12.2 Romans – Measure

In Chapter 7 of Romans, Paul uses the word law in different ways.  I don’t mean to say that he is trying to use the same word for different things, but rather that he is using the same word for the same thing but showing us different angles or perspectives of that thing while being consisted in what he calls it.  Like many things with the bible and particularly some of the writings of the scholar Paul, things are very deep and multi-layered.

In the first 6 verses which we study today, Paul is using the word as a measure or, better put, as a dividing line.

His example of marriage and adultery was one example that made this perspective very clear.  The application of the measure of the law was different in two different situations.  If both spouses were alive, the couple were considered still married and, if one party to the marriage strayed into infidelity, the law recognized that as adultery.  However, take that same person committing the same act but only after the passing of his or her spouse.  The act hasn’t changed, the law hasn’t changed, but the person is no longer measured innocent or guilty under the law.  It no longer applies.  He is not advocating for lustful behavior; he is simply stating that the measure of the law of adultery dies with the death of the spouse.

This is how Paul is explaining the freedom we have.  The law of Moses did not vanish.  Nor is he advocating that we should begin performing acts that were against the law.  He is simply saying it is no longer the measure of our righteousness.

That is wonderfully huge!

No one ever was found righteous because of their adherence to the law.  That is not to say that God did not deem individuals righteous in the old testament, but it is not because they perfectly fulfilled every nuance of the law.  No one did that.  As Paul said in Chapter 3, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  No one is righteous, no, not one.

What it means is that there is now a door 2 available that is different than the door 1 which was you are measured against the law and found guilty.  Door 2 is the “I’m with Him” alternative.  Instead of us being judged by the measure of the law, Jesus takes our place and we stand behind Him as He is measured and found not-guilty and fully righteous.  Jesus did not abolish the law, He fulfilled it on our behalf.  It didn’t go away, it just does not apply as the measure of our innocence and guilt because we are no longer married to our old life.  We died to our old life and have been united with the Holy Spirit.

My Answers:

In contrast to the law, to which we are only bound while living, When we are born again to the family of Christ it is an eternal bond resulting in everlasting life

We are freed from the law (or, at least, from the law being the measurement of our righteousness). Belong to Jesus Christ in order that we might bear fruit to God

Caring for others, living in a way that matches my words and my faith, teaching, spending time with God in prayer for others.

Fruit for God is works and results that come through the power of the Spirit alive in us, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness… Fruit of death is works that result in leading ourselves and others farther from the truth and deeper into darkness: idolatry, vain language, lust, fear hate, envy, sexual immorality. The fruit of death flirts with me and I only result by walking with the spirit and praying and seeing things through God’s eyes not my own.


28.2 John – Race

In our verses today we see more running about than probably anywhere else in scripture short of Elijah racing the chariot or Jacob fleeing Esau.  Mary rushes to the grave site at or before the crack of dawn even without a plan for rolling back the stone.  Upon finding the tomb empty she runs to Peter and John, who, in turn, take off running to the grave.  Next thing we know, Mary is back at the grave as well.

Why all the running?  All of it starts with the assumptions in their minds.  Mary assumes “they” have taken Jesus’ body.  Peter and John assume they need to get to the scene ASAP to either confirm or repute what she has told them while the evidence is fresh.  And, yet, it is not until they stop running that any of them find what they are looking for.  John stands there and finds that he believes.  Mary stands crying and hears her name called by Jesus.

Isn’t this how our lives go, too?  We run from thing to thing, trying to do the “right thing.”  We are busy, busy, running and serving and working and leading.  We run our kids from event to event.  We run to appointments.  We run to prepare meals.  Jesus is present with us when we are running (just as he was present with the men on the road to Emmaus), but we are so busy running and hurting and running from the hurt, that we don’t see or recognize Him even when He is there.

