Week of 2 Easter A -04/23- 29/2017

April 22, 2017

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

Please Note:

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

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

 

Podcast Download: Week of 2 Easter A

Sunday 2 Easter A

First Posted March 30, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 2 Easter A

Psalm 105:1-7 – God’s Saving Acts;
Acts 2:14a, 22-32 – Peter’s Sermon;
1 Peter 1:3-9 – Rejoice for God’s Saving Acts;
John 20:19-31 – Christ is Risen!

Psalm Paraphrase:

The people of God are exhorted to give thanks to God and call upon him. Let his saving deeds be known among all people! Let us sing to him and praise him and proclaim his wonderful works! Let us exalt in his holy name. Let those who seek the Lord rejoice! Let us seek the Lord’s strength and his presence continually! Remember all the wonderful things he has done. Remember the miracles and the justice of his pronouncements. We are the offspring of Abraham, the sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!

The Lord is our God, and he administers justice over all the earth!

Acts Background:

Peter, who denied Jesus to the most menial servant of the high priest on the night Jesus was betrayed, had just been filled with the promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and now proclaimed Jesus boldly!

Acts Paraphrase:

Peter told the people of Israel that God attested to Jesus through the miracles that God performed through Jesus, as the Jews were aware. Jesus was given over by the Jews to the power of lawless people to be crucified by the will and foreknowledge of God. But God raised him from the dead, releasing him from the power, and freeing him from the bondage, of death.

David prophesied of the Messiah in Psalm 16:8-11 that the Lord was always close, at his right hand, to keep David from being defeated. So David had reason to be glad and hopeful, believing that the Lord would not abandon him to the realm of the dead. David also prophesied that the Lord would not allow the Holy One (the Messiah; Jesus Christ) to decompose in the grave.

David testified that the Lord had revealed to David the ways of true, eternal life, and David trusted that the Lord would give David the joy of the Lord’s presence.

David wasn’t referring to himself when he prophesied regarding the Lord’s Holy One that he wouldn’t decompose in the grave. David died and was buried and his tomb was known to the people in the time of Peter.

David believed the promise that the Lord had given him to give the throne of David to a descendant of David for eternity, so David was speaking of the Christ (Messiah; both words mean God’s “anointed” king and eternal savior, in Greek and Hebrew respectively).

Jesus wasn’t abandoned to the kingdom of death, and his body didn’t rot in the grave; he was raised to eternal life. His disciples were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

1 Peter Paraphrase:

Let us praise God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that by his mercy we are “born anew” to a living, active hope through Christ Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and to an eternal, incorruptible and unfading inheritance that is being preserved for us in heaven. We are also being guarded by the power of God through faith for salvation which will be revealed at the end of time.

So we can rejoice even though we may experience various trials now to test the authenticity of our faith, as precious metals are purified by fire, so that our faith may result in glory, praise and honor at the reappearance of Christ (on the Day of Judgment). Even though we haven’t seen him we love, trust and obey him, and rejoice in him with great and indescribable joy. As the result of that faith we will receive the salvation of our eternal souls.

John Paraphrase:

On Easter Sunday evening the disciples were in a house in Jerusalem (probably in the upper room where they had celebrated the Last Supper). They had barred the doors for fear of the Jewish religious authorities. Jesus appeared among them and offered them his peace. Then he showed them the wounds of crucifixion. Again he offered them his peace and told them to carry on Jesus’ mission of forgiveness and salvation, as God had sent Jesus. He breathed on them and told them to receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Then he gave them the discretionary authority to forgive sin.

Thomas, one of the Twelve original disciples, was not present, and when the other disciples had told him they had seen Jesus, Thomas declared that he wouldn’t believe unless he was able to see Jesus and touch the wounds of crucifixion.

Eight days later, the disciples were again in the house together, with Thomas, and Jesus again manifested himself to them. Again Jesus offered his peace, and then told Thomas to see and touch the marks of crucifixion. He told Thomas not to continue in unbelief. Thomas replied, addressing Jesus as his Lord and God. Jesus said that Thomas had believed because he had seen “proof,” but that those who believe without proof will be blessed.

Jesus did many other things which are not recorded, but these things have been recorded so that we may believe that Jesus is God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King, so that through believing, we may have eternal life in his name.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal and eternally true; what it says is fulfilled, and it is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Christians are the “New Israel,” the “New People of God,” and the Church is the “New Jerusalem” on earth. God’s ultimate, eternal, saving act has been revealed to the world in Jesus Christ.

Those who trust and obey Jesus are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. They are the spiritual children of Abraham, the sons of Jacob, God’s chosen people.

Those who seek the Lord and his presence will find and experience him through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which Jesus has promised to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the name of the Lord. Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9); God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus and God are one and the same (John 14:6-10). Jesus is our Lord and our God (John 20:28). Jesus is God’s “anointed” righteous judge (Matthew 28:18; Matthew 25:31-46). Those who love true justice will rejoice in his pronouncements.

Peter is an example of the spiritual transformation from spiritual death to eternal life.

Before Jesus came into the world, only a few select individuals, like David, the great shepherd-king of Israel, and additionally the Old Testament prophets, had a personal relationship with the Lord. Jesus came to make it possible for all to have the fellowship and presence of the Lord that David had.

We can experience the closeness, the joy of the Lord’s presence, and the empowerment of the Lord that David had, through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Those who trust in Jesus will not be abandoned to rot in the grave. The Lord will show us the way to true eternal life through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to appoint an eternal king to the throne of David. Jesus is the “Son (descendant) of David” (Matthew 1:1-16). We are the heirs to the hope that David had without his having seen the coming of the Messiah, God’s anointed Savior and eternal king. The Lord won’t abandon us to the eternal corruption of the grave, if we trust and obey Jesus.

We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and to be spiritually reborn to eternal life through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God, to be forgiven of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), saved from eternal destruction (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right), and to be “reborn” to spiritual, eternal, life. The Holy Spirit within us will guard and protect us unto salvation at the return of Jesus at the end of time.

Believers will experience various trials as we live according to the Holy Spirit, but we will be preserved, strengthened, and purified through them. Thomas had personally experienced Jesus during Jesus’ physical lifetime. He had already come to believe, trust and obey Jesus. Jesus was willing to increase Thomas’ faith by Jesus’ revelation of himself to Thomas.

The Bible has been written so that we will believe and receive eternal life. If we will read it we will believe, and we will receive 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)?

Monday 2 Easter A

First Posted March 31, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 2 Easter A

Psalm 16 – Faith in God’s Power to Save;

Paraphrase:

I take refuge in the Lord for he will preserve me. Apart from the Lord there is no good. Those who are dedicated to the Lord are esteemed and I delight in them. “Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows” (Psalm 16:4a). I will not even speak the names of their idols, nor will I participate in the blood of their drink offerings.

I have chosen my portion and cup in the Lord; the Lord is in control of my destiny. The lines (measured boundaries of an inheritance) have been designated to my advantage; I have a great heritage.

I praise the Lord for his guidance; he instructs me in the night within my heart. Because I have chosen the Lord, he is with me at my right hand. So I am confident that I shall not be shaken.

So I am filled with gladness and my soul rejoices. I have entrusted my physical well-being to him, confident that he will not abandon me to the grave, or let thy godly one see death.

The Lord has shown me the way of true life. I am filled with joy by his presence. He is the source of all good thing for all eternity.

Commentary:

The Lord is the only true God, our Creator and the provider of every good thing. God loves us and wants what is good for us. God is the only one who has the power and the desire to provide for and preserve us.

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek God (Acts 17:26-27), to learn to trust and obey the Lord and to live according to his will.

Often, as long as things are going well for us we feel no need to seek God’s help and providence. Eventually everyone experiences troubles which are beyond our own ability and resources. If we have learned of the Lord’s love, faithfulness and power, from the Bible and from personal experience we can take refuge in him and be confident that there is nothing that can happen to us in this world that he cannot handle and bring us through (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right).

Those who trust and obey the Lord will delight and esteem those who do likewise. This world offers many false “gods.” Money, power, status, and pleasure are some modern “gods.” Idolatry is loving any thing or person as much as or more than we love God. Those who serve other “gods” will eventually experience disappointment and grief. When we accept the Lord as our God, by obedient trust, we have an eternal inheritance in God’s kingdom in heaven, that nothing can take from us.

Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our deliverance from eternal condemnation and eternal death, and through whom we received our inheritance of eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life 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).

It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal fellowship with Jesus and God the Father (Revelation 3:20; John 14:23). It is by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are guided and taught spiritual truth (John 14:17; 26). His presence within us gives us reassurance that we will not be defeated or abandoned. It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience overflowing joy in his presence. Jesus has delivered us from the fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who shows us how to truly live now and eternally.

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

Tuesday 2 Easter A

First Posted April 1, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Easter A

Acts 2:14a, 36-47 – The Day of Pentecost;

Paraphrase:

On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus were together in the upper room where they staying in Jerusalem (Acts 1:13). When the promised “baptism” of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, there was the sound like a mighty rushing wind, and the disciples began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.* A large group of people gathered to them because of the noise, and Peter preached his first sermon to them. Peter told them that the Jesus whom Israel had crucified had been made Lord (sovereign King) and Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed,” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively) by God.

When they heard Peter’s message they were “cut to the heart” (convicted with guilt) and asked Peter and the other disciples what they should do. Peter told them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all who are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:38-39). Peter told them to save themselves from “from this crooked generation”(Acts 2:40). About three thousand “souls” who heard and acted on Peter’s message were baptized that day. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts 2:42).

The fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of God was upon every soul. All the believers in Jerusalem lived communally, sharing everything, and they sold their possessions and distributed them to all as any had need. They attended the temple daily, and shared communal meals in their homes with generous and joyful hearts, giving thanks and praise to God, and all were well-regarded among the people. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

Commentary:

The Lord had told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the promised gift (“baptism;””anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). This was the fulfillment of that promise. Pentecost was the “fiftieth” day after Passover, and was the festival of “first fruits” of the grain harvest. It was a feast, with sacrifices and a free-will offering.

Jesus’ “Last Supper” was the celebration of the Feast of Passover, where he established the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant of Law which had been mediated by Moses between Israel and God. Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26-28 RSV note”g,” Hebrews 8,:8, 13; 12:24).

Jewish tradition regarded Pentecost as the day on which the Law was given by God through Moses. Through Jesus, Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, which replaces the Law as the means of our righteousness and standard of guidance (Romans 8:1-9).

Peter had been the uneducated fisherman-disciple of Jesus who was afraid to confess that he knew Jesus three times to menial servants of the Jewish high priest (John 18:18-27). He and the other disciples had been hiding behind barred doors in the upper room in Jerusalem for fear of the Jewish religious authorities (John 20:19). Now filled with the Holy Spirit he preached a powerful sermon to the people of Jerusalem who had condemned Jesus to crucifixion (John 19:14-16). Now Peter confronted them with their sin and guilt, and the ones who accepted his conviction of themselves repented; they asked for forgiveness and changed their behavior. As a result they were “discipled” by “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples until they also received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The disciples were beginning to carry out the Great Commission which Jesus gave his disciples to “make disciples” and to teach them to obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20).

The “first-century” Church celebrated the “Lord’s Supper”(Holy Communion; the Eucharist) as part of a communal meal, as Jesus had originally established it, but that doesn’t mean that it should or can only be celebrated in that context. The first Christians in Jerusalem lived communally. That doesn’t mean that Christians must sell all their belongings and live communally, but when we love one another as Jesus commanded, we will care for the needs of our brothers and sisters with generosity. If more people lived like “born-again” Christian disciples, there would be less poverty in the world. It would be unacceptable for some to have vast accumulated wealth while others lack basic necessities. Of course this is one of the reasons worldly people hate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The people of Jerusalem gathered by the thousands to see what all the excitement was at the “church” in that upper room. They saw the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. They heard the Word of God boldly and uncompromisingly proclaimed by the Spirit-anointed Peter.

They were willing to face the truth of their spiritual condition so they were able to receive the spiritual healing that only Jesus offers. They were willing to be disciples of Jesus and to be “discipled” by the spiritually mature “born-again” disciples until they also received the promised Holy Spirit. The people of Jerusalem noticed the way Christians lived and they respected them as exemplary members of the community, and that attracted more members daily.

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).

How are we doing today, Church? Are we willing to be confronted by truth? Are we willing to be convicted of sin? In a sense we are all guilty of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1John 1:8-10). And we are all guilty of crucifying Jesus because we have all sinned and made his crucifixion necessary for our forgiveness and salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Are we willing to be disciples of Jesus Christ? Do we seek “apostles” (messengers of the Gospel) who are “Spirit-anointed” disciples of Jesus Christ? Are our churches making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ who obey his teachings? Are our churches so alive with the Holy Spirit that people are drawn to see what the excitement is about? Do our daily lives reveal that we have been with Jesus and glorify him?

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


*”speaking in tongues;” see Paul’s teaching on”tongues” in 1 Corinthians 14:5-39


Wednesday 2 Easter A

First Posted April 2, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 2 Easter A

1 Peter 1:17-21 – Christian Lifestyle;

Paraphrase:

If we invoke God as our Father, remember that he is the impartial judge, who judges each person according to his deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10). So then let us conduct ourselves with fear (appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority) of God throughout our exile in this world. Let us remember that we have been ransomed from the futile worldly ways of our earthly fathers, not by gold or silver which which are perishable, but by the precious blood of Jesus, like that of a perfect spotless lamb. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, was destined by God before the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-3, 14), but has been revealed “at the end of the times” (1 Peter 1:20) for our sake. Through Jesus we have confidence in God, so that our faith and hope are in him who raised from the dead and glorified Jesus.

Commentary:

If we claim God as our father, we should act like his children. We are to follow Jesus’ example, the perfect Son of God who was completely obedient to God’s Word, even to physical death. No one can come to knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father except through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). No one can fulfill the requirements of God’s Word except through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).

If we call Jesus our Lord we should know and do what he teaches by word and example (Matthew 7: 21-27). Jesus came to show us how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. He came to demonstrate that there is existence beyond physical death, and to ransom us from the power of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus came to be the perfect and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17).

Jesus’ blood shed on the cross cleanses us from all sin through faith in him, so that we can be filled with, guided, and empowered by his 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 (Acts 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 gave his life’s blood as the ransom for our eternal souls, so that we could live eternally with him in paradise. We are to live no longer as citizens of this world, but as citizens of God’s eternal kingdom, in exile in this world.

Worldly ways and possessions are futile. If we pursue those things we will ultimately be eternally condemned and eternally destroyed by them. Gold and silver seem so real, so solid and precious to us now, but they are not eternal. Within the span of our individual lifetimes, they will pass away and become worthless. Only the spiritual riches and ways, which seem so “intangible” now, can we receive only through Jesus’ blood.

God has designed this Creation with the Savior, Jesus Christ, “built in” to its very structure. This world has been designed so that we all need a Savior (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and Jesus is the only Savior there is (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). God has revealed his Savior, through his Word, the Bible, and through the “living Word,” the physical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ God reveals his Savior personally and individually to us by the gift of the Holy Spirit as we trust and obey Jesus.

This is the end of the times for each one of us. Jesus is going to return on the Day of Judgment within our lifetimes, either in the physical or spiritual sense. He comes to us individually now by his indwelling Holy Spirit. He comes to us ultimately on the Day of Judgment, whether we are alive or dead, in both the physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we can have the assurance that, as God raised and glorified Jesus, he will also raise and glorify us; so our faith and hope is in God. Are you ready for Jesus’ return?

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

Thursday 2 Easter A

First posted April 3, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 2 Easter A

Luke 24:13-35 – The Road to Emmaus;

Paraphrase:

On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, two of Jesus’ followers were going from Jerusalem to Emmaus, about seven miles. They were talking about the events of the day. As they were talking, Jesus drew near, but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them what they were discussing, and in sorrow they said that he must be the only visitor to Jerusalem who hadn’t heard the news.

Jesus asked what had happened, and the one named Cleopas began to tell him that Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet, great in word and deed, had been handed over to be crucified. The two followers and the rest of the group had hoped that Jesus was the one who was to redeem Israel. This was the third day (since his crucifixion) and some of the women among his followers had gone to the tomb early in the morning, but had found it empty. They returned to the group and reported that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb and that they had even seen a vision of angels who said that Jesus was alive. Some others (men) went to the tomb and found it as the women had said, and did not see Jesus.

