Week of 2 Advent – A -12/04 – 10/2016

December 3, 2016

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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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

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 Advent A

Sunday 2 Advent A

First posted December 9, 2007;

Podcast: Sunday 2 Advent A

Isaiah 11:1-10 — The Messianic King;
Psalm 72:1-14 (15-19) — Prayer for the King;
Romans 15:4-13 — The Root of Jesse;
Matthew 3:1-12 — The Coming King;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from the stump, the root, of Jesse (the father of David, the great shepherd-king), like a shoot, a branch. The Spirit of the Lord will be upon him, marked by divine wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and the fear (appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority) of God. The fear of the Lord will be his delight.

The Messiah will not judge according to outward appearance or human testimony, but with righteousness, in accord to God’s Word. He will give justice and equity to the poor and the meek.

The Word of his mouth will be like a rod to strike and punish worldly people and destroy the wicked. His judgment will be controlled by the righteousness and faithfulness of God.

In the Day of Judgment he will establish a new eternal creation restored to paradise, in which all will dwell in peace and security. There will no longer be predator or prey; all will live together in harmony, “and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6d). There will no longer be injury and destruction, in God’s eternal kingdom, because all will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

In that day the root of Jesse (the Messiah; Jesus Christ), will stand forth as a signal flag, and all nations and peoples will seek and glorify him.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The people of God pray for a King, the royal Son, who will possess God’s righteousness and justice, so that he can judge the people with righteousness and give justice to the poor. May the land be blessed with prosperity as the people follow God’s righteousness. The King will defend the rights of the poor, deliver the needy, and crush the oppressor.

The Messiah will reign forever, throughout all generations. He will refresh and sustain his people like rain on mown grass. Peace will last forever. The Messiah will reign from sea to sea; from the river (Euphrates; cradle of civilization) to the ends of the earth. His foes will bow down before him and his enemies will be completely vanquished. The kings of the earth will pay him tribute and bow before him; all nations will serve him.

The Lord delivers the needy, the poor and helpless, has pity on them and saves their lives; their blood is precious to him.

Romans Paraphrase:

The Bible record of God’s dealing with Israel has been written down for our instruction, so that we might be encouraged and have hope in the steadfastness of God’s Word. God is the source of steadfastness and encouragement; may he help us live in harmony with one another and in accord with Jesus’ teachings, that we may glorify God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ with “one voice.”

Since God has graciously welcomed us into his family, we should be gracious and welcoming to other people. Jesus became a servant to the Jews so that God’s truthfulness in fulfilling his promise to their patriarchs could be clearly seen, and the Gentiles can thank and glorify God for his mercy in including them in salvation.

Paul used quotes from Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 117:1 and Isaiah 11:10 to show that God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ has always been intended for the Gentiles (“nations;” non-Jews) as well as for the Jews. Paul’s prayer is that the Gentile Christians would be filled with the joy and peace, with God and with others, by the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us hope.

Matthew Paraphrase:

In God’s timing, John the Baptizer began preaching in the wilderness east of Jerusalem, calling people to repent (turn from disobedience to obedient trust in God’s Word), because the coming of the kingdom of God was imminent. John was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, of a voice crying in the wilderness, for the people to prepare for the coming of God’s kingdom, straightening their ways so that they could receive the Messiah; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King.

John was dressed in the manner of Old Testament prophets (2 Kings 1:8), and lived off food he gathered in the wilderness, like locusts and wild honey. Crowds came to him from a wide area around Jerusalem, confessing their sin, and were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

Pharisees and Sadducees (Jewish religious leaders) also came for baptism, but when John saw them he said, “You brood of vipers (poisonous snakes)! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father;’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10).

John declared that he was baptizing with water for repentance, and was the most menial servant of the Lord, but the Messiah, who would be much greater than John, was coming and would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John described the Messiah’s coming as that of a thresher of grain. The Messiah would thresh the wheat and separate it from the chaff. He would gather the wheat into his granary, but would burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Commentary:

The Word of God through Isaiah, his prophet, promised that the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively) would come forth like a shoot from the “stump” of Jesse (the father of David, the shepherd-king). God had promised that the Messiah would be the eternal heir to David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29).

The Lord fulfilled his promise in Jesus Christ, the “son of David” (Matthew 1:1-17; Matthew 21:9). The “stump of Jesse” indicates that Judaism and the Old Covenant of Law comes to an end and the Messiah initiates a New Covenant. Judaism effectively ended at the crucifixion of Jesus. The veil (curtain) of the temple was torn in two (Mathew 27:51a), symbolizing that Jesus Christ has opened a new and better way into God’s presence. Jesus initiated the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) at his “Last Supper” on the night of his betrayal (Matthew 26:26-29 NKJV; Hebrews 9:15).

God lifted his favor and providence from Israel, and Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The Jews were scattered throughout the world and Israel ceased to exist as a nation until reestablished following World War II. The temple, on which the Old Covenant depended, has never been rebuilt. Jesus’ death on the cross has become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for our forgiveness and salvation.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophetic hope of the psalmist for a royal Son and eternal King of kings. The magi (wise men; the “Three Kings”) came to worship Jesus at his birth, bringing gold, incense and myrrh (Psalm 72:10-11, 15; Matthew 2:1-2, 11)

The Messiah is God’s anointed Savior and eternal King, but he is also God’s appointed righteous Judge. Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24). There is a Day of Judgment coming, when Christ returns. The standard of judgment will be God’s Word, and Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who trust and obey Jesus will be forgiven their sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and will be saved from God’s eternal condemnation and eternal death in unquenchable fire in Hell. The Word of God will punish and destroy eternally those who have rejected Jesus and have refused trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

At the Second Coming (Advent), when Christ returns, he will establish a new eternal Creation, restored to paradise, with no sin, evil, injury or death, where his people will live eternally in peace, security and harmony. Everyone will know the Lord and live according to his Word. The people of God, who know and believe God’s Word, long for the coming of the kingdom of God.

In this world there is no true justice or equity. The rich and powerful prey upon and oppress the poor and the weak. God’s Word should be a warning to us, particularly in America, that if we want to continue to enjoy the prosperity of our land which God has blessed us with, we cannot continue to prey upon and oppress the poor, the needy and the weak. God lifts his providence from nations which pervert justice, as the Bible record documents.

Living as citizens of the kingdom of God begins now, in this lifetime. This is our opportunity to seek and know God (Acts 17:26-27), to discover and understand his will so that we can do it. As we begin to apply God’s Word in our daily lives, we learn personally and individually that God’s Word is true, faithful and good, and our very best interest (Romans 12:2).

As we begin to trust and obey Jesus, he will reveal himself to us (John 14:21) and give us the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in this lifetime, in order to see God’s kingdom coming, now, in this world, and to live in God’s kingdom eternally in heaven. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the example of what obedient trust in God’s Word “looks like,” lived out in this world, in human flesh. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he alone can fill us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit imparts spiritual, eternal life, and also divine wisdom (not what the world falsely calls “wisdom;” 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8), understanding, guidance, power and ability, knowledge, and awe and respect for God’s power and authority (Luke 24:45; John 14:25-26; Mark 13:11). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the truth and faithfulness of God’s Word and the joy, peace and assurance of hope which only Jesus gives only through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the fulfillment of God’s Word of the return of “Elijah” to herald the coming Messiah. Before the coming of Jesus, only certain individuals had a close personal relationship with God. John is an example, and he was led and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. John began the call for repentance and return to obedient trust in God’s Word, in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, and the Church continues that call today.

John was the fulfillment of God’s Word and his prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus. God’s Word is always fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The test of prophecy is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth, and his return is imminent in the sense that each of us will face his judgment within our lifetimes. No one can be certain of living until tomorrow. Today is the only opportunity we can be sure of, to repent of our disobedience and commit to Jesus Christ as our Lord in obedient trust. Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2b).

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 Advent A

First posted December 10, 2007;

Podcast: Monday 2 Advent A

Psalm 146 — The Lord Reigns;

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord! With my soul I will praise the Lord as long as I live and exist. “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Psalms 146:3-4).

Those whose hope is in the Lord their God, who rely on the Lord for help, will be blessed. It is the Lord God who has created heaven and earth and sea, and everything in them. His faithfulness is eternal; he gives justice to the oppressed and feeds the hungry.

The Lord frees the prisoners, opens the eyes of the blind, and uplifts those who are brought low. The Lord loves those who do right (according to his standard; his Word). The Lord watches over sojourners, upholds widows and orphans, but he brings the wicked to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever; our God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!

Commentary:

It is tempting to put our hope and trust in human achievement and material possessions. Our culture emphasizes “self-reliance,” worldly success and human achievement. Worldly security is an illusion, which can never be achieved by our efforts. So many people spend so much of their life and effort trying to get hold of and hang on to what cannot satisfy or provide security, which is not eternal, and which will soon pass away. The more we have the more we have to lose; the more we have to worry about.

When we entrust ourselves, our families and our possessions to the Lord, he will show us his faithfulness and power to help and bless us and provide what we truly need, and we will grow in faith (obedient trust) and security in him. Nothing can happen to us in this world that he can’t handle.

Only the Lord can set us free from slavery to the “gods” of this world. Only he can open the eyes of the spiritually blind. Only he can deliver us from the fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15) and give us eternal life.

The Lord cares for the poor, the oppressed, the weak, the needy, and the down-and-out; people that our culture rejects. On the Day of Judgment, everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what they have done in this world, in this lifetime. This Creation is God’s “garden” and we will be accountable for our stewardship of its resources (Matthew 21:33-43). Have others gone without necessities, because we tried to provide our own material security by hoarding resources? Have we neglected our spiritual health while trying to retain physical youth, beauty and health?

Jesus warned that as we treat the least of our fellow humans, we are doing so to Jesus. He warned that it is not those who call Jesus their Lord, but those who do what he teaches who are his disciples and have eternal life (Matthew 25:31-46).

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

Tuesday 2 Advent A

First posted December 11, 2007;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Advent A

Isaiah 35:1-10 — The Coming of Messiah;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The barren wilderness will blossom and become lush, fertile and beautiful, with joy and singing. Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon are examples of beauty, lushness and fertility. The glory and majesty of the Lord will be revealed and they will rejoice.

Let those with weak hands, feeble knees and fearful hearts be strengthened and encouraged and fear not, because our God is coming, with vengeance and recompense, to save us.

Then the sight of the blind and the hearing of the deaf will be restored, the lame will become agile, the mute will sing for joy. Springs of water will break forth in the wilderness and streams will irrigate the desert. Instead of burning sand there will be pools of water. Barren wastelands will become swamps.

There will be a highway, known as the Holy Way. The unclean (unrepentant sinners) won’t be allowed, and fools shall not make mistakes on it. Predators and ravenous beasts will not be found there; the highway is for the redeemed of the Lord, who have been ransomed (from sin and death) and they shall return to Zion (the eternal city of God) rejoicing. They will have everlasting joy and gladness, and there shall be no more sorrow or suffering.

Commentary:

John the Baptizer heralded the first advent (coming) of the Messiah in the wilderness (Luke 3:1-17). The glory and majesty of the Lord are revealed in Jesus. Jesus opened the fountain of salvation in the “wilderness” of this world and the barrenness of human hearts. It is that spiritual fountain which causes the wilderness of our lives to blossom and become fertile, and that fountain is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is that spiritual fountain which gives eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God’s Word promised that the coming of the Messiah would be attended by healing and restoration of the blind, deaf, mute and lame, and this was fulfilled in Jesus (Matthew 11:2-6). Jesus healed physical disabilities in fulfillment of the Scripture, but that physical healing was intended to show that he can also heal spiritual disabilities, spiritual blindness and deafness, and can raise us from physical and spiritual death to eternal life.

The gift of the Holy Spirit within us is the fullest revelation of God the Father and Jesus Christ to us personally and individually. It is the testimony of the Holy Spirit within us that strengthens and reassures us and calms our fears. Through the Holy Spirit we experience God’s love. We can rejoice in and pray for the Second Coming, knowing that the Lord will vindicate and save us.

Jesus is the (only) way (John 14:6); the highway to Zion, the eternal city of God in Heaven, and to eternal life. No evildoers, no unrepentant sinners (disobeyers of God’s Word) will be allowed on that highway. The way of salvation is not too difficult for even the simplest, least “educated” of people, but those who are spiritually reckless and insincere will not be allowed.

Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross is the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and our salvation from God’s eternal condemnation and destruction (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus paid the price which ransoms us from the slavery and punishment of sin and eternal death. Jesus is the only way to everlasting joy and gladness in paradise restored in Heaven. Forgiveness and salvation are free gifts from God, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God fulfilled his promise to send a Savior and eternal King in Jesus’ first coming, and God’s Word promises that Jesus will return on the Day of Judgment and will judge the living and dead (1 Peter 4:5; in both the physical and spiritual senses). Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what they have done in this lifetime (John 5:28-29). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected and have refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46).

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

Wednesday 2 Advent A

First posted December 12, 2007;

Podcast: Wednesday 2 Advent A

James 5:7-10 — The Lord is at Hand;

James Paraphrase:

Christians are urged to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord. For example, the farmer must wait for the precious fruit of the harvest, patiently tending it through the growing cycle. So we also must be patient, settling our hearts, because the Lord’s return is at hand. Let us not complain or argue with one another, so that we will have no cause to be judged, because the judge is at the very door. Be encouraged by the example of the prophets of the Lord who spoke in his name.

Commentary:

It is easy to become distracted by the things of this world, when we begin to think that the Lord’s return is delayed, especially in this season and this culture. Preparations for the secular celebration of the holiday take our attention away from our spiritual preparation.

Spiritual harvest is like farming. The seed has to be planted, and then tended through a period of growth until it is ready for harvest. The seed can’t be planted and then neglected; there’s no harvest without the planting and patient nurturing.

Christmas is a celebration of the first Advent (coming) of Christ, and the anticipation of his return. Israel had waited for hundreds, even thousands of years, for the promised Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King) to come, but suddenly he was revealed, he proclaimed his Gospel, was crucified and resurrected, and ascended into Heaven in the matter of about three years. Many in Israel were unprepared for the coming of the Messiah. Some non-Jews were more willing to receive him than many of the Jews, although the non-Jews hadn’t had the testimony of God’s Word, the Bible.

The world is in the same situation today as that of Israel at the time of Jesus’ first advent. Many have been told that Christ will return to judge the earth. Many consider themselves the people of God, the “New Israel” and citizens of the “New Jerusalem.” They have access to the Biblical testimony.

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ who knows Jesus’ teaching, who trusts and obeys Jesus, and has been “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). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). The 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).

Discipleship is a process of spiritual growth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the seed. “To all who received him, who believed on his name (his character and person) he gave the power to become children of God” (John 1:12). But that power must be received and appropriated by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. We must invite Jesus to be our Lord, to be our Master, to teach us his way, and we must be committed to following his teaching (Revelation 3:20).

Spiritual maturity isn’t instantaneous. It’s a process of learning to trust and obey by trusting and obeying; by trial and error. “The Twelve” original disciples were with Jesus twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for about three years, and yet were not ready to continue Jesus’ ministry until they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Jesus told them to wait for their “rebirth” before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). We should thank God that he’s been patient with us and has given us time to prepare for Jesus’ return (2 Peter 3:9).

Christ’s Second Coming is imminent. We can be certain that he will return within our own lifetime, because this lifetime is all the time we have to be “reborn” through obedient trust in Jesus, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, and no one can be certain of living until tomorrow. Today is the only time we can be certain of; Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

The Bible is God’s Word of encouragement to those who trust and obey him. God’s dealing with Israel was recorded in the Bible for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11). Any average reader can read the entire Bible in one year (see Free Bible Study Tools; sidebar, top right). Those who haven’t read the whole Bible and don’t read it daily for guidance are missing the great promises, encouragement and divine wisdom it contains.

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 Advent A

First posted December 13, 2007;

Podcast: Thursday 2 Advent A

Matthew 11:2-11 — Fulfillment of God’s Promise;

Matthew Paraphrase:

Herod had imprisoned John the Baptizer for preaching against Herod’s marriage to the wife of his brother, Philip (Mark 6:17). In prison John heard about what Jesus was doing, and he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he was the Messiah prophesied to come.

Jesus replied by telling John’s disciples to tell John what they saw and heard Jesus doing: healing the blind and lame, cleansing lepers, restoring hearing to the deaf, raising the dead, and preaching good news to the poor. Those who are not offended by Jesus will be blessed by him.

When John’s disciples left, Jesus spoke to the crowd, asking them why they had gone out to John in the wilderness. Surely they hadn’t gone out to see a reed shaken by the wind, nor a person in fine clothes, because such people are in palaces. Hadn’t they gone out to see a prophet? Indeed John is more than a prophet.

Jesus declared that John was the fulfillment of Scripture (Malachi 3:1) of a messenger to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. Jesus declared that John was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, and yet those who are least in the kingdom of God are greater than he.

Commentary:

John was languishing in prison and needed reassurance that his hope in Jesus as the Messiah was true. He was hearing rumors about what Jesus was doing, but was unable to witness them himself. John sent his own disciples to ask Jesus to declare whether Jesus was the Messiah.

Jesus answered by telling John’s disciples to tell John what they saw and heard Jesus doing. Jesus was doing the miracles (“signs”) prophesied as accompanying and revealing the Messiah’s identity (Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1; compare Luke 4:17-21).

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), and has the same creative power (Genesis 1:3; compare Mark 4:37-41). Jesus was careful not to tell people who he was, because he wanted them to be free to decide for themselves who Jesus is. That is the reason Jesus usually referred to himself as the Son of man, which was true (and was a scriptural hint; see Daniel 7:13), but allowed them to decide for themselves whether he was also the Son of God.

John is the fulfillment of God’s Word of the “Elijah” who was to return to herald the coming of the Messiah, if people choose to accept his message. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promised Messiah, but people are free to accept or reject him and his message.

Those who accept John’s message are prepared for the coming Messiah, but those who reject him miss the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah for themselves. The Jewish religious leadership rejected John. Herod was offended by John’s message.

Those who accept Jesus, who are not offended by him, will be blessed. Many Jews including Jewish religious leaders took offense at Jesus and missed the promise and blessing of God. Many today are offended by Jesus Christ and by God’s Word.

If John’s message was meaningless, like the rattling of a dry reed by the wind in the wilderness, why would people go out to find him in the wilderness? If they judged John’s message by his clothing and appearance, would they accept his message over that of the religious leaders who wore the robes of their leadership position, or over the secular Roman governors?

Jesus declared that John was the (last and) greatest of the Old Testament prophets, who had the privilege of announcing and witnessing the coming of the long awaited Messiah promised in God’s Word. In Old Testament times only a few individuals, God’s chosen prophets (spokespersons) had a personal relationship with God. John had a personal relationship with God, who guided John to begin his ministry and gave him the message he was to proclaim, but the least disciple of Jesus has a better personal relationship with Jesus and God the Father through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which Jesus’ coming was to make possible.

Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit through whom Jesus personally and individually reveals himself to us and through whom we have fellowship with God the Father (John 14:21, 23). It is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which causes us to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

If we do not read the Bible completely and daily, we have no basis on which to make spiritual decisions which have personal and eternal consequences. God’s Word has been given to us so that we can know God’s will and purpose, and recognize God’s prophets and God’s Messiah.

The Lord wants us to be free to accept or reject him. To receive his blessings, his promises, in God’s Word personally, we must trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation (from our eternal condemnation and destruction by God’s judgment; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right).

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

Friday 2 Advent A

First posted December 14, 2007;

Podcast: Friday 2 Advent A

Malachi 3:1-6 — Messenger of the Lord;

Malachi Paraphrase:

Malachi proclaimed God’s Word that God would send a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, the Lord, who would “suddenly come to his temple” (Malachi 3:1). He is the Lord of the (new) covenant, in whom they delight. But who will survive his coming?

The Lord will be like a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap (bleach). He will first purify the Church (the sons of Levi; lay leaders) as a refiner purifies silver and gold by fire. Then they will present offerings acceptable to the Lord as they had in the past.

Then the Lord will judge all people, and will destroy those who practice sorcery, adultery, lying, those who deny workers a just wage, who oppress widows, orphans, and sojourners (non-citizens). God’s Word is faithful and unchanging; he has shown forbearance to Israel and not destroyed them outright.

Commentary:

Four or five-hundred years before the birth of Christ, Malachi declared God’s Word of the coming (advent) of the promised Messiah. John the Baptizer was the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy of the messenger God would send to prepare Israel for the coming Messiah (Luke 3:1-9; Matthew 17:10-13).

To God’s people who delight in a covenant relationship with God, the Messiah is bringing a New Covenant, not based on fear of punishment, but on God’s grace (a free gift; unmerited favor), to be received by faith (obedient trust) in the Messiah (Ephesians 2:8-9; Jesus; God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King; “Christ” is the Greek equivalent).

The prophecy of the coming of Messiah applies to his first advent, his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection, but also to his Second Coming, when he will return to judge the “the living and the dead” (in both the physical and spiritual senses; 1 Peter 4:5). The Lord’s judgment will begin with the Church (Malachi 3:1; compare 1 Peter 4:17), so that they will again make acceptable offerings to the Lord. The purified, “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) Church is to be the New Messenger, the New John-the-Baptizer,” to continue his call to repent and prepare for the Second Coming.

Jesus came to Israel, God’s covenant people of the Old Covenant of Law, sacrifice and punishment. He came to establish a New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, who is the mediator of the New Covenant between God and his people. Jesus established the New Covenant at his Last Supper on the eve of his crucifixion (Luke 22:20 RSV note “j;” Hebrews 9:15).

The Lord’s refining judgment is intended to refine and purify God’s people so that they will be acceptable to him, but will remove and destroy the wicked who do not obey the Gospel (1 Peter 4:17).

A “fuller” was someone who whitens cloth. Fuller’s soap whitens cloth and removes stains. Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross as a sacrifice for our forgiveness and salvation removes the stains of sin and provides the white robes of righteousness in God’s judgment through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Revelation 7:14).

A refiner of precious metals uses fire to separate and remove the dross (contaminations) from silver and gold to purify them. Fire doesn’t destroy what is precious, but only what is corrupt.

God and God’s Word are eternal and unchanging. What he promises is fulfilled. God warns us that he will not tolerate sin (disobedience of God’s Word). What God hated thousands of years ago and recorded in the Bible is still unacceptable to him, but he has had great patience with us to allow us to learn to trust and obey his will by trial and error. He doesn’t destroy the wicked immediately, but within our lifetimes we will all face his judgment, and then he will destroy the wicked, unrepentant sinners

Jesus has received all power and authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and has promised to return on the Day of Judgment, to judge everyone who has ever lived. The standard of judgment will be Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in the paradise of the New Creation of God’s eternal heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey him will receive eternal destruction in the unquenchable fire of Hell (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

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

Saturday 2 Advent A

First posted December 15, 2007;

Podcast: Saturday 2 Advent A

Romans 1:16-25 – God’s Judgment on sin;
Luke 1:39-56 – Mary’s Testimony;

Romans Paraphrase:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). God’s righteousness is revealed to those who believe, so that their faith might increase and be strengthened. Those who trust and obey Jesus in faith are accounted righteous by God and have eternal life.

The wrath of God is upon the ungodly and wicked who by wickedness suppress the truth. Although God is invisible, God has revealed himself, his eternal power and deity to all people through Creation. So people have no excuse; it isn’t that they don’t know that God exists, but they refuse to honor and give thanks to him. By denying the truth, their minds have become darkened and their thinking futile. They claim to be wise but have become fools, exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images of man or animals.

God allowed them to pursue the impure lusts of their hearts, and they dishonored their own bodies. “…they have exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:25).

Luke Paraphrase:

After the Angel of the Lord had revealed to Mary that she was pregnant with the Messiah, she went from Nazareth to the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was Mary’s kinswoman, and was also supernaturally pregnant with John the Baptizer (Luke 1:5-25).

When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby within Elizabeth leaped for joy. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed that Mary was blessed above all other women, and praised and glorified Mary’s baby, acknowledging that Mary was the mother of Elizabeth’s Lord (the Messiah). She praised Mary for believing that the Word of the Lord would be fulfilled as Mary had been told.

Mary praised the Lord and acknowledged God as her Savior. Almighty God had exalted and done great things for Mary, a lowly maiden, who would be exalted through all generations.

Mary testified that God’s mercy is on those who fear (have proper respect for the power and authority of) God. God has revealed his great power. God scatters the proud who imagine that they are great, he dethrones the mighty, but he exalts the humble. God feeds the hungry with good things, but turns away the rich empty-handed. God has been merciful and has fulfilled his promise to help his people who serve him, as he promised to our ancestors, to the posterity of Abraham forever.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her home.

Commentary:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ applies the power of God to save us from sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and (eternal) death (the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23) for all who believe (trust and obey). God brought the Gospel of Salvation to the Jews first, but it has always been intended for all people.

The meaning and purpose of this lifetime is to seek, find and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God, our Creator. This is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from God’s eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God has been progressively revealing himself to all people, first through Creation itself, then through the history of God’s relationship with Israel, recorded in the Bible. Then through Jesus Christ, recorded in the Bible, and ultimately revealed individually and personally through the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God’s Word reveals the righteousness (doing right, according to God’s standard) of God in the Bible. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word in human form (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the righteousness of God revealed in human flesh. Those who believe (trust and obey) God’s Word experience God’s righteousness through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which causes our faith to grow to spiritual maturity (John 14:21, 23; 16:7-11).

God has given us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God’s Word. The wicked and ungodly want to be their own “god.” They appear to thrive now, in this world, but God has appointed a Day of Judgment, when we will all be accountable for what we have done in this lifetime.

Jesus is (divine, eternal) truth (John 14:6). Satan is the “god” of this world and he is a liar and the father of lies. If we refuse to accept, trust and obey Jesus, we are blinding ourselves to eternal truth. If we refuse to worship the Lord we will be slaves of Satan and have exchanged the love and goodness of the Lord for our own wicked desires.

Mary and Elizabeth are examples of faith. Mary was a virgin and Elizabeth was old and barren. An angel of the Lord gave them God’s Word that they would each become pregnant. The child of Mary was the long-awaited Messiah, and the child of Elizabeth was John the Baptizer, the “new Elijah” (Matthew 17:10-13), who was expected to herald the coming of Messiah. Through the obedient trust of those two women, God’s plan of salvation was fulfilled, for all who trust and obey God’s Word.

Mary and Elizabeth knew from first-hand personal experience that the Lord lifts up the humble, and blesses the faithful with good things, but those who are arrogant and selfish will be brought low. In the advent of the Christ as a child, Jesus Christ, God has fulfilled his promise of a Savior who was to come through Abraham and his descendants to be a blessing to all people who trust and obey Jesus.

God’s Word is eternally true. We can choose whether or not to trust and obey it. Those who trust and obey will experience God’s love, truth and faithfulness. Those who refuse will ultimately receive God’s wrath and the due penalty for 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 Advent A – 11/27 – 12/03/2016

November 26, 2016

Week of 1 Advent A

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

Please Note:

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

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

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

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

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.

This entry for 1 Advent marks the beginning of the Church year, cycle A.

Podcast Download: Week of 1 Advent – A

Sunday 1 Advent A

First Posted 12/2/07;
Podcast: Sunday 1 Advent A

Isaiah 2:1-5 — The New Age;
Psalm 122 — Peace for Jerusalem;
Romans 13:11-14 — Christ’s Imminent Return;
Matthew 24:37-44 — The Thief in the Night;
or Matthew 21:1-11 — Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

God revealed God’s Word of prophecy to Isaiah concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

God declared that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the highest, above other hills. All people and nations will come to it, eager to be taught the Lord’s ways so as to live according to them.

From Zion (the hill of the house of the Lord; Jerusalem; the Church; the Heavenly City) shall go the Law; the Word of God. The Lord will judge over the nations and peoples.

The new Age of the Lord’s reign will be will be an age of peace between God, and mankind, and their neighbors. Instead of making weapons they will make agricultural tools. People will no longer learn or practice war between people and nations.

Psalm Background:

The songs of ascents were intended to be sung by pilgrims going up to the temple on the hill of the Lord in Jerusalem which was surrounded on three sides by valleys. It prefigures the Christian’s spiritual pilgrimage from the valley of this present world to the eternal house of the Lord in the heavenly city.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The pilgrims will rejoice as they journey to the house of the Lord and when their feet ultimately stand within the gates of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is intended to be a unification of various tribes of people in one Lord and one assembly, where all will give thanks to the name of the Lord. The eternal throne of Judgment has been established in the house of the Lord through the descendants of David.

God’s people are to pray for peace in Jerusalem, and prosperity for those who love her, for the sake of the pilgrims and brethren. For the sake of the house of God we will seek their good.

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul urged Christians to be awake and watchful for Christ’s return, because the Day of the Lord is drawing ever closer. The night of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is nearly over; the day of righteousness and judgment is at hand.

Christians must discard the works of darkness like dirty clothes, and put on the armor of light (Christ’s righteousness). We should conduct ourselves in righteousness, as in the light of day and scrutiny, not in the kinds of wickedness that people do when they think their sins are concealed by darkness; not in revelry drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling or jealousy. Instead, let us be clothed in Jesus’ ways and his righteousness, and make no attempt to gratify physical desires.

Matthew 21 Background:

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples, where he knew he would be crucified (Matthew 20:17-19).

Matthew 21 Paraphrase:

At Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, he told two disciples to enter the village, where they would find a donkey tied (either a young foal, or with a young foal, depending on whose Gospel account; Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30; John 12:14; Zechariah 9:9). If anyone should question their action they were to say that the Lord had need of [it]. The disciples did as Jesus had told them and found it exactly as Jesus had said. Thus the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled. They brought the animal and put their garments on it and Jesus sat thereon.

The crowd accompanying him spread their garments or cut branches on the road to make a carpet for him. They shouted Hosanna to the Son of David (i.e. the “Messiah,” God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal heir to the throne of David; 2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). The people of Jerusalem were stirred up by this procession, and asked the crowd what was going on, and the people in the crowd told them that Jesus was the prophet from Nazareth who was entering the city.

Matthew 24 Background:

Jesus spent about a week in Jerusalem before his betrayal and crucifixion, and was teaching in the temple daily. His disciples commented on the grandeur of the new (not-yet-finished temple, built by Herod the Great). Jesus commented that it soon would be destroyed, and his disciples asked Jesus privately when the temple destruction would take place and what would be the signs of the end of the age (Matthew 24:1-3).

Matthew 24 Paraphrase:

Jesus began to teach his disciples about the end of the age and the coming Day of Judgment. Jesus warned them that the Second Coming and Day of Judgment would be like the coming of the flood in the time of Noah. Worldly people were pursuing earthly desires and ignoring God’s Word until the day of destruction, while Noah and his family escaped destruction by obedient trust in God’s Word.

Jesus warned that the judgment will be so precise and selective that of two men working side-by-side in the field, one will be taken and the other left; of two women milling grain, one will be taken and the other left. We must therefore be alert and watchful, because the Day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night.

Realize that if a householder knew when a thief was planning to break in, the householder would be watching and would not let the thief break in. So also we must be alert and watchful, because we do not know the day or hour of Christ’s return.

Commentary:

God has always intended, from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who would willingly trust and obey God’s Word. God knew that we would have to learn to trust and obey him by trial and error, and he designed Creation to allow for sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and provided a way of  forgiveness in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). From the very beginning of Creation, Jesus has been God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from God’s eternal condemnation (John 1:1-5; 14).