We know we need to stop, and sit at Jesus’ feet.  We know we need to be fed to feed others, but, we fear that if we stop the guilt of stopping will catch up with us, because stopping would be for us, while running is for other people.  But, as we’ll see throughout our lessons this week, Jesus wants us to stop.  Over and over again he brings a gift and a command both in the same words:  “Peace be with you.”  The very thing that Jesus gives us, Satan works the hardest to deny us: Peace.  Satan lies to us that running and running gives us more, while we know that it does not.  Satan lies that we must constantly serve others and are not worthy of having peace ourselves, Jesus provides it as a gift.  Satan wants us rushing and unsettled and missing out, Jesus wants us to stand still, hear His voice, and have joy and belief.

Don’t “slow down” this week, but instead, take time to actually stop and be with the Lord.  He did not make Peter and John stand in the tomb for days.  He didn’t make Mary weep for hours.  You don’t have to lock yourself away for hours either.  But you do have to be willing to accept the gift and command – Have Peace!

My Answers:

Both immediately raced to the tomb.  Upon arrival, John hesitated to enter while Peter rushed right in.

I’m hesitant and retrospective.  I am more engaged when I’m doing it with a partner.

Unwrapped linens and the covering over His face.  We are not told why, but if his body had been taken, it would not have been unwrapped.

1 Cor 15:14 – And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Without the resurrection, death is not defeated.  There is punishment without forgiveness.

21.2 John – We

Did you notice the use of pronouns in this first chapter of 1 John?  John is clearly talking about himself.  He is the one who saw Jesus with his eyes.  He is the one who touched the Lord with his hands.

But he doesn’t say “I”, he says “we”.  Now there are a lot of different “we’s”.  There is the “royal we” where a king or queen is speaking on behalf of the kingdom.  A “papal we”, speaking on behalf of the church.  A “family we”, a “corporate we”.  But John isn’t using any of these.  He is speaking personally, not corporately or congregationally.

But, John is no long just John.  He is John and the Holy Spirit.  So, much so, that his identity is no long his alone, but only his as part of the Spirit and the Spirit as part of him.

God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is “him”, but John is we.  Without the Holy Spirit and Jesus, John no longer has identity.

This release of identity is something John demonstrates again and again in his writing.  Throughout the gospel of John, John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  This was not to imply that Jesus didn’t love the other disciples, but it is a laying down of self in the recognition of a greater communion.  Without Jesus’ love, John is not John.

Do we think of ourselves this way?  Do we recognize that once we became a Christian we are no longer an “I”, but we are “we’s”, combined with God through the Holy Spirit and Jesus?  If we started transforming our thoughts to this way, how would that change our life?  Would we be less prideful, less selfish, less alone, less self-centered, more aware of our anger and the way we treat and witness to others?

I think “we” might!

My Answers:

Jesus: John had heard, seen, and touched Jesus (both before and after his resurrection).

1. Jesus has/is Eternal life (v 2) and 2. God is light, in him there is no darkness at all. (v. 5)

1. claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in darkness
2. claim to be without sin
3. claim to have not sinned

1. Walk in light, we have fellowship with one another and purified by the blood of Jesus
2. Confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness
3. Don’t sin, but if do, Jesus is our advocate: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins

16.5 John – Would not

In these final verses of John 12 we get into some deep theological thoughts.  If faith is a gift, then does everyone receive the gift?  If God is in control of everything then why doesn’t everyone come to faith?  Doesn’t God want everyone in heaven and if He has the power to ordain that, then why would there be a hell?

Instead of going into the weeds of that discussion, I think a major answer to all of this is found in John 12:37 when it says that “some would not believe.”  Notice it does not say “did not believe”  or “could not believe”, it says they “would” not believe.  They started with the decision not to believe.  God, in love, gives them this choice and they choose not to believe.  Without choice, we would be robots or slaves.  For God to not honor our choice would be the same as if there were not to be a choice at all.

As we saw earlier in the week in the verse from Isaiah, the proper and logical response to coming into the presence of the holy perfect creator God is to immediately recognize the undoing within ourselves and to see our own sin.  Think about this in any other context, it would be sheer lunacy to come into the presence of such a supreme being and not recognize our own inadequacy.

