The Pre-Incarnate Preview

April 19, 2018

Ever read all the works of an author and wished they’d written more? What if you discovered they’d written other books, but under another name? We find something similar in Scripture. The Gospels tell us about Jesus. What would you say if I told you that I knew of some bonus material about Him? (don’t freak out we are not talking about ‘some other weird, mystery books’.)

The Old Testament, specifically the preincarnate appearances of Jesus. To become more like Christ, we can closely examine this “bonus material” to learn how Jesus engaged with people. In this devotion, we’ll focus on Jesus’ appearances as the angel of the Lord.

The Bible never clearly states Jesus was the angel of the Lord, but it does suggest it was him. Here are some aspects of his appearances for you to consider:

➤ Jesus came in preincarnate human form—The angel of the Lord took human form, but not human flesh. Jesus did not become incarnate (the word incarnation means “the act of being made flesh”) until his appearance in the New Testament.

➤ Jesus appeared frequently—The term “angel of the Lord” occurs more than 50 times in the Old Testament; “angel of God” occurs nine times. We also find the angel of the Lord appearing as a “glory cloud of God” (e.g., see Ex 16:10).

➤ Jesus revealed his character—As the angel of the Lord, Jesus revealed his character through his actions. Here’s a list of nine ways the appearances teach us about Christ. We see that

  1. He leads (see Ex 13:21)

    2. He defends (see Ex 23:20–23)

    3. He communes (see Ex 24:10–11)

    4. He speaks (see Ex 33:9–11)

    5. He sympathizes (see Isa 63:8–9)

    6. He commands (see Ac 7:38)

    7. He anticipates (see Ex 40:34–38)

    8. He reveals (see Ex 33:18)

    9. He communicates grace (see Ge 16:7–9).

Just as the angel of the Lord prepared the way for the Israelites (see Ex 23:20), these passages prepare us to see Jesus more clearly and more fully.

The better we know Him, the better we can follow and become more like Him. God’s chief desire for us is that we become more Christ like.

God bless you on your spiritual journey, an odyssey of exploration into the majesty and mysteries of Christ, as Ephesians’ says; “the unsearchable riches of Christ”.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

A,B, C’S

April 18, 2018

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6).

Grace + Law = Death. Grace – Law = Life!

“Covenant theology, which has molded the major theological conceptions for many generations, recognizes no distinctions as to ages, therefore can allow for no distinctions between law and grace. This dominating attitude of Covenantism must account for the utter neglect of life truth (growth) in all their works of theology.

No more representative theological dictum from the Covenant viewpoint has been formed than the Westminster Confession of Faith, which valuable and important document recognizes life truth only to the point of imposing the Ten Commandments on Christians as their sole obligation, and in spite of the teachings of the New Testament which asserts that the Law was never given to Gentile or Christian.

While freeing believers from the bondage of Rome, the Protestant Reformation brought them back, in large measure, under the bondage of Sinai. The Reformation took away one set of bindings, but bound the believers with another—and this has atrophied the spiritual life of multitudes.

Not a single cluster of living fruit ever was, or ever will be, culled from the tree of legality. Law can only produce ‘dead works,’ from which we need to have conscience purged just as much as from ‘wicked works.

So where are you, you ask? Simple. Does your church preach about the growth of a Christian, does it talk about maturity, or being in the spirit. Is there love abounding, abiding, ascending? How forgiving is your church? Do people talk about the church being their life line after a royal screw up and how the church stuck by them?

“Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1).

Grace, Growth, Life, Liberty. Jesus as Savior, the imminent return of Christ. A real heaven to gain and a hell to spurn. If any of this is missing from your church, you are in the wrong church.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Bob P, getting a little burned out from travel and some disappointing partners.

Pray for Clint, probably lives one of the healthiest lifestyles around and now is body is letting him down. Lot’s of anger issues.

Pray for Tim M. new job, new roles, pray for encouragement.

So you thought you had a bad day.

Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Michael and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

Michael reply: “Each morning I wake up and say to myself: Mike, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I point out the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy.” I protested.

“Yes, it is.” Michael said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situation. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”

I reflected on what Michael said. Soon thereafter, I left the Cell Tower industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I heard that Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communication tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied: “If I was any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was the well being of my soon to be born daughter” Michael replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live.

