

All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to God what we have done in this life. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil. (Matthew 25:31-46).

God’s people are those who trust and obey Jesus. Jesus is God’s first-born and only begotten Son and heir (John 1:14). Jesus is God’s Word in the flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Members of the Church are to grow in faith and knowledge of the truth (of the scriptures, and of the reality of Jesus Christ within his disciples through his indwelling Holy Spirit). They are to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ who is the example and likeness of God (Colossians 2:8-9). This is discipleship; Christians are to be disciples of Jesus Christ. The leaders of the Church must be disciples if the Church is to make disciples.

The Church must guard against false teachers and false teachings; they must hold onto the Apostolic, Biblical Gospel. There are two types of members in the Church today: Born-again disciples of Jesus Christ, and those who “profess to know God but… deny him by their deeds” (Titus 1:16). Which type are you?

There are many false teachers and false doctrines within the nominal “Church” today. Each of us must read the Bible for ourselves. We must read the entire Bible, but we must read the Old Testament from the understanding and perspective of the New Testament. That way we can better understand the New Testament, and not be led astray by the “circumcision party.”

John the Baptizer trusted and obeyed God’s command to call the people to repent and return to trust and obedience of the Lord. As he carried out God’s command, God revealed his Messiah to John, so that John could point others to Jesus. John couldn’t have done that truly without the guidance of God’s Spirit. Because John was trusting and obedient to God’s Word, God guided him by God’s Spirit, and enabled John to point others to Jesus. John was faithful to his calling from God, and he testified to what he personally experienced.

One cannot be a witness to the truth of something one has not experienced. One has to be a disciple to make disciples; one has to be “born-again” by the indwelling Holy Spirit to testify to the truth of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. John is an example of discipleship.

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 Lent Odd

First Posted 02/10/05;
Podcast: Friday Lent Odd

Deuteronomy 7:12-16   –   The blessing of obedience;
Titus 2:1-15   –    Sound doctrine and good deeds;
John 1:35-42  –   Jesus’ first disciples;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

By obeying God’s Word God’s people will receive the blessings of God’s covenant with his people. God will love, bless and multiply them and cause them to thrive and prosper. It is God who controls fertility and it is God who controls health and diseases. Israel’s experience in Egypt is an example of how God afflicted the enemies of God’s people with plagues, but spared God’s people. God promises to do likewise in the Promised Land. The Lord commanded Israel to destroy all the people of the land of Canaan without pity, and he warned them not to worship any of the Canaanite idols, because the idols would become a snare  for the Israelites (they would be taken captive by the enemy of their souls).

Titus Paraphrase:

Titus, a leader (pastor) of the congregation at Crete, was advised to teach only sound doctrine, and to exhort his congregation to godly behavior. The older men were to demonstrate moderation in all things and to be serious, sensible, sound in faith, love, and steadfastness. Older women were also to be reverent, to refrain from gossip and alcoholism, and to be examples and teachers of younger women and children. The young women were to love their husbands and children, and to be sensible, domestic, chaste, kind, humble and respectful. Young men were to be self-controlled.

Titus, as a church leader, was to be an example of good deeds, and to teach with integrity, gravity, and pure speech. Slaves were to show respect for their masters and to be obedient, diligent, honest and faithful in their duties. Each one in their own situation was to conduct their lives in accordance with God’s Word and reflecting God’s nature, so that the enemies of the Gospel would have no reason for criticism, and so that the God’s Word and Gospel would not be discredited but honored and glorified.

John Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer was standing with two of his disciples as Jesus passed by and John told his disciples that Jesus was the Lamb (the sacrificial offering of the Passover; thus, Messiah) of God. The two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus saw them following and turned and asked them what they were seeking. They addressed him as Teacher, and asked where Jesus was staying, and Jesus invited them to come and see. They did as Jesus had invited, and stayed with him since it was about 4 pm.

One of the disciples was Andrew, and he went and found his brother, Simon, and told him that he had found the Messiah (Christ), and brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus saw him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John” (John 1:42)? Then Jesus gave him the name “Cephas” (which is Aramaic and Greek for “Rock.” “Peter” is from “Petros” which is also Greek for “Rock”).

Commentary:

If God’s people want to enjoy the benefits of God’s covenant, God’s promises, they must obey God’s Word. God’s people are not those who call themselves God’s people; God’s people are those who obey him. Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer that God promised. Jesus is the Word of God in human flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home); the only way we can be restored to fellowship with God (John 14:6). God’s people need to obey God’s Word, the Bible, but they must understand the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament.

Within the lifetime of the Apostles, false teachers and heresies were arising within the Church. There were two types of false teachings arising then and continuing today. One was “justification by works” or “works righteousness;” the “judaizers;” the “circumcision party” that wanted Gentiles to keep the Law of Moses, including circumcision.

The other form (1 Corinthians Chapters 5 and 6 for example) was what has come to be called “Cheap Grace” (the free gift of salvation without requiring obedience to God’s Word; without discipleship*). Titus was urged to hold fast to the sound Apostolic (as taught by the Apostles and recorded in the New Testament) doctrine. If Christians do not live according to God’s Word, they bring dishonor and disrepute to the Gospel.

Christians are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior, and who follow Jesus; who do what he does and obey what he teaches. Not everyone who calls him Lord will be saved (Matthew 7:21-24); only those who are his disciples, who follow him and obey his teaching, who are filled with and guided by his Holy Spirit belong to him and have eternal life. Jesus is the “rock” of salvation on whom we build through trust and obedience to him (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit only to those who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Jesus and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the indwelling Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

The “picture” of John’s disciples being pointed to Jesus by their “pastor” and then following Jesus is an illustration, an icon, of the essence of Christian discipleship. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are lodging where Jesus is, because Jesus is lodging within us, and he is our Teacher.

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


Saturday Lent Odd

First posted 02/11/05;
Podcast: Saturday Lent Odd

Deuteronomy 7:17-26  –    Life in the land of Canaan;
Titus 3:1-15   –   The Christian life;
John 1:43-51  –   The call of Phillip and Nathanael;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

As they prepared to enter Canaan, the Promised Land, and take possession of it, the Lord told Israel to remember how the Lord had led them out of Egypt, with great power and miracles done to induce Pharaoh to let them go. Israel was not to fear the occupants of the land, but to remember how God had saved Israel from Egypt, and to trust in God’s promise to drive out the occupants of the land as they advanced.

It was God’s plan to drive out the occupants of Canaan gradually, as Israel advanced, so that wild animals wouldn’t multiply unrestrained before Israel was capable of dealing with them. The Lord promised to cause the residents of the land confusion so that they would not be able to prevail over Israel and would thus be destroyed.

Israel was warned to destroy the idols of the Canaanites and other occupants of the land and not to covet and take for themselves the gold and silver of the idols, so that they would not be ensnared and led away from the Lord. Israel was warned not to bring into their homes anything which is abominable and detested by God, or they would be likewise accursed.

Titus Paraphrase:

Christians are to be submissive to civil and Christian authorities, to be obedient, to work honestly, to refrain from speaking evil and quarreling, and to be gentle and courteous towards all people. We all were at one time foolish, disobedient, straying, enslaved to worldly passions and desires, and living in malice, envy and hatred for one another. But God saved us in Jesus Christ, not because we were righteous or deserving, but because of his own goodness, loving kindness and mercy. He cleanses us from sin and gives us new birth by the extravagant gift of his Holy Spirit, so that we might be accounted righteous as a free gift and receive the promised inheritance of eternal life.

Paul told Titus to insist that those who have believed in Jesus are to apply themselves to living according to Jesus’ teachings and example. We are to avoid arguing over the Bible or being drawn into controversies. Those who are argumentative should be admonished several times, and if they persist they should be ignored and ostracized, because such people reveal that they are perverted and sinful. Paul was going to spend the winter at Nicopolis (probably in northwestern Greece), and was planning to sent Artemas, or Tychicus, Gentile Christians who accompanied Paul, to bring Titus to Paul at Nicopolis.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had been in Judea, where he was baptized by John (John 1:30-34; Matthew 3:13-17). John pointed two of his disciples to Jesus (John 1:35). One of the two disciples was Andrew, who first went and brought his brother Simon (whom the Lord named Peter) to follow Jesus also. Jesus decided to return to Galilee, and he invited Philip, who was from Bethsaida (in Galilee), the same hometown as Andrew and Peter, to follow him. Philip first went to his friend Nathanael (who was probably also called Bartholomew: see, for example, Matthew 10:3).

He told Nathanael that he had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael questioned how the Messiah could come from such an unremarkable place as Nazareth, but Philip just invited him to come and see. As he saw Nathanael coming, Jesus remarked that Nathanael was an Israelite who was guileless (unlike Jacob before God changed his name to Israel; Genesis 27:35; 32:28).

Nathanael asked how Jesus knew him, and Jesus replied that he had seen Nathanael where he was before Philip had called him. Nathanael was amazed and declared that Jesus was the Son of God, but Jesus told Nathanael that he would see even greater things than that. Nathanael would see the fulfillment of Jacob’s dream of the ladder, because Jesus was the means by which God’s blessings descend from heaven to mankind, and by whom mankind can ascend to heaven.

Commentary:

God’s call to Israel was to enter and claim the Promised Land for God and his people. They weren’t to be afraid of the occupants of the land, but were to trust in God to drive the occupants out and to give his people the victory. God’s people were to remember what God had done in the past to save them and to trust him to do what he had promised. God’s people were not to take up the idols of the occupants, so they wouldn’t fall under the same condemnation.

Christians are the New Israel. We need to enter and take possession of our land, trusting and obeying our Lord; trusting him to drive out the godless and idolaters before us, gradually as we grow spiritually. In order to do that we must be obedient to God’s Word. We must be filled with, led, and empowered by his Holy Spirit. We’re not to get into arguments with our brethren over doctrines, and we’re not to get into get into arguments with scoffers over God’s Word. We must simply know and proclaim God’s Word and leave the results to the Lord.

Those who have found Jesus, the Christ, are to invite others to come to Jesus to see and experience Jesus for themselves. In order to do that, we must have made a commitment to trust and obey Jesus, and have come to a personal experience of Jesus through his 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)?

Week of 5 Epiphany – Odd and Following – 02/08 – 14/2015

February 7, 2015

Week of 5 Epiphany – Odd and Following

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.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 – Odd
Sunday 5 Epiphany – Odd
First Posted 02/11/15
Podcast: Sunday 5 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 57:1-13   –    Against idolatry;
Hebrews 12:1-6   –    Christian discipline;
John 7:37-46   –    Who do you say Jesus is?

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The righteous die, but worldly people, including apostates among the congregation of Israel, don’t learn from their example. They do not understand that the physical death of those who are devout is not a calamity but a deliverance from calamity. The righteous enter into eternal peace and rest; it is the upright who lie down in peace and rest.

Those who are not the people of God through obedient trust in God’s Word are illegitimate children, the offspring of spiritual adultery and prostitution. Who do they mock by their unbelief? They are the children of sin and lies. They continue to practice idolatry (loving anything as much as or more than their love for God). Impotent, inanimate idols will be the reward and inheritance of those who worship and trust in idols. Do they imagine that God will be appeased by their idolatry? In abandoning the Lord for idols they have made their “bed” and will have to lie in it; they have made a contract and will have to keep it. They have loved wickedness and pursued it.

Who do idolaters fear more than the Lord?   Has God’s forbearance caused them not to fear his power and authority? God knows their thoughts and deeds, and all their “good deeds” will not help them. When calamity strikes, let their idols deliver them. Their idols are so impotent they can’t withstand a puff of breeze. But those who trust and obey God will find safe refuge in him and will inherit the land and God’s holy mountain.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Our Christian lives are like an athletic competition and the great multitude of saints who have gone before us are like spectators. So we are urged to be like athletes, putting aside anything which will hinder our performance and to run the race with perseverance, following the example of Jesus Christ, who is the “pioneer” (who blazed the trail for us to follow) and perfecter, our “trainer,” who coaches us in faith to victory and spiritual maturity.

Jesus endured the cross and its shame for the joy of eternal life and fellowship with God the Father and all his disciples, which was promised to the winner, and he has now been enthroned at the right hand of God. Think about the tremendous hostility Jesus endured from sinners, so that we may be encouraged to persevere and not lose hope. Most of us have never had to shed our own blood in our resistance against sin. Remember also that the Lord disciplines us like a good father disciplines his children for their own good out of his love for us.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (an eight-day harvest festival also commemorating Israel’s wilderness wandering). On the last day of the feast, the most important day, Jesus publicly proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39).

When the people heard this, some were convinced that Jesus was the prophet (who was expected to appear before the comming of Messiah) and some thought Jesus was the Messiah (Christ), but others did not, because they expected the Messiah to be a descendant of David and come from Bethlehem, David’s hometown). The people were divided over Jesus’ identity, and some wanted to arrest Jesus, but no one did. Temple officers returned to the Jewish high council without having arrested Jesus and when they were asked why not, they said that no one had ever spoken like Jesus did.

Commentary:

This life is like an athletic competition between the forces of evil and the forces of good. The wicked seemingly prosper while the good often seem to die young. It isn’t the person with the most clothes (or material possessions) when he dies who wins, as a bumper sticker suggests. Physical death comes to both the rich and the poor, but worldly people don’t realize that physical death is not the end of life. There is eternal existence beyond physical death (John 5:28-29). The question is: Where will we spend eternity?

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived on earth will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Jesus is the standard by which all will be judged (Matthew 25:31-46). Those who have trusted and obeyed the Lord will spend eternity in paradise, in the eternal kingdom of God, in fellowship with the Lord. They will have eternal peace with God and their brethren, and eternal rest from the struggles of this temporal life. They will inherit the eternal Promised Land and the Mountain of God.

Those who have rejected the Lord and have refused to trust and obey him will spend eternity in the torment of eternal death in Hell. Those who have worshiped the idols of wealth, power, success, pleasure, home, family, and career, or any of the other “gods” of this world will find that their gods are impotent to deliver them from eternal condemnation. Their worthless gods will be their inheritance and eternal destruction will be their eternal reward.

All of us have sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin, salvation from eternal death, and restoration of fellowship with God (eternal peace and rest; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus Christ frees us from bondage to sin and the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Christians are called to be “athletes” in the competition between good and evil in this lifetime. Training for the “competition” requires self-discipline and sacrifice. We must put aside those things which would hinder us, and place ourselves in the guidance and training of our coach, Jesus Christ, who is our example, and trainer who will give us the ability and power to be victorious.

Jesus persevered in obedient trust in God through the suffering of this present life and received the prize of the eternal throne of his Father in heaven. He has won the victory, and as we follow his example, we will share his reward.

Christian “athletes” are disciples of Jesus Christ.  Jesus promised that anyone who is spiritually thirsty, who recognizes the need for the “water” of spiritual, eternal life, should come to Jesus, who alone is able to supply that “water” of eternal life. Jesus is the rock in the wilderness of this world (1 Corinthians 10:4; Exodus 17:6), through whom God supplies the “living water” of 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 him (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit within us is the spring of spiritual life which sustains us into eternity. 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)?

Podcast Download: Week of 8 Epiphany – Odd
Monday 8 Epiphany – Odd
First Posted
Podcast: Monday 8 Epiphany – Odd

Deuteronomy 4:9-14    –    Remember to reverence the Lord;

2 Corinthians 10:1-18    –    Paul’s defense of his ministry;

Matthew 6:7-15    –     The Lord’s Prayer;

Deuteronomy Summary:

Take heed and guard your soul with diligence, so that you do not forget what the Lord has done for his people; pass them on to your children and their children. Remember how at Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai) the Lord told Moses to gather the people to hear God’s Word, so that they would learn to fear (honor and respect) the Lord all the days of their earthly lives, and would teach their children to do so also.

In the day of God’s manifestation at Horeb in fire, darkness, cloud and gloom, Israel heard God’s Word but saw no form, hearing only his voice. (God is spirit; Israel is warned not to worship idols which have forms created by the imagination of humans.) God established a covenant with his people, a covenant based on the obligation to obey the Ten Commandments (the Covenant of Law, written on two tablets of stone). At that time God commanded Moses to teach Israel, the people of God, to obey God’s statutes and ordinances, so that they could possess the land which God had promised them.

2 Corinthians Summary:

Paul had apparently been accused of having boldness in his letters which he did not possess in person. Paul was replying that he was humbly imploring the Corinthians by letter so that he would not have to demonstrate his boldness in person to the Corinthians, as he was confident that he would demonstrate to those who had accused him of living according to worldly ways.

Paul taught that although we are living in the world, we are not fighting a worldly war but a spiritual war, and our weapons are spiritual weapons with divine power to destroy spiritual opposition. The Christian “soldier” destroys every obstacle of human pride and every argument and resistance to the knowledge of God; we “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b).

The Church will punish the disobedient when the Church is spiritually mature and obedient to Christ. Let those who can recognize spiritual truth see; anyone who thinks he is in Christ should remember that the Apostles are in Christ and have been given authority so that the Church would be strengthened and built up, rather than wasting away and coming to destruction. The Apostles will be not be put to shame (on the Day of Judgment).

Paul doesn’t want to intimidate the Corinthians by letters, which he cannot accomplish with his personal presence, as his critics have accused. Paul’s conduct in person is no different than what he proclaims by letter. Paul does not want to be categorized by those who commend themselves; the fact that they compare themselves against human rather than divine standards reveals that they have no true (spiritual) understanding.

Paul was committed to accept God’s judgment of his ministry. Paul was confident that he was not exaggerating his ministry as the first to reach the Corinthians with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he did not take unfair credit for the ministry of others (as Paul’s critics apparently did). Paul’s hope was that the spiritual growth of the Corinthian congregation might enlarge Paul’s opportunity for evangelism among other Corinthians and Gentiles beyond them, without interfering with the work of other, and without conflict over who deserved the credit. It is not what humans think of themselves that counts, but what is approved by God.

Matthew Summary:

Jesus taught his disciples how they ought to pray. God knows our hearts and our needs. We can’t fool or impress God with our words. Sincerity is vastly more important than eloquence.

When we pray we should acknowledge and reverence God’s glory and pray for his glory to be acknowledged throughout this world. Believers are to be committed to work and pray for the coming of God’s kingdom (even unto ourselves), and to pray that God’s will would be done on earth (even by ourselves) as it is in heaven, completely and gladly. We acknowledge that all that we need for daily life comes from him, and ask him, with gratefulness, to provide for our needs today.

We acknowledge that we are sinful and in need of forgiveness that he alone can provide, and we recognize our obligation to forgive others as we have been forgiven. We ask God to help us avoid temptation and, through Jesus, to be victorious over temptation. We ask God to save us from every evil and bring us to his eternal kingdom. Jesus warns us that unless we are willing to forgive others who sin against us, God will not forgive us our sins.

Commentary:

God’s people are to remember what God has done for us, and to pass on that remembrance to our children. When we first hear the Gospel and believe, we believe what God has done for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection on the Cross. From that point we are to grow to spiritual maturity.

As we read the Bible, we see what God has done for us through his dealings with Israel to bring us the Savior, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, we learn to discern right from wrong according to God’s judgment, and we learn that God rewards obedient trust in his Word, and punishes disobedience and evil (sin).

As Christian disciples grow in obedience to Jesus’ teachings they are “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). As disciples grow in personal fellowship and guidance by the Holy Spirit within us, we will learn personally the power and faithfulness of the Lord, and will experience what the Lord has done for us individually and personally, which we can remember and teach to our children.

As Moses taught the Israelites that they must keep God’s Laws in order to possess the Promised Land, Christians must learn to trust and obey Jesus’ word, his teachings, in order to enter the eternal Promised Land.

Paul had learned not to seek worldly approval, but God’s approval. Paul is the example of a modern, “post-resurrection” “born-again” Christian disciple, like all of us can be. Paul faithfully preserved and passed on the Gospel, and made “born-again” disciples (like Timothy), teaching them to obey all that Jesus teaches. Paul had opposition inside and outside the church. He didn’t alter his message to win worldly approval.

The Church is called by the Lord to grow to spiritual maturity, to be led by spiritually mature, “born-again” disciples who have personally experienced the risen Jesus within them by the Holy Spirit, have experienced personally the power and faithfulness of the Lord, and who share that testimony with others and lead them to “rebirth” by the Holy Spirit. When the Church is spiritually mature, it will discipline the disobedient, and reject false teachers and false doctrines.

Unfortunately, many Churches and congregations today are failing to make disciples, fail to lead them to spiritual rebirth by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and thus have no pool of “born-again” disciples from which to choose leaders and preachers. Many Churches and congregations build “buildings” and make “members” instead of making disciples and building the kingdom of God.

We cannot teach discipleship and spiritual growth to our children, unless we are willing to become “born-again” disciples ourselves. Unregenerate (un-reborn) “Christians,” have no personal experience and knowledge of Jesus to testify to or pass on.

Paul’s hope for the Corinthian Church was that they would grow spiritually to maturity and that their example and testimony in their area would enlarge the opportunity for evangelism, so that others would come to experience the truth of the Gospel in their lives also.

Christian discipleship started with Jesus; he taught us how, by word and example. The Church is to continue his ministry of offering forgiveness of sin, salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal death, and restoration to eternal life and fellowship with God through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He taught his disciples that sincerity in prayer is what God desires and rewards. Praying to impress other hearers, for worldly approval, is worthless. Effective prayer must acknowledge God’s sovereign power and providence. The petitioner must ask for what is according to God’s will. When we ask God for something we must be willing to do what he asks us to do: to trust and obey him.

God is God, whether we acknowledge him or not, but God has no obligation to be our God, with all that a righteous, loving and powerful God implies, unless we are willing to be his people, and serve his will. We must recognize our need for God’s forgiveness, his free gift of forgiveness to us in Jesus Christ, and be willing to forgive others as we have been forgiven (see also Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

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

Tuesday 8 Epiphany – Odd
First Posted
Podcast: Tuesday 8 Epiphany – Odd

Deuteronomy 4:15-24    –    Against image worship;
2 Corinthians 11:1-21a   –    Paul’s response to critics;
Matthew 6:16-23   –   Jesus’ teaching on piety;

Deuteronomy Summary:

When God revealed himself to Israel at Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai), the people heard his voice but saw no form (God is Spirit; John 4:24). Israel is not to make any form or figure to worship as god; not human, animal, or celestial. God has allowed the people of earth to worship images but has brought Israel out of Egypt to be his own people.

The Lord was angry with Moses (because when he brought water out of the rock in the wilderness Moses took personal credit, instead of glorifying God; Numbers 20:10-12) and forbade Moses to enter the Promised Land, so Moses was to die in the wilderness before Israel (under the leadership of Joshua) could cross the Jordan and enter Canaan. Moses warned the people not to forget the covenant of the Lord or worship any one or thing other than the Lord, because the Lord has the power to punish and destroy, and will not tolerate idolatry among his people.

2 Corinthians Summary:

Paul regards the Church as the bride of Christ, and himself as the friend of the groom who has arranged the betrothal, so he is naturally concerned for the bride’s purity and faithfulness. Paul is concerned that the Church not be led astray, like Eve was deceived by the serpent (Genesis 3:1-6), from sincere and faithful devotion to Christ.

The Church must be careful not to be led astray by those preaching “another Jesus,” or a “different spirit,” or “another gospel” (compare Galatians 1:6-9) than the scriptural (recorded in the Bible) Apostolic (as taught by the Apostles, including Paul) Gospel of Jesus Christ (which the Apostles, including Paul, learned by personal discipleship to Jesus and were commissioned by Christ to proclaim). Paul had been criticized by others as unskilled in speaking, but Paul had demonstrated that his knowledge was not deficient.

Paul’s ministry was belittled by some because Paul had made his ministry free of cost to the Corinthians (Paul had supported himself as a tent-maker; Acts18:1-4; Thessalonians 3:7-12; Only the Philippian congregation had voluntarily contributed to his financial support: Philippians 4:14-17). Paul felt like a robber (an exaggeration to make a point) in taking money from the Philippian Christians in order to minister to the Corinthians.

Paul had been accompanied to Corinth by some Macedonian Christians (from Philippi, which was the capital of the province of Macedonia), who provided for Paul’s support in Corinth, so that the Corinthians would not be burdened, and Paul was pleased to let it be known throughout Achaia (a territory of Greece, of which Corinth was a city) that he had preached the gospel free of cost because Paul knew the truth of the Gospel of Christ and loved and cared for the spiritual welfare of the Corinthians.

Paul was determined to continue to preach the gospel without charge, so that it could be clearly seen that he was not doing it for money, in contrast to false apostles, who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. Satan attempts to deceive people by appearing to be an angel of light, so it isn’t surprising that the servants of Satan would disguise their real motives by adopting the outward appearance of righteousness. They will receive God’s judgment according to their deeds.

Paul was not really boastful and did not seek his own glory, but he wanted to make a point. He was willing to appear foolish to Corinthians who thought they were wise. Those “wise” Corinthians were being deceived by false apostles acting as though they possessed great wisdom in order to enslave and take advantage of the deceived. Paul was glad to acknowledge that he was too “weak” to indulge in that kind of “strength.”

Matthew Summary:

Jesus taught his disciples that piety (religious devotion) is not to be practiced to be seen by men, but rather in unity with God’s will. If we fast, our fasting should not be an outward display for the approval of people, but an inward act of devotion to the Lord.

Jesus warns us not to desire or expend our efforts on accumulating material wealth, which offers no eternal security, but instead to pursue the spiritual goals, which do have eternal value. What we value will determine where our devotion lies.

The eye is like a window which lets light into our bodies. Spiritual blindness is similar to physical blindness. If there is something wrong with the eye that causes it not to see the light, then the whole body is full of darkness, which represents sin). If we misperceive darkness (perhaps false religion) as light our spiritual vision is profoundly defective. If we deliberately indulge in darkness once we have been enlightened, our sinfulness is profound and without cure.

Commentary:

Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden, telling her she would not die by disobeying God’s commandment Genesis 3:4), and she yielded to temptation and brought (eternal) death into Creation (Genesis 3:19, 22-23).

Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land, because he took the glory which belongs only to God for himself (Numbers 20:10-12). As Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, Moses, in his farewell address, warned them not to forget their covenant with the Lord, or worship any one or thing other than the Lord, because God has the power to punish and destroy those who disobey his Word.

Paul considered Christ as the “bridegroom” of his “bride,” the Church, and Paul as Christ’s “best man.” Paul was thus concerned with the purity and faithfulness of the “bride,” the Church. Paul warned the Church not to be led astray by “false christs,” “false apostles,” “false gospels” or lying spirits. The Church, which had just been founded by Jesus’ death and resurrection, was already under attack, and those forces are still at work within and outside the Church today.

There are those, today, who want to teach “another gospel of Jesus Christ,” who claim to teach Jesus, but they really teach a “false christ.” Any spirit which denies that Jesus is God’s eternal Savior and King, the Son of God, is a lying spirit and ultimately Satan himself. Anyone who denies the deity of Jesus is a false apostle (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

This world is a spiritual battlefield. Satan has already been defeated at the Cross of Jesus Christ, but he has not yet been captured, and he wants to take as many eternal souls as possible with him to eternal punishment in Hell.

Satan will use whatever method will accomplish his purpose. He tempted Eve by suggesting the forbidden fruit would make her wise (Genesis 3:6), and that she would become “like God” (Genesis 3:5), and Eve yielded to temptation. That’s the problem humans have always had; we want to be God, instead of knowing, trusting, obeying and serving God. The Corinthians were being tempted to think they were wise in listening to false apostles and false doctrines, and that strategy is just as effective today.

God is true, and that truth is manifested in Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment of God’s truth (John 1:1-5, 14; 14:6). Jesus taught his disciples that those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Worship is not outward appearance or religious ritual, but inner truth and sincerity. What other people think of us doesn’t matter; God’s approval is the only eternally important issue.

Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) was a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple and apostle (messenger of the Gospel), like all of us can be (Acts 9:1-20). He hadn’t known Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Paul was discipled by Ananias, a born-again disciple (he had a personal relationship with the Lord; Acts 9:10) who led Paul to be born-again (Acts 9:17).

Thereafter Paul was led by the indwelling Holy Spirit within him (Acts 9:19-20). He received the same Apostolic Gospel from the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b) that the other Apostles had received during Jesus’ earthly ministry in his physical lifetime. Paul was fulfilling the Great Commission which Jesus gave to his born-again disciples (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), to make born-again disciples, and to teach them to obey all Jesus’ words.

Jesus came to show us how to become children of God and to give us the power to do so (John 1:12-13 RSV), through his indwelling Holy Spirit within us. We have to claim that promise in order to receive it. Only Jesus gives the gift (“anointing,” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Moses warned God’s people not to forget to obey their covenant with the Lord. As Christians, our covenant with God is to trust and obey Jesus and be guided by his Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11). Moses also warned God’s people not to allow any one or any thing to become as, or more important than their obedient trust in the Lord. Any such behavior is idolatrous. Jesus gives us the same warning.

Many people today, even within the “Church,” expend most or all their effort “worshiping” the modern idols, such as wealth, success, career, family, youth, beauty, health, and pleasure. To many, material substance seems “real,” and spiritual things seem “imaginary,” or based on “feelings,” “emotions,” or a manner of thinking. Many give no thought or effort to their spiritual wellbeing. Many people would rather pay for some worldly “self-help” book or guru, than receive the Gospel for free; many think that if it is free it can’t be worth much.

We are all eternal (John 5:28-29). This physical lifetime is a brief moment, in comparison to eternity, but many people go through their entire physical lifetime with no thought or effort to prepare for their eternal future. Everything in this physical world will pass away; only what we do spiritually in this lifetime is eternal. What we value will be evident in what we do, and will determine where we will spend eternity.

We cannot secure eternal life by Church “membership,” or by religious ritual, or “good deeds.” Obedient trust in Jesus is the only way to receive forgiveness for sin (disobedience of God’s Word), salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) and restoration to fellowship with God, through his indwelling Holy Spirit (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)?

Wednesday 8 Epiphany – Odd
First Posted
Podcast:
Wednesday 8 Epiphany – Odd

Deuteronomy 4:25-31   –     Faithful and merciful God;
2 Corinthians 11:21b-33    –    Paul’s suffering;
Matthew 6:24-34   –     Seek first the Kingdom of God;

Deuteronomy Summary:

Moses warned the people of Israel that after they entered the Promised Land and had dwelt there for several generations they would be tempted to turn to other “gods” and disobey God’s Word. If they pursued idolatry and disobedience, Moses warned them that they would not remain in the land but would be destroyed and driven from it, and scattered among the nations of the world. There they would be forced to serve idols created by the imagination of humans. But from there, when they sought God with all their heart and soul, they would find God. “When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God  and obey his voice, for the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not fail or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers which he swore to them” (Deuteronomy 4:30-31).

2 Corinthians Summary:

Paul (formerly called Saul of Tarsus) was not boastful or advocating boasting, but making the point that if he were inclined to boast he would have more reason for boasting than his critics, who had been boasting of themselves in comparison to Paul. Paul was as much a Jew by birth and by training as his adversaries, and had worked harder and suffered more to proclaim the Gospel than they had.

Paul had been imprisoned, beaten, whipped, and stoned. In his missionary travels, he had been in danger on rivers and had been shipwrecked on the sea. He had been in danger in the wilderness and also in cities. He had been persecuted by Jews, Gentiles, and false Christians. He had endured sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, cold and exposure. Added to this was the stress and worry for the churches under his supervision. When any believer under Paul’s responsibility stumbled (spiritually) Paul suffered because of his concern for them.

Paul had empathy for those who are weak, because Paul knew and acknowledged his own weakness. If Paul boasted of anything he would boast of his weakness (so that the Lord’s power might be evident in him). The fact that Paul escaped all these perils illustrates the Lord’s power to deliver him, like the time he escaped from the power of the government at Damascus by being lowered in a basket from and window in the city wall (2 Corinthians 11:32-33; compare Acts 9:23-25).

Matthew Summary:

Jesus taught that we should not be preoccupied with our need for food and clothing. God our Father cares for us more than any anything else in Creation, and is able to provide for us as illustrated by his Creation. God’s Creation contains everything necessary for life. Worrying is unproductive; we cannot solve our problems by worrying about them.

A better way to live is to trust in God who loves us and who will provide for our needs. If we will seek first God’s kingdom in our lives, he will provide for all our daily needs, but if we do not trust God to provide for our needs and feel that we must first provide for our needs ourselves, we will never get around to seeking God’s kingdom, and it will be impossible for us to find, because it requires trust in God and obedience to his Word.  Therefore Jesus counsels us not to worry about tomorrow; we should just live one day at a time (compare Matthew 6:11) in obedient trust in the Lord.

