Opposition Begins

Many of you can identify with the “Power of Faith.”  It can be different in each of our lives.  Lesson seven in our study on the book of John was centered on John 5: 1 – 47.  The title identified was “Opposition Begins.”  Some of the headings found in Chapter 5 in the book of John, in the bible are:  “The Healing at the Pool; Life through the Son; Testimonies about Jesus.

 

The many toils of strife were chronicled by the apostle John, among others.  John was the messenger who told of the Messiah.  Jesus was faced with opposition, even though he did good.  He healed the lame and cured the sick.  Even though he performed miracles, the Jews considered him a mere man.  Jesus realized that he would be fighting an up-hill battle at the very beginning.  Those in power did not want to feel challenged for their stations in life (positions).  They also wanted to limit anyone from gaining a position that they did not support.

 

Jesus saw an invalid lying by the pool at Bethesda.  Jesus learned that he had been an invalid for thirty eight years; which to many of us is a long time.  Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. After listening to his reply, Jesus told him to get up and walk.  Ordinarily, Jesus would have healed the man based on his faith.  Faith would have been a requirement, a pre-requisite., for the man to be cured.  In this particular instance, the man did not even know who Jesus was.  Jesus is not limited by a person’s lack of faith, even though he usually heals in response to faith.

 

The Jews questioned the man who had been healed.  They wanted to punish him for performing work on the Sabbath.  Per the NIV footnote of John 5:10 and the Life Change study guide text notes on page 69; “The Law of Moses forbids work on the Sabbath. The rabbis minutely spelled out what constituted work (by 200 AD thirty-nine classes of work were defined). Nehemiah 13:15 and Jeremiah 17:21-27 condemn carrying loads for commercial business on the Sabbath, so the rabbis decided that “taking out aught from one domain into another”(1) was always work. This included carrying a mat. The rabbis had a theory that each commandment should be applied as widely as possible to avoid even accidentally breaking the law.”  They interpreted that the law forbade his carrying of the mat in his possession.  They interpreted that the law forbade the carrying of loads of any kind.  The Jews held Jesus accountable for permitting the man to carry the mat on the Sabbath.  The Jews then persecuted Jesus because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.

 

Jesus was prepared for the opposition.  He was ready to do what it took.  He understood what lengths humans would go to, to maintain their authoritative positions, and positions of power.  Jesus understood that prophecy had to be fulfilled.

 

Sources:

Life Change Series, A NavPress Bible study of the book of John, NavPress, 1987.          (1) Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1971).

NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1995

 

Fathoming The mystery of God

In the Beginning GOD; God Created the Heavens and the earth, God told Moses that He was I AM; GOD, outside of time; GOD outside of the known and unknown universe.  GOD, we know He is, but to understand who God is, that is an entirely different thing.  Job speaks of God “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?  Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” (11:7). And Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “…He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

I have just finished reading a book by Walter Lippmann entitled Preface to Morals in this book Mr. Lippmann enunciates the various aspects that must be considered in understanding the morality of the modern life.  The book was written in 1929, yet much of what he has written is still very pertinent today.   Mr. Lippmann looks at how we see God in our modern world as opposed to the way that those who wrote the Bible looked at God.  When these men wrote the word King or Lord they had a current reference, a very accurate example of what that meant.  How do we understand that simple word in this Democratic, Capitalistic society that is ours here in the United States?  He writes, “The Omnipotence of God means something to men who submit daily to the cycles of the weather and the mysterious power of nature.  But the city man puts his faith in furnaces to keep out the cold, is proudly aware of what bad sewage his ancestors endured, and of how ignorantly they believed that God, who made Adam at 9 A.M. on October 23 in the year 4004 B.C., was concerned with the behavior of Adam’s children.”  And in saying this he is merely stating that as we have more and more machines to rely on, our daily lives require less faith in God to see to our needs, and in needing God less, we are forced to redefine who He is.  Even within the Bible, the book of Job is a fulcrum to reassess God and his association with man.  For in Job we see that God allows evil into our lives.  We see that Job is tenacious in his understanding of who God is, and that God asks only for our belief.  As a Jewish writer, Mr. Lippmann is unfortunate, for his insights are defined by a lack of faith in Christ, but I believe that his assessment of how modern man perceives God is not only accurate, but also extenuated by the world of electronics that now demand our attention second by second.

