Week of 3 Pentecost – A – 06/25 – 07/01/2017

June 24, 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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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 3 Pentecost A

Sunday – 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 1, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday 3 Pentecost A

Hosea 5:15-6:6 — Turn and be Healed;
Psalm 50:1-15 — Divine Judgment;
Romans 4:18-25 — Righteousness by Faith;
Matthew 9:9-13 — The Great Physician;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord declared through Hosea, his prophet, that the Lord would remove his presence and favor from among his people until they acknowledge their guilt and seek the Lord’s presence and help. When the people experience distress they may return to the Lord and seek his providence and protection. The Lord has torn, but he also heals; he strikes, but he also will bind up. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:2).

We should make every effort to seek and come to know the Lord. His existence is as certain as the dawn; his presence will refresh and restore us like the spring rains water the earth.

The Lord rebukes Ephraim and Judah, symbolic of God’s blessed people, because their love is as ephemeral as morning mist or dew which quickly disappears.

The Lord uses his prophets to shape his people, and those who do not conform to his Word will be (eternally) slain. The Lord’s judgment goes forth as light. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

Psalm Paraphrase:

The Lord God Almighty calls all people all day, from dawn to dusk. From his eternal city the beauty and perfection of God shines forth.

The Lord our God comes. He is not silenced. His coming is with a devouring fire and a mighty storm. He calls earth and heaven to assemble for judgment of his people. He summons his faithful people who have made a covenant with him sealed by sacrifice. God alone is judge, and his righteousness is declared throughout the Universe.

God calls his people to listen to him. The Lord will testify against them, for he is their God. The Lord does not blame them for lack of sacrifices. They offer burn offerings continually, but God refuses to accept their sacrifices.

God refuses to accept their sacrifices, because all the cattle and every creature belongs to God. God has no need for mankind to provide him with food (through their sacrificial offerings). If God were hungry he wouldn’t have to ask mankind for food. God doesn’t eat the flesh or drink the blood of animals.

The sacrifice that God desires is the sacrifice of thanksgiving and obedient trust, keeping our covenant vows to the Lord, and relying on him for help in the day of trouble. Then the Lord will deliver them, and they will glorify the Lord.

Romans Paraphrase:

Abraham believed and hoped in God’s promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations, even when it appeared hopeless. He believed God’s Word that his descendants would be as numerous beyond counting as the stars in the heavens. He didn’t waver when he considered his age, that he was about one hundred years old, nor when he considered that his wife was past child-bearing age, and had never conceived. He didn’t allow distrust to shake his faith in God’s promise. Instead, his faith grew as he trusted that God was fully able to do what he promised. So righteousness was attributed by God to Abraham because of Abraham’s faith (Genesis 15:6).

The testimony of God’s Word concerning Abraham’s righteousness was not written for Abraham’s benefit but for ours. We, who believe that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our “justification” (vindication; attribution of righteousness; acquittal from guilt), will be attributed as righteous in God’s Final Judgment.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus passed by the office of a tax collector named Matthew, and Jesus called to Matthew saying, “Follow me.” Matthew got up and followed Jesus.

At dinner at Matthew’s house, Jesus and his disciples were joined by many tax collectors and sinners who were Matthew’s friends. When the Pharisees (legalistic Jewish religious leaders) saw this, they criticized Jesus to his disciples for eating with tax collectors and sinners. When Jesus heard it, he told the Pharisees that those who are healthy have no need of a physician; only those who are sick. Jesus told the Pharisees to go and learn what God’s Word means, that God desires mercy rather than sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). Jesus declared, “I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13b).

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal and eternally true. It is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God proclaimed through Hosea that God withholds his providence and protection from his people who have turned from obedient trust in the Lord to disobedience and idolatry. The Lord withholds his favor in hope that his people will realize their need and dependence upon the Lord and will return to him and call upon him for help.

Hosea prophesied that God would revive his servant after two days and would raise him up on the third day. That prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the perfect trusting and obedient servant of God, at his resurrection. It remains to be fulfilled by us as we trust and obey Jesus.

The Lord wants us to seek and come to know him, and he promises to make himself known to those who earnestly seek him (Hosea 6:3; Acts 17:26-27; Hebrews 11:6; John 14:21). God is the one and only true God; he is; the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). His existence is certain and is attested to by Creation, God’s Word, and by every truly “born-again” Christian, because we have personally have come to know and have fellowship with him through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to have forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), to know divine eternal truth, to receive restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and eternal life in the kingdom of God (John 14:6).

Jesus is the only one who “baptizes” (“anoints”) with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is the presence of the Lord within us by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are spiritually revived from spiritual death 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).

Ephraim and Judah are symbols of the people God has blessed. Ephraim means “double fruitfulness.” He was the second son of Joseph born in Egypt, who was blessed above the first-born by Jacob (Israel; Genesis 41:52; 46:20; 48:10-20). Ephraim received unmerited blessing. Judah, the fourth son of Jacob (Israel) by Leah, was a leader in family matters (Genesis 43:3-10; 44:14, 16-34; 46:28). Joseph was the one to whom the birthright belonged (1 Chronicles 5:2, but Judah became the chief among the brothers, so he also was blessed beyond his own merit. We also who trust and obey Jesus are blessed beyond what we deserve by God’s grace (unmerited favor).

The Lord has proclaimed his Word in the Bible and through his prophets so that we can be molded according to his will. Those who refuse to conform to his Word will be eternally destroyed. God does not want “fair-weather” friends; people who will serve the Lord if and when it suits them. The Lord doesn’t want people who only go through the motions of religious ritual. The Lord wants people who love him enough to trust and obey him and seek his presence and fellowship.

The Lord calls all people. The only people who are excluded are those who choose to be excluded by resisting his call. God’s people are those who choose to covenant with God and are willing to sacrifice their self-will in order to do God’s will.

There is a Day coming when every one who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done, individually, in this lifetime (Matthew 25:31-46). The Lord is coming to judge all people and his coming cannot be stopped; his judgment cannot be silenced. His judgment will be a destroying fire and a terrible storm for those who have rejected and refused to trust and obey the Lord.

Saving faith is trusting and obeying the Lord, even when his promises seem humanly impossible. The Lord wants us to learn to trust and obey him. If we will begin to trust and obey, he will show us that his promises are completely reliable and true, and as he demonstrates his faithfulness, goodness and power to do what he promised, our faith will grow to certainty. We will learn that God’s Word is always fulfilled.

We are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus came to heal and restore sinners, but he can only help those who recognize their shortcomings and need for spiritual healing. Jesus calls us all, but the only ones who will be healed and restored are those who hear and respond with obedient trust. If we know we need spiritual healing we must call upon Jesus to heal us and begin to trust and obey what he tells us.

Has the Lord removed his presence, his providence, and protection from our churches and our nation? Would we notice if he had? Are we seeking his providence and protection or are we seeking help from some other source?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 2, 2008;
Podcast: Monday 3 Pentecost A

Psalm 100 — Song of Thanksgiving;

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100).

Commentary:

In one sense we are all God’s people because he is our Creator; and he is Lord, whether we acknowledge him or not. God’s plan has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. This temporal world has been created intentionally by God to allow us to seek and come to find and know God (Acts 17:26-27), to provide us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and the opportunity to learn by “trial and error.” This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” (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). All these can only be accomplished through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:21; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

If we seek the Lord he will allow himself to be found by us (Jeremiah 29:13-14a; Matthew 7:7-8). If we will trust and obey God’s Word we will experience his goodness, steadfast love and faithfulness, and the joy of his presence within us. We will learn the joy of serving him. We will enter into his “house” with thanksgiving and praise, now, which is just a foretaste of what it will be like ultimately to enter his eternal temple in heaven.

Disobedience of God’s Word is the definition of sin. 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). Everything in this creation is constrained by time, because God is not willing to tolerate sin forever, nor allow it in his eternal kingdom. Otherwise it wouldn’t be “heaven.”

The best and most satisfying thing we can do on earth is to serve the Lord in obedient trust. I personally regret not having discovered this until my mid-thirties. Thankfully, I was able to come to know the Lord, to learn to be his disciple, to discover that God’s will is our best interest, and that serving him is such a joy!

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 3, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday 3 Pentecost A

Exodus 19:2-8a — God’s Covenant with his People;

Paraphrase:

The Israelites camped at Rephidim at the entrance to the Sinai desert, three months after they left Egypt (Exodus 19:1). They entered the Sinai wilderness and camped at the base of Mount Sinai (Mount Horeb). Moses went up to the top of Mount Sinai and the Lord called to Moses and told him to tell the Israelites that they had seen what the Lord had done to the Egyptians to deliver the Israelites from bondage to them. The Israelites had seen how the Lord had brought them “on eagle’s wings” to himself (at the Lord’s holy mountain).

The Lord proposed a covenant with Israel: If Israel would obey God’s Word and keep the covenant that the Lord was proposing, the Israelites would be the Lord’s particular possession among all the people of earth. Everything on earth belongs to the Lord but Israel would be God’s special possession, and they were to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is what the Lord told Moses to tell the people of Israel.

Moses assembled the elders of the people and told them what the Lord had said, and all the people of Israel agreed to do all that the Lord had commanded.

Commentary:

God is the Creator and Lord of all the earth, whether we acknowledge him or not. God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God’s Word. God knew Israel’s suffering and bondage in Egypt, and called Moses to lead them out of bondage in Egypt and into the land which God had promised to give to Abraham and his descendants.

God had fulfilled his promise to deliver Israel from Egyptian captivity, and Israel had seen the Lord’s deliverance and power. Now the Lord asked them to trust and obey God’s Word, and be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Moses was to be the mediator of the covenant which God initiated with his people.

The history of God’s dealing with Israel, which is recorded in the Bible, is also a parable and a metaphor for life in this temporal world, and a foreshadow and illustration of what the Lord was doing for all the people of earth in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “New Moses” who has been called by God to deliver us from bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world, of which Satan is “Pharaoh.”

The Lord brings us through the “sea” of baptism, through which we are saved from our spiritual enemies, “Pharaoh’s armies,” who cannot pass through, into Jesus Christ, and brings us to the holy mountain of God. God offers us a “New Covenant” with him, through Jesus Christ. If we will obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), we will be God’s special, chosen people among all the people of earth, and we are to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

The true Church (as distinct from the “nominal” Church) is the “New Israel” and the congregation is to be a kingdom of priests, carrying on the mission of Christ to be mediators of the “New Covenant” to the people of earth, and to be a holy nation, consecrated to the Lord’s service. Jesus Christ will lead us through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, and bring through the “river” of physical death (without getting our feet “wet;” Joshua 3:14-17) and into the “Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

When we realize what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, the Lord asks us to believe in (trust and obey) Jesus, the “living Word” and keep our “covenant” with the Lord into which we are “baptized” in Jesus Christ, and we will be his kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Baptism into Jesus Christ is the seal of the “New Covenant” in which we promise to trust and obey God’s Word in Jesus Christ, and as we begin to trust and obey God’s Word we will receive the “baptism” (“anointing,” “gift”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The Holy Spirit is the “pillar of fire” (Exodus 13:21-22), who leads us the through the spiritual darkness of this world,” and guides and empowers us to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation in the 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).

This “wilderness” is where we are to learn to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, to learn to be led by his Holy Spirit, and to rely on and experience God’s providence and protection.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 4, 2008;
Podcast: Wednesday 3 Pentecost A

Romans 5:6-11 — Reconciliation with God;

Paraphrase:

Christ died for us, while we were still helpless (enslaved by sin) and ungodly (far from God’s righteousness). Not many of us would be willing to die even for a righteous person, although a few might, for a good person. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Since we are now justified (found not guilty in God’s judgment) by the blood of Jesus, we are saved by him from God’s wrath. If by the death of his son we were reconciled to God, much more will we be saved by his life. So we can rejoice in God through Jesus Christ through whom we have been reconciled to God.

Commentary:

We are all sinners (sin is disobedience of God’s Word) and all fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is good, right and true -Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). We were all helplessly trapped in sin, unable on our own to save ourselves from God’s wrath.

God has always intended, from the very beginning of this Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. God designed this Creation from the very beginning to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and he knew that we would have to learn, by trial and error, that his will was better than our own. But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, and will not allow it in his eternal kingdom, or it wouldn’t be heaven.

This Creation and our physical lives are limited by time. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “born-again” John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

God foresaw that we would need a Savior in order to escape eternal condemnation, and so he designed Jesus Christ into the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God loved us enough to send his only begotten Son to die for us on the Cross, so that we could be saved from the wrath and eternal condemnation of God on the Day of Judgment. Jesus is the only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time and all people who are willing to accept it, for the forgiveness of sin. Who of us would be willing to sacrifice our own child to save someone who has wronged us?

Those who have received the blood of Jesus by faith (obedient trust) in God’s Word will be found “not guilty” on the Day of Judgment, and we have been reconciled to God now and eternally. We are restored to fellowship with God that was broken by our sin.

When we believe God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), we will begin to trust and obey Jesus. As we do so we are spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14: 15-17). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus Christ and God our Father. We experience Jesus’ life within us.

If we have been reconciled to God by Jesus’ death, “much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the testimony of Christ’s resurrection within us, and the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can rejoice in God through Jesus Christ, through whom we have been reconciled.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 5, 2008;
Podcast: Thursday 3 Pentecost A

Matthew 9:35-10:8 — Laborers in the Harvest;

Paraphrase:

Jesus went from village to village, teaching in synagogues, preaching the gospel of God’s kingdom, and healing every sickness and disability. He had compassion on the crowds, “because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus told his disciples that there is a plentiful harvest, but few laborers, so they should pray that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into the harvest.

Jesus called his twelve original disciples and gave them authority to heal spiritual and physical illnesses, disabilities and death. The names of the twelve were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, the tax collector, James, the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (Lebbaeus), Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer.

Jesus sent the twelve out with instructions to go only to Jewish communities, to the “lost sheep” of Israel, and not to Gentiles or Samaritans. Jesus told them to preach that God’s kingdom was at hand. They were given authority to heal the sick, the leprous and demonic, and to raise the dead. They were to proclaim the gospel without being paid, because they had received it without having to pay.

Commentary:

Jesus came to proclaim the Gospel of God’s eternal kingdom. He came to bring spiritual healing and spiritual life. His miracles of physical healing and resurrection were intended to reveal that he is the Son of God and has the power of spiritual healing and life.

Jesus had compassion on people, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. They had great spiritual need and no one to guide them and protect them from their spiritual enemy.

Jesus is the Lord of the spiritual harvest. He came to begin that harvest, and to show us how to do it. He called his twelve original disciples, and taught them the Gospel. They came to know Jesus and know that he is the Messiah. Then Jesus gave them Jesus’ authority over illness and death, and sent them out to continue what Jesus had been demonstrating.

On their journey they were to learn to depend on the providence of God, rather than relying on their own resources. They were to make the Gospel that they had received from Jesus, without paying, freely available to others, regardless of their ability to pay, but relying on God to provide their necessities through those who received the Gospel who had the resources. We also need to learn to rely on the empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit to provide the spiritual guidance and resources we need to carry out the mission he gives us, rather than trying to do the mission by our own human understanding and resources.

Jesus is the Lord of the harvest. Today there is a tremendously great spiritual need right around each of us. Many around us are like sheep without a shepherd, spiritually lost and in great danger.

Jesus is the true, “Good Shepherd.” There are many others who claim to be “shepherds” but who are thieves and robbers (John 10:1-16); “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).

Only Jesus’ “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples can do the harvesting. We must first come to Jesus and be “discipled” by “born-again” disciples until we 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). We must have a personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Then we can pray to the Lord of the harvest, and he will direct and send us and empower us to do the work of harvesting, just like Jesus did with his original disciples. This is exactly how I have come to this internet ministry.

The original disciples had been taught by Jesus and were empowered, directed, and sent by Jesus, although the indwelling Holy Spirit had not yet been given. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit wasn’t necessary yet because Jesus was physically present, and the mission was intended to be training for them and an example for future disciples. But after his resurrection Jesus warned his disciples not to go and proclaim the Gospel until they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are all born physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. 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)?

Friday – 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 6, 2008;
Podcast: Friday 3 Pentecost A

Micah 7:18-20 — The Lord’s Compassion;
Luke 15:11-32 — The Prodigal Son;

Micah Paraphrase:

There is no other god than the Lord, who pardons sin and forgives trespasses for the remnant of his heritage. The Lord does not hold grudges because he prefers steadfast love. The Lord will have compassion for us again, he will stamp out our iniquities and cast away all our sin, as into the depths of the ocean. The Lord will show faithfulness and steadfast love to his people, to Jacob and to Abraham (the patriarchs and inheritors of God’s promise), as God promised to our forefathers long ago.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus taught in parables (fictional stories of everyday experiences to illustrate spiritual truth). In the parable of the prodigal son, a man had two sons, and the younger asked his father for his share of the inheritance, so the father divided his estate and gave the younger son his share. Shortly after, the younger son left and went to a distant land, and there he wasted his inheritance in “loose living.”

When the inheritance had been spent, there was a famine in the land and the son lacked the basic necessities, so he became the servant of a citizen of the land who hired him to feed his pigs. The son realized that the man’s pigs ate more and better that the son did, and he recalled that his father treated his servants better than the son was now being treated, so the son decided to return to his father, confess his sin, and ask to be his father’s hired servant, since he was no longer worthy to be his father’s son.

As the son drew near to his father’s home, the father saw and recognized him. The father ran to meet him and greeted him with a kiss. The son confessed his sin and acknowledged that he was no longer worthy to be his son, but the father called his servants to fetch the finest clothes and a ring for his son and to prepare a feast to celebrate the son’s return, because the son had been as though dead and had returned to life; was lost and had now been found.

The son’s older brother had been working in the field, and when he came back, he heard the celebration and asked one of the servants what was going on. He was told that the father was celebrating his brother’s safe return. The older son was angry, and refused to join the celebration.

He felt that he was more deserving of his father’s favor than the prodigal son, since the older son had always obeyed and served his father, while the younger son had wasted his father’s inheritance in immorality. But his father said that the older son would always be with the father and that all of the father’s inheritance belonged to the older son, so he should not begrudge the celebration for the younger son who had returned from death to life.

Commentary:

There is no other God than the Lord. Other “gods” are the creation of human minds and hands, and are incapable of doing anything, even for themselves. Instead of doing what we hope and need, they become our burdens and responsibility.

The Lord’s nature is good, loving and merciful. Often, we don’t realize our sinfulness and how much we need forgiveness. God has given us his Word in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” (John 1:1-5, 14) to show us our need for forgiveness, not to make us miserable, but so that we can ask for and receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ, who is the only way to forgiveness.

We are all “prodigal” sons and daughters. We have all received our inheritance in this physical life, and unless and until we realize and appreciate what we’ve been given by God, our Father, we are squandering our inheritance in “loose living;” living to please ourselves. Sometimes we need to experience spiritual “famine” so that we can begin to recognize our spiritual need and our sinfulness. Then we can turn back toward our Father, confess our sins, and receive forgiveness and salvation, which he gladly wants to give us.

If we turn toward the Father, he will come and meet us. None of us is worthy of his love and his eternal inheritance, and when we recognize that, he is happy to give it to us as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The children of God should share their Father’s joy in the return of prodigal brothers and sisters. No one is more or less deserving of forgiveness and salvation. The steadfast son didn’t appreciate what his Father had done for him, but the prodigal son did. Jesus is the ultimate faithful son, to whom all of the Father’s inheritance belongs, but he rejoices in our return from death to true, eternal life; from being lost to being saved. Jesus is glad to share his inheritance with us.

We are all born physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God our Father (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus Christ is the only way to forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and restoration of fellowship with God, which was broken by sin. Jesus is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, and the only way to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life (John 14:6); the only way to be saved from God’s eternal condemnation and our eternal destruction in Hell (Acts 4:12; Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation; sidebar top right).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn.” 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).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 7, 2008

Podcast: Saturday 3 Pentecost A

Paraphrase:

Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul, obtained authority from the high priest at Jerusalem to go to the synagogues at Damascus to arrest people belonging to the “Way” (“Christians”). As he approached Damascus a bright light flashed around him. It was so bright that he fell to the ground. He heard a voice calling him by name and asking why Saul was persecuting him. Paul replied, “who are you, Lord” and the voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” The voice of Jesus told Saul to get up and enter Damascus, and wait for further instructions.

The men traveling with Paul heard the voice, but saw no one and they were speechless. When Paul got up he could not see and had to be led by the hand into the city. For three days Paul was blind and he did not eat or drink anything.

There was a disciple, Ananias, at Damascus, and the Lord called him in a vision, and told him to go to Straight Street to the house of Judas to talk to Saul of Tarsus. The Lord told Ananias that Saul was praying and had seen a vision of a man named Ananias come and lay hands on Saul and restore his sight.

Ananias told the Lord that he had heard of Saul and knew that Saul was a persecutor of Christians. Ananias knew that Saul had come to Damascus to arrest Christians. But the Lord told Ananias to go to Saul, because the Lord had chosen Saul to be an instrument of the Lord to proclaim Jesus’ name to the Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel.

Ananias did as the Lord had told him and went to Saul. Ananias told Saul that the Lord Jesus who had confronted Saul on the road to Damascus had sent Ananias to Saul so that Saul’s sight might be restored and that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and his vision was restored. Then Saul arose and was baptized.

Commentary:

Paul is deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) that we all can be. He was chosen by the Lord to be the evangelist to the Gentiles, and to present the Gospel to several kings (for example, governor Felix: Acts 24:1-27; King Agrippa: Acts 26:1-23).

Paul was chosen by the Lord to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot. Jesus had told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit. While they were waiting they decided to choose someone to replace Judas, but they weren’t yet empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, so they chose, by “lot,” (by chance) one among them named Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). Nothing is ever heard again about Matthias, but from the time of Paul’s conversion Paul is a leading figure and the rest of the New Testament is filled with accounts of his ministry.

Paul’s conversion is unique in its speed. The original Twelve were with Jesus twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for about three years, learning to be Jesus’ disciples. Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the Gospel in a matter of a few days (Acts 9:19b-20). But Paul had been formally educated in Judaism, he knew the Bible Scriptures, and he loved God. He just needed to be pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.

“The Way” was the early name for Christianity. “Disciples” was the early name for Christians. (Acts 11:26c). Disciple is not a optional category of “super-Christian.” Anyone who doesn’t want to be a disciple can’t be a Christian.

Notice that Paul was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple until Paul was “born-again.” How do we know Ananias was “born-again?” Because he had a personal relationship with the Lord (Acts 9:10).

Paul was confronted by the Lord. He realized his sin, he repented, he accepted Jesus as his Lord, and became obedient to Jesus. As he trusted and obeyed Jesus he was “reborn” 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 infilling of the Holy Spirit is a discernible, ongoing event (Acts 19:2). One who needs to ask some religious authority whether one has been “reborn” hasn’t been. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Paul went on to be a “disciple-maker.” Timothy is an example. Paul “discipled” Timothy until Timothy was “reborn” (2 Timothy 1:6) and he taught Timothy to make “born-again” disciples who would repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

They were not making disciples for themselves but for Jesus (consider 1 Corinthians 1:10-17). They were fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) that Jesus gave his disciples, to be carried out after they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Paul was as much a disciple and apostle as the original eleven.

In too many instances the nominal Church today, particularly in America, is failing to make “born-again” disciples. Instead they are making church “members” and building buildings. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. If the Church doesn’t make “born-again” disciples it doesn’t have “born-again” leaders.

The nominal church is not only not doing their members any favors by telling them they are automatically reborn through some ritual such as water baptism; they are actually hindering their members from seeking the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit!

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

Week of 2 Pentecost – A – 06/18 – 24/2017

June 17, 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 2 Pentecost A

Sunday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 25, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 2 Pentecost A

Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28 – Obedience;
Psalm 31:1-5 (6-18) 19-24 — Trust in the Lord;
Romans 3:21-25a, 27-28 — Salvation by Faith;
Matthew 7: (15-20) 21-29 — Lordship of Jesus;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

As Israel was poised to enter the Promised Land from the east, after forty years of wilderness wandering, Moses, who was not allowed to enter, gave them his final instructions from God. Moses proclaimed God’s Word and he told them to remember and obey it in their hearts and souls. God’s Word was to be so constantly in their thinking that they should bind it on their hands (as we might tie a string around a finger), and as a headband with a packet between the eyes, so that God’s Word would be constantly within the edge of their vision. They were to use every opportunity to teach God’s Word to their children, when sitting in the home, and when walking to and fro, when going to bed and when arising. They were to write God’s Word on their doorposts and gates, so that they would be reminded as they came and went from their homes. Their long life in the Promised Land was dependent upon their obedience of God’s Word.

Moses told them that God’s Word contained both blessing and curse; promise and warning! They will be blessed if they obey God’s Word, and they will be cursed if they do not obey God’s Word. Moses told them that when they entered the Promised Land they were to affirm the covenant with God in a ceremony (at Sychar) between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, where Gerizim represented the blessing, and Ebal represented the curse (see Deuteronomy 27:11-26; Joshua 8:30-35).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Psalm 31 is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king, and is prophetic (God’s Word; by inspiration of the Holy Spirit). David, himself under attack by his enemies, took refuge in the Lord, trusting that he would not be put to shame. He prayed for the Lord’s deliverance; that the Lord would hear his request and rescue him at the perfect time. David took refuge in the Lord as behind a rock or in a fortress.

David asked the Lord to lead and guide him, not because David was worthy, but because of the Lord’s character and nature (as the One who has steadfast love, faithfulness and power to deliver). David trusted the Lord to deliver him from hidden snares set to entrap David. David committed his eternal being to the Lord, trusting that the Lord, who is completely faithful, would redeem him, as though it had already happened.

God’s unlimited goodness has been stored up for those who fear (have respect and awe for the power and authority of) and take refuge in God, publicly, in this world. God hides and shelters them from the schemes and false accusations of worldly people.

David blessed and praised the Lord God, who demonstrated his steadfast love when David had felt like a city under siege by his enemies. When David though he had been driven far from God, God was still able to hear his cries and respond with help.

All those who have committed themselves to the service of the Lord will love the Lord. They will know that the Lord preserves those who have faith in him, but will fully and abundantly punish those who are arrogant. All those who trust in the Lord are encouraged to be strong and courageous and to wait for the Lord.

Romans Paraphrase:

The Law and (the writings of) the prophets (that is, the Jewish Scriptures; the Old Testament), testify to the righteousness (doing what is good, right, and true) of God, but now his righteousness has been revealed to the world, separated from (works of; keeping of) the Law. Paul is referring to the righteousness of God which is attributed to all believers through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. God shows no partiality; since all have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1;8-10), all may be declared righteous in God’s judgment by grace (unmerited favor) as a gift through the redemption (payment of penalty) which is (only) in Jesus Christ (God’s only “anointed” Savior and eternal King), whom God designed and created (John 1:1-5, 14) to extinguish guilt of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) to all who willingly receive it by faith (obedient trust; in Jesus).

Human boasting is excluded, not by the principle of works (doing good deeds; keeping the Law) but by the principle of faith (obedient trust). “For we hold that a [person] is justified by faith (obedient trust) apart from (regardless of) works (keeping; obedience) of God’s Law (God’s Word).

Matthew Background:

The Gospel text is the conclusion of the “Sermon on the Mount,” a summary representative of Jesus’ teachings.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus warned his hearers to beware of false prophets and false teachers, who disguise themselves as “sheep” (God’s people) but who are inwardly, ravenous wolves (predators of sheep). Jesus told his hearers to examine the “fruit” of teachers and leaders, so that they could discern truth from error, and good from evil. As “bad” plants produce “bad” fruit, and “good” plants produce “good” fruit, so can we determine good and bad teachers and leaders by their “fruit.” It is impossible for plants to produce fruit contrary to their nature (but it can sometimes be hard to tell good fruit from bad).

Commentary:

Not everyone who claims that Jesus is their Lord is going to enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. On the Day of Judgment, there will be many who claim that they have done good deeds, have prophesied, have ministered to the ill, and have done miracles in Jesus’ name, but Jesus will deny knowing them, then declare them evildoers, and send them away from his presence (Matthew 7:21-27).

Jesus warned that those who hear Jesus’ teachings and trust and obey them in their daily lives are like a builder who builds on a rock. The result will be unshakable in any storm. But those who don’t listen to Jesus’ teaching, and don’t apply that teaching in their daily lives will be like one who builds on sand, without any foundation. The first storm that comes will destroy him.

The people were amazed at the authority of Jesus’ teaching, which was unlike the teaching of the scribes (the formally educated teachers of scripture of Judaism).

Commentary:

Faith is not getting whatever you believe if you believe “hard enough.” Faith is obedient trust in the One who is trustworthy. 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 human flesh in this temporal world (John 1:1-5, 14), so that we can learn to know, trust and obey God.

God’s Word through Moses warned God’s people that the condition for entering and possessing the Promised Land was obedience of God’s Word. The reason that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years was because they didn’t trust and obey the Lord to enter the Promised Land the first time they had the opportunity (Numbers 13:1-33). Their forty years in the wilderness was intended to teach them to trust and obey the Lord and rely of the Lord’s providence.

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Obedient trust in God’s Word was the condition for Israel’s entrance and possession of the Promised Land, and it is also the condition of our entrance and possession of eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven. This lifetime is our “forty years” of “wilderness wandering,” during which we are to learn to trust and obey God’s Word and rely on his providence.

We are responsible to read and hear God’s Word, so that we can obey and learn to trust it, not only superficially, but in our hearts and souls. We are responsible to make God’s Word known, trusted and obeyed by our children.

God’s Word contains both blessing and curse; promise and warning. We will be blessed if we trust and obey God and we will be eternally destroyed if we do not learn to trust and obey God’s Word.

God does not desire sacrifices and ritual; he desires our obedient trust. Obedient trust is the sacrificial offering and act of worship that God desires.

We will either worship and serve the Lord or we will worship and serve the “god” of this world (Satan); we cannot worship and serve both (Mathew 6:24). Mount Gerizim represents the worship and service to God, and the accompanying blessing; Mount Ebal represents the worship and service to idols, and the curse and destruction which will result.