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked. Michael continued, ” The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he is a dead man’ I knew I needed to take action”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Michael. “She asked if I was allergic to anything.”

“Yes?” I replied.

The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply.

I took a deep breath and yelled “Gravity”.

Over the laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.

I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude IS everything.

So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

WHAT TIME IS IT?

April 16, 2018

  “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).

  Grace forsaken is freedom forfeited.

  In considering the whole testimony of the Bible, it is almost as important for the believer who would do the will of God to recognize that which does not concern him as it is for him to recognize that which does concern him.

You may have to read that sentence a couple of times for it to make sense, I rewrote it ten times and that’s the best, clearest way I could write it. (and I know Ms Kate, that’s not good grammar).

 

Apart from the knowledge of dispensational truth, the believer will not be intelligently adjusted to the present purpose and will of God in the world. Such knowledge alone will save him from assuming the hopeless legality of the dispensation that is past or from undertaking the impossible world transforming program belonging to the dispensation which is to come.

We are not living in the kingdom world yet, that dispensation has not occurred yet.

The Law of Moses is interrelated and wholly dependent on the sacrifices and ritual provided for Israel in the land. The laws of the kingdom (Sermon on the Mount) are only related to the future kingdom conditions which shall be in the earth under the power and presence of the King when Satan is bound, creation delivered, and all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest.

 All harmony of truth is shattered when there is the slightest commingling of the principles of law and grace. Grace alone now reigns through Christ to the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  “By the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

DEVOTED DEVOTION

April 15, 2018

  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6).

  Ignorance insures insecurity; scriptural knowledge secures strength. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

  “In mechanics, wobbling is weakness. Power issues from God’s restfulness. Are we resting in the Lord? Can we wait patiently for Him to act? Anxiety reduces spiritual energy. Lack of rest of heart is one of the most serious hindrances to Christians.

  Worrying when wronged, or fussing over financial or other concerns, is a depletion of power, a dissipation of energy. From the rock basis of rest in Him we can put forth the whole of our energies. Perfect peace is our promised portion.

 Nothing can separate the believer from the love of God, and under no circumstances whatever can he come under the infliction of wrath from God. He may have to correct His saints for their sins, and where there has been no failure He may chasten (child train) them for their profit, that they may become partakers of His holiness; but all this is in love, not in wrath. Every action of God toward His saints is in grace and blessing; it is ever the outcome of His love.

  “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).

Pray for Ann, her panic attacks wipe her out for days

Pray for Dave I, his 5th bout with prostate cancer

Pray of Barbara D, her 4th bout with Cancer.

 

SHOUT

April 13, 2018

The opening remarks by President Ronald Reagan at the Jewish Memorial day, April 11th 1983.

“In the early days of our country, our first President, George Washington, visited a Hebrew congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. In response to their address, he wrote them a now rather famous letter reflecting on the meaning of America’s newly won freedom. He wrote, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

Well, certainly our country doesn’t have a spotless record, but our fundamental beliefs, the ones that inspired Washington when he penned that letter, are sound. Our whole way of life is based on a compact between good and decent people, a voluntary agreement to live here together in freedom, respecting the rights of others and expecting that our rights in return will be respected….”

Read those paragraphs over a few times and realize that today in 2018, white, conservative, Christian, heterosexuals are being marginalized and silenced. Our universities are the capitals of inclusion and diversity. I spoke at a private college last month and was booed off the stage at a diversity commencement. They wanted me to talk about the role of immigration in America. And I did. The largest wave of immigration to America were the people of Ireland. So if you are Irish then you are part of the largest immigrant group in this country.

That isn’t what they wanted to hear. We have a congress woman from Missouri calling for the assassination of President Trump. No Secret Service agents showed up at her door.

A minority, a militant minority is spewing its doctrine of hate, and if we keep silent like the Jews did, the white conservative Christian will be silenced and chained.

Jesus called us to love one another, all people of all races, and walks of life, sexual preferences, to love and be light and preach a message of love and hope and redemption.

I’ve never wrote a devotion of this tone or subject, but I cannot remain silent and watch our country, led by a media of hate and obsession turn us against one another. Loyalty and patriotism should still count for something, love of God and country should still be taught. Young people today are not being taught about the holocaust, only the mistakes this country has made.

Stand up, speak out, be brothers and sisters of Christ, of love and hope, but do not be silent. I’m a veteran, a Republican, a Christian, male heterosexual, bible believing, praying, miracle believing, proud of America and will not be silent.

