Week of Holy Trinity – C – 05/22 – 28/2016

May 21, 2016

Week of Holy Trinity – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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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: Week of Holy Trinity C

Holy Trinity Sunday – C

First Posted May 31, 2010;
Podcast: Holy Trinity Sunday C

Proverbs 8:22-31– God’s Wisdom;
Psalm 8 – God’s Glory; Mankind’s Honor;
Romans 5:1-5 – Peace with God through Christ;
John 16:12-15 – Guidance by the Holy Spirit;

Proverbs 8:22-31 Paraphrase:

God’s wisdom was established as the first act of creation, before the depths of the sea and the springs of water, before mountains and hills were formed, before the land with its fields, before the dust of the earth. Wisdom attended the establishment of the heavens, the skies and the horizon, the fountains of the deep, the limits of the seas and the foundations of the earth. Wisdom was like a master workman. Wisdom was God’s delight, and wisdom rejoiced before the Lord always, delighting in mankind.

Psalm 8 Paraphrase:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1)! God’s glory established above the heavens is praised by the songs of babies and infants. Because of his enemies the Lord has established a bulwark to keep out enemies and avengers (those who bear a grudge).

When one considers the vastness of the universe and the magnitude of sun, moon, and stars, what is mankind, that the Lord notices and cares for him.

But God has made mankind only slightly lower than God, and has given him glory and honor. God has given mankind dominion over all Creation; all the creatures God has created.

The name of our Lord is majestic throughout the earth.

Romans 5:1-5 Paraphrase:

When we rely on faith (obedient trust) in Jesus for our justification (Christ’s righteousness attributed to us; the opposite of condemnation), we have reconciliation and peace with God. Through Jesus we have access to God’s grace (unmerited favor) and we rejoice in the hope of sharing in God’s glory. We can even rejoice in suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, character and hope. Our hope will not disappoint because we have been given the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we experience God’s love.

John 16:12-15 Background:

After the Last Supper, Jesus was giving the disciples his farewell discourse, to prepare them for his arrest, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven.

John 16:12-15 Paraphrase:

There were other things Jesus wanted his disciples to know but they could not absorb and understand them yet. But when they had received the promised “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, he would guide them into all truth. The Holy Spirit would not teach them his own opinions, but would faithfully teach them what God had declared, and would reveal what would occur in the future. The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus. All that God the Father has belongs to Jesus and the Holy Spirit will declare to the disciples all that belongs to Jesus.

Commentary:

Trinity Sunday celebrates the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The word “trinity” appears nowhere in the Bible, but the concept is found throughout. God is one God in three persons, or expressions: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. There are denominations and cults in the nominal Church which deny and teach against the Trinity.

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, fully God and fully human (Colossians 2:8-9; John 1:14; 20:28; 1 John 4:9). Jesus was begotten of a human female virgin by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:30-35).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9). Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to us in human form in the eyewitness testimony of the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God the Father and Jesus Christ to us personally and individually (Matthew 11:27; John 14:21-23).

Jesus is the bulwark that God has established against his enemies. Satan and the forces of evil were defeated at the cross of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8). Baptism into Jesus Christ is prefigured, by God’s deliberate intention, in the history of Israel passing through the Red Sea, unscathed, while their enemies were destroyed (Exodus 14:21-31).

This Creation was founded according to God’s divine, eternal wisdom, which is unlike what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-2:8). Worldly wisdom changes; divine wisdom is eternal and unchanging. Jesus is the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through and for him (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Compare Genesis 1: 9).

Jesus is the name of our Lord which is exalted throughout the earth (Philippians 2:9-11). There is no other name by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). There is no other way to know divine eternal truth, no other way to forgiven and restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and no other way to have eternal life (John 14:6).

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

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

Holy Trinity Monday – C

First Posted May 24, 2010
Podcast: Pentecost Monday C

Psalm 117 – Praise the Lord!

“Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us; and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever. Praise the Lord!”

Commentary:

As our Creator, God is our father; and God is God, whether we acknowledge him as God and Father or not. God has been progressively revealing his loving kindness, steadfast love and faithfulness to us, first in the goodness of Creation, then in the history of his dealing with Israel in the Bible, then in earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, and finally to us personally and individually by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God created this world very good (Genesis 1:31). The evil that exists in this world is the result of mankind’s sin (disobedience of God’s Word). God allows the possibility of sin so that we have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that trusting and obeying God’s will is our very best interest (Romans 12:2).

By the indwelling Holy Spirit, his “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples personally experience God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21-23). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9).

The Holy Spirit guides us according to God’s Word and Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26; John 16:13). As we begin to trust and obey the Holy Spirit, he will show us that what he says is trustworthy and absolutely reliable, and our faith will grow to spiritual maturity at the Day of Christ’s Return (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, right).

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to Jesus for what they have done in this lifetime (Matthew 25:31-46). In that day, every knee will bow in submission, and every tongue will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, to God’s great glory (Philippians 2:9-11). But at that day, the eternal destinies of each of us will be fixed and unchangeable.

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually reborn to eternal life by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Those who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and trust and obey him now will have been spiritually reborn in this lifetime, will have a personal relationship with Jesus, and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. But those who have refused to acknowledge Jesus as Lord now, and have refused or failed to trust and obey him, will be condemned to eternal destruction, eternal death, in hell with all evil (John 5:28-29; 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)?

Holy Trinity Tuesday – C

First Posted June 1, 2010;
Podcast: Holy Trinity Tuesday C

1 Kings 8:(22-23, 27-30) 41-43 – Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication;

Paraphrase:

The entire congregation of Israel was assembled before the altar in the temple at its dedication, and Solomon stood before the altar and prayed. Solomon acknowledged that there is no god like the Lord, the God of Israel, on earth or in heaven, who is faithful in keeping his covenant and showing steadfast love to his servants who serve him with all their hearts.

Solomon acknowledged that God cannot be contained in the temple; God fills the Universe. But Solomon prayed that the Lord God would have his eyes and ears open to hear the prayers of Solomon and the people of Israel when they pray toward the temple; and may God forgive his servants (his people who trust and obey God) when God hears their prayers.

Solomon also prayed that God would hear the prayers of foreigners, who are not of the congregation of Israel, when they come from far-off countries and pray toward the temple; that they may come because they have heard of the Lord’s great name (his character and reputation), his mighty hand and outstretched arm (his faithfulness, power and willingness to hear and answer prayers of faith; see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, right). Solomon prayed that God would hear and answer the foreigners’ prayers of faith so that all the people of earth might know the Lord’s name and fear him (have appropriate awe and respect for God’s power and authority), as the people of Israel do, and that they might know that the temple Solomon had built is dedicated in the name of the Lord.

Commentary:

In Bible times, names were more than labels; they believed that the character, reputation and self of the individual were concentrated in his name. Life-changing circumstances called for a change of name, as when the angel of the Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:27-28). Knowing a person’s name gave another individual access to that person. God wants the world to know his name so that we can call upon him in faith. Solomon dedicated the temple in the name of the Lord so that all people could have access to the Lord, the God of Israel when they prayed in faith (obedient trust) in his name.

God’s character is steadfast love, faithfulness, power, and willingness to hear and answer us when we pray in faith in his name. God is the God who is (Exodus 3:13-14); the one true God. There are many idols, so-called “gods:” the false gods of paganism. Modern examples of idols are money, power, career, family materialism, and hedonism. Any thing or person we value as much as or more than the Lord is idolatry. Trusting in any name other than the Lord God is ultimately futile. Only God can hear and answer our prayers of faith.

The defining characteristic of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God’s Word is always fulfilled, and it is eternal, so it is is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God wants us to trust and obey his Word so that we will experience his power and faithfulness personally.

Jesus is the Word of God fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh (John 14:15-17). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Compare Genesis 1: 9).

Jesus is the ultimate revelation of the name of the Lord. Jesus is God revealed in human flesh (Matthew 11:27; John 14:7). The whole fullness of God dwelt bodily in Jesus (Colossians 2:8-9) in human flesh. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Jesus is the Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed”) God’s designated eternal prophet, priest and king. Jesus is God’s designated eternal Savior; there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, the only way to be forgiven our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin; and the only way to have eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (John 14:6).

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek, find and come to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith in Jesus by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, believers are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have daily access to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21-23). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we become individually and collectively the temple of God dedicated in his name. We are filled, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the name of the Lord throughout all this world (Matthew 28:19-20), so that all people might come to know and have access the Lord.

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

Holy Trinity Wednesday – C

First Posted June 2, 2010;
Podcast: Holy Trinity Wednesday C

Galatians 1:1-10 – The Galatian Apostasy;

Background:

The Galatian Church (in the Roman province of Galatia, in Asia Minor -present-day Turkey- which Paul had previously founded) was infiltrated by false teachers, “Judaisers,” who insisted that Christians were bound by the Law of Moses.

Paraphrase:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) begins his letter by asserting his apostolic authority. Paul is as much an Apostle as the Eleven original Apostles, not by or through human authority and teaching, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (Acts 9:1-6, 15-16).

Writing to the congregations of Galatia, Paul offers them grace and peace which are from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, reminding them that Jesus gave his life for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) to save us from the evils of the present age, by God’s will (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right), who is worthy of eternal glory.

Paul said, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel- not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 6-9).

Paul asserted that he was not trying to please men, or he would not be serving Christ. Paul was not seeking the favor of men, but the approval of God.

Commentary:

Paul had been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest, legalistic, faction of Judaism. He had been on his way to persecute Christianity, which he considered a heresy regarding Judaism, when he was converted on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22).

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) of Jesus Christ, as we can also be. He was as much an Apostle as the original Eleven, because of the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:313-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God has designed this world to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s will is our very best interest (Romans 12:2b). So God has designed this Creation very good (Genesis 1:31), but with the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). The evil in this world is the result of human sin.

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right). Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

There are heresies (false teachings) in the nominal Church today which were present in the first-century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. One example is the “Judaisers;” “Legalism;” the teaching of salvation earned by doing “good deeds” (see False Teachings, sidebar, right). There are extra-biblical (doctrines based on books other than or in addition to the Bible) cults within the nominal Church today which teach that their members must observe the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) and keep Jewish dietary laws (vegetarianism), for example.

There is another extra-biblical cult which claims to be the Church of Jesus Christ, and sends missionaries door-to-door, teaching “another gospel,” which they claim to have received from an “angel, ” which is refuted in the text for today.

Another extra-biblical cult which sends missionaries door-to-door denies that Jesus is God. This false teaching is refuted in Colossians 2:8-9, John 20: 28, Matthew 11:27 and elsewhere in the New Testament.

The only way to protect oneself from false teachers and false teachings is to read the entire Bible for oneself. Any average reader can easily read the entire Bible in one year, and there are several one-year reading plans available (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, right). I recommend plans which include readings from both Old Testament and New Testament daily. The Old Testament must be understood from the perspective of the New Testament, and the New Testament helps one get through the “begats” (genealogy) and the legalistic details of the Old Testament Law.

Paul is the example of the modern Apostle who presents the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ, not just the parts that make us feel good. The problem in the nominal Church today is that leaders try to make the Gospel “seeker friendly.” Preaching on sin and eternal death in hell isn’t popular. Instead of requiring discipleship, nominal Churches settle for making members by providing services to satisfy the worldly needs of worldly people: support groups for divorce, substance abuse, singles, etc. I’m not saying that the Church can’t offer support for these worldly needs, but they need to be Biblically based and involve discipleship.

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

Holy Trinity Thursday – C

First Posted June 3, 2010;
Podcast: Holy Trinity Thursday C

Luke 7:1-10 – The Centurion’s Slave;

Paraphrase:

A Centurion had a slave, who was dear to him, ill and at the point of death. When the Centurion heard that Jesus was in Capernaum, he sent Jewish elders to Jesus asking him to heal the Centurion’s slave. The elders told Jesus that the Centurion was worthy because he thought highly of the nation of Israel, and had built their synagogue.

Jesus went with the elders and as they approached, the Centurion sent friends to them, telling Jesus not to trouble himself further. The Centurion felt unworthy to have Jesus in his home, and as a man of authority, the Centurion was accustomed to giving commands and having them carried out. He believed that Jesus could say the word and the Centurion’s slave would be healed. When Jesus heard this he was amazed and said that he had not heard such faith in even in Israel. When the messengers of the Centurion returned to him they found the slave healed.

Commentary:

God had been preparing his people, Israel, to expect and receive the Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King), for thousands of years. The Jews had the Old Testament scriptures, and yet most failed to recognize and receive Jesus as the Messiah.

God didn’t intend his salvation to be only for Israel; he wanted to include all people. Christ’s physical ministry was focused on Israel. Jesus was making disciples who would be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-18), and then would continue Christ’s mission to the end of the earth in both senses of distance and time (Mathew 28:19-20).

Relatively few Jews responded to Jesus in faith, but there were enough who did to carry out and fulfill God’s plan. Jesus did respond to faith wherever he found it, healing the syrophoenician woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:21-28), a Gentile military officer’s* son (John 4:43-53) and this Centurion’s servant, for example.

The Jews saw the miracles Jesus did in response to faith in both Jews and Gentiles, and yet refused or failed to respond in faith in Jesus.

God’s Plan of Salvation (sidebar, right) depends on faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. God deliberately designed it that way, because he wants each one of us to be free to accept or reject Jesus’ salvation for ourselves. For those who need “proof” in order to “believe” there is none; but for those who believe, there is abundant proof.

This Centurion truly believed in Jesus, and he acted on that faith. He believed in Jesus’ power and authority to command healing for his servant. The Centurion didn’t need to see Jesus perform some religious ritual over his servant or say some “incantation” in the servant’s presence. His faith was rewarded by “proof:” The servant, who had been at the point of death was healed and well.

The Jewish elders were willing to ask Jesus to heal a Gentile’s servant, on the basis that the Gentile was a friend of Israel and had built their synagogue. The Centurion himself felt unworthy to receive Jesus into the Centurion’s home.

The Jewish elders were in need of spiritual healing, but they would not ask Jesus to heal them; they wouldn’t even acknowledge their need for spiritual healing. But they were willing to ask Jesus to heal a Gentile’s servant, perhaps seeking “proof” that Jesus was the Messiah. But even when they heard of the Centurion’s servant’s healing, they did not believe in Jesus and turn to him to be healed.

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12). Are we willing to acknowledge our spiritual terminal illness and, in faith, ask Jesus to heal us?

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


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, John 4:46n, p. 1290, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Holy Trinity Friday – C

First Posted June 5, 2010;
Podcast: Holy Trinity Friday C

1 John 4:16-21 – Commandment of Love;

Paraphrase:

We know and believe the love of God for us. God is love, and if we live according to love we live in God and God lives in us. When God’s love is matured in us we need not fear the day of judgment, because he is present in this world as are we. Love rules out fear. Fear concerns punishment, and those who fear have not become mature in love. We are able to love because he first loved us. We cannot claim to love God while hating our brethren; that would be a lie. If we cannot love our brethren whom we see, we cannot love God whom we do not see. His commandment is that if we love God, we should love our brethren also.

Commentary:

Love cannot be commanded. When children are born, they care only about themselves. Good parents sacrifice their self-interest to provide care and nurture for their children, and their children perceive their parents’ love. The children become able to love because they perceive that they have been loved.

God’s love for us is demonstrated in the cross of Jesus Christ. God gave his only begotten Son to die on the cross as the only acceptable sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), once for all time, and for all people who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), we individually and personally experience God’s love for us every day.

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God doesn’t want any of us to perish eternally but to live eternally in paradise restored in his eternal heavenly kingdom. God loved us while we were still sinners, disobeying his Word (Romans 5:8). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation; sidebar, right), who has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

God wants us to trust and obey his Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the living Word (John 1:14), out of love for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ, rather than from fear of punishment. But God is God, whether we acknowledge him or not. His will will be done, whether we cooperate with it or not. If we do not trust and obey his Word out of love, we will be accountable to his judgment on the Day of Christ’s Return.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when Christ will return to judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead in both physical and spiritual senses. Jesus is the righteous judge and the standard of judgment by which all will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord, will have trusted and obeyed Jesus and will have been “born-again” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. They will have had a personal daily fellowship with Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and Jesus will know and acknowledge them as his disciples. They will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-29; 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)?

Holy Trinity Saturday – C

First Posted May 29, 2010
Podcast: Pentecost Saturday C

Luke 16:19-31 – The Rich Man and Lazarus;

Background:

Jesus taught in “parables,” fictional stories of common earthly experiences to teach spiritual truths.

Luke:

A rich man (commonly called “Dives,” which is Latin for “Rich Man”) had a poor beggar, Lazarus (not the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany), at the gate of his home. Lazarus had open sores on his body, and desired to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Worse yet, dogs came and licked Lazarus’ sores.

Lazarus died and was carried by angels into the presence of Abraham (the patriarch of Israel). The rich man also died and was carried into Hades (Hell; the doom and misery of the spiritually lost). Being in eternal torment, the rich man looked and saw Lazarus far off in the presence and comfort of Abraham. So the rich man called out, asking Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool the rich man’s tongue, because the rich man was in torment in the fires of Hell.

But Abraham reminded the rich man that in the rich man’s lifetime on earth he had enjoyed all the pleasures of life, while Lazarus had suffered. Now Lazarus was comforted while the rich man was in torment. In addition, there was a chasm set between Hell and Heaven, which prevented any from crossing between.

Then the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them so that they would not wind up in Hell with the rich man, but Abraham replied that the brothers had the Bible scriptures, and should heed them. The rich man said that his brothers wouldn’t pay attention to the scriptures, but would repent if someone from the dead would go to them. But Abraham said that if they didn’t heed the scriptures they wouldn’t heed one who arose from the dead.

Commentary:

The worldly philosophy is that we only go around once in life, and that we should “grab all the gusto” that we can.

The Word of God declares that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek, find, know and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), who has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

The rich man knew the reality of Hell, and wanted to warn his brothers who were still alive in this temporal world. He realized that his brothers would not take warning from the Bible scriptures, but might from one who was raised from physical death. But Abraham realized that if they didn’t believe the Bible they wouldn’t believe one who had arisen from physical death either.

We have the testimony of the Bible scriptures and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from physical death to spiritual eternal life. Will we believe and repent and be saved from eternal destruction in hell?

Jesus has arisen from physical death to eternal life. Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by over five hundred eyewitnesses recorded in the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:1-9). Everyone has access to the Bible. Everyone who has accepted Jesus as Lord and has trusted and obeyed Jesus, including me, personally testifies that Jesus is alive; he has arisen from physical death to eternal life. Have you repented and turned from eternal death to eternal life?

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

Week of Pentecost C – 05/15 -21/2016

May 14, 2016

Week of Pentecost C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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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 Pentecost C

Sunday Pentecost C

First Posted May 23, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday Pentecost C

Genesis 11:1-9 – The Tower of Babel;
Psalm 104:25-34 – God’s Providence;
Acts 2:1-21 — Pentecost;
John 15:26-27; 16:4-11 – The Promised Holy Spirit;

Genesis 11:1-9 Paraphrase:

After the flood, descendants of Noah had one language in common, and they spread out from the east and settled in on a plain in the land of Shinar (the Tigris-Euphrates basin). They decided to make make bricks and build, with bitumen for mortar, a city with a tower reaching into heaven. They wanted to achieve worldly success and status, so that they would not be scattered all over the earth.

The Lord God came down to see the city and tower they had built, and God said that since they were all one people with one language, this was but the first of the things humans would accomplish. From now on nothing would be impossible for them. God proposed to confuse their language, so that they could not understand one another. So God scattered them abroad over the face of the earth, halting the building of their city. Thus the place was named Babel because from there God confused (Hebrew: “Balal” meaning “to confuse”) the language of all peoples and scattered them abroad.

Psalm 104:25-34 Paraphrase:

Consider the ocean! It is vast and wide, filled with creatures great and small beyond counting! The ships of mankind are tiny in comparison to the vastness of the ocean and the great monsters it contains.

All the creatures of earth are totally dependent upon God to provide every necessity. When God provides, they gather it up. They are filled with good things as God opens his hand. When God hides his face from them they are dismayed. When he takes their breath from them they die and return to the dust from which they were created. When he sends forth his Spirit, they are created and the face of the earth is renewed.

Acts 2:1-21 Paraphrase:

On the Day of Pentecost, the followers of Jesus were all together in one place (presumably the upper room where Jesus had celebrated the Last Supper). Suddenly there was a sound of a mighty rushing wind coming from heaven, and it filled the house where Jesus’ followers were. Flames like fire were distributed and rested on each of them, and the Holy Spirit filled all of them and they began to speak in “tongues” (foreign languages) at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

There were Jews from every nation on earth living in Jerusalem, and at the sound (the wind and speaking), a crowd gathered, and the people were amazed to hear the disciples of Jesus speaking in the native languages of the people. The people wondered how the disciples, who they realized were Galileans, were speaking the native languages of Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Cyrene, Rome, Crete and Arabia. Each of the natives of these countries heard the disciples proclaiming the mighty works of God in their own native languages. They were amazed and puzzled, wondering about the meaning of this event. But some suggested that the disciples were drunk.

Peter, standing with the others of the original eleven disciples of Jesus, spoke up, saying that the disciples were not drunk, since it was only 9:00 a.m.. Peter said that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel: That in the last days, God would pour out his Spirit upon all people. Their sons and daughters would prophecy, their young people would see visions and their old people would dream dreams. In those days the Lord would pour out his Holy Spirit upon his menservants and maidservants and they would prophesy (Joel 2:28-32).

In those days the Lord will show signs in the heavens and on earth: blood, fire, and smoke. The Sun will be darkened, and the moon will be blood-red, before the Day of the Lord, the great and notable day. “And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord [now] shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

John 15:26-27; 16:4-11 Parphrase:

Jesus promised his disciples that he would send them the “Counselor” (the indwelling Holy Spirit), the Spirit of Truth, who comes forth from God the Father.

Jesus was telling his disciples what would follow when Jesus had ascended into heaven, so that when these things happened they would remember that Jesus had told them. Jesus had not told them earlier because there was no need, as long as Jesus was with them physically, but now Jesus was returning to God the Father who had sent Jesus.

The disciples didn’t ask where Jesus was going, but they were sad that he was leaving. But it was actually to their advantage that Jesus leave them physically, so that they could receive the promised Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit could not be given until Jesus returned to God the Father in heaven.

When the Holy Spirit came he would convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit will convince the world that sin is unbelief in Jesus (John 3:18), that God’s righteousness is revealed at the cross of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-26; Hebrews 4:15), and that evil has been judged and defeated at the cross (John 12:31).

Commentary:

The first Creation was purged by the flood. Noah and his household escaped destruction because Noah walked in obedient trust in God’s Word (Genesis 6:9). Noah believed and obeyed God’s command to build the ark (Genesis 6:13-14). All the nations of earth came forth from Noah’s three sons (Genesis 10:1-32).

When the flood receded, God created the “covenant of the rainbow” with Noah and his descendants (Genesis 9:1-19). God blessed Noah and his descendants, and promised never again to destroy the earth with water. But as Noah’s descendants spread out in time and distance from the covenant of the rainbow they departed from the example of Noah. Instead of glorifying and serving God, they began to glorify and serve themselves.

They pursued worldly success and status in an attempt to achieve worldly security. They attempted to reach heaven and receive heavenly benefits by their own worldly efforts. Their efforts brought the very consequences they had attempted to avoid: being unable to communicate with one another, unable to complete their city and tower, and being scattered over the earth.

It was a replay of the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-24). Adam and Eve had pursued their own will rather than obeying God’s Word (sin is disobedience of God’s Word) and were expelled from paradise. After the flood, the earth was cleansed and mankind had a chance to start over, and the same sin of self-will got them scattered and their language confused.

God is the Creator of everything in our Universe, and is the provider of every good thing. The evil in the world is the result of mankind’s sin. God intends that his providence be shared among all people. The reason that some people lack necessities is because others take more than their fair share. Many people today deny God’s providence; they feel that they’ve earned whatever they have.

The meaning and purpose of life in this Creation is not to accumulate material things. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. Both these goals are only achievable through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Only Jesus “baptizes” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal daily fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:9; John 14:23). Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth (through the Spirit of Truth), the only way to be forgiven for sin (Acts 4:12) and restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and the only way to be reborn to eternal life (John 14:6). 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 determines when we die physically. He gives us the breath of physical life, and he gives the breath of spiritual eternal life to those who trust and obey Jesus.

The Day of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. The personal infilling of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual birthday of the Christian. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event. It is impossible to be “born-again” without being aware of it with complete certainty (Acts 19:2).

In Old Testament times only a few chosen individuals had a personal relationship with God by the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ death on the cross became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin, to cleanse us so that we could become individually and collectively temples of the Holy Spirit.

It was Moses’ prayer that God would put his Spirit upon all God’s people and that they would prophesy (Numbers 11:26- 29). The first Pentecost was the fulfillment of God’s Word through Joel to put his Spirit upon all [God’s] people.

The Day of Pentecost is a reversal of the confusion of language at the Tower of Babel. Through Jesus Christ, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, born-again Christian are guided and enabled to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

The risen Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission to go into the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ from all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (note the doctrine of the “Trinity”), and teaching them to know trust and obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20). But note that Jesus also commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church) until they had received the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit before going into the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent and be baptized with water for spiritual cleansing to prepare them to receive Jesus Christ.  Jesus himself did not baptize with water (John 4:2); only his disciples did. And only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34). The Church cannot carry on the mission of Christ in human strength (Zechariah 4:6).

Tragically, in too many instances in the nominal Church today, the Church has failed to make born-again disciples. It is not difficult to find instances in the nominal Church where leaders and members are attempting to build buildings in order to obtain worldly success and status, and to build their own towers into heaven. There are several false teachings in the nominal Church today which were present in the first-century Church and are refuted in the New Testament (see False Teachings, sidebar, right, home).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when Christ will return to judge the living (“quickened”) and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5) in both physical and spiritual senses. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been born-again and will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (paradise restored). Those who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Jesus’ name isn’t a magic incantation; it isn’t a “password” which will allow us to avoid condemnation and enter heaven, without having been his disciple. Jesus warns that it isn’t those who call him Lord and call themselves Christian who will be saved but those who trust and obey God’s Word (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46), and Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:14)

Whether Christ returns while we are physically alive, or if we die first, at that moment, our eternal destiny will be fixed and unchangeable. Today is the only day we can be sure of; today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Wouldn’t you like to know with certainty that you will spend eternity in heaven in the presence of the Lord?

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

Monday Pentecost C

First Posted May 24, 2010;
Podcast: Monday Pentecost C

Psalm 8 – God’s Glory and Man’s Honor;

Paraphrase:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1)!

The Lord’s great glory in heaven is revealed in the songs of babies and infants. Because of his enemies he has established a bulwark to stop the enemy and avenger (those who bear a grudge).

Compared to the vastness of the heavens, the magnitude of the sun, moon and stars which the Lord has created, what is mankind, that God takes notice of and cares for him?

Yet God has made mankind only a little lower than God, and has given him glory and honor. God has given him dominion over God’s Creation, and has placed all things under his authority. Every living creature on land, in the air and in the sea are subject to mankind.

The name of our Lord is majestic in all the earth!

Commentary:

The name of the Lord is more than just a label. His name is an expression of his character and reputation.

God is worthy of great glory on earth as he is glorified in his heavenly kingdom. When Jesus entered Jerusalem the final week before his crucifixion, children in the temple were crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David (the Messiah; the eternal heir to the throne of David; Matthew 21:15)” But the Jewish leaders tried to silence them. Jesus quoted Psalm 8:2, to teach that, in their innocence, young children are able to give perfect praise, while adults have been corrupted by their own selfish desires. The name of the Lord should be glorified throughout the earth, but many hate the name of the Lord and seek to destroy his reputation and remembrance.

The cross of Jesus Christ is the bulwark against the foes of the Lord. The enemies of the Lord sought to destroy him, but they actually fulfilled God’s purpose of establishing the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin. Those who trust and obey Jesus are protected from their spiritual enemies, (sin, death, and Satan) by the body and blood of Jesus. The evidence of Christ’s victory over Satan at the cross is Christ’s resurrection from physical death to eternal life.

Jesus is the name of the Lord! Jesus is the name which is above all names (Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus is God made visible in human flesh (Matthew 11:27). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; compare Genesis 1:9). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus is fully God and fully human (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is the only name given  under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, to be forgiven for sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin; the only way to have eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home).

The Jewish leaders professed to love God but they hated Jesus and attempted to destroy Jesus by crucifying him. They didn’t know and love God or they would have recognized and loved God’s Son (John 8:42).

If the Jewish leaders had had the appropriate understanding of God they would not have rejected and crucified Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:8). Instead of seeing themselves in comparison to the vastness and magnitude of Creation and the greatness of the Creator, they saw themselves as the center of the Universe. They were obsessed with their own self-interest. They appropriated the glory that belongs to God for themselves. Instead of being the shepherds of God’s people, they were using their position in Judaism to run Judaism as their personal empire.

In many instances, the nominal Church today is in the same situation as Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first coming. Church leaders regard ministry as a career decision. Denominations and congregations are being run for the glory of their leaders, as their own personal empires. They are more concerned with their own benefit than with the spiritual stewardship of their members.

God has given mankind dominion over Creation. As God created this world, it was very good. The evil in this world is the result of mankind’s sin.

There is a Day of Judgment coming for everyone who has ever lived on earth. We will be held accountable for what we have done with our dominion over Creation. Have we shared the resources God has given all people with those in need, or have we hoarded and consumed resources in excess for our own attempt at security and our self-indulgence in luxury, while others are in need? Have we glorified the name of the Lord, or have we brought reproach upon his name by our behavior toward others?

Jesus warns that on the Day of Judgment we will be accountable to him for our dominion of Creation (Matthew 25:31-46). Have we shared God-given resources with the needy (Matthew 25:34-35)? Have we treated the least members of society the way we want to be treated (Matthew 25:35b, 36b, c)?

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

First posted May 25, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday Pentecost C

Proverbs 8:22-31 – Divine Wisdom;

Paraphrase:

Divine wisdom was the first of God’s acts of creation, the “first-born” (Jesus Christ: Colossians 1:15-16; John 1:1-3, 14). He was established before the beginning of this world. He was brought forth before the depths and springs of water; before the dry land, the fields and the dust of earth.

Divine wisdom was present when the the heavens were established and God circumscribed the deeps, the limits of the seas, so that the waters might not exceed his command. When the foundation of the earth was established, divine wisdom was beside him, a master craftsman; his daily delight, and a constant source of rejoicing in the inhabited world and in the sons of men.

Commentary:

Divine wisdom is unlike worldly human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-30). Divine wisdom is eternal and unchanging, whereas human wisdom is not. The number of planets in our solar system is a recent example of the changing nature of human wisdom.

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of divine wisdom: the Word of God (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus was designed into Creation from the very beginning.

We have all been born physically alive but spiritually unborn. We are all eternal beings in temporal bodies. God’s purpose for Creation has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and find fellowship with God, our Creator, and our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual eternal life.

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is good, right, and true according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is the only way: to be forgiven of sin (disobedience of God’s Word); restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin; to be born-again to eternal life by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is impossible to be born-again and not know it with absolute certainty for oneself (Acts 19:2).

There is a Day of Judgment coming! Christ has promised to return at the end of the age of salvation. He is the Righteous Judge because he has lived in this world in human flesh and been tempted in every way just as we are, but without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He will return to judge the living (“quickened”) and dead in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5; John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46).

We will all face the throne of Judgment, either at the Day of Jesus’ Second Coming, or at the moment of our physical death. No one knows whether we will live to see tomorrow; today is the only day we can be certain of. Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). At the Day of Judgment, our eternal destiny will be fixed and unalterable.

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

First posted May 26, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday Pentecost C

Romans 5:1-5 – Peace with God through Christ;

Paraphrase:

We have peace with God through Jesus Christ when we rely totally on him in faith (obedient trust) for our justification (judgment of guiltlessness; the opposite of condemnation). We have received access to this grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) through faith in Christ, and we rejoice in the hope of sharing in God’s glory. We can even rejoice in suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, character, and hope. And that hope will not disappoint, because we have God’s love which has been poured out upon us by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Commentary:

God has designed this Creation to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, knowing that we would all choose to do our own will rather than God’s. Disobedience of God’s Word is the definition of sin.

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want any of us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). God has designed a Savior into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home).

We are separated from fellowship with God our Creator by sin. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s Word (Genesis 3:3), they lost eternal life in paradise, and were driven from God’s presence (Genesis 3:8-10, 22-24).

Noah’s descendants repeated the fall of mankind from grace after Creation had been renewed by The Flood. They attempted to create their own way to heaven by the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), instead of trusting and obeying God’s Word. They were scattered throughout the world and away from God’s presence.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is the opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We cannot secure our own forgiveness and salvation by “good deeds.”

The Jews failed to obtain salvation because they relied on their keeping of the Law of Moses (Romans 9:30-33). I don’t believe that Jews are irrevocably lost, but I believe that they cannot be saved until they accept Jesus as their Messiah (Matthew 23:39).

Suffering for the consequences of our sin is beneficial only as we learn not to continue to sin. Suffering for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be rewarded. The world hates Jesus and will hate Jesus’ disciples. Disciples must be willing to accept suffering in order to carry on the mission of Jesus to bring healing and salvation to a spiritually sick and dying world. One develops endurance and character by persisting in the face of suffering.

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “first fruit” of salvation.  Born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) Christians have not only hope, but a “down-payment,” a “security deposit” guaranteeing their forgiveness, salvation, 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).

It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience, daily, the love of God for us. It is by the Holy Spirit that we experience the joy and glory of God’s presence.

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

First Posted May 27, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday Pentecost C

John 16:12-15 – The Spirit of Truth;

Background:

This is part of Jesus’ farewell discourse to his disciples, in the upper room, following the Last Supper, before Jesus’ betrayal and arrest.