David is the example of obedient trust in God (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20-29). David learned to trust and obey God’s Word. When David was in danger from his enemies, he called upon the Lord to protect and deliver David. Psalm 31 describes David’s situation; but it also prophesies and describes the situation of Jesus Christ, the Son (descendant) of David, fulfilled by Jesus on the Cross. David is the intended forerunner of Christ, which God gave to illustrate the coming Messiah.

The enemies of David did not prevail, and neither did the enemies of Jesus Christ, because of their faith in the power, faithfulness and love of God. God is the source of inexhaustible blessings to those who acknowledge his sovereign authority and power and take refuge in the Lord. The Lord is never so far away that he can’t hear and respond in perfect timing with help to those who call upon him in faith.

The most difficult lesson for us to learn is to wait for the Lord, instead of seeking immediate response elsewhere. We’re so used to immediate response. We flip a switch and the light comes on. We seek and obtain information by dialing the phone or by a click of the “mouse” on the computer. Especially in America we’ve been trained to believe that we can and must be self-sufficient.

The wonderful thing about learning to trust and obey the Lord is that, once we do, he’s available, able, willing and faithful to help us even in the wilderness, away from cellphone reception and internet connection (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right). We will learn that the help that only the Lord can provide, is ultimately more eternal and satisfying than the help of humans, which will ultimately fail and disappoint (Psalms 146:3).

The Old Testament Law and prophets teach us that God is righteous, but Jesus Christ has revealed God’s righteousness to the world. The Law did not make us righteous; it just showed us our sinfulness. Jesus is the demonstration of God’s righteousness in human flesh in this world.

God is completely impartial. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). None of us is worthy of God’s favor and mercy. So God offers forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation (from eternal condemnation and destruction) as a free gift. Jesus has paid with his life on the Cross for our forgiveness and salvation.

Jesus is God’s only “anointed” eternal Savior and King; there is salvation in no other person or thing (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Anyone willing to accept Jesus as Lord and to trust and obey Jesus (which is what it means for Jesus to be Lord; Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-27) is cleansed from guilt for sin.

God’s plan of salvation precludes human boasting and human pride. Salvation is not based on the principle of works (good deeds) but on the principle of faith (obedient trust). Salvation is by faith (obedient trust) by grace (unmerited favor) in Jesus Christ, not by works (keeping of) the Law (Ephesians 2:8-9).

There are two major heresies in the Church today that arose in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament of the Bible. One is “works righteousness,” earning salvation by doing good deeds; keeping the Law; and the other is “Cheap Grace,”* salvation by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

Good deeds are not the means, but the evidence, of salvation (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus warns that we are not to follow false prophets who teach that we must do certain “good deeds” to earn salvation; nor are we to believe false teachers who say that we do not have to trust and obey God’s Word. We must, however, understand God’s Word from the prospective of Jesus Christ (the New Testament). Obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit supersedes obedience to the letter of the Law of Moses (Romans 8:1-14).

In order to discern truth from error, we must know and remember God’s Word. Unless we know God’s Word we have no standard by which to discern true from false teachings, or good fruit from bad.

Jesus’ name is not a magic incantation. God is not obligated to answer our prayers just because we add Jesus’ name at the end. Jesus is not obligated to save us and give us eternal life just because we call out in his name (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right home).

If Jesus is truly our Lord we will trust and obey him. We will seek the infilling of his Holy Spirit, and be guided and empowered by him to know and do God’s will. We won’t be saved by church “membership” or church “ritual.” We aren’t saved by doing good deeds like church attendance, singing in the choir, or teaching Sunday School. Salvation is only by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ 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).

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


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


 

Monday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 26, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 2 Pentecost A

Psalm 50:1-15 — God’s Coming Judgment;

Paraphrase:

God, the Lord, the all-powerful one speaks, calling the people of earth from daybreak to nightfall. God shines forth from Zion, God’s eternal kingdom, the ultimate of beauty and perfection.

Our God is coming, bringing devouring fire and a mighty tempest. God’s call goes forth through heaven and earth, summoning his people for his judgment. Let his faithful people, who have covenanted with the Lord by sacrifice, be gathered to the Lord. God alone is judge and heaven declares his righteousness.

God calls his people to listen to him. The Lord will testify against them, for he is their God. The Lord does not blame them for lack of sacrifices. They offer burn offerings continually, but God refuses to accept their sacrifices.

God refuses to accept their sacrifices, because all the cattle and every creature belongs to God. God has no need for mankind to provide him with food (through their sacrificial offerings). If God were hungry he wouldn’t have to ask mankind for food. God doesn’t eat the flesh or drink the blood of animals.

The sacrifice that God desires is the sacrifice of thanksgiving and obedient trust, keeping our covenant vows to the Lord, and relying on him for help in the day of trouble. Then the Lord will deliver them, and they will glorify the Lord.

Commentary:

God has appointed a day when he will judge all people who have ever lived, by his only begotten Son, his “anointed” (Christ and Messiah both mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively; Matthew 25:31-46) eternal Savior and Righteous Judge. God is the only God, and he has the sovereign power and authority to judge Creation, and has given that authority to Jesus (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus is the righteous judge, because Jesus lived in this temporal world in human flesh, and experienced every temptation, but without sinning (disobeying God’s Word). Jesus trusted and obeyed God’s Word unto physical death on the Cross, and his resurrection demonstrates that he has been judged righteous by God; God has raised Jesus from physical death to eternal life.

The Day of Judgment will be like a destroying fire, and a devastating storm to the people who have rejected God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, the “living” Word (John 1:1-5, 14) and have refused to trust and obey Jesus. But the people of God, who have trusted and obeyed God’s Word, will rejoice, because the Lord is bringing justice and reward for them.

God’s people are the people who have entered into the New Covenant of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction by Grace (God’s unmerited favor; a free gift), through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). They have promised to trust and obey Jesus. They are no longer under the condemnation of God’s Word, provided that they live in obedient trust in Jesus through the gift of the indwelling 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).

The people of Israel thought they could have God’s favor by offering animal sacrifices to God, without thankfulness and obedient trust in God’s Word. Christians are the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.” Many nominal “Christians” today have the same problem. They think that they can appease and manipulate God to do their will, by “religious” ritual.

God doesn’t need our religious ritual any more than he needs animal sacrifice. What God desires is people who acknowledge and give thanks to God for the many great things he has done for us, beginning with forgiveness and salvation as a free gift, through Jesus Christ; and to love the Lord enough that we are willing to trust and obey him (John 14:23-34).

God is God, whether we acknowledge him or not. God has given us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey him. But God has no obligation to be all that being an all-powerful, faithful, loving God implies, unless we are willing to be appreciative of what he does for us and willing to trust and obey his Word. If we will be God’s People, he will be our God: Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 11:20; Leviticus 26:3-4, 12; see also Jeremiah 11:4-5. God can hear our cries to him, when we are in trouble, but he is not obligated to listen and answer our prayers unless we are willing to hear and keep his Word (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right)

We have the freedom to choose, but there is a day coming, when we will no longer be able to reject and disobey God’s Word. In the Day of Judgment, everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and we will have no choice but to accept his judgment (Philippians 2:10-11).

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

Tuesday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 27, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Pentecost A

Hosea 5:15-6:6 — Judgment and Restoration;

Paraphrase:

The Lord will depart from his people until they acknowledge their guilt and seek his presence. In their distress they may seek the Lord and return to him, realizing that the Lord who tears also mends, and he afflicts but he will also heal. “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). We should endeavor to know the Lord, for his presence is as certain as the dawn. He will come to us and refresh us as certainly as the spring rains water the earth.

The Lord declares that the love of Ephraim and Judah (patriarchs of two of the twelve tribes; Judah became the remnant of Israel) for the Lord is as transient as the morning fog and dew which quickly dries. So the Lord declares that he has hewn them by his prophets and slain them by God’s Word, and God’s judgment goes forth like a flash of light. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice; the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offering” (Hosea 6:6).

Commentary:

Repeatedly in the history of Israel, God’s people forgot the great things God had done for them and turned away from obedient trust in the Lord to disobedience and idolatry. Then the Lord would withdraw his providence and protection from them and allow them to experience trouble, so that they would turn again to the Lord and seek his presence and blessing. One example is the exile of Judah to Babylon for seventy years. The wilderness wandering is a similar example.

Judah, the Southern Kingdom of the divided monarchy was the remnant of Israel. The Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes had refused to heed the warning of God’s Word by the prophets, and did not return to obedient trust in the Lord, although they had opportunity right up to the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians. The Northern Kingdom was destroyed and the ten tribes were scattered throughout the Assyrian kingdom (present day Syria and Northern Iraq) and effectively ceased to exist.

Judah didn’t heed the example of the Northern Kingdom or God’s Word spoken by the prophets, so again God withdrew his providence and protection from them and allowed them to be conquered and exiled to Babylon (present-day Iraq) by the Chaldeans. Seventy years exile in Babylon was virtually a death sentence for people who were adults at the time of the deportation. The Lord brought back Judah from Babylon, but it was a renewed people, who had learned to trust and obey the Lord during their exile.

The Exile in Babylon was similar to the forty years of Israel’s wilderness wandering, which was the result of Israel’s disobedience of God’s Word commanding them to enter and possess the Promised Land. God lifted his providence and protection from them, and when they tried on their own to enter they were repulsed by the occupants of the Land, and were forced to wander in the wilderness until that generation of Israelites perished in the wilderness.

The people who returned from Babylonian Exile had turned to the Lord and had learned to trust and obey his Word, but the remnant of Israel forgot the lesson learned in the Exile and again fell away from obedient trust in God’s Word. As a result they were unprepared to receive the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Because they rejected Jesus, the Messiah, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14), God again removed his providence and protection from them. In 70 A.D. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans and the Jews were scattered throughout the world, as the northern kingdom had been. At the destruction of the temple, Judaism effectively ceased to exist. The veil of the temple had been torn in two from top to bottom at the crucifixion of Jesus (Luke 23:45b), symbolizing that Jesus has become the new and better way into the presence of God.

At the resurrection of Jesus, the Church has become the “New Israel,” the “New People of God,” the “New Jerusalem.” The condition of the Church today is very similar to that of Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first advent (coming).

At the time of Jesus, Judaism had ceased to be a covenant relationship with God and had become a human institution, which the religious leaders used to their personal advantage. They used “religion” to confirm their “righteousness” and their status in the society, and to serve their own interests, instead of seeking to serve the will of God. In much of the nominal “Church,” that is the same situation today. “Religion” is man’s attempt to manipulate God to man’s will, and that’s what the “Church” has become in many instances.

The Lord lifts his providence and protection from his people who have turned away from obedient trust in the Lord, and allows them to experience tragedy and disaster, so that they can realize that they need the Lord to protect and bless them, and so they can learn the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. The Lord allows them to learn by trial and error so that they will return to him in obedient trust and receive restoration and eternal life in his kingdom in heaven. God disciplines us for our good, as a good parent, so that we will not perish eternally.

I personally testify that I had been raised in the Church, but when I became an adult I turned away from obedient trust in the Lord and pursued my own interests. My interests were idolatrous; I pursued and served them more than I cared for seeking and serving the Lord. The Lord removed his providence and protection from me and allowed me to experience great troubles. The result was that I was compelled to examine my Christian beliefs and seek truth.

I began to read the entire Bible and read it daily to find truth, and by the time I finished reading it completely, I knew that Jesus is the truth. I asked him to be my Lord. I returned to Church, and the Lord began “discipling” me, and led me through a number of experiences to show me that he was able and faithful to provide for and protect me. He guided me to seek the fulfillment of the promise of “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Since I’ve been “reborn’ (John 3:3, 5-8), he has continued to disciple and lead me daily by his Word and his Spirit within me for more than thirty years.

America today has also turned away from the Lord to pursue worldly goals and idolatry. During our colonial and wilderness periods Americans learned to seek the Lord’s providence and protection, but since we’ve become rich and successful, we’ve forgotten the lessons learned in the “wilderness” and “exile.” Notice that the “enemies” that threaten America today are the same, geographically, culturally and spiritually as those who historically threatened Israel.

American culture has glorified values of “self-reliance” and stubborn determinism; if one fails, one keeps on trying until one succeeds. Those attitudes lead to repeating the same mistakes over and over, and never learning the lessons the Lord wants us to learn.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know the Lord God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus is God’s only “anointed” Savior and eternal King. Jesus is the only way to God’s presence, the only way to know God and God’s eternal truth, the only way to be spiritually “born-again” to eternal life (Acts 4:12; 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

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

Jesus fulfilled and demonstrated the truth of the promise that the Lord will revive his people and raise them on the third day, from physical death to eternal life in the Lord’s presence (Hosea 6:2; Matthew 16:21; Acts 10:40). God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. What God did for Jesus he will do for those who trust and obey Jesus.

The Lord wants us to turn to him, to seek him, and to learn to trust and obey him, so that we can have eternal life with him in his eternal kingdom in paradise restored. If we seek him we will find him; if we turn to him he will revive, renew and refresh us, as individuals, as the Church, as a nation, and as the world.

The Lord has given his Word in the Bible and through his prophets so that we can be warned and “sculpted” into the kind of loving, obedient, trusting people that God wants for his kingdom.

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

Wednesday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 28, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 2 Pentecost A

Romans 4:18-25 — Justification by Faith;

Paraphrase:

In faith, Abraham believed what seemed hopeless, from a human perspective, that he would become the father of many nations, by the Lord’s promise, “So shall your descendants be” (as numerous as the stars in the heavens; Genesis 15:5). Abraham didn’t waver in faith, when he considered that he was at the end of his life, since he was about a hundred years old, and that Sarah was past childbearing age and had never conceived.

Abraham never doubted God’s promise, but was completely convinced that the Lord was able to do as he had promised, and his faith grew strong as he gave glory to the Lord. So the Lord accounted Abraham as righteous because of Abraham’s faith in God’s Word (Genesis 15:6), and it was recorded in the Bible for our benefit. We will also be accounted righteous if we believe in God who raised, from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead so that we could be acquitted of sin.

Commentary:

The Lord intends to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. He has designed this temporal world to allow us free choice to trust and obey his Word or not, and to learn by trial and error; but he will not allow rebellion and disobedience in his eternal kingdom. He knew that if he gave us free choice we would choose to do our will rather than his. So we are all guilty of sin (disobedience of God’s will; Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). But God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16).

Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin and for salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). God has promised to forgive and save all who believe his promise in Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Abraham was the father of the nation of Israel, and also the spiritual father of all who believe God’s Word in the Bible, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), the “living Word.” Since the coming of Jesus Christ, the Church is the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.”

There is a Day of Judgment coming for each one of us at the end of our lifetime on this earth. We will all be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life during this lifetime and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey him will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Abraham was accounted righteous in God’s judgment because Abraham believed (trusted and obeyed) God’s Word. We who believe God’s Word will similarly be accounted righteous (justified; vindicated; acquitted) in the Day of Judgment.

Saving faith is not merely intellectual assent. Believing in Jesus isn’t just adding his name to the end of our prayers, and claiming him as our Lord when trouble happens (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-27). Saving faith is trusting and obeying Jesus.

Faith begins like a tiny “mustard seed” (Luke 13:19; Matthew 17:20), simply our “yes” to trust and obey the Lord. As we begin to trust and obey, the Lord will show us that he is able and faithful to do what he promises, and will cause our faith to grow to spiritual maturity.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Pentecost A

First Posted May 29, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 2 Pentecost A

Matthew 9:9-13 – Call of Matthew;

Jesus passed the office of a tax collector named Matthew, and Jesus called to him and said, “Follow me.” And Matthew got up and followed Jesus.

At dinner at Matthew’s house, many other tax collectors came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees (legalistic Jewish religious leaders) criticized Jesus to his disciples for eating with tax collectors and sinners. When Jesus heard them he told them that those who are healthy have no need of a physician, but only those who are sick. Jesus told them to go and learn the meaning of God’s Word that God desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). Jesus told them that he had come to call sinners, not those who are righteous.

Commentary:

Jewish tax collectors were hated by the Jews because they were collaborators with the occupying Roman government. The Pharisees, as religious leaders, were to care for the spiritual conditions of the people, but instead they were cutting off from forgiveness and restoration people they regarded as sinners, and making themselves appear to be righteous.

We’re all sinners and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The Pharisees needed spiritual healing as much as the people they regarded as sinners, but the “sinners” recognized and acknowledged their sinfulness and trusted and obeyed Jesus. Their sins were forgiven and their sinfulness healed, but the Pharisees refused to recognize and acknowledge their sinfulness and refused to receive the spiritual healing which only Jesus can provide (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

God is merciful. We don’t deserve to be saved from eternal condemnation, but he is willing to forgive and save us as a free gift, which we receive only by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God is the Creator of everything, and he has no need for us to do anything for him. He wants to do something for us. What he desires is our obedient trust. The sacrifice he desires is our sacrifice of our will, and submission to his. No religious “ritual” can substitute for our obedient trust in his Word.

If we recognize our need for forgiveness and salvation, we will be thankful to God for what he has done for us through Jesus Christ, and we will be loving and merciful to others. We will care about the spiritual condition of others and will offer them the opportunity for forgiveness and salvation which we have received.

As we go about our daily lives, Jesus is passing by. He calls us to follow him, and if we accept and act on his invitation he will come into our hearts as Jesus entered Matthew’s home. He will have fellowship with us as he shared a meal with Matthew (Revelation 3:20; John 14:23-24). Jesus doesn’t come to us to criticize and condemn us. He knows our spiritual need and he wants to heal us and give us eternal life in paradise with him.

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

Friday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 30, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 2 Pentecost A

Isaiah 25:6-9 — Messianic Feast;
Revelation 3:14-22 — Christ’s Reign;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

On Zion, the mountain of the Lord, the Lord will provide a great banquet of rich food and fine aged wine for all people. He will remove and destroy the veil that is over all nations and people. “He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8). In that day it will be said that the Lord is our God; we have waited for his salvation. He is our Lord for whom we have waited; let us celebrate and rejoice in his salvation.

Revelation Paraphrase:

John was given messages from Jesus to be sent to seven churches. The seventh message was to the church at Laodicea, a wealthy city near Corinth. Jesus is “the Amen, the fulfillment of God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1:20), the faithful and true witness (who testified to the Gospel), the beginning of God’s creation” (John 1:1-5, 14).

The Lord knows the spiritual condition of the church at Laodicea, and rebukes them as nauseating because they are lukewarm; neither hot nor cold. The congregation thinks they are rich and have prospered and need nothing, not realizing that they are wretched, poor, blind and naked. Jesus warns them to buy from Jesus gold refined by fire, so that they will be truly rich, white robes to cover the shame of their nakedness and salve to heal their blind eyes.

The Lord rebukes and corrects those whom he loves, so they should be eager to hear and repent. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus will share his throne in glory with those who overcome the world, as God has shared his throne with Christ. Those who can hear should pay attention to what the Spirit says to the Churches.

Commentary:

Isaiah foretold the fulfillment of the Messianic feast of Christ and his Church in heaven. It is the fulfillment of the Messianic feast which Christ initiated on the night of his betrayal at the “Last Supper” (Matthew 26:26-28), and which he promised his disciples would share with him in heaven (Matthew 26:29).

There is a veil over the minds of all people which keeps them from understanding God’s Word (2 Corinthians 3:13-16), until they are “reborn” (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 indwelling Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand God’s Word (John 14:26; 16:13; Luke 24:45).

Disciples of Jesus Christ who trust and obey Jesus are spiritually “reborn” to eternal life 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). One can know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

In the day when we are reunited with our Lord in heaven we will live eternally with him in a New Creation restored to paradise. There will be no more sorrow, trouble, pain, sickness or decay (see Revelation 21:4). In that day the reproach that the people of God have endured in this world will be removed, and we will rejoice and celebrate our salvation with our Lord. Then we will know that the waiting we’ve endured in this lifetime has been well worthwhile.

The seven churches of Asia of whom John wrote are typical of the types of churches in the world today. The congregation at Laodicea is representative of many churches in America today. There are many “lukewarm” members in our churches. Many are rich and successful in their worldly lives and don’t realize how spiritually poor, blind, naked and wretched they really are.

The Lord rebukes and disciplines us in love, for our own good. It is not loving to let someone do what is going to injure and destroy them. We should be willing to hear the Lord’s rebuke, so that we correct what is harmful and be restored to what God intends for us.

Jesus is the only true source of spiritual wealth, and spiritual enlightenment, and only Jesus can provide the robes of salvation. The only way we can obtain these spiritual necessities is by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the “Amen,” the “yes” to all the promises of God’s Word. Jesus is the beginning of God’s Creation and its fulfillment (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus has been designed into this Creation by God from the very start.

Jesus promises that he is standing and knocking at the door of our hearts. If we will listen and open that door, he will come in and live with us in close personal fellowship (Revelation 3:20; compare John 14:15-17, 21, 23-24).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Pentecost A

First Posted May 31, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 2 Pentecost A

Luke14:25-35 — Costly Discipleship;

Paraphrase:

Large crowds were following Jesus and he turned and told them that anyone who wants to follow Jesus and become his disciple must “hate” father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and even his own life. Everyone who follows Jesus as his disciple must carry his own cross.

Jesus said that a person who plans to build a tower should calculate the cost of construction before he begins. Otherwise, he might run out of money and be ridiculed because he was unable to finish the building. Likewise, a king preparing to do battle against another king must consider whether his army is sufficient to prevail against an army twice as large. Otherwise, he should send an emissary to the other king seeking peace while the adversary is far off. Similarly, one must renounce all that he has in order to be Jesus’ disciple.

Jesus said that salt is good, but if it were to lose its saltiness, how could it be restored? Without its savor it would be good for nothing and would be thrown away. Those who can hear spiritual truth should pay attention to what Jesus is saying.

Commentary:

People were willing to follow Jesus when they were receiving free food and free medical care. But Jesus wanted them to understand that following Jesus requires discipleship and self-denial. Jesus deliberately exaggerated his illustrations in order to make the point. Disciples are not literally to hate their friends and relatives, but they must love Jesus so much more that the difference is that great.

Jesus’ crucifixion is the illustration of what discipleship costs. Jesus’ obedient trust in God’s Word is the example we are to follow. Worldly people hated and crucified Jesus because of the Gospel he proclaimed, and his disciples cannot expect the world to treat them better. The Gospel is still hated by many today.

Disciples must be willing to “die” to themselves, renouncing their lives, their self-wills, their possessions and even their families, if necessary, to follow Jesus’ example and teaching. Disciples must be willing to endure and persevere despite hardships and persecutions.

Obedient trust in Jesus Christ is the requirement, the cost, of discipleship. One of several major false teachings in the Church today, which was present from the very beginning of the Church and is refuted in the New Testament is “Cheap Grace,”* the teaching that salvation is by grace (unmerited favor) without the requirement of discipleship and obedience (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

In many Churches, particularly in America today, leaders are failing to make disciples of Jesus Christ, settling for making “members” instead. Discipleship is not an optional category of super-Christian. “Christian” is the name given to Jesus’ disciples (Acts 11:26d).

Jesus said that in order to see the kingdom of God, which is all around us now, and to “see” (enter and dwell in) it in eternity, one must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and know the Lord (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “reborn.” This is only possible by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a discernible ongoing event, which one experiences for oneself (Acts 19:2).

Many churches today have adopted the “Church Growth” movement, are trying to “market” themselves as “consumer-friendly,” and trying to be “entertaining,” offering programs to appeal to every interest.

Many church members are interested in the benefits they receive from the church program. They attend if the air conditioning isn’t too hot or cold, and if the seats are padded, and if the pastor’s message is brief, entertaining and makes them feel good, and if there isn’t some secular activity that’s more interesting and fun to do.

Jesus’ disciples are to be “salt.” They are to keep the distinctive characteristic of Christian disciples: obedient trust in Jesus’ teaching and example. Their influence on others is as great as is salt’s ability to add savor to much greater portions of food. If “Christians” don’t live any differently than worldly people they aren’t doing what they were called in Jesus Christ to do, and they’re liable to being discarded.

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


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


Week of Holy Trinity A – 06/11 – 17/2011

June 10, 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 Trinity-A

Sunday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 11, 2008;

[Trinity Sunday is the day the Church celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity: One God in three “persons” or “expressions.”  Although the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, the doctrine is present throughout. It was taught by the original Apostles to the First-Century Church (and see The Apostles Creed). The Holy Spirit, the third “person” of the Trinity, is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9)]

Podcast: Sunday of Trinity – A

Genesis 1:1-2:3 — God the Creator;
Psalm 29 — God of the Storm;
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40 — No Other God;
2 Corinthians 13:11-14 — Benediction;
Matthew 28:16-20 — The Great Commission;

Genesis Paraphrase:

This Universe has been created from watery chaos by the Word of God. God’s first act was to call light into existence. “God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4). God called the light, “Day,” and the darkness, “Night.” Morning became evening, the end of the first day (Jews considered the day to begin at evening).

God called forth the firmament (the heavens were considered to be a dome) in the midst of waters, to separate the waters above from the waters below. God called the firmament Heaven, and the second day ended.

God commanded the waters below to be gathered together and for land to appear, and it happened. God called the land, “Earth,” and the waters, “Seas.” God examined his work and found that it was good. God commanded the land to bring forth all sorts of plants, yielding all kinds of seed and fruits according to their kind. God saw that the results were good, and the third day ended.

God commanded there to be lights in the heavens to separate Day from Night, and as signs for direction, to indicate seasons, days, and years, to give light on earth, and to separate light from darkness, and it happened as God had commanded. God created two main lights, the Sun to rule the day, and the Moon to rule the night. God also created the stars. God found the result good, and the fourth day ended.

God commanded the waters to bring forth swarms of living creatures, and winged creatures to fly in the air above. God created every living creature great and small. The result was good in God’s judgment, and he blessed the creatures he had made and told them to multiply and fill the earth. The fifth day ended. On the sixth day God commanded the land to bring forth every kind of land animal, and the result was good.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26). “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). God blessed mankind and commanded them to multiply and fill and subdue the earth and have dominion over all the creatures God had made. God gave mankind and all creatures every kind of plant, seed, and fruit, according to their kind, for food. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). The sixth day ended.

All the work of Creation was ended and God rested on the seventh day from the work of Creation. “So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed” (made holy; set apart for God’s purpose) the seventh day (Genesis 2:3).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let all beings in heaven and on earth acknowledge the glory and strength of the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord and worship him in holiness.

The voice of the Lord is like thunder upon the waters. The Lord’s voice is powerful and majestic. His voice shatters cedars of Lebanon. He makes the mountains of Lebanon and Sirion (Mt. Hermon) leap like frisky young wild animals. The voice of the Lord flashes forth like lightening bolts, and shakes the wilderness.

The voice of the Lord is like a mighty windstorm, which causes mighty oaks to bend and whirl and strips the trees of the forest. In his temple his people give him glory.

The Lord is enthroned and reigns eternally above the flood. Pray that the Lord will bless his people with strength and peace!

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Has there ever at any time in history been a people whose god has done such great things for them as God has done for his people, Israel? Has any other people ever heard the voice of God speak to them out of the midst of fire as the Israelites heard, and lived to tell about it (Ex 20:18-26)? Has the god of any other nation ever brought his nation out from domination by another nation, with great and terrifying supernatural demonstrations of power, as the Lord did for the Israelites in Egypt, as they had witnessed? Therefore know, acknowledge and remember always, that the Lord is God in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. Therefore we must keep his commandments so that we and our children can thrive and prosper and enjoy long life in the land the Lord has given us for eternity.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

At the end of Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth, he urged them to heed his teaching and change their ways, and to live peacefully with one another, so that the God of peace will be with them. Christians should greet one another with love as family members. Paul prayed that by the grace of Jesus Christ they would experience the fellowship and love of God the Father, through their sharing in the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The eleven disciples (minus Judas Iscariot, the betrayer) went to the mountain in Galilee as Jesus had commanded them (Matthew 28:10). There the disciples saw Jesus and worshiped him, although some had doubts. Jesus came to them and told them that he had been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 11:27a; Luke 10:22a; Ephesians 1:20-22). Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples (of Jesus Christ) in all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity), and teaching them observe (i.e. obey) all that Jesus had commanded his disciples, and as they did so, Jesus promised to be with them always, “to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20b; the “Second Coming,” the Day of Judgment).

Commentary:

God is Spirit, and God’s Spirit was above and in authority over the storm of watery chaos (Genesis 1:2). This Universe has been created by the Word of God, for God’s specific purpose. God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey his Word.

When God speaks, what he commands happens. He could command us to trust and obey him, and we would have no choice but to comply. But God wants us to have the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey him, and whether or not to live in his eternal kingdom.

God is God of heaven and earth, whether we acknowledge him or not. But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever. This Universe and we individually are limited by time. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God, and to learn by trial and error to trust and obey him.

This World was created by God and was very good as created. The evil and sin that mar Creation are the result of disobedience of God’s Word and doing what is bad in God’s judgment, as a result of giving us free will.

God knew that if he gave us freedom to choose whether or not to obey him we would choose to do our will rather than his. We have all sinned and fallen 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 designed this Creation to provide for our salvation from sin and eternal condemnation, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus has been designed and “built into” Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

God’s Spirit reigned over the watery chaos at Creation and he reigns over the Universe now. God’s Word thundered over the watery chaos at Creation and wrought his will, which was very good, and God’s Word reigns now over the Universe created by the Word of God. God reigns over the storms of life, and is able to give his people strength and peace in the midst of the “storm and flood” of this life.

The Bible, the Word of God, is the history of God’s purpose of Creation and his dealing with his people. God’s Word reveals that he is good, faithful, and powerful.

The history of God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage to sin and death in Egypt is deliberately intended to be a parable, a metaphor for life in this temporal world. Jesus is the “New Moses” who frees us from slavery to sin and death, through the “Sea” of our baptism into Christ, and leads us through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, through the “River” of physical death, and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

God has revealed himself in the Biblical history as the one and only true God of heaven and earth. God is Spirit. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God in human flesh. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh in this world in perfect obedience (John 1:1-5, 14).

The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God the Father, and Jesus Christ, to us personally and individually. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son.