Commentary:

God’s dealing with Israel is not just history, but is deliberately intended by God to be a parable (a common life experience used to illustrate spiritual truth), and a metaphor for the meaning of life in this world. In one sense the Church is the “New Israel,” the “New people of God,” and in another sense America (and other “Christian” nations) is the “New (nation of) Israel,” and the “New Promised Land.”

Moses’ warning to Israel is also a particularly relevant warning to the nominal “Church” and to nominal “Christian” nations, particularly America, today. We’ve been so blessed with prosperity and success that we’ve forgotten God, who is the source of those blessings; we’ve come to believe that we’ve created those blessings ourselves.

Israel did turn, repeatedly, from obedience to God’s Word and to idolatry, refusing to hear the many warnings by God’s prophets, and eventually God lifted his providence and protection, from his people and his nation, and allowed them to be deported and scattered among the Gentile nations.

The northern kingdom of the divided monarchy, Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, was conquered by the Assyrians in 720 B.C., and ceased to exist. Yet the southern kingdom, Judah, the remnant of Israel, refused to learn from the example of the northern kingdom and repeated warnings by God’s prophets. The result was that God lifted his providence and protection from Judah, and they were carried off into Babylonian exile in 587 B.C. for seventy years, as God had declared by his prophet (Jeremiah 25:12). The remnant of Israel in Babylonian exile fulfilled Moses’ prophecy that they would be restored to the Promised Land when they learned in tribulation to seek God with all their heart and soul, and return from idolatry and disobedience to obedient trust in God’s Word.

A remnant of Israel did return from Babylonian exile, and dedicated the rebuilt temple in 517 B.C., (as the seventy years is accounted) but it was a renewed people who returned; for the people who were adults at the time of the deportation, seventy years was a virtual life sentence.

The Babylonian Exile is a metaphor for life in this temporal world, in which we are to learn to trust and obey God above any other person or thing (“idolatry”), so that the Lord will lead us into the eternal Promised Land of his heavenly kingdom. The Exile is also a metaphor for eternal exile in the “Babylon” of Hell, for those who refuse to trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Paul is the prototype and example of a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, as all of us can be. Paul had not known Jesus, during Jesus’ physical lifetime. Paul thought he was serving God while persecuting Christians. On the road to Damascus, intending to do that very thing, Jesus confronted Paul and struck him physically blind so that Paul could realize his spiritual blindness. Then the Lord sent a “born-again” (Acts 9:10) disciple, Ananias, living in Damascus, to come to Paul to disciple Paul and lead him to receive the gift (“anointing,” “baptism”) of the Holy Spirit.

From that point, Paul was a different person. He immediately began to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:20). He spent many days in Damascus preaching Jesus Christ, and began to be persecuted for the Gospel, leading to his escape through the window of the city wall in a basket (Acts 9:23-25). Throughout the rest of his ministry he was constantly in danger and suffering hardship, but he learned that the Lord could and faithfully would provide for Paul and protect him in every circumstance (Philippians 4:11-13), even from physical death.

Paul learned from personal experience in discipleship and fellowship with the risen Jesus, that the meaning of this temporal lifetime is our only chance to seek the Lord, and that if we truly seek the Lord, the Lord will allow us to find and come to know him personally. This was Paul’s testimony to the Greeks at Athens (Acts 17:26-27), and the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy (Deuteronomy 4:29).

Jesus wants us to trust and obey him so that we, too, can have a personal fellowship with Jesus, and can learn that he is able and faithful to provide for and preserve us in any circumstance, even physical death (see Hebrews 2:14-15). Think how much time, energy, and resources people in this world spend trying to protect themselves from every difficulty. Those who seek worldly security before considering their spiritual security will never find either. We can’t learn that the Lord is faithful and abundantly able to protect and provide for us unless we’re willing to be confronted by God’s Word when we’re wrong (Acts 9:4) and willing to submit to the Lord’s correction (Acts 9:5), like Paul was, and begin to trust and obey the Lord’s commands (Acts 9:6, 17).

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 8 Epiphany – Odd

First Posted
Podcast: Thursday 8 Epiphany – Odd

 Deuteronomy 4:32-40    –    The Lord is the only true God;

2 Corinthians 12:1-10    –    Strength in weakness;

Matthew 7:1-12    –    Practical application of Jesus’ message;

Deuteronomy Summary:

Consider the entire history of the world from the day of creation. Never before has any nation and people heard God’s voice or experienced God’s intervention except Israel. Never before has any nation been delivered from the power of another by miraculous powers and signs as the Lord delivered Israel from Egypt. The Lord revealed his powerful intervention so that we might know that the Lord alone is God. The Lord let his voice be heard so that he might discipline us.

The Lord loved the patriarchs of Israel and chose to bless their descendants in fulfilling his promise to their ancestors. He brought them out of Egypt with his own presence and power and gave them the Promised Land as an inheritance, driving out larger nations and more powerful people before Israel. Realize and remember that the Lord alone is God of heaven and earth; there is no other god. Know, remember and obey God’s Word and his commandments so that all will be well with you and with your descendants and that you may live long in the land God promised to give you forever.

2 Corinthians Summary:

Paul was not boastful nor was he advocating boasting, but was responding to critics who had been building themselves up by criticizing Paul. Paul described a vision of highest heaven which he had fourteen years prior (although he shared it “anonymously”). In that vision Paul heard (secret) things he either could not or was forbidden to share. Paul chose to boast of nothing of himself except his weaknesses, although he had plenty of reasons to boast if he chose. He was content to let people form their own opinion of him from what he said and did.

Paul mentioned a “thorn in the flesh” (a physical or emotional irritant) given him to keep him from becoming too proud of the revelations he had been given. Paul had prayed three times for its removal, but the Lord had told him that the Lord’s grace would help Paul endure it and that the Lord’s power is revealed through human weakness. So Paul would gladly admit his weaknesses so that he could experience and reveal Christ’s power in himself. For the sake of Christ, Paul was able to be “content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities” (2 Corinthians 12:10). When Paul was weak he experienced and learned to rely on Christ’s strength.

Matthew Summary:

Here is the practical application of Jesus’ message. We’re not to be condemning of others, but let us be honest with ourselves. Let us not use the shortcomings of others to overlook or excuse our own shortcomings. Let’s change ourselves, over whom we do have control, instead of trying to change others. Don’t expect unbelievers to value spiritual truth; understand that they cannot appreciate spiritual truth any more than a pig can value fine jewelry. Forcing spiritual truth on unbelievers can prompt a vicious response.

If we earnestly seek the things of God we will find them. If we ask God in faith for what we truly need we will receive it. God loves us as a good father loves his children. God wants to give us good things; he doesn’t give evil when we ask for what is good. So we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. If we do that we will have satisfied all God’s commandments.

Commentary:

God is the one and only God. He is God, whether we acknowledge him or not. God has always intended from the beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him.

God made this Creation so that we would have free choice whether to trust and obey God or not, knowing that we would have to learn to do so by “trial and error.” Disobedience of God’s Word is sin, and we have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus Christ is not an afterthought; he has been “built in” to the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and come to a personal knowledge and fellowship with our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), to learn to trust and obey God, and to receive eternal life through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift of his 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). Only Jesus gives the gift (“anointing;” “baptism”) of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God has revealed himself to the world through his dealings with Israel. God revealed himself to Abraham (Abram), who was willing to trust and obey God’s Word, and God founded the nation of Israel through Abraham. He promised to make a great nation of Abraham’s descendants, and to give them the Promised Land.

Moses’ leading the people of God out of bondage to sin and death in Egypt, through the Sea, through the wilderness and into the Promised Land prefigures and illustrates the saving work of Christ, who frees us from sin and death, leads us through the waters of baptism, through the wilderness of this lifetime, through the river of physical death, and into the eternal Promised Land, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, prefigured in the pillar of fire leading Israel in the night (spiritual darkness; Exodus 13:21)  in the wilderness.

God wants to reveal himself to us individually and personally. God manifested himself to the world in human flesh in the physical lifetime of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:8-9). God has given us his Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). God’s ultimate revelation of himself to us individually and personally is through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. If we seek God, he will allow us to find him.

To receive the promises in God’s Word, we must trust and obey God’s Word revealed in Jesus Christ. God gives us his Word, his example, and his Holy Spirit to discipline us like a good father disciplines his children, so that we will grow up to spiritual maturity and fulfill the life he wants us to have.

Paul was living by the guidance of the Holy Spirit within him, and he is the prototype and example of a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle (messenger of the Gospel) as we all can be. Paul knew that it was only by the grace (unmerited favor) of God through Jesus Christ by his indwelling Holy Spirit that Paul could accomplish anything for God’s eternal kingdom. Paul didn’t try to use his ministry to build up his personal worldly status and reputation. Paul wanted to give all the glory to the Lord, in love and appreciation for what the Lord had done for Paul.

Paul experienced the peace and assurance only the Lord can give by his indwelling presence, and was willing to endure persecution and hardship for the Gospel as a result. Paul was fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to make born-again disciples of Jesus Christ, and teaching them, by word and example, to trust and obey Jesus’ commandments

But some of the Corinthian “Christians” were unwilling to submit to spiritual discipline, and were not growing in spiritual maturity, preferring to gain worldly approval and status for themselves by criticizing Christian disciples like Paul. These critics of Paul were overlooking their own shortcomings by disparaging Paul to make themselves look better. This condition still exists in the Church today.

Jesus taught his disciples to encourage and strengthen our brethren, but to be honest in self-evaluation. The Lord wants us to grow to spiritual maturity, and he will help us do so, if we are willing to be guided and disciplined by the Lord. The Lord wants to give us good things, and he will, if we ask for them, but we have to learn to distinguish what is good in God’s judgment.

God reveals through his Holy Spirit the good things he has planned for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, but unspiritual people do not receive the gifts of Holy Spirit and are unable to understand spiritual things, because those things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14) by those who possess the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We can share the Gospel with others, and we can live according to Jesus’ teachings, so that others may see the truth of the Gospel in us, but we cannot expect others to respond to the Gospel in faith. Their response is their free choice. If we treat others as we would like to be treated, we will have fulfilled God’s commandments.

 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 8 Epiphany – Odd

First Posted
Podcast: Friday 8 Epiphany – Odd

Deuteronomy 5:1-22   –     The giving of the law;

2 Corinthians 12:11-21    –    Paul’s approaching visit;

Matthew 7:13-21    –   The Narrow Gate;

Deuteronomy Summary:

Moses proclaimed to Israel the Ten Commandments given to him by God at Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai). The covenant between God and his people was based on these commandments and the people were commanded to learn them and be careful to do them. Each generation was to renew the covenant. Moses was the mediator between God and the people; the people couldn’t approach God directly.

 The Lord who brought Israel out of Egypt is God; we are to have no other god. We must not make any image or “likeness” to worship and serve. The Lord will not share his glory with any other thing or person. He will bless those who love and obey him and punish those who hate and disobey him. We must not use God’s name any other way than reverently, to give him worship and praise. We are to keep the sabbath as a day of rest for ourselves and those who serve us, remembering what the Lord has done to free us from bondage to sin and death (John 3:16-17). We must honor our fathers and mothers so that we may receive God’s blessings and live long in the Promised Land. We must not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet what belongs to others. These are the commandments of God which he wrote on tablets of stone and delivered to Moses on Mt. Horeb.

2 Corinthians Summary:

In all his words and actions Paul was worthy of commendation by the Corinthian church, but instead had been forced to defend his conduct. He had been criticized by (false) apostles within the congregation who were seeking their own glory. The fact that Paul wasn’t seeking personal recognition or using his ministry for financial gain didn’t make his ministry and divine commission inferior to his critics. In the congregation, Paul had demonstrated his authentic apostleship and his “anointing” by the Holy Spirit. Paul had dealt no less fairly with the Corinthians than any other church. In fact he had been more generous with them because he had not required their financial support of his ministry.

Paul was prepared to visit the congregation again, and he was seeking their spiritual wellbeing rather than any material benefit for himself. Paul regarded them as his spiritual children and, like a good parent, wants to provide for them rather than expecting them to provide for him. Paul was happy to give himself and his resources for their spiritual nurture.

Would the congregation love Paul less as Paul’s love for them increased? Was Paul’s generosity a crafty scheme to take advantage of them? When Paul sent Titus and his fellow missionary to them they had behaved exactly like Paul and no one was claiming that Titus and his co-worker had taken advantage of the Corinthians (as they apparently had done to Paul).

The purpose of Paul’s letter was not to defend himself to the Corinthians, but to help them grow spiritually. God’s judgment of Paul’s ministry is the only judgment that matters. Paul worried that when he came to Corinth he might find problems in the congregation and the congregation might be unhappy with Paul. Paul wanted to avoid quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit and disorder within the congregation. Paul didn’t want to be embarrassed in the presence of the congregation and be grieved “by many of those who sinned before and have not repented of the impurity, immorality and licentiousness which they have practiced” (2 Corinthians 12:21).

Matthew Summary:

Jesus taught that the path to righteousness and eternal life requires self-discipline and discernment. Outward appearances can be deceiving. There will be a Day of Judgment when all people who have ever lived on earth will be held accountable for what they have done.

Discipline is required of believers. Jesus warned that the easy, undisciplined way leads to destruction. Jesus’ way requires effort and self-denial. Not everyone will be willing to make the effort, but the reward is true life now and eternally. Jesus warned his followers to beware of false prophets, who appear outwardly to be of God, but who are inwardly working against the best interests of God’s people. The test of a prophet is an examination of his works. Not everyone who claims Jesus as Lord will be saved. Those for whom Jesus is truly Lord will do what Jesus commanded and taught.

Commentary:

Moses prefigures and illustrates what the Christ will be like. Moses led the people through the wilderness and into the Promised Land. Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant of Law. The Law was given to restrain evil until the coming of Christ who is the mediator of the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus the Christ.

Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection made it possible for his disciples to be filled with and guided by Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit which leads Christian disciples through the spiritual wilderness of this world and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom in Heaven. Only Jesus gives the Holy Spirit (John 1:1-5, 14) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God is God, whether we acknowledge, trust and obey him or not. God warns us not to worship and serve any other god, which is idolatry. Idolatry is the love of anyone or thing other than God. Examples of modern idols are power, wealth, success, career, family, home, and pleasure,

God has given us his commandments for our best interest. He gives us free will to choose whether to obey him or not, but God warns that those who obey his commands will be blessed now and eternally and those who disobey his commands will perish eternally. Under the Old Covenant of Law humans could never fulfill all God’s commands (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and God’s penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is eternal death. So blood sacrifices were constantly necessary for the forgiveness of sin.

Since Jesus’ death on the Cross, he has become, once for all time and all people who will receive it, the only sacrifice acceptable to God for our forgiveness and salvation. His death made it possible for us to be filled with, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, who makes it possible for us to resist sin, and to live according to God’s will, which God’s Law was unable to do. Those who live according to the indwelling Holy Spirit are not under the condemnation of the Law (Romans 8:1-9).

Paul is the prototype and example of a modern, “post-resurrection” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle (messenger of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, as all of us can be. Paul was filled with, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit of Christ within him (Romans 8:9). Paul was fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) the risen Jesus gave to his disciples to carry out after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-13), to make “born-again” disciples and teach them to obey all that Jesus commands.

Paul was teaching by word and example. His conduct demonstrated his discipleship and apostleship. But already in the first-century Church there were false apostles, “wolves” among the “sheep.” There were also unrepentant members of the Corinthian Church living in disobedience of God’s Word. Paul was forced to discipline them. The same struggle goes on today in the “Church” between genuine, “born-again” disciples and apostles, and “false apostles,” and over Church discipline of sin among its members.

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh. Jesus was perfectly obedient to God’s will, even to dying on the Cross. Jesus taught his disciples to trust and obey God’s will and to be filled with and guided by the Holy Spirit. Christian discipleship requires self-discipline and discernment.

A genuine Christian is a disciple by definition (Acts 11:26c); discipleship is not an optional category of “super-Christian.” It is necessary for a disciple to give up his personal self-interest in order to do God’s will, but his reward will be eternal life instead of eternal death, which those who reject Jesus and disobey God’s Word, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, will receive. A disciple must also be discerning; one must know God’s Word in order to do it. A disciple needs to read the Bible completely, and to read it daily, seeking God’s guidance daily, one day at a time.

Jesus warned his disciples that there will be a Day of Judgment when all who have ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this lifetime. We have all been created with an immortal soul. What we have done in this lifetime will determine where we will spend eternity.

The Lord knows everything about us individually and personally, and he is not deceived by outward appearances. Life with the self-discipline of discipleship leads to eternal life, but those unwilling to be disciples will spend eternity in Hell with all evil.

Jesus warns us to watch out for false prophets and false apostles, who appear to be of God, but who are agents of Satan to lead God’s people astray. There are many false prophets and false prophets in the world and also within the “Church.” One example of false doctrine within the Church today is “Cheap Grace,”* which is the teaching that salvation is a free gift (true), to be received without the requirement of discipleship and obedience of God’s Word (false). Another is “works-righteousness,” “legalism,” the “circumcision party (faction)” the doctrine that one can (and must) “earn” salvation by doing certain “good deeds.” Both existed in the first-century Church and both are refuted in the New Testament.

Jesus warns that not everyone who claims to be a “Christian” will be saved (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). Those for whom Jesus is truly their Lord will do what Jesus commands and teaches (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: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Saturday 8 Epiphany – Odd

First Posted
Podcast: Saturday 8 Epiphany – Odd

Deuteronomy 5:22-33  –    Moses the mediator;

2 Corinthians 13:1-14    –    Paul’s impending visit;

Matthew 7:22-29   –    Build on the Rock;

Deuteronomy Summary:

God manifested himself in thick cloud and fire when he came down from heaven to the top of Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai) to give the Ten Commandments to Moses, written on stone tablets (Exodus 19:9-20:19). The people of Israel witnessed the manifestation from a distance, and heard the voice of the Lord, and were afraid of God’s greatness and power. The people delegated leaders from each of the twelve tribes to ask Moses to be their mediator between God and themselves so that God would not speak directly to the people for fear that they would be destroyed by his great power. They promised to hear and do what the Lord said to Moses.

The Lord heard what the people said to Moses and he declared that it was reasonable and commendable for them to fear the Lord and obey his commandments so that they and their children would be blessed and prospered by the Lord forever. The Lord told Moses to release the people to return to their tents while the Lord gave the rest of his statutes and ordinances to Moses. Moses was to teach God’s law to the people so that they would live in obedience to all of God’s laws in the Promised Land. God’s blessings and long life in the Promised Land are conditional upon obedience to God’s Word.

2 Corinthians Summary:

Paul was planning a third visit to the Corinthian church. Paul’s previous visit had been “painful” because he had to discipline members for sinful and unacceptable behavior (such as mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:20-21), and had warned them that he would deal harshly with members if he found them continuing such behavior. But accusations would have to meet the standards of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 19:15), requiring two or three witnesses to substantiate the charges.

Apparently some of the congregation had challenged Paul’s “anointing” (with the Holy Spirit) and authority that Christ was speaking through Paul. Christ died in weakness but rose in power, and Paul shared similar human weakness, but Christ worked with divine power through Paul.

Paul urged the Corinthian Christians to examine and test themselves to be certain that they are holding to the true faith (the Apostolic Gospel which Paul had taught them and is recorded in the New Testament). They should know with certainty if they have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). If they have been “born-again” they should be able to recognize Paul’s “anointing.”

Paul prayed that the Corinthian Christians would not do wrong, not so that Paul’s authority and reputation would be enhanced, but for their own spiritual welfare. Paul would be willing to sacrifice his own status if it would help the Corinthians grow to spiritual maturity. But Paul couldn’t sacrifice truth to make the Corinthians look good or feel good. God is truth and Christians can’t work against truth. Paul would be glad to be weak so that the Corinthians could become strong through Christ’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9) within them. Paul prayed for their spiritual growth.

Paul hoped that, by writing in advance of his visit, he could avoid using his apostolic authority to severely discipline the congregation in person, hoping to use that authority to spiritually build up the congregation, as the Lord intended, rather than for tearing down. In closing Paul urged the congregation to do what Paul urged, to amend their ways and to live in peace with one another “and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11b). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Matthew Summary:

Jesus teaches that there will be a Day of Judgment, when everyone will be accountable before the Lord for what they have done. The judgment will not be based on superficial appearances, because the Lord knows everything we have done, and he sees the innermost motives and attitudes. It won’t matter that one has professed Jesus as Lord, if he has not done what Jesus taught, and Jesus taught obedience to the will of God.

Those who hear Jesus’ teaching and apply them in their own lives are like a builder who builds upon a solid rock foundation. Those who do not take Jesus’ teaching to heart and apply it in their lives are like those who build on sand. The house may look great, but the first storm that comes along will destroy it, because it was not founded on a solid foundation.

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 – Odd – 02/01 – 07/2015

January 31, 2015

Week of 4 Epiphany – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.htmlPlease 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 4 Epiphany – Odd 
Sunday 4 Epiphany – Odd 
First posted 01/29/05;
Podcast: Sunday 4 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 51:9-16   –    God’s right arm;
Hebrews 11:8-16   –   Examples of faith;
John 7:14-31  –   Jesus’ authority;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Awake and gather your strength, O arm of the Lord (the power of God; deliverer and ruler; Messiah)! It was he who destroyed the ancient monsters. It was he who dried up the Sea so that the Israelites could pass over (the Exodus from Egypt). “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion (Jerusalem; the Eternal City) with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).

The Lord comforts his people. Why should we fear mortal man, who passes away like grass? Have we forgotten the Lord our Creator, who created heaven and earth? Why do we constantly fear our oppressor (our mortal enemies; Satan and Death); what can our oppressors’ fury accomplish? The prisoner shall be quickly released; he shall not die and go down to the realm of the dead, nor shall he starve. The Lord, who stirs up the forces of nature, is our God; he hides his people in the shadow of his hand. He who created heaven and earth declares of Zion (Jerusalem; the Eternal City; the Church) that we are his people.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

When God called Abraham to go from his homeland to a place God would show him, Abraham went in faith, although he didn’t know where he was going. God told him that he and his descendants would inherit the land, but Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob, were landless nomads, living in the Promised Land in tents, as foreigners, during their lifetimes. By faith they looked forward to the permanent city built by God. By faith, Sarah conceived when she was well past child-bearing, trusting in the faithfulness of God. As the result, God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous beyond counting as the stars of heaven, or the sands of the sea was fulfilled.

“These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). Those who think that way are seeking a better homeland. If they had longed for their former land they could have returned, but they had their hope set on a better, heavenly country. (Because they trusted and acted on God’s promise in faith), “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16).

John Paraphrase:

In the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles (an eight day celebration) Jesus went into the temple and began to teach. The people wondered where Jesus got his knowledge, since he had no formal rabbinic education. Jesus told them that his teaching was not his own, but was from God. Jesus declared that if any person desires to do God’s will, he will recognize that Jesus’ teachings are from God. Those who speak on their own authority seek their own glory, but those who aim to glorify the one who sent them are trustworthy and not lying.

Israel had received the Law through Moses, but they were not obeying it. Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:1-18), and the Jews sought to kill him for breaking the Sabbath Law, but when Jesus asked them to justify their desire to kill him, they denied it and suggested that Jesus was crazy. Jesus pointed out that a person can be circumcised on the Sabbath (to fulfill the requirements of the Law), but when Jesus healed a man’s body on the Sabbath they wanted to kill him for breaking Sabbath law. Jesus told them to judge fairly, not based on outward appearances.

Some of the people of Jerusalem were amazed that Jesus was speaking so openly when the authorities were seeking to kill him. They wondered if the authorities believed that Jesus was really the Christ. But they discounted the possibility, because they thought that no one would know where the Christ came from, while they thought they knew Jesus’ origins.

Knowing what they thought, Jesus told the people, as he taught, that they only thought they knew where he had come from. Jesus had come from God, and that, although they thought they knew God, they really only knew “about” God. Jesus claimed to know God intimately, because he had come from God and had been sent by God. The authorities sought to arrest him, but did not, because it was not yet God’s timing. But many people did believe Jesus was the Christ, because they realized that they couldn’t expect the Christ to do any more miracles than Jesus had already done.

Commentary:

Jesus is the power of God in human flesh; he’s the Arm of the Lord, God’s anointed deliverer and ruler of the universe. The prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in one sense when Judah was allowed to return to the Promised Land from their exile in Babylon. But God’s Word is eternal and will have its eternal fulfillment in the return of Christ’s Church from exile on earth to the Heavenly Zion. Jesus is the deliverer who delivers us from captivity of Satan and Death.

As Abraham was a sojourner walking in faith during his earthly exile, so believers are also all sojourners on this earth. We won’t receive the fullness of God’s promises this side of eternity, but we can see them from here. If we will walk in faith, God will show us his faithfulness. Abraham and Sarah didn’t see the fulfillment of the Promised Land in their earthly lives, but God revealed his faithfulness in giving them the son (Isaac) as he had promised, and in many other ways.

Jesus declared that anyone who desires to do God’s will shall know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that Jesus speaks according to God’s will and Word. Anyone who thinks he knows God will recognize that Jesus is God’s only (begotten) Son (John 1:14), in whom the whole of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9). No one can truly know God except through Jesus (John 1:18; Mathew 11:27 John 14:6-7). Each one of us must decide for ourselves who we believe Jesus is. Our decision has eternal consequences.

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 – Odd 
To be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 01/30/05;

Podcast: Monday 4 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 51:17-23  –   The Lord’s wrath;
Galatians 4:1-11   –   Bondage under law;
Mark 7:24-37   –   The Syrophoenician woman;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Rise up, Jerusalem, who is drunk from the cup of God’s wrath. None of her sons is able to guide her. Devastation and destruction have befallen her. Who will comfort or commiserate with her? Her sons are passed out in a drunken stupor on every street corner, from the wrath of God. Listen, you who are drunk from the Lord’s wrath. The Lord has removed the cup of his wrath from you; you shall no longer be afflicted. From now on, God will give it to your tormentors, who have trampled all over you, and used you for a sidewalk.

Galatians Paraphrase:

The heir of the estate, as long as he is a minor, has no more control over the estate than a slave; although he is ultimately its owner, he is under guardians and trustees until the date determined by the father. So also, when we were spiritually ignorant, we were slaves to the elemental superstitions of the world. But in the fullness of God’s perfect timing, God sent his Son, born of woman, born under God’s Law given to Moses, to redeem those under the Law, so we could be adopted sons and daughters of God.

Because we are God’s adopted children, he has given us the Spirit of his Son in our hearts, who bears witness that we are God’s children. So through God (in Jesus Christ) we are no longer slaves but children and heirs of God’s promises. In the past, when we did not know and acknowledge God, we were slaves of false gods (and behind those idols are demons; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21). Now we can come into a personal relationship with God through the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Why would we want to turn back to slavery again to the forces of evil? Why would we want to continue to be like Jews in the observance of Jewish traditions? Has Paul’s work in proclaiming Jesus been in vain?

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon, and he entered a house there, hoping not to have his visit publicized, but the news could not be suppressed. Immediately a Syrophoenician (Tyre and Sidon were cities of Phoenicia in the Roman Province of Syria) woman, a Gentile, came to Jesus begging him to heal her small demon-possessed daughter. Jesus told her to let the children (Jews) be fed first, for it isn’t right to give the children’s food to the dogs (Gentiles). The woman replied “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7:28). Jesus replied that since she had given that reply, she could go her way; the demon had been cast out of her daughter. The woman went home and found the child healed of the demon.

Jesus returned from Tyre and Sidon to the Sea of Galilee through the region of the Decapolis (“the Ten Cities,” on the east and south of the Sea of Galilee). A deaf man who couldn’t speak clearly was brought to Jesus for healing. Jesus took him aside and put his fingers in the deaf man’s ears and touched his tongue, and Jesus looked up to heaven and said “Be opened” in Aramaic (the language which Jesus spoke). The deaf man’s hearing was restored and he spoke plainly.

Jesus “charged (exhorted; ordered) them (the healed man and those who had brought him) to tell no one, but the more (emphatically) he charged them the more zealously they proclaimed it” (Mark 7:36). Those who witnessed the healing were amazed and declared that Jesus did everything well; he could even make the deaf hear and the mute speak.

Commentary:

Judea had been in exile in Babylon, suffering under God’s punishment for her unfaithfulness and disobedience of God’s Word. God is going to deliver her sons from their oppressors and restore them to leadership. Their punishment was completed and now the Lord was going to punish the oppressors of God’s children (by the fall of Babylon to Cyrus of Persia in 539 B.C.).

God’s promise was fulfilled; his children were restored to their land. But his promise also applies to his Church today. Judgment will begin with the children of God (1 Peter 4:17). God disciplines his children for their good and salvation (Hebrews 12:7-11), but then he will destroy their tormentors.

Through Jesus Christ we are adopted sons and daughters of God and heir to the promises of God: his heavenly estate. We are no longer the slaves of Satan, the “god” of this world. God doesn’t give us his Spirit to enslave us but to free us from sin and death. The Spirit of his Son, Jesus, within us bears witness that we are God’s adopted children, and that we will inherit eternal life in his heavenly kingdom (Galatians 4:6; compare Romans 8:9b, 12-17a; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14;).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the risen Jesus, through whom we are spiritually “born again” (John 3:3, 5-8) and have personal fellowship with the Lord. If we have been truly born again and freed from slavery to sin and death, why would we want to turn back to slavery? Why would we want to become like Jews in the observance of Jewish Laws and traditions?

God intended his salvation for all people, but he made it available first to the Jews. God had told Abraham that all the nations of the world would be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:3b). Jesus didn’t mean to imply to the Syrophoenician woman that Gentiles were subhuman, but to indicate where they were in seniority regarding the Gospel of salvation.

The Syrophoenician could have chosen to be offended by Jesus’ categorization of her, but she responded in faith and obedience. She agreed with Jesus’ assessment, and she acknowledged him as her Lord. But she persisted in faith that his grace (unmerited favor) would extend to include herself and her daughter. When Jesus told her to go her way, that her daughter was healed, she trusted and obeyed Jesus, and came to know that his promises are faithful and true.

In contrast, those who disregarded Jesus’ command to not publicize the healing of the deaf mute thought they were doing the right thing and glorifying Jesus, but they were actually impeding Jesus’ ministry. Jesus didn’t come primarily to bring physical healing, and his physical healings were attracting large crowds who were only interested in physical healing, making it difficult to fulfill his greater mission. We must be careful not to assume that we know God’s will without confirmation from him. See also John 6:26-27). Jesus can do all things well. He can even make the spiritually deaf hear and give the spiritually mute, voice, as I personally attest.

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 – Odd 
To be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 01/31/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 52:1-12   –   The Lord’s kingship;
Galatians 4:12-20   –   Paul’s concern;
Mark 8:1-10   –   Feeding the four thousand;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Awake, gather your strength, O Zion (God’s people; the Church); put on your beautiful clothes, for the heathen and unclean shall no longer come into you! Rise up from the dust, captive Jerusalem (the city of God; the Church)! Zion was oppressed without cost to her oppressors and will be redeemed without money. Egypt and Assyria (and Babylon) had enslaved God’s people without paying anything for them, and they continually despise God’s name (and character). But God’s people will know God’s name and his redeeming work on their behalf.

God’s people await the messengers confirming God’s victory; her watchmen rejoice as they see the victorious Lord returning to Zion. The Lord has comforted and redeemed his people and has revealed his holy arm, his salvation, to all the people of the earth. God’s people will leave Babylon and return to their homeland, ritually purified, and in victory, not in flight or fear, because the Lord will be their vanguard and defender.

Galatians Paraphrase:

Paul begged the Galatians to follow his spiritual example, as he has become one of them during his visit. Paul had been well-treated by them. Although he had a physical ailment, and required their care (perhaps eye trouble; see Galatians 4:15), they received and cared for him as for an angel of God or as Jesus Christ himself, rather than as a burden. They would gladly have given Paul even their own eyes if that would have helped him. Will they now regard him as their enemy for telling them the truth?

The Judaizers (those who insist that Gentile Christians must keep Jewish laws) were using flattery to induce the Galatians to accept their false doctrine, which would actually keep the Galatians from their inheritance of salvation (Galatians 6:4), and the Judaizers’ motivation was their own self-glorification. It is good to build up one another for a good purpose (the Judaizers’ was not).

Paul is the spiritual father of the Galatians, his spiritually young disciples, who have not yet reached spiritual maturity. Paul is worried about them and longs to be with them so that he might guide them in person, more gently and lovingly than he can in this letter.

Mark Paraphrase:

A great crowd of about four thousand people had gathered around Jesus and had been with him for three days without the opportunity to obtain anything to eat. Jesus had compassion on them and was afraid that they were too weak to return to their homes without fainting on the way, knowing that some had come from a great distance.