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose for Creation. He revealed himself personally to Abraham (Abram; Genesis 12:1-7) and through Abraham created a nation of his people, through whom we have the Bible record of his progressive revelation, and the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word revealed in Jesus Christ (John 1:14).

God first reveals himself to us in his Bible, and as we trust and obey his Word, he reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ. As we trust and obey Jesus, he reveals himself to us individually and personally through the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus John 14:15-17, 21, 23).

The meaning and purpose of life is to seek and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27) and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

God’s Word promised that he would establish his eternal kingdom, and that kingdom would come forth from Jerusalem. The kingdom of God will be the New Age, the age of peace and righteousness. The citizens of that age will be eager to be taught God’s Word, because they will know that living according to God’s Word is good (right), acceptable (possible and satisfying), and perfect (their very best interest; Romans 12:2). The New Age of the Kingdom of God will be an age of true peace, with God, and with one another.

Life in this world is a pilgrimage of the believer toward the eternal Kingdom of God. The Church is to be the New Jerusalem on earth, which prefigures the eternal city. We should pray for and work for peace and spiritual well-being within the Church. The pilgrim rejoices to be in the house of the Lord, but it is only the foreshadowing of the true joy when we at last stand in the eternal city.

Christians are by definition (Acts 11:26c) disciples who trust and obey Jesus. Naming the name of Jesus, or calling ourselves Christians won’t save us, as Jesus has warned (Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21-27). Only a personal relationship with Jesus through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit will save us. Christians are warned to be alert and watchful, being careful to follow Jesus’ teachings, instead of pursuing worldly things and physical desires.

The Jews had the Scripture (the Old Testament) and they personally witnessed the miracles (signs showing who Jesus was) that Jesus did. They witnessed Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in fulfillment of scripture, but within a week, they demanded his crucifixion (Matthew 27:22-25).

The world and the Church are in the same situation today as the world in the time of Noah and as Jerusalem in the time of Christ’s earthly ministry. The World pursues their worldly physical lusts and refuses to give heed to God’s Word. The Church has the Bible, with the New Testament witness to Christ, but often the members are pursuing worldly lives, and don’t know, trust and obey God’s Word.

God promised to send the Savior, the Messiah, and his promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He promised that Jesus will return to judge the physically and spiritually living and dead (1 Peter 4:5). Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment are imminent. We can be certain that his return will be within our lifetimes, because at the moment of our death our eternal destiny is determined and unchangeable.

None of us can be certain that we will live beyond today, but it is possible for us to know with certainty for ourselves whether we are saved and have eternal life. Those who trust and obey Jesus will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, an ongoing, personally discernible event (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Monday 1 Advent A

First posted 12/03/07;
Podcast: Monday 1 Advent A

Psalm 72:1-14 (15-19) — Prayer for the King;

Psalm Paraphrase:

“Give the king thy justice, O God and thy righteousness to the royal son” (Psalm 72:1), so that he will judge the people with righteousness and give justice to the poor. May the nation prosper by righteousness. May the king defend the poor, give deliverance to the needy and destroy the oppressor.

May the king reign through all generations, as long as sun and moon endure. May he be refreshing and sustaining like rain on mown grass. May he reign in righteousness and peace forever.

“May he have dominion from sea to sea and from the River (Euphrates; the ‘cradle of civilization’) to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 72:8). May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him” (Psalm 72:10-11).

The king and the nation will prosper because the king hears and delivers the needy, the poor, and the helpless. He redeems them from violence and oppression, because they are precious to him.

Commentary:

This psalm was used to celebrate the human monarchy of Israel, but is also prophetic and points to the coming of the promised Messiah, the eternal savior and king, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ultimate example of Godly government. Jesus is the royal son.

In the days of King Solomon’s reign, the Queen of Sheba (Queen of the South; Matt. 12:42) came to him bringing gifts of gold, spices and jewels (1 Kings 10:1-13) because Solomon had asked God for, and had received divine wisdom to rule over God’s people with justice and righteousness (1 Kings 3:5-14), and she had heard of Solomon’s wisdom.

After Jesus’ birth wise men (magi; the “Three Kings”) from the east came to Jerusalem seeking the new-born king of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2), bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-11), fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 72:10, 11, 15).

The Lord was the true righteous and just King of the Jews, but the people asked for a human monarchy. David, the man after God’s heart and obedient to God’s Word (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20) was the great human shepherd-king of Israel, but David was unable to provide the righteous and just government of God’s people that God intends. David was the human king who foreshadowed and pointed to the Messiah, Jesus, the “Son of David,” the “Good Shepherd,” God’s anointed eternal Savior and King of kings.

Solomon asked for and received divine wisdom to govern God’s people with righteousness and justice, but Solomon, despite divine wisdom, departed from obedience to God’s Word. The two best examples of human kings of God’s people failed because of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Neither was able to save himself or his people from our sinful human nature. Jesus is the perfectly sinless sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin, and the perfect righteous judge and eternal king. Only Jesus can redeem us from the oppression of sin.

Jesus is coming with all power and authority to establish his eternal kingdom. Jesus will establish justice and righteousness in his kingdom on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46).

Throughout his dealing with his people, recorded in the Bible, God has shown his concern and care for the poor, helpless and humble and his condemnation of the arrogant and the oppressor. The Day of Judgment is coming when all earthly leaders and rulers will have to give account to the Lord for how they have governed God’s people. All of us are God’s people in the sense that God is our Creator, whether we acknowledge him as Lord or not.

God’s Word promises that nations that want to continue to prosper over a long period must treat their poor, needy and humble with justice and righteousness according to God’s standard. How are we doing as a nation and as a church?

America has been richly blessed by God, but are our leaders distributing those blessings fairly and justly? Are our leaders ensuring equal opportunity for all? Do all have an equal voice in the government of our country? Is our government protecting its people from oppression and exploitation by the rich and powerful? Is Jesus our king, or we relying on human government for our providence and success?

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 Advent A

First posted 12/04/07;
Podcast: Tuesday 1 Advent A

Isaiah 11:1-10 — The Messianic King;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

A shoot will come forth from the stump of Jesse (the father of David; 1 Samuel 16:10-13). “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear (appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority) of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2-3a).

The Messiah is the righteous judge, who will not be swayed by outward appearances or by what people say. He will not be influenced by human wealth and power. He will treat the poor and meek with fairness and justice. His Word will oppose and defeat worldly people and destroy the wicked. His conduct will be bound and controlled by God’s righteousness and faithfulness

In his reign Creation will be restored to paradise with peace and harmony between all creatures. No longer will creatures prey and be preyed upon by others. Wild animals will be gentle enough for a small child to lead. The most poisonous of snakes will be no threat even to infants and small children. Creatures will no longer hurt or destroy in God’s kingdom, because all will know God fully and personally.

In that day, the root of Jesse (the Messiah; Jesus) will stand forth as a signal flag. All nations will seek him and “his dwelling shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10).

Commentary:

God’s Word prophesied that the Messiah would come forth from the stump of Israel. Jesus is the Son (descendant) of David (and thus of Jesse, David’s Father; Matthew 1:1-17). Israel would be cut off but the “New Israel” would come forth through that one branch which is Jesus Christ. His Church is the “New Israel.”

The fullness of the Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus, as John the Baptizer testified (John 1:31-34). The infilling of the Holy Spirit is characterized by divine (not “worldly”) wisdom and understanding, counsel, supernatural power, a personal knowledge (experience) of and relationship with God, and reverence and respect for God’s power and authority, not in fear and dread, but in delight.

Jesus came in human flesh to become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). He came to spiritually cleanse us so that we could individually become the dwelling place of God in the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we can have divine wisdom, spiritual understanding, divine counsel, personal experience and fellowship with the Lord, and supernatural enabling and power to do what the Lord calls us to do (John 14:21, 25-26). We can delight in doing God’s will with joy, rather than in fear and dread.

Jesus is the righteous judge, not basing his judgment on outward appearances or what people say. He will give justice and equity for the poor and meek. His Word will confront and defeat worldly people and will destroy the wicked. All his ways will be governed and characterized by righteousness and faithfulness.

Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and has promised to return in great glory and power on the Day of Judgment. Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what they have done in life (John 5:28-29). The standard of judgment will be God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in God’s New Creation in Heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Creation will be restored to the paradise God intended, but which was lost through sin (disobedience of God’s Word). In the new Creation there will be peace and harmony between all creatures and all will know the Lord and his Word personally and fully and be glad to trust and obey him. In that day, Jesus will be a banner and signal of victory and salvation to all people, and he will be glorified.

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 Advent A

First posted 12/05/07;
Podcast: Wednesday 1 Advent A

Romans 15:4-13 — The Root of Jesse;

Romans Paraphrase:

The Bible, the record of God’s dealing with Israel, was written down for our instruction, so that by the faithfulness of God and his unfailing promises we might be encouraged and strengthened for endurance with hope. Paul prayed that the Romans (and all Christians) would live in harmony with one another, in accord with the teachings of Jesus Christ, “that together [we] may with one voice glorify God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6).

So we should show the same hospitality to one another which God has shown us. Christ came as a servant to the Jews to demonstrate the truthfulness of God’s Word and the promises made to the Jewish patriarchs (which it contains), and so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy (for their inclusion in salvation).

Paul quoted Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, and Isaiah 11:10 to show that the Gentiles share in the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the root of Jesse (father of David, the great shepherd-king of Israel) “who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles hope” (Isaiah 11:10).

Paul’s prayer is that all believers may experience the joy and peace which comes through faith (obedient trust) and may have hope and encouragement through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises of God’s Word of a Savior through whom we would receive forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from God’s eternal condemnation. Jesus is the completion of the Old Covenant of Law and the beginning of a new and better Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Jesus didn’t end God’s Law but came to make it possible for us to fulfill it, not from fear of punishment, but by love, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:17-19). Through the Holy Spirit we have the power to resist Satan and temptation, and complete forgiveness when we fall short.

Jesus came through the Jews in fulfillment of God’s promises to the patriarchs, but came to bring Salvation (from God’s eternal judgment and condemnation; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right) to all people. In Jesus Christ he created a “New Israel” a new People of God from Jews and Gentiles who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). All people, Jew and Gentile, must come to God through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

God has shown no partiality. Anyone who comes to him through true, Biblical faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ is acceptable to him, and so we should also welcome one another in the name of Jesus.

The Church is the New Israel. Judaism effectively ended at the Crucifixion. The curtain (veil) of the temple was torn in two, symbolizing that Jesus had opened a new and better way into God’s presence (Luke 23:45) through Jesus. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans, the people were scattered, and the nation ceased to exist, until reestablished after World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Acts 9:17) Christian disciple, making “born-again” disciples of the Roman Christians, teaching them from the Bible to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings and to seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit, in fulfillment of Christ’s “Great Commission which he gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out after they had received the infilling with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ who trust and obey Jesus and have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Bible has been written for our instruction to give us hope and encouragement through the promises of God that it contains and the record of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. We need to read the Bible completely and also daily so that we can know and claim the promises of God and receive hope and encouragement from them.

The “nominal” Church is fragmented today, and is speaking in anything but one voice. The “true” Church is the Bible-teaching, Bible-believing Church. It is the work of Satan to divide the “Church” and create counterfeit “churches.” There are many false teachers and false prophets today. We must be personally responsible to read the Bible and know what it contains, so that we are not deceived (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

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 Advent A

First posted 12/05/07;
Podcast: Thursday 1 Advent A

Matthew 3:1-12 John the Baptizer

Matthew Paraphrase:

In God’s timing, John the Baptizer started preaching in the wilderness of Judea, announcing that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and calling people to repent (i.e. to turn from disobedience, and to obedient trust in God’s Word). John was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of one crying in the wilderness, calling for repentance in preparation for the Messiah’s coming (Isaiah 40:3).

John was dressed in the manner of Old Testament prophets, in a camel-hair shirt, with a leather belt (compare 2 Kings 1:8), and he lived off food he gathered in the wilderness, like locusts and honey. Crowds came from the wide surrounding areas confessing their sins and being baptized by John in the Jordan River.

“But when John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Jewish religious leaders) coming for baptism, he said to them ‘You brood of vipers (poisonous snakes)! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our Father;’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10).

John declared that his baptism was with water for repentance; John was the most menial servant of the Messiah, but the Messiah, who is greater than John, “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’ (Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3).

John described the Messiah’s coming as a thresher, who will thresh and winnow the harvest, separating the wheat from the chaff. “He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12b).

Commentary:

John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the fulfillment of prophecy of the return of Elijah to herald the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 17:10-13).

John’s baptism with water for repentance is carried on by the Church, calling people to turn from sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and to obedient trust in Jesus, preparing them for the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The prophecy of John that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), the birthday of the Church. The true Church is the “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Church. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Church is the “New John the Baptizer,” calling people to repent, turn from disobedience to obedient trust in God’s Word and to seek and await the coming of Jesus through his Holy Spirit (John 14:21). Believers are to be “discipled” within the church by mature, “born-again” disciples, until they have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as Jesus commanded his original disciples (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Only then are they to be sent out into the world to carry on the ministry of John the Baptizer and of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), to bring forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation (from God’s judgment and condemnation), to all who will receive it through obedient trust in Jesus.

The conditions are very similar in the world, the nations, and the Church today, particularly in America, as they were in the time of John the Baptizer. In John’s day the religious leaders had turned from obedient trust in God’s Word, and relied on their “tradition.” They were not led by God’s Spirit (Matthew 3:7c), as John was (John 1:33; Luke 3:1-3). They conducted their religion as their personal empire, to further their own self-interests, instead of seeking and doing God’s will. They thought they could avoid God’s condemnation by some “religious ritual,” such as (water) “baptism.”

John didn’t try to make his message flatter his hearers or make them feel good. His message was an attempt to save them from God’s eternal damnation. Unless people are willing to hear the Biblical truth, they cannot turn in repentance and faith (obedient trust) to Jesus and be saved (John 14:6). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

This Creation is God’s wheat field and threshing floor. We are intended to produce spiritual fruit through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. The Day of Judgment at Christ’s Second Coming (Advent) is the day of the harvest, threshing, and winnowing (Matthew 25:31-46). When Jesus returns, he will separate the wheat from the chaff; the sheep from the goats. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in paradise in God’s eternal kingdom with the Lord. Those who have rejected and refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil.

Everyone who ever lived will face God’s judgment (John 5:28-29). We can be certain that the Day of Judgment will occur within our lifetimes. No one knows whether one will live to see tomorrow. Today is the only day we can be sure of. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). What we decide to do today determines where we will spend eternity.

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 Advent A

First posted 12/07/07;
Podcast: Friday 1 Advent A

Micah 4:1-7 – Messianic Reign;
Romans 2:1-16 – God’s Judgment;

Micah Paraphrase:

The prophet foresaw the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. The mountain of the house of the Lord (Zion) will be above every other mountain (ruler). All people and nations will come to Zion to be taught God’s ways, so that they can live in obedience to him. God’s Law will be issued from Zion, and Jerusalem will be the capital from which God’s Word goes forth.

The Lord will be the Judge who will arbitrates between many people, and powerful nations far away. The nations will convert their weapons of war into agricultural implements, because nations will no longer learn or engage in war. Every person will live in peace in his own home on his own land. None shall make them afraid because God has declared his Word.

The nations of the earth live according to their “gods” (idols) but God’s people will live eternally in accordance with the Lord our God.

In the Day of the Lord he will gather those who have been driven away, and those he has afflicted, and he will make, of the lame and outcast, survivors and a strong nation. And the Lord will reign over them forever.

Romans Paraphrase:

Those who pass judgment on others condemn themselves, because they are guilty of the same sins. God’s judgment rightly falls upon people who do such things, so if we are guilty of such things we will not escape God’s judgment.

Do you presume upon the abundance of God’s kindness, forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is intended to allow you to be guided to repentance? By resisting repentance, you are storing up judgment against you on the day of God’s wrath when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

In that day every person will receive judgment according to what he has done. Those who have sought what is good, honorable, and eternal, by patience in well-doing, will receive immortality, but those who are rebellious and obey wickedness instead of truth will receive God’s wrath and fury.

Everyone who does evil will receive tribulation and distress in the day of the Lord, both Jew and Gentile; but for those who do right there will be glory, honor and peace, whether Jew or Gentile, since God shows no partiality.

The Gentiles who are not under God’s Covenant of Law will perish without the Law, and the Jews who have the Law will be judged by the Law. It is not the hearers of the Law but those who do the Law who are judged righteous by God. When Gentiles do what the Law requires they are righteous by their conscience, which shows that God’s Law is written on their hearts. They will be justified or condemned according to what they have done by the law of their conscience, in the Day of Judgment by Jesus Christ, before whom no secrets are hidden.

Commentary:

God has given us his Word, the Bible; his Law, by which we are to live. In and through the Bible he has revealed his plan for Creation: the establishment of an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God and his Word. God has revealed the fulfillment of his promise in his Word of a Savior and eternal King in Jesus Christ.

The prophet foresaw the establishment of that eternal kingdom when Christ returns on the Day of Judgment. Zion was the hill in Jerusalem on which the temple was built. It is used to refer to the nation and people of Israel, and to the city and temple of God in Heaven. The Church has become the New Jerusalem and the New Zion on earth which foreshadows the eternal city and temple in Heaven.

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God and his will; his Law (Acts 17:26-27). This is our opportunity to choose whether or not to live according to God’s Word. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14) Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and our salvation from God’s eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Worldly nations and people live according to their “gods;” modern idols such as wealth, power, possessions, pleasure, home, family, career, success, worldly honor. Any thing or person which we love as much as or more than the Lord is an idol. This lifetime is our opportunity to choose to live according to worldly idols or according to God’s Word, but note that God’s Word promises that only those who live according to his Word will live eternally in paradise with him (Micah 4:5).

The Church is the “Zion” and “Jerusalem” in this world, where people and nations can come to learn God’s Law and learn to live according to his Word. In this world disciples of Jesus Christ will experience affliction and persecution, but God is able to preserve us as the faithful remnant of (all) the people God created, and make of us a strong nation.

Jesus is God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King, but he is also God’s designated righteous judge, who will return on the Day of Judgment to judge everyone who has ever lived. Jesus is worthy to be the judge, because he was completely obedient to and trusting of God’s Word, even in submission to physical death of a most excruciating type. Jesus was the perfect, unblemished sacrificial “lamb” who became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins.

God’s Word warns against being judgmental of others. Worldly people think they are “good” people because they aren’t as “bad” as others. That is not the standard of judgment Jesus will use. The standard of Judgment will be God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ.

Ignorance of God’s Word will be no excuse. God has revealed himself in Creation, he has revealed his plan of salvation in the physical life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he has written his Law on our hearts (has given us a “conscience”). God has designed this Creation to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) so that we can have a true, free choice of whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not. He intends for us to learn by trial and error that God’s Word is good, acceptable (possible and gratifying) and perfect (our best interest; Romans 12:2).

Church members are the “New Jews.” Just because we were “born-into” the church or have leadership roles in church doesn’t exempt us from knowing, trusting and obeying God’s Word. God shows no partiality. Ignorance of God’s Word will be no excuse, and because we are church members and church leaders the Lord will hold us more accountable.

God’s patience and forbearance of our rebellion and disobedience is intended to allow us time and incentive to repent. If we keep resisting his grace (unmerited favor) and mercy (undeserved forgiveness) we are going to receive condemnation and eternal destruction on the Day of Judgment, and in that day we will know that we deserve it.

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 Advent A

First posted 12/08/07;
Podcast: Saturday 1 Advent A

Luke 1:26-35 — Jesus’ Birth Foretold ;

The angel Gabriel appeared in Nazareth in Galilee to a woman named Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of David (the shepherd-king). The angel greeted Mary, saying that God had favored her and was with her. Mary was very troubled by the greeting, wondering what it meant. Gabriel told her not to be worried, because God favored her. She was going to bear a son whom she was to call Jesus. The angel declared that Jesus was to be great, the Son of the Most High (God), who would give him the throne of his ancestor, David, and that Jesus would reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever.

Mary asked the angel how this could be, since she was unmarried. The angel replied that the Holy Spirit, the power of God, would come upon her and she would conceive. Thus the child would be holy, and would be called the Son of God.

Commentary:

Jesus was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the “son” (descendant) of David, in fulfillment of God’s promise (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29), through his (adoptive) father Joseph, and Son of God by the Holy Spirit. He is fully human and fully God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Jesus is the “son of David,” and thus the fulfillment of God’s promise in scripture of an eternal King and heir to the throne of David, the promised Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed,” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). Jesus usually referred to himself as the “son of man” (mankind), emphasizing his human parent, rather than his divine parent. He did this so that his hearers would be free to decide for themselves whether he were the Son of God, the Messiah, for themselves. (It is also a sign and fulfillment of scripture of Daniel 7:13-14).

Jesus is the first-born (supernatural) Son of God and thus the heir of God. Through obedient trust in Jesus we are “adopted” into the family of God, and share in the inheritance with Jesus. The whole fullness of God dwelt in Jesus bodily (Colossians 2:8-9). We can experience the Spirit of God dwelling within us by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the first-born, the only “begotten” Son of God. He is the heir to the throne of David and the throne of God. We cannot become “God” or “like God” (Genesis 3:5). Our place in the family of God is by God’s favor, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus as we acknowledge him as our Savior, Lord and eternal King. We become the house of Jacob, the New Israel, as we accept Jesus as our Lord and eternal King. We share in the inheritance of Jesus by his unmerited favor (Isaiah 53:12).

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

Christ the King – C – 11/20 – 26/2016

November 19, 2016

Week of Last Pentecost C
Christ the King

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Podcast Download: Week of Last Pentecost C

Sunday Last Pentecost C

Christ the King  

First Posted November 21, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday Last Pentecost C 

Jeremiah 23:2-6 – Messianic Oracle;

Psalm 95:1-7a – God’s Kingship;

Colossians 1:13-20 – Delivered from Satan’s Power;

Luke 23:35-43 – The Crucifixion;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

The Lord God rebuked the priests and prophets of Israel who were supposed to be “shepherds” of God’s people, but who were failing to fulfill their responsibility. They had scattered and driven away God’s “flock.” They had not attended to the needs of God’s people. The Lord promised to repay the unfaithful shepherds according to their evil deeds.

Then, the Lord promised, he would gather the remnant of his people from where they had been driven and bring them back to their “sheepfold” where they can be fruitful and multiply. The Lord promised to raise up shepherds who would properly care for his flock. The flock would no longer need fear or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us sing in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, the rock of our salvation. Let us make joyful music and praise the Lord as we enter his presence, for the Lord alone is a great God and King, above all others. He rules the deeps and heights of earth, as well as the oceans and dry lands, for he is the Creator of all.

“O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7a).

Colossians Paraphrase:

The Lord has delivered us from domination by darkness (evil; Satan) and transferred us to the kingdom of  his beloved Son, through whom we we are redeemed (ransomed from the penalty of sin and eternal condemnation) and receive forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

Jesus is the likeness of the invisible God. Jesus is the first-born of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14; pre-existent with God at Creation; the first to rise from physical death to eternal life). All things in creation have been created for, by and through Jesus, and all things, whether visible or the invisible; thrones, dominions, principalities and authorities are bound together in him. Jesus is the head of the Church, which is his body (in an analogy to a human body), so that he is pre-eminent in everything. “For in him the whole fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19; compare 2:8-9). Through Jesus he gives reconciliation and peace to all thing, in heaven and on earth, to himself, by his blood (sacrificial death) on the cross.

Luke Paraphrase:

When Jesus had been crucified, and while the people watched, the Jewish leaders ridiculed Jesus, telling Jesus to come down from the cross and save himself if he were truly the Christ (Messiah; both words mean God’s “anointed”), God’s Chosen One.

The (Roman) soldiers who executed Jesus also mocked him, offering him sour wine (turned to vinegar) and telling Jesus to save himself if he truly was the King of the Jews, as the inscription (written at Pilate’s command; John 19:19-22) declared.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals (Luke 23:32-33). One of them taunted Jesus to save himself and the criminals, if Jesus truly were the Christ. But the other criminal rebuked the first, asking if the first criminal shouldn’t fear God, since they were both under condemnation and their sentences were justified because they were guilty, but Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing. Then the second criminal asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus had received authority and kingdom. Jesus replied that certainly the second criminal would be with Jesus in Heaven that very day.

Commentary:

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation, to raise up people who would willingly trust and obey God. He has given us the freedom to choose for ourselves whether to trust and obey him or not, but God is not willing to tolerate rebellion or disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom. We will determine for ourselves where we will spend eternity: in the presence of God’s love and providence, or separated eternally from him and all his goodness.

In Israel in the time of Jesus’ physical ministry, the Israelites were shepherds. They raised sheep for food and clothing. They knew that sheep needed a shepherd to care for them, or they would become lost, scattered, or attacked and destroyed by predators.

An owner needed to appoint shepherds to care for his flocks. God also appointed “shepherds” to care for God’s “flock: God’s people. God’s shepherds were the leaders of Judaism, Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes (teachers of God’s Word). At the time of Jesus’ physical ministry, the religious leaders were like unfaithful shepherds; they neglected the sheep of God’s flock. They cared more for themselves than for the spiritual condition of God’s people (for example: Matthew 27:3-5).

We must recognize that we are “sheep” in need of a “Good Shepherd,” Jesus Christ (John 10:11-15), whom God has raised up for us as he promised in his Word (Jeremiah 23:4-6). Jesus is the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy that God would raise up a “Righteous Branch” from David to inherit the eternal throne God promised David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the “son” (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1; 21:9, 15-16).

Christianity today is very much like Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first coming. In the nominal Church there are many unfaithful “shepherds,” who use their position of leadership for their own benefit, and don’t properly care for the spiritual needs of the “flock.” Two examples of this are the false teachings of “Works Righteousness (teaching that salvation is by doing good deeds; compare Ephesians 2:8-10), and “Cheap Grace,” which is teaching that salvation is by God’s grace (unmerited favor; a free gift; which is true), but without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to the Lord (which is false; John 14:15; Matthew 28:19-20). These false teachings were present in the first-century Church and are refuted in the New Testament, and still exist in the nominal Church today (See False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

God has raised up faithful leaders in the true Church, but one must be knowledgeable about the Bible in order to discern the true from the false. The Bible is the standard by which all teaching and doctrine must be judged. Only by reading the Bible completely, and also reading portions daily, can we protect ourselves from false teaching.

We are all sinners (disobedient of God’s Word, in the Bible and in the example of Jesus, the “living Word), who fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12, John 14:6), which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God has been teaching us, in the record of his dealings with the Israelites, in the Old Testament, that there is no forgiveness of sin without blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross is the ultimate and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7). God transfers us from the power of evil into the kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ, by our redemption (ransom) through Jesus’ blood sacrifice (Colossians 1:14).

We are all, like the thieves on the crosses, justly guilty of sin and worthy of eternal condemnation. One of the thieves recognized and acknowledge his sin and committed himself into Jesus’ care, and he received eternal life in paradise restored in Heaven with the Lord. The other thief had one last chance to repent and be forgiven, and lost it.

This may be your last chance! Yesterday is gone; tomorrow may never come. Today is the Day of Salvation; today is the only day we can be sure that we can still repent (turn from sinning) and be saved through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

The unrepentant thief didn’t accept that Jesus was sinless and the thief’s only last chance. He didn’t accept the testimony of his fellow thief, and he didn’t trust and obey Jesus’ word. His suggestion to Jesus to come down from the cross and save him as well was not made in faith that Jesus could or would.

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 Last Pentecost C

Christ the King 

First Posted November 22, 2010;

Podcast: Monday Last Pentecost C 

Psalm 122  –   Peace for Jerusalem;

This “Song of Ascents” was intended for use by pilgrims ascending to the temple in Jerusalem from the surrounding valleys.

Paraphrase:

The pilgrim rejoices in the opportunity to go to the house of the Lord. At last the pilgrim’s feet are standing within the gates of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a great city bound together in unity, where all the tribes of the Lord come together to give thanks to the name (entire person and character) of the Lord. Jerusalem is where the (eternal) throne of David is established; the throne of Judgment.

Let us pray for peace for Jerusalem; may those who love her, prosper. May peace and security be within her walls and towers. Let us pray for peace in Jerusalem for the sake of our brethren and companions. Let us seek her good for the sake of the house of God.

Commentary:

“Jerusalem” is the City of God on earth which foreshadows the eternal City of God in heaven. Since the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, God’s anointed Savior and eternal King, the Church is the “New Jerusalem” and Christians are the “New Israel;” the “New People of God.” “Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christians are the temple and household of God individually and collectively.

Judaism effectively ended at the Cross of Jesus Christ, when the temple curtain, separating God’s presence from the people, was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51), symbolizing that a new and better way into God’s presence had been opened through Jesus Christ. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.. The people were scattered throughout the world; Israel ceased to exist as a nation, until reestablished following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of an eternal Savior (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) and heir to the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the son (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1-17). Jesus is the name of the Lord (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28)!

Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment, where he will judge the physically and spiritually living and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in the New Jerusalem in God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Christians need to pray and work for unity and peace within the (true) Church. There is unity and peace among genuine, Biblical Christians. Unfortunately, false “christs” and false prophets have arisen, and have created false “churches,” and division within the nominal “Church,” as the Word of God has warned (1 John 4:1-6). God’s Word in the Bible has been given to us to help us discern truth from error. Christians need to know and be guided by the Bible. There cannot be peace and unity between Christians and false teachers and false prophets.

In a sense Christians are pilgrims in this world, on our way upward to the eternal heavenly Jerusalem. It is an “ascent” in the sense of effort and perseverance in spiritual growth to Christian maturity, when at last we will stand within the gates of heavenly Jerusalem. Are we praying and working for peace and unity within the Church? Do we look forward to and rejoice in the opportunity to worship in the house of the Lord each week? Are we heading toward and looking forward to eternity with the Lord in Heaven?

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

Tuesday Last Pentecost C 

Christ the King 

First Posted November 23, 2010;

Podcast: Tuesday Last Pentecost C 

Isaiah 2:1-5   –    The New Age;

Paraphrase:

Isaiah declared God’s Word concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In the future, the mountain of the house of God will be elevated above all mountains. All people will go up the mountain to the house of God so that he can teach them his ways and they can live by them. From Zion (the mountain of the Lord) shall come the Law (God’s Word). The Lord will be Judge over all people and nations. They will convert their weapons of war into agricultural tools, because wars will no longer be waged.

Come, house of Jacob (Israel; God’s chosen people) let us walk in the light (divine knowledge; righteousness) of the Lord.

Commentary:

In the age to come, following the Day of Judgment, the Lord will reign over all people and nations, and all will seek to know and live according to God’s Word. It will be an age of peace with God and with other people.

God’s people are called to learn to live according to God’s Word now, in this present age. This is our only opportunity to seek and come to know God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is possible only through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be re-born (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually, 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). Only those who have learned, in this age, to trust and obey Jesus, will survive the Day of Judgment and enter into the new eternal age of peace, when Creation will be restored to the perfection God intended. Only those who allow the Lord to reign over them now will enter his eternal kingdom.