The Bible records the great things God has done for his people in the past, and the great things God has promised to do for his people in the future. The characteristic which identifies God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22); God’s Word always is fulfilled, and because it is eternal it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

As we begin to trust and obey God’s Word in Jesus Christ, we will personally experience the great things God has done, is doing, and will do in the future for us. We must learn and remember what God has done for us, as recorded in the Bible, and what we have experienced personally. We must learn and remember his commandments in his Word, so that we and our children can thrive and prosper spiritually now, and for ever in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Paul was “discipling” the Corinthian congregation. He was teaching them to know and apply the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Paul was teaching them that if they wanted the promises of God they had to trust and obey God’s Word. If they wanted God’s peace, they must live peaceably with one another. Paul’s prayer for them was that by the grace (unmerited favor) we can receive through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, we would experience the fellowship and love of God the Father, through participation (sharing) in the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul’s benediction manifests the Trinitarian doctrine (the Holy Trinity). God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one God in three persons (expressions). Salvation is not deserved or earned; it is the free gift of God to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10). If we receive God’s grace through Jesus Christ by obedient trust, we will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom Jesus will manifest himself to us personally and individually (John 14:21), and through whom we will experience the love and fellowship of God the Father. “Born-again” Christians personally experience and testify to the truth and reality of the Holy Trinity.

Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples, before he ascended into heaven, was to wait in Jerusalem until they had been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then to make disciples, teaching them to trust and obey Jesus, and baptizing them in the name of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the Holy Trinity.

Today is the day the Church celebrates the doctrine of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; one God in three persons (expressions). The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, but the doctrine is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. It was taught by Jesus to his disciples (John 14:15-17; Matthew 28:19), and by his disciples to the Church, as recorded in the New Testament (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Appropriately, Trinity Sunday follows the Day of Pentecost, which commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, since “born-again” Christians personally experience God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, through 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 of Trinity – A

First Posted May 12, 2008;

Podcast: Monday of Trinity – A

Psalm 31:1-5 (6-18) 19-24 — Trust in the Lord;

Paraphrase:

I seek refuge in the Lord; may I never be put to shame. Because the Lord is righteous he will deliver me. He will hear me and quickly rescue me. Please, Lord, be my refuge and strong fortress to save me.

Yes, you are my rock and fortress. For your names’ sake (character and glory) you will lead me and guide me. Remove me from the hidden trap that has been set for me, for you are my protector. “Into thy hands I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God” (Psalm 31:5).

The Lord detests those who trust in vain idols; my trust is in the Lord. I will rejoice and celebrate your steadfast love; you know my afflictions and adversities, and have not let my enemies capture me; you have given me solid footing. Lord, be gracious to me; my soul and body are worn out with grief. “For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery and my bones waste away: (Psalm 31:10).

“I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, and object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the streets flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. Yea, I hear the whispering of many- terror on every side! -as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in thee, O Lord, I say, ‘Thou art my God.’ My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors” (Psalm 31:11-15). Look upon me with favor and, in steadfast love, save me! I call upon thee; let me not be put to shame.

It is the wicked who will be ashamed; they will die unable to justify their deeds. Their lies will be mute and their pride, contempt, and insolence against the righteous will be silenced.

Those who fear the Lord will discover his abundant goodness for those who take refuge in him. In his presence he hides them from the plots of men and verbal fighting.

May the Lord be blessed for his wondrous steadfast love for me, when I was under attack like a besieged city. I was afraid that I was far from the Lord’s help, but he heard and delivered me. All his saints love the Lord but he will adequately repay the haughty. May those who wait for the Lord be strong and take courage.

Commentary:

This psalm is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel. David was prophetic, and the Word of God in this psalm was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son (descendant) of David and eternal heir to David’s throne.

Jesus quoted and fulfilled Psalm 31:5 as he yielded up his spirit on the cross (Luke 23:46; see also Psalm 22; compare Matthew 27:46). On the cross Jesus’ body and soul, and his days and years, were spent with grief and sorrow. His physical strength failed, and his bones wasted away (Psalm 31:9-10).

Jesus had become the scorn of his adversaries. His disciples had fled from him in fear. Around the cross he heard the whispering of his enemies as they carried out their plot to kill him (Matthew 27:39-44; Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-38).

Jesus came to reveal God’s steadfast love, faithfulness and power to save those who put their trust in the Lord. Jesus committed his spirit into the hand of God and God redeemed him from physical death to eternal life. Jesus came to show us by his example that we can entrust our lives and our eternal souls to the Lord and he will save and preserve us.

God’s Word contains great and precious promises which we can claim by faith (obedient trust). God’s Word is eternally true, and fulfilled over and over again as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Those who, like David, seek refuge and salvation in the Lord will testify to the Lord’s power, love and faithfulness to save and vindicate them over their enemies.

David experienced attack by powerful worldly enemies and learned from experience that the Lord hears and rescues us when we call upon him in faith (obedient trust) for help. Countless believers since then, including myself, have trusted the promises in this text, experienced and testify to the power, love and faithfulness of God to deliver us from our enemies.

I have had times when I felt surrounded by enemies who plotted against me, and I found that there is true refuge and protection only in the Lord. When I have felt under attack I have learned to turn to the Psalms, and have been encouraged and strengthened to trust in the Lord and to wait for his deliverance.

Those who trust in their own resources and abilities will ultimately be defeated. Jesus’ enemies will go to eternal death in hell without a single word to defend them at the Day of Judgment. In that day, the lies and insolence of the enemies of Christ will be silenced forever.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 of Trinity – A

First Posted May 13, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday of Trinity – A

Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28 — Truth or Consequences;

Paraphrase:

As Israel was poised to enter the Promised Land from the east, after the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Moses, who was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, reminded the people to keep the Covenant of Law which was established at Mt. Sinai, with the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses. God’s people were told to store up God’s Word in their hearts and souls. They were to bind the commandments on their hand (as we might tie a string around our finger) in order to be constantly reminded to remember and keep God’s Word. They were to bind them in a packet on a headband over and between their eyes so that God’s Word would be constantly in sight, so that they would remember to obey it.

God’s people were to teach God’s Word to their children at every opportunity; when sitting at home, or when walking to and fro; when going to bed in the evening, and when getting up in the morning. God’s people were to write God’s Word upon their doorposts and their gates, so that they would be reminded to keep God’s Word when they left their house, and when they returned.

God declared through Moses that God’s Word contains a blessing and a curse: A blessing if we learn, trust and obey God’s Word, and a curse if we do not learn, trust and obey God’s Word, but instead turn aside from the way of obedience to God’s Word and pursue other gods “which they have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:28d).

Commentary:

The condition for blessing and long life in the Promised Land was knowledge of, and obedient trust in God’s Word. It was true for Israel and it is still true for us today. For us, the promise is eternal life in the “Promised Land” of God’s kingdom in heaven, and now is the time when we can and must enter that kingdom, if at all, by faith (obedient trust) in God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus is the only way to know divine Truth (John 14:15-17; ), the only way to come to knowledge of and fellowship with God, and the only way to receive forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and to receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

We must be spiritually “reborn” (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 impossible to be “born-again” and not know it; if we have to ask someone else if we have been “reborn” we haven’t been (Acts 19:2)!

Christians are no longer under the Old Covenant of Law, but under the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), provided that we trust and obey Jesus by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11). Christians are the “New Israel” the “New People of God.” If we are God’s people, we must learn to know, trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living” Word (John 1:14).

Jesus came to teach us by word and example how to trust and obey God’s Word. He came to give us the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we are able to remember and apply God’s Word, but in order for the Holy Spirit to remind us of God’s Word, we must first have read and heard it. We need to know God’s Word completely and to read it daily.

Weekly attendance at a church which proclaims the Word by the weekly readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (schedule of Scripture readings for the Church Year) is helpful, but doesn’t cover the entire Bible texts, and doesn’t replace personal daily Bible reading. Many “Churches” don’t even utilize the Lectionary, and too often the Sermon, if it is even based on a Bible text, may only be a verse or two.

Israel’s practice of binding God’s Word on their hands, their foreheads, their doorposts and gates, was intended by God to be a graphic illustration of the importance and practice of remembering and applying God’s Word. We must learn to know by practice and experience God’s Word and how to apply it in our daily lives, so that we can teach obedient trust in God’s Word by word and example to our children.

The responsibility to teach our children to know, trust and obey God’s Word is the primary responsibility of Christian families. Just sending our children to Sunday School one hour a week won’t fulfill our parental responsibility, and many nominally “Christian” families don’t even do that. We don’t have to look far in the culture in which we live to see the results of our failure to teach our children obedient trust in God’s Word.

God’s Word contains wonderful promises, but also terrible warnings of the consequences of disobedience. The promises are conditional upon our obedient trust. The warnings are intended to help us to avoid the consequences of indifference to, and disobedience of God’s Word.

When we are not trusting and obeying God’s Word, we are pursuing “gods we have not known;” modern idols such as wealth, power, success, fame, pleasure, home, family, security, possessions. Idolatry is loving and serving anyone or any thing as much as or more than the Lord. These are “gods that we cannot know,” because they aren’t gods at all, and ultimately they can never satisfy. We can never obtain the “promises” they seem to offer.

God alone is the one true God. He is the one God that we can seek and come to know, and this is the reason and purpose for life in this temporal world (Acts 17:26-27). By trusting and obeying Jesus we will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father, and Jesus Christ, his Son (John 14:21, 23).

God’s Word warns that there is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what we have individually done in this lifetime. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually reborn, and will live eternally in God’s heavenly kingdom; those who have rejected Jesus, and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Not having known God’s Word will not excuse us from failure to trust and obey it.

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

Wednesday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 14, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday of Trinity – A

Romans 3:21-25a, 27-28 — Justification by Faith:

Paraphrase:

Since the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true) has been revealed apart from God’s Law, although attested to by the law and the prophets (the Jewish Scriptures; the Old Testament). The righteousness of God through faith (obedient trust) is attributed to all who believe. “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified (found not guilty) by his grace (unmerited favor) as a free gift, through the redemption (release from guilt) which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation (making amends for; extinguishing of guilt) by his blood, to be received by faith (obedient trust)” (Romans 3:23-25).

Thus, we have no grounds for boasting, because our justification (righteousness in God’s judgment) is not based on our deeds (keeping of the Law) but on faith (obedient trust). For we hold that a [person] is justified by faith apart from works (keeping) of law” (Romans 3:28).

The Old Covenant of Law was intended to show the righteousness of God (Deuteronomy 4:6-8), and reveal our sinfulness (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:20). It was intended to restrain sinfulness until the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew respectively), God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King. Jesus is the revelation of God to the world in human flesh. Jesus is the righteousness of God made visible.

Jesus is not the end of the Law but its fulfillment (Matthew 5:17-19). Under the Old Covenant, sacrifices had to be made continually for forgiveness of sin. The Law didn’t eliminate sin; it revealed sin. Jesus came to make it possible for us to satisfy the requirements of the Law by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. God knew that in giving us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey him, we would all disobey, and would need to learn by trial and error to trust and obey God. Jesus Christ, God’s promised, anointed Savior, has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

All of us have sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3;23; 1 John 1:8-10 ). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God, to know divine Truth (John 14:15-17; 16:13), and to receive spiritual eternal life (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus’ blood shed on the cross is the only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time and all people who are willing to receive it, for the forgiveness of sin through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:22; 9:25-28).

There are two false teachings in the nominal “Church” today, which were present in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. One is “works-righteousness,” salvation by “works” (keeping) of the Law. The other is the opposite extreme: “Cheap Grace:”* teaching salvation by grace (a free gift; which is true) without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teaching (which is false). The text for today clearly refutes both false teachings (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

Faith is not getting whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Saving faith is truly believing in Jesus Christ, God’s only “anointed” Savior, enough to learn, trust and act in obedience upon what Jesus commands. How is Jesus our Lord in whom we believe if we do not do what he tells us (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-27).

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


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


Thursday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 15, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday of Trinity – A

Matthew 7: (15-20) 21-29 — Build on the Rock;

Paraphrase:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). One can differentiate false prophets from true prophets by their deeds. Grapes are not produced by thorns, nor are figs produced from thistles. Good trees produce good fruit and bad trees bear evil fruit. It is impossible for them to produce fruit contrary to their nature. Every tree which does not produce good fruit will be cut down and burned. So be discerning, and notice their fruit.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). When that time comes (the Day of Judgment), many will claim Jesus as their Lord and claim that they had done many things, prophesying, healing, and doing great miracles, in Jesus’ name, but Jesus will deny knowing them, condemn them as evil doers, and send them away from him.

Every one who hears Jesus’ teaching and does what Jesus teaches is like a wise person who builds his house on a rock. No storm will destroy his house because it is on a solid foundation. But those who hear Jesus’ teachings and do not do what he teaches are like people who build a house on sand. The first storm that comes along will sweep them away to disaster because they have not built on a solid foundation.

The crowds were amazed by Jesus’ teaching, because they realized that he possessed authority which the scribes (teachers of the Law; the Bible) did not possess.

Commentary:

As soon as the Church was born, on the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), false teachers and false prophets arose. There are many false prophets in the world and in the Church today. Even Satan and his demons try to disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

One must be discerning to tell the true prophets and teachers from the false. One can tell by their deeds, but one must know the Bible in order to have a standard by which to discern truth from error, and good from evil.

There are many nominal “Christians” today who claim Jesus as their Lord, and claim to be doing good deeds in Jesus’ name, who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus and are not obedient to God’s will. The Church should be making “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to obey all that Jesus teaches, but in too many instances, the nominal “Church” settles for making church “members.” New believers should be “discipled” by spiritually mature “born-again” disciples until the new believers have been “reborn” by the anointing (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but it takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples.

Only Jesus “baptizes” with (“anoints;” gives the gift of) the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). One can know with certainty for oneself if one has been truly “reborn” (Acts 19:2).

Only by the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit can a disciple know God’s will for him personally and individually, and be guided and empowered to fulfill God’s will. In too many instances the nominal “Church” is led by “unregenerate” (not “born-again”) people who do not understand the difference, and can’t teach others what they haven’t experienced. Too often, “Christian” ministry is regarded as a “career choice” instead of a genuine calling by God’s will.

There are two major false teachings within the nominal “Church” today, which were present in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. One is “works righteousness:” The teaching that salvation is by doing good deeds. The other is “Cheap Grace:”* Teaching that salvation is by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teaching. The scriptural (recorded in the Bible) apostolic (as taught by the apostles) doctrine is midway between those two extremes. (See False Teachings, sidebar, top right.) Knowledge of the Bible makes it possible to recognize and avoid false teachings and false teachers.

Jesus taught with authority which the “professional” teachers of the Old Testament scripture of Judaism did not possess. Jesus taught by the fullness of the Holy Spirit within him (John 1:33-34; Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus’ “born-again” disciples also teach the Bible with similar authority by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Jewish scribes had human authority as teachers of the Scriptures because they had been formally educated by other human teachers, but their teaching was false, because they taught against Jesus Christ.

There are many leaders and teachers in the nominal “Church” today who have similar human authority, but who lack the divine authority of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and their teaching is faulty because not only aren’t they “born-again” but they also do not encourage, and even discourage, their members from seeking the anointing of the indwelling Holy Spirit. People who are familiar with the Bible should be able to tell the difference, if they are willing to hear and see.

Today’s text is the conclusion of the “Sermon on the Mount,” (Matthew 5:1-7:29) which is a representative summary of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus’ conclusion clearly teaches that discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teaching is a requirement for salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Church membership, singing in the choir, or teaching Sunday School won’t save us; only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will save us, and that is only possible through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which requires obedience to Jesus in order to be received John 14:15-17). “For by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) you have been saved through faith (obedient trust); and this is not your own doing, it is the work of God – not because of works (keeping the Law; good deeds), lest any [one] should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

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


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


Friday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 16, 2008;
Podcast: Friday of Trinity – A

Jeremiah 9:23-24 — True Glory;
1 Timothy 6:6-19 — True Riches;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Those who are wise in this world should not glory in their (worldly) wisdom; the powerful should not glory in their power; and the rich should not glory in their wealth. Instead, let the one who glories, glory in understanding and knowing the Lord, who is steadfast in love, and just and righteous in all his ways, for he delights in these virtues.

1 Timothy Paraphrase:

Godliness with contentment is of great benefit. We are all born into the world with nothing and we cannot take anything with us when we leave this life, so let us be content with having food and clothing. Those who desire wealth fall into temptation, a trap, and into unreasonable and harmful desires which lead to (spiritual) ruin and destruction. “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10).

Those who desire to be God’s people must avoid these worldly temptations. We must focus on righteousness, godliness (emulating God’s nature and character), faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. “Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Paul, reminding Timothy that we are in the presence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, charged him to keep the commandment (Jesus’ teachings) unstained and above reproach until Christ returns. Christ will return at the perfect time determined by the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He alone is immortal, invisible and dwells in unapproachable light. He is worthy of honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

The rich are to be instructed to not be haughty, nor to rely on wealth, which is uncertain. Instead they should rely on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. The rich should be rich in good deeds, liberality and generosity, storing up a solid foundation for the future, so that they may possess life which is truly and eternally life.

Commentary:

True wisdom is divine, eternal wisdom, not what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:2-8). True wisdom is personally knowing the Lord, and understanding his character and his purpose for us and for Creation. “The fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it” (Psalm 111:10).

The Lord is just, righteous, and steadfast in love. He delights in these virtues, and if we want to please him we should emulate these virtues in our own lives. We should make righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness our aim.

Those who seek worldly goals, such as worldly wisdom, wealth, political power, physical health and strength, focus on those things, which never satisfy and don’t last, instead of what is eternally important and precious.

Being God’s people requires commitment, effort and self-sacrifice. The Christian faith is in conflict with worldly values. We must be ready to face opposition; we must step forward with the Gospel and fight the good fight. We must claim the promise of eternal life by grasping and holding on to the promise, by commitment and by acting upon it.

The “good confession” is our acknowledgment and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord, with the commitment to trust and obey Jesus. The “commandment” is the sum of Jesus’ teachings. We are to live according to Jesus’ teachings, so that we don’t bring reproach upon or damage the acceptance of the Gospel by others.

Those who are rich, wise or powerful according to worldly standards must be willing to sacrifice those things and learn to rely instead upon God (Mark 10:17-22). That won’t be easy for those who have desired and pursued those worldly values (Mark 10:23-25). It will be hard for those with worldly power to submit to the Lord’s authority, and for those who have worldly wisdom it will be hard for them to accept the wisdom of God embodied in Jesus, crucified (1 Corinthians 1:22-25; 2:5, 7-8).

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is the opportunity to seek and to come to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). This lifetime is our only opportunity to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually to eternal life, by the gift (“anointing;” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able to know and have fellowship with the Lord personally, and understand his character and his will for Creation and for us individually.

The Lord God is the King of kings and Lord of lords, whether we acknowledge him or not. He is immortal, invisible and dwells in unapproachable light. Jesus is the only way to “see” God (Matthew 11:27; John 14:21, 23). Jesus is the only way to obtain and know divine eternal wisdom and truth. Jesus is the only way to receive eternal life. Jesus is the only way into God’s presence in his Kingdom of Light in heaven (John 14:6).

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

Saturdayof Trinity – A

First Posted May 17, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday of Trinity – A

Luke 12:13-21 — The Rich Fool;

Paraphrase:

A man in the crowd which had gathered around Jesus told him to command the man’s brother to share his inheritance with the man. Jesus replied that he was not a judge and had not been appointed to arbitrate disputes. Jesus said to the crowd that we must beware of all covetousness (desire for wealth or for another’s possessions), because life is more than abundance of possessions.

Jesus used a parable to illustrate his point. The land of a rich man produced more crops than his barns could store. So the rich man decided to tear down his barns and build larger ones. Then the rich man thought he would be able to retire and eat, drink and be merry, since he had stored enough to live on for many years.

But God called him a fool and took his life that very night. The abundance the rich man had accumulated passed to someone else. So it is, with people who enrich themselves and are not rich toward God.

We weren’t “born to shop” and the one who dies with the most clothes isn’t the “winner,” although our society suggests that. God’s purpose for Creation has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through Jesus Christ, 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). Jesus is the only way to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), the only way to salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), and the only way to eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Many people today are working hard to accumulate enough wealth and possessions so that they can retire and live comfortably, but they give little or no thought to where and how they will spend eternity. We cannot know with certainty that we will live to see tomorrow, but we can all be certain that there is existence beyond physical death, because God’s Word says so and Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates it (John 5:28-29).

Many people think that they will go to heaven when they die, because they are “good people.” The only people who will go to heaven and live eternally with the Lord are those who have sought, trusted and obeyed the Lord in and through Jesus Christ now, in this lifetime, and have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8).

We have all been born physically alive, but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our opportunity to be born spiritually by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has been “reborn” (Acts 19:2). If one is uncertain, one has not been reborn. If one has not been reborn, one should ask why. Has one sought the Lord? Has one been trusting and obeying God’s Word?

We can’t take any material resources with us, but what we do now in this lifetime will determine our eternal destiny. This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to know, trust and obey the Lord.

Jesus warned that we are to seek God’s kingdom first, before we worry about food, clothing, and shelter (Matthew 6:31-33). We have no assurance that tomorrow will come, and material resources only provide the illusion of security. No matter how much we accumulate, we’ll always need just a little more than we have. If we don’t seek God’s kingdom first, we’ll never get around to it.

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

Week of Pentecost A – 06/04 – 10 2017

June 3, 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 Pentecost A

Sunday Pentecost A

First posted May 11, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday Pentecost A

Joel 2:28-29 — Outpouring of God’s Spirit;
Psalm 104:25-34 — God’s Providence;
Acts 2:1-21 — Day of Pentecost;
John 20:19-23 — Jesus Appears to his Disciples;

Joel Paraphrase:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams; your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit” (Joel 2:28-29).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Consider how great and vast are God’s works. Creation has been designed in God’s wisdom, and his creatures fill the world. Consider the vast oceans, filled with living things from one-celled organisms to the largest whales. The largest ships seem tiny compared to the ocean.

Every living thing depends on the Lord’s providence for their daily necessities. When the Lord provides, they gather it up; when the Lord opens his hand they are filled with good things. They are dismayed when the Lord hides his face from them; they die and return to the dust from which they were created when he takes their breath from them. “When thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground” (earth; Psalm 104:30).

May the Lord be glorified forever and may he rejoice in his works. A look from the Lord causes the earth to tremble; his touch causes mountains to smoke. As long as I live I will sing and praise the Lord. “May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord” (Psalm 104:34).

Acts Paraphrase:

On the Day of Pentecost the disciples were all gathered together (probably in the upper room in Jerusalem where they had been staying). From heaven, the sound of a mighty wind suddenly filled the house, and “tongues” (flames) as of fire appeared and rested upon each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other “tongues” (languages) according to the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

There were many Jews from other nations and foreign converts in Jerusalem, from the distant corners of the Roman Empire and around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. At the sound a great crowd gathered to see what was happening. They each heard the disciples declaring the Gospel in their own native tongues. They were amazed, recognizing that the disciples were Galileans, and wondered how they were able to hear the disciples proclaiming the great works of God in their own native languages. But some in the crowd suggested that the disciples were drunk.

Peter addressed the crowd and told them the disciples weren’t drunk, because it was only about 9:00 a.m. Instead, they were witnessing the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh.

Peter continued, saying that Joel had prophesied that there would be astronomical signs and disturbances of nature before the coming Day of Judgment, the Second Coming of Christ. In that day anyone who called upon the name of the Lord would be saved.

John Paraphrase:

In the evening of the first Easter Sunday, the day of Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were gathered together (in the upper room where they had been staying in Jerusalem) and they had locked the doors, in fear of the Jewish leaders who had crucified Jesus. Jesus appeared and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19c). He showed them the wounds in his side and hands, and again offered them his peace. Then Jesus told them that he was sending them to complete Christ’s mission, as God had sent Jesus. Then “he breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Then he gave them the power to forgive or retain sin.

Commentary:

The fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, from 350 to 400 years before Jesus, began on the Day of Pentecost, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples.

We cannot begin to understand the meaning and purpose this Creation and temporal life until we understand that it is the creation of God, designed for his specific purpose. We are not the result of a cosmic accident!

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This Creation and lifetime is designed to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error. But God is not going to tolerate sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and evil (the result of that disobedience) forever. So we and Creation have been limited by time, decay and physical death.

God created us by breathing the breath (spirit) of physical life into us (Genesis 2:7b). We die when God takes away the breath of life, according to his time and will. This lifetime is our opportunity to receive the breath (Spirit) of eternal life; to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift (“anointing;” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We are “re-created” with eternal life by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, and this “ground,” this Creation, will be renewed by his Word.

We need a proper perspective of ourselves in relationship with God. When we understand that we are not the center of the Universe, we begin to understand the supernatural vastness and power of God. We need to realize that everything we have is a gift from God, and not our own accomplishment. We need to learn to rely on God to supply what we need.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is the ultimate providence of God. Only by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able understand, trust, obey and please God. Only by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are we restored to fellowship with God and to eternal life in his heavenly kingdom.

Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and as they trusted and obeyed, they received the fulfillment of the promise. The Book of Acts is the record of the empowerment and guidance of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit on the lives of the disciples.

Jesus told his disciples to go only after they had been empowered and equipped by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (see above), beginning from Jerusalem through Judea, Samaria and to the end of the world, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus of forgiveness and salvation, and to make disciples of Jesus, teaching them to obey all that Jesus taught (Matthew 28:19-20).

On the very Day of Pentecost, that promise and command began to be fulfilled. The gift of speaking in tongues (languages) is the reversal of God’s confusion of language at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). The disciples needed to communicate the Gospel in other languages, and the Holy Spirit supplied the ability to do so.

Peter is the example of the changed heart and spirit of a “born-again” disciple, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Peter, who had denied knowing Jesus to the most menial servants of the Jewish high priest (John 18:15-27), now boldly accused the Jews of killing their promised and awaited Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed;” i.e., God’s “chosen,” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively), and called them to repent of sin and return to obedience to God.

Peter testified to the coming Day of Judgment and the Second Coming of Christ. He testified that deliverance from God’s eternal judgment and condemnation is only through Jesus.

Not everyone who calls on Jesus will be saved on the Day of Jesus’ return. Only those who have truly accepted Jesus as their Lord (the one they trust and obey) will be saved (Matthew 7:21-27, Luke 6:46).

Jesus promised to reveal himself to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). He began to fulfill that promise after his resurrection, as recorded in John 20:19-23. His disciples were in the upper room in Jerusalem in obedience to Jesus’ command. Jesus showed them his wounds from crucifixion, so that they would know that it was indeed Jesus, raised from physical death to eternal life. Then he gave them his command to complete his mission to the world to forgive sins and to restore to eternal life and fellowship with God through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is God made visible in human flesh, in this world (Colossians 2:8-9, John 20:28). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24). Jesus’ word has the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39, 41; compare Genesis 1:3). Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). They received the Holy Spirit as they trusted and obeyed Jesus, staying in Jerusalem as he commanded, until they had received the fulfillment of the promise.

Jesus gave his “born-again” disciples the power to forgive or retain sins, which Jesus had. Jesus’ primary mission was to feed and heal spiritually. His physical healing and feeding miracles were intended to show that he could also heal and feed spiritually. Jesus’ physical healings were accompanied by his pronouncement of forgiveness of sin. Physical healing and feeding are of no eternal benefit, unless spiritual healing and feeding has taken place.

Jesus pronounced forgiveness of sin to those who came to him in obedient trust, and he also pronounced warning of eternal condemnation on those who refused to believe and come to him for forgiveness of sin (John 8:21-24; 9:39-41).

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)?

Monday Pentecost A

First Posted May 12, 2008;

Podcast: Monday Pentecost A

Psalm 29 — God of the Storm;

Paraphrase:

Let all the heavenly beings acknowledge and praise God’s glory and strength. Give praise to his holy name and worship him with appropriate holiness.

The voice of the Lord is heard in the thunderstorm, his voice is powerful and majestic. “His voice shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon (mountains of Syria) to skip like a calf, and Sirion (Mount Hermon) like a young wild ox” (Psalm 29:6). The Lord’s voice flashes forth like lightning bolts. His voice shakes the wilderness of Kadesh (where Israel wandered for forty years).

“The voice of the Lord makes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forests bare” (Psalm 29:9), and in his temple his people shout, “Glory!”

The Lord reigns above the flood, he reigns as king of Creation forever. “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).

Commentary:

God is eternal Lord and King over heaven and earth. The angels in heaven acknowledge and praise God’s glory. We must learn to know and acknowledge God’s glory and worship him by being consecrated and devoted to God’s service by his Word and his indwelling Holy Spirit. The sacrificial blood of Jesus, shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, cleanses us as we begin to trust and obey Jesus, and makes it possible for us to receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we are consecrated to God’s service.

A powerful thunderstorm or windstorm, such as a tornado demonstrates our position in relationship to God and to his creation. The devastation of New Orleans reveals that the great works of mankind are puny in relationship in the forces of nature, and that mankind is really powerless. The mountains which seem so permanent and immovable are shaken by storm or earthquake. But God reigns above the storm, undisturbed and unshakable.

This world is our spiritual wilderness where we wander during our lifetime, where we are to learn to trust and obey God’s Word and follow the Lord, so that he can lead us into his eternal Promised Land. We are intended to learn to look to the Lord for our safety and protection from the storms of life.

When we seek shelter and protection from the storms of life, the Lord will show us his power and willingness to bring us through the storms. The storms are too much for us to deal with alone, but they have no power over the Lord. His people who have trusted and obeyed his Word have learned this and are able and eager to praise and glorify the Lord in all circumstances.

The Lord is the only true source of strength, peace, and blessing, for this life and for eternity. The Lord does give strength, peace and blessing to his people in the midst of the storm.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Pentecost A

First Posted May 13, 2008
Podcast: Tuesday Pentecost A

Genesis 1:1-2:3 – Creation;

Paraphrase:

This World was created from emptiness, darkness and chaos by the Spirit of God. God called forth light by his Word, and light came into existence and God saw that it was good. God separated light from darkness and called the light day and the darkness he called night. Evening marked the end of one day (Jews believed that the day began at sundown).