But, coming face-to-face with God is not faith.  Faith is an unseen quality.  It is a step, not a push.

For those who “would not believe” to have been forced then to see, in full light, the works of Jesus and the full meaning of the actions of the Lord as the Son of God and Son of Man, would have been to force them to do something they had chosen not to do.  That would not be faith, but nor would it have been free will.  In grace, God allows their eyes to be blind and their hearts calloused to honor the choice they choose to make.

My Answers:

Some would not believe.  It isn’t that they could not believe, but they would not.  As a result of their “faith” decision, they were blinded to the full magnitude of the signs because no one could have looked fully at the signs and miracles and not seen that Jesus was the Son of God.  Some recognized the signs, but in fear or pride or for other reasons chose not to acknowledge what they were believing in their heart but, instead, wanting to hold on to old ways.  They will be judged @end

Isaiah sees the throne room of God and receives the same message that Jesus provides.  Because they refused to bend their hearts to the Lord, it has been turned calloused and they will be unable to see the signs that would result in them falling on their face in awe and wonder of the living God, just as Isaiah did.

I look for clues and hints of the belief of one I’m talking to and I’m more open and direct with fellow believers.  To those who have a calloused heart and closed mind, I do not press them but am respectful.  I don’t know that respect is the right response and if that is being kind to them or harmful to them.

16.4 John – Stewards and Lieutenants

I appreciate the question in today’s study about “lose your life”.  I completely get the reference to vs. 25 and I understand and am humbled by the teaching about this principle by Jesus and throughout the epistles.

I think, as sinful man, we, however, distort this whole “die to self” concept.  We take pride in the sacrifices we make.  We carry guilt that we aren’t sacrificing enough.  We almost make a show of it, if not to others in words at least to ourselves in our thoughts.

But I think the heart of this teaching is not to feel bad when God has entrusted us with things.  Jesus had been friends with Mary and Martha and Lazarus for a very long time and not once do we see Mary be in trouble for owning a bottle of perfume worth a year’s wages.   Nor was she burdened every day with trying to figure out who needed this more than she did.

Instead, I think the better translation of this would be to tie it to the principle of being a good steward or, if the title is more comfortable, a lieutenant, of ourselves.  We are to be trained up.  We are to be prayerful.  We are to be listening and taking care of ourselves physically and mentally.  We are to practice and build our talents.  We are to give thanks both for our blessings and our trials.  But, most importantly, we are to recognize that we do all of this not for ourselves, but to be at the ready for the command of our commander.

A lieutenant does not feel guilty for the troops under his authority.  He prepares them and builds them.  He doesn’t shun food or proper clothing or shelter or rest or work for them.  He recognizes the importance of investing in those in his ranks so that they can perform, at a moment’s notice, when the command comes from above to deploy.  He also does not jump ahead of those orders, sending them out so they are not at the ready when the true orders come.

In the same way, I think we are the lieutenant of ourselves, of our bodies, of our thoughts, of our resources and money and relationships and emotions.  But, we serve not for ourselves or our own glory but for that of our commander.  We don’t wear our name on our foreheads, but the name of Jesus Christ. That is giving up this life to a life of service and the promise of that is a better, greater, holier life for all eternity.

My Answers:

The time for Him to come to Jerusalem to die.  The time for Him to take on the sins of the world, die and then rise again

As a human He was human, but through His death He was the first born again.  The warning and promise was that he was going to, very soon, die, and be born again greater.  It was a promise to believers and a warning to the pharisees.

Believing fully in Christ in faith is an “all in” commitment.  We give up ourselves and control over our own life, to the extent that we offer to go where He leads even in harm, pain and possible death of this life, knowing we have eternal life with Him.