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

Wednesday Last Pentecost C 

Christ the King

First Posted November 24, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday Last Pentecost C 

Romans 13:11-14    –    Christ’s Imminent Return;

Paraphrase:

Christians should “wake up” and realize that Christ could return at any moment. Our salvation is closer now than when we first believed. The long night of ungodliness and rebellion is almost over; the day of righteousness is about to break forth. “Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light ” (Romans 13:12b).We should conduct ourselves as in the light of day, not participating in the works of darkness; not indulging in revelry, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling or jealousy. Instead let us apply Christ’s teaching in our lives and not pursue and indulge in the desires of the flesh.

This Creation has been designed by God to be an opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s Word is trustworthy and true, and to receive eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Jesus Christ has been God’s one and only plan for our salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home), and has been designed into Creation from the very start (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and come to know God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). This lifetime is our only opportunity to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God has provided forgiveness for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal condemnation in Jesus Christ. But that salvation must be claimed and received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. We must be “re-born,” spiritually, so that we are filled, guided and empowered by his Holy Spirit. We should be following Jesus’ example and carrying on his ministry of redemption to a lost and dying world.

None of us can be sure that there will be a tomorrow; today is the only day we have, to do what we can and should. We can be certain that the Day of the Lord will come within our lifetime.

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 Last Pentecost C

Christ the King 

First Posted November 25, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday Last Pentecost C 

Matthew 24:37-44   –    The Thief in the Night;

Paraphrase:

His disciples asked Jesus for signs of the end of the age and his second coming (Matthew 24:3). In reply, Jesus warned that his return will be like the days of Noah (Genesis 6:5-7:24). In Noah’s day, people were “eating and drinking; marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24:38) up to the day that Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and all were swept away, except for Noah and his family who were in the ark.

Jesus warned that salvation will be so selective that of two men working in a field, one will be taken and the other left behind, and likewise, of two women milling grain, one will be taken and the other left. We must be watchful, because we won’t know the Day of the Lord’s coming.

Remember that if a householder knew when during the night the thief was coming, he would be awake and watching, and would not let the thief break into his house. So also we must be alert and watchful, for the Son of man (Jesus) is coming at an hour we do not expect.

In the days of Noah, worldly people were doing what was wicked, indulging their fleshly appetites in eating, drinking and “partying,” and did not have regard for the Lord and his Word. In contrast, Noah feared (had proper respect for the power and authority of) God, and sought, believed, and acted upon God’s Word. So Noah and his family, acting in faith in God’s Word, were saved. Noah built the ark according to God’s instructions.

Commentary:

Jesus Christ is the “ark” which God has provided to save us from the judgment and eternal condemnation which is coming upon the earth because of wickedness (doing what is evil in God’s judgment) and sin (disobedience of God’s Word). While worldly people are pursuing the lusts of the flesh, Christians are trusting in God’s Word and are preparing for the Lord’s return. Worldly people thought Noah’s preparations were foolishness right up to the moment of their destruction.

Worldly people are trying to provide their own salvation from God’s coming judgment in various ways, like building better levees, storm cellars, gated communities, earthquake-proof buildings, stockpiling survival supplies, seeking medical miracles to prolong physical life, trying to halt global warming, and even participating in “religious rituals.” None of those measures will prevent Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment.

Worldly people want to know the signs of Christ’s return so that they can indulge themselves until the last possible moment and then call out to Jesus to save them. Claiming salvation in Jesus’ name won’t save us if we haven’t trusted and obeyed Jesus, and been “born again” (John 3:3-5-8) by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:21-27).

We can be certain that Christ’s return will be within our lifetime. The day we die physically, our eternal destiny will be sealed; the very next instant is judgment at the throne of the Lord.

God has given us his Word, the Bible, the spiritual “survival manual,” and his living Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus demonstrated perfect trust and obedience in God’s Word. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates the reality of existence after physical death and the possibility of eternal life. In order to be saved we must trust and obey God’s Word, and seek and prepare for our salvation according to God’s Word.

Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin and salvation from eternal judgment and condemnation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right, home). There will be no way to survive God’s Judgment except by trusting and obeying God’s Word through Jesus Christ, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

In the Day of the Lord, Jesus is going to separate the physically and spiritually living and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven, and those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to trust and obey him will receive eternal condemnation and eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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

Friday Last Pentecost C 

Christ the King 

First Posted November 26, 2010;
Podcast: Friday Last Pentecost C 

Matthew 21:1-11  –   Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem;

Paraphrase:

Jesus was going to Jerusalem knowing that he would be crucified (Matthew 20:18-19). At Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, he told two of the disciples to go into the village and they would find a young donkey* tied, which they were to untie and bring back. If anyone questioned them they were to say that the Lord has need of [it]. The disciples went and found it as the Lord had said. Thus the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled.

When they returned they put their clothes on the donkey’s back for Jesus to sit upon. The crowd that was with them carpeted the road with clothing and leafy branches and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest” (Mathew 21:9).

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the townspeople were excited and asked the crowd following Jesus who he was. The followers told the people of Jerusalem that it was the prophet Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee.

Commentary:

This text is one on which the Church celebration of Palm Sunday is based. It is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It reminds us of Jesus’ first coming, in humility, to die on the Cross, and anticipates the Second Coming, when the victorious Christ returns in great power and glory on the Day of Judgment.

Hosanna means “O, Save.” “Jesus” means “savior; he will save” (Matthew 1:21), and “Son of David” is the Messianic title. Jesus is the descendant of David (Matthew 1:1-17), to whom God promised to establish an eternal throne through David’s descendant (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively; God’s anointed Savior and eternal King.

God’s Word is eternal and is always fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The test of prophecy as God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God promised to send a Savior hundreds of years before. The people were looking for the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of God’s Word, but was rejected and crucified by his own people. The Jews didn’t trust and obey God’s Word, but couldn’t prevent, and actually fulfilled God’s Word by crucifying Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

Jesus’ disciples are those who trust and obey Jesus. Jesus sent two disciples to borrow the donkey, and as they did as Jesus commanded, they found the situation exactly as Jesus had said. As disciples trust and obey Jesus they find that what Jesus says is true and what Jesus tells them to do is accomplished. As we trust and obey Jesus we learn and come to know with certainty that he is absolutely true and trustworthy.

If Jesus came today as in his first coming, in meekness and humility, would he be any better received? Jesus is coming again in fulfillment of God’s Word, but his second coming will be in triumph with great glory and power, and he will be coming not to suffer and die for us but to judge the physically and spiritually living and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5).

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, and who have been “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), will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven. But those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction and eternal death in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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 is God’s only provision (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) for forgiveness of our sin and salvation (from God’s eternal judgment and condemnation), from the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5; 14; 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)?


*The other Gospels only refer to one donkey (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30; John 12:14), and the Hebrew text, Zechariah 9:9, on which it is based and quoted in the text refers to one, not two, donkeys. The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Matthew 21:5n, p. 1198, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Saturday Last Pentecost C

Christ the King

First Posted November 27, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday Last Pentecost C

Luke 3:1-6    –   John the Baptizer;

Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer began his ministry in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Tiberius Claudius Nero;* the year of 26-27 A.D.**), while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and the rest of the provinces of the kingdom of Herod the Great were divided among Lysanias, and the sons of Herod the Great, Antipas, and Philip (and Archelaus). Caiaphas was high priest, and his father-in-law Annas, the former high priest, was still influential.

John the Baptizer was of priestly descent through both parents (Luke 1:5), and his mother was a kinswoman of Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:36). John had been living in the wilderness (south and east of Jerusalem) in the manner of Old Testament prophets, when John received the Word of God to call the people of Israel be baptized with water as an act of repentance (return to obedient trust in the Lord) and cleansing, for forgiveness of their sins (disobedience of God’s Word) in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.

John was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3-5) of a voice in the wilderness warning Israel to prepare for the coming of the Lord, the Messiah, who brings righteousness and salvation, but also brings judgment and condemnation.

Commentary:

Luke carefully dates the beginning of John’s ministry, which is also the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John is the fulfillment of God’s Word of a prophet, in the manner of Elijah (Matthew 17:10-13), who was to herald the coming of the Messiah. John didn’t know who the Messiah was or when he would appear, but he believed God’s Word and acted upon it, and God’s Word was fulfilled in Jesus (John 1:31-34).

John’s call for repentance and commitment to obedient trust in the Lord is just as important and relevant today as it was at the time of John. God’s Word promised to send a Savior and eternal King, through whom God’s people would be forgiven and restored to righteousness (doing what is right in God’s judgment; in accordance to his Word), and God fulfilled that promise at the right moment in history, in Jesus Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively).

God’s Word also promises that Christ will return, on the Day of Judgment, and his Second Coming (Second Advent) will bring judgment and condemnation on those who have refused to trust and obey Jesus. God will fulfill that promise as surely as he fulfilled the promise of Jesus’ first advent.

John’s warning to us is as urgent and relevant today, particularly in America, and the Church in America, as it was at the time of Jesus’ first coming. Christ’s return is as imminent now as his first advent was then. We can be certain that Jesus will return within our lifetime, because the moment we die physically our eternal destiny is fixed and unalterable. If we haven’t learned to trust and obey him now in this lifetime, we will face his judgment and condemnation. But we cannot be certain that we will live to see tomorrow. Today is the day to repent and turn to obedient trust in God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we fulfill the requirements of God’s Word, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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)?


*Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Tiberius Caesar” digital edition, bibledatabase.org – http://bibledatabase.org/eastons.html

**The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Luke 3:1-20n, p. 1244, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


26 Pentecost C and Following -11/14 – 19/2016

November 12, 2016

Week of 26 Pentecost C and Following

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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Podcast Download: Week of 26 Pentecost C

Sunday 26 Pentecost C

To Be First Posted November 17, 2013;
Podcast: Sunday 26 Pentecost C

Malachi 4:1-2a   –    The Day of Judgment;
Psalm 98   –   The Coming Kingdom;
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13   –   Exhortation to Diligence;
Luke 21:5-19   –   The End of the Age;

Malachi Paraphrase:

The Lord of the Universe declares, (through Malachi, the prophet) that the Day (of Judgment) is coming; it will be like a hot oven, burning up all those who are arrogant, and all evildoers. They will be completely destroyed; no root or branch of them will remain. But the Sun of Righteousness, on wings carrying healing, shall rise upon those who fear the name (the whole person and character) of the Lord.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us sing a new song to the Lord for the marvelous things he has done! By his right hand and his holy arm he has won the victory; his vindication has been revealed to all people. He has not forgotten his steadfast love and faithfulness to his people, Israel. God’s victory has been witnessed to the ends of the earth.

Let us make joyous music to the Lord, singing praises to the Lord, the King, accompanied by lyres and horns and melodious music. Let the sea’s roar, and all sea creatures, the earth and all inhabitants, the hills and floods (and all nature) join in joyous singing before the Lord, as he comes to judge the earth. With righteousness and equity he will judge the earth and all its peoples.

2 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul commanded the Thessalonians (and all Christians) to they avoid idleness in themselves and in others. Instead they are to follow the example of Paul and his fellow missionaries. Paul worked for his living expenses (at the trade of tent-making), so that the Thessalonian believers would not be burdened financially. He didn’t expect to be fed (or housed) without working to earn it, although by his ministry to the Thessalonians he deserved it (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9; Acts 18:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 2:9).

Paul had commanded the Thessalonians that anyone who would not work should not be fed, because some of them had chosen to live in idleness, as merely busybodies, indulging in the business of others, without doing anything productive themselves. Paul, in the name and authority of Jesus Christ, commanded these people to work quietly to earn their own support, and he exhorted all believers not to become tired of doing good deeds.

Luke Background:

In the last week of Jesus’ ministry before his crucifixion, Jesus had come to Jerusalem with his disciples and was with them daily in the temple. The rebuilding of the Second Temple, commissioned by Herod the Great, had been completed, and finishing embellishments were being added.*

Paraphrase:

People were commenting on the beauty of the temple embellishments of precious stones and memorial gifts. Jesus said that the day was coming when the temple would be destroyed so that not one stone would be left in place upon another. Jesus was asked what sign would appear when this was about to take place. In reply, Jesus warned that we must be careful to not be deceived, because many imposters and deceivers would come, declaring false messiahs and the end of the world. We are warned not to believe them and not to be afraid. There will be wars and tumults, and all this will take place first, but the end will not come directly following.

Jesus then told them that nations and kingdoms will war against each other, there will be earthquakes, famines and epidemic diseases, and there will be terrifying disturbances of nature and astrological manifestations. Before this, Christians will be arrested and persecuted and brought to account before rulers and judges for proclaiming Jesus’ name. This will be an opportunity for Christians to give their testimony publicly.

Believers are advised not to plan what to say in advance, but instead rely on the Holy Spirit to supply and guide our testimony to fit the circumstances at the moment it is needed. Jesus promised to give us words and wisdom at the moment needed, and which cannot be contradicted or refuted by our adversaries.

Believers will be hated by all worldly people, and will be turned over to worldly authorities even by their own parents, children, relatives, and friends. As a result, some will even be put to (physical) death. But Jesus assures us that we will not perish spiritually, eternally, in even the slightest degree, and by enduring persecution we will secure our eternal lives.

Commentary:

The Lord of the Universe is God, its creator and sustainer! Jesus Christ is the Sun of Righteousness, the only one who gives the light of enlightenment of divine, eternal truth (John 1:9; John 14:6), the light of righteousness (John 1:5, 3:19-21), the light of eternal life (John 1:4; 8:12).

Jesus is also the Son of Righteousness, because God alone is righteous (doing what is right, good, and true; the standard by which to judge what is righteous; Luke 18:19). Jesus is the Son of man by his human mother, and Son of God by his conception by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:30-35). Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

We are all spiritually terminally ill because of sin (disobedience of God’s Word in the Bible and in the example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified (John 1:1-3, 14), because we have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our spiritual healing and restoration to spiritual life from death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Jesus’ earthly ministry of physical healing, feeding, and resurrection miracles were intended to demonstrate that Jesus is also, and more importantly, able to spiritually heal, feed and raise us to life from death.

We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-9), by the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). One can know with certainty for oneself if one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it” (Psalm 111:10). Anyone who doesn’t fear the Lord doesn’t understand the meaning of lordship, and the power of God. Through a personal relationship by the indwelling Holy Spirit with Jesus we are able to respond in obedient trust from love, instead of from fear of the Law (God’s Word; the Bible; Romans 8:1-9).

Jesus is the right hand and holy arm of God. Jesus has won the victory over Satan, sin and death at the cross (Hebrews 2:14-15; Colossians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:57, 1 John 5:4). Jesus’ victory has been revealed by his resurrection, and has been revealed to the ends of the earth (in the senses of both distance and time). Jesus’ resurrection was seen by over five hundred eyewitnesses, and is testified to by every truly “born-again” Christian since, beginning with Paul (Saul of Tarsus;  1 Corinthians 15:3-9).

Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able to truly praise the Lord. The Holy Spirit enables us to join in and experience ecstatic worship and praise to the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:14-16; my personal experience and testimony).

In America today, we are living in the greatest recession since the Great Depression, and many people are unemployed. Other parts of the world are experiencing economic problems as a result. Paul’s command is not addressed to people who want to work but are unable, because of disability, or by inability to find a job.

Paul’s command addressed those in the Corinthian congregation who believed that Christ’s Second Coming was so imminent that they had quit working and were sitting around waiting. It also addresses people who are living in spiritual idleness today: Church members who have secular jobs, but are not inclined to seriously work at proclaiming the Gospel through evangelism and social ministry (concern for the poor and those in need), and nominal “believers” who want to speculate about the “End Times” instead of making the effort to become Jesus’ disciples (1 Timothy 1:4 RSV). Paul exhorts such people to not become lazy or discouraged with doing good deeds. I have personally known such people.

Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Herod’s temple was fulfilled in 70 A.D.,* when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. The Jews were scattered throughout the world and Israel ceased to exist until following World War II. Israel was reestablished, and Jews returned to their “Promised Land,” but to this day, the temple has not been rebuilt.

There have been many earthquakes, famines, epidemics, natural and astrological disturbances. Even today Christians are being arrested and persecuted for the name of Jesus throughout the world, even in America. Christians have been and will be denounced and rejected even by close family and friends. I have personally experienced many times when the Lord gave me what to say at the time it was needed, and which my adversaries could not refute. I have personally experienced rejection and abandonment even by close family and friends for the sake of the Gospel. But we have the assurance that, by our endurance, we will not be damaged spiritually, if we trust in the Lord. He is able to preserve us unto eternal life.

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


*The Sword Project digital Bible tools:

http://www.crosswire.org/sword/


Easton Bible Dictionary module:

http://www.crosswire.org/sword/modules/ModInfo.jsp?modName=Easton

EASTON’S 1897 BIBLE DICTIONARY. M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897, “Temple, Herod’s.,” digital edition.

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/HTML_Bible_Tools/EBD/T0003600.html#T0003611


Podcast Download: Week of 27 Pentecost C

Monday Before Christ the King

27 Pentecost C  

First Posted November 15, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 27 Pentecost C 

Psalm 95:1-7a – God’s Kingship;

Paraphrase:

Let us sing the praise of the Lord together; let us make joyful music to the Lord, our rock and salvation! Let us enter his presence with thanks, joyful shouts and songs of praise! Great is the Lord our God; a great king above all gods. He holds the heights and depths of the earth in his hand. He created the sea and dry land. “O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7a).

Commentary:

The Lord is worthy of our praise and thanks because he is our rock of solid foundation, our refuge and salvation. We will experience great love and joy when we enter his presence, both by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us in this lifetime, and in his eternal presence in his kingdom in Heaven.

The Lord is the Creator of the universe and everything in it. He is the great king above all worldly “gods” (idols) and earthly rulers.

The Lord our God is our Creator and Shepherd. He provides us with the good pasture of every earthly necessity in abundance. We are his sheep, whom he protects and for whom he provides.

In one sense we are all God’s people, because he is our Creator. In another sense God’s people are his sheep who follow in obedience to his Word (in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14). We are all called through the Gospel [the “good news” of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), salvation from eternal condemnation which is the penalty for sin, and restoration to fellowship with God our Creator, which was broken by sin] to be people of God by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

The Lord is the (only truly) Good Shepherd. God has designed a savior into the fabric of Creation from the very beginning. The “Good Shepherd” was intentionally prefigured in Moses, in Joshua, and in David, and foretold in every book of the Old Testament. That promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

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

The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual rebirth to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ within believers (Romans 8:9). It is only possible to praise and glorify the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:15-17; Zechariah 4:6).

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)?

Tuesday Before Christ  the King
27 Pentecost C 

First Posted November 16, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 27 Pentecost C

Jeremiah 23:2-6 – Messianic Oracle;

Paraphrase:

Through Jeremiah, the prophet, God declared that the shepherds (religious leaders) of Israel had not given God’s people proper care, but instead had scattered and driven them away. The Lord promised to punish the shepherds’ evil doings. When he had done that, the Lord promised he would gather the remnant of God’s flock out of all the countries where they had been scattered, and would bring them back to God’s fold, where they would be fruitful and multiply. The Lord promised to raise up shepherds who would properly care for them; they will no longer be afraid or dismayed, and none shall be missing.

The Lord promised to raise up a righteous Branch from the descendants of David. That one will reign as king; he will reign with wisdom, justice and righteousness. In his day, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in security. He will be known as, “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Commentary:

The test of prophecy is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). This text is a Messianic oracle, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the son (descendant) of David, the great human shepherd-king who prefigures the Christ (Messiah; both mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively).

God promised David that David’s throne would be eternal; that his descendant would reign forever (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the descendant of David through his earthly father, Joseph (Matthew 1:20-21). Jesus was recognized by the people of Israel as the son of David, the heir to the promise (Matthew 21:9) of a Savior and eternal King.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of a “Good Shepherd,” who takes care of his people and brings them back to the safety of God’s “sheepfold” (John 10:11-18). Jesus has other sheep (the Gentiles) beside the Jews (John 10:16), and they will be united in one flock through Jesus Christ.

At the time of Jesus’ first, physical, coming, the religious leaders of Judaism (the Pharisees and Sadducees), were using their position to their own benefit (Matthew 23:2-7), instead of caring for God’s “flock” (consider Matthew 27:3-5). In many instances the conditions within the nominal Church today are the same as they were in Judaism at the time of Christ’s physical ministry. Too often, ministry is a “career choice,” the congregation is regarded as the leaders’ personal “empire,” the church teaches what members want to hear, and false doctrines which lead members astray (2 Timothy 4:3-4; see False Doctrines, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus asked whether he would find faith (obedient trust) when he returned, as he promised (the Second Coming; the Day of Judgment). From the time God called Abraham and began to establish Israel as his “flock,” until the first coming of Christ, was about two thousand years. From Jesus’ crucifixion until now, about two thousand years have passed. Jesus’ Second Coming is imminent.

Jesus is the righteous judge who will reign with wisdom, righteousness, and justice. Jesus is God’s anointed eternal king (Matthew 28:18). Jesus has promised to return to judge everyone who has ever lived in this world (John 5:28-29). He will judge the “living” (“quickened”) and the “dead” in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5).

Jesus is the example of righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true, according to God’s Word). He came in human flesh with all its weaknesses. He was tempted in every way just like we are, yet without sinning (disobeying God’s Word; Hebrews 4:15), even to the extreme of submitting to crucifixion, the most “excruciatingly” (meaning “from the cross”) painful death ever devised.

Jesus is the standard of judgment by which all will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus’ teachings will have been spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) in this lifetime by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). At the Day of Judgment, they will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will be spiritually “un-reborn” and will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Judah is the remnant of God’s “flock” who were scattered, and have been brought back, historically from exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 25:11-12; Psalm 126:1-3; 2 Chronicles 36:17-23; Ezra 1:1-4), and spiritually from the “Babylon” of this world to the eternal “Promised Land of God’s eternal heavenly kingdom.

The Church is the “New Israel,” the new people of God. Jesus is the “New Moses” who leads us out of bondage to sin and death, through the “sea” of water baptism into Jesus Christ, through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, who is the “pillar of fire and cloud” (Exodus 13:21-22); Jesus is the “New Joshua” (Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, “Jeshua;” that is: “Joshua”) who leads us  through the “river” of physical death, and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s kingdom in heaven.

We are all sinners,who 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 is God’s only provision for our forgiveness of our sin, our salvation from eternal condemnation and death, and the restoration of our fellowship with God which was broken by our sin (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right, home).

We cannot “earn” salvation by doing “good works.” By faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, we receive the righteousness of Christ, not that of our own (Romans 3:21-22).

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

Wednesday Before Christ the King
27 Pentecost C 

First Posted November 17, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 27 Pentecost C 

Colossians 1:13-20 – The Image of God;

Paraphrase:

God has delivered us from our domination by darkness (evil; sin) and transferred us to the kingdom of his Son, through whom we receive  forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and by whom we are redeemed from the penalty of sin (eternal death; Romans  6:23).

Jesus is the image of the invisible God made visible. He is the first-born (pre-existent and supreme) of all Creation. Everything in Creation was was made in, by and for Christ. He existed before all things, and the entire universe is held together by him. He is the head of the Church, which is his body; he is the beginning of all things, and the first-born from the dead, so that in everything he is pre-eminent. God in all his fullness dwells in Jesus (Colossians 2:8-9; Matthew 11:27; John 14:7). Through Christ he reconciles to himself and makes peace with all things, in heaven and on earth, by the blood sacrifice of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Commentary:

Jesus is the light of the World: the light of (eternal) life (John 8:12), the light of righteousness in the darkness of sin and evil in this world (John 1:5), the light of (spiritual) enlightenment (John 1:9), in the darkness of spiritual ignorance and what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-30; 2:1-8).

I’m intrigued by the association of light and eternal life. Light is the cosmic speed limit in this world. Science says that it is impossible to exceed the speed of light, because as the speed of light is approached, time slows down, and at light-speed, time stops: the definition of eternity.

God’s Word declares that this Creation and we ourselves are limited by time. At the end of this age of time and grace (the free gift of God of forgiveness and salvation) there will be a Day of Judgment. At that Day, time will cease and our eternal destinies will be fixed and unchangeable.

At that Day, Christ will return to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5; John 5:28-29), in both physical and spiritual senses. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord (One who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord, and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be spiritually “un-reborn,” and will enter eternal destruction and death in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). God has been teaching us that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). At Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus became the only sacrifice acceptable to God for our forgiveness (Hebrews 9:11-15; 25-28; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God is a spirit (the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of God; Romans 8:9). Jesus is the very image of God made visible in human flesh. Jesus said that those who have known Jesus personally have known God the Father also (Matthew 11:27; John 1:18; 14:7).

Jesus was pre-existent with God from the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-2). Jesus was not only with God; he was fully God from the beginning (John 1:1c). Jesus was designed into Creation from the very beginning; he was not some afterthought, after mankind sinned. The entire Creation was begun in, by and for Christ. The entire Creation is held together by him; otherwise Creation would be pointless.

Jesus is the head (Lord) of the Church. The Church is the body of Christ; each believer is a part of the body, each having unique abilities and roles assigned by God (Romans 12:4-8).

Jesus is the first-born and only begotten Son of God, begotten by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:31-35). Jesus is the first-born from the dead; the first to die physically and be raised to eternal life (Matthew 28:5-7a). In Jewish Law, the first-born son had pre-eminence over the other sons (Hebrews 12:10-15), and received a double portion of the inheritance (Genesis 25:31-33; 43:33; Exodus 13:2; 2 Chronicles 21:3).

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 Before Christ  the King
27 Pentecost C 

First Posted November 18, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 27 Pentecost C 

Luke 23:35-43 – The Thieves on the Cross;

Paraphrase:

When Jesus was crucified, the Jewish religious leaders who had demanded his crucifixion ridiculed him, telling Jesus that since he had saved others, to come down from the cross and save himself, if he truly were the Christ, God’s Chosen One (God’s “Anointed;” both Christ and Messiah mean “anointed,” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). The Roman soldiers also mocked Jesus, telling Jesus to save himself if he truly were the King of the Jews. A sign had been placed on the cross, which said, “This is the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38; John19:19-22).

Jesus had been crucified between two thieves (Luke 23:32-33). One of them also asked Jesus to save himself and the criminals, if Jesus were truly the Christ. The other thief rebuked the fellow criminal, saying that he should fear God, since he was also under condemnation. The second thief acknowledged that both deserved their condemnation, while Jesus had done nothing wrong. The second thief then asked Jesus to remember him, when Jesus had received his kingly power, and Jesus replied that repentant thief would be with Jesus in paradise that very day.

Commentary:

The Jewish religious leaders ridiculed Jesus, because although they knew that Jesus had done many miracles, including raising the dead, they still didn’t believe that Jesus was God’s anointed eternal Savior and King. Even if Jesus had come down from the cross they still wouldn’t have believed. Jesus had been tempted to not go through with his crucifixion (Luke 22:39-46, but realized that it was necessary to fulfill God’s Plan of Salvation (which see; sidebar, top right, home). When Jesus did arise from the dead, they still didn’t believe (Matthew 28:11-15). The Roman soldiers also mocked Jesus while he was dying on the cross, but when he died, at least one was converted (Matthew 27:3-4).

One of the thieves believed in Jesus (Luke 23:40-42), and he was saved from eternal death. Jesus promised that the repentant thief would enter eternal life in paradise, because of the thief’s faith (Luke 23:43).

We are all “criminals” in God’s judgment, because we have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word). We are all under condemnation to (eternal) death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). Only those who recognize and acknowledge their guilt to God in faith in Jesus can be saved from eternal condemnation, and receive eternal life in paradise restored in God’s eternal kingdom. Will we continue to deride Jesus until that moment, or will we turn to him in faith?

An “ordained” (licensed) Christian minister once suggested that one must be “baptized” with water (by the Church), in order to be “saved.” I asked her if there was any instance in scripture of a person being saved without having been baptized, and she could not recall any. So I reminded her of the repentant thief.

That is a symptom of a problem within the “nominal” Church today. Some religious authorities think they have received a “franchise” to grant salvation by Church ritual.

This extends to the issue of spiritual rebirth. Some mainline denominations assert that one is automatically “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) only by the Church ritual of water baptism. I assert that the Church is the heir to the ministry of water baptism of John the Baptizer (Luke 3:2-3; John 1:26-27). Remember that only Jesus baptizes with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Jesus did not baptize with water; only his disciples did (John 4:2).

In too many instances the nominal Church is failing to make born-again disciples, because they do not require discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teachings. It takes born-again disciples to make born-again disciples. The unregenerate (un-born-again) don’t know what they are lacking or how to get it, or they wouldn’t be unregenerate (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2 Timothy 2:2). If the Church fails to make born-again disciples, there will be no born-again candidates to choose for Church leadership.

Christian discipleship is not an “optional” category of “super-Christians;” Christians are by very definition, disciples of Jesus Christ who have been born-again by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 11:26c; John 3:3). Born-again disciples are called to make born-again disciples (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8; 9:10-17; 2 Timothy 2:2).

Faith is not getting whatever one believes, if one believes “hard enough.” Faith is not like wishing on a star or when blowing out birthday candles. Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

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

Friday Before Christ  the King
27 Pentecost C 

First Posted November 19, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 27 Pentecost C 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 – Christ’s Return;

Paraphrase:

Believers don’t need to hear “times and seasons” (speculation on the Day of Jesus’ Second Coming), because they know that the Day is unpredictable, like a thief’s break-in at night. When people begin to think they have peace and security, the Day will come like labor-pangs to a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape.

But believers are not in darkness (spiritual ignorance; comparable to the preferred time of thievery), that they should be taken by surprise. We are children of light (spiritual enlightenment; of God’s Kingdom), not of the night; not of spiritual darkness. So let us not be be sleeping (or drunk); let us be awake and sober. Those who sleep, sleep at night, and the drunk get drunk at night. But we belong to the day (the kingdom of light) so let us be (alert and) sober.

Let us put on the armor of God: the breastplate of faith and love, the helmet of hope of salvation, because it is not God’s will for us to be eternally destroyed, but to be saved from eternal destruction by the Lordship of Jesus Christ (who is the one who has power and authority; a master, ruler, governor, prince, proprietor over us, by our faith -obedient trust- in him). So then it is our responsibility to encourage and strengthen the faith of one another, as the Thessalonian Christians were doing.

Commentary:

Believers are called to trust and obey Jesus as our Lord. As we do so we will personally experience his power, love and faithfulness to deliver us from troubles and temptations in our lives, and we will come to know (that Jesus and his Gospel are true; John 6:68-69).

We can’t really testify to what we haven’t personally experienced. Unless one has personally witnessed a crime, one cannot take the witness stand in court and testify.

Church membership and Church ritual, such as water baptism, don’t qualify us to testify about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to have a personal relationship with Jesus through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). How can one encourage and strengthen another in faith in Jesus Christ, when one has not believed and has not personally experienced the certain conviction of faith.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Watch out for false teachers who claim to know the time or season of Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment. We can be sure that we will all be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime, whether we have died or are still living (“quickened;” in both physical and spiritual senses) at the Second Coming (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5). But none of us can be sure of living until tomorrow. Today is the only day we can be certain of; today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2); the only chance we may have to be saved from eternal condemnation. At the moment of our physical death (or at the moment of mental disability, such as stroke, or the onset of dementia, preventing cognition), our eternal destiny will be fixed and unalterable.