Text Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that there was more he wanted them to know but they were not able to understand, yet. But when the Spirit of truth comes, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to send (John 14:15-17), he will guide them into all truth. He will speak not his own ideas, but will faithfully declare what he has heard from God the Father, and he will reveal what is to come. He will glorify Jesus, because he will declare, to Jesus’ disciples, the glory that Jesus has from God the Father. Jesus shares in all the glory of God.

Commentary:

The place to begin to know and follow Jesus in discipleship is through his words recorded in the Gospels. As we begin to trust and obey his teachings, Jesus promises to send the indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who do what Jesus taught (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit will teach us all things, and recall to our memories all that Jesus taught (John 14:25-26).

We are all born physically into this world, but are spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27) and be spiritually reborn to eternal life. These are only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ  (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home).

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us is our spiritual birthday (John 3:3, 5-8). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself when one has been “born-again” (Acts 19:2).

As we begin to be guided and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit, we experience the power and faithfulness of the Lord and we grow spiritually. Discipleship is a spiritual growth process to spiritual maturity at the Day of Christ’s return.

The Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent and be baptized with water to prepare them to receive Jesus Christ. (John 1:29-34; Matthew 3:1-12). The role of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, to teach them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20), and to teach them to seek the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Jesus specifically warned his disciples to stay within Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, before going into the world with the Gospel message. But in too many instances the nominal Church today is failing to make “born-again” disciples, and has settled for making “church members.” Some mainline denominations are even discouraging members from seeking spiritual rebirth, by the false teaching that the Holy Spirit is automatically conferred by some church ritual such as water baptism (see False Teachings, “Spiritual Rebirth”, sidebar, right, home).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit faithfully declares divine eternal truth, and his word is the Word of God; he’s not just a representative expressing his own opinions. Because he speaks God’s Word, what he prophesies will come to pass, because the test of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience the glory of God and Jesus Christ. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can truly praise and glorify the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3).

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)?

Friday Pentecost C

First posted May 28, 2010;
Podcast: Friday Pentecost C

Ezekiel 18:30-32  – Repent and Turn to the Lord;

Paraphrase:

The Lord declares that he will judge Israel according to their doings. So repent and turn from all your sins (disobedience of God’s Word) so that they not cause your spiritual ruin. Put away from you all your sins which you have sinned against the Lord and get a new heart and a new spirit! Why would you choose spiritual, eternal death, O Israel? The Lord takes no pleasure in anyone’s death, so turn to the Lord and live!

Commentary:

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

The Church is the New Israel, and in a sense America is also the New Israel, the New Promised Land. Both are in urgent need of revival today! Both have fallen away from obedient trust in the Lord and need to hear the call to repent and turn to the Lord.

“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)? In too many instances, the nominal Church today has failed to make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ, and has settled for making “members,” teaching them that it is not necessary to obey God’s Word and that they need not seek spiritual rebirth because the church automatically confers it at water baptism. Both are False Teachings (which see, sidebar, right: “Cheap Grace,” and “Spiritual Rebirth”).

The Lord commands his disciples to stay within the Church (the New Jerusalem) until they have been “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), before going into the world with the Gospel with the command to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:19-20). In too many instances that is not happening in the nominal Church today.

America has turned aside from her call to be the New People of God and the New Promised Land. The Bible shows over and over that in God’s dealing with his people, when his people have turned away from obedience, God withholds his providence and protection and allows his people to experience trouble, in the hope that they will realize their need for God, will repent, and return to obedient trust in the Lord.

On 9/11, America turned to the Lord for about fifteen minutes, and then went back to life as usual. Economic turmoil, and the flooding of New Orleans and other natural disasters are signs that God is lifting his favor and providence from America. Now we seem on the verge of a flu pandemic. How bad must things get (which see, sidebar, right, home) before America repents and turns to the Lord?

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

Saturday Pentecost C

First Posted May 29, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday Pentecost C

John 3:1-15 – Nicodemus;

Paraphrase:

Nicodemus was a Pharisee (the strictest legalistic party of the Jews) and a ruler (member of the Sanhedrin: the Jewish supreme court). He came to Jesus by night (for fear of censure by the Pharisees and Sanhedrin), and addressing Jesus as Rabbi (teacher), said that he knew that Jesus had come from God because no one could do the miracles Jesus was doing except by God’s authority. Jesus answered by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew (born again) he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Nicodemus asked how one could be born when he was old; would he be able to enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born? Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water (baptism) and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh (perishable), and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (eternal). Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).

Nicodemus asked how that could be, and Jesus asked how Nicodemus could be a teacher of Israel and not understand what Jesus was saying. Jesus said that he was telling Nicodemus what Jesus (and born-again Christians) knew and experienced, but Nicodemus didn’t accept his testimony. If Nicodemus couldn’t believe what Jesus was telling him about earthly things, how could he believe what Jesus was saying about heavenly things? No one has seen heaven except  the Son of man (Jesus) who has descended from heaven. Jesus is going to be lifted up on the cross, as Moses had raised up a bronze serpent on a pole in the wilderness (Numbers 21:5-9), so that whoever believes in Jesus would have eternal life.

Commentary:

We are all born physically alive into this world but are spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be born again to spiritual eternal life. This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Only Jesus “baptizes” with (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 for one to know with certainty for oneself if one has been born-again (Acts 19:2).

The Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer. John called Israel to repent and return to obedient trust in God’s Word. John called Israel to be baptized with water for repentance, to be spiritually cleansed and prepared to receive the Savior, Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 3:3-6). The Church’s mission is to “disciple” members unto spiritual rebirth by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Then the members are to be discipled by the Holy Spirit unto spiritual maturity at the Day of Christ’s Return.

Jesus taught in parables, which are stories of common earthly experiences used to teach spiritual reality. The same word Jesus used in the parable of the wind means both wind and spirit. One doesn’t need to understand everything about wind – what causes it, where it comes from and where it is going; but one can see and feel its effect and know that it is real. The same is true of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus was conceived physically by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34-35; Colossians 2:8-9), and was filled with the Holy Spirit at his baptism (John 1:33-34). I think that Jesus’ reply in the plural, “we,” means that Jesus and his born-again disciples testify to what they have seen and felt with regard to the indwelling Holy Spirit.

At the time of Jesus’ physical ministry in Israel, the Jewish leaders knew a lot about God, but didn’t know God personally (compare Job 42:5). Nicodemus and members of the Sanhedrin were the teachers in Israel, without spiritual experience and understanding.

This is the problem in the nominal Church today. In too many instances the nominal Church is led by those who are “unregenerate” (not born-again) leaders. It takes born-again disciples of Jesus Christ to make born-again disciples of Jesus Christ. In too many instances the nominal Church has failed to make born-again disciples and has settled for making “members,” fair-weather “Christians” who participate in the church program when convenient and in their secular interest. If the Church doesn’t make born-again disciples, there will be no born-again disciples to select for leadership.

The history of God’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament are deliberately intended by God to be parables, metaphors for life in this world. Israel was forbidden to make bronze images of any animal, and yet God commanded Moses to make a bronze image of a snake. The image was mounted horizontally on a vertical pole by a socket cast in the middle of the bronze image. It foreshadows Christ crucified. The bronze serpent on the pole saved the serpent-bitten Israelites from death, and Jesus’ lifted on the cross saves sin-bitten people from eternal death, for all who look upon him in faith (obedient trust).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 – C – 05/08 – 14/2016

May 7, 2016

Week of 7 Easter – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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 – C

Sunday 7 Easter – C

First posted May 16, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 7 Easter – C

Psalm 47 – God’s Enthronement;
Acts 16:6-10 – Paul’s Second Missionary Trip;
Revelation 22:12-17, 20 – Christ’s Return;
John 17:20-26 – Jesus’ Prayer for his Disciples;

Psalm 47 Paraphrase:

Let all people clap their hands and, with loud songs of joy, let them shout to God. The Lord Most High is awesome; a great king who reigns over all the earth. He subdues nations and peoples under Israel (his chosen people; the Church). He has chosen an inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob (father of the heads of the Twelve Tribes) whom he 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 is seated upon his holy throne; he reigns over all the nations. “The princes of the peoples gather  as the people of the God of Abraham, because all the rulers of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted” (Psalm 47:9)!

Acts 16:6-10 Paraphrase:

On his second missionary trip, Paul and his companions came to Phrygia and Galatia (Roman provinces in Asia Minor: present-day Turkey). When they came to Mysia (a Roman province in western Asia Minor, of which its chief port was Troas), the missionaries attempted to go to Bithinia, “but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (Acts 16:7); so they bypassed Mysia and went to Troas. During the night Paul had a dream of a Macedonian man pleading for them to come and help the Macedonians. Paul concluded immediately from the dream that God was calling them to preach the Gospel in Macedonia.

Revelation 22:12-17, 20 Paraphrase:

Jesus declares that he is coming soon to repay everyone according to their deeds. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), the first and last, the beginning and end of all things (compare Revelation 1:12-18).

Those who wash their robes (spiritually; in the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross; through faith -obedient trust- in Jesus) will be  blessed. They will receive the right to possess the fruit of the tree of life (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24) and will be allowed entrance into the city (of God in heaven) by the gates. Denied entrance will be the dogs (unforgiven sinners), sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters and  all who love and practice falsehood.

Jesus sent his “angel” (his Spirit; Revelation 1:1; compare Acts 12:15) with this message to be recorded by John and sent to the Churches. Jesus is the root (Isaiah 11:10) and offspring of David (the great human shepherd-king of Israel and forerunner and preview of the Messiah; 2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29), the bright morning star (Numbers 24:17).

The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Jesus; Romans 8:9), and the Bride (the Church) say, “Come (Lord Jesus; compare Revelation 22:20).” Let him who hears (the Gospel) say, “Come.” Let those who are spiritually thirsty, all who desire spiritual satisfaction, come and receive the water of (eternal) life without price.

Jesus himself testifies to these things and he declares that he is certainly coming soon. “Amen, Come Lord Jesus!”

John 17:20-26 Paraphrase:

After celebrating the Passover, the Last Supper, with his disciples and after his farewell discourse, Jesus prayed the high priestly prayer on behalf of his disciples.

He prayed not only for his disciples, but for all who believe in Jesus through their testimony, that all believers would be in unity as Jesus and God the Father are a unity; that they would be in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the Father and Jesus would be in them, so that the world may know that God has sent Jesus. Jesus has taken the glory which was his from the beginning of Creation, and has given it to his disciples, so that they can be one with one another and with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, that Jesus may be in them as God the Father is in Jesus Christ; and that the world may know that God has sent Jesus, and loves them just as he loves Jesus.

Commentary:

The Lord is God, whether we acknowledge him or not. God has designed this Creation for his specific purpose, to raise up people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, the only way to be restored to fellowship with God the Creator, which was broken by sin, and the only way to receive eternal life (John 14:6).

God has chosen an eternal inheritance for us. He has designed a Savior, Jesus Christ, into Creation, so that we can be forgiven for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word). We have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Our inheritance is to share in the glory of Jesus Christ in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. The alternative is to spend eternity in eternal destruction in hell with all evil (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home).

God will accomplish his purpose,  but he gives us the freedom to choose whether to cooperate with his purpose or not. We are all eternal beings in physical bodies. We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” to eternal life. If we choose to reject God’s eternal inheritance for us and live only for now in this physical world, we will be locked out of God’s eternal city, and from God’s providence, for all eternity. Every good thing we have in this Creation is by the providence of God. Imagine eternity without the blessings of God’s providence.

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

The baptism of the Holy Spirit directs the disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had been born-again (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), before going into the world with the Gospel to make [born-again] disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). We cannot accomplish the mission of Christ in our own human strength and understanding (Zechariah 4:6).

Paul is the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again, disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel),” as all of us can and should be. Paul was guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit on his missionary journeys.

I personally have experienced times when the Holy Spirit has forbidden me to pursue certain venues of evangelism. The Lord closes a door, but opens another, as he did for Paul. In Paul’s case, Paul then preached the Gospel for the first time on European soil in Macedonia.

God is the Alpha and Omega of all things; the beginning and end of this Creation. Jesus applies this title to himself (Revelation 22:13; compare Revelation 1:12-18). Jesus is God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus has been in the beginning with God and was active in Creation with God (John 1:1-3). Jesus is the means of the fulfillment of God’s purpose for Creation: to give eternal life (John 1:4-5). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and illustration of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:14).

The Creation account in Genesis 3:1-24 is the revelation of God’s purpose for Creation. God created this world perfectly good; paradise (Genesis 1:31). But God allowed the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), so that we would have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word. God told the first man and woman not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they disobeyed his Word. As a result, sin entered Creation and produced spiritual, eternal death for all humans, because all humans have sinned (Romans 5:12).

The first man and woman were banished from Paradise and lost access to the fruit of the tree of eternal life (Genesis 2:9; 3:1-7, 22-24). Access to Paradise and the fruit of the tree of eternal life are restored to those who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, sacrificed on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. They are spiritually born-anew by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will obtain entrance to the eternal City of God in heaven.

Mankind was eternal and living in paradise, until sin (disobedience of God’s Word) entered Creation. God warned mankind that if he disobeyed God’s Word not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he would die (Genesis 2:16), not immediate physical death, but would lose eternal life. The serpent deceived Adam and Eve by saying that they would not die (Genesis 3:4-5).

Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament scriptures (Luke 24:44). He is the root of Jesse (the Father of David) foretold by Isaiah and taught by Paul (Romans 15:12); he is the Son (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1, 6; 21:9), and is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David of an eternal heir to the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). He is the bright morning star prophesied by Balaam in Numbers 24:17 (compare Matthew 2:2; Revelation 22:16). The prophecy was originally fulfilled by David who was victorious over Moab and Edom, but is fulfilled ultimately by Jesus, whose kingdom is eternal.

Living water is the symbol of Messianic hope, the water of salvation (Isaiah 12:3), the fulfillment of the Messianic promise (Isaiah 44:3; 55:1). That living water is priceless to those who are being saved. We could never afford it, but Jesus has paid the cost for us on the cross.

Jesus is the only one who provides the “living water, ” the water of eternal life (John 4:10). That living water is the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), which flows into us to give us spiritual eternal life and to sustain us now until God’s kingdom fully comes; and it is to flow from born-again disciples out into the world to give life to the spiritually lost and dying.

Through the “baptism” (infilling) of the Holy Spirit within us, Jesus Christ and God the Father are within us (John 14:23) and we are in them (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 Jesus (Romans 8:9). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus and God our Father. Born-again disciples are unified with each other through the Holy Spirit. The fact of disunity in the nominal Church today is evidence of the failure of the nominal Church to make born-again disciples.

Born-again disciples have been given the baptism of the Holy Spirit so that the world may know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ original disciples had fled when Jesus was arrested (Matthew 26:31-34; Mark 14:50-52), had denied knowing Jesus (John 18:17, 25, 27) and had hidden behind locked doors (John 20:19). But when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13) they were transformed by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit within them (Acts 2:14-36). Every truly born-again disciple of Jesus Christ is a testimony to the changing and saving power of Jesus Christ by the baptism of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

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

Monday 7 Easter – C

First posted May 17, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 7 Easter – C

Psalm 104:25-34 – God’s Great Works;

Paraphrase:

Consider the ocean, great and wide, filled with uncountable living creatures, from huge to tiny. Leviathan (the whale) plays in the ocean while ships pass by.

All creatures in the ocean (and on the earth; Psalm 104:24c RSV) depend on the Lord for their daily food. When the Lord provides, they gather it; when the Lord opens his hand they are satisfied with good things. When the Lord hides his face from them they are dismayed. When the Lord takes their breath from them they die and return to dust. “When thou sendest forth thy Spirit (“breath;” the breath of life; Acts 17:25; Genesis 2:7), they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground” (Psalm 104:30).

May the Lord’s glory endure forever; may he rejoice in his works. When he looks upon the earth, it trembles; when he touches the mountains, they smoke! As long as I live I will sing praises to the Lord and to my God while I have existence. May my meditations be pleasing to the Lord because I rejoice in him!

Commentary:

The Lord has made this world very good (Genesis 1:31). The Lord provides every good and necessary thing for all his creatures. The evil in the world is caused by human sin. Hunger and want are caused by unjust distribution of God’s providence.

When we refuse to acknowledge his providence and follow his way, caring for our fellow humans, he hides his face from us; he withholds his providence, in the hope that we will come to know and appreciate our dependence upon him, so that we can be saved from sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home).

We can’t control our length of life. No one knows whether he will live to see tomorrow. Today is the only day we can be certain of, and it could end at any moment. Now is the time to settle where we will spend eternity (2 Corinthians 6:2b).

We are all born into this Creation physically alive, but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek, find, and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. Jesus is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, the only way to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and the only way to have eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

Jesus is the only one who “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). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event (Acts 19:2); if you’re not sure, you haven’t been!

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

First posted May 18, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 7 Easter – C

Genesis 11:1-9 – The Tower of Babel;

Paraphrase:

All people of the earth had the same language and a small vocabulary. People migrated from the east to Shinar (Babylonia) to the plain of the Tigris-Euphrates rivers. They decided to build a stepped pyramidal temple tower of brick and bitumen whose summit was to be the gateway to heaven. Their desire was to make a reputation for themselves so that they would not be obscured among all other undistinguished people, and be scattered throughout the earth.

The Lord observed their city and tower and he declared that this was just the beginning of what they would do, and that nothing would be impossible for them, because they were one people with one common language. So the Lord decided to confuse their language, so that they would not understand one another; and he scattered them throughout the earth, so that their building was disrupted.

Therefore the name of the city was called Babel (“gate of God;”  interpreted in Hebrew as “to confuse”).

Commentary:

“Religion” is mankind’s attempt to access heaven by their own ability. The people of Babylonia wanted the blessings of heaven. They decided to try to take them for themselves. They feared being scattered throughout the earth. Their action did not accomplish what they wanted, and brought about their scattering and obscuring that they feared, through the confusion of their language.

Jacob, the father of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, had a dream of a ladder reaching into heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending. God has designed a “ladder” (John 1:51) a way of God’s blessings to descend from heaven to us and a way for us to ascend into heaven. Jesus is that only way (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

God confused the language of mankind at the Tower of Babel so that they would not be able to cooperate with one another to accomplish their own will apart from God’s purpose. God reverses that confusion of language for those who accept Jesus as Lord and trust and obey his teachings. This reversal began on the first Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This form of “speaking in tongues” was for the purpose of communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people of other languages.

There is another form of “speaking in tongues” which is called glossolalia. It is unintelligible  ecstatic utterance. It is intended to be a sign to unbelievers, not believers (1 Corinthians 14:1-33, cf. v. 22). I agree with Paul’s position that prophecy is superior to glossolalia, and that glossolalia should be restrained in worship unless there is someone who can interpret.

Jacob had his dream of the ladder at Bethel (meaning “House of God;” Luz was the Canaanite name; Genesis 28:10-12, 17-19). Babel meant “gate of God” in the Mesopotamian language, but was interpreted in Hebrew as, “to confuse.” The Mesopotamians were certainly confused to suppose that their stepped pyramid could reach to heaven, and that they could obtain the blessings of heaven by their own efforts.

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

First posted May 19, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 7 Easter – C

Acts 2:1-21 – Pentecost;

Paraphrase:

On the day of Pentecost (originally The Feast of Firstfruits at the completion of the grain harvest; the fiftieth day after Passover), Jesus’ followers were all gathered in one place, and suddenly there was a sound from heaven of the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were. Tongues as of fire appeared and were distributed upon each one of them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other tongues as the Holy Spirit enabled them.

Jews from every nation were dwelling in Jerusalem at the time. At the sound of the wind and subsequent commotion, they all gathered around and were amazed to hear the disciples speaking in the listeners’ native languages. They recognized that Jesus’ followers were Galileans, but they were speaking the languages of Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Phyrgians, Pamhylians, Egyptians, Libyans, natives of Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes (converts to Judaism), Cretans and Arabians. All these heard the disciples speaking in their own native languages. All were amazed and puzzled, asking one another what this meant. But others mocked the disciples, saying that they were drunk with new wine.

But Peter, who was standing with the rest of the eleven remaining original disciples of Jesus raised his voice and addressed the crowd, saying that the disciples were not drunk, since it was only 9:00 a.m., but this was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28-32), that God would pour out his Holy Spirit upon all people and they would see visions, dream dreams and prophesy. And the Lord will show wonders in the heavens, and disturbances of nature preceding the coming of the Day of the Lord. And whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Commentary:

Jesus had told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then they were to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), beginning from Jerusalem and spreading outward through Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8; in both geographical and temporal senses). This was the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise.

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 manifestation of fire with the outpouring is the fulfillment of John the Baptizer’s prophecy (Matthew 3:11). Fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Fire purifies and refines.

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, and the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual “re-birth” (John 3:3, 5-8)  of Christian believers individually. The Church and individual members cannot do the mission of Christ in the world without the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

Peter had been instantly transformed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, from fear of the Jews (John 20:19), and a disciple who denied knowing Jesus to the menial servant of the high priest (John18:17), into a powerful preacher of the Gospel (Acts 2:14-41). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing daily event. It is impossible to be “born-again” and not be certain of it (Acts 19:2), and it is not automatically conferred by water baptism or some other church ritual (see False Teachings, sidebar, right, home).

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church was made possible by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus’ blood purifies all who trust and obey Jesus, so that they can become individually and collectively temples of the Holy Spirit. In Old Testament times only a few individuals were filled with the Holy Spirit. But Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon all believers.

Joel prophesied disturbances of nature in the heavens and on earth would appear before Jesus Second Coming and the Day of Judgment. Jesus confirmed this prophecy to his disciples (Matthew 24:29-31). On the Day of Judgment, Jesus will gather all who have ever lived on earth (John 5:28-29) and will judge the living (“quickened”) and dead (1 Peter 4:5) in both the physical and spiritual senses. Those who have have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been re-born by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will enter eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46).

Jesus’ name isn’t a magic incantation. Calling out Jesus’ name on the Day of Judgment won’t save anyone (Matthew 7:21-27). Now is the time to call upon Jesus’ name; today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Today is the only day of which we can be sure.

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

First posted May 20, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 7 Easter – C

John 15:26-27; 16:4-11 – The Paraclete;

Paraphrase:

Jesus promised to send the “Counselor” (from Greek: para`klhtos; Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor) to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Counselor is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth which comes forth from God the Father. The Holy Spirit will bear witness to Jesus; and Jesus’ disciples are also to testify about Jesus because they have known Jesus.

Jesus was telling his disciples ahead of time, so that when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place they would remember that Jesus had told them. When Jesus was with them daily it wasn’t necessary to tell them these things, but now Jesus was about to return to God his Father who sent him. The disciples did not ask Jesus where he was going, but they were sad because of his imminent departure. But Jesus assured them that it was to their best advantage that Jesus go, because his departure would make it possible for them to receive the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus would send. The Holy Spirit will convince the world of sin, which is unbelief in Jesus; of God’s righteousness revealed in the cross of Jesus Christ; and of judgment, because Satan, the present world ruler was defeated at the cross.

Commentary:

Jesus’ original Disciples spent day and night for about three years with Jesus during Jesus’ physical ministry, and their testimony is recorded in the New Testament (Covenant) of the Bible. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was chosen by God to replace Judas Iscariot, one of the original twelve, Jesus’ betrayer.

Paul is intended by God to be the prototype and illustration of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ,” as we all can be. Paul apparently didn’t know Jesus during Jesus’ physical ministry, but he knew and had personal fellowship with the risen and ascended Jesus, and was as much a disciple (student), apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) and witness to Jesus as the Eleven.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). During Jesus’ physical ministry, he could only be one place at a time, although he was aware of what was happening elsewhere (John 1:48). The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). makes it possible for us to have his guidance and empowerment anywhere and anytime.

After Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-22), Paul began living in obedience to the Holy Spirit. On his second missionary journey Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in Bithinia (in modern-day Turkey), and then was given a dream of a Macedonian man pleading for Paul and his associates to come to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10).

The mission of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to Jesus. Any spirit which denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God; it is the spirit of error (1 John 4:2-3, 6). It is only possible for us to truly praise and worship the Lord by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15-17). 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 the mission of the Holy Spirit to convince the world that sin is unbelief in Jesus (compare John 3:18). The cross of Jesus Christ is the demonstration of God’s righteousness (doing what is good, right and true). God gave his only begotten Son as the one and only sacrificial offering acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin for all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus was perfectly obedient and sinless (Hebrews 4:15), and God’s righteousness would not allow Jesus to suffer unjust execution; God reversed Jesus’ execution and raised him from physical death to eternal life.

Satan was defeated at the cross of Jesus Christ. Satan tried to thwart God’s Plan of Salvation (see sidebar, right, home) by destroying Jesus, but Jesus’ crucifixion accomplished 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)?

Friday 7 Easter – C

First posted May 21, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 7 Easter – C

Exodus 19:1-9 – The Covenant at Sinai;

Paraphrase:

On the third new moon after Israel left Egypt they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped at the base of Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb). Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord told Moses to tell the people of Israel that they had seen the great miracles God had done to bring them out of Egypt, and how he had brought them to Mt. Sinai “on eagles wings” (in relative ease and expedience). God offered to enter into a covenant with Israel, if Israel would trust and obey God’s Word and keep their part of the covenant. Within the covenant, Israel would be God’s special people, distinct from all Creation since all Creation belongs to God. Israel will be a Kingdom of priests and a holy nation of God. Moses was commanded by God to tell all these things to the people.

So Moses came down to the people and gathered them and the elders of the people, and told them all God’s Word, which he had been commanded to proclaim. And all the people replied in union that they would do all that the Lord had said. Moses reported the people’s response to the Lord. The Lord declared that he was going to come to Moses in a thick cloud, so that the people could hear the Lord speaking to Moses, so that they would believe in Moses forever.

Commentary:

Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai about three months after leaving Egypt (Exodus 19:1). Israel spent eleven months encamped at Mt. Sinai, preparing the  tabernacle and the provisions of the Covenant (Numbers 10:11). Then, at the border of Canaan (the Promised Land) Moses sent scouts to scout the land. After forty days, the scouts returned, and Israel could have entered and possessed the Promised Land if they had listened to the favorable reports of Joshua and Caleb and trusted in the Lord. Instead, they rebelled and spent the next forty years wandering as nomads in the wilderness, until all the people who had rebelled died in the wilderness (Numbers 13:1-14:38).

Israel had seen the great signs and wonders God had done to gain Israel’s release from slavery and death in Egypt, the ten plagues upon the Egyptians, culminating in the Passover, when the Egyptian first-born were killed, and the Israelites were “passed over” by the destroyer. They had witnessed the parting of the Red Sea. They had seen the manifestation of God at Mt. Sinai and heard his voice (Exodus 19:9), and had entered into covenant with God to be his obedient trusting people, but they kept breaking their end of the covenant agreement (for example: Exodus 32:1).

The historical event of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt is also deliberately intended by God to be a parable, a metaphor, of life in this world. We are all in bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world. Satan is “Pharaoh” and Jesus is our “Moses.” We escape our spiritual enemies through the “Sea” of baptism into Jesus Christ. We are led through the spiritual wilderness of this lifetime by the Holy Spirit, the “pillar of cloud and fire” (Exodus 13:21-22). Jesus is our “Joshua” (“Jesus” is the  Greek equivalent of Hebrew “Joshua”), who leads us through the “River” of physical death into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Israel was called to be God’s special people, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation of God, but Israel rejected their calling by rejecting their eternal King, Jesus Christ, their Messiah (both words mean “anointed,” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). All of us are God’s children, because he is our Creator, whether we acknowledge God or not. But God is not obligated to be all that an all-powerful, all-loving God implies, unless we are willing to be his obedient, trusting people.

The Church is the heir to the call of Israel to be the kingdom of priests and a holy nation of God through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Note that Israel lost that calling by not trusting and obeying God’s Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the living Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus is the “New Moses,” the  mediator of the New Covenant of grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “New Passover Lamb” whose blood marks us to be passed over by the destroyer, and whose flesh provides the New Passover Feast that ratifies the New Covenant, which Jesus instituted on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28).

The Church is called to assemble before the Mountain of God, to receive God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, to witness the manifestation of God in the cloud and fire of the Holy Spirit, to hear the voice of God in Jesus Christ, and then to enter and possess the Promised Land now and eternally. The Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom is all around us now; we don’t have to die physically to participate in it now.

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

Saturday 7 Easter – C

Vigil of Pentecost
First posted May 22, 2010;

Podcast: Saturday 7 Easter – C

Psalm 33:12-22 – Lord of History;
or Psalm 130 – Hope in the Lord;
Romans 8:14-17, 22-27 – Spirit of Adoption;

Psalm 33 Paraphrase:

The nation whose God is the Lord is blessed! Blessed are the people the Lord has chosen as his heritage!

The Lord sees all the people of earth from his throne in heaven. He who created their hearts sees their deeds. A great army will not save a king, nor will great strength save a warrior. The great strength of a war horse will not save nor gain victory.

Watch and see! The Lord’s eye is upon those who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) him, those who trust that he will deliver them from death and famine.

Our souls await the Lord, because he is our help and shield. He is the joy of our hearts because we trust in his holy name (his entire person and character). As we hope in the Lord, let his steadfast love be upon us.

Psalm 130 Paraphrase:

From the depths of trouble I cry to the Lord! Hear my cry, O Lord! Let your ears hear my supplications! Who would survive judgment if you would count all our iniquities? But you grant forgiveness, so that you might be reverenced.

For the Lord, my soul waits, and in his Word I have hope. More than watchmen wait for the morning, my soul waits for the Lord.

Hope in the Lord, O Israel (God’s people; the Church). There is steadfast love and plenteous redemption in the Lord. He will redeem Israel from all sin.

Romans Paraphrase:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are [children] of God” (Romans 8:14). The Holy Spirit is not a spirit of slavery and fear, but of sonship. When we cry, “Abba” (Aramaic word meaning “Father”)! Father! the Holy Spirit testifies that we are the children of God. If we are his children, we are his heirs, joint heirs with Jesus, provided that we share in his suffering in order to share in his glory.

This Creation, including ourselves, has been in the pain of childbirth  until now, as we await our adoption as children, and the redemption of our bodies, for this is the hope in which we were saved. Hope is not seeing what is hoped for, but waiting for it patiently.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us pray, because we don’t even know what we should be praying for, but the Spirit intercedes in our behalf, in emotions that are deeper than words. God knows the hearts of men, and he knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes according to God’s will.

Commentary:

Those who trust in the Lord are and will continue to be blessed! The Lord has chosen as his heritage all who are willing to trust and obey God.

There is hope only in the Lord. Only the Lord can deliver us from spiritual famine and eternal death. Hope in any human resource will disappoint and fail. Large armies, great physical strength, and powerful instruments of war will not save us and secure our victory.

Waiting on the Lord is so hard for us to do in this society. We’re used to getting instant information, via cellphone and Internet.

The Lord provides every good and necessary thing. Only the Lord can satisfy our spiritual hunger and save us from spiritual eternal death.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and find fellowship with God our Creator, and to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). 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 personally know it with certainty for oneself; it is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2).

Note that the indwelling Holy Spirit is given to those who are willing to be led by the Holy Spirit. Note that the indwelling Holy Spirit is the testimony within us which confirms that we are children of God and heirs with Christ in God’s heritage. If we are to share in Christ’s inheritance, we must be willing to share in his suffering.

Jesus is the “begotten” Son of God by the Holy Spirit, and the “adopted” son of man and son of David by Joseph, his earthly father. We are the begotten offspring of humans, and the adopted offspring of God, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

We cannot know and do God’s will apart from the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus warned his disciples not to go into the world with the Gospel (“good news”) of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation (from eternal destruction and death) until they had received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

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

Week of 6 Easter – C – 05/01 – 07/2016

April 30, 2016

Week of 6 Easter – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of 6 Easter – C 

Sunday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 9, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 6 Easter – C 

Psalm 67 — Thanksgiving for Good Harvest;
Acts 14:8-18 – Mistaken for “gods;”
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 – New Jerusalem;
John 14:23-29 – The “Baptism” of the Holy Spirit;

Psalm 61 Paraphrase:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us” (Psalm 67:1), so that God’s way and his saving power may be known among all the nations of the earth. May all peoples praise the Lord our God!

May all nations rejoice and sing for joy, because our God judges all people with equity and guides all nations upon the earth. May all peoples praise the Lord our God!

“The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God has blessed us. God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him” (Psalm 67:6-7).

Acts 14:8-18 Paraphrase:

On Paul’s first missionary journey, he and Barnabas, Paul’s missionary companion, came to Lystra (in the Roman province of Galatia, in modern-day Turkey). They encountered a man who had been born crippled in his feet and had never walked. The man was listening to Paul preach, and Paul noted that the man had the faith to be healed, so Paul told the man to stand up. The man sprang up and walked.

When the crowd saw what Paul had done they shouted in their native language that the gods had come down in the likeness of men! They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul, Hermes. The priest of Zeus came from the temple at the entrance to the city. Bringing oxen and garlands, intending to offer sacrifice to them with the people. But when Paul and Barnabas heard this, they tore their clothing (in ritual mourning) and cried out, asking why the people were doing this, since Paul and Barnabas were mere mortals like the people themselves.

The occasion provided Paul the opportunity to proclaim the “good news” (the Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ), that people should turn from worshiping vain idols to the living God, the Creator of heaven, earth, sea, and everything in them. In the past God had allowed people to follow their own ways, although the goodness of Creation, rains, fruitful seasons, food and gladness testified to his goodness. Saying this, Paul barely restrained the people from offering them sacrifice. But Paul and Barnabas had been persecuted in previous stops in Antioch and Iconium, and the Jewish leaders came to Lystra and stirred up the people of that region to stone Paul and drag him from the city, thinking that he was dead.

