Tuesday, January 31, 2012

John 15 17 to 27

17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Key Observation:
They hate Him without a cause.

I wonder if this passage is not better taken as being a comparison: “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” Obviously the Bible teaches man is lost in sin; Jesus teaches this so many times, I think it a waste of time establishing it. What does my Lord mean then, when He says “they had not had sin”? I think perhaps it is better taken in the sense of that which the passage has been teaching. Jesus is talking about pruning out some branches here. Is this one of the branches to be pruned? Are the leaders of Israel now more responsible for having rejected their Savior?

I think, so long as they had not seen the Lord, that they could “pretend” to be in the will of God. I do not think Jesus is teaching about original sin here; what He is saying is that now the men are more responsible and thus more sinful because they have rejected Jesus. There are many times after I present the gospel to friends that reject that gospel. I walk away wondering if I have not just made things worse for them. Are they not now subject to a higher judgment? I mean that they have now had the gospel clearly presented to them, something that does not happen freely to most of our world. What are they going to say when they meet the judgment of God? At least before hearing the gospel, they might use the very poor excuse that they were ignorant, though Romans 1:20 makes it clear that even that excuse will not work. What I am trying to say is that when someone I have presented the gospel to, turns it down, I walk away knowing somehow that I probably have made their judgment worse.

So does it stop me from preaching? No, not at all. I know the only salvation is in Jesus, and until they find Him, the wicked will find no rest. One of the wonderful things I look forward to as a Christian is watching Jesus finally rule over the earth. Isaiah and Jeremiah and the prophets paint such a pastoral picture of the coming of His reign, and I do look forward to it. But, being very much a dispensationalist, I know that even with Jesus in the flesh, still men will fail their responsibilities. We are now in the age of grace, of the mystery kingdom, and we are failing to spread the message as it ought to be spread, and also, men are failing to hear the message as they ought to. Then, mankind will even have the KING of KINGS to rule over them, and though there will be a great movement of humans toward God, yet still they will fail. Just as men have failed the test of every dispensation. How do I know they will fail? I have read The Revelation, chapter 20, where when the thousand years of Christ’s reigning are over, Satan will be loosed again, and “deceive the nations”.

If there is any constant in our world it must lie within the fact that we fail to be what we ought to be. But therein is the gospel, Jesus Christ has come to save sinners, of whom I am foremost. We need grace. Someone wiser than I long ago formed an acronym from GRACE: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I can’t say it better than that!

Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed

1. Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?

2. Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut its glories in,
When God, the mighty maker, died
For his own creature's sin.

4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

5. But drops of tears can ne'er repay
The debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
'Tis all that I can do.

Lyrics: Isaac Watts

Monday, January 30, 2012

John 15 7 to 16

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Key Observation:
The two key themes Jesus is emphasizing here is that we love one another, and that we bear much fruit.

McGee has this to say about abiding: “Abiding is a continuing communion. That is the relationship of branch and vine. I have a 72 x 123 ranch here in California on which grow four avocado trees, three orange trees, and one tangerine tree. I have never had to say to the branches that they should abide in the tree or we wouldn’t have any fruit. I’ve never been up in the night to inspect them or come home unexpectedly and found the branches running around away from the tree. They abide and they bear fruit. You think I am being ridiculous. However, many Christians think they can live like the Devil all week and on Saturday night, then come in and serve the Lord on Sunday. I happen to know because I tried that for years. My friend, we must be in constant communion with Him to bear fruit. That means when you wake in the morning, when you are at your desk in the office, when you are driving your car on the streets, you are abiding in constant communion.”

Abiding means staying in tune with, walking by the side of, residing where I am supposed to be. Abiding is the conditional part on my part—what I must do if I desire to be able to come to God and ask whatever I will. It is a profound and gigantic promise—ask whatever you will and I will do it for you. The interesting thing about the Christian life is that abiding in Christ might be thought to be impossible. How can I, being so weak and ineffectual, possibly abide in Christ? I cannot begin to do it in my own power. It is only through taking on the very nature and power of God that I can find victory. The song says there is victory in Jesus, and indeed there is.

What is demanded of me then? I must surrender my ways to God. When I have to answer the phone and talk to that guy that always seems to take forever, when I have to visit someone sick or poor for the umpteenth time, when I get the request late at night to do something for my brother in Christ—at those times I need to surrender to God, and let the Holy Spirit in me do what He will. Jesus tells the stories of two sons, one which says he will do the will of his father, but does not do it, and secondly, the one who says he will not do the will of his father, but goes and does it. I am far more like the second son—I start off unwilling and am made willing as I surrender to God. I learned early in my Christian life to pray, not that I would be willing to do everything, but that I could be made willing to be made willing to do anything God wanted me to do.

There is a huge difference. I think I will never, at least on this side of heaven, want to do the good things that I am called to do—rather I need to pray that God will make me over in His image, to be more willing to do those things that He wants me to. I have no trouble with wanting to do everything the Lord wants me to do, except when it becomes something specific that I really do not want to do. That sort of reminds my of the fellow who quipped, “I love the world, it’s the people I can’t stand.” I know what my Lord did for me, and that ought to motivate me, not to do everything, but to surrender to Him in everything.

He calls me His friend in this passage, and reminds me that friends give their lives for each other. He willingly gave His life for me. Should I not willingly give my life for Him? And He has not given me an impossible task, for His very Spirit resides within me to make possible that which I could never do on my own. There is victory in Jesus!

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 103174-103180). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Victory in Jesus

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood's atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow'r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and bro't
To me the victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

Author: Eugene Bartlett
Year Written: 1939
Copyright: BMI Work#1803360

Sunday, January 29, 2012

John 15 1 to 6

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Key Observation:
This area of Scripture is addressed to believers and is teaching about believers bearing fruit.

McGee: “This passage is directed to believers, to those who are already in Christ. Jesus is not talking about how a person gets saved. He is not actually talking about salvation at all in this passage. Rather, He is talking about fruit-bearing, and that is the next word we wish to mark.” Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Rather than talking primarily about reproduction, or salvation of new believers, McGee feels, and I agree, that this passage is talking about the kinds of fruit being evidenced in the believer’s life.

It is a dangerous thing when I encounter “believers” who do not exhibit these fruits of the Spirit; I do allow for the fact that I see both imperfectly and only the few surface things I happen to be around. Nonetheless, when I encounter professing Christians who show little evidence of living a Spirit-filled life, I have encountered a Christian who is endangered. If there is little or no evidence of changes, has there really been a conversion? John tells us in his epistle “that they went out from us because they were really not of us.” Seeing believers who have little or no change makes me do reflective prayer, asking God to convict the person of their sin, and of his righteousness, and that is work done in an individual’s heart prior to conversion.

The last verse in today’s passage should be most sobering. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is burned. Perhaps in the light of other verses that do assure salvation, and God’s continued purpose, this is best looked at as a Christian continuing in sin that leads to death. Paul teaches of a Christian doing nothing right, and going to the Bema seat of Christ, where all Christians will go, and all of his works being burned up, yet he himself is saved. Remember the primary purpose of the Christian’s life is “to do good works, which God prepares in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10) It is God at work in us, bearing the fruits of the Spirit. Our job, however is very important, and not emphasized enough by some Bible teachers. Our job is to submit to God, that His Spirit may work His will out in us, and much of Scripture teaches us about this submission.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 103097-103099). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Breathe on Me, Breath of God

1. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

2. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until my will is one with Thine,
To do and to endure.

3. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

4. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Lyrics: Edwin Hatch

Saturday, January 28, 2012

John 14 22 to 31

22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

Key Observation:
There is no “middle” ground as far as Jesus is concerned; there are only those who keep the sayings of Jesus, believing in Him, or there are those are following the prince of this world, hearing not the words of God.

“My sheep hear my voice and come to me.” I have often thought of the analogy of the stockyard filtering cattle through it. As I understand it there are chutes of narrow fencing that the cattle go through on their way to the stockyard. I imagine that there are two chutes; one a chute of life and happiness, the other a chute for destruction and death. There is a common chute through which all cattle have to go—to the left is the chute of destruction, and to the right is the chute of life. Imagine that the common chute has pictures advertising the coming choice; cattle may turn to either chute, but the advertising along the way clearly tries to tell the cattle of the very different choices.

On the one side you have a skull and cross bones sign, with perhaps lots of fast food signs indicating what the left side will bring. On the other side you have pictures of beautiful green pastures with lots of hay on the ends of the fields. Further on this side is the Good Shepherd calling to those cattle. Most ignore His voice, and end their lives in violent judgment; a few hear the voice of the Shepherd, and instinctively turn to follow it, that they might find the Shepherd and finding Him, find life.

There is no middle ground; some of the cattle seem to hear the Shepherd’s voice, but do not turn from the “wicked way”. Others seem oblivious to His voice, and continue blindly to their desserts. But there are only two choices; all really is black and white, saved or unsaved, lost or found. That is not as I see the world and perhaps I am not meant yet to see it that way. I see good and bad in most of us—even those that have become saints often struggle against sin (as I do) unsuccessfully. Certainly I see different degrees of “badness” in the evil world about me—some of the horrific deeds that plaster our headlines so often tell me of the tragedy of the human heart gone wrong.

But at the base of it all there is right and wrong; people choose life or death, and there is nothing in the middle. Either you follow Jesus, or you follow the prince of this world. Today it is not fashionable to even mention evil, let alone the name of Satan. All is tolerated, and tolerated in what I think is the very wrong sense—it is embraced as a valid alternative lifestyle. The more people accept evil without condemnation, the more civilized they are thought to be. Nothing could be further from the gospel. Make no mistake, as Jesus loved the world, so I am supposed to follow His example. The responsibility for carrying the Word of God is mine, and surely it amounts to madness that my God should trust me to carry it. But He does, it is not madness, it is His very plan, and the Scripture says, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21) Our attitude should be that which is given in the book of Jude, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

Did you read that last? Toleration of the world for saints is never approval of sinful lifestyles. We should not follow the wise men of our times, who tell us there is no right and wrong, there is only right and wrong for you. The Bible stands in the chute today telling us to turn towards life, and in the turning to repudiate every deviant lifestyle, even while showing mercy and love. A very high calling indeed.

Make Me a Channel of Blessing

1. Is your life a channel of blessing?
Is the love of God flowing through you?
Are you telling the lost of the Savior?
Are you ready His service to do?

2. Is your life a channel of blessing?
Are you burdened for those that are lost?
Have you urged upon those who are straying,
The Savior Who died on the cross?

3. Is your life a channel of blessing?
Is it a daily telling for Him?
Have you spoken the Word of salvation
To those who are dying in sin?

4. We cannot be channels of blessing
If our lives are not free from known sin;
We will barriers be and a hindrance
To those we are trying to win.

Make me a channel of blessing today,
Make me a channel of blessing, I pray;
My life possessing, my service blessing,
Make me a channel of blessing today.

Lyrics: Harper Garcia Smyth

Friday, January 27, 2012

John 14 15 to 21

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Key Observation:
We will get another Comforter who will abide with us forever.

Yesterday I learned that the Triune God is involved in answering prayer; I found verses which explicitly state that each part of the Godhead can be involved in answering prayer. Today Jesus begins to explain about the Holy Spirit, called here another Comforter. Now the Holy Spirit’s job here is to abide with me forever, which means I will have God in me for the rest of eternity.

As I look ahead to what Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit, I find this:
1) He is the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept. (14:17)
2) He will testify about Jesus. (John 15:26)
3) He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.
(John 16:8)
4) He will convict the world of sin because of unbelief (John 16:9)
5) He will convict of righteousness because Jesus is going to the Father. (John 16:10)
6) He will convict of judgment because the prince of this world has been condemned.
7) He will guide us into all truth. (John 16:12)
8) He will bring glory to Jesus. (John 16:14)
9) He will take from what belongs to Jesus, and make it known unto us. (John 16:15)

Summing up, He will testify, convict, guide, bring glory, and take—that is He will:
1) testify about Jesus
2) convict the world of sin
3) convict of righteousness
4) convict of judgment
5) guide us into all truth
6) bring glory to Jesus
7) take from what belongs to Jesus and make it known to us.

Thus there seem to be seven definite things that Jesus is teaching that the Holy Spirit does for us. There may be more; yesterday I did point out that Paul teaches the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we are in prayer. I do also remember that He is called the Restrainer (2 Thess. 2:7), and is evidently preventing Satan himself from working his power of lawlessness.

So I would not suppose the list to be exhaustive, but it seems to include all that Jesus does teach in the gospel of John. I thank God for deigning to put even His nature into me; because of that I am indeed a new creature, and even the gates of hell will not prevail against that which He has done.

Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart

1. Spirit of God, descend upon my heart:
Wean it from earth, thro' all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

2. Hast Thou not bid us love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling;
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find.

3. Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

4. Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame:
The baptism of the heav'n descended Dove
My heart an altar and Thy love the flame.

Lyrics: George Croly

Thursday, January 26, 2012

John 14 12 to 14

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Key Observation:
We have complete access to prayers to Jesus.

If I ask anything in His name, He will do it. In this passage it is Jesus who answers prayer Himself. In John 16:23, Jesus specifically says, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” In Romans 8: 26, the Scripture says, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes with groans that words cannot express.” What a marvel prayer is! Here are three separate passages that tell of the different members of the Triune God, all three separately working to answer our prayers.

There is a growing school today that tries to teach that all that we pray for is ordained already of God. While this may be true from the point of view of God, who cannot be surprised, neither will encounter anything that He has not planned for, yet, in the sense of our responsibility before God, I am convinced there is much that we do not have because we do not ask. Why am I convinced of that?

Well, first off, the Scripture says it, “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2) James, the book that marries the idea of faith and works, also counsels me, “Remember this, whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.” I am convinced that many of the unreached around us could be reached if I were more prayerful and alert to God. You might say to me, “Oh, Pat, that is not so. God saves everyone that He elects.” Well, I would say back, you and I would agree that God foreknows the elect and has predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Son. That we agree wholeheartedly on! But the method of reaching the lost is given through the preaching of the cross. What happens, I would ask, when we will not preach?

