1325.) John 4:1-26

May 30, 2014

“Christ and the Samaritan Woman” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

John 4:1-26   (NRSV)

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3he left Judea and started back to Galilee.

4But he had to go through Samaria.

Why?  Many Jews often avoided Samaria by crossing the Jordan and traveling on its eastern side back and forth to Jerusalem.  Did Jesus’ requirement have less to do with geography and more to do with mission?

5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)

A good Jewish man did not speak in public to women he did not know.  A rabbi did not speak to any woman in public — not his mother, not his wife.

9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)

painting from a Roman catacomb, 4th century

10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”

13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.”

17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”

Some commentators see this as a clever change of subject on her part, to divert Jesus from a more sensitive topic.  I read it differently.  She immediately recognizes his supernatural knowledge of her, and then asks a question which has obviously been a point of confusion for her.  I believe the woman was disappointed in her own life and had a heart that was tender to spiritual things.  Jesus knew from afar her longing for healing and forgiveness, and sat by the well waiting for her to come, to redeem her.  Oh, the kindness of our Lord!

19The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and TRUTH.”

“Woman at the Well” by American painter Daniel Bonnell

25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”

26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

This is the only occasion before his trial that Jesus explicitly acknowledges that he is the Messiah — and he tells it to a woman, a Samaritan woman, an immoral Samaritan woman.

Dear Woman at the Well:

You can never be sinful enough to erase Jesus’ love for you!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the story sung by Anne Millen Longacre.  It’s a new song to me and I quite like it!

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Who are the Samaritans in our society/in your community? 

2)   Do you know a “Samaritan woman” who needs to meet Jesus-in-you?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
He Qi.    http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Joh-04,01_Samaritan_Woman_Femme_Samaritaine/21%20HE%20QI%20THE%20SAMARITAN%20WOMAN.jpg
catacomb.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/womanwell.jpg
the Samaritan woman at Jesus’ feet.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/woman_at_the_well.jpg
Bonnell.   http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large-5/the-woman-at-the-well-daniel-bonnell.jpg

1324.) John 3

May 29, 2014

“Visit of Nicodemus to Christ” by John La Farge, 1880 (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.).  I love that the artist pictures Nicodemus coming with Scriptures in hand to learn the truth.

John 3   (NRSV)

 Nicodemus Visits Jesus

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night

Our friend Nic is a Pharisee, which means he is zealous to keep the law of God.  He is a leader, a member of the Sanhedrin.  He came to Jesus when no one could see him, for he did not want to jeopardize his esteemed and influential position by being seen with an uneducated traveling preacher.

and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”

3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

J:  “Nic, you’re a mess.”

4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”

N:  “Excuse me?”

5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”

10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

J:  “Oh, you Pharisees!  You know so much about God’s law, and so little about God’s love!”

11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

God so loved that He gave.  How much do you love?  Do you love enough to give — this?  To each of us there is a different “this,” but the question is the same and there can only be one answer:  “Let Him take all.”

We may be put off from the joy of giving by the thought of the smallness of what we have to offer.  But our Lord does not think anything love can give is too small to take.  There is nothing small to God; even our little “this” matters to Him.  When by His loving enabling we look up to Him and say, “Take all — take this,” then He comes near and makes peace in our borders and fills us with the finest of the wheat (Psalm 147:14).  The very Bread of Life empowers us once again.

So now, today, let us so love that we give.

17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

J:  “There’s hope for you, Nic!”

18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Dear Nic,

You can never be spiritual enough to erase your need for Jesus!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the old favorite, “God So Loved the World,”  written by John Stainer in 1887, and performed by the King’s College Choir, Cambridge.

_________________________

Jesus and John the Baptist

22After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. 23John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized 24—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

25Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. 26They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 28You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ 29He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease.

The One Who Comes from Heaven

“From heav’n above to earth I come
To bear good news to ev’ry home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing:

“To you this night is born a child
Of Mary, chosen Virgin mild;
This little child, of lowly birth,
Shall be the joy of all the earth.

Now let us all with gladsome cheer
Follow the shepherds and draw near
To see this wondrous gift of God,
Who hath His only Son bestowed.

Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
Through whom the sinful world is blest!
Thou com’st to share my misery;
What can we render, Lord, to Thee?

Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
It yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

–Martin Luther, 1531

31The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

We might say that John 3 is a “must read” chapter of the Bible.

There are four prominent “musts” in John 3.

    • The Sinner’s must: you must be born again (John 3:7).
    • The Savior’s must: so must the Son of Man be lifted up (John 3:14).
    • The Sovereign’s must: He must increase (John 3:30).
    • The Servant’s must: I must decrease (John 3:30).

–David Guzik

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Martin Luther said that John 3:16 is “the heart of the  Bible — the Gospel in miniature.”  How so?

2)   There has been much speculation, over the centuries, about the character and motives of Nicodemus.  He appears three times in John’s Gospel:  here, in the first extensive dialogue of the Gospel; again, when the Temple police try to arrest Jesus (John 7:45-52); and finally at the tomb after Jesus is dead (John 19:39).  What do you make of him?  What do you think he was after?  Do you see (a piece of) yourself in him?

3)   How do these “must” statements above apply to you?

__________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
La Farge.  http://americanart.si.edu/images/1909/1909.7.37_1a.jpg
John 3:16 as a cross.  http://www.girlfriendgetawaypackages.com/images/John316bright.jpg
baby Jesus in the manger.   http://www.jandmranch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/manger-baby.jpg

1323.) John 2

May 28, 2014

John 2   (NRSV)

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are knows as the three synoptic gospels. Synoptic means “see-together” and the first three gospels present Jesus’ life in pretty much the same format. The first three gospels focus more on what Jesus taught and did; John focuses more on who Jesus is.

John shows us who Jesus is by highlighting seven signs (miracles) of Jesus. Six of these miracles are not mentioned in the first three gospels.

John shows us who Jesus is by allowing Jesus to speak for Himself in seven dramatic I Am statements.

John shows us who Jesus is by calling forth witnesses who will testify about the identity of Jesus. Four of these witnesses speak in the first chapter alone.

–David Guzik

The Wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”

5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.

9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

These few paragraphs on prayer, from the classic book on prayer by the Norwegian theologian Ole Hallesby (1879-1961), have done more to inform my prayer life than any other teaching.  I hope they will help you, too.

from Prayer,
by O. Hallesby

The Spirit of prayer would teach us that we should disregard the question as to whether the fulfillment of our prayer is hard or easy for God. What we think or do not think about this, has no bearing on the hearing and answering of prayer. Not only that; it has a blighting and destructive effect upon our prayer life, because we waste our strength on something which is not our concern, and which our Lord has never asked us to be concerned about.

This secret of prayer became very plain to me once many years ago as I was reading the delightful little account of the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11).  Jesus, His mother and His disciples were bidden to the wedding. In all likelihood the family was closely related to, or very friendly toward, the family of Jesus. At least, we notice that the host and hostess had acquainted the mother of Jesus with the embarrassing situation which had arisen when the wine had given out.

Whereupon the mother of Jesus reveals herself as a tried and true woman of prayer.

In the first place, she goes to the right place with the need she has become acquainted with. She goes to Jesus and tells Him everything.

In the next place, notice what she says to Jesus. Just these few, simple words, “They have no wine.” Note here what prayer is. To pray is to tell Jesus what we lack. Intercession is to tell Jesus what we see that others lack.

In the third place, let us notice that she did nothing more. When she had told Jesus about the need of her friends, she knew that she did not have to do any more about it. She knew that she did not have to help Him either by suggesting what He should do or anything else. She knew Him and knew that this need had been left in the proper hands. She knew Him. She knew that He Himself knew what He wanted to do.

She knew also that she did not have to influence Him or persuade Him to give these friends a helping hand. No one is so willing to help as He is!

In the fourth place, let us notice that when the mother of Jesus had presented her petition, she had done her part. As far as she was concerned she was through with the matter; she had left it with Him. She was no longer responsible, so to speak, for the embarrassing situation. The responsibility had been placed upon Jesus. It was now up to Him to find a way to help the beloved host and hostess.