The disciples asked Jesus how they could possibly feed so many people in the middle of the wilderness. Jesus asked his disciples what food they had on hand, and they had seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Jesus took the bread and fish and gave thanks to God and blessed and broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples to distribute.  They all ate and were satisfied, and seven baskets of leftovers were collected. Then Jesus sent the people home, and he and his disciples got into a boat and went to Dalmanutha (or Magadan; or Magdala; compare Matthew 15:39; apparently on the west side of the Sea of Galilee).

God fulfilled his promise to Israel to redeem them from exile in Babylon and lead them back to their homeland when Babylon fell to King Cyrus of Persia in 538 B.C.* God has also revealed his holy arm, his salvation, in Jesus Christ. The history of God’s redemption of Israel is also an illustration and prophecy of his ultimate plan of redemption of the world which will be fulfilled when Jesus returns on the Day of Judgment.

The Lord cares for his people. God allowed Judah to go into Exile to discipline them for not trusting and obeying God’s Word and God’s prophets, but his ultimate purpose was for their salvation. God comforts and redeems his people and frees them from slavery and exile in the Babylon of this world.

Jesus is the holy arm of God, God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), which has been revealed to all the people on Earth. Jesus is the victorious Lord who will return to lead his people to the eternal Jerusalem in Heaven, ritually cleansed and purified by Jesus’ blood shed on the cross.

Paul loved the Galatians as a father loves his children, and he also appreciated the way they had cared for his physical ailment. But he cared enough for their spiritual wellbeing and their eternal destiny that he was willing to speak the truth sternly to them even though the Galatians wouldn’t enjoy hearing it. In contrast, the Judaizers were flattering the Galatians and telling the Galatians what the Galatians enjoyed hearing, but which would lead them away from salvation and eternal life; and the Judaizers’ motive was to make themselves look good and feel important.

Jesus is our example of how Church leaders and all Christians should care for the needs of all people. Often it is too easy to dismiss our responsibility for the welfare of others because the situation seems vastly beyond our human ability and resources. The disciples asked how one could feed that vast crowd in the middle of nowhere. But Jesus told them to start doing what they could with the resources they had, and as they did so God provided the means to meet the need.

Jesus recognized the physical needs of the crowd, but his real ministry was to their spiritual need. Jesus didn’t give the crowd false encouragement that they could make it home without food, but that is exactly what spiritual leaders do, if they tell people what is popular and pleasant to hear, instead of the hard truths that people need to hear.

Paul told Timothy, his protégé in Christian ministry, that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate teachers to suit their own likings and will turn away from listening to the truth and will wander into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Are we seeking the truth, or do we just want our “ears tickled”?

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)?


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


Wednesday 4 Epiphany – Odd

To be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 02/01/05;

Podcast:
Wednesday 4 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 52:13-53:12   –   The suffering Servant;
Galatians 4:21-31    –   Allegory of Hagar and Sarah;
Mark 8:11-26  –   Leaven of the Pharisees;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord’s servant will prosper; he will be exalted and lifted up. His appearance has been so marred that many people, nations and kings will be astonished and speechless. They will see and understand what has not been told.

Who has believed what the Lord has declared; to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew like a young plant, and a root in dry ground. He was not physically attractive, and he was despised and rejected; he experienced sorrow and grief, and was treated like a leper. But he has borne our grief and sorrow. We considered him deserving of God’s punishment, but it was our sins he was being punished for, and we have been healed and restored by his punishment.

We have all gone astray like sheep, each following his own will, and God has placed on his Servant, the burden of all our guilt. He bore his suffering in silence, like a lamb being sheared is mute. His life was cut short and taken from him by oppression and judgment, but who considered that his suffering and death was for our sins?

He was buried with the wicked and with a rich man although he had committed no violence or deceit. Yet it was God’s will that he should suffer as a sacrifice and offering for sin, and because of his obedience he shall see his offspring (followers) and his days will be prolonged. He will be satisfied with the results of his suffering. “By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many righteous; and he will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). God will give him an inheritance of great honor which he will share with those who persevere in faith, because he was obedient unto death, and suffered for the sins of many, making intercession for sinners.

Galatians Paraphrase:

Those who want to rely on their performance of the Law haven’t understood the Law. Abraham had two sons, one, named Ishmael, born of the flesh by Hagar, his slave, and one, named Isaac, born according to God’s promise by his wife, Sarah, who was free. The women are an allegory representing two covenants, the Covenant of Law of life in the flesh in the worldly Jerusalem, and the Covenant of Grace of life in the Spirit in Christ’s Church which is the forerunner of the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Believers are children of the promise, like Isaac, and the Church is our mother. As Ishmael persecuted Isaac (Genesis 21:9-12), so the world persecutes Christians, but as the scripture says, the slave and her son will be cast out and will not inherit with the son of the free woman. Christians are the children of the free woman, who will inherit God’s promises.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples had just returned from feeding the four thousand. Some Pharisees (the predominant legalistic faction of Judaism) came and argued with Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven to prove his authority. Jesus sighed deeply and asked why this generation insisted on seeking signs, because no signs will be given.

Jesus got into a boat with his disciples and went across to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples had only one loaf of bread among them, because they had forgotten to bring more.

Jesus was telling his disciples to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod (or the Herodians). The disciples thought Jesus was speaking of bread and they discussed it among themselves, saying that they had no bread. Jesus was aware of their discussion, and asked why they were discussing their lack of bread. Did they not see and hear and remember; why couldn’t they understand? Jesus reminded them of the abundance of the bread left over from the feedings of the five thousand and the four thousand. Jesus asked if they still did not understand.

They came to Bethsaida and people brought a blind man to Jesus for healing. Jesus took the blind man outside the city and laid his hands upon the man. The man’s sight was partly restored but he still couldn’t see clearly, so Jesus laid his hands on him again, and the man’s sight was restored and he saw clearly. Jesus sent him away to his home, telling him not to go back to the village.

Commentary:

To whom has the arm of the Lord (God’s power; his Servant, the Messiah) been revealed? Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this prophecy. To those who believe in Jesus, the parallel seems obvious, but to those who don’t, it isn’t. Jesus has borne and paid the debt for the sins of those who trust in him.

Jesus is our example of trust and obedience to God’s will. Those who come to know Jesus personally (through his indwelling Holy Spirit; compare Isaiah 53:11) will be made righteous (by his blood, shed on the cross). Those who follow Jesus in trust and obedience are his offspring, and their days will be prolonged for eternity (Isaiah 53:10c). Jesus will share his inheritance with those who persevere and endure in faith (Isaiah 53:12b).

Those who trust in their good deeds for their salvation, instead of trusting in Jesus haven’t understood God’s Word. God’s Law was given to restrain those in the flesh until the coming of Jesus Christ (physically, during his earthly ministry, and spiritually, when a believer is reborn through the indwelling Holy Spirit).

All have 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 Christ is the only sacrifice which is acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). We either accept Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins, or we will have to die eternally for them ourselves.

God’s promise of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ must be received by faith (trust and obedience). Christians are the legitimate spiritual children of Abraham and Sarah, who will inherit God’s promises. The illegitimate children of the slave will be cast out and will not inherit.

The Pharisees wanted proof from Jesus of his authority, but there was proof all around them and they couldn’t see it. God’s promise depends on faith. If he were to provide incontrovertible proof, there would be no need for faith. Jesus performed many miracles, doing things which are humanly impossible, and yet the Pharisees wanted further proof.

The Pharisees didn’t want to acknowledge Jesus’ authority, because they were religious and secular leaders of their society based on their reputation of righteousness by their keeping of the Jewish law. They didn’t want to give that up and admit they were sinners in need of a Savior. They chose the approval of mankind instead of God’s approval.

Jesus was talking about the sin (spiritual “leaven”) of the Pharisees, but the disciples’ attention was focused on material things: bread and their stomachs. They had seen Jesus feed thousands with a few loaves of bread, and they were in the boat with Jesus, worried about having enough bread. They couldn’t understand Jesus’ spiritual teaching because their minds were on worldly, material concerns and they hadn’t learned to trust Jesus to provide for their needs.

Jesus healed the blind man’s physical sight, but it took more than one try. Jesus’ disciples’ spiritual sight wasn’t immediately and completely developed either, but they were following the one who could help them see. The Pharisees were spiritually blind but refused to acknowledge it and seek healing.

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 – Odd 

To be used only if there is a 5 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 02/02/05;

Podcast: Thursday 4 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 54:1-10 (11-17)   –   Song of assurance;
Galatians 5:1-15   –    Christian freedom;
Mark 8:27-9:1  –    On discipleship;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord assures exilic Israel that she will be restored and prospered beyond what she had before her exile. God has forgiven her unfaithfulness. The Lord her creator is her husband; God of all the earth, the Holy One of Israel, is her Redeemer. The Lord briefly forsook her in his anger, but now in compassion he calls her to return. The Lord has everlasting love and compassion for her.

As in the days of Noah, when the Lord swore that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood, so the Lord promises not to be angry with his people nor to rebuke them. Zion will be restored; her city will be beautiful. “All her sons shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be their prosperity” (Isaiah 54:13). She shall be established in righteousness, and will be oppressed no more.

God is the creator of those who make weapons and those who wield them. No weapon against her will succeed, and no accuser will prevail against her.” This is the heritage and vindication of the servants of the Lord.

Galatians Paraphrase:

We have been set free from bondage to the law of sin and death (the law convicts of sin and demands eternal death; Romans 3:23; 6:23), so we should not submit to slavery again (by Judaizers who want to require Gentile Christians to observe the Jewish Laws).

Paul tells believers that if they attempt to be righteous by keeping the Jewish Law they will be obligated to keep every part of the law (which is impossible). In trying to be justified (reckoned righteous) by works (keeping) of the law, they are severed from Christ and have fallen away from God’s grace (unmerited favor; free gift). The Christian’s hope of righteousness is by faith in Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

In Christ Jesus, righteousness is not by keeping the law but by faith through love (which results in good works; John 14:15, 21). False teachers had come into the Galatian congregation and were causing the believers to go off course. Paul declares that this emphasis on justification by works (keeping) of the law is not from the Lord, but is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a little yeast leavens the whole loaf, so false doctrine, or sin, can spread through and corrupt entire congregations. Through the Lord, Paul trusts that the Galatians will follow Paul’s teaching, and that God will judge those who are at work in the congregation in opposition to Paul and the Gospel. Paul points out that it is because Paul has defended the true Gospel that he is being persecuted.

The stumbling block of the Gospel of the cross of Christ to the Jews is that righteousness is no longer based on keeping the Jewish Law, but in faith (obedient trust) in Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). Circumcision symbolizes the Old Covenant of Law which is no longer brings salvation, so circumcision becomes a mutilation of the flesh, and those who advocate the mutilation of the Gentiles’ flesh should go mutilate themselves.

The freedom we have in Christ is not to be used to indulge our carnal natures; we have been freed so that we can serve the Lord and one another through love. If we truly love one another we will have fulfilled all the requirements of the Law. But where people “bite and devour” (use others to gratify their own desires) one another, they will destroy each other.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples went to the region of Caesarea Philippi at the northern border of Israel. On the way he asked his disciples who people were saying that Jesus was. The disciples said that some thought Jesus was John the Baptizer (risen from the dead). Others thought Jesus was Elijah (who was expected to return before the coming of the Messiah), and others thought he was one of the prophets (i.e., a prophet). Then Jesus asked who his disciples thought Jesus was, and Peter declared that Jesus is the Christ.

Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone about him. Jesus told his disciples that the “Son of man” (Jesus) would suffer, would be rejected by the religious leaders, and would be killed, and after three days he would rise. Peter rebuked Jesus, but Jesus rebuked Peter in front of the other disciples, saying that Peter was an agent of temptation and was opposing God’s will.

Jesus began to teach the crowd following him that anyone who wants to be a follower of Jesus must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Jesus (his example and teaching). Whoever wants to keep his physical, earthly life will lose it. But whoever gives up his life for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel will save his own (eternal) life.

What does it matter if a person owns the entire world if he dies. What could a person give which would be worth his life. When Jesus returns in glory with his holy angels, he will be ashamed of those who have been ashamed of Jesus and his words, now, in this wicked world. Jesus declared that there were some with him right then who would not die before they saw the kingdom of God come with power.

Commentary:

The prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled; Israel was restored to the Promised Land. But the prophecy also applies to the Church, which is the New Israel, in exile in the “Babylon” of this world. Jesus is the Holy One of Israel, our Redeemer, through whom we have God’s forgiveness.

Israel’s (the Church’s) sons and daughters will be taught by the Lord (Isaiah 54:13) through the indwelling Holy Spirit whom only Jesus gives to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 1:33; 14:15-17). No weapon or accuser will prevail against God’s people. Great will be their prosperity in the restored paradise of the New Jerusalem in Heaven. This is the heritage and vindication of the servants of the Lord.

Through Christ we have been set free from sin, death and the power of Satan, so that we can serve the Lord. We are free, but we should use that freedom not to serve ourselves but to serve our Lord and one another in love. Forgiveness is the free gift of God by grace to be received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, not by works (keeping) of the law (Ephesians 2:8-9), but we have been forgiven and freed so that we can serve the Lord by doing good works which he has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

There have been false doctrines and false teachers in the Church from its beginning. Two examples are “Justification by Works” and the doctrine of “Cheap Grace*” (salvation without requiring obedience; without discipleship). Paul is addressing both in this text.

The Judaizers wanted the Gentile Christians to “earn” righteousness by keeping the Law. In refuting that false doctrine, he also warned about going too far in the opposite direction to a doctrine of “Cheap Grace,” using the freedom in Christ to indulge our self-interests rather than serving the Lord in obedience and discipleship. We are to be taught by, led by, and obedient to the indwelling Holy Spirit.

If we realize and acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ then we should follow his example and his teaching. Following Jesus is going to cost us something. We have to be willing to deny our self-centered desires. We have to be willing to give up what we want for ourselves so that we can do what the Lord wants us to do. We must be willing to endure some personal discomfort in order to follow Jesus. We have to be willing to give up our earthly ambitions and goals and even physical lives, if necessary, in the assurance that Jesus’ promise and his example of resurrection from the dead will be fulfilled for us as it was for himself. In order to be a follower of Jesus we must follow Jesus’ example and apply his teaching in our lives; we need to trust and obey Jesus.

What is your eternal life in Paradise worth to you? Who do you say that Jesus is?

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


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


Friday 4 Epiphany – Odd

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 02/03/05;

Podcast: Friday 4 Epiphany – Odd 


Isaiah 55:1-13   –   Seek the Lord;
Galatians 5:16-24   –   Walk by the Spirit;
Mark 9:2-13   –  Transfiguration;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Those who are spiritually hungry and thirsty are invited to come and be satisfied without cost. Why do we spend money and labor for things which do not satisfy or nurture us spiritually? Listen to the Lord and he will show us what is good and satisfying; come to him and hear, so that our souls may live. The Lord will extend to us his covenant of steadfast love which he had with David, whom the Lord made a witness, a leader, and a commander of people. God’s people shall call nations we have not known and they will come to us because of the Lord our God, and his Holy One, who has glorified us.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Let the wicked and unrighteous forsake their thoughts and their ways and turn to the Lord so that the Lord will have mercy on them, and he will pardon them abundantly. God’s ways and his thoughts are vastly higher than our ways and thoughts. Like the rain which causes seed to sprout and bear a harvest, so God’s Word goes forth and will not fail to bring forth a harvest according to God’s purpose. God will lead us forth in a New Exodus into the New Promised Land of paradise restored, which will be eternal.

Galatians Paraphrase:

Christians are to reject the gratification of the desires of their flesh and walk by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The desires of the flesh oppose and contradict the desires of the Spirit. We are given the Holy Spirit for that purpose so that we no longer follow our carnal desires. Those who are led by the indwelling Holy Spirit are no longer under the Law.

The works of the flesh include “immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factionalism, envy, drunkenness, and carousing” (Galatians 5:19). We are warned that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). No law is needed to restrain such behavior. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to the top of a high mountain. Then Jesus was transfigured in their presence; his clothes appeared to glow intensely white beyond any earthly appearance. Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus.

The three disciples were amazed and afraid, and Peter suggested to Jesus that they build three booths, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. The shadow of a cloud came over them and a voice from the cloud said “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:7). Moses and Elijah disappeared and the three disciples saw only Jesus.

As they came down the mountain, Jesus told them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of man (Jesus) had risen from the dead. They kept the experience to themselves, but they wondered what Jesus had meant about rising from the dead.

They asked Jesus why the Bible teachers said that Elijah must return to earth before the coming of the Messiah. Jesus replied that Elijah had come first “to restore all things” (to call the people to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord).

Jesus told them that scriptures prophesied that the Son of man would suffer and would be treated with contempt, and that Elijah had come (John the Baptizer had fulfilled the prophecy) and he had suffered the same treatment (as Jesus would receive and as the other prophets had received), fulfilling what the scriptures foretold.

Commentary:

We are spiritual beings in physical bodies. God created us, and he knows what we need. He invites us to listen to him, and he will show us what is good and satisfying. If we realize that we have spiritual needs, he is the only one who can satisfy them. This earthly lifetime is the only opportunity we have to come to the Lord and be nurtured spiritually so that we will live eternally in the new creation of paradise restored.

No one knows how much time we have in this life. Now is the time to seek the Lord and call upon him. God’s Word will be fulfilled; his purpose will be accomplished, and his purpose is to bring his people out of the “Egypt,” the “Babylon” of this world into the Promised Land of his kingdom in Heaven.

Christians are to walk according to the Holy Spirit. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to walk in trust and obedience to the Lord. The Lord only gives his Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). We are given the promise of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism, but it is only as we follow the Lord in trust and obedience that we receive the fulfillment of that promise. Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say” (Luke 6:46; Mathew 7:12-24)?

Peter, James, and John were the disciples in the closest fellowship with Jesus. To them Jesus revealed his heavenly glory. They were witnesses to John the Baptizer’s fulfillment of the prophecy of the appearance of Elijah before the Messiah, but they were also witnesses that Elijah appeared to Jesus with Moses on the mountain of transfiguration. They were also witnesses to Jesus’ heavenly glory, and to the voice of God declaring that Jesus was God’s beloved Son, and telling Jesus’ disciples to listen to Jesus.

Peter, James and John obeyed Jesus. They are the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the extension of the covenant of David to them. They became witnesses and leaders of the New People of God (the Church). They proclaimed the Gospel to the Nations, and Nations came to them because of the Lord God and his Holy One, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer.

Peter, James and John were allowed to see Jesus’ heavenly glory because they were walking in close fellowship with Jesus. After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, it is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that his disciples have close personal fellowship with Jesus and it is through the Holy Spirit that we experience Jesus’ heavenly glory and hear God speak. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who will lead us out of “Egypt” and “Babylon” into the Heavenly Kingdom.

Have you come to a personal fellowship with Jesus Christ? Are you walking by his 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 4 Epiphany – Odd 

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 02/04/05;

Podcast: Saturday 4 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 56:1-8  –    A house of prayer;
Galatians 5:25-6:10   –    Walk by the Spirit;
Mark 9:14-29  –    Epileptic child healed;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Do what is righteous and just, because the Lord’s salvation is coming soon, and his deliverance will be revealed. Those who do so, and keep the Sabbath, refraining from doing evil or profaning the Sabbath, will be blessed. Eunuchs who keep the Sabbath and do what is pleasing to the Lord will have an eternal heritage in Gods’ house, and faithful proselytes (non-Jews who worship God) who love and serve the Lord and keep his covenant will be included among God’s people. God’s house will be a house of prayer for all people. God declares that he will gather other people to him beside the Jews.

Galatians Paraphrase:

If we have been “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the Spirit let us walk by (in obedience to) the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, nor envy one another; let us not provoke one another). If someone succumbs to temptation, Christians should gently restore him, being careful not to fall into temptation ourselves. We are to care for and help one another, fulfilling Christ’s commandment to love one another. We are not to exalt ourselves over others or compare ourselves to one another, but to honestly examine ourselves (according to God’s Word).

Each of us will be responsible for our own conduct. Those who are taught are to support their teachers. Let us not imagine that God can be fooled. We will all individually reap according to what we have sown.

If we live according to our flesh we will reap corruption (we’ll die and rot in our flesh). But if we live according to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. Let us not be discouraged with doing what is right, because we will eventually reap the reward of righteousness if we do not become discouraged. So let us do what is right to all people, and especially to our fellow believers.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus, Peter, James and John returned from the mountain where Jesus had been transfigured (see entry for yesterday, Friday, 4 Epiphany, odd year), and they found the rest of the disciples surrounded by a large crowd, arguing with some scribes. When the crowd saw Jesus they were amazed and ran to him.

Jesus asked what they were discussing, and a person in the crowd told Jesus he had brought his epileptic son to be healed by Jesus, but Jesus’ disciples had been unable to heal him. Jesus expressed exasperation with the faithlessness of the generation, and told the father to bring the boy to him.

When he was brought, the boy immediately began to convulse, and Jesus asked the boy’s father how long he had had this condition. The father replied that the boy had convulsions from childhood, and that they were life-threatening. He asked Jesus to heal the boy saying, “If you can” (Mark 9:22). Jesus replied, “If you can (Mark 9:23)!” Jesus told him that all things are possible to those who believe. The man cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Jesus saw that a crowd was gathering, and he rebuked the evil spirit and cast him out of the boy. The boy became so still that the crowd thought he was dead, but Jesus took him by the hand and he got up. Later, when the disciples were alone with Jesus they asked him why they had been unable to heal the boy themselves, and Jesus told them that this kind (of evil spirit) can only be driven out by prayer.

Commentary:

God’s people are all those who love him and do what is pleasing to him. Just being born into a Christian congregation or into a Christian family doesn’t make us Christians. God’s house is a house of prayer for all people who trust and obey his Son, Jesus Christ (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home). We cannot expect God to do what we ask unless we are willing to do what he asks.

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26b) who have trusted and obeyed Jesus and have been spiritually reborn through his indwelling Holy Spirit. If we have new life by his Spirit, we are to live in that new life; we are to be guided and empowered by his Holy Spirit. We are to love and care for one another, and to help the fallen and the lost; not argue or feel spiritually superior to others. We should examine ourselves according to God’s Word, not against one another.

God is able to do what we ask, but are we willing to do what he asks? Perhaps one reason that the disciples had been unable to heal the boy was because they had gotten involved in an argument with the scribes (Bible teachers) instead of praying in faith. The Lord is not going to answer our prayer so that we can win an argument or so that we can look or feel more spiritual than others. The man had brought his son to see “if” Jesus could heal the boy. The Lord will not “prove” himself to us; we must choose whether to believe in (trust and obey) him.

Jesus’ answer shows that it is not a matter of whether Jesus could do it, but whether the father believed in Jesus. When the father replied that he believed and asked Jesus to increase his faith, Jesus was willing to do that. It isn’t a matter of the amount of faith, as long as we are willing to make the commitment. When we commit to trust and obey Jesus, he will reveal his power and faithfulness to us, causing our faith in him to grow.

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 – Odd – 01/25 -31/2015

January 24, 2015

Week of 3 Epiphany – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.htmlPlease 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 3 Epiphany – Odd 
Sunday 3 Epiphany – Odd 
First posted 01/22/05;
Podcast: Sunday 3 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 47:1-15   –    Downfall of Babylon;
Hebrews 10:19-31  –    Exhortations and warnings;
John 5:2-18  –  Jesus’ relation to God;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Babylon will be stripped of her royalty and power. She who was once unconquered will become a slave. Her nakedness will be exposed and her shame revealed. Babylon will no longer be exalted as ruler of kingdoms. Babylon did not recognize that it was only by God’s will that she had punished God’s people, and she did not learn, from Judah’s experience, to honor God.

Babylon pursues her own pleasure, thinking that she is secure and has no rival; she thinks nothing bad will befall her, but in a moment disaster will come upon her, despite her reliance on the worldly wisdom and the occult (idolatry, sorcery, demonic powers). Babylon feels safe in her wickedness, imagining there is no one who sees, and no one to punish her. Her worldly wisdom and knowledge have led her astray. Evil and disaster will befall her, from which she cannot escape or make amends.

Her ruin will come upon her suddenly with no advance warning, despite her worldly wisdom and her faith in sorceries. She has many “wise men” and counselors to advise her, but none sees Babylon’s downfall and none can deliver her. They will be like stubble consumed by fire. They cannot save themselves. The fire of God’s wrath will be no pleasant little fire to warm oneself by. The advisors upon whom Babylon has depended will be wandering every which way in confusion, trying to save themselves, but there will be no one to save Babylon.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

The writer of Hebrews compares the believers’ access to God with the temple practices of Judaism. Jesus’ blood sacrifice on the cross makes it possible for us to enter into God’s presence (the Heavenly equivalent of the inner sanctuary of the Temple, called the Holy-of-Holies) through the veil (of Jesus’ flesh). (Formerly, only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy-of-Holies, and only once a year, carrying a blood sacrifice for himself and the people; Hebrews 9:24-25).

Because Jesus is our High Priest, who has made atonement for our sins, we are to draw near to God in faith, with a true heart and a clean conscience. We must hold on to our faith in the Lord without wavering, trusting in the Lord’s faithfulness, and we are to encourage one another to live according to Jesus’ teachings (obedience to God’s Word and love for one another (Hebrews 10:24). We are to meet together regularly for worship and fellowship (in the Church) not neglecting this, as some are in the habit of doing, especially as the Day of Jesus’ return approaches.

Those who abandon their faith and return to a life of deliberate sin, after having come to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ face eternal punishment. Rejecting Jesus after once having come into personal fellowship with him through his indwelling Holy Spirit has fearful eternal consequences. Spiritual rebirth is not possible more than once.

John Paraphrase:

There was a bathing pool in Jerusalem called Bethesda (or Bethzatha) which had five porticoes (covered porches), where invalids gathered. It was believed that an angel disturbed the water from time-to-time, and if one bathed in the water while it was thus disturbed, that he would be healed.

Jesus saw a man who he knew had been lying there for a long time. The invalid had been ill for thirty-eight years. Jesus asked the invalid if he wanted to be healed. The sick man replied that he had no one to help him get into the water at the right time. Jesus told the sick man to rise, pick up his mat and walk. Immediately the man was healed, and he did as Jesus had told him.

It was on the Sabbath that the man was healed, and the Jews told the healed man that he was violating the Sabbath Laws by carrying his mat. The healed man replied that the person who had healed him had told him to do so. The Jews asked who had healed him, but the man did not know, and Jesus was not around.

Afterward Jesus found the healed man again in the temple. Jesus told him to sin no more, so that nothing worse would happen to him. The healed man went his way and told the Jews that Jesus was his healer. The Jews persecuted Jesus because he had healed and had told the healed man to carry his mat on the Sabbath, and since Jesus had answered their criticism by saying that his Father (God) was working and so was Jesus (on the Sabbath) they hated Jesus and sought to kill him because Jesus had called God his Father, making himself equal with God.

Commentary:

Babylon thought that she had become great and powerful by her own works, not knowing or acknowledging God or realizing that it was by God’s will, to accomplish God’s purpose. God had allowed Babylon to become powerful in order to punish Judah for their disobedience of God’s Word and their refusal to heed God’s prophets.

Babylon sought counsel from worldly advisors and sorcerers instead of seeking God’s guidance and God’s Word. Babylon thought there was no one who would recognize and punish her wickedness, but Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled. Babylon was taken over by Cyrus of Persia in 539 B.C., and Israel, after seventy years of exile in Babylon, was allowed to return to the Promised Land. Is America the New Jerusalem or the New Babylon?

God wants us to have access to him. He wants us to know his will so that we will do it. He has given us his Word in the Bible. Through Jesus’ sacrifice we are forgiven and cleansed of sin so that we can have access to the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to be our helper, our counselor.

Christians are to spend time regularly in worship and prayer, and in learning God’s Word and seeking his guidance, so that we can accomplish the “good works” which he has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Are we getting our counsel and guidance from the Lord and his Word, or are we relying on worldly counsel?

All of us are sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23); we are crippled and dying from sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus is the only spiritual Healer and Savior (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Are we hoping we can be healed by following worldly beliefs and remedies, trusting in superstition, or are we willing to trust and obey Jesus? Are we willing to do what Jesus tells us, even if it conflicts with our secular society?

Jesus warned the healed man that if he reverted to his former life something worse would befall him. Having been physically healed by Jesus by trust and obedience, the man needed to continue trusting and obeying Jesus or something worse would befall him. Eternal spiritual death is a lot worse than being a physical invalid for many years.

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 Epiphany – Odd 
To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 01/23/05;

Podcast: Monday 3 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 48:1-11   –   Hear and see;
Galatians 1:1-17  –   Against false Gospel;
Mark 5:21-43  –   Jairus’ daughter;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Listen, descendants of Jacob (father of the heads of the twelve tribes), who are called by the name of Israel (the name given Jacob by the Lord, which became the name of God’s people), descendants of Judah (fourth son of Jacob by Leah, whose name was given to the Southern Kingdom of the divided monarchy; at the time of this prophecy, in exile in Babylon). Although they are members of God’s people by genealogical descent, and they swear by the name of the Lord and claim that the God of Israel is their God, their actions reveal that they are not truly serving the Lord.

In the past the Lord has revealed what would take place before it came to pass. This was necessary because humans are stiff-necked (proud), hard-headed (stubborn) and obstinate (unyielding); otherwise they would give credit for what God did  to someone or something other than God. The Lord is revealing new things to them of which they have never before heard; otherwise they would claim that they had previously known them.

Humans are treacherous and rebellious from birth. God has been forbearing towards us for his name’s sake. The Lord purifies us with the furnace of affliction to remove impurities, like silver is refined. The Lord won’t allow his name to be profaned.

Galatians Paraphrase:

Paul’s authority was not given him by other humans, but by God through Jesus Christ. He was writing to the churches of Galatia in central Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Paul prayed that they might have the grace and peace which are only possible from God in Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we might be delivered from the present evil age, in accordance with God’s will.

Paul immediately began by saying “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to another gospel, not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received (from Paul; i.e., the apostolic faith), let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul was not interested in modifying his message to please humans; his only concern was to please the Lord who entrusted him with the message.

The gospel which Paul preached was not the creation of humans, and Paul did not get it from other humans, but by revelation from Jesus Christ. Paul reminded the Galatians that he had previously persecuted Christians and the Church, because of his zeal for Judaism. But the Lord had created Paul for the ministry of preaching Christ to the Gentiles. Although Paul had done nothing to deserve his calling, by God’s grace (unmerited favor) God revealed Christ to Paul (Saul of Tarsus; on the road to Damascus; Acts chapter 9), so that Paul could fulfill God’s purpose for his life.

After Paul’s conversion he didn’t seek human teaching or human authorization. Instead Paul went into Arabia (the Nabataean kingdom, the capital of which was Petra, southeast of Israel, between southern Israel and the Red Sea), and returned to Damascus (capital of Syria, where Paul had been converted and had begun his ministry; Acts 9:19b-22).

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when one of the rulers of the synagogue, a man named Jairus, came to Jesus begging him to come and heal his dying daughter. Jesus went with Jairus, and the great crowd followed, thronging around him.

There was a woman in the crowd who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and who had consulted numerous physicians, spending all her money but only getting worse. (She would have been regarded as ritually unclean as would any she touched). She had heard about Jesus and she believed that if she would only touch his garment she would be healed, and so she touched Jesus’ robe and her hemorrhage ceased instantly.

Jesus knew immediately that healing power had gone forth from him, and he asked who had touched him. The disciples thought that obviously the crowd had just jostled against him. The woman who had been healed came fearfully and knelt before him, confessing all had happened. Jesus told her that her faith had healed her and said she could go her way in peace, healed.

While Jesus was saying this, Jairus’ servant came to tell Jairus that his daughter had died and that it was unnecessary to bother Jesus further, but Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid but to keep believing. Jesus allowed no one to accompany Jairus any further except for Peter, James and John.

At the house there was a large group of mourners weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus asked why they were mourning, because the girl was not dead but sleeping. They laughed at Jesus, but he put them outside, and Jesus, the child’s mother and father and the three disciples went in to where the child lay. Jesus took the child, a twelve year old girl, by the hand and told her to arise, and she immediately got up and walked. Those with Jesus were amazed, but Jesus told them not to tell anyone; he also told them to give the girl something to eat.