Then Jesus said that they were foolish and slow to believe what the prophets declared in scripture (our Old Testament). Jesus said that it was necessary for him to suffer and then be glorified. Then, starting with the books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and all the prophets,* Jesus explained the prophecies concerning himself.

As they came to the village, Jesus seemed to be going on, but the two invited him to stay with them, because it was late in the day, so he came in with them. As they sat at table, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them. At once they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other that their hearts burned within them as Jesus had opened to them the scriptures (Luke 24:45).

That same hour they arose and returned to Jerusalem, and found the “eleven” (of the Twelve original disciples, minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer) and the rest of Jesus’ followers gathered together. The group told Cleopas and the other man that the Lord was indeed risen (from physical death) and had appeared to Simon (Peter). Then Cleopas and the other man began to tell them what had occurred on the road, “and how he (Jesus) was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).

Commentary:

The two followers of Jesus going to Emmaus were kept from recognizing Jesus until Jesus revealed himself to them. Their minds were similarly “veiled” to the understanding of scripture until Jesus removed the “veil” and opened their minds to understand the scriptures (2 Corinthians 3:13-16; 4:3-4; Exodus 34:29-35; compare Luke 24:45). At Jesus’ crucifixion, the “veil” (or [sic] “vail”) of the temple separating the people from the presence of God in the “holy-of-holies,” symbolizing that Jesus had opened a new and direct way into the presence and fellowship with God (Matthew 27:51).

When the two travelers arrived at their destination, Jesus appeared to be going farther, but the two invited him to stay with them, and Jesus came in and had supper with them (compare Revelation 3:20; Mark 6:48). At the table Jesus revealed himself to them in the breaking of the bread (compare Mark 6:41; 14:22).

Jesus had repeatedly told his disciples plainly that he would be crucified and raised again on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19), but they didn’t understand the significance of what he was saying (Matthew 16:22; Mark 10:32-35; Luke 18:31-34).

Jesus had promised to reveal himself to his disciples after his resurrection (John 14:18; 21-23).

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of the Redeemer. Jesus has redeemed his disciples who believe in (trust and obey) him from sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and death (the penalty for sin is eternal death; Romans 6:23).

Jesus’ disciples were slow to realize what had taken place that Easter morning. Jesus came to them and revealed himself to them and removed the “veil” from their understanding.

We are all on a journey through this lifetime. We’ve heard Jesus’ teaching, and we’ve heard of the empty tomb. On our journey, Jesus draws near, though we don’t recognize and acknowledge him right away. If we are willing he will lift the “veil” from our minds and hearts and open us to understand and receive the scriptures.

When Jesus draws near to us, all we have to do is invite him to come in to stay with us, and he will come and have close personal fellowship with us (Revelation 3:20). If we invite him, Jesus will reveal himself to us personally and individually through 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).

Those who have become Jesus’ disciples have trusted and obeyed his teachings, will be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Every truly “born-again” Christian disciple personally testifies that Jesus has risen from the tomb and is alive, and that Jesus has revealed himself to 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)?


*The books of Moses are Genesis through Deuteronomy; the Law; the Torah, or Pentateuch. The prophets consist of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel; and Hosea through Malachi. The rest of our “Old Testament” is considered the “writings,” These three divisions are sometimes called the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and Psalms.


Friday 2 Easter A

First Posted April 4, 2008

Podcast: Friday 2 Easter A

Ezekiel 34:11-16 – Shepherd of Israel;

The Lord declares that he himself will search for his “sheep,” like a shepherd who searches, when some of his flock has been scattered on a dark and stormy day. The Lord will bring his sheep out from the nations and countries where they have been scattered and bring them into their own land.

The Lord will feed them in lush pastures on the hilltops of Israel, and he will provide fountains of water. They shall lie down in good pastures (compare Psalm 23:2). The Lord himself will be their shepherd and give them peace and rest. The Lord will seek out the lost, bring back the straying, bind up the crippled, strengthen the weak, and the Lord will watch over and nurture the strong, and provide them with justice.

Commentary:

Ezekiel was a priest of Judah, the remnant of Israel, at the time of the Babylonian conquest in 587 B.C. and subsequent deportation and exile with them in Babylon. Through Ezekiel, God promised that he himself would gather his people from where they had been scattered, and would bring them back to their own land and heal, feed and care for them as their (good) shepherd.

The Lord had warned Judah of the consequences of Judah’s disobedience of God’s Word, and of idolatry (loving and serving any one or thing as much as or more than God) many times through the prophets, but they hadn’t heeded the warning. Forty years before the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah foretold the conquest in plenty of time for them to repent and avoid the exile, but they didn’t heed the many warnings. Jeremiah prophesied then that they would return to Israel after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12), and God fulfilled his promise. The exile is generally counted from the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., to the dedication of the second temple in Jerusalem in 517 B.C.

God’s Word is eternal and true, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God did fulfill his promise to bring Judah back to Israel in an amazing, miraculous way. God also intended his dealings with Israel to be a metaphor for life in this world, and a warning to us (1 Corinthians 10:11). In a sense we are all in exile in the “Babylon” of this world, and God promises to bring us out of “Babylon” and into the “Promised Land” of his eternal kingdom, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

God fulfilled his promise to be the Good Shepherd of Israel. He did bring Judah back to Israel, but he also gave us his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Messiah; each mean “anointed;” in Greek and Hebrew respectively), the Savior, as God promised (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is Emmanuel (God with us; Matthew 1:23; The name, “Jesus,” means “Savior”). Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to be, himself, the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-15; Psalm 23). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus was fully human and also fully God (Colossians 2:8-9).

Jesus is the only one who provides spiritual healing, deliverance from captivity of sin, and restoration, and nurture. Jesus is the “bread of life” (John 6:33-35; 52). Jesus’ miracles of healing and feeding were intended to show that Jesus can heal and feed us spiritually. Jesus is the source of “living water” (John 4:10). Jesus is the “rock” in the “wilderness” through whom God gives eternal life-giving water (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Jesus is the only one who 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 indwelling Holy Spirit is the fountain of the water of eternal life God promised (John 7:38-39). The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual “re-birth” (John 3:3, 5-8) and eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; one Spirit: 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:3-6), the Good Shepherd within us, to heal, nurture and guide us and bring us to the safe pastures of God’s eternal kingdom.

I personally testify that when I was lost and far from the Lord, he sought me, healed me, and brought me back to him. He feeds and sustains me, guides, and empowers me (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right).

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

Saturday 2 Easter A

First Posted April 5, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 2 Easter A

Hebrews 13:20-21 – The Great Shepherd;
John 10:22-30 – Jesus and God are One;

Hebrews Paraphrase:

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).

John Paraphrase:

During the feast of Dedication, Jesus was walking in the portico of Solomon (a roofed, open colonnade on the east side of the temple, where people gathered). So the Jews approached Jesus and asked Jesus to tell them plainly whether or not he was the Christ (Messiah). Jesus replied that he had told them but they hadn’t believed.

Jesus told them that the works he was doing in the name of his Father (God) reveal who Jesus is. They did not believe because they do not belong to Jesus’ “sheep.” Jesus’ “sheep” know his voice and follow Jesus, and Jesus knows them. Jesus gives them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can take them from Jesus. God the Father has given them to Jesus and no one can remove them from God’s power. Jesus declared that he and God the Father are one.

Commentary:

God himself promised to be the great shepherd of his people (Ezekiel 34:15 see entry for yesterday, 2 Easter, Friday, year “a”). Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise. Jesus and God the Father are one. Jesus is God made visible in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus is Emmanuel; God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:14), the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-3, 14).

God is the God of peace; the only one who gives true eternal peace. God made peace with the world through the blood of his Son. We can receive the peace of God by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, the giver of God’s peace (Philippians 4:7; John 14:27), or we can refuse it and be at enmity with God. Jesus has already won that battle at the Cross (1 Corinthians 2:6-8; Colossians 2:14-15).

Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) is the seal of the New Covenant of salvation by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Through obedient trust in Jesus we receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we are equipped with every good and necessary thing, so that we can know and do God’s will. Only by the Holy Spirit can we do what is pleasing in God’s judgment (Romans 8:1-9). Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually, to eternal life.

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

The Jewish religious authorities wanted Jesus to tell them plainly whether or not Jesus was the Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King). If they would have believed Jesus’ answer, they would have already known and would have had no reason to ask. Jesus was doing miracles that no one but God can do, and his words were the Word of God (John 14:8-11). If they had been God’s “children” they would have recognized Jesus’ voice and would have followed Jesus’ teaching and example (John 8:39-47). They weren’t asking so that they could believe and follow Jesus; they were looking for evidence to destroy him (John 5:18;19:7).

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


*An eight day festival beginning December 25, commemorating the cleansing and rededication of the temple in 164 B.C. after its defilement by Antiochus Epiphanes.

“Dedication, Feast of,” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, digital module, BibleTime freeware:

http://www.bibletime.info/

See Free Digital Bible Study Tools, sidebar top right.


Easter A – 04/16 – 22/2016

April 20, 2017

Week of Easter 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)

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

Please Note:

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

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

 

Podcast Download: Week of Easter A

Sunday Easter A

First Posted March 23, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday Easter A

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24 – Thanksgiving for Deliverance;
Acts 10:34-43 – Gospel to Gentiles;
Colossians 3:1-4 – Buried with Christ;
Matthew 28:1-10 – Empty Tomb;
[or John 20:1-9 (10-18)]

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us give thanks to the Lord for his goodness to us. His love for us is unwavering and eternal. Let God’s people proclaim the Lord’s steadfast eternal love.

Listen! Hear the songs of joy in the homes of the righteous (those who do what is good, right and true according to God’s Word), praising the greatness and courage of the Lord’s right hand (the Lord’s Servant). The Lord’s Servant declares that he will not die; he will live and recount the great deeds the Lord has done. The Lord chastises his Servant greatly, but does not abandon him to death.

May the Lord open the gates of the righteous to me, so that I can enter and give thanks to the Lord. I thank the Lord for answering my need and providing for my salvation. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner” (Psalm 118:22). The Lord has done this, and we realize and acknowledge how wonderful this is. Each day is given us by God and we should rejoice and be glad them.

Acts Background:

The Lord was at work in both the Apostle Peter, and in a Gentile Roman Centurion named Cornelius to extend the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. Cornelius trusted and obeyed the Lord to send for Peter, and Peter responded to the Lord’s guidance to go to Cornelius.

Acts Paraphrase:

God had prepared Peter, showing him that God is not partial to the Jews: any one of any nation who fears (appropriately respects the power and authority of) God and does right (according to God’s standard; his Word) is acceptable to God.

Peter reviewed the Gospel of peace with God through Jesus Christ which had been given through Israel. Jesus had begun proclaiming the Gospel throughout Israel, beginning in Galilee, after the baptism preached by John (the Baptizer). Jesus was “anointed” (Messiah and Christ each mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively) by God with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34) and with (supernatural) power, and Jesus had, by the will of God, gone throughout Israel proclaiming the Gospel and healing and feeding all who are in bondage to Satan and death.

Peter and the other disciples were witnesses to all that Jesus did. The Jews executed Jesus by hanging him on a tree (i.e. with nails; on the Cross), but God raised Jesus up on the third day (in accordance with the prophetic Scriptures; for example: Hosea 6:2; Psalm 16:10). God manifested the risen Jesus to over five hundred witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-9) chosen by God.

The witnesses ate and drank with Jesus after his resurrection (demonstrating that he was not a “ghost”). And Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the Gospel to people, and to testify that Jesus is the one “anointed” by God to be the judge of the living and dead (in the physical and spiritual senses). All Biblical prophecy testifies that everyone who believes in (trusts and obeys) Jesus receives forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; the penalty for which is eternal death; Romans 6:23), by the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).

Colossians Background:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. He was “making disciples” of Jesus Christ, including the believers at Corinth, in obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission, given to his disciples, to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Colossians Paraphrase:

Paul taught that those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus are raised with Jesus to eternal life, provided that we focus on what is spiritual and eternal, rather than what is worldly and temporal. We must consider ourselves dead to the ways of this world and hidden with Christ in God, so that when Christ reappears we will appear with him in glory.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Early on the day after the Sabbath (i.e. Sunday), Mary Magdalene and Mary, wife of Clopas, went to the tomb of Jesus. There was a great earthquake and the stone sealing the tomb was rolled away by an angel of the Lord. The angel’s appearance was as bright as lightening, his garments as white as snow, and the guards were paralyzed with fear.

The angel told the women that he knew they were looking for Jesus, but that Jesus was not there, because he had risen. The angel showed the women the empty place where Jesus’ body had lain. The angel told the women to go to the disciples and tell them that Jesus had arisen from the dead, and had gone ahead of them to Galilee. The disciples were to follow him to Galilee where they would see him. As the women left to do what the angel had told them, Jesus himself met them and gave them the same message.

Commentary:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus is the revelation of God’s unwavering eternal love for us (compare Romans 5:8). Jesus is the mighty right hand of God. He was courageous to come into this world, knowing that he would fall into the hands of sinful humans, and would have to submit to physical abuse and excruciating painful death on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), so that we would not have to die eternally for our sins ourselves (Romans 6:23).

Jesus trusted that God would not abandon him to death but would restore him to eternal life so that he could testify to the great things God has done for us in Jesus. Jesus is the gate of the righteous (John 10:1-9). Only those who enter through him by faith (obedient trust) are judged righteous by God.

From the beginning of Creation, God knew that we would need his forgiveness to be saved from eternal condemnation and he designed Jesus Christ into the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is God’s only plan for our salvation (see sidebar, top right; Acts 4:12, John 14:6). Jesus is the cornerstone which was rejected by the Jews but has become the solid rock of our salvation from eternal condemnation.

Each day is a gift from God, but Easter Sunday is the particular day in which the saved should rejoice with thanksgiving to God for providing for our need of salvation, even before we recognized our need (Romans 5:8). Those who have been “reborn” to spiritual eternal life should be praising and glorifying the Lord for what he has done for us.

The Lord is at work in the world today as he was in the First Century A.D. His Holy Spirit is at work in Gentiles (the unsaved) and in the “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciples and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel). His “born-again” disciples are guided and empowered to make “born-again” disciples of those “Gentiles” who respond to the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

No one is “born” into salvation. Each one of us must claim and appropriate the promises of God’s Word for ourselves, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Just being a “member” of a “church” doesn’t save us; just being “baptized” doesn’t save us. Claiming to be “Christian” doesn’t save us.

Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit saves us. 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).

Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus we have forgiveness of sin, and restoration to peace and fellowship with God. God has given us our salvation through Israel in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can heal, feed and sustain us spiritually and free us from bondage to Satan and the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus was raised from physical death to eternal life and has been given all authority in heaven and on earth to judge the physically and spiritually living and dead. Everyone who believes (trusts and obeys) Jesus will be saved from condemnation and eternal death in hell with all evil.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the example of what Christians are to be. Paul was confronted by the Holy Spirit of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-4). He repented of his sin, accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5), trusted and obeyed Jesus Acts 9:6-9), was “discipled” by a “born-again, disciple Acts 9:10-16, Ananias, until he had been “reborn” (Acts 9:17-18) and then became an apostle (messenger; of the Gospel; Acts 9:20), in fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-13).

Paul was a “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ making “born-again” disciples. Christian disciples are to no longer live according to the ways and standards of this world but instead according to God’s Word.

Those who trust and obey God’s Word will seek Jesus and will find that he is not dead; he has risen from physical death to eternal life. Every truly “born-again” Christian has experienced and knows that Jesus is risen and is eternally alive.

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

Monday Easter A

First Posted March 24, 2008;
Podcast: Monday Easter A

Psalm 105:1-7 – Thanksgiving for Our Salvation;

Paraphrase:

Let us give thanks to our Lord, and always call upon him. Let us make known to all people his wonderful works, singing to him and praising him and exalting his holy name for his great deeds. Let those whose hearts seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord, his help and his presence continually. Let us, the offspring of Abraham, the Lord’s servant, and the children of Jacob, God’s chosen ones, recall his wonderful works and his great justice on our behalf. The Lord is our God, and he rules over all the earth.

Commentary:

The Lord has blessed us all in so many ways! He has given us life in this world, and all the things we need to have a good life. The bad things in this life are not God’s doing; they’re the result of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word). The reason that some people don’t have enough of the resources God has given us is because of our unfair distribution of them.

God allows sin so that we will have the freedom to learn by trial and error that God’s way, his judgment, is our best interest, and so that we can freely choose whether to trust and obey God or not. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God and to learn to trust and obey God (Acts 17:26-27). This lifetime is our opportunity to be “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual eternal life.