What I am trying to say is that God has intended all along to use imperfect vessels to carry forth His word. It is a miracle truly to see anyone saved through the preaching of imperfect vessels. What would have happened if D. L. Moody had decided that proclaiming the gospel was not something he should worry about? What would have happened if I had decided not to pray for my own father, and preach the gospel to him many times? The rule, of course, is that neither you nor I can say with any degree of confidence what would have happened. I do not think that we can ever know what would have happened to the path not chosen. We do know because the Scripture says, that it pleased God to “by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

I do know that Paul asks us a very serious question: “How shall they hear without a preacher?” Where would India be if William Carey was too busy to answer the call? I am well aware that saints use the sovereignty of God as a focus for what happens, and well they should, but I know that God has made us responsible, and that we ought to be doing “our utmost for His highest”. The price the body of Christ pays when we are not striving in the Spirit can only be imagined; fortunately I cannot see the end of what might have been had I chosen a better course.

I am saying all of this to try to impart some sort of urgency to the body of prayerful saints. I am old, and soon will be older, but I have watched my communities come together in prayer, and watched revival happen many times because of that urgency falling on a small group of saints. I do not think that the pat answer of non-thinking saints is enough. I know that prayers are often coming from the leading of God Himself. What I am told in James ought to give me huge pause, “Remember this, whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20) It is evident from this verse that our choices can and do impact the world around us for Christ. The verse is not saying that I do anything more than preach the cross, and it is indeed God Himself who does the convicting. But the question, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” is meant to be a haunting one, one that pricks my conscience.

So, when I gather with even just a few brothers for the purpose of prayer, let me gather knowing that I have the Triune God listening to me, and that I should be burdened for the lost around me, as God Himself is, and that I ought to be using this most holy weapon of prayer to maximize the advance of the gospel. It is not me, it is never me, yet it has pleased God to work His wonders through the foolishness of my preaching. Oh that I might be wise enough to pray for opportunities for that preaching, that revival of my brothers might include a holy fire burning with zeal to see the message advanced! We should always be vigilant in prayer, that God might send those holy fires of revival beginning in us, and that we might see the message spread into our community. What did Christ promise me in today’s message? “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Christ For the World We Sing

1. Christ for the world we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With loving zeal
The poor, and them that mourn,
The faint and overborne,
Sinsick and sorrow-worn,
For Christ to heal.

2. Christ for the world we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With fervent prayer
The wayward and the lost,
By restless passions tossed,
Redeemed at countless cost
From dark despair.

3. Christ for the world we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With one accord
With us the work to share,
With us reproach to dare,
With us the cross to bear,
For Christ our Lord.

4. Christ for the world we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With joyful song
The newborn souls whose days,
Reclaimed from error's ways,
Inspired with hope and praise,
To Christ belong.

Lyrics: Samuel Wolcott

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

John 14 5 to 11

5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

Key Observation:
There is only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus.

Now I come to one of the most important verses in the Bible. This relates strongly to John 10, where Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” Jesus plays the exclusive card here, and since this is God come in the flesh, I should heed what He is saying. He plainly says that He is the way, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him.

Many Christians over the years, especially those who wander into the more liberal camp, and do not want to take the Bible literally have speculated endlessly about religions all pointing the way to the same God. Our current president spent over 20 years belonging to a church that receives those of Muslim faith as co-equals in their church. I live in a society which takes pride in being an inclusive society; such societies have great pride in its tolerance, and as a national policy such tolerance might be a grand idea. But with Christianity, I just cannot go there.

Many years ago now, I got a fellow worker upset at me. I did not say anything nor do anything to anger him. Rather he found out that I was a Christian, and spout off about me he did. And you know something? I deserved every word of it. You see, this worker realized that Christianity is a closed system, and because of his lifestyle, it seemed to him that Christians were excluding him. He was partially right—there are many lifestyles which Christians need to exclude from giving them a seal of approval—that is all part of living, or attempting to live the life to which they have been called. Lifestyles, sinful choices, or a mixture of religions are supposed to be denounced as ungodly. The challenge for me as a Christian is to communicate a love for the sinner, but not for the sin.

But he was correct in thinking of the Christian system as closed. It is closed, and John 14:6 closes one of the main doors very securely. Let me be clear here. There is no sin which cannot be forgiven as the saint turns to Christ, but there are many behaviors which are simply wrong, and I do not have the privilege of calling right that which I am told is wrong. When I have a chance to witness, I like to point to this saying, this verse from Jesus, and simply say that there is only one way to heaven, and that way is through Jesus. The main alternate way has been refused from God from the first of creation; it was Cain who brought his fruits of the soil, only to find that God rejected his offering. Cain, enraged, had vengeance on his brother, and ever since then, man has brought his own offering to please God. It has never ever worked.

Today’s society often suffers from the delusion that God will measure our works, and that if our good somehow outweighs our bad, somehow God will overlook the bad. I have noticed that even bad people tend to think that though the bad is bad, somehow God will overlook that also, and let them into His heaven. Nothing could be more delusional. The reformation brought people back to the Word, and the Word teaches that only by faith can we ever please God. He that comes to God, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Today we have a doctrine of free grace, and I believe that each of our Reformers would be dreadfully upset at such a doctrine. We are quite guilty of teaching others that all you have to do is mentally assent to Jesus and you will be saved. Make no mistake, I came to God with sin-stained hands, and with the sin nature that I was born to, and freely I am forgiven. But at the same time I am called to live a holy life, a life separated unto God. The reformers expressed this truth regularly—that grace is free, but it is also transforming. When I come to Christ, my life on the outside should become much more circumspect precisely because the Spirit of God has been put inside me. Grace is free, but it also is transforming. The man who is not changed by his faith is a man who should question the reality of that faith.

I know that we are imperfect; indeed, I know my imperfections to a far greater degree than I would tell you. I would not tell God either, but He already knows. And still I have grace! Forgiveness from sin is freely granted, but the life we are called to live, by His power, is filled with a turning away from sin, and towards Christ. The life which is not being changed by His power is a life in peril. Paul does tell us of Christians whose works amount to nothing and at the reward seat of Christ all of their works are burned as by fire.

The answer from the Christian perspective should be clear; there is not any God beside our God, and there remains nothing to be done for those who reject the Son of God. The provision for the world’s sin was fully adequate in every way, and those who disdain it are in deepest peril. Jesus, in John 14:6, took away forever any thinking that we might have about coming to God another way. It is as Jesus said. The pathway to heaven is a narrow one, and few there are that find it, but the road to Hell is broad, and many there are that are found upon it.

A Charge To Keep I Have

1. A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

2. To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master's will!

3. Arm me with jealous care
As in Thy sight to live,
And now Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

4. Help me to watch and pray,
And still on Thee rely,
O let me not my trust betray,
But press to realms on high.

Lyrics: Charles Wesley

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

John 14 1 to 4

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Key Observation:
Jesus is preparing a place for us.

This discourse of Jesus is my favorite, and it begins right here. McGee feels that the break between chapter 13 and 14 here is unfortunate (it is not broken into chapters in the original), and thinks the first part of 14 is directed at Peter, to help him after he denies Jesus. “Simon Peter has just declared that he would lay down his life for Him. Then the Lord Jesus told him that he would deny Him three times by the time the rooster crowed in the morning. We will see later that, when the rooster crowed that morning, Simon Peter had denied Him three times. Still speaking to Simon Peter, our Lord gave this chapter to bring him through that dark night of denial and to bring him back into a right relationship with God. It was given to comfort him. This chapter has cushioned the shock for multitudes of people from that day right down to the present hour.”