Commentary:

Salvation is not a matter of being born into the Church or of being a Church member. We aren’t saved by being the children of Christians, or by praying or affirming an oath by the name of the Lord.  Our prayers won’t be answered just because we add Jesus’ name to the end of the prayer (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home). Keeping Christian traditions doesn’t make us Christian: Setting up a crèche (Nativity Scene) under the Christmas tree or on the mantle or front lawn doesn’t make us Christians. Claiming to be Christian doesn’t make us one. What we do reveals what we truly believe. A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ who trusts and obeys Jesus (Matthew 7:21-24; Acts 11:26c).

The Gospel that Paul and the other Apostles preached is not the creation of humans. It was a revelation by God through Jesus Christ, and Paul’s experience (Acts 9:1-21) demonstrates that clearly. The Galatians were being misled by false teachers, were turning away from the Biblical Apostolic Gospel (as taught by the Apostles and recorded in the Bible) preached by Paul, and turning to a false gospel. Paul was committed to proclaiming the Gospel fully and accurately just as he had received it from the Lord, without being influenced by humans to make it more “popular” and acceptable to people. Paul did not seek human instruction, authorization or commendation for his ministry.

On the way to heal Jairus’ daughter, a woman in the crowd had faith in Jesus’ power to heal her, and she acted on that faith. As she acted on her faith she received healing. When Jesus asked who had touched him she was afraid, but she confessed all that had happened. Jesus told her that she had been healed by faith and could go in peace.

While this was taking place, Jairus’ servants came saying that his daughter had died, and there was no reason for Jesus to go further. Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid, but to keep believing. Jesus told the mourners that the girl was not dead and would arise. Jairus’ friends and relatives, the mourners, laughed at Jesus, but Jairus did keep believing in Jesus, and Jairus and the mourners found that what Jesus says is absolutely reliable.

What the Lord declares, has its fulfillment. There are lots of skeptics, lots of false teachers and false doctrines. Faith is not like “wishing on a star;” we don’t get whatever we want if we believe “hard enough.” It matters who and what we believe. Faith in anything other than Jesus and God’s Word will be betrayed. What does what we do reveal about our faith?

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 – Odd 
To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 01/24/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 3 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 48:12-21 (22)   –   No peace for the wicked;
Galatians 1:18-2:10   –   Paul and the Church at Jerusalem;
Mark 6:1-13   –   Rejection at home; commissioning the disciples;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord is the first and the last, the creator of earth and heaven by the power of his Word. Assemble, Israel! God alone has declared his purpose (to give Babylon and the Chaldeans over to the power of Cyrus, King of Persia). The Lord has called Cyrus and will prosper him for this purpose. The Lord’s servant has been involved from the very beginning and has not spoken in secret. “And now the Lord God has sent me and his spirit” (Isaiah 48:16c).

The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, declares that he shows his people what is productive, and the way we should live. If God’s people kept God’s commands they would have peace like a river, and “righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18); their descendants as countless as the sands of the sea. “Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me” (Isaiah 48:19c).

God’s people will be released from their exile in Babylon by God’s redeeming act (through Cyrus), recalling Israel’s exodus from Egypt, God’s leading them through the wilderness and providing water in the desert from the rock. “‘There is no peace’, says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’”

Galatians Paraphrase:

Paul (formerly “Saul”) had received the Gospel from God through Jesus Christ, not from humans (Galatians 1:1 & 11). After his encounter with the risen Jesus (Acts chapter 9), he immediately began to proclaim the Gospel, and it wasn’t until three years later that he first went to Jerusalem for fifteen days to visit Cephas (Aramaic for “Peter”), but saw none of the other apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord.

After the visit Paul went into Syria and Cilicia (in southeast Asia Minor; present-day Turkey. The capital, Tarsus, was Paul’s native city). The Churches in Judea had never seen Paul, but only knew him by reputation, as a former persecutor of Christians, then preaching the Gospel of Jesus, and they glorified God for Paul’s conversion.

After fourteen years Paul brought Barnabas and Titus with him to consult the Apostolic Council at Jerusalem about the Gospel to the Gentiles (over the issue of requiring Gentiles to keep Jewish Law, which Paul opposed; and the Council concurred with Paul; Acts 15:2). Titus was a Greek (a Gentile), but the Council did not require his circumcision. The controversy in the Church over this issue was stirred up by “false brethren” who wanted to restrict Christian freedom by imposing the bondage of the Law, but Paul strove to preserve the true Gospel for us.

Paul didn’t gain any new insight into the Gospel from the other Apostles, and Peter, James and John (Jesus’ inner circle; Matthew 17:1) recognized Paul as a fellow Apostle and Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles as equally valid as Peter’s ministry of the Gospel to the Jews, since the same Lord inspired and directed them both.  They only asked Paul to take an offering for the poor (persecuted Judean Christians; Acts 11:29-30).

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus went to his hometown (Nazareth; Luke 4:16, 23) and on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue. The people were amazed at his words and his miracles, and they took offence at Jesus because they knew Jesus’ father, mother, brothers and sisters, and couldn’t understand where Jesus had acquired his wisdom and power. Jesus replied that “a prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own kin and in his own house” (Mark 6:4).  Jesus was amazed at their unbelief, and he was unable to do many miracles there, with the exception of healing a few sick people.

Jesus began teaching among the villages, and he appointed the Twelve and gave them power to heal the sick and the demon-possessed. He sent them out in pairs, telling them to take nothing with them on their journey except a walking stick; no extra cloths; no food or money. He told them that when they entered a house they were to stay there until they left the village. If any place would not receive them and refused to listen they were to shake the dust from their feet as a testimony against those people. The disciples went as Jesus had told them, preaching for people to repent, and they cast out many demons and healed many who were sick.

Commentary:

God, the creator of the Universe, has had a purpose, from the beginning of Creation, to produce a redeemed people (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). I believe that the meaning and purpose of our lives in this world is to seek and find God; to come into fellowship with him (Acts 17:26-27).

If we would keep God’s commandments we would have peace with God and would have eternal life with him. But the problem is that we cannot keep God’s commandments; we are all sinners (Romans 3:23 1 John 1:8-10) and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). We need a Redeemer.  The only way we can get from where we are (as sinners) to where God is (the Holy One) is through the Redeemer, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

God has been declaring his purpose of redemption from the very beginning in his Word; from the time of Mankind’s fall from fellowship with God through sin in the Garden (Genesis chapter 3). The history of God’s dealings with Israel provides repeated illustrations of God’s plan of Redemption; God delivered his people from bondage to sin and death in Egypt, bringing them through the Sea and the wilderness and into the Promised Land. The return of Judah from exile in Babylon repeats the illustration. Moses was God’s servant to deliver them from Egypt; Cyrus was God’s servant to deliver Israel from Babylon; Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Redeemer to lead his people from the “Egypt,” the “Babylon,” of this world into the eternal Promised Land, the kingdom of God in Heaven.

Paul (as Saul of Tarsus) was a persecutor of Christians who was converted in an encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-21). He came to realize his spiritual blindness, accepted Jesus as his Lord (and Redeemer), and he came into a personal relationship with the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit who guided and empowered Paul.

Paul was a changed person, and he spent the rest of his earthly life, was imprisoned, and probably died defending and preserving the true Biblical Apostolic Gospel of Jesus Christ against “false brethren” who wanted to add to or take away from that Gospel. Paul had been a Jew and a Pharisee, and he loved his Jewish brethren and wanted them to receive redemption through Jesus.

Jesus was the Jewish Redeemer, but many of his Jewish brethren would not receive Paul’s message (Acts 13:45-46). Paul is the prototype, the model, of the “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple (having aparently never known Jesus during Jesus’ lifetime, but led and empowered by the Holy Spirit).

Jesus was rejected by his own people in his own hometown, in his own synagogue, he was rejected in Jerusalem, and he was rejected by Judaism. Jesus was the Redeemer God promised to send to his people, but God’s people didn’t recognize and believe in him. Those who do recognize and believe in Jesus have the power to become God’s children (but they must claim and take hold of that promise; John 1:10-12). Those who did, followed him, became his disciples, were filled with his Holy Spirit, were empowered to preach and heal, and spent the rest of their lives doing what the Lord had commanded them to do.

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 – Odd 
To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 01/25/05;

Podcast:
Wednesday 3 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 49:1-12   –   The Lord’s servant;
Galatians 2:11-21   –   Justification by faith;
Mark 6:13-29   –  John the Baptizer beheaded;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Listen, coastlands (nations surrounding the Mediterranean) and peoples from afar. God called his servant from the womb and named him before his birth (see Luke 1:31). God made his servant’s mouth like a sharp sword (Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16). God protected him and made him like a sharp weapon.

Israel is to be God’s servant, in whom God will be glorified. The servant’s ministry seems unproductive, but he looks to God for his reward. The Lord created him to restore Jacob, so that Israel would be brought back to the Lord. The Lord has honored him and given him strength. The Lord declares that his servant is not just to restore Israel, but is to be a light to the nations, and his salvation is for all people on earth.

The Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, declares that though his servant is despised and abhorred by the nations and is the servant of rulers, the Lord is faithful and will cause the rulers of the nations to honor the Lord’s chosen servant. God has seen the need of his people and in the right time has answered and provided help in the day of salvation.

The Lord has preserved his servant and has given him as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, and to apportion the inheritance to those who are desolate. He calls prisoners and those in darkness to come forth. The Servant will feed, protect and lead them to springs of water, like a shepherd (Compare Psalm 23). His flock will come from afar, from north, west, and south (Syene; i.e., Aswan, on the southern border of Egypt).

Galatians Paraphrase:

When Peter visited the Church in Antioch Paul confronted him over the issue of requiring Gentile Christians to keep the Jewish Laws. The issue had officially been resolved by the Council of apostles and elders in Jerusalem, at which Peter had supported Paul’s position, citing his own vision ending Jewish dietary restrictions, (Acts 10:10-35; 15 6-11.) and yet Peter had allowed peer pressure from the circumcision party (Judaizers; the group who insisted on enforcing Jewish Law among Gentile Christians) to behave contrary to what Peter believed and declared.

Peter had eaten at first with the Gentiles, but when the Judaizers arrived, he withdrew, and his insincerity caused other Jewish Christians to also withdraw from table fellowship with the Gentile Christians. Paul rebuked Peter for deviating from the true Gospel.

Paul pointed out the hypocrisy of Jewish Christians living like Gentiles, but requiring Gentile Christians to live like Jews. Paul said, “We ourselves who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified (reckoned righteous) by works (keeping) of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified (Galatians 2:15-16).

If we sin while trusting in Christ for our salvation, it is not Christ who has caused us to sin. But if, after trusting in Christ, we continue to try to be righteous through keeping the law all we will accomplish will be to prove that we are sinners, and Christ will be of no benefit to us (see Galatians 5:2-4).

Mark Paraphrase:

King Herod had heard of Jesus, as word of Jesus’ miracles spread. Some said that Jesus was John the Baptizer who had risen from the dead. Others believed that Jesus was Elijah (who, according to scripture, was to return before the Messiah). Others thought he was a prophet like the prophets of old. Herod believed that he was John the Baptizer, whom Herod had beheaded, raised from the dead.

Herod had imprisoned John because John had rebuked Herod for marrying Herod’s brother’s wife, Herodias. She hated John and wanted to kill him, but Herod believed John was righteous and holy and although John’s message was troubling, Herod wanted to hear him.

But Herod gave a party on his birthday for the leading people of Galilee, and Herodias’ daughter danced to entertain the group. Herod was delighted and promised in front of his guests to give her whatever she wanted, even half of his kingdom. The daughter asked her mother for help in deciding what to ask for, and her mother told her to ask for John’s head on a platter. The daughter did so and Herod was forced to behead John because of his public promise. The daughter gave the head to her mother, and John’s disciples claimed the body and buried it.

Commentary:

Isaiah’s prophecy originally applied to Israel as the Lord’s servant, but it also clearly refers to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who is the Savior of the World. It also applies to Jesus’ disciples and his Church. The Lord’s servant will be despised and abhorred by the nations. Christians are not going to be popular among worldly people. The disciples’ ministry to proclaim the Gospel of salvation may often seem futile and unproductive, but we are to remember that the Lord is faithful, and trust in him for our reward.

There is a lot of pressure in the secular world for Christians to conform to the world’s standards. Christians need to decide to be guided by the God’s Word and his Spirit, rather than yielding to worldly peer pressure. God sent Jesus into the world to seek and save the lost, and Jesus has commissioned his followers to carry on his mission of salvation.

Peer pressure is a hazard to discipleship. It can also be an obstacle within the Church. Christians should read the Bible for ourselves, and spend time daily in prayer and the scriptures seeking God’s direction for our lives. We should be more concerned with serving the Lord than with pleasing our peers.

Peter was guilty of acting one way among certain people, and acting differently with others, rather than following his convictions. Peter’s inconsistency, as a leader in the Church, had a harmful effect on others. Our justification is by faith in Jesus, not by “good works” (Ephesians 2:8-10), but it is important to live and act in a manner that is consistent with what we believe.

Peer pressure was Herod’s undoing. Herod wanted to hear John’s message even though the message troubled him and made him uncomfortable. He was open to receiving the Gospel. But at a party he wanted to impress his step-daughter and his guests and he made an unwise public promise. From then on he was locked into doing something he really didn’t want to do, because he didn’t want to lose face in front of his friends and supporters.

He killed John, who might have led Herod to repentance and prepared him to receive Jesus. Then, when Herod heard of Jesus, he was “haunted” by his unjust murder of John, a righteous and holy man, and was unable to realize who Jesus was, and come to receive forgiveness and salvation through 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)?


Thursday 3 Epiphany – Odd 

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 01/26/05;

Podcast: Thursday 3 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 49:13-23 (24-26)  –   Zion rebuilt and restored;
Galatians 3:1-14  –    Faith, not works;
Mark 6:30-46   –   Feeding the five thousand;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. Zion (Jerusalem; God’s people; the Church) feels that the Lord has forgotten her, but the Lord can no more forget her than a mother can forget her suckling children. Even the mother might forget but the Lord won’t.  The Lord is so constantly aware of her that it is as if she were tattooed on his hand.

The Lord will prosper Zion’s builders and thwart those who would tear her down. Her people will gather to her, adorning her like a bride with jewelry. Her once destroyed and desolate land will be filled to capacity with children born in the time of her exile, in her bereavement and barrenness.

The Lord will signal the beginning of Israel’s restoration, and her sons and daughters shall return. Her oppressors shall be her servants “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame” Isaiah 49:23c, d, RSV). The Lord will rescue the captives from the mightiest of tyrants; The Lord will contend with those who contend with his people, and will save Zion’s children. The oppressors of God’s people will consume one another, and all people on earth will acknowledge Israel’s God.

Galatians Paraphrase:

False teachers (Judaizers) had been telling the Galatian Christians that they must keep Jewish Laws. Paul wrote this letter to correct that false teaching. Paul asked them to consider their own experience: They had received the Holy Spirit by faith, not by keeping the Law. If they had begun their new life in the Spirit, did they now want to return to life in the flesh?

Abraham is the example and spiritual patriarch of all who have faith, because Abraham believed God, and was reckoned as righteous in God’s eyes (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:16 RSV). God planned from the beginning to justify the Gentiles by faith, and he told Abraham that in Abraham the nations would be blessed. Those who rely on keeping the law for their righteousness are under a curse (Deuteronomy 27:26): In order to be righteous according to the Law, one must keep and do everything in the Law (which is humanly impossible).

God’s Word says that those who have righteousness by faith shall live (Habakkuk 2:4b). The Law is not based on faith but on works (keeping; Leviticus 18:5). We have been freed from the curse of the Law by Jesus, who took the curse upon himself on the cross (Deuteronomy 21:23), so that the blessing of Abraham could be received by the Gentiles, “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14b).

Mark Paraphrase:

The disciples had returned from a missionary assignment, and after reporting to Jesus what they had done, Jesus invited them to come away to a secluded place to rest awhile, because the throngs of people coming to Jesus offered no free time even to eat. Jesus and the disciples departed by boat across the Sea of Galilee to a secluded place, but the crowds saw them go, and guessing where they were headed, went there on foot and were waiting for Jesus when he and the disciples arrived.

Jesus “had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34), so Jesus began to teach them. It grew late, and the disciples suggested that Jesus send the crowds to the surrounding villages to eat, but Jesus told the disciples to feed the people. The disciples asked Jesus if he wanted them to go and buy enough food to feed the crowd, estimating that it would cost around two hundred days’ wages just to buy enough bread.  Jesus asked his disciples what food they had with them, and they said they had five loaves and two fish.

Jesus had the people sit down on the grass, and Jesus took the food, blessed and broke the loaves and fish, and gave them to the disciples to distribute. They all ate their fill, and there were twelve baskets full of leftovers, after feeding around five thousand people. Jesus made his disciples depart in the boat without him, while he dismissed the crowds, and then Jesus went into the hills to pray.

Commentary:

The Lord loves us all, not just some of us. In one sense we are all his people, because he is our creator. The Lord wants us to trust and obey him because his will is in our best interest. His people are those who choose to be; who acknowledge him and trust and obey him.

The Lord is building an eternal kingdom and that kingdom is the Church. He will prosper those who build it up, and will thwart those who oppose it. Jesus is the signal of the restoration of God’s people. The Lord has compassion on us. He doesn’t want us to die eternally for our disobedience. He wants to give us eternal life in the New Jerusalem in Heaven. Those who oppose God’s kingdom will be destroyed.

God has compassion on us. He doesn’t require us to do the impossible. He sent Jesus Christ to give his life as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1: 8-10). Salvation is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-10); all we have to do is received it (John 1:12; Revelation 3:20).

God wants to give us his Spirit to cleanse, comfort, help and guide us. The Spirit does not enslave us but frees us from the curse of the law (Romans 8:15). If we believe in Jesus we will trust and obey what he says.

Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Good works won’t save us, but our works will reveal our faith.

False teachers were already working to tear down the Church in Paul’s time, with the false doctrine of justification by “good works,” There were other false teachers teaching the false doctrine of salvation by “cheap grace;*  grace without discipleship; grace without obedience (James 2:18-23). Both those false doctrines are still circulating in the Church today (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus had compassion for people. He gave respite to his disciples when they returned from ministry. He took them away so that they could eat, and he accomplished that while also having compassion on the crowd who had followed them. Jesus provided them with spiritual as well as physical nurture.

He has compassion for us because we are like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for us (John 10:11), who gives the gift of his Holy Spirit to comfort, guide and sustain us to eternal life.

The Lord gives his Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the (Holy) Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). It is possible for one to know with certainty whether he has received the indwelling Holy Spirit or not (Acts 19:2).

Jesus says, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you” (Luke 6:46; compare Matthew 7:21-24). The feeding of the five thousand is an illustration of how the Lord, by his Spirit, enables his disciples to do what he tells them.

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



Friday 3 Epiphany – Odd 

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 01/27/05;

Podcast: Friday 3 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 50:1-11    –   The Lord’s obedient Servant;
Galatians 3:15-22   –   The true purpose of the Law of Moses;
Mark 6:47-56  –    Jesus walks on water;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord has not divorced or sold Israel into slavery, but the Lord has punished his people for their unfaithfulness and disobedience. The people had not heeded God’s call through his prophets, and they did not recognize and acknowledge God’s power. God has the power to redeem and deliver; he also has the power to afflict and punish.

The Lord’s servant has been given divine wisdom so that his words can sustain the weary (God’s people). The Lord has opened the ear of his servant (to hear God’s voice) and the servant was not rebellious nor did he turn away, but endured abuse and shame for his obedience to God’s will. The servant is confident of the Lord’s help and his ultimate vindication, and is thus determined to persevere.

Since God is with him to help him, who will be able to contend with the Servant; who can oppose him or accuse him? His enemies “will wear out like a garment; a moth will eat them up” (Isaiah 50:9b). “ Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness (this present world) and has no light, yet trusts in the name of the Lord and relies upon his God” (Isaiah 50:10)? Those who walk through darkness by their own lights will be condemned by the Lord to eternal torment (Isaiah 50:11).

Galatians Paraphrase:

Paul used an example from common legal practice to illustrate the precedence of faith over works for justification (judgment of righteousness). Just as one cannot alter a person’s legal will or contract, after it has been ratified, God’s promise of inheritance to the descendants of Abraham had been made with Abraham by Abraham’s faith in God’s promise. The Law which was given more than four hundred years later does not annul the covenant previously made by God. If God’s promise was by (keeping the) Law, then it wouldn’t be a promise (it would be wages due, or entitlement).

Paul also shows that God’s promise is fulfilled through only one descendant of Abraham: Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16). The purpose of the Law was to reveal God’s will so that we would be conscious of our sinfulness, and it was to be our “governess” (“nanny”) to keep us out of “trouble” until the coming of Christ, through whom the promise would be fulfilled. The Law is not in contrary to God’s promises, but the Law cannot make us righteous. “But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Galatians 3:22).

Mark Paraphrase:

It was evening, and Jesus had fed the five thousand, and then had sent his disciples off in the boat, while he dismissed the crowd and spent time in prayer (see entry for yesterday, Thursday, 3 Epiphany, odd year). When Jesus had finished, he saw that the boat with the disciples was on the Sea of Galilee, not making much progress because the disciples were rowing against the wind.

Just before dawn, Jesus came to them, walking on the Sea. Jesus intended to pass by them, but they saw him and cried out in terror, because they thought he was a ghost. Jesus immediately spoke to them, identifying himself and calming their fears. When Jesus got into the boat the wind ceased, and the disciples were completely astounded, because they had not understood what had occurred at the feeding of the crowd.

The boat landed at Gennesaret (on the western shore of the Sea, southwest of Capernaum) and when they got out of the boat the people recognized Jesus and immediately ran to bring the sick to him. Whenever Jesus came, the people brought the sick to him, begging to touch the hem of his robe, and those who touched it were healed.

Commentary:

Although Israel was in exile in Babylon, God had not abandoned his people. God was disciplining his unfaithful and disobedient children. What parent allows his small child to willfully and repeatedly disobey him? God has the power to redeem and save, but he also has the power to condemn and punish.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise of God’s obedient servant. Jesus was obedient to God’s will all the way to his crucifixion. He did not turn away from it (Matthew 26:39). He endured physical abuse at the hands of his people (Matthew 26:67; compare Isaiah 50:6).

Jesus is also our example of how we are to be the Lord’s obedient servants. The Lord will give his disciples “the tongue of those who are taught;” He will open our ears to hear God’s voice (Isaiah 50:4-5), through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. Disciples can expect mistreatment for the Gospel, but the Lord will deal with those who oppose us and will vindicate us (Isaiah 50:7-9).

Jesus is the light of the world; those who follow him will not walk in darkness (John 8:12). Those who trust and obey the voice of God’s obedient Servant, Jesus Christ, through his indwelling Holy Spirit, will have eternal life in Heaven. Those who try to walk through the spiritual darkness of this world by their own light will be condemned to eternal torment and death in Hell (Isaiah 50:11 RSV).

God gave his Law, the Ten Commandments, to Moses, to be a guardian, a custodian, for his people until the coming of Jesus, through whom God’s promise to Abraham (of an inheritance of eternal life in the Promised Land of God’s kingdom in Heaven) would be received by faith in Jesus. The Law was given so that we could be aware of our sinfulness.

All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death in Hell (Romans 6:23). There is no forgiveness of our sins apart from faith in Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Jesus’ death and resurrection made it possible for his disciples to receive his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit is the new Guardian and Counselor who replaces the role of the Law. If we are obedient to the Holy Spirit we are no longer under the condemnation of the Law (see Romans 8:1-11).

If the disciples had fully understood what had taken place at the feeding of the five thousand, they would not have been amazed to see Jesus walking on the water. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of the obedient Servant. He has all the power of God, to save, and to condemn (Isaiah 50:10-11; Colossians 2:8-9). He can provide for our needs, he cares for us and can comfort and reassure us, he can calm the storm around us, and he can prosper our journey through life and deliver us safely to the eternal shore. He can heal us and give us 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 3 Epiphany – Odd 

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First posted 01/28/05;

Podcast: Saturday 3 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 51:1-8   –    Deliverance draws near;
Galatians 3:23-29    –   One in Christ;
Mark 7:1-23   –  Tradition of the elders;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Listen, those who desire deliverance, those seeking the Lord. Look to the history of God’s dealing with Israel. Look to examples of faith like Abraham and Sarah, and see how the Lord has fulfilled his promises. The Lord will comfort Zion (God’s people; the Church). Zion’s wilderness shall become like Eden (paradise; the garden of the Lord; creation will be restored to its original perfection). She will be filled with joy, gladness, and thanksgiving. The Lord’s law and justice will be a light for all peoples.

God’s salvation has gone forth and his deliverance draws near. God will reign over all the peoples. Wait and hope for his deliverance. Watch and see: “The heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell on it will die in like manner” (Isaiah 51:6d RSV, note “o”) but the salvation of the Lord is for ever and his deliverance is eternal. Those who know righteousness and uphold God’s law need not fear the reproach of humans who will pass away like a garment consumed by moths or worms. But the Lord’s deliverance and salvation are for eternity.

Galatians Paraphrase:

God’s law, given to Moses, was intended to be our guardian to restrain us until the coming of the Messiah (Christ), when we could be justified (reckoned righteous) through faith in Christ. Now that faith has come we are no longer under the guardian, because in Christ Jesus we’re (adopted) children of God. Those who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (like a robe of righteousness). We are no longer to be divided and categorized by race, nationality, sex or social category, but are united in Christ Jesus (through his indwelling Holy Spirit). If we are in Christ, we are spiritual descendants of Abraham, and heirs to God’s promise.

Pharisees (the predominant, legalistic sect of Judaism) and scribes (teachers of Jewish Law) had come from Jerusalem to Galilee and were observing Jesus. They noticed that some of Jesus’ disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating, which is a violation of Jewish legal tradition, and they questioned Jesus about this. Jesus replied that these legalists were hypocrites who thus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, honoring God with their lips, but not with their hearts. Their worship is in vain; they teach human tradition as religious doctrine (Isaiah 29:13 RSV).

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus declared that they abandoned obedience to God’s Word and, instead, enforced human traditions. As one example, Jesus cited the tradition by which Jews could avoid providing support for their (elderly) parents, by claiming that they had given it to God instead, thus violating the Fourth Commandment, which requires us to honor our fathers and mothers. Jesus told the crowd that it is not the external things which enter a person which make him spiritually unclean (unrighteous), but rather the things which come from within the person that defile him. Jesus declared that all foods are spiritually acceptable.

When they were alone, his disciples asked Jesus what he had meant by this parable, and Jesus told them that foods don’t make a person unclean, since they do not affect his heart (moral or spiritual character). It is the things which come out from one’s spiritual character that make him unclean. Evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride foolishness, are examples of such spiritually defiling things.

Commentary:

Christianity is not just a “New Testament” faith. The whole Bible is the Word of God. God’s Word has been given as a spiritual light for all people in the spiritual darkness of this world. Jesus is the fulfillment and the personification of God’s Word, God’s light, and God’s justice in this world (John 1:1-5, 14; 8:12; compare Isaiah 51:4b). Jesus is God’s anointed Savior and King.

Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth. Those who recognize God’s righteousness in God’s Word and in Jesus Christ, and trust and obey, will be delivered from God’s condemnation, and will receive eternal life in the new creation; in the new Eden.

Those who have been baptized into Christ, by water and by the infilling of the Holy Spirit are in Christ and are clothed with Christ’s righteousness. Those who are truly disciples of Jesus, who are trusting and obeying Jesus will receive the indwelling Holy Spirit (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who seals us and bears witness that we are the adopted children of God (Romans 8:15-16). It is those who are filled with and guided by the Holy Spirit who are no longer under God’s Law and condemnation (Romans 8:1-11; see also God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right, home).

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ who trusts and obeys Jesus. Attending Church on Sunday doesn’t make one a Christian. Are we honoring God with our hearts, or are we merely following human traditions? Keeping the Old Testament laws doesn’t make us Christians either. A Christian is one who has a personal relationship with the risen Jesus Christ through Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9b). There are lots of human traditions being taught as religious doctrines in churches today. Those who desire deliverance, those seeking the Lord (Isaiah 51:1) and all who call themselves Christians need to read the Bible fully, from cover-to-cover, and regularly on a daily basis, prayerfully seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and they need to begin applying God’s Word in their daily lives.

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 Epiphany – Odd – 01/18 – 24/2015

January 17, 2015

Week of 2 Epiphany – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


 

A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.htmlPlease 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 2 Epiphany – Odd 
Sunday 2 Epiphany – Odd 
First posted 01/15/05;
Podcast: Sunday 2 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 43:14-44:5   –    Redemption and restoration;
Hebrews 6:17-7:10   –   Priesthood of Melchizedek;
John 4:27-42  –   Jesus and the Samaritans;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, will break the bars (of the prison) of Israel’s oppressors, Babylon and Chaldea (Babylon and Chaldea were both located in what is present-day Iraq). The Lord, the Creator, is Israel’s King, who brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt, by making a way in the sea, and destroying their pursuers (Isaiah 43:16-17; compare Exodus 14:21-29). The Lord is doing a new thing (the return of Israel from Babylonian captivity).

It is the Lord who makes a way through the wilderness; it is the Lord who provides water in the wilderness (as God provided water from the rock; see Exodus 17:1-7). The Lord provides for his people, whom he created and chose, so that they might declare the Lord’s praise. Yet God’s people have not called upon the Lord; they have become weary of the Lord. They do not honor the Lord with sacrifices and offerings, although the Lord has not burdened them with them. God’s people have instead burdened and wearied God with their sins.

It is God who forgives our sins for his sake. God calls for a court trial where God’s people can present their case. The Lord declares that mankind has sinned from their “first father (Adam; Genesis Chapter 3; Romans 3:23). But the Lord, their creator, will help them. The Lord promises to irrigate the dry land, and create streams in the desert. The Lord promises to pour his Spirit and his blessing upon their descendants. They will flourish like willows beside a stream. The people will be eager to be known as God’s people, and to be called by his name.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

God’s purpose is unchangeable. God has given his Word. God’s character and Word are unchangeable, so that we can have powerful encouragement to claim the hope which has been set before us (salvation and eternal life). Jesus has entered into the Holy of Holies (into the presence of God, which was formerly restricted to the High Priest, once a year only) as our eternal High Priest to obtain our forgiveness, and as the forerunner who provides our direct access to God and the hope that we will one day be with him in God’s presence for eternity.

Melchizedek, was both King of Salem and High Priest of God, who brought out bread and wine to Abram (later, renamed Abraham) in the King’s Valley, after Abram had defeated the kings of the east (Genesis 14:18). The name Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness;” Salem means “Peace.” Since he has no known genealogy and no birth or death is known he seems to be eternal, and thus prefigures the Son of God.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had been sitting by the well at Sychar of Samaria (in Jesus’ time, the central region of Israel was occupied by people of mixed race and religion who were not regarded as part of Israel), talking to a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water. Jesus’ disciples were in the city buying food. When the disciples returned they were amazed to find him talking to a woman (Rabbis did not speak to women in public), but they didn’t say anything.

The woman left and went into the city and told the people to come and see a person who had demonstrated knowledge of the details of the woman’s life without having previously met her. While the people were coming to see Jesus his disciples were trying to get him to eat the food they had bought, but Jesus told them that doing the will of God and God’s work was more necessary than physical food.

Jesus told his disciples that a farmer can tell by looking at his crops when it is time to harvest. Likewise Jesus told his disciples that the spiritual fields are ripe for harvest now. Those who reap that harvest receive a wage and “gather fruit for eternal life” (John 4:36). The disciples are sent to reap the harvest. Jesus is the sower. The disciples did not sow the crop, but are joining into the harvest of what Jesus initiated.

“Many Samaritans from that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did’” (John 4:39). So when they came to Jesus they asked him to stay with them. He stayed there two days and many more believed in Jesus as a result of getting to know Jesus for themselves. Although the Samaritans had come to Jesus because of the woman’s testimony they now declared that it was no longer because of her testimony that they believed, but they had heard for themselves and had come to “know that Jesus is the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).

Commentary:

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is also a parable for us. God is the Redeemer and his eternal purpose is to redeem us from bondage to sin and eternal, spiritual death (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Judah had been exiled to Babylon because they had “become weary” of serving the Lord, they had not obeyed his Word, they had not worshiped the Lord and honored him with sacrifices and offerings, and they had not heeded the Lord’s prophets. God promised to redeem and deliver them from exile in Babylon as he had redeemed their ancestors from bondage to sin and death in Egypt, when he had delivered them from their enemies through the Red Sea.

God promises to deliver his spiritual people from sin and death through the “Sea” of baptism into Christ, to lead his spiritual people and give them spiritual water in the wilderness, and lead them into the Promised Land through the spiritual waters of the “Jordan River” of physical death. God promised to pour out his Holy Spirit on their descendants.