Expecting the Lord to return today is the only way to be ready. Any other expectation lulls one to think one can do whatever one pleases today, because one has plenty of time to prepare (Matthew 24:44-51; Luke 12:39-40). Faith and hope in salvation in Jesus Christ are the only “armor” which can preserve us from temptation and eternal destruction.

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

Saturday Before Christ  the King
27 Pentecost C 

First Posted November 20, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 27 Pentecost C

Matthew 25:1-13 – Wise and Foolish Maidens;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told the parable (a fictional story of a common earthly experience used to teach spiritual truth) of ten maidens who went, with oil lamps, to meet a bridegroom. Five of the maidens were wise and took extra oil for their lamps, while the other five were foolish and did not. The bridegroom was delayed, and the maidens fell asleep waiting.

At midnight, a cry announced the bridegroom’s arrival. The maidens awoke and trimmed their lamps. The oil in their lamps was running low, and the foolish maidens asked the wise for oil to replenish their lamps, but the wise were worried that then their own lamps might run out. They suggested that the foolish maidens hasten to dealers to purchase more oil for themselves.

While the foolish maidens were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived and those who were ready went in to the wedding feast with him, and the door was closed. Later the foolish maidens returned and knocked at the door, to be let in, but the bridegroom denied knowing them. Jesus warned that we must be watchful, because we don’t know the day or hour (of the “bridegroom’s” -Christ’s- return).

Commentary:

This parable is based on the custom in Israel at the time, of the the bridegroom fetching his bride from her parents home. Jesus is the “bridegroom,” whose time of return is not known. His bride is the Church; the wedding feast is the fulfillment of the Lord’s Supper, instituted by Jesus on the eve of his trial and crucifixion, with his disciples in Heaven (Matthew 26:26-29).

We are the “maidens,” members of the wedding party who have been invited to attend the feast. Now is the time for us to obtain oil for the lamps of salvation (which is the “oil of gladness” of the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit; Psalm 45:7; Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 8:12; 21:12b). Those who are wise will seek the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit now, while there is time; when Christ’s return is announced, it will be too late to seek and acquire it.

If we are “born-again” (by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), we will enter the marriage feast (the “New Passover”) in heaven. Then the door will be shut, and those who were not “reborn,” now, while possible, will be “unknown” to Jesus, because they have not had a personal relationship with Jesus in this lifetime by the indwelling Holy Spirit. They will not be able to enter.

The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The indwelling Holy Spirit is our “invitation” which we must have to enter the eternal wedding feast in heaven.

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

Week of 25 Pentecost – C -11/06 – 12/2016

November 5, 2016

Week of 25 Pentecost – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Podcast Download: Week of 25 Pentecost – C

Sunday 25 Pentecost – C 

First Posted November 14, 2010; 
Podcast: Sunday 25 Pentecost – C

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 – David’s Prayer;
Psalm 148 — All Creation: Praise the Lord;
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 –Thanksgiving and Exhortation;
Luke 20:27-38 – Questions about Resurrection;

1 Chronicles Paraphrase:

(On the occasion of the succession of Solomon, the son of David, to his father’s throne), David (the great human shepherd-king of Israel) offered a prayer of eternal blessing to the Lord in the assembly of the congregation in the temple. David acknowledged the greatness, power, glory, triumph and majesty of the Lord, who is the creator, and owner of everything in heaven and on earth. The Lord is the exalted rightful head of the kingdom. The Lord is the source of all riches and honor and the Lord is the sovereign ruler over all. To the Lord belong all power and might, and his is the power to exalt and give strength to all. So David and the assembly of the congregation gave thanks and praise to the glorious name of the Lord.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Praise the Lord, all things in heaven! Praise him, all angels and the host (all  who fight for the Lord’s cause). May all the astronomic bodies and the sources of weather praise his name, since they have been created and are controlled by the Word of the Lord.

Let all the creatures, and all the elements of earth -fire, hail, snow, frost and wind- praise their creator and ruler. May all the geographic features, and every living plant and creature of the earth, glorify and praise the Lord. Let all people, the great and the lowly, old and young, male and female, praise the Lord!

May all the created universe praise the name (character and person) of the Lord! Only his name and his glory are highly exalted, above heaven and earth! The Lord has raised up a horn (of salvation) for his people who are near to him. Let us praise the Lord!

2 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul and his missionary team felt compelled to constantly give thanks to God for the Thessalonian Christians. Paul was convinced that God had chosen them from the beginning (as the first converts -Paul entered Europe for the first time at Phillippi in Macedonia, a Roman province. He founded the first Church in Europe at Thessalonica; Acts 16:6-17:10), to be saved through belief in the truth (God’s Word; the Gospel of Jesus Christ) by sanctification by the Holy Spirit (the process of carrying to spiritual maturity the work begun in regeneration -spiritual “rebirth” to eternal life; John 3:3, 5-8).

Believers are called to spiritual maturity through the Gospel, so that they may attain the righteousness of Jesus Christ (which comes by faith -obedient trust- in Jesus; Romans 3:21-22). So Paul urged the new believers to hold fast to the doctrinal, moral and liturgical (ritual of public worship) teachings (see 1 Corinthians) taught by Paul and his missionary team by direct word or by letter. In the name of Jesus Christ and God the Father, who gave us eternal hope and comfort as a free gift, unmerited by us, Paul prayed that the Thessalonian Christians (and all believers) would be comforted and established in righteousness in word and deed.

Paul asked for the prayers of the Thessalonian congregation, that Paul’s proclamation of God’s Word would be hastened and would triumph, as it had among the Thessalonians. Paul asked them to pray for Paul’s deliverance from wicked and evil people who did not believe in Paul’s Gospel. Paul was confident that the Lord would strengthen and protect the congregation from evil. Paul was confident that the congregation was doing and would continue to do what Paul taught them. Paul prayed that their hearts would be guided to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

Luke Paraphrase:

Sadducees (members of a sect of Judaism which did not believe in resurrection from physical death), came to Jesus and asked him a hypothetical question (to challenge Jesus’ teaching). Suppose a married man died without producing children (heirs to his inheritance in the Promised Land; according to Jewish practice, one of his brothers was obligated to take his widow as wife, in order to produce heirs for the deceased). Suppose that the deceased had seven brothers, each took the widow as wife, and each died without producing heirs for their brother. Then the woman died. In the resurrection who would the woman’s husband be, since all had taken her as wife?

Jesus replied that people in this age (by physical birth) marry (to protect their children), but people of the age to come (in the eternal kingdom; by spiritual “rebirth” -John 3:3, 5-8- and resurrection), don’t marry, because they no longer produce children; they are eternal, like angels, and are children of God. Jesus referred to the scripture passage about “Moses and the Burning Bush” to affirm the truth of the resurrection, since Moses referred to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is God, not of the dead, but of the living, because they live to serve and glorify God.

Commentary:

God is God, our Creator, whether we acknowledge him as our God and Creator or not. We exist to please and glorify God.

This world has been designed to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14), or not. But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, so God has limited this Creation and we ourselves by time.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek, find, and come to fellowship with God, our Creator, and to be spiritually reborn to eternal life in the age to come, in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven, by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the baptism of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). We can only come to a personal knowledge of and fellowship with God through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (John 14:6) by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Those who have come to know Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit have known and come to fellowship with God (Matthew 11:27; compare John 14:7, 21, 23).

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true, according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). God has designed a savior, Jesus Christ, into creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of sin, the only way to know divine, eternal truth, and the only way to have true, eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

Jesus is the “horn of salvation” which God raised up in our midst (in his physical coming, and in his resurrection from the dead). God instructed Moses to build altars to the Lord, made with raised triangular projections at each corner, called “horns” (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 4:7a), symbolizing strength and power. A sinner could flee to the altar for refuge and be saved from punishment by taking hold of the “horn” of the altar (1 Kings 1:50; 2:28).

In ancient times, the name of a person revealed his character and essence. Knowing the name of someone gave a person the right to make and receive requests of the person. God has gradually been revealing his name, character and person to us, first through the goodness and complexity of nature, then through the physical ministry of Jesus, and ultimately, in this world, through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit within born-again believers, who is the first-fruits, the “down-payment” on eternal fellowship with the Lord in the kingdom of heaven.

When we come to realize and experience who God is and what God has done for us in creation and in Jesus Christ, we will be glad to praise and give thanks to him. Those who are spiritually, eternally dead cannot praise and glorify the Lord.

Paul is the prototype and example of a modern, “post-resurrection,” born-again disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, as we can and should be. Paul was carrying out the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to all his disciples, to carry on the mission of Christ: To proclaim the Gospel, to make born-again disciples of Jesus Christ (regeneration), to teach them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches (the process of spiritual growth to maturity at the Day of Christ’s Second Coming). This is only possible by the power and guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit (sanctification), but only after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-4; 9:17-18). Only born-again disciples can make born-again disciples (Acts 9:10-12).

Paul was repeating the process of making born-again disciples of Jesus Christ among the Thessalonians, as Jesus had demonstrated with his original Twelve disciples, and as Paul had been “discipled” by Ananias. Paul taught the Thessalonians (and Timothy; 2 Timothy 2:2) to repeat the process also (2 Thessalonians 2:15, 17:3-4).

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 25 Pentecost – C 

First Posted November 19, 2012;
Podcast: Monday 25 Pentecost – C 

Psalm 98 – Coming Kingship of God on Earth;

Paraphrase:

Let us sing a new song to the Lord for the marvelous things he has done! “His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory” (Psalm 98:1b). The triumph of the Lord has been revealed and his victory made known throughout the earth. His steadfast love and faithfulness to Israel has been fulfilled. The ends of the earth have witnessed his victory.

Let all the earth join in a joyful song of praise to the Lord, the King, accompanied by a great orchestra! Let the hills rejoice; let the roar of sea and rivers and all the creatures in them join in the song of praise before the Lord, as he comes to judge the earth. The Lord will judge with righteousness and equity the world and all people!

Commentary:

The great things that the Lord has done are revealed first in the goodness of Creation! Further, they are revealed in the Bible in the history of God’s dealings with Israel, his called and chosen people, and through the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Ultimately they are revealed to us individually and personally by the coming of the Holy Spirit within “born-again” Christian disciples of Jesus Christ, who testify that the Lord continues to do great things for us.

Jesus is the right hand of the Lord; his holy arm! Jesus has won the victory over sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and (eternal) death; he has defeated them at the cross, and demonstrated this by Jesus’ resurrection. Every truly born-again Christian personally testifies that Jesus has risen from death and is eternally alive.

Even now, the Bible is being translated into the most obscure languages so that God’s marvelous works will be made known to the most remote people on earth, and that work continues until the end of the world at the Second Coming of Christ on the Day of Judgment.

Jesus has promised to return to judge the living (“quickened”) and dead (John 5:28-29, 14:3; 1 Peter 4:5) in both physical and spiritual senses. Jesus is the righteous judge and the standard of judgment by whom all people who have ever lived physically in this world will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (ruler, to whom service and obedience are due; one who has achieved mastery; one who exercises great power and authority: Matthew 28:18), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have refused to accept Jesus as their Lord will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell (eternally separated from God’s love and providence) with all evil. ( Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Jesus said that one must be born-again in order to see and enter eternal life and God’s kingdom in heaven (John 3:3, 5-8). Jesus is the only way to be saved from eternal damnation, the only way to know divine eternal truth, the only way to have true eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself that one has been born-again (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Tuesday 25 Pentecost – C 

First Posted November 20, 2012;
Podcast: Tuesday 25 Pentecost – C 

Malachi 4:1-2a: “Sun” of Righteousness;

Paraphrase:

Watch and see! The day (of Judgment) is coming; it will be like a hot oven, burning up the arrogant and evildoers like straw. The day that is coming will completely destroy them; no trace of them will remain. But for you who fear (have the appropriate awe and respect of) the name (whole person and character) of the Lord, the “Sun” of righteousness will rise, on wings of healing.

Commentary:

God has always intended to create an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This world has been designed to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s will is our very best interest. But God has limited this Creation and we ourselves, by time, because God is unwilling to allow rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom.

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

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and have fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified; John 1:1-3, 14; see Romans 3:23).  The penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from (eternal) death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-3; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when Christ will return to judge the living (“quickened”) and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5) in both physical and spiritual senses. Jesus will return at the end of time in this Creation, and for us individually and personally at our physical death. We will be accountable to him for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been born-again by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will enter eternal life in paradise in God’s eternal kingdom. Those who have rejected or failed to accept Jesus as Lord, who have not trusted and obeyed Jesus, will be spiritually un-reborn and will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil, separated forever from the love and providence of God (Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Jesus is the “Sun” of righteousness. He is the (only) source of the spiritual light of righteousness, divine eternal truth and eternal life (John 1:4-5, 9, 3:19-21; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46; 14:6), like our Sun is the source of  power, energy and light for our world.

Jesus is also the “Son” of righteousness. God alone is truly righteous (see God’s Plan of Salvation). Jesus is God in human flesh (John 14:7-11; 20:28; Colossians 2:8-9), who alone lived in this world without sinning (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus is the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary, a virgin (Matthew 1:18-20; note the concept of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit; and see Romans 8:9). He is the Son of God by the Holy Spirit, and the Son of man by his mother Mary.

Jesus rose from physical death to eternal life, and his resurrection was witnessed by over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Every truly born-again Christian has personally witnessed that Jesus is risen and eternally alive. Jesus’ Second Coming will be with great glory and power like the rising of the Sun (Matthew 24:29-30; Acts 2:20; Revelation 21:23).

Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence after physical death. Jesus’ miracles of physical healing were intended to show that he is also, and more importantly, able to heal spiritually. Physical healing only lasts until the next illness. Spiritual healing lasts for eternity. Only Jesus can give us physical healing and eternal life.

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

Wednesday 25 Pentecost – C 

First Posted November 21, 2012;
Podcast: Wednesday 25 Pentecost – C 

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 – Exhortation to Diligence;

Paraphrase:

In the name of Jesus Christ, their Lord, Paul commanded the Thessalonians not to associate with brethren who were living in idleness (had quit working because of the imminence of Christ’s return). Rather they were to follow the example of Paul, who had earned his own living at a secular trade (tent-making) while he was with the Thessalonians, so they would not be burdened by the expense of supporting Paul. Paul did so not because he didn’t have the right to be supported by them (because of his ministry to them) but in order to give them a good example to imitate.

Paul had told the Thessalonians while he was there that anyone who was unwilling to work for their living should not be allowed to eat without paying. Paul had heard that some of the Thessalonians were living in idleness and refusing to work, busy with doing nothing. So Paul commanded them to earn their living without creating a fuss. Paul exhorted all believers to not become weary of doing good works.

Commentary:

This text applies today, in that we are not to quit our regular jobs to wait in idleness for Christ’s Return, as some in recent history have done. We are not to sit around with other believers and speculate on “End Times,” the “Rapture,” the Second Coming, as some like to do. I have personally known new believers who have chosen to speculate on “End Times” instead of “working” on being disciples of Jesus Christ.

This text applies to believers who are content with their secular jobs and with attending Church for their own benefit, without feeling the need and responsibility for actively participating in the ministry of the Gospel; without joining in the work of “Social Ministry” -actively caring for (ministering to) the needs of the poor and marginalized of society- and “Evangelism” -proclaiming the Gospel and personal testimony to those we encounter in everyday life.

Social Ministry is not solely the responsibility of the State, as some “church members” would like to believe, nor is it solely the responsibility of the Church, as some political leaders would have us believe. Evangelism is not solely the responsibility of the “Pastor.” Evangelism isn’t just inviting our neighbors to attend church services, nor merely “praying” over our “Happy Meals” when we eat out.

This text can be terribly misused to condemn public welfare. In today’s economy, at least in America, we have the highest unemployment since the Great Depression. There are many people who want to be gainfully employed, but cannot find a job. There are other factors such as job “outsourcing” to other countries with cheap labor, and “guest worker” programs where cheap labor is allowed to compete with citizens for jobs and public health and social services.

The context of the Gospel message is to treat others as we would like to be treated: to provide jobs with dignity (for example: Matthew 20:1-15), to provide food for the hungry and assistance for the poor. The reality is that it is the wealthy who live in idleness who don’t want to contribute to a just society. They don’t want to pay taxes for the benefits they have received; they don’t feel responsible to provide decent jobs with fair pay.* Common people are coming to be regarded merely as “sheep to be sheared.”

God’s Word warns that there is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived on earth will be accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ for what they have done in this lifetime (John 5:28-29; see Luke 16:19-31). Those who have done what is good, right and true according to God’s Word (in the Bible and in the example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word:” John 1:1-3, 14) who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (“boss;” master, teacher), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) in this lifetime and will enter eternal life in heaven with the Lord. Those who have done what is evil, who have refused or failed to accept Jesus as Lord, who have not trusted and obeyed Jesus, will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil. (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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


*http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/census-finds-record-gap-between-rich-and-poor/19651337#19651337

2013 update:

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/12/business/la-fi-census-poverty-rate-20120913

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-12/u-s-poverty-rate-stays-at-almost-two-decade-high-income-falls.html

Huge Gap Between Super Rich and Everyone Else

2016 update:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/economic-inequality-it-s-far-worse-than-you-think/

http://time.com/3855971/us-economic-inequality/


Thursday 25 Pentecost – C 

First Posted November 22, 2012;
Podcast: Thursday 25 Pentecost – C

Luke 21:5-19 – The End of the Age;

Background:

In 18 B.C., to curry favor with the Jews, Herod the Great began rebuilding the Second Temple, which had been built after the return of the remnant of Israel from exile in Babylon (516 B.C.*). The main construction had been finished in ten years, but the building of the outer courts and the embellishment of the whole temple were conducted during the period of Jesus’ ministry.*

Paraphrase:

People were commenting on the adornment of the temple with precious stones and offerings, and Jesus said that the day was coming when the temple would be destroyed, and none of the stones with which it were built would be left standing one on another. The people asked when this would occur, and what sign would appear when this was about to happen, and Jesus warned the people not to be led astray, because many would arise in Jesus’ name and claim [falsely] to be the Messiah (God’s “Anointed;” the “Christ;” both words mean “anointed,” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). They will proclaim that the time (of Christ’s Second Coming) is at hand. We are warned not to follow these false “christs.” When we hear of wars and rumors of wars we are not to become alarmed, because these things will take place before the End Times come.

Jesus then also told them that nations and kingdoms would arise against each other, and there will be earthquakes, famines, epidemic diseases, terrors and astronomical disturbances. But before these take place, believers will be persecuted, arrested, and tried before religious and political authorities and imprisoned for Jesus’ name’s sake. That will be a time for believers to testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Decide not to prepare anything to say beforehand, because Jesus (by the indwelling Holy Spirit) will give his (born-again; John 3:3, 5-8) disciples wisdom and what to say, at the time it is needed, that none of their adversaries will be able to contradict.

Jesus’ disciples will be turned over to the authorities even by their own parents, brothers, kinsfolk and friends. Some believers will be put to (physical) death, and all will be hated for the sake of Jesus’ name, but none of them will perish (eternally) in even the slightest way. They will gain eternal life by their endurance.

Commentary:

The temple was completed in 65 A.D..* Jesus’ lifetime was about thirty-three years. Within forty years* of Jesus’ prediction, the temple was destroyed by the Roman Army in 70 A.D.,* and has never been rebuilt. The only thing that remains is a portion of the western wall.

The defining characteristic of God’s Word is it’s fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The Word of God is always fulfilled, and it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

Judaism effectively ended at Jesus’ Crucifixion, when the curtain of the temple separating the people from the “holy of holies” of God’s presence was supernaturally torn in two from top to bottom (Luke 23:45), symbolizing that a new and better way into God’s presence had been opened through the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood on the cross. The destruction of the temple effectively ended the temple sacrificial system of the Old Covenant (Testament) of Law (Works; keeping of the Law of Moses). Jesus is the only sacrifice acceptable to God through the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor; free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus established the New Covenant at the Last Supper (“New Passover”) on the eve of Jesus’ Crucifixion (Matthew 26:28, RSV note “g;” Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:16-20).

Many false “christs” have arisen. There have been many false predictions of the date of the Second Coming. No one knows the date or hour, not even Angels or Jesus himself (Mark 13:32-33). Jesus doesn’t want us to know the day or hour, because he wants us to always be prepared (Matthew 24:42-47).

Many, including myself, are convinced that Jesus’ Return is imminent. The major prophecies have all been fulfilled. It is only possible within the last twenty years for the “mark of the beast” prophecy to be technologically possible (Revelation 13:16-17; perhaps a microchip implant). It is now possible for rogue nations to unleash nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Iniquity abounds, and for many, love has grown cold (Matthew 24:12). Look around at world as it is today and see that Christ’s Return is imminent!**

Every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian has experienced some form of persecution for the Gospel, even within America and the American Church, and I personally so testify. But it is not as severe as the torture and physical death of Christians which others have experienced historically, and even today in non-Christian parts of the world. I have personally experienced and testify that the Holy Spirit has given me wisdom and uncontradictable testimony at the moment needed on a number of occasions.

Are you ready for Christ’s Return (Matthew 24:38-42, 44, 50; 25:13)? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The Sword Project digital Bible tools:

http://www.crosswire.org/sword/index.jsp

– Easton Bible Dictionary module:

http://www.crosswire.org/sword/modules/ModInfo.jsp?modName=Easton

“Temple, Herod’s, “Christ.”

“Second Temple”

**”Signs of the Times,” Dr. Ed Hindson, 10/10/10,

http://www.thekingiscoming.com


Friday 25 Pentecost – C 

First Posted November 23, 2012 ;
Podcast: Friday 25 Pentecost – C 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  – The Coming of the Lord;

Paraphrase:

Paul wanted the Christians in Thessalonica (and all Christians) to know that they should not mourn for their fellow believers who have died (physically; “asleep;” 1 Thessalonians 4:13a), as unbelievers do. Believers have the hope (of resurrection to eternal life) which unbelievers do not have. Because we believe that Jesus died and arose again, so also we believe that through (faith – obedient trust- in) Jesus, God will bring us with him (to his eternal kingdom). Paul declared that, by God’s Word, we who are alive at the Day of Christ’s Return will not have any advantage over those who have died physically in faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ before then. The Lord himself will descend from heaven at the shouted command of an Archangel and the sound of the trumpet of God. Those who have died in Christ will be raised and we will be caught up with them to meet with the Lord in the air as he comes on the clouds (as he ascended; Acts 1:9-11). From then on we will be together with our resurrected brethren in the presence of the Lord forever.

Commentary:

Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 15:3-9, that Christ’s physical death, burial, and resurrection were of utmost importance to the Gospel and Christian faith. It was testified to by over five hundred eyewitnesses, and personally by Paul himself.

I’m convinced that Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the replacement for Judas, the one of the original Twelve disciples, who betrayed Christ. While the Eleven were supposed to be waiting in Jerusalem for the anointing of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8), they chose, without the benefit of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Matthias, who is never heard of again in the New Testament, as Judas’ replacement (Acts 1:12-26). On the other hand, after Paul’s conversion (Acts (9:1-22), most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul. Paul is deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a modern, post-resurrection, disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, as we can and should become.

Paul apparently hadn’t known Jesus’ during Jesus’ physical life and ministry. But Paul personally experienced the risen, eternally alive Jesus, on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6), and testified to Jesus’ Resurrection, with as much authority as the other eyewitnesses. So likewise, every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, including myself, has personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and personally testifies that Jesus has been raised from physical death and is eternally alive.

Jesus’ Resurrection demonstrates that there is existence after physical death, and the possibility of eternal life. Mankind has previously been in lifelong bondage to the fear of death, but Jesus’ death and resurrection has defeated Satan, who has the power of eternal spiritual death, and has freed us from bondage to the fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

In the First Century Church, most believed that Christ’s Return was imminent and would occur within their physical lifetimes. When believers started to die, believers were worried that perhaps they had missed the Second Coming. So Paul wrote to the Churches to reassure them that physical death would not affect their salvation and eternal life.

Jesus has promised in the Bible that he will come again, on the Day of Judgment, to judge the living (“quickened”) and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5) in both the physical and spiritual senses. Jesus is the righteous judge (2 Timothy 4:8) and the standard by which all will be judged, because he was fully human and lived in this world, just as we do, but without sinning (Hebrews 4:15).

We are saved, not because we are sinless; we have all sinned and fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true, according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). We are saved from eternal damnation (condemnation to eternal death) only by God’s grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, who is God’s only provision for our forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

The Day of Judgment is coming for each one of us, within our lifetime or at the moment of our physical death, when we will all be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (one who has power and authority over us; our master, teacher), and Savior, and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually born-again by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit in this lifetime, and will enter eternal life in paradise in God’s kingdom. Those who have refused or failed to accept Jesus as their Lord, to trust and obey Jesus, will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil, eternally separated from God’s love and providence (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether one has been baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

No one knows the date or hour, not even Angels or Jesus himself (Mark 13:32-33). Jesus doesn’t want us to know the day or hour, because he wants us to always be prepared (Matthew 24:42-51). But  he warns us to note the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3). All the major prophecies have been fulfilled (see entry and links for yesterday, 25 Pentecost Thursday C, above). The Day of Christ’s Return is at hand. Are you ready for Christ’s Return?

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

Saturday 25 Pentecost – C 

First Posted November 24, 2012;
Podcast: Saturday 25 Pentecost – C

Matthew 24:15-28 – Signs of the End;

Jesus said that when signs of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11, of a desolating sacrilege taking place in the temple are seen, the Judeans should flee. The time of the end will be so imminent that people should flee immediately, without taking time to grab any personal items (like food or clothing). Woe to nursing mothers in that day! We should pray that the end will not come in winter or on a sabbath, because the greatest time of tribulation which has ever been experienced on earth will occur. The length of the tribulation will be shortened, so that the elect (God’s chosen people) can be saved; otherwise no one could survive.

Be careful, then, if anyone says that the Christ is in a specific place do not believe it, because false “christs” and false prophets will appear and do miraculous things, in order to lead people astray, including the elect. We have been warned! If we hear that the Messiah is in a certain place, we are not to go there, because when Christ returns he will be present everywhere. Jesus used the metaphor of buzzards circling above a corpse to illustrate that Jesus will find us; we don’t need to worry about finding him.

Commentary:

The test of prophecy and the defining characteristic of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). If someone prophesies in God’s name and the prophecy is not fulfilled, that prophet is false and does not speak God’s Word. God’s Word is always fulfilled, and it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

The prophecy by Daniel of the desecration of the temple was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes, in 167 B.C., when he dedicated the temple at Jerusalem to Zeus Olympius. This led to the Maccabean Revolt of orthodox Jews against the Maccabees. The purification of the temple in 164 B.C, is the origin of the Hannukkah festival of the Jews (John 10:22).*

The prophecy was again fulfilled in 70 A.D., when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans. The Jews were scattered throughout the world, and the nation ceased to exist until its re-establishment in 1948, after World War II. The prophecy remains to be fulfilled again at the End of the Age, when Christ returns on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 24:29-31).

There have been rumors of Christ’s return since his ascension (Acts 1:9-11). In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul dealt with the false teaching that the day of the Lord had already come (2 Thessalonians 1:2). We have heard predictions of specific dates of the Second Coming several times in current memory: most recently the rumor that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in 2012. I personally have experienced times in my own life when I have heard rumors of (false) “christs” and of the Second Coming.

No one knows when the End of the Age will come; not angels or even Jesus Christ (Mark 13:32-33). Jesus doesn’t want us to know the day or hour, because he wants us to always be prepared (Matthew 24:42-51). But he warns us to note the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3). All the major prophecies have been fulfilled (see entry and links for 25 Pentecost Thursday C, above). The Day of Christ’s Return is at hand. Are you ready for Christ’s Return?

Christ has promised to return on the Day of Judgment, when the living (“quickened”) and dead in both physical and spiritual senses, will be accountable to him for what each has done individually in this lifetime (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5). God’s Word, and Jesus himself, assure us that Jesus will come again in power and great glory, just as he ascended into heaven after his resurrection (Acts 1:9-11; Matthew 25:31-32).

Jesus is both the righteous judge appointed by God, and the standard of judgment by which all will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (master; ultimate authority; “boss”) and have thus trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” during this lifetime, and will enter eternal life in paradise with the Lord. Those who have refused or failed to accept Jesus as Lord and thus have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

We are all born physically alive into this world, but are spiritually “un-born” until “baptized” (anointed; filled) with the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself, whether one has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit or not (Acts 19:2). Jesus said that one must be born-again by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit in order to see the Kingdom of God all around us now, and to enter it in eternity (John 3:3, 5-8).

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


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Survey of Bible Lands #15 (Seleucid Policy), p. 1527-1528, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Week of 24 Pentecost – C – 10/30 – 11/05/2016

November 1, 2016

Week of 24 Pentecost – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Podcast Download: Week of 24 Pentecost – C

Sunday 24 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 7, 2010; 
Podcast: Sunday 24 Pentecost – C

Exodus 34:5-9 – God Revealed to Moses;
Psalm 145 – Extolling God’s Character;
2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12 – Glorify God;
Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus;

Exodus Background:

The Israelites had broken the covenant with God by reverting to idolatry while Moses was with God on the mountain (Horeb; Sinai) for forty days (Exodus 31:18-32:6). Moses interceded for the Israelites to be forgiven and to renew the covenant with God (Exodus 32:7-20). Moses asked God to reveal himself to Moses (Exodus 33:13-23). Then Moses returned to Mt. Sinai with two new stone tablets to renew the covenant (Exodus 34:1-4).

Exodus Paraphrase:

The Lord descended in a cloud and stood with Moses on the mountaintop and proclaimed the name (the whole person and character) of the Lord: a gracious and merciful God, slow to get angry, whose overflowing love and faithfulness are steady and unwavering, willing to forgive sin (disobedience of God’s Word), transgression (violation of God’s Law), and iniquity (injustice). Nevertheless, God will not leave the guilty unpunished; he will punish the iniquity of the fathers upon their children to the third and fourth generation.

Moses bowed his head and worshiped the Lord, and asked, if Moses had found favor with the Lord, that the Lord come among his people, the Israelites, although they were a stubborn and prideful people. Moses asked the Lord to forgive the injustice and disobedience of God’s people and make them the heritage of the Lord.

Psalm 145 Paraphrase:

Let us exalt the Lord our God and King; let us bless and praise his name every day. The Lord is great, even beyond our understanding, and is worthy of great praise.

Let one generation declare and praise God’s works to another. Let us remember and meditate on the majestic splendor and wondrous acts of the Lord. Let the people declare the power of the Lord’s awesome works; let us praise his greatness. God’s people should loudly proclaim his reputation of his abundant goodness and righteousness.

The steadfast love, mercy and grace of the Lord is abundant and overflowing; the Lord is good and compassionate to all that he has created.

All whom the Lord has made will give him thanks, and all those who are consecrated to his service (i.e., his saints) shall bless him. They will testify to his power and the glory of his kingdom, so that all humans may know his mighty acts and his splendorous kingdom. His kingdom is eternal, and he will reign eternally throughout all generations.

Faithful and gracious are the words and acts of the Lord, and will be glorified by all those who are dedicated to serving him. Those who stumble, the Lord will uphold, and he will lift up the spirits of those who are discouraged. All depend on the Lord to provide their food at the appropriate time. The Lord satisfies the needs of every living thing. All of the Lord’s ways and deeds are just and kind. “The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). The longings of all who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the authority and power of) the Lord, he will fulfill. He will hear their cries and save them. The Lord will preserve all who love him; but he will destroy the wicked (those who are evil in principle or practice).