Protest, march, pray, be loud, be proud to be a Christian. I’m not a racist or a hater, but I am Irish.

And no, I’m not running for office.

God bless America.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE ORDER OF THINGS

April 12, 2018

  God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Gen. 41:52).

  To share what we have may minister temporarily to the physical; but to minister to the spiritual in an eternal way we must share what we are, and that calls for growth in the Lord Jesus Christ; and honesty about what we really are. Not just who we pretend to be.

It has ever been God’s way to raise up a vessel, personal or corporate, in which His message has been wrought by fiery ordeal. The messenger must not only have the message in him, but he must be in the message: not only in mind and feeling, but in experience and being. That’s why we suffer, why we fail, why we do the wrong thing. Only so we can compare when we are right, right with God, right in fellowship. It’s not about what we do, it’s about what we are. The same in every situation. The same on Friday night as we are on Sunday. The same in the town we live as when we are out of town.

We really can only come into the reality of things by being ‘pressed out of measure’ (2 Cor. 1:8). So the Lord has to take much time to make our spiritual history. When at length our eyes are open, we cry, ‘O, why did I not see it before!’ But everything else had to prove insufficient before we could really be shown, and that takes time.

  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet 5:6).

  “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice” (John 18:37).

  Charismatic Arminianism’s experience omits truth. Covenant Calvinism’s legality chokes truth. Cross-centered Christianity’s Christ-life is Truth!

. Zeal for the purity of divine truth has not kept pace with zeal for the salvation of sinners.

  “God would have us love one another; but the Holy Spirit, by whose power we receive the divine nature, and who pours the love of God into our hearts, is the Spirit of truth, and His office is to glorify Christ.

Therefore, it is impossible that a love which can put up with a doctrine that falsified Christ, or diminishes His place in the order of God and then lifts us up, or which is indifferent to anything that concerns His glory, could possibly be of the Holy Spirit.

  “In all things commending ourselves as the ministers of God. . . by the word of truth” (2 Cor. 6:4, 7)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Braying

April 10, 2018

  “The things that thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

  Truth based upon law will be presented legally—it will be legislated. Truth based upon grace will be shared graciously, in love. “Adorn the doctrine of God” by “speaking the truth in love” (Titus 2:10; Eph. 4:15).

  There are two things that have to be taken into account in communicating truth. Not merely should there be certainty that it is the truth from God, but it must also be suited to those whom you address. They might need it all, but they may not be in condition to receive it all; and the more precious the truth, the greater the injury, in a certain sense, if it is presented to those who are not in a state to profit by it.

We see a servant in Acts 8 taken away from an interesting field of service, to meet one man in the desert. “It is not a question of how we succeed; but have we the assurance that we are doing the Lord’s work? Happy is the servant of God, who is so led by Him that he always presents the right measure of truth suited to the maturity of the believer and refuses to supply the knowledge that is not fitting or proper to their spiritual condition.

If you thought preaching was easy, it’s anything but that. One of my hardest battles was realizing you can’t teach a fool, no matter how much you liked them.

  “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13).

A right word at the right time to the right person at the right moment; only when you are led by God.

And most of the time (99%) you will never know it when you do.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Have you ever sat in church, listening to the soaring music or the impressive sermon, and your thoughts were all turned inward?

Thoughts like: No one here cares that I am hurting desperately. When I first was widowed or divorced or when this illness first was diagnosed, or when my child became a problem, people prayed for me, called me on the phone, visited me, sent me notes. But now that time has passed and everyone is used to me, I guess they expect that I do not need anyone, that I am coping with my problem and that I not really hurting anymore. Maybe they even think that if I were really depending on the Lord, I would be able to handle my situation without any difficulty. But I am in pain and I do not think anyone cares. I sometimes wonder if even God cares!

There was a woman in the synagogue one Sabbath morning when Jesus was teaching there that might have been feeling just like that.

Luke 13:10-11

Think about her a little. She was probably middle-aged. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. She had been crippled like this for 18 years! Can you imagine what her life was like? She could not stand at all, could not sit comfortably, could not lie down except on her side. Walking was difficult. Eating could not have been pleasant. Her appearance was pitiful, her face etched with pain. But what had caused her illness? She was crippled by a spirit? This was not a form of arthritis. This was a Satanic attack that affected her body. But do not you think that she also suffered emotionally and spiritually as well? She must have often felt discouraged, depressed, and even abandoned by God. Yet she still worshipped, she still was there in the synagogue on the Sabbath. She still listened to Gods Word. She still had faith. I have to give her credit for just being there.