But the disciples gathered around him and he arose and returned to the city. The next day his company went on to Derbe. Having preached the Gospel there and having made many disciples, they returned the way they had come, to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the new converts, encouraging them to persevere in discipleship, and telling them that they must endure hardship and persecution to enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Having appointed elders in each local church, they commended the disciples to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Then they traveled through Pisidia and Pamphylia,  preached the Gospel in Perga, and then went on to Attalia (all in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey), and from there, sailed to Antioch (on the coast of Syria). At Antioch they were commended to God’s grace for the work they had accomplished for the Gospel. There they gathered the Church and told them all that God had done through them, and how he had opened the Gentiles to believe in the Gospel. And the missionaries stayed with the disciples in Antioch for quite some time.

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 Background:

The Apostle John had a series of visions while exiled on the island of Patmos in the Aegean for preaching the Gospel.

Paraphrase:

In the Spirit, John was transported to a high mountain were he could see the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven from God. The city was filled with the radiance of God’s glory, like an extremely rare jewel, like a clear crystal of jasper. The city had a great, high wall with twelve gates, three in each of its four sides, with an angel at each gate. Each gate was named for one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The city wall had twelve foundations, each named for one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Jesus).

There was no temple in the city, for the city itself is the temple of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. The city needs neither sun or moon because God’s glory provides its sunlight and the Lamb is its moonlight (reflecting the glory of God). By the light of the holy city shall all the people of earth walk. The kings of earth will give their glory to the holy city, and the gates will never be closed during daylight, and there will be no night. The earthly kings will bring the glory and honor of all the nations of the earth. But nothing unclean, no one who practices abomination or untruth will be allowed to enter; only those who are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life.

John 14:23-29 Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that that obedience to his teachings is evidence of the disciples’ love for Jesus. Those who don’t keep his teachings don’t truly love Jesus, and Jesus’ teachings are not his own; they are the Word of God who sent Jesus into this world.

Jesus tried to teach his disciples as much as they could handle while Jesus was present with them physically, but when Jesus had departed physically, the Holy Spirit would be sent to them by God the Father, and would continue to teach the disciples all things, and also help them recall all that Jesus had said. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus would give them true peace, unlike worldly peace (which is repeatedly broken) so the disciples would not be troubled or afraid.

Jesus had told them that he was leaving them (physically) but would return to them (through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and at the Second Coming at the Day of Judgment). The disciples were sad to think of Jesus leaving them physically, but instead they should be rejoicing if they loved Jesus because Jesus would be returning to his Father in heaven, because the Father is greater than Jesus. Jesus was telling the disciples this now before Jesus was going to be crucified and ascended into heaven, so that so that when these things took place the disciples would not lose faith.

Commentary:

Psalm:

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This Creation has been designed to allow the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s way is our best interest.

God began to establish his people with his call to Abraham (Abram). God’s dealing with Israel, recorded in the Bible, was intended to be made know to all people to reveal God’s goodness and saving power.

God is God, whether we accept and acknowledge him as our God or not. God guides the nations of earth, whether they are his people or not (for example: Jeremiah 25:8-14; Isaiah 44:28-45:1). God will judge the living (“quickened”) and dead, in both physical and spiritual senses, by Jesus Christ, the righteous judge who experienced all the temptations of human flesh, but without sinning (disobeying God’s Word; Hebrews 4:15). So he is the only one who is qualified to judge us. He is the only one who can judge us with equity.

This Creation will yield a spiritual harvest of God’s obedient, trusting people, who will live in his eternal kingdom restored to paradise in heaven.

Acts:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is intended by God to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. He is also intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple (student) and apostle” (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ as we all can and should be.

Jesus demonstrated the method of disciple-making that his disciples were to follow. Paul is the example of that method of discipleship. He was discipled by a born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-12), until he was born-again, and then Paul began making born-again disciples and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 1:6-7; 2:2).

Jesus taught his disciples to carry on his ministry of physical and spiritual  healing, feeding and resurrection (Matthew 10:7-8) and Paul and James are recorded in the New Testament carrying out that ministry (Acts 14:8-10; James 2:14-17).

When Paul and Barnabas were mistaken for “gods” they vigorously rejected that designation. Note, though, that when Thomas addressed Jesus as his Lord and his God (John 20:28), Jesus did not refute him, because Thomas was right. The Lyconians were willing to accept that Paul and Barnabas were “gods” in human form; but Jesus really was the one and only true God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9).

Paul taught by word and example that Christians must be willing to suffer hardship and persecution, but that the Lord is able to bring them through anything they encounter. Our enemies cannot kill us physically unless God allows it. If we die physically, God will raise us to spiritual, eternal life. So whether we live or die physically, we are eternally secure in the Lord.

Revelation:

John’s vision was of the purified Church coming down from heaven. The nominal Church in the world today consists of the true Church and the false Church; true Christian disciples, and false Christians. Jesus warns that those who don’t live in obedient trust of Jesus’ teachings aren’t going to enter the eternal kingdom of God in heaven (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

The nominal Church includes false prophets and false teachings (see False Teachings, sidebar, right, home). The standard by which all teaching and prophecy can be judged is by the Bible. The Bible can easily be read by any average reader in one year and there are numerous one-year Bible reading plans available (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, right, home).

John’s vision is of the true Church, purified of false teachings, false prophecies and false members. The vision is highly symbolic. Its cubic dimensions symbolize perfection. Its beauty is symbolized as a rare jewel. The city is founded upon the Twelve patriarchs of Israel and the gates are established by the Twelve Apostles (the Eleven original apostles, minus Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, plus Paul, Judas’ replacement).

Jesus’ born-again disciples are individually and collectively the temple of God by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is the light of spiritual enlightenment. By walking by the light of the Holy Spirit we will not stumble (spiritually; John 1:4, 9; 8:12; 11:9-10; Romans 8:4).

One must be born-again to have spiritual, eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). Only Jesus baptizes with (gives the gift of) the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event; it is impossible to be born-again and “hardly know it” (Acts 19:2). Those who have been truly born-again have a personal daily relationship with Jesus Christ, and will be known and acknowledged by him on the Day of Judgment.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience peace beyond what the world falsely calls peace. For example, on numerous occasions I’ve received peace and assurance through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Recently, after three unpleasant experiences on jury duty, I received another summons. The day I received the summons I prayed and asked the Lord to have my summons canceled. The Holy Spirit assured me that my prayer had been heard and that I had obtained my request (1 John 5:15). I had learned from years of experience to recognize and trust the Lord’s assurance, and so I didn’t worry for the ten intervening days, and my summons was canceled as the Lord had promised! Praise the Lord!

It was to Jesus’ advantage to return to his Father in heaven where he would be glorified. On earth he was being abused and persecuted. It was also to his disciples advantage that Jesus return to heaven, because while he was physically present on earth he could be in only one place at a time. But if he was in heaven, the disciples would receive the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit through whom they would have daily access to God the Father and Jesus Christ anywhere at any time (John 16:7; see Personal Testimonies, “Discipleship,” sidebar, right, home).

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

Monday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 10, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 6 Easter – C 

Psalm 47 – King of all Nations;

Paraphrase:

Celebrate with hand-clapping and songs of joy, because God, the Lord, the Most High, is terrifying. He is King over all the earth. He subdues peoples and nations under us. God has chosen our heritage for us who are the pride of Jacob (Israel; father of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel) whom he  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 is enthroned and reigns over all the nations of earth. “The shields (‘protectors;’ ‘rulers;’ Psalm 89:18) belong to God; he is highly exalted” (Psalm 47:9b)!

Commentary:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10). The fear of the Lord is the awe and respect for the power and authority of God. Until we understand our relationship to God, we know nothing useful to our eternal destiny.

The Lord is King of kings, and Lord of lords. In him we have conquered all earthly authorities, nations, and peoples.

God has chosen our heritage from the beginning of Creation. God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (2 Peter 3:9b; Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). All who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus are spiritual descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9; 14).

God is God, whether we acknowledge, trust and obey him, or not, but God is not obligated to be all that a loving, all-powerful God implies unless we are willing to be his obedient, trusting people. God is not obligated to hear and answer our prayers unless we are willing to hear, trust and obey God’s Word (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, right, home).

God guides the nations of earth according to his will, whether they acknowledge him or not (Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon: Jeremiah 25:11-12; and Cyrus of Persia: Isaiah 44:28, 45:1), for example.

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

Tuesday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 11, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 6 Easter – C 

Acts 16:6-10 – The Macedonian Call;

Paraphrase:

On the second missionary journey, Paul and his fellow missionaries  had traveled through Phyrigia and Galatia in Asia Minor (Present-day Turkey) without preaching the Gospel, because the Holy Spirit forbade them. In the region of Mysia, a province in north-west Asia Minor, they attempted to enter Bithinia but the Holy Spirit would not permit. So passing Mysia they went to Troas on the westernmost coast of Asia minor. During the night Paul had a dream of a Macedonian man begging Paul and his group to come over to Macedonia and help them. Immediately Paul and his companions prepared to go to Macedonia, a Roman province north of Greece, concluding that God wanted them to preach the Gospel there.

Commentary:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was the first missionary ever to preach the Gospel on European soil at Philippi in Macedonia, and Lydia (Acts 16:14) was the first European convert.

Paul 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 can and should be. Immediately after his conversion he was guided and empowered by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:20-22). From that time he was learning to be guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

New believers are to be discipled by born-again disciples within the Church (the New Jerusalem on earth) until the new believers are born-again, before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8)). We cannot accomplish the mission of Christ in our own strength (Zechariah 4:6).

More than a few times in the more than thirty years since I was born-again, the door for ministry has closed in one area and the Lord guided me to another open door. It is important to seek God’s Word and guidance on a daily basis, with a regular time of Bible-reading with prayer and meditation.

The Eleven remaining original disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While they were  waiting, they decided to pick a replacement for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. Since they didn’t yet have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they chose one of their company, Matthias, by lot (by “chance;” like rolling dice). Matthias is never heard from again in the New Testament (Acts 1:15-26). In contrast, I believe that Paul was the Lord’s chosen replacement. After his conversion, most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul.

It is hard for new believers, especially in the American culture of instant gratification that I live in today, to learn to wait for the baptism and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to be careful not to rely on our own human judgment.

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

Wednesday 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 12, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 6 Easter – C 

Revelation 22:12-17, 20 – Christ’s Return;

Paraphrase:

Jesus declares that he is coming soon, bringing recompense for what each and every person has done in their lifetime in this world. Jesus is the beginning and end of all things.

Those who wash their robes (in the blood of the Lamb) have the right to the tree of life (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24), and can enter the eternal city of God. “Dogs” (immoral people), sorcerers, fornicators, murderers and idolaters and all who love and practice falsehood will be forbidden to enter.

Jesus sent his “angel” (his Spirit; Revelation 1:1; Acts 12:15) to John with his word of testimony for the Church. Jesus is the root of David (from Jesse, the father of David; Isaiah 11:1, 10), and the Son (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1; 2 Samuel 7:12-13), “the bright morning star” (Numbers 24:17).

The Spirit and the Bride (the Church) say, “Come. And let those who hear, say, ‘Come.’” And may those who are spiritually thirsty come and receive the water of (eternal) life (John 4:14; John 7:38-39) without price.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!”

Commentary:

Jesus has promised that he will return on the Day of Judgment to repay everyone for what they have done individually in this lifetime (Matthew25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). He will judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead (1 Peter 4:5) in both the physical (John 5:28-29; compare John 11:38-44) and spiritual senses.

Jesus has warned that we must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in order to see God’s eternal kingdom, which is all around us now, and to see and enter it ultimately beyond physical death. We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the beginning and end of all things. Jesus was in the beginning with God, and everything in Creation was created by and for Jesus (John 1:1-5). Jesus is the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in this world in human flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is the firstborn from physical death to eternal life (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:13-17). Jesus’ return will end the physical age.

Christ’s return is not far off. It will occur immediately for each of us at the moment of our physical death. Time will end and we will immediately be at the throne of Judgment. At the moment of our physical death our eternal destiny will be fixed and unalterable. No one knows whether he will live another day, and it is also possible that Christ will return while we are still physically alive. It could happen at any moment.

The Tree of Life is the symbol for eternal life. This Creation was created as perfect paradise, but in order to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word, God allowed the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Given freedom, we all choose to do our own will rather than God’s (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home). All the problems in this present world are the result of human sin. God placed the possibility of eternal life beyond our access, so that we could not buy it, steal it or take it by force or deception. The only way to obtain it is by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Throughout the Bible, God has been teaching his people that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). Passover (Exodus 12:1-28) was intended to be a parable, a metaphor for life in this world. Jesus is the New Passover Lamb, sacrificed on the cross, whose flesh provides the feast, and whose blood marks us to be “passed-over” by the destroying angel. Jesus instituted the “New Passover,” the New Covenant (Testament) of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust) on the night of his Last Supper (Matthew 26:1-29) before his crucifixion.

Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin and makes it possible for us, individually, to be temples of the indwelling Holy Spirit. By faith, Jesus’ blood gives us access to eternal life and entrance into God’s eternal city in heaven.

The true Church and truly born-again Christians long for Christ’s return. Here we have tribulation and persecution as we await Christ’s return. Here we have only intermittent, interrupted moments in the presence of the Lord. There we will be in the presence and fellowship of the Lord forever. The suffering of this physical world will be ended forever.

The things of this world can never satisfy our spiritual needs. We are all created as eternal spiritual beings in physical bodies. If we don’t realize and acknowledge our spiritual needs now we will spend eternity in misery without anything eternal. God offers us salvation from eternal destruction for free, but the gift was costly for Jesus, and is priceless to us who are being saved.

Every good thing in this world is supplied by God. Imagine being eternally separated from the providence of God! No healing; no comfort; no satisfaction: that’s 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 6 Easter – Ascension  Day – C 

First posted May 13, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 6 Easter – C 

Psalm 110 – Ascension of the King;
Acts 1:1-11– Jesus’ Ascension;
Ephesians 1:16-23 – At the Right Hand of God;
Luke 24:44-53 – Jesus’ Ascension;

Psalm 110 Background:

Attributed to David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel. Quoted in the New Testament: Matthew 22:44; Acts 2:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3, 13.

Psalm 110 Paraphrase:

“The Lord (God) said to my Lord (the king; the Messiah): ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool’” (Psalm 110:1).

His scepter comes forth from Zion (the City of God in Heaven) from God. The King will reign in the midst of his enemies. When you lead your army upon the holy mountains, your people will offer themselves willingly. Your youth will come to you like dew from the womb of the morning. “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’” (Psalm 110:4; see Genesis 14:18).

God is at the King’s right hand; by God’s power and authority, kings will be shattered on the day of his wrath. His judgment will be executed upon the nations; they will be filled with corpses. The chiefs of all the wide earth he will shatter. He will drink from the brook on the way; so his head will be lifted up.

Acts Background:

Luke and Acts were both written by Luke, the Physician (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11), a Gentile, converted by Paul.

Acts 1:1-11 Paraphrase:

Luke refers to the “first book” (The Gospel of Luke), and addresses this book to Theophilus, which may be an actual person, or generally to any “lover of God,” which is the meaning of the name. In the Gospel, Luke compiled a narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ from his genealogy and birth to the day of his ascension, after giving his apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) his Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and last instructions to wait until they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1 4-5, 8).

After his resurrection, Jesus presented himself alive to his disciples (the apostles and other followers and students of Jesus) with many proofs (Luke 24:13-53; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8), during a forty-day period, and teaching them about the kingdom of God. While he was staying among them he told them not to depart from Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church) but to wait for the promised “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as Jesus had promised. John had baptized with water (for repentance) but within a few days the disciples would be “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13). While they were gathered, they asked Jesus if he would be restoring the kingdom to Israel (Israel was subject to the Roman Emperor).

Jesus replied that it was not their business to know times and seasons that God has determined by his own authority. They were to focus on receiving the promised Holy Spirit and to being witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, beginning in Jerusalem, and then outward in Judea and Samaria, and ultimately to the “end of the earth” (in both geographic and temporal senses).

After saying this he rose up off the ground as they watched and was carried up out of their sight into heaven on a cloud. While they stood looking into the sky, two men (angels) stood by them in white robes, and addressing them as men of Galilee, asked why they were staring into the sky. The angels told the disciples that Jesus, who they had seen ascend into heaven, would return in the same way.

Ephesians 1:16-23 Paraphrase:

Paul told the Christians in Ephesus (in Western Asia Minor; present day Turkey), established by Paul on his second (Acts 18:19-21) and third missionary journeys (Acts 19:1-41), that he was constantly giving thanks to God for their reception of the Gospel. Paul prayed that they would grow in spiritual wisdom and revelation in knowledge of God; that their spiritual eyes would be opened to see the hope to which they have been called in him, to realize the spiritual riches of their inheritance in glory with the saints (those who are consecrated to God’s service), and the working of immeasurable greatness of his almighty power in believers through faith (obedient trust), which he accomplished in Jesus Christ by raising him from the dead and elevating him to sit at God’s right hand in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. He is elevated far above any earthly rule, authority, power and dominion. His name is above every other name, in this temporal age, and in the eternal age which is coming. God has put all things in submission to Christ, and has made him the ruler of all things for the (true) Church, which is filled with the fullness of his total person and character.

Luke 24:44-53 Paraphrase:

When Jesus appeared, on the day of his Resurrection, to his disciples who were staying in Jerusalem (in the upper room), he told them that he had said that every prophecy about the Messiah in the Old Testament, the Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (The Jewish Bible) had to be fulfilled. “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, ‘ Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that   repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city (Jerusalem; the Church is the modern equivalent) until you are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:45-49).

Then Jesus led them from Jerusalem to Bethany, which was on the Mount of Olives (about two miles east of Jerusalem). There he lifted up his hands and blessed them, and parted from them (was carried up into heaven) and the disciples returned to Jerusalem with tremendous joy, and were continually in the temple thanking and praising God.

Commentary:

Psalm 110 was composed by David, probably for the coronation of a human king, but it is also prophecy fulfilled in Jesus Christ as Jesus told his disciples (Luke 24:44). Jesus is the Son of David, whom God promised would be the eternal king of God’s kingdom in heaven (2 Samuel 7:5-13).

Jesus asked the Pharisees, Jewish authorities in the Bible scriptures, what they understood about Psalm 110:1 and they couldn’t answer him (Matthew 22:41-46). David was the forerunner and illustration of the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). David didn’t ascend into heaven to sit at God’s right hand; Jesus is the fulfillment of of God’s promise to David (Acts 2:34-36).

God has the power and authority to execute judgment upon the nations of this world. But God has delegated that power and authority to Jesus. Jesus is the one righteous judge, who has lived in this world in human flesh, but without sinning (sin is disobedience of God’s Word).

God is righteous and has the power and authority to judge, but we would feel that he is unable to understand our circumstances and weaknesses. Jesus has been tempted in every way just like we are, but without sinning. So he is not unable to sympathize with our situation (Hebrews 4:15), and is able to help us in our weakness.

Luke was converted by Paul (Saul of Tarsus) who had himself been converted after Jesus’ physical ministry on earth (Acts 9:1-21). Neither had known Jesus’ physical life and ministry from firsthand experience. But they had resources among those who had.

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), as all of us can and should be). He had a personal encounter with the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Paul’s conversion demonstrates the execution of the Great Commission, by the “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ. Paul was confronted by the risen and ascended Jesus (Acts 9:3-5). Paul confessed his sin, repented (Acts 9:9), accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5), became obedient, and trusted in Jesus’ commands (Acts 9:6-8), and was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10), until Paul was born-again (Acts 9:17-18), and then immediately began carrying out the Great Commission (Acts 9:20).

Paul’s conversion is unique only in the speed in which it was accomplished. But remember that Paul had been formally educated in Judaism, and that he loved God; he just needed to be pointed to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Paul repeated the process of disciple-making demonstrated by Jesus and his own experience with Ananias, with Timothy, for just one of many examples (2 Timothy 1:6-7) teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

I’m convinced that the Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer. John came into the world to announce the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and to baptize with water for repentance and cleansing so that we could receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event (Acts 19:2).

The Church’s role is to prepare believers to receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, before sending them out into the world to proclaim the Gospel and carry on the mission of Christ. Unfortunately in too many instances, the nominal Church is not making disciples, not encouraging -even discouraging- members from seeking spiritual rebirth through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see false teachings, sidebar, right, home).

Too often, new believers are attracted by “End Times” prophecies, and then want to continue in endless speculation about the Second Coming. I believe that “End Times” preaching is useful to call unbelievers to repent, but once that is accomplished, their discipleship and spiritual rebirth should be the agenda. I think that Jesus’ word to his disciples in Acts 1:6-8 is our mandate: Once we have believed in Jesus and have been filled with the Holy Spirit, our job is not to sit around speculating about when Jesus will return, but to proclaim the Gospel until he comes. The Lord knows where we are and will return in God’s perfect timing.

Jesus promised to return to judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5; Matthew 24:1-51; 25:31-46; Matthew 7:21-27; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Jesus is going to return in the same way as he ascended into heaven.

I proclaimed the Gospel to an individual until he committed to read the Bible in a year. I visited him periodically and re-motivated him several times when he had given up. Finally he did finish the entire Bible, but immediately wanted to start publishing a Bible study like I was doing. He didn’t realize that reading the Bible entirely is just the first step in discipleship; and he wouldn’t listen to me, who had been walking in discipleship for twenty-five years. He’d read the Bible but he hadn’t begun to apply it in his daily life. He had no experience of the knowledge of, faithfulness and power of God. He wasn’t interested in discipleship; he wanted to speculate on end times, and lost respect for me when I told him I wasn’t concerned with End Times.

Jesus is the name above all names (Philippians 2:9-11). There is no other name on earth or in heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings, to the glory of God the Father (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14).

The Holy Spirit fills the true Church and individual Christian members. In too many instances the Holy Spirit has departed from nominal Churches and nominal Christians, and they haven’t even noticed!

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus. The Spirit of the risen Jesus opens our minds to understand the scriptures (Luke24:45; compare Luke 24:32) and recalls to our memory all that Jesus teaches (John 14:26b). A veil ([sic] vail) lays over the minds of unbelievers, preventing them from understanding the scriptures, and only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus is it removed (2 Corinthians 3:14-16).

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 6 Easter – C 

First posted May 14, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 6 Easter – C 

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

Paraphrase:

Jesus prayed not just for his disciples who he had personally trained, but for all who would believe in Jesus through their testimony. He prayed that they would be unified in Jesus; just as Jesus and God the Father are perfectly one; that they would be in Jesus and Jesus in them, so that the world may believe that Jesus has been sent by God. God has given Jesus glory, and Jesus has given his glory to his disciples so that they may share in Jesus and he in them. Jesus will be in them as God the Father is in Jesus, so that the world will know that Jesus has been sent by God and has loved them just as God has loved Jesus.

Jesus asked God his Father that Jesus’ disciples might be with Jesus in heaven to behold Jesus’ heavenly glory, which God, in his love for Jesus gave him before the creation of this world (John 1:1-3, 14). The world has not known God the righteous Father, but Jesus has, and Jesus has made known to his disciples that God has sent Jesus. Jesus revealed God’s name (his person and character) to his disciples, and will continue to make it known, so that Jesus and God’s love for Jesus may be in them.

Commentary:

Jesus prayed for all believers today who believe through faith in the testimony of the original disciples who were discipled by Jesus during his physical ministry on earth. Those testimonies are recorded in the New Testament, so that we can come to know, trust and obey Jesus.

Those who believe the Bible testimonies and act upon them in faith will come to be modern born-again disciples (like Paul; Saul of Tarsus). They will have been discipled by the risen and ascended Jesus by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and they will add their testimony to that of the New Testament. If there is any disagreement, the New Testament is the standard of truth, and their testimony is false.

Jesus prayed that his disciples would be unified; of one mind in Christ (Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 1:10). The way to be of one mind with Christ is to be discipled by a “born-again” disciple until one has been born-again by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Born-again disciples have unity by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:3-5).

The nominal Church today is divided by false teachings and false prophets. The only way to protect against false teaching and false prophecy is to read the entire Bible for oneself. The Bible is the standard by which all doctrine is tested.

Jesus is fully God and fully human (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Anyone who knows Jesus knows God (John 14:8-11). By the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have the presence of Jesus within us, and the Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the glory of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve experienced moments of the Lord’s glory so powerful that the windows of the church seemed to rattle, and I seemed to float six feet off the ground!

Jesus is the name of the Lord! Jesus is God in human form. Jesus reveals God the Father to whom he chooses (Matthew 11:27).

It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we personally experience the glory and love of God. It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:23).

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

First posted May 15, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 6 Easter – C

John 15:26-16-4 – Witness of the Holy Spirit
(or John 16:12-15);

Jesus was preparing his disciples for his physical departure from them. He told them that when the Counselor (“Paraclete,” from the Greek: Comforter; consoler, intercessor; advocate) came, whom Jesus promised to send from God the Father, the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17), who comes from God, the Spirit will testify to the truth of Jesus. And Jesus’ original disciples were also Jesus’ witnesses because they had been with Jesus from the beginning of Jesus’ physical ministry.

Jesus was telling the disciples these things so that they wouldn’t fall away when Jesus had been crucified. Jesus warned them that they would have persecution; they would be thrown out of synagogues, and would be killed by those who thought they were doing God’s will. Their persecutors would do this because they did not know God and had not recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah. Jesus was telling them this now, so that when it took place they would remember that Jesus had told them. It had not been necessary for Jesus to tell them this until now because Jesus had been physically present with them.

Commentary:

The Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth of Jesus Christ. In his letter written to new believers, the Apostle John tells them not to believe every spirit but to test them to see whether they are of God (1 John 4:1-3). When I was first confronted by the Holy Spirit, before I was “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), I asked who it was I was hearing in my mind, and the Spirit replied, “The Lord and Giver of Life” (as in the third article of the Nicene Creed; see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, right, home).

The Lord is abundantly able to reveal himself to us in a uniquely personal way. When Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was confronted on the road to Damascus, the Holy Spirit identified himself as the risen and ascended Jesus, who Paul was persecuting (Acts 9:5). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).

Through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the love of God and the joy of his presence. When we praise and glorify Jesus we experience the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively; 1 John 5:6-8).

The original Eleven Apostles (messengers; of the Gospel -minus Judas Iscariot, the betrayer; Luke 6:13) had been witnesses to Jesus’ physical public ministry on earth from its beginning. They personally learned the Gospel from Jesus and taught it in the first-century Church from its birth on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Their Biblical Apostolic Doctrine, as received by the Apostles directly from Jesus is recorded in the New Testament.

Jesus sent out the Twelve disciples, whom he designated Apostles, with the message of the Gospel. They had not yet been born-again by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but Jesus was still in the world physically. This was a training session, and an illustration of the mission of Christ which the disciples were to continue after Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples were to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had received the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they were to go into all the world, making (born-again) disciples, and teaching them to obey all Jesus’ teachings (The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20).

The Jewish religious leaders had the Bible Scriptures, but refused to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s Word, the promised Messiah. Jesus had done many miracles  (signs showing that he was from God) in their presence, but they refused to accept him because they wanted to be the rulers of the people. The fact that they did not recognize Jesus proved that they had not known God.

The nominal Church today is in much the same position as Judaism at the time of Jesus’ physical ministry. There are a lot of nominal Church leaders who know a lot about God, but don’t know God personally (compare Job 42:5). Many nominal Church leaders consider ministry a “career choice.” Too often denominations and congregations are run as personal “empires” of their leaders.

The nominal Church is failing to make born-again disciples of Jesus Christ, and has settled for making “members,” “fair-weather Christians,” who participate if it suits them. Some mainline denominations are actually discouraging their members from seeking spiritual “rebirth” by teaching that it is automatically conferred by some church ritual such as water baptism or “confirmation” (see False Teaching, sidebar, right: “Spiritual Rebirth;” “The Emperor’s New Clothes”).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 – C – 04/24 -30-2016

April 23, 2016

Week of 5 Easter – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

Please Note:

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

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

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of 5 Easter – C 

Sunday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 2, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 5 Easter – C 

Psalm 145:1-13 – Great is the Lord!
Acts 13:44-52 – Paul’s Sermon at Antioch of Pisidia;
Revelation 21:1-5 – A New Heaven and Earth;
John 13:31-35 – Jesus Glorified!

Psalm 145:1-13 Paraphrase:

Let us extol our God and King. Forever let us daily bless his name.  “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (beyond measure; Psalm 145:3).

Let one generation praise God’s works and mighty acts to the next. Let us meditate on the magnificent splendor of his wondrous works. People will proclaim the greatness and power of God’s awesome acts. Let us declare the fame of God’s abundant goodness and shout aloud of his righteousness.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all and his compassion is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:8-9). All God’s creatures will give thanks to God, and all his saints (those consecrated to God’s service) will bless him. They will proclaim his power and the glory of his kingdom. His kingdom is eternal, and his reign is throughout all generations.

Acts 13:44-52 Background:

On Paul’s first missionary trip, he and those accompanying him came to Antioch of Pisidia, a Roman province in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). On the sabbath they attended the synagogue, and after the customary readings of the Law and Prophets (the Old Testament Jewish scriptures) the synagogue leader invited the missionaries to speak any word of exhortation, and Paul did so (Acts 13:14-16a).

Acts 13:44-52 Paraphrase:

The next sabbath nearly the entire city gathered to the synagogue to hear the Word of God proclaimed by Paul and Barnabas (a leader in the church at Antioch who accompanied Paul). But the Jews were jealous of the multitudes attracted to Paul’s preaching, and contradicted what he said and verbally abused him. So Paul and Barnabas boldly replied that it had been necessary to preach the Gospel (“good news”) of forgiveness and salvation first to the Jews, but since they rejected the Gospel and judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, the missionaries would preach to the Gentiles. They quoted Isaiah 49:6 which prophesied that God would make his apostles (messengers of the Gospel) to be [spiritual] light to the Gentiles, so that the good news of salvation can be carried to every place on earth.

The Gentiles who heard this were delighted, and glorified God’s Word. And those who believed were chosen to receive eternal life. So the Word of the Lord spread throughout the entire region. But the Jewish authorities incited leading men and devout women to stir up persecution against the missionaries and drove Paul and Barnabas out of their district. “But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and went to Iconium” (Acts 13:51; compare Luke 10:10-11; Acts 18:6).

Revelation 21:1-5 Paraphrase:

The Apostle John had a vision of a new heaven and earth; this present earth, sea and heaven had passed away. John saw the new Jerusalem, the Holy City, dressed in finery like a bride for her husband, coming down out of heaven from God. A voice from heaven declared that God’s dwelling would be with mankind. They will be his people and he will dwell with them. God will wipe away all their tears, and there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, because all those former things have passed away.

God, who sits upon the throne, says for us to watch and see, because he makes all things new, and he commanded John to write all these visions in a book, because they were true and worthy of trust.

John 13:31-35 Paraphrase:

On the night of Jesus’ Last Supper, after Judas, his betrayer, had left, Jesus told the remaining disciples that now was the time for Jesus to be glorified, and in Jesus, God would be glorified. If God is glorified in Jesus, God will also glorify Jesus and do so immediately.

Calling his disciples his little children, Jesus told them that he would be with them [physically] only a little longer. They would seek him but, as he had told the Jews, they could not [right then] be where Jesus was going (but would be ultimately; John 14:1-6).

Jesus told them that he was giving them a new commandment: to love one another. His disciples were to love one another as Jesus had loved them. By their love for one another, all people would realize that they were Jesus’ disciples.

Commentary:

Christians are called to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (students) and apostles (messengers) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c). First we are commanded to stay within “Jerusalem” (the Church) until we have been “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Then we are to go into the world with the Gospel message, to make disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we know the Lord personally and experience his greatness, love, power, and his mighty acts on our behalf personally (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home). It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are able to glorify him and give him praise.

We must read the entire Bible, and we must read it daily with meditation and prayer, in order to know and understand God’s Word. Make time daily to read the Bible and get a 1-year Bible-reading schedule, and then use that time daily to follow some devotional Bible study like this one.

How can we proclaim God’s goodness and his great works to others without having read God’s Word and experienced his goodness personally through his indwelling Holy Spirit within us? There are ominous signs in the society around us, particularly in America today, that nominal Christians have not passed on God’s Word and praise of God’s goodness and awesome works to the next generation. Even truly “born-again” Christian parents who make every effort to disciple their children may not succeed because of the secular influences in society and especially in education today.

In many nominal Churches today the situation is similar to Judaism at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In too many instances, the Church is being run for the benefit of the leaders. The Church selects and controls the doctrines they promote and who they allow to teach. The same false doctrines springing up in the Church in the first century, which are refuted in the New Testament, are still present today (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Some of the most difficult people to teach the Biblical Apostolic Gospel (taught by the original Apostles, including Paul, in the first-century Church and recorded in the New Testament) are Church people. I’ve personally experienced resistance to the Gospel from people in my own congregations in the past, who had never read the entire Bible and didn’t read portions of it regularly.

Some mainline denominations teach that the Holy Spirit is automatically conferred by water baptism or some church rite, and that salvation is by grace (a free gift; true), but without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings (false). Those who have personally experienced spiritual rebirth through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit can testify to them, but “church members” often reject that Gospel truth, and condemn themselves as unworthy of eternal life. The unchurched are often more receptive. I have personally experienced several times having to “shake the dust off of my shoes” against congregations who would not receive my testimony, and go on to the next (Matthew 10:6-15).

The Lord is going to purify his Church. Not everyone who calls himself a Christian or says that Jesus is his Lord is going to survive the Day of Judgment (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). When this present Creation passes away, then John’s vision of a purified Church coming down from heaven from God will be fulfilled. The Church will be the people of God because they have learned to trust and obey God, and so he will be their God and will dwell with them. Death, decay, and all the sorrows of this lifetime will have passed away.

It is hard for worldly people to realize that being crucified is any way to glorify God or to be glorified, but it was because that was God’s will and plan for Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus glorified God by trusting and obeying God’s Word to the point of the most excruciatingly painful death imaginable, and in the eyes of the world, shameful and humiliating. God glorified Jesus by raising him from physical death to eternal life, making him King of kings and Lord of lords, and giving him a name that is above all other names in this world and the next (Ephesians 1:19-23; Philippians 2:7-11).