God has intended from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. God has designed Creation knowing that if given freedom we would choose to follow our own will instead of God’s will. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sins and our salvation from eternal death (Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus has been designed into the structure of this Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we find and come into fellowship with God (John 14:6). Only through obedient trust in Jesus can we be reborn to eternal life (John 14:15-17), by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Forgiveness and salvation are our greatest need, and God has provided them before we were aware of and acknowledged our need. Forgiveness and salvation are freely given to all who are willing to accept them through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If we have truly been forgiven, saved and reborn, we will continually give thanks and praise to our Lord and exalt his holy name. We will seek his presence and help. We will make known to others what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

Are we seeking the Lord and relying on his help and providence, or are we relying on our human strength and ability, and our accumulation of material resources? Do we realize and acknowledge the great things God has done for us, or do we take credit ourselves for our successes and blame God for our troubles?

There is a Day of Judgment coming, within our lifetimes, when we will be accountable to Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18) for what we have done in this lifetime, which will determine where we will spend eternity (Matthew 25:31-46). God’s Word, the Bible, and the “living Word,” Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14), is the standard by which all will be judged.

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

Tuesday Easter A
FirstPosted March 26, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday Easter A

Acts 2:14a, 22-32 – Peter’s Sermon;

Paraphrase:

On the Day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Easter (the fiftieth day), when the Church had received the promised “baptism” with the Holy Spirit, Peter addressed the crowd explaining what had happened.

Peter stood up and said to the people of Israel that Jesus of Nazareth had been attested to by God by the miracles and wonders that God had done through him, of which they knew. Jesus had been delivered to be crucified by the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. The people of Israel had crucified Jesus by lawless men, but God had raised him up, freeing him from the bonds of death, which had no power over him.

David had testified in Psalm 16:8-11, that the Lord was constantly at his right hand to help David, so that David would not be defeated. So David was glad and he rejoiced and had reason for hope, assured that the Lord would not abandon his soul to Hades, or let his Holy One see corruption. The Lord had revealed the ways of true life to David, and would make him full of gladness in the Lord’s presence.

Peter declared that David died and was buried, and the tomb was known to them in Peter’s day. But David was also a prophet, and knowing that God had promised that a descendant would reign as the eternal king of Israel on the throne of David, David had foreseen the resurrection of the Messiah. The Messiah was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his body decompose in the grave. This Jesus was raised from the dead, and his disciples were all eyewitnesses.

Commentary:

Jesus had promised to anoint his disciples with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17). He told them in advance that he was going to be crucified and would rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). He told them to wait in Jerusalem, until they had received the promised Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Pentecost was originally the Jewish festival of the firstfruits of the grain harvest. It was also the day on which the Law of Moses was given, according to Jewish tradition. It is now the day the Church was born by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus Christ.

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “firstfruits” of salvation and eternal life. Through the Holy Spirit we have fellowship now with Jesus and God the Father, which is only a taste of the fellowship we will have in eternity. The gift of the Holy Spirit is like a down payment or a security deposit on 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).

After Jesus’ resurrection the Day of Pentecost became the celebration of the fulfillment of the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26-29; Hebrews 8:8-11) of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9) which Jesus established at the Last Supper. The New Covenant has replaced the Old Covenant of Law. Those who trust and obey Jesus, will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and are freed from the Covenant of Law, provided that they trust and obey the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11).

Peter, who had denied knowing Jesus three times to the menial slave of the High Priest (John 18:15-27), now boldly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is not an afterthought, to save Creation after it had fallen into sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Jesus has been God’s plan from the very beginning of Creation, and has been designed into it (John 1:1-5, 14). God knew what the world would do to Jesus, but God’s plan triumphed over human sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

Jesus came into the world to show us how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. He came to heal and feed and give life to us spiritually. His physical healings and feedings were designed to reveal that he is the Son of God and has the power to forgive, heal, feed, and give us life spiritually. Jesus came into the world to make it possible for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).

The Jews were under the Covenant of the Law of God given through Moses, and were obligated to obey it. Crucifixion was not “legal,” and Jesus was not guilty of any violation of God’s Law. The Jews delivered Jesus into the hands of the Roman governors, who were lawless Gentiles, not committed to obeying God’s Law. God could have delivered Jesus from the power of the Jews and the Romans, but his plan was designed to take human sin into account.

Before Jesus came, only a few people had a close personal relationship with the Lord, like David and other prophets of God. Jesus came to make personal fellowship with God possible for all who are willing to receive it in obedient trust through Jesus Christ. “Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciples have the Lord constantly at their right hand to guide, help and deliver, and to keep us from being defeated by our spiritual enemies.

We experience the love of God and the joy of being in his presence by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit gives us the assurance that we are forgiven, saved, and have eternal life.

All “born-again” Christians are prophets of God, declaring God’s Word. We can all say with David, by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, that the Lord won’t abandon us to the kingdom of the dead and we won’t experience eternal corruption.

Jesus is the Son of David, the promised Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek respectively), the eternal savior and king, the heir to the throne of David.

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

Wednesday Easter A
FirstPosted March 26, 2008;
Podcast:
Wednesday Easter A

1 Peter 1:3-9 – Rejoice in God’s Saving Act;
Paraphrase:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

We can rejoice in this hope even though we may have to undergo various trials to test and strengthen our faith. As gold is refined by fire, our faith which is even more precious and imperishable undergoes testing, so that it may produce glory, praise and honor to God at Jesus’ Second Coming. Without ever having seen our Lord Jesus, we love him. Though we cannot see Jesus now, we believe in him and rejoice with joy beyond expression. As the result of our faith we will receive the salvation of our eternal souls.

Commentary:

God has created this temporal world as an opportunity for us to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and to be reborn to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). God has designed Creation with Jesus Christ “built into” its structure (John 1:1-5, 14). At the perfect time he has revealed Jesus as his only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

All of us have sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). God has had mercy upon us, and has provided forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal death as a free gift to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). He has given us a “living,” vibrant and tangible hope in resurrection from physical death to eternal life in paradise restored in Heaven.

God raised Jesus from the dead to demonstrate that there is existence beyond physical death. God sent Jesus to show us how, and to make it possible for us, to live according to 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). We are spiritually reborn through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we have a personal fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father. We experience God’s love. The Holy Spirit teaches, guides and empowers us to know and do God’s will. The Holy Spirit preserves us through faith unto salvation at the end of time. It is possible to know for oneself with certainty whether or not one has received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

The Lord uses trials of this life to refine and increase our faith to spiritual maturity. As we begin to trust and obey the Lord, we will learn that his promises are true and reliable, and that he has the power willingness to fulfill them. As we experience God’s faithfulness and power, faith becomes settled conviction. We not only have believed, but have come to know with certainty that God’s Word is the Word of eternal life and that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God (John 6:68-69).

We didn’t know Jesus during his earthly lifetime, but we can come to know him through the Bible record. We cannot see Jesus now, but we can experience the joy of his presence, power and love by his indwelling Holy Spirit within us.

The things of this world are perishable. This whole Creation is subject to decay, but God’s kingdom in heaven is eternal.

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

Thursday Easter A
FirstPosted March 27, 2009;
Podcast: Thursday Easter A

John 20:19-31 – Disciples Witness Jesus Risen;

Paraphrase:

On Easter evening the disciples were in a house in Jerusalem (perhaps the same upper room where they had celebrated the Lord’s Supper), and the doors were barred because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Jesus appeared and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he told his disciples that Jesus was sending them to carry on Christ’s mission of forgiveness and salvation to the world, as God had sent Jesus. Then Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit, and said that they had the power to forgive or not forgive sins.

Thomas, one of the Twelve original disciples, was not there when Jesus appeared, and when the other disciples told him that they had seen Jesus, Thomas replied that he wouldn’t believe that Jesus was risen unless he could see and touch the marks of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Eight days later the disciples were again in the house with Thomas present, and again Jesus came and appeared among them. Again Jesus offered his peace to them, and then he told Thomas to see and touch the marks of the crucifixion in Jesus’ hands and side. Jesus told Thomas not to continue in unbelief. Then Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)! Jesus replied that Thomas had needed to see in order to believe, but those who believe without seeing will be blessed.

When Thomas had personally experienced the risen Jesus, Thomas declared Jesus his Lord and his God. Jesus didn’t deny it (compare Acts 14:12-18); he validated it by his reply that Thomas had believed by seeing and that those who believe without seeing will be blessed. Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:7-10).

There are many other things which Jesus did which are not recorded in this book (the Gospel of John; and also the New Testament). But the things that are recorded were written so that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ), and through believing might have (true, eternal) life in Jesus’ name (by his power and authority).

Commentary:

Jesus’ disciples were gathered together on Easter Sunday evening and Jesus appeared and revealed himself to them. The original disciples were to be Jesus’ witnesses to his resurrection. Jesus wanted them to know and believe with certainty that he had risen as he said he would.

Jesus manifested himself to his disciples as he had promised (John 14:21). Jesus wanted them to have the peace which only he can give, which he had promised to give them (John 14:27). Jesus commissioned them to continue his mission to bring forgiveness and salvation to the world, and Jesus wanted them to receive his Holy Spirit as he had promised (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), so that they could accomplish that mission by the guidance and empowerment of his Holy Spirit. Jesus gave them his authority to forgive sin (disobedience of God’s Word; compare Matthew 9:6). Whether or not one is forgiven depends on the sinner’s faith in Jesus’ name (power and authority).

Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had risen unless he saw “proof.” Jesus did manifest himself to Thomas so that Thomas would believe, but God’s Plan of Salvation (which see; sidebar, top right) is intended by God to be accepted and believed or not, without proof. It depends on faith (obedient trust). We must accept, trust and act upon God’s Word without proof. For those who demand proof, none will be provided. But those who trust and obey God’s Word will receive abundant “proof” (John 6:68-69). It is not true that we will never know for sure about salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus until we die.

Not just the New Testament but the entire Bible has been given for us so that we can know and believe in Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness, salvation from eternal destruction, and eternal life in the name of Jesus. The New Testament is the recorded eye-witness testimony to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness, salvation and eternal life (Acts 4:12). There is no other way to come to know and have fellowship with God our Creator (John 14:6). Those who believe Jesus’ words have his power and authority to claim and receive his promises (John 1:12-13), but we must do so by trusting and acting on Jesus’ words.

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ who trust and obey Jesus, and 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). By the indwelling Holy Spirit Jesus manifests himself to his disciples, and they personally experience the risen Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

New believers are to be “discipled” in the Church by “born-again” disciples until the new believers are also “re-born,” and then they are to go out into the world to make disciples and to teach them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:19-20).

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

Friday Easter A
FirstPosted March 28, 2008;
Podcast:
Friday Easter A

Job 19:25-27 – My Redeemer Lives!
John 21:15-19 – Love for Jesus;

Job Paraphrase:

Job declared his faith that his Redeemer (or vindicator) lives and that when Job died he would be in the redeemer’s presence and would see God, fulfilling Job’s great hope.

John Paraphrase:

At Jesus’ resurrection the disciples were told to go to Galilee where they would see Jesus (Matthew 28:7, 10). The disciples had gone fishing and in the morning Jesus appeared to them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and had prepared a breakfast of grilled fish. After they had eaten, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Jesus more than anyone else, and Peter told Jesus that Jesus knew Peter loved him. Jesus told him to feed Jesus’ lambs. Again Jesus asked Peter if he loved Jesus. Peter said yes, saying that the Lord Jesus knew that Peter loved him, and Jesus told Peter to tend Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus asked Peter a third time whether Peter loved Jesus, Peter was grieved. Peter told Jesus that Jesus knew all things, and knew that Peter loved Jesus. Then Jesus told Peter to feed Jesus’ sheep.

Jesus told Peter that when Peter was young, Peter clothed himself and went where he pleased, but the time was coming when others would dress him and lead him where Peter did not want to go. This was to show that Peter’s death as a martyr would glorify God. Then Jesus told Peter to follow Jesus.

Commentary:

In the midst of great trouble, when Job had lost almost everything he cared about, Job held on to the hope that beyond physical death he would see God, his redeemer.

God is our redeemer, who has designed redemption, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, into the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). When we die we will all stand in the presence of the redeemer and will see our God. We will be individually accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime (John 5:28-29). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will spend eternity in the presence of the Lord, in paradise restored in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey him will spend eternity separated from God’s presence and providence in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our “redemption” from sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and eternal death (Acts 4:12), which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus is the only way to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, the only way to know divine eternal truth, and to receive true, eternal life (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus’ resurrection from physical death demonstrates that there is existence after physical death. Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed and attested to by over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8), and by the Apostle Paul and all truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christians since then.

After his resurrection Jesus told his disciples to return to Galilee where they would see Jesus. They did as he had told them and Jesus’ promise was fulfilled. Their risen Lord prepared food for them to eat when they were hungry from working through the night. Jesus was teaching them by word and example.

Jesus’ disciples are to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Disciples are to trust and obey Jesus and wait for him to reveal himself through his Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Then they are to work in the spiritual night of this world until Jesus comes at the dawn of the Day of the Lord’s return. They are to spiritually heal, feed and guard Jesus’ flock until Jesus returns; they’re not to expect the flock to serve them. The Lord will provide for his disciples, and they will experience his presence and fellowship through 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).

Peter had denied Jesus three times on the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested. Jesus forgave and restored Peter by giving him the opportunity to declare his love for Jesus three times. Peter was grieved that the Lord asked him three times. Jesus had been grieved that Peter denied him three times, even though Jesus knew that Peter would and had warned Peter in advance (John 13:37-38).

Peter had declared that he was willing to die for Jesus (John 13:37), and eventually he did. Jesus foretold Peter’s martyrdom. Jesus told Peter to follow Jesus’ word and example, and Peter did.

Peter was transformed by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, from a fearful, uneducated fisherman who had denied Jesus to the menial slave of the high priest (John 18:15-27), to the bold preacher of the Gospel beginning on the Day of Pentecost when the Church was “born” (Acts 2:1-41).

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

Saturday Easter A
Posted March 29, 2008
Podcast: Saturday
Easter A

1 Peter 1:17-2:3 – Appeal for Holiness;

Paraphrase:

We who claim God as our father should remember that he is also the impartial judge who judges all according to their deeds. During our exile in this world we should conduct ourselves with fear (appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority ) of God. Not by perishable things like gold or silver, but by the precious blood of Jesus, like a perfect lamb without any blemish or defect, we have been ransomed from the futile ways of the world. Jesus was destined by God before the world was established, but has been revealed at the end of time for our sake. Through Jesus we can be confident in faith and hope in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him.

Our souls have been purified by our obedience to divine truth, so that we are able to love one another earnestly and sincerely from our innermost being. “You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).
Peter quoted Isaiah 40:6-8, saying that our flesh is as transient and perishable as grass, but God’s Word is eternal and abides forever. That eternal, abiding Word is the Gospel (“good news”) which has been declared to us.

So let us no longer participate in malice, guile, insincerity, envy and slander. Instead, having tasted the kindness of the Lord, let us, like newborn babies, desire the pure spiritual milk so that we can grow in spiritual maturity to salvation.

Commentary:

If we acknowledge God as our father, we should be careful to live according to his rules and expectations. We are in exile in this world, waiting to be restored to his house and his kingdom.

We have been ransomed by the costly, precious blood of Jesus. Gold and silver, which seem so substantial and durable to us, are worthless in obtaining eternal life, and will pass away. Jesus’ blood is the only true eternal value that can ransom us from corruption and death. Jesus is the passover Lamb, perfectly sinless, who was sacrificed on the cross for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), whose blood marks us to be “passed over” by the destroying angel (Exodus 12:12-13).

Jesus has been destined by God from the very beginning of Creation to be our Savior (John 1:1-5, 14), through whom alone we have forgiveness of sin, restoration to fellowship with God, and eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Jesus came to show us how to live according to God’s Word, and to make it possible for us to be spiritually reborn to eternal life by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates the power and faithfulness of God’s Word, and the reality of existence beyond physical death. Because Jesus was raised from physical death to eternal life we can be confident that we will also be raised to eternal life.

Our eternal souls are purified by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), and his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9) is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is given to us who are committed to living by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-8), instead of the desires of our flesh. So we should no longer live according to the standards of the world but by the Holy Spirit.

We are all eternal souls in physical bodies; we’re all born alive physically but spiritually dead. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is what gives us new spiritual eternal life.