The ancient belief was that there were waters above the earth (rain) and waters beneath the earth (groundwater). The heavens were imagined like a dome separating the waters, which God spoke into existence, and God called it Heaven. The evening marked the end of the second day.

God called the waters beneath the heavens to be gathered together, and called forth dry ground, and he called the land Earth, and the waters he called Seas. God was pleased. God commanded the earth to bring forth vegetation with seed and fruit, and the earth did so. God approved, and the third day ended.

God called forth lights in the heavens to mark day and night, to be for signs and seasons, days and years, and it was so. God called the greater light of day the Sun, the lesser light of night the Moon, and he created the stars also. God approved of the results and the fourth day ended.

On the fifth day, God commanded the waters to bring forth all kinds of aquatic living creatures, and the air to bring forth every kind of bird and flying creature, and it was so. God approved, and blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters and the air.

On the sixth day, God commanded the earth to bring forth every variety of land animal, and God approved of the results. Then God decided to create mankind, in the likeness of God, and gave them dominion over all other creatures on Earth. He created them male and female, and blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply. God gave to mankind fruit and seed for food, and to the animals every green plant. God approved of everything he had made and the sixth day ended.

God had finished Creation in six days and rested on the seventh day. So God blessed and hallowed the seventh day as the day of rest.

Commentary

God created an orderly Universe out of chaos and darkness by his Word, which has creative power. God’s created world is very good, and designed for all creatures to be at peace, but God also created this world to allow his creatures freedom to choose whether to follow God’s Word or not. The result was that the peaceful paradise God intended was lost. God’s creatures began to kill and be killed. God modified his vegetarian command in Noah’s time (Genesis 9:2-3), but with strict injunction against homicide and manslaughter (Genesis 9:6).

In the forty years of wilderness wandering the Israelites rebelled against the manna which God provided, and they craved meat (Numbers 11:4-20). The prophet Isaiah foresaw the Messianic kingdom as a time when Creation will be restored to the peaceful paradise which God intended (Isaiah 11:6-9).

The Lord created a day of rest which he intended to be a blessing to his people. The Jewish Sabbath was the seventh day, Saturday, but Christians adopted Sunday, the first day of the week because it was the day of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Vegetarianism was never required for Jews, but some Jewish Christians in the first century Church wanted to require Gentile Christians to keep Jewish laws. Peter’s vision at Joppa which led to the first Gentile conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10:10-16), and the Apostolic decree from the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29) established that Christians have been freed from the requirements of Jewish laws.

Adam and Eve had a covenant relationship with God which was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word). After the Flood, Noah had a new covenant with God in which God gave permission to eat animals for food but to refrain from killing humans for any reason. The rainbow was the symbol of God’s covenant with Noah.

God had a covenant with Abraham to give him the Promised Land and to create a great nation from the descendants of Abraham. At Mt. Sinai, after God had freed his people from slavery in Egypt God created a covenant which we call the Old Covenant of Law with his people with Moses as the mediator.

God intended from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. Through a series of covenants which he has initiated, he has been working to accomplish that purpose. His eternal plan has been revealed to the world in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus initiated and is the mediator of a New and better Covenant of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) of forgiveness and salvation from God’s condemnation, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Under the Old Covenant no one was able to satisfy the demands of the Law, and continual sacrifices were necessary for our forgiveness (Galatians 2:16; 3:10-14.

Jesus has become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for our forgiveness and salvation. Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ we are spiritually reborn to eternal life (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). Those who are reborn by the indwelling Holy Spirit are freed from the Old Covenant of Law, provided that they trust and obey Jesus by his indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-14). 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 Pentecost A

First Posted May 14, 2008;
Podcast: Wednesday Pentecost A

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40 – One True God;

Paraphrase:

Consider in the history of the world from the beginning of Creation, from one end of the universe to the other, whether there has ever been or heard such a great thing? Have any people ever heard the voice of any god, speaking out of the midst of fire, and live to tell it (Exodus 20:18-19; 33:20)? Has any god ever taken a nation from the control of another, by great adversity, supernatural signs, great power and terrors, such as the Lord did for the Israelites in Egypt, which they saw with their own eyes (Exodus 7.8-11:10)?

Realize and remember, from this day on, that the Lord is God of heaven and earth, and that there is no other. Therefore, be sure to keep his laws and commandments so that life may go well for you and for your children, so that you may have long life in the land God promised to give you for ever.

Commentary:

The Bible is the history of God’s dealing with his people, revealing his nature and his purpose for Creation. From the very beginning God has planned to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God.

This Creation has been designed to allow us freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s will is our very best interest. This Creation and we ourselves are limited by time, because God won’t tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever.

God knew that if given the freedom, we would disobey God and follow our own will, so he has designed Creation accordingly. He has designed a Savior, Jesus Christ, into Creation, from the beginning (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation), and he has given us his Word, the Bible, to reveal his will, nature, and purpose for Creation.

The Bible record of God’s dealing with Israel reveals that the Lord is the one and only true God. God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt is a preview of what God has planned from the beginning of Creation to do for us spiritually in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh in this temporal world (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). The New Testament is the eyewitness account of the fulfillment of God’s Word, of the coming of the promised Messiah, God’s promised eternal Savior and King.

Jesus is the spiritual “New Moses,” who is the demonstration of God’s supernatural power to the “Egypt” of this world which holds us in bondage to sin and death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus is the only one who can lead us out of bondage in “Egypt,” through the “wilderness” of this lifetime and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

If we accept the testimony of God’s Word in Scripture and in Jesus Christ, we will come to know with certainty that Jesus is the Savior sent by the one and only true God. We will trust and obey Jesus’ teaching and example, and we will be spiritually “re-born” to eternal life by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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

By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we hear the voice of God, and we have personal fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21, 23). By the indwelling Holy Spirit our minds are opened to understand the Bible scriptures (Luke 24:45), and our spiritual eyes are opened to see the kingdom of God now and eternally (John 3:3).

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

Thursday Pentecost A

First Posted May 15, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday Pentecost A

2 Corinthians 13:11-14 – Benediction;

Paraphrase:

Paul concluded this letter to the Corinthian congregation, urging them to heed Paul’s plea and change their behavior to conform to the Gospel, and the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Paul urged them to be at peace with one another and then God’s love and peace will be with them.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the fellowship of (and participation in) the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Commentary:

Notice the Trinitarian form (the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit) of the benediction. The doctrine of the Trinity did not originate with Paul. Although the word Trinity is not used in the Bible, the concept is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. Jesus taught it to his disciples (John 14:15-17).

Paul was taught it by the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. He didn’t become a disciple of Jesus until after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. He was confronted by the Spirit of Christ on the road to Damascus, converted and “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple named Ananias, until Paul was “born-again,” and then Paul began to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples (Acts 9:1-22).

Paul was “discipling” the believers at Corinth (and elsewhere) in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his disciples to be carried out after they had been “reborn” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). There were problems in the Corinthian Church, and Paul visited in person and also wrote letters correcting false teaching and bad behavior among the members. Correcting the congregation was painful, to Paul as well as to the congregation, but necessary.

Paul was teaching the Corinthian believers to obey all that Jesus had taught (Matthew 28:20). Paul urged them to believe (trust and obey) Jesus, and then they would have fellowship of and participation in the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom they would experience the love of God. Only Jesus “baptizes” (“anoints”) with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Anyone who does not share (participate) in the indwelling Holy Spirit does not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9b), and does not have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

From the moment the Church was “born” by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), there has been a spiritual battle between the Church and the world. The Church must have “born-again” leaders like Paul, who will “disciple” members until they have been “born-again” (2 Timothy 2:2). Leaders and members must read the Bible thoroughly and daily, so that they can discern scriptural apostolic Gospel truth from false teaching.

Paul had to rebuke false teaching, unchristian and immoral behavior of the members of the Corinthian congregation. In some instances he had to tell the congregation to excommunicate members who didn’t accept and behave according to the scriptural apostolic Gospel which Paul preached (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). The Church is not doing one a favor by allowing one to continue in membership while continuing to willfully sin.

Unfortunately, in too many instances in the Church today, there is false teaching and immoral and unchristian behavior, which is tolerated and even encouraged. Too often, the Church is making “members” and building “buildings,” instead of making “born-again” disciples and building the spiritual body of Christ by sharing in the indwelling Holy Spirit. Leaders want to be popular, and members want to hear only what makes them feel good (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

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

Friday Pentecost A

First posted May 16, 2008;
Podcast: Friday Pentecost A

Matthew 28:16-20 — The Great Commission;

The eleven remaining disciples (minus Judas Iscariot, the betrayer) went to Galilee as Jesus had directed (Matthew 28:10), and Jesus came to them in Galilee. When they saw Jesus they worshiped him, although some had doubts. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you;” and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Commentary:

This is the “Great Commission” which Jesus gave to his disciples. Jesus had “discipled” them and had demonstrated how to carry on his ministry of disciple-making. His disciples were to follow that process and make other disciples who would make other disciples (2 Timothy 2:2), repeating the process over and over.

But Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the gift (“baptism,” “anointing”) of the Holy Spirit. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), before going into the world and beginning their “discipling” ministry. It is essential that Jesus’ disciples be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to be led and empowered by the Spirit to carry out Jesus’ mission. Christians are to stay within the Church, the “New Jerusalem,” until they have been “born-again.” It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples.

The Church is to be a disciple-making ministry, but in too many instances today that is not the case. Instead of making disciples, many churches settle for making “members;” “fair-weather Christians,” who will come to church if it is entertaining, and if they haven’t anything better to do. The Church is commanded to teach disciples to trust and obey all that Jesus commands, but large parts of the Church are teaching the false doctrine of “Cheap Grace;” salvation by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust (see “False Teachings,” sidebar, top right).

Jesus spent twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for three years discipling his twelve original disciples, and yet they still were not ready to go into the world until they had been “born-again” (Acts 2:1-13). The Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple (student) and apostle (messenger of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ that we all can be. But his conversion was unique for its quickness.

Paul had been formally educated in Judaism, and he loved God; all he needed was to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah, and become obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:4-9). Then he was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-16), and he received the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17:18). Immediately thereafter he began making disciples in fulfillment of Jesus’ command by the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Notice the Trinitarian formula for baptism; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; one God in three persons or expressions. Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).

The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, but the doctrine is described in both Old and New Testaments. Jesus taught his disciples the doctrine (John 14:15-17; Matthew 28:19b).

Jesus also taught that one must be “born-again” in order to see the kingdom of God, which is all around us now in this world, and to see the eternal kingdom of God in heaven in the world and life beyond physical death (John 3:3, 5-8). Only Jesus baptizes with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not 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)?

Saturday Pentecost A

First Posted May 17, 2008;
Podcast: Saturday Pentecost A

Isaiah 32:14-20 — The Age of the Spirit;
Acts 2:42-47 — The Early Church;
John 4:5-26 — The Woman at the Well;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit our palaces will be forsaken and our hills and watchtowers like caves where only wild animals dwell. With the coming of the Holy Spirit our wilderness will become a fertile field, and fruitful fields will be like forests.

Righteousness will bring peace, quietness and trust eternally. God’s people will dwell in peace, security, and quiet rest. The forests and cities of earth will be brought low, but happy are God’s people who plant close to water and let their cattle range free.

Acts Paraphrase:

On the Day of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit attracted a large crowd and many were converted. The group of believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, sharing meals together and praying. They all had Godly fear (awe and respect for the power and authority of God), and many miracles were done through the apostles.

They all lived together communally. They shared everything, and sold their possessions and distributed their resources among them with generosity as any had need. They attended the temple daily and ate communally in their homes, greatly rejoicing, and praising God. They were well regarded by all, and converts were being added to their group daily.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples were going from Judea to Galilee and they passed through Samaria to Sychar, where the patriarch, Jacob, had dug a well. It was around noon and Jesus was tired and sat down beside the well, while his disciples went into the city to buy food.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus asked her for a drink. The woman was surprised that a Jew would ask a Samaritan woman for a drink, because Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans, who they considered religiously and racially inferior. Jesus replied that if she knew who was asking, she would have asked him and he would have given her “living water.” The woman observed that Jesus had no equipment for drawing water, and Jacob’s well was deep, so she wondered where Jesus could get living water. She asked if Jesus was greater than Jacob, who had dug the well that provided her water.

Jesus told her that ordinary water only temporarily quenches thirst, but the water Jesus was offering satisfies eternally and becomes a spring of water within, welling up to eternal life. The woman addressed Jesus as Sir, and asked him to give her that water, so that she would no longer have to come to the well to draw water.

Jesus told the woman to go and call her husband to come to Jesus, and the woman replied that she had no husband. Jesus said she had spoken the truth, and Jesus revealed that he knew all about her past. She had been married five times, and was now living with a man to whom she was not married. The woman acknowledged that Jesus was a prophet.

She changed the subject and asked Jesus to settle a religious question. Samaritans worshiped on Mt. Gerizim, but Jews said that one must worship God in Jerusalem. Jesus replied that the time was coming when neither Mt. Gerizim nor Jerusalem would be the place to worship God. Jesus told her that she worshiped what she did not know, whereas the Jews worshiped what they knew, because salvation came through the Jews.

Jesus told her the time was coming, beginning then, when true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth because that is what God desires. The woman told Jesus she believed in the Messiah (Christ) who was coming, and that when he came he would reveal all things (to believers). Jesus said to the woman “I who speak to you am he” (John 4:26).

Commentary:

At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy the Northern Kingdom of Israel was made desolate by the Assyrians, who were about to attack the Southern Kingdom of Judah (Isaiah 32:10a RSV). Judah, the remnant of Israel, was about to experience desolation, but God promised to restore them (when they had learned to trust and obey God).

Isaiah foretold a time when God would pour out his Spirit upon his people, and all of Creation would be transformed. All of us are spiritually desolate unless we are “reborn” (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 indwelling Holy Spirit transforms our lives from “wilderness” into “fruitful fields.”

We are transformed by the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ, which we receive by faith (obedient trust; Romans 3:22). We have peace with God and can live quiet, peaceable lives, having a secure eternal dwelling in God’s eternal kingdom. Our lives are like a that of a farmer who plants near a reliable source of water, and who can let his cattle range free, without worrying about feeding and watering them, or protecting them.

God’s Word through Isaiah foretold the transformation of all Creation by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon his people, and that promise began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. The disciples were transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

On the night of Jesus’ betrayal, Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times, to menial servants of the high priest (John 18:15-27). Now Peter, by the Holy Spirit, boldly preached a powerful sermon to thousands, convicting them of crucifying their Messiah (Acts 2:36-37), and calling them to repent and to trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), and then they would receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

Thousands of people heeded Peter’s preaching, and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. The new believers were “discipled” by “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples, and they participated in the church program of worship, prayer, and fellowship. The Church celebrated the “Lord’s Supper” in the context of a meal, as the “Last Supper” had been instituted during the Passover meal, so “breaking bread” was more than just eating; it was “Communion” with the Lord as a part of worship.

The new believers were living communally like a large family, sharing their resources generously just like a family. Their joy and generosity was noted and admired by their neighbors, who were attracted and converted as a result.

Jesus is the source of “living water,” which is the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). The Holy Spirit is the “river” which transforms our lives from spiritual “wilderness” into tremendously “fertile fields” by flowing through us and out into the world.

The Samaritan woman is like a lot of nominal “Christians” today. She was concerned with selecting the right “church,” the right “beliefs,” and doing the right “rituals,” without personal knowledge of the Lord and his Word, which is only possible through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God. Jesus is the divine eternal Truth, and the only source of true, eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is the only one who “baptizes” with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that the time was coming when those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth. Jesus said that one must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). Jesus promised to give the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), and Jesus’ promise began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus promised to reveal himself to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:21).

The Samaritan woman declared her belief in the Messiah, and that he would reveal all things, and she received what she believed; Jesus revealed himself to her as the Messiah.

Isaiah prophesied that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit would lead to the transformation of the entire Creation (Romans 8:19-24a; Revelation 21:1). The kingdom of God in heaven is the new Creation restored to paradise that this Creation lost because of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). The new Creation will be filled with people who have learned to trust and obey God’s Word. The Church in Jerusalem after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a preview of eternal life in the kingdom of God.

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

Week of 7 Easter – A – 05/28 – 06/03/2017

May 27, 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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Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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 Easter A

Sunday 7 Easter A

First Posted May 4, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 7 Easter A

Psalm 47 — The Lord’s Enthronement ;
Acts 1: (1-7) 8-14 — Christ’s Ascension;
1 Peter 4:12-17; 5:6-11 — Suffering for the Gospel;
John 17:1-11 — Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer;

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let all people clap their hands and shout for joy with loud songs. The Lord, Most High, is awesome; the great king of all the earth. He has subdued all people and subjugated all nations under us. He has selected a great heritage for us who are the heirs of Jacob (the patriarch who received the promised inheritance) whom he loves.

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

God is king of all nations; he reigns from his holy throne. The leaders of the people come together as the people of the God of Abraham. All earthly rulers are subjugated to God, who is highly exalted.

Acts Background:

Luke, a physician, is the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. The Gospel of Luke dealt with the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until he ascended into heaven. Acts begins with Jesus’ ascension, and records the history of the first century Church.

Acts Paraphrase:

Jesus spent forty days with his disciples following his resurrection, during which he taught them the significance of the Old Testament scriptures, which Jesus had fulfilled. He told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church) until they had received the promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as Jesus had told them (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). John had baptized with water (for repentance), but Jesus is the one who “baptizes” (“anoints”) with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34).

His disciples wanted Jesus to tell them if and when God was going to restore the kingdom to Israel (Israel was then under Roman domination). Jesus told them that God’s plans and timing were not for them to know; not even Jesus knew. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Those were Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he supernaturally ascended into heaven on a cloud. Jesus had led them out of Jerusalem a short distance to Bethany on the Mount of Olives, where he ascended. The disciples were amazed and were staring into the sky when two angels appeared and asked them why they were staring; the angels told them that Jesus, who was taken up into heaven, would return in the same way.

The disciples returned to Jerusalem to the upper room where they were staying. The original disciples were Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James (not Iscariot, the betrayer). The group included the women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers. While they were waiting they spent their time in prayer.

1 Peter Paraphrase:

The Apostle Peter was writing to encourage the believers of northern Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) who were experiencing terrible persecution under Roman Emperor Nero. Peter told them not to be surprised by persecution. Instead they should rejoice that they were sharing Christ’s suffering so that they could also share in Christ’s glory when he is revealed (at Christ’s Second Coming). Those who are reviled for the name of Jesus are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon them. Christians must avoid doing what is justly deserving of punishment, like theft, murder, any kind of wrongdoing or mischief-making; but if one suffers as a Christian, one has no cause to be ashamed, and glorifies God through that name. “The time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and If it begins with us what will be the end for those who do not obey the Gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17)?

John Paraphrase:

After the Last Supper, Jesus had tried to prepare his disciples for the betrayal and crucifixion which would soon take place. He prayed, for himself to accomplish his mission, and then for his disciples who would remain to complete Jesus’ mission after Jesus’ ascension.

Jesus acknowledged that his “hour” had come. He asked God his Father to glorify Jesus so that Jesus could glorify God. God has given Jesus the power to give eternal life to all who trust and obey Jesus. Eternal life is received by those who acknowledge God as the one true God and Jesus as the one (the Messiah; the eternal Savior and King) whom God has sent. Jesus had glorified God on earth and had done everything God commanded him to do. Jesus was pre-existent with God from before Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus had set aside his heavenly glory and come into the world. Now he had accomplished his mission and asked God to receive him back into God’s presence and glory.

Jesus has revealed God’s character and nature to his disciples, whom God has given him, and they have learned to trust and obey God’s Word. Everything belongs to God and everything Jesus has is given to him by God. Jesus has taught them God’s Word and they have received it and have become convinced that Jesus is the one whom God has sent. Jesus prayed specifically for his disciples who belong to God and Jesus Christ in unity, who glorify Jesus. Jesus acknowledged that he would no longer be with his disciples physically, but that his disciples would continue physically in this world. Jesus asked God the Father to keep them in his name (his person and character), which God has given to Jesus, so that they may be in unity with Jesus and one another as Jesus and God are in unity.

Commentary:

God is the one and only true God, the creator and ruler of the Universe. He reigns over his creation, whether we acknowledge his reign or not.

God has always intended, from the very beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God our creator, personally (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has always been God’s one and only provision for forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), our salvation from eternal destruction, and restoration to fellowship with God and eternal life in his heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus has been “built into” creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-3, 14).

Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus is the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed”) who God promised to send into the world. Jesus is God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King of the Universe.

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when Christ will return to judge the living and the dead (in both physical and spiritual senses). He is going to come within our lifetimes! Right now we’re free to accept or refuse his kingship, but in the Day of Judgment, every person who has ever lived will acknowledge that he is Lord and eternal King (Philippians 2:10-11). In that day it will be too late to change our eternal destinies.

The people who accept and acknowledge Jesus now in this lifetime will trust and obey him, and will be spiritually “re-born” (John 3:3, 5-8) now, in this lifetime, 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). His disciples are living in his kingdom under his reign now.

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ, who learn, trust and obey his teachings, who wait for the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and then can testify to a personal relationship with the risen and ascended Jesus. One cannot testify about something of which one has no personal experience.

Jesus taught his disciples to make disciples as they had been “discipled” by Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20), but they were to wait until they had been “born-again” by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), before going out into the world to testify to the Gospel. The disciples trusted and obeyed Jesus, and they received the “infilling” of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), the birthday of the Church.

Jesus ascended into heaven to be enthroned as our eternal king and great high priest at the right hand of God. Christians can rejoice that he has completed his mission and has begun his reign. His ascension makes it possible for his disciples to have a daily personal access to him through his Holy Spirit, which we couldn’t have if he were still physically here on earth (John 16:7).

Jesus has promised to return, and he will return in the same way that he ascended, on the clouds (Matthew 24:30-31). When Christ returns, his disciples will rejoice. Those who refused to accept his kingship and refused to trust and obey him will be terrified (Luke 21:26) but there will be nowhere to flee or hide.

Peter was “discipling” believers in northern Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), who were undergoing terrible persecution by Roman Emperor Nero. Christians must be willing to suffer for the sake of Jesus’ name and Gospel. We can’t expect the world to treat us better than they treated Jesus. But disciples must live morally and ethically upright lives, so that God and Jesus are glorified in us. The world is waiting and watching us, to attack and negate our witness.

Jesus asked for God’s help, so that Jesus would be able to glorify God through the physical trouble he knew was coming. He prayed for his disciples, that they would be able to carry on Jesus’ mission to bring forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life to a lost and spiritually dead world.

The offer of eternal life is the central mission of Christ. Isn’t eternal life in perfect Paradise a great inheritance? Jesus demonstrated that existence beyond physical death is a reality, and that eternal life is a promise fulfilled in those who trust and obey Jesus.

In the Church today, there are lots of people who want to stare up into heaven until Jesus returns, but that’s not we’re to do. We’re to stay within the Church, but being actively “discipled,” and awaiting the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Then we are to be guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the world. We’re given the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit so that we can carry on Jesus’ mission in the world.

There are lots of people in the “Church” today who are stuck on “End Times” speculation. We aren’t supposed to sit around speculating on when Christ is going to return (Acts 1:7). We’re supposed to be “discipled,” “born-again,” and then witnesses to Jesus and the Gospel in the world.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 7 Easter A

First Posted May 5, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 7 Easter A

Psalm 104:25-34 — Lord and Giver of Life;

Paraphrase:

How vast and diverse are your works, O Lord! Just consider the oceans, filled with so many living things, both great and small, from tiny one celled organisms to the largest whales; the Lord has created them all. We venture out in ships that seem so tiny compared to the vastness of the waters, and whales are so huge compared to us.

Yet every living thing depends upon the Lord to provide their daily food. We gather up what the Lord gives, and are filled with good things when the Lord opens his hand. But when the Lord hides his face we are dismayed, and when he takes away the breath of life we die and return to dust “When thou sendest forth thy Spirit (or breath), they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground” (Psalm 104:30).

May your glory, O Lord, endure forever, and may you rejoice in all your works. When you look upon earth it trembles, and when you touch the mountains they smoke. As long as I live I will praise the Lord and sing to you my God as long as I exist. May my meditations please you, O Lord, for I rejoice in you.

Commentary:

We need to take a step back from ourselves and our egocentric perspective and try to understand God from the perspective of the vastness of the universe which he has created. The works of man seem large until we compare them with the works of God. From the deck of a cruise ship the ship seems large compared to us, and the ocean doesn’t seem so vast, unless we happen to fall overboard.

We need to realize that the Lord is the source of every good and necessary thing. We tend to think we are our own providers, until the Lord closes his hand and hides his face from us.

The Lord breathes the breath of physical life into us and we become living beings (Genesis 2:7). When he takes away that breath we return to the dust of the earth from which we were created.

God is the source of physical life, and he is the source of spiritual life. We are all born physically alive, but spiritually “unborn.” The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), is the “life-giving Spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45) through whom we are spiritually “born-again” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the “Lord and Giver of Life,” in the words of the third article of the Nicene Creed.

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift; “anointing”) of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a discernible, ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and receive eternal life in paradise in God’s heavenly kingdom, and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

We need to pray for God to send forth his Spirit into our Churches and into their members so that by obedient trust we will be restored, established and strengthened (1 Peter 5:11) unto 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). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able to praise and glorify the Lord, and by whom we will know with certainty that we will live eternally to praise and glorify the Lord. Those who have refused to accept, trust and obey Jesus will be contemned to eternal destruction in the unquenchable fires of Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 9:43-48; 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 7 Easter A

First Posted May 6, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 7 Easter A

Joel 2:28-29 — Outpouring of God’s Spirit;
Acts 2:1-21 — Day of Pentecost;

Joel Paraphrase:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit” (Joel 2:28-29).

Acts Paraphrase:

On the day of Pentecost, all the disciples were together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven, like a mighty wind, filled the house where they were. “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributing and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:3-4).

Jews from all over the world were living in Jerusalem, and a large crowd was attracted by the commotion. They were amazed to hear the disciples speaking in their own languages. They recognized the disciples as Galileans, and wondered how they were able to speak these other languages. There were Jews and foreign converts to Judaism from various provinces of the Roman Empire: Parthians and Mesopotamians (from modern Iraq) and Medes and Elamites (from modern Iran), Judea (southern Israel), Cappadocia, Phrygia, Pamphylia (modern Turkey), Libya (northern Africa), Cretans (from the island of Crete) Arabians (of Saudi Arabia), and Romans, Israel’s neighbors around the Mediterranean Sea. Each heard the Gospel in their own native language. They were amazed and wondered what the significance was, but some suggested that the disciples were drunk.

Peter addressed the crowd, saying that it was not drunkenness because it was about 9:00 a.m. Instead this was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, of God’s Spirit being poured out upon all flesh. He went on to say that this was to happen before the Day of the Lord (the Day of Judgment; Christ’s Second Coming, which Joel had prophesied). Joel prophesied that there would be disturbances of nature and signs in the heavens and in nature: blood, fire, and smoke. The sun will be dark, and the moon will be blood-red. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Commentary:

Joel prophesied around 400 to 300 B.C. He foresaw the day when God would pour out his Spirit on all people, and that began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. In Old Testament days, only a few select individuals had a personal relationship with God by his Holy Spirit.

Moses had felt the burden of leading the people of Israel was too great for himself alone, and the Lord had allowed him to select seventy men who the Lord “anointed” with his Spirit to help Moses (Numbers 11:10-25). Two men who hadn’t assembled at the tabernacle received the Holy Spirit anyway, and began to prophesy. Joshua, the son of Nun, wanted to forbid them, but Moses replied, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his spirit upon them” (Numbers 11:26-30). Pentecost was the fulfillment of that prayer of Moses.

Jesus came to make it possible for all who trust and obey him to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:7). 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). Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ (the indwelling Holy Spirit) does not belong to Christ Romans 8:9b). 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 gift of tongues (languages) is the example of the Holy Spirit equipping the disciples of Jesus Christ to fulfill the ministry the Holy Spirit guides them to do. The original disciples were to begin declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone throughout the world (Acts 1:8) beginning from Jerusalem, and the gift of languages was needed to accomplish that mission. This gift was the reversal of God’s confusing the language of the world at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).

There is another “gift of tongues,” referred to in 1 Corinthians 14:1-33, an ecstatic form of praise which is unintelligible to humans. Paul didn’t forbid that form of “tongues,” as long as it was not disruptive, and as long as there was someone to interpret it. Otherwise it was of no benefit to the congregation. This form of “tongues” is not a “sign” for believers, but for unbelievers, whereas prophecy is of benefit for believers (1 Corinthians 14:21-22).

Peter is an example of a spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8), a transformed life, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing Jesus to menial servants of Caiaphas, the high priest (John 18:15-27). Now only a short time later, having received the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, he boldly preached the Gospel to a crowd of thousands, convicting them of Jesus’ crucifixion and calling them to repent and accept baptism into Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of their sins (disobedience of God’s Word), so that they could also receive the indwelling Holy Spirit and be “born again” to eternal life (Acts 2:32-39; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Peter is an example of the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus that the Holy Spirit gives Jesus’ disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). I can personally testify that the Lord gives me the guidance to know what God wants me to do, supplies the resources to do it, and gives me the appropriate Word as needed.

Jesus declared that one must be “born-again” in order to see the kingdom, now (John 3:3) and eternally (John 3:5). Joel prophesied that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21). Jesus is the name of the Lord, and salvation is only through him (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). But note that his name is not a “magic incantation;” It is not those who call themselves Christians and call Jesus their Lord who will be saved, but those who trust and do what Jesus teaches (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)?