“My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever” (Psalm 145:21).

2 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy had been colleagues in Paul’s second missionary journey, during which they founded the church at Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia. It was one of the first three churches planted in Europe.

Paul greeted the church with the conventional salutations of Greek and Hebrew respectively: “grace” and “peace,” which are only truly possible through God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul rejoiced and gave thanks to God for the Thessalonians’ growing and abounding faith and love among their brethren. The Thessalonian congregation continued to experience severe persecution by the local Jewish synagogue (see Acts 17:1-11) who regarded the Christian Church as a heretical sect. So Paul “bragged” about the steadfastness and faith of the Thessalonian congregation amidst persecution and affliction.

Paul considered their tribulations evidence of God’s righteous judgment, so that the Thessalonian Christians were being made worthy of God’s eternal kingdom through their suffering (compare Hebrews 12:1-13). So Paul prayed for the Thessalonian Christians that God would make them worthy of his calling, that God would fulfill their good resolve and works of faith by his power (his Holy Spirit working within them by their spiritual rebirth; John 3:3, 5-8), to the glory of  the Lord Jesus Christ, and that they would be glorified in the Lord by the grace (unmerited favor) of God and Jesus Christ.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, where he knew that he was going to be crucified, accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. As he approached Jericho, east and slightly north of Jerusalem (perhaps thirteen miles, in a straight line). A chief tax collector in Jericho, named Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus as he passed by, but because Zacchaeus was short in stature, he could not see over the crowd, so he ran ahead and climbed into Sycamore tree (Sycamine; Mulberry) so that he could get a better look at Jesus as he went by.

When Jesus came by, he looked up into the tree and called Zacchaeus by name, saying that Jesus needed to be the guest at the home of Zacchaeus that day. Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Jesus. The people in the crowd were amazed that Jesus would have fellowship with a person they regarded as a sinner. Zacchaeus told Jesus that he would give half of his possessions to the poor and would repay four times the amount to anyone he had cheated. Jesus declared that salvation had come that day to Zacchaeus’ household, since Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham, regardless of his former behavior, because Jesus had come to seek and save those who were spiritually “lost” and headed to eternal destruction because of their sin.

Themes: knowing God, praising and glorifying God; seeing God

Commentary:

I am convinced that the meaning and purpose of life is to seek and come to know and have a personal relationship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). Then we will know by personal experience his character, power, faithfulness and saving acts. New believers and seekers, can first know the Lord through the testimony of others, recorded in the Bible, and by the testimony of truly ‘born-again” Christians (John 3:3, 5-8).

Moses asked God to reveal himself to him. As we trust in God’s Word in the Bible, the Lord will reveal himself to us personally, also. If we earnestly seek him with the commitment to trust and obey him, we will come to know the Lord personally. We will no longer have to rely on the testimony of others; we will know with certainty for ourselves.

I personally testify that the Lord has revealed himself to me through his Word in the Bible, in devotional meditation with prayer, and in daily personal experiences of his fulfillment of his promises (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home). When I first began to seek the presence of the Lord I didn’t know any Psalm by reference except the Twenty-Third. As the Lord began to reveal himself to me, he asked me to do something I considered risky in worldly terms. A thought came into my mind to look up Psalm 91, which contained great reassurance that the Lord was able and faithful to protect me from harm.

I was like Paul (Acts 9:5a), and asked the Lord who it was who was leading me. The Lord replied,  that it was the “Lord and Giver of Life,” (The Holy Spirit, as defined in the third article of the Nicene Creed), This identification was uniquely meaningful to me personally, because of my background in a “liturgical” (i.e. following a formal ritual of public worship) Church. The Lord can reveal himself to others in a way that is uniquely personally meaningful to them.

The Psalmist urges one generation to praise their personal experience of the Lord’s faithfulness and powerful acts to another. One must first have a personal relationship with the Lord through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Unfortunately, the nominal Church is failing to make “born-again” disciples (students) and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Without born-again members, the Church will not have born-again leaders to choose from their membership. Church “members” are failing to, and cannot, pass on testimony and praise of God’s works to their children or to older generations who have not been spiritually “reborn.”

With a personal relationship with the Lord through the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit we will be able to recall, from personal experience, in times of trouble, the Lord’s power and faithfulness. As the Lord demonstrates his power and faithfulness to us personally, our faith will grow from a tiny “mustard seed” (our “yes” to trust and obedience to the Lord) into the supernaturally large “tree” of mature faith (Matthew 13:31-32). We will be able to praise him to others so that they can trust in him and be saved.

When troubles come, it is hard to remember what the Lord has done for us in the past. I keep a personal log of blessings and answered prayer. When I’m experiencing troubles and discouragement, I can look back on other times that the Lord has delivered me and brought me through. I also review it annually before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Lord is loving and forgiving to all who love, trust and obey him; but those who refuse or fail to accept his love and forgiveness which he has provided through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross will be eternally condemned and destroyed.

Worldly wisdom attributes success and wealth to God’s favor, and tribulation to God’s disfavor, but that is not so, as Paul testified. Christians can expect to be hated and persecuted by the world, as the world treated Jesus. Christians who don’t experience persecution are failing to carry out their ministry of the Gospel. But the ministry of the Gospel cannot be carried out by our human strength and resources; we can only fulfill it by the power and resources provided by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6; Romans 8:15-17; 1 Corinthians 12:3;  Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). Jesus warns that we must be born-again before carrying the Gospel message to the world (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Jesus knew Zacchaeus completely before Zacchaeus met Jesus (compare John 1:47-50; 4:16-19). The Lord knows all about us, too. Zacchaeus was a sinner (disobedient of God’s Word) even as are we all (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Zacchaeus realized that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Christ), and repented of his sin (Luke 19:8).

All who accept Jesus as Lord (the Messiah; Christ; God’s chosen Savior and eternal King) are spiritual sons of Abraham, entitled to the inheritance of God’s promise (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 3:26-29). The Jews considered themselves children of Abraham, but didn’t acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, and Jesus called them children of the devil (John 8:42-44).

Jesus came to bring forgiveness and eternal salvation to all who acknowledge their sin and spiritual “lostness,” to eternal condemnation and destruction. Jesus cannot help those who consider themselves righteous (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word). There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived in this world will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in their lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually reborn in this lifetime, and will enter paradise and eternal life in heaven with all believers. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (John 5:28-29; 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? 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 24 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 8, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 24 Pentecost – C

Psalm 148 – All Creation: Praise the Lord!

Paraphrase:

Praise the Lord! Let all things in heaven praise him: all angels, all his host (a large army); praise him from the mountain tops!

Praise the Lord, sun, moon, and all stars; the highest heavens, and the storehouses of rain. Let all praise the name (character and person) of the Lord. They were created by his command; they were established forever and their boundaries are fixed by his command.

Let all the earth praise the Lord, all monsters and creatures of the depths. All fire, frost, snow, hail and stormy wind obey his command.

Let all creation praise the Lord: all hills, and trees, beasts and cattle, crawling things and soaring birds!

Praise the Lord, all people: princes and rulers of the earth, children, young and old people, join in the praise of the Lord.

The name of the Lord is worthy of praise; his name alone is worthy of exaltation. High above earth and heaven is his glory.

The Lord has raised up a horn (of salvation) for his people, his saints (those consecrated to the Lord’s service), the people of Israel who are near to him.

Commentary:

Jesus is the “horn of salvation” which God has raised up for his people. God instructed the Israelites to build altars with upraised triangular corners which were called “horns” (Exodus 27:2; 30:10). A person who was in danger of being killed could take hold of the horns of the altar and be spared (1 Kings 1:50).

Jesus is God’s “anointed” (designated) eternal savior who has been built into the very structure of this world (John 1:1-5). Those who come and lay hold of Jesus in faith (obedient trust) will be spared from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23).

We are all sinners who fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (doing what is good, right, and true according to God’s Word in the Bible and in the teaching and example of Jesus, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified; John 1:14). Jesus’ blood-sacrifice on the cross is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

There is a Day of Judgment coming for everyone who has ever lived in this world. Jesus has promised to return to judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead (1 Peter 4:5; John 5:28-29) Those who accept Jesus as their Lord (One who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor) and Savior, and trust and obey his teachings will be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life in this lifetime, and will enter eternal life in paradise restored in God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be spiritually “unborn” and will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

On the Day of Judgment every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God (Philippians 2:9-11). In that Day, it will be too late to change one’s eternal destiny.

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

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

Tuesday 24 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 9, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 24 Pentecost – C

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 – David’s Prayer;

Paraphrase:

(On the occasion of the succession of Solomon, the son of David, to his father’s throne), David offered a prayer, blessing the Lord for ever. David acknowledged that greatness, power, glory, victory, and majesty belong to the Lord, since everything in this world belongs to God. The Lord is the true king of the kingdom, exalted above all others. All riches and honor come from the Lord and he reigns over all. Power and might, greatness and strength all come from God. Therefore David, and all God’s people give thanks to the Lord our God, and praise his glorious name (his person and character).

Commentary:

David was the shepherd boy who became the great human king of Israel. David was deliberately intended by God to be the forerunner and illustration of the promised Messiah (Christ). Solomon was the physical son of David who ascended to the throne. Jesus was the ultimate heir (son of David; Matthew 1:1; 21:9) to the eternal throne of David, through Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph (Matthew 1:20-21), according to the promise God had given (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29).

God is the Creator and ruler of everything in this world. The Lord is the true and rightful king of the universe. The authority of human rulers has been delegated by God (Romans 13:3-7). David recognized God’s power and authority over Creation and that David’s power and authority were by God’s delegation.

God is the source of every good and necessary thing. All riches, honor, strength, greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty belong to the Lord. Worldly people haven’t discovered this; they think that this world is all there is, and there is no purpose in life but to satisfy their own physical desires and accumulate material things. They don’t realize that their achievements aren’t by their own abilities and efforts, but are the gift of God. God allows times of trial, want, and need, to happen to us in hope that we will realize our dependence on his providence.

When we understand our relationship to and dependence upon the Lord and the blessings he’s given us, we will rejoice in him and gladly give him thanks and praise. As we praise and thank the Lord he blesses us with his loving presence and touch.

This world was intentionally created by God to provide us with the freedom and opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator. This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, who alone gives the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Through the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit we are spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to true eternal life (John 14:6). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

This world has been created to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, but God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, so this creation and we ourselves are limited by time. This world and we ourselves will pass away.

We will all die physically once, and then will face the Lord’s judgment (Hebrews 9:27), and the judge and standard of judgment will be Jesus Christ. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and have trusted and obeyed his teachings and example will have been spiritually “born-again” in this lifetime and will enter eternal life. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior, and have refused or failed to trust and obey him will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil. At the moment of our physical death (or mental impairment by stroke, dementia, or other disability), or at the Day of Christ’s Second Coming, our eternal destinies will be fixed and unalterable.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus? 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 24 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 10, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 24 Pentecost – C

2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 – Thanks and Praise to the Lord;

Paraphrase:

Paul constantly thanked God for the Christians at Thessalonica (in Macedonia; on the European Continent), who were beloved by God, and were chosen by God to be saved through sanctification [the process of bringing to spiritual maturity, by work of the Holy Spirit through faith (obedient trust) in the truth (the Gospel of Jesus Christ), those who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), filled with the anointing of the indwelling Holy Spirit]. God had called them (and all believers) through the Gospel [the “Good News” of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal condemnation, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home]. Believers are called through the Gospel to attain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we must be steadfast in faith to the teachings which Paul and his fellow missionaries, Silas (Silvanus) and Timothy had made known to them by by word (and example) in person, and by letter.

Now Paul prayed for the believers, that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ would comfort and establish their hearts in good words and deeds. The Lord loved us and gave us eternal comfort and hope by grace (his unmerited favor; a free gift).

Paul asked the Thessalonian church to pray for Paul’s ministry, that the Lord would hurry and complete his ministry of the Word of God through Paul, and that Paul and fellow missionaries would be delivered from wicked and evil people, because not everyone accepts the Gospel truth. The Lord is entirely faithful, and will deliver believers from all evil. Paul was confident that believers were doing and would do as Paul had taught them. So Paul asked that the Lord would guide their hearts “to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5b).

Commentary:

By the preaching of the Gospel by Paul, the Church at Thessalonica was one of the first churches founded on European soil. Paul’s ministry was very successful among Gentiles (non-Jews), and received much opposition from the local synagogue (because the Jews had hoped to convert them to Judaism, and regarded Christianity as a heretical sect).

We are all beloved by God, and his love is revealed by his sending of his only “begotten” Son, begotten by the Holy Spirit, to die on the cross as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin and our salvation from eternal condemnation and death, which is the penalty for sin.

The blood of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is intended to cleanse us from all sin by faith, so that we are able to receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, through whom we are spiritually “born-again” to eternal life. Only Jesus baptizes with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2).  The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus’ death and resurrection make it possible for us to have a personal relationship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ by the “infilling” of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7), the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we are led in spiritual growth to spiritual maturity at the Day of Christ’s Second Coming (Philippians 1:6: “fulfill;” “perfect”). Spiritual growth requires the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the knowledge of, and obedient trust in God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified (John 1:1-5, 14).

Through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are called to follow Jesus’ example and teaching, so that we can attain the glory (the blessings and honor, the moral attributes of God’s own righteousness, the bliss of eternal life in heaven) which Jesus has received. Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, but we can become God’s “adopted” sons and daughters through faith in Jesus.

This world has been designed to allow the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word, so that we have the freedom to choose for ourselves whether to trust and obey God or not. But this world and we ourselves have been limited by time, because God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, or it wouldn’t be “Heaven.” This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually reborn, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus. Those who have been truly born-again will demonstrate their spiritual rebirth (regeneration) by their words and deeds.

The indwelling Holy Spirit comforts believers in times of suffering and persecutions. In his Gospel, John uses the Greek word “parakletos,” from which we get “Paraclete,” meaning intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter. The KJV translates it as “Comforter;” the RSV translates it as “Counselor.”

Christians should pray for the ministry of the Gospel through missionary evangelists like, Paul, and through ourselves. We have personally experienced the truth of the Gospel and are enabled to proclaim it by the Holy Spirit working in and through us. We must learn to step out in faith. But the ministry of the Gospel can only be carried out by the Holy Spirit, not by our own human abilities and efforts (Zechariah 4:6; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Christians can expect the same opposition to the Gospel that Jesus, Paul, and the Thessalonian Christians experienced from worldly people. We must respond with love and steadfastness which are only possible 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? 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 24 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 11, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 24 Pentecost – C

Luke 20:27-38 – Questions about  Resurrection;

Paraphrase:

The Sadducees were a faction of Judaism who did not believe in resurrection. They came to Jesus and asked him a question to challenge Jesus’ teaching on resurrection. Hypothetically, if a man’s brother died, leaving a wife but no children, the man was obligated to take the widow as his own wife, in order to raise up children for his brother. Suppose that there were seven brothers, and each in turn assumed the obligation for their brother, but none produced children. These brothers all died, and so also did the woman. So, in the resurrection, whose wife will the woman be, for she was the wife of all seven.

Jesus told the Sadducees that marriage is the practice of this world (and marriage is terminated by physical death). But in the world to come, there is no marriage (the earthly marriage won’t carry on in Heaven), since they can no longer die. Being children of the resurrection, they are like angels, and are children of God. But even Moses demonstrated the truth of the resurrection, in the passage of the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-12), where Moses calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (father, son, and grandson of the patriarch of Israel). God is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live by and for him.

Commentary:

Judaism was based partly on inheritance of property in the Promised Land, which points to spiritual inheritance in the eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom in Heaven. The husband who produced no children, had none to inherit his portion of the land, so brothers were to assume the responsibility of producing heirs for their dead brother.

In the eternal kingdom to come, there won’t be any need to procreate physically. Each one will have inherited their place in the eternal Promised Land, and since they will never die, they have no need to produce heirs. We will know and recognize the members of our families who have been born-again by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17) during their earthly physical lifetime.

We can’t take anything from this world into eternity except the eternal souls of our families and loved ones. We do that by passing on the Gospel testimony to them.

Too often, sadly, the nominal Church and nominal Christians are failing to pass on the Gospel to older as well as younger generations, both within families and among our acquaintances. We cannot pass on the Gospel to others without having personally experienced its truth (Luke 24:49;  Acts 1:4-5, 8) and without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit within and through us (Zechariah 4:6; Luke 12:11-12; 21:14-15; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:15-17).

God is not the God of those who are dead (un-reborn; in the spiritual sense). God is God, whether we acknowledge him or not, but God has designed this world to allow us to choose for ourselves whether to accept him as our God and Lord or not. Those who reject the Lord, may be physically alive for a time, but are spiritually dead. God is not their God because they do not trust and obey God.

On the Day of Judgment when Christ returns, Jesus will judge the living and the dead in both the physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5). Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord will have been spiritually born-again to eternal life in this world and will enter God’s eternal heavenly kingdom. Those who are judged by Jesus to be spiritually dead will have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and will have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus. They will not have been spiritual “reborn” to eternal life, and will not enter life in God’s heavenly kingdom. They will be separated eternally from God and every good thing; they will die eternally in total misery.

Can one imagine how it will be to exist eternally separated from God’s love and providence? In heaven there will be no more sickness, sorrow, tears, death, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4); In Hell there will be nothing but sickness, sorrow, tears, death, crying and pain for all eternity.

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

Friday 24 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 12, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 24 Pentecost C 

Colossians 1:9-14 – Thanksgiving and Intercession;

Background:

Colossae was a small town near Ephesus, in the district of Phyrigia in western Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Paul had sent Epaphras, a fellow missionary, native to Colossae and founder of the church there, to preach. Epaphras had reported to Paul the love in the Spirit within the congregation.

Paraphrase:

Since Epaphras’ report, Paul had been praying for the congregation, that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9b), so that they could truly lead lives worthy and pleasing to the Lord, bearing spiritual fruit in good works, and growing in spiritual knowledge of God.

Paul prayed that the Colossian Christians would be strengthened by the full power of the Lord’s great might (by the indwelling Holy Spirit), so that they could have the full necessary endurance and patience, with great joy, always giving thanks to God the Father, since he has given us the right to share in the eternal inheritance of the saints (those consecrated to God’s service) of light (righteousness).  Believers have been transferred from the power of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, through whom we have redemption (purchase) from eternal condemnation (the penalty for sin, which is disobedience of God’s Word), and forgiveness.

Commentary:

The meaning and purpose of life in this temporal world is to seek, find, and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). God has plans for each believer, and he wants to reveal them to us, if we are willing to seriously commit ourselves to do his will. God won’t reveal his will to those who are just “window-shopping:” those who want to know God’s will first, and then decide if they’d prefer to do God’s will or their own.

Christians are, by definition, spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). Christian discipleship is a spiritual growth process. The “mustard seed” of faith (Matthew 13:31-32; 17:20) is our “yes” to trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

The Lord wants us to trust and obey his promises in his Word and Holy Spirit, so that we can personally experience his power and faithfulness to fulfill his Word. Each such experience causes our faith to grow, ultimately to spiritual maturity.

We cannot accomplish God’s will in our own human strength (Zechariah 4:6), but only by the power of the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The indwelling Holy Spirit teaches us all things, recalls to us all Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26), and gives us what to say at the moment it is needed (Luke 12:11-12; 21:14-15). By the Holy Spirit we are given the encouragement to wait patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promises, the consolation to endure persecution and affliction, and the great experience of the love and joy that are only possible through the Holy Spirit with in us.

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is condemnation to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil, separated forever from the love and providence of God (Romans 6:23). Jesus has redeemed us (paid the ultimate consequence) from our sin by his sacrificial death on cross so that we wouldn’t have to die for them eternally ourselves (Romans 5:8). Jesus’ blood sacrifice is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for our forgiveness and salvation, which we must receive by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually born-again to eternal life by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come. At the moment of our death (or at some mental impairment), it will be too late to change our eternal destinies.

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

Saturday 24 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 13, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 24 Pentecost – C

Matthew 9:18-26 – Healing and Resurrection;

Paraphrase:

A leader of the synagogue (Jairus, according to Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41) came to Jesus as he was teaching, and knelt at Jesus’ feet. Jairus told Jesus that Jairus’ daughter had just died, and asked Jesus to come and lay hands on her, declaring his faith that by Jesus’ touch, Jairus’ daughter would live again. Jesus and his disciples got up and followed Jairus home.

On the way, a woman who had suffered for twelve years with a hemorrhage, came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of Jesus’ robe, believing that she would be healed just by touching it. Jesus turned and looked at the woman and declared that her faith had made her well, and she was healed instantly.

Arriving at Jairus’ house, Jesus saw professional mourners bewailing the girl’s death, as was the custom. Jesus told them to leave, because the girl was not dead; merely sleeping. The crowd laughed because they did not believe Jesus. When the mourners were sent away, Jesus went in and took the girl by her hand, and she arose. News of this event traveled throughout the region.

Commentary:

Jesus’ miracles of physical healing and resurrection were intended to show us that he is also, more importantly, able to heal us spiritually and raise us from physical death to eternal life. Many people were attracted to Jesus for only his physical miracles, and without faith in his power to perform spiritual healing and resurrection, missed the opportunity to receive spiritual benefits only Jesus can provide. Physical healing and resurrection results are only temporary; the healed will get sick again or die physically again. Spiritual healing and resurrection are for eternity.

For those who are seeking miracles in order to believe in Jesus, there are none. But those who believe in Jesus will personally experience many miracles.

Jesus’ power is not limited by what worldly people consider possible. Jesus’ miracles of resurrection of the dead, and his own resurrection, demonstrated that there is existence after physical death. Physical death is not “nothingness,” and there is no such thing as “reincarnation” (Hebrews 9:27). The issue is where we will spend eternity.

Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be spiritually “born-again” during this earthly lifetime in order to see God’s eternal kingdom all around us now, and to enter it in eternity (John 3:3, 5-8). We are spiritually born-again to eternal life by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Week of 23 Pentecost – C – 10/23 – 29/2016

October 22, 2016

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I am unable to publish next week:

Week of 24 Pentecost – C

Podcast: Week of 24 Pentecost – C

Podcast Download: Week of 23 Pentecost – C

Sunday 23 Pentecost – C

First posted October 31, 2010;

Podcast Download: Week of 23 Pentecost – C
Sunday 23 Pentecost – C
First posted October 31, 2010;

Podcast: Sunday 23 Pentecost – C

Deuteronomy 10:12-22 – The Lord’s Requirements;
Psalm 34 – Psalmist’s Testimony of Deliverance;
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 – Paul Facing Death;
Luke 18:9-14 – Righteous Prayer;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

The Lord does not require anything too difficult for us to do; only that we should fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) the Lord our God, live according to his Word (and example in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh in this world -John 1:1-5, 14), love him, serve him with all our hearts and souls, and keep his commandments and statutes which he has given us for our well-being.

Psalm 34 Paraphrase:

At all times I will bless the Lord, and praise him continually. The Lord will be the boast of my soul. Hear me, all those who are afflicted, and rejoice. Let us exalt and magnify the Lord together.

The Lord answered me when I sought him; from all my fears he delivered me. Look to him and you will be radiant with joy; you will never be put to shame. I have cried to the Lord and he has heard me, and delivered from all troubles. The spirit of the Lord surrounds, protects, and delivers those who fear him.

If you try trusting and obeying the Lord, you will find that he is good; you will be glad you took refuge in him. His saints (“holy ones;” those consecrated to the Lord’s service) will never lack any good thing

Listen, children of God, learn from me the fear of the Lord. Do you desire what is really true life, and yearn for long life in which to enjoy good? Then don’t speak evil and deceit. Stop doing what is evil and do what is good (according to God’s Word); seek and pursue peace.

The Lord sees those who do what is righteous, and hears their cries. But the Lord turns away from evil doers, so that their remembrance is blotted out from the earth. The cries of the righteous are heard (and answered) by the Lord; they are delivered from all troubles. The presence of the Lord surrounds the broken-hearted, and saves those whose spirits are crushed.

The righteous experience many afflictions, but are delivered from them all by the Lord; he will not experience damage or loss from any of them. Evil will condemn and destroy the wicked and those who hate the righteous. His servants, those who take refuge in the Lord, will be saved from condemnation, and their lives will be redeemed.

2 Timothy Background:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was in prison, awaiting his second trial (Acts 23:35; He had been tried and acquitted at the first¹), and certain martyrdom in Rome (Acts 28:16), where Paul was under house arrest and guarded by Caesar’s soldiers.²

2 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) told Timothy (Paul’s protege) that Paul was on the point of martyrdom; the time of his physical death and his departure to God’s heavenly kingdom was at hand. Paul was confident that he would receive the crown,³ the reward of righteousness which the righteous judge, Jesus Christ, would award him at the Day of Judgment. Likewise, all who have loved Christ’s first coming will also receive their eternal reward in heaven.

At Paul’s first trial (in Rome) there was no one to defend him (all his fellow Christians and disciples had abandoned him), but Paul prayed that the Lord would forgive them. The Lord was with Paul and strengthened him, so that Paul could declare God’s Word (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) fully to all the Gentiles. Paul was saved from “the lion’s mouth” (a metaphor for violent death; execution). Paul was confident that the Lord would rescue him from all evil, and preserve him unto eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, to teach those who considered themselves righteous by their “works” (keeping the letter but not the spirit of the Law of Moses) but despised others.

A Pharisee and a tax collector (collaborator with the Roman occupying government) went into the temple to pray. The Pharisee stood and prayed “with himself” (Luke 18:11a) saying thanks that he was not like other people: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even the tax collector nearby. The Pharisee fasted twice a week and gave tithes (gave 10%) of all he received.

The tax collector wouldn’t approach the altar or turn his eyes to heaven. He confessed his sinfulness and asked God for mercy, beating his breast as a sign of remorse. It was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who returned home justified (accepted by God; made right with God). Jesus declared that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted (in the Day of Judgment).

Theme:

The Lord’s requirements; trust and obedience; Paul’s example; Jesus’ teaching.

Commentary:

God has always intended, from the beginning of this Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. In order to provide us with the freedom to choose, God allowed for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal heavenly kingdom, so he limited this Creation and we ourselves by time. This present Creation is God’s seedbed to grow his obedient, trusting people for his eternal kingdom, the New Creation.

God has given us his Word in the Bible and in the example and teaching of Jesus Christ, so that we can learn and be enabled to do what the Lord requires. The Lord’s requirements are not too difficult for us to do; they are for our best interest, possible to do, and intended to make us complete, spiritually mature in mental and moral character (Strong’s #G504;* compare: Romans 12:2). God requires us to fear him so that we will keep trusting and obeying God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, which he has given us for our own well-being. We are to love and serve him with all our hearts and souls.

I personally add my testimony to that of the psalmist: The Lord has heard me when I cried out to him, and has delivered me numerous times from trouble (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home). His Holy Spirit protects me and reassures me when I’m afraid or brokenhearted. He has provided for all my needs abundantly beyond all expectations.

The Lord wants us to trust and obey him so that he can show us that his Word is our best interest and that he is powerful and faithful to do what he promises. As we begin to trust and obey him, our faith will grow from the tiny mustard seed (our “yes” to the Lord) of faith, to spiritual maturity, as we personally experience the power and faithfulness of his Word. We will be eager to praise and thank him.

If we want the Lord to hear and answer our prayers we must meet his Conditions for Answered Prayer (see sidebar, top right, home). We can’t expect the Lord to listen to us if we haven’t listened to him, by reading the Bible completely and reading portions daily, seeking his guidance.

We cannot fulfill his requirements in our own physical strength and ability. The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17) makes it possible for us to recall Jesus’ teachings as needed (John 14:26), and empowers us to fulfill them (Romans 8:1-11).

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). Anyone not sure of one’s own spiritual rebirth hasn’t been reborn.

Jesus is the divine eternal truth, our example of trust and obedience to God’s Word, and his resurrection and presence within his born-again disciples is the evidence of eternal life beyond physical death (John 14:6). We can begin to experience that truth and that eternal life now, in this world, by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Spiritual “rebirth” is the true, eternal, long life we are promised.

The Lord knows all about us; we can hide nothing from him. If we want to have a personal relationship with the Lord we must come to him in spirit and in truth.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when Christ will return (the Second Coming), as he has promised, to judge everyone who has ever lived in this world. He will judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead (1 Peter 4:5) in both physical and spiritual senses. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor, as of a manor) and have trusted and obeyed him will have been spiritually reborn in this lifetime and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have refused or failed to accept Jesus as their Lord, or have failed to trust and obey his teachings will be condemned to eternal misery and destruction in Hell with all evil (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46).

No one can be sure to live to see tomorrow. At the moment of our death, or at Christ’s return at the end of time, our eternal destinies will be fixed and unalterable. Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2); don’t put off a decision until “tomorrow.”

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)?


¹ Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Paul,” digital edition, bibledatabase.org – http://bibledatabase.org/eastons.html

² The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Introduction to 2 Timothy, p. 1444, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

³ Wreath; symbol of joy and honor at public celebrations; winners of athletic competitions; The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, 2 Timothy 21:4:6-8n, p. 1447, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

* The Sword Project, KJV Bible with Strong’s Numbers:

http://www.crosswire.org/sword/modules/ModInfo.jsp?modName=KJV


Monday 23 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 1, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 23 Pentecost – C

Psalm 145 — Song of Praise to God;

Paraphrase:

I will praise and magnify the Lord, my God and King. For ever and ever, I will bless his name. I will bless the Lord and praise his name forever. Great is the Lord and worthy of praise, and his greatness is beyond our comprehension.

One generation will testify to another his powerful acts. I will meditate on his great works and the glorious splendor of his sovereign power and deity. I will declare his greatness and others will join in declaring the greatness of his acts, his abundant goodness, and his perfect righteousness.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:7-8).

All his saints (those consecrated to the Lord’s service) will bless and praise him, with all Creation. They will declare his power and the glory of his kingdom, so that all people will know his mighty deeds and the splendor of his kingdom. His kingdom and his dominion will endure throughout all generations.

All the words of the Lord are absolutely reliable, and all his deeds are gracious (loving and merciful). He lifts up the bowed down and those who are stumbling. All eyes look to the Lord to supply their food and necessities in due time. The Lord’s hand is open to supply the needs of every living thing. All the ways of the Lord are just and kind in everything he does. “The Lord is near to all who call upon him …in truth” (Psalm 145:18). The desires of those who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) the Lord will be fulfilled by him; he saves them from all trouble when they cry out to the Lord. All who love the Lord will be preserved, but the Lord will destroy the wicked. I will praise the Lord with my voice, and all living things will bless his holy name forever.

Commentary:

When we accept the Lord as our God and King we will experience his great power, love and faithfulness personally, in our daily lives, and will give him thanks, praise and glory, aloud, to all people with whom we come in contact. I keep a journal of blessings that the Lord has given me, and I use it to recall his goodness and faithfulness when I am experiencing tribulations in my life. I also use it especially to review the year at the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

We must testify to the power, goodness, and faithfulness to our children, and also to older generations who may not have heard or accepted the Gospel. Many “nominal” Christians are failing to pass along the Gospel message to their children. Many children are “raising” themselves, because both parents work and some don’t attend a church on a regular basis.