God’s Word is unlike our word. God’s Word is eternally true and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God’s Word has supernatural creative force (Genesis 1:3). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is the “living” Word of God. The Holy Spirit is the “living” Word which abides in us who have been “born-again.”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is “good news!” We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23)and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23), but God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally; he wants us to live eternally with him in the new Creation restored to paradise (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). God offers us Salvation from eternal condemnation as a free gift, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

When we hear and believe the Gospel we are spiritually newborn babies. As we begin to trust and obey Jesus we begin to experience God’s goodness and faithfulness. We must, like newborn babies, stay close to and receive the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word so that we can grow to spiritual maturity and to salvation at the Day of Judgment when Christ returns at the end of time.

New believers are to be “discipled” by spiritually mature, “born-again” disciples within the Church, until the new believers are also “born-again”(Matthew 28:19-20). Only then are they ready to be sent into the world (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) as “messengers” (apostles) of the “Good News,” the Gospel of forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction through 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)?

 

Holy Week A – April 09 – 15, 2017

April 20, 2017

Holy Week 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)

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

Please Note:

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

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

Palm Sunday – Holy Week A

First Posted March 16, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday Holy Week A

Palm Sunday is the day the Church commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem the week of his crucifixion.

Isaiah 50:4-9a – The Lord’s Servant;
Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16 – Prayer for deliverance;
Philippians 2:5-11 – The Example of Christ;
Matthew 27:11-54 (or 26:1-27:66) – Jesus’ Trial, Conviction, Death;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord has given his servant the knowledge and ability to testify as one who has been formally educated, so that he can encourage and sustain the weary people of God. Each day the Lord provides the ability to hear with insight.

The Lord opens the spiritual ears of his servant who is not rebellious or unfaithful. The Lord’s servant submitted to flogging and abuse, he didn’t resist shame and spitting.

Because God helps his servant, the servant has not been defeated. His resolve is certain, confident that he will not be put to shame, because God, who is able and faithful to vindicate his servant is near.

If the Lord is near and vindicates the servant, who will oppose him? Let him try. Who is the servant’s adversary who will declare him guilty?

Psalm Paraphrase:

Those who take refuge in the Lord will never be put to shame. Because God does what is right and true and good, God will deliver them and rescue them quickly. The Lord is a refuge and fortress to save them. Because they trust in the Lord for protection and rescue, the Lord will lead and guide them for the sake of the Lord’s name (his character and reputation).

The Lord is able and will deliver them from the hidden trap, because they have sought refuge in him. God is faithful, and those who entrust their spirit (their eternal soul) to him will be redeemed (from eternal condemnation and destruction). When the Lord’s servant is in distress, wasted in soul and body by grief, the Lord will be gracious to him, even though his life and body is wasted with grief and sorrow and his years with misery.

The Lord’s servant has become an object of scorn and horror to his neighbors and enemies and a dread to his friends. People go out of their way to avoid him in public. He has become like a broken pot, and has passed from memory like the dead.

On every side his enemies plot to destroy him, scheming to take his life. But the servant trusts in his Lord, who he acknowledges as his God. He has committed his circumstances into the Lord’s care, trusting that the Lord will deliver him from his enemies. May the Lord’s favor be upon his servant and deliver him from his enemies and persecutors.

Philippians Paraphrase:

Paul was “discipling” the Christians at Phillipi, in Macedonia. He urged them to be united and unwavering in their understanding of Jesus’ example. Although Jesus was the fullness of God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9) he laid that aside, not trying to be exalted by mankind, and instead became a menial servant. Having been born in human flesh, he humbled himself and submitted to physical death, even the excruciatingly painful death on the cross.

Because of his obedience to God’s will, even unto death, God has exalted him and has given him a name (glory and fame) which is above every name, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus had been captured and brought before the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. The governor asked if Jesus was claiming to be king of the Jews as the Jewish religious leaders had charged. Jesus replied that they were the ones who had said so. Pilate asked Jesus if he knew the many charges the Jews were bringing against him, and Jesus did not reply, so Pilate wondered what was going on.

The Roman governor was accustomed to releasing a Jewish prisoner at the Passover festival, as an act of political patronage. So Pilate gathered the Jews and asked them if they wanted him to release Barabbas, a notorious criminal, or Jesus. Pilate knew that the Jews had denounced Jesus out of jealousy. Also, Pilate’s wife had a premonition about Jesus in a dream, and had warned her husband not to become involved in Jesus’ execution. But the crowd demanded Jesus’ execution and asked for Barabbas’ release.

Pilate asked the crowd what Jesus had done to deserve execution, but they just kept demanding execution. So when Pilate saw that no compromise was possible, and that a riot was beginning, he washed his hands in a basin of water in the presence of the crowd and declared himself innocent of Jesus’ blood. And all the people responded, “His blood be upon us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). So Pilate released Barabbas and had Jesus whipped and handed over to the soldiers for crucifixion.

The Roman soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s house and put a red robe upon Jesus, a reed in his hand, and a woven crown of thorns upon his head. They knelt down before Jesus and mocked him, hailing him as the king of the Jews. They spat upon him and struck him on the head with the reed. Then they reclothed Jesus in his own garments and led him out to be crucified.

As they marched out they encountered Simon of Cyrene passing by and compelled him to carry Jesus’ Cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (meaning place of the skull; outside the wall of Jerusalem in sight of the road into and out of the city), they offered wine mixed with a bitter substance, but when Jesus tasted it he would not drink it.

They nailed Jesus to the cross, and then divided Jesus’ garments between them, and his tunic, which was seamless, by casting lots (similar to rolling dice). Then they sat down to watch. They also placed a sign over him declaring Jesus to be the King of the Jews. Two robbers were crucified with Jesus, on either side. Passers-by mocked Jesus saying that Jesus had said that if the temple were destroyed he could rebuild it in three day, and suggesting that if he were the Son of God he should prove it by coming down from the cross.

The Jewish leaders also mocked Jesus, saying that Jesus had saved others but could not save himself. They said that if Jesus was truly the Son of God that he should prove it by coming down from the cross and then they would believe in him. They suggested that since Jesus had trusted in God, God should be able to save Jesus if God desired. The robbers (at least one of them), also reviled Jesus.

From noon until three o’clock, the sun was darkened (a solar eclipse), and at three P.M. Jesus cried out with a loud voice, in Aramaic (Jesus’ native language), “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus was quoting (Psalm 22:1) and fulfilling the prophecy of the psalm at that moment. The bystanders thought Jesus was calling Elijah, who was believed to return to herald the coming of Messiah (see Matthew 17:10-13).

One of the bystanders attempted to revive Jesus with vinegar on a sponge extended to Jesus on a reed. The others waited to see if Elijah would come and save Jesus. Then Jesus yielded his spirit with a loud cry.

At the moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain separating the presence of God from the people in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. There was a great earthquake and the graves were opened and the saints of God were raised and appeared to many in Jerusalem. When the Centurion and the Roman soldiers saw the disturbances of nature they were afraid and declared that Jesus was the Son of God.

Commentary:

The text from Isaiah dates around the time of Cyrus of Persia, 539 B.C.* while Judah, the remnant of Israel, was in exile in Babylon. The Word of God is eternal, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The Word applied to the prophet as the Lord’s servant at the time it was written, to Israel who was called to be the Lord’s servant, to Jesus, who was the fulfillment of God’s Word as the suffering servant of the Lord, and it applies to believers and the Church today, who are the “New Israel.”

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-3, 14). He teaches by word and example how to be the servant of the Lord. Jesus was not accepted by his own hometown and his own nation and religion, because his knowledge and ability to proclaim God’s Word was not by formal worldly education (Isaiah 50:4-5; compare Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6a; Luke 4:16-30).

Jesus was flogged and abused, mocked and spat upon, without resisting. Jesus entrusted himself to God and was vindicated by resurrection to eternal life from the dead. Those who oppose Jesus will not succeed.

Jesus’ resurrection is the fulfillment and proof of God’s Word that those who trust and obey God will never be abandoned but will be protected and rescued from evil and harm. Jesus’ enemies opposed him but were overcome by God; they were plotting to destroy him, but God raised him to eternal life (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

Jesus fulfilled and demonstrated the truth and faithfulness of God’s Word. Jesus showed us how to trust and obey God’s Word and receive God’s promises. The same Word calls us to become the Lord’s servants and promises God’s support and vindication to us as we trust and obey his Word.

The Jewish religious leaders claimed to know God and God’s Word, yet they didn’t see that Jesus was the long promised Messiah, the Son of God and son of David. Pilate, the Roman governor, a Gentile, was smart enough, without any formal training in the Bible, to recognize that Jesus was innocent. Even Pilate’s wife advised him not to participate in Jesus’ execution, but the Jewish people, misguided by their leaders, invited the guilt for Jesus’ execution upon themselves and on their children. When given the choice, they chose to receive Barabbas, a notorious criminal, and chose to reject and execute their innocent Savior and eternal king.

Everything written about Jesus in the Old Testament, at least five hundred to a thousand years before (for example, Psalms attributed to David), was fulfilled. The crucifixion method of execution was foretold in prophecy (for example Psalm 22:7-8, 14-18), although stoning was the Jewish form of execution. Crucifixion was a Roman form of execution, which was unknown in Israel until Judea became a Roman province around 63 B.C.**.

Jesus was mocked, spat upon and beaten (Matthew 27:27-30; Isaiah 50:5b-6). They nailed his hands and feet to the cross (Psalm 22:16). They divided Jesus’ garments and cast lots (Psalm 22:18). Jesus made no claim to be a political king (John 6:15; 18:36); it was the charge brought by the Jews against him which they hoped would justify Jesus’ execution to the Roman governor. He died between two criminals (Matthew 27:38, and was buried in the tomb of a rich man (Matthew 27:57-60; compare Isaiah 53:9).

The (Gentile) Roman soldiers who witnessed the crucifixion saw the disturbances of nature and were convinced that Jesus was the Son of God Matthew 27:54) but the Jewish religious leaders, who claimed to know God and be experts in the Bible, who claimed that they would believe if Jesus came down from the cross (Matthew 27:42), and who posted guards and sealed the tomb to make sure his disciples didn’t fake a resurrection (Mathew 27:62-66), still didn’t believe when Jesus arose from the grave.

The Jews took responsibility upon themselves and their children for Jesus’ crucifixion. When they rejected their Messiah, God lifted his favor and protection from them. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D., within the lifetime of those who were adults at Jesus’ crucifixion. The Jews were scattered throughout the world and Israel ceased to exist as a nation, until it was reestablished following World War II. The temple, with the sacrificial system on which the Old Covenant of Law was dependent, has never been reestablished.

Where was God during the Holocaust? Where were the Jews when Jesus was crucified? I don’t believe that the Jews are irrevocably lost, but I am convinced that the only way that they will be saved is by accepting Jesus as Messiah and Lord (Romans 11:13-31; Matthew 23:37-39).

In a sense, we have all crucified Jesus, because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10) and have made Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross necessary for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Are we, as individuals and as the Church, any more knowledgeable about the Bible and any more prepared for Jesus’ Second Coming than the Jews and Judaism were for his first coming?

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


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

**http://www.answers.com/topic/63-B.C.

“Rome”

  • Roman annexation of Judea as a client kingdom.

Monday – Holy Week A

First Posted March 17, 2008;

Podcast: Monday Holy Week A

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24 – Thanksgiving for deliverance;

Paraphrase:

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

Hear the glad songs of the righteous in their dwellings: The right hand of the Lord is valiant and exalted. We shall not die, but live to remember and declare the deeds of the Lord. The Lord chastens us greatly, but does not abandon us to death.

“Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it” (Psalm 118:19-20).

Thank the Lord that he has answered us and become our salvation. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the ‘cornerstone.’ This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:22-24).

Commentary:

All God’s works and ways are good and right and true. His love is unchanging and eternal.

Jesus Christ is “the right hand of God”. Jesus was courageous to fight the spiritual battle for our salvation on the Cross. Because he did, we needn’t die eternally for our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is the only way to come to God, to know and experience God, and enter into eternal fellowship and life with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ who have personally experienced salvation and spiritual “re-birth” (John 3:3, 5-8) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, 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).

“Born-again” Christians have personally experienced and testify to the Lord’s goodness, faithfulness, and steadfast love. The Lord disciplines his people, and discipline is painful (Hebrews12:5-11 RSV), but his discipline is good and necessary to keep us from eternal death.

Jesus is the gate of righteousness. We can enter God’s eternal kingdom only through Jesus. None of us are righteous on our own merit. The righteous are those who have received the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:22) as a free gift through obedient trust in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Thank the Lord that he loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally (John 3:16-17); that he has known our need, and has answered it and become our Savior in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only cornerstone, the only solid rock on which to build our eternal home (Matthew 7:24).

Judaism at the time of Jesus had become a “religion;” Man’s attempt to manipulate God’s favor for man’s benefit. The Jewish religious leaders were building their own “empires” instead of God’s kingdom. Jesus is the cornerstone which the Jews rejected which is the only foundation on which to build God’s eternal kingdom and our eternal home.

The nominal “Church,” particularly in America, is, in too many instances, in the same place that Judaism was at Jesus’ first coming. Many in the clergy and in the membership treat the “Church” as their personal “empires” through which they gain status and glory. They use “religion” in an attempt to manipulate God to give them what they want, instead of trying to learn and do what God wants.

Are we praising and glorifying the Lord in our homes and in our daily lives? Have we sought to experience the Lord (Acts 17:26-27) so that we will be able to know and declare the great things he’s done for us personally?

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10) at the end of time. Are we any more ready for Christ’s Second Coming, than the Jews were at his first coming?

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

Tuesday – Holy Week A

First Posted March 18, 2008;

Podcast: TuesdayHoly Week A

Acts 10:34-43 – Gospel to the Gentiles;

The Lord was at work in Cornelius, a Roman Centurion at Caesarea, and in the Apostle Peter, to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. Peter had been summoned to Cornelius’ home and he presented the Gospel message to the entire household (Acts 10:1-33). Peter said that he understood that God shows no partiality to anyone; anyone who has the proper respect and awe for the power and authority of God and does what is right in God’s judgment is acceptable to God.

God sent his Word to Israel, the Gospel (“Good News”) of peace (with God) through Jesus Christ. This Gospel was preached in all Israel, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism that John the Baptizer had preached. After God had anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with (supernatural) power, Jesus had gone throughout the country doing good and healing all who were enslaved by Satan, by the will and authority of God.

The disciples are witnesses to all that Jesus did, in Jerusalem and throughout the country. Jesus was executed by hanging on a “tree” (i.e., crucifixion), but God raised him (from the dead) on the third day and revealed him, not to everyone, but to his followers who were chosen by God to be witnesses, who ate and drank with him after his resurrection from the dead. And his disciples were commanded to preach to all people and testify that Jesus is appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets (the Old Testament Scriptures) testify that everyone who believes (trusts and obeys) Jesus has forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) through Jesus’ name.

Commentary:

We are all equal in the eyes of God. No one is worthy of God’s favor by his own nature, ability, or circumstances of birth. Each of us will be judged impartially according to the standard of God’s Word.

God sent his Word, the Bible, and the “Living Word,” God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3, 14), into the world through Israel. The Gospel of peace with God in Jesus Christ, by the forgiveness of sin, began to be preached in Galilee by Jesus, and then throughout Israel and Jerusalem.

The Gospel message is that Jesus is the “anointed” (Messiah and Christ both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek respectively) Savior and eternal King of God’s heavenly kingdom. God has been revealing his purpose and plan for Creation throughout the Old Testament scriptures through his prophets. Jesus is God’s only provision for peace with God through the forgiveness of our sins, and the only way to salvation from God’s eternal condemnation, and to eternal life in God’s kingdom in paradise (John 14:6). Jesus has been God’s plan from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

John the Baptizer was the promised “Elijah” who was to precede the manifestation of the Messiah (Matthew 17:10-13). John preached a water baptism for repentance, to prepare the people to receive the Messiah, and also to reveal the Messiah to the people (John 1:31-34).

Jesus was “anointed” with the Holy Spirit and with supernatural power (Luke 3:22; 4:14; Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus did many miracles of physical healing and feeding, and spiritual healing (casting out demons), which were intended to reveal who Jesus is and to show that Jesus has the power to feed and heal spiritually. Jesus died on the cross so that he could free us from Satan and the power of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus was crucified but was raised from the dead to eternal life on the third day, according to God’s Word recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures (Hosea 6:2; Psalm 16:10). Jesus told his disciples, at least four times recorded in scripture (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34; Matthew 26:1-3), that he was going to be crucified and rise again on the third day.

