Transfiguration – Lent C – 02/07 – 13/2016

February 5, 2016

Transfiguration – Lent 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/

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Podcast: Transfiguration_Ash_Wed_C

Transfiguration Sunday C

First Posted February 14, 2010
Podcast: Transfiguration Sun C

Deuteronomy 34:1-12 – Moses’ Death;
Psalm 99:1-5 – Worthy of Worship;
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – Unveiled Gospel;
Luke 9:28-36 – The Transfiguration;

Deuteronomy:

Israel was poised on the plains of Moab, east of the Jordan River opposite Jericho, ready to enter the Promised Land. Moses went up to the top of Pisgah, a peak of the Nebo mountain range, and the Lord showed him the Promised Land. From the mountaintop Moses could see north, all Gilead (the land east of the Jordan) to Dan and Napthali (south of Mt. Lebanon, and the Sea of Galilee), the land of Ephraim and Manasseh (middle Palestine between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea), all Judah as far as the western sea (the Mediterranean), the Negeb (the southern wilderness of Judah) and the Jordan valley as far south as Zoar (south of the Dead Sea).

The Lord told Moses that this was the land he had promised his forefathers to give to their descendants. God had allowed Moses to see it, but not to enter. Moses died in Moab, as the Lord had said, and was buried there opposite Beth-peor, but the location of his grave is unknown. Moses was one hundred and twenty years, and had no infirmities of age, such as impaired vision or physical frailty. The people mourned for thirty days in the plains of Moab.

Joshua, the son of Nun had been filled with the Spirit of wisdom, by the laying on of Moses’ hands, so the people of Israel obeyed Joshua, as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses was the greatest of the prophets in Israel, because of his face-to-face relationship with the Lord, the great signs and wonders that Moses had done in the sight of Pharaoh and all his people, and the many great and terrible deeds he did in the in the presence of the Israelites in the wilderness.

Psalm:

Let all people tremble, knowing and acknowledging that the Lord reigns (above all). He sits upon the cherubim (half human, half animal creatures; comprising the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant; the throne of God); let the earth be shaken. The Lord is mighty in Zion (the people of God; the Church); he is exalted above all peoples. Let all people praise his great and fearful name, for it is holy (sacred; undefiled; worthy of reverence).

The Lord is Almighty; he also loves justice. He has established equity and administers justice and righteousness in Jacob (the patriarch, whom God named “Israel;” the namesake of God’s people; Genesis 32:25-30). Let us extol the Lord our God; let us worship at his footstool, for he is holy (morally pure; worthy of worship).

2 Corinthians:

Some may have suggested that Paul’s preaching of the Gospel was not clear. Paul replied that the Gospel was only “veiled” to those who were perishing. Satan has blinded the eyes of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the glory of Christ, the likeness of God, in the Gospel.

Luke Background:

Jesus had asked his disciples who other people and they themselves thought Jesus to be. Peter declared that he believed Jesus was the Christ. Then Jesus began to prepare his disciples for his crucifixion and resurrection (Luke 9:18-27).

Luke:

About a week later Jesus took Peter, James and John to a mountaintop to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of Jesus’ face was altered and his clothing became dazzlingly bright. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glory and talked with Jesus about his departure (physical death) which would be accomplished in Jerusalem. The three disciples present were sleepy, but were not dreaming this, and they witnessed Jesus’ glory and the two prophets with him.

As the two prophets were departing, Peter, not knowing what to say, suggested to Jesus that the disciples should make three “booths” (memorials) for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. As he was speaking, a cloud overshadowed them, and the disciples were afraid. A voice from the cloud declared Jesus to be his Son, his Chosen (beloved), and told them to listen to (heed) Jesus! When the voice finished speaking, Jesus was alone with the three disciples. These disciples kept silence about this experience and told no one at that time.

Commentary:

Moses is regarded as the greatest of the Old Testament prophets for the reasons stated in today’s text. The editors of the Oxford Annotated Bible* suggest that the Lord himself buried Moses (Deuteronomy 34:6 n), which is why no human knows where Moses’ grave is to this day.

Moses was not allowed to enter the earthly Promised Land, but he was allowed to see it. He apparently entered God’s eternal Promised Land in heaven, because of his presence with Elijah at Jesus’ transfiguration.

Elijah (Elias) is the other great prophet of Israel. Elijah was transported into heaven by a whirlwind and his physical body was never found (2 Kings 2:1-12), so Moses and Elijah shared similar circumstances at the end of their physical lives. One other character in the Old Testament, Enoch, is recorded to have gone to heaven directly without having died physically (Genesis 5:22-24; Hebrews 11:5).

Because Elijah had been carried into heaven it was conceivable that he could return in the way that he had been carried off. The Jewish teachers were expecting and teaching that Elijah would return to herald the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6). According to Matthew’s account of the transfiguration the three disciples asked Jesus about Elijah’s return, and Jesus declared that John the Baptizer was the fulfillment of that prophecy (Matthew 17:10-13). The three disciples were also witnessing the return of Elijah (and Moses) at Jesus’ transfiguration before Jesus’ role of Messiah was to be fulfilled by his crucifixion and resurrection.

After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples over forty days (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8), before he ascended into heaven. His ascension was witnessed by his disciples, who were told that Jesus would return on the Day of Judgment in the same way they had seen him ascend (Acts 1:9-11).

The Ark of the Covenant was a box with the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments which Moses received from God. On the top of the box were two Cherubim facing each other. Their wings formed the seat of God’s throne, and the box was God’s footstool.

God’s Word, recorded in the Bible, and fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14) are the standard of God’s equity, righteousness and justice which God has established and by which all will be judged.

Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will have been spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, during this lifetime, and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom, the eternal “Promised Land.” Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to spiritual eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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

This lifetime is intended by God to be our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and to learn to know, trust and obey God’s Word. These goals are only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. 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).

Jesus could command and we would have no choice but to obey. But Jesus doesn’t want to force anyone to believe God’s Word. Jesus taught in parables for that very reason, so that his hearers were free to not understand if they chose. For the same reason he told his disciples not to tell anyone who Jesus is (Luke 9:21).

The same is true today; one cannot be “saved” by believing the testimony of their pastor or some other believer. The believer’s testimony may induce others to consider the Gospel for themselves, but saving faith is only by trusting and obeying Jesus’ teachings personally. One needs to read the Bible for oneself. One who is seeking to know God’s will for oneself personally is to seek God’s Word in the Bible, one day at a time (Matthew 6:11, 34), with prayer and meditation. One must remember that God’s will never contradicts God’s Word and will never tell us to harm ourselves or others.

The Gospel seems veiled to unbelievers because the “veil” cannot be removed except through faith in Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). By the Holy Spirit, Jesus opens the minds of his disciples to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).

Who do you say 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)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Deuteronomy 34:6 n, p. 262, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Transfiguration – Monday C

First Posted February 15, 2010
Podcast: Transfiguration Mon C

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 – Ministry of Reconciliation;

Believers are to be ambassadors for Christ, transmitting God’s appeal for reconciliation through us. We urge you on Christ’s behalf to accept reconciliation with God. God made him (Jesus) to bear our sin, although he was sinless, so that we could receive the righteousness of God. So working with Christ, we urge you not to receive the grace (unmerited favor; the free gift) of God in vain. This is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, that God has heard our need at the right time, and has helped us on the day of salvation (Isaiah 49:8). This is
the right time; this is the Day of Salvation.

Commentary:

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

Believers have personally experienced the reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. We have believed and have come to know with certainty that the Gospel of Jesus is the word of eternal life (John 6:68-69 RSV). The only people who don’t know where they will spend eternity are the “lost;” unbelievers, the spiritually “unborn.”

Since we have experienced our own reconciliation we are to carry on Christ’s mission of reconciliation to the spiritually lost and dying world. Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to trust and obey Jesus Matthew 28:19-20), but only after his disciples had been “born-again” (Luke 24:9; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

God has designed this Creation for his own purpose, which has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This world is intended to be God’s “garden” to grow his obedient trusting people. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27). This lifetime is our opportunity to be “reborn” spiritually to eternal life.

Sin is disobedience of God’s Word. In order to have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word he has created this world to allow the possibility of sin. But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom. So this world and we ourselves are limited by time.

God knew that in giving us freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, we would all choose to do our will rather than his. So we have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). So God is able to provide forgiveness and reconciliation as a gift, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is not God’s “Plan B” after man sinned. Jesus was designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). At the right time in history Jesus came in human flesh and died on the cross as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin and our salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). These are the “Last Days” before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Day of Judgment.

That day is not far off. It will come for each one who has ever lived, at the moment of physical death. At that moment time will cease for us individually and the next moment we will be at the judgment throne in eternity. At the moment of our physical death our eternal destiny will be fixed and unchangeable.

Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may not come. Today is the only day we can be certain of to seek the Lord and secure eternal life.

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

Transfiguration – Tuesday C

First Posted February 16, 2010
Podcast: Transfiguration Tuesday C

Deuteronomy 26:5-10 – Offering of First Fruits;

Background:

Pentecost, meaning “fifty days” is the Greek name for the Festival of Weeks, which was also known as the festival of the “first fruits” of the spring barley harvest, seven weeks after Passover. Today’s text is a liturgy (a rite; a formalized form for public worship) for this festival, when the worshiper gives thanks to the Lord for the land and harvest.

Worshipers were to take the basket of first fruits to the temple and present it to the priest at the altar.

Deuteronomy:

The worshiper was then to recite the origin of the people of Israel, how the patriarchs, had been Aramean nomads (who had come from Aram: present-day Syria and Iraq). The family went to Egypt and settled there temporarily. They multiplied and became a large nation. The Egyptians enslaved them and treated them harshly. The Lord saw their oppression and bondage, and led them out of Egypt (the Exodus; mass departure) with great signs and wonders. The Lord brought them to the land of Canaan, which “flowed with milk and honey” as the Lord had said. So now the worshiper was presenting the first fruit of the ground, which the Lord had given, in worship to the Lord.

Commentary:

God’s purpose for Creation is to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose, first through the goodness and complexity of Creation. Then he revealed himself to Abraham (Abram) and began a personal relationship with him, calling him to go to a new land and become the “father” of a great nation (Genesis 12:1-7). The Old Testament is the history of God’s dealing with the nation of his people, teaching them to trust and obey God’s Word. Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to the world. The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God to his disciples individually and personally.

The history of God’s relationship with Israel is also deliberately intended by God to be a “parable;” a metaphor for life in this world. God’s people were enslaved in the “Egypt” of this present world order, of which Satan is “Pharaoh.” Jesus is the new “Moses” who frees us from bondage to sin and death in “Egypt,” through the “sea” of water baptism into Jesus, through the wilderness of this lifetime, where we learn to trust and obey him and be led by his Spirit (the “pillar” of cloud and fire; Exodus 13:21-22). Jesus is the new Joshua (Jesus is the Greek form of “Joshua” or “Jeshua”), who will lead us through the “river” of physical death and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Moses had been directed and empowered by God to invoke a series of ten plagues on Egypt to induce the Egyptians to release their Israelite slaves. The final plague was the death of the first-born of the Egyptians, including their animals (Exodus 11:4-7).

The Passover feast originally was celebrated in Egypt on the eve of the Exodus. A perfect unblemished one-year-old male lamb was to be killed to provide the meat for the feast, and the blood of the lamb was to mark the doors of the houses of the Israelites as a sign that the destroying angel was to “pass over” them (Exodus 12:1-13). The Passover feast was observed annually in commemoration of the central saving act of God for his people.

After their release from Egypt God initiated a Covenant between God and his people, based on Law, God’s Word given through Moses. God used the Law to teach God’s people the meaning of sacrifice; that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). The sacrificial statutes and ordinances were to be followed until the New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) could be established at the coming of Jesus.

Jesus celebrated the Passover feast in Jerusalem on the night of his betrayal and arrest, and at that celebration he initiated the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus is the New Passover Lamb (John 1:29; Revelation 5:12), whose blood marks his disciples to be “passed over” in the Final Judgment. Passover became the Christian Easter.

Pentecost, 50 days after Easter, became the festival of “first fruits” of the spiritual harvest. Jesus’ disciples receive the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is the “first fruit” of eternal life and fellowship with God and Jesus Christ. Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection was the outpouring of the promised indwelling Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian Church (Acts 2:1-13).

The “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the spiritual “birthday” of each Christian. We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). Only Jesus “baptizes” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34); only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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

Ash Wednesday C

First Posted February 17, 2010
Podcast: Ash Wednesday C

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21– Sincere Devotion;

Don’t try to appear devout outwardly to others; you will have no reward from God the Father in heaven. When giving to the poor, do so without fanfare or public attention, which hypocrites seek, to be seen and praised by people. People who seek public acclaim will have only that, as their reward. When giving to the poor, give so privately that it is as if your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing. Give privately; then your Father who knows what is done in private will see and reward you.

When praying, don’t do as the hypocrites do, who love to pray in church and on street corners to be seen by others. Instead, go into your room and shut your door, and pray to your Father privately; and your Father who hears what you say in private will hear and reward you.

When fasting, don’t attract attention to your fasting with a dismal expression or any other outward sign, to be noticed by others. The hypocrites who do so have only public notice as their reward. Instead, when fasting, continue your normal outward appearance and behavior, so that your fasting will not be noticed by other people, but only by your Father, who knows what is done privately; and the Father will reward you.

Commentary:

God is not impressed with outward appearances. He knows our innermost thoughts and motives. God is Spirit and Truth, and those who want to serve and please him must do so in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).

The public today is a lot less impressed with public displays of religious devotion than church-goers might imagine. Praying aloud at Mac Donald’s before eating a “Happy Meal” is not particularly effective “evangelism.”

Many Americans believe that God hears and answers prayer. Many Americans consider themselves Christians, although they may not attend weekly Church services or read the Bible daily.

There are conditions for answered prayer (see sidebar, top right). God is under no obligation to hear and answer prayer if we haven’t read and begun to apply his Word in our daily lives (Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 11:20; Leviticus 26:3, 12; see also Jeremiah 11:4c-5).

Saving faith is not getting whatever one believes, if one believes “hard enough.” Saving faith is believing (trusting and obeying) Jesus Christ, who alone is God’s only appointed (“anointed;” Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively) eternal savior and eternal king of God’s eternal kingdom.

How can one call Jesus “Lord” and not do what he teaches ( Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46)?

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

Lent – Thursday C

First Posted February 18, 2010
Podcast: Lent Thursday C

Psalm 91– The Lord, Our Refuge;

The Lord God Almighty is a refuge and shelter from every peril. Those who trust in him need fear nothing. He will deliver us from traps set for us by our enemy, and even from fatal illness. His truth will be our shield and protection.

We need fear no terror at night, nor peril of day; no sickness of darkness, nor destruction in daylight. Thousands may fall beside us, tens of thousands next to us, but not we ourselves. We will see the recompense of the wicked with our own eyes.

Because we have made the Lord our refuge and dwelling, no evil will happen to us, nor scourge come near. “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).

We will overcome poisonous and vicious beasts. Those who cling to the Lord in love will be protected. The Lord will answer and deliver those who call upon his name. The Lord will be with them in times of trouble and will rescue and honor them “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:16).

Commentary:

The Lord gave me this Word when I was a new believer, thirty years ago. He asked me to meet with a person I regarded as my personal enemy. I responded like Ananias in Paul’s (Saul of Tarsus’) conversion (Acts 9:13-14). I did as the Lord directed, and had the promised shelter and protection.

Jesus came and died the most excruciating (meaning literally “from the cross”) physical death imaginable. His physical death and resurrection was deliberately intended by God to free us from lifelong bondage to sin and the fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. God’s Word is recorded in the Bible, and lived in human flesh in this world in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” God’s Word fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified.

In order to provide the freedom to allow us to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word, God designed this Creation to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

Humans fear physical death. It seems to be the end of existence. Physical death is not “nothingness,” nor “reincarnation.” God has created a temporal world; humans die once and then comes divine judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Jesus’ resurrection from physical death demonstrates that there is existence after physical death. Every “born-again” Christian personally testifies that Jesus is risen and eternally alive!

Satan knows scripture! Christians must read the entire Bible, and must read it daily, with prayer and meditation, seeking the Lord’s guidance one day at a time (Matthew 6:11, 34).

Satan tempted Jesus, the “living Word,” with scripture (Matthew 4:6). Jesus defeated temptation by quoting the scriptural context (Matthew 4:7).

Jesus has promised to hear and answer those who call upon his name. But Jesus warns us that those who call upon his name must trust and obey him (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

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

Lent – Friday C

First Posted February 19, 2010
Podcast: Lent Friday C

Romans 10:8b-13 – Saving Faith;

The Word (the Word of faith; the Gospel of salvation) is near you, on your lips and in your hearts; “because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (from eternal condemnation and destruction; Romans 10:9). A person who believes in his heart is “justified” (a legal judgment of pardon for sin; the opposite of condemnation) and who confesses with his voice is “saved.”

The author of this letter, the Apostle Paul, quotes Isaiah 28:16, which says that no one who believes in Jesus will be put to shame (stumble). There is no distinction between Jew and Greek (Gentile); Jesus is Lord of all and gives his rich spiritual blessings to all who call upon him. “For ‘everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved’” (compare Joel 2:32a).

Commentary:

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and find fellowship with God our Creator which was broken by our sin. We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). The Lord is not far off (Acts 17:26-27). He will reveal himself to us when we seek him with our whole heart (John 14:21, 23).

We are all born physically alive into this world, but we are “unborn” spiritually. This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life by the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. 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 event (Acts 19:2), not automatically conferred by some church rite, like water baptism.

But just naming the name of Jesus isn’t going to save us from eternal condemnation. Jesus asks why people call him their Lord and call themselves “Christian” but not do what he teaches (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). Faith is not getting whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. That day is not far off; it will come for each of us at the moment of physical death, or sooner, when Christ returns. No one know when that will be, or how long we will live physically (Matthew 24:34-44).

Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually reborn in their lifetime. They have had personal fellowship with the Lord by the indwelling Holy Spirit. They will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus, 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).

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

Lent – Saturday C

First Posted February 20, 2010
Podcast: Lent Saturday C

Luke 4:1-13 – Forty Days in the Wilderness;

After Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by John the baptizer, Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit,” (Luke 4:1a; Acts 2:4) and was led by the Holy Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan. Jesus ate nothing in the wilderness, and at the end of forty days of fasting, he was hungry. Satan tempted Jesus, saying that, if Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus could command a stone and it would become bread. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3c, saying “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”

Satan showed Jesus a vision of all the kingdoms of earth, for it all had been given to Satan. Satan said that he would give Jesus all their authority and glory, if Jesus would worship Satan. Jesus again replied that it was written (in the Old Testament Scriptures), “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Deuteronomy 6:13; 1 John 5:19 RSV).

Satan took Jesus to the roof of the temple in Jerusalem and said again, that if Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus should jump off the roof, because it is written, “He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you (Psalm 91:11),” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:12). Jesus replied that it says (in the Bible), “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:16). When Satan had ended all his temptations, he withdrew until another more favorable opportunity.

Commentary:

“Full of the Holy Spirit” is a Christian expression used throughout the book of Acts. Authentic “born-again” Christians experience the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through them as they are led and empowered by the Spirit. Jesus promised to send his indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples as they trusted and obeyed Jesus (John 14:15-17). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would give them what they were to say at the moment needed; that it was Holy Spirit who would speak through them (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

Moses was on Mt. Sinai (Horeb) forty days receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). Elijah traveled forty days and nights from the Northern Kingdom from Mt Carmel to Mt Sinai at the southern border of the Southern Kingdom on a cake of flour and a container of water supplied supernaturally by an angel (1 Kings 19:7-8). The Israelites were tested in the wilderness for forty years of wandering (Numbers 14:26-35; 32:13; Deuteronomy 8:2; 29:5), because they had not obeyed God’s command to enter and possess Canaan, the Promised Land.

Jesus was tempted for forty days of fasting in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry. Satan tempted Jesus in three areas of human vulnerability: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and human pride. Correspondingly Jesus was hungry, he was tempted to possess the glory and authority of the world, and to demonstrate that he was the Son of God.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the garden with the same three basic temptations: the forbidden fruit was “good for food, …a delight to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wise” and “like God” (Genesis 3:5-6).

Jesus responded to each temptation with scripture to refute it. To tempt him, Satan even quoted scripture to the Son of God, the “living Word,” the fulfillment embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in this world, in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Every believer should read the entire Bible, so that the Holy Spirit can recall it to our minds when needed so that we can escape temptation. If we resist his temptation Satan will flee from us (James 4:7b).

Esau traded his birthright, as the first-born son, of a double share in his father’s estate, for a single meal (Hebrews 12:16-17; Genesis 25:29-34; 27:30-40).

Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ we have an inheritance in our heavenly Father’s estate in his eternal kingdom, paradise restored. Let us not give it away for a single meal, or even for all the power and glory on earth. The most important goal in this lifetime is for us to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:31-33; 16:26).

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

Week of 4 Epiphany – C – 01/31 – 02/06/2016

January 30, 2016

Week of 4 Epiphany – 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/

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival Text-to-speech are available at:

Daily Walk 2 Year C Weekly Lectionary

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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:

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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 4 Epiphany C

4 Epiphany – Sunday – C

First Posted January 31, 2010

Podcast: 4 Epiphany Sunday C

Jeremiah 1:4-10 – Jeremiah’s Call;

Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17 – Rock of Refuge;

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13 – The Way of Love;

Luke 4:21-32 – Rejected in Nazareth;

Jeremiah:

The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah; the Lord God knew Jeremiah before God formed him in his mother’s womb, and consecrated Jeremiah before Jeremiah was born, and appointed him to be a prophet to the nations (Gentiles). Jeremiah replied that he was too young and not an orator. The Lord told Jeremiah that his youth didn’t matter; God would show Jeremiah where to go and give him the message God wanted him to proclaim. Jeremiah was not to be afraid, because God promised to be with him and deliver him.

Then the Lord touched Jeremiah’s mouth and told him, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See I have set you this day over nations, and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:9b-10).

Psalm:

I take refuge in you O Lord; I will never be put to shame. You, in your righteousness, will rescue and save me. You, O Lord, are a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me; you are my rock and my fortress. O Lord, my God, rescue me from the power of the wicked; from those who are unjust and cruel.

O Lord, you have been my hope in whom I have trusted from my youth. I have depended on you from my birth. It is you who delivered me from my mother’s womb. So I will always praise you!

I will declare your righteous acts, O Lord, your deeds of salvation all day long. They are numerous beyond counting. In your strength I will go and proclaim your righteousness, yours alone!

You have taught me from my youth, and I still proclaim your wonderful works.

1 Corinthians:

Paul used an analogy of the members of a human body to describe the relationship of members to the Church. Christians are individually members of Christ’s body. God has appointed first apostles (messengers; of the Gospel), then prophets, teachers, miracle-workers, healers, helpers (deacons) and administrators (bishops), speakers of tongues. Not all are apostles, not all are prophets, or teachers, or miracle-workers, or healers. Not all speak in tongues, nor are all able to interpret tongues. But we should earnestly seek the higher gifts.

Paul was teaching them the more excellent way (of love). Without love, a speaker of tongues of human or spiritual language is no more useful than a gong or cymbal making noise. If one possesses all prophetic power, full insight into all mysteries, all knowledge and all faith that can move mountains, but lacks love, one gains nothing.

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it doesn’t rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love will never pass away. Prophecies will pass away, as will tongues and knowledge, because our knowledge and prophecies are imperfect. Perfect prophecy and knowledge will replace the imperfect. When we are children, we speak, think, and reason like children But when we grow up, we outgrow childish ways. Now we see imperfectly as in a mirror of polished metal, but in eternity we will see as face-to-face. Now our understanding is partial; in the age to come we will have perfect understanding, like the understanding God has of us now. Faith, hope and love are the only things which will remain in eternity, and love is the most important.

Luke:

Jesus had gone to the synagogue in Nazareth as was his custom, and was asked to read from the Book (scroll) of Isaiah. He read the passage in Isaiah 61:1-2 describing the Messiah, the Lord’s anointed (Messiah and Christ each mean anointed in Hebrew and Greek respectively; Luke 4:18-19).

Jesus gave the scroll back to the attendant and sat back down, and every eye was focused on Jesus. Jesus declared that they had just witnessed the fulfillment of that passage. At first the people thought Jesus was a good speaker, whose words were gracious, and they wondered how the son of Joseph, whom they knew, had acquired his ability. Jesus said that they would recall the old proverb that the physician should heal himself. They expected him to do the miracles in his own hometown that he had done in Capernaum.

Jesus said that prophets are not accepted in their own country. Jesus pointed out that when there was a three and a half year drought and famine in Israel, there were many hungry widows in Israel, but God sent Elisha only to Zarepath in Sidon (in Phoenicia; north of Galilee; 1 Kings 17:1, 8-16; 1 Kings 18:1). There were many lepers in Israel, when Elisha was a prophet, but only Naaman, a Syrian (Gentile; non-Jew), was healed (2 Kings 5:1-14). At this statement, the everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They took Jesus out of the synagogue and to the cliff of the hill on which Nazareth was built, intending to through him off the cliff, but Jesus passed through the crowd and went away.

Commentary:

The Lord knows all about each one of us from conception, and there is a call upon us to be disciples of Jesus. Jesus came to make it possible for us to be spiritually cleansed, so that we could each be temples of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This lifetime is our opportunity to seek God and come to know and have fellowship with him (Acts 17:26-27) through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually by the indwelling Holy Spirit so we can have eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven. Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift;” “infilling;” 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 a personally discernible ongoing event. It is impossible to be “born-again” without being aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

The Lord wants us to be filled with his Holy Spirit so that we can know, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Word he wants us to teach, where he wants us to teach it, and the resources and supernatural empowerment to accomplish his call. The Holy Spirit gives his disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). He teaches his disciples all things and recalls to our memory all Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26).

The Gospel message is not going to be any more welcome by worldly people than it was to the people of Nazareth who knew Jesus from boyhood. It wasn’t the way that he said it; Jesus spoke it gently and graciously in love. The Bible contains both wonderful promises and ominous warnings. The warnings are intended, in love, to help us avoid the consequences of failing to heed the warnings. It isn’t loving to preach only the parts of the Bible that make us feel good.

Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to go into the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to obey all Jesus’ teachings. But note that they were to carry out this command only after they had been filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and Jesus promised to be with them, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, until the end of this age; the end of time. We can’t accomplish the mission of Christ in our own human strength. “Not by (human) power, or by might, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the love of God, and we receive the gift of God’s love to be spread through us to others (Romans 5:5). When we truly want to know God’s will for us with the commitment of doing it, he will reveal it to us. Instead of trying to discern our spiritual gifts, we should seek his will and pray it back to make sure we’ve understood. Then the Lord will supply the gift, resources and empowerment we need to carry out his call. (Remember that God will never tell us to do anything contrary to God’s Word, the Bible, or to do any harm to ourselves or others.) Discipleship is a spiritual growth process. As we begin to trust and obey the Lord on a daily basis, with Scripture, meditation and prayer, we will grow in faith over time as we learn that his Word is completely true and trustworthy.

Paul was discipling the Roman believers. There are two forms of speaking in tongues. The kind which was manifested on the Day of Pentecost is the reversal of the confusion of the language at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). It was the useful ability to declare the Gospel in the languages of the people who witnessed the event. The other kind is an ecstatic utterance.

Paul didn’t want to forbid the ecstatic utterance if it were prompted by the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), but Paul didn’t want it disrupting orderly worship. He regarded the ecstatic gift of tongues at the bottom of the list of spiritual gifts, and wanted it accompanied by an interpreter. Paul also argued that the gift of ecstatic tongues was a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers (1 Corinthians 14:1-33; note vv. 21-22).

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2. Lord’s “anointed” prophet, priest and king. Prophecy is proclaiming God’s Word by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is not like foretelling the future. But God’s Word is always fulfilled, and in fact is the test of prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God, (John 14:10, 24) with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; Genesis 1:9).

Jesus was speaking the truth in love to his fellow Nazarenes, when he characterized their problem as the same as that of a prophet in his own town. The Nazarene’s couldn’t accept Jesus as Messiah because they thought they knew that Jesus was the son of Joseph. The Nazarenes wanted Jesus to do miracles for his home town, but without faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Matthew 13:54-58).

Jesus is the descendant of David the shepherd-king. The Jews were heirs of the promise of God but they didn’t inherit them because of lack of faith. God had planned from the very beginning of Creation that salvation was not just for the Jews, but through them to come to all people who would receive Jesus by faith.

The widow of Zarepath was a Gentile (non-Jew), but she survived the drought and famine because she believed the Word of God spoken by Elisha (1 Kings 17:11-12). Naaman was a Gentile; but he believed the testimony of a Jewish slave-girl (2 Kings 5:2-3), and went to Elisha the prophet of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes of the divided monarchy at Samaria, the Capital.

The little Jewish slave-girl had known there was a prophet in Israel (2 Kings 5:3), although the king apparently didn’t (2 Kings 5:6-9). Naaman almost missed his healing because he was told to wash in the Jordan seven times. Naaman had expected to speak to the prophet but Elisha sent his servant Gehazi with the message. Naaman thought he could have bathed in rivers in Syria with a lot less trouble, but his servants talked him into doing as the prophet had said. Not only had Naaman found a prophet in Israel, but the God who alone is God. As a result Naaman was healed, and converted to the God of Israel. (2 Kings 5:9-19).

The Nazarenes wanted to kill Jesus, but had no power over him because it was not God’s will. Jesus was only crucified in God’s perfect timing according to his eternal purpose.

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)?


4 Epiphany – Monday – C

First Posted February 1, 2010

Podcast: 4 Epiphany Monday C

Psalm 85:8-13 – Oracle of Assurance;

Listen to what the Lord will speak; to his people, his saints (those who are consecrated to serve God; believers in Jesus Christ), to those who turn to the Lord with their whole hearts, the Lord will speak peace. For those who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) God, their salvation is at hand, that glory (honor, dignity; the perfect righteousness of God) may fill our land.

“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other; Faithfulness will spring up from the ground and righteousness will look down from the sky” (Psalm 85:10-11). The Lord will bless us with every good thing and our land will yield an abundant harvest. He will lead us in righteousness.

Commentary:

God has given us his Word in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). The Bible is intended to guide us to faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This Creation and our lifetimes are our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), and to learn to live according to his Word. This lifetime is our opportunity 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).

Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning. Jesus is God’s one and only plan to give us peace and eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, the only way to be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and the only way to have true eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Those who are consecrated (dedicated to the Lord’s service), by “baptism” of water and the Holy Spirit), have peace with God (Romans 5:1) and with our brethren in Christ, which cannot be taken from us (John 14:27). Jesus’ resurrection has overcome our fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15), so that we can have peace even in the midst of worldly turmoil (John 16:33).

The ultimate goal is God’s eternal kingdom, the new Creation, filled with the righteousness, peace and faithfulness of God. The Lord will lead us in righteousness by the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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)?

4 Epiphany – Tuesday – C

First Posted February 2, 2010

Podcast: 4 Epiphany Tuesday C

Isaiah 6:1-8 (9-13) – Isaiah’s Call;

In 742 B.C., the year of the death of King Uzziah of the Southern Kingdom, Judah, of the Divided Monarchy, Isaiah had a vision of God on his throne in heaven. The throne was high above the floor, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim (“fiery ones;” angels in human form, except for their wings), each having six wings: two covered the eyes, two covered the feet, and they flew with two (compare Ezekiel 1:3-8; 1 Kings 22:19). One of the Seraphim called to another, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts (a large army); the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

The foundations were shaken at the voice of the Seraphim, and the palace was filled with smoke. Isaiah was frightened, and confessed that his lips were unclean, and that he came from people with unclean lips, because he realized that he had seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

One of the Seraphim flew to him bringing a burning coal taken with tongs from the altar. The Seraph touched Isaiah’s mouth with the coal and declared that, with the touch of the coal on his lips, Isaiah’s guilt had been taken away, and his sin forgiven. Then Isaiah heard the Lord asking whom should he send; who was willing to go for them? And Isaiah said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8b).

The Lord told Isaiah to tell God’s people to hear without understanding. Might their hearts be fat (and lazy), their ears heavy and their eyes shut; otherwise their eyes might see, their ears might hear and their hearts might understand and turn to be healed.

Isaiah asked the Lord, “How long?” And the Lord said, “Until the cities are in ruins and uninhabited; the houses unoccupied, and the land utterly desolate. Until the Lord removes the inhabitants far away and the land be forsaken. “’And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains standing when it is felled.’ The seed is its stump” (Isaiah 6:13).

Commentary:

The word “Seraphim” is used elsewhere (in Numbers 21:6, 8; Deuteronomy 8:15; compare Isaiah 14:29, 30:6) as fiery (winged) serpents (poisonous snakes) sent by God to execute God’s judgment on sin (Matthew 13:39-41).

The train of the robe of God on his throne symbolizes his glory that fills the throne room. I have personally experienced times in worship, a few times, not nearly often enough, when the presence and glory of the Lord was manifested in radiant light and glory filling the sanctuary to the point that the windows seemed to rattle in their frames!

Isaiah realized his unrighteousness; without God’s help we cannot stand in his presence. Only by the Holy Spirit, the “tongue of fire” (Acts 2:3), are we purified from sin and consecrated to God’s use, so that we are able to serve the Lord.

The Lord has called us to carry on the mission of Christ to the world. This world is spiritually lost and dying. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can save us. Only by the grace (unmerited favor) of God can we hear and understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, see that Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation, and accept in our hearts, Jesus as our Lord.