I have proclaimed the Gospel to many seniors, some of whom have been lifelong “members” of a Christian congregation, but have failed to read the entire Bible for themselves, and who may have been misled by false teachings (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home). Some of the most difficult people to reach with the Gospel are “nominal” Christians: Church “members,” who have been misled by false doctrines. The Bible is the standard by which all church doctrines must be judged.

Christians are by definition disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” (“anointing;” 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). Discipleship is not an optional category for “super-Christians.” Jesus warns that it is not sufficient for us to claim that Jesus is our Lord and to call ourselves “Christians” if we fail to trust and obey his teachings on a daily basis (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

This Creation has been deliberately designed by God to allow us the freedom and time to choose whether to trust and obey him or not, and the opportunity to learn by trial-and-error that God’s Word is true, trustworthy, and reliable, it is in our very best interest, and is possible (Romans 12:2) to do (only) by the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 3:21-26; 8:1-11; Zechariah 4:6).

God created this world very “good” (Genesis 1:31). The evils that exist in this creation are caused by mankind’s sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

God created this world to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) so that we could be free to choose whether to trust and obey his Word or not. But this Creation and we ourselves are limited by time, because God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, or it wouldn’t be Heaven.

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27; Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13-14a). This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (John 14:6) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We will choose, for ourselves, our own personal eternal destiny. Those who have accepted Jesus as their own personal Lord (master) and Savior (from eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell with all evil), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus’ teachings, will have been spiritually born-again to eternal life by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

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

Tuesday 23 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 2, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 23 Pentecost – C

Exodus 34:5-9 – Renewal of the Covenant;

Background: While Moses was on the mountaintop for forty days, meeting with God and receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites grew impatient and unfaithful and asked Aaron, the Priest, to make a golden idol of a calf. The covenant with God had been broken (Exodus 33:1-23).

Exodus:

God promised to reveal his glory to Moses (compare Exodus 33:18). The Lord proclaimed his name (the disclosure of his whole person and character): that he is the God of steadfast love and mercy. God is merciful and gracious (giving us his undeserved favor), he restrains his anger. His love and faithfulness abound to us. He forgives us of the evil we have done, our rebellion against his sovereignty, and our disobedience of his Word, in the Bible and in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

God is loving, but he is also righteous and just. His righteousness and justice require his punishment against unrepentant sinners, and that condemnation will be visited upon the parents who sin and on their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Moses quickly bowed his head in reverence, and worshiped. Moses prayed that if he had God’s favor, that God would be in the midst of his people although they were (unjustly) “proud” and rebellious; that God would pardon their evil deeds and their disobedience of God’s Word, and take them as heirs of the blessings of God’s particular people, among all the people of earth.

Commentary:

Noah was in the ark for forty days while the Lord destroyed the evil by flood (Genesis 7:4, 12; 8:6). The scouts scouted the Promised Land for forty days (Numbers 13:25). The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years before they could enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:33-35), because they rejected the Lord’s first command to enter and possess it. Elijah traveled forty days on supernatural food provided him by the “angel” (or Spirit*) of the Lord in the wilderness as he journeyed to meet God at Mt Horeb (Mt. Sinai; 1 Kings 19:2-8). God instructed Ezekiel to hold a vigil for forty days (Ezekiel 4:1, 6). Jonah prophesied that Nineveh would be overthrown in forty days (Jonah 3:4), but Nineveh repented in sackcloth and ashes and God’s condemnation was averted (Jonah 3:10). Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness for forty days before Jesus began his public ministry. After his resurrection, Jesus revealed that he had risen from the dead and was alive over the course of forty days (Acts 1:3).

Moses was on the mountaintop in the presence of the Lord for forty days (Exodus 24:18; 34:28), and before he returned the Israelites had corrupted the priesthood and had reverted to idolatry.

God is the faithful and loving, true God. He forgave the Israelites over and over, when they repented and returned to faith (obedient trust) in God. But, like a loving father, he withdrew his providence and protection from them when they refused to heed the warnings of God’s Word in the Bible and through his prophets.

His warnings are intended to help us avoid the terrible consequences of disobedience of his Word. God warned the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes to turn from idolatry to obedient trust in God. They ignored his warning until it was too late. As the consequence, they were conquered by the Assyrians in 721 B.C., the healthy people were carried off to other conquered lands as a program of pacification, and only the least able and least healthy remained and intermarried with other conquered people, becoming the Samaritans, of mixed race and religion at the time of Jesus first coming. The tribes of the Northern Kingdom effectively ceased to exist.

The Southern Kingdom of Judah, of the two tribes, ignored the example of the Northern Kingdom, and were conquered by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C. and were exiled to Babylon for seventy years, fulfilling the warning of Jeremiah 25:11-12. Seventy years was effectively a life sentence for adults at the time of the exile, as forty years had been, for the Israelites who refused God’s command to enter the Promised Land.

God intended the Jews to be the prototype of God’s particular people. The Jews rejected their Messiah (Christ; meaning God’s anointed as our eternal king, priest and prophet) and so lost their inheritance as God’s particular people. Jesus became the last faithful Jew, obeying God’s Word unto death on the cross.

The Church is the New Jerusalem, the New People of God on earth. Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus we receive the inheritance of God’s particular people.

God’s love and mercy are intended to bring us into a right relationship with God, as his particular people, but God will not love and be faithful to forgive sinners forever. There is a Day of Judgment coming for all who have ever lived on this earth (John 5:28-29). Those who have accepted God’s offer of love, mercy and forgiveness of sin, through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor) will inherit eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom restored to paradise through spiritual rebirth by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his trusting and obedient disciples (John 14:15-17).

Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will be spiritually unreborn, and will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience. It is possible to know with certainty if one has been spiritually “born- again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Wednesday 23 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 3, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 23 Pentecost – C

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12 — Spiritual Growth;

Paul was writing to the Church (the fellowship of believers) at Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia  in Europe, which Paul had founded on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-18:22). He was writing in the name of himself and his missionary companions, Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy, who had accompanied Paul on that journey.

Paul greeted them with “grace and peace,” the conventional Greek and Hebrew salutations combined, but which are only truly received from God in faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Paul and his fellow missionaries rejoiced that the Thessalonian believers were growing in faith and in love among one another. So Paul, Timothy and Silas commended the Thessalonian congregation among the other churches which they visited, for their steadfastness and faith in the midst of the congregation’s afflictions and persecutions.

Paul regarded the suffering of the Thessalonian congregation as evidence of the righteous judgment of God, since God uses suffering to bring his children to spiritual maturity. So Paul prayed continually for the congregation, that they would be made worthy of the calling they had received, that through God’s power they would fulfill their resolve and works of faith, so that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ would be glorified through them by the grace (unmerited favor; free gift) which they had received from God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Commentary:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was intended by God to be the prototype and example of a modern, post-resurrection, “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Paul had not known Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry, but had been confronted by the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus, where Paul intended to arrest and persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-4).

Paul was “discipled by” a born-again disciple, Ananias, until Paul was spiritually reborn by the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:10-18). Then he proceeded to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), which the risen Jesus had given to his (born-again; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) disciples, his Apostles, to go into the world and make (born-again) disciples (2 Timothy 1:6-7), and teach them to carry on the ministry of discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2). Timothy was just one example of Paul’s ministry.

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

The grace (free gift; undeserved favor) of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal destruction, (endless ruin, not annihilation) is only through God by faith in Jesus. We are all sinners who fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal destruction (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (Romans 5:8). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Christians are by definition born-again  disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c). Discipleship is not some optional category of “super-Christian.” Discipleship is a spiritual growth process to spiritual maturity. It starts with our “mustard seed” of faith, a sincere “yes” to Jesus’ lordship in our lives. As we begin to trust and obey the Lord, he will show us that his Word is entirely trustworthy and true. As a result our faith will grow (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home) to eventual maturity at the time of Christ’s Second coming and the Day of Judgment.

God allowed his only “begotten” son to experience tribulation to a far greater extent than we probably ever will (Hebrews 2:9-18). Jesus experienced temptation to sin, physical abuse, and physical death, in order to show that God delivered Jesus from them. Every truly born-again disciple of Jesus testifies that Jesus is eternally alive, because we have personal daily fellowship with him. Jesus’ resurrection from physical death to eternal life demonstrates that there is existence beyond the grave.

God uses our tribulations and persecutions in this world to confirm and build our faith in him. As we trust and obey God’s Word in the midst of them, we will learn that the Lord is faithful and powerful to bring us through them and deliver us. We will experience his presence and peace in the midst of the storms of life, by the gift of the Holy Spirit within us.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to believers so that they can know the personal will of God for them individually, and be empowered to accomplish their individual calling to ministry of the Gospel (“good news,” of forgiveness, restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom).

Jesus has promised that there is a Day of Judgment coming for everyone who has ever lived on this earth. Each will be personally accountable to Jesus for what they have done in this lifetime with God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, and have trusted and obeyed his teachings, will have been spiritually reborn to eternal life, and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in Heaven, paradise restored. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and have failed or neglected to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46).

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

Thursday 23 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 4, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 23 Pentecost – C

Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus;

Paraphrase:

Jesus was passing through Jericho (on his way to Jerusalem, where he knew he was going to be crucified; Luke 18:31-34). A man named Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector who had become rich, wanted to see Jesus, but because of the multitude following Jesus, he couldn’t, since Zacchaeus was short in stature. So Zacchaeus hurried ahead and climbed into a tree near where Jesus would be passing by. When Jesus came near the place, he looked up and called Zacchaeus by name, telling Zacchaeus to come down, because Jesus intended to visit Zacchaeus in Zacchaeus’ home that day.

Zacchaeus hurried to come down and welcomed Jesus joyfully. The crowd criticized Jesus among themselves because they were amazed that Jesus would be the guest of a sinner (Jews did not associate with sinners). Zacchaeus promised Jesus that he would give half of his possessions to the poor, and would restore four times the value to anyone he had cheated. Jesus told Zacchaeus that Zacchaeus had received salvation that day, because Zacchaeus was also a descendant of Abraham. Jesus, calling himself the Son of man, declared that he had come to seek and save those who were “lost” (those who were perishing eternally because of sin: disobedience of God’s Word).

Commentary:

This is at least the third time that Jesus had foretold his Passion (suffering, death and resurrection) to his disciples, but they didn’t understand what he was saying (Luke 9:22, 44-45;17:25). They were now on Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem where Jesus’ crucifixion would take place. They were passing through Jericho (about 5 miles west of the Jordan River, east and slightly north of Jerusalem).

Zacchaeus was a superintendent of import/export customs, a chief tax collector. Jericho at the time was a principal producer and exporter of balsam (an aromatic resin of the balsam tree; used as a healing salve and for flavoring), so Zacchaeus would have become wealthy. Tax collectors, as collaborators with the Roman occupying government, were hated by the Jews, and were regarded as sinners (those disobedient to God’s Word).

Jesus’ knowledge of the presence and character of Zacchaeus demonstrates Jesus’ divine foreknowledge (compare John 4:16-19). Zacchaeus was a descendant of Abraham, as much a Jew as anyone in the multitude, and no more or less a sinner than any of them. The Jews considered themselves righteous (doing what was right according to God’s Word, the Law of Moses), but no one is capable of keeping all the Law all of the time (Galatians 2:16; James 2:10).

When he encountered Jesus, Zacchaeus confessed his sin. Zacchaeus had become rich while others were poor and lacked basic necessities. Isn’t this the same sin of which many Americans and others throughout the world are guilty today? Zacchaeus promised to give half his possessions to the poor. If we did so today there wouldn’t be any poverty.

Under the Old Covenant of Law, sacrifices had to be offered continually, for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus is the one sacrifice, for all time and all people, which alone is acceptable to God for the forgiveness of all sins. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Under the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift; to be received by faith: obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9) in Jesus, which he instituted at his Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-28, note G RSV) we are forgiven and saved from eternal destruction in Hell, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

We’re all “lost” to eternal destruction because of sin, and Jesus came to save us, but he cannot save people who consider themselves “right” in God’s judgment by their keeping of the Law of Moses, who don’t acknowledge (confess) their sin and repent (change their ways). Zacchaeus was no worse a sinner than anyone in the multitude, but he received forgiveness and salvation from sin and eternal condemnation, while those who considered themselves “righteous” did not (Luke 5:31-32).

Jesus used the title “Son of man” to refer to himself because it allowed his hearers to decide for themselves who Jesus is, with a hint from Daniel 7:13-14 (compare Revelation 1:13, 14:14-15). Zacchaeus recognized Jesus as the Messiah [Christ; both words mean (God’s) “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively], and received the forgiveness and salvation he acknowledged that he needed. Other Jews, also “sons of Abraham,” did not, because they didn’t recognize and acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. I believe that Jews are not irrevocably “lost,” but to be “saved” they will have to accept Jesus as their Messiah (Matthew 23:37-39).

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

Friday 23 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 5, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 23 Pentecost – C

Philippians 3:17-21– Exhortation to Christian Living;

Paul exhorted the Christians in Philippi and all believers, to follow the example of Paul and all “born-again” disciples (students) and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Many, even professing (nominal) Christians, are living as enemies of the cross (blood-sacrifice) of Christ. Their minds are focused on earthly things, their “god” is their “appetite” for worldly satisfaction, they enjoy doing things that should cause them shame, and their ultimate destiny will be eternal destruction.

Authentic Christian disciples consider themselves citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom, and we wait for the return of our eternal Savior and Lord (One who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor), Jesus Christ. At his Second Coming, he will transform our mortal bodies to be like his glorified, immortal body, by his power by which he subjugates all things to himself.

Commentary:

There are many nominal Christians today who are not living according to the teaching and example of Jesus or his truly born-again disciples and apostles. Some nominal churches, even mainline denominations teach the false doctrines of “Cheap Grace” (eternal salvation as a free gift, which is true, without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to Jesus, which is false) and the conferring of the indwelling Holy Spirit by some church ritual such as “water baptism.” These false teachings actually hinder their members from seeking spiritual rebirth (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

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

Many people, including nominal Christians, are actually working against the Gospel message by the way they are living. Not everyone who calls themselves “Christians” and call Jesus their Lord are “saved” from eternal condemnation and eternal death. Only those who trust and obey Jesus’ teaching and example will be spiritually reborn to eternal life, will be forgiven their sins (disobedience of God’s Word), and will enter the Lord’s eternal kingdom in heaven (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment, when he will judge “the living (“quickened”) and the dead,” (1 Peter 4:5) in both physical and spiritual senses (John 5:28-29). In that day (within our own lifetimes) all who have ever lived in this world will bow before Jesus and will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God (Philippians 2:10-11), but then it will be too late to change our eternal destinies.

Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus’ teachings and example will have been born-again in this lifetime, and will enter eternity in heaven with the Lord. Those who have rejected Jesus as their Lord, or have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to 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)?

Saturday 23 Pentecost – C

First Posted November 6, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 23 Pentecost – C

Matthew 22:15-22 – Taxes for Caesar;

Paraphrase:

The Pharisees (a strict, legalistic faction of religious leaders of Judaism) hated Jesus and sought a way to destroy him by entangling him by some pronouncement for or against Roman taxation. They thought that either way Jesus responded to their question, he would offend either the nationalistic faction of Judaism, or the Roman government which was in power over Israel. They sent the disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians (supporters of the government of the Herods who had been appointed by Rome) to ask Jesus whether it was lawful (according to the Law of Moses, in the Bible) to pay taxes to Caesar or not. The disciples of the Pharisees tried to flatter Jesus and get him to make a rash statement by telling Jesus that they knew that he was truthful and taught the Word of God accurately, without regard to human authority or position.

Jesus was aware of their malicious intent, called them hypocrites (those who consider themselves righteous and pretend to be so, without actually practicing what they profess), and asked them why they were trying to test Jesus. Jesus asked them to show him the coin used to pay the tax, and when they did, he asked whose image and inscription were on the coin. When they answered that the likeness and inscription were Caesar’s, Jesus replied that one should give to Caesar what is due him, and to God what belongs to God. The disciples of the Pharisees were amazed at Jesus’ answer, and left him without making any further comment.

Commentary:

Anyone would have been right to suspect the motive of the Pharisees’ disciples, but Jesus has intimate knowledge of each one of us (for example, see John 1:47-49; 4:16-19). Jesus’ word is truthful; what he says will be fulfilled. Jesus’ word is the Word of God, with the creative force of God’s Word  (Mark 4:39-41; compare Genesis 1: 9). Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16a, when Satan quoted Psalm 91:11-12 to Jesus in the wilderness, tempting him to jump off the pinnacle of the temple to prove that Jesus was God (Matthew 4:5-7). Jesus is God, with the whole fullness of God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:7-11).

The Pharisees were hypocrites because they preached obedience to the Law of Moses, while not fulfilling it themselves. In fact, no one is able to fulfill all the Law, all the time; and if we fail at one point we are guilty of all (Galatians 2:16; James 2:10). Christians are not obligated to fulfill the Old Covenant of Law, provided that we are obligated to the New Covenant of Grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Romans 8:1-14). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit leads his born-again disciples to know Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26) and empowers us to fulfill them (Zechariah 4:6).

Jesus’ statement was true and irrefutable. The table was turned on the Pharisees’ disciples, forcing them to defend one position or another, or else accept Jesus’ reply.

There is a Day of Judgment coming for all who have lived in this world (Matthew 25:31-46). It will come to all, at the moment of our physical death, or if we are still living, at Christ’s Second Coming. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, and have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will have been spiritually reborn by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to eternal life now in this lifetime, and will enter the eternal kingdom of God in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord, or have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil.

No one can be sure to live to see tomorrow. At the Day of Judgment, our eternal destinies will be fixed and unalterable. Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2b), the only time we can be certain to receive forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal destruction.

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 22 Pentecost – C – 10/16 – 22/2016

October 15, 2016

Week of 22 Pentecost – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

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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 22 Pentecost – C 

Sunday 22 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 24, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 22 Pentecost – C

Genesis 32:22-30 – Jacob Wrestles with an Angel;
Psalm 121  — The Lord’s Help
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 – Fulfill the work of Evangelism;
Luke 18:1-8a – The Unjust Judge;

Genesis Background:

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, was returning, from his father’s people in Haran, with two wives, his wives’ maids, and the livestock he had earned in Haran (Genesis 28:10-32:21).

Genesis Paraphrase:

For safety, Jacob sent his household across the River Jabbok, which enters the Jordan River opposite Schechem, but he remained on the other shore of the Jabbok. During the night, a man (angel) wrestled with Jacob until daybreak. When the man saw he could not prevail against Jacob, he touched Jacob’s thigh and dislocated it as they wrestled. The man asked Jacob to let him go because the dawn was beginning, but Jacob refused to let the man go until he blessed Jacob.

The man asked Jacob what his name was, and then said that he would no longer be called Jacob, but Israel (“he who strives with God” -or “God strives”) because Jacob had striven with God and had prevailed. Jacob asked the man his name, and the man asked Jacob why he wanted to know, and then blessed Jacob (Israel). So Jacob called the place Peniel (“the face of God”) since he had see God face to face, and yet Jacob hadn’t died.

Psalm 121:

Background:

This is a Song of Ascents, a psalm for pilgrims ascending the temple mount at religious festivals. The “hills” may be high places where the baals, the local fertility idols were worshiped.*

Paraphrase:

From where does my help come; from the hills (from idols)? No, my help comes from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth.

He will prevent my foot from slipping. He won’t be asleep when I need his help. Watch and see; the keeper of Israel (God’s people; the Church) won’t be napping or asleep when we call out to him. The Lord will keep us from all harm and evil. He provides “shade” (rest; protection) at our right hand (close by). We will be protected from the “elements” (the nature of conditions in this world).

The Lord preserves our lives, protects us from evil. He will protect us in all our paths in life now and forever.

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5  Paraphrase:

Paul urges Timothy, his protege, (and all believers) to continue in the Gospel they have learned from the Bible, and from spiritual mentors. The scriptures (the Bible; which some, like Timothy, have learned from their youth) are able to teach us to receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that every man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 4:16-17).

According to the commission given him (and all “born-again” disciples of Jesus; Matthew 28:19-20 John 1:31-34; 3:3, 5-8) by God, Paul urged Timothy to fulfill his call and ministry. Jesus is going to return to reveal and establish his kingdom, and will judge the living (“quickened”) and dead (in both the physical and spiritual senses -those born-again to true, eternal life by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit; John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Born-again disciples are to preach God’s Word (the Gospel; the Bible and Jesus Christ: John 1:1-5, 14) urgently, whether popular or not. We are to convince, rebuke and exhort by God’s Word. We are never to lose patience or give up teaching the Gospel. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching (doctrine), but having “itching” ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the (divine, eternal) truth (of God’s Word) and wander into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). But for born-again believers, we are to work constantly as an evangelist, enduring suffering, and fulfill our ministry.

Luke 18:1-8a Paraphrase:

Jesus told the Parable of the Unjust Judge to teach us to pray with persistence and not give up. Jesus said there was a judge who had no regard for God or people. A widow kept coming to him for vindication against her adversary. The judge at first refused, but then he realized that if he didn’t give her vindication, she would wear him out with her continual petitions. Jesus asks us to understand what the parable teaches. Will not God, who is righteous and just, vindicate us much more promptly? Yes! Even so, when Christ returns (the Second Coming; to judge the earth, will he find faith (obedient trust)?

Theme: God’s call to evangelism.

God transforms us from sinners and gives us a new nature (Genesis 32:19; Psalm 121:8;  2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Timothy 4:2-5). Our calling requires perseverence (Luke 18:1). We need a personal relationship with the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit to accomplish our ministry (Genesis 32:30; Luke 24:45; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Commentary:

Esau was the first born of twins (Genesis 25:24-26a). Jacob had left his home and Esau, his brother, having tricked Esau out of his inheritance. He had also been pursued by his father-in-law, Laban, who tried to cheat Jacob out of the livestock Jacob had earned working for Laban for fourteen years for two of Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachael.

Jacob sent his servants with a gift for Esau, of a large number of livestock, to appease his brother. Then he stayed on the far bank of the Jabbok, perhaps to intercept Laban if he was still pursuing, while he sent his household and livestock across the river, Jabbok, to protect them in case of a reprisal by Esau.

During the night Jacob wrestled with an angel, a divine being. Jacob was very strong (Genesis 29:8-10; and was winning the wrestling match until the angel intentionally dislocated Jacob’s thigh.

The blessing which Jacob received was a new name, Israel, indicating a new self, and it became the name of the twelve tribes of the nation. Names were also given to places to commemorate events (compare Genesis 28:18-19 and Bethel -note C, RSV- meaning “House of God”). Jacob named the place Peniel (since he realized that he had wrestled with God face-to-face, and yet had not died).

Throughout their history Israel kept reverting to idolatry (Exodus 23:32; 32:1). When they entered the Promised Land they kept worshiping idols on every high place. King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom married a heathen Phoenician princess, Jezebel, who introduced idolatry, temples, and priests of idolatry to the kingdom, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of the Northern Kingdom in 721 B.C..

Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:30-39). Baal didn’t answer his priests’ prayers, and Elijah accused Baal of sleeping (1 Kings 18:27). God answered Elijah’s prayer in a powerful way, so that the people of the Northern Kingdom realized that their help was not in Baal (1 Kings 18:21), but in the Lord, the God of Israel.

The psalmist had learned from experience and testified that real help comes only from God. I also personally testify that I have experienced the miraculous help of God in immediate answer to prayer (see “Personal Testimonies,” and “Conditions for Answered Prayer,” sidebar, top right, home).

The Lord will preserve our eternal lives, will keep us from harm and evil, and will protect us from the destructive elements of nature. We may go through physical and emotional storms in this lifetime, but he will bring us through them ultimately unharmed.

Paul was discipling Timothy in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), which Jesus gave to his disciples to carry out after they had been born-again (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). They were to make (born-again; John 3:3, 5-8) disciples who would know and obey all Jesus’ teachings.

Paul discipled Timothy ( until he had received the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:6-7), and then taught him to repeat the process with others (2 Timothy 2:2).

The Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer: water baptism for spiritual cleansing to prepare people to receive Jesus (Matthew 3:11; compare Acts 2:1-4) by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34; ), only to his obedient, trusting disciples (John 14:15-17). The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing, daily event; it is not conferred automatically by some church ritual such as water baptism. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Bible isn’t popular with many people today, certainly not in America. Just because people don’t want to hear it, we are not exempted from proclaiming it. The time has surely long since come, that people won’t endure sound Biblical preaching. Instead, they want to hear only portions which make them feel good about themselves. All truly born-again Christian disciples are called to be evangelists of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God in the Bible.

Persistence gets results even with an unrighteous, unjust judge. Jesus is perfectly righteous (doing what is right, good and true, according to God’s Word), having lived in human flesh, with all its unrighteous desires, but without sinning (Hebrews 4:15). He has been appointed to return to judge the righteous and unrighteous.

The righteous are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8-9) shed on the cross, to be received by faith (obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9) as the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of all our sins. If the unrighteous judge granted the woman’s petition not because he wanted to please God or the woman, but because it was in his own self-interest, surely the Lord will grant our persistent petitions, since he alone is truly righteous and good. Jesus loves us so much that he died for us an excruciatingly (“from the cross;” the world’s worst form of execution) painful death of the cross, so that we might be forgiven and saved from condemnation in the Judgment (Romans 5:8; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home).

Jesus has promised to return at the end of time to judge the earth. The moment will come for each one of us, if we are still living at the Second Coming, or if we die physically. No one know when those will be. Once Jesus comes, or we die physically, it will be too late to change our eternal destiny.

Jesus will be looking for faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ; those who have believed the Word of God in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” God’s Word fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified (John 1:1-3, 14). Those who have acted in faith on God’s Word will have been “reborn” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit during this lifetime, and will enter eternal life in paradise restored in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have refused or failed to act in faith in Jesus Christ will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil.

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


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Psalm 121:1n, p. 754, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Monday 22 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 25, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 22 Pentecost – C 

Psalm 34 – Deliverance from Trouble;

Paraphrase:

I will bless and praise the Lord continually, in good times and bad. My Lord is my soul’s boast; hear and be glad, all who are afflicted. Let us exalt and magnify the Lord together!

The Lord answered me when I called upon him. From all fears he delivered me. We will never be put to shame when we rely on the Lord, so let us rejoice. When I cried to the Lord he heard me and delivered me from all my troubles. Those who fear the Lord have his Holy Spirit surrounding and protecting them, to deliver them from evil. When we put our faith (obedient trust) in the Lord we will learn by experience that the Lord is good; those who seek refuge in him will be glad they did. His saints (those dedicated to serving the Lord) will lack no good thing.

Children (spiritually young seekers and believers), come and hear me and I will teach you to fear (have the appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) the Lord. What person doesn’t want a long life in which to enjoy good? Then don’t speak evil and lies; start doing what is good and stop doing what is evil (according to God’s Word). Seek and pursue peace.

The Lord watches over the righteous and listens to their cries. The Lord opposes those who do evil; they will be forgotten. The Lord hears and delivers the righteous from troubles when they call to him. To the brokenhearted and spiritually crushed, the Lord draws near.

The righteous have many afflictions, but the Lord delivers them all. The bones of the righteous will never be broken. The wicked will be slain by evil, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The lives of the servants of the Lord will be redeemed; no one who seeks refuge in the Lord will be condemned.

Commentary:

It is easy to praise the Lord in good times, but praising the Lord in bad times is an expression of faith (obedient trust). As we begin to live day by day in faith, we will come to experience the Lord’s faithfulness and power to deliver us from bad times. We can recall those times of deliverance when we are experiencing troubles, and our faith in the Lord will be strengthened.

I personally testify, in agreement with the psalmist, that in times of trouble I have called on the Lord for help and he has miraculously delivered me (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).  Those who fear the Lord will trust and obey him, and will be “born-again” to true, eternal life, by the “baptism” (anointing) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will guide, protect and deliver us from times of trouble. I have personally experienced the Lord’s goodness, faithfulness, and power to deliver us from troubles, and my faith had grown tremendously.

Since I’ve been “reborn” for thirty years, my family has lacked no good thing. My two daughters have had plenty of clothes, gotten bikes, and into their first cars, on our modest income. We’ve repaired our house and replaced our appliances. I’ve had all the help and resources necessary to publish my Bible study online for about ten years, as of August, 2013.

Eternal life is life in paradise restored, in God’s kingdom in heaven. That life is truly life and truly long. There won’t be any trouble or evil that we experience in this world because of sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

There won’t be any sickness or death in heaven (Revelation 21:4), which is the limitation of life and time, in this world. This Creation and we ourselves are limited in this world by time. We have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey the Lord or not, but the Lord is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever.

I have personally experienced the comforting of the indwelling Holy Spirit (the “Comforter,” in KJV: “Paraclete” from the Greek “parakletos,” meaning “intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter;” John 14:16, 26; 16:7) in times of trouble and disappointment.

We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” to true, eternal life by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-35; Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:1-4), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience; it is not automatically conferred by some church ritual such as water baptism (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

There is a Day of Judgment coming for all who have ever lived on the earth. Those who have done what is right according to God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the living Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified (John 1:1-5, 14), will have been born-again by the  gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and will enter eternal life in heaven. Those who have rejected or neglected God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ will have failed to be born-again, and will enter eternal condemnation in Hell with all evil (John 5:28-29, Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Since his coming in human flesh and dying on the cross as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of all our sins, Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, the only way to be saved and have true, eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). There is a day coming when everyone who has ever lived will bow and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord [Philippians 2:10-11; one who has power and authority (Matthew 28:18); a master; a ruler, the King of kings; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16].

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)?

Tuesday 22 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 26, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 22 Pentecost – C

Deuteronomy 10:12-22 –What the Lord Requires;

Paraphrase:

The Lord’s requirements are not too many or too difficult for us to do. He wants us to fear him (have the proper awe and respect for his power and authority), to live according to his Word (in the Bible and in the example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified; John 1:1-5, 14), to love him, to serve him with all our hearts and souls, and to keep his commandments, which he has given us for our own good.

The Lord our God is the Creator and owner of the entire universe, the earth and heaven, and everything in them: what is seen and what is invisible. Yet God chose the Israelites and their descendants to be his special people (and through them he chose us, in Jesus Christ). So our “circumcision” (the sign of the covenant of forgiveness and peace between God and mankind) should not be merely external; it should be internalized, upon our hearts and souls, so that we are no longer stubborn (insisting on our own will rather than God’s will).

The Lord our God is the God above all “gods” (idols), the Lord (master; ruler; governor; prince; proprietor; owner) above all earthly lords. He is the great, mighty, awesome, and fearsome God; he is not partial to anyone, and cannot be bribed.

God loves the disadvantaged: widows, orphans, and “sojourners” (temporary resident foreigners), the people who society discriminates against. Israel sojourned in Egypt and became slaves (Isaiah 52:4; and we also are all sojourners and slaves to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world order).

We are to fear the Lord God; we are to fear, serve, and cleave (hold fast; cling) to him, and we shall be bound by our oaths in his name (Numbers 30:2). He is our God; he alone is worthy of our praise.

Commentary:

The Israelites had witnessed God’s great and awesome acts in delivering them from Egypt (Exodus 7:8-11:10; 14:5-31); “born-again;” (John 3:3, 5-8) believers have also experienced great and awesome acts of God for their deliverance, as recorded in the New Testament Letters  (“Epistles”) and (Book of) Acts, and testified to by born-again Christians today (see personal testimonies, sidebar top right, home). The Israelites consisted of seventy people at the time they began to sojourn in Egypt, and at the time of the Exodus, had become a vast multitude, as innumerable as the stars of the heavens.

