02.2 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.

 

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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

01.4 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

01.3 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

01.2 John – The Power of Light

Have you thought about just how powerful light really is?  We measure distances in light years, based on the light traveling over that distance of 6 trillion miles in a year.  And the light doesn’t end at that point.  We see stars in the night sky that are trillions of miles away and yet they light up the night on our planet.

Anyone who has ever worked a night shift knows just how difficult it is to avoid the light of day.  As a kid, my folks would often wake me for the third of fourth time by flipping on the light in my room and I would fuss and pull pillows over my head, but still could not hide.

But to then recognize that Jesus’ life is the light to all mankind (v5), but that the world did not recognize Him or receive Him (v9-10).

Think about just how much effort is required to hide from the light.  You first have to shield your eyes, your spirit, your mind.  You have to hide in the darkness of lies and falsehoods.  You have to make up explanations for every sign that points to God, which is all of creation.  You have to come up with new theories and then emphatically argue them to be true instead of the real truth.  You have to so fully fill your life with darkness and hate and deceit and distrust and false love and false brotherhood and false caring that you can deny that Jesus is the light.

And, yet, the light keeps popping up.  People keep witnessing to it.  The gospel continues to be good news.  It seems the more that darkness tries to overcome the light, the more the light bursts forth in new directions with new believers.

Do you realize the most oppressed countries in the world are also the fastest growing in terms of new believers in Christ?

We can see the troubles all around us, and become focused on the problems of the world and the daily talking heads.  But that is not what we are called to do, that is simply a form of shadow, a diversion from moving forward into the light of Jesus and eternal life.  2 Cor 4:18 tells us:, “So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” TLB

My Answers:

3.
In the beginning was the Word, The Word was with God and the Word was God.  Jesus did not come into existence at his human birth, He is an eternal part of the trinity of God in the creation and with all attributes of God

4.
G:God created – Jesus is God
C: Jesus is the image of the invisible God, He Created and He is before all things and holds  togthr
H: Appointed heir of all things, son of God, radiance of God’s glory, exact representation of being

5.
All things, visible and invisible (physical and spiritual) were created in Him, thrones, powers, rulers and authorities.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is creator of all. –  He is my king and my lord (and savior)

6.
Light is grace and majesty, darkness is evil.  Light is the presence of God, darkness is to be out of His presence.  Darkness hides sinful deeds, light brings them to repentance.  Light is truth, darkness is lies.  Light is everlasting life, darkness is death.  Light overcomes darkness, darkness cannot overcome light.

0.0 John Introduction

One of the books I read this summer discussed the training of the US Marines and other military branches on “the Big Why.”  Soldiers are trained to clearly understand, before anything else begins, their big why.  Why am I doing this?

At a high level, this may be to make a better life for me and my family.  It may be to honor those who came before me, particular past family members who have served.  It may be a love and commitment to country.  When things get tough, when you get tired, hungry, hurt, drained, feeling that you can’t go on and do more in the heat in the mud; the soldiers are taught to ask each other, why are we doing doing this.  The answer draws back to the big why.

At a mission level, understanding the big why of an operation or goal is critical to not get mired in the little challenges and obstacles.  When faced with obstacles, it allows for alternative approaches but maintains focus on the important objectives instead of the small impediments.

As we embark on a 30 week daily lesson plan, I think it is important for each of us to ask and answer our own “Big Why.”  Why do you want to complete this study of John?  Why do you want to show up every week?  Why do you want to do your lesson every day?

God doesn’t “require” you to invest time with Him every day.  God doesn’t “need” you to be in the word every day.  You aren’t doing this for God.  God also doesn’t love you more or less based on the time you spend with Him.  His love for you is unconditional – meaning, it doesn’t depend on you meeting certain conditions.

But there are a lot of good “Big Why” answers.  Maybe it is because the bible is the major way that our God has chosen to reveal Himself to us.  Maybe because it is the true inspired Word of God.  Maybe because your heart desires a closer walk.  Maybe you want more faith and less fear, more joy and less worry, more life and less just living.  Maybe you want to read and hear an eye witness account from someone who walked with Jesus every day.  Maybe you want to better understand, at every level, why this is called the Love Gospel.  Maybe it is because of the sacrifice that Jesus made.  Or maybe it is just because when you love someone you want to be with that person every day and you truly love Jesus.

There are lots and lots of possible big whys.  What is yours?

Because, the road will be difficult.  Every scheduling conflict will occur during BSF time.  Daily plans for doing your lesson will be met with distraction and chaos.  Your time will be hijacked, family will get sick, sporting events and commitments will pile up and things will conspire to keep you from having a daily walk in the word of God.  Temptations will abound and you will be faced with obstacles.

The road was not easy for Jesus.  As we will read this year, He faced every obstacle: physical, spatial, mental, spiritual.  He faced deceit from His closest followers.  He faced hatred from the religious leaders.  He faced death.  But His focus remained.  His Big Why was to do the will of His Father.  His Big Why was to save His sheep, so that not one would be lost.  His focus (which included quiet times of prayer when the obstacles mounted the highest) always came back to His Big Why – the love and unity with His Father.

What is your Big Why for the study of the book of John?  Write it down.  Carry it with you.  Put it on your bathroom mirror.  Put it on the visor of your car.  And pray!

Neither you nor I will be able to complete this journey on our own strength and will.  But with the power of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible, no obstacle is too great and no evil barrier can block our path to being with our Lord and Savior this day and for every day to come.