Isaiah asked, “How long?” Isaiah was the prophet to Jerusalem and Judah, the Southern Kingdom of the Divided Monarchy, between 742 and 687 B.C.. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, was conquered and effectively ceased to exist with the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians in 721 B.C.. The Southern Kingdom failed to learn the lesson of the Northern Kingdom and so was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C and exiled to Babylon for seventy years, until 517 B.C., as prophesied by Jeremiah (25:11-12).

God’s Word was fulfilled. The cities of Judah were in ruins and uninhabited, the land desolate. But a remnant (of Israel) remained and returned and became the stump of Jesse (the father of David) from whom Jesus came forth (Isaiah 11:10; 53:1-2; Matthew 1:1, 5-6, 20; 21:9, 15).

This world has been designed by God for a particular purpose. God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. This world has been designed to allow us freedom to disobey God’s Word, but God is not willing to allow rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, so this world and we ourselves are limited by time. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God, to learn to trust and obey God’s Word by trial and error, and to be spiritually “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).

We will choose for ourselves whether to pursue our own will or to live according to God’s will. 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)?

4 Epiphany – Wednesday – C

First Posted February 3, 2010

Podcast: 4 Epiphany Wednesday C

I Corinthians 14:12b-20 – Up-building the Church;

New believers should seek spiritual gifts that up-build the Church. Those who speak in ecstatic tongues should seek the gift of interpretation. Unless the speaker can interpret the tongues, he may feel ecstatic, but his mind is unfruitful. Meaningful worship, prayer and singing, must engage the mind. If one gives thanks to God, others cannot affirm him if they are unable to understand what he is saying. His hearers are not up-built.

Paul said that he spoke in ecstatic tongues more than anyone, but he would rather speak five intelligible words, to instruct others than ten thousand words in ecstatic tongues which were unintelligible to anyone. Let us not be immature in our thinking. In evil, let us be as innocent as babies, but in our thinking, let us be mature.

Commentary:

The Lord wants us to worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). When we go to worship, it isn’t spectator sport. We’re not there to be “entertained.” The pastor or worship leader isn’t there to be a “cheerleader” in the sense of coercing responses (1 Corinthians 12:2 RSV). Our responses should be spontaneous coming from our conscious participation. We should prepare our hearts to worship the Lord with prayer and meditation, recalling the events of the past week.

It is so easy to fall into a pattern of participation by rote. This is true in both liturgical (formal rites of worship) and non-liturgical Churches. It takes some conscious effort to focus on the the words we are saying or singing. That is why I feel that “saying the rosary” is particularly counter-productive.

I find that I can be easily distracted, so I try to keep my eyes focused on the projection screen, hymnal, or sermon notes. I try to use the time before the service begins to pray and meditate.

There are two different types of speaking in tongues. The one given the Church on the day of Pentecost was a reversal of the confusion of language at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9). It was a useful gift which allowed the disciples to communicate the Gospel to people in the peoples’ own language (Acts 2:1-13).

The other form of speaking in tongues is the ecstatic expression of unintelligible spiritual language. That form of “tongues” is not useful in up-building the Church; it is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:21-22).

Some want to make “tongues” the “litmus test” of spiritual rebirth. Paul did not want to quench the Holy Spirit by forbidding the speaking in tongues, but he didn’t want it to disrupt worship.

Christians are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). The Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent and be baptized with water for forgiveness and spiritual cleansing, to prepare us to receive Jesus Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus did not baptize anyone with water; only his disciples did (John 4:2). Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. The Church is to disciple believers until they are “born-again.” Spiritual rebirth is not the end but the beginning of spiritual growth to spiritual maturity.

In many instances the nominal Church today is failing to make “born-again” disciples. In some denominations churches are not only not helping their members but are actually discouraging them from seeking baptism of the Holy Spirit, by teaching them that they have automatically received baptism of the Holy Spirit by water baptism (see False Teachings, “Spiritual Rebirth,” sidebar, top right.

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)?

4 Epiphany – Thursday – C

First Posted February 4, 2010
Podcast: 4 Epiphany Thursday C

Luke 5:1-11 – The Unexpected Catch

Jesus was on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee) and a great crowd had surrounded him. Two boats had been beached and the fishermen were cleaning their nets nearby. One of the boats was Simon’s (who Jesus named Peter; Matthew 16:16-18). Jesus asked Peter to take him just offshore, and Jesus sat down and taught the crowd from the boat.

When he finished speaking, he asked Peter to take the boat into deep water and let down his net for a catch. Peter replied that they had fished all night and had caught nothing, but would do as Jesus had said. When the net was let out it enclosed a great shoal (school) of fish, so big that their nets began to break. They called their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and both boats were loaded so full with fish that they were at the point of sinking.

When Peter saw what was happening, he fell down before Jesus and acknowledged that he was a sinful person (unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence). Peter and his fishing partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee and their crews, were amazed at the catch of fish. Jesus told them not to be afraid, and declared that from then on they would be catching people. When they landed the boats, Peter, James and John) left everything and followed Jesus.

Commentary:

Peter, James and John had spent their lives fishing in these waters. They had spent all night and had caught nothing. They were tired, but Peter was willing to do as Jesus told him, and he made the greatest catch these fishermen had ever seen. Instead of thinking of the money they could make selling these fish, they left everything, the boats, the nets, the catch, their father and families, and followed Jesus.

They recognized that Jesus, a carpenter, possessed supernatural knowledge and power. They didn’t try to exploit Jesus’ power so they could continue to have great catches. They chose to accept his call to learn to fish for and catch people.

We are all sinners unworthy of being in Jesus’ presence. When we acknowledge our sin he will cleanse us by baptism with water for repentance and forgiveness, and give us the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit to empower us to live according to God’s Word (Romans 8:1-16). My understanding of the Bible and my personal experience testify that the Church is the heir to the ministry of the water baptism of John, for repentance and spiritual cleansing, and that the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, daily, ongoing event, as we begin to live in obedient trust in Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus described the kingdom of heaven as a process like fishing with a net. The Gospel of Jesus is the net. All sorts of fish are gathered by the net. When full the net is hauled ashore and the fishermen sort through the fish, saving the good, and throwing the bad away (Matthew 13:47-50).

This present, temporal world is like a net full of all kinds of fish. At the end of this age, Jesus is going to return to judge the the good from the bad, the “living (“quickened”) and dead” (in both the physical and spiritual senses; 1 Peter 4:5).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God and to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus is only way to come to know God (Matthew 11:27; John 14:6-7). Jesus is the only way to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is the only way to be “born-again” to eternal life by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Christians are “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). Disciples must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) before going into the world with the “net” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:49, Acts 1, 4-5, 8). We cast the net, and then the angels of the Lord will haul it ashore and separate the good from the evil, the living from the dead, at the Day of Judgment at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

On the Day of Judgment everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to Jesus, the Righteous Judge, for what we have done in this lifetime with the Gospel of Jesus. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus’ teachings will have been spiritually “born-again.” The will have had a personal daily relationship with Jesus during this lifetime, and Jesus will acknowledge them as his disciples. They will enter God’s eternal kingdom restored to paradise in heaven.

Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will be denied by Jesus. Jesus will declare that he never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23), and the angels will cast them into eternal destruction in hell with all evil Mathew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

We all have a choice to make. We are all in boats, in darkness, fishing for meaning and purpose. Jesus is calling us to follow him and try a new kind of fishing. Will we continue to stay in darkness trying to accomplish what is ultimately unproductive, or will we trust and obey Jesus and find what is eternally precious?

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)?

4 Epiphany – Friday – C

First Posted February 5, 2010

Podcast: 4 Epiphany Friday C

Colossians 3:12-17 – Christian Life;

As holy and beloved chosen ones of God, practice kindness, compassion, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing and forgiving one another. We must forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven us. Above all these, we must be loving, because by love all things are bound together in perfect harmony. Let the peace of Christ Jesus reign in our hearts in the one body (the Church) to which we have been called. Remember to be thankful. Let us be filled with the word of Christ, so that we can teach and advise one another with wisdom, and as we sing to the Lord in thanksgiving. Let everything we do, in word or deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, in thanksgiving to God the Father through him.

Commentary:

In love, God has chosen us in Christ, before the world was created (John 1:1-5, 14), so that we could be blameless and holy in God’s judgment (Ephesians 1:4). This creation was designed by God in his love for us. God designed an eternal savior, Jesus Christ, into creation so that, through faith (obedient trust) in him, we could be blameless of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and holy (purified; consecrated to God’s service). By the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross we are forgiven and made holy, if we are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

This Creation is designed by God for a specific purpose. God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. This world has been designed to allow us freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and to learn by trial-and-error that God’s will is our best interest. Disobedience of God’s Word is the definition of sin. God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal heavenly kingdom, or it wouldn’t be heaven!

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, and to be “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. These goals are only possible through Jesus Christ because Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness of sin and our salvation from eternal death and destruction in hell (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, to be restored to fellowship with God that was broken by sin, and the only way to have eternal life (John 14:6).

We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” God offers us eternal life in paradise restored in heaven, if we are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus “baptizes” with (gives the gift of) the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We are “reborn” to eternal life by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

By the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience God’s love for us personally, and we are enabled to live according to God’s Word, as we allow the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, to reign in us and guide us (Romans 8:1-9). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we are able to advise and teach one another (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able to truly sing in thanksgiving and praise to the Lord (Romans 8:15-16).

Jesus is the “living Word,” the Word of God fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh, in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). Christians are “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). We must be “born-again,” filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 6), before we can proclaim the Gospel, advise and teach others.

In this letter, Paul was making disciples of new believers at Colossae, in fulfillment of the “Great Commission” which Jesus gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), teaching them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches, so that they would be “born-again,” filled by the word of Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus’ word is the Word of God with the creative force of God’s Word (John 14:10, 24; Mark 4:39-41; Genesis 1:9).

I’m convinced that Paul is the disciple God intended to replace Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer; not Matthias, as chosen by the original eleven by chance while they were supposed to be waiting for the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:15-26). Matthias is never mentioned again, but after Paul’s conversion, most of the rest of the New Testament is written by or about Paul. Paul is the prototype “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, and the example that all of us can and should be.

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)?

4 Epiphany – Saturday – C

First Posted February 6, 2010

Podcast: 4 Epiphany Saturday C

Matthew 13:24-30 – Weeds Among Wheat;

Jesus used “parables,” stories of common earthly experiences, to teach spiritual truth. In one, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a farmer who sowed good wheat seed in his field, but during the night while he and his servants were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weed seed in the field. When the wheat sprouted, so did the weeds. The servants reported this to the farmer, asking if the seed had been faulty. The farmer said that the weeds had been sown by his enemy. The servants asked if they should pull the weeds, but the farmer told them to wait until the harvest, so that the wheat would not be damaged. At harvest the reapers would pull the weeds first and burn them. Then the wheat could be gathered into the farmer’s barn.

Commentary:

This Creation is God’s “wheat field.” The purpose of this life is to create a harvest of “wheat” for God’s “barn,” his kingdom in heaven. The Gospel is the good seed that will produce wheat. The wheat are those who trust and obey God’s Word. Satan is the enemy who sows weeds among the wheat. The weeds are those who refuse or fail to trust and obey God’s Word.

In the beginning we are all “weeds,” sinners (disobedient of God’s Word) 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 any of us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). This lifetime is our opportunity to become “wheat” in God’s harvest. The Gospel of faith (obedient trust) in Jesus is the only way (Acts 4:21; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God allows the weeds to grow among the wheat until the “harvest,” which is the Second Coming, the Day of Judgment at the end of this age. The end of the age will occur within our individual lifetimes at the moment of our death, and no one can be sure that we’ll live until tomorrow.

At the moment of our physical death our eternal destiny will be fixed and unalterable. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord, who have learned to trust and obey Jesus, will have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) during this lifetime, and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will be cast into eternal fire in hell with all evil. (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

3 Epiphany – C -01/24 – 30/2016

January 23, 2016

Week of 3 Epiphany 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/

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

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Daily Walk 2 Year C Weekly Lectionary

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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:

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Please Note:

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of  3 Epiphany – C 
Sunday 3 Epiphany – C 
First posted 01/24/2010;
Podcast: Sunday 3 Epiphany – C

Isaiah 61:1-6 – The Spirit of the Lord;
Psalm 113 – Helper of the Humble;
I Corinthians 12:12-21, 26-27 – Body and Members;
Luke 4:14-21 – The Spirit of the Lord;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

God has anointed his servant with the Spirit of the Lord so that the servant can proclaim good news to the poor and afflicted. The Lord’s servant has been sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives, to release those who are bound, to announce the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of God’s vengeance. To those who mourn in Zion, he gives them a garland (of celebration) instead of ashes (of sorrow), the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the cloak of praise, instead of a faint spirit. They shall be called the planting of the Lord, oaks of righteousness, so that God will be glorified. They will rebuild ancient ruins and restore what had formerly been destroyed. The ruins of cities and devastations of many generations they will repair.

Foreigners will be the servants who feed Israel’s flocks, plow their fields and dress their vines, But Israel will be priests of the Lord. People will acknowledge them as ministers of the Lord God. They will feast on the wealth of nations and will exalt in their riches.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord all his servants! Let us praise the name (the character and person) of the Lord!

From now on for all eternity may we bless his name! Let his name be praised from sunrise to sunset! The greatness of the Lord is above all nations, and his glory (honor; his goodness and righteousness) is higher than the heavens!

Who can compare to the Lord our God? He is enthroned on high above heaven, but he sees far down to earth. He lifts the poor and needy from the dust and from the ash heap and makes them sit among princes of the people. To the barren woman he gives a home and children, so that she can rejoice in them! Praise the Lord!

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul uses the analogy of the human body to describe the relationship of the Church and its members. Just as a human body, though composed of many members is one unified body. So it is with Christ. We are all baptized into Christ by one Spirit into one body, both Jew and Greek, slave and free, and we all participate in the one Spirit.

The body doesn’t consist of a single member, but many. The members have different functions, but one member cannot deny its part in the body just because it doesn’t have a certain gift. The body needs the participation of every member to function properly. As God has designed the various members of a physical body work together, so it is in the Church. Neither can the body decide that it has no need for a certain member. The suffering of one member is shared by all, and all rejoice when one is honored.

The Church is the body of Christ, and believers are individual members of it.

Luke Paraphrase:

After Jesus had been tempted in the wilderness, he returned to Galilee, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. He went throughout Galilee teaching in synagogues, and was held in honor by all.

In Nazareth, where he had grown up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath, as had been his custom. He stood up to read the Scripture, and the book (scroll) of Isaiah was given to him. He opened it to the passage in Isaiah 61:1-6, and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

Closing the book, Jesus sat back down, and every person in the synagogue was looking at him. Jesus began to speak, saying that they had just witnessed the fulfillment of this text.

Commentary:

This text in Isaiah is believed to have been written around 530-510 B.C. Babylon had been conquered in 539 B.C. by Cyrus of Persia, who allowed the Exiles to return to their Promised Land during the following generation. God had promised that the Exiles would return after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12), which is counted from the destruction of the temple in 587 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon until dedication of the rebuilt temple in 517 B.C..

Isaiah was a fulfillment of the Lord’s servant, who by the Holy Spirit announced good tidings of release for the Exiles and the “year” of the Lord’s favor, compared to the “day” of God’s vengeance. He changed their mourning to gladness and praise. They would rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem and the temple.

Before the coming of Jesus Christ, only a few people at any time who were called by the Lord to be his prophets were “anointed” with the Holy Spirit. God had established a concept of “anointing” prophets, priests and kings with olive oil as a symbol of God’s selection and approval. Anointing of kings was tantamount to coronation. Anointing with oil was also used for healing, and for a sign of hospitality and celebration. The “anointing” of the Holy Spirit is characterized as the “oil of gladness.”

Jesus came to make it possible for all of God’s people to be “anointed” with the Holy Spirit (Numbers 11:25-29;  John 7:37-39; 14:15-17). Jesus is the only one who “baptizes” (“anoints”) 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 Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent and be baptized with water as spiritual cleansing, by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, to prepare them to receive Jesus in the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ; Romans 8:9). The “anointing” with the Holy Spirit began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, the “birthday” of the Church (Acts 2:1-13).

God’s Word is eternally true, and is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Christians are by definition disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and then are guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the Great Commission which Jesus gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out only after they had received the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Each “born-again” Christian is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Lord’s Spirit-filled servant. Each one is called to be a minister of the Lord.

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus is the Messiah, (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively) The Gospels testify that Jesus was doing the things foretold by Isaiah of the Lord’s servant.

When John the baptizer had been imprisoned, he sent his disciples to Jesus, seeking reassurance that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus told them to report to John what they had seen Jesus doing that very hour: the blind, the deaf, the lame, and lepers are healed, and the poor hear good news, the Gospel of forgiveness of sin, salvation from eternal condemnation, and restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Matthew 11:2-5).

Jesus promises his disciples, his servants, that he will give them the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit if they will keep his commandments (John 14:15-17). But he wants to be sure that we’re committed, before he does, because it is unrepeatable (Hebrews 6:4-6).

By the indwelling Holy Spirit we personally experience the love and joy of the Lord’s presence. We become one body in Christ by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides and empowers each member individually so that together our work fulfills Christ’s mission of forgiveness and salvation.

I attend a “mega-church,” where I only participate in worship, because my internet requires my full time. I’m delighted to see how what I’m doing online and what my pastor preaches are so in agreement, but I realize that we are each led independently by the one and the same Holy Spirit.

John was given a visible sign to reveal who the Messiah was, and John testified that he had seen the sign of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descend and stay upon Jesus.
So John was able to point people to Jesus as the Messiah, who “baptizes” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34).

Jesus was going from synagogue to synagogue in Galilee and his teaching was highly regarded by the people, except in Nazareth where Jesus grew up. They thought they knew so much about Jesus (Luke 4:22b) that they couldn’t accept him as the Messiah. Jesus gently confronted them with their spiritual problem, but they got so angry they tried to throw Jesus off a cliff, since the town was built on a hill (Luke 4:23-30).

Jesus came to show us how to be servants of the Lord. That is what God’s people are called to be. The people of Nazareth thought Jesus was making himself appear to be better than they. We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn” and this lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life. Otherwise we will die eternally in hell with all evil.

Jesus was speaking the truth in love. The way he said it wasn’t combative, but the people of Nazareth weren’t willing to be confronted with the truth. They rejected the only one who could heal their spiritual need and give them eternal life.

There is a day coming when we will all be accountable to Jesus for what we have done in this lifetime. In that day Jesus will command, and we will have no choice but to obey. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord will have been spiritually “born-again” in this lifetime and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in Heaven, a New Creation restored to paradise before the corruption of sin. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or simply failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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

Monday 3 Epiphany – C
First posted 01/25/2010;

Podcast: Monday 3 Epiphany – C

Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17

Paraphrase:

I take refuge in the Lord; he will never let me be put to shame. He will rescue and deliver me because of his righteousness. He will hear my cry and save me. The Lord is my rock of refuge; a strong fortress to save me.

The Lord will rescue me from the wicked; from the grasp of the unjust and cruel he will save me. I have depended upon the Lord from my birth. It is the Lord who brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will praise him continually.

I will declare the Lord’s righteous acts, his deeds of salvation all day long. They are more than I can count. By the power of the Lord I will declare his righteousness, his alone.

From my youth the Lord has taught me, and I will continue to proclaim his great deeds.

Commentary:

When I’ve had tribulations, I’ve turned to the Psalms. For new believers they are the testimonies of mature believers who have experienced God’s help and faithfulness. The Lord wants us to claim the promises of his Word for ourselves so that we can learn by personal experience his power and faithfulness to save and deliver us from adversity. Then we can add our own testimony to that of the Psalmists.

The Lord wants us to seek him and his Word. When we do so with our whole heart, he will reveal himself to us (Deuteronomy 4:29 RSV). The Lord has given us his Word and his plan for Creation in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus is the “picture” of God’s plan for Creation. Jesus came to show us what it is like to be in human flesh but filled, guided and empowered with the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to be the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for forgiveness of our sin and cleansing so that we could be temples of the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to demonstrate that there is existence after physical death, and that he can raise us up from death to eternal life.

God has a plan for each of us, which he wants to reveal to us, but not if we’re just “window-shopping.” We must be willing to trust and obey the Lord without reservation. The place to begin is to read the entire Bible. God reveals his plan for us in his Word, and he wants us to seek it one day at a time (Matthew 6:11, 34). We can’t expect the Lord to hear and answer prayer if we’re not willing to hear, trust and obey his Word.

The Lord brought us forth in physical birth into this world, whether we realize and acknowledge that or not. He intends for us to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually during our lifetime in this Creation.

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want any of us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal death, restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and rebirth to eternal life (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right, home).

Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, the only way to come to know and have fellowship with God our Creator, and the only way to be reborn to eternal life by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:6). 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 indwelling Holy Spirit will teach us all things, and recall all Jesus’ teachings to us (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of (divine) truth (John 14:16-17). The Holy Spirit gives Jesus’ disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can praise the Lord and declare his righteousness. We cannot carry on Christ’s mission to bring forgiveness and salvation to the world except by the power and guidance of the indwelling 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)?

Tuesday 3 Epiphany – C

First posted 01/26/2010;

Podcast: Tuesday 3 Epiphany – C 

Jeremiah 1:4-10 – Jeremiah’s Call;

Paraphrase:

The Lord spoke to Jeremiah saying that he had known Jeremiah before Jeremiah’s conception and had consecrated Jeremiah before he was born. The Lord had appointed him to be a prophet to the nations.

Jeremiah replied that he was just a youth and not a public speaker. But the Lord told Jeremiah not to let his youth bother him. Jeremiah was to go to wherever God would send him and say whatever God commanded. Jeremiah was not to fear those to whom he was sent, because God promised to be with Jeremiah to deliver Jeremiah.

Then God touched Jeremiah’s mouth and said that he had put God’s words in his mouth. God told Jeremiah that God had given him authority over nations and kingdoms, “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).

Commentary:

Prophecy is not like fortune-telling. Prophecy is declaring God’s Word; the fact that it is God’s Word is why it is always fulfilled (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God’s Word contains both great promises and ominous warnings. We can either trust and obey God’s Word and receive the promises, or disregard it and receive the penalties the warnings were intended to help us avoid. Unlike fortune-telling, we determine the outcome ourselves by our response to God’s Word.

Worldly fortune-tellers are demonic counterfeits. It is tempting to some to consult such sources because it is easy. There are astrology charts in every newspaper and many internet portals, but God forbids his people to consult “mediums” and astrologers and such (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). God wants us to be led by his Holy Spirit, not by those who are demonic.

Before Jesus came, only a few chosen people, called to be God’s prophets, like Jeremiah, had a personal relationship with God. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross made it possible for God’s people to be cleansed and consecrated and filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Numbers 11:25-29), to be guided and empowered to declare God’s Word to all the nations and peoples of the world. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13) began the fulfillment of Numbers 11:29: “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his spirit upon them.”

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

Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission, to go into the World to make disciples of Jesus Christ in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (note the Trinity), and teaching them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches, and promising to be with them always to the close of the age (the end of time; this world). Note carefully that Jesus also commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Every truly “born-again” Christian is the heir to the call of Jeremiah. The Lord has promised to put his Word in our mouths by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. We are to go wherever he leads us and say what he commands, because the Holy Spirit will speak through us (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

In many instances the nominal Church is not following the Great Commission, and not teaching its members to wait for the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. Some mainline denominations are teaching that the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is automatically conferred with water baptism. This is not only not helping their members, but actually doing spiritual harm, because the teaching actually discourages and prevents the members from seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see False Teachings, Spiritual Rebirth, sidebar top right, home).

Many of these same nominal Churches also teach “Cheap Grace,”* the doctrine that salvation is by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift, which is true), without the obligation of discipleship and obedient trust (which is not true; see False Teachings, “Cheap Grace,”sidebar, top right, home).

The only way to protect oneself from false teachers and false teachings is to read the entire Bible for oneself. An average reader can easily read the entire Bible in one year. There are several 1-year Bible reading plans available. I prefer one that includes both Old Testament and New Testament readings each day (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)?


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


 

Wednesday 3 Epiphany – C

First posted 01/27/2010;
Podcast: Wednesday 3 Epiphany – C

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13

Paraphrase:

Paul had just described the Church in an analogy of a human body, a body composed of various members with different abilities that work together. He lists various examples of abilities (gifts given by the Holy Spirit) in descending order: First, apostles (messengers; of the Gospel); second, prophets; third, teachers; then miracle-workers, healers, helpers (like deacons), administrators (such as bishops), then speakers of various tongues. The members of the Church don’t each possess all the spiritual abilities (including interpreters of various tongues). But we should all earnestly desire the higher gifts (like prophecy).

But these gifts must be used with love to be effective. If we have the ability to speak earthly or spiritual languages our ability is no more useful than the gongs and cymbals (that characterize pagan worship), if not used lovingly. If we have great prophetic powers, understand all mysteries, have all knowledge, and have great, mountain-moving faith (Matthew 17:20b), but without love, we are nothing. The greatest acts of charity and self-sacrifice are for nothing if not done in love.

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The spiritual gifts we are given will not endure forever, because our knowledge and prophecy are imperfect. Our spiritual development is similar to our physical development. When we were children we talked, thought, and reasoned like children. But when we became adults we no longer used childish ways because we had matured and learned adult ways. In this lifetime we see spiritual things dimly, as though reflected in a shiny metal surface. But in the world to come in eternity we will see face to face. Now we only have partial knowledge but in the hereafter we will understand fully as God understands us now (better than we understand ourselves).

Commentary:

Spiritual rebirth is a growth process. New believers should be discipled by mature, “born-again” disciples until the new believers are “born-again.” Then the new disciples should be taught to set aside a time each day to read the Bible, meditate, and pray. First one should read the entire Bible, and I recommend that each daily reading should include Old Testament and New Testament portions. There are several One-Year Bible reading plans available (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right.

When the new believer has been “born-again” he is discipled further by the Holy Spirit within him. After  reading the entire Bible, the new believer should carry on the daily “quiet time” (personal devotions), using a devotional schedule, perhaps a quarterly booklet of devotions published by their church denomination, or some other devotional like this “My Daily Walk.”

New disciples need to learn to be led by the daily devotional text and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Lord will emphasize a portion of the text or commentary. When the disciple thinks the Lord is showing him something in the text,  he should “pray it back” to see if he’s understood. Remember that God will never tell us anything contrary to the Bible, nor anything which will harm ourselves or others.

The Lord wants us to seek and be guided by his will one day at a time (Matthew 6:11, 34). As we begin to be led by God’s Word and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we will grow in faith (obedient trust) as we experience personally the truth and reliability of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.

Instead of trying to identify our spiritual gift after we have been “born-again” we need to learn to recognize the still, small inner voice of the Lord. We need to seek God’s will, and God’s will for us is going to change as we grow spiritually. When we know the will and call of God, we can be sure that he will provide the spiritual gifts we need to accomplish that call. As we begin to walk in obedience to that call he will reveal and supply the gifts we need.

Perhaps God’s will for us is first as students in small group Bible Study and Adult Sunday School, as was my own experience. The Lord began showing me things in scripture as I prepared for weekly Bible Study and Adult Sunday School, so that I was able to make a spiritually useful contribution and I grew in faith.

As I grew spiritually, the Lord led me to chair the Social Ministry Committee, and later I chaired the Evangelism Committee. Through those calls, the Lord began to lead me outside of Church and into the world. I had numerous opportunities for spiritual growth. The latest example is my internet ministry, “My Daily Walk.”

In my growing devotional life, the Lord led me to the devotional lectionary (schedule of Bible readings) which became the first, two-year Bible study I published on “My Daily Walk.” I had been growing spiritually for about twenty-five years, and I was only then just ready to attempt it, and only by the help of the Lord which I relied upon and experienced daily.

Using the gifts of the Holy Spirit must be done in love, the love of God, not what the world falsely calls love, not carnal love or romantic love. We experience the love of God through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and because he first loved us, we love him, and want to please him by keeping his commandments (John 14:15)

It is important to note that what is done in love is not always perceived as love by others. Jesus loved the world so much that he gave is life on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17), so that we could receive forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), salvation from eternal death and condemnation (the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23), fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). The response of worldly, ungodly people was to crucify him.

The preaching of John the Baptizer was done in love for God and for God’s people, but the religious leaders refused to accept John’s preaching (Matthew 3:7-9). Let us ask ourselves if we would be more willing to hear that message today. The Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) prophesied that the time was coming when people would not endure sound teaching, and would get teachers who would tell them what they wanted to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4). That day has certainly come.

Paul is intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul loved his fellow Jews and mourned for them because they refused to listen to Paul’s preaching of the Gospel and accept Jesus as their promised Messiah. Paul endured great suffering from persecution by the Jews (Acts 9:17-25; 13:45-47; 21:27-36; 2 Corinthians 11:24-25).

Worldly people persecuted Jesus and his disciples, including Paul. Worldly people hate the Gospel of Jesus Christ today and increasingly so in America.

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

Thursday 3 Epiphany – C

First posted 01/28/2010;
Podcast: Thursday 3 Epiphany – C 

Luke 4:21-32 – Rejected in Nazareth;

Paraphrase:

Jesus attended the synagogue in Nazareth at the beginning of his public ministry, and was asked to read from the book (scroll) of Isaiah. He chose to read Isaiah 61:1-2;  the prophecy of the Messiah, the Lord’s servant, anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach the “good news” (the Gospel) to the poor, to free the imprisoned, to heal the blind, to restore the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Everyone in the synagogue waited for Jesus to say something, and Jesus began, saying that this prophecy of Isaiah had been filled that day in their hearing. Everyone thought that Jesus’ words were gracious, and they said “is this not Joseph’s son” (Luke 4:22b)? Jesus told them that they would probably quote the proverb “Physician, heal thyself” (Luke 4:23); that Jesus should do in his hometown the miracles he had done in Capernaum.

Jesus said that “no prophet is acceptable in his own country” (Luke 4:24). Jesus said that in the time of Elijah, when there was a drought for three and a half years, and a severe famine, there were many widows in the land of Israel but Elijah was sent to none of them, but to a widow in Sidon, in Phoenicia (north of Galilee; 1 Kings 17 :1, 8-16; 18:1). So, also, there were many lepers in Israel when Elisha was a prophet, and only Naaman, the Syrian, was cleansed (2 Kings 5:1-14).

When the people of the synagogue heard what Jesus was saying, they were furious, and they seized Jesus, carried him outside the city and took him to the brow of the hill on which Nazareth was built, intending to throw Jesus over the cliff, but Jesus passed through them and went away.

Commentary:

The people of Nazareth could not accept Jesus because they had known him growing up among them. They knew his family, and they thought they knew that Joseph was his father. They knew that Jesus had no formal training (Mark 6:2b, 3a) At first they were willing to “indulge” him a little; they weren’t expecting too much. It wasn’t like he was a formally trained Biblical expert from Jerusalem. When they heard Jesus’ message they grew furious.

The Jews regarded themselves as God’s “chosen” people, and they regarded themselves as “righteous” (doing what was good, right and true) according to the Law of Moses. They didn’t recognize their spiritual famine and sickness.

Leprosy was a disease which was visible and which marked the leper as a social and spiritual outcast, cut off from the religious community. We are all living in a time of spiritual famine. People are seeking spiritual fulfillment, but in all the wrong places. The Bible is the last place they are willing to look for spiritual sustenance. We are all spiritual lepers, because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). We are all cut off from God because of sin, and as sinners are all under condemnation of eternal death in God’s judgment.

Jesus, the promised “Messiah” (“Christ;” God’s “anointed”), the eternal Savior, came to Israel, but they refused to acknowledge and accept him as their Messiah, their Savior and eternal King. Gentiles accepted and received Jesus and received spiritual feeding and healing, but the Jews did not.

No place in Israel was more in need of Jesus’ message than Nazareth that day. Jesus’ words were gracious (Luke 4:22) and loving, not angry and intentionally hurtful. The people reacted to Jesus’ words in anger because they were unrepentant sinners. As a result, they lost the spiritual feeding and healing that Jesus did in other places in Israel, such as Capernaum, and for Gentiles.

The basis for receiving the forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal destruction, which only Jesus can give (Acts 4:12), is by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:6). Salvation is not by being born into and attending church, nor by being a “good” person, nor by believing “hard enough” that when we die we will go to a “better place.”

There are many people in our world today, in our societies, and even in our (nominal) Churches, who get angry when the Gospel is proclaimed, and blame their anger on the messenger. It is not loving to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not share it in a loving way with people who are perishing.

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

Friday 3 Epiphany – C

First posted 01/28/2010;
Podcast: Friday 3 Epiphany – C

Luke 4:21-32 – Rejected in Nazareth;

Paraphrase:

Jesus attended the synagogue in Nazareth at the beginning of his public ministry, and was asked to read from the book (scroll) of Isaiah. He chose to read Isaiah 61:1-2;  the prophecy of the Messiah, the Lord’s servant, anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach the “good news” (the Gospel) to the poor, to free the imprisoned, to heal the blind, to restore the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Everyone in the synagogue waited for Jesus to say something, and Jesus began, saying that this prophecy of Isaiah had been filled that day in their hearing. Everyone thought that Jesus’ words were gracious, and they said “is this not Joseph’s son” (Luke 4:22b)? Jesus told them that they would probably quote the proverb “Physician, heal thyself” (Luke 4:23); that Jesus should do in his hometown the miracles he had done in Capernaum.

Jesus said that “no prophet is acceptable in his own country” (Luke 4:24). Jesus said that in the time of Elijah, when there was a drought for three and a half years, and a severe famine, there were many widows in the land of Israel but Elijah was sent to none of them, but to a widow in Sidon, in Phoenicia (north of Galilee; 1 Kings 17 :1, 8-16; 18:1). So, also, there were many lepers in Israel when Elisha was a prophet, and only Naaman, the Syrian, was cleansed (2 Kings 5:1-14).