Jesus simplified God’s requirements to two: Love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). If we truly love the Lord, we will want to keep God’s commandments, and serve and glorify him. If we realize and appreciate what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, to forgive all our sins, to restore us to fellowship with God our Father which was broken by sin, and to save us from eternal condemnation, we will truly love the Lord.

We’re born completely selfish and self-centered. We must learn to recognize and yield to the needs and rights of others. When we have received forgiveness and salvation from the Lord we will want to share that forgiveness and salvation with others. We will love our neighbors just as much as we love our own selves. We will love the spiritually lost and dying just the way Jesus loved us. We will have love and concern for the disadvantaged, just as the Lord does.

If we don’t fear God, we don’t have any real concept of who God is; we don’t know enough of the right information. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

The Second of the Ten Commandments  (Exodus 20:7) requires us not to take the name of the Lord our God in vain: in a curse, or superstitiously, or to use it to take an oath falsely, or to lie or deceive. God has given us his commandments for our own good. Unless we love God we will not keep his commandments (compare John 14:15-17). The Sabbath rest (Exodus 20:8-11) is given to us, so that we won’t continually wear ourselves out, being tempted by and pursuing idolatry of material possessions. We should honor and serve our fathers and mothers (Exodus 20:12) as we honor and serve God.

Some individuals who have had abusive or absent fathers or mothers have difficulty relating to our Heavenly Father. It may help to realize that our earthly parents are sinners and imperfect, as are we all, while God is our perfect, ideal, eternal, heavenly parent.

The commandments against lying, killing, committing adultery, stealing, testifying falsely against our neighbor, coveting our neighbor’s possessions or anyone in his household (Exodus 20:13-17), are intended to protect ourselves and our neighbors.

God has given us life and every good thing that we possess. He’s given us great, precious, promises in his Word, the Bible and the “living Word,” (John 1:1-5, 14), Jesus Christ: forgiveness, salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal life.

The Lord made the Israelites his “chosen” people so that through them, the Lord could extend his forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal destruction to all people of the world. The eternal savior, Jesus Christ, designed into the world from the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14), came through the Jews, but most of the Jews rejected and crucified him. Their attempt to destroy him actually fulfilled God’s plan (1 Corinthians 2:7-8). Through Jesus, God makes all people who are willing to accept Jesus by faith (obedient trust) his special, chosen, people.

Our sign of the New Covenant of forgiveness of sin and peace with God, which was broken by sin, is our obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings. We must learn to live every day in obedience to God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who call Jesus their Lord and yet don’t start doing what he says are deceiving themselves (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

The way to “seal” the covenant with Jesus is by learning to know and apply his teachings on a daily basis, and the only way I know to do that is through reading the Bible and by daily devotions, “quiet time,” to pray for guidance, read a portion of the Gospels, meditate, and when we feel the Lord’s guidance, to “pray it back,” to be sure we’ve understood. Then we should begin to apply that guidance, one day at a time, and review at the end of the day to see how well we’ve done.

There is a Day of Judgment coming for all who have ever lived on earth. Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-29). Jesus is the standard of judgment and the righteous judge by which all will be judged.

When we die physically, or if living physically when Christ returns, it will be too late to change our eternal destinies. I am reminded that it is not only our physical death which will “fix” our eternal destinies; we can suffer an illness or mental injury at any moment which may prevent us from being able to accept Jesus in faith and receive forgiveness and salvation.

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 22 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 27, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 22 Pentecost – C

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 – The Good Fight;

Background:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had nearly been martyred in Jerusalem after his third missionary journey (Acts 23:6-32; . He was forced to appeal to Caesar, since Paul was a Roman Citizen, and was transported to Rome, where he lived for two years at his own expense (Acts 28:16-31). Paul was acquitted and released the year Rome was burned under Nero’s Caesarship.*

Persecution of Jews arose, over the burning of Rome which Nero blamed on the Christian Quarter (Ghetto), and Paul was again transported to Rome as a prisoner, where he probably wrote 2 Timothy, the last letter (Epistle) he ever wrote. Paul was condemned in Nero’s court, and was executed, probably in 66 A.D..*

Text Paraphrase:

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul said that he realized that he was at the point of his own “departure” [“martyrdom” (2 Timothy 4:6), which he had foreseen (Acts 20:22), and which was confirmed by the Prophet Agabus of Judea at Caesarea (21:7-13)]. Paul said that he had fought “the good fight,” he had remained faithful to the Gospel, and was sure that he would receive the just reward for his righteousness (by faith in Jesus; Romans 3:22) on the Day of Judgment.

Paul said that at his first trial before Caesar, no one defended Paul, but Paul asked the Lord to forgive them. The Lord strengthened Paul, and the Lord rescued him from martyrdom (“the lion’s mouth;” violent death). So Paul was able to preach the Gospel to many Gentiles (non-Jews) in Rome. Paul trusted the Lord to deliver him from every evil and save him for God’s eternal kingdom in heaven, so Paul was eager to give the eternal glory which the Lord alone was worthy to receive.

Commentary:

I believe that Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was the one God intended to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer; not Matthias, whom the disciples chose by lot (like rolling dice or drawing straws), because they had not yet received the “baptism” (anointing) of the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide them (Acts 1:15-26). Matthias is not mentioned again in the New Testament, but after Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-22), most of the New Testament was written by or about Paul.

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

Paul knew by the indwelling Holy Spirit that he was going to be martyred at Jerusalem, but he hurried home from the third missionary trip so that he could celebrate the Passover (Exodus 12:1-20) in Jerusalem. Paul knew that imprisonment and afflictions awaited him in Jerusalem (Acts 19:21; 20:22-23), before the prophet Agabus confirmed this destiny (Acts 20:8-14).

As a result of his arrests, imprisonments and trials, Paul had opportunities to proclaim the Gospel and testify before a large crowd of Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-31; 22:1-21; 23:11), and many Gentiles in Israel (Acts 24:10; 25:1-12; 26:1-23), on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-10), and in his imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:13-24, 30-31).

Paul had encountered persecution for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Israel from the beginning of Paul’s ministry (Acts 9:23-25), on his missionary journeys (Acts 14:19-22; Acts 19:23-40), and in Rome (see above). Despite persecutions, Paul never shrank from declaring “the whole counsel from God” (Acts 20:27); he had fought the “good fight” against the opponents of the Gospel.

There is a spiritual battle being waged in this present world. The Jews, who had the Bible and should have recognized Jesus as their promised, long-awaited Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively), persecuted and crucified him; his disciples can expect no less opposition to the Gospel. Disciples of Jesus Christ have to continue to proclaim the Gospel and testify, even though we experience rejection. We cannot preach only the parts of the Gospel that make our hearers feel good about themselves; we must remain faithful to the Gospel message.

Paul and all truly born-again Christian disciples have the baptism and counsel 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; “Paraclete:” “intercessor;” “consoler;” “advocate;” “comforter”). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Paul was sure that he would receive “the just reward for his righteousness in faithfully proclaiming the full Gospel: eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Paul’s righteousness was not by doing good works (preaching the Gospel), but by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22; Ephesians 2:8-10).

Paul was confident, by personal experience, that the Lord could and would deliver him from every persecution. The Lord had raised Paul back up from being stoned and left for dead, from shipwreck, from danger of murder (2 Corinthians 11:23-27), and by the threat and carrying out of his physical execution. By the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Paul had a daily personal relationship with the risen and ascended Jesus Christ. Paul was certain that as Jesus had been risen from physical death to eternal life, so Paul would also be raised (Romans 6:5; Philippians 3:8-11).

Salvation is not by Church membership, or by Church rite, such as water baptism. One must be spiritually “born-again” by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit; one must have a daily personal relationship with the risen Jesus Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9).

There is a Day of Judgment coming for all who have ever lived in this world. Jesus is the appointed judge, and the standard of judgement by which all, the living (“quickened”) and dead, in both the physical and spiritual senses, will be judged (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). At any time one may be injured or get a disease such as Alzheimer’s or senile dementia, which could prevent their understanding and acceptance of the Gospel. No one can be sure that they won’t die physically before tomorrow. In any case, at that moment our eternal destinies will be eternally fixed.

Those who have rejected or failed to accept Jesus as their personal Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; a governor; a prince; a proprietor), who haven’t trusted and obeyed Jesus’ teachings (Mathew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46), will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil. But those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and have trusted and obeyed his teachings will have been spiritually born-again by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom.

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


*Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Paul,” digital edition, bibledatabase.org

http://bibledatabase.org/eastons.html

see Free Digital Bible Study Tools, sidebar top right, home.


Thursday 22 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 28, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 22 Pentecost – C 

Luke 18:9-14 – True Righteousness;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told a parable about people who rely on their own “good works” to “feel” righteous, and have contempt for others: A Pharisee (a religious leader of Judaism; the most “legalistic” sect of Judaism) and a tax collector (a despised Israelite collaborator with the Roman occupying government) both went into the temple to pray.

The Pharisee prayed “with himself” (Luke 18:11a), congratulating himself for being more righteous than other men. He felt superior to “sinners” who committed extortion, injustice, adultery, or collaborated with the Roman government, such as the tax collector, who he recognized, praying in the temple at the same time). The Pharisee felt himself righteous (acceptable to God) because of his observance of the rituals of Judaism based on the Law of Moses, such as tithing (giving 10 percent of all he received as an offering to the Lord), and fasting.

The tax collector felt unworthy to approach God’s altar to pray, and he felt unworthy to turn his face toward heaven. Instead, he beat his breast (sign of contrition: “bruising;” humble and thoroughly penitent), confessed his sinfulness, and asked the Lord for mercy.

The self-acknowledged “sinner’s” (tax collector’s) prayers were heard and answered; the tax collector received mercy and forgiveness. The “righteous” (Pharisee’s) prayers were not heard or answered, except by himself; he was deceiving himself (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus declared that the tax collector went home “justified” (acceptable by God, made right with God), but not the Pharisee. Jesus said: “every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14b).

Commentary:

We are all sinners (have disobeyed God’s Word in the Bible and in the example of Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in human flesh in this world; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-9) and Jesus, designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14), is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12). We are saved (from eternal condemnation and destruction) by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, not by doing “good deeds,” or boasting to God (Ephesians 2:8-9).

There were two altars in the temple: The Altar of Burnt Offering (the Brazen Altar) outdoors in the temple courtyard, and the Altar of Incense in the holy sanctuary in front of the “holy-of-holies;” in front of the veil [vail (sic)]. Fire from the Brazen Altar was placed on the Altar of Incense and sweet spices were burned continually upon it. Morning and evening services commenced with the high priest offering incense on this altar. This was a type of prayer, and the smoke of the incense symbolized prayers pleasing to God ascending to heaven.

There are two heresies prevalent in the nominal Church today: One is “works-righteousness” (“legalism”), keeping the Old Covenant Law of Moses,  and the other is “Cheap Grace” (a term first created in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6) “Cheap Grace” refers to the heresy of eternal Salvation by the “grace” (the unmerited favor; a free gift) of God (which is true), without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus (false). Both these heresies were present in the “First-Century Church” and are refuted in the New Testament (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

The Lord knows everything about us; we cannot conceal our sins from him. In order to receive mercy (undeserved forgiveness; compassionate treatment; forbearance from inflicting deserved punishment) from God, we must first acknowledge our sinfulness, repent (meaning sorrow for our sins, and the desire and intention to forsake them), and ask for forgiveness and spiritual cleansing by the name (the person, character and blood sacrifice on the Cross) of Jesus Christ.

The Pharisee kept the “letter” of the Law (in small details; Matthew 23:23), but didn’t keep the “spirit” (the intent) of the Law (for example, to love others as much as we love ourselves; Matthew 22:36-40). We are under not the Old Covenant of Works of the Law of Moses, but the New Covenant of Grace, provided that we have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We are freed from the obligations of the Law of Moses, provided that we are obedient to the indwelling Holy Spirit: If so we will fulfill the Law by the help of the Holy Spirit, whereas by our own efforts that would be impossible (Romans 8:1-10).

People can “pray” without meeting the conditions for answered prayer, but their prayers won’t be listened to or answered by God. Others may be impressed with their “righteousness” or “spirituality,” but God isn’t (Matthew 6:5-8).

Some pray and then go ahead and do what they intended anyway, thinking that they have God’s approval, without waiting for God’s answer. One must have the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide him or her, in order to receive guidance and confirmation of prayer. For example, I sought a Bible study for my personal devotions (daily home “altar”), and God led me to the first, Daily Walk two-year study. I saw the potential and asked the Lord for approval to publish it online. The Lord approved and helped me understand the texts, write, find a “blog” host, and begin publication.

Sometimes we must wait for an answer, for days, or longer. When we get an answer, we should “pray it back” to make sure that we’ve understood correctly. Most of the time I’ve had answer and confirmation by the “touch” of the Holy Spirit within me. Sometimes it is like the Lord underlines something in the text or commentary of my daily devotions. Sometimes I’ve heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit within me (1 Kings 19:11-13). At least twice I’ve heard God’s voice as “Thunder,” which perhaps I alone would have understood clearly, and did so (John 12:28-29).

The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, daily, ongoing experience. If one isn’t sure, one hasn’t been born-again. One must be spiritually born-again to eternal life, now, in this world, in order to see the kingdom of God all around us now, and to see and enter it after our physical death, or at Jesus’ Second Coming while we are still physically alive (Matthew 25:31-46 John 5:28-29 – compare John 11: 41-44).

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 22 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 29, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 22 Pentecost – C 

Philippians 1:3-11 – Thanksgiving;

Background:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was in prison, awaiting trial (Acts 23:35), either in Caesarea, in Herod’s Praetorium (Palace; the governor’s house; Mark 15:16), which I believe more likely, or in Rome (Acts 28:16), where Paul was under house arrest and guarded by Caesar’s soldiers. The Church was the first on European soil, in Phillippi, Macedonia, which Paul had founded on his second missionary journey.*

Paraphrase:

Paul gave thanks to God in prayer constantly, for the Philippian Christians, rejoicing in the partnership which they (in Philippi) had begun when Paul founded this congregation, and continued throughout Paul’s ministry. Paul was certain that the Lord, Jesus (by his indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), who had begun a good work (sanctification; the work of the Holy Spirit to bring them to spiritual perfection) in them, would bring them to spiritual maturity at the Day of Judgment, at Christ’s Second Coming (John 5:28-29, Matthew 25:31-46). Paul felt justified in feeling thus, because he loved the Phillipian Christians; he knew that they were partakers of (God’s) grace (unmerited favor; free gift; Ephesians 2:8-9)  by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), both in Paul’s “imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel” (“good news;” Philippians 1:7b).

God knew and would bear witness that Paul longed for the Philippian Christians with all the love of Jesus. Paul prayed that their love would grow greater and greater, and their discernment and knowledge would increase, likewise, so that they would approve of what was best, and would be free of sin and guilt at the Day of Christ’s return and judgment. Paul wanted them to produce an abundant crop of the fruits of righteousness, which come through Jesus Christ, to praise and glorify God.

Commentary:

When we pray, we should always give thanks to God for what he has done for us through Jesus Christ. As we grow spiritually, we will personally experience his blessings in answer to our prayers, which we should give thanks for, also. I keep a composition notebook to record the blessings God has done for me, and review them regularly, especially before Thanksgiving.

When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord (owner, master, teacher, ruler, governor, prince, proprietor), and begin to trust and obey (apply, in daily life, one day at a time), the Lord will watch us to be sure we’re committed to his Word and his will, and will be obedient to the guidance and correction of the Holy Spirit, before “baptizing” (“anointing”) us with the Holy Spirit, because premature rebirth is spiritually disastrous, and unrepeatable (Hebrews 6:4-6). That doesn’t mean that we cannot be forgiven for occasional lapses; we learn by trial-and-error.

We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit for spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8, so that we can see the kingdom of God all around us now, be able to enter God’s kingdom in heaven in eternity, and so we can know, understand, and be able do God’s will. The Holy Spirit will teach us everything, and help us to know and recall Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

There is a Day of Judgment coming, at Christ’s return, or at our physical death, when all who have ever lived in this world will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in our lifetimes. Jesus is the righteous judge appointed by God, and the standard of judgment by which we will be accountable.

We don’t need to worry about the Day of Judgment, if we have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8); we can trust in the Lord, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, to help us grow to spiritual maturity at the Day of Judgment. Our righteousness will not be of our own works (“good deeds”), but the righteousness which is attributed to us by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Romans 3:21-22).

The transformation of the spiritual rebirth by the baptism of the Holy Spirit was evident in the Philippian Christians. When we have experienced spiritual rebirth, we will want to proclaim and defend the Gospel, and it will be confirmed in us (but only after we have been anointed with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). We will learn that God’s Word, in the Bible and in the “living Word,” Jesus Christ, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14), is completely reliable and trustworthy, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. We will produce the fruits of righteousness in abundance, to the glory of God, as we follow the guidance and use the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry out the ministry of the Gospel.

Christians are, by definition, “born-again” disciples (students) and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ  (Acts 11:26c; Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46), as we have the example in Paul. I believe Paul was intended, by God, to be the prototype of the “modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ” that we are supposed to emulate (strive to equal, in qualities and actions).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was confronted by the Spirit of the risen Jesus (Acts 9:4-6a), on the road to Damascus, where he intended to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-2). Paul accepted Jesus’ rebuke, repented (Acts 9:9) and became obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:6b-8), was discipled by a born-again disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10) until Paul was spiritually reborn (Acts 9:17-19a) Then Paul began proclaiming the Gospel (Acts 9:17b-22) and began making disciples of Jesus Christ, leading them to spiritual rebirth (2 Timothy 1:5-7), and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2), as Timothy is an example.

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


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Introduction to Philippians, p. 1421, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Saturday 22 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 30, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 22 Pentecost – C

Matthew 18:23-35 – On Forgiveness;

Background:

Peter asked Jesus how often Peter should forgive someone, and Jesus had replied that Peter should forgive others as often as necessary (Matthew 18:21-22).

Paraphrase:

Jesus told a parable to illustrate forgiveness, comparing it to the forgiveness of God: A king wanted to settle accounts with his servants, and called them to him one by one for a reckoning. One of them owed the king ten thousand talents (worth about one thousand dollars -in 1962). Since the servant was unable to repay the debt, the king ordered the servant and the servant’s family sold (into slavery), in order to repay the debt. The servant fell to his knees and begged the king to have patience, promising to repay the king as soon as he could. The king had pity for his servant, released him, and forgave the debt.

When the servant was released, he passed by other servants waiting for their own accounting, and the forgiven servant saw another servant who owed him a hundred denarii (each denarius worth about a day’s wages for common laborers,  about 20 cents; $20, total). The forgiven servant demanded payment of his fellow servant, who begged for patience and promised to repay, as the forgiven servant had begged the king. The forgiven servant refused his fellow servant’s plea for forgiveness, and had him thrown in jail until the debt could be repaid.

When the other servants saw what had happened, they were distressed very much, and reported to their lord (the king) what had taken place. Then the lord summoned the forgiven debtor and chastised him for not showing similar mercy to his fellow servant that he had received from the king. The king, in anger delivered the once forgiven debtor to jail until he could repay, as the forgiven debtor had sentenced his fellow servant.

Jesus declared that God the Father would do the same to us if we do not sincerely forgive our brethren.

Commentary:

When we begin to realize and treasure the forgiveness the Lord, the eternal King, has given us in Jesus Christ, we begin to understand that forgiving our brethren is not too difficult or costly for us. God the Father is the King to whom we owe an unrepayable debt. The only way we can show our gratitude is by forgiving others. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), given to his disciples by Jesus, makes it clear that our forgiveness from God is conditional upon our forgiveness of others (Matthew 6:12,14-15).

How can a person, placed in jail for non-payment of debts, be able to repay them? How can a person whose entire family has been sold into “slavery” repay his debt, except by the price of his families’ slavery.

We are all in “jail,” by the ruler of this present world (Satan), for our “debts” (sins; disobedience of God’s Word). Jesus came and died on the cross as the only blood sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of all our “debts.” By faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, we are released from “jail” and all our “debts” are forgiven.

We are the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether we acknowledge his lordship or not (Philippians 2:10-11), whom God appointed to be the eternal King of God’s kingdom (Matthew 28:18). If they are not treated with mercy, as we all have been through Jesus Christ, the Lord will require the same punishment and lack of mercy for us that we have given to our fellow servants.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when all the living (“quickened”) and dead (1 Peter 4:5), in both spiritual and physical senses, will be accountable to the eternal king, Jesus Christ. Jesus has promised to return, and has been appointed by God the Father to be the righteous judge and the standard of judgment by which all will be judged.

Those who have accepted by faith (obedient trust) the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, who have accepted him as their Lord, will have been born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) in this lifetime and will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven. Those who have rejected or failed to accept Jesus as Lord will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil

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

Week of 21 Pentecost – C – 10/09 – 15/2016

October 8, 2016

Week of 21 Pentecost – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of 21 Pentecost – C

Sunday 21 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 17, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 21 Pentecost – C 

Ruth 1:1-19a – Ruth’s Courageous Decision;
Psalm 111 – The Lord’s Great Deeds;
2 Timothy 2:8-13 – Exhortation to Endurance;
Luke 17:11-19 – Ten Lepers;

Ruth Background:

The story is set in the time of the judges (before the United Monarchy; before 1020 B.C.¹), but was probably written after the Exile (after 721 B.C.¹). Ruth became the great-grandmother of David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel (Ruth 4:13-22).

Ruth Paraphrase:

There was a famine in Israel, and a man named Elimilech, of Bethlehem (the birthplace of King David, and later, Jesus) in Judah, went to Moab (the Land directly east of the Dead Sea) to sojourn (live temporarily, until the famine abated) with his wife, Naomi, and two sons Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites (Ephratah was the ancient name for Bethlehem). Naomi’s husband, Elimiech, died. Her sons, Mahlon and Chilion, took Moabite wives, named Orpah and Ruth. After ten years in Moab both sons died, and Naomi was left with only her two daughters-in-law.

She started to return to Bethlehem in Judah, because she had heard that the Lord had provided food for his people. They started on the way, but Naomi suggested that her daughters-in-law return to their families in Moab. Naomi prayed that the Lord would deal kindly with them as they had dealt kindly with Naomi’s husband and sons. She also prayed that Orpah and Ruth would each find homes and husbands of their own. Then Naomi kissed them, and they wept loudly.

Orpah and Ruth said they wanted to go to Bethlehem with Naomi, but Naomi said that there was no hope that she would have further sons for them to marry. Would they remain widows? Naomi was sad that the Lord’s will seemed to be against her. They wept loudly again, and then Orpah returned to her family in Moab, but Ruth clung to Naomi.

Naomi again urged Ruth to return to her family, but Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Naomi saw that Ruth was determined, and said no more. So the two went on to Bethlehem.

Psalm 111 Paraphrase:

Give the Lord praise (Hallelujah)! In the congregation of God’s people, with my whole heart, I will give him thanks.

The works of the Lord are great! All who delight in them will study them. His work is full of majesty and honor, and his righteousness never ends. The Lord is gracious and merciful, and has caused his wonderful works to be remembered.

For his people who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) the Lord, he provides food; he never forgets his covenant. In giving them the heritage of the nations, he has revealed the power of his works to his people.

He is faithful and just in all his works. Trustworthy and eternal are all his precepts (laws; commandments) to be performed faithfully by the upright.

The Lord has sent redemption to his people. His covenant with them is eternal. His name (his whole person and character) is holy (free of unrighteousness) and terrible (awesome).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).

2 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul urged his hearers to remember the example of Jesus Christ, the descendant of King David, and who has risen from the dead, as the Gospel message was preached by Paul. Paul was then in prison in bonds for preaching that Gospel. But the Gospel cannot be restricted by bonds. Paul was willing to endure persecution, imprisonment and every hardship for the sake of the elect (those chosen for salvation; not yet having received the award), so that they can receive the salvation through Jesus Christ which comes with eternal glory.

Paul quotes what may be an early Christian hymn, to the effect that those who “crucify” their own wills to do the Lord’s will will also be raised to eternal life as Jesus was. Those who persevere in this world will share in Jesus’ reign in Heaven, but he will deny those who have denied him. He remains faithful even if we are faithless, because faithfulness is his character and nature.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples. Passing from Galilee (Northernmost Roman Province of Israel) into a village of Samaria² (the central Roman Province of Israel), where he was accosted by ten lepers from a distance, since lepers were not allowed to mingle with healthy people. They asked Jesus to have mercy on them, and Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. (Priests had to certify them leprosy-free before they could rejoin the community and congregation.) “And as they went they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14b). One of them, a Samaritan, when he saw that he had been cleansed, returned to Jesus, praising God and giving thanks to Jesus as he knelt at Jesus’ feet.

Commentary:

Ruth is an example of faithful love. She gave up her seemingly best interest (by leaving her homeland and family) to go with Naomi to a “foreign land,” accept the Israelites as her “family,” and accept the God of Israel as her God. She was willing to give up the prospect of remarriage.

God did deal kindly with Ruth, as Naomi had prayed (Ruth 1:8b-9). Ruth remarried Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi and Mahlon  (Ruth’s first husband), and wealthy Bethlehemite (Ephrathite; Ephratah was the ancient name for Bethlehem). And Ruth became the great-grandmother of David, the great human shepherd-king who prefigured, and was the ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:17), the Christ [Messiah; both words mean (God’s) “anointed” (eternal savior and king; Matthew 1:5-6a)].

It is not just the Jews who God loves faithfully, but all people who accept him as Lord (Isaiah 49:6, 22). All who trust and obey his Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified, in this world, in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14), are acceptable to the Lord. Those who don’t fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) the Lord, haven’t yet learned anything eternally important and useful.

Paul asks his hearers to remember the example of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave up his own will to do God’s will (Matthew 26:42b; “cup” means his “destiny” to be crucified). We must figuratively “die” to our own wills, in order to do the Lord’s will, but, like Ruth, we will be blessed beyond our own expectations in so doing.

Jesus did miracles of healing, feeding, and resurrection to demonstrate that he has the power to heal, feed, and resurrect spiritually. Many people were coming to Jesus for only the physical healing, feeding and resurrection only Jesus can provide.

The ten lepers asked Jesus for physical healing for their leprosy. In faith in Jesus’ word, they did as he commanded and were healed as they did so. But only one, a Samaritan, regarded by Jews as racially and religiously impure,³ recognized Jesus as the Messiah, returned to Jesus giving thanks to him and praising God. The others got physical healing but missed the spiritual healing they could only received from Jesus. Only the healed Samaritan leper also got spiritual healing (Luke 17:18-19).

Many people today are seeking miracles of physical healing in themselves or others, and are attracted to “healing services” in the “nominal” Church. Physical healing only lasts until the next physical ailment. What is more important and eternally necessary is spiritual healing.

One can come to Jesus personally and directly in faith, and ask for and receive spiritual healing and eternal life (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home). All one needs to do, in faith (commitment to ongoing obedient trust in his teachings; lovingly faithfulness), is invite Jesus to come in to their lives and heal them spiritually (Revelation 3:20).

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift; anointing) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is spiritual “rebirth” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself, whether one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

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


¹ The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Chronological Table of Rulers, p1532, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

² Samaria was the former capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

³ The Samaritans were the old, sick, and disabled remnant of the Northern Kingdom who were allowed to remain in the land and intermingled racially and religiously with aliens brought in to pacify the land. The rest of the ten northern tribes of Israel were deported by the Assyrians, in 721, to other conquered lands and ceased to exist.


Monday 21 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 18, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 21 Pentecost – C 

Psalm 121 – The True Source of Help;

Background:

Psalms of Ascent may have been pilgrim songs sung on the way up to Jerusalem. The temple was built on the temple mount surrounded on three sides by deep valleys.

Hills were high places where Baals, local fertility idols, were worshiped.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The psalmist asks rhetorically where our help comes from: from the hills (idol worship)? No! Our help comes from the Lord, the creator of the universe.

The Lord will not let us stumble or be shaken. Our Lord won’t be sleeping when we need his help.

The Lord provides shade so that the sun will not afflict us by day, or the moon by night.

The Lord will protect us from evil and preserve our lives. The Lord will keep us safe on our journeys and bring us home safely for evermore.

Commentary:

In one sense, the Lord is enthroned in his temple in heaven. Our prayers ascend to him. Our life is a pilgrimage toward his temple in the eternal city in heaven.

On our pilgrimage to the eternal “Promised Land,” we must realize that the only true source of help is from the Lord. We must not turn aside from our journey to seek help from the false “gods” of this world. How can the high places of this earth compare to the heights of heaven?

The “gods” of this world seem to offer help, but fail to deliver. When we need help they seem to be sleeping. When we call to them they do not answer.

The Lord God is the only true God. Idolatry is man’s attempt to create his own “gods” who will do his own will. Only the Lord God can protect us from evil and preserve our lives for eternity

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), the only way to restoration to fellowship which was broken by sin, the only way to know divine, eternal truth (Luke 24:45), and the only way to have true, eternal, life (John 14:6).

By the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), Jesus’ disciples are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9) dwells within born-again Christians, goes with us wherever we go, and brings us safely to our eternal home in heaven with the Lord. The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Tuesday 21 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 19. 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 21 Pentecost – C 

Genesis 32:22-30 – Jacob’s Flight from Laban;

Background:

Laban was Abraham’s brother’s son, living in Haran in Mesopotamia. Jacob went to Laban to find a wife from his grandfather’s people.

Laban agreed to give his daughter Rachel to Jacob in return for seven year of labor. But Laban tricked Jacob and gave him Rachel’s sister, Leah, instead. So Jacob had to work another seven years for Rachel.

Rachael and Leah agreed to return to Jacob’s family in Canaan (the Promised Land) with Jacob and the animals which were Jacob’s wages. When Laban found out, he pursued them and caught up with them in the hill country of Gilead (east of the Jordan River between Bashan and Moab). The Lord had warned Laban not to say anything either good or evil to Jacob.

Laban accused Jacob of sneaking off with Laban’s daughters and grandsons, without allowing Laban to kiss them goodbye or give them a farewell party. And Rachel had stolen Laban’s household gods.

Genesis Paraphrase:

On the third day of Jacob’s departure, Laban was told, and Laban pursued Jacob’s caravan for seven days. God warned Laban not to say anything good or bad to Jacob.

Laban caught up with Jacob in the hill country of Gilead, and pitched his tent near Jacob’s. Laban accused Jacob of cheating him, kidnapping his daughters and grandchildren, and depriving Laban of the opportunity to provide a farewell party and the opportunity to kiss his daughters and grandsons goodbye. Laban accused Jacob of stealing Laban’s household gods.

Commentary:

The daughters and grandchildren were legally part of Laban’s household. Rachel stole her father’s household gods because they were the symbols of a man’s leadership of his family and proved his legal possession of the property.

Laban accused Jacob of cheating him and fleeing from Laban secretly, whereas it was Laban who had cheated Jacob numerous times, and had refused to allow Jacob and his family to leave.

It wasn’t Laban’s household idols who prevented Jacob’s flight or preserved Laban’s household and property. It was the Lord God who had prospered Jacob in earning his wages through livestock breeding, who encouraged Jacob to leave, and who prevented Laban from stopping their leaving and reclaiming his daughters and grandchildren, and the livestock which Jacob had earned.