Jesus’ disciples were chosen to be the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, and to carry on the mission of Christ to proclaim the Gospel and to bring salvation and reconciliation to all people who accept God’s forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus appeared to over five hundred people after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-10). Jesus promised that he would manifest himself to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:21).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of the “modern,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-21). He and all modern, truly born-again disciples have experienced the risen Jesus and testify that he is risen and eternally alive.

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c), who trusts and obeys Jesus, and has been spiritually “reborn” through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. All disciples of Jesus Christ are commanded to wait in “Jerusalem” (the Church) until they have received the gift (“anointing;” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then they are to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

Jesus has been appointed by God to be the judge of the living and dead, in both the physical and spiritual senses (Matthew 28:18; John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5). We’re born physically alive but spiritually dead. Only Jesus gives spiritual “rebirth” through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus has promised to return at the end of time to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 1:9-11). No one can be certain of living until tomorrow. Time ends for us individually when we die. The very next thing will be the Day of Judgment at the throne of Jesus Christ.

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

Wednesday– Holy Week A

First Posted March 19, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday Holy Week A

Colossians 3:1-4 – Spiritual Life;

Paraphrase:

Those who have been raised (from spiritual death to eternal life) with Christ must seek spiritual, heavenly things, where Christ is at the right hand of God. So we must focus on spiritual things rather than earthly things. We must consider ourselves dead to the things of this world and our lives hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, in whom we have life, appears we will also appear with him in glory.

Commentary:

We are born into this world physically alive but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek God and receive eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), salvation from eternal condemnation (the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23), restoration to fellowship with God (broken by sin) and to eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Only Jesus gives the gift (“anointing,” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we must learn from him how to live to serve and please God. As we grow spiritually in discipleship through obedient trust in Jesus, we are “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to be guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to seek, know and do God’s will.
Only what we learn and do spiritually in this world will matter in eternity. It would be a tragedy for us to spend the time we have in this world learning, doing and accumulating what is worthless eternally, while missing the opportunity to prepare for and receive what is eternally priceless (Mathew 6:19-21).

We must no longer live according to the ways of this world. Our priority is no longer to please our boss or our spouse, but to please our Lord. Our priority is no longer “getting ahead” in this world but in preparing for eternal life (Matthew 6:25-32).
We must learn to live according to the ways of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. In order to do that we must seek God’s Word daily with prayer and meditation and learn to remember and apply God’s Word for the day, one day at a time (Matthew 6:11, 33).

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

Maundy Thursday – Holy Week A

First Posted March 20, 2008

Podcast: Thursday Holy Week A

Maundy Thursday is the day the Church commemorates the institution of the New Covenant and the “Lord’s Supper” (Holy Communion, the Eucharist), and the betrayal of Jesus Christ.

Exodus 12:1-14 – Institution of Passover;
Psalm 116:10-17 – The Cup of Salvation;
1 Corinthians 11:23-32 – Cup of the New Covenant;
(or 11:17-32)
(or 11:23-26)
John 13:1-17, 34 – Servanthood;

Exodus Paraphrase:

While Israel was still in Egypt the Lord told Moses to prepare the people to observe the feast of Passover. In the first month, on the tenth day each household was to select a perfect unblemished male lamb, one year old, to be slain and roasted on the fourteenth day in the evening. They were to mark the doors of their houses with the lamb’s blood, so that the destroying angel would “Pass over” the Jews when God afflicted Egypt with the final plague, the death of every firstborn male of people and animals. They were to eat in haste, ready to travel to leave Egypt, and nothing was to remain until the morning. Small families could share a lamb with their neighbor; anything leftover had to be burned.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The psalmist trusted in the Lord rather than man, even when he was greatly afflicted, knowing that hope in men is in vain.

The psalmist asks how he can thank the Lord for the Lord’s great blessings. He said, “I will lift up (or “accept and praise;” Strong’s Hebrew #5375) the cup of my salvation and call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:13). The psalmist promised to pay his vows in the presence of God’s people. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).

The psalmist proclaims that he is the Lord’s servant, the son of the Lord’s handmaid. The Lord has freed him from the bonds (of sin and death). So he will give an offering of thanksgiving, and will always trust in God for all his needs.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul was making disciples of the Corinthian believers. He taught them the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; the Eucharist) as he had received it directly from the risen Jesus, through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

On the night of Jesus’ betrayal Jesus instituted the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) between God and mankind. The basis of this covenant was the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and sealed by the covenant meal of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus took bread, gave thanks to God the Father and then broke the bread and declared that this bread was Jesus’ flesh, broken for all and asked them to remember Jesus whenever they celebrated this meal. Jesus did the same with the cup of wine, which he declared was his blood of the New Covenant. Whenever the Lord’s Supper is celebrated we declare Jesus’ death until he returns (on the Day of Judgment).

Paul warned that any one who participates in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of Jesus. So each person should examine himself so as to be able to participate in a worthy manner. Any one who partakes of the bread and wine without discerning the body and blood of Christ eats and drinks judgment upon himself. Such judgment causes weakness, illness and death. If we judge ourselves through objective self-examination we have no fear of the judgment of God or others. The Lord’s judgment is intended to chasten us so that we may not be condemned with those who are worldly.

John Paraphrase:

At the feast of Passover which he and his disciples observed in the upper room in Jerusalem, Jesus knew his end was coming and that he was leaving this world. Jesus had loved his disciples and he loved them to the end (all the way to the death on the cross; the utmost love). During the supper, knowing that he had come from God and was returning to God, and knowing that Judas Iscariot had decided to betray Jesus, Jesus got us from the table and began to wash the disciples’ feet.

When he came to Peter, Peter did not want Jesus to be humbled by washing Peter’s feet. Jesus told him that they didn’t understand yet what was happening, but would later. Jesus told Peter that unless Jesus washed his feet, Peter would have no part in Jesus. At this Peter said that the Lord should wash Peter’s head and hands also. But Jesus told him that a person who has bathed only needs the dust of his feet washed, and he said the disciples were clean all over, but not all of them, knowing who would betray Jesus.

When Jesus had finished he returned to his place at the table and asked them if they understood what Jesus had done. If their Lord and Teacher has washed their feet, they ought to be willing to wash one another’s feet. A servant is not better than his master, nor a messenger greater than the one who sent him. So if you have understood this you will be blessed if you do this. Then Jesus gave them the “new commandment” to love one another as Jesus has loved us.

God directed Moses to establish the Passover feast on the eve of Israel’s Exodus (mass departure) from Egypt. They were to be prepared to leave and to eat it in haste. They were to choose a perfect lamb for the feast. They were to mark the door frame of their homes with the blood of the lamb so that the Lord would “pass over” over them when he destroyed the firstborn of humans and animals in Egypt. They were to leave nothing left over; what was not eaten was to be burned. The Passover feast was to be observed forever and it was to mark the beginning of a new year.

At midnight God passed through Egypt and destroyed the firstborn of man and animal of the Egyptians, as he had warned them he would, if they didn’t obey God’s Word and let Israel leave, but which they had refused to heed (Exodus 11:4-10). None of the firstborn of the Israelites were destroyed. During the night the Egyptians discovered that all their firstborn were dead, and they went to Moses during the night and compelled them to leave in haste in the night as the Lord had said (Exodus 12:29-39).

Commentary:

God has been progressively revealing his plan for Creation in the Bible, through the history of his dealing with Israel. The Passover was intended to be a parable, a metaphor for life in this world and God’s eternal plan for Creation. We are born into bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world. Satan is the “Pharaoh” of this world and he doesn’t want to let us go. Jesus is the perfect “Lamb of God” sacrificed on the Cross to free us from Satan and “Egypt” so that we can enter the “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Jesus’ blood, shed for us on the Cross, marks us as his and protects us from eternal destruction.

Jesus is also our “Moses,” who mediates, between ourselves and God, the “New Covenant” of salvation by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus is the mediator who frees us from “Pharaoh” and “Egypt,” and leads us through the “Sea” of Baptism, the “wilderness” of this world, the “River” of physical death, and into the eternal “Promised Land.”

God’s Word warns that those who do not trust and obey God are going to be eternally destroyed, and that we’ve all disobeyed God (the definition of sin; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). God has provided the Passover “Lamb” in Jesus Christ, and only those who are marked by the “blood” of Jesus Christ are going to be passed over by the Lord on the Day of Judgment, and only they will receive eternal life in the “Promised Land.”

Jesus’ blood marks us as God’s people and seals us to the New Covenant. At Jesus’ “Last Supper,” the night before his crucifixion, Jesus instituted the “New Covenant” with his disciples (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). The New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant of Law. Jesus has become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins, once for all time and for all people who will accept and receive it by faith (obedient trust) (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is the “Cup of our Salvation.” Under Jewish Law, Israel was forbidden to drink the blood of the animal sacrifices or eat meat with its blood. It was believed that “blood” contained the “spirit” of the animal. When Jesus instituted the New Covenant feast he declared that the cup is his blood, shed to seal the Covenant. God didn’t want his people to be filled with the spirit of animals but with his Holy Spirit.

One does not receive the Holy Spirit merely by receiving the Communion Cup, but those people who believe (trust and obey) Jesus will be filled with 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).

Paul warns that we must participate in the Lord’s Supper in faith, believing that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, and was raised from death to eternal life. If we truly believe in Jesus we will be his disciples; we will seek to know what Jesus teaches, and will trust and obey Jesus. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper without being a disciple of Jesus, who learns and does what Jesus teaches, is unworthy and brings upon oneself condemnation instead of salvation.

How can we thank the Lord for the gift of forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction? By trusting and obeying Jesus; by relying on Jesus to help and guide us.

Jesus teaches by word and example. Jesus is the Word of God fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus tells us to love and serve one another, and he shows us what that means. He washed his disciples’ feet, even the feet of Judas Iscariot, who Jesus knew was going to betray him that very night.

Judas was at the Lord’s Supper with the other disciples. He received the “morsel” (perhaps bread dipped in wine) from the Lord’s hand (John 13:26-27). Jesus warned him and gave him a last opportunity to repent and be restored by the Lord, but he chose to leave the Lord and go out into the “night” (of sin; John 13:21-30), and he brought eternal judgment and condemnation upon himself.

Do we become members of the Church to be servants of the Lord and servants of others, or to receive “religious benefits?” Are we willing to be “disciples?” Do we seek to know God’s will in order to do it, or are we trying to manipulate God to do our will? Are we serving others for Jesus, or do we want the Church to serve us?

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

Good Friday – Holy Week A

First Posted March 21, 2008;

Podcast: Friday Holy Week A

Good Friday is the day the Church commemorates Jesus’ death on the Cross.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Man of Sorrows
Psalm 22:1-23 Suffering Servant
or Hosea 6:1-6 The Third Day
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 Author of Eternal Salvation
John 18:1-19:42 Betrayal Trial Crucifixion and Death
or 19:17-30 Jesus’ Crucifixion and Death;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Watch and see! The Lord’s servant will prosper; he will be exalted and lifted up very high. Many will be astonished and shocked by his appearance, marred beyond human recognition. The rulers of earth will be unable to speak because they will see what they have not been told, and they will understand what they haven’t heard.

Who has heard and believed; to whom has the Lord’s arm been revealed? He grew up like a scrawny seedling in dry ground. He was not good-looking, that any one should notice; he had no physical beauty that we should desire him. People despised and rejected him. He was a person who experienced sorrow and grief. People did not appreciate him, but despised and loathed even to behold him.

He really bore our griefs and sorrows, but we were glad that it was he that was stricken, forsaken by God and afflicted. But it was for our sins that he was afflicted and punished, and it was his punishment that healed us and made us well. We have all gone astray (from God’s will) and pursued our own desires, and God has laid all our sins on him.

The Lord’s servant was oppressed and afflicted, but didn’t object or complain. He was like a lamb led to slaughter, or a sheep being sheared, without resistance. He was executed by human oppression and condemnation. Who cared that he lost his life and suffered for our sins? “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death though he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:9).

But it was God’s will to allow him to suffer abuse; by allowing himself to be sacrificed for sin he shall see his offspring, and will prolong his life. God’s purpose will prosper by his efforts; he will take satisfaction in the rewards which result from his suffering. By his knowledge the Lord’s righteous servant will make many be accounted righteous, since he has borne our sins. God will give him the rewards of his victory over our spiritual enemy, and the servant will share those rewards with those who are strong (who have endured and persevered in obedient trust in the Lord). He was willing to give his life and be condemned with sinners, in order to bear their punishment and intercede for their forgiveness.

Psalm Paraphrase:

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The petitioner (by attribution, David, the shepherd-king of Israel) cried out to God for help. He felt far from God’s help; God’s answer seemed slow in coming and he had no relief.

But the petitioner remembered that God is sacred and worthy of praise. He remembered the testimony of the forefathers of Israel, who trusted in the Lord and were delivered by God. God heard their cries and saved them; their faith in God was not disappointed.

The petitioner acknowledges that he has no worldly status; people despise and scorn him. “All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they wag their heads. ‘He committed his cause to the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’”

The petitioner acknowledges that the Lord gave him birth and provided for and protected him as he grew up. He had been committed to the Lord his God from birth. The petitioner asks the Lord to draw near because the petitioner is in trouble, with no one else to deliver him.

The petitioner feels surrounded by wild beasts with open mouths, ready to tear and consume his flesh.

He feels poured out like water; all his bones are out of joint; his heart is like melted wax. His strength is as dried up as a broken pot, his tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth; he is at the verge of death.

He is surrounded by evildoers, like a pack of wild dogs; “they have pierced my hands and feet- I can count all my bones- they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots” (Psalm 22:16-18).

The petitioner prays that the Lord will be near and will hurry to help him, to deliver his life from the sword and the power of the dogs; that the Lord will save him from the mouth of the Lion and the horns of the wild oxen.

The petitioner vows to make the Lord’s name known to the petitioner’s brethren, and will praise the Lord in the congregation of God’s people, telling them to fear (have the appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) and praise the Lord.

Hosea Paraphrase:

“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:1-2).

Let us keep on seeking to know the Lord “for his going forth is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3).

What more can the Lord do with his people? Their love is as transient as the morning fog or dew that quickly disappears. The Lord has cut them by his prophets and slain them by his Word. The Lord’s “judgment goes forth as the light” (Hosea 6:5c; compare John 1:4-5, 9, 19-21).

The Lord desires our steadfast love and knowledge of him; not sacrifices or religious ritual.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Jesus our great high priest who understands weaknesses of our flesh, because he experienced everything, temptation like we are, but without sinning. So we can draw near to the “throne” of grace (God’s unmerited favor towrd us through Jesus Christ) where we can find abundant mercy and grace when we need it.

While Jesus was in human flesh, he earnestly sought help with prayers and supplications to God the Father, who was able to save him from death. His prayers were heard and answered because he had the appropriate awe and respect for God’s authority and power; he trusted and obeyed God’s Word. Although he was God’s Son, he learned to be obedient to God through his suffering, and having been perfected (spiritually mature), he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.

John Paraphrase:

The Roman soldiers took Jesus out to the place of crucifixion, called Golgotha (outside the city wall close to the road into and out of Jerusalem). There they crucified him between two robbers. Pilate placed a sign above Jesus, naming Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews, written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The Jewish religious leaders wanted it changed to say that Jesus only claimed to be the King of the Jews, but Pilate, wouldn’t change what he had written.

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his clothes and divided them up between them, but his tunic was woven of one piece of fabric, so they cast “lots” (like rolling dice) for it, fulfilling Psalm 22:18 (above).

Mary, Jesus’ mother, Mary, wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene standing by the cross with the Apostle, John (the disciple Jesus loved), he commended his mother’s care to John, and from that time, John shared his home with her.

Then, in fulfillment of scripture (Psalm 69:21), Jesus said that he was thirsty, so they put vinegar on a sponge and lifted it up to Jesus on a reed of hyssop. After receiving the vinegar Jesus declared “It is finished” and bowed his head and surrendered his spirit.

Commentary:

This prophecy of Isaiah is dated about 539 B.C.,* when Judah, the remnant of Israel, was in exile in Babylon, and the Babylonian empire had been conquered by Cyrus of Persia.

Jesus is the fulfillment of messianic prophecy. Who could imagine that God’s “anointed” eternal king would prosper through suffering and win victory by dying? Jesus was not a success in worldly terms. He wasn’t rich, he wasn’t handsome. The world despised, rejected, and executed him.
Who has believed God’s Word spoken through the prophets? Jesus is the right arm of the Lord; the power and authority of God. Who has realized and accepted God’s self-disclosure in Jesus Christ?