It is interesting that her condition was caused by a demon. There are many different symptoms mentioned in the Bible that were caused by demon activity: Matthew 9:32-33, dumbness; Matthew 12:22, blindness; Matthew 17:14-18, seizures; Luke 4:33, 8:26, mental disorders, insanity, and abnormal strength. This of course does NOT mean that these conditions are ALWAYS demonic in source. But the Bible clearly says that this condition was. This should teach us that Satan is a real and very busy enemy. Over and over it is recorded that Jesus cast out demons of all kinds. He came to defeat Satan and to make him powerless against believers, and he clearly demonstrated his ability to do this while here on earth. We have to realize that His power and authority over the spirit world has not diminished one iota.

Ephesians 1:19b and 21

That is why we can have confidence that Jesus will protect us. He has authority over everything in heaven and earth. But we must be alert and armored, because Satan does not play fair or come out in the open. He masquerades, sets traps, hides behind fun games, self, development philosophies, even religion. He actively works to fragment our families, to destroy relationships, to cultivate selfishness and independence from God, to make us doubt God’s Word and distrust God’s character.

Peter warns us of that: 1 Peter 5:8. Likewise, Paul tells us about our armor—our protection— in Ephesians 6:10-14.

This woman had been the target of demonic attack for 18 years but it had not destroyed her faith. She was still worshipping God on the Sabbath. As she stood there, bent over, with her head lifted as far as she could, listening to Jesus, and looking at Him, suddenly he noticed

Luke 13:12-13

He stopped in the middle of His teaching, pointed to her and called to her to come forward. She shuffled up to Him, surely wondering what He wanted her for. Then He spoke: “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”

He spoke these few words, He touched her and she straightened up instantly. She was totally healed and she immediately praised God. Did you notice the word Jesus used? He did not say healed. He used a word that is translated in other places, “loosed, put away, let go, set at liberty and released.” She had been bound by Satan and Jesus set her free.

Can you not imagine the joy she felt and the excitement that ran through the spectators as they realized what had happened? The noise level must have risen as the people turned to each other in their enthusiasm. Suddenly a stern cold voice broke through the furor.

Luke 13:14

The chairman of the board of elders was very displeased and scolded the people. I think he was just a little afraid of openly attacking Jesus directly after such a display of supernatural power. God had made the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week, our Saturday, a holy day, set apart to worship Him. There were 3 major reasons given for Israel to keep the Sabbath.

Exodus 20:8-11 (10 Commandments)— It followed God’s example of doing the work of creation in 6 days and resting on the seventh.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15— It commemorated their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Egypt— where they never had a day off and could not worship their own God. God gave them the Sabbath to show them that they were a free people, free to rest from their labor and free to worship their God.

Exodus 31:13— It was a sign of the covenant given from Sinai between God and Israel. God had given them a day off a week for worship, joy, freedom and rest. 1500 years later it had evolved, by the addition of hundreds of restrictions, into a legalistic bondage that was more concerned with external behavior than with human need. The religious leaders watched Jesus like a hawk because He was always violating their manmade rules about the Sabbath. They had had several sharp confrontations with Him and had always come out the losers. In one incident when He healed a man with a withered arm, He reminded them that they would rescue a sheep who had fallen into a pit and a man was more valuable. Then He said: “Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:11-12, NIV)

Another time He reminded them that, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27, NIV)

God gave the day of rest because people need time to relax, regroup, Change their routine, worship and serve God without the pressure of other responsibilities.

