08.5 John – Storms of life

Storms come to each of our lives.  We don’t desire them.  We don’t enjoy them.  We never look forward to them.

But, God is in control.  Nothing happens without God allowing it to happen.  That does not mean it is punishment.  It doesn’t even necessarily mean it is something that we are a part of specifically for ourselves.  We may be part of a storm that God is using for someone else.  We don’t know the why’s.

What we do know is we do not need to be afraid.  We know that we only need to say the word and Jesus in right there in the boat with us.  We know that “with the Lord as our helper, what can mere mortals do to me?”

We also need to know that without the storms we do not get to see the rainbows.  Without the difficult and trying times, we would never experience true faith and we would never know true peace.  Without hardship and hurt and pain, we would not experience healing.  Without all these things, we would never recognize the miracles that Jesus makes happen.

We learn to rely on God during times we need to rely on God.  We learn to turn things over to Him fully in prayer when we reach all limits of what we can do on our own.

Hopefully, we take those learnings to heart and continue in the same practices both in the valleys and on the mountaintops.  But either place, God is there and He is in charge.

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
They obeyed, not because of sin – not all troubles are repercussions of disobedience

b.
Because God is in control and it may be the avenue to allow me to see God do something miraculous

11.
a.
walked out to the men in the boat

b.
see him, hear him, accept Jesus into the boat

12.
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

08.4 John – Transformation: Me or God?

Transformation and encounters with God normally go hand in hand.  But we face the same challenge the people at the sea of Galilee faced.  Are we open and accepting to having ourselves transformed into the image of God, or are we set on transforming God into the image we desire?

It is only through bible study that we gain a clear understanding of the attributes of God.  If we don’t know His true character, then He, to us, is a manifestation of our own thinking.  Too often men preach about their “god”, whom they base on the real God, but because they have refused to prayerfully read His word and listen to the message without preconception, is not God, but their view of what God should be to fit in their predefined box.

Here’s the deal.  When you understand the attribute that God is immutable, unchanging, then you understand that God does not become something different for me than He is for you.  There isn’t a deal of my faith and your faith, my beliefs and your beliefs, my definition of right and your definition of right, there is only God’s.  The thing that has to change, to be transformed, is not God or His word, but me and my heart and ways of thinking.

 

My Answers:

8.
They recognized Jesus as the prophet promised by Moses and the prophets but assumed His rule would be a national rule of the Jews as an earthly kingdom, not a spiritual rule of all people who believe.

9.
to pray, it is important to make quiet time to be alone with God

08.3 John – Progression of Faith

I firmly believe that salvation is a gift, that once accepted no one can take away.  However, I believe faith is something that grows.

I also think that the stages we see in the feeding of the 5000, that mirror the stages of the woman at the well, shed light into our own progression of faith.

Philip represents the first stage.  Denial and doubt.  We saw this with the Samaritan woman’s first response to Jesus requesting a drink, denial and doubt built from the thought of a Jew asking a Samaritan for a drink.  Philip does the same with Jesus’ question, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Andrew represents the second stage.  Questioning.  Again, the woman at the well had reached this stage when she returned to her town and asked this others, “could this be Messiah?”  We move in this stage from sheer doubt and denial to a flicker of hope and cautious acceptance.  Andrew find the boy and asks, “how far will they go among so many?”

The young boy represents the third stage.  Participating.  We know very little about the little boy.  Did he bring goods to sell?  Was this his lunch?  Did he approach Andrew?  Did Andrew approach him?  A lot of commentators make assumptions in these areas and shape entire discussions then around their assumptions, such as how generous the young boy was, etc.  I don’t know, we don’t know, we only know what the scriptures say, which is that he had 5 loaves and 2 fishes.  But what we do know is that he, through his loaves and fishes, got to participate in this amazing miracle.  The same was true for the Samaritan woman.  The townspeople, after 2 days with Jesus, professed that they no longer believed based on what she said alone, but on the word of Jesus that they had experienced for themselves.  The woman didn’t save the people, any more than 5000 people ate their fill from 5 loaves and 2 fish.  It was the power of the Holy Spirit, working through the woman and the bread/fish, that saves and feeds us even to this day.

Where are you currently on your faith walk with Jesus?  If you doubt, is it time to start asking questions of hope instead?  If you have been asking questions, is it time to engage and give and participate?  If you are engaged and giving and participating, is it time to look at what denials and doubts are still present in the darker corners of your life?  It is a continual process, growing in holiness each day, as long as we walk with Jesus.

 

My Answers:

5.
Philip: Take 6 months wages for everyone to have even a bite – Denial
Andrew: Here is a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish, but how far will they go among so many? – Questioning
Boy: Gave  – Generosity.
This also is a reflection of the stages of faith.  At first we don’t believe, then we questioningly belief, then we accept God’s power and participate.

6.
Gave thanks.  One of respect and love.  We give thanks at meals and pray together, but I’m not always thankful to God during times of trial.

7.
1. Jesus saw the crowd – pray to have eyes opened
2. A boy was willing to share what he had – Be generous
3. Jesus had the people sit – Find peace
4. Jesus gave thanks – Give thanks
5. Jesus/disciples distributed – Serve others
6. All fed – enough to eat – feed and be fed (physically and spiritually)
7. Disciples gather the pieces left over – 12 baskets – Let nothing be wasted, gather back more than given to feed again.
Proclaim the glory of God

08.2 John – Harvest not Guilt

A couple of weeks ago in our lessons, Jesus discussed that the time of harvest was at hand.  During harvest season, there is very little rest.  The equipment runs day and night to get the crops in lest any wither on the vine or be diminished by storms.

Jesus calls those of us who are His workers to participate in the harvest.  This is not because He needs us, His power and the power of the Holy Spirit are sufficient.  But, He allows us to participate for our joy and strengthening and for unity and development of His church.

Our faithfulness is not only in the things we do, but it is also in the things we omit.  As the confession says more clearly, I have sinned against you in thought word and deed, not only by the things I have done, but by the things I have left undone.  It is not only the “crops” we hurt, but also the “crops” we fail to harvest because we are doing other things.

There is no doubt this is a real sin and one we need to bring to mind when we confess and pray.  There are many times that we become too focused on ourselves and our own wants and needs and desires to the detriment of others.  We get so focused on our destination to get to church that we drive past people who desperately need help.

While we need to watch for those sins, we also need to accept God’s grace in those areas.  In comparison to the needs of the world, we stand totally insufficient.  We cannot carry the burden of “not doing enough”, because it will crush us.  We need to keep in mind that God doesn’t need us to carry that burden, He is sufficient to carry it on His own.  He doesn’t need our help, He allows and desires us to help for our good and the good of the church.

 

My Answers:

3.
It was not yet time to enter into that level of conflict

4.
a.
He wanted to to go with his disciples to a quiet place and get some rest.  The people ran ahead and He had compassion on them and taught them many things.  He placed a heavy emphasis on the “time of harvest” and staying focused on work.

b.
The sin of omission is one that we gloss over.  It is not the things we have done, but the things we have left undone.  I pray that God guide me in this and also give me peace.  It is easy to fall into a feeling of “I could have done more”, given all the hurt and anguish in the world, but it is not by our own efforts that change happens but by the power of the Holy Spirit.