Jesus is the Lord’s suffering servant, the Messiah, God’s plan of Salvation (which see, sidebar, top right), designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus bore our sorrows, griefs, and burdens of sin on the Cross so that we wouldn’t have to die eternally for them ourselves. We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23; se God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus, though perfectly sinless, was unjustly tried, condemned and executed. He didn’t resist or complain. Jesus is going to return at the end of time. In the Day of The Lord, when Christ returns, it will be the leaders and people of this world will be speechless at his throne of judgment. Then they will understand beyond what they have known and been told.

Jesus was put to death between two criminals, and buried in a rich man’s tomb in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9, prophesied over five hundred years before. By allowing himself to become the only sacrifice for sin acceptable to God (Acts 4:12), he produced many offspring, his children, to whom he has given “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual eternal life through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. By trusting and obeying God’s will, even to physical death on the Cross, he received eternity-long life, and he showed us how and made it possible for us to receive eternal life also.

God’s purpose has prospered through Jesus Christ. Jesus possesses divine knowledge, which he imparts to his disciples through his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:26; John 16:13-14). Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he reveals himself and God the Father to us so that we have personal knowledge of them (John 14:21), and he imparts his righteousness to us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:21-22b).

Jesus won the victory over Satan and death at the Cross (Hebrews 2:14-15), which is revealed and demonstrated by his resurrection. We share in that victory through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for us to be spiritually cleansed so that we can be the temple of the Holy Spirit within us (John 16:7; 1 Corinthians 3:16). Jesus has become the source of eternal salvation to all who believe (trust and obey) Jesus.

Jesus began to quote Psalm 22 on the Cross at the moment he was fulfilling that prophecy. The Psalm, attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel, had been composed almost a thousand years before. Psalm 22:14-17 specifically describes crucifixion, which was unknown until Israel came under control of the Romans around 63 B.C.** Stoning was the Jewish method of execution.

The religious leaders of Israel claimed to be experts in the Bible but were unaware that they were doing exactly what had been prophesied about them (Psalm 22:7-8, 16-18; compare Matthew 27:39-43; Acts 13:27). That doesn’t mean that they were predestined, or had no choice, however.

God’s Word is eternal, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Jesus relied on God’s promise in Hosea 6:2 that God would raise him from physical death to eternal life on the third day. Jesus told his disciples at least three times that he would be crucified and raised from death on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22; 20:17-19).

Jesus demonstrates that God’s Word is absolutely true and reliable. Jesus demonstrates what it means to trust and obey God’s Word and to do God’s will. We can claim the same promise, provided that we trust and obey Jesus and God’s will, and receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Note that suicide and euthanasia are not God’s will for anyone.

The Lord wants us to seek and come to know him, and his will and purpose for us (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God’s Word contains great promises, but also ominous warnings. We will either be saved eternally by God’s Word, or we will be condemned to eternal destruction by God’s Word.

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


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

**http://www.answers.com/topic/63-B.C.

Rome

  • Roman annexation of Judea as a client kingdom.

Week of 5 Lent A – 04/02 – 08/2017

April 20, 2017

Week of 5 Lent – 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)

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

Please Note:

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of 5 Lent A

Sunday 5 Lent A

First posted March 9, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 5 Lent A

Ezekiel 37:1-3 (4-10) 11-14 — Dry Bones;
Psalm 116:1-8 — Deliverance from Death;
Romans 8:11-19 — Life in the Spirit;
John 11:1-53 or 11:47-53 — Resurrection of Lazarus;

Ezekiel:

“The hand of the Lord” was upon Ezekiel and transported him to a valley (or plain) filled with very many (human) bones, and the bones were very dry (long dead). The Lord asked Ezekiel if those bones could live again, and Ezekiel acknowledged that only the Lord knew.

The Lord commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. Ezekiel was to declare that God said God would cause breath (or wind, or spirit*) to enter them and they would live. God promised that he would reassemble the bones, connect them with sinews, cover them with flesh and skin, and cause breath to enter into them and they would live. Then they would know that God is Lord. As Ezekiel watched, God did as he had promised, and the bones became a great living multitude, and stood on their feet.

Then the Lord told Ezekiel that the bones represented the people of Israel (then in exile in Babylon). They felt like their bones were dried up and cut off from their land and their hope. The Lord commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to them (the remnant of Israel in Babylon), “Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel, and (then) you shall know that I am the Lord… and I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land” (Ezekiel 37:12b-13a, 14a). Then they will know that the Lord has spoken, and has done as he promised.

Psalm:

The psalmist testifies that he loves the Lord because the Lord heard and answered the psalmist’s prayer. So the psalmist will call on the Lord as long as he lives.

The psalmist was in danger of dying and was in distress and anguish. Then he called upon the name of Lord and asked the Lord to save his life.

The Lord is gracious and merciful and he protects the humble. The psalmist testified that when he was brought low, the Lord saved him. Now his soul has comfort and rest, knowing that God has dealt generously with him. “For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling” (Psalm 116:8).

Romans:

Paul was discipling new believers as Jesus had commanded his disciples to do (Matthew 28:19-20), after they had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-13; 9:17-18). Paul taught that if the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9), who raised Jesus from the dead, dwells within a believer, they will also be raised to eternal life from physical death.

So “born-again” Christian disciples are obligated to live according to the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and not according to the desires of their physical bodies (which are contrary to God’s will; Romans 8:5-8). Those who live according to the flesh will die in their flesh; but believers are to put to death the desires of the flesh by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit so that they will live eternally. All who are led by the Holy Spirit are children of God. Believers have been delivered from slavery and fear, and have received adoption as sons and daughters of God. When we experience ecstatic prayer and praise in worship, the Holy Spirit is testifying with our spirits that we are children of God, and if we are God’s children, we will share in the inheritance of God with Christ, and share in Christ’s glory, provided that we share in Christ’s suffering for the Gospel.

John:

Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha of Bethany (two miles from Jerusalem) were close friends of Jesus. Lazarus became gravely ill, and Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus. When Jesus received the message, he remarked that Lazarus’ illness would not be fatal, since it was to glorify God and God’s Son.

Although Jesus loved Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, he delayed coming to them for two days. When he knew that Lazarus had died, he told his disciples he was going to Judea (from Galilee). The disciples cautioned him that the Jewish authorities were seeking to stone Jesus to death. But Jesus said that he must accomplish his work while he could.

When Jesus arrived, Martha went out to meet him, and Mary stayed at the house with a large crowd of Jews from Jerusalem who had come to console them. Martha believed that Jesus would have prevented Lazarus from dying if he had come sooner, but still believed that God would do whatever Jesus asked.

Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise again. Martha declared her faith in resurrection of the dead at the Day of Judgment. Jesus said that he is the resurrection and the life; those who believe in him, will live, even if they die (physically) and those who live and believe in Jesus will never die. Jesus asked Martha if she believed what he had said, and Martha declared that she believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, whom God promised to send into the world.

Mary was summoned and the mourners followed and all went to the tomb where Lazarus had been entombed. Jesus asked that the stone closing the entrance be rolled away, and Martha said that Lazarus had been dead for four days, and there would be an odor. Jesus told her to believe and they would see the glory of God.

Jesus prayed aloud to God, and then called to Lazarus to come out. Lazarus came out, still wrapped in grave cloths, and Jesus told the people to unbind him and set him free.

Many of the Jews who witnessed the miracle believed in Jesus, but some went and told the Pharisees (Jewish religious authorities). They gathered the Jewish high court to discuss the matter. They were afraid that everyone would believe in Jesus and that the Romans would destroy the Jewish temple and nation.

The High Priest, Caiaphas refuted this, saying that it was advantageous for one man to die for the people, and that the nation would not perish. This was God’s prophetic Word, given him because of his High Priestly office. From that day the Jewish authorities plotted to kill Jesus.

Commentary:

In Ezekiel’s time only a few individuals who trusted and obeyed God were chosen by God to be his prophets and had a personal relationship with God. Through that relationship God showed Ezekiel what God was going to do, and gave him God’s Word to declare to the people.

God promised to revive his people, even though they were long dead and dried up (spiritually), and that he would give them not only the breath of physical life but the “mighty wind” (Acts 2:2) of the indwelling Holy Spirit who would cause them to be “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, eternal, life. Then they would know that God is God alone, and Lord of all.

The Lord told Ezekiel that the dry bones represented the remnant of Israel, in exile in Babylon. Israel felt long-dead and cut off from the Lord and their Promised Land, but God promised to raise them from their graves in Babylon and restore them to the Promised Land.

God fulfilled his promise to Israel in exile, historically, but God’s Word is eternal and is eternally true; it is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The Church is the New Israel, the New People of God, and God’s promise through Ezekiel applies as much to us today.

God promises to raise us from physical death to spiritual, eternal life, through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, which we receive only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1.31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The psalmist testifies that those who call upon the Lord in sincerity and truth will be heard and answered. The Lord delivered the psalmist from death and the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). When the psalmist learned to look to the Lord to provide help and security, his faith was rewarded, and he grew spiritually, knowing that God had been generous and had delivered him, so that he could take comfort and rest in God.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of the “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle (a messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, as we all can become. He was confronted by the Spirit of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-5), he repented and asked Jesus to be his Lord, and trusted and obeyed Jesus (Acts9:6-9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple (Acts 9:10-17), was “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:18-19), and then began to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out after they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The Apostle Paul was discipling new believers. Those who are “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit will be raised from physical death to eternal life just as Jesus was.

The purpose of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is that we will trust and obey the Holy Spirit. Those who live according to the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit will live eternally, and that eternal life begins now, in this temporal world. Those who live according to their fleshly desires will not receive the indwelling Holy Spirit and spiritual “rebirth,” and will die eternally in their flesh.

It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has been “born-again” (Acts 19:2). The indwelling Holy Spirit is a personal relationship and fellowship with the risen Jesus and with God the Father John 14:21, 23). The presence of the Holy Spirit within us testifies that we are God’s children, are in Jesus Christ, and have eternal life.

Jesus didn’t come to Bethany until Lazarus had died because he wanted to show that there is going to be a resurrection of the dead and that he has the power to raise us from physical death to eternal life. Those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus will live eternally even though they die physically, and those who live spiritually now in this temporal world by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit will never die eternally.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise through Ezekiel to raise God’s people from the grave. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring God’s people home to the “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to put God’s Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) within us. The Holy Spirit will give us eternal life, and through him we will know God and know that God is the only God, and that God’s Word is always true and always fulfilled.

Some who hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ will receive and accept it with faith and joy, but some will reject it and fear it. The Jewish religious leaders felt threatened by the Gospel. Their worldly status and career seemed jeopardized. They weren’t willing to give up their fleshly desires and their worldly success to receive eternal life in paradise.

Because they rejected Jesus, their worst fears were realized. The Romans did destroy their temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Jews were scattered throughout the world, and the nation of Israel ceased to exist, until reestablished following World War II.

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

Monday 5 Lent A

First posted March 10, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 5 Lent A

Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16 – Prayer for deliverance;

Paraphrase:

I seek refuge in you, O Lord! May I never be put to shame; deliver me by your righteousness! Hear me and rescue me quickly. Be my rock of refuge and a strong fortress to save me.

Yes, you are my fortress and my refuge; lead me and guide me for your name’s sake! Deliver me from the snare that has been hidden for me. “Into thy hand I commit my spirit; thou has redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God” (Psalm 31:5; compare Luke 23:46).

O Lord, be gracious to me, for I am in distress. My body and soul are worn out with grief. I have spent my life in sorrow and sighing; my strength fails me and my bones waste away in my misery.

All my adversaries treat me scornfully, and I am a horror and an object of dread to my friends and neighbors. When people see me in the streets they avoid me. I have passed out of memory like one who is dead; I have become like a broken pot. “Yea, I hear the whispering of many – terror on every side!- as they scheme together against me to take my life” (Psalm 31:13). But my trust is in you, O Lord; you are my God. My circumstances are in your hand; deliver me from the power of my enemies and persecutors! “Let your face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love” (Psalm 31:16)!

Commentary:

This psalm is attributed to David, who experienced threats and persecution by his enemies during his lifetime, but trusted in the Lord and was delivered. The Lord is a strong fortress to those who take refuge in him. There is no real security in any one or any thing other than the Lord. When we trust in the Lord for our refuge and strength he is able and faithful to deliver us from every enemy and danger. Nothing, including physical death, can defeat us (Hebrews 2:14-15). When we commit our lives to trust and obey the Lord he will lead and guide us daily by his Word and his Holy Spirit.

There have been trying times in my own life when I have been in similar situations, and can relate to the psalmist’s cry for help and deliverance. When we experience trouble, our friends seem to disappear. Even our own family members may try to avoid us. They don’t want to share our worries and troubles.

I waited until I experienced disaster, when my own worldly resources were exhausted, before I turned to the Lord. If I had been following the Lord in obedient trust I would have saved myself a lot of grief and worry. The Lord doesn’t cause our troubles; sinful people do, including ourselves. But the Lord uses those experiences to teach us that he is the only real security there is. He wants us to learn that he can and wants to save us and bring us safely through. As we experience his gracious help and deliverance we grow in faith, so that the next time we experience trouble we will have confidence in the Lord.

This psalm is the psalmist’s personal testimony, and it is God’s Word inspired in the psalmist by the Lord. God’s Word is eternally true and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The psalm is also prophetic, and it was fulfilled in Jesus (compare Psalm 22). His enemies plotted to take Jesus’ life and he was scorned and rejected by his own people as he was taken to be crucified. He was surrounded by people who murmured against him as he was dying on the Cross (Matthew 27:38-43).

Jesus declared on the Cross that he was committing his spirit into God’s hand (Luke 23:46), trusting that God had redeemed Jesus from death. On Easter morning the world witnessed God’s redemption of his perfect servant and only begotten Son, the Messiah, the Son of David (1 Corinthians 15:3-9).

Jesus’ mission on earth was to become the only sacrifice acceptable to God (Acts 4:12) for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right), but also to show us by example how to trust and obey God’s Word, and to demonstrate that there is existence beyond physical death.

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

Tuesday 5 Lent A

First Posted March 11, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 5 Lent A

Isaiah 50:4-9a — The Lord’s Servant;

Paraphrase:

The Lord God has given me the ability and knowledge to speak as though formally educated, so that I am able to sustain those who are weary. The Lord has given me spiritual hearing, and I was not rebellious nor did I turn away. I submitted my body to those who struck me and pulled out my beard. I didn’t resist those who publicly shamed me and spat in my face.

Because the Lord helps me I have not been confounded. I have steadfastly endured abuse, knowing that I will not be put to shame because God is close by and he vindicates me. Let my adversaries and those who contend with me stand up and draw near. Watch and see! “The Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty” (Isaiah 50:9a)?

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. This prophecy described the prophet’s experience at the time, but also foreshadowed and foretold the Messiah’s treatment much later, and it describes the treatment that all the servants of the Lord will experience by worldly people hostile to God.

Israel was called to be God’s servant, but they turned away from that call. They weren’t willing to give up their status and position in the world and endure suffering for God’s Word. The Church is the heir to that call to servanthood. Jesus came to teach us in word and example how to be the Lord’s servants, trusting and obeying God’s Word in the face of hostility.

Jesus was criticized in his own hometown for wisdom he hadn’t received by formal training (Matthew 13:54-58). Jesus trusted and obeyed God’s Word to the point of brutally physical death on the Cross; he didn’t rebel or turn away. He gave his back to those who struck him, publicly shamed him (Matthew 27:27-31), and spat in his face (Mark 15:19). His own people declared the sinless Son of God, the promised Messiah, God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King, guilty of blasphemy for making himself equal with God (Matthew 27:11-12; compare Colossians 2:8-9; John 19:7; 20:28; Matthew 27:51-54). Jesus was wrongly convicted, but was vindicated by God by Jesus’ resurrection.

Compare Jesus’ vindication by resurrection with what happened to the Jews as the result of their rejection. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D., the Jews were scattered throughout the world and Israel ceased to exist as a nation, until the Jews began returning following World War II (compare Matthew 27:24-26; Luke 23:26-31).

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), the Spirit of Truth within Jesus’ disciples (John 14:15-17), who teaches us all things and brings to our memory all that Jesus taught (John 14:26). He opens the minds of his disciples to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). The Holy Spirit gives Jesus’ disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). 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).