Who is God?  This is the question of the ages, but I wonder how many of us really try to put our mind around this mystery of faith.  I use the word mystery, because although we use terms that express the various aspects of God, we really don’t know or understand who God is.  The Bible tells us that God is Spirit (John 4:24).  In the poetry of the Psalms, God holds us safe beneath his wings and in Exodus 33:20 God himself tells Moses that “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.”, yet in the New Testament Jesus states that when we see the son, we see the father.  “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9).

God created; therefore, he is larger than all the galaxies of the universe.  He holds together the smallest of molecules as they are ordered to create life and He is capable of destroying the entire planet.  Do you realize that if God were not conscious of each of us, the very molecules of our bodies would fly apart and we would no longer exist?  In prayer, I should submit myself in complete reverence to the God of creation. As a modern person, I don’t know or understand reverence.  The terms we use have no place in our modern world, yet those words are the thing that links us to the religious, the divine.  Reverence, Webster defines as, respect, admiration, awe, veneration, astonishment, amazement, yet when I think of God, all of these words do not begin to put me in touch with His real being.  We respect the right of others to have their own opinions; we admire a teacher who against all odds inspires children to excel.  It is popular now to say that God is Awesome.  Veneration, now there is a great word – I think of old China when I hear this word.  The young venerated the old, in a manner that is unknown in western culture.   Are we really astonished or amazed when we think about God?  We should be, but I think many times we are too busy to feel the full impact of these words, to allow ourselves to dwell on God’s majesty.

God is Father.  Who is the father of our modern life?  Fathers don’t have the same authority as they had when Moses brought the commandments down from Mt. Sinai.  Then Father was the total authority of his home, he had the ability to give blessings on his sons and daughters that had not only financial, but also spiritual meaning. The authority of father has been changed in our modern society.  These changes are not bad, but they have redefined what we comprehend when we hear the word.  In prayer, as His child, I don’t bow, or prostrate myself to be heard, I speak to my Father in a way that may be considered in light of the historic term, wreck loose.

If you spend much time with me, you will know that I cry easily at things religious.  I love God for so many reasons, but I don’t think it is the love that sets me off, it is the torture of my soul to be united with my creator.  As body and blood, we can’t know God, but in that day when we move from this realm into the realm of spirit we will “understand as we are understood” (1 Corinthians 13:12).  Like so many people in our society today, I am without family.  I am blessed that God has given me friends, so I am not lonely or anxious about that aspect of my life.  The truth is we are all alone.  We are never known fully, even by our most intimate friend or spouse.  We touch the world through our own experiences and those experiences create for each of us a different world, a different understanding even when we are together in it.

We are asked to go to God in a prayer closet and I know why.  Only in a closet, a small place devoid of the daily distractions of living can we quiet our brain enough to try to touch even a small essence of who God is.  Just as we all experience things with more than one of our senses, I am conscious of this in me and it has a tendency to put me into overload.  I have a contemplative spirit, and am forced by my own excesses to escape to solitude and quiet, yet even in that quiet place, I am constantly avoiding the question of God.  I want to experience Him in a sensory way, but I know there is something internal, in my soul, that needs to be released to ever begin to comprehend Him.  And if I give my spirit completely, turned myself over to this Spirit of God, I will become a puddle on the floor, unable to express except through tears the magnitude of His presence.

There is a song by Casting Crowns that defines us as vapor in the wind, a drop within the ocean.  How can we possibly know the total of God?  I only ask that you take time to try.

All Scriptures are New International Version

WHO IS JESUS?