Wednesday 7 Easter A

First Posted May 7, 2008

Podcast: Wednesday 7 Easter A

John 20:19-23 — Jesus Appears to His Disciples;

Paraphrase:

On the evening of the first Easter Sunday, when Jesus had risen from the dead, the disciples were all together (in the upper room) in Jerusalem where they had been staying. The doors were locked for fear of the Jewish authorities. Jesus appeared and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” Then he showed them the wounds in his hand and side. The disciples were so glad to see him! Jesus again offered them his peace, and said that as his Father had sent him, so Jesus was sending his disciples into the world. Then he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” He also gave them the authority to forgive or not forgive sin.

Commentary:

The doors were locked, but Jesus supernaturally “materialized” among them, but he wasn’t a ghost, or a figment of their imagination or group hysteria. He had a body which bore the marks of his crucifixion, but it was a glorified body not constrained by physical dimensions or limitations. Luke (the physician) testifies that Jesus was hungry and they gave him some broiled fish which he ate in their presence (Luke 24:41-43). Jesus wanted his disciples to know that it was really him, and that he was really alive. He also showed them his wounds to show that carrying on his mission to the world would require their self-sacrifice.

Jesus gave them his peace, which cannot be taken from them (John 14:27). Then he commissioned them to carry on Jesus’ ministry of offering forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), salvation from eternal death which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), restoration of fellowship with God and eternal life which are only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; 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. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a discernible, ongoing event, which one can know with certainty for oneself (Acts 19:2).

He also told them to receive the Holy Spirit, but they didn’t receive the Holy Spirit immediately then. He told them to wait in Jerusalem until they had been empowered by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and they received the “anointing” on the day of Pentecost, as they obeyed Jesus’ instructions.

Jesus gave his disciples the power and authority to forgive sin, which Jesus possesses. Jesus’ mission was primarily to offer to the world forgiveness of sin: spiritual healing. When people came to Jesus for physical healing he forgave their sin through their faith in him (Matthew 9:2-6; Luke 5:20-24). Jesus warned those who did not believe in Jesus, that their sin was unforgiven (John 8:21-24; 9:39-41).

Jesus promised his disciples that after his resurrection he would come to his disciples by his Holy Spirit and would reveal himself to them (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). They would recognize him because they had come to know him. I personally testify that this is true today (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right). If we have spent time with Jesus and come to know him through the Bible, as we begin to trust and obey him he will reveal himself to us in a way that we will be sure to recognize and know with certainty that is really 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)?

Thursday 7 Easter A

First Posted May 8, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 7 Easter A

Romans 8:14-17, 22-27 — Children of God;

Paraphrase:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters; children) of God” (Romans 8:14). The Spirit is given to not make us slaves through fear, but sons (and daughters). When we address God as Father in ecstatic praise, it is by the Spirit, who bears witness within us that we are God’s children, and as his children we are his heirs, and share his inheritance with Christ, provided that we suffer with Christ so that we may share in his glory.

Understand that Creation has been groaning as in childbirth, and so do we, “who have the first fruits of the Spirit” (Romans 8:23b), as we await our “adoption” by God as his children, “and the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23d). This is the hope in which we were saved. There is no need to hope for what one sees, but if one hopes for what one does not yet see, one waits patiently for it to be fulfilled.

In our human weakness we do not even know what we should pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us beyond the ability of human expression. The Spirit knows our deepest needs and the will of God and is able to intercede accordingly.

All who are willing to be led by God’s Holy Spirit receive the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Isaiah 42:5e), and God has made the fulfillment of that promise conditional upon faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is only by Jesus Christ (John 1:31-34), only upon his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Commentary:

Jesus Christ is the “Word” of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-3, 14). Those who are willing to trust and obey God will trust and obey Jesus Christ, and as they begin to do so, they will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t enslave us; he sets us free from enslavement to sin, death and the power of Satan. The Spirit makes it possible for us to know and do God’s will. By the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to fellowship with God and eternal life in his kingdom in heaven.

The “anointing” of the Holy Spirit is a discernible, ongoing event (Acts 19:2), and “born-again” Christians have the testimony of the Holy Spirit within us. 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). When we worship and praise the Lord, the Holy Spirit bears witness within us that we have been spiritually “reborn” and that we are children of God. If we know we are his children, we can be assured that we will share in his inheritance and glory with Christ, provided that we are willing to suffer with Christ.

Following the leading of the Holy Spirit is going to require self-sacrifice. We must be willing to surrender what we think we want in order to do what God wants us to do and is pleasing to God. Jesus suffered abuse and persecution from the world, and we can’t expect better treatment. The world won’t applaud us for following the teaching and example of Jesus. What we think we want turns out to be disappointing instead of satisfying; what the Lord wants for us is truly and eternally worthwhile and satisfying.

This Creation has been intentionally designed by God to be limited by time, and subject to decay and death, because God allows us the freedom to choose whether to obey him or not, and to learn by trial and error to trust and obey him. But God won’t tolerate disobedience and evil in his eternal kingdom in paradise restored to perfection. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27) and to learn to trust and obey him.

Finding and knowing God is only possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word), salvation from eternal condemnation, and restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Paul, the Apostle and author of the Letter to the Romans, visualizes this Creation as a mother in childbirth. Bondage to time, death and decay, which this Creation is subjected to, is like birth pangs in the process of giving birth to the new eternal Creation. We are also subject to time, decay and physical death, although Christians have been spiritually “reborn” to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is God’s offering to us, like the “first-fruits” offering to God of the first portion of the harvest, required under the Old Covenant of Law. We have the first fruits of the Spirit now, but there will be much more to come in God’s eternal kingdom.

Christians are in the process of “adoption” as God’s children, which will be fulfilled when we enter his household in eternal life. Then our physical bodies, which have been in bondage to time, decay and physical death, will be redeemed from that bondage. That is the hope that we look forward to. We don’t see the fulfillment of that hope yet, but we have the promise of God, and the Holy Spirit is the “security deposit,” the “signed contract” with God. We know by the experience of the Holy Spirit within us that God is able and faithful to do what he has promised.

Hope in eternal life in heaven with the Lord makes it possible for us to wait for it with patient endurance. This life is not all there is; the best is yet to come! That allows us to set our priorities on what is eternally important.

The Holy Spirit helps us to know and do God’s will. God wants us to pray to him for what we need, but it is hard for us to know what we truly need and what is pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray according to God’s will, and intercedes on our behalf, so that we can receive what we truly need, that which is pleasing to God and within his will. The Holy Spirit expresses for us what is beyond our human ability to express.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 7 Easter A

First Posted May 9, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 7 Easter A

Exodus 19:1-9 – God Manifested; at Sinai;
John 7:37-39a – Living Water;

Exodus Paraphrase:

Three months after the people of Israel had left Egypt they came to the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped at the base of Mt Sinai. Moses went up to the mountaintop, and the Lord spoke to him. The Lord told Moses to tell the people to remember the great acts God had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt. God said that if the Israelites would obey God’s Word and keep God’s covenant with them they would be God’s chosen people among all the people of earth, since the whole earth belongs to God. The Israelites would be a kingdom of priests to God and a holy nation.

Moses came down from the mountaintop and called the leaders of the people to assemble, and gave them the Word God had commanded him to say to the people. And all the people all answered, saying that they would do all that the Lord had spoken.

Moses reported their agreement to the Lord. Then the Lord told him that he would come to Moses in a thick cloud, so that when God spoke to Moses the people would hear and believe Moses for ever.

John Paraphrase:

On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus stood up and said “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38). Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit which was to be received by those who believe in Jesus.

Commentary:

Before Jesus’ physical ministry on earth, only a few individual prophets like Moses had a personal relationship with the Lord. God had revealed his power through Moses in the plagues he brought upon the Egyptians to free Israel from bondage in Egypt, and in delivering Israel from Pharaoh’s army through the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. The Lord had led them by the pillar of cloud and fire through the wilderness and had brought them to his holy mountain.

God offered them a covenant to be God’s chosen people and a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, and they had accepted. Then God wanted to reveal himself to the people, so that they would know with certainty that Moses was the mediator of that covenant between God and his people, and so that the people would keep the covenant.

The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths), was one of three great annual festivals. It was an eight day festival immediately following the harvest. People built temporary shelters outdoors from leafy branches to stay in. The main purpose was to remember the wilderness wandering. It was also a harvest thanksgiving, celebrating the end of wilderness wandering and reaping the harvest of their own land.

Later, two features were added to the festival. One was the drawing of water from the Pool of Siloam which was poured upon the altar in the temple as a commemoration of the water from the rock that the Lord gave them in the wilderness (Numbers 20:2-13). The other was the lighting of great lamps in the temple courtyard at night as a memorial to the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) that led them in the wilderness.

Jesus’ declaration was in the context of the water ritual of the festival. Jesus is the spiritual rock which is the source of living water in the “wilderness” of this world (1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Isaiah 12:3). Only Jesus “baptizes” (“anoints”) with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the fountain of “living water” welling up to eternal life (John 4:14), and it is the channel through which Salvation flows out through Jesus’ disciples into the world.

Jesus came into the world to give us spiritual, eternal life (John 1:1-5, 14), and this spiritual life is by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are all born physically alive but spiritually, eternally dead because of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). This lifetime is our opportunity to be “reborn” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8).

Jesus came into the world to become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right), so that we could become God’s children and be temples for his indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the “Pillar of Fire” (Exodus 13:21), who leads us through the spiritual night of this sinful world into the light of God’s eternal kingdom.

The Church is the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.” We are to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. We have a covenant with God mediated by Jesus Christ who is our “New Moses.” The New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15) is by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), to be received by faith (obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9).

No one was able to keep the Old Covenant of Law. Sacrifices had to be offered continually for forgiveness. The Law showed us what God requires, but it couldn’t help us do it (Romans 3:20). Failure to keep the Law in any instance made us guilty of all (Galatians 2:16).

The New Covenant makes it possible for us to fulfill its requirements. The indwelling Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to know and do what God requires. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was once for all time and all people who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust). We are motivated to trust and obey God’s Word not by fear but by love, and we are forgiven over and over as many times as necessary.

God has manifested himself to the world in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:9). If we accept the Covenant God offers through Jesus Christ and begin to trust and obey Jesus, Jesus will manifest himself to us by his Holy Spirit within us (John 14:21).

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

Saturday 7 Easter A

First Posted May 10, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 7 Easter A

Psalm 33:12-22 — Hope in the Lord;

Paraphrase:

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage” (Psalm 33:12)!

From God’s throne in heaven he can see all the people of the earth. He has created their hearts and he sees all their deeds. Kings are not saved by their armies; warriors are not saved by their own strength. Hoping in a war horse for victory is in vain; its great strength cannot save.

The Lord watches over those who fear him, over those who trust in his unwavering love, “that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:19).

Let our souls wait for the Lord, for his help and protection. We rejoice in him and trust in his holy name (his character and person). “Let thy steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in thee” (Psalm 33:22).

Commentary:

Are we a nation whose God is the Lord? God has chosen us to be his heritage (inheritance; tradition); have we chosen to receive it?

God has created this world and everything in it. He knows what is in our hearts and he sees what we are doing. We cannot deceive him or hide from him.

People who rely on their own strength, wisdom and resources to save and protect them will fail and come to grief. There is no security and hope except in the Lord. The ultimate enemy is death, and there is nothing we can do to avoid death, although we may fend it off for a short while.

The Lord blesses those who fear (have appropriate respect for his power and authority) love and trust him. He alone is able to deliver us from evil and death. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death. Every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ personally testifies that Jesus is eternally alive. The “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit bears witness within born-again Christians that they are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). We have been freed from bondage to the fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Let us learn to wait for the Lord’s help, providence and protection. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, because we want immediate results and it is hard for us to trust another to know and do what is in our best interest. From about age two, we want to do it “my by self.”

Ultimately we all need help from a source greater than ourselves. It matters eternally in whom and in what we hope and trust. God’s Word documents that it is absolutely true and dependable. As we begin to trust and obey God’s Word, he will show us personally that he is able and faithful to do what he promises.

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

Week of 6 Easter – A – 05/21 – 27/2017

May 20, 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 6 Easter A

Sunday 6 Easter A

First Posted April 27, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 6 Easter A

Psalm 66:1-6, 14-18 – Thanksgiving for Deliverance;
Acts 17:22-31 – The Meaning and Purpose of Life;
1 Peter 3:15-22 – Discipleship;
John 14:15-21 – The Baptism of the Holy Spirit;

Psalm Paraphrase::

Let all God’s people rejoice; glorify his name with singing and give him great praise! Let us acknowledge his awesome deeds and his great power. His enemies tremble with fear before him. Let all the earth worship and praise the name of the Lord.

Look and see what the Lord has done; his works are awesome beyond mankind’s ability or understanding! “He turned the sea into dry land; men passed through the river on foot” (Psalm 66:6).

I will keep the promises I made to the Lord when I was in trouble. I will give to the Lord offerings and sacrifices. “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:17-18; see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right).

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul was forced to flee to Athens from persecution for his preaching of the Gospel. While he was there waiting for his helpers to come to him, he observed the shrines and idols of the Athenians. His custom as a Jewish Christian missionary was to go to the local synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath and preach the Gospel, showing how Jesus fulfilled the Bible scriptures of God’s promised Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed”), God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King. In Athens he went to the local public forum, the Areopagus, and began proclaiming the Gospel from the cultural perspective he had observed in Athens.

He began by saying that he had noticed that the Athenians were very “religious,” and he had even noticed that they had a shrine to an “unknown God.” So Paul was proclaiming the God they had worshiped as unknown.

The one true God, the God of Israel, is the creator of heaven and earth and everything in them. God does not need humans to build shrines for him, or to do or give anything to him, because God himself has given life and breath and everything to all people of the world. “And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us”(Acts17:26-27).

Paul had been formally educated, and he quoted from memory from Greek writings of Epimenides and Aratus to make the point that it is in God that “we live and move and have being,” being God’s children (since he is our creator).

Since we are God’s offspring, we shouldn’t imagine that God is like gold, silver, stone or wood, fashioned by the art and imagination of humans. God overlooked our ignorance in the past, but now God commands everyone to repent (turn from disobedience to obedient trust in God). God has fixed a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness (doing what is good and right and true, according to God’s Word), by Jesus Christ, whom God has appointed. God has verified that Jesus is the Christ, the righteous judge, by raising him from physical death to eternal life.

1 Peter Paraphrase:

The Apostle Peter was making disciples of Jesus Christ, according to the Great Commission Jesus gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8) by the gift (“anointing,” baptism) of the Holy Spirit.

Peter taught new believers to reverence Christ in their hearts, and to always be prepared to defend their faith to anyone who challenges them, but to do so with reverence and gentleness.

Christian disciples are to live according to Jesus’ teaching and example, resisting the temptations to do things contrary to God’s Word, so that when the enemies of the Gospel abuse and persecute us it will be they who are put to shame by our righteous behavior. It is far better for us to suffer unjustly for doing what is right than for us to suffer deservedly for doing wrong.

Jesus is our example of righteous suffering for the unrighteous. Though he was sinless he died for our sins, so that we could be attributed with his righteousness and be able to enter into God’s presence. Jesus died physically but was raised to spiritual, eternal life.

In the days of Noah, the people didn’t give heed to Noah’s warning of God’s judgment and the call to repent. God was patient with them during the time it took for Noah to build and prepare the Ark (120 years;* Genesis 5:32; 7:6).

Noah and his household, only eight souls, were saved from condemnation through the Flood. Christian Baptism is the modern equivalent, which saves us not as physical, but rather, spiritual cleansing of our conscience by our appeal to God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus has ascended into heaven, at the right hand (place of honor) of God, with absolute authority over angels, powers, rulers and regulations in heaven and on earth (except God the Father, of course; see 1 Corinthians 15:27).

John Paraphrase:

After the Last Supper with his disciples, and knowing that he would be betrayed that night, Jesus began his farewell discourse to his disciples, to prepare them for what would soon take place.

Jesus told them that if they loved him they would keep Jesus’ commandments, and Jesus promised to intercede for them with God the Father, who would give them “another counselor,” the Spirit of truth, who would be with them forever. Worldly people cannot receive the Spirit of truth because they don’t know or recognize (divine, eternal) truth, but Jesus’ disciples know him because he dwells with them and will be within them.

Jesus promised not to leave his disciples desolate (bereft; comfortless); Jesus promised to come to them. Jesus said that the world would no longer see Jesus, but his disciples would; then they would know that as Jesus lives (eternally), they will live also. In that day they would know that as Jesus is in God and God in Jesus, that they would be in Jesus and Jesus in them.

Jesus said, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love him and manifest (reveal) myself to him” (John 14:21).

Commentary:

God is God and Lord of heaven and earth, whether we acknowledge him or not! Those who have come to know him and have experienced his deeds of deliverance and help will worship and praise him with thanksgiving.

Two of God’s great acts of deliverance were delivering his people from bondage to sin and death in Egypt by parting the Red Sea so that his people could pass through on dry ground, but cutting off their pursuers. Then, after their nomadic forty years in the wilderness, God parted the waters of the Jordan River, so they could enter into the Promised Land on dry ground. God is the Creator of everything in heaven and earth, including ourselves, who has supernatural power beyond our human ability or understanding.

God has specifically designed this Creation with the intention of creating an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. This present world is limited by time. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and come to know God our Creator, and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

We are spiritually “reborn;” “born from above” (John 3:3, 5-8), through 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). Jesus Christ has been part of God’s plan from the very beginning of Creation and has been designed into it (John 1:1-5, 14).

God has no obligation to hear and respond to us unless we are willing to acknowledge, trust and obey God (Hebrews 11:6). God does not listen to the prayers of those who don’t hear and obey God’s Word (Psalm 66:18; see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right).

Paul didn’t waste any opportunity to present the Gospel, and he did it within the context of his circumstances, by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of the “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel), which we all can be (Acts 9:1-21). He presented the full, one and only Gospel, but changed the way he presented it according to the circumstances.

The one and only true God has power and knowledge beyond human ability. Idols are the creation of human imagination and craftsmanship. Idols cannot do anything even for themselves. They become a burden to their worshipers. In contrast, God needs no one to advise, provide or help him. Instead, he is the source and provider of everything.

God has been progressively revealing his purpose for Creation from the very beginning. This is not a Creation that has gone “wrong” or is out of God’s control. The disobedience of Adam and Eve came as no surprise to God (Genesis 3:1-24). Since then he has been revealing his provision of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and salvation from eternal condemnation, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

In the record of Noah and the Flood in the Bible, God deliberately intended it to also be a parable, a metaphor, of life in this temporal world. Noah is a forerunner of the Christ, who calls the people of the world to repent and turn to obedient trust in God’s Word. God had a covenant with Noah to save those who trusted and obeyed God, through the waters of the Flood, by the Ark. Those who did not listen to Noah’s proclamation of God’s Word perished! Only eight people were saved out of hundreds of thousands.

Christian Baptism is the the “New Red Sea,” the “New Flood” through which we can be saved from slavery to sin and eternal destruction only by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, who is the “New Moses,” the mediator of the “New Covenant” (“Testament”) of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift; Matthew 26:28 RSV note “g;” Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 9:20; KJV “New Testament;” see title page, RSV p. iii, New Testament, Thomas Nelson & Sons, Camden, N. J., 1952).

Jesus gave his disciples his final instructions before his crucifixion. Jesus said that their obedient trust in keeping Jesus’ teachings would reveal their love for Jesus and prove that they were Jesus’ disciples (John 13:34-35). Jesus promised to send the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit only to his disciples who trusted and obeyed Jesus’ teachings (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit would be their counselor who would teach them and lead them into all (divine, eternal) truth, help them remember Jesus’ commandments (John 14:26, empower them to know and do God’s will, and give them the appropriate Word of God at the moment it is needed; and he speaks through his disciples(Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). The Holy Spirit is also the comforter who provides divine comfort, assurance and peace.

Jesus said that he would no longer be seen by worldly people (because he would physically die), but his disciples would see him (because Jesus promised to manifest -reveal- himself to them; John 14:21). Then they would be certain that Jesus is eternally alive, and that they would also live eternally.

After his resurrection, Jesus’ final instructions, the Great Commission, before his ascension into heaven was for his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then to go into all the world and make (“born-again”) disciples and teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).

Peter, one of the original twelve disciples and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel), was carrying out Jesus’ Great Commission. He was teaching new believers to know, trust and obey Jesus’ teachings, to know God’s Word and to resist temptation to do what is contrary to God’s Word (which is the definition of sin). He was teaching them to know and follow the example and teaching of Jesus.

Peter taught them that the whole Bible is God’s Word and is intended by God to point to Jesus Christ, God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King. The Bible is filled with “word-pictures” of God’s plan and purpose for Creation.

In our culture today there are a lot of people who are very “religious,” but who don’t know God individually and personally by the indwelling Holy Spirit, or even from reading the Bible. There are lots of nominal “Churches” whitch are failing to make disciples of Jesus Christ and teach them to obey all his commands (see False Teachings, sidebar,top right). They teach that one is automatically “born-again” by a ritual of baptism, without the requirement of obedient discipleship.

Many nominal “Christians” pursue modern idolatries such as career, success, power, status, wealth, material possessions, pleasure, home and family. Anything or person one loves as much as or more than the Lord is idolatry. Is one putting the Lord first in one’s priorities by spending forty or more hours a week on a secular career and another forty hours a week pursuing pleasure and material things, and an hour or two in Church on Sunday, provided that there isn’t something else going on? Is one who loves the Lord unable to give thirty minutes a day to read, meditate and pray on 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)?


* “Noah, ”Easton’s Bible Dictionary, digital module:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/HTML_Bible_Tools/EBD/T0002700.html#T0002741

See Free Digital Bible Study Tools, sidebar top right homepage:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.co/index.htm#Links_to_Free_Digital_Bible_Study_Tools


 

Monday 6 Easter A

First Posted April 21, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 6 Easter A

Psalm 47 – King above all Nations;

Paraphrase:

Let all people sing and shout and clap their hands in joy! The Lord, the Most High, is awesome, the great king over all the earth. He subjugated all people and nations under us and gave us the great heritage of Jacob (the patriarch of God’s people, and the inheritor of the blessing), whom God loves.

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

God reigns over all the nations of the earth, and over all rulers. He is on his holy throne and all the princes of earth are are subjugated to the God of Abraham.

Commentary:

This psalm was probably composed originally for a religious processional, with the Ark of the Covenant, symbolizing God’s presence, ascending the temple mount in Jerusalem.

The Lord is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the sovereign ruler of all Creation. Many do not yet know and acknowledge his kingship, but the rulers of the earth reign by his forbearance.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14) of the eternal Savior and King, who reigns eternally on the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the Lord God, made visible in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Jesus has “gone up with a shout,” in his entrance into Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion, which we celebrate as “Palm Sunday” (Matthew 21:1-16). He is the “Son of David,” the heir to the throne of David and the promise of God (Matthew 21:9, 15; John 12:12-15). They crucified Jesus, mocking him as the “King of the Jews” (John 19:15, 19). But Jesus rose from physical death to eternal life, and ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9), where he has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus’ ascension into heaven on a cloud was without public fanfare, and was witnessed only by his disciples. Jesus has promised to return, on the Day of Judgment, and he will return in the same way he ascended (Acts 1:11), “with the clouds.” When he returns he will return the same way, in the clouds, but with the sound of a trumpet, and every eye will see him Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:52)

God has given us a great heritage through Jesus Christ. Those who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus are the New Israel, the heirs to the inheritance given through Jacob, and the ones whom God loves (John 14:21, 23). Our inheritance is the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), salvation from eternal destruction, and eternal life in the presence and fellowship of the Lord in Creation restored to paradise (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is going to return on the Day of Judgment when he will sit on his throne (Matthew 25:31-46) and will judge the physically and spiritually living and dead (1 Peter 4:5). In that day everyone who has ever lived will bow to him and acknowledge that he is the eternal Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Philippians 2:10-11).

In that day it will be too late to change our eternal destiny. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus now, during this lifetime, will be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), now, in this lifetime, and will receive eternal life. But those who have refused to accept Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will spend eternity in eternal destruction and death in Hell with all evil.

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

Tuesday 6 Easter A

First Posted April 22, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 6 Easter A

Acts 1: (1-7) 8-14 – Jesus’ Ascension;

Background:

Both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written by the same person, probably Luke, a physician. Acts begins where the Gospel of Luke ends, with Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples and his ascension into heaven. Theophilus (“lover of God”) may either be the name of a specific person by that name, or it may be addressed to any reader who loves God.

After his resurrection Jesus was among his disciples for forty days, demonstrating that he was truly alive, and teaching them about the kingdom of God, opening their minds to understand the Bible scriptures about Jesus and his resurrection (Luke 24:45).

Acts Paraphrase:

As Jesus prepared to return to heaven he gave his disciples the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), to go into the whole world and preach the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sin to all nations, and make disciples, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47), but commanding the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8). Jesus told them that John the Baptist had baptized with water (for repentance), but before many days the disciples would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

His disciples asked Jesus if he would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, but Jesus told them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7). But Jesus told them that when they had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit they would be empowered and guided to testify to Jesus and the Gospel, spreading outward from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and beyond, to the end of the earth, and the Book of Acts is the record of that fulfillment.

As Jesus said this, he was lifted up and disappeared from his disciples’ sight in a cloud as they watched. As they stood watching, two angels asked them why they continued staring into the heavens. They told the disciples that Jesus would return in the same way that he had departed.

Commentary:

Jesus had ascended from the Mount of Olives, about two miles outside of Jerusalem.* The disciples returned to Jerusalem to the upper room where they had been staying. The eleven remaining disciples of the chosen Twelve were Peter, James, and John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James (not the Judas who betrayed Jesus). They were together with the women and Mary, Jesus’ mother, and Jesus’ brothers, spending time in prayer as they awaited the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was with his disciples for forty days after his resurrection, and he appeared to over five hundred eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). He taught them the significance of what had happened in relation to the Bible scriptures, which they had been unable to understand before his crucifixion.

The disciples had been fully trained; they just needed to wait until they had been equipped and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus baptizes with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus(John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

This is the pattern Jesus intends the Church to follow. New believers are to be “discipled” by “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples until the believers are “born-again,” before being sent out in ministry. Sadly, this is not what is happening in many nominal “churches” today. Discipleship is not “optional;” it is not just for certain “super-Christians.” Jesus’ mission to the world cannot be carried out in human strength and wisdom. It must be by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit within Jesus’ disciples (Zechariah 4:6b).

The Jews had been awaiting the Messiah, hoping that he would be a political king who would deliver Israel from Roman domination. The disciples wanted Jesus to give them a schedule of events of when Jesus’ kingdom would be established.

This same error persists in parts of the Church today. People are attracted to the “End Times” prophesies and get stuck speculating on the signs of Christ’s return and the details of the “Rapture,” instead of devoting themselves to being disciples, seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit and proclaiming the Gospel to the world by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Second Coming is a part of the Gospel, and people need to hear the whole Gospel. People need to know that there is a Day of Judgment coming, but the appropriate response is to learn to know, trust and obey Jesus; not to just sit around speculating on how soon he’s coming; not to stand around staring into the heavens looking for his return (Acts 1:7, 11a; Matthew 24:36).

Jesus’ ascension into heaven went unnoticed by everyone except Jesus’ disciples. Jesus has promised to return, and he will return the same way, on the clouds of heaven. But his return will be with great power and glory, and everyone will see. It will be a day of great joy for his disciples. But for those who have refused to accept Jesus as Lord, and have refused to trust and obey him, it will be a day of terror (Luke 21:25-28; Matthew 24:29-31)! In that day there will be no place to hide, and it will be too late 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)?


* “Bethany” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, digital edition:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/HTML_Bible_Tools/EBD/T0000500.html#T0000545

see Free Digital Bible Study Tools, sidebar top right, homepage:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.co/index.htm#Links_to_Free_Digital_Bible_Study_Tools


Wednesday 6 Easter A

First Posted April 23, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 6 Easter A

Psalm 110 — Victorious King;

Paraphrase:

“The Lord says to my lord; ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool’” (Psalm 110:1).

The Lord sends forth the King’s power and authority from Zion (the temple mount; the City of God; the Church; the eternal kingdom). The King will reign in the midst of his enemies. His people will freely serve him on the day that he leads his army in holy array. His youthful vigor will come upon him like dew “from the womb of the morning.” God has sworn irrevocably that his king will be a priest in the order of Melchizedek.

God is at his right hand. On the day of his wrath, kings will be shattered. He will execute judgment on the nations and fill them with corpses. He will shatter heads throughout the earth. “He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head” (Psalm 110:7).

Commentary:

This Psalm is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel. It may have been used in coronations.

God invites his Messiah (Christ; the one “anointed” by God to be his eternal savior, king and priest) to ascend to his throne at the right hand of God, in the City of God in heaven. His power goes forth from Zion, and he reigns in the midst of his enemies, until they have all been vanquished. Thursday is Ascension Day, the day, forty days after Easter, that the Church celebrates Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of God in Heaven.

The Messiah is coming on the Day of Judgment, leading a vast, supernaturally powerful army of angels. His people will submit to him and worship him in that day. He will be eternally youthful in vigor. God’s promise is irrevocable and true. He has made his Messiah his eternal high priest, like the priesthood of Melchizedek.

On the Day of Judgment, the Messiah will completely destroy all his enemies. He will be completely vigilant and will not let anyone escape unnoticed.

Jesus used Psalm 110:1 to refute the Pharisees (Matthew 22:43-45). Peter used it, in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, to show that Jesus is the Lord’s “anointed” Savior and Lord (Acts 2:34-36).

Melchizedek is the king and priest of ancient Jerusalem (Salem) who came out to Abraham as Abraham returned from defeating the alliance of Chedorlaomer, king of Edam and three other worldly kings. The alliance of the four kings represents the worldly kings of the four compass-points. The kings had taken Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and Lot’s household and possessions captive, and Abraham had pursued and recovered them.

Melchizedek came to Abraham bringing bread and wine. Melchizedek’s name means “king of righteousness,” and his title, King of Salem, means “king of peace.” He is a symbol of an eternal king and priest because he had no recorded birth or death or genealogy. Abraham gave him a tithe (a “tenth”) of the spoils of his conquest. Melchizedek prefigures the Messiah, whom God has made our eternal king and priest who has defeated the worldly kings who held us captive (Hebrews 6:19-7:28).