In our societies today, people try to use modern idols, like wealth and  power, to uphold their legal claims to their household and possessions, but the only true security is in the Lord. The Lord can hinder our adversaries from accomplishing their intentions, and help us receive justice, through obedience to his Word. Idols can be carried off and manipulated to accomplish our own agendas, but God cannot. God’s justice is impartial and cannot be manipulated. He cannot be possessed; we must allow him to possess us.

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

Wednesday 21 Pentecost – C

First Posted October 20, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 21 Pentecost – C 

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 – The Word of God;

Paraphrase:

Paul urged Timothy (and all Christian disciples) to continue in the Gospel which they have learned and firmly believed, remembering from whom they have learned it. Timothy (and many Christians) were acquainted with the Bible scriptures, from their youth, which are able to instruct us for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Paul charged Timothy and all Christian disciples, by the presence of God and of Jesus Christ, who has been appointed to judge the living and the dead (in both physical and spiritual senses), by his incarnation (coming in human flesh), and the revealing of his kingdom, to preach the Word urgently, whether popular or not. We are to convince, rebuke and exhort, with unfailing patience and teaching. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having “itching ears” they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). As for us, we are to be unwavering in faith, patiently enduring suffering, fulfilling our ministry of evangelism (Matthew 28:19-20).

Commentary:

Paul’s discipling of Timothy is the example of the fulfillment of the Great Commission which Jesus gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out after they had been “baptized” by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Paul was intended by God to be the prototype and example of a modern, post-resurrection, “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) as we all can be.

After his conversion, most of the rest of the New Testament (Covenant) is by or about Paul, so, in a sense, we have learned the Gospel from or through Paul. The Old Testament is full of illustrations and promises of the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively) to come. The Old Testament is not rendered irrelevant by the New Testament, but must be read from the New Testament perspective. Christian disciples must read entirely, and portions daily, of the Bible in order to for Christians to be effective in the ministry of evangelism, which is every (“born-again) believer’s calling.

Jesus is the example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh, without sinning (Hebrews 4:15), so Jesus has been appointed  by God as the standard of judgment and judge of the living (“quickened”) and dead (Acts10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5) in both the physical and spiritual senses.

Everyone who has ever lived in this creation will be judged by the same standard. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, and have believed in (trusted and obeyed) Jesus will have been born-again by the baptism of the Holy Spirit in this lifetime, and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Born-again disciples of Jesus Christ are to proclaim the Gospel, whether people want to hear it or not. We must be willing to endure persecution, because many people hate the Gospel and Jesus Christ.

The time has long since come when people don’t want to hear sound doctrine, but choose preachers who will tell them what they want to hear. People don’t want to hear about sin, eternal condemnation and Hell. They want preachers to tell them they’re good people and that they’re going to a “better place” when they die. They want salvation by grace (as a free gift) without the requirement of obedience and discipleship (see “Cheap Grace,” False Teachings, sidebar, right, home).

The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event (Acts 19:2). It is impossible to be born-again without being aware and certain of spiritual rebirth through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

It isn’t true that we can’t know our eternal destiny until we die. The only ones who don’t know where they will spend eternity are the spiritually “lost” and eternally perishing.

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

Thursday 21 Pentecost – C

First Posted October 21, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 21 Pentecost – C 

Luke 18:1-8a – The Unjust Judge;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples a parable (a story of common earthly experience to teach spiritual truth) to teach them to keep praying without becoming discouraged. There was a judge who didn’t fear God or respect people. There was a widow who kept coming to him for justice against an adversary. For a while the judge refused, but he realized that if he continued to refuse, the widow would keep coming, annoying and wearing out the judge. If the unrighteous judge grants the widow her petition simply for his own selfish reason, won’t God be even more willing to vindicate his people who cry out to him in prayer day and night? Yes! And he will vindicate them promptly!

Commentary:

For many people, the only reality they know is physical. What is spiritual seems unreal, because they can’t see or touch it. Paul says that the “natural” person (one who is living in the flesh and not in the spirit -not “born again” by the indwelling Holy Spirit) cannot understand spiritual things because they are only spiritually discerned (by the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 2:13-14, 16).

Jesus taught in parables for several reasons. One was to convey spiritual truth in analogies to physical realities which “natural” people could understand. Another reason was to present the Gospel in a way that people were free to understand or not.

The purpose of this present Creation is to allow people to choose for themselves, whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and to learn by trial-and-error that God’s will is our best interest. Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; compare Genesis 1: 9). He was careful not to tell people what to believe, and instructed his disciples to do likewise (Matthew 16:20).

Each person must decide for himself who Jesus is. Furthermore, Jesus knew that without making it a command that one must obey, simply telling unbelievers who he was, would not change their unbelief. The Jewish religious authorities had the Scriptures (the Bible) and saw the fulfillment of them in Jesus in the works he was doing before their very eyes, and yet refused to accept him as the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively).

The difference between “religion” and Christian faith is that religion is man’s attempt to manipulate God’s favor to do our will, while Christian faith is our attempt to know and do God’s will. God alone is the just and righteous judge. But we cannot expect to influence his judgment on unrighteous, unjust petitions. There are conditions to be met, in order to receive favorable answers to our prayers (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

We must be persistent in prayer, and willing to wait for an answer. Some people pray about an issue and then go ahead and do what they want, believing that they have God’s approval. God is not going to reveal his will to people who are not really trying to know and do it.

In our culture, we’re used to getting immediate answers. We can pick up the phone or go on the Internet and get immediate (but not necessarily the right) answers. The Lord could answer immediately, and does, when the need is immediate. But often he delays in answering to test our commitment to obedient trust in his Word.

God’s answer is not always “yes;” not necessarily what we want to hear. His answer can be “no,” or “wait.” When he asks us to wait, we may finally be granted our petition as we continue to pray; or continued prayer may change our own minds and our petitions to be more in harmony with God’s will.

We can be assured that God’s answers to our prayers are not for his own selfish interests, because he alone is completely righteous and just. His answers are in our own very best interest and timing, even though we may not think so at the time. Often it is our petitions that are unrighteous and unjust.

Often the delay in the Lord’s answer is our fault; we haven’t put in the adequate preparation to receive the answer we want. We can be certain that God’s answers will come in just the right time. For example, I was seeking an opportunity for evangelistic ministry for a number of years. When the opportunity for an Internet ministry arose, I was just then (barely) able to accomplish it. I had just then reached the level of spiritual maturity required, and had been given the lectionary (schedule of Bible readings) and idea. When I prayed about it, the Lord gave immediate approval, helped me find Internet hosts, and helped me set it up. After all, he had given me the idea and resources.

As we persist in prayer, we will grow spiritually. We will learn what God’s will for us is, and will grow spiritually to the level necessary to receive the resources and ability to accomplish his will.

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 21 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 22, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 21 Pentecost – C 

Ephesians 6:10-17 – Whole Armor of God;

Paraphrase:

We should be strengthened by the Lord’s might, so that we can stay strong. We must be clad in the whole armor of God, so that we can withstand the strategy of deception of Satan. This is a spiritual battle against supernatural beings with powers of evil and wickedness. So we must have the whole armor of God in order to withstand the powers of evil and survive.

The whole armor consists of the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, our shoes are the equipment of the gospel of peace. Most importantly, we need the shield of faith to protect us from the flaming arrows of Satan. Our helmet is salvation, and our sword is the Word of God (the Bible, and Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

Commentary:

In this world we are engaged in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil. The present world ruler is Satan. He is in power because we have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

God foresaw that, given the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s will or our own, we would choose our own. He built a savior into Creation from the very beginning: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our forgiveness for our sin and salvation from eternal destruction which is the penalty for unforgiven sin (Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8; John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, home).

Jesus is the only way to be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, the only way to know divine, eternal, truth, and the only way to have true, eternal, life in paradise restored in Heaven, instead of eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (John 14:6). Jesus is truth, and we can only come to him in truth (John 4:23-24). Righteousness is doing what is right, good and true in accordance with God’s Word (in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (see above). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of truth; the gospel of peace with God, which was broken by sin. The “baptism” (anointing; infilling) of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), the Spirit of Truth (John 14:16-17).

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and become his disciples, we can expect opposition and attack from the demonic forces of this present world order. Jesus was opposed and crucified by the leaders of the world in his days of physical manifestation, and we cannot expect the world to treat us any better. It’s easy to be Jesus’ disciples until we face trials and persecution by the forces of evil. To survive we’re going to need the shield of faith.

It is not a question of how much faith; it is sufficient to have any sincere faith at all, even as small as a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32). Sufficient faith is simply our “yes” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we walk in faith (obedient trust) in God’s Word, the Lord will cause our faith to grow to maturity as we personally experience his power and faithfulness.

Motorcycle riders who don’t wear helmets are called “organ donors.” Our helmet is salvation, which we have through faith in Jesus Christ. His death on the cross is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin.

The “baptism” (infilling; anointing; gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit is our 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). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). Our salvation cannot be taken from us (John 10:28; Romans 8:35-39).

Disciples of Jesus are to stay within “Jerusalem” (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they have been empowered by the baptism of the Holy Spirit before going into the world (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Only then are we to take the “sword” of the the Word of God into the world, relying on it to defend ourselves and to gain the release of the captives of evil forces.

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 21 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 23, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 21 Pentecost – C

John 4:46-54 – Jesus Heals the Sick;

Background:

Returning from celebrating Passover at Jerusalem in Judea (John 2:13, 23), through Samaria (John 4:1-4), Jesus came to Cana in Galilee.

John Paraphrase:

At Cana, where he had changed water into wine (John 2:1-11), an official (a Gentile -non-Jew- military officer), when he heard that Jesus was there, came to Jesus from Capernaum. The official’s son was ill and at the point of death, and he begged Jesus to come to the official’s home and heal his son. Jesus told the official that “you” (plural; all those whose faith is only based on miraculous “proof”) would need to see miracles in order to believe. The official simply implored Jesus to come and heal his son before the boy died. Jesus told him to go his way; the official’s son would live.

The official believed Jesus’ word, and went on with his business (he did not immediately return to his home to check on his son). As the officer returned home the next day his servants met him and told him that his son had been healed. The officer asked at what time the son had begun to be healed and they told him that it was the previous day at the seventh hour, which the officer knew was the time that Jesus had pronounced the son’s healing. The official and all his household believed in Jesus. This was the second miracle Jesus had done when he returned from Judea to Galilee (the first: changing water to wine at the wedding at Cana; see above).

Commentary:

The official’s only true hope for his son was Jesus. He believed that Jesus could come to his home and heal his son. When Jesus told the officer to go about his business, the officer believed Jesus and did as Jesus had said. The officer didn’t rush home to see if the son had been healed.

For people who need to see “proof” (signs; miracles) in order to believe, there is none; but for those who believe without proof, there will be plenty. The official believed without “evidence” and as a result he and his entire household had plenty of evidence to increase and strengthen their faith.

Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ, the one who, alone, is trustworthy, has the power to answer our prayers, and is worthy of our obedience. There are conditions for answered prayer (which see, sidebar, top right, home). The officer personally came to Jesus in faith (obedient trust).

It is God’s will to heal us (not necessarily physically, but spiritually) when we come to Jesus in faith. Why didn’t Jesus just pronounce healing and restoration of life to everyone, physically? Jesus’ miracles of healing and restoring life physically were intended to be “signs” that he can also heal and give life to us spiritually, and the miracles of physical and spiritual healing and life must be received by faith (obedient trust). Those who need “signs” (proof) in order to believe get none.

Spiritual healing, feeding and new life through “rebirth” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), are spiritually discerned. Spiritual healing, feeding and rebirth are visible in changed lives now, in this world, but cannot be discerned by non-spiritual people (1 Corinthians 2:13-14). The Jewish religious leaders saw plenty of “signs” that Jesus was the expected Messiah (Christ; Hebrew and Greek respectively, meaning “anointed”), and yet rejected him (Luke 22:67-68; John 12:37-40). Jesus’ physical miracles leave us free to understand and receive spiritual miracles or not.

Faith is not like “wishing on a star;” we won’t get whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” It is not enough to simply “believe” if we don’t act in obedience to Jesus, trusting in his Word.

Elsewhere (Mark 7:35-36), Jesus healed a deaf and mute person and commanded him not to tell anyone, but the healed deaf-mute didn’t obey Jesus’ command. Mobs of people were coming to Jesus only for what he could do for them physically. Jesus commanded the healed man (and those who had brought him to Jesus) not to tell anyone about his physical healing, because Jesus didn’t need more crowds seeking only physical healing (John 6:25-35).

People who come to Jesus only for what he can do for them physically and don’t obey his command, receive nothing, or only the physical healing or food they sought, but miss the spiritual healing, feeding, and restoration of true, eternal life, which only Jesus can provide, and which we need much more than physical results.

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 20 Pentecost – C – 10/02 – 08/2016

October 1, 2016

Week of 20 Pentecost – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of 20 Pentecost – C 

Sunday 20 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 10, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 20 Pentecost – C 

Habakkuk 1:1-3 — The Righteous Shall Live by Faith;
Psalm 95:6-11  2:1-4 — God’s Kingship;
2 Timothy 1:3-14 — Truth Entrusted to Us;
Luke 17:1-10 — Forgiveness and Faith;

Habakkuk Paraphrase:

The prophet complains to God that he is surrounded by trouble and injustice, violence, strife, and contention. His call to God for help seems to go unanswered. So the prophet waits for God’s reply.

The Lord answered the prophet and gave him a vision which the Lord told the prophet to write down in clearly understandable form, so that  anyone who reads it can flee from disaster. The vision (of divine justice) will be fulfilled in due time. It will come in the end; it is not an empty promise. If it seems slow in coming, wait for it. It will surely come; it cannot be delayed. Watch and see: the righteous shall live by faith, but the unrighteous shall fail.

Psalm Paraphrase:

“O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7).

Give heed to his voice today! Don’t harden your hearts as the Israelites did at Massah and Meribah in the wilderness (Exodus 17:1-7), when they tested the Lord and demanded proof, although they had experienced the Lord’s deeds on their behalf. The Lord loathed those people for forty years, and declared that their error was deep within their hearts and they do not keep God’s ways. In anger, God swore that they could not enter his rest (in the Promised Land).

2 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul recalled Timothy’s sorrow at their last parting and longed for the joy of visiting with Timothy again. Paul was thankful of his own religious heritage when he recalled the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. Paul urged Timothy to apply the gift of the Holy Spirit which Timothy had received by his “discipling” by Paul. The gift of the Holy Spirit is one of power, love, and self-control; not timidity.

Paul urged Timothy not to be ashamed to testify of the Lord Jesus, nor of Paul, who was in prison (for preaching the Gospel). Timothy should be willing to endure suffering for the Gospel by the power which God supplies. God saved us and gave us a holy calling (to proclaim the Gospel) not because of anything we did to deserve it, but because of God’s grace (unmerited favor; free gift) which he gave us long ago in Christ, and which has now been revealed in the coming of Jesus. Jesus’ coming has abolished (eternal) death and revealed (eternal) life and immortality through the Gospel.

Paul was suffering (in prison, awaiting martyrdom) for the Gospel for which he had been appointed (by Jesus) a preacher, apostle, and teacher, but he was not ashamed. Paul knew and believed Jesus, and was confident that the Lord could guard what had been entrusted to Paul until the Day of Christ’s return. Paul urged Timothy to follow his example by the faith and love we have in Jesus, and faithfully guard the truth entrusted to him by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that they would experience temptations, but those who tempt his disciples (“little ones”) will suffer such consequences that they would be better off being tied to a millstone and downed in the sea.

Jesus warns us to watch out for ourselves. If a fellow believer sins, we should rebuke him; if he repents, we must forgive him, even seven times in a day.

The disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith. Jesus replied that if they had any faith at all (as small as a mustard seed) they could command a mulberry tree to be rooted up and planted in the sea and it would obey.

Jesus used the parable of the unworthy servant to illustrate obedience to God: If a master had a servant plowing a field or tending sheep, when the servant finishes and returns, would the master have the servant sit down and eat while the master serves him? Wouldn’t the master require the servant to serve his master first? Does the master thank his servant for doing what he was commanded? No; the servant has only done his duty.

Commentary:

Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death and destruction (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home). Faith is not getting whatever one believes if one believes “hard enough.” Faith is not “wishing on a star.”

The Christian life in this world requires faith. There are going to be times of trouble and times of temptation. There will be times when we call to the Lord for help and don’t receive an immediate answer.

Testing the Lord and demanding proof are the opposite of faith. The Israelites witnessed, over and over, the saving acts of the Lord in their behalf. They had seen the Ten Plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7:8-11:10) to gain their freedom, the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-31), and God’s provision of meat (Quail) and manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:1-21), but still insisted on “proof” in order to believe God’s Word. They refused to enter the Promised Land on God’s command (Numbers 14:1-10), so they were condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty years until they died (Numbers 14:26-35). The only adults allowed to enter were Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:36-38), who had advocated for entry and possession of the Promised Land.

Timothy was apparently already a Christian believer through his mother and grandmother, but was not born-again until Paul discipled him. Paul is deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, as we also can be. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was discipled by a born-again disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17), until Paul was reborn (Acts 9:18), and then Paul began to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his disciples to be carried out after they had been born-again (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Timothy is an example of Paul’s fulfillment of the Great Commission.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is powerful, but it is modulated by love and self-control. We must overcome our timidity in order to apply the power of the Holy Spirit by proclaiming the Gospel boldly. But it must not be proclaimed without love and self-control.

Discipleship is learning to be guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. At first I was timid, and found it difficult to testify even in Church Sunday School. But with practice and experience it became easier to testify, even out in daily life in the world. As I grew spiritually, I had more experiences of God’s faithfulness and more opportunities to testify.

By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we walk through the wilderness of this lifetime, experiencing God’s saving acts on our behalf. These experiences are intended to help us grow to spiritual maturity. As we experience God’s power and faithfulness, our faith in his ability to deliver us grows.

I have suffered (nothing which can compare to Paul’s suffering) for the Gospel, even within the nominal Church. For example, I was prevented from continuing an adult class on spiritual growth, which broke my heart. But the Lord comforted me and gave me other opportunities.

The Lord has opened my mind to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45) and has revealed God’s eternal truth to me (1 Corinthians 1:17-29; 2:1-7). I have a daily personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I know him in whom I have believed, and am sure that he can keep me uncompromised until the Day of the Lord.

We shouldn’t expect special recognition and commendation for testifying to the Gospel. Someone shared the Gospel with us, and we have received the benefit, so we should be eager to share the Gospel with others (Matthew10:8b).

The Lord has commanded his born-again disciples to go into the world to make (born-again) disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20). This is only our minimum obligation as servants of the Lord.

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

Monday 20 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 11, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 20 Pentecost – C 

Psalm 111 – The Fear of the Lord;

Paraphrase:

Let the Lord be praised! In the congregation of the upright I will give thanks to the Lord with my entire heart. The works of the Lord are great; they are studied by all who delight in them. His works are full of honor and majesty, and his righteousness is eternal. He is gracious and merciful, and his wonderful works will be remembered. He feeds those who fear him; he constantly remembers his covenant.

He has revealed the power of his works to his people, and has given them the heritage of the nations. His deeds are faithful and just; his laws are trustworthy and eternal, to be obeyed in faithfulness and uprightness. He has given his people redemption; his covenant is forever. Awesome and holy is his name! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).

Commentary:

I believe that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and find fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17).

By the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal daily fellowship with the Lord. We experience his goodness, love and power personally as we trust in his Word, and our faith grows. When we experience trials, we can recall what the Lord has done for us, recorded in the Bible, and from our own personal experiences, and be encouraged and strengthened. If we study the Lord’s works we will delight in them and agree that they are indeed great.

Until one has the appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of God, one doesn’t know enough!

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 20 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 12, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 20 Pentecost – C 

Ruth 1:1-19a – Steadfast Love;

Paraphrase:

As a result of famine in the land, a man, Elimelech, and his wife, Naomi, of Bethlehem, and their two sons, named Mahlon and Chilion, went to Moab (east of the Dead Sea) to live. Elimelech died, and the two sons took Moabite wives named Orpha and Ruth. After ten years the sons also died. Naomi decided to return to Judah, since she had heard that the famine was over, and she urged her two daughters-in-law to stay with their families in Moab.

The daughters wept and intended to return with Naomi, but Naomi discouraged them since there was no hope for them to to remarry in Naomi’s (immediate) family. Orpha wept and turned back to Moab, but Ruth clung to Naomi. Ruth vowed to go with Naomi and dwell with her, and accept Naomi’s people and God as her own; she would die and be buried with Naomi. When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to convince her otherwise, and the two went to Bethlehem.

Commentary:

Bethlehem was the birthplace of David, the shepherd-king of Israel, the forerunner of the Messiah; of Jesus, the “Son” (descendant) of David, and eternal heir to David’s throne. Moab, east of the Dead Sea, was hostile to Israel.

Naomi tried to do what she thought was best for her daughters-in-law, rather than her own self-interest, but Ruth chose to sacrifice her self-interest, for love of Naomi. Although it seemed unlikely that Ruth could remarry into Naomi’s family, she eventually did marry Boaz, the kinsman of Ruth’s first husband, Naomi’s son, (Ruth 2:1-4:17) and she became the great-grandmother of David.

Ruth was a “Gentile,” a non-Jew, but she accepted the Lord God of Israel and committed her life to live accordingly. This is the point of the Gospel: All who accept Jesus as Lord become the “chosen people of God,” the spiritual children of Abraham.

Ruth was willing to give up the prospect of remarriage into Naomi’s family, but she was eventually rewarded.

There is a spiritual famine in this world. God’s people must go out into the world, into the territory of the enemy of God’s people. We must love them, to the extent of accepting them into our families. We must offer them the opportunity of accepting our Lord. Some will receive the benefit of salvation.

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 20 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 13, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 20 Pentecost – C 

2 Timothy 2:8-13 – Courage and Perseverance;

Paraphrase:

We are exhorted to remember the Gospel of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel. This is the Gospel which Paul preached, and for which he was imprisoned and shackled. But God’s Word cannot be shackled. Paul endured all sorts of persecution for the Gospel for the sake of the elect,* so that they may also obtain salvation (from eternal condemnation), which in Jesus leads to eternal glory.

Paul quotes what is probably an early Christian Hymn, to the effect that as we die with Jesus (crucify our human lusts and desires) we will also live (eternally) with him. We will reign with Jesus eternally in God’s kingdom in Heaven, if we persevere. Those who deny Jesus, he will also deny. He will remain faithful, even if we are faithless, because faithfulness is his nature.

Commentary:

David is the illustration and forerunner of Christ (Messiah). David was shepherd-king of Israel; Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), and eternal heir to the throne of David, in fulfillment of God’s Word (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Matthew 1:1; 21:9).

The world can restrain apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) but not the Gospel (“Good News” of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life with God in Heaven). The world hated and crucified Jesus, but in doing so they fulfilled the Gospel (1 Corinthians 2:8). If the world hated Jesus, Christians cannot expect better treatment.

Once Christians have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) we are to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to others (Matthew 28:19-20), so that they can be saved from eternal condemnation and receive forgiveness, salvation and eternal life through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Not everyone will appreciate our proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must not fear or be discouraged by rejection and persecution, but must persevere. If we do we will eventually receive glory with Jesus in Heaven.

To follow Jesus, we must sacrifice our own lusts, desires, and wills in order to do his will. We must die to ourselves so that we can live for and with him. We really don’t know what we want or what is best for us. If we do we will find that God’s will for us is so much better than what we think we want for ourselves.

We are all chosen to receive forgiveness and salvation through faith in Jesus. We are not forced to accept Jesus; it’s our free choice. But if we refuse or fail to accept Jesus as our Lord and personal Savior, he will reject and deny us on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 7:21-23; 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-6, 8-10).

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


* Chosen; for mercy and favor. Actually we all chosen for mercy and favor, forgiveness and salvation. But God won’t force it on us. The question is, do we accept election, by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ?


Thursday 20 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 14, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 20 Pentecost – C 

Luke 17:11-19 – Ten Lepers Cleansed;

Paraphrase:

On his way to Jerusalem, as Jesus passed from Galilee to Samaria, he entered a village. There he encountered ten lepers who stood at a distance and asked Jesus for mercy. When Jesus saw them, he told them to go and show themselves to the priests. They were healed as they went. One who saw that he was cleansed turned back and fell at Jesus’ feet, praising God and giving thanks to Jesus. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked why, since ten were cleansed, was this “foreigner” the only one to return and give praise to God. Jesus told the Samaritan to rise and go on his way; he had been healed by his faith.

Commentary:

When the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel with the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C., all the able-bodied were deported and the ten northern tribes effectively ceased to exist. Only the weak and disabled were allowed to remain, and captives from other conquered lands were brought in to settle and pacify Northern Israel. These intermingled with the remnant of the northern tribes and became the Samaritans, of mixed race and religion.

Lepers were ritually “unclean” and were not allowed to mingle with healthy people, and weren’t allowed to participate in worship in the temple. They had to be examined by priests to be certified “clean” (leprosy-free) before they could rejoin the community. It would take faith to go to show themselves to the priests, knowing and seeing that they were leprous.

Leprosy is symbolic of sin. In a sense, we are all spiritual “lepers” in need of spiritual healing. We are “cleansed” as we come to Jesus and become obedient and trusting and do what he says.

The Samaritans, who were regarded by Jews as racially and religiously “illegitimate,” were more receptive to Jesus than the Jews (John 4:7-42). Most Jews never accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah, and called for and crucified Jesus (Matthew 27:23, 25).

Jesus’ miracles of physical healing, feeding, and resurrection were intended to demonstrate that he also has the power to heal, feed and resurrect spiritually. People who came to Jesus only for physical needs received only that. Physical healing lasts only until the next illness; physical feeding lasts only until the next mealtime; spiritual healing, feeding, and “resurrection” (“re-birth;” John 3:3, 5-8) are for all eternity. The one who received spiritual healing was the Samaritan who returned to the feet of Jesus.

In my experience, it is often easier to evangelize those outside the nominal Church than within. Often, nominal Church members haven’t read their Bibles, and hold on to Church doctrines they’ve been taught (see False Teachings, sidebar, right, home).

We all die physically once and then comes judgment, not reincarnation, and not “nothingness” (Hebrews 9:27). There is a Day of Judgment coming when Christ returns at the end of time. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, who have trusted and obeyed his teachings will have been “born-again” in this lifetime, and will enter eternal life. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior, and have refused or failed to trust and obey his teachings will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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

Friday 20 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 15, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 20 Pentecost – C 

Ephesians 5:15-21 – Righteous Living;

Paraphrase:

Be careful how you live your lives, not as the foolish, but as wise people. The days are evil, so make the most of your time. Don’t be foolish; understand the Lord’s will. Don’t practice drunkenness and debauchery; instead be filled with the Holy Spirit. Address one another with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. With all your heart, sing and and make melody to the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father with all your heart always, for everything.

Out of reverence for Christ, be subject to one another.

Commentary:

The times are indeed evil. America is no longer a Christian nation. There has been a shocking rise in gangs, drugs, sex, and violence. We must be careful not to conform to the values of the society around us.

Instead of pursuing our carnal (fleshly) desires we must seek to know and do God’s will. If we sincerely seek God’s will with the intention of doing it he will reveal it to us, but not to “window-shoppers” who are not committed to doing it.

The way to seek God’s will is one day at a time, in daily devotional “quite time” with prayer, Bible reading, and meditation. When I was beginning my daily walk with the Lord, I used a devotional booklet like this devotional, and it seemed that the Lord was underlining certain phrases. So then I would pray it back to the Lord for confirmation that I had understood, and then would work on that idea for the day.

A Christian is by definition a “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c; John 3:3, 5-8). One must be born-again by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).  The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible to know for oneself with certainty whether or not one has been born-again (Acts 19:2).

Christian discipleship is a spiritual growth process. Once we have been born-again, we need to be “discipled” by the indwelling Holy Spirit to spiritual maturity. We must make ourselves available to his guidance through daily devotional “quiet time,” and then follow that guidance during the day. We must give up what we think we want, in order to do what the Lord wants, but we will find that his will for our lives is so much better than our own.

It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience the love and joy of the Lord. We experience the indwelling Holy Spirit as a daily ongoing event.

We can have great fellowship with other born-again Christians, relating to each other in spiritual terms. That fellowship is far more rewarding than secular fellowship, such as centering around drinking and secular conversation.

Let us remember to always give thanks to the Lord, regardless of present circumstances. We can only truly praise the Lord by the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:15-17). We can trust the Lord to comfort us in trials, bring us through them, and deliver us from bad circumstances.

Jesus is the Lord of lords and King of kings; the very Son of God, and yet he came to serve us. He set the example for us to follow (John 13:3-17). Instead of relating to other people for what they can do for us, we should care for them and find ways to serve 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)?

Saturday 20 Pentecost – C 

First Posted October 16, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 20 Pentecost – C

Matthew 22:1-14 – Parable of the Marriage Feast;

Paraphrase:

Jesus was teaching in the temple (Matthew 21:23) and he told a parable (a fictional story of common earthly experience used to teach spiritual truth) of a wedding feast. He compared the kingdom of heaven to a marriage feast provided by a king for his son. He sent his servant to call the invited guests, but they would not come. He sent other servants to them, saying that the king had killed his oxen and fat calves and everything was ready, and they should come to the feast. But the invited guests made light of the invitation. One went off to his farm, another to his business. The rest seized the king’s servants, treated them shamefully and killed them. The king was angry and sent his troops to kill the murderers and burn their city.

Then the king told his servants that those who had been invited weren’t worthy, but since the feast was prepared, they were to go into the highways and byways and invite everyone they could find. The servants did so, and brought back both good and bad people, so the dining hall was filled with guests.

When the king came in to his guests, he noticed that a man was present without a wedding garment, and, calling him “friend,” he asked the man how he got in without a wedding garment. The man was speechless. The king ordered his attendants to bind the man and cast him into outer darkness; “there [people] will weep and gnash their teeth. For many are called but few are chosen” Matthew 22:13c-14).

Commentary:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like this marriage feast. God is the king, Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. We are all invited to the marriage feast in heaven (Matthew 26:26-29), but we need a “wedding garment,” which is the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “outer darkness” is Hell.

We are all eternal beings in physical bodies. We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit.

The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is not conferred by some Church ritual such as (water) baptism or “confirmation” (“affirmation”) of baptism. (see False Teachings, sidebar, right, home). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, daily, ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

How many people in our world today are letting worldly pursuits keep them from responding to the invitation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How many people today are hostile to that Gospel and the messengers of it?

We’re all sinners, “bad people,” who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home), but when we respond in faith (obedient trust) to Jesus’ invitation, we receive the “wedding garment” of Jesus’ own righteousness (Romans 3:22; 5:17b, 21; 10:3-4; Philippians 1:11; 2 Peter 1:1).

No one can get into God’s kingdom in Heaven without the “wedding garment,” the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Just being “members” of the nominal Church won’t save us. Just singing in the choir or teaching Sunday School won’t save us. Calling ourselves Christians or even “born-again” won’t save us (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). Only a personal relationship with the Lord through the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit will save us from eternal condemnation and eternal death in Hell with all evil.

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


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