Wednesday, June 24, 2009


31 -32When he had left, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God's glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!

33"Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I'm telling you: 'Where I go, you are not able to come.'

34 -35"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."

36Simon Peter asked, "Master, just where are you going?"

Jesus answered, "You can't now follow me where I'm going. You will follow later."

37"Master," said Peter, "why can't I follow now? I'll lay down my life for you!"

38"Really? You'll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you'll deny me three times."

John 13

we hear this so much. so often. and we totally blow right past it. to simply love. Jesus doesn't request it, He commands it. to love each other so that everyone will see that we are His disciples, that we are His followers. we can see it right here in this account. Jesus tells the 11 disciples in the room with Him this new command to love one another in the same way He loved them. and what's their next question? do they ask, "How do we do this?" or, "What do you mean, teacher?" nope. they skip right past it and ask, "Master, just where are you going?" Jesus has just given them a new command and they don't even question. now i don't know if it was just like a, "Jesus said it, now let's do it!" kind of reaction where it was so simple for them that they would just go and do it. or was it more of, "Jesus said something about loving like someone but what in the world is this about you leaving??" i'm thinking it was the latter. and isn't it funny that we do the same thing sometimes? we ask, "Where are You, God??" or we even worry about the smallest details and go, "How many songs should we sing this week?" and totally forget to forgive a brother who has talked behind your back, or make up with a sister who disagreed with something that you said. we forget that we feel God when we love each other. that's how God is revealed to us, through our love! through the love that doesn't make any sense, we see God! let's not blow right past this great command and really focus on what Jesus is trying to say. that through loving each other, the world will see Jesus, and then everyone can follow where He is going.

Friday, June 12, 2009

What Grieves Jesus

18 -20"I'm not including all of you in this. I know precisely whom I've selected, so as not to interfere with the fulfillment of this Scripture:

The one who ate bread at my table

Turned on his heel against me. "I'm telling you all this ahead of time so that when it happens you will believe that I am who I say I am. Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me."

21After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. "One of you is going to betray me."

22 -25The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. So, being the closest, he said, "Master, who?"

26 -27Jesus said, "The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I've dipped it." Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him.

"What you must do," said Jesus, "do. Do it and get it over with."

28 -29No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor.

30Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.

John 13

Jesus talked often about the suffering He was going to endure and the death that He had to go through to redeem us but here we see Jesus upset and even grieve because it's because He knows that one of His own disciples is going to betray Him. these are the people that He picked and loved. for Him to know that judas was going to betray Him must have been so hard. now to bring it to us. He loves us and treasures us. but time and time again, Jesus knows of the ridicule that He goes through from people who aren't saved and come back. but for us, as Christians and believers, to be quiet when His name is slandered or to even forget Him by putting our own agendas ahead of His, He grieves. when we do things that don't honor or slander His name, we make Him grieve. and for us to know that the Holy Spirit lives within us, how does this change our actions? how does this change our decision-making? let's try our best to make our Father joyful! and let's call on the Holy Spirit for help do that! i sure don't want to see Jesus grieving because of something that i did, or we, His children, did. let's remember to glorify and honor God in all that we do!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

FALSE TEACHERS from Galations

In his exposure of these false teachers, Paul gives us six identifying
marks that can guide us to discern the presence of "wolves in sheep's
clothing" in our midst today.First, false teachers distract Christians
from obeying the truth of the gospel (v. 7). Paul compliments the
Galatian believers for running a good race. Running a race was one of
Paul's favorite images for living the Christian life. Here this image
portrays how well they were obeying the truth. The gospel set the
course for their life, and they were running well in that course. The
reality of their belief in the truth about Christ was demonstrated by
their obedience to Christ. But then they were distracted, tripped and
so hindered from running this race. Paul asks them, Who cut in on you
and kept you from obeying the truth? The question is rhetorical. Paul
knows the answer. But by asking the question this way he exposes the
false teachers' negative effect on the life of the believers. The
picture is of a runner who distracts another runner, blocks his way,
cuts in on him and trips him. Everyone would have been very angry with
a runner who did such a thing. He would have broken the clear rules
against cutting in or tripping in the foot races of the Greek
festivals. He would be immediately disqualified and excluded from the
festival.The false teachers are hindering the Christians from obeying
the truth of the gospel with all their talk about joining the Jewish
people and keeping the law. All those who get the church off on a
tangent, away from the clear direction given by the central truth of
the gospel, are like these false teachers. They should be disqualified
and excluded from the churches.Second, false teachers replace the call
of God with their own deceptive persuasiveness (v. 8). That kind of
persuasion does not come from the one who calls you, Paul informs his
readers. When Paul had preached the gospel, the Galatians heard the
voice of God calling them through Paul (1:6). But when the false
teachers teach, all that can be heard is flattery, boastfulness and
empty rhetoric. They are skillful orators. No doubt they claim to be
giving God's message backed by Scripture. But all one can hear through
their strident voices is a harsh repetition of the demands of the law.
What a contrast to "the one who called you by the grace of Christ"
(1:6) and the God who "called me by his grace" (1:15). Their message
is all about the works of the law, not about God's work of grace in
Christ. So obviously their persuasion does not come from God, who
always calls by his grace.Third, false teachers gain control over the
whole church (v. 9). Just as a little yeast works through the whole
batch of dough, so the negative influence of a few false teachers has
penetrated the whole church and is quickly coming to control the
direction of the church. False teachers are like that; they seek to
dominate every situation in the life of the church.Fourth, false
teachers cause confusion and discouragement (v. 10). When the
Galatians were converted, they related to God with the joyful
confidence of children, calling him "Abba, Father" through the Spirit.
But their confidence in God's grace has been badly shaken by the false
teachers, who threaten them with the judgment of God if they do not
keep the law of God. They are confused and discouraged. So Paul
reassures the Galatians of his confidence in the Lord regarding them:
I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. And then
he turns the tables on the false teachers by putting them under the
judgment of God: The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay
the penalty, whoever he may be.Fifth, false teachers spread false
reports about spiritual leaders. We may infer that verse 11 is Paul's
response to a false report that had been given about him. Since the
immediate context focuses on the corrupting influence of the false
teachers, it seems reasonable to suppose that they claimed Paul's
support for their campaign to circumcise the Gentile believers. We
don't know on what basis they would have done this. Perhaps if this
letter was written after Paul circumcised Timothy, as recorded in Acts
16:3, they may have appealed to that incident. Or maybe they pointed
to Paul's own willingness to continue his Jewish way of life even
after his conversion (see 1 Cor 9:20). Whatever their basis may have
been, they gave a false report about Paul to strengthen their own
position.Paul had, of course, preached circumcision before his
conversion. He had been "extremely zealous for the traditions" of
Judaism (1:14). But after his conversion he preached the cross of
Christ as the only way of salvation. True, he continued to support
Jewish Christian adherence to the traditional Jewish way of life. But
he consistently resisted anyone who tried to "force Gentiles to follow
Jewish customs" (2:14). That was a key point of his autobiography
(1:13--2:21). Paul proves that the report that he is still preaching
circumcision is false by pointing to the fact that he is being
persecuted (5:11). Both non-Christian Jews and many Christian Jews
fiercely opposed him precisely because he did not require
circumcision. His refusal to require circumcision clearly implied that
it was not necessary to belong to the Jewish nation to belong to the
covenant people of God. By denying the exclusive claim of the Jewish
people to be the only true people of God, Paul seemed to deny the
reason for the Jewish people's very existence. No wonder, then, that
they persecuted him from one country to another. If Paul had preached
circumcision, then he would not have been persecuted by the Jews. By
preaching circumcision, he would have been communicating that it was
necessary to belong to the Jewish nation because the salvation of God
was available only to those within this nation.Paul says in verse 11
that if he has communicated that salvation is only in the Jewish
nation by preaching circumcision, the offense of the cross has been
abolished. For then the message that salvation is only through the
cross of Christ would have been denied. The offense of the cross is
that it denies a "most favored nation" status, a "superior race"
category, as the reason for God's blessing. For the blessing of God
comes only through the cross, where the judgment of God upon all was
removed by Christ's death (see 3:13-14). The message of Christ
crucified is offensive not only to Jews but also to the pride of all
who want to claim some personal merit as the basis of God's
approval.Sixth, false teachers emphasize sensational rituals. Verse 12
sounds terribly harsh and crude, but we must interpret it in its
historical and cultural context. It would indeed have been a
sensational ceremony if all the male members of the Galatian churches
had been circumcised by the false teachers. But then, Paul says,
somewhat sarcastically, if they really want to put on a sensational
show, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! He
is probably referring here to a barbaric ritual that actually took
place in his day in Galatian pagan temples. The priests of Cybele, the
mother goddess of the earth, castrated themselves with ritual pincers
and placed their testicles in a box. (Such a box is now on display in
the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England.) The false teachers were
leading the Galatian Christians to think that the ritual of
circumcision was a sacred act that would bring them into fellowship
with God. But Paul has already said that "in Christ Jesus neither
circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value" (v. 6). Now he puts the
ritual of circumcision in the same category as the ritual castration
of the Galli, the priests of the mother-goddess of the earth, Cybele;
it had no more significance to the Gentile Christians than any of the
other barbaric, bloody rituals practiced in the ancient world.So Paul
has totally discredited the value of circumcision and the motives of
the false teachers who want to impose it upon the churches in Galatia.
They only "want to make a good impression outwardly" (6:12); they want
to boast in their sensational ceremony (see 6:13). Since their motive
is to put on an impressive ritual show, they might as well learn a few
lessons from the pagan priests, who really know how to put on a good
show when it comes to using a knife on the human body!It is never
pleasant to expose the deceptive, destructive tactics of the "false
brothers." But it is necessary to do so in order to protect the
freedom of fellow Christians. Of course circumcision is not an issue
today. But we are constantly faced with a choice between different
religious options. They are not all the same; they are not all spokes
on a wheel leading to the same hub. Some religious options lead to
slavery and imprisonment. Only by obedience to the truth of the gospel
of Christ can we protect the freedom that is ours in Christ.

- InterVarsity Press


In Paul's letters he often exhorts his readers to stand firm: "stand
firm in the faith" (1 Cor 16:13); "stand firm in one spirit" (Phil
1:27); "stand firm in the Lord" (Phil 4:1). Here he appeals to them to
stand firm in the freedom Christ has given to them. Paul illustrated
in his autobiography how he stood firm in his freedom against "false
brothers" who "infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in
Christ Jesus and to make us slaves" (2:4). He did not give in to their
pressure to make Titus, a Gentile convert, a Jew by circumcision. Now
similar false teachers have infiltrated the ranks of the Galatian
churches with the same demand. They have been putting the Galatian
converts under intense social pressure to become Jews by being
circumcised. Stand firm, Paul says. Do let yourselves be burdened
again by a yoke of slavery (v. 1).In Paul's day one could often see
oxen harnessed by a yoke to a heavily laden cart, straining to pull
their burden uphill while being goaded with sharp sticks. Paul uses
the word yoke, as it was often used by his contemporaries, to refer to
the yoke of the law. We can see from his statement in verse 3 that the
crushing weight of this yoke is the obligation to obey the whole law.
A similar use of yoke can be seen in Peter's speech at the Jerusalem
council, as reported in Acts 15:10: "Why do you try to test God by
putting on the necks of the [Gentile] disciples a yoke that neither we
nor our fathers have been able to bear?" The yoke of the law is a yoke
of slavery, because it places us under the burden of commandments we
cannot keep and under curses that we deserve for our disobedience. But
God sent his Son to lift this heavy yoke from our shoulders and to
take it upon himself: he was "born under law" (4:4) and kept all its
demands for us; he died under the curse of the law for us (3:13).
Since he has set us free from this yoke of slavery, we must not take
it on ourselves again. In contrast to the yoke of slavery under the
law, his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Mt 11:30).In order to
strengthen his readers' resolve to defend their freedom in Christ and
resist the false teachers' efforts to put them under the yoke of
slavery to the law, Paul sets forth the terrible negative consequences
of submitting to this yoke of slavery in verses 2-4. Then in contrast
to this negative picture, he sets out a positive description of
maintaining our freedom in Christ in verses 5-6.Negative Consequences
(5:2-4)Paul's list of the negative results of getting circumcised and
trying to be justified by law is prefaced by strong reminders that he
is speaking with authority: Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you (v. 2).
Again I declare to every man (v. 3). There must be no doubt about his
warnings. They come from Paul, "an apostle--sent not from men nor by
man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father" (1:1).His warnings are
given to those who are getting circumcised. The present tense
indicates that the process has just begun. Paul wants to stop the
slash of the knife. This is the first explicit reference in the letter
to this fact that the Galatians are being circumcised. Since the
surgical procedure of circumcision has no theological significance to
us today, it is difficult to understand why Paul is so upset about
it.In Paul's day circumcision was the mark of belonging to the Jewish
nation. For a Gentile to get circumcised in the Greco-Roman world,
where circumcision was repugnant, indicated that inclusion within the
Jewish nation had become a very high priority for him. But why would
inclusion in the Jewish nation become so extremely important to
Gentiles? Paul understood their motive as trying to be justified by
law. In other words, they thought they could gain God's approval only
by belonging to the Jewish nation. This meant they did not consider
faith in Christ to be a satisfactory basis for God's approval. They
were being convinced that faith in Christ had to be supplemented with
identification with the Jewish people through circumcision and law
observance.Paul lists four inevitable, negative consequences of adding
such a supplement to faith in Christ. First, Christ will be of no
value to you at all (v. 2). If you start to trust in circumcision to
gain God's blessing, then you have stopped trusting in Christ. If you
do not trust in Christ, then Christ is of no value to you. When you
put your trust in your own position or performance for God's blessing,
you are indicating that who you are and what you have done has more
value that who Christ is and what he has done. You have turned your
back on Christ.Second, the consequence of getting circumcision is the
obligation to obey the whole law (v. 3). Evidently the Galatians
thought that by observing a few important laws they could identify
themselves as full members of the Jewish nation and thus secure God's
blessing for themselves. But Paul now informs them that the law is a
vast, interdependent network of legal codes. Getting circumcised
indicates that you are relying on keeping the law for God to bless
you. If you are relying on the law, then you are obligated to keep the
whole law. You cannot be selective. You have embarked on an impossible
mission. Once you have decided to base your relationship with God on
your performance, you will not be graded on a curve. You must get 100
percent all the time.The third and fourth consequences of following
the demands of the false teachers are given in verse 4: You . . . have
been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. No doubt
the rival teachers had assured them that keeping the law was not
abandoning their faith in Christ; it was the way to "attain your goal"
(3:3)--perfection--in Christian life. But Paul says that those who
regulate their lives by the law are removed from the reign of Christ
over their lives. If you trust in your own efforts to keep the law,
then you are no longer trusting in God's grace. Circumcision or
Christ, law or grace: these are exclusive alternatives. You cannot
have it both ways. You must choose.The danger of apostasy, falling
away from grace, must have been very real, or Paul would not have used
such strong language. If we use the doctrine of eternal security to
deny the possibility of falling from grace, we are ignoring Paul's
warnings. People who ignore warnings are in great danger. Just observe
the person who sees the warning sign of a sharp curve and a
fifteen-mile-per-hour speed limit but keeps driving at seventy miles
per hour.Positive Description (5:5-6)Having painted a negative picture
of what will happen if freedom in Christ is given up for the yoke of
slavery, Paul describes in verses 5-6 how freedom in Christ is
maintained. Both verses focus on faith. Faith in Christ is the only
way to protect our freedom in Christ. Paul spells out in very concise
terms what this life of faith is like. His terms echo what he has
already taught at some length in the preceding chapters; they also
introduce the central themes of the rest of the letter.First, the life
of faith is life by the Spirit: by faith we eagerly await through the
Spirit (v. 5). By faith in the gospel we received the Spirit (3:2). We
now "live by the Spirit" (5:16), "are led by the Spirit" (5:18) and
"keep in step with the Spirit" (5:25). The presence of the Spirit
marks us the children of God (4:6), and the power of the Spirit
produces in us the character of God (5:22-23). The control of the
Spirit in our lives makes the yoke of the law unnecessary
(5:18).Second, the life of faith is a life of confident expectation of
righteousness: by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the
righteousness for which we hope (v. 5). Paul's focus here is the
future righteousness which is ours when God completes his work in us
by his Spirit. By depending on the Spirit, we can expect to reap the
harvest of eternal life in the future (see 6:8). In the past, when we
put our faith in Christ at the beginning of our Christian life, God
credited righteousness to us (3:6-9). In the present, by the power of
the Spirit, God produces righteousness in us (5:13-25). Or to put it
in more theological language, our righteousness--credited to us by
justification, produced in us by sanctification and perfected in us by
glorification--is always a gift received from God by faith.Third, in
this life of faith what matters is union with Christ, not union with
the Jews or Gentiles or any other racial or social group: For in
Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value (v.
6). The world's divisions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male
and female have been obliterated in our union with one another in
Christ (3:28).Fourth, our life of faith is a life of loving one
another: The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through
love (v. 6). Freedom from the law does not leave our life without
moral direction. Faith in Christ gives us not only moral direction but
also the moral dynamic to fulfill the true intent of all the law by
serving one another (vv. 13-14). The evidence of true faith will be
genuine love, for true faith in Christ is inevitably expressed through

-Commentaries from InterVarsity Press =]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

because He did it first

1 -2Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

3 -6Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, "Master, you wash my feet?"

7Jesus answered, "You don't understand now what I'm doing, but it will be clear enough to you later."

8Peter persisted, "You're not going to wash my feet—ever!"

Jesus said, "If I don't wash you, you can't be part of what I'm doing."

9"Master!" said Peter. "Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!"

10 -12Jesus said, "If you've had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you're clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you're clean. But not every one of you." (He knew who was betraying him. That's why he said, "Not every one of you.") After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

12 -17Then he said, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as 'Teacher' and 'Master,' and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other's feet. I've laid down a pattern for you. What I've done, you do. I'm only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn't give orders to the employer. If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

John 13

Jesus wasn't as concerned with hygiene, or in other words, how good we look or how nice we smell, but by this act, He was trying to tell us that holiness is what counts. He tells peter that he can't be apart what Jesus is doing if his feet aren't washed. we can't be apart of what God is doing unless we are made clean by Jesus Christ. before, when we came to God, we would be covered in soot, blacked with sin and shame. but through the blood of Jesus, we were made as white as snow, clean and new, we were made holy in God's eyes. therefore, it is necessary for Jesus to wash all of us before we come before the Father. also, from this we understand that Jesus was the Master. and if the Master washes your feet, his servants, we go and wash our servants' feet and so on. He does all these things for us. He humbles himself before us even though He doesn't have to but He wants to set an example for us. we have to follow His example of humility and service to those who need it and those who think (peter) they don't need it or would rather not have us do it. He tells us to follow his example and we will blessed because of it and not only that, God will be glorified because of it. the world will see this ridiculous way that we handle our lives that is just so counterculture and opposite of the way the world works. we wash our servants' feet? we cater to the needs of those who are, in the world's eyes, supposed to serve us? this is what Jesus did. now we go out and do the same. this is revolution.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Story of the Lost Son

11 -12Then he said, "There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, 'Father, I want right now what's coming to me.'

12 -16"So the father divided the property between them. It wasn't long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

17 -20"That brought him to his senses. He said, 'All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I'm going back to my father. I'll say to him, Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.' He got right up and went home to his father.

20 -21"When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: 'Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.'

22 -24"But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants, 'Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We're going to feast! We're going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!' And they began to have a wonderful time.

25 -27"All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day's work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, 'Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.'

28 -30"The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't listen. The son said, 'Look how many years I've stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!'

31 -32"His father said, 'Son, you don't understand. You're with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he's alive! He was lost, and he's found!'"

Luke 15

we learned this at rock harbor this past week and i just had to share! i know a lot of us have heard this story plenty of times in our walks with God but they were really challenging us to look at this story from a new perspective by really diving into the context of the story. first off, we find the son asking his father for his inheritance. in that time, sons would get their inheritance after their fathers died. for the son to ask this, it would have been like him saying, "Would you just die already so I can have my money?" now we can sort of gauge how the jews felt back then when Jesus was telling this story. for a son to even mention this would be cause for stoning but the father goes and does it anyway. now another thing was that, the son couldn't use this inheritance for spending because it was land, so he had to sell it. the thing is, the people he sold the land to couldn't use it until the father dies so the logical thing for the son to do was to sell the land at a discount. so we see this picture of a son asking his father for his inheritance and then selling his land for cheaper than what it costs. he goes off and spends his money on worldly things and his brother even makes a reference to prostitutes and things like that. he ends up having to work with pigs and we have to remember that to jews, pigs are unclean and untouchable so he's working at the lowest of the low. he even hungers for the pigs' scraps. that's how far he sunk. he finally came to the realization that even the slaves on his father's estate were fed better than him and misunderstood his father's love. he felt that he didn't deserve to even come back as a son but come back as a slave and he felt that his father would actually accept this. it says "when he was a long way off," this means that the son was in public and what does the father do? he ran to his son. now for a man the father's age to be running would have been considered foolish and stupid. for a man to run like that and be put in that posture would be embarrassing but the father runs to his son anyway! the father embraced his son and kissed him, all the while people are jeering and putting the son down for leaving on such disrespectful terms. the father pretty much shields him and is saying by his actions that this was his son and that he is publicly restoring him. still misunderstanding his father's love, the son asks his father to let him be a slave. the father disregards his request and tells the servants to bring the son clothes and a ring and sandals for his feet. the sandals are important because this was a sign that no way was the father ever going to treat his son like a slave. back in that time, slaves were the ones not wearing any sandals. the father then invites the majority of the town to come and feast because his son has returned home! this is how it is with God. no matter how much we do, no matter how much we wrong Him, His love is never ending for us. He takes us back every single time no matter how much we shame Him. now we turn to the older brother. the older brother is angry that the father never threw a celebration for him but does throw one for the younger one after he shames the entire family. the father tells him that everything that he has is the son's. but this isn't the time to sulk and be jealous, this is time to celebrate. i think for us, we have to know not to take God's love for granted. we need to learn how to celebrate when people accept Jesus into their lives because it is a wonderful occasion. one other important thing to notice from this story is that the father let the son do what he wanted. he didn't stop the son. he let the son make his mistakes. it's the same way with God! He lets us do what we want because in the end we always come back to the same conclusion, that God is good. and He willingly takes us back. He celebrates and rejoices because we return home.

Friday, June 5, 2009

the Good Shepherd

1 -5 "Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he's up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won't follow a stranger's voice but will scatter because they aren't used to the sound of it." 6 -10Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. "I'll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. 11 -13"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He's only in it for the money. The sheep don't matter to him. 14 -18"I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They'll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father."

John 10

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the gatekeeper, the shepherd, the Gate itself. we are the flock of sheep, His followers, His beloved. the sheep pen is the Church, the Body of Christ, His flock as a whole. no one will ever match up to Jesus. He knew that thieves and robbers were coming to take us away from Him. but He also knew that His sheep respond to His voice. we respond to His voice. His message is clear and simple, "Anyone who goes through me will be cared for-will freely go in and out, and find pasture." through Him, we find comfort and care. through Him, we find Heaven and God. anyone who doesn't come through Jesus is potentially someone who wants to take us away from God. this is kind of scary and it seems like paranoia but the thing we have to realize is that there are thousands of thieves out there trying to steal from God's kingdom. how do we know what speaker, influential leader, or writer is truly good? i think we have to be sure that this person worships the Lord, our God, Jesus Christ and knows His teachings and the way to live and fully agrees with each and every one. even then, we know who our one and only dependable speaker, influential leader, and writer is. it is Jesus! we have to know that no other person even comes close to comparing with Jesus. the only way to God is through Jesus, not a man, speaker or book writer. Jesus goes on to talk about how He freely laid down His life for us. He knew how much He loved us. and He took the initiative to die for our sins so that we would be blameless before God. that we would be made clean again with all our sins wiped away, every single one. matthew henry said this and i like it a lot, "He was both the Offerer and the Offering." He offered Himself for us so that we would be free from shame, sin, darkness, materialism, social status, social expectations, and empty living. let's honor that by really giving ourselves TO Him. we declare that, "we are free from shame, sin, darkness, materialism, social status, social expectations, and empty living!" and say, "Jesus, take my life, everything that I have, I give it all to You, forever and ever until the day I'm reunited with You once again! I give up my life to serve Your kingdom, to take care of Your church, to bring lost sheep back to You, and to glorify Your name above all else in my life!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


1 -2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" 3 -5Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light."

John 9

It's not for us to ask who it is to blame for all the things wrong with us or the world. We can go for years and years blaming each other and cursing God for all the things that have gone wrong in our lives. But does that lead us anywhere?? Does it really give us an answer? Is there any satisfaction in blaming someone for the things that haven't gone our way in our lives or other people's lives? Jesus says that what we should do is look to God for help. Instead of looking for someone to blame, we should be looking to what God can do in our lives. We should be looking at how He can heal us and redeem us from our failures and shame. And as Christians, we should be working "energetically" for God, bringing home as many people to Him as we possibly can so that they don't have to be caught in this life of blaming and searching and get in on the life of healing and redemption.

39Jesus then said, "I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind." 40Some Pharisees overheard him and said, "Does that mean you're calling us blind?" 41Jesus said, "If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure."

John 9

This is after Jesus came to the man that the Pharisees threw out on the street after the man told them again and again that Jesus was the one who healed him. Back then, the preaching of the cross and of Jesus as the messiah was seen as folly and stupid. Anyone who believed in this would be considered "blind" or someone being taken advantage of because it wasn't what the Jews believed. Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

to the world, the cross, God's message, Jesus Christ, is silliness. it doesn't make any sense what-so-ever. but for us, as Christians who firmly believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, it makes perfect sense. because what the world considers as wisdom is foolishness compared to God's wisdom, He ends up using the foolishness to glorify His name and bring people back to Him. His foolishness is still wiser than men's wisdom, and His weakness is still stronger than men's strength. going back to John, the world calls us "blind" all the time. how could we possibly believe in something so ridiculous, something so ludicrous? and Jesus says, "...those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind." John 9:39. those who are "blind" will see the glory of God, and those who think they know everything there is to know about life and God are revealed to be missing out on God the entire time. at the very last part of the verse, Jesus says, "If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure." let us be "blind" and blameless. i'd rather follow God and be called foolish, stupid, and "blind" by the world and be considered blameless before the Judge than be called wise by the world and then be held for every failure and sin that i've committed against God in the end. the world will judge us but we know who the real Judge is. let's do our best to care most about what God thinks of us!!