Jesus has promised to come again on the Day of Judgment. In that day he will execute judgment on all the earth. His people will be glad to submit to him and worship him, but his enemies will be utterly vanquished. He will shatter kings and human authorities throughout the world, and fill the nations with corpses, in fulfillment of God’s Word (Matthew 25:31-46; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

The depiction of one who drinks from the brook while keeping his head up recalls the selection process the Lord told Gideon to use to select his army (Judges 7:4-7), and which describes the Lord’s vigilance. He cannot be distracted from his execution of justice, and no one will be able sneak past 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)?

Thursday 6 Easter A

First Posted April 24, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 6 Easter A

Ascension Day*

Ephesians 1:16-23 — Name Above All Names
Luke 24:44-53 — Jesus’ Ascension

Ephesians:

Paul prayed with thanksgiving for the believers in Ephesus, that God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, and that their spiritual eyes might be enlightened so that they would know the hope they have in God’s call, the great riches of their inheritance with the saints, and the greatness of his immeasurable power working in us who believe; the power by which Christ was raised from the dead and enthroned at the right hand of God in Heaven. God has given him authority, dominion and power far above any other, and a name which is above every other name on earth and in Heaven, in this age, and the age to come. God has placed all things under submission to Christ and has made him the head of the Church, which is his (spiritual) body; “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus appeared to his disciples over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3) after his resurrection, and he told them that everything about the Messiah in the Jewish scriptures (The Old Testament of the Bible) had to be (and was) fulfilled. “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45), and told them that it was therefore necessary that the Messiah suffered and was raised from the dead on the third day. Jesus told them that the Gospel, repentance and forgiveness of sins (disobedience of God’s Word), should be preached to all nations and people, beginning from Jerusalem (and spreading outward).

His disciples were eyewitnesses to the ministry, crucifixion and resurrection (and ascension) of Jesus. Jesus promised to send the promise of God the Father (the indwelling Holy Spirit) upon them, but warned them to stay in Jerusalem until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit, the divine power from God in Heaven (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8).

Then Jesus led them out to Bethany (on the Mount of Olives; a Sabbath day’s journey from Jerusalem; Acts 1:12). He lifted up his hands and blessed them (and was lifted up into heaven on a cloud; Acts 1:9). The disciples returned to Jerusalem and spent their time in the temple praising God.

Commentary:

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, as we all can be (Acts 9:1-23). He was “discipled” by a born-again disciple (Acts 9:10-17) until he had been born-again, by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the “power from on high (Luke 24:49b). He was “discipling” the believers at Ephesus, urging them to seek the “infilling” of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom (Isaiah 11:2) and revelation of the knowledge of Jesus (John 14:21, 23, 26).

Jesus is the light that enlightens us spiritually (John 1:9), through his indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), 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).

It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can know with certainty that Jesus is eternally alive and that because he lives, we too will also be raised from physical death to eternal life with him; the inheritance we share with all the saints (“born-again” believers). It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience the supernatural power of God working in and through us; the power that raised Jesus from the dead and lifted him into Heaven and enthroned him with power and authority over the entire Universe.

Jesus is the name above all names, in this world, and in the universe; in this age, and the age to come. This age is the Messianic age; the temporal age; the age of salvation. The age to come is the eternal age, where we will either live eternally with Christ in God’s kingdom restored to perfection, or we will die eternally in Hell with all evil.

In this temporal lifetime we have the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God’s Word. There is a Day of Judgment coming when we will have no choice but to obey; we will have no choice but to confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11), and do what he commands (Matthew 25:31-46). In that day, at the end of our lifetimes, it will be too late to change our eternal destiny. In that day, all things will be under subjugation to Jesus’ authority and power.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), who fills all in all. The Holy Spirit is the head of the Church; the Church was born spiritually on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Christians are spiritually born on the day they receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The Church is the body of “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, guided and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus, the Spirit of Jesus who confronted Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5). It is the Holy Spirit who opens our minds to understand the Bible (Luke 24:32, 45).

The Book of Acts is the historical record of the Ascension of Jesus, the birth of the Church, and the spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem, through Judea, through Samaria, and outward to the farthest corners of the world. Jesus promised his disciples that they would receive the promised “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and that promise was fulfilled (Acts 2:1-13). The rest of the Book of Acts is the history of the divine power of the Holy Spirit working in and through Jesus’ disciples.

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


*Ascension Day is the day that the Church commemorates the ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven, and his enthronement at the right hand of God as the eternal king and priest of God’s eternal kingdom.


Friday 6 Easter A

First Posted April 25, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 6 Easter A

1 Peter 4:12-17; 5:6-11 – Encouragement Amid Persecution;

Background:

This letter was written to encourage Christians in northern Asia Minor (Turkey) who were undergoing severe persecution under Roman Emperor Nero. Christians are still persecuted in parts of the world today, and even in “Christian” nations they need to be willing to endure suffering for the Gospel.

Paraphrase:

Let us not expect that, as Christians, we can avoid sharing in suffering for the Gospel, but let us rejoice that as we share Christ’s suffering we can be assured of sharing in his glory when he is revealed. If we are reviled for the name of Christ we will also be blessed because of the Spirit of glory and of God that dwells in us.

Let us not be guilty of deeds justly deserving punishment, like murder, theft, wrongdoing or mischief-making, but if we suffer for being Christian we shouldn’t be ashamed, but let our behavior glorify God. “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17).

So let us humble ourselves under God’s discipline, so that in time he will exalt us. We can commit our worries to the Lord knowing that he cares for us. Believers must be committed and watchful, because Satan is like a hungry lion on the prowl, looking for an opportunity to devour us. We must resist him, knowing that our Christian brethren throughout the world are required to experience similar suffering. “And after we have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:11).

Commentary:

Jesus doesn’t guarantee that life in this world will always be pleasant. In fact we cannot expect better treatment in this world than Jesus received. If people hate Jesus they will hate his followers too. A smooth, pleasant life is not the mark of God’s favor, as many people assume.

But the Lord doesn’t leave us comfortless. He gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit, who encourages and comforts us, so we can experience hope and joy in the midst of trouble. Because of his presence within us we can be certain that even physical death cannot keep us from sharing the inheritance we have in God’s eternal kingdom.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the week of his crucifixion, he went first to the temple, and he began to drive out those who had corrupted it with commercialism, making profits on the sale of animals for sacrifice, and changing secular Roman coins for Jewish, which they required for offerings.

In many ways the nominal “Church” today is in a similar condition. In some cases, ordained ministry is a “career choice.” In some congregations leaders and members consider the church as their personal empire, to be run for their personal benefit.

This is the period of time in which the Lord is beginning to work by his Holy Spirit to cleanse the Church and cast out corrupt practices in preparation for Christ’s return. We should be sensitive to and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to cleanse and revive the Church.

Christians are to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We are to learn to know, trust and obey Jesus. We will have to surrender what we think we want in order to do what he wants us to do. Discipleship requires humility, discipline, commitment and effort, but the eternal rewards will be well worth it. God wants us to succeed as disciples and he is abundantly willing and able to restore, establish and strengthen us, as we give him dominion over us individually and personally.

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

Saturday 6 Easter A

First Posted April 26, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 6 Easter A

John 17:1-19 – Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer;

Paraphrase:

After Jesus’ farewell discourse to his disciples, he closed with prayer. He prayed to God his Father, acknowledging that his hour had come (to be obedient unto death on the cross). He prayed that God would glorify him so that he could glorify God, since God had given Jesus power over all human flesh, to give eternal life to those God has given him. Those who know God as the one true God, and Jesus, knowing that he is the one (Savior; Messiah) God has sent into the world, will have eternal life. Jesus had glorified God on earth, and had done what he was sent to do. Now Jesus asked God to glorify Jesus in God’s presence with the glory he had before this world was created.

Jesus has made known God’s name to the men God had given him (his disciples). All things belong to God and God has given them to Jesus, and they have trusted and obeyed God’s Word. They have learned that everything Jesus has said and done is from God; and they have accepted Jesus’ message, which God has given to Jesus. His disciples have learned the truth that Jesus has come from God the Father and that Jesus has been sent by God. Jesus prayed specifically for the disciples that God had given Jesus. All that God has belongs to Jesus and all that Jesus has belongs to God. Jesus is glorified by his disciples.

Jesus will no longer be in the world (physically), because he is returning to his Father in heaven, but his disciples are still in the world. Jesus prayed that God would keep them in God’s name which he has given to Jesus, so that they will be one, as Jesus and God are one. While Jesus was with them physically he guarded them in God’s name, and only Judas, the son of perdition (Hell; eternal destruction), who chose his destiny and thus fulfilled scripture, was (eternally) lost. Now Jesus was returning to God, and his disciples remain in the world. Jesus prayed that they might have the joy of Jesus fulfilled in themselves.

Jesus has given them the Word of God. The world has hated them because they are not conforming to worldly conventions, but following Jesus’ example. Jesus didn’t pray that his disciples be removed from the world, but that they be protected from evil and the power of Satan. They are following Jesus rather than following the world. Jesus asked God to sanctify (spiritually cleanse; dedicate to God’s service) them in divine truth, which is the Word of God. Jesus has sent his disciples into the world to carry on the mission which God sent Jesus to begin. Jesus consecrated himself so that they could also be consecrated in truth.

Commentary:

Jesus’ mission is to give eternal life to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the message that we can have forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), of which we are all guilty (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and salvation from eternal death; eternal destruction (which is the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23). God has given to Jesus all who are willing to accept, trust and obey Jesus. Those who receive eternal life are those who recognize that God is the one true God, and believe and come to know with certainty that Jesus has been sent by God into the world as the Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and eternal King).

Jesus has accomplished his purpose. He taught his original disciples the Gospel, and showed them how to continue his mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Salvation to the world. He prepared them to receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which they were to receive after Jesus has risen from the dead and returned to heaven. The guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit is essential to his disciples to enable them to carry on Christ’s mission (Zechariah 4:6; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Jesus had to die on the cross to complete his mission. His death on the cross became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins. His death on the cross and his resurrection demonstrate that physical death is not the end of existence; that life after death is possible (and that eternal death is the alternative; Hebrews 9:27; John 5:28-29; Revelation 21:8). Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for his disciples to receive the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). His death on the cross opened a new way into God’s presence (symbolized by the tearing of the veil of the temple; Luke 23:45b) which is only possible through Jesus Christ by 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).

Jesus has been God’s one and only plan (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) for our salvation and eternal life from the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14), and has been designed into Creation. Jesus glorified God on the cross, and God began to glorify Jesus in Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.

Jesus made God’s name (his identity and character) known to his disciples. Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to the world in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus is the name God gave to his (only begotten) Son. The name, “Jesus,” and the word for “he will save” are similar in Hebrew and Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke). Jesus means Savior (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah that the Messiah would be called “Emmanuel” (“Immanuel”) meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14).

The indwelling Holy Spirit continues Jesus’ guarding of his disciples from evil, keeping them in God’s name, and keep them following Jesus’ teaching and example. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, his disciples experience the fulfillment of the joy of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God and Jesus personally and individually to Jesus’ disciples.

The indwelling Holy Spirit sanctifies Jesus’ disciples, opens their minds to understand and obey the Word of God (Luke 24:32, 45), and leads them into all (divine, eternal) truth (John 14:15-17, 26; 16:13). The indwelling Holy Spirit guides and empowers each disciple so that together in unity they accomplish Christ’s mission and God’s will. Divisiveness and dissension within the “Church” is not of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ disciples can expect from the world treatment similar to that which Jesus received. We are in the world to complete Christ’s mission. We can’t “hide out” inside the Church to avoid conflict with the world. Nor are we to compromise the Gospel in order to “get along” with the world, or to conform to worldly standards. But we aren’t to go into the world with the Gospel unarmed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The conflict is spiritual, and requires spiritual weapons.

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

Week of 5 Easter A – 05/14 – 20/2017

May 13, 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

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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 5 Easter A

Sunday 5 Easter A

First Posted April 20, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 5 Easter A

Psalm 33:1-11 – Our Lord and Creator;
Acts 17:1-15 – Proclaiming the Gospel;
1 Peter 2:4-10 – Christ the Cornerstone;
John 14:1-12 – The Way; the Truth; the Life;

Psalm Paraphrase:

Those who delight in what is good and right and true will rejoice in the Lord. It is appropriate for the morally and ethically upright to praise uprightness. Let us praise the Lord with music and singing, with a new song and with loud shouts of praise.

“For the Word of the Lord is upright, and all his deeds are done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord” (Psalm 33:4-5). Everything in the universe was made by the breath and the Word of God. He restrained the waters of the oceans as in a bottle. He stored up water underground as in warehouses.

Let everyone on earth fear the Lord and be in awe of him. What God declares comes into existence, and what God commands comes to pass. The best plans and counsel of the world amount to nothing apart from God. God’s plans and counsel are eternal, and his purpose is fulfilled through all generations.

Acts Paraphrase:

On Paul’s second missionary journey, with Silas and Timothy, they came to Thessalonica, in Macedonia. As was their custom, they entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and for three weeks Paul preached and taught the Gospel, showing by the Bible scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ) and that it was necessary that Jesus suffer and be crucified and rise again on the third day. Some of the Jews as well as many devout Greeks (proselytes) and more than a few women of high status were convinced and joined Paul and Silas.

But the Jewish religious leaders were jealous, and they recruited troublemakers from the rabble to cause a disturbance, and they went to the home of Jason, where the missionaries were apparently staying. But they didn’t find the missionaries there so they grabbed Jason and dragged him before the city authorities. They accused the missionaries of “turning the world upside down” and acting against the authority of Caesar by declaring another king, Jesus. They charged Jason with aiding and sheltering the missionaries. The authorities made Jason put up a security bond before they released him.

The brethren (Christian believers) sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea (Berea), a city of Macedonia a distance away. When they arrived, Paul and Silas again went to the local synagogue. The Jews of Beroea were more honorable than the ones in Thessalonica, and they were eager to hear the Word of the Gospel, and they examined the Bible texts to verify the things these missionaries were teaching.

As the result, many believed, Greek proselytes, both men and women, as well as Jews. But the Jews of Thessalonica heard where Paul and Silas had gone, and they came to Beroea and stirred up the crowds against the missionaries. So the Berean believers also helped Paul to get safely away by boat and went with him as far as Athens. Then they returned with a message to Silas and Timothy, who had stayed in Beroea, to join Paul in Athens as soon as possible.

2 Peter Paraphrase:

(Peter was “discipling” new believers.)

Jesus is the “living stone,” rejected by worldly people (particularly Jews), but chosen and precious in God’s judgment. Believers are to also be like living stones, built into the Church, with Jesus as the cornerstone. Christians are called to be a holy priesthood, offering pleasing spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. God’s Word foretold that God was laying a chosen and precious cornerstone in Zion (Jerusalem; the temple mount; the City of God; the Church). God’s Word promised that those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus will never have reason to be ashamed.

To those who believe in Jesus, he is chosen and precious, but Jesus is a stumbling block who will cause unbelievers to stumble and fall. Jesus is the stone that the builders (the Jews) rejected, but who is the cornerstone of God’s eternal kingdom.

John Paraphrase:

After celebrating the Last Supper, Jesus gave his disciples his final instructions before the betrayal and arrest he knew would take place that night. He told them not to worry or be sad; they believed in God and should continue to believe in Jesus, despite the circumstances of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus’ crucifixion was necessary in order to prepare a place for Jesus’ disciples in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Jesus promised to return and would take them to be with Jesus in heaven. Jesus told them that they knew the way to eternal life in heaven. Thomas said that they didn’t know where Jesus was going so how could they know the way? Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus said that those who know Jesus know God the Father.

Philip asked Jesus to assure them by showing them God the Father. But Jesus asked Philip if, after years of close daily fellowship with Jesus, Philip still did not know Jesus? Those who have seen Jesus have seen God the Father. Did they not believe that Jesus was in God the Father and God in Jesus? Jesus told them that the words and deeds of Jesus were not by his own power and authority, but by the power and authority of God dwelling in Jesus. Jesus asked his disciples to believe on the basis of Jesus’ word; or else to believe because of the works they had witnessed Jesus do. Jesus declared that those who believe in Jesus will do the same kinds of works Jesus did, and even greater, because Jesus’ was going to God in heaven.

Commentary:

The entire Universe was created by the Word and breath of God. God’s Word has creative force. What God declares, comes into existence (Genesis 1:3); what he commands, will be done. Mankind’s plans and wisdom are fleeting, elusive, and subject to God’s will and approval. God’s plans and his counsel are eternal.

God’s plan and purpose for this Creation has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), who has been “designed into” Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

God has given us his Word in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh in this world. Those who delight in what is right, and good and true, who are morally and ethically upright, will recognize the Bible as the Word of God, and Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s Word of the promised Savior and eternal King, the Son of God.

God has given us his Word because he wants us to know his plan and purpose for Creation. He wants us to know and learn how to live well in this Creation, and to have eternal life with him. He wants us to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God. If we will believe (trust and obey) God’s Word we will have the promise of forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), salvation from eternal condemnation and death which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (John 14:23-24), and eternal life in the kingdom of God, the new Creation restored to paradise (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

If we know and believe God’s Word we will know that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. The Bereans were eager to hear God’s Word and they searched the Bible scriptures to see whether the Gospel of Jesus Christ was true and accurately taught by Paul.

Those who opposed the Gospel at Thessalonica didn’t want to hear God’s Word. They wanted to hold onto “their religion” and “their tradition.” The Gospel threatened to turn “their world” upside down. It isn’t “their world;” it is God’s world.

Jesus Christ it the “cornerstone” of God’s Creation. Jesus is the foundation on which we must build our lives in order to have eternal life in God’s kingdom. We will either build on Jesus Christ, or he will be the stone which will cause us to stumble and fall into eternal condemnation and eternal death.

Paul was a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Acts 9:10-12, 17-18) disciple of Jesus Christ making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, fulfilling the Great Commission which Jesus gave to his disciples to do (Matthew 28:19-20), after they themselves had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, &8). He was proclaiming the Gospel fully and accurately, and some responded with faith (obedient trust) and became disciples of Jesus Christ, and some rejected and opposed the Gospel. Those who opposed the Gospel were unable to prevent others from receiving it.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God to the world in human flesh. Jesus made the invisible God visible (Colossians 1:15). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the ultimate revelation of God to us individually and personally. The words and works of Jesus, recorded in the Bible and testified to by every truly “born-again” Christian are sufficient for us to know and believe in Jesus. One cannot truly know and believe in God apart from knowing and believing Jesus.

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

Monday 5 Easter A

First Posted April 21, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 5 Easter A

Psalm 66:1-6, 14-18 – Praise the Lord!

Let us sing with joy to the Lord, and praise his glorious name. How awesome are your deeds O Lord! All your enemies cringe in fear before you. All people of the world will worship you and praise you and your name (honor; character; authority).

Know and remember what the Lord has done. His deeds are awesome among men. “He turned the sea into dry land; men passed through the river on foot” Psalm 66:6). For such deeds his people rejoiced greatly in him.

I will fulfill the vows I made when I was in trouble. I will give offerings and sacrifices to thee.

Draw near, all those who reverence God and hear my testimony of what the Lord has done for me. I cried aloud and praised him. The Lord would not have listened, if I had loved iniquity in my heart.

Those who seek and examine the deeds the Lord has done for us will rejoice and praise him. His power and authority are truly awesome, beyond human ability or understanding. Even the demons cringe in fear (James 2:19). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10a, Psalm 111:10)!

Commentary:

Two of the great acts of God’s deliverance of his people in the Old Testament are the parting of the Red Sea so that Israel could pass through it to escape the Egyptian army, and then, after the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the parting of the Jordan River, so that they could enter the Promised Land on dry ground, without getting their feet wet.

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is also intended to be a metaphor and parable of life in this world. The escape from Egypt through the Red Sea corresponds with what the Lord has done for us through baptism into Jesus Christ. We have escaped from bondage to sin and death from the “Egypt” of this world. Then we learn to be guided by Jesus Christ, the “New Moses,” and the Holy Spirit, the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21), through the spiritual “wilderness” and “darkness” of this world, and pass through the “river” of physical death and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

When we encounter trouble which is beyond our power and ability, he will hear and help us when we call upon him in faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. I personally testify to that truth (see personal testimonies, sidebar, top right). The Lord is God, whether we acknowledge him or not, but he is not obligated to be all that being a righteous, loving God implies, to those who do not accept, trust and obey his Word through Jesus Christ, his Son, the “living Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).

God has already provided the deliverance we need to escape bondage to sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and eternal death, which is the consequence of sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our deliverance and salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). If we are not willing to accept, trust and obey Jesus, the Lord won’t listen to our prayers for deliverance (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right). The offerings and sacrifices the Lord desires from us are our surrender to his will in obedient trust and our praise and thanks for his great works on our behalf.

Jesus is the ultimate revelation to the world of God in human flesh (Colossians 1:13-15; 2:8-9). The Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), is the ultimate revelation of God to us personally and individually. The Lord wants us to seek and come to know him (Acts 17:26-27), and the place to start is to read and know the Bible. There we can begin to know the great things the Lord has done for us and can claim the promises he has given us. Then we will have reason and opportunity to praise his glorious name and his awesome deeds.

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

Tuesday 5 Easter A

First Posted April 22, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 5 Easter A

Acts 17:22-31 – The Meaning and Purpose of Life;

Paraphrase:

Paul was in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him, and he noticed that the city was full of idols (Acts 17:16). Paul had an opportunity to address the Athenians in a public forum, so he began by saying that he had noticed that the Athenians were very “religious,” since Paul had seen the shrines and objects of their worship. Paul had noticed a shrine to an “unknown god.” Paul said that what they worshiped as unknown, Paul now proclaimed to them.

God, the creator of everything in this world, who reigns as Lord of heaven and earth, doesn’t live in shrines built by men, or need help from humans to do things for him. He has no need for us to give him anything; he is the one who has given us everything, including life and breath. “And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Paul was formally educated and familiar with Greek writings, and quoted Epimenides and Aratus to say that in God “we live and move and have our being” and “are indeed his [God’s] offspring” (Acts 17:28). Since we are his children, we shouldn’t think that God is like some earthly object like silver, gold, stone or wood, created by the art and imagination of humans. God has excused past times when we were ignorant, but he now commands all people everywhere to repent (turn from sin to obedience to God’s Word), because he has set a Day of Judgment, when all people will be judged, by a person, Jesus Christ, whom God has appointed, and has affirmed this to the world by raising him from the dead.

Paul had been persecuted for preaching the Gospel and had to flee to Athens, and while there, waiting for his missionary helpers, he made the most of his opportunity to preach the Gospel. His usual practice had been to go to local Synagogues, but here instead he gathered a crowd at the local forum, the Areopagus, and presented the Gospel. Paul started with what he had observed about their culture and presented the Gospel in that perspective.

Our situation is the same in our culture today in many respects. There are many signs that people are “religious,” but there is also a lot of idolatry. People still worship idols of gold and silver (wealth and material possessions) and the work of their hands (career, success, family, etc). In many instances nominal “Churches” have become “shrines,” built by humans, to the unknown God, because the congregation and leadership have allowed secular culture to enter, influence and change them, instead of being an influence in the community for Christian discipleship.

They think they know God, but God is unknown to them personally and individually, because they haven’t been “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually 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).

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey him. This Creation has been designed to give us the opportunity to seek and come to personally know, trust and obey God. God has given us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey him and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that his way is our best interest.

God knew at the beginning of creation that if we had freedom to choose, we would need to be forgiven, so he designed Creation with the Savior “built in” (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God is not going to tolerate disobedience forever. There is a day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to God through Jesus Christ, the righteous judge whom God has appointed (Matthew 25:31-46; 28:18). Those who refuse to accept Jesus and trust and obey him, will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell. Those who accept Jesus and trust and obey him will be “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (paradise restored to perfection).

God has revealed his Savior, Jesus Christ to the world, and has attested to him by raising him from the dead to eternal life. Jesus is the only way to forgiveness and salvation, spiritual enlightenment, personal knowledge of and fellowship with God, and eternal life in God’s kingdom (Matthew 14:6).

The New Testament is the eyewitness account of those who experienced Jesus’ resurrection, including Paul, the prototype of the “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, as we all can be. Paul and all modern, “born-again” disciples personally testify that Jesus is risen and eternally alive. He is God in human form (Matthew 1:23; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Jesus is alive and present in this world today. He is very near to us, but we are spiritually blind and must “grope” until we find him. If we seek him we will find him (Matthew 7:7-8). Only Jesus can heal our spiritual blindness. Only Jesus can make us spiritually 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)?

Wednesday 5 Easter A

First Posted April 23, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 5 Easter A

1 Peter 3:15-22 – Discipleship:

Paraphrase:

Let Christ be reverenced in our hearts. When anyone challenges our hope in Christ let us always be ready to defend our faith, but with gentleness and reverence. Let us avoid doing anything for which we would be ashamed, so that those who revile us for doing what is right according to Christ’s teaching may be put to shame. Better that we suffer unjustly for doing what is right than justly for doing what is wrong. Christ, though sinless, also suffered unto death once for all for sin, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that we could enter into God’s presence. Jesus died in the flesh, but arose to spiritual life.

In the days of Noah, the people didn’t heed the warning of Noah, and God was patient with them during the building of the Ark (120 years*; Genesis 5:32; 6:3; 7:6). Only eight people were saved through the waters of the flood; and every other living person died and their spirits were imprisoned in Hell. Baptism now corresponds to the Flood. Through Baptism, we have a cleansed conscience in God’s judgment, because of the resurrection of Christ. The risen Jesus has ascended into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with all authority given to him over the angels, and all powers and authorities subject to him (compare Matthew 28:18).

Peter was making disciples of Jesus Christ in accordance with Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Luke 24:48; Acts 1:4-5,&8) by the “baptism” (“anointing;” gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Disciples are to learn and apply Jesus’ teachings in their lives. We are to reverence Christ by trusting and obeying him.

We need to read and know the Bible, so that we will be prepared to defend our belief in Jesus to those who challenge us (2 Timothy 2:15). As we live according to Jesus’ teaching we will be aware and be able to avoid doing anything which would give a reason for the enemies of the Gospel to revile it and us. Suffering for doing God’s will and what is right, unjustly, is far better than suffering justly for what is unrighteous.

Jesus is our example of suffering for righteousness. His suffering and death for our unrighteousness made it possible for his righteousness to be attributed to us by God, so that we can enter God’s presence.

Jesus died physically but was raised to spiritual eternal life. By his death and resurrection, we can be freed from the fear of death which keeps us in bondage to Satan and the power of sin (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Noah is a forerunner, an illustration, of Christ. He preached repentance to the people by word and action during the time of the building of the Ark, but the people didn’t take him seriously. God made a covenant with Noah, through whom Noah’s household was saved, but those outside his household perished.

The souls of those who disregarded Noah’s warning are eternally imprisoned in Hell. God gave the people who lived before the coming of Jesus the same patient forbearance and opportunity for salvation that he gives us now in Christ. Those who disregard the warning of Christ will receive the same fate as those who perished in the days of Noah.

The Flood of Noah’s day corresponds to Christian Baptism. Baptism is spiritual, rather than physical, cleansing. Baptism is a Covenant between God and us, through Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are saved through the flood by the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Peter was a “born-again” disciple making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, in accordance with the Great Commission. He was calling people to repent and be baptized into Jesus Christ, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus taught; to trust and obey Jesus. As the new believers did so, they were “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are made spiritually alive. If we are spiritually alive in Jesus Christ, we can be sure that we will be raised from physical death to eternal life as Jesus was.

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


* “Noah,” Easton’s Bible Dictionary:

Online Reference:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/HTML_Bible_Tools/EBD/T0002700.html#T0002741

Easton’s Bible Dictionary, digital module, BibleTime freeware download:

http://www.bibletime.info/


 

Thursday 5 Easter A

First Posted April 24, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 5 Easter A

John 14:15-21 – “Baptism” of the Holy Spirit;

Background:

In Jesus’ farewell discourse to his disciples after the Last Supper on the night Jesus knew he would be betrayed, he was preparing his disciples for what would soon follow.

Paraphrase:

Jesus said that those who love him will obey his commandments. Jesus will intercede for them with God the Father, who will give them a Counselor who will remain with them forever. The Counselor is the Spirit of truth, (divine, eternal truth; not what the world falsely calls “truth;” compare 1 Corinthians 1:17-25). The world cannot receive the Spirit of truth, because it neither recognizes nor knows truth. Jesus’ disciples know him [the Spirit of truth], “because he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).

Jesus promised not to leave his disciples alone; he will come to them. Jesus said that soon the world would no longer see Jesus; but his disciples will see him. Because Jesus lives, his disciples will also live (eternally). In that day his disciples will know with certainty that Jesus is in God the Father and the Father is in Jesus; and in the same way, Jesus’ disciples will be in Jesus and Jesus in them. “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest (reveal) myself to him” (John 14:21).

Commentary:

Anyone who truly believes in Jesus is going to trust and obey what Jesus says. One cannot claim to love Jesus without knowing, keeping and applying Jesus’ teachings in one’s daily life.

This passage is Jesus’ promise of the “baptism” (gift; “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the conditions of its fulfillment. 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).

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 death (the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23), restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin; and eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth; Jesus is truth. Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God the Father (John 14:6).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9); the Spirit of Truth. Jesus promises to be with his disciples and they will know that it is Jesus, that he is eternally alive, and that Jesus will be eternally within them by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is event of spiritual “rebirth” Jesus warned that one must have (John 3:3, 5-8), now, in this lifetime, in order to see signs of the kingdom of God around us now, and to enter into it in eternity. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus’ disciples have a personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus, and the assurance that they have eternal life.

The Holy Spirit is the Counselor who guides Jesus’ disciples according to God’s will, and empowers them to do it. He is the teacher who will teach Jesus’ disciples all spiritual knowledge (John 16:13). He calls to the disciples’ remembrance all that Jesus taught (John 14:26), and the appropriate Word of God in the moment that the disciple needs it and he speaks through his disciple (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

Worldly truth, even “scientific” truth, seems so real, but it changes over time. Pluto’s status as a planet is a contemporary example. God’s Word is the truth which is eternal and unchanging.