It is the Holy Spirit who irrigates spiritual dry land and blesses the spiritual descendants of Israel, causing them to flourish in the desert of this world. It is those people who will be eager to be known as God’s people and bear his name (“Christian”).  God did deliver Judah from Babylon and bring them back to Israel. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to be the Redeemer of God’s People, through whom God’s promise to pour out his Holy Spirit on the spiritual descendants of Israel is fulfilled.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s unchangeable purpose which is to redeem his people from sin and death, deliver them from their spiritual enemy, Satan, through the “Sea” of baptism into Christ, and to bring them into eternal life in his presence in the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom in heaven. Melchizedek is the prophetic illustration of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, our King of Righteousness and Peace, our High Priest and Host of the Eucharistic Feast, who comes to us in the elements of the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, which he initiated on the eve of his sacrificial death on the cross for our redemption!

God keeps his promises! Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, where he is our eternal High Priest interceding for us with God the Father, fulfilling the role which was prefigured in Jewish ritual. Jesus is the “pioneer” who has gone into the presence of God in the “Holy of Holies” to prepare the way for us to follow into eternal life in God’s presence.

Jesus was sharing the Gospel with a Samaritan woman. Jews regarded Samaritans as racial and spiritual mongrels, and Jewish Rabbis would not speak to women in public. But Jesus was fully committed to doing God’s will, and it is Gods eternal purpose to redeem all people who will trust and obey Jesus.

The woman believed in Jesus from her direct encounter with him, and she went back to her community and told her neighbors. She invited them to come to see and hear and reach their own conclusions about Jesus. On the basis of the woman’s testimony they came to Jesus and invited him to stay so they could see and hear his message. As the result they came to know Jesus personally and to know with certainty for themselves that Jesus is the Savior of the world, the fulfillment of God’s promise to redeem his people. They no longer based their ideas about Jesus on what someone else told them.

The Samaritan woman is an illustration of the role of a disciple. She had encountered Jesus, had listened to his word, she believed in the Messiah, and Jesus had revealed himself to be the Messiah (John 4:25-26). She went to her neighbors, told them her encounter with Jesus, and invited them to come and see for themselves and make their own decisions. They came, listened and reached their own conviction that Jesus is the Savior. They responded to a disciple’s testimony and they came to their own personal knowledge of, and faith in, Jesus. In contrast, The Twelve who had answered Jesus’ call for disciples, were preoccupied with their own physical comfort.

God keeps his promises. His eternal purpose is to redeem his people, and that purpose has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. There will be a Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46; Isaiah 43:26-28). There will be a harvest; He will gather the wheat (the fruit of the harvest; those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus) into his granary (Heaven) but the chaff (those who have rejected and refused to obey Jesus) he will burn with unquenchable fire (Hell)” (Luke 3:17).

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

Monday 2 Epiphany – Odd 
First posted 01/16/05;
Podcast: Monday 2 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 44:6-8, 21-23  –     Redeemer and King;
Ephesians 4:1-16  –   Unity of the Spirit;
Mark 3:7-19a  –   Jesus appoints the Twelve;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord of hosts is the Redeemer and King of Israel. He is the first and the last; there is no other god besides him. There is none like him. Who else but the Lord has declared from of old the things to come? There is no security but in God alone.

God’s people are to remember what God has done, for he has not forgotten them. God’s people have been created and called to be God’s servants (Isaiah 44:21). God has removed their sin like the Sun disperses fog. Return to God, people of God, for he has redeemed us. Rejoice, heavens and earth, mountain and tree, for the Lord has redeemed his people and will be glorified among them.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Paul was a prisoner for the Gospel at the time of this writing. He reminded the Ephesians of his suffering and urged them to lead a life worthy of their calling in the Gospel; that they would be meek and lowly, patient and forbearing with one another, maintaining spiritual unity in peace. There is one body (the Church) one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (note the seven elements of unity; seven representing completeness). Each believer shares in that unity while exercising diverse spiritual gifts.

Paul quotes Psalm 68:18, saying that Christ descended into the region of the dead (in his death) and then ascended into heaven [after his resurrection; Acts 1:9-11; compare the second article of the Apostles’ Creed: “…He descended into Hell (or the dead). On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven…”], leading a host of captives.* So Christ’s authority is over all things in heaven and earth, the living and the dead.

When Jesus ascended on high he gave gifts to men through the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are the guidance and enabling of some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and some teachers. The purpose of the gifts is “to equip the saints (i.e., believers), for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God;” to spiritual maturity, to the full likeness and stature of Christ.

In spiritual maturity believers are no longer susceptible to being blown off course by every wind of (false) doctrine, by those who would deceive us. Instead, we are to grow up into the likeness of Christ, proclaiming the truth in love. Christ is to be our guide, and believers are to be united and working in harmony under his guidance, so that together we grow and make progress, like the relationship of the physical human body with its head.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. His reputation for physical healing had become so well known that great crowds thronged to him not only from Galilee, but from Judea, Idumea (Greek form of “Edom;” south of the Dead Sea), from the area east of the Jordan River, and even from Tyre and Sidon. Jesus had to have the disciples standing by with a boat in order to prevent him from being crushed by the crowd, because everyone with an illness pressed upon him to be healed. Whenever he cast out demons, even the demons proclaimed that he was the Son of God, and he ordered them not to reveal who he was.

Jesus went into the hills, and he called to him the ones of his followers who he wanted, and he appointed Twelve to be with him, to be sent out to preach and to heal: Simon whom Jesus called Peter; James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who Jesus called the sons of thunder; Andrew (brother of Simon Peter); Philip (native of Bethsaida, with Simon and Andrew); Bartholomew (or, Nathanael); Matthew (Levi; son of Alphaeus; tax collector; brother of James); Thomas (Didymus, possibly brother of Matthew and James); and James, the son of Alphaeus; Thaddaeus (Labbaeus; “Judas the brother of James;” Judas not Iscariot); and Simon the Cananaean (or Simon the Zealot); and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

Commentary:

We have been created, redeemed and called to be God’s servants. We are called to remember and testify to what God has done for us. He has redeemed us, he has forgiven our sins, he has not forgotten us, he is our eternal security, and he has revealed to us what is going to take place. We have been called to glorify the Lord.

Paul urged believers to lead a life worthy of their calling in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He urged believers to work together in the unity of faith in Christ, using their individual spiritual gifts. Believers are to grow, as disciples, into spiritual maturity, where we will be like Jesus, “proclaiming the truth in love.” We are to be guided by Christ, through his indwelling Holy Spirit, so that we will work together in harmony with one another and that we, individually, and the Church collectively, will grow and make progress.

Jesus attracted a large number of people who wanted something from him. Lots of people wanted physical healing, or free bread. Jesus didn’t come to provide physical healing or physical sustenance; he came to provide spiritual healing and spiritual sustenance. (The spiritual aspect of life is not just a “state of mind,” as many might suppose. It is more real that the material, physical aspect of life, which seems so “real” to us because we can touch it, see it and quantify it. The material aspect of life is ultimately temporal and transient; the spiritual is eternal.)

Not many were interested in being Jesus’ disciples; not many were interested in doing something for Jesus. Of the Twelve who answered Jesus’ call to be his disciples, one denied him (Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75), and one betrayed him (Luke 22:47-48; Mark 3:19a).

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


*Some commentators suggest that the captives are the enemies of Christ and his Church. I think they may be those who were formerly captives of death, who have been freed by Christ’s victory over death.


Tuesday 2 Epiphany – Odd 
First posted 01/17/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 2 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 44:9-20  –    Futility of idols;
Ephesians 4:17-32   –   Renounce pagan ways;
Mark 3:19b-35  –   Jesus’ power;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Those who create idols are wasting their time and effort, and the things they create are of no benefit. All those who create idols will be put to shame. The craftsmen are mere mortals, with limited strength and ability, and their best efforts produce a figure which resembles man. The same wood with which they fashion an idol they burn for warmth and cooking their food. They do not know or discern this absurdity; their eyes have been “shut so they cannot see, and their minds, so that they cannot understand” (Isaiah 44:18; compare 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). They cannot see the absurdity of expecting protection and providence from something which they completely dominate and use for their own purposes.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Christians are no longer to live as the pagans do, in the futility of their imaginations. Pagans’ minds are darkened by ignorance, because of their unwillingness to hear the truth of the Gospel. They have given themselves to the indulgence of their own desires, and have become callous to their depravity. This is contrary to what Christians have been taught.

We are to put off, like soiled clothes, the old sinful nature, and be reclothed, “by the renewing of the spirit of our minds” (Ephesians 4:23), in the new nature which is the likeness of God in righteousness and holiness. We are to put away falsehood and instead speak the truth. If angry, we must not fail to forgive. We are to avoid temptation. We are to do honest work and give to those in need. Avoid speaking evil; instead say only what is uplifting and encouraging. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Set aside all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice, and instead practice kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness toward one another, as God in Christ has forgiven us.

Mark Paraphrase:

Large crowds gathered around Jesus, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. Jesus’ friends were concerned for Jesus’ physical safety and his sanity in the frenzy which was developing around Jesus.

The scribes attributed Jesus’ power over demons to Beelzebul, the prince of demons, so Jesus called the scribes to him and asked how Satan could cast out Satan. Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself is disintegrating; a house divided against itself will not be able to stand. So also if Satan were divided he would lose his power. If a person wanted to rob a strong man’s house he first would have to bind the strong man.

Because some had suggested that Jesus had an unclean spirit, Jesus declared that all sins and all blasphemies will be forgiven except the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit; “…whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:29).

Jesus’ mother and his brothers came and were asking for Jesus to come out to them. When Jesus was told, he looked around at the crowd and said that the people sitting around Jesus and listening to him were his mother and brothers; whoever does the will of God is the mother, sister, and brother of Jesus.

Commentary:

Anything we desire more than the Lord is an idol: money, power, worldly success, home, spouse, children, car, sport or hobby, or any other thing. Only the Lord can give us what we truly need; only he can give true security and eternal life. There is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has chosen idols instead of the Lord will be put to eternal shame and condemnation (Matthew 25:31-46).

Christians are called to live according to God’s will by the guidance and empowerment of his indwelling Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit working in us who renews us and creates in us the new nature in the likeness of God. Jesus only gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16; see entry for yesterday, Monday, 2 Epiphany, odd year). Those who do not have the (Holy) Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b).

Pagans live according to the flesh; Christians are called to live no longer like the pagans, living to indulge the flesh, but to live according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-9). We are cautioned not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we do not seek to know and do God’s will.

Jesus is our example; doing God’s will was more important to him than anything else in this world, including his own life. Jesus said that one cannot serve two masters; it is impossible to serve God and mammon (wealth; any “idol,” or object of false devotion; Matthew 6:24). We cannot have victory over evil while participating in it. We cannot live in the Spirit while living to gratify our flesh.

Anyone who misperceives the work of the Holy Spirit as evil is eternally condemned and cut off from salvation, because it is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are in Christ and have eternal life. It isn’t those who call themselves Jesus’ brothers and sisters who truly are; Jesus’ brothers and sisters are those who seek to know and do God’s will by the guidance and empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit in accordance with God’s 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)?


Wednesday 2 Epiphany – Odd 
First posted 01/18/05;
Podcast:
Wednesday 2 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 44:24-45:7  –   The commission of Cyrus;
Ephesians 5:1-14   –   Exhortation to righteous living;
Mark 4:1-20  –    The parable of the sower;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord, our creator and redeemer, has created the heavens and the earth. It is the Lord who makes liars and fools of seers and diviners, who confounds wise men “and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:25). The Lord “confirms the word of his servant, and performs the counsel of his messengers” (Isaiah 44:26).

The Lord declares that Jerusalem will be inhabited (again) and the cities of Judah will be rebuilt; their ruins will be restored. The Lord has appointed Cyrus (King of Persia) to fulfill all of the Lord’s purpose. It is the Lord’s will that Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt.

The Lord will enable Cyrus to subdue nations and defeat kings. The Lord will enable Cyrus to open gates, break down bronze doors, and cut iron bars. The Lord will give him “the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places” (Isaiah 45:3). The Lord knows Cyrus by name and has called him to accomplish the Lord’s purpose, although Cyrus doesn’t know the Lord. The Lord alone is God; He is Lord even of those who do not know or acknowledge him. The Lord has called Cyrus for the sake of God’s people, so that all may come to know that the Lord is the only God.

Ephesians Pararphrase:

Christians are called to be imitators of God as his children, following Jesus’ example of trust and obedience to God. We must abstain from all immorality, impurity and covetousness, which is idolatry. No one who practices such things will enter into God’s eternal kingdom.

Don’t let anyone deceive you about this, for it is because of these things that God’s punishment comes upon the disobedient. Don’t even associate with those who practice these things. Let there be no foul language or dirty jokes; instead let there be thanksgiving.

We all once walked in darkness (sin), but in Christ we are now children of light (righteousness), so we are to walk in that light. If we are truly walking in the light, we will be doing what is good, right, and true. We are to make every effort to do what is pleasing to the Lord. We must not participate in the works of darkness, but rather expose them.  Since the works of darkness thrive in darkness, exposing them to light will inhibit them. Let us not be asleep among those who are dead, but rise up and live in the light of Christ.

Mark Paraphrase:

The crowds coming to hear Jesus had become so large that Jesus began teaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee from a boat (so that he would not be trampled by the crowd; Mark 3:9). Jesus taught in parables (comparisons drawn from everyday occurrences through which spiritual truth is conveyed), one of which is the “Parable of the Sower.”

A sower (one who scatters seeds by flinging them in handfuls) went out to sow. Some seed fell on the path and was eaten by birds. Some fell on rocks and sprouted quickly but withered as soon as the sun rose, because there was no depth of soil.  Some fell among thorns; the thorns grew faster than the seedlings and choked them out. Some fell on good soil, grew to maturity and produced much fruit.

When the crowds had left, his disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable. Jesus told them that the secrets of God’s kingdom were opened and revealed to his disciples, but to others everything is in parables, so that they are free to not understand. Jesus told his disciples that the seed represents God’s Word. The path represents those who hear God’s Word, and immediately Satan comes and takes it away. The rocky soil represents those who hear God’s Word and receive it with joy, but when troubles come because of God’s Word, they fall away. The thorny soil represents those who receive the Word, but the cares and desires of this world enter and choke out the Word, so that it is unfruitful. The good soil represents those who receive God’s Word, persevere, grow to maturity and are fruitful.

Commentary:

God is the sovereign Lord of the Universe, whether we know and acknowledge him or not. His purpose will be accomplished, whether we cooperate with that purpose or not. It was God’s purpose to restore exiled Judah to the Promised Land, and for Jerusalem, the Temple and the cities of Judah to be rebuilt.

The Lord used Cyrus of Persia to accomplish that purpose. Those who trust in their own worldly knowledge will be put to shame, but those who serve the Lord and proclaim God’s Word will be upheld and vindicated. Cyrus served the Lord unwittingly, and received the rewards of darkness; those who willingly serve the Lord will receive the rewards of light: eternal life in the kingdom of righteousness.

In a sense we are all exiles in this life and God’s purpose is to bring us back to the Promised Land of his kingdom, to the City of God and to his Temple. Jesus is the opposite of Cyrus; Jesus knew and acknowledged God the Father and consciously and obediently cooperated with God’s purpose to redeem his people. Jesus’ purpose was to please and glorify God; Cyrus was motivated by the rewards of darkness.

If we acknowledge the Lord and trust and obey him, cooperating with his purpose, we will receive the reward of light and eternal life. If we do not acknowledge the Lord and do not willingly serve him, if we choose to pursue the treasures of darkness rather than seeking to do what is pleasing to the Lord, his purpose will still be fulfilled, but we will receive the rewards of darkness, which is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

Christians are called to live in the light of Christ. We are to trust and obey the Lord and make every effort to please him. One cannot participate in the works of darkness and produce the fruit of light. We are not to be asleep in darkness among the spiritually dead, but awake in the light of Christ among the spiritually alive, willingly cooperating with God’s purpose to redeem his people. We are called to imitate Christ, not Cyrus!

The parable of the sower is the illustration of how people respond to God’s Word. God has made his purpose known. God has revealed his chosen servant and shepherd of God’s people in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the willing servant; he’s the Good Shepherd. He’s God’s chosen and anointed servant to restore God’s people to eternal life in the Promised Land of God’s kingdom.

Jesus gives the light of divine knowledge and understanding to his disciples who trust and obey him (Mark 4:11; compare Isaiah 44:25-26; Luke 24:45). We must choose whether to cooperate with God’s eternal purpose and live in the light of Christ, or to pursue the treasures of darkness.

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 Epiphany – Odd 

First posted 01/19/05;
Podcast: Thursday 2 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 45:5-17   –   The Lord’s sovereignty;
Ephesians 5:15-33   –   The Christian life;
Mark 4:21-34   –   Parables of the kingdom;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

There is no other God but the Lord; he is God even though mankind may not know or acknowledge him. The Lord provides even for those who do not acknowledge him so that all may come to know that the Lord is God. He is the creator of everything.

The Lord in righteousness has provided salvation. Let the earth receive it like a planted seed, so that it can sprout, and grow to maturity, producing a harvest of righteousness.

Woe to those who criticize their creator. We are earthen vessels and God is our potter. Does a clay pot tell the potter what to make, or find fault with his work? Does one criticize a father for what he begets, or a mother for the child she delivers? So also, will we question the Lord about his children, or tell him what to create?

The Lord has created heaven and earth and mankind. The Lord has aroused his servant in righteousness, and the Lord will make his ways straight. The Lord’s servant will build the Lord’s city and set the exiles free, without charge. The Lord declared that the wealth of nations will pour into Israel, and the Gentiles will acknowledge and worship Israel’s God.

God hides himself (God hides or reveals himself according to his purpose). Those who create idols will be confounded and put to shame, but God’s people will receive eternal salvation. God’s people will never be put to shame or confounded in all eternity.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Christians are urged to take care how they live, not foolishly but wisely, making the most of the time we have, because the times are evil. Don’t be foolish; know what God’s will for us is. “Do not get drunk… for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Instead of worldly forms of “celebration,” celebrate continually with thanksgiving to the Lord in psalms and hymns and praise (for all that he has done for us in Jesus Christ).

Believers are to live in mutual subjugation to one another, in reverence to Christ. Husbands are the head of the family as the Lord is the head of the Church. Wives are to honor their husbands as they honor Christ, and husbands are to cherish and provide for their families as Christ does for his Church. Husbands are to emulate the self-sacrificing love of Christ for his Church which enabled his Church to be sanctified (purified from sin and consecrated to God’s use), cleansed by Christian Baptism, so that the Church might be without sin or blemish (like a virginal bride). Husbands should love their wives as much as they love their own bodies, since God’s Word declares that in marriage, husband and wife become one (body; flesh; Genesis 2:24). Correspondingly, the Church is the bride of Christ, and Believers become part of Christ’s body in spiritual union with him.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus taught in parables (comparisons drawn from everyday occurrences through which spiritual truth is conveyed). Jesus said that one does not light a lamp and then hide it under a basket or under a bed; instead it is placed on a stand. Nothing is hidden or secret which will not be revealed and made known.

If we have ears for hearing, we should use them, and we should be careful what we hear. What we receive will be correspond to what we have given. Those who recognize what they have will receive more; but those who do not recognize what they have will lose what even that.

The kingdom of God is like a person scattering seeds. He scatters the seed, but everything else from germination to fruition is according to God’s control. But when the grain is ripe he can recognize it and participate in the harvest.

The kingdom of God is also like a mustard seed. The tiniest of seeds, when sown, becomes the largest of shrubs, providing haven and security. Jesus taught the crowds exclusively in parables, but privately among his disciples he explained everything.

Commentary:

The Lord is the only God, and it is his desire that all would come to know him, the only God (Isaiah 45:6). Why, then, does God hide himself (Isaiah 45:15)? It is because he gives us the freedom to choose whether to believe, trust and obey him or not.

In righteousness, God has provided salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) through Jesus Christ. The Lord’s plan of salvation is received as a “seed” of faith in Jesus Christ, which sprouts and grows to maturity, producing a harvest of righteousness (Isaiah 45:8).

Although Isaiah’s prophecy initially referred to Cyrus of Persia (Isaiah 45:1a) and the return of Judah from exile in Babylon, Cyrus and that historical background are a preview God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Messiah, the Lord’s servant, who builds the Lord’s eternal city, sets the spiritual exiles free, without charge (Isaiah 45:13).

The prophecy concerning Cyrus was fulfilled, the prophecy concerning the Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and the prophecy of the nations (Gentiles) coming to acknowledge and worship the God of Israel was fulfilled in Christ. Those who trust and obey Jesus will not be confounded or put to shame in all eternity (compare Romans 10:9-11; Mark 8:38). Those who have trusted in anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ will receive eternal shame and condemnation (Matthew 25:31-46).

God’s will for us has been revealed in his Word and in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12). No one can come to God and know God except through Jesus (John 14:6; Matthew 11:27). Jesus has promised that he will reveal himself to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17, 21-23), and I, personally, and every ‘born-again” (John 3:3. 5-8) Christian testify to that truth. If we are truly willing to do God’s will, he will reveal it to us through his Word and his indwelling Holy Spirit. Those who ask will receive, those who seek will find, those who knock will be allowed entrance (Matthew 7:8).

Jesus taught the crowds in parables so that people were free to choose to not understand (Mark 4:11). We have been given ears for hearing, but we must choose whether to use them to hear and listen (obey). We must choose whom we listen to.

If the Gospel seems hidden, it is hidden only to those who are perishing, unbelievers whose minds have been blinded by the “god” of this world (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Jesus explained the parables to his disciples, and it is the risen Jesus, through his indwelling Holy Spirit, who opens the minds of his disciples to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45).

Jesus’ disciples are given the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not to hide it within the Church or within their personal lives, but to let it shine in the spiritual darkness of this present world. Christians need to be careful how we live, so that we are spreading the light of the Gospel rather than obscuring it.

God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ comes to us like a seed of faith. If we allow that seed to sprout within us and allow it to grow, the Lord will cause it to grow to maturity and produce fruit for eternal life. If we are Jesus’ disciples, we are to scatter the seed of the Gospel. If we are faithful in scattering the seed, the Lord will cause it to bear fruit, and we can participate with him in the harvest.

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 Epiphany – Odd 
First posted 01/20/05;
Podcast: Friday 2 Epiphany – Odd 

Isaiah 45:18-25  –   Conversion of nations;
Ephesians 6:1-9  –   Christian life;
Mark 4:35-41  –  Calming the storm;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord is God, who created heaven and earth. His creation is orderly; he formed it to be inhabited. He alone is Lord of all creation. The Lord has not made his Word secret or hidden it in darkness. The Lord has not hidden himself from Israel. The Lord speaks what is true and right.

Listen, survivors of the nations! Those who trust in wooden idols that they must carry about, and keep praying to gods who cannot save, are ignorant. Let the idolatrous nations prove the existence and power of their gods.

The Lord is the only God who declares from of old what will take place. The Lord is the righteous God and Savior, and there is no other. Turn to the Lord, all people, to the ends of the earth, for he alone is God.

The Lord declares, in an oath that cannot fail, that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess (that he is Lord; Philippians 2:10). It shall be said of the Lord that only in him are righteousness and strength; all those who opposed and resisted the Lord will come before him and be ashamed, but the descendants of Israel shall triumph and glory.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Children are to obey their parents, fulfilling the commandment to honor father and mother. This commandment is the first one with a promise; those who keep it will be well and live long on earth. Fathers are not to provoke their children, but to bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction.  Slaves are to obey their masters as if they are serving Christ, not merely in outward appearance, seeking human approval, but as servants of Christ, eager to do God’s will from their hearts, knowing that the Lord rewards good to both slave and free person. Masters are to do likewise to their slaves, acknowledging that the Lord is Master of both the (human) master and the slave, and he shows no partiality toward one or the other.

Mark Paraphrase:

One evening Jesus left the crowd which had gathered around him, and told his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee to the other side with him in a boat. A great windstorm arose and was swamping the boat, but Jesus was asleep in the stern. The disciples awoke Jesus, asking if Jesus didn’t care that they perished. Jesus awoke and rebuked the wind and sea, saying “Peace. Be still” (Mark 4:39). The wind ceased and the sea became calm. Jesus asked his disciples why they were afraid; didn’t they have any faith? The disciples asked one another, “Who, then, is this, that even wind and sea obey him” (Mark 4:41)?

Commentary:

God is the Creator and Lord of all creation; he alone is God and Lord, our Creator, whether we acknowledge him or not. The Lord’s Word is absolutely right, true and dependable. He has not concealed his Word and his eternal purpose from us; he has given us the Bible, whether we choose to believe it or not.

The unique distinguishing feature of God’s Word is that it is always fulfilled. The Lord has revealed from long ago his eternal purpose. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose to save us from sin and eternal death and restore us to fellowship with God (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top righ, home). Jesus is the Christ (Messiah, God’s anointed Savior and King of all Creation); Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

God has sworn, with an oath that cannot fail, that there is a Day of Judgment coming, when every knee will bow before him, and every tongue will confess that he alone is Lord (Philippians 2:10; Romans 14:10b-12).  Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth. Those who have rejected and refused to obey Jesus will be ashamed, and they will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell; those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have triumph and glory, receiving eternal life in Heaven with the Lord (Matthew 25:31-46).

Christians are to live as servants of the Lord in every situation, eager to do God’s will with all their hearts. If we are eager to do God’s will he will reveal his will to us. All of us are to grow to spiritual maturity in Christian discipline and instruction; we are to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ (not disciples of some human teacher or pastor). The Christian lifestyle is not merely outward appearance; it’s not a matter of worldly approval.

Jesus told his disciples to cross the Sea with him, and as they crossed, in the night (Mark 4:35), a storm arose. They were afraid and they wondered how Jesus could be apparently unconcerned about their situation. It’s not that Jesus didn’t care, but he trusted in God to accomplish his purpose in spite of the storm. Jesus’ word calmed the storm.

The disciples had spent time with Jesus and had come to know him as “Teacher” (Strong’s #1320* “instructor;” Mark 4:38 RSV). His power and authority over the forces of nature caused them to re-examine who they understood and believed Jesus to be.

If Jesus can command the forces of nature and they obey him, he could also command us, and we would have to do what he commands. But the Lord has given us the freedom to choose for ourselves whether to obey him or not. But the choice has eternal consequences for us individually.

Who do you believe Jesus to be? 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)?


*New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Strong, James, Thomas Nelson Publishers, NY, 1984 (also available online; see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right, home page).


Saturday 2 Epiphany – Odd 
First posted 01/21/05;
Podcast: Saturday 2 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 46:1-13   –   The Lord carries his people;
Ephesians 6:10-24    –  The whole armor of God;
Mark 5:1-20   –  The Gerasene demoniac;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Bel and Nebo were Babylonian idols. These gods (all idols) are a burden to their people. They cannot lift the people’s burden, nor can they deliver the people or even themselves from captivity. In contrast the Lord has carried his people from their birth. It is the Lord who created and bore them and the Lord will carry and save.

What idol can compare to the Lord; even an idol made of gold or silver amounts to nothing more than a heavy burden. It has to be carried; it cannot move from its place; it cannot answer the cries of the people or save them from their troubles.

Remember, sinners, what God has done in the past. The Lord has declared “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10). He declares in advance what has not yet occurred. The counsel of the Lord will stand and his purpose will be accomplished.

The Lord has called a bird of prey (Cyrus of Persia; compare Isaiah 45:1) to accomplish God’s purpose, and God will see to it that it is accomplished. “Hearken to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from deliverance: I bring near my deliverance, it is not far off, and my salvation will not tarry; I will put my salvation in Zion (the City of God; the Church) for Israel (God’s people) my glory” (Isaiah 46:12-13).

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Be strong in the Lord and in his strength. “Put on the whole armor of God (which he provides) that you may be able to stand against the wiles (deceptions) of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

Believers are engaged in spiritual warfare not against human, but rather, the supernatural demonic forces of evil who rule this present world. So believers must put on the complete armor which God provides, in order to be able to withstand and prevail in that spiritual battle.

The armor consists of truth, righteousness, and the Gospel of peace. Faith is our shield, salvation is our helmet, our weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word (working in and through us by the indwelling Holy Spirit). We must pray constantly in the Spirit, keeping alert and persevering in prayer for all believers and especially for those who are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, that the Gospel may be proclaimed boldly, despite persecution.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee to the eastern shore, and as Jesus got out of the boat he was met by a man who was possessed by a demon. The demoniac lived among tombs (in a cemetery; among dead people). He was so strong that it was impossible to keep him bound up, even with chains. The demon recognized Jesus, fell down and worshiped him (Mark 5:6) and acknowledged him to be the Son of God (Mark 5:7).

Jesus asked the name of the demon, and the demon replied that it was “Legion (a Roman Legion was four to six thousand men); for we are many” (Mark 5:9). The demon begged Jesus not to send them out of the country, but to be sent into a nearby herd of pigs, and Jesus gave him permission.

When the demons entered the approximately two thousand pigs, the pigs rushed down the steep bank into the Sea and were drowned. The herdsmen fled and told the people of the surrounding villages, who returned with them to see for themselves. They found the former demoniac clothed and sane, sitting with Jesus, and they were afraid.

They begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As Jesus and the disciples got back into the boat, the demoniac begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus refused and told him to go home and tell his friends how much the Lord had done for him and how the Lord had had mercy on him. The former demonic immediately began to do as Jesus had told him, proclaiming what Jesus had done for him, and all were amazed.

Commentary:

The Lord is the only true God. Only the Lord is able to deliver us from trouble and give us eternal life. Only the Lord can provide sound counsel and guidance. God’s Word is absolutely dependable. The prophecies about Cyrus of Persia were fulfilled. The Lord used Cyrus to release Judah (the remnant of the house of Israel; Isaiah 46:3a) from exile in Babylon.

Only the Lord can carry and sustain his people. Any other person or thing we turn to is an idol; none can do anything for us but burden us down and ultimately destroy us. There are demons behind every idol.

This world is a spiritual battleground and we are all engaged in a spiritual war. God has already declared how it will end. Jesus won the victory at the cross. Jesus is going to return to judge the earth. Those who have refused to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and have refused to obey him will be put to eternal death in Hell with all evil; those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord (Matthew 25:31-46).

The outcome is already determined; we get to choose which side we’re on. If we want to be on the winner’s side we must put on the Lord’s uniform and arm ourselves with his armor. We cannot win the spiritual battle in our own strength; we can only share Jesus’ victory through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

Jesus has complete authority and power over the forces of evil. The demons know it, and they know and acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. Only Jesus is able to save us from the forces of evil. Evil cannot win the battle, but wants to destroy as many of us as possible. The demoniac is an illustration of someone under the control of evil, and living among the spiritually dead. Evil rules this present world. We will either serve the Lord, or we will serve Evil (Luke 16:13).

The demoniac had been forced to serve his demons; and his demons were causing him destruction and harm. Jesus restored him to true, spiritual, eternal, life. When Jesus released him, the demoniac wanted to be with Jesus from then on, but Jesus gave him a ministry of Gospel evangelism to his friends, and the former demoniac immediately began to do what Jesus had commanded. Judging from the response of the villagers to Jesus (Mark 5:17) evangelism wasn’t going to be easy.

Only Jesus can release us from bondage to sin and death so that we can be free to serve Jesus and have eternal life. Believers have been set free, not just to be in fellowship with Jesus exclusively for the rest of our lives; not just to “hang out” at Church; Jesus gives us a commission to share the Gospel with our friends and acquaintances. But first we must put on the armor of God; we must be discipled; we must be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Do you realize and acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God? Has Jesus set you free from bondage to sin and death? 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 1 Epiphany – Odd – 01/11/ – 17/2015

January 15, 2015

Week of 1 Epiphany – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.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 1 Epiphany – Odd
Sunday 1 Epiphany – Odd
First posted 01/08/05;
Podcast: Sunday 1 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 40:1-11   –  The coming of the Lord;
Hebrews 1:1-12  –   Christ superior to angels;
John 1:1-7,19-20, 29-34  –   Testimony of John the Baptizer;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

God will comfort his people; the time of Judah’s exile is nearly over. Judah’s sin is pardoned; She has been fully punished. The Lord’s herald cries in the wilderness, calling Israel to prepare the way of the Lord; to make a highway through the desert for his coming. Valleys will be filled in and hills lowered so that the way will be smooth and level. The glory of the Lord will be revealed to all flesh, as the Lord has declared.