If we seek to understand the Scriptures with the intention of trusting and obeying God’s Word, the Lord will give us spiritual hearing, knowledge, and understanding. If we are willing to testify to the Gospel he will give us what to say (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

We must be careful not to try to do the mission of Christ and the Gospel in our own human strength and ability (Zechariah 4:6). We must wait within the Church, the “New Jerusalem” on earth, until we have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), before we go out into the world (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). We must seek and follow God’s will and direction, and he will make it known to us. I have personally experienced and testify to these truths.

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

Wednesday 5 Lent A

First Posted March 12, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 5 Lent A

Philippians 2:5-11 — The Example of Christ.

Paraphrase:

Let us have this understanding which we have in Jesus Christ, who was, in divine nature, God, but surrendered all that and took on the nature of a servant and was born in human nature and likeness. In human form he humbled himself and became obedient to God unto death even in its most agonizing form on the cross. “Therefore God has exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Commentary:

Jesus is fully human through his physical birth, but fully divine (Colossians 2:8-9), possessing God’s nature and having pre-existed with God in heaven before Creation (John 1:1-3-14). Jesus is the only “begotten” (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:30-35), Son of God. Jesus’ word is the Word of God, (John 14:10, 24) with the creative force of God’s Word. Jesus commanded the dead and they rose to life, he commanded the forces of nature, and the forces of evil, and they obeyed him (Matthew 8:27; John 11:43-44; Mark 1:23-26). Jesus could have commanded us to acknowledge and serve him as our Lord, but Jesus was careful to allow people to decide for themselves who Jesus is. That is why he often referred to himself as the “Son of man” (for example, Matthew 9:6), which is true and scriptural (Daniel 7:13), without forcing a conclusion regarding his divinity.

Jesus put all his divine glory and power aside, humbled himself and became the servant of God and the servant of mankind according to God’s will (but not according the will of mankind). Jesus gave his body as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus became the sinless Passover lamb (John 1:29; Exodus 12:1-13), whose blood saves us from the destroying angel of God.

Because he was perfectly sinless and obedient to God, God raised him from the dead to eternal life and has given him the name above all names. Jesus is the name of the eternal Lord of heaven and earth. There is no other name in heaven or on earth or under the earth (the realm of the dead) by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12; Matthew 28:18); there is no other way to come to knowledge and fellowship with God; no other way to know divine eternal truth; no other way to receive eternal life but through Jesus (John 14:6).

Jesus is the light of spiritual enlightenment and divine truth (John 1:9). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), is the Spirit of the risen Jesus, the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9), the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), who teaches Jesus’ disciples all things and brings to our remembrance all that Jesus has taught (John 14:26); he opens the minds of his disciples to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45). The Holy Spirit is the only source of spiritual understanding that we have, through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

In this lifetime we have the freedom and opportunity to seek and come to knowledge of and fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27), only through Jesus Christ. Jesus has promised to come again in great glory and power to judge “the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5), in both the physical and spiritual senses. Realize that this will happen within our lifetimes, because at the end of our life, for us, time will stop and we will be at the Day of Judgment. If we have been “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit by obedient trust in Jesus Christ we will have eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. If we have rejected and refused to trust and obey Jesus we will spend eternity in eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

In the Day of Judgment, every knee, of everyone who ever lived, will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). In that Day, Jesus will command us, and we will have no freedom or choice but to obey. In that Day there will be no opportunity to change our eternal destiny.

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

Thursday 5 Lent A

First Posted March 13, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 5 Lent A

Matthew 26: 1-16, 20-75

Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast, where Jesus knew that he would be crucified. According to Mark this would have been the fourth time Jesus had told his disciples what would happen (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34; Matthew 26:1-3). In Jerusalem, Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve original disciples of Jesus, arranged to betray Jesus into the hands of the Jewish religious leaders (Matthew 26:14-16), who were plotting to kill Jesus (Matthew 26:3-5).

At the feast of the Passover in the upper room, Jesus knew who would betray him and gave him a last chance to change his betrayer’s eternal destiny (Matthew 26:20-25). Then Jesus instituted what is called the Last Supper, Holy Communion, or the Eucharist, the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, to replace the Old Covenant of Law. The New Covenant was to be sealed by the sacrificial feast and the body and blood of Christ, sacrificed on the cross.

After they had eaten, they went to the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives to pray, as was Jesus’ custom. Jesus told them that after he had been stricken, his disciples would be scattered as God’s Word foretold. Peter declared that he would not fall away, and Jesus replied that Peter would deny Jesus three times that night. Peter declared that he would not deny Jesus and was ready to die with Jesus and so said the others.

At Gethsemane, Jesus took Peter, James and John, his closest disciples, off a short distance, and telling them that he was sad and troubled, he asked them to keep watch while he went off by himself to pray. Three times Jesus prayed asking that if possible, he be spared from his destiny but accepting it if it were God’s will, and three times he returned and found them sleeping. He told them to keep alert and pray that they would not stumble into temptation. The third time Jesus returned to the three sleepy disciples and told them to wake up, because Jesus’ betrayer was at hand.

As he said that, Judas arrived leading a large group of priests and elders, Roman soldiers and temple police* armed with swords and clubs. Judas greeted Jesus as “Master” and kissed him, as a pre-arranged signal. One of the disciples drew a sword and cut off the High Priest’s slave’s ear, but Jesus told the disciple not to resist, and Jesus instantly healed the slave’s ear. Jesus asked the mob why they had come out to arrest him in an isolated spot in the middle of the night, when they could have done so in public in daylight in the temple (compare John 3:19-21).

The disciples fled, but Peter followed him to see what would take place. Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, and Peter entered the courtyard, where Peter denied Jesus three times, as Jesus had prophesied.

Commentary:

God has intended from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. Creation has been designed to allow us freedom to choose whether to obey God or not, and to learn by trial and error. We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23)

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12, John 14:6). Jesus Christ has been built into the structure of Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

God’s Plan of Salvation (which see, sidebar, top right) has been designed so that no one is worthy of forgiveness and salvation on his own merits, so that God can give salvation as a free gift, to be received by all who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God’s Word (the Bible) has been progressively revealing his plan of salvation. He expelled Adam and Eve from the garden because they disobeyed God’s Word, and from then on the Bible is the record of God’s plan to redeem us from sin and to restore us to paradise and his eternal kingdom in heaven.

Jesus’ physical ministry, death, and resurrection are the fulfillment of God’s Word promising a Savior (the Messiah, Christ) and eternal King. Jesus knew God’s plan and purpose and he trusted and obeyed, even to death on the Cross.

Jesus knew all along who would betray him, but even after Judas had agreed and been paid to betray Jesus, Jesus gave him a last opportunity to repent and be saved (Matthew 26:21-25). Jesus also knew who would desert him and who would deny him, and after his resurrection he forgave and restored them (John 21:15-17).

He revealed himself to them, and fulfilled his promise of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-13). Peter was transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, from a coward who denied Jesus three times to the most menial servant of the High Priest, into the bold evangelist of the Gospel (Acts 2:14-36).

Jesus’ physical body had the human instinct for survival, and he would have been glad to avoid dying on the Cross, but it was God’s plan, necessary, to make it possible for us to be forgiven and restored to fellowship and eternal life with God. Jesus had the supernatural power to have avoided his execution, but he allowed himself to submit to his enemies in order to accomplish God’s will. Jesus healed the servant of the very people who were trying to destroy Jesus.

In a sense we have all crucified Jesus, because we have all sinned and have made his sacrifice on the Cross necessary, to forgive us, save us from eternal destruction, and restore us to eternal life and fellowship with God in paradise in his eternal kingdom in heaven. All we need to do to receive it is to accept it through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

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


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, John 18:3n, p. 1310, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Friday 5 Lent A

First Posted March 14, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 5 Lent A

Matthew 27:1-54 (55-66) — Jesus’ Trial;

Paraphrase:

In the morning after Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane, the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court of seventy priests and elders, presided by the High Priest, ruled against Jesus, to put him to death. They bound Jesus and took him to the house of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.

When Judas saw that Jesus had been condemned, he tried to return the money, thirty pieces of silver that he’d been paid for Jesus’ betrayal, to the chief priests and elders, confessing that he “had sinned in betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4), but the religious leaders were not concerned with Judas’ spiritual condition. So Judas threw down the money in the temple and went and hanged himself. The religious leaders used the money to buy a field in which to bury Gentiles (non-Jews), because it was blood-money and could not legally be accepted in the temple treasury. Thus the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12-13 was fulfilled. (In Jeremiah 32:6-15, Jeremiah was told by God to buy a field, although Judah was about to go into Babylonian exile, as a testimony that people of Israel would return and again own property in the Promised Land).

Pilate asked Jesus if Jesus was king of the Jews, as the Jews had alleged, but Jesus replied, “You have said so.” But when the members of the Sanhedrin made many charges against Jesus, Jesus made no response, so that Pilate wondered what was going on.

As an act of political patronage, the Roman governor was accustomed to releasing one Jewish prisoner during the Feast of Passover, so Pilate asked the religious leaders and the crowd which had gathered, whether they wanted Barabbas, a notorious robber, or Jesus, released. Pilate realized that the Jews were accusing Jesus out of jealousy (because he was popular and influential with the people). His wife had warned Pilate that she had a disturbing dream about Jesus, and that Pilate should not get involved in Jesus’ death.

The Jewish leaders stirred up the crowd to demand Barabbas’ release. Pilate asked them again and they repeated the demand. So Pilate asked them what they wanted Pilate to do with Jesus and they demanded Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate asked them what Jesus had done to deserve death, but they just kept demanding Jesus’ crucifixion.

Seeing that the crowd was on the verge of riot, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in the view of the crowd and declared that Pilate was innocent of Jesus’ blood, and that the crowd was responsible. They replied, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25; and so it indeed has been!). Then Pilate freed Barabbas, and had Jesus flogged with a multi-thonged whip, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Roman soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s residence and put a red robe on him, a crown of plaited thorns on his head, a reed in his hand. They knelt before Jesus, mocking him, and hailing him as the King of the Jews. They spat upon Jesus and took the reed and hit Jesus’ head with it. Then they stripped the red robe from him and re-dressed Jesus in his own clothes and led him off to be crucified.

Commentary:

The Jewish religious authorities had turned Judaism into their own personal “empire,” for what they could benefit from their office in personal power and status. They used “religion” to serve themselves, instead of serving God and God’s people. So instead of recognizing and acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah (Christ), the Son of God, they were jealous and felt threatened by Jesus’ power, authority and popularity with the people.

The Jewish priests and elders were responsible to God to care for God’s people, physically and spiritually, but they were unconcerned with Judas’ sins of betrayal and suicide, and indeed, had encouraged them. They comprised the Jewish Supreme Court, but they subverted God’s law to condemn the completely sinless Messiah to death.

The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead, but they wanted the secular Roman government to do it for them. Pilate saw their motivation and he was smart enough to try to avoid doing what even he saw was a miscarriage of justice.

Pilate wanted to do what was right, allowing the Jews to execute Barabbas who was a criminal, and freeing Jesus who was innocent, but the Jews wouldn’t accept that. The Jews were trying to get the Romans to do their dirty work, and Pilate was trying to avoid personal guilt for the shedding of Jesus’ blood, which the Jews took “enthusiastically” upon themselves.

Jesus made no claim to be a political king (John 6:15; 18:36). It was the charge brought by the Jews against him which they hoped would justify Jesus’ execution to the Roman governor.

This Creation has been designed by God to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey him. Jesus is the “anointed” (Messiah and Christ each mean “anointed,” in Hebrew and Greek respectively) eternal Savior and King. God has designed this temporal world to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s way is our best interest. Jesus has been “built into the structure” of Creation by God’s design (John 1:1-3, 14).

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

God’s Word is eternal and eternally true; it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God knew that, given the freedom to choose, we would be rebellious and disobedient. He knew that when he sent Jesus into the world his own people would hate and kill him, because Jesus made them look bad, revealing their sinfulness.

God’s Word foretold more than five hundred years earlier through the psalmists and prophets what would happen to the Messiah, and the Jews fulfilled those prophecies, unconscious of what they were doing (for example, compare with today’s text: Isaiah 50:6-9a and Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16 from this week, 5 Lent, A-year, Monday and Tuesday, above).

Consider the consequences of the Jews’ invocation of guilt for Jesus’ crucifixion upon themselves and their children (Matthew 27:25). Because the Jews rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah, Savior and eternal King and had him executed, God lifted his favor and protection from them, and the result was that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. The people of Israel were scattered throughout the world, and Israel ceased to exist as a nation until re-established following World War II.

Where was God during the Holocaust? Where were the Jews when Jesus was crucified? I don’t believe that the Jews are irrevocably lost, but I am convinced that the only way that they will be saved is by accepting Jesus as Messiah and Lord (Romans 11:13-31; John 14:6; Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 13:34-35).

In a sense we are all guilty of crucifying Jesus, because we have all sinned and made Jesus’ sacrificial death necessary for our forgiveness Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The Jews are no more guilty than Christians or unbelievers.

In many ways the Christian Church today, particularly in America, is in a very similar position as Judaism in the time of Jesus’ physical ministry. Many ordained and lay people in the Church act as if the Church were their personal enterprise conducted for their benefit. Many do not fulfill their responsibility to God for the spiritual and physical well-being of their fellow Christians. Christians, whether ordained or lay, are to correct the erring, seek the straying and restore the fallen. How many congregations don’t care what their members and leaders do as long as they tithe and show up on Sunday? How many use the Church to accomplish their own agendas and use scripture to justify their own behavior?

In our time, in American Democracy, the Church should hold the government accountable for the spiritual and physical welfare of the people, but we have witnessed the reversal of that standard. The State wants the Church to assume the responsibility to help those who have become casualties of corporate greed, political manipulation, and a widely separated two-class system; and the Church, in too many instances, has become the advocate of the State for the secular status quo.

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

Saturday 5 Lent A

First Posted March 15, 2008

Podcast: Saturday 5 Lent A

Matthew 27:1-32-66

Paraphrase:

After being condemned to be crucified, and flogged and mocked, a Centurion and a few soldiers marched Jesus and two condemned criminals out to the place of execution at Golgotha (meaning “the place of the skull). They compelled Simon of Cyrene, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’ cross. At the place of execution they offered Jesus wine mixed with gall (a bitter substance) but when Jesus tasted it he wouldn’t drink it. After they had crucified Jesus, the soldiers cast lots (like rolling dice) to determine who would get Jesus’ clothing. They had put a sign over Jesus’ head which said “Jesus, King of the Jews.”

They crucified the two other condemned robbers, one on each side of Jesus. Then they sat down to keep watch. The place of execution was outside the city walls near the road in and out of Jerusalem, and people passing by mocked Jesus’ claim to rebuild the temple in three days, and taunting him to come down from the cross, if he were truly the Son of God. The chief priests, scribes and elders taunted him saying that though he saved others he couldn’t save himself; if he were the King of Israel he should come down from the cross, and then they would believe in him. Since he claimed to be the Son of God, let God save him, if God chooses. The crucified criminals (at least one; see Luke 23:39-43) also taunted Jesus.

From noon until three there was darkness (perhaps a solar eclipse). At three, Jesus cried out quoting and fulfilling Psalm 22:1. In Aramaic, Jesus’ language, “Eli,” meaning “my God” sounded like Elijah to bystander, and they thought he was calling Elijah (who was to come before the coming of Messiah; see Matthew 17:10-13). One put vinegar (spoiled wine) on a sponge and raised it on a stick to revive Jesus, and others waited to see if Elijah would come and save Jesus. “And Jesus cried again in a loud voice and yielded up his spirit” (Matthew 27:50).

At the moment of Jesus’ death there was an earthquake. The veil of the temple (separating the holy-of-holies, the presence of God, from the people) was torn in two from top to bottom. Rocks were split, tombs were opened and the dead were raised to life and appeared to the people of Jerusalem. The Centurion and those with him saw the earthquake they were frightened and said that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

Many Galilean women of the followers of Jesus were there looking on from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of “little” James and Joseph, sons of Cleopas, and Salome, the mother of James and John, sons of Zebedee.

At evening Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and disciple of Jesus went to Pilate, the Roman governor, and asked for the body of Jesus, and Pilate granted it. Joseph wrapped the body in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in Joseph’s own new tomb, which had been hewn from rock, with a great round stone to close the entrance. The two Marys witnessed the entombment.

The next day (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath), the Jewish religious leaders went to Pilate and asked that the door to the tomb be sealed and guarded, so that Jesus’ disciples could not steal the body and claim a resurrection. Pilate gave them permission and they did as they had said.