“Born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ experience the presence of the Lord within them, and can understand what Jesus was saying about being one with God the Father and with his disciples (John 14:20). The world cannot see Jesus, but his disciples do. I personally testify to these truths.

The meaning and purpose of life in this temporal world is to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and Jesus is the only way. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually reborn to eternal life, and obedient trust in Jesus is the only way.

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

Friday 5 Easter A

First Posted April 25, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 5 Easter A

Jeremiah 29:11-14 – A Future and a Hope;
Romans 8:24-28 – Hope and Blessing;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Jeremiah had been allowed to remain in Israel when the remnant of Israel went into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah prophesied to the exiles in Babylon by letter, assuring them that, although they were in exile, the Lord would fulfill his promise to bring them back after seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10; 25:11; 27:7). The Lord had plans for their well-being, not evil, so that they would have “a future and a hope.”

The Lord wants them to return to him and call upon and pray to him; and when they do, he promises to hear and answer them. “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).

Romans Paraphrase:

Christians await the coming eternal kingdom, and our redemption from bondage to decay of this present world (Romans 20:20-23). This is the hope in which we are saved. One does not hope for what one already has, but if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait patiently for it.

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “first-fruits,” the “security-deposit,” on the fullness of life in the eternal kingdom of God in Heaven (Romans 23). The Holy Spirit helps us overcome our human weakness. We don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit intercedes on our behalf, expressing concern and sympathy for us beyond human expression. God knows our deepest needs, and the Spirit intercedes for us according to God’s will, since the minds of the Spirit and of God are one.

“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Commentary:

Judah, the remnant of Israel, had plenty of warning of the consequences of their disobedience and idolatry, by the example of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.. They also had ample warning by the prophets like Jeremiah in the years following, up to the moment when Jerusalem fell and the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C..

God promised, through Jeremiah, before the attack on Jerusalem that the exiles would return after seventy years, and God’s promise was wonderfully fulfilled. From the destruction of the temple to its restoration in 517 B.C., is the period of seventy years.

God is completely good! Like a good father he wants what is best for his “children.” In a sense, we are all his children because he is our Creator. The people of Israel were his “chosen” people, whom God had “called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28b). Judah had disobeyed God’s Word and God’s warning about the consequences of disobedience and idolatry, so God allowed them to be conquered and taken into exile. The period of exile was to teach them to return to the Lord in obedient trust. The Lord gave them a future and a hope.

God’s Word is eternal and eternally true, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions of its fulfillment are met. God intentionally used the history of Judah’s exile as a parable and metaphor for us. The consequences of disobedience of God’s Word (the definition of “sin”) and idolatry (love of anything or anyone as much as or more than God) is eternal exile in the “Babylon” of Hell.

In another sense, we are all in exile in the “Babylon” of this present world. In this lifetime we are to learn to seek and find the Lord, and he promises that if we earnestly seek him he will allow himself to be found by us (Jeremiah 29:14). We are to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, and as we do, he will show us that his Word is absolutely reliable and trustworthy.

As we learn to trust and obey the Lord, he will restore our circumstances to the favor God intended, and he will bring us out of the “Babylon” of this world and into the “Promised Land” of his eternal kingdom.

Note that seventy years is a lifetime for those who were adults at the time of the exile. The people who returned from the exile were a new generation, the “New People of God.” That also applies to us. Christians are the “New Israel,” who have been spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) during our exile in the “Babylon” of this world. Not only have we inherited the role and the “religion” but the promised spiritual renewal.

Christians are “born-again”(John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c). We are to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified (John 1:1-3, 14). As we trust and obey Jesus we will receive the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”)of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). 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 image of God in human flesh. All Jesus’ works reveal that God is good, loving, and forgiving. We first “see” the nature of Jesus in the Bible. As we trust and accept him as Lord who we willingly obey, he will come to us by his Holy Spirit and we will experience God’s goodness personally and individually.

The Holy Spirit is a foretaste of the life to come in the kingdom of God, the new Creation in Heaven. Creation will be restored to perfection of paradise. There will be no more death, sickness, decay, evil, or sin.

We don’t see Heaven yet, and our physical bodies are still subject to sickness, death and decay, but we have a “taste” of the things to come through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have fellowship now with our Lord through the Holy Spirit, but it is not the fullness of the fellowship we will have with him in Heaven. So we have wonderful hope of a future which we can confidently look forward to and eagerly await.

The Holy Spirit helps us know, understand, remember, and do God’s will, and we discover that God’s will is wonderfully good. We don’t even really know what we want and need or what is truly best for us. We can rely on the Holy Spirit to know our needs and God’s will, and to intercede on our behalf in accord with God’s will. We need to learn how to pray in the Holy Spirit.

We are all called according to God’s purpose. God’s purpose is to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. We are free to choose whether or not to accept God’s call.

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

Saturday 5 Easter A

First Posted April 26, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 5 Easter A

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

Paraphrase:

After the Last Supper, in Jesus’ high priestly prayer, he prayed for the Church; for all who would believe through the testimony of his apostles (messengers; of the Gospel). He prayed that the Church would be indwelt by the Father and the Son through the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that they would be united in one purpose, and that the world would know that Jesus has been sent by God. The glory God has given Jesus, Jesus has given to his Church so that the Church would glorify God and be united in one body with the Father and the Son, and that the world would know that God has sent Jesus and has loved them as he loves Jesus. Jesus asked God his Father to grant his disciples to be with Jesus in his eternal kingdom, to experience his glory, and the love God has for Jesus from before the creation of this world. The world doesn’t know God, but Jesus has known God and Jesus has made God known to his disciples so that they may love Jesus as God has loved Jesus.

Commentary:

Jesus has been God’s one and only provision for our salvation (from eternal condemnation) and eternal life from the beginning of Creation. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), which is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Only by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the Holy Spirit are we “re-born” to spiritual, eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus’ original disciples were the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry and their testimony is preserved in the New Testament. Jesus demonstrated the disciple-making ministry that the Church is to follow, and commanded them to wait for the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8) and then go into the world and make “born-again” disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20).

It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that the Church is united and empowered to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ to the world. It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience the love God has for Jesus and for us.

Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to the world; Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God to us personally and individually. Only through Jesus can we have a personal fellowship with God through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

There is much apparent disunity in the nominal “Church” today, which compromises its mission. The Church is the body of “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is a matter of obedient trust. Calling oneself “Christian” doesn’t make it so (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-25). We aren’t saved by church “membership” or by church “ritual” like “confirmation” or water “baptism.” We must be willing to be disciples first, in order to make disciples.

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

 

Week of 4 Easter A – 05/07 – 13/2017

May 6, 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.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 4 Easter A

Sunday 4 Easter A

First Posted April 13, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday 4 Easter A

Psalm 23 — The Good Shepherd;

Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60 — Stephen Martyred;

1 Peter 2:19-25 — Following Jesus;

John 10:1-10 — The Good Shepherd;

Psalm Paraphrase:

Those who make the Lord their shepherd will never be in want of any good, necessary thing. The Lord will provide us with green pastures and water which will restore our souls. He will lead us in the way of righteousness (doing what is right and good and true in God’s judgment) for his name’s (his person, character, power and authority’s) sake.

Even though we travel through the valley of spiritual darkness and physical death, we will fear no evil, because his presence, power and protection will go with us.

Even though surrounded by our enemies, the Lord will provide lavishly for us and give us feasting and celebration by his presence, in our enemies’ view. He will anoint us with his favor, and his generosity will overflow to us. We can be assured that goodness and mercy will accompany us through all the days of our lives and we will dwell in his house for eternity.

Acts Paraphrase:

In the days after the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), “when the disciples were [rapidly] increasing in number” (Acts 6:1), the Hellenists (Greeks, or Jews who spoke Greek, or had adopted Greek customs, before conversion to Christianity) complained that the Hellenist’s widows among them were being neglected in the daily distribution. The Church in Jerusalem had adopted a communal style, sharing their resources among the group.

The Apostles told the whole group to select seven individuals who were full of the indwelling Holy Spirit, knowledge of the faith and of the Bible scriptures, and of good reputation, to supervise the daily administration of the church, so that the original Apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) would be able to devote themselves to preaching the Gospel and prayer. The group chose two with Hebrew names, Stephen and Philip, and five with Greek names, Prochurous, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolaus. These were consecrated by the Apostles by prayer and the laying on of hands.

The Word of God, spread and the number of disciples increased rapidly in Jerusalem, and even many of the Jewish priesthood were converted.

Stephen was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and the grace (favor) and power of the Lord, and did many miracles among the people. But some of the members of the synagogue of freedmen (former Jewish or converted slaves) and foreign Jews or proselytes (converts) from Cyrene, Alexander, Cilicia and Asia argued with Stephen, and brought him before the Sanhedrin, (the Jewish religious high court; Acts 6:9-12).

Stephen responded to the charges against him before the council. After reviewing the Biblical history of the Jews, Stephen charged them with being stiff-necked (proud and stubborn), with uncircumcised hearts and ears (as God’s Word declares; Exodus 33:3-5; Jeremiah 9:26; Romans 2:29).

Stephen charged them with following the behavior and example of their ancestors, persecuting and killing the prophets of God. Their ancestors had killed the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah, God’s promised Savior and eternal King, and now they had persecuted the Messiah, Jesus, himself. The Jews had received the Word of God by divine messengers, but had not kept it.

At this the Jews were enraged, but Stephen told them he was seeing a vision of the glory of God, in heaven, with Jesus at God’s right hand. At this they refused to listen any longer, and they grabbed Stephen and dragged him out of the city, and they stoned him to death.

Those who participated in the stoning removed their robes and piled them at the feet of Saul (of Tarsus; the later Apostle Paul). As they stoned Stephen, Stephen knelt and prayed that the Lord would receive his spirit and also forgive those who were stoning him. Then he died.

1Peter Paraphrase:

The Apostle Peter discipled new believers, telling them that they will be rewarded by God if they suffer unjustly in accord with God’s Word. But we’re not going to be rewarded for suffering abuse with patience for doing what is unrighteous and deserving of punishment. But those who do what is right and suffer for it will have God’s approval and favor. Christ is our example; he also suffered unjustly for righteousness’ sake, and we have been called to follow his example.

Jesus was completely sinless, and free from deceit. When he was reviled he didn’t respond with reviling; when suffering, he didn’t make threats. Instead he entrusted his cause to God, the just and righteous judge. Jesus suffered on the cross for our sins, so that we can be able to die to sin and live according to righteousness. He was wounded for our spiritual healing. We were all once like straying sheep, but now we have returned to the Shepherd who is able to guard our souls.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus taught in parables: stories of everyday experiences used to illustrate spiritual truth. He said that the kingdom of God is like a sheepfold. Those who enter by any other way than the door are thieves and robbers. The shepherd of the sheep enters by the door, and the door keeper knows the shepherd and lets him enter.

The sheep know their shepherd’s voice, and their shepherd calls his sheep by name and leads them in and out of the fold. They follow their shepherd and he leads them because they know his voice. They will not follow strangers because they do not know the strangers’ voices.

Jesus told this parable but the people did not understand what he was saying, so Jesus used another parable. Jesus told them that he is the true door of the sheepfold. Others who have come before Jesus are thieves and robbers. In order to enter the fold and be saved, and to go out and find pasture the sheep must pass through Jesus. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; Jesus has come to give us true life, abundantly (now and eternally).

Commentary:

God promised in his Word to be the shepherd of his people (Jeremiah 31:10). David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel was a prophet who had a close personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord, as only a few select individuals had, before the coming of Jesus Christ. David himself foreshadowed the Messiah by the will and purpose of God, and David prophesied the coming of the Good Shepherd, which was fulfilled in Jesus. David is the example of one who made the Lord his Shepherd.

Only the Lord can provide us with spiritual nurture and protection, spiritual food and water, and the safety provided by the Good Shepherd and the security of God’s “sheepfold.”

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who can lead us in the way of righteousness and eternal life, by his teaching, example, and his indwelling Holy Spirit within us. 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).

This world is a wilderness of spiritual darkness and death. Only Jesus can lead us and protect us through it and bring us safely through physical death to eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom.

In this world we are surrounded by our spiritual enemies, sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and (eternal, spiritual) death, which is the consequence of sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Only the Lord can abundantly bless us in the midst of and in sight of our enemies. He is like a generous host, who provides a great feast, an overflowing cup of celebration, and the anointing of us by his favor and the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, in the midst of struggle of life in this world. By the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit we are assured of his presence and favor accompanying us throughout life, and the conviction that beyond physical death we have eternal life in his kingdom in heaven.

What God promised by the Old Testament prophets he began to fulfill with the physical coming of his promised Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ first coming, in human flesh, made it possible for us to be spiritually cleansed by faith in Jesus, whose crucifixion is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are able to receive the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord that only a few, like David, had before Jesus’ coming.

The promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, and since then, the spiritual birthday of every truly “born-again” Christian.

The First Century Church of the New Testament was the example of what the Church can and should be, by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit within its leaders and members. The “born-again” disciples were fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples to make disciples and teach them to trust and obey all Jesus has taught, as received directly by the original Apostles, and recorded in the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20).

The gift (“anointing,” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit was the reason that new “disciples” were increasing so rapidly, and the reason that the teachings and acts of spiritually mature “born-again” disciples, like Stephen, revealed evidence of the supernatural power of the Lord within and through them. No wonder that the number of disciples was increasing rapidly and daily. Many even of the “religious establishment,” who knew God’s Word well, were being converted.

The Hellenists represent Gentile Christians, although preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles for the first time didn’t happen until later. The First Century Church illustrated the love for one another through their communal lifestyle, and their attention to the Hellenistic segment of their congregation. The Hellenists felt they were being slighted, so seven deacons were appointed to resolve the situation. Seven “laymen” (symbolizing the full number necessary) were appointed to rectify the situation, and to share in the work of ministry; and five of seven were “Hellenists.” The Church was “living” the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29; cf., Matthew 5:40-41). They sought the consecration and empowerment of the Holy Spirit to accomplish their duties.

Stephen was a “layman,” but he had faith, knowledge of the Scriptures, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. He was being led and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. He encountered opposition and persecution from the “rival” “religion.”

Stephen proclaimed the Word of God to the Jewish supreme court. He said nothing beyond the accurate Word of God, but they were offended and enraged by it.

They proved to be the descendants of their ancestors who had murdered God’s prophets, by murdering God’s promised Messiah, and then by murdering Stephen for telling them the truth and convicting them of sin.

The Gospel of Jesus, proclaimed by their promised Messiah, was not “popular” with those who considered themselves the “chosen” people of God. The Gospel of Jesus proclaimed by Jesus’ disciples wasn’t received any better. Stephen was the first of many Christian disciples to be murdered for proclaiming the Gospel. But Stephen claimed victory through faith in Jesus and shared in Jesus’ resurrection and eternal life. Stephen was the example of suffering unjustly for the Word of God.

Disciples of Jesus Christ are going to share Jesus’ suffering for the Gospel. But isn’t suffering for righteousness better than even an extravagantly indulgent worldly life, if only to be followed by eternal misery and suffering, separated forever from the source of life and every good thing?

Stephen is our example of a disciple living according to the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. He proclaimed God’s Word without compromise, and he repaid evil with good, praying for his enemies’ forgivenesses, and entrusting his cause to the Lord who is the righteous judge.

Jesus came to teach us by word and example to trust and obey God’s Word. Jesus was willing to die physically so that we could live eternally. He suffered for our sins so that we could be forgiven and empowered to resist sin and live in obedience to God’s Word. He was wounded so that we could be spiritually healed. We have all gone astray from God’s will and purpose, and Jesus came to seek and find us and restore us to God who is able to restore, guard and preserve our souls.

There aren’t “many” ways to God. There is only one: Jesus Christ. Other ways to God are conceived by mankind, as ways to manipulate God to do our will, instead of learning to know and do God’s will. Those who seek and follow other ways are deceived and will be ultimately eternally destroyed.

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

Monday 4 Easter A

First Posted April 14, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 4 Easter A

Psalm 33:1-11 — The Divine Word;

Paraphrase:

Let us rejoice in the Lord, all who love righteousness (doing what is right and good and true). It is fitting that all those who are upright (doing what is ethically and morally right) should praise the Lord. Let us praise the Lord with stringed instruments. Let us sing to him a new song accompanied by instruments and loud shouts.

Commentary:

The Word of the Lord is upright, and his deeds are done in faithfulness. The Lord loves righteousness and justice, and his steadfast love fills the earth.

By the Word of the Lord the heavens were created; everything in them was created by his breath. He gathered the waters of the sea and contained them as within a bottle. The waters of the deep (under the earth) he stored up as in warehouses.

May all the earth fear the Lord and be in awe of him! For everything came to be by the Word of God; at his command everything appeared.

The wise advice of nations amounts to nothing, and the plans of mankind are frustrated by the Word of God. The Lord’s counsel is eternal and his desires are for all generations.

The Lord is righteous and upright in all his ways, and those who love righteousness and those who are upright will recognize the Lord’s righteousness and uprightness. Let us sing a new song of rejoicing and praise to the Lord, with all our skill and fervor. As we learn to know the Lord’s character and works we will have a new song of praise and joy to sing.

God’s Word is not like mankind’s word. God’s Word is eternal truth and completely dependable. What God declares, happens. God’s Word has creative power. God’s Word is the standard of righteousness and uprightness, against which we are judged.

Jesus is the”living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh, in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24). Jesus word has the creative power of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Genesis 1:3, 9). Jesus’ word is the Word of eternal life (John 6:68). Jesus is the steadfast love of God made visible to all the people of the Earth (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17).

God breathed into mankind at Creation and gave us “the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7 KJV). We came into existence as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. We have all been created with a soul which is eternal (John 5:28-29).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), to learn that he is righteous and upright in all his ways and that his Word is true and dependable and our very best interest. This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, and to be forgiven of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), saved from eternal condemnation and destruction along with all evil by God, and restored to fellowship and eternal life with God in paradise that mankind lost through sin (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Human wisdom and plans are worthless, compared to the counsel of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 1:17-25) and God’s eternal plan for his Creation through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only plan for our eternal salvation (Acts 4:12, John 14:6), and has been “built into” the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

Worldly wisdom will pass away. Worldly knowledge will not give us true, eternal life. The plans of mankind end at physical death. The Word of God is eternal. We should make time to learn to know, trust and obey God’s Word our first priority, not our last.

We are all eternal beings in physical bodies. Now is the opportunity for us to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) 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).

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrates that there is “existence” beyond physical death. The fact that Jesus is spiritually alive in his disciples is testified to by every truly “born-again” Christian. The question is, where will we choose to spend eternity? Those who accept Jesus as their Savior and trust and obey Jesus will spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven; those who reject Jesus and refuse to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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

Tuesday 4 Easter A

First Posted April 15, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Easter A

Acts 17:1-15 — Paul Founds the Thessalonian Church;

Paraphrase:

On his second missionary journey, Paul, with Silas and Timothy, came to Thessalonica in Macedonia. Paul went into the Jewish synagogue and, for three Sabbaths, proclaimed the Gospel and proved from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah), and that it had been prophesied in scripture that the Messiah had to suffer and die and rise again on the third day.

Some of the Jews were persuaded to join Paul and Silas, and also many devout Greeks (proselytes) and prominent women. But out of jealousy the Jewish religious leaders stirred up hoodlums who caused an uproar and attacked the house of a resident named Jason (with whom the missionaries were staying). Not finding the missionaries there, they dragged Jason before the city officials. The mob accused the missionaries of “turning the world upside down” and acting against Caesar, claiming that Jesus is another king. Jason was required to post a security bond, and then was released.

The brethren (Christians) sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea (Berea) nearby. There they entered the synagogue and began teaching the Gospel again, as they had in Thessalonica. These Jews at Beroea were more “noble,” more open and eager to seek and hear the Gospel and truth, and they searched the scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas were preaching was accurate. As a result many believed, Jews and Greeks, including Greek women of high class.

But the Jewish authorities from Thessalonica heard that Paul and Silas were in Beroea, and they went there and again stirred up the people against the missionaries. The Christians again sent Paul off, by boat, to Athens, while Timothy and Silas remained, with instructions to join Paul in Athens as soon as possible.

Commentary:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is opposed by the ways and standards of this world. People will either be open to hearing the truth, and willing to examine the Bible, to see if what the Gospel claims is true, or they will refuse to consider the Gospel and hate those who proclaim it.

When Jesus sent his disciples on a training mission to prepare them for missionary work, he told them to stay where they were welcome, and leave and go elsewhere if a place would not welcome them (Luke 10:1-12; Matthew 10:1-15). Afterward, Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, before going out into the world (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Matthew 28:19-20).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was the first “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Paul is the model of what we can and should be, by the power and guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul was as much a disciple and apostle as the original ones who received training from Jesus directly, during his physical earthly ministry.

Everywhere Paul went he encountered resistance and opposition to the Gospel, but he was guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit. He went where the Spirit led him, and stayed away from places the Spirit told him not to go (Acts 16:7-10). He didn’t let opposition intimidate him, and although his message was opposed, his preaching led to conversion of people to Jesus and founding of churches.

Those who are willing to consider the claims of the Gospel in relationship to the Bible will be convinced. As they trust and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ they will experience the truth of the Gospel personally (“come to know;” John 6:68-69RSV).

Jesus is the Messiah, promised to the Jews, coming to the world through the Jews, and yet many of the Jews rejected him and refused to trust and obey Jesus. They had the Bible scriptures, but they were not eager to hear truth, and they weren’t willing to search the scriptures.

Jesus is God’s one and only provision (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) for forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), our salvation from our eternal condemnation and death by God, and our restoration to personal fellowship with God which was lost by sin (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

The history of God’s dealing with Israel has been recorded in the Bible for our instruction and warning (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). Many of the Jewish “religious leaders” and “church members” in the days of Jesus’ first coming were not open to hear God’s Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In many ways, the “Christian” Church today is in the same position as Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first coming. Many “religious authorities” and many Church “members” are not eager to hear the truth, the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). They’re not willing to search the Bible to see if these things (the full Gospel) are true.

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)?

Wednesday 4 Easter A

First Posted April 16, 2008;
Podcast:
Wednesday 4 Easter A

1 Peter 2:4-10 — Living Stones;

Paraphrase:

Come to Jesus, the “living stone,” who was rejected by mankind, but is chosen and precious in God’s judgment, that we may, like living stones, be built into a spiritual house, where we are to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.

God’s Word declares that he is laying a chosen and precious cornerstone in Zion (the temple mount; Jerusalem; the city of God; the Church), and those who believe in him will have no reason to be ashamed (Isaiah 28:16). He is chosen and precious to those who believe in him; but those who do not believe fulfill God’s Word that Jesus is the cornerstone which the builders rejected, and a stumbling stone that will make people fall; they “stumble because they disobey the Word (of God), as they were destined to do” (1 Peter 2:8; “stumbling” is the destiny of those who disobey God’s Word).

Believers are the chosen race, a holy nation, the New Israel, the New People of God. We have been called to leave the spiritual darkness of this world and walk in the glorious light (of righteousness: John 1:5; 3:19-21), of the enlightenment of divine, eternal truth: John 1:9, and true eternal life: John 1:4; 8:12; 14:6) of Jesus Christ, so that we can testify to the wonderful deeds of our Lord. Once we were “nobodies,” but now we are God’s own people; once we were under condemnation, but now we have received mercy.

Commentary:

Jesus is the “living stone,” the spiritual rock, the “cornerstone” upon which the Church is built, which is that Jesus is “the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16-18). Jesus is the rock on which we must build our lives, by faith (obedient trust), in order to have eternal life (Matthew 7:21-27).

Jesus is the rock with us in the wilderness of this world which give us the spiritual water of eternal life (1 Corinthians 10:4; Exodus 17:6). Jesus promised his disciples that he would give them an eternal source of the spiritual water of life, through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39), 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).

We are called to be “living stones” built into the Church. The true Church of God is not buildings or institutions. It is built of individual “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; spiritually “living”) disciples of Jesus Christ who are guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish the mission of the Church.

Believers are called to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. Believers are not called to be “church members” who expect to be served and entertained by the Church. Preaching the Gospel and evangelism are not the exclusive responsibility of the pastor; the ordained clergy. Believers are to be discipled by “born-again” disciples until they have become “born-again” disciples who trust and obey what Jesus teaches (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then they are to go into the world and make “born-again” disciples who trust and obey Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 28:19-20), and repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Jesus is the light of the world; the light of life (John 8:12). His indwelling Holy Spirit is the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) which leads us through spiritual night in the wilderness in this world and into the glorious light of the eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven. We must leave spiritual darkness and walk in the light of Jesus’ teachings in obedient trust in this lifetime on earth (Romans 8:1-9).

As we trust and obey Jesus we receive the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us to do God’s will. As we live in obedience to Jesus we will experience his power and faithfulness personally and individually, and we will be willing and able to testify to the great things the Lord has done for us.

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin, salvation from eternal condemnation, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), and restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (John 14:6; 21, 23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus will either be the rock of our salvation, or he will be the stone that causes us to stumble and fall eternally into destruction and eternal death in Hell.

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

Thursday 4 Easter A

First Posted April 17, 2008;
Podcast:
Thursday 4 Easter A

John 14:1-12 — The Way; The Truth; The Life;

Paraphrase:

In his farewell discourse with his disciples after they had celebrated the “Last Supper,” Jesus told his disciples not to worry or be sad, but to continue to believe in God and also in Jesus. Jesus was going to his father’s house to prepare a place for all his disciples, where there would be room for all. And when it has been prepared, Jesus promised to return to take his disciples to himself, so that they could be with Jesus forever.

His disciples know where Jesus is going and the way. Thomas said that they didn’t know where Jesus was going so how could they know the way. Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Those who know Jesus know God the Father also; those who have seen Jesus have seen the Father also.

Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, and Jesus asked Philip if, after being with Jesus for years, Philip still didn’t yet know Jesus? Those who have seen Jesus have seen the Father, so how can Philip ask Jesus to show them the Father? Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Jesus. The words Jesus speaks and the deeds he does are not his own, but the Father’s, who dwells in Jesus.

Jesus asks his disciples to believe Jesus’ word that he and the Father are one, or at least believe Jesus because of the works they have seen him do. Jesus promised that those who believe in Jesus will do the works that Jesus does, and even greater works, because Jesus is going to the Father.

Commentary:

Jesus had been trying to prepare his disciples for his crucifixion for some time. He had told them three times that he would be crucified and would rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). They believed in God; they needed to continue to believe in Jesus, despite the circumstances of his crucifixion.

Jesus wanted them to know that his crucifixion was necessary to prepare a place for them in God’s eternal “house,” but there would be plenty of room for all who come through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus promised to return to bring his disciples to his Father’s house, where they would be in fellowship with Jesus. He told them that, as his disciples, they knew the way where Jesus was going. Jesus had taught them the way; the way is by trusting and obeying Jesus’ teaching and example.

There are not “many ways” to God; Jesus is the only way (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). No one can come to God except through Jesus Christ. No one can know God except through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is only possible 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). 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 way to eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven is through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. We have to know Jesus personally to get there. We will know Jesus personally as we trust and obey Jesus’ teachings. We don’t need to worry about finding the way; Jesus promises to return and guide us there.

We are all born physically alive, but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our opportunity to “re-born” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, eternal life, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus comes to us individually and personally by his indwelling Holy Spirit. As we are led daily by his Holy Spirit we are on the way, with the assurance that we will reach our destination. We have fellowship with Jesus personally now, through his indwelling Holy Spirit, but it is only a foretaste of the complete fellowship we will have with him in eternity.

Jesus also promises to come again, at the end of time, on the Day of Judgment. In that day he will separate his disciples from unbelievers. He will take his disciples to be with him in eternal life in the kingdom of God in heaven, but unbelievers, who have not trusted and obeyed Jesus, will be condemned to eternal destruction and eternal death in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). That day will come for each one of us at the end of our physical lives, whether we are living or dead, in both the physical and spiritual sense (John 5-28-29; 1 Peter 4:5).

Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to the world in human flesh (Matthew 1:23b; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the ultimate revelation of God the Father and God the Son (Romans 8:9) to us individually and personally.

Those who believe in God will recognize that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God, because the words Jesus says and the miracles he does are the Word and works of God. But it is only possible to truly believe, trust, obey and know God through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus will be guided and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit to continue the mission of Christ on earth; to proclaim the Gospel of salvation and to offer spiritual healing and feeding and spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8), “resurrection” from spiritual death to eternal life 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)?

Friday 4 Easter A

First Posted April 18, 2008;
Podcast:
Friday 4 Easter A

Isaiah 12:1-6 — Deliverance and Thanksgiving;

Paraphrase:

In the day of salvation, I will give thanks to the Lord. Although the Lord was angry with me, he laid aside his anger and comforted me.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song; and he has become my salvation” Isaiah 12:2).

I will rejoice to obtain salvation like water stored up in a well, and I will give thanks to the Lord and call upon him. I will tell the world the great things the Lord has done, and exalt his name.

Let us praise the Lord, and make his works known in all the world, for all his works are glorious. Let all God’s people shout and sing for joy, for the Holy One of Israel is great in our midst.

Commentary:

We are all sinners (disobedient of God’s Word) and fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right and good and true, according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). In a sense, we are all guilty of crucifying Jesus because we have all sinned and made his sacrificial death on the cross necessary.

The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God has good reason to be angry with us, but he set aside his anger and came in human flesh in Jesus Christ and died for us on the cross, so that we wouldn’t have to die eternally for our sins ourselves (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Isaiah foresaw the salvation God provided, which has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-3, 14).

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

There is abundant salvation available to us through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the source of “living water” (John 4:10, 14) in the spiritual desert of this world. We don’t have to die of spiritual thirst; we can come to Jesus and draw the abundant “water” of salvation. As we trust and obey Jesus he gives us his indwelling Holy Spirit, who is a spring of saving water welling up to eternal life; a river of salvation flowing through us and out into the world (John 7:38-39).

Those who have drawn “water” from the well of salvation will rejoice and thank the Lord for the great things he has done for us. We will exalt his name and tell the world about the salvation God has provided for all.