She had never before seen Jesus turn water into wine. Therefore she likely did not even think of this way out of the difficulty. It is a question if she, on the whole, even thought about this aspect of the situation. She knew Him well and that He was never at a loss as to what to do. As a rule the way out of difficulty which He chose came as a surprise to her. At least, that was something which did not concern her and in connection with which she did not have to waste any time or effort.

Here is one who truly prays right!

I think we can all see how different our prayer life would be if we would only learn this aspect of the holy art of prayer, with which the mother of Jesus was so familiar.

11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The Franciscan Wedding Church at Cana is small.  Inside, the church has two levels. The upper church has a chapel surmounted by a simple dome. Six stone water jars are placed above the altar, as a reminder of the miracle Jesus worked here.  The lower church has a chapel and a small museum with artifacts from the site, including a winepress, a plastered cistern, and vessels of various dates.

12After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.

_________________________

Music:

Water into wine in chapter 2 and living water coming in chapter 4 . . .

HERE  is “Let Your Living Water Flow,”  written by John Watson and performed here by Vinesong Music.  One listen and the song will be in your mind for the rest of the day!

_________________________

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

The Passover was one of the three holy feasts for which observant Jews were expected to journey to Jerusalem.  Passover, Tabernacles, and Weeks (Pentecost) are explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament as feasts to be held in Jerusalem (Leviticus 23), and John’s Gospel locates Jesus in Jerusalem for Passover (John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55) and for Tabernacles (John 7:10), as well as for the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah — John 10:22).  It is possible that he refers to Pentecost (see the reference to “a festival” at John 5:1).  So John understands Jesus to be an observant Jew who regularly journeys to Jerusalem for the festivals.  This fact alone explains some of the back-and-forth nature of the geographical features of the Gospel.

–Mark A. Matson

14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jesus cleanses the temple, a banner by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey.

18The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?”

19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

20The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

23When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. 24But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Why is it, do you think, that many of us feel we must help God to fulfill our prayer by giving him suggestions about what/when/where/why/how to do it?

2)  Or why do we think prayer is to be used (more or less) to command God to do our bidding?

3)  Do either of these questions encourage you to examine and improve your own attitudes towards prayer, and your prayers themselves?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
wedding feast at Cana.   http://parishableitems.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/wedding-feast-of-cana-icon.jpg
Wedding Church in Cana.   http://v4.cache8.c.bigcache.googleapis.com/static.panoramio.com/photos/original/28779656.jpg?redirect_counter=1
applying the blood.   http://rashmanly.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/passover-2.jpg

1322.) John 1:29-51

May 27, 2014

John 1:29-51   (NRSV)

John: The fourth gospel.

Why are there four gospels? The ancient Christian writer Origen (185-254 a.d.) gave a good answer: there are not four gospels, but one four-fold gospel. Each gospel presents a different perspective on the life of Jesus, and we need all four to get the full picture.

John was probably the last gospel written, and written in view of what the previous three had already said. This is one reason why John is so different from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

There are significant events in the ministry of Jesus that Matthew, Mark, and Luke include that John leaves out, including Jesus’ birth, baptism, temptation in the wilderness, the Last Supper, the agony in Gethsemane, the Ascension, demonic confrontations, and parables.

The first three gospels center on Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. John centers his gospel on what Jesus said and did in Jerusalem.

And each of the gospels emphasizes a different origin of Jesus.

Matthew shows Jesus came from Abraham through David, and demonstrates that He is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament (Matthew 1:1-17).

Mark shows Jesus came from Nazareth, demonstrating that Jesus is a Servant (Mark 1:9).

Luke shows Jesus came from Adam, demonstrating that Jesus is the Perfect Man (Luke 3:23-38).

John shows Jesus came from heaven, demonstrating that Jesus is God.

However, it is wrong to think that the Gospel of John completes the story of Jesus. John makes it clear that the story of Jesus can never be completed (John 21:25).

–David Guzik

The Lamb of God

29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.

_________________________

Music:

“Behold the Lamb of God”  from Handel’s Messiah.  HERE  by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.