Jesus claimed authority over even the interpretation and observation of the Sabbath. Why not? Was not He the One who had established it in the first place? His restoration of the true spirit of the Sabbath had enraged these men so much that they plotted to kill Him because of it. (Mark 3:6)

Now here He was doing it again! The ruler had rebuked Jesus by scolding the people and Jesus answered him. He is a wonderful Defender. Have you ever been unjustly accused or misunderstood and the only thing you could do was to say to Him, Lord, You must be my Defender. You must reveal the truth. There is nothing I can do but trust You. HYPOCRITES! (Originally, a “hypocrite” was an actor who wore masks in amphitheatre plays.) They pretended to be zealous for God, to be righteous. But they were not interested in what God could do in their lives. Their hearts were cold in the face of human need. They had more compassion on their oxen and donkeys than on this poor woman. They released their animals so they could drink but objected when Jesus released this woman, a Jewess, from the bondage of the enemy on the day that commemorated their freedom from bondage. How wrong these men were! They claimed to represent God but they were completely the opposite. Jesus revealed the true heart of God. Jesus exposed their hypocrisy by His true revelation of the invisible God. He hated their pretense and they hated Him for exposing it.

Earlier in Luke He gave a stinging analysis of the Pharisees and experts in the law where He accused them of being only concerned with being externally clean, but inwardly they were full of wickedness. He accused them of injustice and pride. Then He said,

“Woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. …you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering. (Luke 11:46-53, NIV)

Do not you have to wonder what He must think of the greed, lust, and crimes that have been done and are being done in His name today? He still hates hypocrisy. Yet closer to home. Do we make a distinction between what the Bible actually says and what other people say it means? Do we make our application as binding as God’s? That is how legalism flourishes. Always check to see if our applications are consistent and Biblical. When we have a lot of rules about what we can or cannot do in order to make little loopholes that violates the very spirit of God. The religious rulers did that. For instance, they had a rule that you could not journey farther from home than 3000 feet (1/2 mile) on the Sabbath. So the day before, they would go ahead and deposit some food by a stone a half-mile away. That would then become their home temporarily and they could go another half mile, where they had deposited another sandwich, so they could travel another half mile. In this way they found ways around God’s law about the Sabbath, and violated the spirit of this holy day. This is just one example. They had 60 columns of regulations about the Sabbath.

Maybe you are wondering at this point if we should keep the Sabbath today. The Sabbath was given to Israel. It is the ONLY ONE of the Ten Commandments that is NOT repeated in the New Testament. The disciples and the early church worshiped on Sunday, the first day of the week to commemorate the Lord’s resurrection. Sunday is the Lord’s day.

We do not have rules about it in the New Testament. But we do know what they did on the Lord’s Day. They met together, studied God’s word, prayed, celebrated communion, and gave their offerings. Surely the Lord’s Day should have some special meaning for us. It should be a day of worship, learning God’s Word, service, praise and thanksgiving, giving our offerings, joy and rest and a time with family and friends. It should be different from the other six days of the week. After all, we have so much more to commemorate than Israel did: the resurrection of our Savior from the dead.

Look at the effect Jesus had on the people in the synagogue.

Luke 13:17

Can you imagine what His power and His authority meant to the common people who were under the burden of religious oppression as well as political oppression.

What Did He Reveal About God?

Jesus revealed the compassionate heart of God in this story. He initiated this woman’s healing.

He demonstrated that God knows everything, the cause and the cure!

He revealed some of God purposes for the Sabbath. It was not a day for misery and bondage, but a day for praise and freedom.

He revealed that God knows the motives of the heart and is not impressed with external behavior that masks unbelief, jealousy, and hatred. GOD HATES HYPOCRISY.

He revealed that God is greater than Satan and has authority over him.

But now I want to go back to verse 12. Woman, you are set free from your infirmity. The word for “infirmity” is translated in other places as “diseases, sickness, weakness.” It means literally, “without strength.” Very few of us are sick all the time, but all of us know what it is to be without strength.

We ALL have weaknesses. Do not you have things that fill you with dread when you have to face them? Fear of flying, fear of anything. Do not you have areas where you have consistently failed? Are there not relationships that you just cannot handle, people that rub you the wrong way? Maybe your weakness is a sense of worth that you have let someone else impose on you. Maybe your weakness is a habit you have not been able to break. Maybe your weakness is a disposition that always sees the bad side of everything.

Maybe your weakness is a crippling sin that keeps you from going on to maturity in your Christian life. Is it love of money and the things money can buy? Is it a desire to please people more than God? Is it a thought life that you would be ashamed to have projected on a screen for all to see? Is it a selfishness that keeps you from making a commitment to anything that will interfere with your own plans? Is it self-pity, pride, hypocrisy, a violent temper? I have suggested a lot of things to stimulate your thinking, and I may have missed your issue. But you just thought of it, did you not? Jesus came to set us free from our weaknesses. How does He do it?