The enemies of Jesus tried to thwart any claim of resurrection, but though they sealed and guarded the tomb they were unable to prevent Jesus’ resurrection. Though they claimed that Jesus’ followers might try to fake Jesus’ resurrection, it was they who promoted the fraudulent claim that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body, in spite of their efforts to prevent it (see Matthew 28:11-15).

Commentary:

Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed and testified to by over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Not only that, but every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple since, beginning with the Apostle Paul (a.k.a. “Saul of Tarsus;” Acts 9:1-21), has personally experienced the risen and ascended Jesus Christ, and testifies that Jesus is risen from the dead and is eternally alive.

The Bible is the true, eternal, Word of God. Jesus is the fulfillment embodiment and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-3-14). What God’s Word prophesied about the Messiah was fulfilled. Psalm 22 is just one example of Messianic prophecy, and was fulfilled at the Cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus began to quote it on the Cross with verse one (compare Matthew 27:46). The bystanders at the crucifixion mocked Jesus (Psalm 22:7-8). Verses 14-18 describe what Jesus experienced on the Cross. They pierced Jesus’ hands and feet (Psalm 22:16b); they divided his clothes and cast lots (Psalm 22:18). Psalm 22:22-31 is what Jesus accomplished for the world.

Psalm 22 is attributed to David, which would mean that it originated about a thousand years before Jesus. The Jewish method of execution was by stoning, according to God’s Word, the Covenant of law. Crucifixion was a Roman execution, which was not practiced until Judea became a Roman province around 63 B.C.*.

The enemies of Jesus tried to kill him but he rose from the dead. They tried to claim that the disciples perpetrated a hoax by stealing Jesus’ body, although they had been allowed to seal and guard the tomb. They claimed that if Jesus came down from the cross they would believe in him, but Jesus came up from the grave instead and they still refuse to believe. The Roman soldier, a Gentile, saw the disturbances of nature and believed, but not the Jews.

They misunderstood what Jesus said about destroying the temple and rebuilding it in three days. Jesus was referring to the temple of his body (John 2:21) which contained the fullness of God’s presence and spirit within Jesus (Colossians 2:8-9; John 1:32-34). But the earthly Temple was destroyed spiritually by the Jewish religious authorities by rejecting Jesus, and physically destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., because God had lifted his favor and protection from the Jews. Jesus did indeed restore the New Temple, which became the Christian Church, and the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) through faith (obedient trust) in him, in three days, when he rose from the tomb.

The tearing of the temple veil at the moment of Jesus’ physical death showed that the old way, with God’s presence separated from the people was ended. Jesus is the new and only way opening into God’s presence, accessible by all who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; see God’s plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus didn’t call himself God’s Son directly; he usually referred to himself as the Son of man, which is true, but allows his hearers to decide for themselves who Jesus is, with a hint from Daniel 7:13-14. It was the Jewish religious leaders who said that he called himself the Son of God. Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Matthew 8:27; compare Genesis 1:3. John 11:43; compare John 5:28-29). He could have declared that he was the Son of God, and we would have no choice but to believe, but that is not his purpose and intention. There is a day coming when he will command, and we will have no choice but to obey (Matthew 25:31-46; Philippians 2:9-11).

The Jewish religious leaders had criticized Jesus for violating the Sabbath, but saw no problem with contacting the Roman secular governor, sealing and posting guards at the tomb of Jesus on the Sabbath.

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


*from the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia:

https://www.britannica.com/place/Judaea

 

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

March 25, 2017

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

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Please Note:

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

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

 

Podcast Download: Week of 4 Lent A

Sunday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 2, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 4 Lent A

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

Hosea Paraphrase:

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

The Lord declared, through Hosea, that he would withdraw from the (northern) Israelites until they acknowledged their guilt and sought the Lord’s presence and help in their distress, acknowledging that the Lord wounds but also heals, and strikes, but also comforts. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:2).

Psalm Paraphrase:

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

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

Romans Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Matthew Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), the Spirit of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9) who will lead us into all (divine) truth (John 16:13).The Holy Spirit is the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) that leads us through the spiritual darkness of this world into God’s kingdom of light. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God’s Word is eternally true, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Jesus came to earth to teach us, by word and example, how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. Jesus was the perfect Servant of the Lord. God’s Word promises that he will revive his servant and raise him from physical death to eternal life, and he fulfilled that promise in Jesus’ resurrection. That promise also applies to all those who are servants of the Lord,* who trust and obey Jesus. We will be raised from death to eternal life just as Jesus was.

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

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

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

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


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


 

Monday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 3, 2008

Podcast: Monday 4 Lent A

Psalm 116:1-8 – Thanksgiving for Deliverance;

Paraphrase:

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 4, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Lent A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

In the era before Christ, only a few individuals like Ezekiel were guided and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to proclaim God’s Word. Jesus came to die as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right), to make it possible for us to be cleansed of sin and filled with the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). The indwelling Holy Spirit within us causes us to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-9) to new, eternal life. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

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


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


 

Wednesday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 5, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 4 Lent A

Romans 8:11-19 – Life in the Spirit;

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “first-fruits” (Romans 8:23), the “security deposit” of eternal life.

By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, eternal, life. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). In order to receive the gift we must commit ourselves to be obedient, trusting disciples of Jesus Christ. We must commit to living in obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

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

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

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

Thursday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 6, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 4 Lent A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus’ disciples are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, eternal, life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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


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


 

Friday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 7, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 4 Lent A

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

Genesis Paraphrase:

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

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divine wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30) are possible only through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the means of our spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, which begins now, in this temporal world. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Saturday 4 Lent – A

First Posted March 8, 2008

Podcast: Saturday 4 Lent A

Matthew 10:32-42 – Call to Discipleship;

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God, our creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Spiritual rebirth through the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week of 3 Lent – A – 03/19 – 25/2017

March 18, 2017

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of 3 Lent A

Sunday 3 Lent A

First Posted February 24, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 3 Lent A

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

Isaiah:

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

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

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

Psalm:

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

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

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

Ephesians:

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

Gospel:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salvation is not by “church membership,” but by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through faith (obedient trust), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

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

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

Monday 3 Lent A

First posted February 25, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 3 Lent A

Psalm 43 – Hope in God;

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

I believe that the reason and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, by his Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The only real security in this world is in the Lord. We will encounter ungodly, deceitful and unjust people in this world. If we adopt worldly ways, we will ultimately lose and will have become part of the problem. But if we commit our cause to the Lord we will learn from experience that the Lord is able and faithful to defend and uphold us. We will come to know with certainty that nothing can happen to us in this world that the Lord cannot bring us through and deliver us from.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 3 Lent A

First posted February 26, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 3 Lent A

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

Paraphrase:

The Lord will withdraw from his people until they recognize and confess their guilt and seek the Lord’s face. In distress they may seek the Lord and return to him, realizing that the Lord tears apart but will also bind up; he wounds but also heals. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:2).

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

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

Commentary:

Jesus is the perfect sinless example of a servant and child of God. Jesus came to make it possible for us to be cleansed of sin and filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can live according to God’s will like Jesus did. We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God has given us his Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-3, 14), so that we can realize and confess our sin, and turn to him and seek his presence and his healing (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

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

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

Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

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

Wednesday 3 Lent A

First Posted February 27, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 3 Lent A

Romans 8:1-10 – Life in the Spirit;

Paraphrase:

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

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

Commentary:

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

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is (eternal) death. Jesus is God’s one and only promised Savior, provided for the forgiveness of our sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), who makes it possible for us to have eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (John 16:7), through spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus came in human flesh, sharing all our weaknesses, but filled with God’s Spirit (Colossians 2:8-9; John 1:31-34), to show us how to live according to the Spirit instead of our flesh. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). “Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9b). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself, whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

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

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

Thursday 3 Lent A

First posted February 28, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 3 Lent A

Mathew 20:17-28 – True Greatness;

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus gave his life on the cross as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid the price, the ransom, for our sins, on the cross, so that we would not have to die for them eternally ourselves. Salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal destruction is only by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), to be received by faith (obedient trust), in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

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

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

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

Friday 3 Lent A

First posted February 29, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 3 Lent A

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

Isaiah Paraphrase:

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

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

John Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction, and for eternal life and fellowship with God in his eternal kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross makes it possible for us to be cleansed of sin so that we can receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We are spiritually “re-born” to eternal life through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 3:3, 5-8). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

Saturday 3 Lent A

First posted March 1, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 3 Lent A

2 Peter 1:2-11 – Call to Holiness;

Paraphrase:

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

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

Commentary:

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

True grace and peace are only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

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

We must act according to what we profess and believe, or our knowledge of the Gospel will be unfruitful and we will be ineffective. Jesus said that just calling him Lord doesn’t make it so; if he is truly our Lord we will be living daily in accordance with his teaching and example (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

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

Week of 2 Lent – A – 3/12 – 18/2017

March 11, 2017

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

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Podcast Download: Week of 2 Lent – A

Sunday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 17, 2008

Podcast: Sunday 2 Lent – A

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

Genesis Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Psalm Paraphrase:

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

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

Romans Paraphrase:

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

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

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

John Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “living water” which Jesus was referring to is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Monday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 18, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 2 Lent – A

Psalm 142 Prayer for Deliverance

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 2 Lent – A

Posted February 19, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Lent – A

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus opens our minds to understand God’s Word (Luke 24:45), through the gift of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Wednesday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 20, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 2 Lent – A

Ephesians 5:8-14 – Light of the Lord;

Paraphrase:

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

All who trust and obey Jesus are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17; 21, 23-24). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit will teach us all things, all spiritual truth, and will remind us of all that Jesus teaches (John 14:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) which leads us through the spiritual darkness of the wilderness of this life and into the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to know and do what is pleasing to God. Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the New Jerusalem on earth) for the promised Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then to go and make (born-again) disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20). The disciples waited in Jerusalem, and did receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), and then were guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish Christ’s mission. It is not by human ability or might but by the guidance and power working in and through us that God’s will is accomplished (Zechariah 4:6). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit can we be children of light, live according to the light, and produce the fruits of light.

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

Thursday 2 Lent – A

Posted February 21, 2008

Podcast: Thursday 2 Lent – A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus’ coming is the judgment of this world. Those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus will be healed of spiritual blindness, raised from spiritual death, and “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to new spiritual life through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

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

Friday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 22, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 2 Lent – A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before Jesus came in human flesh, only a few individuals had fellowship with God through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus came to make it possible for us to be cleansed of evil and receive the Holy Spirit which is only received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 1:31-34; 14:15-17). Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

Saturday 2 Lent – A

First Posted February 23, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 2 Lent – A

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

Revelation Paraphrase:

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

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

John Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Week of 1 Lent A – 03/05 – 11/2017

March 4, 2017

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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Podcast Download: Week of 1 Lent A

Sunday – 1 Lent – A

First Posted February 10, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 1 Lent A

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

Genesis Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Psalm Background:

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

Psalm Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Romans Paraphrase:

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

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

Matthew Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 1 Lent A

First Posted February 11, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 1 Lent A

Psalm 105:4-11 – Seek the Lord;

Paraphrase:

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

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

Commentary:

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

Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), we have personal fellowship with the Lord. We have his strength empowering us and working through us, and we have his wise counsel to guide us. Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “re-born” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life; we become the spiritual offspring of Abraham and obtain God’s promise of eternal inheritance in the Promised Land in God’s kingdom (Galatians 3:5-9). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God has given us his Word, in the Bible, and in the “living Word” in Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). The Bible and Jesus’ example testify to the faithfulness of God’s Word. What God promises is fulfilled. We need to know and apply God’s Word in our daily lives, so we will receive God’s promises (Matthew 7:21-27). We need to remember God’s faithfulness to his people throughout the Bible history of Israel. As we apply God’s Word in our daily lives we will come to experience and know personally God’s faithfulness in our lives.

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

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

Tuesday 1 Lent A

First Posted February 12, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 1 Lent A

Genesis 12:1-8 – Abraham’s Call;

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Wednesday – 1 Lent – A

First Posted February 13, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 1 Lent A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness, salvation from eternal destruction, and restoration to eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). We are freed from the condemnation of the law, provided that we are obedient to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9) which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

Thursday – 1 Lent – A

First Posted February 14, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 1 Lent A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “living water” to which Jesus referred (John 7:38-39). Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday -1 Lent – A

First Posted February 15, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 1 Lent A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a Day of Judgment coming, for everyone who has ever lived on this earth, when every knee will bow to the Lord and everyone will confess that Jesus is Lord and glorify God. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord now, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), will receive eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. But those who have rejected Jesus as Lord now, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will receive eternal condemnation to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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

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

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

Saturday – 1 Lent – A

First Posted February 16, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 1 Lent A

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

James Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Mark Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 25, 2017

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Podcast Download: Week of Transfiguration A

Sunday Transfiguration A

First Posted February 3, 2008;

Podcast: SundayTransfiguration A

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

Exodus Paraphrase:

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

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

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

2 Peter Paraphrase:

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

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

Matthew Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every “Christian” is a “new believer” until they have read the entire Bible and been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

Monday Transfiguration A

First Posted March 7, 2011;

Podcast: Monday Transfiguration A

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

Joel Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Corinthians Paraphrase:

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, who begin to trust and obey Jesus, receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is the Holy Spirit within us who gives us true spiritual eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

Tuesday Transfiguration A

First Posted February 5, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday – Transfiguration A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

Ash Wednesday A

First Posted February 6, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday Transfiguration A

Psalm 51:1-13 – Penitential Psalm;

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lent – Thursday A

First Posted February 7, 2008;

Podcast: Lent Thursday A

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

Genesis Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Psalm Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The people of God are disciples of Jesus Christ, who trust and obey Jesus. They will be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), as they trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

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

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

Lent – Friday A

First Posted February 8, 2008;

Podcast: Lent Friday A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross made it possible for us to be spiritually cleansed and receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually, to eternal life, through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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

Lent – Saturday A

First Posted February 9, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday Transfiguration A

Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus’ Temptation;

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

Only Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Week of 7 Epiphany A – 02/19 – 25/2017

February 18, 2017

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

Please Note:

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

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of 7 Epiphany A

Sunday 7 Epiphany A

First Posted February 20, 2011;

Podcast: Sunday 7 Epiphany A

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

Leviticus Paraphrase:

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

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

Psalm Paraphrase:

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

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

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Matthew Paraphrase:

Background:

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

Text:

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Monday Before Last Epiphany – A

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

Podcast: Monday 8 Epiphany A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

Jesus is the Lord of lords and King of kings, whether we recognize him as our Lord and King or not. Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday Before Last Epiphany – A

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

Podcast: Tuesday Before Last Epiphany A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

Commentary:

Jesus came to make it possible, by the blood sacrifice of his body on the Cross, for us to be forgiven and cleansed of sin so that we can enter into God’s presence. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection made it possible for us to be filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit is the manifestation of God’s presence within us, through whom we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord. The Holy Spirit is the “pillar of cloud and fire” (Acts 2:3; Matthew 3:11) within us to guide us safely through the “wilderness of the spiritually dark night of this world, and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom of heaven. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God calls us to come and enter into his presence through Jesus Christ who is the only way, the only door, to God’s presence and God’s eternal kingdom. We must act at once in faith (obedient trust) in Jesus and God’s Word, and then we must be willing to wait for God’s timing.

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

Wednesday Before Last Epiphany – A

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

Podcast: Wednesday 8 Epiphany A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus comes to his disciples individually and personally as they trust and obey him (John 14:15-17). Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

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


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


Thursday Before Last Epiphany – A

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

Podcast: Thursday 8 Epiphany A

Matthew 17:1-9 – Transfiguration;

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Before Last Epiphany – A

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

Podcast:Friday Before Last Epiphany A

Isaiah 35:3-7 – Promise of Salvation;

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

Isaiah Paraphrase:

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

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

1 Peter Paraphrase:

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

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

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

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

Saturday Before Last Epiphany – A

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

Podcast: Saturday Before Last Epiphany A

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

Paraphrase:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those who trust and obey Jesus are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We have the proof within ourselves, by faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

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

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

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

Now is the hour of Salvation! Now is the time to follow Jesus’ word and example in obedient trust. Now is the time to learn to walk in the light of his righteousness, enlightenment and eternal life. Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to and know God; Jesus is divine, eternal truth; Jesus’ word and example is our only opportunity to have real, eternal life (John 14:6). Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we be saved (from our eternal condemnation and destruction by God’s judgment; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9).

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


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