By leaving his disciples physically, Jesus was making it possible for each of us to have access to him individually and personally at any time or in any place, by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. So it is to his “born-again” disciples’ advantage that Jesus left earth physically (John 16:5-7).

Many nominal Christians talk about love. Certainly if one loves Jesus one will also love his brethren in Christ and all people (our “neighbors;” Matthew 22:35-40), because that is what he commanded; but if one loves Jesus one will be doing all that Jesus commands and teaches (John 14:15). The Great Commission to the Church is to make disciples of Jesus and teach them to know, trust and obey all Jesus’ commandments (Matthew 28:20).

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

Monday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 3, 2010;
Podcast: Monday 5 Easter – C 

Psalm 67 – Thanksgiving for a Good Harvest;

Paraphrase:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2 RSV). May all people praise you, O Lord.

May all nations rejoice and sing for joy, because the Lord judges all people fairly and guides all the nations of earth. May all people praise the Lord.

“The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us; may all the ends of the earth fear him” (Psalm 67:6-7 RSV).

Commentary:

God blesses his people who trust and obey him, so that all people can come to know that God is good and he is God of all people and nations. God withholds his blessings from those who refuse to trust and obey him, in hope that they will come to know that God is the source of all blessings.

God directs the conduct of all nations, whether they acknowledge him as Lord or not. One classic example is his use of Cyrus of Persia to accomplish God’s purpose to bring the remnant of Judah from the Exile in Babylon after seventy years in fulfillment of his Word (Jeremiah 25:11-12; Isaiah 44:28).

God is Lord of the earthly harvests, but, more importantly, of the eternal spiritual harvest. God has designed this Creation to be a spiritual garden to raise his own people who willingly choose to trust and obey God.

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and come to fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). These are only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing experience (Acts 19:2).

Jesus is the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20, Luke 1:34-35) and Son of man[kind], by his mother, Mary. He is fully God, in human form (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5), and is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:14). He has been appointed by God to judge the earth. He alone is qualified to judge the earth because he has lived in flesh like us and has experienced every temptation that we experience, yet without sinning (sin is disobedience of God’s Word; Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus is going to return on the Day of Judgment, to judge the living (“quickened”) and the dead, in both physical and spiritual senses (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46). He will come at the end of the temporal age, while we are still physically alive, or at the end of time for us individually at the moment of our physical death. At that moment, it will be too late to change our individual eternal destinies.

Jesus is the standard of judgment by which all will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord (our Lord is him whom we trust and obey), and have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will have been spiritually “born-again” and will have had a personal relationship with Jesus during this lifetime. Jesus will acknowledge them and they will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom restored to paradise. Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46) will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

“The fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

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 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 4, 2010;
Podcast: Tuesday 5 Easter – C 

Acts 14:8-18 – Mistaken for gods.

Paraphrase:

On Paul’s first missionary journey, at Lystra (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey), Paul was preaching, and a man who had been born crippled and had never walked was listening intently. Seeing that he had the faith to be healed, Paul told him in a loud voice to stand up and walk, and the cripple did so. When the crowd saw what Paul had done they said that the gods had come down to them in the likeness of men. They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief spokesperson, they called Hermes. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city brought oxen and garlands, intending to offer sacrifice with the people.

But when Paul and Barnabas saw this they tore their garments (in ritual mourning), and hurried into the crowd, asking why they were doing this, since Paul and Barnabas were mere mortals like the people. The missionaries declared that they were bringing “good news,” that they should turn from vain things  (idols) to the living God who had created all things. In the past God had allowed the nations to follow their own ways; yet he had left them witness by the good he did and the blessings of rain and fruitful seasons, so that they had food and happiness. By these words Paul and Barnabas were scarcely able to keep the people from offering sacrifices to them.

Commentary:

Note the reaction of Paul and Barnabas at being mistaken for gods, and compare that to Jesus’ reaction when Thomas declared him his Lord and his God (John 20:28). Jesus did not correct Thomas, because Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Compare Genesis 1: 9). Jesus is the one true God who has come down to us in human form. Those who have “seen” (personally experienced) Jesus have “seen” (personally experienced) God (John 14:8-11).

God is patient with us, allowing us to pursue our own ways, and blessing us with rain and fruitful harvests, in the hope that we will discover that he is the source of our blessings. The meaning and purpose of life is to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27; John 14:6-7), and to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing experience (Acts 19:2).

The healing miracle done through Paul and Barnabas was not by their own power and will, but by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit working in and through them. My online ministry through My Daily Walk Bible Study is not by my own effort and ability, but by the insight and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Christians are, by definition, disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” and have been sent (as apostles; messengers; of the Gospel). New believers are to be discipled within the Church (the New Jerusalem) by mature, “born-again” disciples (Paul -Saul of Tarsus- is the prototype and example; Acts 9:1-20) until they have been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), before being sent into the world with the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20).

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

Wednesday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 5, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 5 Easter – C 

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 – New Jerusalem;

Paraphrase:

The Apostle John was transported  by the Holy Spirit in a vision to a “high mountain” where he could see the New Jerusalem, which he saw coming down from heaven from God. The Holy City is the Bride (the Church), the wife of the Lamb (Jesus). The city had the glory of God, radiant like a precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a high wall with twelve gates. The gates were named for the twelve tribes of Israel. The city was cubic with dimensions a multiple of twelve. There were three gates in each wall. The wall had twelve foundations named for the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

There is no temple in the city because the Lord God and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, because its light is the glory of God, and the Lamb is its lamp.

Commentary:

The New Jerusalem is described symbolically: its cubic dimensions symbolize perfection, and its beauty is symbolized by precious jewels. The city is the temple, because the glory and presence of God Almighty and Jesus Christ, the Lamb, fill the city. There is no spiritual darkness there because God and Jesus provide spiritual light; they are the spiritual sun and moon (Isaiah 60:1-3, 19; John 8:12).

The Church is the New Jerusalem on earth, but it is not the purified Church of John’s vision. The nominal Church today contains the true Church, but also false “Churches,” false teachers and teachings (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home), and false, nominal Christians (Matthew 7:21-27). All these false elements will have been removed at the Day of Judgment.

A true Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who has been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). 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 Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is God’s intended replacement for Judas Iscariot, one of the original Twelve disciples, Jesus’ betrayer. Paul is intended by God to be the prototype and example of a modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-20). Paul was discipled by a born-again disciple (Acts 9:10-12) until Paul was “reborn” (Acts 9:17-18), and then began making born-again disciples (2 Timothy 1:6-7) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Unfortunately, many parts of the nominal Church today are failing to make born-again disciples, and in some instances are discouraging members from seeking spiritual rebirth (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

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

Thursday 5 Easter – C 

First posted  May 6, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 5 Easter – C 

John 14:23-29 – Last Instructions;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that those who love Jesus will keep Jesus’ word (commands; teachings), and God the Father will love them and the Father and Jesus will come to them and make their home with them. Those who do not love Jesus do not obey Jesus’ word, and Jesus’ word is the Word of God who has sent Jesus.

Jesus had told the disciples these things while he was still with them (physically). “But the Counselor (“Paraclete:” intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:26). Jesus promised to leave his peace with his disciples, giving it to them not as the world gives. So his disciples are not to let their hearts be troubled or afraid. Jesus had told them that Jesus was going away, and would come to them. Those who loved Jesus would rejoice that he was going to the Father, who is greater than Jesus. Jesus had told them these things (his impending crucifixion and death, and the end of his physical presence and ministry) so that when they took place his disciples would believe (trust and obey Jesus’ word).

Commentary:

Obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings is evidence that his disciples love Jesus, and Jesus has promised to “baptize” them with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9-10). Note the doctrine of the Trinity (the word is not found in the Bible but the concept is evident: Matthew 28:19).

Jesus and God the Father are one (John 14:10). Jesus was fully human but also fully God (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is what God “looks like” in human form (John 14:8-10). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have fellowship with Jesus and God the Father.

God is greater than Jesus in the sense that he designed Jesus into Creation from the very beginning, and “fathered” him by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:34-35). Jesus was completely obedient to his Father’s will, to death on the cross. While Jesus was surrendered to the hands of wicked people, God was still in control of Creation.

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). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2).

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this present world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Compare Genesis 1: 9). Anyone who claims to be Christian, and claims Jesus as his Lord, but doesn’t know, trust and obey all that Jesus teaches, is deceiving himself (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) until they were “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then they were to go into all the world and make (born-again; the only true kind of) disciples, teaching them trust and obey all that Jesus teaches his disciples (Matthew 28:19a, 20a), baptizing them in the name of the Triune (Trinitarian) God (Matthew 28:19b). The Church is to bring its members to spiritual rebirth, and then the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit will lead the members in spiritual growth to Christian maturity at the time of Christ’s return.

Christian discipleship is a growth process. God wants us to trust and obey his Word so that he can show us that he is abundantly able and faithful to do what he says. Our spiritual growth begins with our “mustard seed” (Matthew 13:31; 17:20; Luke 17:6), our simple “yes” of faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. As God fulfills his promises to us personally and individually, we will grow spiritually in faith to maturity (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

With the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, we have peace which the world cannot give. We know with absolute assurance that Jesus is eternally alive and that we have what he has promised: eternal life (John 14:6; Hebrews 2:14-15). As we learn to recognize and trust his “voice” and come to know his power and faithfulness to deliver us, we will be spared many anxious hours and days. We need to practice and learn this by experience (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

I am convinced that the meaning and purpose of life is to seek, find and come to fellowship with God, our Creator, and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (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)?

Friday 5 Easter – C 

First posted May 7, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 5 Easter – C 

James 1:22-27 – Doers of the Word;

Paraphrase:

The author warns Christians to not only hear but also do the Word. Those who hear the Word but do not apply it in their lives do not retain it in memory. They’re like a person who sees his face in a mirror, and then turns away and immediately forgets what he looks like. One who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty (i.e. the Gospel; Romans 8:1-4), and perseveres, not simply hearing, but applying it daily, will be blessed.

A person who thinks he is religious must learn to bridle his tongue, or he is deceiving himself and his religion is in vain. Pure, undefiled religion in God’s judgment is that which helps the poor, weak, humble and oppressed (Matthew 25:35-40) and keeps us from being polluted by the sinful world around us.

Commentary:

The Bible, the Word of God, has been given to us by God for our own good. It is the “owner’s manual” for life in this world. If we seriously look into God’s Word we will read it entirely, and we will read portions daily, with prayer and meditation, for daily guidance (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, at top right, home).

God’s Word promises that we will be blessed as we read the Bible with the commitment to apply it daily. Jesus warns that those who merely call Jesus Lord and call themselves Christians are not saved, and are deceiving themselves (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

As we begin to trust and obey God’s Word we will be filled with the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The infilling with the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily event (Acts 19:2).

The indwelling Holy Spirit is the greatest blessing imaginable! Through the Holy Spirit we have daily access to and fellowship with God our Creator and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). He is the “Paraclete,” our consoler, comforter, intercessor, and advocate (John 14:17). He’s the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) who will teach us all things, and cause us to recall all Jesus’ words (John 14:26). The indwelling Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand scripture (Luke 24:45). The Holy Spirit gives Jesus’ disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). He guides and empowers us to know and do God’s specific individual will for us. Jesus warns us not to depart from Jerusalem (the Church is the New Jerusalem on earth) until we have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

A true Christian is a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who has been born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) by the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Christian discipleship is a spiritual growth process. A new believer is to be discipled by a born-again disciple until the new believer is born-again (compare Paul’s -Saul of Tarsus-‘ conversion Acts 9:1-20), and then he is discipled by the Holy Spirit, to spiritual maturity at the Day of the Lord’s Return.

Many nominal Churches today are failing to make disciples and require discipleship of their members. Many nominal Churches today are not “Bible-preaching Churches.” Often there is no reading of the Bible during the service, and the sermon may be based on a single verse, if based on scripture at all. Many nominal Christians have never read the entire Bible, and don’t read it regularly.

Disciples need to learn to bridle their tongues in several ways. Some must break habits of cursing; some must break habits of gossip. We must not verbally abuse those of our own congregation and our family at home, and we must not verbally abuse those who serve us in retail and service industries in the community around us. Treating people poorly in the secular world gives Jesus a bad reputation among worldly people (James 1:19-21).

God is the helper and advocate for the poor, weak, humble and oppressed, and so are we called to do likewise (1 Corinthians 1:26-28; Matthew 25:34-40). Jesus’ ministry of physical healing, feeding and resurrection were intended to show that he could also, and more importantly, heal, feed and resurrect spiritually, but he cared also for their physical conditions. He sent his disciples out to practice carrying on Jesus ministry, telling them to preach the coming of the kingdom of heaven, and to heal the sick, raise the dead and feed the hungry physically and spiritually (Matthew 10:7-8). After they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit they began fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), and carrying on Jesus’ mission (Acts 3:2-8; Acts 9:36-41; James 2:14-17).

Christianity isn’t really a “religion” in the sense of other worldly religions. It isn’t man’s attempt to propitiate God by religious rituals. One can be “religious” without being a Christian; one can be “spiritual” without being born-again. But one cannot be a true Christian without being baptized with the Holy Spirit and having a personal relationship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Saturday 5 Easter – C 

First posted  May 8, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday 5 Easter – C

John 16:23-30 – Jesus Comforts His Disciples;

Paraphrase:

Jesus’ disciples were sad to hear that Jesus was going to leave them, but Jesus promised that they would see him again and that their sorrow would be turned to joy which would not fade (John 16:22). In that day they would not ask anything of Jesus. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.  Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24; see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus told his disciples that he had been speaking of these things metaphorically but the time was going to come when he would no longer have to use metaphors, but would be able to speak plainly to them about God the Father. Then they would pray in Jesus’ name; they would not need Jesus to pray to the Father for them, because God loves Jesus’ disciples because they have loved Jesus and have believed that Jesus has come from God. Jesus has come into the world by God’s will, and is leaving the world to return to God.

His disciples declared that Jesus had now spoken plainly and not in any metaphor. Now they realized that Jesus knew all things and no one needed to question him, so they were convinced that he had come from God.

Commentary:

The Bible is the history of God’s dealing with Israel, and is a series of metaphors, “parables” of life in this world. Metaphors are necessary to explain spiritual truth in terms of worldly experiences.

The Exodus from Egypt is the central act of God’s deliverance of his people. We are all slaves to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world order. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us out of Egypt, through the “Sea” of baptism into Jesus, through the wilderness of spiritual darkness of this world, by the pillar of fire and cloud (Exodus 13:21-22) of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is our “Joshua” (the name, “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Jeshua” or “Joshua”), who leads us through the “River” of physical death, into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s Kingdom in heaven, restored to perfect paradise.

There are many other metaphors in the Bible. Metaphors allow us to understand spiritual truth, but allow us to not understand, if we choose. This Creation has been designed to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not. That is the reason that Jesus called himself the Son of man, which is true, but which allowed his hearers to decide for themselves whether Jesus was also the Son of God. Jesus was the Son of man through his human mother, Mary, and the Son of God through his conception by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:34-35).

There are conditions for answered prayer. God is under no obligation to hear and answer our prayers unless we are willing to trust and obey God’s Word. Just adding Jesus’ name to our prayers doesn’t obligate God to hear and answer them. Jesus is the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this sinful world.

Genuine Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, daily, ongoing experience (Acts 19:2).

Note well, those who consider themselves Christians! We have direct access to God the Father through prayer in Jesus’ name! We cannot receive answer to our prayer by asking any “saint” to pray in our behalf, or even Jesus himself. The condition for answered prayer is obedient trust in Jesus (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

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

Week of 4 Easter – C – 04/17 – 23/2016

April 16, 2016

Week of 4 Easter – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast: Week of 4 Easter – C 

4 Easter – Sunday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Sunday – C
First posted April 25, 2010;

Psalm 23 – The Good Shepherd;
Acts 13:15-16a, 26-33 – Paul’s Sermon in Antioch of Pisidia;
Revelation 7:9-17 – The Great Multitude of Redeemed;
John 10:22-30 – The Good Shepherd;

Psalm 23 Paraphrase:

Those for whom the Lord is their shepherd will never lack any good thing; the Lord will lead them to green pastures. He will lead them to calm waters; he restores their souls. For his own name’s sake he will lead them in ways of righteousness.

They will fear no evil, even though they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, for the Lord will be present with them, comforting them with the protection of his rod and staff.

In the presence of their enemies, the Lord prepares a table for his people. He anoints their heads with oil; he fills their cups to overflowing. They shall experience goodness and mercy all the days of their lives and they will dwell in the Lord’s house forever.

Acts 13:15-16a, 26-33 Paraphrase:

On Paul’s first missionary journey, he and his fellow missionaries went into the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey) as was their custom. After the synagogue leaders had read from the law and the prophets, the Old Testament scriptures, Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) and the missionaries with him were invited give a word of exhortation. So Paul stood up and began to preach, addressing them as brethren and descendants of Abraham, and those who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) God.

Paul said that the message of salvation (through Jesus Christ; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) had been sent to the Jews. But the people and leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem, although they heard the prophetic scriptures read every sabbath, did not recognize or understand them, so they fulfilled them by condemning Jesus, although they could present no evidence that he deserved to die. Yet they asked Pilate (Roman governor of Judea) to execute him. Thus they fulfilled all the prophecy concerning the Messiah (Christ; God’s anointed prophet, priest and king).

Then they removed him from the cross and placed him in the tomb, but God raised him to life from the dead, and for many (forty: Acts 1:3) days he appeared to his followers who had come with him from Galilee (more than five hundred: 1 Corinthians 15:5-8) who now testify as eyewitnesses. And these eyewitnesses (including Paul) testify that what God promised to the Jewish forefathers (a savior; the Good Shepherd; Psalm 2:7; John 1:14, 29; 3:16-17) he fulfilled to their descendants by raising Jesus from the dead.

Revelation 7:9-17 Paraphrase:

The Apostle John had a vision of a great multitude of every nation, tribe, people and language gathered before the throne of God and the Lamb (Jesus; sacrificed on the cross, whose flesh provides the spiritual feast of the New Passover, the Lord’s Supper; Holy Communion; Eucharist; Matthew 26:26-28; and whose blood marks his disciples to be “passed over” by the destroying angel; Exodus 12:1-9). The multitude was clothed in white robes and holding palm branches. They were shouting that salvation comes from God who reigns upon the throne, and from the Lamb. The angels who surround the throne, the twenty-four elders (the twelve old testament patriarchs and the twelve original Apostles of Jesus Christ) and the four living creatures (symbolizing all living creatures) bowed their faces to the ground and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever. Amen (so be it; note seven-fold, perfect, praise).

Then one of the elders asked John who he thought the ones in white robes were. John deferred to the elder, who said that they are those who had come out of the great tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22) and had washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before his throne and serve him day and night.

Commentary:

God had been promising throughout the Old Testament, that he would provide a Good Shepherd (Isaiah 40:10-11; 63:11; Ezekiel 34:11-17, 23-24; 37:24; and, of course, Psalm 23). Moses prayed for God to appoint a shepherd over the people of Israel and God told Moses to anoint Joshua, the son of Nun, to succeed Moses as the shepherd of Israel (Numbers 27:15-19).

Moses was a forerunner of Christ who illustrated the mission of Christ. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us out of bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world order, through the  “Sea” of baptism into Jesus Christ, separating us from our spiritual enemies, through the wilderness of this lifetime, leading us through the spiritual darkness by the “Pillar of Fire” (Exodus 13:21-22) of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is our “Joshua” (the name “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew words, “Jeshua” or “Joshua”), who leads us through the “River” of physical death and into the “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven (recall Numbers 27:15-19).

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to be the Good Shepherd of his people (Isaiah 40:10-11;  Ezekiel 34:11-16). Jesus is fully God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:8-11). Jesus is the “Strong Hand,” the “Right Arm” of God (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44).

David was a forerunner and illustration of the Christ. David was the great human shepherd-king of Israel. Jesus is the “Son of David” (descendant; Matthew 1:1, 6, 17, 20; 21:9). Jesus confirmed that the Christ was the Son of David (Matthew 22:42-45); but he was also the Son of God (Luke 3:23, 38; Matthew 16:15-18).

Paul proclaimed that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the prophecies of the “Good Shepherd.”  Jesus was the promised Messiah (God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King; “Christ” and “Messiah” each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). Jesus came to seek and save the spiritually “lost” (Matthew 15:24; 18:11; recall God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant (Testament) of Law between God and God’s people. Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) which is received by faith (obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9) in Jesus Christ. Jesus initiated the New Covenant on the night of his betrayal and arrest at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-28).

The Last Supper was the celebration of the Feast of Passover (Exodus 12:1- 14). During the feast, Jesus initiated the New Covenant. The Last Supper became the New Passover. God had taught through the original Passover, and throughout the Old Testament, that a blood sacrifice was necessary for the forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). In the original Passover, a perfect, unblemished lamb was sacrificed, its flesh provided the feast, and its blood marked the faithful to be “passed-over” by the destroying angel (recall Exodus 12:1-14). Jesus became the Lamb of the New Passover,  “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is the New Feast of Passover, the fulfillment of the promise of Psalm 23:5 of a table prepared for us in the midst of our enemies, and of an overflowing cup, and of the “anointing” (baptism) of the Holy Spirit, who is the “oil of gladness” (Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9). 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). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

John’s vision of the throne of God surrounded by a vast, uncountable number of the redeemed was a vision of the saved who had been washed in the blood of Jesus and were clad in robes of righteousness, not their own, but the righteousness of Jesus, which God attributes to them by their faith in Jesus (Philippians 3:9).

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

4 Easter – Monday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Monday – C

First posted April 26, 2010;
Psalm 145:1-13 – God’s Everlasting Kingdom;

Paraphrase:

Those for whom the Lord is God and King, let us praise and bless his name daily for ever and ever. The Lord’s greatness is vast and unsearchable, and worthy of praise.

Let each generation declare the mighty acts of God and exalt him to the next. Let us meditate on God’s glorious splendor and majesty, and his wondrous works. Let the people praise the power of God’s fearsome acts and declare his greatness. Let us spread abroad the fame of God’s abundant goodness, and shout aloud of God’s righteousness.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8). The Lord is good and compassionate to all his creatures.

All that he has created will give thanks to the Lord, and his saints will give him praise. They will testify, to the glory of God’s kingdom, his power, so that the children of mankind may come to know his mighty deeds and the splendor of his glorious kingdom. God’s kingdom is eternal, and he will reign in sovereign authority and power for ever.

Commentary:

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life is to seek, find, 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). Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator, which was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word), to know divine eternal truth, and to have true, eternal life, which begins now in this lifetime.

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey his Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually unborn.

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

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal, daily fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:23; Revelation 3:20). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we personally experience the goodness, power, greatness, glory and steadfast love of God. As we walk in daily obedience to the Holy Spirit we will personally experience God’s awesome mighty acts (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home). When we do, we will want to testify to all the people of the world.

I recently heard statistics that the number of people in America professing religion has declined significantly in the last generation. I believe that Americans have fallen away from Christ and the Church. Many have failed to become disciples of Jesus Christ, to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to experience personally the fellowship and mighty works of God in their own daily lives, and have thus failed, and are unable to declare the Lord’s greatness to the next generation.

In many instances the nominal Church shares equal responsibility for this failure, by failing to make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples, and teach them to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings. Without born-again disciples, there will not be born-again candidates for ministry. It takes born-again disciples to make born-again disciples.

In some instances denominations are teaching that one is automatically born-again through some ritual such as “water baptism.” Some are teaching that their members are saved as a free gift (true), without the requirement of discipleship and obedience (false; see False Teachings, sidebar top right, home).

Christians should read the entire Bible, and then read portions of the Bible daily for guidance, with meditation and prayer. An average reader can easily read the Bible through in one year and there are numerous 1-year reading aids. See Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right. The Bible is the standard against which all Church doctrine should be measured. Knowing the Bible helps us to avoid false teachings. Unless we have read the entire Bible we don’t know the Bible well enough to proclaim God’s Word. The Bible is where we first experience God’s mighty acts.

Christians should pursue discipleship and the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are guided and empowered to proclaim God’s Word in the world (Zechariah 4:6). In fact, Jesus warns his disciples to stay in Jerusalem (the Church; the City of God on earth) until they have received the indwelling Holy Spirit, before going abroad to spread the fame of God’s goodness and righteousness (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). The Church was born on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured upon Jesus’ disciples, and they were transformed, empowered and guided (Acts 2:1-13).

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

4 Easter – Tuesday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Tuesday – C
First posted April 27, 2010;

Acts 13:44-52 – Gospel to the Gentiles;

Background:

On his first missionary journey, Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had preached the Gospel at the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (in present-day Turkey; Acts 13:14-16).

Acts Paraphrase:

The next sabbath practically the entire city gathered to hear God’s Word. But the Jews were jealous when they saw the crowds gather to hear Paul preach, and so they contradicted what Paul said, and vilified him. But Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying that it was necessary to preach the Gospel first to the Jews, but since these rejected God’s Word and condemned themselves as unworthy of eternal life, the missionaries would proclaim it to the Gentiles (non-Jews; most of us), thus fulfilling Isaiah 49:6, in which God declared that Christian evangelists were a light to Gentiles, to bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The Gentiles rejoiced when they heard this, and those who believed were chosen to receive eternal life. And the Word of God spread throughout the region. But the Jews incited persecution against Paul and Barnabas by the leading people of the city and drove them out of the region. “But they shook off the dust from their feet against them” (Acts 13:51a), and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:

God intended that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the “Good News” of peace with God and eternal salvation from sin (disobedience of God’s Word) would come through the Jews to all the people of earth. Jesus Christ was a Jew (John 1:10-12). Most Jews turned aside from their calling, and rejected the Gospel, but the Gentiles received it with joy. Those who reject Jesus condemn themselves (John 3:18-20).

Those who believed in (trusted and obeyed) Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit. 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 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 personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2).

Christians are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) “disciples” (students; Acts 11:26c) and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church; the City of God on earth) until they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5) and then to go into all the world proclaiming the Gospel, making [“born-again”] disciples of Jesus, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20).

Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again, disciple and apostle” of Jesus Christ. Paul was confronted by the Spirit of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus where Paul (Saul of Tarsus) intended to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-4). Paul repented Acts 9:9), accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5), became obedient to Jesus’ commands (Acts 9:6-8), was discipled by a “born-again” (Acts 9:10) disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:11-17) until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:18), and then Paul began to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his “born-again” disciples (Acts 9:20).

Paul demonstrated the process of “born-again” disciple-making which Jesus had taught by example with the Twelve original disciples. Paul repeated the process with Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6-7), and taught him to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

People who believe the Gospel, accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and begin to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings will be filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will experience the joy of the presence of, salvation, and eternal life, in the Lord.

Jesus taught his disciples to proclaim the Gospel, and to shake off the dust of the communities of those who rejected the Gospel, as a testimony against them. I have personally experienced the rejection of my proclamation of the Gospel in the Church community in which I was raised. I have personally “shaken off the dust of that community” and moved on to other Church communities, several times. It is not I who condemn them but they, themselves.

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

4 Easter – Wednesday  – C

 Podcast: 4 Easter Wednesday – C

First posted April 28, 2010;

Revelation 21:1-5 – A New Heaven and Earth;

Paraphrase:

The Apostle John had a vision of a new heaven and earth, because the first heaven and earth had passed away (as prophesied by Isaiah 65:17; 66:22). The sea was no more.  He saw the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, coming down from heaven from God, adorned as a bride. A loud voice from the throne declared that God would dwell with mankind. They will be his people and God will be with them. He will wipe away all their tears and death, mourning, pain and crying will be no more, for all these former things have passed away.

The One who sits on the throne declared said, “Behold, I make all things new.” He also told John to write this down, for the words are true and worthy of trust.

Commentary:

The true Church is the New Jerusalem. It is now the City of God on earth; it will be the restored City of God in heaven, the new Creation restored to perfect paradise. The Church is the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7-9).

God’s Word declares that everything in this material world will pass out of existence. We tend to think that material things have real substance. We can see and touch them. They seem “real.” Spiritual things seen insubstantial and unreal. But it is the spiritual things which are eternal, not what is material.

God has intentionally designed this world to be limited by time and decay. God has always intended to create an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. This Creation has been designed to allow us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God’s Word. This Creation was perfect, but was corrupted by sin (disobedience of God’s Word). But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom.

This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. We have all been born into this temporal life physically (materially) alive but spiritually “unborn.”

Only those who are “baptized” with the indwelling Holy Spirit are spiritually “born-again.” We can only find and have fellowship with God through Jesus Christ by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus “baptizes” with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2).

By the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the love, comforting and joy of God’s presence. The Holy Spirit is the “comforter” (consoler; intercessor; “Paraclete” from the Greek: para`klhtos).

In the New Creation, there won’t be any of the problems of this temporal world because there won’t be any sin, disease or death and decay. That’s the promise from Our Lord and God.

But note that the choice of where we will spend eternity is ours. We can believe God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, and begin to experience spiritual reality now, or we can reject God’s Word in Jesus Christ and spend eternity in spiritual death in Hell with all evil. In Hell, time will be suspended, but not sorrow, sickness, and decay; and suffering and death will be eternal.

It is not true that we cannot know whether heaven and eternal life are true until we die physically. The only people who are unsure are those who are perishing 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)?

4 Easter – Thursday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Thursday – C
First posted April 29, 2010;
John 13:31-35 – A New Commandment;

Paraphrase:

At the Last Supper, after Judas, the betrayer, had left, Jesus said to his disciples that the time had come for the Son of man (Jesus) to be glorified, and that he would glorify God. If Jesus glorified God, God would also glorify Jesus in God the Father, at once.

Jesus called his disciples his little children, and said that he would only be with them a short while. They would seek Jesus but could not come where Jesus was going.

Jesus gave them a new commandment, that they should love one another as Jesus has loved them. By their love for one another, all people will know that they are Jesus’ disciples.

Commentary:

God’s wisdom is unlike worldly wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-8). God’s wisdom is eternal and unchanging, but what humans falsely call wisdom is not unchanging: Consider the recent redefinition of planets.

How could Jesus be glorified and glorify God by being executed with criminals? But Jesus was unjustly convicted and executed, and God, in righteous judgment, glorified Jesus by reversing worldly judgment and raising Jesus to eternal life, elevating him to be the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Jesus glorified God by trusting and obeying God’s will even unto physical death.

Jesus told his disciples that he would no longer be present with them physically, and that they would not be able to go with Jesus, where he was going, right away. But Jesus had promised to be with them spiritually through the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:21).

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift; anointing; infilling) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).  The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The infilling of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). “Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ will eventually be reunited with Jesus in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven (Matthew 26:29).

It was necessary for Jesus to depart physically so that the Holy Spirit could be given to his disciples (John 16:7). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, each “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ can have personal access to Jesus anywhere and anytime (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus reduced the Ten Commandments to two: love of God and love of one another (Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus came to give the indwelling Holy Spirit to us so that those who are obedient to the Holy Spirit are freed from slavery to the Law (Romans 8:1-13). No one can satisfy the requirements of the Law. It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can fulfill the demands of the Law (Galatians 2:16). If we live in obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit, it will be evident to others that we are 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)?

4 Easter – Friday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Friday – C

First posted April 30, 2010

James 1:16-21 – First  Fruits;

Paraphrase:

We need to be aware that  every good and perfect gift is provided from God our Father, creator of the heavenly bodies, coming down to us from heaven. God is eternal and there is no  variation or shadow in him due to change. It was by God’s own will that he brought us forth by “the Word of truth,” God’s Word, the Gospel, to be the “first fruits” (an offering of the first part of the harvest, which is to be consecrated to God’s use; Numbers 15:21; Deuteronomy 18:4) of the harvest of this Creation.

Remember to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, because human anger doesn’t accomplish God’s righteousness. So let us put away all uncleanness and weed out wickedness which fill and overwhelm us, and with humility allow God’s Word, which is able to save our souls, to be implanted in us.

Commentary:

God created this world very good Genesis 1:31. He provided every good and necessary thing for us.

We were all created eternal beings. Death came into the world through sin (Genesis 3:3). Satan lied to Adam and Eve, saying that they would not die (Genesis 3:4), but God was talking about spiritual death. Adam and Eve didn’t physically die immediately, but physical and spiritual death entered Creation through their sin and passed to all humans, because all humans sin (Romans 5:12).

God designed Creation to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not. Disobedience is sin, and sin, death, sorrow and decay are in this world because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

God gave us the stewardship of Creation, and we have often misused resources God gave us to satisfy our selfish desires, rather than what we really need. People go without needed resources because others want and take, by force or deception, more than they need. Witness the recent financial disaster in America.

God knew that, given the choice, we would all choose our will rather than his, so he designed Creation and we ourselves to be limited by time. God is not willing to tolerate sin and rebellion forever. And he designed a Savior (Messiah; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King), Jesus Christ, into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

The meaning and purpose of this lifetime is to seek, find, and have fellowship with our Creator, which was broken by sin (Acts 17:26-27). We are born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8).

This Creation is intended by God to be a “seedbed” to raise a harvest of God’s people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. God taught Israel to dedicate the first portion of their harvests to God’s service, and this is what we are to be. There is a harvest coming on the Day of Judgment when Christ returns (Matthew 13:47-50; 25:31-46).

We are the “first fruits” of that harvest, consecrated to God’s service now by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Gospel is God’s Word of truth, the “good news” of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). His Word is unchanging because God is eternal and unchanging. If we hear it and believe (trust and obey), it will be implanted within us, by the indwelling Holy Spirit and will grow to spiritual maturity at the Day of Christ’s return

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

4 Easter – Saturday – C

Podcast: 4 Easter Saturday – C

First posted May 1, 2010;

John 16:5-15 – The Work of the Holy Spirit;

Background:

At the Last Supper, after they had eaten, Jesus gave his disciples his last instructions and encouragement to prepare them for Jesus’ crucifixion.