First, we must come to Him for help.

Hebrews 4:14-16

We come to one who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He was a human being living on this earth, subject to all the temptations we face and He did not sin. He will give mercy and grace to overcome.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

He may not remove our weakness, because then we would be independent. My weakness is given me to teach me to depend moment by moment on His power. His power is demonstrated where I am powerless. This changes my attitude towards my weakness.

Instead of hating myself for failing, I can see this as God’s opportunity to work in my life. God becomes real. Jesus really does live out His life in me. But it is only when I admit my weakness and depend on Him that I will experience His strength.

The Lord Jesus Christ wants to say to each of us today, “Woman, you are set free from your weakness.” He calls you to come to Him for freedom and strength. Will you come?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

To all the patient readers, doing this short series on “The Jesus Narrative” has been a personal blessing and for those that have ‘waded’ through, thank you, Sunday will be the last part of the narrative and we will return to a shorter format. In this hurry up world it has been hard to find the time to post these and for those that have kept steady I hope this has been a light for you on the precious Son of God.

The Bible has hundreds of references to light and darkness. God’s first recorded words were Let there be light. God is Light. Satan is the prince of darkness. Sin is hidden by darkness and exposed by light. We were born in darkness and born again into light. The contrasts are sharp, unmixed, with no shadows. Light is good, darkness is evil. We must have light to live. Today’s lesson is about two kinds of darkness—physical and spiritual. Of the two the worst is spiritual darkness.

Jesus and His disciples had just celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles which celebrated their years in the wilderness. One of the features of this celebration was the lighting of giant lamps in the women’s court of the temple enclosure. The people sang and danced before the Lord as they remembered that He was their Light in the pillar of cloud and fire all through their wilderness wanderings. During this celebration Jesus had declared the second of His great “I AM” statements.

John 8:12 (NIV) I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

There can be no physical life without the light of the sun, and no spiritual life without JESUS.

This was a claim to be both God and Messiah. The O.T. called both God and Messiah Light. He promised light for all of life to those who believed in Him. But instead of seriously considering Jesus’ claim, the Pharisees challenged and argued with Him for the rest of the Chapter. They were determined to not believe regardless of the evidence.

Their discussion ended with an attempt to stone Him. But Jesus slipped away from them and as He and His disciples went along they saw a blind man sitting there by the side of the road. Blindness is one of the most dreaded afflictions that can happen to a person. And this man had been born blind. He had never seen his parent’s faces, never seen a flower or tree, a river or mountain. Never seen any colors at all. He lived in constant unrelieved darkness. The only thing he could do was beg for a living.

Notice the difference in the way Jesus and His disciples viewed this man.

John 9:2

To the disciples this man was just the trigger for a theological discussion. There was no compassion, no expectation or even a request that Jesus heal him. Jesus had healed blind people before. One of the signs of the Messiah was that He would make the blind see. (Is. 35:5, 42:7) but all they could think of was a question with just two alternatives!

“Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (NIV)

There was a popular assumption that some sin before birth was responsible for congenital blindness. This idea came from pagan sources which believed in reincarnation. This man had sinned in another life. Their other suggestion was that this man had reaped the consequences of his parents’ sins. This of course is possible. (Venereal disease, drugs)

We can see from this that the idea that all sickness or affliction is the result of personal sin is not a new idea. We often believe or hear the same thing today. Jesus gave them an answer that can help us today in trying to sort out the reasons for the trials we may be going through.

John 9:3

Jesus did not mean that this man and his parents were sinless, but that the blindness was not a direct consequence of their personal sin. Really said, “This man is blind so that I might come and cure him and God might receive the glory.”

That is pretty heavy stuff. Think of all the years he had suffered in the darkness. For this moment!

Time does not mean to God what it does to us. If you and I could look at the suffering we are going through and say, ALord, you know all about this. You can change this situation immediately if you want to. But if not, all I ask is that my response and the outcome will bring glory to you. Let other people know that it is only Jesus who enables me to endure this day by day. What a difference that would make.

John 9:4-5

Day meant the time He had left on earth to finish the work God sent Him to do. Night was coming. His death and the time He would no longer be in the world. Now was the time for Him to do the miracles that proved He was the Messiah. He had said He was the Light of the world and now He would prove it.