As for me, I am so thankful to Peter for his broken record of faithfulness; often I see myself in him, though I would rather be the disciple that John was. Peter, indeed, messed up all the time. I mess up also, and thinking about it on the way home today, remembering my sins, and all the things I wished I had not done, and then about God’s grace. I said to myself that if there is any way that my salvation is in the least dependant on me, then I am surely lost. All to Him I owe. To think that my Lord’s love for Peter may have caused Him to begin this discourse is of great comfort. Imagine these words being directed to Peter: “Let not your heart be troubled.” If you believe in God, believe also in me.

I worked among the homeless at Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles for nearly four years. Though I have not been back, living in Northern California as I do, I still smile as I remember the homeless men loudly singing “I Have a Mansion Over the Hilltop.” Those men, bereft of any home or possessions, knew the preciousness of this promise. I trust Peter realized the preciousness of this promise too.

Notice the promise is twofold:
1) I go to prepare a place for you,
and 2) I will come back and take you to be with me.
Paul also teaches of two things that happen to the church (that are closely related to the promise). The first thing is those who die, Paul teaches, are present with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8). I have watched funerals where the people attending have no hope, and there is a great emotional drain on these folk that goes beyond anything I have seen. My wondering is about that first thing that happens. Did part of what Jesus did in His ascension make that place for us? I think so, and Paul, does tell us further that when we saints lose someone, that we sorrow, but not as those who have no hope.

But Jesus is telling us that He will come back and take us to be with Him. That has not happened yet, but Paul teaches that one day soon Jesus will return, bringing those “who have fallen asleep in Him” and we who are alive will be caught up together with Him. So shall we be with Him forever! Oh victory! Oh death! Where is your sting?

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 102809-102813). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

I’ve Got a Mansion Just Over the Hilltop

I'm satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that's silver lined

I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold

Though often tempted, tormented, and tested
And like the prophet my pillow's a stone
And though I find here no permanent dwelling
I know He'll give me a mansion my own

I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold

Don't think me poor or deserted or lonely
I'm not discouraged I'm heaven bound
I'm but a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown

I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold

By Ira Stamphill

Monday, January 23, 2012

John 13 33 to 38

33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.

Key Observation:
Peter, ready to fight, was willing to lay down his life, but the Lord foretold his denials.

I remember studying The Life of Christ in Stereo about 30 years ago. The book is an effort to sandwich all four of the gospels together in a time line. If I recall correctly, the book makes a compelling case for Peter denying Christ not three times, but instead six times. Evidently John is only recording half of the conversation here, as it is evident elsewhere that Jesus makes 2 statements concerning Peter’s denial: 1) Before the cock crows, thou shalt deny me thrice, and 2) Before the cock crows twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. At first I remember thinking it was just a slight forget, the word twice, and that it would be expected of witnesses who may or may not have heard it directly.

But what is so compelling about the case is the number of people who accuse Peter of being one of Jesus’ disciples. There are many more than three, and when lined up in the harmonizing of the gospels, it is fairly evident that Peter denied his Lord six times. I think it likely, though the evidence is not there, that those hearing the conversation either only heard part of it, or only recorded part of it. I think most probably that Peter came back to the Lord, insisting that he would never deny his Lord, and it was then that the Lord says that before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times, thus suggesting to Peter that it would happen six times.

As I think on it, I realize I may never know, and I realize that is wonderful. Peter has had enough of his sins out there for thousands of years, and for millions of people to look at. I would find that embarrassing enough, without everyone trying to figure out after we get to heaven whether it really was three times, or was it six? I remember the promise of God, that He will cast our sins into the depths of the sea, and will remember them no more. What a beautiful thing forgiveness is! My sins, ever before me, will be forgotten as my Lord and my God makes me into a new creature!

By this, says Jesus, will the world know that you are my disciples, that you love one another. It is love for my fellow disciples that witnesses to the world. It is my love to my brothers in Christ that will have powerful pull on the unsaved. When I think of all the times we have not begun to find love, when it should have been the first thing to look for, I shudder to think of my personal failure. Recently I was reading letters from Wesley to Whitefield and back again. Both men were most careful to express love to each other even in their disagreements about election and free will. At least in that instance, both set an example that teaches me how I should behave towards my brothers: love first, and disagreements always set behind that love. As the Word reminds me, “love covers a multitude of sins.”

Only the last three verses of this hymn, because they are especially appropriate to the topic:
There's a Wideness in God's Mercy

10. It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
'Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.

11. But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

12. Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us
Come and gather at His feet?

Lyrics: Frederick William Faber

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cry Out For Revival!

Cry Out For Revival!
Thoughts from sermon, 1/22/12

Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1Peter 2:12

Today, more than any recent time, I see a shift in what Christianity is doing to America, and it frightens me. Our speaker this morning gave an example: “Christians saying, ‘Jesus is the only way’ is considered hate speech in our country. I am old, and will soon be, Lord willing, older. I recall the spirit of the times in the 1970s. Headlines screamed day after day of government wanting to run families, of CPS being called whenever a parent spanked a child, even in the grocery stores. I remember the “unisex” drive to merge both sexes, a denial of differences between boys and girls, and I remember having trouble finding the men’s section in the shoe store because of all the similarity in men’s and women’s shoes. I remember a dearth of Christianity, at least coming from the nation.

I remember also many hippies being saved. I recall efforts by giants like David Wilkerson, and Jews for Jesus to reach out for lost youth. Well I should remember them, for I accepted Christ in just such a time, May 5, 1972. The spiritually dead time of the 60’s broke into revival of the 70’s and led to even Time Magazine heralding “The Year of the Evangelical”. But as I look back now, the early 80’s were nearly 30 years ago, and what has happened to America since then?

The speaker this morning brought up ‘cutters’, but I remember cutters throughout the 80s. Still, I wonder if she did not have a point, for even after thirty years it still remains an unknown to mainstream society, but is perhaps growing in the field of what I would call bizarre. Now, being nearly 60, I do beg forgiveness on the part of those who are younger, but please let me tell you what I find so appalling in today’s world. Cutters do bother me; they bothered me when I first saw a pretty young high school girl cutting herself in 1985. What is the thing with tattoos? I do not understand why people want to deface their bodies for a lifetime. I have never understood the nearly twenty years of baggy pants and young men. Do they really want everyone to think their pants are falling down? I have always wondered whether there is not a hidden metaphor in there somewhere, where the children are trying and failing to fill the pants of their parents. And the piercings? I grew up slightly after the beatniks, and thought they were weird, but they cannot hold a candle to the people who seem to want to pierce every inch of their bodies.

I recall drugs being a problem; after all, Nixon declared his “war on drugs” in the sixties. But I still wonder if the problem has not gotten lots worse. I do hear employers all over the country having a hard time finding enough employees who can even pass a drug test. Evidence for Christianity leading the nation is at a low; the president belonged for over 20 years to a church which seems to be anything but Biblical, in its hatred and bigotry, and tolerance of even Islamic members. What is Christianity if not an exclusive religion?