16.3 John – In the name of

What does it mean to come in the name of something or someone?  We experience this less today than people have in the past because of the flow and speed of communication.  Today, if a document requires a signature, it can be signed electronically or signed and faxed or over-nighted.  But at a time when transportation was measured in days and weeks instead of milliseconds, this was not the case.  A person of authority, having business or other affairs in different areas would send representatives to those houses or areas.  This representative was not there on their own behalf, but they represented their master or benefactor.  They were there not in their own name but in the name of someone else.

We still see this today in some instances.  In a wedding ceremony it will often be said, by the power vested in me by…  We see the same wording in inductions and sometimes in legal proceedings by a judge or lawyer, especially the attorney speaking for “the state” or “the people.”

But when Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem, in the midst of palm branches and cheers, with shouts of praise and jubilation, riding on a donkey (not as one coming in as a conqueror but as a ruler in times of peace), He comes in His own name and the due title accompanying that name, Lord.  He is the promised one.  He is the perfect son of God and He is worthy of all praise.

Why don’t we recognize Jesus this way every day?  When we first believe, we recognize His majesty and we are humbled in His presence.  But, over time, we sometimes become almost too casual.  Yes, Jesus is our brother and friend, but He is also our Lord, our God.  It is right to have a personal relationship with Him, but if our approach to that relationship yields to failing to consider His title and authority, i.e., becoming inconsiderate, then we cross a line.  When we cross that line, we are the ones who lose.  Jesus doesn’t love us less, but we connect just a little less.  But what would it look like if we started each day in true praise and celebration?  What would our days look like if we started the day with a big loud Hosanna?  Would your day be better if it started with a praise song instead of a rush to look at email or facebook?

My Answers:

PS: “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, shouted at His entry with Hosanna
My house will be a house of prayer (but you have made it a den of vipers) = from the house of the Lord we bless you

ZE: King comes, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey

the whole crowd of disciples and those who had seen Jesus with Lazarus, some Greeks, the Pharisees, the Jews there for Passover, the sellers in the temple

With boldness, by following and praising Him, by leading to Him not away from Him by the way I live and teach

25.5 Revelation – I would believe if…

If you’ve ever had a serious discussion about God with a non-believer you have heard it:  “I would believe in God if…”  or “I can’t believe in a God who…”  or “if there were proof, then…”.

But, those are lies and deceptions.  They are ways of men trying to put themselves above God and judge God.  It is a means of denying faith in God by denying faith.  If it requires absolute proof, it is not faith, it is simply the logical fact.

We see it even in our passages from Revelation 20.  Even when there is proof.  Even when the dead are brought back to life.  Even when we see angels and martyrs gathered in praise.  Even when Satan is removed from the world and lies are removed.  Even then men still create their own lies.  Even then, when it is not a matter of faith, they still deny God.

If you have had one of these conversations you can sometimes come away feeling inadequate.  I know this is real and good and right and the truth.  If only I could say the right thing to convince them, if only I were better at apologetics or memorized more scripture.  If only my faith were stronger, better.  If only my life wasn’t filled with such hypocrisy.

But, take solace.  Even in the presence of the Risen Lord, even when every Nation, Language, People and Tribe will come under Him, still, they will not believe.

Spreading the good news of Jesus Christ is not your work, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Our duty and honor is simply to be fully present in the moment, in love and peace with our savior, and move our own pride out of the way so the Holy Spirit can fully work through us.  But even then, some will sadly continue to hold to the lies instead of to the love.

My Answers:

Satan is real – He is now, will be imprisoned, will be set free to deceive and then will be thrown into eternal suffering

God is patient – He can do this at any time – but He waits until the full measure of those to be saved has chosen.

It is assured – not by my acts or deeds but by Jesus’

It will be Good, fair, just, honorable, prosperous, fair, true

06.4 Revelation – Trading Beads and Doing Pretty Good

Trading Beads and Doing Pretty Good

According to Wikipedia, from the 16th to the 20th century (yes, last century) glass beads were used as a currency.  Wealthy individuals who those with storehouses filled with glass beads.