The herald says “Shout!” What shall we shout? All flesh is transient, like grass which springs up and then quickly withers at the will of God. All the things of this world are like grass and flowers of the field, which quickly wither and fade, but God’s Word is eternal. Climb to the mountain top, people of God, and proclaim good news! Celebrate! Don’t be afraid. Look, your God comes with might; his right arm rules for him; he comes bringing his reward and he will repay (everyone according to their deeds). “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).

Hebrews Paraphrase:

God spoke to his people in various ways in Old Testament times by the prophets, but now he has spoken by his Son, God’s appointed heir of all things and through whom the world was created (John 1:1-3). Jesus is the exact likeness of God; he reflects God’s glory, has the exact same nature, and possesses the identical power and creative force of his Word.

Having accomplished the purification of sin (once for all, through his sacrifice on the Cross) Jesus ascended to be enthroned at the right hand of God. He is as much superior to angels as his name is above theirs. Jesus’ relationship to God is one of Father and (first-born and only begotten) Son [Psalm 2:7, 2 Samuel 7:14 (while angels are servants and messengers)]. God’s angels worship Jesus (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 5:11-13). The angels are spirits (Psalm 104:4), but God’s Word says of the Son, that God’s eternal throne is his, and righteousness is his kingdom. He loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; so God has anointed his Son above (human brethren; Psalm 45:6-7). The Lord has created the heavens and the earth; they will pass away but the Lord is eternal (Psalm 102:25-27).

John Paraphrase:

The Word of God is God’s creative force. Jesus is God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is God (John 1:1c, John 20:28; Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is the Creator (John 1:3). Jesus is the life-giver (John 1:4a; John 14:6). Jesus is the Light of the World (John 1:4b; John 8:12). Evil is darkness; evil cannot prevail against Jesus.

John the Baptizer was sent from God (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80) to announce and bear witness to the coming of the Messiah (Christ). When the religious authorities questioned him, John confessed that he was not the Christ. John declared that Jesus was the Lamb (the Passover sacrifice) of God who takes away the sin of the world (by his sacrificial death). John testified that Jesus was the one who was to come after John who ranks before him.

John himself did not know who the Messiah was, but that was the reason John came baptizing with water, so that the Messiah would be revealed. John testified that he had seen the Spirit descend and remain upon Jesus, as a dove from heaven. John didn’t know who the Messiah was until he saw this sign, which God had told him would identify the Messiah who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. John saw the sign and bore witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:

This prophecy of Isaiah was originally given to the Judean exiles in Babylon before its fall to Cyrus, king of Persia, in 539 B.C.. Part of it was subsequently fulfilled when the Israelite exiles were allowed to return to Judah. But it also speaks to the coming of the Messiah in the birth of Jesus and his earthly ministry, and it also applies to his Second Coming in power and glory to judge the earth (Matthew 25:31-46), because God’s Word is eternal.

Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy. The glory of the Lord has been revealed to all humans in Jesus Christ, and all flesh will see him return in power and glory (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:30). Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11); he’s also the righteous Judge (2 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 25:31-46).

Jesus is God’s fullest revelation of himself to us in flesh. “In him (Jesus) the whole fulness of Deity dwells bodily” [Colossians 2:(8), 9]. Jesus is God in human flesh. Jesus is Emmanuel, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23b). We can first learn about Jesus from scripture, but we can only come to a personal knowledge of Jesus through the gift of his Holy Spirit, which he gives only to his disciples, who trust and obey him  (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). No one can come to a personal knowledge of and fellowship with God except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Matthew 11:27).

John the Baptizer is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Lord’s herald crying in the wilderness, calling God’s people to prepare for the coming Christ (John 1:23). John came to testify to the Messiah, so that the Messiah would be revealed. He warned his people to prepare for the coming of the Lord; to make their paths straight and to smooth their rough places. John testified that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God, who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, but many of the Jews were unprepared for Jesus, and did not believe (John 1:10-13).

Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth. Are you ready for Jesus’ return?

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

Monday 1 Epiphany – Odd
First posted 01/09/05;
Podcast: Monday 1 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 40:12-24   –  Creator of the Universe;
Ephesians 1:1-14  –  Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit;
Mark 1:1-13   –  Jesus’ baptism by John;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Who among humans compares to God the creator of water, heaven and earth? Who could teach or direct God’s Spirit? God doesn’t need any human to teach him wisdom, knowledge or justice. All the people of earth are but a drop in a bucket, compared to the Cosmos which God has created. All the trees of earth and all the beasts of the world would not be sufficient to prepare a burnt offering worthy of God.

To whom can we compare God. Can any idol made by man, even though covered with gold; or made with rot-resistant wood, compare with God. An idol just sits there. Mankind creates chains for his idols (so that they will be with him).

Do you not know that God is Lord of all creation and history? God is so great above us that the vastness of the heavens is like his tent, and the inhabitants of earth are like grasshoppers in comparison.  The rulers and princes of this world amount to nothing in comparison with the Lord. Humans are like grass, scarcely sown, barely taken root, before they wither, dry up and blow away.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Paul was an apostle (one who is sent to proclaim the Gospel) in obedience to God’s will, writing to the Christians at Ephesus. True grace and peace are only received through God in Jesus Christ. Paul gave thanks God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we receive every spiritual blessing in the universe.

God chose us in Christ, before the creation of the world, so that we could be holy and blameless before God. “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” as a free gift lavishly given through his beloved Son, Jesus. In Jesus, we have redemption (the debt we owed for our sins has been paid); our sins have been forgiven as an extravagant free gift.

God has made known to us his age-long purpose to unite (reconcile) all things in heaven and earth to himself through Jesus Christ. In Jesus, according to God’s purpose, we (the Jewish Christians; also, Apostles and elders) who have first believed in Jesus are destined and appointed to live to glorify the Lord. “In him you also (Gentile Christians; also, disciples), who have heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in Jesus, were sealed with the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1:14).

John Paraphrase:

The Good News of Jesus Christ begins with the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a messenger sent to call people to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. John the Baptizer was that fulfillment. John appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All the people of the surrounding region of Judea went out to him, confessing their sins and were baptized in the Jordan River.

John was dressed in the garb of Jewish prophets and lived on locusts and wild honey which could be foraged in the wilderness. John declared that he preceded the coming of the Messiah (Christ), who was so much greater than John that John was not worthy to be his most menial slave. John declared that he had baptized with water, but that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. When Jesus came up out of the water the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. A voice from heaven declared that Jesus was God’s beloved Son, with whom God was pleased. Jesus was immediately compelled by the Holy Spirit to go into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan for forty days among wild animals, sustained by angels of God.

Commentary:

The Spirit of God is beyond human control. The Lord does not need any human guidance or instruction. He is the Creator and sustainer of the Universe. It is we who need God’s Spirit to guide and teach us. We tend to see things from a human, earthly perspective. We have a tendency to think in terms of getting God to do our will, instead of realizing that it is we who need to seek and do God’s will. If we truly seek to serve God and do his will, he will give us his Spirit to teach and guide us.

God’s Spirit cannot be bound or controlled by mankind, but he is willingly present to help and sustain those who are willing to be taught and led by him. In contrast, mankind creates chains for his idols with the intention of binding his idols to him, but ultimately he becomes bound to his idols by the chains of his own making. Any thing other than God which we seek and serve is idolatry.

Paul was obedient to God’s will. He was filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b), which he received through trust and obedience in Jesus Christ (Acts 9:17). Jesus only gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples; to those who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-16).

“Those who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of… salvation, and have [trusted and obeyed] Jesus [are] sealed with the Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of our inheritance (eternal life in Heaven with the Lord) until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1:14). “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9b). It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal fellowship with the Lord. It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have the spiritual blessings of the Universe.

John the baptizer baptized with water, for repentance, but only Jesus Christ can baptize with the Holy Spirit. John’s mission was to prepare the people to receive Jesus Christ, who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. John called the people to repent, and he testified that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.

Those who believed and acted on what John preached followed Jesus, became Jesus’ disciples, and later were filled with the promised Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (John 1:35-37; Acts Chapter 2). John’s purpose and intention was not to make others disciples of himself, but rather to point them toward a personal discipleship with Jesus Christ. They were taught over a period of several years in daily fellowship with the Lord, and with testing of their trust and obedience, before they received the gift of the 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)?

Tuesday 1 Epiphany – Odd
First posted 01/10/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 1 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 40:25-31   –    Incomparable, eternal God;
Ephesians 1:15-23  –   Fulness of Christ;
Mark 1:14-28  –  Jesus begins ministry in Galilee;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

To whom can God be compared? Behold the heavens: who created them? God has created the universe; he knows every detail about it. The complexity and perfection of his creation bears witness to his greatness. Why do you imagine, people of God, that the Lord doesn’t know your circumstances, and has forgotten your rights?

Do you realize that God is the eternal God and creator of the earth? God does not grow faint or weary. His understanding is beyond our comprehension. He revives the faint and gives strength to the weak. Even the young and strong will be weary and faint, “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Paul gave thanks to God for the Ephesian Christians’ (and all believers’) faith in Jesus, and their love for all believers. His prayer for them was that God would give them “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (God; Ephesians 1:17); that their hearts might be enlightened, knowing the hope to which they had been called and the richness of the wonderful inheritance of believers, and the unlimited greatness of God’s power at work in us who believe. This he accomplished in Christ when God raised him from death to reign at God’s right hand in heaven.

Christ’s reign is far above all other authority, power and dominion, and his name is above every other name in the entire universe for all eternity. God has given him all authority over everything, and has made him the head and ruler of all things for the Church, his body; “the fulness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23).

Mark Paraphrase:

After John the baptizer had been arrested, Jesus began preaching in Galilee, declaring that God’s timing has been fulfilled, that God’s kingdom is at hand, and urging people to repent and believe in the Gospel. As Jesus passed by on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, brothers and fishermen, as they were casting a net into the sea.

Jesus called them to follow him, saying that he would make them fishers of men, and they left their nets and followed Jesus. A little farther on, Jesus saw James and John, sons of Zebedee, in a boat with their father and hired servants mending nets. Jesus called to them and immediately James and John left their father and the boat and followed Jesus.

Jesus and his disciples entered Capernaum and went into the synagogue, and Jesus began to teach. The people were astonished, because Jesus taught with authority, unlike the scribes. There was a man in the synagogue with a demon who acknowledged that Jesus was God’s Holy One, and asked if Jesus had come to destroy them. Jesus rebuked the demon and told him to be silent and come out of the man. The demon convulsed the man and, with a shriek, came out. The people were amazed that Jesus had authority even over demons, and Jesus’ fame quickly spread throughout the region.

Commentary:

Those who wait for the Lord will be renewed and strengthened. Those who trust in the Lord’s promises and obey his teachings will be revived and empowered and endowed with eternal life. Those who wait for the Lord are those who seek the Lord’s will and his timing.

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and for all believers is that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of wisdom; the Spirit through whom God is personally revealed to us; through whom we have personal knowledge of God. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit who enlightens our hearts to the hope, riches, and power of our calling in Christ, and our minds to the wisdom of God and the understanding of the scriptures (Luke 24:45). It is the Holy Spirit who empowers and strengthens us to accomplish God’s purpose. It is the Holy Spirit who fills the Church and individual believers and enables all to work together to accomplish God’s will.

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20d). In Jesus the whole fullness of deity dwelt bodily [Colossians 2:(8), 9]. Jesus is God’s only begotten Son (John 1:14); we become God’s children by adoption through Jesus Christ.

Jesus is God in human flesh (Matthew 1:23; John 20:28). Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men …he humbled himself and became obedient (to God’s will) unto death…on the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 RSV).

We do not become “gods” by the gift of the Spirit, but through Jesus’ blood sacrifice on the Cross, we are forgiven and cleansed, so that God’s Spirit can dwell within us. Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10 RSV). (Because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit he was the only one who was sinless from birth, and able to be filled with God’s Spirit without the Savior’s atoning death.)

Jesus waited on God the Father’s timing; he didn’t begin his ministry until God’s timing had been fulfilled. Jesus trusted and obeyed God’s will completely and perfectly. John bore witness that the Holy Spirit filled Jesus at his baptism and that Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; John 1:31-34). As Jesus was in the Father and the Father in him, Jesus promised that Jesus’ disciples would be in Jesus and Jesus in them (John 14:10, 20-21).

Jesus only gives the Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). We are all called to be Jesus’ disciples and follow him in trust and obedience. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Anyone who does not have the (Holy) Spirit of Christ does not belong to him (Romans 8:9b).

Jesus taught with authority; it wasn’t his own (human) authority, but God’s (John 14:10). He had power over demons but it was God’s power. We cannot accomplish God’s will by our own human strength or power, but only by God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Neither can we use God’s power to accomplish our own will and purpose. Are we trying to do ministry in the strength of our own flesh, or are we seeking the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit?

Have you experienced the fulness of 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)?


Wednesday 1 Epiphany – Odd
First posted 01/11/05;
Podcast:
Wednesday 1 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 41:1-16   –   The trial of the nations;
Ephesians 2:1-10  –    New life in Christ;
Mark 1:29-45   –   Jesus’ power to heal;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The nations are called to listen in silence, then to draw near to present their cases for the Lord’s judgment. Who has stirred up [Cyrus of Persia] and gives him victory over nations and kings; who scatters nations and peoples like dust or like chaff? “I, the Lord, the first and  …the last, I am He” (Isaiah 41:4b; compare Revelation 1:8; 22:13).

The coastlands (the lands and islands of the Mediterranean; nearby) and the ends of the earth (the nations farthest away) draw near in fear. They try to encourage one another, trusting in the craftsmanship of the work of their hands. How can they possibly compare to Israel, whom God has chosen and befriended.

God has brought Israel from the ends of the earth; he has not abandoned Israel. God tells Israel not to be afraid, because he is their God. He will strengthen them and uphold them. All who are against God’s people will be put to shame and confounded; all who fight against them shall be destroyed.

They will pass away, but God’s people will remain. Although Israel is insignificant, with the help of God, the Redeemer, the Holy One, they will thresh the mountains into dust, driven as chaff by the wind. God’s people will rejoice and glory in the Lord the Holy One of Israel.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Believers, who once were (spiritually) dead as the result of sin because we followed the way of the world and were under the power of Satan, have now been made alive (through Christ). Believers once lived to satisfy the desires of the flesh, the body and mind, according to our human nature, like the rest of mankind, destined for the wrath of God. But God loved us so much that in mercy, he gave us (spiritual, eternal) life with Christ as a free gift, even though we were dead through our sin.

God raised us up to share in Christ’s glory in heaven through Jesus, so that in eternity he could show the limitless riches of God’s grace in kindness to us through Jesus Christ. “For by grace (unmerited favor; free gift) you have been saved through faith (trust and obedience to Jesus Christ); and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not because of works (any good deeds we may have done), lest any [person] should boast. For we (believers) are his (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”  (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John, and Jesus found that the mother of Simon and Andrew was sick with a fever. Jesus went to her and took her hand and she was healed, and arose and served them. News of the healing spread throughout the neighborhood, and the whole city of Capernaum gathered at the door. Jesus healed many with diseases and cast out many demons. Jesus would not allow the demons to speak because they knew who Jesus was.

Jesus got up before dawn the next morning and went out to a deserted place to pray. His disciples followed him and told Jesus that everyone was looking for him. But Jesus wanted to go on to the other towns to preach there also, and so he had come out so early.

A leper came to Jesus and knelt and expressed faith that Jesus could heal him if it was Jesus’ will to do so. Jesus replied that he was willing, and Jesus touched and healed the man. Jesus sternly told the man not to tell anyone, but to show himself to the priest and make the offering commanded by Moses (God’s Law given to Moses). But the healed man went and began to tell everyone of his healing. The result was that Jesus could no longer openly enter towns, but was forced to stay in the countryside, and crowds came to him from everywhere.

Commentary:

This portion of Isaiah was written during Judah’s exile in Babylon and the victory of Cyrus of Persia over the Babylonians, which resulted in the Judeans being allowed to return to Israel. God uses the nations to accomplish his will: Babylon was his instrument of punishment of Israel for failure to trust and obey the Lord, and Persia was God’s instrument to deliver Judah from their exile. But God had chosen and befriended Israel. He was faithful to Israel; he would not abandon his people.

God will redeem, strengthen and uphold his people. The nations of the world put their trust in their “works.” Their “gods” are of their own making. The enemies of God’s people will be put to shame and destroyed, but God’s people will remain. Though Israel is an insignificant nation, by the help of the Redeemer, the Holy One (compare 1 John 2:20) they will do great things and will be mighty and victorious beyond human possibility.

Believers in Jesus Christ are the New People of God, the New Israel. Jesus is the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel (compare Mark 1:24; 1 John 2:20). The enemies of God and of God’s people will pass away, but God raises us up to share Christ’s glory and the riches of God’s grace in Heaven for eternity. We have been redeemed from sin and the power of death as a free gift through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus Christ. Redemption is not deserved, cannot be earned, (or taken by force or deception).

Good works are not the means by which we are saved, but are an indication that we have been saved. We are the work of God, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has prepared beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).

We can’t do the good works God intends for us to do without the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We haven’t been redeemed so that God could pamper us and indulge our self-interest. We are given new life in Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit so that we can serve the Lord and do his will.

Jesus raised up Simon and Andrew’s mother from incapacitating illness, and she rose and served him. The leper came to Jesus with the faith that Jesus could heal him if Jesus was willing. Jesus willingly healed the leper, and gave him specific instructions to tell only the priest of his healing, so that he could be restored to the congregation of Israel, but otherwise to tell no one.

The healed man left Jesus and immediately began to tell everyone that Jesus had healed him. He probably thought that he was helping Jesus’ ministry, but in fact he was working in opposition to Jesus. Jesus came primarily not to give physical healing but spiritual healing. Publicity about physical healing would attract large crowds of spectators and those seeking physical healing, and would obscure Jesus’ real message. A similar problem arose when Jesus fed the multitudes; attracting people who were only interested in free bread.

Jesus can heal our spiritual illness and he wants to do so, but faith is not just a matter of believing that Jesus is willing and has the power. Faith is not like “wishing on a star;” we don’t get whatever we want if we “believe” “hard enough.” We need to be willing to do what Jesus tells us. The man received physical healing, but probably missed the spiritual healing only Jesus can provide because he didn’t do what Jesus told him.

This text also suggests that it is important to find out what God’s will really is and then do it, rather than what we *think* God wants. We need to spend time listening to or reading God’s Word completely and also daily. We need to seek the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We cannot know and do the Lord’s will except by the guidance and empowerment of his 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)?


Thursday 1 Epiphany – Odd

First posted 01/12/05;
Podcast: Thursday 1 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 41:17-29   –     Judgment against the nations;
Ephesians 2:11-22   –   One in Christ;
Mark 2:1-12  –   Healing the paralytic;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord will open fountains (of salvation) in the wilderness, and rivers (of eternal life) in the desert, for those who are (spiritually) poor and needy. The desert shall become a pool of water, and the wilderness shall become springs of water. The wilderness shall become a garden. The Lord will do this so that mankind will see, know, and understand that the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, has created this.

Let the nations present their case and set forth their proof; let them explain the past and foretell the future. Let them prove the existence and power of their gods. They are nothing and their works are nothing; those who trust in them are an abomination (loathsome).

The Lord has stirred up “one from the north” (to accomplish God’s purpose; first Assyria and later Persia). Who foresaw this and declared it beforehand? No one! God revealed it to God’s people, the herald of good news. There is none among the nations or its gods who offers wise counsel; none who knows the correct answer. They are all a delusion; their works amount to nothing; their idols are empty wind.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Gentiles were at one time alienated from the people of God. They were excluded from the covenant by the lack of physical circumcision, separated from Christ, alienated from the nation of Israel, aliens to the covenants of God’s promises, having no hope and without God in the world. But now through Christ we who were far from God have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

Christ is our peace, who unites both Jew and Gentile into one body, the Church. Christ has torn down the dividing wall of the Old Covenant of Law, by abolishing it and replacing it with the New Covenant of Grace which creates one new (type of) person (“Christian”) in place of the two (Jew and Gentile), reconciling us both to God through the cross and ending the hostility.

Both Jew and Gentile have access to the Father through the one Holy Spirit. As the result, both Jew and Gentile are members of the household of God through faith in Jesus, and are built into the “House” of God upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone, in whom both grow together into a holy temple in which we are the (individual and collective) dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Mark Paraphrase:

News of Jesus’ power of healing spread so that when people learned that he had returned to Capernaum, a large crowd gathered around the door of the house where he was. Four men came to him bringing a paralytic on a stretcher, but could not get near to Jesus on account of the crowd, so they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and lowered the man on the stretcher down to Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith he told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. Some scribes (teachers of the Jewish Law) nearby questioned Jesus’ statement in their hearts, and Jesus, knowing their thoughts, asked them why they questioned his statement. Jesus asked them if it would have been easier for Jesus to declare the man’s sins forgiven, or to have told him to get up and walk.

Jesus had not chosen the easy solution, because he cared enough about their best interest to show them he had the authority to forgive sin. Jesus then told the paralytic to rise, pick up his stretcher and go home, and the paralytic did as Jesus had told him. All were amazed, acknowledging that they had never seen anything like that done before.

Commentary:

The prophecies of the Lord foretelling the fall of Northern Kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians, the exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians and their subsequent return after Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon, were fulfilled. The Lord has fulfilled his promise to open spiritual fountains and rivers of salvation and eternal life in the wilderness of our present world in Jesus Christ (John 4:14; 7:38-39) through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit, who only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17), who is the spring of living water within believers which flows out and gives life in the wilderness of this world and causes our spiritual desert to bloom and become fertile. It is the Holy Spirit who opens the minds of believers to understand the scriptures and who reveals God’s purpose and will to God’s people (Luke 24:32, 45). It is the Holy Spirit alone who provides wise counsel, who declares truth (John 14:15-17; compare Isaiah 41:28).

God’s Holy Spirit is the Mighty Wind (Acts 2:2) that fills God’s House and God’s People; not the “empty wind” of the idols of the nations (Isaiah 41:29c). The idols of the nations of this world have no power or existence. They are nothing and their works are nothing. Those “gods” are “empty wind;” just so much “hot air.”

At one time pagan nations were separated from God’s people by outward manifestations (keeping the Jewish Law) and by circumstances of birth (being born into the religion). But in Christ, God has broken down the wall of separation. In Christ, one is reborn into God’s family through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit [John 3:3, (4-8 RSV)].

No one is a member of God’s family by accident of physical birth or by outward display. There is no more distinction between the circumcised and the uncircumcised, between Jew and Gentile (or Greek). Both are members of the family of God only through trust and obedience of Jesus Christ and the resulting spiritual rebirth through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

All people have access to God only through the one and only Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ is built of “born-again” Christian disciples of Jesus Christ who have individually been filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, and is founded on the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament Apostolic teachings, with Christ as the cornerstone.

The only way to have a Church full of the Spirit is to have members who are disciples of Jesus Christ filled with his Holy Spirit. The only way to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ is to first be one. People will either be united in Christ through the Holy Spirit, or they will be divided by Christ and his Holy Spirit: Lost or saved; goats or sheep (Matthew 25:31-46) unregenerate (unreborn) or regenerate (reborn).

Jesus is the demonstration of God’s existence, his love and his power to save us. No other “gods” have any such documentation, because they are all the delusions and creations of human imagination. The physical healings that Jesus did were “signs” revealing who Jesus is. The people who witnessed the healing of the paralytic realized that no human had ever done such things.

It would have been a lot easier and caused a lot less trouble for Jesus to have simply told the paralytic to rise and walk, but Jesus did not come primarily to physically heal a few Jews. He came to provide spiritual healing for all people of the world by the forgiveness of sin. The paralytic was physically healed, but unless he realized that Jesus could forgive his sins, he was still spiritually dead eternally.

The only way to be reborn to eternal life is by trusting and obeying Jesus, and being filled with his Holy Spirit. Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11-12; John 1:31-34). Jesus only gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17).

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the (Holy) Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). It is possible for one to know personally with certainty whether one has received the fulness of the indwelling Holy Spirit or not (Acts 19:2).

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

Friday 1 Epiphany – Odd
First posted 01/13/05;
Podcast: Friday 1 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 42:(1-9) 10-17  –    The mission of the Servant;
Ephesians 3:1-13   –   Paul’s mission to the Gentiles;
Mark 2:13-22   –  The call of Levi;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Servant has been chosen by God; God has put his Spirit upon him. The Servant will bring forth justice to the nations (Gentiles). The Servant will not be a “fire-brand,” arousing people to civil disorder. He will gently restore those who are spiritually “wounded.” He will not fail or be discouraged before he has established justice on earth, and the “coastlands” (the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea; i.e., neighboring nations) await his law.

The Lord is the creator of heaven and earth, “who gives breath (physical life) to the people upon it (earth), and spirit (spiritual life through the indwelling Holy Spirit through Jesus) to those who walk in it” (in obedience to the Spirit; Isaiah 42:5d, e). He declares that he has called his Servant in righteousness; and has led and prospered him. The Lord has given his Servant “as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6c, d) to heal the blind and free those who were imprisoned (by sin and death).

The Lord (Yahweh) is God’s name. He gives his glory and praise to no one, nor to any idol. God’s Word regarding former things has come to pass, and God reveals in his Word new things which will be fulfilled in the future. Let everyone on earth sing a new song of praise to the Lord. Let every place on earth, near and far, populated or isolated, high or low, praise the Lord, for the Lord “shows himself mighty against his foes” (Isaiah 42:13d).

The Lord has restrained himself from intervening in history for a long time (from creation), but now he has, like a woman in childbirth, brought forth his plan of redemption (his Servant; i.e., Jesus Christ). The Lord will lead the (spiritually) blind in new paths; he “will turn the darkness before them into light” (Isaiah 42:16c), and make rough ground smooth. Those who trust in idols and worship other gods “shall be turned back and utterly put to shame” (Isaiah 42:17a).

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Paul had been imprisoned for the Gospel, because he had angered the Jews by receiving Gentiles into the Church without requiring them to keep Jewish Law and tradition. Paul had been given the ministry of the Gospel to the Gentiles, by revelation from Jesus Christ (Acts 9:3-5, 15; Galatians 1:11-12). The mystery which had been unknown to previous generations which had now been revealed to Paul and the apostles by the Holy Spirit is that Gentiles were also included in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:6).

Paul realized that his ministry of the Gospel to the Gentiles was by the gift of God’s grace (unmerited favor; through faith in Jesus Christ) working in Paul. Paul felt least among all believers because he had formerly persecuted Christians (as Saul of Tarsus; Acts 9:1-2). Yet the Lord entrusted him with the ministry of the incalculable riches of Christ to the Gentiles, and with revealing the mystery and great wisdom of God’s plan of salvation, which had formerly been unknown, but has now been made known to all throughout the universe.

This plan of redemption has been God’s eternal purpose, but it has now been accomplished in Jesus Christ, through whom we have been empowered and assured by our access to him through faith. So Paul asks the Ephesians not to be discouraged by Paul’s imprisonment, because it accomplished their spiritual wellbeing.

Mark Paraphrase:

As Jesus passed by a tax office, he saw Levi (Matthew; brother of the apostle James, and possibly of the apostle Thomas), the son of Alphaeus, and he called Levi to follow him. Levi rose and followed Jesus. Jesus and his disciples went to Levi’s house for a meal, and there were many tax-collectors (“collaborators,” who worked for the Roman Government, and thus were ostracized by the Jews) and sinners present.

The scribes (teachers of Jewish Law) of the Pharisees (strict, legalistic, majority Jewish faction) criticized Jesus for associating with tax-collectors and sinners. But Jesus replied that it is those who are sick who need a physician, not those who are healthy. Jesus has come “not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17b).

Commentary:

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Servant of the Lord. But individual Christians, the Church and Christian nations are also to be the Lord’s Servant, following Christ’s example. Jesus is the New Covenant of God’s grace to be received by faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus came to heal the (spiritually) blind and release the (spiritual) prisoners from sin and (spiritual, eternal) death (Isaiah 42:7).

The Lord has had a plan for our salvation from the beginning of creation (John 1:1-5, 14). His plan of salvation is for all nations and all people (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).  His disciples (Christians) are to carry on his ministry. The Lord is the only God; all other “gods” are idols; delusions, the creation of human imagination. Those who worship and put their trust in any one or thing other than the Lord will be “turned back” (from eternal life in God’s kingdom) and “utterly put to shame” (John 5:28-29 KJV).

Paul is an example of a “post-resurrection” disciple of Jesus Christ. (Paul came to faith in Jesus after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, as have all modern-day Christians.) He came to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. He carried on Jesus’ ministry of salvation of the nations of earth by faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those whom the Jews regarded as pagans and sinners. Paul used his own conversion as an illustration of the power and grace of God to redeem sinners; to change them from enemies of God to God’s obedient children and disciples of Jesus Christ through trust and obedience of Jesus. Paul was doing what he learned by the example, teaching, guidance and empowerment by Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

Paul had been trained as a Pharisee and he though he was doing God’s will in persecuting Christians, but when confronted on the road to Damascus by the Spirit of the Risen Lord, he repented and turned to Jesus in trust and obedience. He was willing to recognize and acknowledge his sin. He is an example of someone who had been spiritually blind who was healed by Jesus (Acts 9:17), and filled with the Holy Spirit (the seal and guarantee of eternal life; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus came to heal sinners. Jesus couldn’t heal the scribes or the Pharisees because they were not willing to recognize and acknowledge that they were sinners in need of a savior. They considered themselves righteous, because they compared themselves with other humans, instead of comparing themselves to God’s righteousness. They considered themselves righteous because of their “good deeds.”

Salvation is only by God’s grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ; not by “good works” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

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

Saturday 1 Epiphany – Odd
First posted 01/14/05;
Podcast: Saturday 1 Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah (42:18-25) 43:1-13   –  The Lord has redeemed his people;
Ephesians 3:14-21  –    Prayer for wisdom;
Mark 2:23-3:6  –    Lord of the Sabbath;

Isaiah Paraphase:

The Lord judges his people. They are spiritually blind and deaf. They see but do not observe; they hear but do not listen! The Law of the Lord is righteous and glorious but his people are “robbed and plundered…trapped in holes and hidden in prisons” (Isaiah 42:22), with none to rescue or restore. Who has allowed this and why? It is the Lord who has allowed this to happen because his people sinned; they would not walk in his way, or obey his law. His people suffered but did not learn the lesson from their punishment.

But now the Lord has redeemed his people. The Lord has designated his people as his own possession (Isaiah 43:1c). When they pass through the waters and through the rivers (of danger and death; recalling Israel’s experience leaving Egypt through the Red Sea and entering the promised Land through the Jordan River) the Lord will be with them. They shall pass through the fire without being burned (compare Daniel 3:16-25). The Lord will give Egypt and Ethiopia (nations of Africa) and Seba (nations of Arabia) as ransom for his people (lands Cyrus of Persia was to conquer).

The great love of the Lord for his people makes him willing to offer a great sacrifice for them. The Lord will be with his people and will bring them back from the four corners of the world. Let all the nations of the world be assembled before the Lord. Let them bring witnesses to defend their idols.

God’s people are God’s witnesses; they’re blind yet have eyes, and deaf yet have ears. They have been chosen by the Lord so that they may know and believe and understand that the Lord alone is God. There is no other god, before or after him; there is no other savior. “‘I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 43:12).

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians (and all believers) that we might be strengthened through the indwelling Holy Spirit, “that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17). Starting with love (the love of God which saves us in Christ) may we grow to comprehend and experience the fullness of Christ’s love which is beyond knowledge, that we may be filled with the fullness of God. God at work within us by his Holy Spirit is able to do more than we can possibly imagine. To God be the glory, in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples were passing through a grainfield one Sabbath and the disciples were snacking on the ripe grain. The Pharisees criticized the disciples for breaking Sabbath law by “harvesting” grain. Jesus replied that the Scripture records that David fed himself and his army with the bread of the Presence (a bread offering) from the temple, which is not lawful for any but the Priests to eat. Jesus declared that the Sabbath was made for mankind, not mankind for the Sabbath. Jesus declared that he was Lord even of the Sabbath.

Jesus also entered the synagogue on a Sabbath and the Pharisees were watching him to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath. There was a man with a withered hand, and Jesus called the man to come to him. Then he asked the crowd if it was lawful on the Sabbath to do good or harm, to save life or to kill. All were silent, and the Lord was angered and grieved at their hard-heartedness. He told the man to stretch out his arm and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians (the political supporters of the Roman royal family, the Herods), plotting to destroy Jesus.

Commentary:

The Lord has called his people, redeemed them at great cost (the blood of his only begotten Son, Jesus) and put his name upon them (Isaiah 43:1c; “Christian”). He has done great things for them which they would know and realize if they used the spiritual eyes and ears God gives them to see and understand and learn from him. God has done all this for them so that they would be his witnesses to the nations (Acts 1:8).