When the people of the synagogue heard what Jesus was saying, they were furious, and they seized Jesus, carried him outside the city and took him to the brow of the hill on which Nazareth was built, intending to throw Jesus over the cliff, but Jesus passed through them and went away.

Commentary:

The people of Nazareth could not accept Jesus because they had known him growing up among them. They knew his family, and they thought they knew that Joseph was his father. They knew that Jesus had no formal training (Mark 6:2b, 3a) At first they were willing to “indulge” him a little; they weren’t expecting too much. It wasn’t like he was a formally trained Biblical expert from Jerusalem. When they heard Jesus’ message they grew furious.

The Jews regarded themselves as God’s “chosen” people, and they regarded themselves as “righteous” (doing what was good, right and true) according to the Law of Moses. They didn’t recognize their spiritual famine and sickness.

Leprosy was a disease which was visible and which marked the leper as a social and spiritual outcast, cut off from the religious community. We are all living in a time of spiritual famine. People are seeking spiritual fulfillment, but in all the wrong places. The Bible is the last place they are willing to look for spiritual sustenance. We are all spiritual lepers, because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). We are all cut off from God because of sin, and as sinners are all under condemnation of eternal death in God’s judgment.

Jesus, the promised “Messiah” (“Christ;” God’s “anointed”), the eternal Savior, came to Israel, but they refused to acknowledge and accept him as their Messiah, their Savior and eternal King. Gentiles accepted and received Jesus and received spiritual feeding and healing, but the Jews did not.

No place in Israel was more in need of Jesus’ message than Nazareth that day. Jesus’ words were gracious (Luke 4:22) and loving, not angry and intentionally hurtful. The people reacted to Jesus’ words in anger because they were unrepentant sinners. As a result, they lost the spiritual feeding and healing that Jesus did in other places in Israel, such as Capernaum, and for Gentiles.

The basis for receiving the forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal destruction, which only Jesus can give (Acts 4:12), is by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:6). Salvation is not by being born into and attending church, nor by being a “good” person, nor by believing “hard enough” that when we die we will go to a “better place.”

There are many people in our world today, in our societies, and even in our (nominal) Churches, who get angry when the Gospel is proclaimed, and blame their anger on the messenger. It is not loving to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not share it in a loving way with people who are perishing.

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

Saturday 3 Epiphany – C
First posted 01/28/2010;
Podcast: Saturday 3 Epiphany – C

Luke 4:21-32 – Rejected in Nazareth;

Paraphrase:

Jesus attended the synagogue in Nazareth at the beginning of his public ministry, and was asked to read from the book (scroll) of Isaiah. He chose to read Isaiah 61:1-2;  the prophecy of the Messiah, the Lord’s servant, anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach the “good news” (the Gospel) to the poor, to free the imprisoned, to heal the blind, to restore the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Everyone in the synagogue waited for Jesus to say something, and Jesus began, saying that this prophecy of Isaiah had been filled that day in their hearing. Everyone thought that Jesus’ words were gracious, and they said “is this not Joseph’s son” (Luke 4:22b)? Jesus told them that they would probably quote the proverb “Physician, heal thyself” (Luke 4:23); that Jesus should do in his hometown the miracles he had done in Capernaum.

Jesus said that “no prophet is acceptable in his own country” (Luke 4:24). Jesus said that in the time of Elijah, when there was a drought for three and a half years, and a severe famine, there were many widows in the land of Israel but Elijah was sent to none of them, but to a widow in Sidon, in Phoenicia (north of Galilee; 1 Kings 17 :1, 8-16; 18:1). So, also, there were many lepers in Israel when Elisha was a prophet, and only Naaman, the Syrian, was cleansed (2 Kings 5:1-14).

When the people of the synagogue heard what Jesus was saying, they were furious, and they seized Jesus, carried him outside the city and took him to the brow of the hill on which Nazareth was built, intending to throw Jesus over the cliff, but Jesus passed through them and went away.

Commentary:

The people of Nazareth could not accept Jesus because they had known him growing up among them. They knew his family, and they thought they knew that Joseph was his father. They knew that Jesus had no formal training (Mark 6:2b, 3a) At first they were willing to “indulge” him a little; they weren’t expecting too much. It wasn’t like he was a formally trained Biblical expert from Jerusalem. When they heard Jesus’ message they grew furious.

The Jews regarded themselves as God’s “chosen” people, and they regarded themselves as “righteous” (doing what was good, right and true) according to the Law of Moses. They didn’t recognize their spiritual famine and sickness.

Leprosy was a disease which was visible and which marked the leper as a social and spiritual outcast, cut off from the religious community. We are all living in a time of spiritual famine. People are seeking spiritual fulfillment, but in all the wrong places. The Bible is the last place they are willing to look for spiritual sustenance. We are all spiritual lepers, because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). We are all cut off from God because of sin, and as sinners are all under condemnation of eternal death in God’s judgment.

Jesus, the promised “Messiah” (“Christ;” God’s “anointed”), the eternal Savior, came to Israel, but they refused to acknowledge and accept him as their Messiah, their Savior and eternal King. Gentiles accepted and received Jesus and received spiritual feeding and healing, but the Jews did not.

No place in Israel was more in need of Jesus’ message than Nazareth that day. Jesus’ words were gracious (Luke 4:22) and loving, not angry and intentionally hurtful. The people reacted to Jesus’ words in anger because they were unrepentant sinners. As a result, they lost the spiritual feeding and healing that Jesus did in other places in Israel, such as Capernaum, and for Gentiles.

The basis for receiving the forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal destruction, which only Jesus can give (Acts 4:12), is by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:6). Salvation is not by being born into and attending church, nor by being a “good” person, nor by believing “hard enough” that when we die we will go to a “better place.”

There are many people in our world today, in our societies, and even in our (nominal) Churches, who get angry when the Gospel is proclaimed, and blame their anger on the messenger. It is not loving to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not share it in a loving way with people who are perishing.

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

Week of 2 Epiphany C – 01/17 – 23/2016

January 16, 2016

Week of 2 Epiphany 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/

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival Text-to-speech are available at:

Daily Walk 2 Year C Weekly Lectionary

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

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk/

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

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

Please Note:

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 Epiphany C

2 Epiphany – Sunday C

First posted January 17, 2010

Podcast: 2 Epiphany Sunday C

Isaiah 62:1-5 – Vindication of Zion;

Psalm 36:5-10 – The Lord’s Steadfast Love;

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 – Spiritual Gifts;

John 2:1-11 – Wedding at Cana;

Isaiah:

The prophet will continue to proclaim Zion’s (Jerusalem; Israel; the Church) vindication without rest or silence until her vindication is seen as brightness, like a blazing torch. All kings and nations of the earth will see her vindication and glory (honor; distinction). Israel will be given a new name by the Lord, by which she will be known. She will be a crown of beauty, a royal diadem (crown) in the hand of the Lord her God. No more will she be called Forsaken and her land Desolate. Instead she will be knows as Hephzibah (my delight is in her) and her land called Beulah (“married”).

Israel’s sons will be committed to the land as a young man who has married a virgin. And God will rejoice over Israel as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Psalm:

The steadfast love of the Lord is as high as the heavens; as high as the clouds is his faithfulness. His righteousness looms above us like the mountain of God. His judgments are deeper than the sea. The Lord saves man and beast.

The steadfast love of God is most precious. Our earthly children find refuge in the shade of his wings. On the abundance of his house they feast, and he provides drink from the river of his delights. The fountain of life is with him, and we see light by his light.

May his steadfast love continue for those who know him, and to those who are upright in heart may they continue in his salvation. Let not the arrogant wipe their feet on me, nor let the hand of the wicked drive me away. May evildoers be struck down and unable to arise.

1 Corinthians:

New believers need to know that the anointing of the Holy Spirit is not simply an emotional response. People can respond emotionally to pagan worship. The test of the motivation of the Holy Spirit is the result it produces. No one motivated by the Holy Spirit will ever curse Jesus, and no one can truly praise Jesus except by the Spirit.

The one Holy Spirit apportions diverse spiritual gifts. There are various ways of serving, but the same Lord. The one God works in various ways. Each believer uses his gift for the good of the Church. One speaks wisdom by the Holy Spirit, another uses knowledge by the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit gives some faith; to others, gifts of healing; the working of miracles. Some are given the gift of prophecy; others, the ability to distinguish true prophecy and doctrine from false. Some may be given “speaking in tongues,” and to others, the ability to interpret “tongues.” All these are various gifts given by the motivation of the one Holy Spirit, who gives them to each, according to God’s purpose.

John:

On the third day (after Nathanael came to Jesus) Jesus and his disciples were in Cana in Galilee, to attend a wedding, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, was also invited. When the host ran out of wine, Mary told Jesus. Jesus replied (“O woman;” which was a respectful form to address in that culture), asking her why she was telling Jesus; Jesus’ hour (of self-revelation) had not yet come. Mary told the servants to get ready to do whatever Jesus would say to them. Six stone jars, each holding twenty or thirty gallons were standing nearby for the Jewish ritual purification. Jesus told the servants to fill the jars to the brim, and they did as Jesus had said. Then Jesus told them to take a sample to the steward (supervisor of the banquet).

When the steward tasted the water, which had become wine, he didn’t know the source of the wine, although the servants did. He called the bridegroom and said that normally hosts serve the best wine first, and then the lesser wine, after the guests had drunk freely, but apparently the host had kept the best wine until then. This was the first “sign” (miracle showing who Jesus is) Jesus did, revealing his glory (his supernatural power; his divine origin), “and his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11b).

Commentary:

This text from Isaiah is thought to have originated right before the fall of Babylon to Cyrus of Persia, in 539 B.C., and the generation following, during which Judah, the remnant of Israel exiled in Babylon, was permitted to return to their Promised Land and rebuilt their temple and walls of Jerusalem. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12, in which God promised, before the fall of Jerusalem and the exile, to bring the exiles home after seventy years, calculated from exile in 587 B.C., to the dedication of the rebuilt temple in 517 B.C.. Isaiah kept prophesying vindication and restoration to keep the exiles holding on to the promise of God until they were restored to their Promised Land.

God’s Word is eternal and eternally true, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Isaiah’s prophecy of vindication applied to the restoration of the exiles to their Promised Land. It ultimately applies to the restoration and vindication of the Church, which is New Israel, the New People of God, the New Jerusalem to the New Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is like a wedding feast (Matthew 22:2-14). Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is his bride (Israel 62:5b). We are all invited to the wedding, but we must wear the garment of salvation which the host provides. The Holy Spirit is the wedding garment we must have to enter the marriage feast. Jesus purchased the wedding garments by his blood shed for us on the cross. Only Jesus “anoints” (“baptizes”) with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 15:15-17). 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 Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; Eucharist) is the foretaste of the wedding feast to come in the eternal kingdom in heaven (Matthew 26:29). The Lord’s Supper is a spiritual feast. The portions of the elements of bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, are small but the spiritual feast is great. Jesus is the source of the fountain of life, the Holy Spirit (Psalm 36:9a; John 4:10-14; 7:37-39).

Paul was discipling new believers. He was teaching them about the “baptism” and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is not just “enthusiasm” as some would say. People can work themselves up into a frenzy, even to hysterics. We can discern between “enthusiasm” and true “anointing” by the results produced. Does it truly glorify God, or is it used to enhance the person’s appearance of spirituality?

I knew a pastor, who had come from a sports background, who thought his job was to be like a “cheerleader,” to coerce his congregation to “enthusiasm.” An “anointed” preacher who is preaching by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit won’t have to resort to histrionics (exaggeration; dramatics). Anyone in the congregation who is spiritually alive will respond to simple statements of spiritual truth). I have personally experienced that “anointed” preaching, but not nearly often enough.

I don’t believe that one need take some sort of personality test to seek one’s spiritual gifts, although I’ve known people who wanted to approach it that way. I think that all one needs to do is seek God’s will through daily personal Bible reading, with mediation and prayer. In my experience it is a discipleship process to learn to hear the “still, small voice.” The Lord wants us to learn how to be led by his Word and his Holy Spirit, one day at a time.

In my experience I’ve found that God’s will changes according to my level of spiritual growth, and the opportunities for ministry according to my circumstances. I started out as a student in congregational weekly Bible study and adult Sunday School. I was learning the Bible and to hear and be guided by the Holy Spirit.

I was led into Social Ministry (organizing and providing care and assistance for the poor and needy in the community) in my congregation. When that door closed I went into Evangelism in my local congregation. At each step, the Lord was teaching me, and he was also providing the empowerment and resources I needed to do his will with the opportunity I had at the time.

Jesus’ public ministry began with a wedding. He was ready and waiting for God’s call to begin. He didn’t look to his mother for guidance. Jesus had already established a relationship with God and God’s Word, and he waited for it.

I think this is an important point. When we first begin in discipleship, we’re used to instant answers in our digital world today. We can just dial our cellphone and ask our mother, or our pastor or other spiritual mentor what they think, but, although they mean well, they are blessed if they know God’s will for themselves; they have no idea what God’s specific individual will is for us.

Alternatively, we pray to the Lord for guidance and then go ahead and do what we think the Lord would want us to do. We must learn to wait on the Lord and listen. When we think we hear him we must pray it back to make sure we’ve understood.

Jesus began his public ministry at a wedding feast in Cana, and he ended it at a wedding feast in the upper room in Jerusalem on the eve of his betrayal and arrest. It was the celebration of the Passover Feast, commemorating the great saving act of God, delivering Israel from the final plague of the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians. The perfect unblemished lamb was sacrificed for the main course of the feast, and the blood of the lamb marked the doors of the Israelites, to protect them from the destroying angel.

During the feast, Jesus instituted the New Passover feast, the Lord’s Supper, securing the New Covenant of Salvation from eternal death by grace (undeserved favor) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus became the sacrificial lamb of the New Covenant. His blood shed on the cross marks his disciples to be “passed over” by eternal death, by faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. The Lord’s Supper is the foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb which his disciples will share with Jesus in heaven.

Jesus’ miracle of changing the water to wine at the wedding in Cana is metaphor for the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the fountain of eternal life. Alcohol in wine makes it an apt metaphor for the Holy Spirit. Jesus can take our “plain water” physical life, and transform it into spirit-filled eternal life. The host at Cana had provided the best wine he could afford, but it couldn’t compare with the New Wine of the Holy Spirit which Jesus provides. Worldly people who reject Jesus, who think that this life isiphany – Thurs all there is, are settling for only what they have now, and are missing the joy Christians will have for all eternity in paradise restored in the kingdom of heaven.

It isn’t true that no one can know for certain until we die; only those who are perishing spiritually don’t know where they will spend eternity. Those who are “born-again” have the Holy Spirit who is the foretaste of the life to come.

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)?

2 Epiphany – Monday C

first posted January 18, 2010

Podcast: 2 Epiphany Monday C

Psalm 113 — Helper of the Humble;

Let us praise the Lord! Let all his servants praise the name (character and person) of the Lord!

May the name of the Lord be blessed now and forever! Let us praise the name of the Lord from sunrise to sunset! The Lord is great above all nations and his glory is higher than the heavens.

Who can compare to the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high, but sees far down upon the heaven and the earth? He lifts up the poor and needy from dust and ashes, and makes them sit with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a family, making her a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord!

The Lord defends, protects, and provides for those who are humble, the poor, weak, and needy. The world, in contrast protects and rewards the rich and powerful.

The Lord designed Creation to be shared by all. There are enough resources for all; the reason for the great inequities in the distribution of those resources is sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Worldly people do not know and trust God, and think they can and must hoard resources for hard times. The problem is that if we seek to provide our own security by material resources, we will never achieve real security. We may feel secure, until trouble strikes, but ultimately, security takes just a little bit more than what we have.

Worldly people not only seek security in material possessions, but also seek comfort and luxury. Children go hungry while the rich and powerful indulge themselves. Worldly people believe that this lifetime is all there is, and want to live lavishly now while they can. God’s Word tells us that there is existence after physical death (Hebrews 9:27), and Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that truth.

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his peeople who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and learn to trust and obey God (Acts 17:26-27). We have been born physically into this world, but we are spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8).

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). To have eternal life, we must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus gives the gift of (“baptizes;” “anoints” with) the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God has designed Creation to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that obedient trust in God’s Word is our best interest. God knew that in giving us freedom, we would choose to do our will instead of God’s. But God is not willing to allow rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his heavenly kingdom, or it wouldn’t be heaven. So God has limited this Creation and we ourselves by time.

We are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12).

Every truly “born-again” Christian has daily personal fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and personally testifies that Jesus lives; that he is risen from physical death to eternal life!

Jesus warns us to seek first God’s eternal kingdom and his righteousness, ahead of material things (Matthew 6:33). Otherwise we’ll never get around to seeking God’s kingdom. Jesus warns that those who pursue wealth, comfort, and luxury now in this lifetime, are trading eternal life in paradise for it (Luke 16:19-31).

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)?

2 Epiphany – Tuesday C

First posted January 19, 2010

Podcast: 2 Epiphany Tuesday C

Isaiah 61:1-6 – The Spirit of the Lord;

The Lord has anointed his servant with the Spirit of the Lord so that his servant can bring good news to those who are afflicted (or “poor”), to mend the brokenhearted, to free the captives, to release the imprisoned. The Lord’s servant proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of God’s vengeance. The Lord’s servant comforts those who mourn and gives them “a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit” (Isaiah 61:3). They will be called oaks of righteousness that the Lord has planted, to his glory. They will rebuild what was formerly devastated; they will repair the cities that were in ruins for many generations.

Aliens and foreigners will be their laborers, to feed their flocks, plow their fields, and be their vinedressers. The Lord’s people will be priests of the Lord, ministers of God. They will feast on the finest foods of the nations and will delight in their wealth.

Commentary:

This text is believed to have been written before the fall of Babylon to Cyrus of Persia, in 539 B.C., and in the generation following, when Cyrus allowed the Jewish exiles to return to their Promised Land. Before the exile of Judah to Babylon, God had promised that the exiles would be restored to Palestine after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). This prophecy was fulfilled. The seventy years is generally counted from the destruction of the temple in 587 B.C. to the dedication of the restored temple in 517 B.C..

God’s Word is eternal, and eternally true; it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

Isaiah was the servant of the Lord who was “anointed” with the Spirit of the Lord to proclaim good news to the afflicted exiles of Judah, the remnant of Israel, in Babylon. The Lord freed the exiles from captivity.

Cyrus of Persia not only released the exiles; he returned the sacred vessels of gold, silver and bronze which had been looted from the temple by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Cyrus also gave money and provincial assistance in rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple.

The Lord had taught the Israelites to “anoint” prophets, priests and kings with olive oil as a sign of God’s approval. God had promised to raise up the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed,” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively), the eternal Savior (from God’s eternal condemnation) and King of God’s eternal kingdom. Anointing with perfumed olive oil was also a sign of celebration and hospitality. “The oil of gladness” became a symbol for the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 61:1, 3).

Isaiah was a fulfillment of the prophecy of the Lord’s Servant, but Israel was also intended to fulfill the prophecy. Israel turned away from the call of God to be his servant, by rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. At the crucifixion of Jesus, Jesus was the last faithful servant of the Lord in Israel.

The Church is the New Israel, the New People of God, the New Jerusalem, the New Promised Land on earth. The Church and its “born-again” members are called to be the New Servants of the Lord. Christians are disciples of Jesus (Acts 11:26) who have been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Disciples of Jesus are to remain within the Church (the New Jerusalem) until they have been filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, before going into the world with the Gospel, to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5iphany – Thurs, 8).

Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s servant (Luke 4:16-21). Jesus fulfilled God’s mission to bring the Gospel (meaning “good news”) to the poor and afflicted. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross frees the captives of sin and death from the power of Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15), by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

Jesus is the only one through whom we can be spiritually “born-again” John 3:3, 5-8) by the “anointing” (“gift;” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus “anoints” with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We are living in the “year” of the Lord’s favor (grace: unmerited favor). Now is the “day” of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). We’ve been given a relatively long time in our lifetime to seek God and learn to trust and obey him. But today is the only day of which we can be sure; yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come.

The “year” of God’s favor will suddenly end, on the Day of Judgment when Christ returns. In that day, everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord (King), who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will have been “born-again” by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

2 Epiphany – Wednesday C

First posted January 20, 2010

Podcast: 2 Epiphany Wednesday C

I Corinthians 12:12-21, 26-27 – The Body and Members;

Paul used the analogy of a physical body to describe the Church, which is the “body” of Christ. Just as the physical body has many different members all the members are one body, so also is Christ. We are all baptized by the one Spirit into one body, Jews and Greeks, slaves and free, and all share in the one Spirit.

The body does not consist of one member but many. Each member is part of the body, even though various members have different functions. Each member’s function makes him no more or less important than another. God designed the members of the body to function together as he chose. Each member is necessary to the function of the whole body. Any missing member diminishes the function of the body.

The members of the Church are connected to one another, so that all share the suffering of any individual member, and all rejoice if an individual member is honored. So the Church is the body of Christ and each member is an organ of the body.

Commentary:

A Christian is by definition a “born-again” (John 3:3, 6-8) disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). The Church is to be a “disciple-making” organization (Matthew 28:19-20). The Church has inherited the role of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent and be baptized with water for spiritual cleansing, to prepare them to receive Jesus Christ. The Church is to “disciple” new believers by “born-again” disciples until the new believers have been spiritually “reborn” by the “baptism” of the 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).

Unfortunately, this is not happening in the nominal Church today. Instead of making disciples and building up the body of Christ, many “Churches” have settled for building buildings and making “members,” “fair-weather Christians” who will participate if it suits them.

Some mainline denominations are teaching that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is automatically conferred by water baptism, or “affirmation” of (infant) baptism. The reason is that the leaders are not “born-again,” themselves, and don’t know better. Unregenerate (unreborn) leaders cannot make “born-again” disciples; they don’t know how, or they wouldn’t be unregenerate.

This teaching is not just not helpful to its members, but actually causes spiritual harm, by discouraging them from seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see False Teachings: Spiritual Rebirth, sidebar, top right). This situation reminds me of the folktale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Not only are the leaders strutting around naked, supposing themselves well-clad, but have also misled their members to do the same.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing personally discernible event (Acts 19:2); anyone who isn’t certain from personal experience, or has to rely on the word of a religious authority hasn’t been “reborn.”

I attend a large congregation, and because of my online ministry I haven’t had time to be involved in any other activity except worship. I’m following the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and so is my Pastor. I’m so delighted to see how much our independent efforts coincide. This is the way the Church should be working; each member independently guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to work together to accomplish the mission of the Church.

New believers should begin discipleship training by reading the Bible in entirety. I recommend a “Bible in one year” study plan with daily portions from both Old and New Testaments (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right). One should set aside a specific time each day for Bible reading, meditation and prayer.

After reading the entire Bible one should continue the daily habit of Bible reading, using some Bible reading schedule (lectionary). Most denominations publish quarterly booklets for personal devotions which may be a good place to start. One based on the Revised Common Lectionary* would be helpful for denominations which use it for corporate worship, such as the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist Churches. It is also of benefit for any believer, because it follows the seasons of the Church calendar (see Bible Study Tools, and Thoughts on Bible Study, sidebar, top right).

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived in this world will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will have been spiritually “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil. The Day of Judgment is not far off; it will come for each one of us within our lifespan, and no one can be sure of tomorrow. At the moment of physical death our eternal destinies are fixed and unalterable. Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

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)?


*http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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


 

2 Epiphany – Thursday C

First posted January 21, 2010

Podcast: 2 Epiphany Thursday C

Luke 4:14-21 — Teaching in Nazareth;

After his temptation in the wilderness, Jesus returned to Galilee, in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the region. Jesus taught in the synagogues throughout Galilee, and the people glorified (gave him honor) him.

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been raised, and on the sabbath he went to the synagogue, as he was accustomed to do. He stood up to read the Scriptures, and was given the book (scroll) of Isaiah. Jesus opened the book to Isaiah 61:1-2, and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Jesus closed the book and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue was looking at him. And Jesus began by telling them that they had witnessed the fulfillment of that passage that very day.

Commentary:

One of many reasons Jesus came was to show us what living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit in obedience to God’s Word is like (John 1:1-5, 14), and to make it possible, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for us to follow his example. The fact that as we follow Jesus’ example we will encounter the same persecution is daunting, but Jesus’ crucifixion is the example of the very worst way to die. His resurrection demonstrates that there is existence after physical death, and through Jesus’ death we no longer need to fear physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus came to his hometown synagogue and declared to them that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Lord’s servant (Messiah; Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). Jesus had been “anointed” with the Holy Spirit at his baptism by John the Baptizer (John 1:31-34). Jesus had begun his public ministry, and his activities demonstrated his fulfillment. He was preaching the Gospel (meaning “good news”) of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and salvation from eternal death which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; John 14:6 see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus’ mission was to proclaim release to captives of sin and Satan, restoration of sight to the spiritually blind, freedom to those who are oppressed, “and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19). His miracles of physical feeding, healing and resurrection, were intended to show that Jesus could also and more importantly feed, heal and resurrect spiritually.

We are eternal people (John 5:28-29) living in physical bodies in a physical world. We understand things which are physical, but can’t understand what we cannot see or feel. Jesus is trying to teach us about the spiritual realm, but in worldly experiences with which we’re familiar (John 3:12). That was part of the reason Jesus taught in parables, which are common earthly experiences used to teach spiritual truth. The miracles he did were physical, but were also intended to reveal spiritual truth.

Miracles of spiritual feeding, healing and resurrection can be seen by the effect they have on the people who experience them, but they are open to interpretation of the observer. Likewise the hearer of a parable is free to not understand if he chooses.

We are living in the acceptable year of the Lord. Now is the acceptable time, now is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). The Lord has given us a relatively long period of grace (unmerited favor) while he withholds judgment. He gives us a relatively long time to learn by trial-and-error to know, trust and obey his Word, in the Bible, and in the “living Word,” Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when Christ returns. Everyone who has ever lived in this world will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this lifetime. Jesus is the standard of judgment, and the righteous judge. He will judge the living (“quickened”) and dead, in both the physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5).

Those who have rejected Jesus as Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will be condemned to eternal death in hell with all evil. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, whom 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 past is gone and tomorrow may never come. Today is the only day of which we can be sure. The Day of Judgment will come for each of us at the moment of death, unless Jesus returns first. At that moment our eternal destiny will be fixed and unalterable.

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)?

2 Epiphany – Friday C

First posted January 22, 2010

Podcast: 2 Epiphany Friday C

Romans 12:16-21 – Christian Duties;

Christians are to live in harmony with one another; we are not to be conceited or haughty, but to associate with those who are lowly. We must not return evil for evil, but instead do what is noble in everyone’s judgment. Let us live peaceably with all, as far as it depends upon us. We must never avenge ourselves, but leave it to the Lord, because God has said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35). Instead, let us give our enemy food if he is hungry, and something to drink if he is thirsty. That way he will feel guilty for his evil against us. So we will overcome evil with good, rather than being overcome by evil.

Commentary:

Evil can be defeated and overcome by not returning it. Otherwise it is a never-ending cycle of evil.

God designed this Creation to be very good, and that’s the way it started (Genesis 1:31), but God also designed it to allow for evil (sin; what is contrary to God’s Word), so that we could have the freedom to choose whether to do God’s will or not. But God is not willing to allow rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, so he has limited this Creation and we ourselves by time.

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is a training ground to give us the opportunity to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God; to discover that his Word is good, possible for us to do, and our very best interest (Romans 12:2). This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

All those goals are fulfilled only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “living Word,” God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). 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 be saved from eternal death which is the penalty for sin, and to be spiritually reborn to eternal life (John 14:6).

God designed this Creation knowing that by giving us freedom to choose whether to trust and obey his Word, we would choose to do our will rather than God’s. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). God consigned all to sin so that he could give forgiveness and salvation as a free gift to all who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus. (Galatians 3:22).

The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sins and our salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12). Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus warns that we must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to see the kingdom of God that is all around us now, and to see and enter it ultimately in eternity. We have all been born physically into this world but we are “unborn” spiritually. Spiritual “rebirth” is only possible by the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. 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).

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Romans 11:26) who have been “born-again” (Romans 8:9b). By the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit within us, we can live in peace and harmony with others, so far as it depends on us. The Holy Spirit is our comforter to comfort and reassure us when we’re assailed by evil. We can leave vengeance to the Lord, knowing that we will ultimately be vindicated. We can overcome evil with good.

God is merciful. He doesn’t strike an evildoer dead immediately. He is willing to allow the evildoer a lifetime in which to learn to refrain from doing evil, which human vengeance would not allow. But ultimately God will punish evildoers who have not repented of evil.

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)?

2 Epiphany – Saturday C

First posted January 23, 2010

Podcast: 2 Epiphany Saturday C

Matthew 8:1-13 – Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee;

Great crowds were following Jesus. A leper came and knelt down before him, and addressing him as “Lord,” declared his faith that Jesus could heal him if Jesus chose. Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the leper, saying that he would, and commanding him to be healed. The man was immediately healed, and Jesus told him not to tell anyone, but to show himself to the priest and give the offering Moses commanded as proof to the people (see Leviticus 14:2-32).

As Jesus was entering Capernaum, a Roman Centurion came to Jesus and said that the Centurion’s servant was paralyzed and in great distress at the Centurion’s home. Jesus said he would come with the Centurion to his servant, but the Centurion said that he was unworthy to have Jesus as a guest in his home. But the Centurion believed that Jesus only needed to say the word, and the servant would be healed. The Centurion was familiar with authority, being under authority himself, with men under his command. When the Centurion commanded, those under him did as he commanded.

Jesus was amazed and said to those around him that he had not found such faith even in Israel. Jesus declared that many people would come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into outer darkness where people will weep and gnash their teeth. Jesus told the Centurion to go; what the Centurion had believed had been done for him; and the Centurion’s servant was healed at that moment.

Commentary:

Jesus’ mission was not physical healing. Physical healing was intended to show that Jesus is able to heal spiritually. We have to be aware that we need spiritual healing, and we need to believe that Jesus is the only one who is able to heal us spiritually.

Jews wouldn’t even walk on the same side of the street as a leper, much less touch one. A leper was an outcast who was not allowed to participate in temple worship or in synagogue. The leper asked Jesus to heal him physically, but also to restore him to spiritual community activities.

The leper accepted Jesus as Lord and declared his faith that Jesus could heal him, if Jesus chose to do so. Jesus is always ready to heal us, if we recognize that we need spiritual healing that only he can provide, and if we are willing to accept him as our Lord and trust and obey him.

Great crowds were following Jesus because of the miracles of physical healing that he did. Jesus usually told the individuals that he healed physically not to tell anyone about Jesus’ healing. Jesus was not trying to attract crowds of people seeking physical healing. People who came to Jesus seeking only physical healing received only that. Physical healing only lasts until the next illness. Ultimately physical death will claim us all.

This lifetime is not about living physically. The meaning and purpose of this life is to seek and find God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). We are all born into this world physically alive, but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

Jesus is God’s only provision for spiritual healing, spiritual rebirth, and 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; the only way to have true, eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

A Roman Centurion is about as far from God’s “chosen people” as one can be. The Centurion’s servant was healed because of the Centurion’s faith in Jesus. The Centurion didn’t need to see confirmation of the servant’s healing. The Centurion recognized Jesus’ authority.

Jesus is the Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior, Priest, and King), which God promised to provide for Israel. The Jews are heirs of the promise of God’s Word; they are the sons and daughters of the eternal kingdom, but they will not inherit that kingdom unless and until they acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah (Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 13:34-35). Spiritual healing is available, in an instant, to those who claim it by faith.

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 1 Epiphany C – 01/10 – 16/2016

January 9, 2016

Week of 1 Epiphany 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/

Journalspace.com, my former ‘blog host is being reorganized under new ownership. I no longer publish there. I have also lost mypodcast.com, my podcast host. This ‘blog is mirrored at:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival Text-to-speech are available at:

Daily Walk 3 Year Weekly Lectionary C

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 1 Epiphany C

1 Epiphany – Sunday C

First posted January 10, 2010

Podcast: 1 Epiphany Sunday C

Isaiah 42:1-7 – The Lord’s Servant;

Psalm 45:7-9 – The King’s Wedding;

Acts 10:34-38 – The Gospel to the Gentiles;

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Jesus’ Baptism;

Isaiah:

The Lord upholds his servant whom he has chosen and in whom he delights. The Lord has given him God’s Spirit. God’s servant will establish justice for all nations. “He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench” Isaiah 42:2-3). He will faithfully enact justice. He will not fail or become discouraged until justice has been accomplished in the world, and distant lands await his law.

The Lord God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and everything in them. He “gives breath to the people upon it, and spirit to those who walk in it. He is the Lord and in righteousness he has called his servant; he has guided and protected his servant. God has given his servant to the people of the world as a covenant, and a light to the nations, to heal the blind, to release the prisoners from the dungeon and darkness.

Psalm:

The Psalmist says of the king on his wedding day that because the King loves righteousness and hates wickedness God has anointed the king with the oil of gladness above his subjects. The king is dressed for his wedding in robes perfumed with myrrh, aloes and cassia. The music of stringed instruments comes forth from ivory palaces in celebration. The ladies of honor in the wedding party are daughters of kings, and the queen is adorned with jewelry of Gold from Ophir (possibly India; a region famous for gold jewelry).

Acts:

The Lord had led Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile Roman Centurion, to send for the Apostle Peter to tell Cornelius and his household the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:1-8). Meanwhile God also prepared Peter to proclaim the Gospel to Gentiles by giving him a vision and declaring that the Jewish dietary laws no longer applied (Acts 10:9-16).