To most of us, we recognize that glass is made from sand and understand that there is no shortage of sand.  We find it ridiculous that people worked, fought, stole, and exerted power over each other for a bunch of glass beads.  Other than for their historical value, you would be hard pressed to pay for anything today with a handful of glass beads.

And, yet, today we find ourselves in the same situation over pieces of paper, plastic and less, numbers stored electronically on magnetic disks.  If we have lots of these pieces of paper, or lots of numbers in the electronic storage, we believe we are rich.

But, in the same way that the accumulation of beads is without value today, the things we consider wealth do no transfer into the new economy of heaven.

I read a story once (I can’t find the source, but if anyone knows, please comment).  It described two men who temporarily left their homes to go work in a foreign country.  They both rented apartments.  They both took care of their basic needs of food and clothing and entertainment with the money they earned.  One man, however, spent lavishly on remodeling of the apartment he was renting.  New carpets, knocked out walls, put in new windows, drapes, paint, etc.  The second man lived modestly, but comfortably, and sent as much money as he could back home.  At the end of their engagement, both men left the foreign land and returned back home.

The moral of the story is that this life on this earth is not our home.  This is a temporary apartment.  We have a permanent home in heaven.  What fools we are to have the proceeds of our work go to anything on this side, instead of having the entire focus of our work go to investments which can be sent ahead back to our real home.

But we don’t think.  We, like the Laodiceans, focus on our own comfort and we start to believe that we are self-sufficient and can take care of ourselves.  The convicting arrow God sent to my heart on this was when I was asked for a prayer request for myself that my leader could pray for me.  My initial response was, I’m doing pretty good and don’t really need anything right now to pray for.  And then the arrogance of that luke-warm answer pierced me.  Is God’s calling for me to “do pretty good’?  Is my view of God someone that I turn to in prayer after I fail on my own, instead of with Him first and foremost?


My Answers:

Words of the Amen – the one with the ability to “make it be”

They were lukewarm

They said they were rich, wealthy, not in need = they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, naked

They confused earthly possessions with eternal possessions.  It doesn’t transfer, but heavenly riches can be accumulated in heaven now (the earth is just rental property)

When they lack compassion.  When they start to believe they have “earned it” and/or “deserve it”.  When God is not first and last in their day and their lives

04.4 Revelation – Incomprehensible Eternal Presence

Incomprehensible Eternal Presence

In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizon passed Pluto sending amazing photos back to Earth.  With it, there were numerous news stories attempting to explain the size and scale of the mission.  It is hard for us to comprehend since New Horizon was traveling at speeds upward of 36,000 miles per hour and it still took 9 years to travel the 3.1 Billion miles to Pluto.

As CBS News wrote, “Imagine the sun the size of a quarter on the goal line of a football field.  Now imagine all of the planets stretched out in a straight line from the sun.

Earth, just 0.009 inches across at this scale, would be positioned around the three-yard line. Mighty Jupiter, just one tenth of an inch across, would be “orbiting” inside the near red zone just past the 15-yard line. Ringed Saturn would be just inside the 30. The outer gas giants, Uranus and Neptune, would be orbiting on the opponent’s side of the field, 57 and 90 yards from the sun.

Pluto would be an invisible speck one thousandth-of-an-inch across 18 yards beyond the opponent’s goal line. At this scale, the next nearest star would be some 458 miles away.”

Yet, Jesus is bigger.  The letter to the church of Smyrna points out that Jesus is the first and the last, who died and came to life again.  He is across all space and time.  All things were created through Him and He is present, everlasting, in all eternity. He is one of the three persons of the Eternal, all Knowing and all Powerful God.

In the vastness of that eternal space and time, our entire existence, not just you or me, but all mankind since the creation, is immeasurably small – smaller than a single vibration of a soundwave.  Talk about blinking and missing it.

Yet. Yet, Jesus is present fully in our here and now.  His love and presence is so big that He is fully in the smallness of our lives.  And His presence is so great, that He does not consider it small.