_________________________

The First Disciples of Jesus

35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Following Jesus:

Andrew came to Jesus because of John’s proclamation about the Lamb of God.  Then Peter came to Jesus because of his brother’s witness.  In the next verses, Philip will come to Jesus as a result of a direct invitation from Christ, and Nathanael will come to Jesus when Jesus showed himself so great in relation to Nathanael’s small question. Our dear Lord will meet us wherever we are and draw us to himself with gentleness and graciousness.  May we be eager to follow Jesus!

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

50Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

_________________________

Reflections:

Just in chapter 1, Jesus is given a number of different titles: 

  • In the Prologue (v. 1-18), Jesus is identified in a cluster of metaphors that are cosmic and foundational in nature:  the Word, the life, the light.
  • The second group of titles assigned to Jesus identify him in terms of God; they are relational terns: (only-begotten) Son of the Father, the Son of God.
  • The third group of title are functional terms that identify some aspect of Jesus’ role, especially involving certain expectations in Israel:   Messiah; Anointed; the King of Israel; and Rabbi.
  • Finally, Jesus is referred to with certain prophetic or apocalyptic terms:  the Lamb of God, the Son of Man.

What were these different titles trying to convey about Jesus?  Which ones are most familiar and comfortable to you?  Which ones might you want to explore further, so as to learn more about Jesus?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
John baptizes Jesus.   http://www.travisagnew.org/?p=4494
following Jesus.   http://tvhostmelissa.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/follow_jesus.jpg

1321.) John 1:1-28

May 26, 2014

John 1:1-28    (NRSV)

John 20:30-31 (New International Version)

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word,

Genesis 1:1 (New International Version)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

LIFE AND LIGHT

When Jesus came to a world that was in bondage to darkness and dead in its sin, He came as light and life.  His light dispelled sin’s darkness wherever He went, for the forces of evil could not withstand Him.  The life He brought was abundant and free, available to all who were dead in their sin.

The fullness of life found in Christ dwells within you as a Christian (Colossians 1:27).  The life Jesus offers is available to others through you.  Don’t discount what you have to give to those who are hurting.  Christ’s life within you is more than sufficient to meet every human need.  When people encounter you, they encounter Christ within you.  You do not know all the answers, but you have Someone within you who does!  Be thankful God chooses to express Himself through you, giving light and life to those around you.

5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

1 John 3:1 (New International Version)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and TRUTH.

15(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

GJ1 cross

17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and TRUTH came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

_________________________

Music:

HERE — the Oasis Chorale performing “The Word Was God” by Rosephanye Powell.  Dr. Powell is an internationally recognized composer and arranger of sacred choral music and African-American spirituals.  As the nation’s most published African-American female composer of choral music, her works have been published by major choral music publishers and have been performed by top choirs all around the world.  She is also on the faculty at Auburn University.

Dr. Powell has said about this piece:  “It is one of those songs that I really believe was inspired by God.  In my time of study and meditation one day, I was just saying these words over and over again: “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.”  And as I continued to meditate upon that, all of a sudden a melody came and as the melody came I found myself unable to write fast enough to get all of the notes and the words down.  So I really feel like that was one that God compelled, as He did with the disciples and Moses who wrote the word, and I followed His leading.”

_________________________

The Testimony of John the Baptist

19This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said.

Isaiah 40:1-5 (New International Version)

 Comfort, comfort my people,
   says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
   and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
   that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
   double for all her sins.

 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
   the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
   a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
   every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
   the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
   and all people will see it together.
            For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Why, do you think, does the Gospel of John not begin with a (human) birth narrative, as Matthew and Luke do?

2)  Compare John 1:1-18 to Genesis 1:1 – 2:3.  What themes appear in both accounts?  Do these similarities help you understand better who Christ is?


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
John 1:1 WORD.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4bk8OKNVa-o/Ttt7_Vv5wYI/AAAAAAAAAwQ/1oKDHkahmfM/s1600/john1_1-newgallery.jpg
manger.  http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/john1_4.jpg
from the fullness of His grace.  http://puttingonthenew.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/john-1-16.jpg
children of God.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_J2lcElQzMRM/TBBhjBUptcI/AAAAAAAAAoU/wIcaApPMgWM/s1600/jesus_and_kids%5B1%5D.jpg
straight road.  http://frjamescoles.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/southwest-desert-road.jpg

1320.) Proverbs 30

May 23, 2014

Proverbs 30:8-9 (KJV)

Proverbs 30   (NRSV)

Sayings of Agur

The words of Agur son of Jakeh. An oracle.