When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ home, he began his message by saying that he had learned that God does not show partiality to anyone. Instead, in any nation, anyone who does what is right is acceptable to God. Peter summed up the Gospel by saying that after his water baptism which John the Baptizer preached, Jesus began to go throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, preaching the “Good News” (the definition of “Gospel”) of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. Jesus had been anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and supernatural power. Jesus had traveled throughout Galilee and Judea doing good and healing all who were in bondage to Satan by the presence of God with Jesus.

Luke:

The people of Israel were expecting the coming of the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed”), and they wondered if John the Baptizer was the Christ. John answered them by saying that John baptized with water (for repentance and spiritual cleansing, to prepare the people to receive the Messiah). John told them that the Messiah was coming. The Messiah is so much greater than John, that John was unworthy to be the Messiah’s most menial servant. The Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The Messiah’s coming will be like threshing grain at the harvest. He will separate the grain from the chaff, and will gather the grain into his granary, but will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.

After Jesus was baptized he was praying, when heaven was opened and the the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven declared that Jesus was God’s beloved Son, with whom God was well pleased.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Israel was called to be the Lord’s servant but they turned away from that call, by rejecting Jesus as the promised Messiah. At his crucifixion, Jesus was the last faithful person in Israel. Even his disciples had fled from Jesus (Matthew 26:31). Beginning on Easter morning, with Jesus’ resurrection, the Church became the New Israel, the New people of God. The Church is the heir to the call of God to be the Lord’s servant. The ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s servant is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the example of the Lord’s servant that we are to follow.

God has designed this Creation to accomplish his ultimate purpose of establishing an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him and thus become his servants. We are all called to be the Lord’s servant. There is no greater thing we can do in this lifetime than serving the Lord.

We are born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity 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 (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), through whom we have personal fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father. This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, which is only by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Notice in the text from Isaiah, that the Lord gives the breath (of physical life) to those who live on this earth, and Spirit to those who walk in obedient trust in the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-14). (The Hebrew word means breath or wind, thus: the breath of spiritual life; Notice in John 3:3, 5-8, the same play on words for wind and spirit in Greek).

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, God visibly “anointed” Jesus with the Holy Spirit. It was the “sign” God had given John the Baptizer to reveal the Messiah to him and to Israel (John 1:31-34). Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit so that he could “baptize” his disciples with the 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). Jesus didn’t baptize anyone with water; only his disciples did (John 4:2).

The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event; if one is not certain, one hasn’t been (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God taught the people of Israel that priests, prophets and kings were to be anointed with oil to consecrate them to God’s service. They were thus known as “the Lord’s anointed.” Anointing the king was the equivalent of crowning him. The titles of Messiah and Christ each mean (God’s) “anointed,” in Hebrew and Greek respectively. The Messiah (Christ) is the Lord’s anointed Savior and eternal King.

The Lord’s anointing also refers to the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Isaiah 61:1). The “anointing” of the Holy Spirit is also figuratively described as “the oil of gladness” (Psalm 45:7, which is quoted in Hebrews 1:9).

Peter testified to Cornelius, in the first presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, that Jesus was the one anointed by God with the Holy Spirit to heal spiritually. Jesus’ physical healings, feedings and resurrections were intended to show that Jesus could also and more importantly heal, feed, and resurrect spiritually.

Jesus is the New Moses, the mediator of the New Covenant (Testament) of grace, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus initiated the New Covenant at his celebration of Passover on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28).

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), the light of righteousness (John 1:5; 3:19-21), enlightenment (John 1:9), and eternal life (John 1:4).

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)?

1 Epiphany – Monday C

First posted January  11, 2010;
Podcast: 1 Epiphany – Monday C

 

Psalm 36:5-10 – Steadfast Love and Faithfulness;

Paraphrase:

The Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness are as high as the heavens and the clouds in the sky. Like the mountain of God is his righteousness. His judgments are as deep as the ocean depths. The Lord saves man and beast.

Most precious is God’s steadfast love. In the shadow of his wings the children of men find refuge. In the Lord’s house they feast on his abundance, and from the river of his delights he provides drink. “For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light we see light” (Psalm 36:9).

“O continue thy steadfast love to those who know thee, and thy salvation to the upright of heart” (Psalm 36:10).

Commentary:

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek, find, come to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). 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 which was broken by sin, and the only way to be “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life (John 14:6).

We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually reborn. Spiritual rebirth is only by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God wants us to seek and find him. He has been progressively revealing himself to us from the beginning of Creation, first in the goodness and complexity of Creation itself; then in the Bible record of his dealings with Israel. Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to the world. We first know Jesus through the New Testament witness, and as we begin to trust and obey Jesus we will come to know Jesus and God the Father personally through the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), the risen Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of Jesus Christ and God the Father to us personally and individually.

We first learn about God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, and the other aspects of his character, like being all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent (being in all places at all times), and perfectly righteous, in the Bible. Then when we learn Jesus’ character from the New Testament account, we can recognize that Jesus is God’s Son, with the attributes which only God has; Jesus is fully God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

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). Jesus’ miracles of healing, feeding and raising the dead, demonstrate supernatural power only God possesses. Jesus demonstrated supernatural knowledge (John 1:47-50; 4:16-19, 28-29).

Jesus is the “living Word,” the Word of God fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh in this world. God wants us to learn to know, trust and obey God’s Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, so that he can show us that his Word is absolutely true and reliable. His faithfulness of his Word causes our faith it him to grow through experience.

By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience God’s steadfast love personally. We experience his presence with us through times of trial and learn that he is our only true refuge. The Holy Spirit is the fountain of life (John 7:37-39), and the light of divine enlightenment (John 1:9; 14:26) and eternal life (John 1:4; 8:12).

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

1 Epiphany – Tuesday C

First posted January 12, 2010;
Podcast: 1 Epiphany – Tuesday C
Isaiah 62:1-5 – Vindication of Zion;

Paraphrase:

The Prophet must speak and must not rest, for the sake of Zion (Israel; the Church; the people of God), for          Jerusalem’s sake, until her vindication and salvation are seen as brightness, as a blazing torch. The nations will see the vindication of God’s people and all the kings will see her glory. God’s people will be given a new name by the Lord. They will be a crown of glory in the Lord’s hand; a royal diadem (a headband; another name for “crown”).

No more will God’s people be called Forsaken and their land be called Desolate. Their new name will be “My delight is in her” (Hephzibah) and their land will be called “Married” (Beulah) because the Lord delights in them and their land will be married. The sons of God’s people will be married to the Promised Land as a young man marries a virgin, and God will rejoice over her as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Commentary:

This portion of Isaiah is thought to have been written between 530 and 510 B.C.. Judah, the remnant of Israel was in exile in Babylon for seventy years between 587 and 517 B.C., dated from the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem to the dedication of the restored temple. Babylon was conquered by Cyrus of Persia in 539 B.C., and he allowed the exiles to return to their own land in the following generation.

The Prophet foresaw the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring Judah back from exile after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12), and God’s promise was fulfilled. The Prophet kept exhorting Judah to wait for the Lord to bring them back from exile, and their return was their vindication.

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Israel didn’t remember the lessons learned in the exile, and were unprepared for the coming of their promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Because they rejected and crucified Jesus, Judaism and Israel effectively ended at the crucifixion of Jesus. The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, indicating that Jesus had opened a new and better way into God’s presence (Luke 23:45b). Jerusalem and the third (Herod’s) temple, which Herod had built for them, was destroyed in 70 A.D., by the Romans, and Israel effectively ceased to exist as a nation, until the Jews began returning after World War II.

At Jesus’ crucifixion, he was the last faithful Jew in Israel. Even his disciples had been scattered (Mark 14:27; Zechariah 13:7). The Church began to gather after the resurrection,  but wasn’t “born” until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). The Church is the New Israel, the New Jerusalem. Jesus is the one and only way to come to God (John 14:6). There is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews will not be restored to God’s kingdom until they accept Jesus as God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King (Luke 13:34-35).

“Christian” is the new name of God’s people. Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ ( Acts 11:26c) who have been spiritually “reborn” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Church is founded on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Jesus promised that his disciples would be “baptized” (“anointed”) with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17) and were to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the New Jerusalem) until they had received the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) before going into the world with the Gospel to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (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 Holy Spirit is a discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2). It is impossible not to know with certainty for oneself if one          has received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (see False Teachings; Spiritual Rebirth).

In a sense the (true, “born-again”) Church (as distinct from the nominal “Church” is in exile in this world awaiting Jesus’ return to lead us to our eternal Promised Land in Heaven. That will be the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Christ will return on the Day of Judgment. Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” during this lifetime and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus, 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).

The Day of Christ’s Second Coming, will be the day of vindication and salvation of the Church. Every eye will see Christ return (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:29-31), and every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). The unsaved will be terrified of what is coming, but “born-again” Christians will be rejoicing in their vindication and salvation (Luke 21:25-28).

Jesus Christ’ Second Coming will be like a wedding for his Church (Matthew 25:1-13. Jesus is the bridegroom and his Church is his bride. The “oil” for the lamps of salvation is the Holy Spirit.

God established a ritual of anointing with oil. Prophets, Priests, and Kings were anointed with oil for consecration to sacred use. They were referred to as “the Lord’s Anointed.” Anointing the King was the equivalent of coronation. Anointing was also an act of hospitality, and for healing. The dead were sometimes anointed for consecration.

Jesus is the ultimate “anointed” eternal Savior and King. Christ and Messiah each mean (God’s ) “anointed,” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively. Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at his baptism by John the Baptizer (Luke 3:21-22).

The Holy Spirit is described as the “oil of gladness” (Psalm 45:7; quoted in Hebrews. 1:9). “Born-again” Christians are “anointed” with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the love and joy of the Lord’s presence individually and personally. By the fellowship we have with the Lord          through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we know and personally testify that Jesus is risen and eternally alive.

The Holy Spirit is the oil we must have for our lamps of salvation. We should seek the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit now, while there is time. No one can count on tomorrow, and the Day of Judgment isn’t far off. Each of us will be at the throne of Judgment at the moment of our physical death.

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

1 Epiphany – Wednesday C

First posted January 13, 2010

Podcast: 1 Epiphany Wednesday C

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 – Spiritual Gifts;

Paul taught new believers that emotionalism is not proof of the influence of the Holy Spirit. People can become emotionally moved by secular or pagan rites. No one can curse Jesus by the motivation of the Holy Spirit; one who is speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit will testify that Jesus is Lord.

All believers share in the same Holy Spirit but have different spiritual gifts; and there is one Lord but different ways of serving him, just as God works in many ways, but he is the one true God who does them. A manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given to each believer, for the benefit of all. Some will be given wisdom, some will be given knowledge, some will be given the ability of healing, some will be given the power of working miracles, some will be given the gift of prophecy, some will be given the ability to discern whether spirits are of God or not, some will be given ability to speak in various languages, and some will be able to interpret those who speak in spiritual tongues. There are a variety of gifts, but all are given by the one Holy Spirit, apportioned by his will.

Commentary:

There are two types of “speaking in tongues” in the New Testament. One is the phenomenon on the first Day of Pentecost, when the disciples spoke in various languages (Acts 2:5-11). People from throughout the world were in Jerusalem, and a crowd gathered because of the commotion among the disciples. Each observer heard in their own language the testimonies of God’s mighty workings. This was a reversal of the confusion of language at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).

It was also a practical gift for disciples who were about to go into the world with the Gospel. The disciples had been told to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the gift (“baptism,” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit before beginning to carry out the Great Commission to go into the world to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (the Trinity) and teaching them to trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).

The other form of “speaking in tongues” is an ecstatic verbal expression which is unintelligible to others. Paul taught that this form was not a sign for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is for believers rather than for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22). But prophecy is more likely to convict and convert unbelievers than speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:23-25). Paul didn’t want to forbid this form of tongues, but he didn’t want it to disrupt worship (1 Corinthians 14:26-28). Believers seeking a manifestation of the Holy Spirit should seek the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1-5).

Note in today’s text the reference to the Trinity (Spirit, Lord, God; 1 Corinthians 12:4-5). Note the reference to the Trinity in the Great Commission also (Matthew 28:19-20). The word Trinity is not used in the Bible, but the concept is clearly evident.

Remember that Jesus told his disciples not to start carrying out the Great Commission, until after they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit. So first we must be discipled in God’s Word. We should be discipled by a “born-again” disciple, until we receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We need to read the entire Bible, and we need to establish a regular daily “quiet time” (devotions: Bible reading with meditation and prayer). We should be seeking to receive the Holy Spirit.

I personally testify that the Holy Spirit gives us the spiritual gifts that we need to carry out what he leads us to do, and that may change over time, as we grow in faith, and as our circumstances change. We should seek the guidance of the Lord daily in Bible reading with meditation and prayer. If we are willing to seek God’s will so that we can do it, he will reveal his will to us. When we think he’s saying something to us in his Word, we should pray it back to make certain we’ve understood.

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)?

1 Epiphany – Thursday C

First posted January 14, 2009

Podcast: 1 Epiphany Thursday C

John 2:1-11 Wedding at Cana;

On the third day (after meeting Nathanael; John 1:45-51) Jesus and his disciples attended a wedding in Cana in Galilee; about twelve west of Tarichea, also known as Magadan, or Dalmanutha, on the westernmost point of the Sea of Galilee). Jesus’ mother was also there. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother mentioned it to Jesus, and Jesus answered, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). His mother told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them.

There were six jars nearby for the Jewish ceremonial purification ritual, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants to fill them to the brim with water, and they did so. Then Jesus told them to draw some out and take it to the steward (the supervisor of the wedding feast). The servants did so and the steward tasted the water which had become wine. The steward didn’t know where the wine had come from although the servants did. The steward called the bridegroom and told him that the host usually serves the good wine first, and then poorer wine, but the host had apparently kept the good wine until this moment. This was the first “sign” which Jesus did, manifesting his glory, and his disciples’ faith in Jesus was strengthened.

Commentary:

Nathanael was a resident of Cana (John 21:2). This was the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, and the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to Nathanael that he would see greater things than Jesus’ foreknowledge of Nathanael (John 1:50). Jesus is the fulfillment of Jacob’s dream of a ladder extending into heaven, upon which the angels of God ascend and descend (John 1:51; Genesis 28:10-12). Jesus is the one by whom the blessings of God descend upon God’s people, and the only way by whom God’s people can ascend into heaven (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus’ reply to his mother sounds harsh to us, but addressing her as “woman” was a term of respect in that culture. But Jesus’ manifestation was to be according to God’s timing, not his mother’s. The miracle was a “sign” intended to reveal Jesus’ glory, the attributes of morality, honor and and majesty of God in Jesus (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 2:8-9).

Mary, Jesus’ mother, already believed that Jesus would do miracles, before she saw him do the first one. Although Jesus seemed to decline her request, she continued to believe that he would do it, and she told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them. When Jesus did the miracle God fulfilled the need abundantly, all six jars, full to the brim, with better wine than the host’s best.

Jesus described the kingdom of heaven as a wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14). Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. The Holy Spirit is the finest of wine. We are all invited to the wedding. Jesus has provided the wedding garment of salvation (from eternal death; eternal destruction in hell).

The wedding garment is the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift;”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Jesus says that one must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), to see the kingdom of God which is all around us now, and to see and enter it ultimately in eternity.

Wine makes a good symbol for the Holy Spirit. Wine (if not consumed in excess) causes most people to feel happy and adds to the mood of celebration. The alcohol content gives liveliness to what would otherwise be ordinary grape juice.

Wine is a good symbol for blood. Blood was believed to contain the spirit, the life force, of the person or animal. Jews were forbidden to drink blood or consume meat with its blood (Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23; Leviticus 17:10-14). The animal had to be bled out at its slaughter.

The blood of the Passover lamb marked the houses of the Jews in Egypt so that the destroying angel would “pass over” them when the firstborn of the Egyptians were killed. Jesus is the New Passover Lamb. His blood marks us as God’s people, and saves us from eternal death and destruction, by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (Testament) of grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) to be received by faith (obedient trust), the Lord’s Supper (Last Supper; Holy Communion; Eucharist), which Jesus initiated on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus declared that the wine of Communion is his blood, shed on the cross, and the bread is his flesh, the Lamb of the sacrificial New Passover feast.

God doesn’t want us to be filled with the spirits of animals; he wants us to be filled with his Holy Spirit. But note that partaking of the wine (or grape juice) of Holy Communion does not automatically confer the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus performed many miracles of physical healing, feeding and resurrection. His physical miracles were intended to show that he could also provide spiritual healing, feeding and resurrection, just as his parables, stories of common earthly experience, were intended to teach spiritual truth. As we begin to walk in obedient trust in Jesus, he will cause our faith to grow by fulfilling his supernatural promises, as recorded in the Bible.

The Church has inherited the role of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent and be baptized with water for cleansing of sin in preparation to receive Jesus, the promised eternal Savior and King of God’s eternal kingdom, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Church is to disciple believers , by “born-again” disciples, until they have been “born-again.” The Church is not to send out Apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) until they have been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples.

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)?

1 Epiphany – Friday C 

First posted January 15, 2010 

Podcast: 1 Epiphany Friday C

Romans 12:6-16 – Christian Lifestyle;

By the indwelling Holy Spirit, “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christians have various different spiritual gifts by God’s grace (unmerited favor), so we are to use them: If prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; if service, let us serve; if teaching, let us teach; if exhortation, let us exhort; if contribution, let us be generous; let those who give aid do so with zeal; let those who do acts of mercy, do so cheerfully.

Let us be genuine in our love; let us hold on to what is good and hate what is evil. Let us love each other with brotherly affection; let us try to outdo one another in showing honor. Let our zeal not grow tired; let us glow with the Holy Spirit, always serving the Lord. Let us always rejoice in our hope; in tribulation let us be patient, and let us pray constantly. Let us contribute to saints (believers in Christ; consecrated to God’s service) in need, and show hospitality to all.

Let us bless rather than curse our persecutors. Let us rejoice with the joyful, and weep with those who mourn. Let us live with one another in harmony. Let us never be conceited or haughty; instead, let us associate with the lowly, and be willing to do humble tasks.

Commentary:

In my experience, I have found that the Holy Spirit gives us different gifts at different times, according to our spiritual growth and opportunity for ministry. As a new “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian, I began as a student in Adult Sunday School and in weekly Bible Study. I had read the entire Bible, but I was just beginning to grow spiritually. In preparation for each session the Lord opened my mind to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45), and gave me great revelations from his Word. I was able to contribute and to grow spiritually.

I have found that if we seek to know, with the intention of doing, God’s will for us at a particular time and situation in life, that he will reveal it to us. The Lord wants to lead us, one day at a time, (Matthew 6:11; 33-34).

It is important to set aside a specific time each day to read the Bible with prayer and meditation (perhaps the first thing in the morning or the last thing at night). When God begins to show us things from his Word, we can pray them back, to make sure that we have understood. But remember that the Lord will not ever tell us anything contrary to his Word, or that will harm ourselves or others.

Jesus said that one must be “born-again” in order to see the kingdom of God which is all around us now, and ultimately to see and enter it in eternity (John 3:3, 5-8). I believe that the Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent, to turn them to obedient trust in Jesus, to baptize them with water in preparation to receive Jesus, and to disciple new believers until they have been “born-again.”

The Church was intended to be a “disciple-making” organization. Unfortunately, in too many instances the nominal Church has settled for making “members” and building “buildings.” In too many instances the nominal Church is being led by “unregenerate” (not “born-again”) leaders. But the situation isn’t hopeless; what the Church needs is revival and reformation.

The new believer should make reading the Bible in entirety his first goal. Setting aside a time each day to read, meditate, and pray will establish an ongoing daily devotion or “quiet time” which we can follow for the rest of our lives. The Bible can easily be read by the average reader in one year, and there are a number of plans to choose from. My preference is one that includes Old Testament and New Testament portions each day (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right). The knowledge of the Bible will help us avoid false teaching and false doctrine. Then one should find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching Church.

Jesus told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had been “reborn” by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-13) before going into the world with the Gospel to make disciples of Jesus and to teach them to know and obey all Jesus’ teachings (The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20). We cannot complete the mission of Christ without the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Faith is one of the most misunderstood words in the nominal “Church” and in the world today. Faith is not “wishing on a star,” or like making a wish as we blow out birthday candles. Faith is not getting what ever we want if we believe “hard enough.” Saving (from eternal condemnation) faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ, who alone is God’s “anointed” (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed,” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively) eternal Savior and King of God’s eternal kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Saving faith begins as a tiny “mustard seed” (Matthew 13:31-32), our “yes” to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and our commitment to learn, trust and obey Jesus’ teachings. When I had finished reading the Bible from cover-to-cover, I believed that Jesus was the way, truth and life, as he said (John 14:6), and I asked him to be my Savior and Lord. I realized that I needed to begin applying Jesus’ teachings in my life, so I decided to read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:28; representative of Jesus’ teachings). I had no problems with some teachings, but was guilty of others; some were things I couldn’t deal with right away, but I picked one that I could work on and began there.

Jesus doesn’t immediately give the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We need to demonstrate commitment to discipleship, and to learn to hear, trust and obey Jesus. Premature “rebirth” would be spiritual disaster (Hebrews 6:4-6). As we trust and obey Jesus we will learn that Jesus’ teachings are good, not too difficult, and our very best interest; and such experiences will cause our faith in Jesus to grow.

Prophecy is not foretelling the future. Prophecy is declaring God’s Word; the fact that it is God’s Word means that it will be fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for fulfillment are met (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The Bible contains both wonderful promises and ominous warnings. Anyone who doesn’t trust and obey the conditions for the fulfillment of the promises will receive the consequences the ominous warnings were intended to help us avoid.

There are several hazards to discipleship. One is that once one has read the Bible, one thinks one is ready to teach others. Reading the entire Bible is just the place to start. It’s the equivalent of a new born baby who cannot digest anything except Mother’s milk. The other is that one thinks that prophecy is that one can predict the Second Coming and the Day of Judgment. The new believer spends all his time speculating about “End Times” and never grows to spiritual maturity. I testify that I have seen both happen to new “disciples.” Jesus said that it is not for us to know (Acts 1:6-7). We need to be focused on discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus.

Instead of trying to determine our spiritual gifts, we should try to determine our current ministry opportunity. My first opportunity was weekly small-group Bible study and Adult Sunday School. Then I became Chairman of the Social Ministry Committee (aid and mercy for the lowly; hospitality). When those doors closed I began to seek other opportunities. As we identify the opportunities, the Lord will provide what we need to pursue them.

I felt that the lack of support of Social Ministry in the congregation indicated a need for Evangelism, so I became the chairman of the Evangelism Committee. The congregation regarded Social Ministry as an inreach (service to members) and Evangelism as an outreach (service to non-members) whereas I regarded them as the opposite. I hope you can understand the difference.

For a while, the only opportunity I had was “friendship evangelism.” I walked my youngest daughter to elementary school and met other parents there. I had a number of opportunities to share the Gospel with parents.

An opportunity opened to testify in another denominational church, and I had several great opportunities. But ultimately I had to go on to another denominational congregation. My current congregation provides spiritual support. The Lord gave me an Internet ministry which is not dependent upon a denomination or congregation. The Internet ministry suits my circumstances and abilities right now.

I had been looking for a way to feed myself in God’s Word daily, and the Lord led me first to a lectionary in my (ELCA) Lutheran Hymnal intended for personal devotions. Before I finished I realized that it should be published online so that others could use it. I asked the Lord and he approved. I searched for a ‘blog host, and found journalspace. Gradually it grew to what it is today.

My focus has been on discipleship from early on. I had introduced discipleship in my home congregation. When that opportunity closed, and I went to a new denomination, I allowed them to teach me in discipleship, and was able to testify to my experiences. Sometimes we can teach best by being students.

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, who alone baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to God for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus’ teachings, will have been spiritually “reborn” to eternal life, and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus as Savior and Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings, will be cast into eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

1 Epiphany – Saturday C

First posted January 16, 2010
Podcast: 1 Epiphany Saturday C

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 – Spiritual Wisdom;

To the spiritually mature, the apostles (messengers; of the Gospel), including Paul, the author of this letter, do teach wisdom, not of the world nor the worldly rulers whose fate is to pass away. The apostles teach the wisdom of God which was a secret, hidden wisdom, which God commanded at the beginning of Creation, so that his people would be glorified. Worldly rulers did not know this or they would not have put the Lord of glory to death. Paul quotes Isaiah 64:4, saying that man has not seen or heard, nor has he imagined in his heart, what God has prepared for those who love him. But now he has revealed it to his “born-again” people by the Holy Spirit.

As no one can know the innermost thoughts of a person except his own spirit. Likewise, no one knows the innermost thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but God’s Holy Spirit, so that we might understand the spiritual gifts God has given us. By the indwelling Holy Spirit apostles teach what they have learned by the Holy Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those to who possess the Spirit.

The unspiritual (unregenerate; un-born-again) person has not received the gifts of the Spirit and cannot comprehend them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person can judge everything, because he has the mind of Christ, but cannot be judged by the unspiritual person. Who is able to direct God’s Spirit or counsel or teach him?

Commentary:

God’s wisdom is unlike what the world falsely calls wisdom. Man’s wisdom seems right for a time, but often later is found to have been wrong. Pollution is one example. Another is the health benefits or risks of certain foods or preparations of food, which seems to change from day to day. God’s wisdom is eternal and eternally true. When we trust in God’s wisdom we can be sure that it won’t ever change.

God’s wisdom has been hidden because we aren’t able to know and understand his purpose until he reveals it to us. God has been gradually revealing his purpose for this Creation from the very beginning, so that his people would be glorified (honored; experience the joy of heaven). God reveals himself first in the goodness and complexity of Creation. Then he began to reveal himself to individuals who trusted and obeyed him and became the people of Israel.

The Old Testament (Old Covenant) of the Bible is the history of God’s dealing with Israel. It is a series of word-pictures, metaphors revealing the meaning and purpose of life in this Creation. The release from slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world, though baptism into Jesus in the Red Sea, the wandering in the “desert” for forty years learning to trust and obey God’s Word and guided by the Holy Spirit who is the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21-22). Jesus is the “Joshua” who will lead us through the “river” of physical death and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven. The history of Israel is written for our instruction so that we can avoid the mistakes of the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:11).

In God’s perfect timing, he revealed himself in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is God made visible in human flesh in this world. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus it the fullest revelation of God to the world.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (note the Trinity; Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God to us individually and personally through the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal daily fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. By the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the joy of the Lord’s presence and his love for us. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The indwelling Holy Spirit teaches “born-again” Christians all things and reminds us of everything Jesus’ teaches (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit guides, empowers and equips us to be apostles, proclaiming God’s Word in the world (Matthew 10:19-20).

Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8) before going into the world with the Gospel, to make disciples and teach them to know and obey all Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 28:19-20). The Church is intended to be a disciple-making organization, following the example of Jesus.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus), 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, as we all can be. Paul demonstrated the method of making disciples that we should follow. Paul was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10), until Paul received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). Then Paul began to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ. Timothy is a good example (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Then he taught Timothy to repeat the process with others who would be faithful to repeat the process again (2 Timothy 2:2).

Unfortunately, many nominal Churches have failed to make “born-again” disciples, because they’re led by “unregenerate” leaders. If the Church doesn’t make “born-again” disciples there won’t be any to be recruited for leadership. Doesn’t this text make clear what is wrong with nominal Churches today? It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. The unregenerate don’t know what they’re missing or how to get it; otherwise they would be “born-again” too.

Some mainline denominations are teaching that the indwelling Holy Spirit is automatically conferred by some Church rite such as water baptism. This false doctrine not only doesn’t help its members, but actually causes spiritual harm, by discouraging them from seeking the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (see False Teachings, Spiritual Rebirth, sidebar, top right.

Many worldly people today are seeking spirituality in all the wrong places. Many others try to keep their physical bodies well and fit, with no thought to their spiritual health and fitness. Many refuse to believe anything they can’t see or touch. Many believe in demonic spirits but not in God. Many believe in worldly religions, which are mankind’s attempt to manipulate God to do their will.

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 2 Christmas – C – 01/03 – 09-2016

January 1, 2016

Week of 2 Christmas – 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/

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

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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 2 Christmas – C

Sunday 2 Christmas – C
First Posted January 3, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday 2 Christmas – C

Isaiah 61:10-62:3 – Vindication of Zion;
Psalm 147:13-20 – God’s Relationship with Israel;
Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 – Spiritual Blessings;
John 1:1-18 – The Word Made Flesh;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10). The Lord will cause righteousness and praise to come forth like a garden causes seed sown in it to sprout and grow.

For the sake of Jerusalem the prophet will not be silent or rest until Zion’s vindication and salvation comes forth as brightness like a blazing torch. Zion’s vindication will be seen by all nations, and her glory will be seen by all the kings. Zion will be given a new name by the Lord. Zion will be like a beautiful royal crown in the hand of the Lord their God.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let Jerusalem praise the Lord! Let Zion praise her God. It is the Lord who strengthens her gates; it is he who blesses her sons. The Lord gives peace within her borders, and satisfies her hunger with the finest wheat. His command goes forth to all the earth; his Word is swift. It is the Lord who calls forth snow, hoarfrost and ice; who can prevent it? With a Word he melts them. He causes wind to blow and water to flow. The Lord declares his Word to Jacob; he has given his statutes and ordinances to Israel. The Lord has dealt with no other nation like he has dealt with Israel; his ordinances they do not know. Praise the Lord!

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Let us bless God the Father of Jesus Christ our Lord, because in Christ he has blessed us with every spiritual           blessing in heaven. He chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in his presence before the world was created. In love he destined us to be his sons and daughters through Jesus, according to his purpose. Let him be praised for his glorious grace which he gave us freely in the Beloved (Jesus Christ).

The Apostle Paul had heard of the faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ and the love of their brethren (saints; consecrated to God’s service) and so he constantly praised and gave thanks to God for the congregations of new believers such as the Ephesians. Paul was praying constantly that God the Father of Jesus Christ would give them “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17), that their spiritual eyes would be enlightened and that they would know with certainty the hope to which they had been called, the richness of the inheritance they had among the saints.

John Paraphrase:

At the beginning of Creation was the Word, the creative power of God, present with God, and in very nature God. The Word was present in the beginning  and every created thing was made through him; there was nothing created that was not made through him. In the Word was life, and the life was the light of mankind. That light shines in the spiritual darkness of this world, and has not been overcome by the darkness.

John (the Baptizer) was sent by God to testify to the light (of God’s righteousness (John 1:5; 3:19-21), spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9); and eternal life (John 1:4; 8:12). John was not that light, but he came to point to the light.

“The true light that enlightens every [person] was coming into the world” (John 1:9). He was the Creator of the world who had come into the world but the world did not recognize and know him. Even his own home and people didn’t recognize and welcome him. But to all who received (welcomed and accepted) him, he gave the power to become children of God. God’s children are not born of flesh and blood, carnal desire or the will of man, but only by God’s will.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we (“born-again” disciples) have beheld his glory, glory as of the only (“begotten,” KJV; Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34-35) Son from the Father. (John had testified that Jesus was the one John had been talking about when he said that one was coming after John, chronologically, but who ranked before him, because he was before John -from eternity- and above all people and authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18; Philippians 2:8-11). From the fullness of the grace (unmerited favor) of God which is (only) in Jesus Christ, we receive grace upon grace. The Law came through Moses, but through Jesus comes grace and truth. No person has ever seen God, but Jesus who is in complete communion with God the Father has made God known.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternally true and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. This portion is believed to have been written around the time of the fall of Babylon to Cyrus of Persia in 539 B.C.           and 510 B.C.. It prophesies the the salvation and vindication of Judah, the remnant of Israel which had been in exile in Babylon for seventy years as foretold by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12 from 587 to 517 B.C., counting the time from the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem until its re-dedication.

God’s Word was fulfilled. Judah was allowed to return to their Promised Land. Cyrus even returned the gold, silver, and bronze temple vessels which had been looted by Nebuchadnezzar, gave them money to rebuild the temple and authorization and help from the provincial governors.

But Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy. He is the one who has supplied the garment of salvation and the robe of righteousness (Philippians 3:9; Matthew 22:11-14).

The Church is the New Zion, the New Israel, the New Jerusalem on earth. It is the Lord who strengthens her gates against her enemies, blesses her sons, gives peace within her borders and satisfies those who are spiritually hungry. Unfortunately in too many instances the nominal Church, particularly in America, has turned to self-reliance and self-fulfillment.

Instead of making disciples and teaching them obedience to Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 28:19-20), the nominal           Church has settled for making “members,” who are loyal to the denomination or the pastor, instead of seeking the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. They’ve settled for building buildings instead of building the kingdom of God.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil for he gives to his beloved [in] sleep (Psalm 127:1-2). If we are concerned with pleasing our Lord instead of ourselves, we would let him do the building and watching, and the providing for our needs (Matthew 6:25-34), and we could sleep soundly.

Those who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus will receive the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we receive all spiritual blessings of heaven. 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 garment of salvation, the robe of righteousness. 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 our Counselor and consoler, our teacher, and our enabler. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Jesus (Romans 8:9) will open our minds to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45), lead us into all truth (John 16:13), teach us all things, bring to mind all Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26), and give us what to say at the moment we are called on to testify (Matthew 10:19-20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11; 21:14-15). I personally testify to these truths!

Paul’s prayer for new believers was that they would receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom, revelation, personal knowledge of the Lord, and spiritual enlightenment. That by the indwelling Holy Spirit they would know with certainty the hope of eternal life to which they had been called and the richness of the inheritance waiting for them, through the joy of the presence of the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit within them.