John 9:6-7

Imagine the blind man. He did not know who Jesus was, had never seen him or heard his voice before. Suddenly he felt some wet heavy clay being placed over his eyes. And an authoritative but kind voice said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”

The pool was a good distance away. Jesus did not even tell him why He was sending him there, gave no promise of healing. Would he do it? The man got up and groped his way there with his eyes covered with mud. When he reached the pool he bent down and splashed water on his face. When he opened his eyes he could see for the first time in his lifeClight, color, beauty and human faces. Can you not see him running home, shouting for joy! But notice the reaction of his neighbors.

John 9:8-12

First they questioned his identity and he had to insist that he really was the blind beggar. Then they were just interested in the mechanics of his healing. There was no sharing his joy in being healed, just one question after another. But all he knew was that a man called Jesus had given him his sight. So they brought him to the Pharisees for further questioning.

John 9:14-16

Talk about missing the point! The only thing some of these Pharisees focused on was that Jesus had violated their Sabbath rules. They had added hundreds of restrictions defining work on the Sabbath. Making clay was forbidden. And healing someone was also forbidden unless their condition was life threatening. But they argued among themselves because some of the others had sense enough to reason that miracles like this could only be from God.

John 9:17

Even though this man was illiterate, he knew something about the Scriptures and he could think for himself. The Old Testament prophets performed miracles, so this man must be a prophet. This made sense to him. Notice the fact that he had not even seen Jesus yet, but his perception of him was gradually increasing. But the Pharisees were relentless in pursuing their investigation.

“Maybe we are dealing with a fraudulent healing here. Let us find out from the man’s parents if this really is their blind son, and no one else has been substituted for him.”

John 9:18-23

Notice the parent’s cautious answer. They knew only three things. Their son had been born blind, he now could see, and he was of age to speak for himself. They really did not know how he had been healed and they did not want to be excommunicated from the synagogue. They knew that was the predetermined penalty for believing that Jesus was the Messiah. This was a kangaroo court. Who would have ever thought that being healed from congenital blindness could cause so much trouble?

John 9:24-25

Put him under oath to tell the truth. “We know this man is a sinner.” (NIV)

But he was not going to be drawn into their argument. He knew one thing, “I was blind, but now I see.” He stuck to his guns. No one could obliterate the evidence or nullify his experience. All the theological discussions in the world could not erase the reality of what had happened to him. There is no argument that can win against a personal experience. That is why we must always share what Jesus Christ has done for us personally with others–not just give cold facts.

John 9:26-27

Now they provoked him to the point that he lost his fear of them and became sarcastic. This illiterate beggar had the nerve to challenge them, the strict keepers of the law, and actually imply that they would want to be Jesus’ disciples!

John 9:28-33

They were the authorities, unused to having their word questioned and here this ignorant nobody dared to stand up against their decision. But the former blind man’s logic was wonderful.

  1. Even they knew that God did not listen to sinners but to the godly.

  1. But no one had ever given sight to a man born blind.

No record in Old Testament of miracle like this.

  1. Therefore this man must be from God.

And you smart people cannot figure that out!

Nobody was going to tell him that this miracle was not from God. He did not care what these influential men with all of their degrees had decided. He was the one who had been blind and now he could see.

Sometimes we have to stand alone against rigid positions people take because of the way they interpret the Bible. We must stand firmly that the only way to God is through faith in Jesus Christ.

I remember when I was about 12 and my mother, sister and I moved to a new apartment. We had a landlady who believed you must worship on Saturday. One day after her efforts to convince us seemed to be getting nowhere, she told me, “You will never go to heaven unless you worship on Saturday.” But I knew she was not right. My mother had shown my sister and me the truth from the Bible and I was able to stand in the truth without doubting.

We must not believe that because something is legal that it is moral (abortion).

We have to help our children in school to realize that they do not have to believe in evolution, just because some scientists with a lot of degrees say that it is the way life came into being. The Bible says God created the world and everything in it.

The Bible says sex before or outside of marriage is wrong even if everyone else says it is OK. Teach them to stand for truth while young.

The Pharisees’ dishonesty, pride and hostility to Jesus were revealed by their response.

John 9:34

How could a person be “steeped in sin” at birth? These experts were sure that his blindness was for personal sin even before he was born. How dare he lecture the righteous! So they excommunicated him. He was cut off from fellowship with the community of his people. This was really serious!