John 16:5-15:

Jesus told them that now he would be returning to God his Father who had sent him. The disciples didn’t ask where Jesus was going (Jesus had told them, although they didn’t fully understand; John 14:1-6). But the disciples were sad to think of Jesus leaving them. “Never the less I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). When the Counselor comes he will convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment: unbelief in Jesus is sin; God’s righteousness is revealed in the cross of Jesus, and triumph over and judgment of evil.

There was more that Jesus wanted to tell his disciples but they were saddened and upset by what he had said already. But when the Holy Spirit had come, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit would guide them into all divine eternal truth. The Spirit will speak what he hears (from God), not by his own authority, and will reveal to the disciples what is to come. He will reveal Jesus’ glory by taking what belongs to Jesus and declaring it to his disciples. All that the Father has belongs to Jesus.

Commentary:

During Jesus’ physical ministry on earth, he was all-knowing (John 1:47-50; John 4:16-19), but couldn’t be present everywhere at once. When he was on the mountain of transfiguration with Peter, James and John, the other disciples were getting into trouble on their own (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29).

By the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the “born-again” disciples (John 3:3, 5-8) would have access to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God anytime and anywhere. When I’ve been away from telephones in the mountain back-country, my prayers have been heard and answered and I have been comforted and reassured (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, right), and I have experienced miraculous deliverance.

But I had to learn to trust and obey him and wait for his Word. When I was a new Christian, I wanted a solid physical connection and immediate results like most people in our world today. I had to resist temptation to pick up the phone and talk to the pastor. Pastors are mostly well-intentioned, and try to help, but the truth is that they are blessed if they know God’s will for themselves. God doesn’t want to tell them God’s will for us because God wants us to seek it directly from God, one day at a time (Matthew 6:11).

As we learn to seek God’s Word for us personally, directly from the Lord, the Lord teaches that we can trust and do what he says. That is how he causes us to grow in faith to spiritual maturity. He wants us to trust and obey his Word so that he can show us that his Word is absolutely trustworthy and true.

The Holy Spirit is at work through the Church of Jesus’ “born-again” disciples to convince the world that unbelief in Jesus is sin, and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s will to the point of death on the cross, and his resurrection demonstrated that God is the righteous judge. He didn’t allow evil to triumph, and he didn’t let the world’s unrighteous judgment prevail; God reversed it by raising Jesus from the dead.

Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death, and that God is able to vindicate those who trust and obey God’s Word even though they may die physically (Hebrews 2:14-15). The worst the world can do to us is kill us physically, but God has the last Word.

We first learn about God the Father and Jesus Christ through the Bible record. As we begin to trust and obey God’s Word, we will be “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. But God waits to make sure we are really serious, first, because premature spiritual birth can be eternally disastrous if we then turn away (Hebrews 6:4-6). By the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus promises to reveal himself and God the Father to us personally and individually (John 14: 7-11, 21-23). There is more that Jesus wants us to know, which we will learn by experience as the Holy Spirit reveals it to us.

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

Week of 3 Easter – C – 04/10 – 16/2016

April 9, 2016

Week of 3 Easter – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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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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3 Easter – Sunday C

Psalm 30 – Mourning Turned into Dancing;

Acts 9:1-20 – Paul’s Conversion;

Revelation 5:11-14 – Worthy is the Lamb;

John 21:1-14 – Risen Jesus Appears to Disciples in Galilee;

Psalm 30 Paraphrase:

I will glorify and praise you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. When I cried to you, O Lord my God, you healed me. You lifted me up from the land of the dead and restored me to life from the grave.

Let all his saints (those committed to God’s service) praise the Lord, and

give thanks to his holy name, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

When everything was going well for me, I thought nothing could go wrong. I had been established as a strong mountain, by God’s favor; then he hid his face from me and I was beset with trouble.

Then I cried to the Lord and begged for his help. I said that there would be no benefit in my death; I couldn’t praise him from the grave. If my body returned to dust, would it glorify God and testify to his faithfulness? I asked him to hear my plea, and be gracious to me, and be my helper.

He has turned my mourning into dancing, and has replaced the sackcloth of mourning with the mantle of gladness, so that I can praise him in my innermost being and not be silent. I will give thanks to the Lord my God for ever and ever.

Acts 9:1-20 Paraphrase:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was on his way to Damascus with authority from the Jewish council of elders in Jerusalem to arrest and bring Christians (disciples of Jesus Christ; Acts 11:26c; members of the “Way,” the early name for Christianity; see John 14:16) to Jerusalem for trial. As he neared Damascus he was struck to the ground and blinded by a bright flash of light, and he heard a voice asking him by name why he was persecuting the one whose voice he was hearing. Paul asked who was speaking and the voice identified himself as Jesus, and told Paul to enter the city and await further instructions. His traveling companions heard the voice but saw no one. They led Paul into the city where he fasted and prayed, unable to see.

There was a (“born-again” Christian; John 3:3, 5-8) disciple in Damascus named Ananias. In a vision the Lord spoke to him telling him to go to Straight Street to the house of Judas (not Iscariot) and ask to see Saul of Tarsus. The Lord told Ananias that Paul was praying and had seen a man named Ananias come in and lay hands upon Paul and restore Paul’s sight. But Ananias replied that he knew that Paul had done much evil to Christians in Jerusalem and that he had authority from Jerusalem to arrest believers in Damascus. But the Lord told Ananias to go, that Paul was a chosen tool of the Lord to make the Lord’s name known to the Gentiles, to worldly kings, and to the sons of Israel; and that Paul would learn to suffer greatly for the Lord’s namesake.

So Ananias went and entered the house where Paul was staying, telling Paul that Ananias had been sent to restore Paul’s vision and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately something like scales fell from Paul’s eyes and his vision was restored. Then he arose and was baptized, ate food and regained strength.

For several days he stayed with the Christians at Damascus and immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God.

Revelation 5:11-14Paraphrase:

The Apostle John, one of the original Twelve disciples of Jesus, saw in a vision, while he was in exile on the isle of Patmos, the throne of the Lord in heaven. Around the throne were were the four living creatures (probably symbolizing all created beings; Revelation 4:6b-8) and the twenty-four elders (the twelve Old Testament patriarchs and the twelve New Testament Apostles; Revelation 4:4). He heard the voices of millions of millions and thousands of thousands (an uncountable number) of angels saying in unison that the Lamb who was slain (Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of the New Passover) is the only one worthy to receiver power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (perfect, seven-fold praise). And every creature who ever lived on earth gave blessing and honor and glory and might to the Lord God the Father and to the Lamb for ever and ever, Amen (so be it)! And the twenty-four elders fell face-down and worshiped.

John 21:1-14 Paraphrase:

After revealing himself to his disciples twice in the upper room in Jerusalem, Jesus revealed himself to them again in Galilee as he had promised (Matthew 26:32; 28:10). Seven of the disciples, led by Simon Peter, and including Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, and two others went fishing overnight on the Sea of Galilee. They fished all night but caught nothing.

At dawn, Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples did not recognize him. Addressing them as children, Jesus asked if they had caught any fish, and they replied, “No.” Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat and they would find some. They did so and the net was filled with a great weight of fish, so that they were unable to haul it in. The disciple whom Jesus loved (John; by extension, each of us) told Peter it was the Lord. Immediately Peter put on his clothes, because he had undressed for fishing, and jumped into the water to swim to shore, since they were only a hundred yards offshore.

When they got to shore they saw a charcoal fire with fish broiling, and bread nearby. Jesus told them to bring some of the fish they had just caught. Peter went aboard and dragged the net to shore, full of a hundred and fifty-three large fish. Although there were so many large fish the net was not torn. Jesus invited them to come and have breakfast. None of the disciples needed to ask who he was; they knew it was their Lord. Jesus came and gave them bread and fish. This was now the third time Jesus had revealed himself to them.

Commentary:

Psalm 30 is also my own personal testimony (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home)! I thought that I was invincible until the Lord withheld his favor from me.

I was as good as dead, but the Lord raised me to useful service for his kingdom. The Lord’s discipline is painful for the moment but it is so beneficial in the long run, if it causes us to repent and return to obedient trust in God’s Word. When we cry to him in times of distress he is able and faithful to deliver us from all our troubles.

He is abundantly able to turn our sorrow into rejoicing. There is no joy more satisfying than the joy we experience in the presence of the Lord. It is my greatest pleasure to praise and glorify my Lord!

The conversion of Paul is the defining incident of the New Testament after the physical ministry and Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the one intended by God to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. The Eleven original remaining disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift;” “infilling”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), before going out into the world to proclaim the Gospel, in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his disciples. While waiting, they decided to choose, by chance, a successor to replace Judas, since they didn’t have the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 1:15-26). They chose Matthias, who was never heard of again in the New Testament. In contrast, from the time of Paul’s conversion most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul.

Paul is intentionally designed by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8), disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel)” of Jesus Christ, as we can and should be.

Paul apparently did not know Jesus during Jesus’ physical lifetime. Paul was convicted by the Holy Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul repented of his sin (Acts 9:9), accepted Jesus as his personal Lord (Acts 9:5), and became obedient to Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:6-8).

Paul was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (who had a personal relationship with the Lord; Acts 9:10), until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:17-18), and then became obedient to the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:20).

Paul’s conversion was unique for its rapidity. The Twelve were with Jesus for about three and a half years and still were not ready to proclaim the Gospel until they had been “reborn.”

I personally testify that I was confronted by the Holy Spirit and was called to repentance and obedient trust in Jesus. When I did, I was restored to fellowship with the Lord.

Jesus is the unblemished sacrificial Lamb of the New Passover. God has been preparing us to understand his saving plan for this world (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). The Exodus of God’s people from slavery to sin and death in Egypt was intended by God to be a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. We are all in slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world order. Satan is “Pharaoh.” Jesus is the “Moses” who leads us out of Egypt.

Jesus is the Lamb of the New Passover, initiated on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28; compare Exodus 12:1-13). Jesus’ body sacrificed on the cross provides the New Passover feast, and his blood marks believers to be “passed over” by the destroying angel.

Jesus is the ultimate example of obedient trust in God’s Word. Jesus never wavered (Matthew 26:36-46), although sorely tempted. He knew his fate, and yet trusted God’s Word unto the most excruciatingly (meaning “of the Cross) painful death on the cross.

Jesus was fully human. He experienced every human desire and temptation just as we do, but without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He was perfectly obedient to God’s Word. Therefore God has acknowledged that he alone is worthy of glory, honor, power, wisdom, might, honor and blessing, eternally!

Jesus’ miracles of physical feeding (and healing) were intended to show that he is also able to feed (and heal) spiritually. Jesus promised his disciples that he would reveal himself to them in Galilee after his crucifixion, death, and resurrection (Matthew 26:32; 28:7b). This is the fulfillment of that promise.

The feeding of the five thousand with the five barley loaves and two fish (John 5:1-13) is the preview of fellowship with Jesus in the kingdom of God. The breakfast on the beach in Galilee is the beginning of its fulfillment.

The disciples who were involved were experienced fishermen of the Sea of Galilee. They had used their best knowledge and experience and yet, all night, had caught nothing! Still, they were willing to trust and obey Jesus’ command. As the result, they caught a great supernatural catch, and they enjoyed a great supernatural fellowship on the beach with Jesus.

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

3 Easter – Monday – C

First posted April 19, 2010;

Psalm 23 – My Shepherd;

Paraphrase:

Because the Lord is my shepherd I can be confident that I will never lack any necessity. He provides green pastures and calm waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the ways of righteousness for the sake of his name (his whole person and character).

I fear no evil although I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, because my shepherd is with me. I am comforted by his rod and staff.

The Lord prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies. He anoints me with oil. He gives me an overflowing cup. Certainly all my days will be accompanied by goodness and mercy, and I will dwell in the Lord’s house for eternity.

Commentary:

Jesus is the one and only Good Shepherd (John 10:11-15). He alone can provide our spiritual food and drink. Jesus’ miracles of physical food, drink and healing were intended to demonstrate that he can also and more importantly satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst and need for spiritual healing.

We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead (unborn). Only Jesus can give us spiritual birth, by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 3:3, 5-8), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

We are all enslaved by sin and the fear of death. Jesus took on our physical nature so that through his physical death on the cross he could free us from fear of death and slavery to sin (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death. By faith (obedient trust) in Jesus we have the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, who 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). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have a personal daily relationship with the risen and ascended Jesus, and can personally testify that Jesus is eternally alive. When we know that Jesus is with us we can be certain that nothing can happen to us that he cannot deliver us from or bring us safely through.

The Lord has prepared a feast for us in the midst of our enemies. The Old Covenant (Testament) of Law was sealed by a sacrificial feast and God’s people were marked by the blood of the sacrifice (Exodus 12:1-14). Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant. Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) which we receive by faith) obedient trust) in Jesus.

Jesus established the New Covenant on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:17-28). The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is the spiritual feast of the New Passover; Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of the New Passover, whose body sacrificed on the cross provides the feast, and whose blood marks us to be “passed over” by the destroying angel.

Jesus’ physical feeding of the five thousand, for example (John 6:1-14), was intended to point to the “marriage feast” in God’s eternal heavenly kingdom, where his “bride,” the Church, his (born-again) disciples will be united with Christ for eternity. The Lord’s Supper which the Church celebrates is a foretaste of the that wedding feast that is coming in eternity (Matthew 26:29).

Jews were specifically forbidden to consume blood by itself or with its meat. The reason was that it was believed that blood contained the spirit of the animal. The Lord didn’t want his people filled with the spirit of animals, but with his Holy Spirit. The cup of the Lord’s Supper overflows to us; it is abundantly sufficient for our needs. That doesn’t mean that one can partake of the Lord’s Supper and automatically be filled with the Holy Spirit, but if one does so in faith, having been filled with the Holy Spirit, one will be renewed and will have fellowship (“communion”) with the Lord at the table.

Olive oil was used to anoint prophets, priests and kings for God’s service. Oil was used for medicinal purposes to promote healing, and for welcome and celebration. The “anointing” with the Holy Spirit is the the “oil of gladness” (Psalm 45:6-7; Isaiah 61:3c, d). It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can praise the Lord and experience the goodness and joy of his presence within us (1 Corinthians 12:3). Because “born-again” Christians personally experience the risen and ascended Jesus by his indwelling Holy Spirit within us we can be certain that we will live eternally with him in heaven.

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

3 Easter – Tuesday – C

First posted April 20, 2010;

Acts 13:15-16a, 26-33 – Paul’s Sermon in Antioch of Pisidia;

Paraphrase:

On his first missionary Paul (Saul of Tarsus) and his missionary companions went into the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey) on the sabbath. After reading from the law and the prophets, as was the Jewish practice, the synagogue leaders invited the missionaries to share a word of exhortation. So Paul stood up and, addressed them as sons of Abraham and those who are God-fearing (having the appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of God).

Paul said that God has sent Israel the message of salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). The Jewish citizens and rulers in Jerusalem had not understood and recognized the fulfillment of the the oracles of the prophets which were read every sabbath, thus fulfilling them by condemning Jesus. Although they had no evidence to charge Jesus for anything deserving death, they asked Pilate to execute him.

When the prophecies about Jesus’ crucifixion had been fulfilled, they took Jesus’ body from the cross and laid it in a tomb. But God raised Jesus from the dead, and over a period of many days, he appeared to his followers who had come to Jerusalem with him from Galilee (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). These followers now testified to the fulfillment of these prophecies. So Paul was bringing the “good news” (“Gospel” means “good news”) that God’s promise to the forefathers he has fulfilled to their children, by raising Jesus, as it is written in Psalm 2:7.

Commentary:

The Jewish leaders and people in Jerusalem had the prophetic scriptures revealing God’s plan for Creation from the fall of mankind in the Garden of Edin (Genesis 3:15), and throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, but they didn’t understand them because they did not receive them with faith (obedient trust). So they fulfilled the prophesies by crucifying Jesus.

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God’s Word contains both wonderful promises but also ominous warnings which are intended to keep us from receiving the consequences of disobedience. We will either receive the promises by obedient trust, or we will receive the consequences of disobedience.

For one example, Psalm 22, attributed to David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel who reigned from 1000 to 961 B.C., is a prophetic picture of Jesus’ crucifixion, which was a manner of execution unknown in Israel until the time of the Roman Empire, beginning in about 27 B.C.. (Compare Psalm 22:7-8 and 16-18 with Matthew 27:35, 38-44). Jesus began to quote Psalm 22 on the cross as he was fulfilling it (Psalm 22:1; compare Matthew 27:46).

The Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah and crucified him, thus fulfilling Biblical prophecy, but they lost the salvation God intended for them. Jesus declared that the Jews would not see their Messiah until they accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior (Matthew 23:37-39). I don’t believe that living Jews are irrevocably lost, although those are eternally lost who have died unregenerate [John 3:3, 5-8; un-”reborn” 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)]. I don’t believe that the Jews are any more guilty than anyone else for crucifying Jesus, because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and have made Jesus’ crucifixion necessary for our eternal salvation (See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel).” He was convicted on the road to Damascus by the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus Acts 9:3-5). He accepted Jesus as Lord (Acts 9:5), became obedient to Jesus’ command (Acts 9:6-8), repented with fasting (Acts 9:9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Act 9:10), until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:11-18), and then Paul, led by the indwelling Holy Spirit began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:19b-20). Paul began to repeat the process of making born-again disciples of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:6-8) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

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)?

3 Easter – Wednesday – C

First posted April 21, 2010;

Revelation 7:9-17 – A Great Multitude of Redeemed;

Paraphrase:

After the vision of the hundred and forty-four thousand (a symbolic number) sealed for redemption, the Apostle John had a vision of a great multitude from all nations, tribes and tongues standing before the throne and the Lamb (Jesus). They were clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. The multitude cried out that salvation belongs to our God, who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb! And all the angels and the four living creatures stood around the throne and fell down on their faces, worshiping God and saying, “Amen (so be it)! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might (seven-fold; symbolizing perfect praise) be to our God for ever and ever! Amen!

Then one of the [twenty-four] elders asked John who the white-robed multitude were, and from where had they come? John replied that the elder knew (trusting that the elder would explain it to John). The elder explained that the multitude were those who had been saved during the great tribulation; their robes had been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore they are constantly before God’s throne, and serve him day and night in God’s temple. They are sheltered in God’s presence and will neither hunger or thirst anymore. They will not be stricken by sun or heat. The Lamb who is before the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water; and God will dry the tears from their eyes.

Commentary:

Twelve is the number of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, and also the Twelve original Apostles of Jesus Christ, the Eleven original disciples (minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer) plus Paul (Saul of Tarsus) the original “modern, post-resurrection, born-again, disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel)” of Jesus Christ. The twenty-four elders are the twelve patriarchs of the twelve tribes and the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. One hundred and forty-four thousand is twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel times twelve, symbolizing completeness; not one is missing. Seven is a symbol of perfection and completeness.

Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29, 35-36) of the New Passover, which Jesus instituted on the eve of his crucifixion (Matthew 26:26-28). The New Passover was sealed with a spiritual feast, the Last Supper; the Lord’s Supper; Holy Communion; Eucharist (compare Exodus 12:1-14).

Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross cleanses us from sin and clothes us with the robes of Jesus’ righteousness (John 7:14). Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the week of his crucifixion was hailed with palm branches by his disciples (Matthew 21:1-11). The Church is the New Jerusalem, the New City of God on earth.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10:11-15). The Good Shepherd provides his sheep with their daily needs abundantly, beyond expectation. He doesn’t just provide water, but “living water” (John 4:10-11; 7:37-39), the spiritual water of eternal life.

If you believe God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14), you will trust and obey it. You will apply God’s Word in your daily life. As the result you will come to know personally with certainty that God’s Word is true and reliable and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. That is how God causes our faith to grow to spiritual maturity. There is no hope and security in this world apart from 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)?

 

3 Easter – Thursday C

First posted April 22, 2010

John 10:22-30 – Jesus and God are One;

Paraphrase:

At the feast of Dedication (celebrating the re-dedication of the temple in 164 B.C., after being desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C.; the origin of Hanukkah), Jesus was walking in the portico of Solomon (a relic of Solomon’s temple left standing after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 587 B.C. by the Nebuchadnezzar, whose army carried Judah into exile in Babylon for seventy years). The Jews (Jewish leaders) surrounded him and asked Jesus to tell them plainly if he were the Christ (Messiah).

Jesus replied that he had told them, but they had not believed. Jesus was doing works (miracles) in the name of God his Father which reveal that he is the Christ, but they did not believe because they did not belong to Jesus’ “sheep” (Jesus’ followers; John 10:7-15). Jesus’ followers recognize Jesus’ voice and follow him, and he recognizes them as his followers. Jesus gives them eternal life, and they will never perish, nor can anyone take them from Jesus’ control. Jesus’ Father is God, who is greater than anyone, and no one is able to separate Jesus’ followers from God. “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

Commentary:

It wasn’t that Jesus hadn’t revealed himself as the Messiah, but the Jewish authorities hadn’t accepted him by faith (obedient trust). Jesus was doing miracles which only God could do, but they refused to acknowledge him as the Son of God, the Messiah, and submit to him in faith. Instead they accused him of blasphemy (John 10:31-33).

When we hear Jesus’ words in the Bible and accept them in faith, we will begin to trust and obey them in our daily lives. As we do so, he will come to us and begin to talk to us. We will know that it is Jesus who is talking to us because we have learned to know his “voice” from the Bible. There are also demonic “voices” speaking to us, so we must use the Bible to test the “voices” to know whether they are of God (1 John 4:1-3).

We are all born physically alive but spiritually unborn. We must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2). If one is uncertain, one hasn’t been.

By the indwelling Holy Spirit, truly born-again Christians have daily personal fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father (John 14:23). Jesus is God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:8-11). Jesus is the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Compare Genesis 1:3, 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)?

 

3 Easter – Friday C

First posted April 23, 2010;

1 Peter 2:11-20 – Christian Lifestyle;

Paraphrase:

We are reminded that we are aliens and exiles in this world (we are citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom). We must abstain from lusts of the flesh which fight against our souls (the part of us which is eternal). Our good behavior among the Gentiles (unbelievers) will testify to God’s glory when they are confronted by God’s divine eternal truth, and will refute their false accusations of wrongdoing by us.

We must submit to every human institution, whether to the sovereign leader or to his delegates sent to reward right-doing and to punish wrong-doing. It is God’s will that by doing what is right we may silence the ignorant. Let us live as those who are free, but without using our freedom as license to do what is evil; instead, let us live as servants of God. Let us dishonor no one. Let us love our fellow believers as our family. Let us fear (have awe and respect for the power and authority of) God. Let us respect our worldly leaders.

Let those who are under the authority of others, as slaves, subjects or employees, be submissive, regardless of the nature of the authorities, whether gentle and kind, or brutal and abusive. Those who endure abuse while suffering unjustly will be rewarded by God. But when one suffers deservedly for wrongdoing, what credit will he receive for patient endurance? But if you suffer unjustly for doing what is right in God’s judgment, you will have God’s approval.

Commentary:

The Bible contains a series of parables (stories of everyday common experience used to teach spiritual truth). The central parable of the Bible is the Exodus from slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this current world order, through baptism into Jesus in the “Red Sea” (on dry ground; Exodus 14:21-29), through the wilderness of this lifetime, through the “Jordan River” of physical death, and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us. The Holy Spirit is the pillar of fire who leads us through the spiritual darkness (Exodus 13:21-22). Jesus is the “Joshua” [Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Jeshua” or Joshua; the Son of Nun, who led Israel through the Jordan River (on dry ground; Joshua 3:14-17) and into the Promised Land].

Like Israel, the people of God, who wandered in the wilderness for forty years, we are nomads in this lifetime, waiting for Jesus to lead us through the “River” of physical death into the eternal promised land. Our citizenship is not of this world. This lifetime is a spiritual battlefield. Satan and his demons are our spiritual enemies, seeking to destroy us eternally. Our weapon is the Word of God, the Bible, which is our spiritual sword, and our faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ is our armor that protects us from spiritual death. Our spiritual enemies will attempt to discredit us, but our good behavior will testify in our behalf; so let us not yield to temptation, but continue in obedient trust in Jesus.

Worldly rulers are ultimately accountable to God. There are situations in which Christians must disobey worldly rulers, when their commands are clearly in opposition to the Bible, such as were Hitler’s ( *See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6). But one must be willing to suffer the physical consequences: Bonhoeffer was hanged in the last days of World War II.

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

 

3 Easter – Saturday C

First posted April 24, 2010;

John 16:16-23 – Jesus’ Resurrection;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that soon they would be separated from him for a while, and then, “after a little while,” they would be restored to his presence. His disciples puzzled over this saying. They wondered about what Jesus meant by saying that he was going to the Father. What did Jesus mean by “a little while?’ Jesus knew what they were wondering about and stated their questions plainly.

Jesus told them they would be sorrowful over that which the world was rejoicing, but their sorrow would turn to joy. Jesus told them that their sorrow would be like the travail of childbirth. It would be turned to joy by the delivery of that which is being born into the world. So they would experience sorrow for a time, but their sorrow would be turned to joy which no one could take from them. In that day they would be reunited with Jesus and they would have no unfulfilled needs. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name” (John 16:23).

Commentary:

Jesus was arrested on Thursday of Holy Week after the Last Supper. He was crucified on Good Friday. He was in the tomb from Friday at sundown until Easter Sunday, the third day. From Jesus’ arrest, the disciples were scattered, as Jesus had foretold (Matthew 26:31). They were in mourning for the apparent loss of their hope for a restored Israel (Luke 24:21) and the loss of their beloved Lord, and they were in fear that they could suffer the same fate (John 20:19).

When the women who had gone to the tomb on Easter Sunday reported that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had risen from the dead, the disciples at first couldn’t believe it (Luke 24:9-11). Jesus continued to reveal himself to his followers over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1-7), in Jerusalem and later in Galilee. The disciples had a couple rough days until they heard and accepted Jesus’ resurrection and he appeared to them. Then their sorrow was turned to joy.

Jesus had promised the disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9) to be with and in them forever (John 14:21, 23). The only way to receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is to believe (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). The infilling of the Holy Spirit within us is a personally discernible, ongoing daily experience (Acts 19:2).

It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience a close personal daily fellowship with the Lord. It is by the Holy Spirit that we experience the joy of his presence (Romans 14:7; 15:13; I Thessalonians 1:6). It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can truly praise and worship the Lord (Romans 8:15-16). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is our spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8). The indwelling Holy Spirit the joy which no one can take from us (10:28-30).

Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for us to be cleansed by his blood sacrifice, so that we could be temples of the Holy Spirit, and made it possible for him to send his Holy Spirit to us (John 16:7). Jesus told his disciples to stay within Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church, the city of God on earth) until they had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Luke24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Jesus promised that it would not be many days before the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).

Jesus’ death on the cross was the travail of childbirth leading to the joy of delivery. The Church was born into the world on the day of Pentecost, when the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus promises that we can ask the Father in Jesus’ name, and he will guide us individually to our spiritual rebirth as we begin to follow Jesus’ commands. I personally testify to these truths (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

Sadly, in two many instances the nominal Church has failed to make “born-again” disciples. It has failed to teach obedience to Jesus’ teachings. Nominally Christian denominations are actually teaching that spiritual rebirth is automatically given at water baptism, or some other church ritual, which actually hinders members from seeking the indwelling Holy Spirit (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

The way to protect ourselves from false teachings is to read the entire Bible for ourselves, and to read it daily for guidance, with prayer and meditation. Any average reader can easily read the entire Bible in one year and there are numerous 1-year plans available (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right, home).

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

 

Week of 2 Easter C — 04/03 – 09/2016

April 2, 2016

Week of 2 Easter C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

Please Note: 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: Week of 2 Easter C

2 Easter – Sunday C

First posted April 11, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Sunday C

Psalm 149 – Festival Celebration;

Acts 5:12, 17-32 – Apostles Arrested;

Revelation 1:4-18 – Preparatory Vision;

Matthew 28:1-15 – Easter Morning;

John 20:19-31 – Jesus Appears to His Disciples;

Psalm 149:

Let us praise the Lord! Let us sing a new song of praise to him in the congregation of the faithful! Let Israel (the people of God; the Church) rejoice in his maker. Let the sons of Zion (the city of God on earth; the Church) rejoice in their king. Let us praise his name (his whole person and character) with dancing accompanied by the music of tambourine and harp. The Lord delights in his people, and clothes the humble in victory. Let his faithful ones exalt in glory; let them rejoice on their beds. May their throats be filled with God’s praises and their hands wield two-edged swords to inflict vengeance upon worldly nations and chastisement upon worldly people, to bind worldly kings with chains and worldly nobles with iron shackles; to execute the written judgment upon them. In this all his faithful ones will be glorified. Praise the Lord!

Acts 5:12, 17-32:

The apostles (Jesus’ original Twelve disciples minus Judas the betrayer) were together in Solomon’s Portico (a remnant of Solomon’s temple left when the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, on the east side of the rebuilt temple). The apostles were doing many miracles among the people.

But the high priest and the party of the Sadduccees (one of the ruling parties of the Jews; members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court of seventy elders) were filled with jealousy and had the apostles arrested and put in prison. That night, an angel of the Lord opened the prison door and led them out. The angel told them to return to the temple and preach the words of “this Life” (the Gospel), so they entered the temple at dawn and resumed teaching.

The high priest and Sadducees gathered the council of elders (the Sanhedrin) and sent to the prison to have the apostles brought before the council. But the officers who had been sent didn’t find the apostles in the prison, so they returned and reported to the council that they had found the prison securely locked and guarded, but that there was no one inside. The Jewish leaders were very puzzled and wondered how this would turn out. Then someone came and reported that the missing apostles were in the temple teaching the people. The captain and temple guards went and brought the apostles to the council, without treating them violently, because the guards were afraid the people would stone them.

When the apostles were delivered to the council, the high priest questioned them, saying that the council had strictly commanded them not to teach in [Jesus’] name, and yet the apostles had filled Jerusalem with their teaching. He accused them of trying to make the Jews accountable for shedding Jesus’ blood. But Peter and the other apostles answered: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The apostles said that the Jews had killed Jesus by hanging him on a “tree” (a pole made from a tree-trunk to which a crossbeam was attached), but the God of the Jewish patriarchs raised Jesus from physical death and exalted him at God’s right hand as Lord (King) and Savior to provide Israel with repentance and forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). “And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit which God has given to those who obey him.

Revelation 1:4-18:

The Apostle John was writing to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia (Asia Minor; present-day Turkey). Grace and peace (the traditional Greek and Hebrew salutations, respectively, which are only attainable through Jesus Christ) from God who always was, who is, and who always will be (I AM; Exodus 3:14), and from the the seven angels who are before the throne [or the fullness; completeness of the Holy Spirit] and from Jesus Christ, who is (eternally alive), who always was (from the foundation of the world: John 1:1-3), and who is to come again at the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-32; John 5:28-29). Jesus is the faithful witness (who obeyed God’s will unto death on the cross), the first-born from the dead and the ruler of earthly kings.

Give eternal glory and dominion to him [Jesus] who loves us and has freed us from sin (disobedience of God’s Word; and eternal death which is the penalty for sin) by his blood (shed on the cross; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right), and has made us a kingdom of priests of his God and Father. Amen! Watch, he is coming on the clouds (Acts 1:9-11). Every eye will see him, everyone who pierced him and every tribe of earth will mourn on his account. Nevertheless, so be it!

The Lord God is the “Alpha and Omega” ( the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), the one who is, who always was, and always will be, the Almighty.

John is the brother of all believers. All of us will suffer tribulation and share in the kingdom of God (now and in eternity) in Jesus Christ, and all will need patient endurance. John was exiled to the isle of Patmos in the Agean Sea, because of his proclamation of God’s Word and his testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day (Sunday) he was filled with the Holy Spirit and heard a loud voice behind him as loud as a trumpet, commanding him to write down in a book what he was about to see in visions, to send to the seven churches in Asia, to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

He turned in the perceived direction of the voice and saw seven lampstands of gold. In their midst he saw one with the appearance of a “son of man” (compare Daniel 7:13-14) whose clothing is symbolic of royalty, eternity, wisdom and immutability. The Son of man held seven stars in his right hand, a sharp two-edged sword came forth from his mouth, and his face shown like the sun at full strength.

John fainted with fear at his feet, but the Son of man put his right hand upon John and told him not to be afraid. He declared that he is the first and last (Acts 1:8), he is the living one who died physically and rose to eternal life. He has the keys to death and hell (the word used means kingdom of the dead). He commanded John to write the visions he sees, both what now is, and what is to take place hereafter. The seven lampstands symbolize the seven churches, and the seven stars symbolize the seven angels assigned to them.

Matthew 28:1-15:

After the Jewish Sabbath (from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) early on the first day of the week (Monday, at dawn), Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary (the sister of Jesus’ mother, the wife of Clopas and mother of “little” James), went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, and an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled away the stone sealing the tomb, and sat upon it. The angels appearance was supernaturally bright like lightening and his clothing was as white as snow. Guards posted at the tomb were paralyzed with fear. The angel told the women to not be afraid; he knew they were looking for Jesus but that Jesus was no longer there, for he had risen as Jesus had told them.

The angel told the women to see where Jesus had been laid, that was now empty, and then to go to the disciples and tell them that Jesus had risen from the dead and that they would see him in Galilee. The angel had delivered the message he’d been given for them. So the women left the tomb and hurried to tell the disciples.

On the way Jesus came to them and said, “Hello!” The women fell at his feet, took hold of them and worshiped him. Then Jesus told them not to be afraid; they were to go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee where they would see Jesus.

While the women were going to the disciples, the guards went into Jerusalem and told the Jewish leaders what had taken place. The leaders convened the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, and the council decided to bribe the guards with money and protection from the Roman civil government, and told the guards to say that the disciples had removed Jesus’ body while the guards were asleep on duty. The guards took the money and assurance and did as the council told them; and this story was circulating among the people at the time this Gospel was written (probably in the last third of the first century A.D.).