Paul’s prayer for all believers is that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit so that they would be strengthened and grow in discipleship in personal fellowship with Jesus. If we trust and obey Jesus he will give us the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17); he will manifest himself to us (John 14:21); Christ will dwell in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17). We will experience the fulness of Christ’s love (Ephesians 3:18-19).

God will be at work within us by his Holy Spirit and he will do, in and through us, more than we can possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Christians are called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. One cannot be a witness to something one has not seen, heard or experienced. Without the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are people who are called by his name, but we are spiritually blind and deaf (and hard-hearted).

The Pharisees are examples of members of God’s people who were spiritually blind, deaf and hard-hearted. They went to God’s House regularly, and participated in all the religious ritual and observances, but they didn’t love God or their brethren, because they did not recognize and experience God’s love for them in Jesus Christ. They considered themselves authorities on the scriptures, and they knew a lot about God, but they didn’t know God, or they would have recognized Jesus as God’s Son.

They turned the Sabbath, which God had intended for our benefit, to give us rest and restoration and spiritual nurture, into something which they used to oppress their brethren and exalt themselves. The Pharisees used God’s Word to deny sustenance and healing to their brothers, but saw nothing wrong with holding a meeting on the Sabbath with the Herodians (their political allies) to plot to kill the Messiah, the Son of God; their Savior. Jesus is Lord of everything, even the Sabbath.

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 Christmas – Odd – 01/04 – 10/2015

January 3, 2015

Week of 2 Christmas – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


 

A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.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: 2 Christmas – Sunday – Odd

Sunday 2 Christmas – Odd

First Posted 01/01/05;
Podcast: 2 Christmas – Sunday – Odd

Deuteronomy 33:1-5   –   The blessing of Moses;
1 John 2:12-17   –   True relationship to God;
John 6:41-47   –  Bread from Heaven;

Deuteronomy Summary:

This is the introductory praise of the Lord from Moses’ blessing of the tribes before his death. The Lord came from Sinai (where God made the covenant of law with the people) and dawned upon Israel from (Mount) Seir (southern border of Israel). He shone forth from Mount Paran (in the region of Kadesh-barnea, from which Moses sent the scouts to scout the land of Canaan). God came from the angelic hosts of heaven “with flaming fire at his right hand” (his awesome power; see Exodus 19:18). God loved his people; they were consecrated to the Lord, so they were in his care. They followed God’s leading and received direction from him through Moses. The Lord was declared king in Jeshurun (a term of endearment for “Israel,” meaning “upright”) in the tribal assembly.

1 John Summary:

The author (probably the Apostle John), is writing to all Christians, in various stages of spiritual maturity. He assures the newest believers that their sins have been forgiven for Jesus’ sake. The fathers (mature Christians, leaders) have a personal relationship with the Lord. He assures young disciples that they have overcome the evil one.

He reminds all Christians not to love this world or the things of this world. Anyone who loves this world or material things does not truly love God the Father, because all that is in the world leads away from God. It is the things of this world which lead us to sin through the lust of physical gratification, the delights of the mind and emotion, and trust in material possessions. This world passes away, and so do worldly desires and pleasures, but those who do the will of God will live eternally.

John Summary:

Jesus had declared that he was the bread which came down from heaven, and the Jews (of Capernaum; John 6:24) challenged his statement, since they thought that they knew that Jesus was the son of Joseph and they knew Joseph and Jesus’ mother. They didn’t believe Jesus’ claim to have come down from heaven. Jesus told them not to dispute his statement. Jesus told them that no one can come to him unless they respond to God the Father’s leading, and Jesus will raise (to eternal life), on the Day of the Lord, those who respond to that leading.  Jesus quoted Isaiah 54:13, “And they shall all be taught by God,” (John 6:45) and said that those who have learned from the Father will come to Jesus. Jesus declared that no one has seen God the Father except Jesus, who is from God. Jesus declared that those who believe have eternal life.

Commentary:

God revealed himself to Israel at Mt. Sinai, and established his covenant with them. God loved his people. Because they were consecrated (set apart; devoted) to the Lord through the covenant, they were in God’s care and protection. God led them through the wilderness into the Promised Land. The people declared God their King, and they followed his leading.

God has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ. Christians are to be consecrated to the Lord. The Lord is our King. We cannot love and serve both this world and the Lord (Matthew 6:24). The Lord wants to lead us into his eternal kingdom. We must choose whether we will follow Jesus or follow the world.

The Jews had not learned from God’s Word because they didn’t recognize Jesus as God’s Son or hear God’s Word in what Jesus said. They were so involved with the things of this world that they missed God’s will and purpose for them in Jesus Christ. They knew and saw Jesus’ earthly father in Jesus, but not his heavenly Father. They were so preoccupied by worldly things that they weren’t able to feel and respond to the Father drawing them to Jesus.

We can learn enough about God from scripture to recognize that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, but we cannot truly know God without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus is God’s fullest revelation of himself and the fullest revelation of Jesus is through his Holy Spirit.

We can learn enough about Jesus Christ from scripture to make a personal commitment to accept him as our Lord, but when we begin to be his disciples and follow him in trust and obedience, he will manifest himself to us personally by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:21-23). Jesus promised that those who believe in him will have eternal life. 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? Are you Jesus’ disciple? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first 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)?

Podcast: Week of 1 Christmas – Odd

Monday January 5 – Odd
First posted 01/04/05;
Podcast: Monday January 5 – Odd

Joshua 1:1-9   –   The Lord’s command to Joshua;
Hebrews 11:32-12:2   –   A cloud of witnesses;
John 15:1-16  –   The true vine;

Joshua Paraphrase:

Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Joshua had been chosen by God to succeed Moses (Deuteronomy 31:23) and lead the people into the Promised Land. After Moses’ death, the Lord told Joshua to cross the Jordan River, entering the Promised Land.

The Lord assured Joshua that everywhere they set foot would belong to them. The boundaries of the land were the wilderness in the south and east, the Lebanon Mountains in the northwest, the land of the Hittites (Syria), and the Mediterranean Sea on the west.

The Lord promised that no human could prevail over Joshua, because the Lord would be with him as he was with Moses. The Lord promised never to fail or forsake Joshua. The Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous because the Lord promised that he would help Joshua to cause Israel to inherit the Promised Land. The Lord warned Joshua that his success was conditional upon his obedience to God’s commandments. God promised to be with Joshua wherever he went.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

The Old Testament heroes accomplished great things through faith in God. They “conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:16-22), quenched raging fire (Daniel 3:16-28), escaped the  edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight” (Hebrews 11:33-34). The dead were raised (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 25:37), believers endured torture for the hope of resurrection to a better life. Others were mocked, beaten, imprisoned, or executed.

The faith of all these is evident, but they all died without having received what was promised (the Savior). God had planned something better (than the Old Covenant of Law), so that they could not be spiritually perfected apart from Christ. (Christ died once for all, redeeming also the Old Testament faithful, although they had only the promise of a savior and not the fulfillment; Hebrews 9:15, 10:10).

Christians are like contestants at an athletic event; the great cloud of witnesses are the spectators. So let us put aside any hindrance and run the race with perseverance, following the example of Jesus, the pioneer (who shows us the way) and perfecter (who provides what we lack to finish successfully on our own) of our faith. Jesus endured the pain and the shame of the cross for the joy of the eternal reward at the right hand of the throne of God.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus described himself as a “grapevine” in relation to his followers, who are the “branches.” God is the “vinedresser.” God cuts away any branch which does not produce fruit, and he prunes the fruitful branches so that they will bear more. Those who believe Jesus have been forgiven. But we must abide in him so that we can bear the fruit we were intended to produce.

Anyone who does not abide in Jesus, will be cast off and will wither; he will be thrown into the fire and burned. “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you” (John 15: 7). God wants us to be fruitful and so prove that we are Jesus’ disciples and glorify God.

Jesus loves us the way God loves Jesus. Believers abide in Jesus’ love by obedience to Jesus’ commandments, as Jesus set the example by obedience to God’s commandments. Jesus has told us these things so that we can be filled with his joy and that our joy can be complete.

We are to love one another as Jesus has loved us. Jesus declared that the greatest love anyone can have for another is to give up his life for them. Believers of Jesus are more than his servants; he regards them as his friends, because believers keep Jesus’ commandments, and Jesus’ has told us everything he has heard from God the Father.

Jesus has called us to do his work (not the other way around) and his will is that we should go and bear fruit which will abide (have eternal results). Whatever disciples ask God in Jesus’ name (in fulfilling Jesus’ call) God will give them.

Commentary:

God called Joshua to lead the people of God into the Promised Land. God promised to be with Joshua to accomplish his call, and that no one could prevent Joshua from accomplishing his assignment, as long as Joshua was obedient to God’s commands.

The Old Testament heroes of faith trusted and obeyed God’s Word. They endured unimaginable suffering because of their faith in God’s promises and their hope of eternal life in Heaven. They died in faith, but not having seen the coming of the Messiah (Christ; the Savior).

We have the advantage of the coming of Christ who instituted the New Covenant of Grace (free gift) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus came to show us the way and to supply once for all the sacrifice for our sins so that we could be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God and eternal life. Jesus was willing to endure the pain and shame of the Cross for the joy of pleasing his Father and sharing in his glory in heaven.

We are called to be disciples of Jesus. We are called to trust and obey Jesus. We are called to bear fruit for his eternal kingdom. We are called to endure pruning so that we can be more fruitful.

We abide in Jesus by trusting and obeying him and by loving one another as Jesus has loved us. Jesus has promised us that if we keep his commands he will be with us wherever we go; he promised never to fail or forsake us, and he promised that we will succeed in what he gives us to do and we will enter and receive our inheritance in the Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven.

Jesus was willing to give up his life to die for us so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life with him. Is there anything we would be willing to give up for 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)?

Podcast Download: Epiphany and following  – Odd
Tuesday January 6 – Epiphany – Odd
First posted 01/05/05;
Podcast: Tuesday January 6 – Epiphany – Odd

Isaiah 52:7-10   –    The salvation of our God;
Revelation 21:22-27  –   New Jerusalem;
Matthew 12:14-21   –  The Lord’s Servant;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

How beautiful are the feet of the messenger who brings good news; who announces peace; who proclaims salvation; who assures Zion (God’s people) that their God reigns. Their watchmen rejoice and shout, because they see the return of the Lord to his people. “Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord has redeemed Jerusalem (the city of God on earth; the Church). The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:9-10).

Revelation Paraphrase:

In the New Jerusalem in Heaven, there will be no temple, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (Jesus) are its temple. There won’t be any need for Sun or Moon, because the Glory of God and Jesus will provide its light. “By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of earth shall bring their glory into it” (Revelation 21:24).

The gates of the city will never be shut, and there will be no night. “They shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations” (Revelation 21:26). Only those who are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life will be allowed to enter. Nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination (sin; what is loathsome to God) or falsehood, will be allowed to enter.

Matthew Paraphrase:

The Pharisees (legalistic Jewish religious leaders) were plotting to destroy Jesus (because he had challenged their narrow, hypocritical interpretation of the Law; Matthew 12:1-13). Knowing this, Jesus left the area, and many people followed him, and Jesus healed them all, and ordered them not to publicize Jesus’ healing miracles.

Commentary:

Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Jesus was fulfilled: Jesus was the Lord’s servant, chosen and beloved by God. God had put his Spirit upon him and Jesus proclaimed justice to the Gentiles. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would not be a “fire-brand” or “rabble-rouser,” inciting the masses to civil unrest. “He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory; and in his name will the Gentiles hope (Matthew 12:21).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News! In Jesus we have peace with God and salvation from eternal punishment through the forgiveness of our sins. God is the sovereign ruler of the universe. The Lord Jesus Christ will return in victory to save his people and to judge the earth (Matthew 25:31-46).

The desolate who have trusted and obeyed the Lord can rejoice because their redemption draws near. God has revealed his mighty arm and his salvation through Jesus Christ before all the nations of the earth.

Believers have an eternal city awaiting us in the Promised Land of Heaven. There won’t be any need for a temple, or for sun and moon, because the presence and light of the Lord fills Heaven. Creation will be restored to paradise, because sin and falsehood will be banished. All the glory and honor of the nations and the kings of earth will be given to it, but only those who have been cleansed through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus Christ by his indwelling Holy Spirit will be allowed to enter.

Jesus is the promised Messiah! Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Word. Jesus heals all who follow him; but he didn’t come primarily to heal our physical diseases. He came to heal our spiritual illness. Physical disease may lead to physical death. Jesus can raise the dead. Spiritual illness, unless healed by Jesus Christ, leads to certain, eternal death.

Many people came to Jesus just to receive physical healing. If that is all they received, they would miss out on eternal life. Jesus invites us to come for spiritual, eternal healing. If we are bruised reeds, he won’t break us, but will restore us to soundness; if we’re smoldering wicks he can re-kindle us and make us light-producers instead of smoke- and darkness-producers.

Jesus is the hope of the Gentiles; the hope of all the nations of earth. Jesus is our only hope for salvation (spiritual healing) and victory over physical death by resurrection to eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Today is designated by the Church as the day of Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Magi [“Wise Men,” or “Kings” (Matthew 2:1-12)] which is the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy that Jesus is the hope of the Gentiles, and that the Gentiles will honor and glorify him. Wise men (and women) still seek him, and still give him honor and glory.

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 – January 7 – Odd
Use only until First Sunday after Epiphany.
First posted 01/06/05;

Podcast:
Wednesday – January 7 – Odd

Isaiah 52:3-6  –  My people shall know my name;
Revelation 2:1-7  –  Letter to the Ephesian Church;
John 2:1-11   –   Wedding at Cana;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord declared that his people had been sold (into oppression) for nothing, and God will redeem them without money (by the precious blood of Jesus). God’s people were enslaved in Egypt; later the Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom was oppressed by them. (This portion of Isaiah, Ch. 40-55, was written during Judah’s captivity in Babylon).

God’s people have been stolen from him, and the oppressors disrespect and despise the name of the Lord. Therefore the Lord declares that his people will know his name (more than just his appellation; his character and person). “In that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I” (Isaiah 52:6 RSV).

John Paraphrase:

John was instructed to write the words of Jesus to the church in Ephesus: The Lord Jesus knows and commends their works, labor, and patient endurance. He also commends them for not tolerating evil people, and for their discernment in avoiding false apostles. They are persevering and enduring patiently for Jesus’ name’s sake, but they have lost the love they had when they first came to faith in Jesus.

The Lord admonishes them to remember how they were when they first believed, and to repent; to change their ways, and do the things they did when they were new believers, and a new church. Otherwise the Lord will “remove your lampstand (representing the Church at Ephesus) from its place” (among the churches; Revelation 2:5).

The Ephesian Church is commended for rejecting the false doctrine of the Nicolaitans [which taught false freedom from self-discipline; i.e., licentiousness; “cheap grace:” the false doctrine that we are saved by grace (as a free gift) without the requirement of discipleship or obedience]. We are warned to listen and apply what the Spirit is saying to the Church. Those who persevere and reach the goal will partake of the tree of life in the paradise of God.

John Parapahrase:

Soon after his baptism by John, Jesus attended a wedding in Cana in Galilee with his disciples; and his mother was also present. The host had run out of wine, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, told Jesus. Jesus asked her why she was telling him, because Jesus’ time for self-disclosure (which would be determined by God alone) had not yet come. His mother told the host’s servants to do whatever Jesus told them.

There were six stone jars nearby for the Jewish ceremonial purification ritual. Each jar held thirty or forty gallons. Jesus told the servants to fill the jars to the brim with water, and then he told them to draw out some and take it to the steward of the feast. When they had done so, the water had become wine.

Since the steward didn’t know where the wine had come from, although the servants knew, the steward called the bridegroom and told him that usually the good wine is served first, and then the wine of lesser quality, but this bridegroom had apparently kept the good wine until now. This is the first of the “signs” (works which reveal who Jesus is) which Jesus did, manifesting his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Commentary:

God had brought his people out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land. But God’s people forgot the lessons of trust and obedience to the Lord which they had learned in the wilderness. God allowed the Northern Kingdom to be carried off to oblivion by the Assyrians because of their disobedience to God’s Word and their refusal to heed God’s prophets. The Southern Kingdom of Judah similarly suffered oppression from the Assyrians and was later carried into exile in Babylon because of their failure to trust and obey the Lord.

Israel’s failure to trust and obey the Lord caused his name to be disrespected by the nations of the earth. At the time of this prophecy, Judah was in exile in Babylon, and God promised that he would redeem his people; that he would reveal himself to his people; he would be among them and they would hear his voice.

John was given a revelation of God’s Word through Jesus Christ to the Churches. Of the seven types of Churches represented in Revelation 1:20, Ephesus is representative of the “faithful” Churches. They have rejected false teachers and false doctrines, and they are enduring and persevering in faith, but they need to reclaim the zeal for the faith and the love they once had.

They are in danger of becoming “lukewarm.” If they don’t heed the word of the Holy Spirit to repent and revive their first love, they will be removed from the Churches of the Lord. Those who persevere and overcome will share in eternal life in Heaven with the Lord.

In God’s timing, in fulfillment of God’s Word, God has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fullest revelation of God’s name, person, presence, character, and voice. Jesus revealed himself, not to please his mother, but in obedience to God the Father, in God’s timing. But Mary believed that Jesus would reveal himself and would change the water into wine.

She was so sure that she told the servants to be ready to do whatever Jesus told them, even though Jesus had told her that it was not yet time for him to be revealed. Mary knew her son’s character personally and intimately. Jesus’ disciples had just met and begun to learn from Jesus, but they saw what Jesus did and recognized that he was the Christ, the Son of God.

The Holy Spirit calls the faithful Churches to return to their first love and zeal for Jesus, and to reclaim the faith they once had. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, believers can come to the kind of intimate, personal relationship with Jesus that Mary had for her son.

If we are willing to be Jesus’ disciples and follow Jesus in trust and obedience, he will reveal himself to us (John 14:21); we will see his power at work in the world, and we will come to know him personally through the indwelling Holy Spirit which he gives to his disciples, who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the “New Wine” (Matthew 26:29; Acts 2:13 RSV) which is better than the wine of this world; not which makes us drunk, but rather which gives life, spirit, joy and celebration to us.

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


Thursday – January 8 – Odd

Use only until First Sunday after Epiphany.
First posted 01/07/05;

Podcast: Thursday – January 8 – Odd

 

Isaiah 59:15b-21   –   God’s Judgment;
Revelation 2:8-17  –    Letters to Smyrna and Pergamum;
John 4:46-54  –   Jesus and the Gentiles;

Isaiah Summary:

The Lord saw that there was no justice among men. There was no person to intervene for justice, so the Lord himself intervened. Righteousness and salvation are his armor; vengeance and fury are his garments. He will repay each individual according to his deeds. He will punish his adversaries and be avenged upon his enemies.

All people will fear the name of the Lord and he will be glorified throughout the earth. “He will come to Zion (God’s chosen people; the City of God) as Redeemer” (Isaiah 59:20) to those who turn from their transgression (i.e. repent). God’s covenant with them is that his Spirit, and God’s Word which he has put in their mouths, will not depart from them for evermore.

Revelation Summary:

John was commanded to transmit Christ’s word to the Churches (Revelation 1:17b-20). The Church at Smyrna (40 miles northwest of Ephesus on the western coast of present-day Turkey; modern-day Izmir) is representative of persecuted churches. The believers are commended for their perseverance in tribulation and poverty (although rich in spiritual blessings).

They were apparently having considerable opposition from the Jewish community. They were about to experience particularly difficult troubles, with imprisonment of some of their members, but were assured that the tribulation would be relatively brief, and urged to persevere. Those who remain faithful unto death will receive eternal life. Those who succeed in remaining faithful until (physical) death will not suffer the second (eternal) death (which is the final punishment of sinners).

The Church at Pergamum (north of Smyrna, on the west coast of Turkey) was in a city noted for wickedness and idolatry. Antipas, a Christian, was martyred there for the faith.  Pergamum was commended for their faith in the midst of persecution, but they were rebuked for tolerating the false teachings of Balaam [Balaam was a God-fearer living among idolaters; Israel blamed Balaam for attempting to seduce Israel into apostacy through intermarriage with Moabite women (Numbers 25:1-2, 31:16)].

The Lord also rebuked the Church at Pergamum for tolerating the false teachings of the Nicolaitans [who taught false freedom from self-discipline; i.e., licentiousness; “cheap grace:” the false doctrine that we are saved by grace (as a free gift) without the requirement of discipleship or obedience]. Both false doctrines lead to apostasy and immorality.

The Lord warned them to repent or the Lord would attack them with the Word of God. Those who conquer (resist idolatrous influences and false doctrine, remaining in true faith until the end) will receive “hidden manna” (spiritual sustenance; the bread of eternal life; John 6:32-35) and a new name (Isaiah 62:2).

John Summary:

Jesus had returned from Judea to Cana (where he had turned water into wine). A Gentile military officer at Capernaum had a son that was very sick and on the verge of death. When he heard that Jesus had returned to Galilee, he went to Jesus and begged him to come and heal his son. Jesus said to him, “Unless you (plural) see signs and wonders you will not believe” (John 4:48). The officer just repeated his plea for Jesus to come before his son died. Jesus told the officer his son would live, and the officer believed and went on his way.

The next day his servants came to the officer and told him his son was recovering. The officer asked his servants when the child had begun to get better and they told him it had been the seventh hour (1 p.m.) of the preceding day. The officer knew that was when Jesus had told him his son would live. Consequently he and his entire household believed in Jesus. This was the second sign (miracle revealing who Jesus is; the first miracle was turning the water into wine) which Jesus did (since he had begun his public ministry).

Commentary:

Through the prophet, God promised to execute justice; to reward everyone according to their deeds. God promised to come as the Redeemer to those who turn from their transgressions. He promised to establish a covenant with the redeemed; he promised to fill them with his Spirit and enable them to speak God’s Word, and that this covenant would be for eternity.

John is an example of the fulfillment of that promise. Through trust and obedience to Jesus Christ, John had been filled with the Holy Spirit and he had been given the Lord’s Word to proclaim to the Churches. He accomplished that ministry even though exiled on a tiny island in the Aegean Sea.

John was sharing in the tribulation and the patient endurance required of the churches (Revelation 1:9). His message to them was to hang on to the scriptural, apostolic (as taught by the Apostles) faith; not to tolerate false teachers and false doctrines. He warns that God will punish and condemn God’s enemies and adversaries. The repentant who hold on to true faith and endure to the end will receive “hidden manna.”

In a sense the Holy Spirit is that hidden manna; it is the Spirit of the risen Christ who is the bread which comes down from heaven and gives us eternal life, and which sustains and strengthens us in the wilderness of this world.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts Chapter 2) was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise in Isaiah 59:21, to put his Spirit within the redeemed and put God’s Word on their lips. Jesus fulfills that promise; Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34; Matthew 3:11).

Only those who are disciples of Jesus, who trust and obey him receive the indwelling Holy Spirit (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b) who opens the minds of disciples to understand the scriptures and opens their mouths to proclaim it (but that doesn’t mean that every one who claims to preach God’s Word is filled with the Holy Spirit).

Jesus warns us not to base faith on outward “signs and wonders” (John 4:48). We need to know God’s Word by studying the Bible and by seeking a personal relationship with him through the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that we can recognize God’s Word and God’s voice, so that we can differentiate from false teachers and false doctrine.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise through Isaiah to come among us to intervene and establish justice, and to redeem those who repent and turn from their sins to trust and obedience in Jesus, the Redeemer.  We are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is eternal death (Romans 6:23).  Spiritually, sin is a terminal illness; Jesus is the only one who can heal us spiritually (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46). He will judge everyone according to what they have done. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected Jesus and refused to obey him will receive eternal destruction and death 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 – January 9 – Odd
Use only until First Sunday after Epiphany.
Podcast: Friday – January 9 – Odd

Isaiah 63:1-5    –    God’s vengeance and redemption;

Revelation 2:18-29   –    Letter to the Church at Thyatira;

John 5:1-15  –    Healing a lame man on the Sabbath;

Isaiah Summary:

The prophet is the watchman on the walls of Jerusalem, the Holy City of God. Someone is approaching from Edom and Bozra (Edom and Moab; Israel’s historic enemies). He is clad in fine crimson clothing, marching in great strength.  The watchman challenges the approaching person to identify himself. The person replies that he is mighty to give salvation and vindication (i.e., God’s promised Savior, Jesus Christ).

The watchman asks why the person’s apparel is crimson, and he replies that he alone has trodden the wine press (of God’s wrath); no one else was able to help. His garments are stained with lifeblood, from trampling the grapes of wrath. His heart was committed to the (brief) day of (God’s) vengeance, and the (long) year of his redemption (of his people) has come. There was no other one to help, so his right arm, God’s supernatural power, fulfilled and embodied in Jesus Christ, fulfilled God’s will.

Revelation Summary:

The Lord commended the church at Thyatira for her works, love, faith, service and patient endurance, but rebuked her for tolerating a false prophetess who resembles Ahab’s wicked idolatrous queen. The Lord will punish her and those who follow her teachings unless they repent.

The Lord knows our hearts and minds and rewards and punishes each according to his works. To those who have not strayed into heresy he exhorts them to hold fast to their faith until the end, and he promises that those who persevere will share in Christ’s Messianic rule, and share in the fellowship with Christ himself (the “morning star;” Revelation 22:16).

John Summary:

At a pool in Jerusalem where the sick came to seek healing, Jesus saw a man who had been waiting for healing there for thirty-eight years. Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. He answered with an explanation of why he had not yet been healed. Jesus told him to rise, take up his pallet and walk, and the man did so and was healed.

Since it was the Sabbath, the Jews (religious authorities) rebuked the man for breaking the Sabbath Laws by carrying his pallet. He answered them by explaining that the man who had healed him had told him to do so. They asked him who this was who had healed him, but he did not know, for Jesus had withdrawn.

Afterward Jesus found him in the Temple, and told him to sin no more, that nothing worse befall him. “The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him” (John 5:15).

Commentary:

The prophet of God is the watchman of this world, who sees and announces the approaching return of Jesus Christ and the Day of Judgment. Jesus is the only one who is completely sinless and obedient to God unto death on the Cross, and therefore the only one who is qualified to administer God’s judgment of the world. He is completely committed to execute the brief day of God’s vengeance and the long, eternal “year” of God’s redemption of his people. Jesus is returning to bring his people salvation and vindication, and condemnation and punishment for the enemies of God and God’s people.

The Church at Thyatira is like the nominal Church today. There are those within the Church who are genuine disciples, who are living according to Christ’s teachings, loving one another, trusting and obeying Jesus’ commands, seeking and serving God’s will and Christ’s mission, and patiently enduring in faith and scriptural, apostolic doctrine, despite worldly temptation and persecution. But there are also false prophets and false doctrines within the Church, and there are those who follow them.

The Lord rebukes the Church for tolerating false prophets and false doctrines and those who follow them within the Church, and warns that he knows each individual’s heart and mind, and will reward or punish each individual according to what each has done individually in this life.

The Lord implicitly warns that each person who claims to be Christian and claims to be within Christ’s Church is responsible to know and follow Christ’s teachings, as recorded in the Bible. Salvation is only by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ; we are not saved by belonging to a particular congregation or denomination, and we are not saved by believing some minister or teacher. Christians must be disciples of Jesus Christ.

Those who have not been misled by false prophets and false teachings, but have held firmly to scriptural, apostolic faith will share in Christ’s messianic reign and in personal fellowship with Christ.

In a sense, we are all spiritually ill (Romans 3:23), and unable to heal ourselves. We are spending our lives beside the pool. Jesus comes to us, and asks us if we want to be healed. Some deny their spiritual illness (1 John 1:8-10). Some insist on obeying “religious authorities.” Some insist on saving themselves by their works; they think they’ll some day be able to get into the pool at the right time. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness, and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

The only way to be spiritually healed of our eternally fatal illness is to trust and obey Jesus (but understand that we must not believe every spirit: 1 John 4:1; Jesus will never tell us to do what is contrary to God’s Word or which will harm ourselves or others). Jesus won’t force us to accept his healing; if we want to waste our lives living (spiritually dying) by the side of the pool we’re free to do so.

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 – January 10 – Odd
Use only until First Sunday after Epiphany.
Podcast: Saturday January 10 – Odd

 

Isaiah 65:1-9    –    God’s chosen people;
Revelation 3:1-6    –    The end is near;
John 6:1-14    –    Feeding the five thousand;

Isaiah Summary:

This is the Lord’s answer to the prophet’s intercession for the return of the people of Judah (the remnant of Israel) from Babylonian exile and the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple. The Lord said he was ready to be sought and found by his people, but they didn’t call on the Lord or seek him. The Lord invited them to come to him, but they were rebellious against God and preferred to live unrighteously, according to their own desires.

God’s people had provoked God by their idolatries, sacrificing and burning incense to idols, seeking guidance from spirits of the dead, and worshiping in pagan shrines. They had engaged in sorcery, violated the Jewish dietary laws, and had preferred consecration by some idolatrous rite, instead of the sanctification of themselves by God.

God warns that he will answer, with punishment within their innermost being (their immortal soul), according to their wickedness and sins, those who didn’t want to hear God’s Word. They will be repaid according to their deeds. As good wine is produced by selecting good clusters of grapes and rejecting inferior clusters, so God will select the righteous from the unrighteous.

God will not destroy all Israel, because God’s blessing of forgiveness and salvation is to come to the world through Israel. God will preserve a remnant of his people who are his chosen servants. God promises to bring forth from Israel (through Jesus Christ) descendants who will serve the Lord and will inherit the Promised Land, the mountain of God; the eternal City of God in heaven.

Revelation Summary:

The Church at Sardis, known as a center of luxury and licentiousness, is chastised for being dead although she has a reputation of being alive. The Lord calls her to awaken and revive what is on the point of death; to remember the gospel that she received, and repent. Otherwise, the coming of the Lord will be like a thief in the night and will catch them unprepared. There are a few members of the church at Sardis who have kept the faith and will be judged righteous. Those who hold fast to the faith and persevere to the end will be saved.

John Summary:

Jesus took his disciples off to a place where they could be alone, to the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee. A multitude followed Jesus because of his reputation for performing healing miracles. Seeing the multitude coming, Jesus asked Philip, one of the disciples, “How are we to buy bread so that these people may eat (John 6:5)?”

Jesus had asked Philip in order to test his faith; Jesus himself knew what he was going to do. Philip replied that it would cost a lot of money to provide even a small amount of food for each one. (The amount was equivalent to a laborer’s wages for two hundred days work.) Another disciple, Andrew, volunteered that there was a boy among them with five barley loaves and two fish; but that they would not go very far among so many.

Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down. There were about five thousand. Jesus took the boy’s bread and fish, and when he had blessed the food he distributed it to people, “as much as they wanted” (John 6:11b). When they had eaten their fill, he had the disciples gather up what was left over, and they filled twelve baskets. When the people realized what Jesus had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14b).

Commentary:

Throughout the history of God’s dealing with Israel, his people kept turning away from obedient trust in God. Then God would punish them to bring them back to obedient trust in God. Judah was already the remnant of Israel, since the fall of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel. Judah hadn’t learned from the example of the Northern Kingdom, and consequently God withheld his protection and allowed Judah taken captive and exiled in Babylon.

A remnant of Judah returned to the Promised Land, fulfilling God’s Word, but it was a renewed, revived people. God’s Word spoken by his prophets has been fulfilled over and over, and it continues to be fulfilled as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

God’s selection process continues now and his Word addresses the same situation in our world today. Exile in Babylon is also intended to be a parable, a metaphor, for life as God’s people in this world, and the return of his renewed, revived servants to the eternal Promised Land in the kingdom of Heaven.

God’s intention, from the very beginning of Creation has always been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who choose willingly to trust and obey God and serve him. This temporal life is our opportunity to seek and find God and come to a personal relationship with him (Acts 17:26-27).

We are all sinners (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 only provision for our forgiveness from sin, salvation from eternal death, and restoration to fellowship with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God gave us free choice, knowing that we would have to learn by trial and error, and would all need forgiveness, so God created this world with Jesus Christ as Savior from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). We become his “chosen” people as we choose to trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and demonstrated in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is intended to be an example for us. All of us are God’s people, since he is our creator. In another sense Christian nations, particularly America, are the “New People of God” and the “New Promised Land.” In another sense, the Church is the “New Israel.”

There has never been a time in the history of this world when God’s Word has been more urgently relevant in each of these three spheres. God has promised that if we seek him he will be found by us (Matthew 7:7-8), but are we seeking the Lord in obedience to his Word? Jesus is God’s invitation to come and live eternally in Heaven, but have we accepted?