He became lower than the angels to walk this earth only to die for our sins.  He chooses to hear and answer our prayers.  He chooses to stay active in creation and He cares deeply and fully about each and everyone one of us during each and every moment of each and every day.

Mind – Blown!

My Answers:

who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again
Jesus is eternal – He is a person of the Trinity for ever.  He is the first and last of the earth (at the beginning and the end).  He is the one who saved mankind by dying and coming back to life.

your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich.  He knows about the slander of those who claim to be Jews but are not God’s chosen people but of the synagogue of Satan

Difference between man’s view and God’s view.  They lacked earthly resources, but they had abundance of spiritual resources.  They did not have earthly savings, but they had treasures in Heaven.

30.0 Moses, Reflection

Encountering God

What an amazing study it has been to delve into God’s word on the life of Moses.  There have been so many ways I have been encouraged and convicted, humbled and emboldened through this study.

Reflecting back, it was interesting to reflect on the 4 stages of Moses’ life that we studied this year: 40, 40, 40, Forever.  40 years in Pharaoh’s house in Egypt, 40 years as a shepherd, husband and father in Midian, 40 years as a prophet and leader to the Israelites and Forever in the Eternal Promised Land of heaven to continue to be in the presence of God.

Each of us goes through stages of life as well.  These are always easier to see in hindsight, but God continues to work us and shape us.  He is holy and His desire for the faithful is that we would be holy as well.

But through all of this, one particular event that moved Moses between life stages kept coming back to my mind.  It was the day Moses had an encounter with God at the burning bush.

Two things stood out to me in this.

Let’s go back to Exodus 3 starting in verse 4b: “God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then He said…”

First, was Moses’ response.  Moses’ response was obedience.  When called, he answered.  When told to take off his sandals, he obeyed.  Then God introduced Himself to Moses and shared the calling and mission He had for Moses’ life.  I believe one clear message from this is the life of a Godly Man is not founded on knowledge or good deeds, it is begun with an attitude of obedience.

How we fight being obedient!  We look to the right and to the left.  We stumble and fall.  We allow ourselves to get week by not staying in a daily walk with God and yield easily then to temptation.  But a position of obedience, on our knees, praying for ourselves and the people around us, is the position we can begin anew each day.

The second part of this is that Moses encountered God.  Encounter is an interesting word.  Our church (probably like many) has a mission statement that includes the words “encounter God.”  Looking at the definition of encounter, it has a couple of somewhat different meanings/uses.  The first is an unexpected meeting.  The second is to meet in conflict.  The second is very close to the root origin of the word: en = in, such as in the car or in the presence of and counter = contrare, opposition, such counter-productive or counter-intuitive or the French term, au contraire.

When we seek for ourselves and others to encounter God, we are seeking not for a warm and fuzzy experience, but for a convicting experience.  Our day to day lives reflect our sin nature.  We think of ourselves as master of our own life, master of our destiny, and we pay homage and bow down to any matter of false gods.  Where we invest our time, talent and attention reflects what is most important in our lives.  But an encounter with God convicts us of how “in confrontation” that lie is to the truth of God.

Asking for an encounter also means call for the unexpected.  But, so often, we fill our days up with so many “things” that we are far more likely to rush by the burning bush than we are to stop.  We, all too often, carve out a block of time in our so, so busy week, Sunday morning for example, and as God to yield to our desire to be in control and give us an “unexpected meeting” at that time and place as long as it doesn’t last more than 60 minutes because we have other things to do.  Surprise!

Yes, there were many things in the life of Moses.  Yes, God was faithful to him even before he was born.  But this encounter was pivotal and was simply the first of many encounters over the next 40 years.

If an encounter with God is truly want you want for yourself and for your family, your church, your workplace, your neighborhood, then start by being obedient.  Kick your shoes off.  Slow down and accept that God is in control, you and I are not.  Enter his holy place.  And, when you hear His call, answer, “Here I am.”