Jesus is the light of the world, the light of eternal life (Romans 8:12). Jesus is the light of righteousness, spiritual enlightenment and eternal life. To all who welcome and accept him he gives them the power (the opportunity, the authorization, the promise) to become children of God. That “adoption” is not automatically received by Church membership or ritual such as water baptism or affirmation of faith. We must lay hold of the promise and claim it for ourselves, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

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

Monday January 4 – C
First Posted January 4, 2010;

Podcast: Monday January 4 – C

Isaiah 60:1-6 — Restoration of Jerusalem;

Paraphrase:

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). The earth and its people are covered in deep darkness, but the Lord and his glory will arise on God’s people and his glory shall be seen upon them. Nations and kings will be drawn to the the brightness rising upon God’s people.

Look around and see the return of the people to Zion (Jerusalem; Israel; the Church; the heavenly city). Israel’s sons will return from afar; her daughters will be carried in their arms. Then Israel will rejoice, because they will receive the abundance of the sea and the wealth of the nations. “A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian (people related to Israel through Keturah, one of Abraham’s wives; Genesis 25:2) and Ephah (an Arab tribe east of the Gulf of Aqabah). “And those from Sheba (southern Arabia) shall come bringing gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6c).

Commentary:

The text is thought to have been written around 530 to 510 B.C.,* the period of the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus of Persia, shortly before the return of the exiles from Babylon after seventy years (587-517 B.C.). The prophecy was fulfilled by the amazing release of the exiles, after the prophesied seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12), by Cyrus, who not only allowed them to return to their “Promised Land,” but returned the sacred vessels of gold, silver and bronze looted by Nebuchadnezzar at the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. He also gave the exiles authority, assistance from provincial governors, and money to rebuild the temple! Judah’s poverty in exile was replaced by prosperity, as God’s Word promised. The prophecy of camels bearing gifts of gold and frankincense began to be fulfilled at the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The return of the Judean exiles was fulfilled, but it is also fulfilled at the coming of the Messiah, God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King, Jesus Christ (Messiah and Christ each mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12), the light of righteousness (John 1:5; 3:19-21), spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9), and eternal life (John 1:4; 8:12).

The exile is also a metaphor for life in this world. In a spiritual sense we are all in exile in the “Babylon” of the present world. We are all in bondage to Satan (Romans 3:23, 6:16-18; 1 John 1:8-10). This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God’s Word in the Bible, and fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14). Only faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can set us free from bondage to sin and death (see Hebrews 2:14-15; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

The exile of Judah for seventy years in Babylon was a life sentence for those who were adults at the time of their deportation. As the remnant of Israel was physically “reborn” in exile, this lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) in “exile.” Spiritual “rebirth” is only possible through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Church is the New Israel, the New Jerusalem on earth, and the ultimate “Promised Land” is God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Jesus is the only one who can free us from bondage to sin and death and lead us to God’s eternal “Promised Land” in heaven (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

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


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


Tuesday January 5 – C
First Posted January 5, 2010;

Podcast: Tuesday January 5 – C

Ephesians 3:2-12 – Inclusion of Gentiles;

Paraphrase:

Paul assumed that the Galatian congregation had heard that Paul had received God’s grace (unmerited favor) as a steward on behalf of the Gentiles (non-Jews). The mystery of Christ, which had not been known in former generations, had been made known to Paul by revelation by the Holy Spirit, as it had also been revealed to the holy apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) and prophets. The revealed mystery was that through the Gospel the Gentiles share in the inheritance as members of the same body (the Church) and through the Gospel, they partake of the same promise in Jesus Christ.

Paul had been given the ministry of that Gospel as a gift by God’s grace through God’s power working in and through Paul. Paul felt unworthy, the least of the saints (those consecrated to God’s service), to preach the incalculable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. Paul and the other apostles had been given the opportunity and privilege to make known to all the people of the world the mystery of God’s plan, which had been hidden for ages in God, the creator of all things. Now through the Church, all people and angelic beings in the universe can know the great wisdom of God of the eternal purpose God has accomplished in our Lord, Jesus Christ. Through our faith (obedient trust) in Jesus we have boldness and confidence of access to God.

Commentary:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) felt less worthy than the original apostles, the remnant of the Twelve (minus Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer) because Paul had persecuted Christians, before his confrontation by the Holy Spirit, the risen Jesus, on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20).

Paul was as much an apostle as the original eleven. He was filled with, guided, and empowered by the same Holy Spirit, and proclaimed the Gospel to the Gentiles, as Peter had done to the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:9-48; 15:4-29).

I believe that Paul was 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 can and should be. I believe that Paul was the one God intended to take the place of Judas Iscariot.

The Eleven had been told to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). While they were waiting, they decided to choose a replacement for Judas. Since they didn’t yet have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they chose Matthias by lot (by chance; like throwing dice; Acts 1:15-26). Matthias is never heard of in the New Testament thereafter, but after Paul’s conversion most of the rest of the New Testament is by or about Paul.

Paul loved his fellow Jews and wanted to share the Gospel with them, but they refused to hear it and had imprisoned Paul at the time of Paul’s writing this letter (Ephesians 3:1). The Jews knew the Bible scriptures had promised the Messiah (Christ; both mean God’s “anointed), the eternal Savior and King of God’s kingdom. But they didn’t realize that the Savior had been given for the Gentiles also (note Isaiah 49:6). They considered themselves righteous by keeping the Law of Moses, and couldn’t accept that Gentiles (unrighteous pagans) could receive the same forgiveness and salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ by faith (obedient trust).

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. From the very beginning he has designed this Creation for that purpose, to allow us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God, and the opportunity to learn by trial-and-error that God’s will is our very best interest.

God knew that given freedom, we would all choose to do our will rather than God’s will. Disobedience of God’s Word is the definition of sin. God has limited this Creation and we ourselves by time, because he doesn’t intend to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom. God has designed the Savior, Jesus Christ into the structure of this Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

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). Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for the forgiveness of our sins and our salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God’s wisdom has been progressively revealed to the world, first in the goodness and complexity of Creation, then through God’s Word, the Bible, then through Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).

God’s wisdom is unlike what mankind falsely calls “wisdom.” Worldly wisdom is incomplete and constantly changing; God’s wisdom is complete, eternal and unchanging (1 Corinthians 1:17-29; 2:1-8). 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 real, eternal life (John 14:6).

The Church has received the stewardship of God’s wisdom to proclaim it to the world. The Church is composed of “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ. Believers are commanded to stay within the Church (the New Jerusalem; Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8) until we have received the promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit before going into the world to proclaim the Gospel and to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

Through our faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, we are spiritually “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).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The Spirit of the Lord is the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel (guidance), might (empowerment), knowledge of and fear (appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority) of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2). By the Holy Spirit we have personal knowledge of, and fellowship with God the Father, and our 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)?

Podcast Download: Week of Epiphany – C

Epiphany – Wednesday – January 6 C
First Posted January 6, 2010;
Podcast:
Wednesday Epiphany January 6 – C


Isaiah 60:1-6 – Jerusalem Restored;

Psalm 72 – The Lord’s Anointed King;

Ephesians 3:2-12 – Stewardship of the Gospel;

Matthew 2:1-12 – The Wise Men;

Epiphany is the day the Church celebrates the coming of the Wise Men at the birth of Christ; the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. The Wise Men (Magi; the “Three Kings”) were members of the educated, priestly class in Persia.

Isaiah Paraphrase:

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). The world and its people are covered in thick darkness, “but the Lord will arise upon you (Zion; the people of God) and his glory will be seen in you” (Isaiah 60:2b). All nations and kings of earth will come to the brightness of Zion’s rising.

Watch and see, the children of Zion are gathered together and returning to their Promised Land. The sons of Israel shall come from afar, bringing the daughters of Israel on their arms. Then Israel will be radiant with joy, and their hearts will rejoice and celebrate, because they will receive bounty from the sea and wealth from the nations. “A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian (people related to Israel through Keturah, one of Abraham’s wives; Genesis 25:2; east of the Gulf of Aqabah) and Ephah (an Arab tribe east of the Gulf of Aqabah). “And those from Sheba (southern Arabia) shall come bringing gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6c).

Psalm 72 Paraphrase:

May the king be endowed with the justice and righteousness of God. May he judge God’s people with righteousness, and give justice to the poor and helpless. May the mountains and hills produce prosperity and righteousness for God’s people. May the king protect the rights of the poor and helpless, and defeat their oppressors. May he reign for all generations until the sun and moon cease to exist.

May the king be as gentle as gentle rain that waters mown grass and earth. Let righteousness flourish and peace abound as long as the moon exists. May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river (Euphrates; the “cradle of civilization,” the Garden of Eden; Genesis 2:10, 14) to the end (cessation; also most distant parts) of the earth.

May his enemies bow to him and lick dust. “May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles (western Mediterranean) render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba (in southern Arabia) bring gifts. May all kings fall down before him , all nations serve him” (Psalm 72:10).

The king of God’s people hears and delivers the poor, weak, needy and helpless when they call upon him. He has pity upon them and saves their lives. He redeems their lives from violence and oppression. Their blood is precious in his sight.

May the king have long life. May he receive the gold of Sheba. May prayer be made for him and blessings invoked upon him continually. May the land produce grain abundantly; may it wave from the mountaintops. May its fruit be as great as Lebanon (the highest mountain in Syria; the northern boundary assigned to Israel, but never conquered). May population increase and come forth from the cities to fill the land like grass in a field. May the name of the king and his fame endure forever.

“May men bless themselves by him, all nations call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen” (Psalm 72:17b-19).

Ephesians Paraphrase:

By the grace (unmerited favor; undeserved gift) of God, Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was given the stewardship of the Gospel on behalf of the Gentiles. The mystery of Christ (to include Gentiles; Ephesians 3:6) was made known to Paul by revelation (by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Jesus; Acts 9:1-20). Paul’s insight into the mystery was not revealed to previous generations of Israelites, as it had now been revealed to the apostles and prophets  by the Holy Spirit: that Gentiles are “fellow heirs and members of the same body (the Church), and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Because of God’s gift of grace, Paul received a ministry of the gospel by the working of God’s power (in Paul by the indwelling Holy Spirit). Although Paul considered himself (because he had persecuted the Church) the least of all of the saints (those consecrated to God’s service), by the grace of God, Paul was given the ministry to preach the great spiritual riches in Christ, and to make all people aware of the plan of the mystery hidden in God for ages.

But now the wisdom of God has been revealed through the Church to all authorities on earth and in heaven. This revelation was in accordance with God’s eternal purpose which God has been accomplished in Jesus Christ. Through faith in  Jesus we now boldly and confidently have access to God.

Matthew Paraphrase:

During the reign of King Herod (the Great; which ended with his death in 4 B.C.), Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. Wise men (Persian astrologers) came to Jerusalem seeking the new-born king of the Jews, whose star they had seen from their homeland, and had come to worship him. When Herod heard of a newborn rival, he was disturbed, and when Herod was troubled, all Jerusalem was troubled too.

Herod assembled all the Jewish priests and scribes (Bible teachers; authorities of the scriptures). When they were asked, they said that the Christ (Messiah; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King), was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea, citing Micah 5:2: “And you O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel. (Not quoted: “whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.)

Herod summoned the Wise Men and asked them when the star had appeared. Then he told them to go to Bethlehem and search for the child, and to bring back word to Herod. Herod told them that he wanted to worship the child too. Sent on their way they were guided by the star until it came to rest over the house in which the child was.

Seeing this the Wise Men rejoiced with great joy, and entering the house they saw the child with his mother, Mary. The Wise Men fell down in humility and worshiped him. Then they unpacked and presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then they returned to their homeland by another route, having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod.

Commentary:

The theme of these four texts is the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

The text from Isaiah is thought to have originated around 530 – 510 B. C., just before Judah, the remnant of Israel in exile in Babylon, was allowed by Cyrus of Persia to return to their Promised Land. Cyrus had conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.. The prophecy referred to Judah’s restoration from exile, but also to the coming of the Messiah five hundred years later.

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the light of the glory of the Lord rising upon Israel, the light of righteousness (John 1:5; 3:19-21), spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9 and eternal life (John 1:4; 8:12). God’s people are to reflect the light of the Lord’s glory so that it may be seen by others.

There are two varieties of camels: the dromedary or one-humped variety, and the Bactrain, or two-humped variety. The Bactrain originated in central Asia but had spread to Assyria by 1100 B.C.. Camels were used by the returning exiles from Babylon (Ezra 2:67; Nehemiah 7:69). They were used extensively in Arabia south of Israel, in Sheba and Seba, and east of Israel east of the Gulf of Aqabah in Midian and Ephah. The popular imagery is of the three Wise Men traveling to Bethlehem on camels.

The Queen of Sheba had visited King Solomon, who reigned from 961-922 B.C., and had brought gold, jewels and spices by camel (1 Kings 10:1-2). She recognized the wisdom of Solomon and was drawn to him. She prefigures the coming of the Magi at the birth of Christ, bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Psalm 72 was originally composed for a coronation or its commemoration, but it is also Spirit-inspired prophecy. It prefigures the fulfillment and coronation of the ultimate, eternal God-anointed king, Jesus Christ (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew respectively). Jesus Christ is the only one who is truly endowed with  the justice and righteousness of God (because he is God in human flesh; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Jesus is the only king who will truly defend the rights of the poor, weak, needy, and helpless. He’s the only one who can help them when they call out to him.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to raise up an eternal king who will have dominion over all the earth. Only in his reign will righteousness flourish and peace abound.

The visit of the Wise Men (the “Three Kings”) is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s Word that all kings and nations will bow before him and serve him. There is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived in this world will be accountable to the Lord Jesus for what they have done in this lifetime.

Those who willingly choose to serve him now, who trust and obey Jesus, will be spiritually “born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus. Those who reject Jesus as Lord, who refuse or fail to trust and obey him will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). When we die physically, or at the Day of Christ’s Second Coming, our eternal destinies are fixed and unchangeable.

At the Day of Judgment, every one will bow before him, and confess that Jesus is Lord. In that day Jesus will command and no one will have any choice but to obey (Philippians 2:10-11).

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose for this Creation from the very beginning; first through the goodness and complexity of Creation itself. Then in the Word of God in the Bible. God already had a Savior designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). God wasn’t surprised when Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God’s Word, and Jesus isn’t an afterthought, or “Plan B.”

Jesus Christ is the fullest revelation of God and his plan for the world, and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God and his purpose to his disciples individually and personally.

Paul is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, as we can and should be. We are all sinners (disobedient of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and fall short of God’s righteousness. The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

By the indwelling Holy Spirit the Lord opens the minds of his disciples to understand the Bible scriptures (Luke 24:45), teaches us all things and helps us recall all Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26). Every truly “born-again” disciple personally experiences, has fellowship with, and testifies that Jesus is risen from physical death and is eternally alive. 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 Jews had the promises of the Bible scriptures that promised the coming of the Messiah, and the directions where to look, but they didn’t welcome his coming. Herod saw him as a political rival, and the Jews were afraid that he would upset the status quo. They had accommodated themselves to the political situation and didn’t want to risk change. The Wise Men were Gentiles (non-Jews). They didn’t have the benefit of the Bible scriptures but were able to interpret the signs in nature, a star (probably a comet) that led them to the place where Jesus was.

The Jews all fell away from the Lord until at the Crucifixion Jesus was the last faithful Jew. Even Jesus’ disciples had scattered from him (Matthew 26:31). At the moment of Jesus’ death, the temple veil (curtain) was supernaturally torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51) signifying that Jesus had opened a new and better way into God’s presence. Jesus has become 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 real, eternal life (John 14:6). The Church is the New Israel, the New Jerusalem.

In too many instances the nominal Church today is in a similar situation as the Israel and Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first coming. Church members have the Bible scriptures but don’t read them completely or daily. They know a lot about “religion,” but don’t know the Lord personally. They have carved a comfortable niche for themselves in the Church and they don’t want their status quo disrupted.

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


Thursday January 7 – C

First Posted January 7, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday January 7 – C

Psalm 45:7-9 – A Royal Wedding;

Background:

This Psalm may have been written by a professional court poet (“a ready scribe:” Psalm 45:1c) for the wedding of King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (“ivory palaces:” Psalm 45:8b; see 1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15) and his Queen, Jezebel, a heathen Phoenician princess (note mention of Tyre: Psalm 45:12). This was the first instance of a king of Israel allying himself by marriage with a pagan princess (she was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; of Sidon; one of the two major cities, with Tyre, of Phoenicia).

Israelites were strictly warned not to enter into covenants with pagan people of Canaan or to marry pagan women (Exodus 34:12-16), because of the likelihood that foreign wives would introduce pagan religions, which is exactly what happened (1 Kings 16:31; 18:19). Ahab became the  archetype of a wicked king, the most wicked of all the kings of Israel (2 Kings 8:18; 2 Chronicles 22:3; Micah 6:16). Jezebel was the archetype of a wicked woman.

The introduction of Baal worship by Jezebel through her marriage to Ahab led to the complete destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The leaders and people did not listen to the prophets calling for repentance and return from idolatry to obedient trust in God, until it was too late. The siege of Samaria begun by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, ended the Northern Kingdom at the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C..

The Northern Kingdom and the ten tribes effectively ceased to exist because of the Assyrian policy of subduing conquered territories by resettling the people in other conquered territories. The poorest, oldest and least healthy people were allowed to remain, and intermingled racially and religiously with imported aliens to become the Samaritans at the time of Jesus’ first coming.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The King’s throne is divine and eternal. Equity is his scepter. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. That is why the Lord your God has exalted you above your brothers and has anointed you with the oil of gladness. Your robes are fragrant with finest spices: myrrh, aloes, and cassia.  The music of stringed instruments comes forth from ivory palaces to make you glad. Your ladies of honor include daughters of kings, and your queen is at your right hand, in gold of Ophir (perhaps India; a gold-producing region).

Commentary:

The fact that this text was composed by a poet paid to say flattering things about the most wicked king of Israel on the day he was overtly disobeying God’s Word by marrying a pagan princess to form an alliance with a pagan nation, doesn’t mean that it isn’t also Biblical prophecy. The accounts in the Bible deal with God’s relationship with Israel, and are recorded for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11). Ahab was at the opposite end of the spectrum from these words. Only Jesus Christ fulfills them.

Jesus is the Son of David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel (Matthew 1:1, 20, 21:9, 15). Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14). Jesus is the heir to the eternal throne of David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Only Jesus rules with equity, in righteousness, giving justice for the poor, weak and helpless (Psalm 72:1-2, 4). So God has anointed him with the oil of gladness above all others (compare Psalm 45:7b; compare Hebrews 1:9; Matthew 28:18).

After his crucifixion, Jesus’ body was placed in a new, never-used tomb, and was prepared with about a hundred pounds of spices:  Myrrh and Aloes (Psalm 45:8a; compare John 19:39-42).

Ahab’s bride was a pagan princess, but Jesus’ bride is the Church (Revelation  21:9-11), and her robes have been cleansed in the blood of Jesus (Revelation 19:7-9), the sacrificial lamb of the New Passover (New Covenant; New Testament) (John 1:29; Matthew 26:26-28 KJV).

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


*Many thanks for annotations  from The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.



Friday January 8 – C

First Posted January 8, 2010;
Podcast: Friday January 8 – C

Isaiah 42:1-7 – The Lord’s Servant;

Paraphrase:

The Lord God upholds his servant and delights in him. God has given him God’s Spirit, and the Servant will cause justice to come forth from the nations. “He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; in faithfulness he will bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth, and the coastlands wait for his law” (Isaiah 42:2-4).

The Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth and spread them out, “who gives breath to the people upon it, and spirit to those who walk in it” (Isaiah 42:5), declares that he is the Lord and in righteousness he has called his servant, has led him, provided for, protected and prospered him. God’s servant is to establish God’s covenant to all people, to be the light (of righteousness (John 1:5; 3:19-21), spiritual enlightenment John 1:9), and eternal life (John 1:4; 8:12) to all nations. The servant will give sight to the blind, and free prisoners from their dungeons and darkness.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternally true and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment and example of the Lord’s servant. The nation and people of Israel were called to be the Lord’s servant, but they turned away from that call, because they refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and follow his example and teaching. The Church is the New Israel, the New people of God, and is called to be God’s servant, individually and collectively.

God put his Spirit upon Jesus, beginning with Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptizer, as John testified (John 1:31-34). Jesus was fully God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Many people in Israel were looking for the coming of the Messiah to be a political champion who would free them from Roman domination and restore sovereignty to Israel (Acts 1:6-7), but Jesus didn’t come to be a political king (John 18:36). Jesus didn’t come to be a firebrand or a political revolutionary. He came to heal spiritually bruised reeds, not break them, and dimly burning candles, not quench them.

What the world falsely calls justice is very different that God’s justice. Worldly justice tends to preserve and enforce the right of the wealthy and powerful to oppress the poor and helpless. The Lord works for justice and equality for all. He preserves and upholds the rights of the poor, the hungry, the sick and powerless (Psalm 82:2-4).

Jesus came to demonstrate what obedience to God’s Word looks like in human flesh in this fallen world, and the eternal reward it produces. The world hated Jesus and treated him horribly, but Jesus rose from physical death to eternal life. Every truly “born-again” Christian, including myself, personally testifies that Jesus has risen from physical death and is eternally alive.

Jesus came to demonstrate the Spirit of God in human flesh, and to make it possible for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. By faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, we are spiritually cleansed by his blood, sacrificed on the cross, so that we are able to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the “baptism” (gift; anointing; infilling) of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Spiritual “rebirth” is a discernible, ongoing event; it is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether one has been “reborn” or not (Acts 19:2).

God has given us the breath of physical life; we have all been born physically alive, but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27) and to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life, which is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). The Lord only gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who will live in obedient trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 42:5c; Romans 8:1-11).

Jesus came to establish a New Covenant (Testament) of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9). He established the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26-28) as he celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples, on the night of his betrayal and arrest. The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion; the Eucharist) is the New Passover feast. Jesus is the Passover lamb, whose flesh, the “bread” of eternal life (John 6:32-35), provides the feast and whose blood marks us as God’s people, so that we are “passed over” by the destroying angel (Exodus 12:1-14).


Jesus came to heal the spiritually bruised and “dimly-burning.” Jesus came to heal the spiritually blind, and to set free the spiritual prisoners of Satan and eternal death (Hebrews 2:14-15; Luke 4:16-21). Jesus’ miracles of physical feeding, healing and resurrection were intended to demonstrate that Jesus can also heal, feed and raise us spiritually to eternal life. For the same reason, Jesus taught in parables, ordinary worldly experiences used to teach spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

Jesus came to call us to follow his teaching and example, to become his disciples and learn to trust and obey him, to become the Lord’s servants.

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


Saturday January 9 – C

First Posted January 9, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday January 9 – C

Acts 10:34-38 – No Partiality;

Paraphrase:

By the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Apostle Peter first preached the Gospel to Gentiles. Peter said that God is not partial to anyone. Regardless of nationality, anyone who fears (who has the appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) God and does what is right (according to the standard of God’s Word) is acceptable to him. God sent his Word to Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. Beginning in Galilee, Jesus preached this Word (the Gospel) throughout Judea, after he had been baptized by John the Baptizer. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and supernatural power. Jesus traveled throughout Judea and Galilee doing good and healing all who were oppressed by Satan.

Commentary:

Cornelius was a Roman soldier (a Gentile; non-Jew) stationed at Caesarea, the capital of the Roman Province of Judea, to enforce Roman government. He was God-fearing, he did what was good, he gave alms, and he prayed to God constantly. The Holy Spirit (“angel” can be understood as spirit) told Cornelius to send for the Apostle Peter and gave him specific instructions to the house where Peter was staying (Acts 10:1-8).

Meanwhile the Holy Spirit was working in Peter to prepare him to preach the Gospel to Cornelius (Acts 10:9-23). Peter went to the home of Cornelius (Acts 10:23b-33), and began to preach the Gospel to Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:34-38).

The Jews had come to believe that they were God’s special people, and that they were worthy of God’s special treatment because they obeyed the Law given to Moses (the Jewish Bible). The Lord had shown Peter, in a vision, that the Jewish dietary laws no longer applied.

Jesus came to demonstrate the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and to make it possible for us to be filled with, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so he is the only “begotten” Son of God; at Jesus’ water baptism for repentance that John the Baptizer preached (Luke 3:3-6), to prepare the people to receive the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Jesus was given the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34) so that he could “baptize” with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, we are spiritually cleansed of sin and unrighteousness so that we can become temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

The Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer. The Church is to call people to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) to prepare them to receive Jesus through the “baptism” (gift; anointing; infilling) of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The Church is called to proclaim the Gospel (the “Good News”) of peace with God through Jesus Christ, to make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20), and teaching them to seek the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was 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 had been persecuting the Church, and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Jesus, confronted Paul on his was to Damascus to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-5b). Paul repented of his sin (Acts 9:9), accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5), became obedient to Jesus’ command (Acts 9:8), was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17), until Paul received the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:18), and then Paul began preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:20).

The only thing remarkable about Paul’s conversion is its speed. But remember that Paul was already formally educated in Judaism and loved God. All he needed was to be pointed to Jesus the Messiah.

Jesus came to show the Church the discipling ministry of the Gospel which the Church is to follow: the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul was fulfilling Christ’s command to make disciples and to teach them to obey all that Jesus teaches, only after the the teacher of discipleship has been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born again” disciples.

Timothy is an example of Paul’s discipling ministry. Paul taught Timothy discipleship until Timothy was “born-again” (2 Timothy 1:6-7) and then taught Timothy to repeat the process with others who would repeat the process again (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)?

1 Christmas C – 12/27/2015 – 01/02/2016

December 26, 2015

 1 Christmas 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.

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 1 Christmas – C  

1st Sunday after Christmas – C

Podcast: 1st Sunday after Christmas – C 

Podcast: Week of Christmas – C

Jeremiah 31:10-13 – Return and Restoration;

Psalm 111 – God’s Redemption;

Hebrews 2:10-18 Freed from Sin and Death;

Luke 2:41-52 – Jesus’ Youth;

Jeremiah Background:

Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah and Jerusalem from 627 to 580 B.C., the period leading up to and during the beginning of the Exile of Judah to Babylon, generally calculated from the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 587 to its restoration and dedication in 517 B.C..

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Hear God’s Word, all nations and distant shores. Israel, whom the Lord scattered, will be gathered again by the Lord. As a shepherd keeps his flocks the Lord will keep Israel.

The Lord has ransomed Jacob and and redeemed him from powers greater than he. Israel shall sing aloud to the Lord on Zion, (the temple mount in Jerusalem) and rejoice in the goodness of the Lord. They will celebrate over the harvest of grain, wine, olive oil, and the young of their flocks and herds. They will languish no longer; their life will be restored like a watered garden.

Their young girls will dance in joy, the men, both young and old will be merry. The Lord promises to comfort them and transform their mourning to joy, and exchange their sorrow for gladness.

Psalm 111 Paraphrase:

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! With my whole heart I will praise the Lord in the congregation of his people.

The works of the Lord are awesome! Those who delight in them will study them. His works are full of honor and majesty. He has caused his works to be remembered, for the Lord is gracious and merciful. For those who fear him, he provides food. He constantly remembers his covenant. He has revealed his power to his people, giving them the inheritance of the nations. He is faithful and just in all his doings; all his teachings are trustworthy and eternally true.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

In accord with the gracious nature of God, who has created all things for his purpose, it was appropriate that in his plan to bring many sons (and daughters) to glory (to spiritual maturity and eternal life; to the joy of heaven), to make the pioneer (author; “trail-blazer;”) of salvation (i.e., Jesus) perfect through suffering. The sanctifier (Jesus Christ) and the sanctified (“born-again” disciples) both originate from God, so Jesus is not ashamed to call them brethren, as God’s Word says in Psalm 22:22: “I will declare thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee.” Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 8:17-18 of trusting in God’s Word, and receiving the children of God (as his brethren).

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil (Satan), and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus’ mission was not to angels, but to the descendants of Abraham. Jesus had to become like them in every aspect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest serving God, to make amends for our sins. Because Jesus has experienced suffering and temptation just as we do, he is able to understand and help us when we are tempted.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus’ parents went from Nazareth to Jerusalem every year to celebrate Passover. When Jesus was twelve, they went, according to their custom. At the end of the celebration, they began their trip home, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Jesus’ parents were not aware that he had stayed behind; they thought he was with friends or relatives in their caravan. At the end of the day’s journey, they looked for Jesus, and discovered that he was missing, so Jesus’ parents hurried back to Jerusalem.

After three days of anxious searching, they found Jesus in the temple sitting among teachers and listening and asking questions. Everyone who heard Jesus was amazed at his understanding and his replies. When Jesus’ parents saw him they were amazed, and his mother asked Jesus why he had worried them so. Jesus asked his parents why they hadn’t looked for him in his Father’s house, the temple, first. His parents didn’t understand what Jesus was saying to them.

Jesus returned with them to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother remembered things like this about Jesus. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52)

Commentary:

Judah, the Southern Kingdom of the two tribes, was the remnant of Israel after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.. The Northern Kingdom had disobeyed God’s warning by his prophets to repent and turn from disobedience and idolatry. Judah had not learned from the example of the Northern Kingdom, and did not heed the warnings of the prophets to repent and return to obedient trust in God’s Word.

Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would be exiled in Babylon for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12), and God’s Word was fulfilled. Israel had been scattered, but the Lord promised to gather them again and be their shepherd (Jeremiah 31:10c). God’s promise was amazingly fulfilled when Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon and allowed the Jews to return to their Promised Land. Cyrus gave them the sacred vessels of silver, gold and bronze which Nebuchadnezzar had looted from the temple. Cyrus also gave permission, money and help in the rebuilding of the temple.

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The prophecy of a Shepherd to gather God’s people is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-15), the Lord.

Israel had forgotten the lessons of the Exile and was unprepared for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. At the crucifixion of Jesus, the people of God were effectively scattered. Even the Twelve disciples were scattered (Matthew 26:31; John 16:32). Jesus was the one last faithful remnant of Israel. From then on the Church became the New Israel, the New People of God.

The disciples who had scattered began to be drawn back by the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus appeared to them and told them to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the “baptism” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then they were to go into the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to obey all Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 28:19-20). The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit began to be poured out on the Day of Pentecost, the “birthday” of the Church (Acts 2:1-13).

Those who look into the record of God’s great works in the Bible will delight in them. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s power and faithfulness to the world. The “baptism” of indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), is God’s ultimate revelation of himself personally and individually to the disciples of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

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). Those who trust and obey Jesus come to know and testify that his teachings are trustworthy and eternally true.

God has created this world according to his purpose. God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This present world is God’s spiritual garden, where he is “growing” sons and daughters for his eternal kingdom. Jesus has been designed into this Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

God designed this Creation to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), so that we could have freedom to choose whether or not to obey God. He knew that we would all choose to do our own will rather than his and would need to learn by trial-and-error to trust and obey God’s Word. We are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

We are all born physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” to eternal life.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death. Every truly “born-again” Christian personally experiences and testifies that Jesus is risen and eternally alive. Because we know that Jesus lives, we can know with certainty that we will rise from physical death to eternal life too (Romans 8:11). The joy of the Lord’s presence now by the indwelling Holy Spirit is just a foretaste of the joy we will have with him in eternity.

Jesus was fully human and also fully God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). He is the only “begotten” (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34-35) Son, the first-born, with the birthright that goes with it. We become “adopted” sons and daughters, through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14-16). Because he shared in every aspect our human nature, he understands our temptations and is able to help us resist and overcome them.

Jesus teaches by both word and example. Jesus taught his disciples to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first, ahead of physical necessities. Those who seek physical needs first will never get around to seeking God’s kingdom, because we can never get enough physical resources to feel satisfied. Jesus respected his physical parents, but he put God, his heavenly Father, first. His parents should have realized that the only reason Jesus would stay behind in Jerusalem would be to study God’s Word and seek God’s kingdom.

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

Podcast: Week of Christmas – C
Monday December 28 C  

First Posted December 28, 2009;   

Podcast: December 28 C

Hebrews 2:10-18 – Our Savior;

Paraphrase:

God is the Creator of all things which exist; Creation has been designed for God’s eternal purpose. In God’s loving, gracious and merciful nature, God considered it good that in bringing many people to glory, he should make the pioneer (Jesus; the “author,” “leader,” “trailblazer”) of their salvation perfect (complete; brought to maturity) through suffering. Jesus, who sanctifies (cleanses ceremonially and dedicates to God’s service) and his disciples who are sanctified have one origin, God. So Jesus was not ashamed to call them his brothers (and sisters). The author of this Letter to the Hebrews quoted Psalm 22:22: “I will proclaim thy (God’s) name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee,” Isaiah 8:17: “I will put my trust in him,” and Isaiah 8:18: “Here am I and the children God has given me.”

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15) Jesus’ mission was not to angels, but to the descendants of Abraham. So Jesus had to be made like us in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in God’s service, to make expiation (atonement; reconciliation; reparation; specifically the reconciliation of God and mankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ), for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Since he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help us when we are tempted.

Commentary:

God is the Creator of the Universe and everything in it. This temporal world was created by God for his specific purpose: to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who trust and obey God. God designed this world to allow for sin, so that we could be free to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and to learn by trial and error that his way is good, acceptable, and our very best interest (Romans 12:2). We are all sinners and fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is good, right and true, according to God’s Word, the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this present world John 1:1-5, 14).