Can you not see him as he started back home. He was mystified, angry and probably a little glum. The day had started with him in his usual place, blind and begging. Now he was penalized because he could see. He was alone. Even his parents had been wishy-washy instead of sharing his joy. Just did not make sense.

This should not surprise us. When we take a firm stand for Jesus Christ the results are not always trouble-free for us. You may not be given a promotion at work. You may be rejected by members of your family. You may lose some old friends. Your children may not be invited to some parties. You may have your good name slandered. Jesus warned that these things would happen.

Matthew 5:11-12

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (NIV)

This man had received his physical sight instantly, and his spiritual sight was increasing gradually. He first called Jesus, “a man they call Jesus,A prophet, then a man from God, but He still did not know Him.

Now Jesus took the initiative again to bring him full spiritual sight. For the first time He actually saw Jesus.

John 9:35-38

Son of Man was a title for Messiah to the Jews. Daniel the prophet saw all men and nations worship Him. (Dan. 7:13-14) Jesus asked this man, “Do you personally believe in the Son of Man?”

His response was so open. “Tell me who He is so that I may believe.”

Jesus completely revealed His identity. “You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.”

“Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.

He now had both physical and spiritual sight. He had responded to light and was given more light until he could fully see. Rejected by religious leaders. Welcomed by Jesus.

John 9:39-41

This confrontation is explained by

John 3:16-21

What a great illustration this incident was. The blind man received his physical sight through the touch of Jesus. When he received further light he believed on the Lord Jesus as his Messiah and his spiritual eyes were also opened.

The Pharisees, on the other hand, claimed to have spiritual sight, but they rejected Jesus, the Light of the world, as their Messiah, so they were spiritually blind. They condemned themselves and remained in darkness.

God is very patient with ignorance. He gives further light. But He will not tolerate arrogance. They remained guilty before God because they claimed to have light while still in darkness. They claimed to be righteous when they were sinners. They rejected the true Light of the world.

Have you ever noticed how many false religions and self-development courses claim to have light? Light from the eastern religions, light from the mystics, light from within, light from the energy of the universe and on and on. This is because “Satan masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14)

How many followers would he get at the start if he really exposed himself as the prince of darkness? Do not fall for any of these seductive appeals. Light from any source other than Jesus Christ is darkness. He is the True Light that gives light to every man 1:9.

John 9:5

But He is not physically in the world now. Who is the light of the world now?

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Do you see the responsibility that the Lord has placed on you and me? In our daily lives, at home, at work, at leisure, at hobbies, at church, whatever we do—we are to be light bearers. Christ’s light should shine through our words, attitudes, and actions. There is a distinguishable difference between light and darkness. Have you ever noticed how a very small light can overcome a very great darkness? You do not have to be a famous person reaching thousands to be light to the world. You have an area of influence, a place where others are in darkness, where you can shine as light. That is why we must have this as our goal.

John tells us something more in his first epistle.

1 John 1:5-7

In the days when light was given by oil lamps, the wicks had to be trimmed and the glass kept clean for the light to shine clearly. The same is true of us. What part of your life, your thought, attitudes, actions are in darkness? In God there is no darkness at all. When we hang on to favorite sins, we do not have fellowship with God or with other believers. We may say we do, but we are lying. Our light is not shining brightly. Our Father wants us to be in warm, close fellowship and He has provided for our cleansing from these sins that hurt us. The blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing us from all sin. The Pharisees remained in darkness because they would not confess their blindness, their sin. Let us not let that happen to us.

Is there a particular sin that God has convicted you about? Will you confess and let Him cleanse you? Then as you carefully follow the Lord, you will see the impact you can have on others as His light shines through you to overcome the darkness of the world around you.

What does Jesus reveal about our heavenly Father in this story?

Our Father is omnipotent.

Our Father notices and cares for each individual.

Our Father has a purpose for our lives, even through suffering, that will bring Him glory.

Our Father takes the initiative to give us both physical and spiritual light.

Our Father can act in our behalf without a requestCthat He knows our needs.

Our Father is not limited by wrong human perceptions or bound by man-made rules about what He can or cannot do.

Our Father is patient with ignorance and intolerant of arrogance.

Jesus revealed that those who do not respond to His light condemn themselves to greater darkness.

Have you responded in faith to the Son of God as the only one who can guide you into the light you need for time and eternity?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com