John 20:19-31:

On the evening of the first Easter Sunday the disciples were were probably in the upper room (where they had shared the Last Supper with Jesus) and the doors were locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus appeared and stood among them, saying “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). Then Jesus showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were happy when they saw the Lord. Jesus again offered his peace to them and told them that he was sending them as the Father had sent Jesus. Then he breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. He told them they had the responsibility to forgive or retain the sins of anyone.

Thomas, one of the Twelve original disciples, called the Twin, was not present when Jesus appeared. So when the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that he would not believe unless he could see and touch the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and touch the sword wound in Jesus’ side.

Eight days later the disciples were again in the upper room, and Thomas was also there. Again Jesus appeared and stood among them. Again he offered them his peace, and then he told Thomas to touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side, so that Thomas would not be faithless but believing. Thomas said, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus replied that Thomas had believed because he had seen Jesus; but those who believe without seeing will be blessed. There are many other miracles which Jesus did which are not recorded in this book (the Gospel of John), but the ones that are recorded here were written in order for its readers to believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God, and that through believing they may have life in Jesus’ name.

Commentary:

“The Word of God is living (“quickened”) and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). It is the weapon of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:17). The indwelling Holy Spirit will help “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples recall all Jesus’ teachings (Acts 14:26) and give us what to say at the moment it’s needed (Luke 21:11-1221:13-15). It is by the Word of God that worldly nations and people will be chastised, and worldly kings and nobles will be restrained.

We cannot accomplish God’s purpose in our own human strength, but only by the guidance and empowerment of the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had been “born-again, before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The Holy Spirit cannot recall to our memory what we have not read. To equip ourselves with the sword of the Spirit we must read the entire Bible at least once, and then we must read portions daily with meditation and prayer, with a lectionary such as this, which will help us prepare for Sunday worship.

Any average reader can easily read the entire Bible in one year. There are numerous one-year reading plans available. I favor ones which include portions of Old and New Testaments each day (see free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right).

It is by the “baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are spiritually “born-again.” 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 infilling with the Holy Spirit is not automatically conferred by some Church ritual such as water baptism (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2).

Worldly rulers tried to restrain the Apostles from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it was not God’s will for them to be restrained. The angel (or Spirit) of the Lord released them from imprisonment, guided and empowered them to return to the temple to continue preaching Jesus, and gave them what to say before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council of seventy elders. When the rulings of worldly authorities conflict with the Word of God we must obey God rather than men.

Jesus’ miracles of resurrection and his own resurrection were intended to show that there is existence beyond physical death, and that Jesus can raise the physically dead to eternal life. Jesus is the pioneer who “blazed the trail” to eternal life (Hebrews 2:10-11). He is the first-born from physical death to eternal life. Jesus is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, and nations, and people and worldly rulers and nobles will be accountable to him on the Day of Judgment at Christ’s return (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

The Day of Judgment will come for everyone who has ever lived in this world. Christ will come on the clouds of heaven as he ascended into heaven. This world began with God and will end with God (John 1:1-5, 14).

“Born-again” Christians are called to be a kingdom of priests of God the Father. We are to be mediators between God and mankind. We have an obligation to proclaim the full Gospel, both the wonderful promises and the fearsome warnings, so that mankind will repent of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and turn to the Lord in obedient trust.

Jesus usually referred to himself as the Son of man, which is true because he had a human mother. He is Son of God because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:31-35) and has the fullness of God within him (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man so that the listeners could decide for themselves who Jesus is, with a hint from Daniel 7:13-14.

The sharp two-edged sword coming forth from the mouth of Jesus in John’s vision symbolizes the Word of God. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:14).

On the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9), Jesus’ face and his clothing became supernaturally luminous with the glory he had in heaven before his coming and the glory he had when he ascended.

Moses is the forerunner and preview of the Christ, the mediator between God and his people. When Moses had been in God’s presence on Mt. Sinai (Horeb), his face shone with supernatural radiance, so that the people were afraid to see it (Exodus 34:29-35).

When God’s face “shines upon us” it is a sign of his favor. We receive the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The face and clothing of the angel at the tomb also were supernaturally luminescent, indicating that he had come from the presence of God in heaven.

Jesus had told his disciples at least three times beforehand that they were going to Jerusalem where Jesus would be arrested, crucified, buried and then rise from the dead on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-3; 20:17-19), but they didn’t understand and were afraid to ask (Luke 18:31-34), so they did not remember these sayings of Jesus until the angel reminded the women at the tomb. They didn’t remember that Jesus had told them beforehand that they would see him in Galilee after his resurrection (Matthew 26:31-32), until the angel reminded the women. Even then the disciples were slow to believe the women’s testimony (Luke 24:10-11).

The Jewish leaders had asked Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, to post guards at the tomb to prevent the disciples from faking Jesus’ resurrection. When their best efforts failed to prevent Jesus’ resurrection, the Jewish leaders then bribed the guards to spread the lie that this is what had happened. To this day there are heresies spread in the world and even within the Church, denying Jesus’ resurrection. For example, some suggest that Jesus wasn’t actually dead, and revived in the cool tomb. Some suggest that it was not necessary for Jesus to actually rise from the dead.

Paul refutes these types of heresies, which were present in the first-century church and persist to this day, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-28. Furthermore, every truly “born-again” Christian has personally experienced the risen Christ and testifies that Jesus is eternally alive.

After the crucifixion, the disciples were in hiding behind closed doors, afraid that the Jewish leaders would have them crucified next. They had barred the doors, but that didn’t prevent Jesus from appearing among them any more than posting guards and sealing the tomb could prevent his resurrection.

Jesus told his disciples that he was sending them to complete the mission which God had sent Jesus to begin. He told them to wait and receive the Holy Spirit first Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

He told them it was their responsibility to forgive sins or retain them. To the repentant they are to pronounce forgiveness; but to the unrepentant, they are to excommunicate them from Church membership so that they can realize their sinful condition and receive forgiveness through repentance, and then return to obedient trust in God’s Word.

Too often the nominal Church today tolerates sin among its membership, such as homosexuality and adultery, even among its ordained clergy. The Church is not doing its members or leaders any favor by tolerating sin. As long as an unrepentant sinner is a member in good standing he (or she) has tacit (implied; inferred) Church approval, and has no reason to repent and change his (or her) lifestyle.

Jesus gave instructions on Church discipline to his disciples (Matthew 18:15-18), Peter’s rebuke of Simon the magician (Acts 8:9-24),and his rebuke of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), for example. Paul demonstrated Church discipline in dealing with immorality in the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.

Thomas and the other disciples had witnessed Jesus’ miracles of resurrection of the dead, most notably Lazarus of Bethany (John 11:38-44). I presume that Lazarus did eventually die physically again and was ultimately raised to eternal life. Still, Thomas refused to believe Jesus’ resurrection without seeing physical proof.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be unbelieving and thus lose eternal life. We haven’t had the opportunity to witness Jesus’ miracles during Jesus’ earthly ministry, but we can still witness his resurrection and his miracles worked for us in our lives, if we will trust the eyewitness testimony in the New Testament and begin to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings.

As we do so he will manifest himself to us (John 14:21). We will come to know personally with certainty for ourselves that he is risen indeed, and is eternally alive. As we walk in obedient trust in the Holy Spirit we will experience numerous healing, feeding, and redeeming miracles in our life (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right.

Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:8-11; John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative power of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; compare Genesis 1:3, 9). When Thomas declared that Jesus is his Lord and God, Jesus did not deny or correct it. In contrast, when Paul and Barnabas were mistaken for gods in Lystra on Paul’s first missionary journey they refused the designation (Acts 14:8-18).

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

2 Easter – Monday C

First posted April 12, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Monday C

Psalm 30 – Thanksgiving for Healing;

I will praise and magnify you, O Lord, since you have lifted me up and not allowed my enemies to rejoice over me. When I cried to you for help you healed me. You have raised up my soul from the land of the dead and restored me to life from the grave.

Let all his saints (those who are committed to God’s service) give thanks and praise to the Lord. His anger is only momentary, but his favor is for a lifetime. Sorrow may linger for a night, but joy comes with the morning. When I was prosperous, I thought I couldn’t be shaken. The Lord’s favor had made me as strong as a mountain. Then the Lord hid his face, and I was undone.

I cried and made supplication to the Lord. How would my death glorify the Lord? Would my dust praise him? Would my dust testify to his faithfulness? O Lord, hear my cry and be gracious to me. Be my helper.

You have turned my mourning into dancing. You have changed my sackcloth to clothing of gladness. My soul must praise you and not be silent. I will give thanks to you for ever, O Lord!

Commentary:

When things are going well for us we tend to think that we have God’s favor and that we deserve it. None are worthy of God’s favor. We have it only because of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

Only God can save us from our spiritual enemies. It is only when we acknowledge this and cry to God for help that we can be lifted up above their power. Our spiritual enemy, who is ultimately Satan, seeks our eternal death. Only Jesus can save us from eternal death and give us eternal life (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God disciplines us for our good, like any good father. For the moment all discipline is painful, but his discipline yields eternal benefits (Hebrews 12:11). God’s promise is that, if we will endure through the long night of mourning, we will experience his eternal joy.

When we are successful we consider it our own deserved achievement. The Lord lifts his favor and protection and allows us to experience our vulnerability so that we will realize our need for him. We need to learn to call upon him in difficult times.

The Lord wants us to call upon him in times of trouble so that we can experience his power and ability to help us. As we do so, he causes our faith to grow from a tiny mustardseed, our “yes,” to informed certainty.

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

2 Easter – Tuesday C

First posted April 13, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Tuesday C

Acts 9:1-20 – Paul’s Conversion;

Paul (Saul of Tarsus), hating and threatening the disciples of Jesus with murder, asked the high priest for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, authorizing Paul to arrest followers of the Way (one of the earliest names for Christianity; see John 14:6) and bring them them to Jerusalem. As he approached Damascus he was struck down by a bright light. He heard a voice addressing him as Saul, and asking why Saul was persecuting him. Paul asked, “Who are you, Lord” (Acts 1:5a)?

The voice replied that it was Jesus who Saul was persecuting. The voice of Jesus told Saul to arise and go into the city and he would be told what to do. The men accompanying Saul heard the voice but saw no one and were speechless. Saul arose, but when he opened his eyes he wasn’t able to see anything, so his traveling companions led him into Damascus by his hand. For three days Saul was blind, and ate or drank nothing.

At Damascus there was a (“born-again”) disciple, Ananias. The Lord called to him by name and told Ananias to go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas and ask for Saul of Tarsus, who was staying there. Saul had seen a vision of a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on Saul and restore his sight.

Ananias replied that he had heard that Saul had done much evil to Christians at Jerusalem, and that he knew Saul had come to Damascus with authority from the high priests to arrest Christians. But the Lord told Ananias to go, because the Lord had chosen Saul to be his instrument to carry the Lord’s name to the Gentiles, earthly kings, and the children of Israel; and Saul would suffer much for the sake of Jesus’ name.

So Ananias went and entered the house where Saul was staying, saying to Saul that he had come to restore his sight and help him be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he was able to see again. Then he arose and was baptized, ate food, and was strengthened. For several days he was among the disciples at Damascus and immediately proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God.

Commentary:

I’m convinced that Paul is the one intended by God to replace Judas Iscariot, one of the original Twelve disciples and apostles; Judas had betrayed Jesus. The Eleven remaining disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the “baptism” (“gift;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit). While they were waiting they decided to choose one to replace Judas, but they didn’t have the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. They chose Mattias by chance; like rolling dice (Acts 1:15-26). Matthias was never heard from again in the New Testament record. In contrast, after Paul’s conversion, most of the rest of the New Testament is written by or about Paul.

Paul is the prototype and illustration of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, as all of us can and should be. He didn’t know Jesus during Jesus’ physical ministry on earth. He was confronted by the Holy Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus (Acts 1:4), he accepted Jesus as Lord (Acts 1:5a), became obedient to Jesus (Acts 1:6-8) repented of his sin (Acts 1:9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 1:10-17), was “born-again” (Acts 1:18) and then began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:20). I know that Ananias was a “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ because he had a personal relationship with the Lord (Acts 1:10).

Paul was as much an Apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) as the original Eleven). He was fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which was given to the disciples of Jesus Christ to be fulfilled after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). He was making “born-again” disciples (2 Timothy 1:6-7) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Too often, the nominal Church today is failing to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ and is settling for making members, “fair-weather” “Christians,” and building “buildings” instead of building the Kingdom of God. If the Church doesn’t make “born-again” disciples there will be no “born-again” leaders. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. If one knew how to be “born-again” one would not be unregenerate (un-reborn).

The Church has inherited the role of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent and be baptized with water for the forgiveness of sins, to cleanse them spiritually to prepare them to receive Jesus Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (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)?

2 Easter – Wednesday C

First posted April 14, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Wednesday C

Revelation 5:11-14 – Worthy is the Lamb;

The Apostle John had a vision of God on his throne. Around the throne were twenty-four elders (symbolizing the twelve Old Testament patriarchs, and the twelve New Testament Apostles). There were four living creatures at the sides of the throne (perhaps symbolizing man and all creatures) with six wings, constantly singing “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 4:1-11; Compare Isaiah 6:2-3). Around the throne were myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands (a number too large to be calculated) of angels, saying, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (seven-fold praise; seven indicates perfection, completeness). John heard every creature in heaven and on earth declare that both God and the Lamb are equally worthy of eternal praise. The four living creatures said, “Amen” (so be it) and the elders fell down and worshiped God and the Lamb.

Commentary:

This is the Apostle John’s vision of the risen and ascended Jesus at the right hand of God in heaven [the second article of the Apostle’s Creed, the statement of the Biblical (as recorded in the New Testament) Apostolic (as received directly from Jesus and taught by the original Apostles, including Paul) doctrine (the basic tenets of Christian faith); Acts 2:34].

The Church is the “New Israel” (people of God), the “New Jerusalem” (city of God on earth), the heir of the Old Testament patriarchs; Galatians 3:6-9). Jesus is the “New Moses,” the mediator of the New Covenant (Testament) of Grace which is received by faith in Jesus Christ, which Jesus initiated on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-29). The Last Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is the “New Feast of Passover.” Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of Passover, the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right) whose flesh provides the spiritual feast and whose blood marks believers to be “passed over” by the destroying angel (Exodus 12:1-14). Jesus’ Apostles (the Eleven of the original Twelve, minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, plus Paul -Saul of Tarsus- the “modern, post-resurrection, born-again disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, whom God intended to be Judas’ replacement) are the patriarchs of the “New Israel,” the “New Covenant.”

There is a Day coming when every tongue, in heaven and on earth, will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God (Philippians 2:9-11). This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, by the “baptism” (“gift;” “anointing;” “infilling”) 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).

God has designed this lifetime so that we have the 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 best interest. Right now we have the freedom to reject Jesus as Lord, and to refuse to trust and obey him, but there is a Day coming when he will command and we will have no choice but to obey. In that Day we will declare that he is the Lord, but it will be too late to change our eternal destiny. If we have rejected him as Lord and have refused to trust and obey him now, during this lifetime, we will spend eternity separated from his love and providence in eternal destruction in hell with all evil.

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

2 Easter – Thursday C

First posted April 15, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Thursday C

John 21:1-14 – Risen Jesus in Galilee;

After appearing to the disciples in Jerusalem (John 20:19-29), Jesus revealed himself to the disciples in Galilee as he had said (Matthew 26:32; 28:7), at the Sea of Tiberius (Sea of Galilee). Seven of his disciples were together: Peter, Thomas, called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Peter decided to go fishing, and the others came with him.

After the disciples had fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus stood on the beach at dawn, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus asked them if they had caught anything and they told him they hadn’t. Jesus told them to let down the net on the right side of the boat and they would find some. When they did so, their nets were filled so that they were unable to haul it in because of the weight of the fish. Then “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John) recognized Jesus and told the others that it was the Lord. When Peter heard this he put on his clothes, since he had stripped for work, and jumped into the sea. The others came in the boat dragging the net, since they were only about a hundred yards off.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire, with fish on it and bread. Jesus told them to bring some of the fish they had just caught. So Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, filled with one hundred and fifty-three large fish. Despite the number and weight of fish the net was not torn. Jesus told them to come and eat breakfast. Everyone knew it was Jesus and none needed to ask. Jesus took bread and fish and distributed it to them. For the third time, Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples since his resurrection.

Commentary:

This moment of fellowship with the risen Jesus is reminiscent of the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-14), and both are previews of the fellowship we will have with Jesus in heaven. The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is a foretaste of the fulfillment of the New Passover feast in heaven.

Jesus’ miracles of physical feeding (and healing) were intended to show that he can feed (and heal) us spiritually. Physical feeding only lasts until the next mealtime; physical healing only lasts until the next time we get sick. But spiritual feeding and healing last for eternity.

Many people were coming to Jesus only for what he could do for them physically. The five thousand who were fed with the five barley loves and two fish wanted to take Jesus by force to make him their “food king” (John 6:15). When they couldn’t find Jesus they went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee looking for him, seeking more free bread and fish (John 6:26-27).

God’s Word declares that we are all sinners who fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23: 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want any of us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Unless and until we recognize and acknowledge our sinfulness, we cannot seek and receive the spiritual healing and feeding which only Jesus can supply.

The disciples had learned to trust and obey Jesus and had experienced his supernatural power and faithfulness. They were experienced fishermen with long experience fishing the Sea of Galilee. They’d fished all night and caught nothing. Why should they obey Jesus’ command to let down their nets again?

We can’t receive the blessings that Jesus wants to give us unless we are willing to trust and obey Jesus. Jesus asks why we call him our Lord if we are unwilling to trust and obey his commands (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

Faith is not getting whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Faith is not “wishing on a star” or on birthday candles. Saving faith is only by obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

The risen Jesus appears to his disciples who trust and obey him today. Every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ testifies to this truth. Jesus promises that if we love him we will keep his commandments and he will manifest himself to us through his indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (“baptizes with;” John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

2 Easter – Friday C

First posted April 16, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Friday C

1 Peter 2:21-25 – Call to Discipleship;

Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who suffered for us. So we also endure suffering for the sake of the Gospel, to save the lost. Jesus was completely sinless (Hebrews 4:15); he did not lie; he did not revile those who reviled him. When he suffered he did not make threats; instead he entrusted his cause to God the Father who judges justly. He took upon himself, on the cross, the punishment for our sins, so that, having died to sin, we might live for righteousness. Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, we have been healed by the wounds he received. We had all gone astray, but have now returned to our Shepherd, who is the guardian of our souls.

Commentary:

Christians are by definition disciples (students) of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing experience (Acts 19:2).

Jesus’ physical ministry was intended to show us by word and example how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate obedient trust by submitting to the most excruciatingly (Merriam-Webster: Latin: “from crucifixion; from the cross) painful death, on the cross. Crucifixion represents the ultimate painful physical death by torture.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrates that there is existence beyond this physical lifetime, and that God is able to save us even from physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15). We are not to pursue justice for ourselves, because we can’t know everything, and cannot judge justly.

God’s justice doesn’t strike us dead the first time we sin. He doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally but for all to be saved and have eternal life (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right). He has designed this world so that we have 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 way is our best interest.

The Lord forgives us over and over, as often as we need forgiveness, provided that we are making an effort to trust and obey his Word; but we cannot deceive him. He knows our innermost thoughts and attitudes. He knows when we’re not making a serious effort to know and do his will. The danger is that we may become callous to the promptings of our conscience, and that we may postpone commitment until it is too late (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when Christ will return to Judge the living (“quickened”) and dead in both physical and spiritual senses (Matthew 25:31-46). Everyone who has ever lived in this world will be accountable to him for what we have done with the Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” in this lifetime and will enter eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have refused to accept Jesus as Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (John 5:28-29; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

We are all eternal beings in physical bodies. We will spend eternity in only one of two places: God’s Kingdom restored to perfect paradise in heaven with the Lord, or hell; “outer darkness” with all evil, eternally separated from the Lord. We have had the opportunity to learn in this lifetime that God is the source of every blessing. We are healed physically and spiritually by God’s providence and grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), we are fed physically and spiritually by God’s providence and grace.

Imagine what eternity will be for those who are eternally separated from that grace and providence of God. Physical bodies fail and decay, but those who have not been spiritually “born-again” have no eternal spiritual body in which to continue in eternity. They will be cut off eternally from all the love, grace and providence of God, and will only experience anguish, suffering and grief for all eternity. Furthermore they will be fully aware of what great blessings they have lost.

Excruciating physical death by crucifixion cannot begin to compare to the eternal agony of destruction in hell. Would you rather spend three hours dying physically on the cross, with the assurance of eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom, or dying an even more excruciating spiritual death which will never end?

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

2 Easter – Saturday C

First posted April 17, 2010;

Podcast: 2 Easter – Saturday C

John 10:11-16 – The Good Shepherd;

Jesus declared that he is the Good Shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep. A hired servant has no concern for the sheep. Seeing the wolf coming, he abandons them and flees, and the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees because he has no emotional or material investment in the sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd; he knows each of his sheep and they know him. Jesus has other sheep (the Gentiles) who are not of this fold (the Jews). Jesus’ sheep, both Jew and Gentile, will obey his voice and will be one flock, and Jesus will be their one and only shepherd.

Commentary:

From the very beginning of Creation, God has designed a Savior, the Good Shepherd, into Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). The promise of a shepherd-king was prefigured and demonstrated in David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel. The promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Psalm 23; 80:1-3; Isaiah 40:10-11; Ezekiel 37:23-24; John 10:11), the Son (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1; 21:9, 15; 22:42-43).

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

By the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have a daily personal fellowship with the risen and ascended Jesus. We learn to recognize his voice and to trust and obey his commands. His indwelling Holy Spirit within us acknowledges that he knows us.

There is no longer a special category of God’s particular people. Everyone who has been”born-again” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is one of Jesus’ flock.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Easter – C – 03/27 – 04/02/2016

March 26, 2016

Week of Easter – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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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 Easter – C 

Sunday Easter – C 
First posted  04/04/2010;
Podcast: Sunday Easter – C 

Exodus 15:1-11 – Song of Moses;

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24 – The Right Hand of the Lord;

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – Paul’s Gospel;

Luke 24:1-11 – The First Easter;

or John 20:1-9 (10-18) – The Resurrection;

Exodus Background:

The Song of Moses begins by quoting the Song of Miriam (Exodus 15:21), one of the oldest poetic texts in the Bible, and which is attributed to Moses’ sister, Miriam. It is believed to have been composed by an eyewitness of the crossing of the Red Sea.

Exodus 15:1-11 Paraphrase:

Moses and the people celebrated unto the Lord, declaring the Lord’s glorious triumph over the Egyptians. The Lord had cast horse and rider (or chariot) into the sea. The Lord is the strength and song of Israel and has become their salvation. He is the God of Israel and of their forefathers; they will praise and exalt him. The Lord is a great warrior and his name is the Lord.

Pharaoh’s army and his chariots have been cast into the Red Sea and sunk. They are covered by the flood; they sank like a stone. The right hand of the Lord is glorious in power; his right hand shatters the enemy. By God’s great majesty he overthrows his adversaries; his anger goes forth and they are consumed like stubble. By the breath of his nostrils the waters were heaped up and the depths were congealed.

The enemy decided to pursue Israel through the sea, thinking that they would overtake Israel, plunder them, and destroy them by the sword. Then the Lord blew with his wind, and the waters returned and covered the Egyptian army; they sank like lead. “Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, majestic in holiness, terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders (Exodus 15:11)?

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24 Paraphrase:

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

Listen! Hear glad songs in the houses of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly!” The right hand of the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly” (Psalm 118:15)! We shall not die, but live and recount the Lord’s deeds. The Lord chastens us strongly, but will not abandon us to eternal death.

The Lord opens to us the gates of righteousness so that we may enter and give him thanks.

“This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it” (Psalm 118:20).

Let us give thanks to the Lord for answering our prayer and becoming our salvation. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes (quoted in Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7). This is the day (Sunday; the day of Jesus’ resurrection; all of our days) which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)!

1 Corinthians Background:

Paul had founded the Church at Corinth by his preaching of the Gospel (“Good News”) of Jesus Christ, and he was continuing to disciple the believers by letter from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8). There were some false teachings arising in the congregation and Paul was writing to correct them.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Paraphrase:

Remember the key beliefs of the Gospel set forth by Paul, which the Corinthians had received, by which they are firmly established and by which they are saved, if they hold firmly to them. Otherwise their faith would be in vain. Paul had received the Gospel, and was transmitting it faithfully and accurately. Christ died for our sins in agreement with the Bible scriptures. He was buried and arose from physical death on the third day, as the scriptures had said. Then he appeared to over five hundred eyewitnesses, including Cephas (meaning “rock” the Aramaic equivalent of the Greek word “Petros: i. e. Simon Peter), the remainder of the Twelve original Apostles (minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer), James the brother (or cousin) of Jesus, and lastly to Paul (Saul of Tarsus; Acts 9:3-6).

Paul felt unworthy to be included among the Apostles because he had formerly persecuted the Church. But he was an Apostle by the grace (unmerited favor; free gift) of God, and he didn’t waste the opportunity that grace provided. In fact Paul worked harder at his Apostleship, although it was not by his work but by the grace of God within him. So regardless of who preached the Gospel, the Apostles proclaimed it and so the Corinthian Christians had believed.

Luke Background:

Jesus had been crucified on what became know by the Church as “Good Friday.” He was placed in a tomb before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath Friday at sundown.

Luke 24:1-11Paraphrase:

On the first day of the week (Sunday; after the Jewish Sabbath, which ended at sundown on Saturday), the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee (Luke 23:55; Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and the other Mary, the mother of James and Salome and wife of Clopas, and other women; Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10) went to the tomb at the first light of dawn, taking the burial spices they had prepared (Luke 23:56). They found that the stone sealing the door of the tomb had been rolled away, and on entering they could not find Jesus’ body.

While struggling to understand, two men in radiant apparel appeared beside them. The frightened women bowed their faces to the ground, but the men asked them why they were seeking the living among the dead. They reminded the women that Jesus had told them, before they left Galilee, that he would be delivered into the authority of sinners and crucified, and rise from the dead on the third day. The women remembered this, and they returned from the tomb and told the Eleven (Apostles) and the other followers of Jesus, but the Apostles and followers didn’t believe their story because it seemed like nonsense.

John 20:1-9 (10-18) Paraphrase:

Early on the first day of the week (Sunday), Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb while it was still dark. She saw that the stone sealing the entrance had been rolled aside, so she ran, returning to Simon Peter and “the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2; John; a device which allows us to see ourselves as Jesus’ beloved disciples), and told them that Jesus’ body had been removed and that [the women] didn’t know where it was.

Peter and the “other” disciple ran toward the tomb, but the “other” disciple ran faster and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the burial cloths lying there, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter arrived and went right into the tomb. Peter saw the burial shroud lying there and the “napkin,” used as a burial face covering, rolled up by itself. Then the “other” disciple entered the tomb and saw and believed, because until then they hadn’t understood the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the two returned to the place where they were staying.

But Mary stayed outside the tomb, weeping. Stooping to look into the tomb, she saw two angels in white, sitting where Jesus’ body had lain, one at head, and one at feet. They asked Mary why she was weeping and she told them that the body of her Lord had been removed and she didn’t know what had happened to it.

As she said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing nearby, but didn’t recognize him. He asked why she was weeping and whom she sought. She supposed that he was the gardener and asked him what had become of Jesus’ body, so she could take care of it. Jesus addressed her by name, and she replied in recognition: “Rabboni!” (Rabbi; “Teacher”). Jesus asked her not to hold him, because he had not yet ascended to God the Father. He told Mary to tell his disciples that he was ascending to God his Father and their God and Father. Mary returned to the disciples and told them that she had seen the [risen] Lord, and she told them all these things.

Commentary:

This history of God’s dealing with Israel is also deliberately intended by God to be a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. We are all in slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world. Satan is the “Pharaoh,” the present ruler of this age. Jesus is the “New Moses,” who leads us out of “Egypt” through the “Sea” of Baptism into Jesus Christ, which separates us from our spiritual enemies, through the wilderness of this present lifetime by the Holy Spirit which is the “Pillar of Cloud and Fire” (Exodus 13:21-22). Jesus is the “New Joshua” (“Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of “Joshua,” or “Jeshua”) who leads us through the “River” of physical death without getting our feet wet (Joshua 3:14-17; physical death will have no effect upon us), and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom restored to paradise in Heaven.

Jesus is the right hand of the Lord, who has defeated our spiritual enemies and has won the victory for us (Exodus 15:6, 12; Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 118:15-16; compare Matthew 22:44; 26:64; 1 Peter 3:22). As the result, we will not die eternally, but will live in his heavenly kingdom, where we will delight in recounting the great deeds the Lord has done for us. Indeed, for those who have come to experience those deeds personally, it is a delight to recount them now.

Jesus is the door to eternal life and fellowship with God our Creator in his heavenly kingdom (John 10:7-9). Jesus is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, the only way to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, the only way to have true, eternal life in Heaven with the Lord (John 14:6).

Jesus is the gate of righteousness. It is his righteousness which is attributed to us by faith (obedient trust; see Romans 3:22; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:8-9) in Jesus, which makes it possible to enter into God’s righteousness in Heaven.

Jesus is the cornerstone which was rejected by the Jews, who were commissioned to build God’s house, who has become the foundation of God’s Church.

Jesus is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the entire forgiveness of all our sins. Jesus is God’s one and only plan for our salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12). Jesus has been designed into the world from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus prophesied his crucifixion, death and resurrection to his disciples at least three times, beginning in Galilee, before it took place (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 26:2). The Bible has been progressively revealing God’s Plan of Salvation (see sidebar, top right, home) from the beginning (Genesis 3:15). All those scriptures were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ miracles of resurrection from physical death (The son of the widow of Nain: Luke 7:11-15; Lazarus: John 11:38-44; Jairus’ daughter: Luke 8:41-56) and Jesus’ own resurrection from physical death are intended to show that there is existence beyond physical death and that Jesus has the power to raise us from physical death to eternal life. Jesus reveals himself to those who believe. “Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples personally experience the risen and ascended Jesus by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, and so testify to his resurrection.

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift; anointing) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The 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 for one to be “born-again” and not personally know it with certainty for oneself (Acts 19:2).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was deliberately intended by God to replace Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. Jesus had told the Eleven to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-13). Instead, while they waited they decided to choose Judas’ replacement, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which they had not yet received. They chose Matthias, who is never heard of again in the New Testament (Acts 1:15-26). In contrast, after Paul was “born-again” most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul’s ministry.

Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle” of Jesus Christ, as we all can and should become. Paul was confronted by the Holy Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3), accepted Jesus’ rebuke and accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5). He became obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:6-8), repented of his sins (Acts 9:9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17), was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18, and then began to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 9:20-22). Paul began to make “born-again” disciples (in fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and to teach them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 1:6-7; 2:2).

We can hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but unless we act in faith (obedient trust) upon it, it will be of no benefit to us. If we believe in Jesus we will do what he teaches (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). We will seek to know Jesus’ teachings and to apply them in our daily lives, one day at a time. Paul recognized that he was an Apostle only by God’s grace, but he didn’t waste the opportunity by hesitating to act.

John outran Peter to the tomb, but John hesitated at the entrance. Peter was always impulsive. Peter didn’t get there first, but he didn’t hesitate once he arrived. So he experienced the reality of the resurrection before John.

Jesus had told his disciples in advance that he would rise from the dead. His disciples had witnessed Jesus’ miracles of resurrection, and still they couldn’t understand how what Jesus said could be true. Jesus’ prophecy hadn’t been remembered because it hadn’t been understood and believed, and even when they witnessed it they couldn’t remember the prophecy, until the risen Jesus revealed himself to them.

We’ve heard the Gospel: that the scriptures regarding Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection were fulfilled; that Jesus died and arose again from physical death; that he reveals himself to his followers. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and begin to follow his teachings he will reveal himself to us personally and individually and we will come to know from direct personal experience that he is risen and is eternally alive.

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

Monday Easter – C 
First posted 04/05/2010;

Podcast: Monday Easter – C 

Psalm 149 – Festival Celebration;

Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord! Let us sing a new song to him and praise him in the gathering of his saints (those who are committed to serving the Lord). Let us rejoice in our Maker, O Israel (the people of God; Christians) and rejoice in our King, O Zion (the Church). Let us praise his name with dancing and music-making with tambourine and harp. The people of the Lord are his delight; he gives victory to the humble. Let his saints rejoice in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches. Let there be great praises of God in their throats, and and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance upon the nations (Gentiles) and chastisement on the peoples. God’s people are called to bind the kings of earth with iron chains, and restrain the rich and powerful with bars of iron. To execute the written judgment upon them is our glorious honor. Let us glorify the Lord!

Commentary:

Christians are by definition disciples of Jesus (Acts 11:26c), who have been “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). When believers have been filled with the Holy Spirit, they will have a new song of praise to the Lord within the congregation of other “born-again” Christians. It is only by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we can truly praise and glorify the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3).

Particularly in America and in other countries where citizens have the opportunity to influence government, business and the economy, Christians have the responsibility to oppose the exploitation and oppression of the weak and helpless by the rich and powerful. For the past ten years the U.S. Government has deregulated industry and the economy and allowed a few rich and powerful people to rape and plunder America and its citizens. Those regulations were set up in the wake of the first era of the Robber Barons, and the first Great Depression, to prevent just such abuse. Trillions of economic assets have been stolen, apparently with no hope of recovery, leaving America in shambles.

America no longer has a Christian majority. Every “religion” in America today is encouraged, but Christianity is opposed and suppressed.

But the Lord is the ultimate mighty warrior who gives victory to the humble. A Christian minority, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit can accomplish what is impossible in a worldly sense. God’s purpose cannot be accomplished by human resources, but only by the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

The Christian Church is to be a disciple-making organization, following the example of Jesus, and the example of Paul (Saul of Tarsus; 2 Timothy 1:6-7; 2:2). The Church is called to baptize believers with water to spiritually cleanse and prepare them to receive the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, following the example of John the Baptizer. The Church is called to disciple new believers within the Church (the New Jerusalem; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) until they have been spiritually “born-again” (“born-anew;” “baptized” with the Holy Spirit; Acts 2:1-13), and only then to send them out into the world to proclaim the Word of God, following the example of Ananias (Acts 9:10-17) and Paul.

How are we doing, Church? I assert that the (nominal) Church, at least in America, has settled for making members and building buildings instead of making disciples and building the kingdom of God. If the Church does not make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ there will be no “born-again” disciples to lead the Church. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. If an “unregenerate” (un-born-again) knew how to be “born-again” he would not be unregenerate.

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

Tuesday Easter – C 
First posted 04/06/2010;

Podcast: Tuesday Easter – C 

Acts 5:12, 17-32 – Second Arrest of Apostles;

Paraphrase:

The Apostles (messengers; of the Gospel; the original eleven remaining disciples) were doing many powerful miracles and signs, and they were in Solomon’s Portico, probably on the east side of the temple.

But the high priest and the Jewish authorities, particularly the Sadducees were jealous, so they arrested the apostles and put them in prison. But during the night the angel (Spirit) of the Lord opened the prison doors and released them, telling them to go and stand in the temple and testify to the people the true eternal life of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So the Apostles entered the temple at daybreak and taught.

The high priest called the Sanhedrin (the religious Supreme Court of Israel) and they sent to the prison to have the Apostles summoned, but the Apostles were not there. The officers of the Sanhedrin reported that the cells were securely locked and that there were sentries at the doors but that there were no Apostles inside. This report perplexed the chief priests and the temple guard, and they wondered where this would lead. Someone came and reported that the Apostles were in the temple, teaching the people. So the Captain of the temple police went and brought them to the Sanhedrin, but without violence, because they were afraid of the reaction of the common people.

When the Apostles arrived, the high priest questioned them, accusing them of having disobeyed the ruling of the Sanhedrin to not teach in the name of Jesus, and yet the Apostles seemed determined to make the Jews guilty of Jesus’ blood. Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:29b-32).

Commentary:

The disciples of Jesus Christ had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), guided, and empowered by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The religious establishment felt threatened by their power and authority, and tried to forbid them from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and doing signs and wonders.

That same situation exists in the nominal Church today, at least in America. In many instances the nominal Church has failed to make “born-again” disciples, and has chosen leaders from its “unregenerate” membership. The denominational establishment controls who can teach, according to their denominational doctrines, rather than the Apostolic (as taught by the Apostles) Biblical  doctrines (recorded in the New Testament scriptures.

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” by the “baptism” (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). It is not possible to have been “born-again” and not know it with certainty for oneself.

Denominations that assure their members that they are “born-again” by water baptism by the Church are actually doing spiritual damage to their members by discouraging them from seeking spiritual rebirth. The situation reminds me of the folktale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Not only are the leaders strutting around spiritually stark naked thinking they are fully clothed, but so are their members.

“Born-again” Christian disciples must be guided and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We must obey God rather than men. It is important to seek God’s guidance through reading his Word, the Bible, daily, with prayer and meditation. If we seek his will with the commitment to doing it, he will reveal it to us. When we receive his Word we should pray it back, to make sure that we have correctly understood. Remember that the Lord will never ask us to do anything that will harm ourselves or others, or anything that is contrary to the Bible scriptures.

“Born-again” Christians testify to what we have personally experienced and come to know, and the Holy Spirit within us confirms that testimony within us.

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

Wednesday Easter – C 
First posted 04/07/2010;
Podcast:
Wednesday Easter – C 


Revelation 1:4-18 – John’s Initial Vision;

Background:

The Apostle John had been banished to the tiny island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea by Roman Emperor Domitian toward the end of his reign. Domitian reigned from 81 to 96 A.D.. The revelation is a series of visions given to John by the Holy Spirit (“angel;” compare Acts 12:13-16) of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1), described symbolically. John was writing this letter to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia (western Asia Minor). He combined the customary Greek and Hebrew salutations, but John was conveying the grace and peace which are only possible through Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:4-18 Paraphrase:

From John to the seven churches in Asia from he (God; Exodus 3:14), who is, who was and is to come (John 1:1-3, 14), and from the seven angels (or the completeness of the energies of the Holy Spirit) before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the perfectly faithful witness [testifying to the Gospel of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), restoration of fellowship with God the Father which was broken by sin, and salvation from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23)]. Jesus is the first-born of the dead and the ruler of worldly kings.

To Jesus, who loves us and has given his life’s blood as a sacrifice on the cross to save us from the consequences of our sin, be eternal glory and dominion. Amen (yes; so be it)! Watch! Jesus is going to return with the clouds (compare Acts 1:9-11). Everyone who has ever lived will see him come. Everyone who has ever lived is guilty of crucifying Jesus because we have all sinned and made his sacrifice on the cross necessary for our forgiveness and salvation. Every nation and people on earth will mourn on Jesus’ account. Even so: Amen!

The Lord God declares that he is the beginning and end of all things. He has always been, he is now, and he eternally will be. He is the Almighty!

All believers must endure persecution for the Gospel of Jesus Christ with patient endurance, as John is an example. John was banished to the isle of Patmos for proclaiming the Word of God and his testimony to Jesus Christ. On the Lord’s Day (Sunday; the day of Jesus’ resurrection) he was experiencing the full anointing of the Holy Spirit, and he heard a voice behind  [or within] him, as loud as a trumpet-blast (compare 1 Samuel 3:1-14). The voice told John to record his vision in a book to be sent to the seven churches in Asia, to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

John turned toward the voice and saw a vision of seven lampstands of gold, and in their midst “one like a son of man” (compare Daniel 7:13; Matthew 9:6; 16:13-15). His royalty, eternity, wisdom and immutability are described symbolically. Jesus holds in his hand the angels assigned to the seven churches of Asia, and Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:8-10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41), a sharp two-edged sword (compare Hebrews 4:12). Jesus’ face glows with the knowledge of God (II Corinthians 4:6; Exodus 34:29-35; Moses is deliberately intended by God to be a forerunner and illustration of Christ).

John fainted with fear when he saw the vision, but Jesus touched him and told him not to be afraid. Jesus said to him that Jesus was the first and last (Alpha and Omega; the equivalent of “A” and “Z” in the Greek alphabet; compare Revelation 1:8). Jesus is the “living one” (he lived in human flesh in this world, died physically and was raised to live eternally. Every truly “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ personally testifies that Jesus has arisen from physical death and is eternally alive).

Jesus has the one and only key which can release us from eternal death and destruction in Hell. He commanded John to write down what he had seen which existed then and which would occur thereafter. The seven lampstands represent the seven churches of Asia, and the seven stars represent the seven angels assigned to the seven churches.

Commentary:

The number “seven” is symbolic of completeness. The seven churches of Asia Minor (present-day western Turkey) are representative of all the various conditions within the nominal Church today (Revelation 2:1-3:22). Every denomination and every congregation is one of the seven types.

God is the one who is the “I AM,” the one who is, who has always been, and who always will be (Exodus 3:14). God is the beginning and end of all things. He is the Creator and the final judge (Revelation 1:8).

Jesus is the fullness of God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9), but he was also fully human. Jesus truly is also the first and last of all things (Revelation1:17; John 1:1-3, 14). Those who have “seen” (experienced) Jesus have “seen” God the Father. When Jesus reveals himself to us (John 14:21) he reveals God the Father (John 14:8-11; 23-24).

Jesus usually identified himself as the Son of man, which is true, because he was fully God (Colossians 2:8-9) and also fully human (Philippians 2:8). He was born of a human woman, Mary, by the creative power of God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:31-35). The Lord wants us to be free to decide for ourselves whether to believe, trust and obey Jesus or not. Calling himself the Son of man allows us to decide whether he is also the Son of God, with a hint from Daniel 7:13-14 (Matthew 16:13-17).

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


Thursday Easter – C 

First posted 04/08/2010;
Podcast: Thursday Easter – C 

 

Matthew 28:1-15 — The First Easter;

Paraphrase:

After the Jewish Sabbath (from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown), early on the first day of the week, Sunday (which came to be the Lord’s Day, the day of Christ’s resurrection), Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary, Mary, the sister of Jesus’ mother, wife of Clopas (or Cleopas) and mother of “little” James, went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for entombment. There was a great earthquake; an angel of the Lord had descended from Heaven and had rolled away the stone sealing the tomb, and was sitting upon it. His appearance was as bright as lightening, and his clothing was supernaturally whiter than snow.

The Jewish religious leaders had asked Pilate to post guards and seal the tomb, in order to prevent the disciples from faking Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 27:62-66). The posted guards were so frightened by the appearance of the angel that they were paralyzed by fear. But the angel reassured the women not to be afraid. The angel said he knew they sought Jesus, but that Jesus was not there. Jesus had risen as he had said. The angel told them to look at the place where Jesus had been laid, to assure them that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, and then they were  to go and tell the other disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. The angel said that they would see him in Galilee as Jesus had told them. The angel had completed his message.

So the women quickly left the tomb with fear and also great joy, running to tell the disciples. Jesus came to them and greeted them, saying, “Hello!” They bowed down and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus told them not to be afraid and reassured them that they would see him in Galilee.

While the women were returning, the posted guards reported what had happened at the tomb to the Jewish leaders. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council of seventy elders, assembled and decided to give money to the soldiers to tell the people that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body during the night, while the guards were sleeping. The Jewish authorities promised to protect the guards from punishment if this story came to the attention of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. So the soldiers took the bribe and spread the story among the Jews, where it was well-known at the time of the writing of the Gospel of Matthew (probably in the last third of the first century).

Commentary:

Jesus was crucified on “Good” Friday, the day his body was offered as the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for our salvation from sin and eternal death (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). As sundown and the beginning of Sabbath approached, Jesus had already died but the two criminals crucified with him had their legs broken to hasten their death so as not to violate the Sabbath laws (John 19:31-37). Jesus was laid in the tomb during the Sabbath, and the women returned on Sunday morning to prepare his body for entombment.

The angel’s body and clothing glowed supernaturally with heavenly glory, as had Jesus, Moses and Elijah on the mountain of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3). The angel spoke reassurance to the women but apparently not to the guards.

Jesus had told his disciples at least three times that he would rise on the third day after his crucifixion (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). But his disciples didn’t remember Jesus’ saying, because they hadn’t understood and accepted it (Luke 18:31-34). Jesus had told them that they would see him again  in Galilee after his resurrection (Matthew 26:32; John 21:1-14).

The Jewish leaders first tried to prevent the disciples from faking Jesus’ resurrection by posting guards, and when the guards did not prevent Jesus’ resurrection, they bribed the guards to say that the disciples had faked Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples had actually forgotten Jesus’ prophecy of his resurrection, and when Jesus wasn’t in the tomb on the first Easter, they had to be reminded. They were slow to realize and accept Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 26:31, 56b; , even though they had seen Jesus raise the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15), Lazarus (John 11:38-44), and Jairus’ daughter (Matthew  9:18, 23-26).

The secular world has been trying to deny Jesus’ death and resurrection ever since. Even some theologians and nominal Churches deny this today, and  have done so since the Church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Some have said that Jesus wasn’t really dead; that he was unconscious and revived in the cool tomb. Some modern theologians say that it is not necessary for Jesus to have actually risen from the dead. These and other heresies regarding the resurrection were present in the early Church and are refuted by the original Apostles, including Paul, in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 1:15-28).

Jesus’ resurrection was eye-witnessed by over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:6), and is personally witnessed and testified to by every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian. Satan, the present earthly ruler, attempted, by those under his influence, to destroy God’s anointed eternal Savior and King, but was defeated at Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

The only way to guard against heresy and false teaching is to read the entire Bible for oneself. The Bible is the standard by which all doctrine must be judged. The New Testament is the record of the Biblical (as recorded in the Bible) Apostolic (as learned by the original Apostles including Paul, directly from Jesus, and taught by them in the first century Church) Doctrine. It is sufficient to read it once in entirety, and then to read a portion daily, such as with this lectionary. Any average reader can easily read it in entirety in one year (or less). Then a believer must begin to apply it one day at a time. As a believer applies the Bible to his everyday life, he will be “born-again” (John 14:15-17), and the Holy Spirit (angel of God; Revelation 1:1; Acts 12:13-15) within him will bring to his remembrance all that Jesus teaches (John 14:25-26).

Only Jesus baptizes with (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). It is impossible to be spiritually “born-again” and not know it personally for oneself (Acts 19:2).

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

Friday Easter – C 
First posted 04/09/2010;
Podcast: Friday Easter – C 

1 John 5:4-12 – Christian Faith and Assurance;

Paraphrase:

Whatever [any one who] is born of God overcomes the world. Our faith gives us the victory that overcomes the world. Faith that Jesus is the Son of God is how we overcome the world.

Jesus comes by water and blood, not by water alone; and the Spirit is the witness to this, because he is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:16-17). There are three witnesses to Jesus as the Son of God: the water of Jesus’ baptism, the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, and the Holy Spirit. If we believe the testimony of humans, God’s testimony is greater, for by the Spirit, water and blood are the testimony God has born witness to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony within themselves. Those who do not believe God’s testimony to his Son are calling God a liar. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Commentary:

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God have overcome slavery to sin and death in this world, through spiritual rebirth to eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom which begins now, in this world. Jesus says that one must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in order to see the kingdom of God that is all around us now, and to see and enter it ultimately in eternity.

I believe that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and find fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus gives the gift of (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 impossible to be filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit and not know it personally with certainty (Acts 19:2).

At Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptizer, John testified that God had given John the role of revealing the Messiah, and God had given him a sign confirming that Jesus was the one: the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove (John 1:31-34). The other Evangelists (Matthew, Mark and Luke) testify that Jesus’ baptism was accompanied by the voice of God from Heaven declaring that Jesus was God’s well-pleasing and beloved Son (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:22).

At the moment of Jesus’ death there were disturbances of nature that convinced even a Centurion guard at the cross that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:44-48).

Our water-baptism cleanses us spiritually and makes it possible for us to receive the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, but the Holy Spirit is not automatically conferred by water baptism or some other church ritual. We must claim the promise for ourselves by beginning to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings (John 1:11-12).

The Exodus, wilderness wandering, and ultimate entry into the Promised Land is the great metaphor of God’s redeeming work for his people in Jesus Christ, our “Moses” who leads us out of slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world. Passing through the Red Sea is the metaphor for baptism into Jesus Christ, which separates us from our spiritual enemies. The Holy Spirit is the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21-22) that leads us through the “wilderness” and spiritual darkness of this lifetime. Jesus is our “Joshua” (Joshua, or Jeshua, is the Hebrew name for Jesus, which is the Greek equivalent) who leads us through the “river” of physical death and into eternal life in the  “Promised Land” of God’s eternal heavenly kingdom.

Christian baptism makes it possible for us to be filled, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit as we begin to trust and obey Jesus. God wants our commitment to obedient trust in Jesus before giving us the Holy Spirit. Premature spiritual rebirth would be a disaster, because if one then turns away, one can no longer be restored (Hebrews 6:4-6).

On the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus instituted the New Covenant of Grace, which is received through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) at his “Last Supper” celebration of Passover, which became the “New Passover” celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist). The New Passover marks us with the blood of Jesus Christ, the New Passover Lamb, whose flesh provides the feast, and whose blood marks us to be passed-over by the destroying angel when the enemies of God and his people are destroyed on the Day of Judgment.

Jews were strictly forbidden to consume blood, or meat which had not been bled (Leviticus 3:17). Blood was believed to contain the spirit of the animal. God doesn’t want us to be filled with the spirit of animals but by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9).

Jesus declared that the elements of Holy Communion, the bread and wine, were his flesh and blood. He didn’t say they were merely symbols. Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Genesis 1:3, 9). When we trust and obey Jesus’ teachings in our daily lives we receive the promises of his words when we “take, eat… drink of it, all of you…” (in the words of the institution of the Last Supper; Matthew 26:26-28).

This doesn’t mean that anyone who partakes of the elements of Holy Communion receives the Spirit of Jesus. Those who do not receive the elements in a worthy manner -in faith (obedient trust)- are eating and drinking condemnation upon themselves, because they have not believed (1 Corinthians 11:29).

Faith is not wishing on a star; it is not getting whatever one believes if one believes “hard enough.” Faith is acting in obedient trust upon what one believes.

When we have been baptized, have believed (trusted and obeyed) Jesus, have received Jesus’ flesh and blood in the New Passover meal which seals the New Covenant, and have received the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have the testimony of God within us that Jesus is the Messiah, and that we are in Christ and have eternal life (see 1 John 5:13).

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


Saturday Easter – C 

First posted 04/10/2010;
Podcast: Saturday Easter – C

John 20:19-31 – Jesus Appears to His Disciples;

Paraphrase:

On Sunday evening, the first Easter, the disciples were in the upper room (where they had celebrated the Last Supper with Jesus) and they had locked the doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Jesus appeared and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19c). Jesus told them that as God the Father had sent Jesus, so Jesus was sending them. Then, breathing on them he told them to receive the Holy Spirit. He said that they had the power to forgive or to retain sins upon anyone.

Thomas, known as the Twin, one of the original Twelve disciples wasn’t present. When the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, Thomas replied that unless he saw and touched the nail-prints in Jesus hands and placed his hand on Jesus’ side, (where Jesus had been pierced by a Roman spear; John 19:34), Thomas would not believe.

The disciples were gathered in the upper room eight days later and Thomas was among them. The door was locked, but Jesus appeared among them and again offered them his peace. Then he told Thomas to touch the nail- and spear-wounds in Jesus’ body, so that Thomas would not be faithless but believing. Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)! Jesus said that Thomas had needed to see in order to believe, but more blessed would be those who believed without having to see. “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

Commentary:

The disciples had been told by the women that Jesus had risen but the Eleven remaining original disciples had not yet believed the women’s testimony (Luke 24:9-11). They were afraid that the Jewish authorities might arrest and crucify them next, so they were hiding behind locked doors. Jesus came and appeared among them despite the locked doors.

We are all sinners (have disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and have been separated (Romans 6:23; separation from God is eternal death) from fellowship with God because of sin. Through Jesus’ sacrifice we are forgiven and restored to fellowship with God by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, 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; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus had been sent to preach the Gospel (“Good News”) of reconciliation with God; to bring spiritual healing, feeding and life to the spiritually dead. He chose Twelve disciples who he trained by word and example to carry on his ministry of reconciliation, and commanded them to preach the Gospel to all nations and make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples, teaching them to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 28:19-20). But the disciples were to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, the “birthday” of the Church (Acts 2:1-13).

One of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was specifically intended by God to be Judas’ replacement, and the prototype and illustration of a “modern, post-resurrection, ‘born-again’ disciple and apostle (messenger of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ” (Acts 9:1-20). Paul was carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:6-7) and teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

At the Day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the formerly fearful Eleven became bold and fearless in proclaiming the Gospel. For example, Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times, even to the menial servant of the high priest, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal (Luke 22:54-62). On the Day of Pentecost Peter, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, gave a powerful proclamation of the Gospel with great boldness to a large crowd (Acts 2:14-36).

Jesus gave his Apostles the power to forgive or retain sins. Apostles are “born-again” disciples who are carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The Church is led by Apostles, and they have the responsibility to forgive or retain sins. Members of the Church who refuse to repent of sin are to be excommunicated, in the hope that they will come to repentance and restoration (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Allowing them to continue in Church membership is not doing them any favor; it implies Church forgiveness and approval.

In Samaria a magician called Simon saw the disciples bestow the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit with the laying on of their hands, and he offered money to receive the power to confer the Holy Spirit and Peter cursed Simon and his money. At Peter’s rebuke Simon repented and asked that Peter pray for Simon’s forgiveness (Acts 8:9-24).

In Jerusalem, the Church practiced a communal lifestyle (Acts 4:32-37), which became necessary because of the persecution of Christians which would soon arise with the death of Stephen (Acts 7:54-8:1). Two members of the Church in Jerusalem were Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. With the knowledge of his wife, Ananias sold a piece of property, but kept back a portion of the proceeds for themselves. Peter rebuked them, saying that they were not obligated to sell the property, and after it was sold they were not obligated to contribute the full amount. But they lied to the Holy Spirit (and to the Church), claiming to be generous in contributing the full amount. Their sin was against God. At Peter’s rebuke Ananias fell down and died (Acts 5:1-6).

Sapphira was not present when Ananias died, but came in about three hours later. Peter asked her the amount of the proceeds of the sale and she stated the amount she and her husband had agreed to claim as the amount of proceeds and contribution. Peter then rebuked her for conspiring with her husband to lie to the Spirit, and told her that her husband had been struck down and died, and that the same fate awaited her. Immediately she also fell down and died Acts 5:7-11).

In too many instances the nominal Church today doesn’t rebuke sin and excommunicate members. I don’t believe that homosexuals should be allowed Church membership unless they are not practicing the homosexual lifestyle. Some denominations are even ordaining openly homosexual leaders, which is a terrible perversion of God’s Word and the authority and responsibility of the Church. Jesus taught guidelines for applying Church discipline (Matthew 18:15-18).

Jesus knew what Thomas had said, and he showed Thomas his hands and side so that Thomas could believe. The disciples had been eyewitnesses to Jesus’ miracles, and had seen Jesus raise the dead (son of the widow of Nain: Luke 7:11-15; Lazarus: John 11:38-44; Jairus’ daughter: Luke 8:41-2, 49-56). But Thomas needed to see in order to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.

When Thomas believed Jesus’ resurrection, he declared Jesus his Lord and God. When Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra (in Asia Minor; modern-day Turkey) on Paul’s first missionary journey, Paul healed a cripple. The people who witnessed the miracle mistook Paul and Barnabas for gods in the likeness of men and prepared to offer animal sacrifices to them. But Paul and Barnabas tore their garments as signs of ritual mourning and told them that Paul and Barnabas were mere men. They then proclaimed to the people the one true living God. Notice that Jesus didn’t correct Thomas, because Jesus is the true, living Lord and God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 1:1-3, 14).

We, like Paul, don’t have the advantage of having personally witnessing Jesus’ ministry during his physical lifetime, but we have the eyewitness accounts in the New Testament. They have been written in order that we can believe and thus receive eternal life through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. When we believe the Bible and begin to act upon it in our daily lives Jesus will reveal himself to us (John 14:21). He will be present along side us until we have been spiritually “born-again,” and then he will be present within us by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

As we begin to live according to the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit we will personally experience miracles for and around us. We will be eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and will testify that Jesus is eternally alive. We will experience and testify to the great things the Lord has done and is doing in our lives (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

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

Holy Week – C -03/20 – 26/2016

March 19, 2016

Holy Week – C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast Download: Holy Week – C

Palm – Passion Sunday C
First posted March 28, 2010;
Podcast: Palm Sunday C

Deuteronomy 32:36-39 — Vindication;

Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16 — Deliverance;

Philippians 2:5-11 — Example of Christ;

Luke 22:7-20 — The Lord’s Supper;

Luke 23:1-49 — Christ’s Trial and Crucifixion;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

“The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion for his servants” (Deuteronomy 32:36), when he sees that they are powerless; when none survive, either enslaved or free.

Then he will ask, “Where are the gods upon whom they have relied; their rocks of refuge? To whom have they offered their sacrifices of fat and wine? Let them rise up and protect them!”

Look now and see that God the Lord is the only true God. God has the power of life and death; illness and healing. No one can escape from the power and judgment of God!

Psalm Background:

Attributed to David, the Great Shepherd-king of Israel.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The Psalmist seeks refuge in the Lord. He claims the promise that God’s servants will never be put to shame. He claims the promise that God’s servants will be delivered by God’s righteousness. The Lord will listen to and hear the prayers of his servants. If we know that he hears us we can be sure that we have received the requests we have made (1 John 1:5:14-15; see Condition for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

“Be gracious to me, O, Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief, my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing: my strength fails because of of my misery, and my bones waste away” (Psalm 31:9-10).

“I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me” (Psalm 31:11).

“I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel” (Psalm 31:12)

“Yea, I hear the whispering of many – terror on every side!- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life” (Psalm 31:13)

My trust is in the Lord; he is my God! My times are in his hands! He will deliver me from the power of my enemies and persecutors!

Let the Lord’s face shine upon his servant, and may his servant be saved by the Lord’s steadfast love!

Philippians Paraphrase:

Let us have the same attitude that Christ taught by word and example. Although he was of the same nature as God, pre-existent and divine, he did not seek to be equal with God. Instead he emptied himself of self-interest and took the form of a servant, being born in human flesh as we are. And being fully human, he humbled himself and became obedient to God’s will, even unto physical death on the cross. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Luke 22 Background:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem knowing and foretelling three times that he would be crucified (Luke 9:22, 44-45; 17:25). This would happen according to God’s plan and timing.

Luke 22 Paraphrase:

On the Day of Unleavened Bread (the Feast of Passover), Jesus told Peter and John to go and prepare the Passover for Jesus and his disciples. They asked him where he wanted them to prepare it, and he told them that when they entered the city they would meet a man carrying a jar of water. They were to follow him into the house which he entered and say to the householder that the Teacher (Jesus) was asking the householder to show the two disciples the guest room where Jesus and his disciples were to celebrate the Passover. The householder would show them a large furnished upper room, where they were to finish the preparations.

At the hour of the meal (after sundown) Jesus told his disciples as he sat at table with them, that he had longed to celebrate this Passover with them before he suffered. Jesus said he would not celebrate it again until it was fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Jesus took a cup of wine and when he had prayed in thanksgiving, he passed it to his disciples to share among themselves. Jesus told them he would not drink wine again until the kingdom of God had come. Then he took bread, and having given thanks, broke it and distributed it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body. “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20; see RSV footnote J; compare 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Luke 23:1-49 Paraphrase:

The Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious supreme court of seventy priests, scribes (teachers of the Law of Moses, the Jewish Bible) and elders, condemned Jesus (Luke 22:66-71) and took him to Pontius Pilate for the Roman method of execution by crucifixion. The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of perverting the Jewish nation, forbidding them to pay tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be a king. So Pilate asked Jesus if he were the King of the Jews, and Jesus replied that it was Pilate (and the Jews) who had said so. Pilate told the Jews that Jesus had done nothing criminal, but the Jews were insistent.

When they told Pilate that Jesus was a Galilean, and thus in Herod’s jurisdiction (Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who governed Galilee), Pilate decided to sent him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at the time. Herod was glad to have the opportunity to see and hear Jesus, hoping to see him do some sign (miracle). Herod questioned Jesus at length, but Jesus made no reply, while the members of the Sanhedrin made accusations. Then Herod had his soldiers mock and treat Jesus with contempt. They dressed Jesus in kingly attire, and sent him back to Pilate. As a result Herod and Pilate became friends that day.

Pilate announced to the Sanhedrin that neither Pilate nor Herod had found Jesus guilty of anything deserving death. Pilate suggested that he would have Jesus (physically) chastised and released. The Jewish leaders demanded that Pilate release a man named Barabbas, a notorious insurrectionist and murderer, as was the custom at the Passover celebration, and crucify Jesus. Three times Pilate tried to release Jesus but the Jews wouldn’t hear of it (tolerate it). So Pilate gave in to their demands, released Barabbas and had Jesus delivered to be crucified.

As the Roman soldiers led Jesus away to crucifixion, they conscripted Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the countryside, to carry Jesus’ cross behind Jesus. A large crowd and women bewailed and lamented Jesus’ execution, but Jesus turned to them and told them to rather mourn for themselves and their children. Jesus said that the day would come, when they would consider blessed, the barren who had never had children. The day would come when they would long for the mountains to fall upon them and the hills to cover them. “For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry” (Luke 23:31). Two criminals were led away to be crucified, one on each side of Jesus.

Jesus prayed to God his Father to forgive those who crucified him, because they didn’t realize what they were doing. The soldiers cast lots (like rolling dice) to divide his garments among them. The people stood by, watching, but the Jewish leaders mocked Jesus, saying that Jesus saved others; he should save himself if he really was the Christ of God, God’s Chosen One. The soldiers also mocked him telling Jesus to save himself if he were the King of the Jews. There was an inscription on Jesus’ cross identifying him as King of the Jews.

One of the criminals crucified with Jesus also taunted Jesus to save himself and them, if he were the Christ, but the other criminal rebuked his fellow criminal: Did he not fear God, since he was under the same condemnation, justly, while Jesus had done nothing wrong? The second criminal asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus received his kingly power. Jesus replied that this criminal would be with him in Paradise that very day.

From about the sixth to ninth hour (noon to 3:00 pm). there was an eclipse of the sun. “and the curtain of the temple was torn in two” (Luke 23:45b). Jesus cried out, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) and stopped breathing. When the Centurion saw what had taken place he  declared that Jesus was surely innocent. The onlookers, seeing what took place returned to their homes beating their breasts in ritual mourning. All Jesus’ followers and the women who had accompanied them from Galilee witnessed these things from a distance.

Commentary:

Deuteronomy:

The Lord will not abandon his people, his servants; it is they who abandon him for false gods, for false security and refuge in worldly things. When God’s people turn away from obedient trust in God to pursue their own wills and interests, God removes his favor and providence from them and allows them to experience troubles, in hope that they will realize that true security and refuge, help and protection are only through obedient trust in God, and that they will therefore return to him.

The enemies of God’s people, who serve false gods, will be accountable to God. Nothing can protect them from God’s power and judgment.

Psalm:

David acted upon the promise of God’s Word that God would deliver God’s servants by God’s righteousness. When God took David from being a shepherd and gave him victory over Goliath, the enemy of God’s people, David  began to learn by experience the fulfillment of that promise (1 Samuel 17:1-51).

David eventually became the great human Shepherd-King of Israel. David prefigured the ultimate perfect eternal King of Israel, Jesus Christ, the Son (descendant) of David. God said of David that he was a man after (i.e sharing) God’s own heart, who would do all God’s will (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20; 1 Samuel 13:14). David was not perfect; he committed  a terrible sin of adultery and murder with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah, the Hittite, respectively, and he suffered the consequences, but he was forgiven (2 Samuel 11:2-12:26).

David wasn’t delivered by his own righteousness, but by the righteousness and faithfulness of God. John, one of of the Twelve original disciples and apostles, a son of Zebedee, taught that if we pray according to God’s will we can be sure that he will hear us, and if we know that he hears us we can be certain that we have received the requests we have made ( 1John 5:14-15).

Psalm 31:9-13 prefigures the situation of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (the Son of David). David, and ultimately Jesus, committed themselves to God, and trusted in God to deliver them from their enemies and persecutors. Jesus’ resurrection from physical death to eternal life is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to save his servants.

Epistle:

Jesus was fully human and fully God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). He was fully human but sinless (Hebrews  2:14-15; 4:15).

Jesus has been God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1John 1:8-10) and salvation (from eternal destruction, which is the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home), from the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

At the perfect moment in history, Jesus came into the world in human flesh, and became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal condemnation.

Gospel #1

The Jewish leaders had wanted to destroy Jesus, but they were unable to do so until it suited God’s will and timing. Jesus came into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with his disciples and institute a New Covenant (Testament) of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust), the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist), on the night of his betrayal and arrest, to replace the Old Covenant of Law (Romans 8:1-9).

Passover represents the sacrificial feast that sealed the Old Covenant; the Lord’s Supper represents the “New Passover,” the sacrificial feast that seals the New Covenant.

Note that Jews were strictly forbidden to drink blood or consume it with flesh (Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:23). It was believed that blood contained the spirit of the animal. God doesn’t want his people to be filled with the spirit of animals, but with his Holy Spirit. The element of wine is an appropriate symbol because it is the “blood” (Genesis 49:11) of grapes with “spirit” (alcohol). Jesus declared that the cup of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) was his blood. But realize that one cannot receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit just by receiving Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

Gospel #2:

The Jewish leaders wanted to, but were prevented from physically killing Jesus until the fullness of God’s timing. Jesus did not surrender to physical death until he chose to do so (Luke 23:46).

Judaism was a “green” (living) relationship with God until Jesus’ crucifixion. Judaism today is a very “dry” (dead) religion. Judaism today is more cultural than spiritual; God has departed, but no one seems to have noticed.

Many Jews today curse God for allowing the Holocaust, but fail to realize that the Holocaust was because they rejected their Messiah. Where was God during the Holocaust? Where were they during Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:25)? The Jews are not irreconcilably lost for eternity, but Jesus is the only way to be restored. Jesus said that he is the only way, truth, and life; and no one comes to the Father but through Jesus (John 14:6). Jesus himself said that Jerusalem could not be restored to God until they confessed that Jesus is the One who comes in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 13:35).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Holy Week – C
First Posted March 29, 2010;

Podcast: Monday Holy Week – C

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24 – Song of Victory;

Background:

This is one of the Psalms sung at the end of the meal of the Passover feast.

Psalm Paraphrase:

O thank the Lord for his goodness. His love is steadfast and eternal. May God’s people declare his steadfast, eternally enduring love.

Listen! Hear joyful songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: The Lord’s right hand does valiantly; the Lord’s right hand is exalted; valiant is the Lord’s right hand. We shall live and not die. We will recount the Lord’s deeds. The Lord disciplines us severely, but won’t abandon us to death.

May the gates of righteousness be opened unto us that we may enter and give thanks to the Lord. The temple of the Lord is the gate; only the righteous shall enter through it. I give thanks to the Lord, that he has answered me and has become my salvation. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes (compare Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10-11). This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:22-24)!

Commentary:

God’s people aren’t those who call themselves Christians and call Jesus their Lord (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46), but those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus’ teachings, and have been spiritually “born-again” by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2).  Anyone who isn’t sure and must ask a religious authority 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).

Just being a member and regularly attending Church doesn’t qualify us to enter the “gates of righteousness,” the doors of eternal life into God’s heavenly kingdom. No one is righteous in God’s judgment by being a “good person” (Galatians 2:16; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Not everyone who dies physically is going to “a better place!” Only those who are accounted righteous by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Romans 3:22; Philippians 3:9) may enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom.

It is only by the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can personally know and have fellowship with Jesus (John 14:21). It is only by being “born-again” that we experience and can testify to the Lord’s goodness and steadfast love (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12; Romans 8:15-16).

It is only after we have been spiritually “reborn” that we can personally testify that Jesus lives, and testify to his deeds that we have personally experienced (see personal testimonies, sidebar, top right, home). It is only after we have been “born-again” that we can personally testify to his steadfast, enduring love.

Jesus is the Lord’s right hand (Matthew 26:64; Mark 12:36; Ephesians 1:20). Jesus has won the victory over sin. Through faith in him we will not die eternally.

God disciplines us like a good father. No one enjoys discipline at the moment, but it yields benefits to us long beyond the chastisement (Hebrews 12:9-13).

Jesus is the “cornerstone.” He is the foundation of the “New Covenant” (Testament). The Christian Church has replaced Judaism.

Jesus is the stumbling block of those who refuse to accept him as Lord and Savior (1 Peter 2:7-8). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal death which is the penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word). No one can come to personal knowledge of divine eternal truth, fellowship with God, and eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom except through Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Colossians 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)?

Tuesday Holy Week – C
First Posted March 30, 2010;

Podcast: Tuesday Holy Week – C

Exodus 15:1-11 – The Song of Moses;

Background:

After being delivered from the Egyptian army by passing miraculously through the Red Sea on dry ground, Moses sang the ancient Song of Miriam (Exodus 15:21), which is believed to have been composed by an eyewitness to the crossing of the Red Sea.

Exodus Paraphrase:

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exodus 15:1-2). The Lord is a mighty warrior; his name is the Lord.

The Lord has cast Pharaoh’s chariots and army into the Sea. They went down into the depths like a stone, and the waters cover them. The Lord’s right hand, glorious in power, shatters the enemy. God, in the greatness of his majesty, sends forth his fury, which consumes them like dry straw (in a flame). By his breath the waters piled up in a heap and the depths of the sea dried up. The enemy thought they could pursue and overtake Israel and plunder and destroy them. But at the breath of the Lord the sea returned and covered them and they sank like lead.

“Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, majestic in holiness, terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders” (Exodus 15:11)?

Commentary:

The Exodus from bondage to slavery and death in Egypt was one of the great saving acts of God for Israel. It is also deliberately intended by God to be a metaphor, a parable, of life in this world. Jesus is the “New Moses” who leads God’s people, the “New Israel,” the Church, out of bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world order. Satan is the present “Pharaoh,” the leader of our spiritual enemies.

Baptism into Jesus Christ is the “parting of the Sea” which allows us to escape from our spiritual enemies, while preventing them from following, plundering and destroying us. Jesus leads us through the spiritual wilderness of this lifetime, our “Joshua” who leads us through the “River” of physical death, parting the waters again, so that we don’t get our feet “wet,” and into the eternal “Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven.

The gift (baptism) of the Holy Spirit is the “pillar of cloud and fire” (Exodus 13:21-22), that leads us through the wilderness and spiritual darkness of this present world. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing event, through whom we have personal daily fellowship with the risen Jesus and God the Father.

Jesus is the Lord’s right hand, God’s mighty arm, who has won for us the victory over sin and death. Jesus is the name of the Lord.

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

Wednesday Holy Week – C
First posted March 31, 2010;
Podcast:
Wednesday Holy Week – C


1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – Paul’s Gospel;

Background:

The Church at Corinth had been founded by Paul’s preaching. Paul was continuing to disciple the Corinthian Christians by letter, and was writing to correct doctrinal and ethical errors that were troubling the Church.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul reminded the Congregation the fundamental doctrines of the faith which Paul had preached, in which the Corinthians stood, by which they were saved, if they held firmly to them, if their faith was not ineffective.

Paul faithfully transmitted the main tenants of the faith which he had received (from Jesus, by the Holy Spirit), that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and was raised from physical death to eternal life on the third day, in agreement with the scriptures. Jesus appeared to the remaining of the original Twelve apostles (disciples commissioned to be messengers of the Gospel), and then to more than five hundred believers at one time, most of whom were still alive at the time Paul was writing. Then he appeared to James (the Lord’s brother) and then to all the apostles. Last, he appeared to Paul “as one untimely born” (a reference to Paul’s late conversion, after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension).

Paul considered himself the least of the apostles, not worthy to be considered equal with the others, because he had formerly persecuted the Church. But God’s grace had made it possible for Paul to be included among the apostles, and Paul had made the most of the opportunity he had been given by that grace. By God’s grace, Paul worked harder than the other apostles (in appreciation of the grace he had received). So whether by the preaching of Paul or the other apostles, the Corinthian Christians had believed the Gospel.

Commentary:

Paul was deliberately intended by God to be the original and model of a “modern, post-resurrection, born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel)” of Jesus Christ, as we can and should be. I believe that Paul was the one God intended to replace Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, instead of Matthias, whom the disciples selected while they were supposed to be waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit that would guide and empower them (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 15-26).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had been convicted by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus, on the road to Damascus where he intended to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-5). Paul accepted Jesus’ conviction, repented and became obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:6-9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10) until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:17-18). Then, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, he began proclaiming the Gospel and making “born-again” disciples (2 Timothy 1:6-7), teaching them to repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2), in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), which Jesus gave to his disciples to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The same doctrinal and ethical errors which were besetting the Corinthian congregation beset the nominal “Church” today. Elements within the nominal Church deny the Resurrection. Some deny that Jesus’ death was the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the entire forgiveness of all our sins; that we must earn forgiveness by keeping the Law (scriptures) and doing good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10). Some teach that Salvation is a free gift (true) but without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus (false;  see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Some nominal “Churches” have settled for making “members,” “fair-weather” Christians, and building buildings instead of making disciples and building the kingdom of God. Discipleship is not an optional category of “super-Christian.” A Christian is by definition, a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c).

Discipleship is a spiritual growth process. Paul’s conversion was exceptional for it’s speed, but remember that Paul was already formally trained in the Bible scriptures and loved God, he just needed to be pointed to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The other original disciples were with Jesus virtually night and day for about three years, and still weren’t ready to leave Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) to go into the world with the Gospel until they had been “born-again.”

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). The “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event; one should not rely on a Church authority or theologian as to whether they have been “born-again” or not (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Faith is not like wishing on a star; we don’t get whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Faith that is not applied in our daily lives by obedient trust in Jesus is ineffective faith. If we truly believe in Jesus we will do what he teaches (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

The standard for determining truth from false doctrine is the Bible. Paul’s Gospel was in accordance with the Bible. Unless one has read the Bible and reads it on a daily basis, one has no way to distinguish truth from error. Any average reader can easily read the Bible in one year. There are several plans available which include a portion of Old and New Testaments each day.

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


Maundy Thursday – C

First posted April 1, 2010;
Podcast: Maundy Thursday – C

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – A New Covenant;

Psalm 116:10-17 – The Cup of Salvation;

Hebrews 10:15-39 – Fulfillment of the New Covenant;

Matthew 26:17-29 (Luke 22:7-20) – The Last Supper;

Maundy Thursday is the commemoration of the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist). Maundy means “mandate;” or command, from John 13:34. In the Gospel of John the Lord’s Supper itself, with the elements of bread and wine are not mentioned. Instead, John focuses on Jesus’ foot-washing of the disciples and his command to follow his example (John 13:3-17).

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Jeremiah prophesied that the day was coming when the Lord would make a new covenant with Israel (God’s chosen people) and Judah (the remnant of Israel). It would be different than the covenant God made with Israel when he led them out of bondage to sin and death in Egypt. Although God’s relationship with Israel was as husband and wife, Israel broke the covenant.

In the New Covenant, God would put his law within them and write it upon their hearts. He will be their God and they will be his people. It will no longer be necessary for everyone to teach their neighbor and brother to know the Lord because they will all know the Lord, from the least to the greatest of them, because the Lord will forgive and remove their sin from his memory.

Psalm 116:10-17 Paraphrase:

The psalmist kept trusting in God even when he was profoundly afflicted; he realized that other people could provide no real help. How can we thank the Lord for his goodness to us? By lifting up the “cup of salvation” and calling on the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:13). By keeping our promise to trust and obey the Lord, witnessed among God’s people.

The Lord values saints (those dedicated to God’s service) who give their lives for the Lord. We declare that we are God’s servants, born by his handmaid, and freed from bondage to sin and death by God’s power and grace. We will offer him the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord.

Hebrews 10:15-39 Paraphrase:

The Holy Spirit testifies by the Word of the Lord that God has made a new covenant with his people and put his Laws on their hearts and in their minds. He also adds that he will remember their sins no more. Where there is forgiveness of sin there is no longer need to provide offerings for sin.

Because of our cleansing by Jesus’ blood we dare to enter the sanctuary, by the new, living way he opened through the curtain (his flesh; Luke 23:45). Since we have such a great high priest over God’s house, let us draw near, fully relying on our faith and with our hearts, consciences and bodies cleansed by pure water. Let us hold firmly to our confession of hope without wavering, because he who promised is faithful. Let us find ways to stir up one another to love and good works. Let us not neglect to meet together and encourage one another as the Day (of Christ’s return) draws near.

If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there is no further sacrifice for sin; instead there is the fearful prospect of judgment of consuming fire which will destroy God’s adversaries. One who violates the law of Moses is executed without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse will the punishment be for one who has rejected the Son of God, has profaned the blood of covenant through which he was sanctified, and angered the Holy Spirit through whom we have received grace (the free gift of forgiveness and salvation). We know that vengeance belongs to God to repay, and he will judge his people. It is terrible to come under condemnation by God.

Remember how, in former days, after we had been enlightened, we endured struggles and suffering, sometimes publicly suffering abuse and affliction, and sometimes sharing in the abuse and suffering of our fellow believers. We had sympathy for those imprisoned (for the Gospel) and accepted the plundering of our property with joy, since we knew we had a better, lasting one.

So let us not discard our confidence, which has great reward. We need endurance in order to do God’s will and receive what he has promised. God’s Word declares that, in just a little while, the one who has been promised will come; he will not be delayed.

Those who are righteous in God’s judgment will live by faith, and God will be displeased by anyone who turns back. We are not among those who turn back and are destroyed, but among those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Matthew 26:17-29 Paraphrase:

Background:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with his disciples, knowing that he would be crucified and would rise from the dead (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19).

Matthew Paraphrase:

On the first day of Unleavened Bread (Passover) his disciples asked Jesus where he wanted them to prepare the the Feast. Jesus told them to go into the city to a certain individual and say that the “Teacher’s” (Jesus’) time had come; he would keep the Passover at this person’s house with his disciples. The disciples did as Jesus had said and prepared the Passover.

That evening at dinner with his disciples Jesus declared that one of the disciples eating with him would betray him. The disciples were sorrowful and each began to ask Jesus if it was he whom Jesus meant. Jesus said that one who had dipped from the same dish would betray Jesus. Jesus said that the fate of the Son of man (Jesus) would be fulfilled as the scriptures foretold, but the betrayer would suffer great woe, such that it would have been better if he had not been born. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, asked Jesus if it was he to whom Jesus referred, and Jesus said Judas had said so.

As they ate, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and distributed it to his disciples, telling them to take and eat; the bread is Jesus’ body. Then Jesus took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and passed it to them, telling them to all drink of it; this is the blood of the (new; RSV note “g”) covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus said that he would not drink the wine again until he celebrated anew with his disciples in God’s kingdom in heaven.

Commentary:

God has designed Jesus Christ into the very foundation of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). God designed this Creation to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, knowing that given that freedom we would all choose to do our own will rather than God’s. Disobedience of God’s Word is sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:5-8) and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

The Old Covenant (Testament) of Law was given to restrain evil until the coming of Jesus Christ who would institute the New Covenant of Grace to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). When Jesus came, he instituted the New Passover Feast, the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) on the eve of his sacrificial death on the Cross. Jesus is the “Lamb” of the New Passover who gave his flesh for the sacrificial feast and his blood to mark his people to be “passed over” by the destroyer (Exodus 12:13).

God promised through Jeremiah to create a New Covenant through which he would “write” his laws on the hearts of his people. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17), is the fulfillment of that promise. By the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Holy Spirit is given to help us understand the scriptures (the risen Jesus; Luke 24:32, 45) , to recall all that Jesus teaches (John 14:25-26) and to guide and empower us to know and do God’s will (“Not by power, or by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord;” Zechariah 4:6). The disciples were commanded to stay in Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church) until they had received the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; compare Acts 2:1-13). The Holy Spirit gives Jesus’ disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

Those who have received the indwelling Holy Spirit are freed from the condemnation of the Law, provided that they live according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11). No person has ever been able to keep the Law perfectly (Galatians 2:16), and if one fails at any point one is guilty of all (James 2:10). Those who rely on keeping the Law are cutting themselves off from Christ (Galatians 5:3-4).

The blood of Jesus has become the “cup of salvation” God has promised. Jesus is the ideal Servant of the Lord who gave his life for the Lord. Jesus is the example and assurance that we are to follow. We may not have to be martyred physically, but in some way we will all have to surrender our lives to serve the Lord. But Jesus’ resurrection assures us that those who lose their lives for the Lord’s sake will have eternal life in heaven with the Lord. Every truly “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ personally knows and has fellowship with the risen Jesus, and testifies that Jesus is risen and eternally alive.

The Holy Spirit inspired the prophecy of Jeremiah of a New Covenant, and he testifies to us through Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit that God has made a New Covenant with his people. We experience the fulfillment of the promise to write God’s Laws on our hearts and in our minds, and we experience the forgiveness of all our sins.

At Jesus’ crucifixion, at the moment of his death the veil of the temple, separating the congregation from the holy-of-holies and the presence of God, was supernaturally torn in two from top to bottom, symbolizing that Jesus  had opened a new and better way into God’s presence through the sacrifice of Jesus’ flesh. Those who reject Jesus, who profane the blood of the Covenant and blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32), will be accountable to eternal destruction at Christ’s return on the Day of Judgment.

Christians are by definition “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (Acts 11:26c) of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is not some optional category of “Super-Christian.” Discipleship is an ongoing spiritual growth process. Disciples need to be discipled by “born-again” mature disciples until they have been “born-again” and then must learn over the course of years to know the Lord’s voice and learn to trust and obey him. The original Twelve were with Jesus day and night for three years, and yet were not ready to go into the world with the Gospel message until they had been “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity is not simply a matter of being baptized with water, or joining a church, or going to an altar call.

Discipleship takes perseverance and endurance. There will be tribulations and persecutions along the way. We must keep claiming and trusting in the promises of God’s Word, even when the going gets rough.

The Jews had long wanted to destroy Jesus, but were unable to until God’s timing. It had been God’s will for Jesus to establish the New Passover at the Passover celebration on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. Someone was going to betray Jesus, but it wasn’t Judas’ unalterable fate. Judas volunteered.

No one took Jesus’ life from him; he laid it down voluntarily; trusting that God had given him the power and promise to take it up again (John 10:17-18). Jesus didn’t die until he had committed himself into God’s hand and acknowledged that the mission he had come to accomplish was finished (Luke 23:45-46; John 19:28-30).

Jesus’ death destroyed the power of death and delivers us from the fear of death, by which we have been in bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus’ resurrection from death to eternal life demonstrates that there is existence after physical death, and that those who trust and obey Jesus will be raised from physical death to eternal life as Jesus was, and will live in paradise with him for eternity (Romans 8:11).

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)?

Good Friday – C

The anniversary of Christ’s Crucifixion;
First Posted April 2, 2010;

Podcast: Good Friday – C

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 — The Fourth Servant Song;

Psalm 22:1-23 — Prayer for Deliverance;

Hosea 6:1-6 —  Healing and Restoration;

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 — Our Great High Priest;

John 19:17-30 — Jesus’ Crucifixion;

(or John 18:1-19:42 — Jesus’ Arrest, Trial and Crucifixion);

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Paraphrase:

My Servant will have good success. He will be highly exalted and lifted up very high. Many were astonished by his appearance because he had been marred beyond human resemblance, and his body so damaged that he didn’t look like a human being. Nations will be shocked and kings will be speechless, because what they have not been told they will see, and they will understand what they have not heard.

Have you believed what we have heard? Has the Lord’s arm been revealed to you? He grew up like a shoot rooted in dry ground. He didn’t have a beautiful body that we would desire to look at, and desire him for his physical attractiveness. People despised and rejected him; his life was characterized by sorrow and grief. He was like one from whom people avert their faces. He was despised and we did not appreciate him.

Truly, he has taken our griefs and sorrows upon himself. We thought he deserved to be stricken, punished and afflicted by God. But it was for our sins that he was battered and bruised. The chastisement he bore for us makes us whole, and we are healed by the wounds which he received. We are all like straying sheep; we have turned aside and have followed our own interests, rather than the Lord’s; and God has laid the sins of each of us upon his Servant.

Although he was oppressed and afflicted he didn’t complain. Jesus didn’t respond to the false accusations which were made against him, the way that sheep being sheared are mute. He was oppressed and denied justice. Who of his generation considered that his life was taken from him and he was punished for the sins of God’s people? He was entombed with the wicked and with a rich man, although he was not guilty of any violence or deceit.

But it was God’s will that he be afflicted and put to grief. When the Servant allows himself to become an offering for sin, he will see his (spiritual) offspring, he will have long life. God’s will will prosper through his Servant. He will be satisfied when he sees the result of the tribulation of his soul. By his knowledge the righteous one, God’s Servant, will make many to be accounted righteous, and he will carry off their sins. So God will give him an inheritance with the great, and the Servant will divide the booty (proceeds of victory) with the strong. God’s Servant gave his soul unto physical death, and was accounted among sinners. He carried the sins of many and interceded for transgressors.

Psalm 22:1-23 Paraphrase:

Background:

This Psalm is attributed to David, the great human Shepherd-King of Israel and forerunner of the Christ.

Psalm Paraphrase:

“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Psalm 22:1a)? Why does my Lord seem so far from helping me; doesn’t he hear my groaning? I cry to God each day, but he doesn’t answer me. I cry to him at night, but receive no rest.

But God is Holy, and he is present in the praises of Israel. Our forefathers trusted in the Lord and the Lord delivered them. When they cried to the Lord they were saved. When they placed their trust in the Lord they were not disappointed.

But the Lord’s servant is regarded as a worm rather than a man; he is scorned and despised by the people. Those who see him mock him, make faces at him and wag their heads. They say that the Servant entrusted his cause to the Lord, so let the Lord rescue him, since he delights in his Servant.

But God brought him forth from his mother’s womb, and kept him safe as a nursing infant. The Servant was dependent upon the Lord from birth, and from his birth the Lord has been his God.

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; thou dost lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15).

“Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; They have pierced my hands and feet– I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots” (Psalm 22:16-18).

Be not far off, O Lord. You who are my source of help, hasten to help me. Deliver my soul and my life from the sword and from the power of dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lion, and my soul from the horns of wild oxen.

I will proclaim your name (entire person and character) to my brethren, and I will praise you in the midst of the congregation. Let all who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) the Lord, praise him. All who are the sons (descendants) of Jacob (Israel; the father of the heads of the twelve tribes; Christians are the spiritual descendants of Jacob; they’re the New sons of Israel), glorify him and stand in awe of him.

Hosea 6:1-6 Paraphrase:

Let us return to the Lord that he may heal us, since he has torn us; he has stricken us, but he will bind us up. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:2), Let us press ahead, that we may know the Lord. He comes forth as surely as the dawn. He comes to us as the spring rain with gentle showers to water the earth.

What shall the Lord do with Ephraim (the second son of Joseph who nevertheless, against custom, received a double portion of the inheritance of Jacob above his brother). What shall the Lord do with Judah (the fourth son of Jacob by Leah; one of the heads of the twelve tribes. Judah became the remnant of Israel after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes). Their love is like a morning cloud or dew that soon disappears. So the Lord has hewn them with his prophets, and the words of his mouth have slain them. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6)

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 Paraphrase:

Because we have a great high priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who has passed into heaven, let us hold on to what we have declared that we believe. Our high priest is not unable to empathize with us in our weaknesses; he has experienced every temptation we do, but he didn’t yield to sin. So let us then draw near to his throne which is the source of grace (unmerited favor; undeserved free gift) to receive mercy and grace when we need it.

When Jesus was in human flesh, he prayed, with supplication, with tears and loud cries to God, who was alone able to save him, and he was heard because of his fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of God. He was God’s Son, but he learned obedience to God through suffering, and when he had become spiritually mature, “he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9b).

John 19:17-30 Paraphrase

After Jesus had been sentenced to crucifixion, Roman soldiers took Jesus, carrying his own cross (just the horizontal crosspiece), to Golgotha, meaning the place of a skull (a hill with a skull-like appearance, west of the “New City,” an extension built by Herod the Great). There Jesus was crucified with two others, with Jesus between them. Pilate wrote a sign which was placed on Jesus’ cross, saying, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19), in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. This sign was read by many of the Jews because it was right outside the city gate (possibly the Gennath Gate).

The Jewish authorities objected to Pilate about the wording, saying that it should say that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews (untrue; John 18:33-37) but Pilate refused to change the sign. When Jesus had been crucified, the four soldiers divided his clothing among themselves, but since his tunic was one seamless woven garment they decided to cast lots for it (like rolling dice). Thus the prophecy of Psalm 22:18 was fulfilled: “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (John 19:24).

Mary, Jesus’ mother, Mary her sister, wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, stood by observing the crucifixion. When Jesus saw his mother, and John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”) standing near, he told his mother to consider John her son, and told John to consider Mary his mother, and from then on John took Mary into his home.

Then, knowing that all was now finished, said, “I thirst” (in fulfillment of scripture; Psalm 69:21b). There was a bowl of vinegar (sour wine) at hand, so someone put a sponge full of vinegar on hyssop (a reedy stem) and held it to Jesus’ mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he declared, “It is finished,” bowed his head and yielded up his spirit.

Commentary:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

This portion of Isaiah is generally believed to have been written around the time of Cyrus of Persia (539), which ended the Exile of Judah in Babylon. The defining characteristic of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God’s Word is always fulfilled, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

Jesus allowed himself to be “lifted up” on the cross (John 3:14; 12:32-33). Jesus’ crucifixion was brutal, preceded by physical abuse (Matthew 27:26b-31; Luke 22:63-65).

We have heard the Gospel, the “Good News” of forgiveness of sin and restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, but have we believed? Faith is more than intellectual assent. Faith is not like wishing on a star; we don’t get whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

We are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally but to have eternal life with him in his heavenly kingdom (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). God has designed Jesus into this Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Sin is disobedience of God’s Word, which he has made available to us in the Bible. We will all be accountable to God for disobedience of God’s Word. Jesus became the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sins for all who will receive it by faith (obedient trust). Jesus became the “Lamb” of the “New Passover,” whose blood marks believers to be “passed over” by the destroying angel, and whose flesh provides for the Passover Feast, The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist). Jesus was perfectly sinless (Hebrews 4:15) but took our sins upon himself on the cross. He took our punishment for us, so that we could be forgiven.

Jesus didn’t argue against false accusations brought against him by the Jews, and was mute before his judges and accusers like a sheep being sheared (Matthew 27:11-14). There is no question that he was denied justice (Matthew 26:59-66). Jesus went to the grave with the wicked (dying on the cross between two criminals; Luke 23:39-43; Matthew 27:44). He was entombed in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60).

Jesus is the ultimate, perfect Servant of the Lord. It was God’s will that he suffer and be crucified for our salvation, and Jesus was obedient unto death on the cross. Believers are his spiritual offspring. By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

By Jesus’ obedient trust in God’s Word he was raised from physical death to eternal life. Jesus reveals his personal knowledge of God his Father and of God’s will by word and example to all who are willing to trust and obey him (Matthew 11:27). Jesus has been highly exalted and has been given the inheritance of God his Father. Jesus will share his inheritance with his spiritual children (“born-again” believers; the strong: those who persevere and endure in faith).

Psalm 22:1-23

Jesus began quoting, in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, this Psalm on the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” (Mark 15:34).

Jesus is the ultimate, perfect fulfillment of the Lord’s Servant, but he was rejected and despised by people. Jesus was mocked and derided by observers at his crucifixion, in fulfillment of prophecy of Psalm 22:7-8 (compare Matthew 27:39-44).

God brought Jesus forth from his mother’s womb supernaturally, by the Holy Spirit, since Mary was a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:30-35). God preserved his life as an infant, when Herod sought to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13-16).

Psalm 22:14-18, which is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel, is the prophetic image of Jesus’ crucifixion, composed about a thousand years before it occurred (Matthew 27:35-44; Mark 15:29-32). Jesus trusted in God to deliver soul and life from physical death (the sword; the power of dogs; the mouth of the lion; the horns of wild oxen) and God answered Jesus’ prayer.

Hosea 6:1-6

Hosea’s ministry occurred during a sixty year period from the reign of Jereboam II (786-746 B.C.) of the Northern Kingdom  of the ten tribes of the Divided Monarchy.

Jesus is the demonstration of the fulfillment of this prophecy that the Lord tears but also heals, afflicts but also binds up. Jesus claimed the promise and demonstrated the fulfillment that God would revive and raise him up on the third day.

Jesus urges us to press on to know the Lord. If we seek the Lord he will allow himself to be found by us (I Chronicles 28:9c; Jeremiah 29:13-14a;  Deuteronomy 4:29). I am convinced that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), but this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). The Lord will come to us and reveal himself to us (John 14:21) as surely as dawn comes each day, and as gently as spring showers.

In the history of Israel recorded in the Old Testament (Covenant) Israel was continually forgetting the great blessings God had given them and turning from love for God to love of self. Obedient trust is the test of true love (John 14:15-17, 23-24). Israel was like Ephraim, who received a double portion of the inheritance without deserving or appreciating it.

Judah was the remnant of Israel after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes in 721 B.C. Judah ignored the warnings of the prophets so they were “hewn” by the prophets and slain by the Word of his mouth. The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah that if they didn’t return to obedient trust in God, they would be carried into exile in Babylon (the land of the Chaldeans) for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12).

Judah could have avoided exile by repenting and returning to the Lord any time before the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in 587 B.C., but they refused to obey God’s Word spoken by the prophet. As a result they were driven into exile. Note that seventy years was a virtual life sentence for anyone who was an adult at the beginning of the exile. Judah had been slain by the Word of God spoken by the prophet, and hewn into a renewed People of God during the exile.

After seventy years, in 517 B.C., God used Cyrus, King of Persia, to conquer Babylon, and free Judah to return to their Promised Land. Cyrus not only allowed them to leave but returned to them the treasures that had been looted from the temple in Jerusalem, and gave them money and assistance from Babylonian provincial governors in Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Isn’t that amazing?

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Through Jesus we receive, like Ephraim (Genesis 48:10-20),  a “double portion” of an inheritance we do not deserve; it is by God’s grace (a free gift; unmerited favor), and from the throne of grace we receive abundant mercy and grace when we need it.

Jesus trusted in God alone to save him and his faith was rewarded; God heard and answered his prayer for deliverance because of Jesus’ fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of God. Jesus was God’s Son, but he learned obedience through suffering. Obedience to God’s will cost Jesus everything he had physically.

John 19:17-30

The eyewitness accounts by evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John testify to the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies regarding the Lord’s Servant, the Messiah (Christ). The Jewish leaders falsely accused Jesus of claiming to be King of Israel (John 18:33-36; 19:12). The Roman soldiers divided his clothes and cast lots (like rolling dice) for his seamless woven tunic to determine which one would get it (Psalm 22:18). Jesus declared his thirst as prophesied in Psalm 22:15 and was given vinegar as prophesied in Psalm 69:21b. The scene of his crucifixion was the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:1-12 and Psalm 22:1a, 7-8, 14-18.

It is enlightening to realize that crucifixion was a unique Roman form of execution unknown in Israel. Israel’s method of execution was by stoning: a group threw stones at the condemned until he was killed. It took more than a couple stones and a couple individuals to carry out, so there was agreement among the condemned’s peers as to the death sentence.

The Old Testament has not been made irrelevant by the New Testament. Jesus has been God’s Plan from the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14) and God has gradually been revealing that Plan in his Word, The Bible, and in the “Living Word,” Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this fallen world, from the very beginning (Genesis 3:15). God was not surprised that the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, sinned by disobeying God’s Word not to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-11). Jesus was not “Plan B” after sin was introduced into Creation.

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

Saturday – Easter Vigil – C

First Posted April 3, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday Easter Vigil C

Luke 24:1-11– The First Easter;

John 20:1-9 (10-18) – The Resurrection;

Luke Paraphrase:

After resting on the sabbath, on the first day of the Week (Sunday), the women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and the “other” Mary, the mother of James and Salome and wife of Clopas, and other women; Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10) returned to the tomb where Jesus had been placed, bringing the spices and ointments they had prepared for Jesus’ burial. They discovered that the door to the tomb had been rolled away, and when they entered they could not find Jesus’ body.

As they tried to understand what was happening, two men (angels), whose garments glowed supernaturally, appeared beside them. The women were frightened and bowed down to the ground. The men asked why the women were looking for the living among the dead.

The men reminded them that Jesus had told them in Galilee that the “Son of man” would be delivered into the authority of sinful people, would be crucified, and rise on the third day. The women remembered Jesus’ words, and returned and announced Jesus’ resurrection to the “Eleven” remaining original disciples and the other followers, but they did not think their “story” was credible and did not believe them.

John Paraphrase:

Early, before dawn on the first day of the Week (Sunday), Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus had been placed and saw that the stone sealing the tomb had been rolled away. So she ran to Simon Peter and the “other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2a) and told them that Jesus’ body had been removed, and the women did not know where the body was.

Peter and the “other” disciple left, running for the tomb, but the “other” disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He looked in and saw that the linen grave clothes had been removed and were lying there. The “napkin” (a sweat cloth; an item of apparel, part of the grave clothes: John 11:44), was rolled up separately. Then the “other” disciple also entered the tomb, after Peter, and he saw and believed. Until then, they had not understood the scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead (Matthew 16:21-23; 20:17-19; Luke 18:31-34).

The disciples had gone back to their lodgings, but Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept she looked into the tomb and saw two angels sitting where Jesus’ body had lain. The angels asked her why she was weeping and she told them that it was because Jesus’ body had been removed and she didn’t know where it was.

Having said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing nearby, but she didn’t recognize him; she supposed that it must be the cemetery gardener. She asked him to show her where Jesus’ body had been taken. Jesus spoke Mary’s name and she recognized him as the “Teacher” (Jesus Christ).

Jesus asked her not to detain him, because he had not yet ascended to God the Father. He told her to tell his followers that Jesus was ascending to his Father and his God, who is also their Father and their God. Mary returned to the followers and testified to these things which she had witnessed.

Commentary – Luke:

The Jewish Sabbath was Saturday, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, according to the Old Covenant (Testament) of Law of Moses. On the night of his betrayal and arrest, Jesus initiated the New Covenant of Grace (God’s unmerited favor; a free gift), which is received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Luke 22:14-20 RSV note “j;” Matthew 26:26-29 RSV note “g;” Hebrews 8:8-13; 12:24). Those who are in Jesus are no longer under the obligation of the Old Covenant of Law, provided that we live according to the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11).

The Christian Church celebrates the “Lord’s Day” on Sunday, the day of Jesus’ resurrection, the fulfillment of God’s plan for this Creation. In the Christian Church, Saturday of Holy Week is the Easter Vigil. Jesus has been crucified and we await the fulfillment of the promised resurrection. Likewise, we are to wait within the Church (the New Jerusalem on earth; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) until we are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) and personally experience the risen Jesus through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus had foretold to his disciples at least three times that he would go to Jerusalem, be abused by the Jews, be crucified, and rise on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 26:1-2), but the disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying (Luke 9: 44-45; 18:31-34, Mark 9:31-32).

They didn’t understand because they didn’t want to hear of Jesus’ death (Matthew 16:21-23), and were afraid to ask him. They had seen Jesus raise the dead (for example: John 11:1-44), but hadn’t accepted resurrection beyond an exceptional, rare event. The women hadn’t understood Jesus’ prophecy so they didn’t remember it until they were reminded, and the rest of the disciples didn’t believe the women’s testimony.

Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of man,” which is true, and which allows us to decide for ourselves whether his is also the Son of God, with a hint from Daniel 7:13 (see also Revelation 1:13; 14:14).

John:

John refers to himself as the “other disciple, whom Jesus loved,” allowing him to give his eyewitness testimony,  but also making it possible for each of us to see ourselves in that relationship with Jesus in the Gospel message. We can also be the “other” disciple, whom Jesus loves.

John was the faster runner, but Peter was the impulsive disciple. John got there first, but hesitated; Peter charged right in and became the first of the two to experience the miracle of the resurrection and the empty tomb. I conclude that it doesn’t matter if one knows God’s Word unless one acts upon it in daily life (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

Jesus’ followers didn’t recognize the risen Jesus at first because his appearance had been marred by the crucifixion (Isaiah 52:14) and because they didn’t expect Jesus’ resurrection, despite of Jesus’ prophecies, until Jesus revealed himself personally to them (Luke 24:21-35). The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know and have relationship with God (Acts 17:26-27) and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

Jesus is near to each one of us, but he will not reveal himself to us until we invite him (Revelation 3:20; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). When we do, he will make himself known to us in a uniquely personal way (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

“Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples have personally experienced the risen and ascended Jesus (for example: Acts 9:1-5) through 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). We testify to the world and to “nominal” Christians that Jesus is risen and eternally alive, but who regards our testimony as credible and believes our testimony?

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


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