According to God’s design, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God designed the one and only Savior into the structure of this Creation, so that we could be forgiven for sin, and restored to fellowship with God that mankind had at the beginning of Creation, before the sin was introduced (Genesis 2:15-3:22). God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). Jesus is the only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus’ obedience of God’s Word was tested in the wilderness, before his ministry began (Matthew 4:1-11), and again in the last weeks of his ministry. Jesus had been trying to prepare his disciples for his crucifixion, and had foretold his death on the cross at least three times (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). On the night of his betrayal and arrest, Jesus prayed to God his Father three times, asking that if possible, God would spare his Son from the agony of crucifixion, but accepted it willingly in obedient trust (Matthew26:39, 42, 44).

Jesus was tempted, but without succumbing to sin (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was thus the unblemished Lamb of the New Passover feast.

Passover is the celebration of God’s saving act of bringing the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. The last of the ten plagues which finally convinced Pharaoh to allow Israel to leave was the deaths of the firstborn of the Egyptians. On the eve of that plague, God instituted the Feast of Passover. God instructed Moses to have each family select a one-year-old, unblemished lamb (small households could share a lamb). They were to kill the lamb and mark the doorpost and lintel with its blood, so that the destroying angel would “pass over” them and their firstborn would be saved.

On the night of Jewish Passover, Jesus instituted the New Passover (the Lord’s Supper; Holy Communion; the Eucharist; Matthew 26:26-28) and later that night Jesus was betrayed and arrested (Matthew 26:45-50). Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, marks his disciples who receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus’ death (his body) provides meal of the New Passover feast. Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant secured by his body and blood sacrificed on the Cross.

God had taught Israel that only a blood offering can spiritually cleanse and dedicate anything to God’s service (Hebrews 9:12-22). By the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the Cross, all who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus, are cleansed and dedicated to God’s use.

Those who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus will receive the “baptism” (free gift; “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Our bodies become temples of the Lord, and we are spiritually “reborn” by the Holy Spirit within us. Jesus teaches that one must be “born-again” to see the Kingdom of Heaven all around us now, and to enter it in eternity (John 3:3, 5-8).

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

The presence of the Holy Spirit within believers is a personally discernible, ongoing event; anyone who has to take the word of a spiritual counselor, hasn’t been “born-again”! (Acts 19:2).

Several mainline Church denominations are teaching that one automatically receives the indwelling Holy Spirit through some Church ritual, such as (water) Baptism or Confirmation (Affirmation) of Baptism. This not only doesn’t help members become sanctified and “born-again,” but actually is causing members spiritual harm, by not helping members to seek and be filled with the Holy Spirit. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. Those Churches aren’t making “born-again” disciples because their leaders are not “born-again” disciples (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus commands his disciples to await the infilling of the Holy Spirit before going into the world to make disciples. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). After their “baptism” with the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ “born-again” disciples are to go into the entire world and “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them (with water) in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (note the Trinity; Matthew 28:19) teaching them to obey all that Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:20).

Jesus demonstrated the “discipling” ministry that his Church, his disciples, are to follow. He made disciples, taught them how to live according to God’s Word, told them to await the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then to go into the world with the Gospel (“Good News”) of forgiveness and salvation through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

The Apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-20). On his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, he was convicted by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:4), the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9; Acts 9:5).

Paul repented (Acts 9:9) and accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5a), and became obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:6, 8). In Damascus, God sent a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-12; we know he’s “born-again” because he has a personal relationship with the Lord) to Paul so that Paul could be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17).

As soon as Paul had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, He began making “born-again” disciples (Acts 9:19b-20). Timothy is a good example of a “born-again” disciple taught to make “born-again” disciples who would repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

By the cleansing, by the blood of Jesus and the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are “adopted” children of God, and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:4-7).

Jesus came into this world to provide forgiveness of sin and salvation from spiritual, eternal death. He came into the world to teach us how to live according to the Word of God. Jesus demonstrated through his death that there is existence after physical death, and the the promise of eternal life. Jesus is the first-born from the (physically) dead (Colossians 1:16-18).

Hebrews 2:14-15 is one of my favorite passages; what a great promise and testimony of Jesus’ mission! It is so true! Many in the world today pursue the idea of “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Commercials teach us that we only go around once in life, so we should grab all the gusto we can! Many believe in reincarnation; many believe that after death is nothingness. For people who have no hope of existence beyond physical death, this is all there is.

Jesus not only taught eternal life but demonstrated it. Every truly “born-again” Christian testifies from personal experience that Jesus is risen, and is eternally alive. God’s Word declares that all are appointed to die once, not over and over, not reincarnation, not nothingness, and then comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Christians know from the Bible and from personal experience with the risen Jesus, that the God who raised Jesus from physical death to eternal life will do the same for us who trust and obey Jesus (1 Peter 1:19-23; Romans 8:11). So we no longer fear anything, even physical death. As Paul said, it is better for us to be at home with the Lord, but it is more necessary for us to be in the world to save as many as possible (2 Corinthians 5:6-10). The only things we can take with us into eternity are our family and acquaintances.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 December 29 C   

First Posted December 29, 2009;

Podcast: December 29 C

Luke 2:41-52 – Jesus’ Boyhood;

Paraphrase:

Jesus’ family traveled from their home in Nazareth to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Feast of Passover. When Jesus was twelve they had gone to Jerusalem for the Feast, and when it ended, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents assumed that Jesus was with others in their caravan.

At the end of the first day of travel, they sought Jesus from among their kinsfolk and friends. When they had not found him, they returned to Jerusalem, where they searched for him for three days. On the third day, they found Jesus in the temple, listening to the religious authorities teaching and asking them questions. All who heard Jesus’ questions and his knowledge of scripture were amazed at his understanding and answers.

When his parents found Jesus, they were surprised, and his mother asked why Jesus had caused his parents such anxiety. Jesus asked them why they hadn’t checked the temple for him first. Did they not understand that he must have been in God his Father’s house? They didn’t comprehend what Jesus had told them.

Jesus went down with them (from the temple mount; Zion), and returned to Nazareth, and Jesus was obedient to his parents. His mother kept such things in her heart. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Commentary:

The Feast of Passover commemorated the great saving act of God, in delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The final of 10 plagues which God caused among the Egyptians to convince them to let the Israelites leave was the death of the firstborn children and animals of the Egyptians (Exodus 11:1-5). The blood of the sacrificial lamb of Passover was to be placed upon the door-posts and lintel to mark the dwellings of the Israelites, so that the destroying angel would “pass over” them and not harm the firstborn children of the Israelites.

The week before his crucifixion Jesus took his disciples with him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover. Jesus had told his disciples, at least the four times recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, that he would be abused and killed and would be raised up again (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; note 26:2). Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is celebrated by the Church as “Palm Sunday” (Luke 19:28-46), and the week as “Holy Week.”

Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover Feast on Thursday evening of Holy Week. During the meal Jesus instituted the New Christian “Passover,” “The (Lord’s, or) Last Supper” (Holy Communion; the Eucharist; Matthew 26:26-29). Moses had been the mediator of the Passover between God and Israelites. Jesus became the mediator of the New Passover. Jesus’ body was going to be broken on the cross and would become the bread of Communion (John 6:32-35), the “bread of (eternal) life” (John 6:47-58) and his blood shed on the cross would become the wine.

Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” the perfect unblemished young lamb, sacrificed to provide the lamb of Passover. His blood marks his disciples to be passed over by the angel of eternal death.

The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is deliberately intended by God to be a “parable” (a common earthly experience used to teach a spiritual truth), a metaphor about life in this world. In a sense, we are all in bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world. Jesus is the New “Moses,” the only one who can free us (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) and take us through the “wilderness” of this world and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s Kingdom in Heaven. Having been freed from sin and death God’s people are to learn to follow Jesus, to learn to trust and obey him, through this present “wilderness.” God has sacrificed his own “firstborn Son” to free us.

Jesus teaches that one must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in this lifetime to be able to see the Kingdom of God which is all around us now, and ultimately to enter it in eternity. Only Jesus “baptizes” with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The personal infilling of the Holy Spirit is a discernible ongoing event which every truly “born-again” Christian knows with certainty for themselves (Acts 19:2). Any person who must rely on some religious authority’s word hasn’t been reborn. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) that leads God’s people through the spiritual darkness of this world.

Jews were strictly forbidden to drink blood or eat meat with its blood. People believed that the blood of an animal contained its spirit. God doesn’t want his people to be filled with the spirits of animals; he wants us to receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God (note the Trinity; Romans 8:9). But note that one doesn’t automatically receive the Holy Spirit through participation in Communion. In fact, those who participate in Communion without discerning Christ’s body condemn themselves to eternal destruction (1 Corinthians 11:29; John 3:18). For truly “born-again” Christians, the Lord’s Supper provides “communion” with the Lord, not only during the Communion rite itself, but by keeping us spiritually cleansed and in communion with the Lord through the days between “Communion” services.

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

Wednesday December 30 C

First Posted December 30, 2009; 

Podcast: December 30 C  

Psalm 147:13-20 – Praise the Lord!

Paraphrase:

Jerusalem and Zion (the temple mount; God’s people; the Church of God; the heavenly city): Let us praise the Lord our God. The Lord strengthens the bars of the gates of his people. He blesses the children of his people. He gives peace within the borders of his people’s land. He satisfies his people with the finest produce.

God sends his command to earth, and his word travels swiftly. The Lord commands frost, snow and ice; he sends them forth, and his word melts them. Who can survive his cold? God makes winds blow and waters flow. God has made known his Word to Jacob (Israel; for whom the nation was named; the father of the heads of the twelve tribes). He has given his ordinances and statutes to Israel. Israel is the only nation whom God has dealt personally with; the other nations do not know his ordinances. Let us praise the Lord!

Commentary:

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose for Creation. Starting with Abraham (Abram) who willingly trusted and obeyed God’s command to leave his home and extended family and go to a new land that the Lord would show him, God began building his eternal kingdom.

God’s dealings with Israel were deliberately designed by God to be parables (common worldly experiences used to teach spiritual truth), metaphors for life in this world. The earthly Promised Land prefigures the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s Kingdom in Heaven. The Church is the New Israel, the New Jerusalem, the New People of God, and prefigures the heavenly city.

As we begin to trust and obey God’s Word in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified (John 1:1-5, 14) in human flesh, we will begin to experience personally his favor and protection. We will experience his power and faithfulness to provide for the needs of his people. Peace within the Church and within God’s people is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (John 14:27).

God controls all the forces of nature. The cold of frost, ice and snow are one example. We can’t cause them or control them. We can’t go forth into them and expect to survive without proper clothing.

God commands wind and flowing water. We try to make levies and dams to restrain and control water, but ultimately those works of mankind fail. We must learn how to live according to God’s Word, to learn his plan and work within it.

God has made his Word known through Israel by the Bible, the written record of God’s dealing with his people. God’s Word promised a Savior (Christ; Messiah), and Jesus came forth through Israel by God’s command. Jesus has been God’s promised Savior from the very beginning of Creation, who has been built into the very structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10. The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus came to us to become the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin, and our salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus came to show us how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word, and to “baptize” us 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). All who are guided by the Holy Spirit are freed from condemnation under the law of God’s Word (Romans 8:1-11). Only by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit are we able to resist temptation to sin, and to live according to God’s Word. We are “reborn” to eternal life by the “baptism” (gift, anointing, infilling), and the presence of the Holy Spirit within us assures us that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The meaning and purpose of life in this Creation is to seek, find, come to know and have fellowship with our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus is the only way to find and know God, the only way to know divine, eternal truth (Luke 24:45), and the only way to have eternal life (John 14:6).

Jesus warns that one must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, in order to see God’s Kingdom all around us now, and to see and enter it ultimately in eternity. It is impossible for one to not know with certainty for oneself whether one has been “born-again” (Acts 19:2); anyone who isn’t sure hasn’t been. Any nominal Christian who hasn’t been “born-again” should ask himself or herself, “Why not?”

By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are within God’s favor protection. Nothing can happen to us to cause us to lose salvation and eternal life. Christians will still have to endure trials in this life, and we will all experience physical death, but our fear of physical death is overcome by Jesus’ resurrection (Hebrews 2:14-15; Romans 8:35-39).

Jesus’ resurrection from physical death to eternal life was witnessed by over five hundred people and attested to in the New Testament of the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Every truly “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ since the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11) knows and testifies that Jesus has risen to eternal life because they have a personal daily fellowship with him by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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

Thursday December 31 C

First Posted December 31, 2009;

Podcast: December 31 C

Isaiah 61:10-62:3 – Vindication of Zion;

Paraphrase:

Rejoice in the Lord, O my soul. I will exult in him. In garments of salvation he has clothed me, and with the robe of righteousness he has covered me, as a bridegroom adorns himself with a garland, and as a bride enhances herself with her jewels. God us going to cause righteousness and praise to sprout and grow before all nations, like the earth causes seeds to bring forth shoots, and like a garden causes what is sown in it to grow and flourish.

The prophet will not keep silent or rest for the sake of Zion (Israel; the Church), until her vindication appears as brightness, like a burning torch in the darkness. The Lord himself will give you a new name. Then Zion will be a beautiful crown, a royal diadem (a headband indicating royalty) in the hand of the Lord.

Commentary:

Isaiah was a prophet to Judah and Jerusalem from 742 to 687B.C.. The Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian armies of Sargon, the successor to Shalmaneser, with the fall of Samaria (capital of the Northern Kingdom) in 721B.C.. The Northern Kingdom and the ten tribes virtually ceased to exist.

Isaiah was prophet during the reign of King Ahaz, who led his kingdom into wickedness and idolatry, and made a ruinous alliance with Assyria against the alliance of Rezin, King of Damascus (Syria) and Pekah, king of the Northern Kingdom against Isaiah’s warnings. He was prophet during the time of spiritual reform which King Hezekiah initiated beginning in 715 B.C. (2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chronicles 29:3-36). This text originated before the fall of Babylon (October 29, 539 B.C. to Cyrus of Persia. The Southern Kingdom of the two tribes had been exiled in Babylon from 587 to 517, seventy years as prophesied by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12), dated from the destruction of the temple to its restoration and rededication. The result was that the exiles of Judah were allowed to return to the “Promised Land.”

The prophet foresaw the vindication of God’s people which would be witnessed by all the nations of the earth. That prophecy was fulfilled with the return of the remnant of Israel to their “Promised Land.” The conditions of the exiles’ release by Cyrus is absolutely amazing: He returned the gold, silver and bronze vessels which Nebuchadnezzar looted from the temple, and Cyrus gave them money, help from the provincial governors, and authorization to rebuild their temple.

God’s Word is eternally true and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Isaiah’s prophecy applied to the return of the exiles, but also applies to God’s Plan of Salvation, through the Messiah (Christ) Jesus.

The history of Israel’s exile was intended by God to also be a “parable” (a common earthly experience used to teach spiritual truth), a metaphor for life in this world. We are all in exile in the “Babylon” of this present world. The seventy years is about an average lifetime.

During this lifetime we are to seek God (Acts 17:26-27) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), to learn to know trust and obey God’s Word, the Bible, and Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:14), and to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Only Jesus “baptizes” (gives the gift of; “anoints”) 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 vindication of God’s people has appeared, in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the light of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9), light of righteousness, and light of eternal life, in a world of spiritual darkness (spiritual ignorance; wickedness, and spiritual death).

Jesus has promised that he will return, as he departed at his ascension (Acts 1:9-12), on the Day of Judgment, to judge the living (“quickened”) and dead in both physical and spiritual senses. In that day “born-again” Christian disciples will be vindicated over the enemies of God. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, who have believed (trusted and obeyed) Jesus, will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven, but those who have rejected Jesus as their Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the garment of salvation with which we are clothed when we believe (trust and obey) Jesus. Jesus’ own righteousness is the robe which covers all of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word).

Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is like a marriage feast (Matthew 22:1-14). Jesus is the bridegroom, and the Church is the bride. Jesus within believers who trust and obey Jesus, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, is the “wedding garment” that his disciples must have to enter the wedding feast of the bridegroom, Jesus Christ, and his bride, the Church. The Church is the “New Israel;” the “New Jerusalem” on earth.

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

Podcast: Week of  1 Christmas C

Friday January 1 C

First Posted January 1, 2010;

Podcast: January 1 C

Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 – Inheritance in Christ;

Paraphrase:

May God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed for all the spiritual blessings in the spiritual realm (around and above our physical world) that are ours through Jesus. God chose us in Christ before the beginning of Creation, so that we could be holy and blameless in his presence. He chose us to be his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, according to God’s purpose of uniting everything on earth and in heaven to him, so that the splendor of his grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), bestowed upon us in the Beloved (Jesus), would result in praise to God.

Having heard of the congregation’s faith in Jesus Christ and the love for all the saints (“born-again” Christians), Paul gave thanks to God for them. He prayed continually with thanksgiving to God for the church, praying that the God of Jesus Christ our Lord, God the Heavenly Father, would give the believers spiritual wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God. Having their spiritual eyes enlightened, Paul prayed that the congregation would know the hope to which they are called and the richness of the glorious inheritance to be theirs.

Commentary:

The kingdom of God is all around us now, but we must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in order to see it now, and ultimately to see and enter it in eternity. Jesus is the light of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9) Only Jesus gives the gift (“baptism”) of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit believers have all the spiritual blessings of heaven. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit their minds are opened to understand the scripture (Luke 24:45). The Holy Spirit teaches disciples of Jesus all things, recalls to our minds Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26) and gives us what to say in opportunities to testify (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).

God designed this Creation with his purpose of establishing an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. He designed this world to allow the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), so that we have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey him or not, and the possibility to learn by trial and error that God’s will is good, possible, and our best interest. God knew that given free choice we would all choose to do our own will rather than God’s will. God designed a Savior, Jesus Christ into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

God limited Creation and we ourselves by time, because God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom. This Creation is God’s “garden” in which to grow his obedient trusting children. The meaning and purpose of this lifetime is to seek and come to know God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and to learn to trust and obey God. This is only possible by faith in Jesus, through the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:6).

We are all sinners 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 our salvation from eternal death (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) 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) of Jesus Christ. Paul had been “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-18), and was repeating the process of making “born-again” disciples, teaching them to trust and obey Jesus, and to repeat the disciple-making process (2 Timothy 2:2), in fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

Paul was teaching congregations like the one in Ephesus to grow in spiritual maturity. As Christians live in obedient trust in Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Lord cause our faith to grow as he shows us that his teaching and guidance is faithful and true. As we seek God’s will for us daily, he will give us spiritual wisdom and knowledge of God and we will experience a foretaste of the love and joy of our heavenly inheritance through our personal fellowship with the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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

Saturday January 2 – C

First Posted January 2, 2010;

Podcast: January 2 C 

John 1:1-18 – The Living Word;

Paraphrase:

The Word (of God) was present at the beginning of Creation and was in very nature God. Everything in Creation was created through and by him. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). The light (of spiritual enlightenment: John 1:9, righteousness: John 3:19-21; and eternal life: John 1:4; 8:12) shines in the darkness (of spiritual ignorance, evil, and spiritual death)

John the Baptizer was sent by God to testify to the light so that everyone might believe through John. John himself was not the light but the witness to the light. “The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the World” (John 1:9). The light had come into the world and everything in the world was created through him, but the world did not know him. He was in his own home but his own people did not know and welcome him. “But all who received him, who believed in his name (his whole person and character), he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). John the Baptizer testified that this One was the One who was coming after John, but who was before John in rank and in existence. This One is overflowing with inexhaustible grace (God’s undeserved favor). The Law (of the Old Covenant) came through Moses; grace and truth come through Jesus Christ. “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father (in complete unity), he has made him known.

Commentary:

The Word of God has creative power. God spoke Creation into existence (Genesis 1:3, 9). What God speaks, happens. Fulfillment is the defining characteristic of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The Bible is the Word of God.

God’s Word is eternally true, and is always fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The Bible contains great promises and ominous warnings. We will either trust and obey God’s Word and receive the promises, or we will fail to trust and obey, and will receive the consequences the ominous warnings were intended to help us avoid.

Jesus is the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5; 14). God created this world with Jesus Christ (Messiah; both mean God’s “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew), the Savior, designed into it from the very beginning. 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).

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. Our lifetime in this Creation is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), to learn to trust and obey his Word, and to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God, to know divine, eternal truth, and to have eternal life (John 14:6).

We are all born physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” Spiritual “rebirth” is only 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). 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 is a personally discernible ongoing event; anyone who isn’t sure, hasn’t been (Acts 19:2)!

John the Baptizer was the fulfillment of God’s Word of a prophet like Elijah, coming to herald the appearing of the Savior (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:10-13). John the Baptizer called people to be baptized with water for repentance of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), by ritual cleansing, to prepare them to receive Jesus. God revealed Jesus as the Christ to John at Jesus’ baptism by John (John 1:31-34), and then John pointed people to Jesus (John 1:35-37).

Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s Word of a Messiah, God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King. The Jews had received God’s Word in the Bible through Moses. Their religious leaders were experts in the Bible, but were unable and unwilling to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s Word, even to this very day, although there are many Jews who have received Jesus.

In Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, his own family, friends and neighbors didn’t recognize and acknowledge him as the Messiah. In fact they threw Jesus out of their synagogue and town, attempting to kill him by throwing him off a cliff (Luke 4:16-30). Members of his own family did not believe in him, (John 7:3-5).

But to everyone who receives (welcomes; invites) Jesus, who believes in his name (that he is God’s anointed Christ, Savior and Lord), he gives the power (authority; opportunity) to become children of God. Notice that we receive the “power,” but we must claim and lay hold of the promise for ourselves, by receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and trusting and obeying him (Revelation 3:20). Adoption as children of God is not automatically conferred by some church ritual such as water baptism, confirmation (affirmation), or by acceptance into church membership. Adoption as God’s children occurs by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15-16, 23).

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant (Testament) of Law between God and God’s People. The Law teaches us God’s requirement of righteousness, and convicts us of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). We’ve all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus came to mediate a New Covenant (Matthew 26:26-28; Hebrews 12:24) of Grace (undeserved favor), to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Everyone who knows God, through the Word of God, will know and acknowledge Jesus as God’s only (begotten) Son (John 1:18). Jesus is the first-born Son. First-born sons in Israel received extra status and inheritance. Jesus is “begotten” because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34-35). Adoption through the indwelling Holy Spirit is salvation and eternal life. We are “adopted” by God’s will; our adoption is not by our own effort. We cannot buy, earn by good deeds, or take our adoption, salvation and eternal life by force or deception.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Advent – Christmas C – 12/20-26/2015

December 19, 2015

Week of 4 Advent – Christmas C

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

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Podcast Download: Week of 4 Advent C

4th Advent – Sunday C 

First Posted December 20, 2009;
Podcast: Sunday 4 Advent C

Micah 5:2-4 – Shepherd-King of Israel;
Psalm 80:1-7 – Prayer for Restoration;
Hebrews 10:5-10 – New Covenant;
Luke 1:39-45 (46-55) – Mary and Elizabeth;

Micah Paraphrase:

The Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King of Israel) will come forth (like David) from Bethlehem, one of the lesser tribes of Israel. His “origin is from of old, from ancient days (from everlasting)” (Micah 5:2d).

God will let them be until the Messiah is born. “Then the rest of his brethren will return to the people of Israel” (Micah 5:3c). The Messiah will be like a shepherd of the flock of Israel, in the strength, majesty, and character of the Lord his God. From then on God’s people will dwell in security, for the Messiah will be great to the ends (most distant places, and also the end of time) of the earth.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The psalmist cries out to the Lord, the “Shepherd of Israel …who leads Joseph (denoting Ephraim and Manasseh; the Northern Kingdom of Israel; the people of God)” to rise up and come to save his people.

“Restore us, O God; let thy face shine, that we may be saved” (Psalm 80:3, 7, 19; a series of a refrain).

How long will the Lord, God of hosts (an army; a multitude), be angry with the prayers of his people? God has given them bread and drink of tears, in abundance. The Lord has made his people the scorn of their neighbors, and the derision of their enemies.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

The anonymous author of the Letter to the Hebrews quoted Psalm 40:6-8, saying of Christ (Messiah) when he had come into the world that God doesn’t desire animal sacrifices and offerings, but has given his Messiah a body (or has opened his spiritual ear). God isn’t pleased with burnt offerings or sin offerings. The Messiah declared that he had come to do God’s will, in fulfillment of prophecy concerning him which is recorded in the Bible.

Luke Paraphrase:

After the angel had told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, the Messiah, he told her that her kinswoman was also pregnant. Mary hastily went to visit Elizabeth. Entering Elizabeth’s house she greeted her, and at her greeting, the Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke forth, saying that Mary was blessed above other women, “and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42b). Elizabeth considered herself honored that the mother of her Lord had come to visit. She told Mary that Elizabeth’s baby had leaped for joy at Mary’s greeting. “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Commentary:

The ancient name of Bethlehem is Ephrath (Genesis 35:19). Micah was a prophet of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His ministry was during the reigns of Kings Jotham (742 B.C,*) through Hezekiah, which ended in 687 B.C..* He prophesied the destruction of the Northern Kingdom and the capital, Samaria (Micah 1:2-7), which was fulfilled in 721 B.C.,* by the armies of King Sargon of Assyria, the successor of Shalmaneser. The Northern Kingdom and the ten tribes of Israel ceased to exist. He prophesied the fall of Jerusalem (Micah 3:9-12), which was fulfilled in 587 B.C,* by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar of Chaldea (Babylon).

God had declared through Jeremiah, that Judah, the remnant of Israel (the whole people of God), would be exiled in Babylon for seventy years, from 587 B.C.* to 517 B.C., dated from the destruction of the temple (Solomon’s Temple) to the dedication of the restored temple (the Second Temple). God let them alone for the next six hundred years, fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 5:3a. They went into exile, and they returned a renewed people having learned to trust and obey God.

Note that they were not the same people who went into exile, because seventy years is a virtual life sentence for those who were adults at the time of the exile. Recall also that the people who went into the forty-year wilderness wandering all died in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb, who had spoken for Israel to trust and obey God’s command to enter and possess the Promised Land the first time (Numbers 14:6-10; 26-38).

Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets for four-hundred fifty to five hundred years before the birth of Christ. His virtually last word from God was for Israel to watch for the return of Elijah, the prophet, to precede the “great and terrible day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5).

The exiles returned to the Promised Land after seventy years, and through Jesus Christ, his brethren are restored to the people of God (compare Micah 5:3c). Christians are the New Israel, the new people of God.

Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11-14). Jesus is God made visible in human flesh (John 14:9b-10; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus’ words are 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). Jesus is the Lord of all the earth, from now on, for all eternity.

The psalmist cried out to God to bring forth the promised Messiah, the shepherd-king of his people, to come and save them. God does not desire religious ritual; he wants our obedient trust. Religion is mankind’s attempt to manipulate God to do our will. Christian discipleship is our commitment to seek, know, and do God’s will.

God is not obligated to hear and answer our prayers, if we are not willing to trust and obey God’s Word. God is not obligated to hear and answer our prayers just because we add Jesus’ name to the end. God withholds his favor and protection from us so that we can learn that we need him and can trust him.

Jesus came into the world in human flesh to accomplish God’s will. The Old Covenant of Law required constant sacrifices for the forgiveness and cleansing of sin. Jesus came to bring a New and better Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) which we can receive by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ blood sacrificed on the cross is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness and cleansing of our sin, once for all time and for all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust).

Jesus’ first advent (coming) in human flesh was to demonstrate how to live in obedience to God’s Word in human flesh in this world. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of an eternal Savior and King.

Jesus’ resurrection from physical death to eternal life demonstrates that there is life after physical death. Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by over five hundred eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15: 3-8), and by countless “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christians ever since.

The authors of the New Testament interpreted this passage as a prophecy of the Messiah’s birth (Matthew 2:1-6; John 7:40-42). Bethlehem was the birthplace of David, the great human “shepherd-king” of Israel. David was intended by God to be the prototype and illustration of the Messiah to come. Jesus is the “son (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1; Matthew 1:20; Matthew 21:9, 15). He was the fulfillment of God’s promise to David of an eternal heir to David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29).

Jesus pre-existed with God before Creation, and was designed into Creation from “of old, from ancient days;” the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

Barrenness in women was considered a punishment from God. Elizabeth’s pregnancy restored her to God’s favor. Pregnancy of a young unmarried maiden was considered a sign of immorality and promiscuity. It was much easier for Elizabeth to accept God’s will than it was for Mary. Because she trusted and obeyed God’s Word, Mary was blessed beyond others. She is an example of how trusting and obeying God’s Word, when it seems impossible, will be rewarded.

Mary is blessed above all other women, but she is merely an example of a faithful servant of the Lord. She’s still just a mortal. Mary does not have any divine or supernatural nature. She is not to be worshiped or prayed to.

There are many false teachers and false “churches” in the world today. Unless one has read the Bible for oneself, one cannot be protected from false doctrine. It is easily possible for an average reader to read the entire Bible for oneself in one year. There are several plans available (see Free Bible Study tools, sidebar, top right, home).

Satan can (mis)quote scripture (Matthew 4:6), to deceive us if we are Biblically illiterate. Jesus is the only way to have access to God (John 14:6). There are conditions which must be fulfilled to have prayers answered (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

One of Satan’s strategies is to get us to pray to anyone other than Jesus Christ. Another strategy is to get us to to repeat a phrase over and over, as in the rosary, “blessed art thou (thee) among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” over and over. Yes, it is scripture, but by mindless repetition, one is prevented from real Spirit-assisted prayer and communion with God (Romans 8:26). Another is to get us to regard a human religious authority as our spiritual Father (Matthew 23:8-9); to talk to him and expect him to intercede to God on our behalf. Another is to discourage laymen from reading the Bible for themselves.

Religion is mankind’s attempt to manipulate God to do our will; Christianity is our attempt to seek, know and trust and obey God’s will.

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


Dates from The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, “Chronological Tables of Rulers,” p. 1533, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


 

4th Advent- Monday – C

First Posted December 21, 2009
Podcast: Monday 4 Advent C

Psalm 98 – God’s Coming Kingdom;

Paraphrase:

Let us sing a new song to the Lord, praising his wonderful deeds! His “right hand and holy arm” (symbols of power and authority) have won victory. His victory has been made known, and his vindication has been revealed to all the nations. He has not forgotten his steadfast love for Israel. The farthest-most places on earth have seen the victory of our God.

Let all the earth make a joyful noise and join in joyous songs of praise! Sing his praises with stringed instruments and horns. Let us rejoice in the presence of the Lord, our King.

Let all nature join in the sound of rejoicing “before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the people with equity” (Psalm 98:9).

Commentary:

God’s kingdom is coming, and it begins now for those who accept Jesus as their Lord and trust and obey him. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life and personal fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ. This is only possible 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).

Jesus Christ is the holy arm and right hand of God (Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:19-20; Colossians 3:1), with the authority and power of God (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus Christ has won the victory of God over his enemies, which are ultimately Satan and death (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose for Creation to us, first in the goodness and complexity of Creation, then through his Word in the Bible and in the “living Word,” Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to the world in human flesh. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God and Jesus Christ to us personally and individually.

Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the presence of the Lord, our King, daily. Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit can we truly praise our Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:15-17). The Holy Spirit helps us experience and express the goodness, victory and vindication of God which Jesus won for us on the cross.

In the “Autobiography of Peter Cartwright,” quoted in “From Sea to Shining Sea,”* Cartwright describes his experience at a “camp meeting” (outdoor revival) held around the early 1800’s by Presbyterian minister James McGready with several Methodist ministers participating. Cartwright said that (when he had been filled with the Holy Spirit) he was filled with unspeakable joy. As he looked around, the trees, their leaves and everything (their branches) seemed to be praising God; as if they were lifting their “hands” to God in praise. I have personally had similar experiences.

Jesus has promised to return at the Day of Judgment at the end of time. Jesus is the righteous judge and also the standard of judgment by whom all people who have ever lived will be accountable for what they have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus, 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).

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

*Marshall, Peter, J., Jr. and Manuel, David, ” From Sea to Shining Sea” (underline), Fleming H. Revell, Baker Books, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Mich. 41956-6287. ISBN 0-8007-5308-9 (paper).

Cartwright, Peter, The Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, pg 38, New York: Carlton & Porter 1856.

4th Advent- Tuesday – C

First Posted December 22,, 2009

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Advent C

Isaiah 62:10-12 – Day of Judgment;

Paraphrase:

God’s people are called to go through the gates and prepare the highway, leveling it and clearing it of stones. Raise up an ensign over the peoples. Watch and see; the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world (the most distant places and also the end of time): Tell the “daughter of Zion” (the people of God; the Church is the new daughter of Zion) to watch and see; her salvation is coming. Note carefully; he is bringing reward and also punishment. God’s people will be called holy people, the redeemed of the Lord. We will be known as those who are sought out, a city not forsaken.

Commentary:

The people of God are to prepare for Christ’s return, to open their gates and prepare a smooth, wide highway for his coming. The (empty) cross of Jesus’ crucifixion is the ensign which God has raised up over his people (John 12:32-33). It is the ensign that marks us as God’s people by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

God has made his Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word (John 1:1-5, 14), known to the uttermost corners of the world. Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to the world, in human flesh. Jesus has promised that he will return on the Day of Judgment at the end of time. That moment comes for each of us at the moment of our death, if we are not still living at Christ’s Second Coming.

Jesus is the righteous judge and the standard by which all will be judged. Jesus is coming to judge the living and the dead, in both physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5). Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in this lifetime, and will enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus are spiritually dead, and will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Christians are by definition “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c). Only Jesus gives the gift (“baptism;” “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 gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a discernible ongoing event (Acts 19:2); it is impossible to be “born-again” and not be personally aware of one’s “rebirth.”

Several mainline denominations today are teaching that the Holy Spirit is received through some Church ritual, such as “baptism” or “confirmation” (“affirmation”) of baptism. These nominal “Churches” are not only not doing their members any service; they are actually spiritually harming them by discouraging them from becoming “born-again,” “saved” disciples of Jesus Christ.

The saved are those who have received the indwelling Holy Spirit. We will be vindicated at Jesus’ Second Coming. We can rejoice greatly in his coming because he is bringing our reward (Luke 21:28). The unsaved are those who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, and many nominal “Christians” will be among them (Matthew 7:21-27). The unsaved will be fainting with fear (Luke 21:25-26), and will seek a place to hide from God’s wrath, but there will be none. At that Day it will be too late to change our eternal destinies.

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

First Posted December 23, 2009

Podcast: Wednesday 4 Advent C
Titus 3:4-7 – Our Savior;

Paraphrase:

The goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior are revealed in Jesus Christ. God saved us not because of any good deeds we’ve done, but because of his mercy, “by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6). So we have been justified (found “not guilty”), by God’s grace (unmerited favor; as a free gift) and we are heirs of the hope of eternal life.

Commentary:

God is our Savior through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the revelation of God to the world in human flesh (John 14:8-11; 20:28; Colossians 2:8-9).

God designed a Savior into this Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). God designed Creation to allow us to choose for ourselves whether to trust and obey God, and the opportunity to learn by “trial and error” that God’s way is good, possible for us to do, and our very best interest (Romans 12:2).

In giving us free will, God knew that we would all choose to do our will rather than God’s. Disobedience of God’s Word is the definition of sin, and we are all guilty (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 anyone to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17), so he’s given salvation as an undeserved free gift to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom. Otherwise it wouldn’t be Heaven; it would be just like this world, with all its sin and evil. So God has limited this Creation and we ourselves by time.

God is holy and cannot tolerate sin. Our sin has separated us from his presence. I have become convinced that the Church is the heir to the role of John, the Baptizer (Matthew 3:11). The role of the Church is to call people to repent and be baptized with water for the spiritual cleansing of sin, to prepare us to receive Jesus, “discipling” believers until they have been “born-again by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus baptizes with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We are all eternal souls in physical bodies (John 5:28-29). The question is where we will spend eternity. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the cleansing of regeneration (spiritual “rebirth:” John 3:3, 5-8) and renewal. Before we are “born-again” we are moving from physical life to eternal death; after spiritual “rebirth” we are moving from death to eternal life.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, will have been “born-again” in this lifetime, and will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and 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).

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

First Posted: December 24, 2009
Podcast: Thursday 4 Advent C
Luke 2:1-20 – Birth of Christ;

Paraphrase:

At the time of Christ’s birth, the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, had ordered a census in Judah, as well as the rest of the Roman Empire, for tax purposes. All Judeans returned to the city of their birth. Since Joseph was a descendant of David (the great human shepherd-king of Israel), he and Mary, his betrothed, who was pregnant, left Nazareth in Galilee where they were living, to go to Bethlehem in Judea, the city where David (the great human shepherd-king of Israel) was born. While there, Mary gave birth to her first-born son. She wrapped the baby in cloths as was the custom. She used a manger, an animal food trough, for a crib. Because of the census the inn was full and there was no other place to stay except in the stable.

There were shepherds in the nearby fields with their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared, and the glory of the Lord shone around them like a bright light. The shepherds were afraid, but the angel reassured them, saying that the angel was bringing good news of great joy for all people. The angel told them that a Savior, the Christ (Messiah; God’s “anointed”) and Lord had just been born in the city of David (Bethlehem). The angel told them that they would find a new-born baby in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger, to confirm what the angel had told them. Suddenly the angel was surrounded by a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14)!

When the angels departed, the shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem and see for themselves what the angel had told them. They went quickly, and found Mary and Joseph and the babe in the manger. Then they began to tell everyone what the angel had said, the good news of a Savior and Lord. All who heard them were amazed and pondered what the shepherds had told them. Mary stored all these things in her memory and contemplated them in her heart. The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising and glorifying God for the wonderful things they had seen and heard.

Commentary:

The author of the Gospel of Luke was careful to date Christ’s birth (as well as other events; for example: Luke 3:1-2, 23) with the terms of secular rulers so that the dates could be determined. God’s promise of a Savior and eternal King to inherit the throne of David was fulfilled, and is confirmed by secular history at a particular place and time.

Herod the Great reigned from 37-4 B.C..* Caesar Augustus reigned from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D..* Quirinius was governor of the Roman province of Syria, north of Galilee, beginning in about 12 B.C..** In 6 B.C., Quirinius was appointed governor of Judea to carry out formal annexation. As part of this process he conducted a census for tax purposes. This census was also recorded by Josephus (Ant. 27.13.5; 28.1.1) and also in an archaeological inscription found in Aleppo.**

Herod the Great was alive when the magi, the Wise Men from the East, came seeking the “King of the Jews.” Herod ordered all the male children under two years old in the region around Bethlehem killed, in hopes destroying a rival (Matthew 2:16-20). But God preserved Jesus by warning Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15). Herod died in 4 B.C., so Jesus’ birth must have been in that year.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David of a descendant to inherit the throne of David eternally (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). God used David as the prototype to prefigure the Christ. David was the great human shepherd-king of Israel, but David wasn’t sinless. Jesus is the fulfillment of that image of the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14-15), the Son of David (Matthew 1:1; 21:9, 15), and perfect, sinless Son of God. Jesus is the ultimate shepherd-king of Israel; how appropriate to announce his birth to shepherds!

God intended for Jesus to be placed in a manger for a crib. Jesus is the “bread” of eternal life (John 6:33-35, 48. Dumb farm animals know how to find their food in a manger, but God’s people apparently don’t.

Jesus is “good news” of great joy for all people who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. The “good news” is that although we are all sinners (disobedient of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), God wants to forgive us and save us from eternal condemnation, which is the penalty for sin (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8; 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God designed this Creation to accomplish his purpose of establishing an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and find God, our Creator, and to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

God designed this Creation to allow the possibility of sin, so that we could have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and the opportunity to learn by “trial and error” that God’s way is good, possible for us to do, and our very best interest (Romans 12:2).

God’s Word comes to us first in the Bible. As we begin to read the Bible God invites us to “come and see” for ourselves, whether his Word is true. But we must remember to interpret the Old Testament from the perspective of the New Testament. No one is ready to “come and see” until they have read the entire Bible. By the time one has read the entire Bible, one is ready to decide for oneself whether to accept or reject Jesus as Lord.

The way to begin is to set aside time each day to read a portion of the Bible with prayer and meditation. There are a lot of “Bible-in-one year” reading plans (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right, home).

After completion continue the daily reading using a schedule of daily Bible reading for personal devotions. Many denominations publish booklets for private devotions, and may also include them in the denominational Worship and Hymnal Book.

As we begin to seek God’s will for us personally, one day at a time he will reveal it to us. As we feel that God is telling us his personal will for us, we should pray it back, to make sure we have understood correctly and then we should begin doing it. God wants us to trust and obey his Word, so that he can show us that his Word is absolutely true and reliable.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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, “Chronological Tables of Rulers, “C” p. 1534, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

**Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, David Noel Freedman, “Quirinius,” pg 1104, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5


 

Friday – Christmas Day, December 25 C

First Posted December 25, 2009;
Podcast: December 25 C

Isaiah 62:10-12 — Your Salvation Comes;
Psalm 98 – The Victory of Our God;
Titus 3:4-7 – Jesus, Our Savior;
Luke 2:1-20 — The Birth of Jesus;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Go through the gates and prepare the way for the people. Build a highway, level it and clear it of stones. “Lift up an ensign over the peoples” (Isaiah 62:10e). The Lord has proclaimed, “Watch and see, your salvation comes; note that he is bringing his reward and his punishment with him. His people will be called holy (cleansed of sin and consecrated to God’s service), the redeemed of the Lord. They shall be known as “Sought out; a city not forsaken” (Isaiah 62:12c).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us sing a new song to the Lord, for the wonderful things he has done. He has won victory by his right hand and holy arm. His vindication has been revealed to all nations. He has not forgotten his steadfast love and faithfulness to Israel. The victory of God has been displayed to the ends of the earth (both geographically and temporally).

Let all the earth rejoice in the Lord; let all people break forth in joyous songs of praise. Praise the Lord with stringed instruments and horns. In the presence of God our King praise him with joyful song.

Let all nature join in praise to the Lord; the sea earth, rivers and hills, and everything in them, because he is coming to judge the world and its peoples in righteousness and equity.

Titus Paraphrase:

When the goodness and loving kindness of God, our Savior, were revealed, he saved us not because we were deserving, but because of his mercy. He cleansed us by the “baptism” of regeneration (spiritual “rebirth;” the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit) and renewal by the Holy Spirit, which were given in abundance through Jesus Christ, so that we could be justified (found “not guilty”) by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), and become heirs of the hope of eternal life.

Luke Paraphrase:

Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus commanded that a census for assessing taxes be conducted in Judea, and Quirinius was appointed to carry it out.

Every Jew returned to his ancestral city for the census. Joseph, and Mary, his betrothed, who was pregnant, went from Nazareth in Galilee, where they were living, to Bethlehem in Judea, the city of David, the great shepherd-king, because Joseph was a descendant of David.

Because of the census, there were no vacancies at the inn, and Mary and Joseph stayed in a stable. While there, Mary began childbirth labor, and delivered her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in swaddling cloths, according to the common practice, and laid him in a manger (an animal feed trough -which was not common practice).

Commentary:

God’s people are to open the gates of the city and prepare a highway for the coming of the Lord. The (empty) Cross of Jesus Christ is the ensign of God’s people (John 12:32-33: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”).

God designed the Savior into Creation from the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). At the perfect time, God revealed the coming of the Savior (the Messiah; the Christ; both mean God’s anointed Savior and eternal King): Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus commanded that a census for assessing taxes be conducted in Judea,* and Quirinius,** the Roman governor of Syria was appointed to carry it out. By establishing the dates of secular authorities, Luke documents the time of Jesus’ physical advent (coming).

Jesus is the fulfillment of the long-awaited Savior and eternal King, the Messiah (Christ). Jesus’ first advent (coming) was as a new-born baby. Jesus has promised to come again, on the Day of Judgment, to judge everyone who has ever lived.

Jesus is the righteous judge, and the standard by which all will be judged. He will be bringing both reward and punishment. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or neglected 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 is the right hand and holy arm of God, who has won the eternal victory over sin and death at the Cross (Acts 5:30-31; 1 Peter 3:22). The enemies of God hoped to get rid of Jesus through his physical death, but Jesus rose again to eternal life. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence after physical death. Jesus manifested himself to over five hundred people after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Every truly “born-again” Christian has personal daily fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and testifies that Jesus is risen and is eternally alive. Jesus’ resurrection frees us from slavery to sin and death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

When we are baptized with water by the Church for repentance we are cleansed of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and prepared to receive the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we are “regenerated” (by spiritual re-birth) and are guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be “renewed” (Ephesians 4:22-24). We are being transformed from our spiritual likeness to Adam, our earthly ancestor, into the likeness of Christ (Colossians 3:9b-10).

Jesus is the spiritual “bread of life” (John 6:47-51), true eternal life. Farm animals can find their feed in a manger, but most of Israel couldn’t find the true spiritual bread of life in the manger of their Messiah Jesus Christ.

Christ came physically at the perfect time to accomplish God’s purpose, which is to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who trust and obey God. Jesus came to be the only sacrifice acceptable to God for forgiveness of sin (we’re all sinners: Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and salvation from eternal condemnation, eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Crucifixion was the method of execution of the Roman Empire; the Jewish method of execution was by “stoning.” Jesus’ advent (coming) coincided, by God’s will, with the circumstances of Christ’s crucifixion.

In the period of wilderness wandering, Israel had been beset with fiery serpents and many people were bitten and died. God told Moses to make a fiery serpent of bronze and put it on a pole (horizontally through a hole in the middle). Then when anyone was bitten, he could look to the fiery serpent on the pole and would be saved (Numbers 21:6-9). God had forbidden Israel to make an image of any animal, but God intended this serpent on a pole to prefigure the Cross of Jesus Christ (John 3:14-15; 12:32-33; Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13).

By God’s deliberate will, Jesus’ birth also coincided with the first Roman census (Luke 2:2), so that Jesus’ birth fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (Micah 5:2). Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to David (the great human shepherd-king of Israel, whom God intended to prefigure Christ), to give him a descendant, a Son of David (Matthew 1:1; 21:9, 15), who would reign on David’s throne eternally (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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, “Chronological Tables of Rulers, “C” p. 1534, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

**Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, David Noel Freedman, “Quirinius,” pg 1104, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5


 

Saturday December 26 C

First Posted December 26, 2009;
Podcast: December 26 C

Psalm 111 – Redemption for His People;

Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord! Let us give thanks to him with all our hearts. Let us praise him in the congregation of his people, in the company of the righteous.

The works of the Lord are great, the delight of those who study them. His works are completely honorable and majestic, and his righteousness is eternal. He has done his works of wonder to be remembered; gracious and merciful is the Lord.

To those who fear him he provides food; he never forgets his covenant. His works reveal his great power to his people. He has given them the heritage of the nations.

Faithful and just are his deeds; trustworthy are his teachings; they are eternally true. They are to be performed faithfully in righteousness.

“He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever” (Psalm 111:9). The name of the Lord is holy and awesome! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise will endure forever’ (Psalm 111:10)!

Commentary:

The Lord has done great things for us, and when we realize his goodness and faithfulness we will want to praise him and give him thanks, along with all God’s people. Those who take the time to study God’s great works will delight in them.

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose to the world from the very beginning of Creation, first through the goodness and complexity of the universe itself. Then he revealed himself to one man Abraham (Abram), who was willing to trust and obey God, and who became the father of the people of Israel, by faith in God’s Word. Through Israel, God has given us his Word, the record of his great deeds on behalf of all people, in the Bible.

In his perfect timing, God revealed himself through Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified (John 1:1-5, 14), the fulfillment of his promise of an eternal Savior and King. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to the world. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is God’s ultimate revelation of God the Father and Jesus Christ to us personally and individually.

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

God has always intended from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and to be spiritually “reborn” (“born-again;” John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. All this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, because God designed Creation that way.

The place to begin to seek a personal relationship with God is to read the Bible completely, but from the perspective of the New Testament, either by reading portions of both testaments each day, or by starting with the New Testament. I prefer and recommend the first (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right, home).

The Bible is the record of God’s great deeds done for his people through the history of Israel. When we begin to trust and obey God’s Word in our own lives, we will begin to experience great deeds done for us personally. God intends to show us his goodness and righteousness through his deeds, for the world and for us personally. When we face times of trouble and difficulty, we can remember God’s love and faithfulness in other circumstances and trust him to do similar things for us again. As we experience his faithfulness, he will cause our faith to grow to spiritual maturity (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise of a Redeemer. We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) 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 only provision for the forgiveness of our sin and our salvation from eternal death (Romans 5:8; John 3:15-16; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God initiated a Covenant (Testament) of Law through Moses, which was intended to restrain sin until the first advent (coming) of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, God initiated an New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:26-28, RSV note “g;” Hebrews 8:8-10, 12:24. Under the Old Covenant we are all condemned to eternal death through sin; under the New Covenant we are released from the condemnation of the Old Covenant, provided that we are obedient to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-14).

God is faithful to his Covenant. If we accept Jesus as our Lord, and learn to trust and obey him, we will receive the promise of the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. By the presence of the Holy Spirit within us we are spiritually “reborn” to eternal life.

Until one learns to fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of God), one doesn’t know anything eternally useful. God’s wisdom is unlike what the world falsely calls wisdom. Man’s wisdom is constantly changing, because there’s so much we don’t know. The status of Pluto in our solar system is a recent example. God’s wisdom is eternally true (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8). Jesus Christ is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, the only way to restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and the only way to have true, eternal life (John 14:6).

It is not true that one can never know for certain if there is existence after physical death until one dies. The only people who do not know where they are going to spend eternity are those who are spiritually “unreborn” and eternally “lost.” Those who trust and obey God’s Word in Jesus Christ, will be “born-again.” By the indwelling Holy Spirit they will know personally that Jesus is risen from physical death and is eternally alive. Jesus’ resurrection from physical death to eternal life is attested to by every “born-again” Christian, and demonstrates to the world that there is existence beyond the grave.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Advent – C – 12/13 – 19/2015

December 12, 2015

Week of 3 Advent – 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:

https://shepherdboysmydailywalk.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

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

Please Note:

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

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

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

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

Podcast Download: Week of 3 Advent – C
3 Advent – Sunday C
First Posted December 13, 2009;
Podcast: Sunday 3 Advent – C

Isaiah 12:2-6 – God is Our Salvation;
Zephaniah 3:14-18a – Judgment Removed;
Philippians 4:4-7 – The Lord is at Hand;
Luke 3:7-18 – Repentance;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Watch, for my salvation is in God; I trust in him and will not fear. My strength and song are in the Lord God, who has become my Savior. “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah12:3). Then we will make his works known among all nations and call upon all people to give thanks to God, call upon him, and exalt his name.

The Lord is worthy of all praise for his glorious works; make this known throughout the earth. “Shout and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion (the temple mount; Jerusalem; the Church; the people of God; the heavenly city), for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 12:6).

Zephaniah Paraphrase:

Let the daughter of Zion sing praise; let the daughter of Jerusalem rejoice and glorify the Lord, for the Lord has removed her condemnation, and has driven out her enemies. The Lord, her king, is in her midst, so she will have no cause to fear evil anymore. Let her fear no more, nor let her hands become weak. The Lord her God is in her midst; he is her warrior and has won the victory. The Lord will rejoice over his people. In his love he will renew them and exalt over them, as during a festival.

Philippians Paraphrase:

Paul urged the Philippian Christians to always rejoice in the Lord; it is so important that it bears repeating. Be tolerant of others. The Lord is at hand. Don’t worry about anything. In all circumstances pray with thanksgiving, and make your requests to God. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)

Luke Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer preached to the crowds that came to him for baptism: “You brood of vipers (snakes), who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father;’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Luke 3:7-8). John told them that the “axe” of God’s judgment was about to be applied, and he warned them to produce “good fruit,” because the “trees” which didn’t would be cut down and burned.

The crowds asked what they should do, and John told them to share what they had with others in need. Tax collectors were told not to collect more than required, and soldiers were told not to rob others by violence or false accusations, and to be content with their wages.

The people of Israel had been expecting the coming of the Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King), so some wondered whether John was the Christ. John replied that his ministry was to baptize with water (for repentance and forgiveness of sin), but one was coming who was so much greater than John, that John wasn’t worthy to be his most menial servant. That one will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. That one was bringing a “winnowing fork” (an agricultural tool for separating grain from chaff), to clear his threshing floor. He will gather the “wheat” into his “barn” and will burn the “chaff” with unquenchable fire. With many similar exhortations he preached good news.

Commentary:

God has become the Savior, as he has promised in his Word. The Savior, the Messiah, has been designed into Creation from the very beginning. Jesus is the Word of God, the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the revelation of God to the world; Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

God knew at the beginning of Creation that, given the freedom to choose whether to obey God or not, we would choose to do our will rather than his. Sin is disobedience of God’s Word. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). 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, top right, home).

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 “living water,” the well of salvation giving eternal life (John 7:37-39). By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are spiritually “born-again” (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).

The meaning and purpose of life is to seek and find, know and have fellowship with God (Acts 19:2). This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:6; 21, 23-24).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) present within his “born-again” disciples, his Church. The Lord is at hand. He promised to be with, and reveal himself to, his disciples, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is the coming of Jesus Christ individually and personally now, in this lifetime.

Being a “member” of a church, even being born into a church, is not going to save us. Water baptism won’t save us. Jesus warns us that calling him our Lord, or calling ourselves “Christians” won’t save us (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). Only by a personal relationship with the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit is our eternal condemnation removed (Zephaniah 3:15) and eternal life given to us.

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment at the end of time. Jesus is the Righteous Judge, and the standard of judgment by which all will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord now, in this lifetime, will have been spiritually “born-again,” and will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus, will die eternally in the unquenchable fire (Luke 3:9, 17) in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

The Day of Judgment is not far off. It will come for each of us personally on the day of our physical death, and no one can be sure that we’ll live until tomorrow. At the moment of our death 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)?

3 Advent – Monday C
First Posted December 14, 2009;

Podcast: Monday 3 Advent – C

Psalm 80:1-7 – Prayer for Restoration;

Paraphrase:

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel; lead Joseph (father of Ephraim and Manasseh; denotes the Kingdom of Israel) like a flock of sheep. Let your glory shine forth before Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin (tribes of the Northern Kingdom). Come and save us by your great power.

“Restore us, O God; let thy face shine, that we may be saved” (Psalm 80:3, 7)!

“O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry with thy people’s prayers? Thou hast fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. Thou dost make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves” (Psalm 80:4-6).

Commentary:

Joseph was one of Jacob’s (Israel’s) twelve sons who became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph’s name was used to denote the Kingdom of Israel and also the Northern Kingdom of the divided monarchy.

The Lord was to be the King of Israel, but the people demanded a human king like the nations around them. God warned them that there would be a lot of disadvantages of having a human king, but allowed them to do so (1 Samuel 8:4-22).

Throughout the Old Testament God had promised to be their shepherd (Isaiah 40:10-11; Ezekiel 34:11-12, 23-24). David was the great human shepherd-king of Israel, who was intended to prefigure the Christ (Messiah). Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to be the shepherd-king of Israel. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-15). Jesus is the descendant of David, who is the heir to the eternal throne of David (Matthew 1:1; 21:9, 15-16) as God’s Word promised (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Throughout the Old Testament, the history of God’s dealing with Israel, Israel would fall away from obedience to God and into idolatry. Then God would warn them through his prophets and call them to repent and return to obedience. Often they would ignore the prophets’ warnings until it was too late. Then God would lift his favor and protection from them and allow them to suffer the consequences of their rebellion and disobedience, in hope that they would realize their need for repentance. When the people did repent and turn to obedience God would restore their wellbeing.

The Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes went through that cycle over and over. Finally, they were besieged and conquered by the Assyrians in 721 B.C., because of their unwillingness to repent. The northern ten tribes effectively ceased to exist, because the Assyrians transferred them to other conquered lands, where they were assimilated into foreign race and religion.

The Southern Kingdom, Judah, the remnant of Israel, didn’t learn from the example of the Northern Kingdom. They also didn’t listen to the prophets warnings until it was too late. In 587 B.C., Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the forces of King Nebuchadnezzar, and the remnant of Israel was exiled to Babylon for seventy years, as God had promised [Jeremiah 25:(11)-12].

God fulfilled his promise and restored Israel to the Promised Land after seventy years and the rebuilt temple was dedicated in 517 B.C.. Note that God brought a renewed people back from Babylonian exile, but they were not the same individuals who went into exile. Seventy years is virtually a life sentence for those who were adults at the time of the deportation.

Remember that when Israel failed to obey God’s command to enter and possess the Promised Land the first time, he “exiled” them to wander the wilderness for forty years, until all the disobedient people died in the wilderness (Numbers 13:1-14:10). Only Joshua and Caleb survived to enter the Promised Land because they had urged the others to obey God’s command (Numbers 14:20-35).

God is able to punish those who are disobedient without failing to accomplish his eternal purpose. Those who chose not to enter the Promised Land when they had the opportunity died in the wilderness. Those in Judea who chose not to heed the warnings of the prophets, died in exile in Babylon. But God kept a remnant of Israel, through whom his Messiah, the eternal Savior and King came.

The remnant of Israel forgot the lessons they had learned in exile in Babylon, and the example of the Northern Kingdom. As a result they were unprepared for the coming (advent) of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Judaism effectively ended at the cross of Jesus Christ. The temple veil (vail [sic]), separating the presence of God from the people, was torn in two from top to bottom (Luke 23:45), symbolizing a new and better way into God’s presence through Jesus Christ. The new temple had been built, beginning in 20 B.C., by King Herod, the Great, the King who tried to destroy Jesus as an infant (Matthew 2:1-16). The newly finished temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., and the people of Israel were scattered through out world. Israel ceased to exist as a nation, until reestablished following World War II.

Jesus had mourned over Jerusalem during the week before his crucifixion, (Luke 13:34-35). Jesus declared that they would not see Jesus, their Messiah, until they acknowledged that Jesus is he who came in the Lord’s name. Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, to have fellowship with God, and to have eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

The leaders and people of the Northern Kingdom thought they could pray for God’s favor and salvation without being obedient to God’s Word. They thought they were righteous by their obedience to the Law of Moses; they kept the letter of the Law, but not the spirit of the Law.

The Law of Moses was intended to be a restraint against evil until the coming of Jesus. The Law was intended to show the righteousness that God has and requires of his people, and the demonstration that we cannot satisfy the requirements of the Law except through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:1-7; Romans 8:1-17; Galatians 2:16).

In many ways the nominal Church, the “New Israel,” is in the same situation now as Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first advent. Church rituals and membership won’t save us; calling Jesus our Lord and calling ourselves “Christians” doesn’t make it so (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). God is not obligated to answer prayer just because one adds Jesus’ name at the end (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

Christians are by definition “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (Acts 11:26) of Jesus Christ. Only a personal relationship with the risen and ascended Jesus by the indwelling Holy Spirit are we eternally saved and have eternal life. Faith isn’t getting whatever one believes if one believes “hard enough.” Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus’ teaching and example.

Only Jesus gives the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Disciples are spiritually reborn by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit within them. 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. It is not possible to have the indwelling Holy Spirit and not know it personally and individually (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)?

3 Advent – Tuesday C
First Posted December 15, 2009;
Podcast: Tuesday 3 Advent – C

Micah 5:2-4 – Shepherd King;

Paraphrase:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2). God will lift his favor and protection from them until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth” (Micah 5:3). Then those who are in exile will return to the people of Israel. “And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:4).

Commentary:

Micah prophesied in the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (of the Southern Kingdom), from 750-687 B.C., before and following conquest of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians at the fall of Samaria, the capital, in 721 B.C.. He prophesied the fall of Jerusalem (Micah 3:9-12).

The prophecy of the Messiah coming forth from Bethlehem was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:1-6; John 7:40-43). Jesus is the descendant of David (Matthew 1:1, 20; 21:9, 15). He is the fulfillment of the prophecy of an eternal heir to the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). “From of old…” is fulfilled by Jesus, who was preexistent with God from the beginning of Creation (Micah 5:2; John 1:1-5, 14).

God did lift his favor and protection from the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes of the Divided Monarchy. The Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom in 721 B. C. with the fall of Samaria, the capital. The ten northern tribes effectively ceased to exist because of the Assyrian policy of relocating conquered people to other conquered territory. The people of the Northern Kingdom were deported and aliens brought in to settle the land. The assimilation of aliens resulted in people of mixed race and religion.

The Southern Kingdom, the remnant of Israel, didn’t learn from the example of the Northern Kingdom and didn’t heed the warnings of the prophets, so God lifted his favor and protection from them, and allowed them to be deported to Babylon for seventy years, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 587 B. C., in fulfillment of prophecy (Jeremiah 25:11-12). The exile ended in 517 B.C. with the rebuilding of the temple by the returned exiles.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of God himself being the shepherd of his people (Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 40:10-11; Ezekiel 34:11-12, 23-24), Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-15), with the power and name of God. Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-10; John 20:28; 14:8-11). 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).

Jesus came to become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and our salvation from eternal death which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12) and the only way to know divine eternal truth, to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and to have eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), and our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (“baptizes” with; 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 “reborn” by the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

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

3 Advent – Wednesday C
First Posted December 15, 2009;
Podcast: Wednesday 3 Advent – C

Hebrews 10:5-10 – Sanctified;

Background:

The author wrote this book to Jews to show the superiority of Christ to Judaism. He argued that animal sacrifices were never able to remove sin. The sacrificial system was intended to foreshadow the good things which were coming in the Messiah. The necessity for repeated sacrifices was intended to create consciousness of sin and the need for forgiveness (Hebrews 10:1-4).

Paraphrase:

The author quoted Psalm 40:6-8 to show that God does not desire animal sacrifices; that animal sacrifices cannot remove sin, and that our obedient trust in God is what God desires (Psalm 51:16-17; Proverbs 21:3; 1 Samuel 15:22). When the Word of God declares that God doesn’t desire animal sacrifices, which are necessary according to the Old Covenant of Law, and then adds that obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22b), God “abolishes the first in order to establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9b). “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

Commentary:

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose for Creation, first by the goodness and complexity of creation. Then in the Bible, the record of God’s dealing with Israel, God’s chosen people, beginning with the call of Abraham (Abram; Genesis 12:1-5).

His ultimate revelation of himself to the world is in the first “advent” (coming) of Jesus Christ. The ultimate revelation of God to us individually is through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God’s dealing with the Israelites, recorded in the Old Testament, was intended to be warning and instruction for us (1 Corinthians 10:6a, 11). The Old Covenant of Law was intended to prefigure the New Covenant of salvation by grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Animal sacrifices prefigure the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God 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.

What God desires is our obedient trust in God’s Word. The Bible is God’s Word inspired and recorded. Jesus is the “living Word” of God; God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh, lived out in this world in obedient trust (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus came into this world to reveal God’s nature (John 14: 8-11; Matthew 11:27), and to demonstrate that by obedient trust in God’s Word, there is eternal life after physical death (Hebrews 2:8-9). Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence after physical death, and every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ testifies that Jesus is eternally alive.

No one was able to keep the laws of the Old Covenant (Galatians 2:16). Jesus initiated the New Covenant of salvation by grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust; Hebrews 8:8-13; 12:24) on the night of his betrayal and arrest after his last celebration of the Passover, the Last Supper (Matthew 26:19-28).

In Old Testament times, only a few individuals had a personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord. God desires a personal relationship with each of his people, but that personal relationship was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Genesis 3:8). Only through faith in Jesus, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, is that fellowship restored (Numbers 11:26-29; John 14:23). Only by faith in Jesus, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, are we sanctified (made ritually clean) so that we can be temples of God by the Holy Spirit.

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

3 Advent – Thursday C
First Posted December 17, 2009;
Podcast: Thursday 3 Advent – C

Luke 1:39-45 (46-55) – Magnificat;

Paraphrase:

When the angel had announced to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, he also told her that her kinswoman Elizabeth was six months pregnant (Luke 1 26-38). After the angel departed Mary went hastily to Elizabeth’s home in the Judean hill country.

When she greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and in a loud voice declared, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is it granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:41b-42)! She told Mary that her babe leaped for joy when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting. Elizabeth said, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46b-47). God had exalted his handmaiden despite her low estate. From now on all generations will call her blessed, because of the great things the mighty one, whose name is holy (the Lord), has done for Mary (and for us). The Lord has mercy for all who fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) him, in each generation. God has revealed his power. He scatters those who are proud in their own imagination; he brings low the mighty, removing them from their thrones, but he exalts the humble and lowly. “He has filled the hungry with with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away” (Luke 1:53). In his mercy, the Lord has helped Israel, his servant, according to his eternal promise to Abraham and to his posterity.

Commentary:

Magnificat, meaning “magnify;” to extol praise, is the first word of the Latin translation of this worship “song.”

Elizabeth and Mary were kinswomen. Elizabeth was pregnant with the future John the Baptizer, who was to herald the coming Messiah, to baptize the people with water for repentance and forgiveness, and to purify and prepare them to receive Jesus (Matthew 3:1-6, 11). Mary was pregnant with the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Both women had become pregnant supernaturally by the Holy Spirit, but John was an ordinary man with both human mother and father. Jesus had a human mother but a divine father by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35; Colossians 2:8-9), the only “begotten” Son of God (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18 KJV).

Elizabeth and her husband were elderly (Luke 1:18), and had never produced a child. Mary was young, but a virgin who had never had relations with a man (Luke 1:34).

Barrenness in women was considered a sign of divine disfavor and reproach. By her pregnancy the Lord had exalted Elizabeth and lifted her reproach from her (Luke 1:25). On the other hand, Mary’s pregnancy outside of marriage would be regarded as shameful (Matthew 1:18-20). But Mary believed God’s Word delivered by the angel and accepted God’s will and purpose (Luke 1:38; 45).

All generations following Jesus’ birth have considered Mary blessed. But Mary is just an example of a faithful servant who trusted and obeyed God’s Word, even when it seemed impossible. Mary is not to be worshiped or prayed to. Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6).

“Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ have direct access to God through Jesus Christ by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (note the Trinity: Romans 8:9).

Just adding Jesus’ name to the end of our prayers doesn’t obligate God to listen to and answer them. There are conditions that must be met for our prayers to be answered (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home). How can we think that God must hear and answer us when we don’t know and obey his Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14)?

No one has any reason to boast, when compared to the Lord and to God’s Word (Ephesians 2:9; Romans 3:27). We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) 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). Forgiveness and salvation are the free gift of God, to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10a; Psalm 111:10). We need not fear physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15); we should fear the Lord who has the power of spiritual eternal life-or-death over us. We really don’t know anything eternally important until we know that God has the power of eternal life or death over us.

The divine, eternal wisdom of God is not like what the world falsely calls wisdom. Worldly wisdom changes constantly (the number of planets in the solar system, for example). Divine wisdom is eternal and eternally true and unchanging (1 Corinthians 1:17-27; 2:1-8).

Jesus came to heal the spiritually “sick” (Luke 5:31). We’re all spiritually sick, but Jesus can only heal those who know they’re sick and seek the healing only Jesus can provide. Many came to Jesus only for the physical healing and feeding he could provide (John 6:25-27). Physical healing only lasts until the next illness, physical feeding only lasts until the next meal. Spiritual healing and feeding are eternal.