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” I know it to be somewhat old fashioned to quote the Bible, but there it is anyway. Our society today does, as our speaker said, want to accept anything and everything as valid, and it seems to successfully put down any who want to hold to a creed. It seems that there is a damnable doctrine of “tolerance” out there that disabuses any notion of good and bad, of right and wrong.

But I want to look at things through the eyes of my Lord, and I have to say that I see a lot of similarities between today’s society and the time of the late sixties and early seventies. There was a big push toward government doing everything in both times; both times seem to suffer with a rapidly decaying family. Charles Murray gives a lot of disheartening statistics on out of wedlock births and lack of marriages, which I think to be even worse than I knew in earlier times. My Lord says, “Do not say there are yet four months more and then harvest. I tell you, open your eyes and look on the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (I believe our speaker referred to this verse??)

I cannot tell you how excited I am! We live in the last days, the days just before our Lord will take us away, and when the world will be judged for its lack of faith. I ask you what better time could we live in? Our church is stepping into a 44,000 square foot facility, and this morning at Starbucks our barista marveled, saying what are you going to do with all that space? My prayer is that all of those empty nooks and crannies will be filled with the harvest of souls from Elk Grove. I want Young Life using it. I want it filled with youth, as MaryBeth outlined for us this morning. I want outreach to the homeless. I want active evangelism started in our community. In short, what I do not want, is for it to remain empty.

It is just for such a time as this that we live. It is our responsibility to bring a message of hope to the hopeless, and I cannot remember a time in which our message is more ripe for giving. We stand at the cusp of history, not yelling ‘stop’ as Buckley says, but giving the only message possible to stop the downfall of America. Let us begin with Elk Grove, holding her up to God in prayer, that if by any means, the Lord will use us to harvest the bountiful harvest of needy souls. It may well be, as our speaker said, that we have stagnated horribly as a society, but within that horrible stagnation is the richest of opportunity for generation. Will you join me in fervent effectual prayer to the Lord of the Harvest, that He might provide a rich harvest, beginning in Elk Grove, right in the building, formerly known as Gold’s Gym? Oh, that we might see a change, that the gym which glorified nothing but the bodies of men and women, might speak instead to their souls, and begin pouring the immeasurable love of God into them!

Revival begins with one person asking himself what would Jesus do. I went to Biola in the seventies, and know of three professors in Biola who dared to stand up in the seventies and ask God for revival, and the things they received for Biola forty years ago are still impacting the school today. Three men, praying and emptying their souls before God, claimed the junior high school adjacent to their property, and today Biola is able to reach and teach twice the students! Along with it came a surge in missionaries sent round the world to give the gospel to the needy.

There is a famous story about D.L. Moody, that as a beginning Christian, he read the words, “It remains to be seen what one man, wholly committed to God can do.” It is said that Moody determined to be that man. Look what happened! I say to you, God, who is the same God of those praying professors, who is the same God as Moody had, can bring great revival in this last time. Oh, that you might see it by faith, and enter into prayer together. Perhaps I could amend the saying that inspired Moody: “It remains to be seen what one church can do for God, wholly committed unto Him.”

Standing in the Need of Prayer

1. Not my father, not my mother, but it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.
Not my sister, not my brother, but it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.

2. Not the people that are shouting, but it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.
Not the members I've been doubting, but it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.

3. Not the preacher, not the sinner, but it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.
Not the deacon, not the teacher, but it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.

It's me, it's me, it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.
It's me, it's me, it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.

John 13 21 to 32

21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
25 He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.

Key Observation:
Jesus gives permission to Judas to betray Him, and this confounds me with sovereignty and free will working together.

Simon Peter leads the way in asking, but asks John, because John, as the best friend of Jesus is sitting right next to Jesus and is thus in-between Peter and Jesus. John asks the question, which evidently is answered in a low enough tone that most of those present, especially Judas, do not hear the reply.

I do not know what Judas thought when Jesus gave His permission to Judas to betray Him. Did Judas realize what was behind the statement: “That thou doest, do quickly”? I do know that Satan was already in Judas, tempting him to do that which Judas had already been considering. As previously mentioned, I think that Judas reacted to the money that Mary had spent on the perfume, more than a year’s wages, evidently deciding this was the last straw, for Matthew tells of Judas going to the leaders to betray Jesus directly after this.

How beautifully God has interwoven the will of man with the sovereignty of God. Psalm 109 really is a prophetic foretelling of Judas, and we learn that Satan entered Judas from Luke 22. But from John, we learn that Judas was already a thief, and habitually stole money (John 12:6). So which is more important—the sovereignty of God, or the will and nature of Judas? I do not think it answerable, but rather I think that we see them harmonizing together in some intangible or unknowable way to the glory of God, that He might be completely sovereign, and that Judas might be held completely responsible for his betrayal.

I do not believe man is made to explain this mystery of God—the harmonizing of responsibility and sovereignty; Tozer says somewhere (I have not had much luck in retrieving it) that if we insist on lifting either responsibility or sovereignty too high, we diminish the one at the expense of the other. I do believe that, as the Bible presents both, and I do believe it is my duty and obligation to choose to believe what the Word says, no matter the difficulty in resolving what John Piper and Roger Olson both confess as paradoxes of their different systematic theologies.

Explain the Trinity to me—you can’t. Explain to me how Jesus can be both fully man and God—you can’t. But we believe these doctrines in spite of their irresolvable difficulties. I do believe it is so with election and human responsibility—we must believe the Scriptures as they are presented, and leave room later for God to show His complete righteousness and the fallibility and responsibility of man. What a better testimony the church would have if we left the mysteries of God to God, and instead got back to our known and plain duties of loving each other and persuading men of the Christ!

Almost Persuaded

1. "Almost persuaded" now to believe;
"Almost persuaded" Christ to receive:
Seems now some soul will say,
"Go Spirit, go Thy way;
Some more convenient day
On Thee I'll call."

2. "Almost persuaded," come, come today;
"Almost persuaded," turn not away:
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near,
Prayers rise from hearts so dear,
O wanderer, come.

3. "Almost persuaded," harvest is past!
"Almost persuaded," doom comes at last!
"Almost" cannot avail,
"Almost" is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail,
"Almost," but lost!

Lyrics: Philip Paul Bliss

Saturday, January 21, 2012

John 13 15 to 20

15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Key Observation:
Prophecy: Jesus foretells the betrayal of Judas, in order that afterwards the disciples might indeed believe that He is the Son of God.

I used to sit under the teaching of an old preacher who frequently taught about numerology, or the study of the symbolism of numbers. While it is possible to go too far in this interpretive mode (Augustine is one example of going too far—numbers are forever being explained by him.), this preacher taught that every time chapter 13 was encountered there was something wrong. I thought, as a young man, that I had caught him, and asked him, ‘What’s wrong with Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians?’ This chapter is famous for its love theme, and stands as one of the highest expressions of the truest expressions of man. The preacher had the whole congregation memorize this chapter because we lacked love for each other, a fact I should have remembered before I objected. He replied to me without a second’s hesitation, ‘There is too little love being shown, even among Christians.’

At any rate, I come to the 13th chapter of John, and I do find something terrible wrong. The chapter begins with Judas being prompted by Satan to betray Jesus (verse 2) and that is so terribly wrong. In the passage today, in verse 13: “He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me”, a quotation that Jesus is making from Psalm 41. McGee opens his commentary on this passage noting: “The third reason is that another person had entered into the room. There was an uninvited guest present. His name was Satan. We speak of thirteen persons in the Upper Room, but actually, there were fourteen because Satan was there. Satan put into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Him. Wherever the Devil gets into Christian work, others are affected and the Lord must wash them. He must wash us if we are to have fellowship with Him.”

There is great irony unfolding in these chapters which denote the last week of Jesus. On the one hand, the greatest discourse of Jesus is given to his disciples, and some of the greatest treasures are told privately to them. Jesus is letting his disciples know of the full estate that they are coming to, showing them that God is lifting them far above any station that they could ever have dreamed about, and Jesus is also giving us a higher hope than ever conceived as He unfolds the plan of salvation to those with faith.

The main irony is found in Judas; that someone should betray Jesus was foretold long ago in the Psalms, but the timing of the betrayal exactly fulfills Psalm 41. What irony there is when this is the very hour at which Jesus gives his last words, knowing time is short, and that there are things which must be said before He dies. But there is also irony in the fact that Jesus tells us of the dizzying heights to which He will raise us, but He does so only after telling us that we ought to wash one another’s feet. So at once I am raised up beyond expectation and told to humble myself beyond expectation.

Is that not the essence of my Savior? Has He not been lifted up, that every knee should bow, and that He should be above every other name? And yet, did He not humble Himself, counting Himself of no repute, and becoming obedient to death on the cross? What a life I am called to! I can never follow Jesus that way, because my heart and life are simply not good enough. But in realizing that it is impossible for me to live this life in my own power, I make the first step towards actually getting there. In the discourse that follows Jesus outlines his plan for the disciples and talks about His very Spirit being given to us, and this that we have no hope of accomplishing in our own power, becomes possible as we yield to the leadership of that Spirit.

I fear we Christians have become too self-centered, and seek to please ourselves rather than others. Tozer noted this trend even in his day: “In the United States and Canada the middle class today possesses more earthly goods and lives in greater luxury than emperors and maharajas did a short century ago. And since the bulk of Christians comes from this class it is not difficult to see why the apocalyptic hope has all but disappeared from among us. It is hard to focus attention upon a better world to come when a more comfortable one than this can hardly be imagined.” If it was true in Tozer’s day, it is even more true today. We in the United States are in what is called the “post-Christian” era. I may fight against this declaration, and I do; I may pray hard for a revival to sweep my country once more, and I do; I may struggle to find Christians honoring truth in an increasingly decadent society, and I do; but I cannot help but be confronted on every side by the generation that knows not Christ.

When we seek blessings and goods for ourselves we tend to forget about the imminent return of Christ Jesus, who asked, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” Surely in America He will find divorce, broken homes, moral degeneration, amid a growing and alarming tolerance for sin on the part of Christians. Is it not time to fall on our faces before God in repentance? In the Old Testament when kings read the Law, and discovered their own wickedness and short-comings, they covered themselves in sackcloth and ashes. Perhaps we need ourselves to get out the sackcloth and ashes. It is the first step toward revival of a desperately lost nation. And while we are at it, perhaps we can learn anew to wash one another’s feet.

Tozer, A.W. (2010-06-03). Man - The Dwelling Place of God (Kindle Locations 1918-1921). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 102598-102601). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

O For A Closer Walk With God1. O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

2. Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His word?

3. What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left and aching void
The world can never fill.

4. Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
And drove Thee from my breast.

5. The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

6. So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

Lyrics: William Cowper

Friday, January 20, 2012

John 13:1-15

1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Key Observation:
In the midst of the end of Jesus’ life, He takes time to teach servanthood.

This chapter marks the beginning of the end. It may be surprising to see that the cross is being written about already, since chapter 13 is little more than halfway through the book, but the resurrection is central to my foundation as a Christian. Without the resurrection I have nothing, no afterlife, no anything—all of my faith rests on the resurrection, for in the resurrection Jesus has conquered sin in my behalf. I could never be sure of sufficient coverage but for the fact of the resurrection, which symbolizes the triumph of life over death, of the power of Christ over sin. Because He arose, I can know He reigns supreme, and I am certain His promises are altogether faithful. He tells me that belief in Him as the Son of God is sufficient to invoke all the power of God in my behalf, and again the resurrection is the confirmation of that power. Death could not keep my Lord—actually the Bible teaches the opposite, for it is God who demonstrates His power even over this in the resurrection.

I notice that those who are not real believers usually have little to say on the resurrection, and often they have much to say about taking away from the deity of my Lord. Be careful of those who would present to you another Jesus, other than the Bible presents. In fact, all of the gospels place a heavy emphasis on the last days of Jesus. Says McGee: “So about one-third of the gospel records deal with the last few days and place the emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” All of the writers are agreed; the amount of their writing about the resurrection is there to make us know it is a key point of Christianity. The hope of Christianity is founded on Jesus dying for our sins, and being raised again for our justification. Paul writes: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

Jesus has reminded us throughout John that He lays His own life down and no man takes it from Him. Obviously men hung Him from the cross—they condemned and mocked Him. So what is Jesus saying to us here? Matthew tells us: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mt. 26:53) Until I realize that at every point, the sacrifice of Jesus was purely voluntary, I have no chance either of recognizing the richness of His gift, or of recognizing the power and sovereignty of our God.

And it is precisely because I see that power and sovereignty that the next action of my Lord is even more humbling. What does He do but gird Himself with towel and water, and begin washing the feet of his disciples? Most often I do not identify much with Peter, wanting to be more like what I see John to be, but in this instance I am sure I would share Peter’s feelings: “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” The utter power of the illustration floods my soul with humility, and wants to chase out the last vestiges of pride with my fellow servants. Reminded I am of Philippians 2: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, But made himself nothing.”

I wonder what a different world there might be if we all learned to love and serve like that, falling to our faces before our brothers in energetic endeavors to serve. How many more might have listened to my message, had I been more careful to exhibit the role of the servant to others? How many more might have become interested in the message of the cross if, instead of all the infighting, and divisions, and pretenses, instead we were known for being Christ-like?

I know that it is fashionable in our world to believe that God reaches every person He wants to, but that is not in accord with Scripture: “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” “For God so loved the world.” The Word also says: “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them.” Much has been said over this last verse (Romans 10), but I wonder what it would look like if I could just tweak it a bit. Is is not true that someone must preach? If that someone is hanging on pride, putting down others, and not following Christ, will non-Christians even bother to listen? As I look back over the history of Christianity, there are too many flavors of pride, selfishness, and arrogance for the flavor of the mild milk of the Word to even be tasted. We have much to answer for in our foolishness, and much humility to presently learn, if we wish to be used for revival.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 102262-102263). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Up From the Grave He Arose

Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus my Lord!

Death cannot keep its Prey,
Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord!

Author: Robert Lowery

Thursday, January 19, 2012

John 12 31 to 50

31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.
34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

Key observation:
He is the light for the world, that the world might be saved.

I see in verse 42 that there were many even among the chief rulers who believed. Maybe this is where Nicodemus comes in. What an awful dilemma! To believe and not commit out of fear of what would happen to me. Nicodemus helped with the burial of Jesus, and tried to dissuade the rulers from harming Jesus. This same Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, as it says in the third chapter. Perhaps that coming by night is why Jesus is observed to act fairly rudely to Nicodemus, belittling him because he is a ruler and “knows not these things.” I find that Jesus treats the woman of the well with more courtesy in the next chapter.

On the other hand, is it not wonderful that Jesus receives us as we are? Nicodemus was afraid of jeopardizing his position in the community, but I think Jesus takes him as he is. I still think of the grief of Nicodemus, for he might have done so much more had he made himself available to God. Contrast Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, but one who gave his position up freely to be tremendously used of God, a privilege that Nicodemus never found.

Yet still he did find some ways of helping. Nicodemus is illustrative of those Christians who are so under the radar, and out of sight of the community, lest harm come to them or their families. I do rejoice that soon the need for such secrecy will pass. For the Scripture says that all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest.

Here again, as I encounter so many times in John, John uses “all” and the “world” to tell us who He came for. I was delighted recently to find Calvin’s commentary on John does not try to change interpretation here. Calvin genuinely stated the proper interpretation here: “he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.”

I have heard so many people try to defend limited atonement by changing the scripture. Those people will look at “all” and “world” and tell me that that is not really what God meant. He really meant the elect or all the elect. And so they change the Scripture, not realizing that they are opposing the very words of God. How refreshing it was for me to see that Calvin took these words on their face, and did not try to twist them to fit arranged doctrine. I do wish that more people who profess such an unlikely doctrine would at least read Calvin’s remarks on John 3.

I especially like this quote from A.W. Tozer: "will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, "O Lord, Thou knowest." I do not comprehend why some people try so hard to go further than God has told us; it is simply enough for me to believe.

I have said it before, but at the risk of being redundant, will say it again. Believing the Word of God as given to us is the responsibility of every Christian. If the Bible student finds the Bible does not exactly fit his doctrine, then he should consider changing his doctrine, and not the Bible. There is nothing in our flesh that can please God; the one thing He does ask of us is that we believe. God says it; I believe it; that is all there is to it.
Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness.

A.W. Tozer says this about the Word: "If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with the notion that it is a thing which you may push around at your convenience. It is more than a thing, it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living God." To those who will find life, the Word itself will take you and carry you to places that you did not expect, and perhaps find yourself ill-prepared for. It will very likely turn your world, not upside down, but rather inside out, as you will begin to see yourself and God, not just in a new light, but as it were, in a brand new dimension. Very likely you will find yourself thinking that you are going crazy; in fact you are beginning to perceive reality for the first time. That is what happened to me. Try it out, and see where you may end up.

Calvin, John (2009-06-03). Commentary on John - Volume 1 - Enhanced Version (Calvin's Commentaries) (Kindle Locations 2156-2158). Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Kindle Edition.

Tozer, A.W.; Tozer, Aidan; Tozer, Aidan Wilson; Foundation Press, Christian Miracle (2011-01-31). The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (Special Kindle Enabled Edition with Interactive Table of Contents and Built in Text to Speech Features) (Illustrated) ... | The Writings of Aiden Wilson Tozer of) (Kindle Locations 731-733). Christian Miracle Foundation Press. Kindle Edition.

Just As I Am

1. Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

2. Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

3. Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken ev'ry barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

4. Just as I am, tho' tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

5. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

6. Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Lyrics: Charlotte Elliott

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

John 12 19 to 31

19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

Key Observation:
The voice of God speaks and some hear an angel, but many hear but thunder.

I am thinking of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, particularly where the Lion speaks creation into place, and in the middle of the beautiful creation is a man incapable of hearing the animals speak. He only hears incomprehensible sounds, and can make nothing of it. So it is with those who do not have faith; they hear but they do not, and they see but all the while are blind. So it is with this passage.

I find it surprising that God’s voice does not carry through to everyone. Could it? Of course, because if God wanted that He of course would bring it about. Why then does He not? There are some who teach that God makes Himself irresistible to those whom He elects, but what does that mean? Here in this passage we find men who quite easily resist the very voice of God. In Acts 7:51, I find these very people being talked about by Stephen as he preaches, “You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit.” I find it rather convoluted that if grace be irresistible, why did God simply not rescue all men? I think theses instances of resisting, plus the multitude of warnings that we are given not to resist, show that faith is a part of our response to God. Of course God foreknows those who believe, and all of that foreknowledge, as well as any predestination, take into account the fact that people believe God.

In all of Christendom, there has never been an elect person who has not believed God. Belief and grace are intrinsically connected, and beyond the ken of this fellow to figure out. Somehow they are wrapped in a single package, and I do think many mistakes are made when we attempt to unwrap that package to try to figure out how God does it all. It should be sufficient for me to give glory to God, and to trust Him to work things out with perfect justness and perfect love.

I find myself wondering about the voice though. John, at least, heard clearly the voice of God, for he has faithfully transcribed it. Others heard something akin to an angel, while others only heard thunder. I wonder if there was a progressive state here. Had some began earnestly to consider the claims of Christ, and thus they heard an angel? Were those with the coldest hearts only able to hear thunder? Well I might say that thunder is appropriate for them—for if the heart stays cold, thunder becomes a symbol of the judgment to come.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Hebrews goes on to tell us: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto Him as righteousness. Our righteousness is contained in believing what Jesus did for us. He died that I might live. What a wonder of all of creation—that my Creator should die for me!

Down at the Cross

1. Down at the cross where my Savior died,
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried,
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His name.

2. I am so wondrously saved from sin,
Jesus so sweetly abides within;
There at the cross where He took me in;
Glory to His name.

3. O, precious fountain that saves from sin,
I am so glad I have entered in;
There Jesus saves me and keeps me clean;
Glory to His name.

4. Come to this fountain so rich and sweet;
Cast your poor soul at the Savior's feet;
Plunge in today, and be made complete;
Glory to His name.

Glory to His name, Glory to His name!
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His name.

Lyrics: Elisha Albright Hoffman

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

John 12 12 to 18

12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.

Key Observation:

As these things were happening, the disciples were not comprehending that it was all part of God’s plan.


People are excited about Jesus and want to make Him king. Their excitement resounded from the raising of Lazarus. Lazarus, I need to remember, was dead four days, and the message of his death would have traveled throughout his community. I think the message of his being raised again would have spread even farther. I think the disciples were just caught up in the crowds and the business of the schedule, and most likely, did not piece the prophetic happenings together until later.

It is the power of these people testifying that gives credence to Jesus being King, and the Pharisees sought to stop that, not for the sake of stopping it, but because they would have been afraid, dreadfully so, of the civil authorities. Remember that Israel is a captive nation, and they have one king—that king is Caesar. If the people, in their exuberance, were to proclaim a new king, would not the whole nation be in danger of being declared in rebellion? I think it is to this end Caiaphas speaks, when he utters the immortal words that it was necessary for one man to die for the nation. There is great irony in the fact that Caiaphas never dreams for an instant that this really is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, whom the Jews are watching and waiting for.