God’s Word warns that there is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived on Earth will be accountable to him for what they have done in this lifetime. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus Christ will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom and presence in Heaven; those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and death in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46)

The Church at Sardis represents the spiritual condition in much of the Church, and in the American and other “Christian” cultures today. In too many instances the culture’s main interest and pursuit is luxury and licentiousness, and “members” bring that with them into the Church. The culture has a reputation for being “Christian,” which is no longer true, and in many instances Churches which are spiritually dead are unaware.

Both the Church and the culture need to hear God’s call to wake up and be revived by God’s Word and his Spirit! We need to remember the Gospel which we received and repent! There are a few Christian disciples who have kept the scriptural, apostolic Gospel faith, and those who hold fast to that faith until the end of this present age will be saved.

Jesus wanted to spend time alone with his disciples, “mentoring” them, but crowds followed him seeking physical healing. Jesus didn’t turn the crowd away; he welcomed them, had them sit down, and gave them a meal. It’s an illustration of the fellowship of the Lord in heaven, which begins now in this world in Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper; the Eucharist) for Christian disciples.

Jesus also did miracles of physical healing and feeding as signs that he can heal and feed spiritually, our true eternal need, which only Jesus can satisfy. Jesus also used it to teach his disciples that they can meet seemingly overwhelming spiritual needs in the people of this world by the power of the Lord within them through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

The people in the crowd had come because they had seen the physical healing he did; and as they continued to seek him, Jesus revealed himself to them in the breaking of bread (compare Luke 24:30-35), and they grew in their understanding of who Jesus is.

Jesus is the illustration of the Lord who wants to be found by those who seek him. Jesus promises that he will manifest himself to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:21).

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 1 Christmas – Odd – 12/28/2014 – 01/03/2015

December 27, 2014

Week of 1 Christmas – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


 

A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also 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_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.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 1 Christmas – Odd
Sunday 1 Christmas – Odd
First posted 12/25/04;
Podcast: Sunday 1 Christmas – Odd

Isaiah 62:6-7,10-12  –   Our coming salvation;
Hebrews 2:10-18   –   The suffering of Jesus;
Matthew 1:18-25  –   The Birth of Jesus;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord has set watchmen over Jerusalem to remind the people to remember the Lord and to watch and prepare for the coming salvation. We are exhorted to enter the gates, to prepare a way for the people, to build up the highway and clear it of obstacles. We are to lift up the ensign over the people. The Lord has promised that our salvation is coming, bringing our reward. We shall be the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, sought out, a city not forsaken.

Hebrews Paraphrase

It was God’s gracious will, in bringing us to salvation, to allow Jesus to fully experience our human suffering so that he could show us the way to spiritual maturity and salvation. Having been made holy by Jesus we share the same father, God, as the scriptures declare.

Since we are flesh and blood, Jesus came in flesh and blood, subject to physical death, so that through death he might destroy Satan, who has the power of death, and deliver us from lifelong fear of death which kept us enslaved.  Jesus had to share fully in human nature so that he might be our merciful and faithful high priest in securing the forgiveness of our sins. He knows what human suffering and temptation are like, having experienced them himself.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Mary was betrothed to Joseph but while she was still a virgin she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a good man and didn’t want her to be put to shame, so he considered divorcing her quietly. As he considered this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told Joseph to go ahead and marry Mary, because the child she was carrying was of the Holy Spirit.

The angel told Joseph that the child would be a boy, and that they were to name him Jesus (which means Savior) because he would save his people from their sins. This was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that a virgin would conceive and bear a son who would be called Emmanuel, meaning God with us. When Joseph awoke from the dream he went ahead and married Mary, but he didn’t have marital relations with her until after Jesus’ birth.

Commentary:

The Lord promised to send a Savior. That promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, but God’s Word is eternal, and the promise remains to be fulfilled again at Jesus’ return. Jesus has promised to return. Each of us will receive judgment according to what we have done. Those who have received the Savior will receive salvation and eternal life with him; those who have rejected the Savior will receive eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). In Jesus the fullness of God dwelt bodily in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus shared completely in our human nature so that we might share in his divine nature through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus experienced physical death so that we might experience spiritual life eternally. Jesus became the blood sacrifice for our sins, so that he could be our merciful and faithful high priest.

Jesus was born in human flesh by the Holy Spirit, so that we could be born in the spirit by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). Jesus’ name, in Hebrew and Aramaic, means “Savior.”  Jesus is Emmanuel: the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell among us, so that we could dwell with him in his eternal kingdom (Zechariah 2:10).

Is Jesus your 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)?

Monday December 29 – Odd
First posted 12/29/04;
Podcast: Monday December 29 – Odd

Isaiah 12:1-6  –   Songs of deliverance and thanksgiving;
Revelation 1:1-8   –   Alpha and Omega;
John 7:37-52  –   Rivers of living water;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

In the Day of the Lord his people will give thanks that though the Lord was justifiably angry he turned away his anger and comforted us. God has become our salvation; we can trust in him and need not be afraid. He is our strength and our joy.

How wonderful it is to receive life-giving water from the well of salvation. Let us give thanks and call upon him. Let us make his deeds known among the nations; let us exalt his name. Praise the Lord for his glorious deeds; let them be known in all the earth. Let those who dwell in Zion (the Church; the people of God; the heavenly city) rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

Revelation Paraphrase:

This Revelation is from God through Jesus, transmitted by an angel of the Lord to John, who testifies to God’s Word and the testimony of Christ. Those who proclaim this prophecy and those who keep and apply these words will be blessed.

John addressed the book to the churches of Asia Minor. Grace and peace (which are truly possible only in the Lord) from the eternal God (who is, who was, and who is to come), and from the fullness (seven representing completeness) of the (Holy) Spirit, and from Jesus Christ, “the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth” (Revelation 1:5; note the “trinity:” God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Eternal glory and dominion be to Jesus, who loves us eternally, and who died once for all as a blood-sacrifice to free us from our sins, and made us a kingdom and priests to his God and Father.

Watch; Jesus is coming with the clouds. Every eye will behold him, and we are all responsible for his death (because we have all sinned and made his sacrifice necessary; Romans 3:23). Every tribe on earth will mourn because of him. Nevertheless, let it be so. “I am (Exodus 3:14) the Alpha and Omega (first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; i.e., the beginning and end of all things), who is, who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

John Paraphrase:

On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles* Jesus proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38; Zechariah 14:8; Isaiah 58:11). Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit, which those who believed in Jesus were going to receive after Jesus had been crucified, resurrected and ascended into heaven (John 16:7).

When the people heard this some were convinced that Jesus was the prophet (the “Elijah” who was to precede the Messiah; Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:10-13). Others were convinced that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah). But others denied that Jesus could be the Christ because they believed he came from Galilee, and the scriptures indicated that the Messiah was a descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Luke 2:4 ) and would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; not realizing that Bethlehem was Jesus’ birthplace; Luke 2:2-7; Matthew 2:1).

People were divided in their opinions of who Jesus was. Some wanted to arrest him, but no one did. Officers of the temple went to the religious leaders, who asked them why they hadn’t arrested Jesus, and the officers praised Jesus’ teaching. The religious leaders rebuked the officers, suggesting that they had been beguiled by Jesus’ teaching, and pointing out that the expert religious teachers had not believed Jesus. They suggested that the crowd who listened to Jesus were ignorant and thus accursed.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee (one of the religious leaders and teachers) who had gone to Jesus secretly (John 3:1-10) and was one of Jesus’ followers, pointed out to the leaders that they were violating religious law by judging Jesus without a fair hearing and trial. The leaders rebuked Nicodemus, asking sarcastically if Nicodemus was also from Galilee (implying that he was an ignorant provincial also). The leaders asserted that according to scripture no prophet would arise from Galilee.

Commentary:

Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God has become our savior; the fullness of God dwelling bodily in Jesus (Colossians 2:8-9); Jesus Christ is Emmanuel (God with us; Matthew 1:23). He died once for all as a blood-sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. He provides living water from the well of salvation.

Jesus is the Son of God, and the son of David; the heir to the eternal throne of David and the eternal King of Kings. He died once for all as the blood-sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins (Hebrews 7:27).

Jesus has promised to return in glory to judge the earth; those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven, and those who have rejected Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46). After his Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven in the clouds, and he will return in the same way (Acts 1:10-11). Every eye will see him.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the symbolizm of the water ritual of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus is the rock which provides the water of life in the midst of the wilderness of this world (1 Corinthians 10:4). Jesus came to provide the “well of salvation;” from which we might receive the “living water” of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 4:10-11). Jesus is the “well;” those who recognize that they are spiritually thirsty and who trust and obey Jesus can come to him and drink and receive the life-giving, eternally life-sustaining water of his Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39).

The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that believers are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit do not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9b). The Lord gives his Holy Spirit only to those who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). It is possible for one to know with certainty whether one has received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). The gift of the Holy Spirit is a river flowing out from our hearts to the world around us.

What we believe about Jesus is eternally important to us individually. Each of us must come to his own decision. Have we given him a fair hearing?

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)?


*Feast of Tabernacles, or “Booths;” an eight-day harvest festival. For seven days, water was carried from the Pool of Siloam in a golden pitcher and poured on the altar in the Temple, as a symbol of God’s provision of water from the rock during the wilderness wandering (Numbers 20:2-13) and as a symbol of Messianic deliverance (Isaiah 12:3; 44:3; 55:1).


Tuesday December 30 – Odd
First posted 12/30/04;
Podcast: Tuesday December 30 – Odd

Isaiah 25:1-9   –   Death is swallowed up forever;
Revelation 1:9-20   –   Preparatory vision;
John 7:53-8:11  –  Adulteress;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord our God is worthy to be exalted and praised, because he has done wonderful things; faithful and sure plans formed long ago. The Lord has brought the fortified city to ruin; the palace of aliens has been destroyed beyond rebuilding. Mighty peoples will glorify God, and the ruthless will fear God.

God is the refuge of the poor and needy, “a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat” (Isaiah 25:4c). God subdues the attacks of the strong and ruthless. On this mountain (Zion) God will prepare a rich feast for all people, and he will remove the veil which covers all people and nations. “He will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8), he will wipe away every tear, and he will take away the reproach of his people. On that day we will say, “This is our God, we have waited for him that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” Isaiah 25:9).

Revelation Paraphrase:

John is the brother of all believers who share the tribulation, kingdom and patient endurance which is their common circumstance. John had been exiled (by Roman Emperor Domitian) to the island of Patmos (a tiny island in the Aegean Sea, between Greece and Asia Minor) for proclaiming the Gospel. John was in the Spirit (in communion with the Lord by the Holy Spirit) on a Sunday when was told to write his visions in a book and send it to the seven churches of Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

John saw a vision of seven golden lampstands, representing these seven churches, and the glorified Christ stood in their midst. His appearance is described in symbols suggesting his majesty. The sharp two-edged sword represents God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12). His eyes were like burning fire and his face shone like the sun. John fainted at the sight, but Jesus told John not to be afraid.

Jesus declared himself the first and last, the living one who died and lives eternally, who possesses the keys to release the dead from Hades (the abode of the dead). Jesus explained that the seven stars in his hand represented the seven angels assigned to the seven churches represented by the seven lampstands.

John Paraphrase:

Early in the morning Jesus was in the temple teaching, and scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, The scribes and Pharisees told Jesus that according to Moses she should be stoned, and they asked Jesus what he had to say about her. They were looking for some charge to bring against Jesus.

Jesus continued what he was doing and ignored them, but when they persisted Jesus told them that whichever one of them was without sin should be first to throw a stone at her. Then Jesus continued what he was doing.

One by one the Pharisees and scribes left, from the eldest to the youngest, until only the woman remained. Jesus looked at her and asked where her accusers had gone. None was left to condemn her, and Jesus declared that he would not condemn her either. He told her to go and sin no more.

Commentary:

God has accomplished the wonderful thing, the faithful and sure plan he has had from long ago for our good, to bring us to salvation and eternal life with him. God has conquered our powerful and ruthless enemy, Satan. On Zion, the mountain of God, the Lord has prepared a rich feast which his disciples share now in the Eucharist (“the Lord’s Supper,” “Holy Communion”) which will climax in the feast with the Lord in the eternal kingdom.

Through faith in Jesus, the Lord lifts the veil which covers the minds of all people which keeps them from seeing the truth of the Gospel (Matthew 27:51; 2 Corinthians 3:13-18; Exodus 34:33-35). Death has been swallowed up in victory through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

John had a vision of the son of man (Daniel 7:13-14; Mark 2:10), the glorified Christ, who declares himself to be the beginning and end of all things (Revelation 1:17b; compare Revelation 1:8), who died and rose to eternal life, and who possesses the power to free us from death and the kingdom of the dead (Revelation 1:18).

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 (Romans 6:23). Jesus came to die on the cross as a blood-sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins so that we could be forgiven of our sins and would not have to die eternally for them ourselves (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). He rose from the dead to eternal life, so that through him we could have the assurance of eternal life and be freed from lifelong bondage through the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus didn’t come to condemn us; he came to forgive and save us (John 3:16-17). He didn’t come to destroy us but to give us eternal life. He came to give us victory over sin and evil. Jesus forgave the Adulteress and told her to go and sin no more. Through trust and obedience to Jesus she had forgiveness and victory over sin.

Have you received the gift of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life through 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)?


Wednesday December 31 – Odd
First posted 12/31/04;
Podcast:
Wednesday December 31 – Odd

Isaiah 26:1-6  –   Song of victory;
2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2   –   The ministry of reconciliation;
John 8:12-19  –   Jesus, the light of life;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

In that day (of salvation) God’s people will sing this song. We have a strong city (the eternal Jerusalem). God’s salvation is our bulwark and wall (our fortress). The gates open to allow the righteous, those who keep faith, to enter. “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

Always trust in the Lord because the Lord “is an everlasting rock” (security). He humbles the proud who dwell in the heights of the lofty city; he brings the proud city down to the ground. But the poor and the needy he will lift up and exalt.

2 Corinthinas Paraphrase:

“Born-again” believers (those who have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit; James 1:22-25) should no longer see things from a worldly perspective. Though we once regarded even Jesus from a human perspective, we do so no longer. If anyone is in Christ (through the indwelling Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9), he is part of a new creation. He has passed from the old creation into the new. This is by God’s initiative, to reconcile us to God through Jesus Christ and to give us the ministry of reconciliation.

In Christ God offers reconciliation to the world, not holding us accountable for our sins, and giving us the message of reconciliation. So we are God’s ambassadors, proclaiming God’s offer of reconciliation to the world in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the sinless one, took on our sins so that we could take on his righteousness. So working in harmony with God’s plan of reconciliation, we beg you to accept the free gift of salvation God offers in Jesus Christ, now, before Christ returns. God has seen our need for forgiveness and salvation, and has provided the perfect solution. Now is the time; now is the day of salvation.

John Paraphrase:

On the last day of the Feast (of Tabernacles,* or “Booths;” John 7:2, 37), Jesus had declared that he is the source of “living water” (see entry for December 29, Christmas, odd year). Again Jesus declared “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 7:12). The Pharisees said that Jesus was bearing witness to himself and therefore not credible.

Jesus replied that even if he testified to himself his testimony is true, because he knew his origin and destiny, whereas the Pharisees did not know Jesus’ origin or destiny. It is the Pharisees who are passing judgment, not Jesus; but Jesus’ judgment is true because it is in accord with God’s judgment. Jesus’ testimony is true, because Jesus attests to it and “the Father” who sent Jesus attests to Jesus (satisfying the requirement of Jewish Law for two witnesses).

The Pharisees asked where Jesus’ Father was, and Jesus replied that they know neither Jesus nor his Father. If they had known Jesus (that he was the Messiah, the Son of God) they would have known God (his Father) also. Jesus had been teaching in the treasury of the temple on the occasion when he spoke these words, but he wasn’t arrested, because it was not yet God’s timing.

Commentary:

Now is the Day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s word. We have a strong eternal city. The gate is open to all who trust and obey Jesus.

God has seen our need, and he has provided forgiveness and salvation as a gift to be received through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we trust Jesus, we will do what Jesus says, and if we do what he says we will receive what he promises. Now is the time to trust and obey Jesus; now is the time to receive the gift of salvation and reconciliation with God.

On the last day of the Harvest Festival, Jesus declared that he is the light of life; those who follow him will not walk in darkness. Jesus, through his indwelling Holy Spirit, is the “pillar of fire” that guides us through the darkness of the wilderness of this world, into the eternal city in the Promised Land of heaven. When we trust and obey Jesus we are “born-again,” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Pharisees thought they knew God, but they didn’t recognize Jesus as God’s Son. If they had known God they would have recognized that Jesus was God’s Son, who spoke God’s Word. We can know enough about God through his Word to recognize Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah, but only through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus can we come to a personal knowledge of and fellowship with God.

The Pharisees wanted to arrest Jesus, but were unable until the time God allowed it to occur, in order for his plan for our reconciliation to be fulfilled. Today is the “last day of the harvest.” Today is the day that the Lord has appointed for our salvation.

Are you following 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)?


*Feast of Tabernacles, or “Booths;” an eight-day harvest festival. During this feast large lamps were lit in the temple courtyard, commemorating the leading of the pillar of fire during their wilderness wandering (Exodus 13:21).



Thursday January 1 – Odd

First posted : 01/01/2005
Podcast: Thursday January 1 – Odd

Genesis 17:1-12a, 15-16   –   The covenant with Abraham;
Colossians 2:6-12   –   Our circumcision in Christ;
John 16:23b-30  –   Prayer in Jesus’ name;

Genesis Paraphrase:

When Abram was ninety years old, God appeared to him and established the covenant of circumcision. God promised that if Abram followed the Lord blamelessly God would honor the covenant relationship with Abram and would multiply his descendants. Abram “fell on his face” (in worship; Genesis 17:3) before the Lord.

God changed Abram’s name (Abram means “exalted father”) to Abraham (meaning “father of a multitude”), to reflect his new covenant relationship with God. God promised that the covenant would be an everlasting covenant between God and Abraham’s descendants forever. God promised to give the land of Canaan, in which the patriarchs were merely nomads, to Abraham’s descendants as an everlasting inheritance, and that the Lord would be their God.

As a sign of the covenant and to keep the covenant in force, every male member of the people was to be circumcised. God also changed the name of Abraham’s wife from Sarai to Sarah, and God promised to bless her and give Abraham a son by her. God promised that kings of peoples would come from her.

Colossians Paraphrase:

As we receive Christ we are to live in him, rooted and growing in him, keeping on believing and keeping his teaching (trusting and obeying him), with thankfulness. “See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:8-9).

Believers have been “born-again,” (John 3:3, 5-8) through the indwelling Holy Spirit, into what is truly life through Christ, who is the sovereign ruler above all authority. Believers have been “circumcised” in Christ by a “circumcision” (of the heart) not made by human hands in our flesh, but by putting off our fleshly nature. We have been “buried” with Christ in baptism so that we can share in Christ’s resurrection to eternal life through faith in God’s power.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus assured his disciples that God would give them whatever they prayed for in Jesus’ name (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus promised his disciples that the time was coming when Jesus’ teachings would be made clear to them. He assured them that they could ask God directly in Jesus’ name for what they need because God loves Jesus’ disciples because they love Jesus and believe that he came from God.

Jesus told them he came into the world from God and that he was leaving the world to return to God. The disciples thought that they fully understood what Jesus was saying, and that they were fully convinced that Jesus was the Christ.

Commentary:

God initiated a covenant between himself and Abraham and Abraham’s descendants. Abraham and Sarah were beyond the age of childbearing, and had no children. God promised that, if Abraham and his descendants trusted and obeyed the Lord, the Lord would be their God. God promised to give them the Promised Land for an everlasting inheritance, and he promised that kings of people would come from among Abraham’s descendants. Abraham believed God’s promise, and he acted on it in faith.

God kept his promises to Abraham. Kings did come from among his descendants, climaxed by the coming of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, the Lord of the Universe, who is “the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:10). Jesus is Emmanuel (“God with us;” Matthew 1:23), God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Believers are to be “rooted” in Christ and growing in trust and obedience.

Jesus’ assurance that God would answer prayers in Jesus’ name was made to the disciples of Jesus. Merely adding Jesus’ name to the prayer does not obligate God to respond. God promised Abraham that if Abraham and his descendants walked in trust and obedience to the Lord, the Lord would be their God. The Lord is God, whether we obey him or not, but God has no obligation to bless us if we do not trust and obey him.

The disciples declared that they understood what Jesus was saying and that they knew that Jesus knew all things and that he was the Christ. They didn’t yet understand fully; they weren’t yet mature disciples, but they persevered through Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. They stayed rooted and growing in Jesus.

After the resurrection Jesus opened the minds of his disciples to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45) and he told them to stay in Jerusalem until they had been filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit [Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5. Christians should be “discipled” within the Church (the New Jerusalem) until they have received the indwelling Holy Spirit, before they are sent out into the world in ministry.] This is an illustration of the difference between “professing” Christians and “Born-Again” Christians.

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 January 2 – Odd
First Posted: 01/02/05
Podcast: Friday January 2 – Odd

Genesis 12:1-7    –    God’s call of Abraham;
Hebrews 11:1-12    –    Examples of faith;
John 6:35-42, 48-51    –    The bread of life;

Genesis Parpahrase:

Abram, (later named Abraham by God), had gone with his father, Terah, and Abram’s nephew Lot, from Ur in Chaldea (Babylon; present-day Iraq) intending to go to Canaan, but they settled in Haran (in modern Syria). After his father’s death, Abram, Sarai (later, “Sarah”), Abram’s wife and Lot, his nephew, continued their journey to Canaan, by the call and guidance of God.

God told Abram that Abram was to go to a land God would show him, and God promised to make him the father of a great nation, and through Abram all the nations of earth would be blessed. God promised to bless those who blessed Abram’s dynasty, and curse those who cursed them.

Abram went as the Lord God commanded him, with his wife, his nephew, all the people of his household, and all his possessions.  He passed through Canaan to Shechem (midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, and west of the Jordan River) to an oak tree at Moreh.  There the Lord appeared to Abram and promised to give that land to Abram’s descendants, so Abram built an altar to the Lord there.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Faith is being certain of the fulfillment of hope (in the promises of God’s Word); being convinced about things which cannot be seen. Scripture records that people receive God’s approval through faith. The material things of this world which seem so substantial have been created by the Word of God out of “nothing.”

Abel’s sacrifice was more pleasing to God, and through it he gained God’s approval. Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) was taken up by God without tasting death, because he had pleased God. “Without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Abraham was obedient to God’s leading through faith. He left his home to go to a strange land; he and his sons lived in tents as visitors in the land he had been promised. Abraham looked forward to the eternal city of God in Heaven. Through faith Sarah conceive when she was past the age of childbearing, and Abraham, in old age, became the father of a nation of innumerable descendants.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus declared that not all who had seen him believed in him. God knows all who will come to Jesus, and Jesus will reject none who come to him.

Jesus came into this world, not to do his own will, but to accomplish God’s will. God’s will is that none who have trusted in Jesus Christ will be lost; they will be raised to eternal life on the last day. God’s will is that all who see that Jesus is the Son of God and believe (trust and obey) him will have eternal life, and Jesus will raise him to eternal life in the Day of Judgment.

The Jews criticized Jesus for claiming to be the “bread from heaven,” because they knew his earthly parentage. Jesus answered, saying that Jesus is the bread of life. The forefathers ate manna, but manna did not give them eternal life. Jesus is the true, living, bread from heaven which gives eternal life. If anyone accepts this bread, the fleshly body of Christ, he will live eternally.

Commentary:

God called Abraham to leave his home and go to a new land God promised to show him. God promised he would make Abraham the father of a great nation, and would bless Abraham so that Abraham would be a blessing to others.

Abraham heard God’s call and did as the Lord commanded him! As he was obedient to God’s Word, God revealed himself to Abraham. God promised to give the land to Abraham’s descendants. Abraham believed God was faithful and able to do what God promised, and Abraham built an altar to the Lord and worshiped God there.

Abraham is the physical father of Israel, but he is the spiritual father of the “New Israel,” the Christian Church (Romans 4:11-12).

God is still calling people to leave their old lives to follow God’s Word and to go to a new (spiritual) place which he will show us, and as we go in obedient trust in his Word, he will reveal himself to us.

God reveals himself to us only through Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5; 14). Jesus is the only way (John 14:6) to have forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), salvation from eternal death, restoration to eternal life, and personal fellowship with God, beginning now in this temporal world (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). That eternal life and personal fellowship with God is only possible 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).

Faith is not like “wishing on a star;” it’s not getting whatever we believe if we believe hard enough. Faith is not like an “opinion;” it’s not like believing it will rain tomorrow. Saving faith is obedient trust in God’s Word, revealed in Jesus Christ.

True faith is revealed by action (James 2:18b). Hope in anything other than God’s Word will ultimately and eternally fail. It seemed humanly impossible that Abraham and Sarah would conceive a child, whose descendants would be a vast innumerable nation, but God is able and faithful to do what he promises, and as they trusted and obeyed, Abraham and Sarah received what God promised.

Without a faith which trusts and obeys God, one cannot please God. Although Abraham did not live to see the fulfillment of the inheritance of the earthly Promised Land, he did, through faith, receive the inheritance of the eternal Promised Land.

God’s purpose has always been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. The meaning and purpose of this temporal lifetime is to allow us to seek and come to a personal knowledge of, and fellowship with, God (Acts 17:26-27). In order to seek and find God we must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. As we trust and obey God’s Word he will manifest himself to us.

Jesus promised that he is the “bread of (eternal) life.” Jesus promises that he will satisfy the spiritual hunger and thirst and sustain life eternally for those who trust and obey Jesus’ word, which is God’s Word (John 14:24).

Jesus is the source of “living water,” the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, that sustains eternal life (John 7:38-39). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus will save with eternal life and resurrection from physical death all who come to him and believe in him. God’s will is that all who recognize that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved from eternal death. God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (John 3:16-17). But not everyone will be willing to acknowledge, trust and obey Jesus.

The Jews had God’s Word, the Bible scriptures and God’s promise of a Savior. They had the physical manifestation and ministry of Jesus Christ, and yet they rejected him, fulfilling God’s Word in Jesus Christ that not everyone who saw him would believe, trust and obey 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)?

Saturday January 3 – Odd
First posted 01/03/05;
Podcast: Saturday January 3 – Odd

Genesis 28:10-22  –  Jacob’s dream;
Hebrews 11:13-22   –   Faith;
John 10:7-17  –   The Good Shepherd;

Genesis Paraphrase:

Jacob, grandson of Abraham through Isaac, set out to Haran (in present-day Syria) to take a wife from among his Grandfather’s relatives (since he was not to marry a Canaanite (indigenous; native) woman; Genesis 28:1-2). He left Beersheba in Southern Canaan traveling north and he came to a place where he slept overnight out in the open, since it was uninhabited. He used a rock in the place for a pillow.

During the night he had a dream of a ladder from earth to heaven, and he saw angels of God ascending and descending on it. In the dream God spoke to Jacob, identifying himself as the God of Jacob’s father and grandfather.

God promised Jacob that he would protect Jacob and provide for him on his journey and would bring him back to this land, which God would give to Jacob and his descendants. God promised that Jacobs’s descendants would be numerous beyond counting. By Jacob and his descendants all the people on earth would be blessed.

Jacob awakened from the dream and he realized that God was in this place; that it was the house of God and the gate of heaven. Jacob took the stone he had used as a pillow and set it up as a pillar marking a sanctuary, and anointed it to consecrate it to God.

Jacob named the place Bethel, meaning “House of God” (although the Canaanites had called the place Luz). Jacob made a vow to God that if God provided for him as God had promised, Jacob would worship him as his God and would give God a tenth of all that God provided.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

All the Old Testament heroes of faith died believing but not having received what had been promised; they had only envisioned it from afar, having understood that they were aliens and exiles on this earth. The homeland for which they longed is not of this world; if it had been, they would have had opportunity to return, but they longed for a better one; a heavenly one. Because they longed for a better land than this world, God is not ashamed to be their God, and he has prepared a city (the heavenly Jerusalem) for them.

When Abraham was tested, he was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on whom God’s promise rested. He trusted that God was able even to raise the dead, and so he did, figuratively speaking, receive Isaac as back from the dead (through the substitution of the ram; Genesis 22:12-13). [Please Note: God will never ask you to do anything which will harm or endanger yourself or anyone!]

By faith Isaac blessed his sons Jacob & Esau, and by faith Jacob (Israel) blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, his grandsons by Joseph. Joseph died in Egypt in bondage, but by faith he trusted in God to bring the Israelites out of bondage and back to the Promised Land, and gave instructions for them to carry his bones with them for burial in the Promised Land (Genesis 50:24-25).

John Paraphrase:

Jesus declared that he is the door of the “sheep” (his followers), that allows them to enter the security of the sheep-fold (pen), and opens to allow them to find pasture. All who came before Jesus (messianic pretenders; anyone who offers salvation through any other means than by faith in Jesus Christ) are thieves and robbers. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; Jesus came to give life abundantly (beyond measure).

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep. He cares personally for each sheep as his own, not like a hired person who only cares about getting paid. The hired person abandons the sheep when he sees a wolf coming, because he cares about himself and not for the sheep. So the wolf is able to snatch and scatter the sheep. Jesus knows each of his sheep, and his sheep know Jesus, as intimately as God the Father knows Jesus and Jesus knows God his Father.

Jesus declared that he was going to lay down his life for his sheep. Jesus declared that he had other sheep (the Gentiles; not just the Jews). They will obey Jesus and Jesus will bring them together into one flock, with one shepherd, Jesus. That is the reason Jesus is going to lay down his life; and he will take it again (by rising from the dead, to eternal life), because God the Father loves Jesus for being willing to be obedient unto death.

Commentary:

Jacob had begun his journey by obeying the command of the God of his father. As he began to walk in obedience, God manifested himself to Jacob, out in the middle of “nowhere.”

Jacob had a vision of the angels of God ascending and descending on a ladder from earth to heaven. The Lord promised to protect Jacob on his journey and bring him safely to the Promised Land. God also promised that all the people would be blessed through Jacob’s descendants.

Jacob believed God’s promise, and he made a commitment to worship the Lord as his God, and to tithe (a tenth) of all that God provided. God was no longer the God of his father; he was now Jacob’s God. Jacob was amazed to realize that God was “bigger” than he imagined; God was not confined to one geographic location.

All of these Old Testament examples of faith were descendants of Abraham, through Jacob, and heirs of the promise of a land and God’s blessing. They believed God’s promise and acted upon it in obedience, and they died in faith, not having received the fulfillment of the promise.

God’s promises are faithful and true. God did protect Jacob and bring him back to Bethel (Genesis 35:1-15). Abraham trusted and obeyed God to the point of being willing to offer, as a blood-sacrifice, his son, Isaac, the son through whom God’s promise was to be fulfilled.

They passed their faith in God’s blessing on to their children. Joseph believed God’s promise of a land so that, even though he died in Egypt, he arranged to have his body embalmed to be carried throughout the wilderness wandering and to be eventually buried in the Promised Land.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through whom all people of Earth will be blessed. (Matthew 1:1-2, 16). Jesus is the fulfillment of Jacob’s vision of a ladder between heaven and earth, by whom the blessings of God descend, and by which we can ascend into the eternal kingdom (John 1:51).

Jesus is the door (the only door; John 14:6; Acts 4:12) through whom his followers go to find eternal security and spiritual sustenance: bread (John 6:35), water (John 7:37-38), and light of life (John 8:12). Jesus is the Good Shepherd! Jews and Gentiles have been united in one flock (1Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28) in Jesus Christ.

God did give his beloved only begotten Son as a blood sacrifice for our forgiveness and salvation; God only asked but did not require Abraham to so do to Isaac, to test Abraham’s faith, and as an illustration of what God was going to do for us.

Jesus laid down his life for us, in trust and obedience to God his Father, believing that God was able to raise him from death to life. The Apostles, the Bible and all “born-again” Christians can attest to the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from death to eternal life.

In a sense Christians are all, like the Old Testament patriarchs, required to walk in trust and obedience without seeing the eternal fulfillment of the promise, but if we will trust and obey Jesus during our journey through life, he will use our trust and obedience to prove his power, faithfulness and love, so that we can be sure of the Promised Land, without having seen it this side of eternity.

If we will consecrate ourselves to God in Jesus Christ by trust and obedience, he will anoint us with his indwelling Holy Spirit (compare Genesis 28:18) which is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16) and we can be “pillars” in God’s House.

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)?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: