03.5 John – Spread the Word

We live in an age of online reviews.  Every one is a critic, but every one is also an evangelist.  If we get great service, experience something new or different, we want everyone to know.  And those recommendations carry weight.  The voice of friends and family does more to influence us than “expert” reviews.

While we live in a digital, electronic age, this basic human behavior has not changed for millennia.

When the first believers experienced Jesus, their first response was to tell others.  We see this in John the Baptist.  We see it in Andrew and Philip.  We even see it later in Christ’s ministry with the woman at the well and even the centurion at the cross.

What is our response?  Do we hide the Light of the World under a bushel?  Do we keep quiet and keep the good news of Christ to ourselves?  This is not the direction we see.  We are to do what we were designed to do – tell others good news.  We are called to point others to Christ, the same way we offer others a great taste, or wonderful smell, that we encourage them to feel something particularly soft or look at something exciting or desirable.  This is part of our nature, part of what humans do.  But, to do this in the way we are called we must first recognize just how amazing Christ is.  What a miracle it is that we have a God who loves us so much that His only Son took the form of a man and suffered and died for our sins.

My Answers:

10.
JTB, led 2 to Jesus including Andrew.  Andrew => Peter.  Philip led Nathanael

11.
a.
He knew History and was steeped in Jewish tradition.  Nazareth is never mentioned in the OT.  If it wasn’t mentioned then it can’t have value now.  But he still had His eyes and heart open and when He saw a miracle of God, He accepted it and did not continue in denial.  He professed Jesus to be the Son of God

b.
I am a thinking person, I like to reason things out and I am biased based on what I think I know, but I strive to be honest.

12.
The reference is to the vision of Jacob’s ladder, but instead of a physical ladder, Jesus professes that He is the only way to the Father in Heaven

03.5 John – Spread the Word

03.4 John – Come and you will see

Is your witness for Christ in your words or in your actions?  Do you desire to tell people to “pay attention to what I say, not what I do”?

But we all know, actions speak louder than words.

Instead of immediately trying to engage others in a debate about faith, what if we followed the direction that Jesus gave to His first believers?  What if we were more welcoming?  What if we did community together, served together, broke bread together.  But, through it all, what if we lived differently, as someone holy, set apart, committed to Jesus, filled with home, filled with real joy?

Isn’t that the witness we are really called to give?  John didn’t just speak about Jesus, he lived and walked with Him.  He healed.  He cared.  The apostles followed Jesus, even when He had no place to lay his head.  They also served those who gathered.  They fed them, they prayed and healed them.  They taught.  They formed new churches and, as we read in Acts, encouraged one church to help another, even financially.

They lived their witness, with actions and with words.

How about you?  If you aren’t there yet, it may be because you continue to rely too much on your own power and authority and not enough on His.  You start your day with you in mind, your problems and challenges and not in the Lord.  You check email, before you check the Word.  The only time you hit your knees is to pick clothes off the floor, not to pray.  It is hard to draw from the power, if you refuse to plug in.

My Answers:

8.
They immediately left John and followed Jesus.
After prayer, when I know that I have received direction from the Lord, I follow it, without looking back or second guessing.

9.
a.
He welcomed them, “Come and you will see”.  He spent the day with them and they with Him

b.
To shut off the world and spend more time with Jesus.  Instead of working around other things, to put Him first and to cherish the time.  To prepare for the time with Him by praying.

03.4 John – Come and you will see

03.3 John – The Lamb

When you think of the mighty, fighting, victorious (insert mascot name here), you don’t think lambs.  There are lions, tigers and bears.  There are horses and dogs.  Eagles and hogs,  There are even frogs and swans.  Rams, but no lambs.

Lambs are not mighty.  They have no aggressive abilities or even any real self-defenses.  They can bleat at you.  They can jump up on you, but, seriously, nothing to write home about.  So why would our Lord and Savior be known by those closest to Him as the Lamb of God?

I believe it is specifically for this reason that He chose this persona.  In the first covenant of God, He made man in His image and gave him dominion over the earth.  In the covenant of God that is the arrival of Jesus, He, God, took on the image of man and descendant to a place even lower than the angels to do what Adam could not – to live a life free of sin and die to pay the price of sin for all mankind.

He could have been known as the Ox of God or the Ram of God.  But he chose the lamb, the sacrificial lamb of the passover, that was the sign of true and pure obedience to God even unto death.

My Answers:

6.
a.
JTB’s baptism, like the law, was an exterior cleansing of an interior sin.  Jesus’ baptism of the spirit and an internal inhabitation of the Holy Spirit, that permeates from the spirit/soul through the body.

b.
I have the power of the Holy Spirit within me to do the will of God.  With that power, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished which God ordains, not illness or suffering, not evil or darkness, not even death.

7.
a.
He is!  The lamb was the ordained sacrifice for the cleansing/removal of sin in the law.  As Isaiah prophesied, He would be led like a lamb to slaughter for us, the sheep that had gone astray, each turning to our own way

b.
A lamb is a completely defenseless creature, it doesn’t kick, bite, stab.  It doesn’t growl or bark – it bleats.  It gives its whole life (wool, milk), and gives fully of itself in death (meat).  It represented the sin offering.  By grace, Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Son of God with a mighty arm, took on the persona of the lamb for our sins.

 

03.3 John – The Lamb

03.2 John – Powerful or Powerless

Do you feel powerful or powerless to change the world?  Do you feel like you live day to day, going through the paces or do you feel like someone on a mission?  Do you feel bold, strong, devoted, powerful?

While there are many lessons we can learn from John the Baptist, I think this is the one we can take most to heart.  John lived powerfully.  He didn’t run for office.  He didn’t pick fights.  He didn’t try to be a corporate giant, or even to try to move up in the hierarchy of the synagogue.  He exercised power in the wilderness, outside of the city, at a river.  He exercised power wearing camel hair and eating locusts, not focused on fashion or food.

The exercised the power to call men to repentance and to wash their sins away.

The men from the synagogue came to question John because they wanted to know the source of his power.  On what authority did you call people to repent and baptize them?  Just who was this guy?  John’s answer was that he was a voice.  His power did not come from himself, or for himself, it came from God for the Lord.

But what about you and me?  Do people question the source of our power and authority?  We are not John the Baptist, but according to Ephesians 1, we have actually be given greater power and authority that was given to John.  In the prayer of Ephesians 1:18-23, the Paul prayers that the church of Ephesus will know the hope, riches and power that God gives to those of us (including you and me) who believe.  This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  This power is far above any authority, any rule, any other power or dominion and above and greater than any other name.  This is the power we have been given to spread the good news, to call people to recognize their sin and repent and to baptize.

When was the last time someone challenged your power?

My Answers:

3.
1. (implied) who are you – I am not the Messiah, 2. Who are you? Are you Elijah?  – I am not 3. Are you the Prophet? – No
4. Who are you? Give us an answer to take back, what do you say about yourself? – I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘make straight the way for the Lord’ 5. Why then do you baptize if you are not Messiah, Elijah or Prophet? – I baptize with water but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.

4.
a.
Elijah, an OT prophet, was expected to come back before the Messiah; 1 Kin. 17—2 Kin. 2; Mal. 4:5–6, Prophet Deut 18:15-19

b.
Quoted from Isaiah to explain the purpose of His mission.  Is 40:9 Here is your God!, 10. the Sovereign Lord comes with power and he rules with a mighty arm. 11. He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms

5.
To be bold and speak only the truth.  To know and quote scripture.  To point only to Christ, not to self.  Let the spirit speak through me.

 

03.2 John – Powerful or Powerless

01.5 John – Grace and Witnessing

We use the term grace a lot, but what does it really mean?

Sometimes we use the word as a synonym to mercy.  My payment was late but it was within the grace period.

Sometimes we use it as a blessing or prayer, as in to say grace before a meal.

Sometimes we might refer to a motion or movement.  She moved with grace.

The dictionary defines it as: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

That’s a mouthful!

Think of it this way.  A being of power, let’s say a king or ruler, steps down from their position of power and authority for no personal gain or no political agenda.  They lower themselves from the rights and honors they deserve for the sole purpose of lifting up someone else.

This is what Jesus did.  His existence did not start when He was born in the manger or when He was conceived in Mary’s womb.  He existed as God, part of the Trinity, from before Creation.  Eternal.  He existed as ruler and King of Kings, Lord of Lords, God, Creator, the Divine.  Yet, he lowered himself even lower than the angels to become a helpless infant in this world.  Capable of every pain and suffering known to man.  And He did it for no other purpose than to lift up, regenerate (provide new life) and sanctify (make holy) the people He so loved.

We have one simple way to acknowledge this grace.  We are called to witness.  We aren’t called to sell the gospel.  We aren’t called to market it.  We aren’t called to force others to believe.  We are called to witness.

Witnesses in court are required to do 3 things:

  1. Tell the truth
  2. Tell the whole truth
  3. Tell nothing but the truth

Is your life bearing that witness of Christ?  Not just your words, but your actions, your thoughts, the things you say, the things you leave unsaid?  Is every part of your day filled with sharing the truth of Jesus, of being a witness?  What do you need to change?  What parts of your life reinforce lies that the world wants to believe instead of the truth?

Tomorrow is a new day.  You can choose, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to walk a new path, to form new habits and to adhere to them.  You can choose to tell the truth.

My Answers:

12.
a.
The prior grace was one of the law and of hope.  The new grace is the physical manifestation of the Messiah

b.
Each day.  That Jesus, the creator of every particle of matter in the universe and all the systems of life, would love me, listen to my praise and needs and heartache and longings and that He not only would be willing to forgive me of my sin and die 4 me

13.
The law is a standard by which to measure our adherence to holiness, not comparing to others, but to the command of God

Jesus came to fulfill the law, we fail and sin every day, but He came to free us from the bondage

He gave the truth of a personal close relationship, just as the trinity is in unity, that His people may also be joined with Him

14.
They are one God, three persons.  There is no closer relationship than the one between Father, Son and Spirit

01.5 John – Grace and Witnessing

01.4 John – Getting Cleaned Up

Pick someone you admire who isn’t a family member.  It could be a sports hero, business person, politician, star of the screen or stage, performer, scientist, teacher.  It could be a pastor, writer, evangelist, speaker.  It could be your future husband or wife on your wedding day. You choose.

Now, let’s say you were going to have a personal, intimate, confab with this individual.  Not just a quick pass-by and wave, but an actual conversation, dinner, travel time together, etc.  And, it was going to happen tomorrow.

What would you do?  Would you pull out your best outfit (or buy something new)? Would you press your clothes?  Would you take a bath or shower?  Would you fix up your appearance?  If you had the time and money/access, would you call in the hair and makeup people.

This was the role of John the Baptist.  But instead of focusing only on the outside appearances, he was equally focused on an inward transformation.  He called people to get prepared.  To wash away not only the dirt and grime, but also their sins.  To repent and be baptized, to be washed and prepared to meet the coming messiah.

He knew the promise of God and He saw the grime that sin placed on the hearts and souls of people.  He cared not for himself alone, but for every person who might be called.

That meant he spent his days and nights on the outskirts, calling others to repentance, up to his waist in the waters.

How are you living like John the Baptist?  Have you grown from the one being called into the water, to one of the workers standing firmly in the Living Water of faith in Jesus Christ?  Are you willing to forgo your own self to save others?

John the Baptist wasn’t just a historical figure, he was an example of someone whose purpose in life was to know God, love God, enjoy God and glorify Him.  Don’t you want the same?

My Answers:

10.
a.
To be a witness.  To set straight the path.  To call people to repentance.
b.
To grow in my relationship with God to be able to witness to others in thought, word and action and to be an instrument to reflect His light into the world

11.
Jesus alone occupied a place in heaven prior to entering this world as a flesh and bones human.  He alone returned to that place of majesty

01.4 John – Getting Cleaned Up

01.3 John – Not all God’s Children

If God is the Father then ever one is “a child of God”, right?  We’re all God’s children.  Alan Jackson recorded a country song with that title.  Jamie Rivera also recorded a song by that name that was the theme song for the 2015 visit of the Pope to the Philippines.  It is a name used by several non-profit organizations promoting good causes around the world and the idea that everyone is the same regardless of who they are, where they live, what they believe or how they conduct their life.

But, is it true?  Are we all God’s children?

God is the creator of all.

God is the King of all.

God is the God of all.

But is God the Father of all?  John 1:12-13 has a different definition of what it means to be a Child of God.  Verse 12 says there are 2 requirements to have the right to be called a child of God: (1) You must receive Jesus and (2) You must believe in His name.

We are not children of God simple because we are human, or that we were born.  We are not children of God because of something our parents or ancestors did or believed or the nation, tribe or people that they came from.  We aren’t children of God because we researched all the options and picked it as being the most logical.

We are children of God because we are adopted into God’s family.  We are chosen, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word to receive the gift of salvation.  We do nothing but accept the gift and believe in Jesus.  We are neither included in or excluded from based on any will, birthright or action of our own, only by grace and by faith.

It is also impossible to be a Child of God, to accept God as your Father, without also accepting Jesus as your brother.  There is no path that leads to being a member of God’s family without accepting kinship with Jesus as God and as the Son of God.  It would be like being adopted into a family but refusing to acknowledge the Son of the Father.

So, while it may make for a catchy tune and a great slogan, it doesn’t match what the scriptures say.  If you truly want to be a Child of God, put your Faith in Jesus alone.

My Answers:

7.
The Jews, especially the leaders, the priests.  They deny Him, they lie and twist the good news to something wrong and bad.  They reject Him and His true authority and make themselves in authority instead (to be like gods).

8.
Have the Son of God.  Believe.  (by grace alone we are saved, not by own doing – Eph 2:8)

9.
a. Entered into the world as a human infant, without power or ability for self preservation
b. Not through the conception of man and woman
c. Not at a time, place or through a person of self choosing
d. Not at a time, place and through a person of self choosing
e. By the consummation of the Holy Spirit to cause Mary to conceive

01.3 John – Not all God’s Children