All we know of Agur is found in this chapter.  Not much personal information about him.   But wonderful, marvelous truth from him.

Thus says the man: I am weary, O God,
    I am weary, O God. How can I prevail?
Surely I am too stupid to be human;
    I do not have human understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
    nor have I knowledge of the holy ones.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
    Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of the hand?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is the person’s name?
    And what is the name of the person’s child?
    Surely you know!

Every word of God proves true;

Psalm 12:6   (ESV)

The words of the Lord are pure words,
    like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times.

    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
    or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.

Two things I ask of you;
    do not deny them to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
    give me neither poverty nor riches;
    feed me with the food that I need,
or I shall be full, and deny you,
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or I shall be poor, and steal,
    and profane the name of my God.

Pro30 godliness-with-contentment

These verses contain the only prayer in the book of Proverbs.  The prayer is short and to the point.  It contains two petitions, one covering the spiritual life and the other covering the physical life.

First, Agur wanted his life to be worthwhile and honest.  He didn’t want it to be wasted on trivia.  He didn’t want to major on minors, and he didn’t want to deceive others or to be deceived.

As to the physical, he asked to be delivered from the extremes of poverty and riches.  He would be satisfied with the provision of his daily needs.  He was saying, in effect, “Give me this day my daily bread.”

–William MacDonald

10 Do not slander a servant to a master,
    or the servant will curse you, and you will be held guilty.

11 There are those who curse their fathers
    and do not bless their mothers.
12 There are those who are pure in their own eyes
    yet are not cleansed of their filthiness.
13 There are those—how lofty are their eyes,
    how high their eyelids lift!—
14 there are those whose teeth are swords,
    whose teeth are knives,
to devour the poor from off the earth,
    the needy from among mortals.

Pro30 3 plus 1

Verses 15-31:  This section contains five numerical sayings, each in the “three plus one” format — a literary formula used to produce a sense of climax.  Each set of sayings reflects on observations from nature and ties them to human life. Sometimes, the connections between the items in the list are difficult to discern. Perhaps the riddle-like quality of the connection is meant to remind us that we can’t always discern God’s wisdom because our capacity to understand is limited to those aspects which God chooses to reveal.

15 The leech has two daughters;
    “Give, give,” they cry.
Three things are never satisfied;
    four never say, “Enough”:
16 Sheol, the barren womb,
    the earth ever thirsty for water,
    and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

17 The eye that mocks a father
    and scorns to obey a mother
will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley
    and eaten by the vultures.

Pro30 Sailing ship
18 
Three things are too wonderful for me;

    four I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
    the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
    and the way of a man with a girl.

20 This is the way of an adulteress:
    she eats, and wipes her mouth,
    and says, “I have done no wrong.”

21 Under three things the earth trembles;
    under four it cannot bear up:
22 a slave when he becomes king,
    and a fool when glutted with food;
23 an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
    and a maid when she succeeds her mistress.

Pro30 lizard
24 
Four things on earth are small,

    yet they are exceedingly wise:
25 the ants are a people without strength,
    yet they provide their food in the summer;
26 the badgers are a people without power,
    yet they make their homes in the rocks;
27 the locusts have no king,
    yet all of them march in rank;
28 the lizard can be grasped in the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Pro30 rooster

29 Three things are stately in their stride;
    four are stately in their gait:
30 the lion, which is mightiest among wild animals
    and does not turn back before any;
31 the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
    and a king striding before his people.

32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
    or if you have been devising evil,
    put your hand on your mouth.
33 For as pressing milk produces curds,
    and pressing the nose produces blood,
    so pressing anger produces strife.