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

3 Advent – Friday C
First Posted December 18, 2009;
Podcast: Friday 3 Advent – C

Luke 1:67-80 – Benedictus;

Paraphrase:

At the circumcision of John the Baptizer on the eighth day of life, his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:67-68). He has brought forth a “horn of salvation” (a ruler; a king whose great power brings salvation), a descendant of God’s servant David (the great shepherd-king of Israel), as the Lord had promised by his prophets long ago (see Psalm 132:17). Through him (the Messiah; Christ; both mean God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King, in Hebrew and Greek, respectively) we shall be saved from our enemies and all who hate us. Through him we receive the mercies promised to our forefathers, and to fulfill the covenant which he promised to Abraham. We can serve the Lord without fear, because he will deliver us from the power of our enemies, and so that we can live in his presence in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives.

Zechariah prophesied that John will be a prophet of “the Most High” (God), and will proceed ahead of the Lord to prepare the way. He will teach the people about salvation and forgiveness of sin through God’s tender mercy, when the “dayspring” (the Messiah; the dawn of the Messianic age; Isaiah 60:1-2; Malachi 4:2; Revelation 22:16) will arise from heaven bringing spiritual light to us in the darkness of sin and death, to lead us in the path of peace.

“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel” (Luke 1:80).

Commentary:

“Benedictus,” meaning “blessed,” is the first word of the Latin translation of this “song.”

God has designed the Savior, the Messiah, into the structure of this Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5; 14). Throughout the history of God’s dealing with Israel, recorded in the Bible, God has been revealing his plan for Creation, to bring forth the Savior. At the circumcision of John, Mary was pregnant and would be delivering the Christ as a new-born infant within about six months. God had visited his people, and the promise of a Redeemer was about to be fulfilled.

According to Exodus 27:1-2, altars were constructed with raised corners called “horns.” Altars were places of sanctuary for those who were falsely accused; they could take hold of the “horn” of an altar and be saved.

A horn was also a symbol of power. Psalms 132:17 prophesies that God will cause the “horn” of David to “bud;” God will bring forth from David’s descendants, an eternal Savior and King who will have the power of salvation for his people. God also promised to establish a descendant of David to reign eternally on David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:12 -13; Psalm 89:20-29).

Jesus is the fulfillment of these prophecies. Jesus is the “Son of David” (Matthew 1:1; 21:9, 15). Luke’s genealogy of Jesus traces Jesus back through Adam to God; Jesus was God’s Son before Adam was created (Luke 3:38; John 17:5, 24).

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-9). 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 our salvation from eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, the only way to be restored to fellowship with God the Father which was broken by sin, the only way to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life (John 14:6).

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). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal daily fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus came into the world to bring us forgiveness and salvation. His blood shed on the cross is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for cleansing from sin for everyone willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

We are all in bondage to sin and death until Jesus sets us free through our faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus sets us free from our spiritual enemies, which are ultimately Satan and death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates existence beyond physical death. Every “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ testifies that Jesus is eternally alive, and his indwelling Holy Spirit within us assures us that we have eternal life. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

John the Baptizer fulfilled the prophecy of his father, Zechariah. He became the prophet like Elijah (Malachi 4:5; Luke 7:24-28; Matthew 17:10-13), calling the people to repent of sin and be baptized with water for forgiveness and spiritual cleansing, to prepare them to receive the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

When John grew up he went into the wilderness by the guidance of the Holy Spirit to wait for the Lord’s call to manifest himself. Israel had spent forty years in the wilderness, to learn to trust and obey God and be spiritually cleansed, until God’s command to enter and possess the “Promised Land.” After Jesus’ baptism, Jesus was “driven” into the wilderness for forty days and nights, where he was tempted by Satan, before Jesus began his ministry (Matthew 4:1-11). In a sense we are all in the spiritual wilderness of this world, and we must learn to trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word.” We will be tempted by Satan, and only by the Holy Spirit within us are able to resist temptation.

Jesus demonstrated how to resist temptation in the wilderness. Satan tempted Jesus in the same three areas he had tempted Adam and Eve: lust of the flesh (good for food); lust of the eyes (pretty to look at; covetousness) and pride of life (to be wise; Genesis 3:6).

Satan tempted Jesus to use his supernatural power for himself; he tempted Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread, since Jesus had been hungry from fasting (lust of the flesh). Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple (to prove that he was the Messiah; human pride). Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth and offered to give them to Jesus if he would worship Satan (lust of the eyes).

In each instance Jesus resisted temptation by quoting the appropriate scripture. Notice that Satan also knows and can (mis)quote it. Jesus promises to open our minds to understand the Bible scriptures (Luke 24:45), and by the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us all things and recall to our memory all that Jesus teaches (John 14:25-26). He will give us what to say at the appropriate moment (Luke 21:11-15).

Jesus is the true light of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9), the light of righteousness (John 1:5; 3:19-21), and light of eternal life (John 1:4; 8:12).

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

3 Advent – Saturday C
First Posted December 19, 2009;
Podcast: Saturday 3 Advent – C

John 1:19-28 – John’s Testimony;

Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer was baptizing at Bethany “beyond the Jordan” River (the eastern side; distinct from the Bethany on the Mount of Olives). The Pharisees (the predominate, legalistic religious party in Jerusalem) sent priests and Levites (descendants of the tribe of Levi; assistants of the priests) to ask who he was.

John confessed that he was not the Christ (Messiah; both mean God’s “anointed;” the eternal Savior and King, in Greek and Hebrew, respectively), but he did not deny the Messiah’s coming, or his relationship to the coming of the Messiah. So the delegation from the religious authorities asked John whether he was Elijah, who was expected to return, or “the prophet” who was expected to appear, to announce the coming of the Messiah. John said that he was not. So they asked him to tell them who he claimed to be. John replied that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a voice crying in the wilderness, calling people to prepare a straight way for the coming of the Messiah.

The delegation then asked John why he was baptizing, performing a religious ritual without their authorization. John answered, saying that he baptized with water, but the Messiah whose coming John heralded, and was preparing the people to receive, was already present among them but unrecognized.

Commentary:

Before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5), the religious authorities were expecting the return of Elijah, who had been taken alive into heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Alternatively, they were expecting a prophet like Elijah (Malachi 3:1a; Luke 1:17). John understood that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a voice crying in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3).

John did not claim to be Elijah; he knew that he was not. John did not claim to be a great prophet equal to Elijah, who was previously regarded as the greatest Old Testament prophet. John became the last and greatest Old Testament prophet because he heralded the coming of the Messiah (“Elias;” Luke 7:24-26; Matthew 11:7-9; 17:10-13).

The religious authorities knew a lot about God but didn’t know God personally (Job 42:5); if they had, they would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah, God’s Son. They were using Judaism as their personal empire, for their own status, and power over people, rather than as shepherds of God’s people and stewards of God’s Word.

The same condition is true of the nominal Church today. Many regard ministry as a “career choice.” In many instances they use their position to manipulate people. The requirement for ministers (apostles) in many denominations is denominational theology and doctrine, rather than the Bible and spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8). To be an apostle one must be authorized by the denominational leadership. The Messiah is indeed present among them but goes unrecognized.

Only Jesus gives the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). 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’m convinced that the true Church is the heir to the ministry of the water baptism of John the Baptizer. The mission of the Church is to call people to repent of their sin (disobedience of God’s Word), to return to faith (obedient trust) in God and become Jesus’ disciples, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:18-20).

In too many instances the nominal Church has failed to make “disciples” and build the kingdom of God. They’ve settled for making “members” and building “buildings.” It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. If the Church fails to make “born-again” disciples there will be no “born-again” leaders.

Many mainline denominations are not only not helping their members become “born-again” but are even preventing them from seeking spiritual rebirth by telling them they are automatically “born-again” by some Church ritual such as water baptism or “confirmation” (affirmation) of baptism (see False Teachings, sidebar, home).

I must say that I find that situation exactly like the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes. In that fable two tailors convinced the emperor that they had made him new clothes, and dressed him in them, by pantomime. They told him that only ignorant people could not see the clothing. Not wanting to seem ignorant, he strutted around naked, believing he was fully clothed. In my version, the naked emperor has misled his subjects to strut around naked in imaginary clothes also.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus 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 Advent C – 12/06 – 12/2015

December 5, 2015

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 Basictext-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:

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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.

2nd Advent – Sunday C

First Posted Dec 6, 2009
Podcast: 2 Advent Sunday C

Malachi 3:1-4 – The Lord’s Messenger;
Psalm 126 – Restorer of Fortunes;
Philippians 1:3-11 – Thankfulness;
Luke 3:1-6 – Restored Fortunes;

Malachi:

Watch and see! The Lord is sending his messenger, heralding the Messiah, before the coming of the Lord, to prepare his way. The Lord whom his people seek will come suddenly into his temple. The Lord of hosts declares that the Lord’s messenger (the Messiah; Christ) of the covenant in whom we delight is coming. In the day of his coming, who will be able to endure it; who will be justified in his judgment

He will be like a refiner’s furnace, and like fuller’s soap. Like a refiner of gold and silver he will refine the sons of Levi (the Jewish Priesthood; the Church leadership), until they present acceptable offerings to the Lord. Then the Lord will be pleased with the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former times.

Psalm:

God’s people felt like they were dreaming, when the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion (Jerusalem; God’s City in heaven). Laughter filled their mouths and shouts of joy were on their tongues. The surrounding nations realized that the Lord has done great things for Israel.

We are glad; the Lord has done great things for us! Like a river in the wilderness, restore our fortunes, O Lord! “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. He that goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6).

Philippians Background:

Paul was imprisoned, awaiting trial and possibly execution, for preaching the Gospel. The church at Philippi, in Macedonia, was the first Christian Church in Europe, founded by Paul’s preaching of the Gospel. The congregation had sent a gift by Epaphroditus for Paul, in prison, and Paul wrote this letter for him to carry back to the congregation.

Philippians:

In his prayers, Paul always remembered the Philippians with joy and thanksgiving for their partnership in the Gospel from the first day until the present. Paul reassured the congregation that the Lord who had begun a good work in them would bring it to completion at the Day of Judgment at Christ’s return. Paul was right in thinking thus, because they were very dear to him. The Philippian congregation shared in God’s grace with Paul in both his “imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (Philippians 1:7). Paul yearned for the congregation with the affection of Christ. Paul’s prayer was that they would grow more and more in overflowing love, knowledge and discernment. Then they would be able to choose what is excellent, and keep themselves unstained by sin, and blameless, full of the fruits of righteousness at the Lord’s return.

Luke:

John, the baptizer, began his public ministry in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (A.D. 26 or 27). Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, was the ruler of Galilee and his brother Philip was the ruler of the adjoining area (Gaulanitis) to the east of Galilee and the Jordan River. Annas, high priest emeritus, and his son-in-law Caiaphas, the current high priest, were in control of the temple and priesthood.

At the call of God, John began to preach water baptism for repentance and forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) throughout the region along the Jordan River. John was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (compare Luke 3:4-6).

Commentary:

God has designed Creation to allow us freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not. Disobedience of God’s Word is the definition of sin. God has consigned us all to sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), so that we all need forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal death which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). God doesn’t want anyone to die eternally, so he has provided salvation as a free, undeserved gift, through faith (obedient trust) in his “anointed” Savior and eternal King of God’s heavenly kingdom (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God has designed Jesus Christ into the structure of Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14), and he has promised and has been revealing his Savior to us in his Word (the Bible) from the very beginning (Genesis 3:15). God called Abraham (Abram) to go to a new land which God promised to give to Abraham’s descendants.

The Promised Land became a foreshadowing of the Eternal Promised Land of God’s heavenly kingdom. Moses prefigures the Christ, who leads us out of bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world, through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, through the “river” of physical death and into the eternal “Promised Land.” David, the great earthly “shepherd-king” prefigures Jesus, the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14) and heir to the eternal throne of David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29; Matthew 1:1; 21:9). These are just a few examples.

The author of Malachi is believed to have been living between B.C 500-450. The Lord promised through Malachi to send a messenger to prepare the people to receive the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “God’s Anointed”). John the Baptizer fulfilled that prophecy (Luke 3:2-6; Luke 7:27; Matthew 17:10-13). Jesus Christ is the messenger (teacher; mediator) of the “New Covenant” of grace (unmerited favor) which replaces the Old Covenant of Law. Jesus is the delight of his disciples and the New Covenant is a better one (Matthew 26:26-28; Hebrews 8:8-10; 12:24).

Jesus came to teach us, by word and example, to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. He came to become the only sacrifice acceptable to God for forgiveness of our sins, and for our salvation from eternal condemnation. Jesus came to give us eternal life.

We’re all born physically alive, but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and be spiritually “born-again” to eternal life. These promises are only fulfilled through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence after physical death. Jesus is eternally alive and every truly “born-again” Christian, including myself, testifies to that reality. We all die physically once, and then face judgment, not reincarnation, and not “nothingness” (Hebrews 9:27).

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to Jesus for what each has done in this lifetime. Jesus is the righteous judge and the standard of judgment, because he has lived in this world in human flesh in obedient trust in God’s Word, without sinning.

When Christ returns, he will separate the righteous from the wicked. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “reborn” by the indwelling Holy Spirit in this world, and will enter eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Judah, the remnant of Israel, did not learn from the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes of the divided monarchy, and didn’t heed the warnings of God’s prophets. So God removed his favor and protection from them and they were conquered and carried into exile in Babylon by the Chaldeans (in 587 B.C.).

Before that happened God had promised that they would return from exile after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:(11)-12), and that promise was fulfilled (in B.C 517). Incredibly, Babylon was conquered by Cyrus of Persia, and Cyrus returned the gold and silver vessels taken as booty by the Chaldeans, released the Israelites, and gave money and help to rebuild the temple. Can you imagine how it must have seemed like a dream to God’s people.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. By the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, Paul proclaimed the Gospel to the Philippians for the first time, and they believed and joined in partnership of the Gospel with Paul from that time on (Acts 16:12-15). When Paul was imprisoned for the preaching of the Gospel, they didn’t forget or withdraw from him. They supported Paul both in his imprisonment, and in the proclamation and confirmation of the Gospel.

Paul was “discipling” new believers until they were “filled” with (“baptized” with; “anointed” with; “given”) the gift of indwelling Holy Spirit,” as Paul had been (Acts 9:10-18). He was teaching “born-again” believers to repeat the process with others (2 Timothy 2:2). As believers were “born-again” they were discipled by the Holy Spirit to spiritual maturity at the Day of Judgment at Christ’s return.

When believers accept the Gospel and begin to trust and obey Jesus they will be “born-again.” Only after the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) are they able to go into the world with the Gospel to make disciples and teach those disciples to obey all that Jesus taught in obedience to the Great Commission that Jesus gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

Sowing the seed of the Gospel is going to be costly. The world hates the Gospel and the disciples of Jesus as much as they hated and crucified Jesus. Don’t expect the world to treat us better than they treated Jesus, but by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us we can be guided, empowered, sustained, and consoled, so that we can ultimately produce the fruit of righteousness at the Day of the Lord.

Believers need to read the Bible completely and also regularly. Any average reader can read the entire Bible in one year, and there are numerous plans available. I favor plans that consist of both Old Testament and New Testament texts each day (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right).

Believers should set aside some time regularly each day to read God’s Word with prayer and meditation, to seek God’s will and guidance for that day, preferably in the morning. Then try to remember and do God’s will for that day.

Christians are by definition “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (Acts 11:26c) of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is a process. We must learn to trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). We must be guided by spiritually mature “born-again” disciples until we have been “spiritually reborn, and then we must be discipled to spiritual maturity by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us is the beginning of the “good work” within us which will grow to completion at the Day of 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)?

2nd Advent – Monday C
First Posted Dec 7, 2009
Podcast: 2 Advent Monday C

Isaiah 12:2-6 The Lord is My Strength;

Look! My God is my salvation. I will trust in him and not be afraid. “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2b).

“With Joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name; make known his deeds among the nations, proclaim that his name is exalted’” (Isaiah 12:3-4).

The works of the Lord are glorious; let us sing his praises! Let his works be known throughout the earth. Let God’s people shout and sing for joy. Great is the Holy One, in our midst.

Commentary:

Those who have trusted in the Lord have come to know that he is our Savior, our strength and our song. Everyone is looking for salvation from the troubles of this lifetime, but many are looking in all the wrong places.

Nothing in this world can ultimately save us from death except Jesus. Jesus came to save us from bondage to sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and the fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus warns us that it isn’t physical death we should fear, but eternal death in hell (Luke 12:5). Jesus came into the world to save us from spiritual death (John 3:16-17), the second, eternal death (Revelation 20:6, 14), and to give us eternal life.

How do we know what is beyond physical death? Because the Bible tells us, and because Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death. Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8), is attested to in the New Testament by eyewitnesses, and by every truly “born-again” disciple since. We know he is risen and alive, because “born-again” disciples have daily fellowship with him by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Jesus gives us eternal life by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We are all born physically into this world, but are spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual life; these goals are fulfilled only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

It is not true that one cannot know what is beyond physical death before we die. The only ones that don’t know what lies beyond are the ones who are perishing (John 3:18-21). People die (physically) once and then comes judgment; not reincarnation, or “nothingness” (Hebrews 9:27). When we die, our eternal destiny is fixed and unalterable.

God is our Creator, and he has designed this world according to his purpose and his rules. The Bible reveals his purpose and his rules. We cannot design our own “hereafter” by wishing.

God has done great things for us! He created a wonderful Universe and has given us life in it, with everything we need. His great deeds for Israel are recorded in his Word, the Bible. As we begin to trust and obey his Word we will experience his great deeds in and for us personally.

He has given salvation as a free gift to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

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)?

2nd Advent – Tuesday C
First Posted Dec 8, 2009
Podcast: 2 Advent Tuesday C

Zephaniah 3:14-18a – Gospel of Salvation;

Let the daughter of Zion sing aloud! Let Israel shout! Let the daughter of Jerusalem rejoice and exalt with all her heart!

The Lord has removed the judgments against you, and has cast out your enemies. The Lord the King of Israel is in your midst. You shall no longer fear evil. In that day Jerusalem will be assured not to fear or let your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a warrior giving you victory. As on a day of festival he will exalt over you; in his love he will renew you.

Commentary:

God’s purpose has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and have personal fellowship with God.This is only peace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6-7).

Zion is the temple mount in Jerusalem where God was among his people, and also his eternal temple in heaven. Jerusalem is the heavenly city of God. The Church is the “New Jerusalem,” on earth and its people are the “New Israel.”

God has always intended to be the King of God’s people. Israel insisted on having a human king, like the nations around her (1 Samuel 8:4-22). Through Samuel, God warned them of the disadvantages of having a human king but allowed them to have one (1 Samuel 8:7). Monarchy didn’t work out for Israel. The kingdom eventually divided into two. Neither the Northern Kingdom or the Southern Kingdom heeded the warnings of the prophets and so God lifted his favor and protection from them.

The Northern Kingdom and the people of the ten tribes effectively ceased to exist in 721 B.C. with the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom, of two tribes, was the remnant of Israel. They were conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar of Chaldea (southern Babylonia) in 587 B.C. with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. The people were exiled in Babylon for seventy years, fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12. When the exiles returned in 517 B.C. they reestablished a theocracy similar to that which existed before the monarchy, although a (largely autonomous) province of the Persian Empire.

Zephaniah’s ministry is believed to have been around 630-620 B.C..* This text is believed to be a later addition.** It has the form of a psalm of enthronement. Its prophecy was fulfilled in the return of the exiles to their Promised Land in 517 B.C..

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of the Lord who will reign eternally as the King of God’s People. Jesus is the Savior God designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5:14).

We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). That judgment upon us is removed through obedient trust in Jesus Christ (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, right, home).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is the only one who can cast out our spiritual enemies. We are all slaves of sin and death, and only Jesus can set us free (John 8:34-36; Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus is Lord and King of God’s people, whether we recognize and accept him or not. He is present within each truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The presence of the Holy Spirit within us encourages us when we are afraid, and strengthens and empowers us. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the spiritual warrior who has won the victory over sin and death for us at the cross. We will no longer fear evil. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the love of God, and his presence within us.

God’s Word is eternal and always fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for fulfillment are met. God’s promise of forgiveness and restoration apply to us today. We can receive the fulfillment of that promise through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

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)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Introduction to Zephaniah , p. 1140, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

**ibid Zephaniah 3:14-20 note, p 1143.


2nd Advent – Wednesday C
First Posted Dec 9, 2009
Podcast: 2 Advent Wednesday C

Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice and Give Thanks;

Rejoice in everything; its so important that it bears repeating. The Lord (his Second coming; “Advent”) is at hand. Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything, in supplication with thanksgiving, making your requests known to God. “And the peace of God, which passes understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Commentary:

Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus), the author of this letter, 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 all of us can and should be. Paul was confronted by the Spirit of the risen and ascended Christ (Jesus; Romans 8:9) on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-21). Paul accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5), trusted and obeyed Jesus’ command (Acts 9:4-8), acknowledged and repented of his sin (Acts 9:9), and was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias, until Paul had been “born-again” (Acts 9:10-18).

Paul then repeated the process of making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, and teaching them to repeat the process (Acts 9:19b-22; 2 Timothy 1:5-7; 2:2). Paul was fulfilling the Great Commission which Jesus gave his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The only thing unique about Paul’s conversion and spiritual “rebirth” was that it took place in about three days instead of the three years of the Twelve of Jesus’ original disciples. But note that Paul had already been formally trained in Judaism, and he loved God. It also suited God’s purpose, to replace Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, with Paul, instead of Matthias, whom the disciples chose without the benefit of the Holy Spirit, as they awaited the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:15-26).

Paul suffered great persecution for his proclamation of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Paul was in prison, probably in Rome where he was probably executed, when he wrote this letter.

Imprisoned and facing execution, Paul taught by word and example how to rejoice and give thanks to God in every situation. Paul was continuing to disciple the Philippian congregation, the first Christian Church on the European continent, which Paul had founded on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:6-15). Throughout his judicial trials and imprisonment he had numerous opportunities to testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 28:16-31).

Truly “born-again” Christians can rejoice and give thanks in all things, because we have daily fellowship with the Lord through the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) 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).

By the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God within us (Romans 8:9) we experience the love of God. The Holy Spirit within us continues to “disciple” us. He teaches us all things, helps us recall Jesus’ teachings, (John 14:26), and gives us what to say at the moment needed in testifying to the Gospel (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12). The Holy Spirit reassures, encourages, calms our fears, and comforts us in times of distress. We need not fear even physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15), because we know that Jesus is eternally alive by the presence of his Spirit within us. Through the Holy Spirit we have the peace of God within us, and he will keep our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.

Jesus has promised to come again, at the end of time, on the Day of Judgment. That day is imminent; it will come for everyone who has ever lived. No one knows when that day will be, and no one can be certain that tomorrow will come. Today is the only day we can be sure of; today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). At the moment of our death, time will stop for us and we will immediately be at the throne of judgment. Our eternal destiny will be fixed and unalterable.

We will either spend eternity in God’s heavenly kingdom or in eternal anguish and destruction in Hell with all evil. Jesus is the righteous judge, and the standard of judgment by which all will be judged. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “born-again” in this lifetime, and will enter eternal life in paradise with the Lord. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will enter Hell for all eternity (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

2nd Advent – Thursday C
First Posted Dec 10, 2009
Podcast: 2 Advent Thursday C

Luke 3:7-18 – John the Baptizer’s Preaching;

Background:

John the Baptizer was called by God to prepare the people of Israel to receive the Messiah. His message was that people should repent, return to obedient trust in God’s Word, and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (disobedience of God’s Word; Luke 3:1-6).

Luke:

John was in the wilderness around the Jordan River. Multitudes of people were drawn to him for baptism. John began preaching, saying, “You brood of vipers (snakes)! Who warned you to flee from the wrath (Day of Judgment) to come? Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father;’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:7-9).

When the multitudes asked John what they should do, he told them to share what they have with the less fortunate: If one has two coats, give one to someone who has none. Those who have food should do likewise. Tax collectors asked, and John told them to collect no more than required. To soldiers who asked, John told them not to use violence or false accusation to rob anyone, and to be content with their wages.

The people were expecting the coming of the Messiah, so some though John might be he [the Christ; both mean (God’s) “anointed” in Hebrew and in Greek respectively]. So John clarified his understanding of his role: John was baptizing with water, but the one (the Messiah), whose coming John was heralding, was so much greater than John that John was unworthy to be his most menial servant. The coming Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (compare Acts 2:3). The Messiah was bringing a winnowing fork (used to separate wheat from chaff) to clear off his threshing floor. He will then gather the “wheat” into his “barn,” and will burn the “chaff” with unquenchable fire.

“So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people (Luke 3:8).

Commentary:

I love this passage! Would anyone dare to preach like this in our churches today? In too many instances church “members” want to hear what makes them feel good about themselves, and they want to be entertained. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy, his protege minister of the Gospel, that the time was coming when people would not accept sound teaching, but would get teachers who taught what people wanted to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4). That time has certainly come!

The people to whom John was preaching thought they were righteous and worthy of salvation because they were Abraham’s physical descendants; they had been born into Judaism. Actually it is not the physical descendants of Abraham who will be saved but the spiritual descendants (Galatians 3:6-9); those who believe (trust and obey) God’s Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word;” the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

Many today think they have salvation from having been “born into” or “members “of the Church. Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is not going to save anyone; even the demons believe that and shudder in fear (James 2:19; Luke 4:33-34). Church ritual such as (water) baptism or affirmation of faith will not save anyone. Only a personal relationship with Jesus by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit will save us.

Jesus declared that we must be (spiritually) “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, in order to see the kingdom of God which is all around us now, and to see it (and enter it) in eternity. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Those who have been truly “born-again” will begin to bear the fruit of repentance and salvation. We are saved by grace (as a free gift; unmerited favor), but we can only receive that salvation by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Doing “good deeds” won’t save us; but “good deeds” indicate that we have been truly saved (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:17-18)

The axe is the Day of Judgment at the Second Coming (“second Advent,”) which will come to everyone who has ever lived. Those who have been spiritually reborn in this lifetime will eternal life in God’s Kingdom restored to perfect paradise; those who have rejected Jesus as their 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; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

I believe that the Church has inherited the role of John the Baptizer. The Church is to preach the coming Day of Judgment, and call people to repent and be baptized for forgiveness of sin, so that people will be prepared for the coming of the Messiah by the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, and also at the Day of the Second Coming and Judgment. The Church is to be a congregation of “born-again” disciples who are making disciples and teaching them to trust and obey Jesus, so that they are also “born-again,” before they are sent into the world to make other “born-again” disciples (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8). Only “born-again” disciples can make “born-again” disciples, because the “unregenerate” (un-reborn) don’t know what they lack, or how to get it.

There are mainline denominations today that are failing to make “born-again” disciples. They are teaching that the Holy Spirit is automatically received through some church ritual such as water baptism or “affirmation of faith.” If members believe such doctrine, what will be their eternal outcome? They are not encouraged to seek spiritual rebirth and will die eternally in Hell, believing false doctrines of unregenerate, false teachers (see False Teachings, sidebar, right, home).

In what sense is John’s preaching “good news?” Those who endure and consider it can be saved from eternal spiritual disaster!

I personally testify to these spiritual realities. All who sincerely begin to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings will experience for themselves their eternal truth personally.

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)?

2nd Advent – Friday C
First Posted Dec 11, 2009
Podcast: 2 Advent Friday C

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 – Servants of Christ;

Christians should be regarded as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). As stewards we must be worthy of trust. Human judgment is not what counts, even one’s self-judgment. One is not acquitted by one’s own judgment. It is the Lord’s judgment that matters. We must not declare judgment before the time of God’s judgment, on the day of Christ’s return. Christ will reveal what is now hidden in darkness, and will disclose the inner intentions of the heart. Then every individual will receive his verdict from God.

Commentary:

Christians are by definition “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (students; followers of the teachings; Acts 11:26) of Jesus Christ. We are to learn to serve Jesus and carry on his mission of bringing forgiveness and salvation to a spiritually dying world.

“Born-again” disciples of are to make “born-again” disciples, as we have seen exemplified in Jesus’ earthly ministry, and as he has commanded in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), and in the conversion and ministry of the Apostle Paul (see entry for Wednesday, 2 Advent, year C). Jesus invited people to follow his teachings, by word and example, and learn from him. As they did so, he promised to give them the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17).

As long as Jesus was physically present on earth the original disciples didn’t need the Holy Spirit, but Jesus could only be in one place at a time (John 16:7). After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the disciples were to wait in Jerusalem until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), before going into the world with the Gospel. The promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).

We have all sinned [disobeyed God’s Word (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) ]. Jesus had to die as the one and only blood sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sin, and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Faith (obedient trust) in Jesus cleanses us from sin by his blood and makes it possible for us to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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

The Church inherited the role of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent, to return to obedient trust in God’s Word, and to be baptized with water for forgiveness of sin, in preparation for them to receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit.

The Church is to be a “disciple-making” organization. The true Church is a body of “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) leaders and members. The Church is the “New Jerusalem” on earth. The Church is to disciple converts until they have been “born-again.” Only then are the disciples to go into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49, Acts 1 4-5, 8).

Tragically, in too many instances this is not happening. Unless the Church makes “born-again” disciples, there won’t be any “born-again” apostles and leaders. Some mainline denominations are not only not making “born-again” disciples; they’re actually discouraging and hindering their members from seeking and receiving the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit by assuring them that the Holy Spirit is automatically conferred by some ritual such as water baptism or “Confirmation” of baptized members (see False Teachings, sidebar, right, home).

It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples, because they obviously are the only ones who know what they need and how to get it. They are the stewards of the mysteries of God.

The Church is to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The purpose is to save those who are lost, not to condemn them, although the unsaved may perceive it as condemnation (see John 3:17-21). It is not loving to allow the lost to believe they are saved.

There are lots of false prophets and false teaching, in the world (and even in the nominal Church today). The test of doctrine is the Bible, the Word of God. False teaching and false prophets thrive because church “members” don’t read their Bibles. The Bible is the only way protect oneself from spiritual deception (see free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when every person who has ever lived will be accountable to God for what they have done in this lifetime, and the Righteous Judge and the standard by which we will be judged is Jesus Christ. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “reborn” by the presence of the Holy Spirit within them, and will enter eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

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)?

2nd Advent – Saturday C
First Posted Dec 12, 2009
Podcast: 2 Advent Saturday C
Matthew 11:2-10 – John the Baptizer;

After John the Baptizer’s imprisonment he heard what Jesus was doing, so he sent his disciples to confirm that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). Jesus answered, telling them to tell John what they saw and heard: that the blind were restored to seeing, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed, and the deaf heard; the dead were raised to life, and the poor were hearing good news. “And blessed is he who takes no offense at me” (Matthew 11:6).

When John’s disciples left, Jesus asked the crowd around him what they had sought when they went into the wilderness to John. Did they want to see a reed shaking in the wind? Did they expect to see a man wearing fine clothing? Those in fine clothing are seen in palaces. So why had they gone? Were they seeking a prophet? Jesus agreed that John was a prophet, but more than that. John was the fulfillment of God’s Word, which prophesied a messenger before the coming of Messiah, to prepare the people to receive him.

Commentary:

John had witnessed and testified to Jesus as the Messiah at Jesus’ Baptism (John 1:31-34). But in prison he was discouraged and sought confirmation that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. John heard what Jesus was doing but wasn’t able to see for himself. Jesus pointed to the works he was doing in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah in the Scriptures (Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1).

Jesus added that those who were not offended by what Jesus was saying and doing would be blessed. The Gospel of Jesus is offensive to worldly people. The Gospel convicts us of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). We are all guilty of sin, and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23), but unless we’re willing to admit our sinfulness, we cannot be forgiven (1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

At the time of Jesus’ first advent (coming), the Jews considered themselves righteous by their keeping of the Law of Moses. They couldn’t see that they failed to fulfill the whole Law (James 2:10), so the Gospel of Jesus was offensive to them.

John was more than a prophet; he was the herald of the Messiah’s coming, prophesied in Malachi 3:1. He was the “Elijah” (Matthew 11:12-14; 17:10-13), who was prophesied to return before the coming Messiah.

John was more than a prophet. He was a prophet like Elijah, the greatest of Old Testament prophets, and he was the herald of the coming of the Messiah. He facilitated Christ’s coming. But the least “born-again” Christian is greater than John. John had a personal relationship with God, but each “born-again” Christian has the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit within him in a way John did not. Jesus’ blood sacrifice on the cross was necessary for our spiritual cleansing, so that we could be “temples” of the Holy Spirit.

I assert that the Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer. John came preaching a water baptism for repentance and forgiveness of sin to prepare us to receive Jesus. The Church is to testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. It is to call people to repent, confess their sin, and be baptized with water for forgiveness, in preparation for the coming of Jesus by his Holy Spirit within us, now, and for his ultimate coming on the Day of Judgment at his Second Coming.

I assert that the role of the Church is to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Great Commission which Jesus gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out only after his disciples have been spiritually “reborn” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1 4-5, 8). The Church is to teach its members to learn, trust and obey Jesus’ teachings and to seek spiritual “rebirth” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Christians are by definition “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (Acts 11:26) of Jesus Christ.

There are many false teachers and false teachings in the world and within the nominal Church today. Calling ourselves Christians and calling Jesus our Lord doesn’t make it so (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). There are mainline denominations today who teach that obedience to Jesus’ teachings are not necessary for salvation (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right), and that the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is automatically conferred by some church ritual such as water baptism or “Confirmation” of baptism (False Teachings, sidebar). Such “churches” are not only not doing their members any favors; they’re actually hindering their salvation and doing them great spiritual harm.

Only Jesus gives the gift (“baptism;” “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).

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)?


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