Those who have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit testify that the indwelling Holy Spirit is our strength, and the reason we can rejoice and praise the Lord. We cannot truly rejoice and praise the Lord except by his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2); now is the opportunity to receive the salvation that God has provided for all who are willing to receive it through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (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).

Saturday 4 Easter A

First Posted April 19, 2008;
Podcast: Saturday
4 Easter A

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 — Reconciliation;

John 8:21-36 — New Life;

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

The love of Christ controls us. Since Christ died for all, we have all died. We live no longer for ourselves, but for him who died and was raised for us.

So we no longer see anything from a human perspective. Even though we once regarded Jesus from a human perspective, we no longer do. Those who are in Christ are a new creation; our old nature has passed away, and we have become new creatures. This is all from God who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. God is restoring the world to himself, not holding their sins against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are God’s ambassadors for Christ. Through us God is urging the world to receive reconciliation through Christ. Although blameless, Christ bore our sin, so that we could share in the righteousness of God.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was in the temple in Jerusalem, and he warned the Jews that Jesus would go away, where they could not follow, and they would seek him and die in their sin. The Jews thought Jesus might commit suicide, since that was the one place they wouldn’t want or be able to go. Jesus told them that they were of this world, but that Jesus is not of this world. He is from above; they are from below. Jesus warned them that they would die in their sin unless they believed Jesus is the Messiah.

They asked Jesus who he was, and Jesus said that he had told them from the start. Jesus said that he had much to say and judge about them; but Jesus had been sent by God to declare the (divine, eternal) truth which Jesus had received from the Father.

They didn’t understand that Jesus was referring to God, so Jesus said that when he had been lifted up (on the cross) then they would realize that Jesus was the one (Messiah), and that everything Jesus said and did was by the power and authority of God. Jesus claimed that God was with him because Jesus always did what was pleasing to God. Many people listening believed in Jesus.

Jesus told those who had believed that if they held on to, and applied Jesus’ teaching, they would truly be Jesus’ disciples, and would know truth, which would set them free.

The Jews replied that they had never been in bondage to anyone, so how could they be set free. Jesus replied that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. They are slaves in God’s house, and thus have no inheritance. The Son is the heir, and so if the Son sets us free we will share in the rights and privileges and inheritance of the Son.

Commentary:

Those who believe in Christ are motivated by love to do what Jesus says (John 14:23-24). Jesus died for us, so that we could live with and for him.

We no longer live just to please ourselves. We no longer live according to the standards and values of this world. We have been “re-born” (John 3:3, 5-8). We no longer live according to our old sinful nature, but by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9).

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and sin separates us from fellowship with God. God sent his Son, Jesus, the Savior, into the world to offer us the righteousness of God and to restore us to fellowship with God. When we have been reconciled and restored to fellowship with God, we are commissioned to carry on Christ’s ministry of reconciliation to others.

The Jews had been given the Word of God. They were aware that God promised to send the Messiah, and they were to be awaiting his appearance, but they refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Those who reject Jesus are going to die eternally for their sins, because God’s Word declares that eternal death is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus took our sins and their consequences upon himself so that we could receive his righteousness through faith (obedient trust) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are spiritually “reborn” through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Those who have been spiritually “born” are aware of the spiritual dimension around us. We personally experience the risen Jesus, through his indwelling Holy Spirit. We are restored to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God, now, through 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).

We are all born physically alive, but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually reborn, “born from above” (John 3:3 RSV note “e;” John 1:12-13), which is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

We are all born in bondage to sin and death. Only Jesus can set us free, by the guidance and power of his indwelling Holy Spirit within us. Jesus is the truth of God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14; 14:6).

The Jews claimed that they had never been in bondage to anyone, but they forgot their own history and the Bible testimony. They had been in bondage in Egypt, and God set them free; they had been in bondage in Babylon and God set them free; and they were, at the time of Jesus, in bondage to the Roman Empire.

They were all also in bondage to sin and death, because only Jesus could set them free, and they refused him. They thought they were “righteous,” according to the Law of Moses, but their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus demonstrated that they were not righteous. The Covenant of Law demonstrated that it is impossible for us to keep all the Law all the time. Keeping the Law doesn’t make us righteous; it exposes our unrighteousness (Romans 3:19-26; 8:1-9; Galatians 2:16). Only Jesus can give us the righteousness of God, 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)?

Week of 3 Easter A – 04/30 -5/06/2017

April 29, 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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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 Easter A

Sunday 3 Easter A

First Posted April 6, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 3 Easter A

Psalm 16 — Trusting in God;

Acts 2:14a, 36-47 — The Gospel of Salvation;

1 Peter 1:17-21 — The Blood of Christ;

Luke 24:13-35 — News of the Resurrection;

Psalm Paraphrase:

The psalmist (David, the great shepherd-king of Israel), takes refuge in God and asks God to preserve him. He acknowledges that the Lord is his God, and he acknowledges that there is no good apart from the Lord. The people of the land who the psalmist regards highly and has delight in are the saints (literally “holy ones;” purified and dedicated to the Lord). Those who choose any other god will come to disaster and grief. The psalmist vows not to participate in blood sacrifices to idols, drink of their cup, or even speak their names.

The Lord is the psalmist’s chosen portion and cup, and the psalmist entrusts his destiny to the Lord. The boundaries of his inheritance in the Lord are generous, to the psalmist’s great benefit. He praises the Lord who counsels him and teaches his heart even while he is sleeping. He always puts the Lord first; because the Lord is his help and strength, the psalmist will not be shaken. Therefore the psalmist rejoices in joy and gladness, and has the assurance of security, believing that the Lord will not abandon the psalmist to the kingdom of the dead “or let thy godly one see the pit” (the grave; Psalm 16:10). The Lord shows him the path of life, fills him with the joy of the Lord’s presence, and is the provider of all good things forever.

Acts Paraphrase:

The Day of Pentecost, when the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit was first given to the followers of Jesus Christ, is the birthday of the Church. On that first Pentecost, the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit occurred with the sound of a mighty wind, and the disciples began speaking in foreign languages. Thousands of people around the congregation came to see what the excitement was about, and Peter, (who had denied knowing Jesus to menial servants of the high priest on the night of Jesus betrayal; John:18:15-27), now filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly proclaimed the Gospel (“Good News”) of forgiveness and salvation by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. He proclaimed the guilt of the people of Israel for delivering Jesus to be crucified, and told them that God had designated Jesus both Lord (ruler) and Christ (Messiah; both mean “anointed;” designation by God to be the Savior and eternal king God has promised in his Word, the Bible).

When the people heard this they were stricken with guilt, and asked how they could be saved from God’s wrath, and Peter told them to repent (acknowledge their sin -disobedience of God’s Word- and change their ways) and be baptized, with water, for the forgiveness of sin, in the name (Joel 2:32; the power and authority) of Jesus Christ and all their sins would be forgiven, and they would receive the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the Holy Spirit. The promise of peace with God (Isaiah 57:19), through his anointed Savior, is for all who respond to the call of God in Jesus Christ, those who are close and those who are far from God. Peter urged them to save themselves from the wrath of God which is coming upon this wicked generation.

Those who accepted and believed Peter’s words were baptized, about three thousand souls (we all are eternal beings in physical bodies). The new believers were “discipled” by the “born-again” disciple/apostles (students who had become messengers; of the Gospel of Jesus Christ). They attended church to receive instruction, fellowship, participation in the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; the Eucharist; the sacrificial feast) and worship.

The fear (awe and respect for the power and authority of the Lord) was upon all. The believers in Jerusalem established a communal lifestyle. Each sold his possessions and contributed the proceeds to all as any had need. They attended temple daily and ate together daily, praising God with glad and generous hearts; and they were highly regarded by everyone. The Lord was increasing daily those who were being saved (from eternal condemnation).

1 Peter Paraphrase:

Peter admonishes believers, who call God their father, to act like his children. We are to conduct ourselves with the appropriate fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of God, remembering that we are in exile here from God’s eternal kingdom. Remember that we have been ransomed from bondage to the human weaknesses of our earthly ancestors, not with gold and silver which worldly people value but which are perishable, but instead, with the truly precious and eternally valuable blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus was like a perfect lamb, without defect, sacrificed to save us from eternal death and destruction. Jesus was destined to be our Savior from before the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-3, 14), but in God’s perfect timing, has been revealed at the end of time for our salvation. Through him we have the assurance that God will raise us from physical death to eternal life, just as he raised and glorified Jesus, so that we will place our faith and hope in God.

Luke Paraphrase:

On the first Easter morning (Sunday) two of Jesus’ followers were traveling from Jerusalem to Emma us (about seven miles away). They were discussing the news of Jesus’ empty tomb. Jesus himself came to them and walked with them, but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked what they were discussing, and they began to tell him how the prophet they had hoped to be the Messiah had been crucified, and that women among their group had gone to the tomb earlier that morning and had found the tomb empty.

Then Jesus told them that they were slow to believe what the prophets had said, recorded in scripture. Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures, beginning with Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament; the Torah; the Law), showing that it was necessary for him to suffer in order to receive eternal glory in fulfilling God’s Word. As the two followers (disciples, but not the Twelve; one named Cleopas: Luke 24:18) came to their destination, Jesus seemed to be going on, but they invited him to come in and stay with them, pointing out that it was late in the day. So Jesus came in and at dinner with them he took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, passing it to the two men. At that moment they recognized him; but he vanished from sight. They checked with one another and each had been spiritually moved as Jesus had opened the scriptures to them.

Within the hour they departed and returned to Jerusalem and found the “Eleven” (the original disciples, minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer), with the other followers of Jesus. They were told that Jesus had risen and had appeared to Simon Peter, and the two travelers told them what had happened on their trip to Emmaus, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Commentary:

If we will put our trust in the Lord he is abundantly willing and able to preserve us eternally. The Lord is the only true God, and the only source of true refuge and security. David had trusted and obeyed the Lord and had grown spiritually in faith and knowledge of the Lord. He had learned from personal experience that the Lord was able and faithful to deliver and preserve David. David wasn’t sinless, but he trusted in the Lord for his forgiveness. God’s Word declares that David was a man having the heart attitude to do all God’s will (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20).

In the time of David only a few individuals had a personal relationship with the Lord. David was a prophet, and he testifies to that personal relationship. Jesus came into the world to to make it possible for all who trust and obey Jesus to have a personal relationship with God, like David had.

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 can have the same personal relationship with God that David had. The Spirit of the Lord will guide and teach us; will help, preserve, and strengthen us; will give us the assurance of eternal security and true, eternal life in his eternal kingdom. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we will experience the great joy of God’s presence, and will be guided in the way that leads 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).

David was the Lord’s “anointed” human King of Israel. He was intended by God to be a “forerunner” of the Christ (“Messiah;” both mean “anointed”), to show us what the Christ would be like. David was the “anointed” shepherd-king; Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who is God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King, the Son (descendant) of David, and heir God had promised, who would inherit throne of David eternally (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29).

Throughout the history of God’s dealing with Israel, one of the main themes is the inheritance of land. Abraham followed God’s command to go to a new land that God promised to give to Abraham’s descendants. Abraham passed through the land, but he was a sojourner, not the owner.

In Egypt, the people of Israel were slaves who did not own land. In the forty years of wilderness wandering they were landless nomads. When they finally entered the Promised Land, the land was apportioned to the twelve tribes as an eternal inheritance. Boundaries establishing ownership of land were important.

The issue of land is intended to be a spiritual metaphor. God’s people are aliens and sojourners in this world, who have an inheritance in the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s kingdom in heaven through Jesus Christ. Christians are the “New Israel,” the “New Children of Abraham,” through faith in Jesus.

The Day of Pentecost is the demonstration of the transforming power of the gift of the Holy Spirit. The disciples who had been afraid of the Jewish religious leaders (John 20:19), were now boldly proclaiming Jesus. The “born-again” disciples of Jesus began making “born-again” disciples in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his disciples to be carried out after they had received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5,8).

The ones who were saved of the thousands were those who accepted the indictment of guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus and repented. In a sense, we are all guilty of crucifying Jesus, because we have all sinned and have fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

God’s promise of forgiveness and salvation (from eternal condemnation; therefore, peace with God) and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are available to all who are willing to claim it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

The new believers were “discipled” by the “born-again” disciples. They began to apply Jesus’ teachings in their daily lives. They trusted the Lord to supply their daily needs, and they shared their material resources with one another. They participated in daily worship and devotions, and in fellowship with one another.

Peter admonished believers to apply Jesus’ teaching in their daily lives. Jesus warned that those who call him Lord should do what he teaches (Matthew 7:21-27, Luke 6:46). We are sojourners in this world and our land and inheritance is in the eternal kingdom of heaven.

Material things, gold in particular, seem so “real” and permanently valuable, but they are not. The things of real value and eternal permanence are those spiritual things which seem so vague and elusive. Jesus’ blood is only received and discernible by faith (obedient trust).

Jesus is the perfect unblemished sacrificial lamb of Passover, His blood protects us from the destroyer (Exodus 12:7-13). Jesus is the Savior who has been part of God’s plan from the beginning of Creation ( John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus’ resurrection is the demonstration that there is existence beyond physical death, and our assurance that we will be raised to eternal life through faith in Jesus.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and find God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Jesus is close to us; all we need to do is accept the truth of the Bible scriptures. If we seek to understand the Bible, the Lord will open our minds to understand it.

Jesus is close to us, but he will not force his presence on us. He allows us to choose whether to recognize him or not. If we recognize him we must invite him to stay with us, and if we do, we will have close personal fellowship with him (Revelation 3:20).

If we are willing to hear and really listen to the Word of God, we will be spiritually moved by it. If we will allow ourselves to respond in faith, we will recognize Jesus as our Savior and Lord. When we have recognized Jesus, we will be anxious to share our testimony with our friends.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Easter A

First Posted April 7, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 3 Easter A

Psalm 23 — The Good Shepherd;

Background:

This psalm was written by David, the shepherd boy who became the great (human) king of Israel.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Those for whom the Lord is their shepherd will lack nothing. The Lord will provide them with good “pasture” and “water.” The Lord will restore their souls (life; vitality). The Lord will lead them in the way of righteousness for the sake of his name.

Even in the shadow of death (or deep spiritual darkness) they will fear no evil, because the Lord is present with them, and the Lord’s power and faithfulness comfort them.

Even though surrounded by enemies, the Lord will prepare a feast for them in the sight of their enemies. The Lord anoints them with oil and keeps their cups filled to overflowing. The Lord’s flock can be assured that they will experience goodness and mercy all the days of their lives, and they will dwell in the house of the Lord for eternity.

Commentary:

David had enemies that wanted to kill him, King Saul for one example, but the Lord preserved David and David prevailed. David was a forerunner of the Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed”), intended by God to be an illustration of the promised Messiah.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Word promising a Savior who would save his people from sin (disobedience of God’s Word; see Matthew 1:21) and from eternal condemnation and eternal death which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23) (Matthew 1:21; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise of a righteous king who would be the Good Shepherd of his people (John 10:11a). We are all eternal beings in temporal bodies We have been born physically alive but spiritually dead. Jesus came to give us true, eternal life (John 10:11b).

We are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus came to provide us with forgiveness, spiritual healing and nurture.

Only Jesus can heal and nurture us spiritually. Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we receive forgiveness of sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Only Jesus can give us eternal life. Eternal life is only by spiritual “re-birth” (John 3:3, 5-8) 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).

Is Jesus your Shepherd? Do you listen and recognize his voice? Do you follow his word and example? Do you let him give you the spiritual nurture that you need to grow spiritually?

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

Tuesday 3 Easter A

First Posted April 8, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 3 Easter A

Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60 – The First Martyr;

Acts Paraphrase:

In the days following the the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were increasing rapidly. The Church in Jerusalem had adopted a communal style, but a dispute arose in the Church. The Hellenists (Greeks or Jews who adopted Greek customs and language) argued with the Hebrews (conservative, traditional Jews) because the Greek widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

The Twelve Apostles summoned the whole group and told them to elect seven spiritually mature men, of good reputation and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, to conduct the daily affairs of the Church, so that the Apostles’ ministry of the Word and prayer would not be interrupted. The church members elected Stephen, who was full of the Spirit and of faith, and Philip, from among the Hebrews, and the other five were from the Greeks. These they consecrated by prayer and the laying on of hands.

The Word of God spread, the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and many of the priests of Judaism were also converted. Stephen was full of power and the favor of God, and he did great signs and wonders among the people. There was a synagogue of former slaves and many Jews from Africa and from Asia Minor, in Jerusalem at the time, and they disputed with Stephen over his teaching.

Stephen was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, where Stephen defended his teaching. Stephen told the Jews they were stiff-necked (strong-willed; as God’s Word declared: Exodus 33:3, 5) people who were “uncircumcised in heart and ears” (not submissive to God’s Word; Jeremiah 9:26; Romans 2:29), always resisting the Holy Spirit. The Jews were following the ways of their ancestors, persecuting the prophets and those who declared the coming of the Messiah; and now they had betrayed and murdered their Messiah. They had received the Law from angels but didn’t obey it.

At this, they were enraged, but Stephen had a vision of heaven and the glory of God, with Jesus at God’s right hand, and he told the council, but they plugged their ears and seized him and dragged him out of the city and stoned Stephen to death. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of Saul (of Tarsus, who later was converted and became the Apostle Paul). As they stoned Stephen, he knelt and prayed to the Lord to receive Stephen’s spirit, and asked God to forgive his persecutors, and then he died.

Commentary:

Pentecost is the “birthday” of the Church, and the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the spiritual “birthday” of Christian disciples. Because of the power of the Holy Spirit within all of the disciples, the Church was growing rapidly.

The Church needed some way to develop leaders because the Church administration was becoming too much for the Apostles. The Church members selected a few from among them who demonstrated the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit, were strong in faith and the knowledge of the scriptures, and were morally sound. Their role was not just menial jobs like waiting on tables, but included teaching and evangelism.

This is what should be happening in the Church today. Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they were “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then they were to make “born-again” disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus taught them. (Matthew 28:18-20).

Too often today this is not the case in the “nominal” Church. If the Church doesn’t make “born-again” disciples there won’t be “born-again” Apostles to preach and administer the Church. There won’t be “born-again” “disciplers” to make “born-again” disciples.

Too often, “evangelism” today amounts to inviting one’s neighbors to attend church because it is “user-friendly,” has nice “facilities,” and an “entertaining” program. The Church is making “members” and building “buildings,” but merely making “fair-weather friends,” who will come and participate if it suits them. Is it any wonder that the Church in many instances is languishing and declining.

The place to begin is to commit oneself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, to read the Bible completely once, and then portions daily with meditation and prayer. And to begin to apply God’s Word in our daily lives. I personally testify that this has been my own experience (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right).

Saul of Tarsus (who became the Apostle Paul), who witnessed and approved of the stoning of Stephen, was confronted by the Spirit of the risen Jesus on Saul’s way to Damascus to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-21). He repented, accepted Jesus as Lord, began to obey Jesus’ command (Acts 9:5-8), was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple named Ananias (Acts 9:10-17), was “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, arose and was baptized, and immediately began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples (Acts 9:18-22; 2 Timothy 2:2).

Paul was the original “modern,” “post-resurrection” “Born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul is deliberately intended by God to be the example of the disciples we “post-resurrection” “Christians” are to be. Paul’s conversion was exceptional in its speed. But note that Paul was already formally trained in the Bible, and was zealous for God. Remember that the original disciples spent about three years, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with Jesus, and they were still not ready to be Apostles, until after they had received the Holy Spirit.

Paul was God’s choice of a disciple to replace Judas’ Iscariot, who had betrayed Jesus. Note that while the disciples were supposed to be awaiting the anointing of the Holy Spirit, they decided to choose a disciple to replace Judas, but they weren’t guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit because it had not yet been given (Acts 1:15-26). They selected the candidate by “lots’ (like rolling dice; by “chance”). The man they picked is never heard of again in the New Testament. In contrast most of the New Testament after Paul’s conversion is by or about Paul.

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)?

Wednesday 3 Easter A

First Posted April 9, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 3 Easter A

1 Peter 2:19-25 — Endurance in Suffering;

Christians are called to endure undeserved abuse and suffering, knowing that God will approve. Who will be approved for patiently enduring deserved punishment for wrongdoing? But God will reward those who patiently endure unjustly.

Christians have been called to follow Christ’s example, who also suffered for us. Jesus committed no sin, nor did he lie or deceive. He patiently endured unjust reviling without reviling in return; when he suffered he did not threaten. He entrusted his his cause to God who judges justly.

Jesus suffered physically on the cross for our sins, in order that we should die to sin and live for righteousness. We have been healed by his wounds. Like sheep we had all gone astray, but now have been restored to our Shepherd who is the Guardian of our souls.

Commentary:

This is a fallen and sinful world. The desires of our human flesh are against the way of God (Romans 8:1-8). God knew how the world would respond to Jesus, but he designed his Creation and his plan of salvation (see sidebar, top right) to allow for that.

Jesus was perfectly sinless and he declared divine, eternal truth, and yet the world hated him for that. He knew that he was going to be crucified for our sins and he submitted to that destiny in obedient trust in God’s plan (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:2, 39).

God’s wisdom is vastly greater than ours, but seems foolish in human judgment (1 Corinthians 1:17-25). God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey him. He has given us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey him, while still reigning in power over his Creation. We can’t vote him out. We can choose not to obey him, but the consequence will be eternal separation from God, who provides every good thing we need.

Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12), and has been part of God’s plan for Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is not an afterthought to save Creation after mankind rebelled against God.

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of his righteousness (doing what is good, right and true in God’s judgment), which he demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ can we be forgiven and meet God’s standard of righteousness by the power and help of the Holy Spirit within us.

If we accept God’s plan for our salvation, we must trust and obey Jesus. Jesus showed us how to trust and obey God’s Word, and we must follow his example (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

The world hated and crucified Jesus, and we cannot expect better treatment from the world than he received. But we have the assurance the world cannot do anything to us, even physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15), that God cannot heal and restore, as Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates.

Jesus came into the world to be the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 4:12). He also taught, by word and example, how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word in human flesh in this world. He also came to make it possible for us to be cleansed of sin so that we could receive 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). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

Those who do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit do not belong to Jesus and do not have eternal life (Romans 8:9b; 1 John 5:11-13). It is only by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus and God the Father, our Creator and provider (John 14:23-24). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself, whether or not one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

The reason and purpose for life in this world is to seek, find and come to personal knowledge of God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who restores and preserves his “sheep,” and the Savior and Guardian of our (eternal) souls. We have all been created as eternal beings in temporal human flesh in a temporal world (John 5:28-29). The question is: where we will choose to spend eternity?

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

Thursday 3 Easter A

First Posted April 10, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 3 Easter A

John 10:1-10 — The Door;

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a sheepfold. Jesus is the shepherd. Others who enter the sheepfold are thieves and robbers, who try to get in another way. The gatekeeper knows the shepherd and opens only to him. The shepherd enters by the gate, and he calls his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has gathered all his sheep, he leads them and they follow him, because they know his voice. They will not follow another because they know their shepherd’s voice, and others they do not know. Instead, they will flee from strangers.

People didn’t understand what Jesus meant by this parable, so he used another example. Jesus said he was the door to the sheepfold. Those who came before Jesus were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not follow them. Jesus is the door to God’s sheepfold and God’s sheep go into God’s fold, and out into God’s pasture [only] through Jesus. Thieves come only to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to give God’s sheep life, and so that they might have it abundantly.

Commentary:

In a sense we are all God’s “sheep” because God is our creator, whether we acknowledge him or not. But in another sense God’s “sheep” are those who know and follow God’s voice and God’s “shepherd,” Jesus Christ, God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:24).

There are false shepherds who have come before and after Jesus, who try to steal the sheep and lead them astray. Those who do not know God’s Word will be deceived, and they will be robbed of their eternal inheritance in God’s kingdom, and will die and be destroyed eternally in Hell.

Jesus is the door to God’s sheepfold. His sheep know and follow him, and he knows who belongs to him. He is the only way to security within God’s sheepfold, and the only way to spiritual sustenance, spiritual food and water, to sustain spiritual, eternal life and give spiritual growth and health.

Following false shepherds leads to eternal death and destruction; following Jesus leads to true, abundant, eternal life now, and in the world to come. There is no other way in or out of God sheepfold, for false “shepherds” or false “sheep” (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

If we want abundant, eternal life in God’s kingdom we need to learn to recognize God’s voice in God’s Word, the Bible and in Jesus Christ. We need to receive the abundant, eternal life that only Jesus offers, now, while we have time and opportunity. We must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), by the gift (“baptism,” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). 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)?

Friday 3 Easter A

First Posted April 11, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 3 Easter A

Lamentations 3:18-26 — God is Our Only Hope;

My glory and expectation from the Lord is gone. Remember the bitterness of my affliction; I have been cast out. My soul dwells constantly on my plight, and I’m brought very low.

But I remember this which gives me hope: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies a never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). My soul chooses the Lord as my portion, and so my hope is in him.

The Lord rewards those who seek him and wait for him. The best thing we can do is to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Commentary:

The lamentations were written after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.. Judah, the remnant of Israel, was carried off to exile. The people certainly felt as if God had cast them away, and that the hope of glory and hope of inheritance in the Lord seemed lost.

When we go through great trouble it does seem that the Lord has abandoned us and that we have lost all hope. It’s hard to think of anything else but our misery and loss, and the bitterness of our situation.

The author shows us that the best thing we can do is to recall the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord, which we can know from scripture, and also from personal experience if we have been walking daily with the Lord. The soul who chooses the Lord to be his destiny and portion has hope even in the most desperate situations.

The Lord doesn’t immediately rescue us. We must accept our circumstances and patiently wait for the Lord to change them.

When trouble strikes, often we aren’t prepared. We don’t think we need God’s help until that’s all we have to hope in. We haven’t sought the Lord, and we haven’t prepared spiritually for hard times by reading the Bible. Those who have not experienced trouble before and who haven’t read the Bible don’t have the assurance and the spiritual resources God’s Word can give.

The hardest things for us to learn to do, particularly in our society today, is to learn to wait quietly for the Lord’s help and deliverance. We’re so accustomed to “instant” answers, and to our own immediate actions to accomplish what we want. And it is very difficult, because of our high worldly expectations, to accept limitations and and reduced circumstances.

The Lord wants us to seek and find him (Acts 17:26-27). The Lord doesn’t cause trouble, but he allows it in this temporal world. Everyone goes through trouble sooner or later on this earth. The Lord can use trouble to show us that we need him, that his love and faithfulness are steadfast and unchanging, and that he is powerfully able to bring us through whatever befalls us, so that we can learn to trust him. Even physical death is not beyond God’s power to heal and restore.

I personally testify that when trouble first struck me, I didn’t know the Bible, and I hadn’t been seeking and walking with the Lord. I hadn’t chosen the Lord as my portion, and I didn’t want to accept my changed circumstances. It took me a long time to learn these lessons (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 3 Easter A

First Posted April 12, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 3 Easter A

Hebrews 4:14-16 — Mercy and Grace to Help;
John 14:1-11 — Jesus is the Way;

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Jesus, the Son of God, is our great high priest, who has ascended into heaven, so let us hold firmly to our confession (compare 1 Timothy 6:12-13). Our high priest is able to understand and sympathize with our weaknesses because he himself has been tempted as we are, but without yielding to sin. So let us approach the throne of grace (unmerited favor) confidently, so that we can receive mercy (forgiveness) when we are in need.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples to not worry, but to believe in God and in Jesus. Jesus was going to his father to prepare a place for his disciples with them, where there would be plenty of room for all of them, so that his disciples can be in permanent fellowship with him. Jesus told them that they knew the way Jesus was going. Thomas replied that they didn’t know where Jesus was going, so how could they know the way. Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Knowing Jesus is the [only] way to know God the Father personally; if we have known Jesus we know God the Father.

Philip asked Jesus to show them God the Father so that their desire to know God would be satisfied. Jesus asked Philip, if after all the time Philip had been with Jesus, did he still not know who Jesus is? Anyone who has seen Jesus has seen God the Father; how then can they still ask Jesus to show them the Father. Do they not believe that God is in Jesus and Jesus is in God? The words Jesus says and the works he does are not his own; they are by the power and authority of God the Father within Jesus. Believe Jesus’ word that he and God the Father are one, or else believe because of the works Jesus does (which reveal who Jesus is).

Commentary:

Jesus is our great high priest to intercede to God for us. He has lived in this world in our human flesh and has experienced all the temptations that we face, so he knows our situations, but he also resisted temptation, and he can help us resist successfully too by his presence and power within us. So let us hold firmly to our faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, the Messiah, God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King. We can approach the throne of God with confidence and receive unlimited forgiveness of all our sins, and divine help when we are in need.

Those who trust and obey Jesus are his disciples (John 14:15-17). We need not worry for anything, but keep on trusting in God and in Jesus.

Those who believe in God from reading the Bible will recognize and believe in Jesus. To those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus, Jesus will reveal himself and God the Father (John 14:21-23). Jesus will reveal himself to his disciples by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the only way: No one can know God personally and individually apart from personal knowledge of Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit. No one can approach the throne of God except through Jesus Christ. No one can enter the kingdom of God in heaven except through Jesus Christ (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is the divine Truth: (John 14:17). No one can know truth apart from faith in Jesus (John 1:9).

Jesus is true, eternal life. Only Jesus’ disciples who trust and obey Jesus are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:4, 5:39-40; 8:12).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9). Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God in human flesh in this world; the Holy Spirit is the ultimate revelation of Jesus and God the Father personally and individually within Jesus’ disciples.

God is a unity in three expressions or “persons.” Jesus is in God and God is in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus; not three “gods” but one God; the Holy Trinity. The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, but the concept is.

Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus’ words testify that his words are true and reliable. Others can believe in his words and they will come to know Jesus personally and know from experience that his words are true.

Those who are unwilling to trust Jesus’ words can look at the works of Jesus recorded in the Bible by eyewitnesses, and by the testimony of all the truly “re-born” disciples of Jesus Christ since then. Jesus’ words and deeds reveal 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)?

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.



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