Choose one proverb from this chapter, which fits your life today. Memorize it. Read it aloud several times, emphasizing a different word each time. Close your eyes and recite it. Repeat this process several times until you are confident you know it. Pray and ask God to bring it to mind several times today. Recite it mentally each time it occurs to you. At the end of the day, take a moment to consider how it has applied to your life.  Repeat indefinitely!

—LBC

_________________________

Music:

What a wonderful God our God is!  HERE  is “You Are God Alone”  by Phillips, Craig & Dean.

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)    New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
canned vegetables.   http://www.gracebaptistconroe.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/proverbs-30_8-9.jpg
Godliness with contentment.    http://www.learningfromthemaster.com/godliness-with-contentment.jpg
3 plus 1.    http://www.stepcamera.de/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/3plus1-e1321123244948.jpeg
ship.    http://www.sturminsternewtonrotary.co.uk/images/Sailing%20ship1.jpg
lizard.    http://www.closerdaybyday.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Proverbs_30.png
rooster.    http://cdn.backyardchickens.com/d/d5/350x700px-LL-d53dbf43_bob.jpeg

1319.) Psalm 143

May 22, 2014

Ps143 8

Psalm 143   Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

A psalm of David:

Adonai, hear my prayer;
listen to my pleas for mercy.
In your faithfulness, answer me,
and in your righteousness.

David appeals to God’s faithfulness and righteousness, to God’s very nature and character.  Since God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can count on Him to work with us in faithfulness, righteousness, and love.  God will keep His promises.  God will defend His defenseless servant.

Don’t bring your servant to trial,
since in your sight no one alive
would be considered righteous.

For an enemy is pursuing me;
he has crushed my life into the ground
and left me to live in darkness,
like those who have been long dead.
My spirit faints within me;
my heart is appalled within me.

I remember the days of old,
reflecting on all your deeds,
thinking about the work of your hands.

Ps143 6
I spread out my hands to you,
I long for you like a thirsty land. (Selah)

Answer me quickly, Adonai,
because my spirit is fainting.
Don’t hide your face from me,
or I’ll be like those who drop down into a pit.

THE ANGUISH OF FAITH
by Os Hillman, Today God Is First

“Do not hide Your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.” – Psalm 143:7b

Of all the biblical characters, David gives us a glimpse of a man who walked with God with great emotion in victory and in defeat. David never lost a battle throughout his many years of serving as king of Israel. In many of the Psalms, David often lamented about the difficult places where God had placed him. He talked of his enemies and the need for God to deliver him. He talked of God’s everlasting love for him. How do you suppose David came to this understanding after years of being sought after by King Saul who wanted to take his life? His years of turmoil within his family gave him many reasons to lose all hope in a loving God.

David often began his Psalms in a place of discouragement and loss of hope. But he never ended one Psalm in defeat. He always came to a place of victory in God by the end of the Psalm. David always placed his life in God’s hands, knowing He would care for him. Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:8-10).

It is okay to feel discouragement. It is part of the process of grieving and working through those times of pain. But God wants each of us to allow Him to walk with us in these places. If you find yourself in one of these places, do what David did. Ask God to show you the way and let Him bring the word of His unfailing love to you.

Make me hear of your love in the morning,
because I rely on you.

Lamentations 3:21-23   (NIV)

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Make me know the way I should walk,
because I entrust myself to you.
Adonai, rescue me from my enemies;
I have hidden myself with you.

Ps143 10
10 Teach me to do your will,
because you are my God;
Let your good Spirit guide me
on ground that is level.

11 For your name’s sake, Adonai, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of distress.
12 In your grace, cut off my enemies;
destroy all those harassing me;
because I am your servant.

_________________________

Music:

This post of Psalm 143 is dedicated to Devlin, who turns 24 today.  Happy Birthday, wonderful and dearly loved son!

I remember you juggling fire sticks (!) to this song during a talent show in junior high.   HERE  is “Shout to the North” by Delirious:  “Men of faith, rise up and sing!”

_________________________

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)   Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
verse 8.    http://ih3.redbubble.net/image.7032297.5987/flat,550×550,075,f.jpg
 verse 6.    http://darrellcreswell.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/psalm-143-6.jpg?w=700
verse 10.    http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c5/0c/ad/c50cad833146fb755463c84504913bd7.jpg