How much of this crowd really believes Jesus to be the Son of God? I certainly do not know, and John does not seem to give much information. We do know that all throughout John there are many people following Jesus, some who evidently have genuinely life-changing faith, but also some who do not. In my town, we have a basketball team. In their winning years (of which there have been not many) people emerge with renewed excitement, and attendance goes dramatically up, and I find unexpected fans all over town. But let them go back to losing (normal?) and the fans become much harder to find. So it is, I expect, with these followers of Jesus. In just a few hours Jesus will be lifted up on the cross, and where are the crowds then? Apparently they were ready for a king, but not ready for a crucified king. Even the disciples fled away from Jesus, with only his best friend and mother, being faithful to the end.

It bothers me a great deal when I see someone profess to take Christ as their Savior, but then their life does not show much change. Year after year goes by, and except for a very small spark, I see no change. Often old lifestyles continue to be embraced and the expected changes just do not seem to happen. What am I to make of this? Sometimes I do wonder (but never know, for God alone sees the heart) if that person was saved at all.

What changes should happen to a new Christian? I am glad you asked. Lewis Sperry Chafer says this: “The ransom price has been paid for all; yet for the one who believes there is a further work of redemption which is manifested in the transforming and sanctifying power of the Spirit.” What, then, is the work of redemption that I should see?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) I should see love and joy and faith and gentleness marking the Spirit-filled believer. I am convinced the reason I do not many times has to do with the Christian never having learned the things of God. What a tragedy! I think of the parable of our Lord told about the seed. Some of it, I am told, is thrown unto hard and rocky ground, and springs up, but the sun comes and quickly withers it away.

If you find yourself lacking power in the Christian life, perhaps it is because you need to learn more of the truths of the Word. God has planted His very Spirit in you, and as you learn more about depending on Him, your walk before both man and God should start showing the fruits of the Spirit.

Lewis Sperry Chafer (2008-07-24). Salvation (p. 42). Taft Software, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Fill Me Now

1. Hover o'er me, Holy Spirit,
Bathe my trembling heart and brow;
Fill me with Thy hallowed presence,
Come, O come and fill me now.
2. Thou canst fill me, gracious Spirit,
Though I cannot tell Thee how;
But I need Thee, greatly need Thee,
Come, O come and fill me now.
3. I am weakness, full of weakness,
At Thy sacred feet I bow;
Blest, divine, eternal Spirit,
Fill with pow'r and fill me now.
4. Cleanse and comfort, bless and save me,
Bathe, O bathe my heart and brow;
Thou art comforting and saving,
Thou art sweetly filling now.

Fill me now, fill me now,
Jesus, come and fill me now;
Fill me with Thy hallowed presence,
Come, O come and fill me now.

Lyrics: Elwood Haines Stokes

Monday, January 16, 2012

John 12 1 to 11

1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Key Observation: With this miracle things come quickly toward the cross.

Devotion: McGee: “It may surprise you to learn that this is the end of the public ministry of Jesus when you see that we are only near the halfway mark in the Gospel of John. His public ministry began when John the Baptist marked Him out as the Lamb of God. It concluded when He raised Lazarus from the dead. John, you see, spent almost as much time on the last forty-eight hours before His death as he did on the first thirty-two years, eleven months, three weeks, and five days of His life.”

Earlier, in reading McGee’s fine commentary on John, he said something I disagreed with. He thought that John was the gospel for believers, and cited a few examples of people who tried to evangelize through this gospel. He did not believe John was effectual to bring people to Christ. I, of course, remembered the stated purpose of John: (John 20) “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” I do believe that the gospel of John is carefully written to persuade the questioning one towards faith. At least all the way through chapter 11. Now the conversation changes, and from here to the cross, Jesus has a lot to say with very specific teaching to Christians. So at least, I would agree with McGee that much of the latter part of John is very specific teaching to those who already believe, and that is what I am on now.

Here Mary is anointing Jesus with a very expensive perfume. I need to remember why she is doing this; not only did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus is the brother of Mary. The Scripture tells me that this takes place 6 days before the Passover, and I notice Jesus is in Bethany with Martha, her brother Lazarus is at the dinner with Jesus, and Mary chooses to anoint the feet of her Lord. Judas Iscariot complains about the wasted money, and John alone tells us that Judas wanted the money for himself. Here again I benefit from inside information that John had, and was probably not generally available. Did John know or guess about the character of Judas before the betrayal? Did John have more insight or perception about what was going on, just because he was closer to Jesus?

At any rate, Matthew does give additional information and lets me know that they were all at a house of a man known as Simon the Leper. Matthew does not specifically mention Judas as being the objector, but rather points a finger generally at the disciples. It is possible that one or more of the disciples, unaware of Judas’ coming betrayal, were in agreement generally with Judas’ objection that the money could have been given to the poor.

Mark is very similar to Matthew, with the following addition. Not only were the feet of Jesus anointed, but also was his head anointed: “She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Mark also indicates to me that this may have been the “last straw” for Judas. He was so upset that he went directly to betray Jesus to the chief priests. Evidently this is the first time Judas went to the priests; John records the second betrayal only, when Judas gets the chief priests to come to a “regular place” where Jesus met secretly with his disciples. (John 18). Luke does not tell of the anointing, but does give the extra information that Judas had made an advance deal with the chief priests, and “watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.” (Luke 22)

The order of Judas’s plan for betrayal:

John 12:4 “But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”
John 12:5 “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”
Mt. 26:14 “Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests
Mt. 26:15 “and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.”
Mk. 14:10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.
Lk. 22:3 “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.
Lk. 22:4 “And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.”
Lk. 22:5 “They were delighted and agreed to give him money.”
Mt. 26:16 “From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”
Mk 14:11 “They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”
Lk. 22:6 “He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.”

Mt. 26:25 “Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, ‘Yes, it is you.’”
John 13:26 “Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.
John 13:27 “As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”
John 18:2 “Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.

Mt. 26:36 “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over they and pray.’”
Mk. 14:32 “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’
Mt. 26:37 “He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.”
Mk 14:33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.”
John 18:1 “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.”

Mt. 26:49 “Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him.”
Mt. 26:50 “Jesus replied, ‘Friend, do what you came for.’”
Mk. 14:45 “Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him.”
Luke 22:47 “While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him,
Lk. 22:48 “but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
John 18:3 “So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.”
John 18:5 “‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ they replied. ‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)

As I put this together, the idea occurs to me that Judas was embezzling money, as John lets us know (12:5), and saw more than a year’s wages being poured out in the perfume. Was Judas trying to put money back into the bag, figuring that he could hide his malfeasance, if he could just get enough coin to cover it up? Was it out of need to replenish this money that Judas went to the chief priests? I do think Judas thought he could betray Jesus, hide it from his fellow disciples, and use the money to cover his theft. Well did Jesus remind us that we cannot serve both God and mammon! Judas, weak in coveting, most likely allowed that weakness to cause a far worse crime in attempting to cover it all up.
McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 102256-102259). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.
My name is Judas
My name is Judas
My Lord I did betray
With a kiss upon his cheek
I gave my lord away
I was forgiven
But I could not bear the shame
So I hung myself in the potter's field
Judas is my name

Sung by Claire Lynch