In Lesson 9 of the Life Change Series of the Book of John 7:1-52, the question is raised, Who is Jesus? Despite the earlier signs and miracles performed by Jesus, there continued to be division and doubt as to Jesus being the Messiah. John states that even the brothers of Jesus did not believe in him (John 7:5). Jesus’ brothers advised him to show himself to the world; (John 7:4) No one who wants to be a  become public figure acts in secret. Jesus responded, (John 7:10) However after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Jesus stated earlier (John 7:6)My time is not yet here, for you any time will do Jesus statements and his subsequent actions were in accordance with the will of God, not the will of the Jewish people, and not the will of his brothers.   

One of miracles contested by the Jewish leaders was Jesus’ curing of the lame man on the Sabbath. Jesus responded in (John 7:21-24) that Jewish leaders circumcise on the Sabbath. He concluded in V.24 Stop judging by mere appearance, but instead judge correctly. Jesus asked them to look truthfully at his good and righteous act and not judge harshly because of their anger at him.

Who is Jesus? He is the son of God, teaching the word of God and doing the will of God, following what God wants him to do, in His plan and timing. .Jesus act of healing the lame man on th Sabbath was also the will of God allowable beacuse of its worth and merit to restore healing to a broken man.

References:

NIV Study Bible, Zondervan

Life Change Series, the Book of John,  NavPress

The Secret of Effective Prayer

Helen Smith Shoemaker

1/29/2017

Grand Villa of St. Petersburg Senior Living

Glenda Brunson, Instructor

Introductions of the Author:

The author, Helen Smith Shoemaker’s obituary.  (1903- 1993)  Prayer warrior.   The article sums up her life as an author, sculptor, and church leader, died of a stroke at Meridan Healthcare Center in Brooklandville, Md.  She was 89.  (1 )

The former Helen Dominick Smith was born in New York City. She was the daughter of the late H. Alexander Smith, who was a U. S. senator from New Jersey from 1944 to 1958, and Helen Babcock Dominick.

Helen Smith Shoemaker (March 16, 1903-January 29, 1993) was an American author, sculptor, and Episcopalian church leader, and Co-founder and Co-founder of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer.(2)

Biographical Points: Born in New York City. Educated in Colorado, Princeton, New Jersey, and Florence, Italy.  She studied art in Paris and New York .Attracted to Moral Re-Armament Movement (MRA) in the 1920’s in New York.

She met and married Dr. Samuel Moor Shoemaker (December 27, 1893 – October 31, 1963). He was considered as one of the best preachers in that era.  He served as rector of Calvary Episcopal Church.  (3)

Shoemaker’s contribution and service to Alcoholic’s Anonymous had a worldwide effect.  The philosophy that Shoemaker codified in conjunction with Bill Wilson, is used in almost every country around the world to treat alcoholism.  Similar programs are used to help relatives of alcoholics, as well as people suffering with other addictions such as to narcotics. (3)

Introduction to the Course:  This is the third time I’ve taught from this book, The Secret of Effective Prayer.  I wrote a Reading Guide to assist with the study and learning process.  This Guide is helpful, because our group and other bloggers will be able to track the intended answers by the page numbers that are provided.

Introduction to the Book, The Secret of Effective Prayer by Helen Smith Shoemaker, Word Book, Waco Texas, 1967. Homewords Group members have provided books for the participants of the prayer group.

1. Helen Smith Shoemaker | Helen S. ShoemakerAuthor, church …

articles.baltimoresun.com/…/1993032061_1_calvary-episcopal-urologic-surgery-shoe

2.Helen Smith Shoemaker – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Smith_Shoemaker

3. Sam Shoemaker – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Shoemaker

Week 2 Part 1 Chapters 1-6 will cover pages 14-37.

Jesus a man of Integrity

Matthew 22:15-22

In an attempt to trap Jesus there was an alliance formed between the Pharisees who were strong Nationalists, supporting a Jewish nation and the Herodians, Jews supporting the Roman rule of the Herods. They visited Jesus and posed the question in verse 17 “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? ” As you can quickly recognize, this is a loaded question because, if Jesus says “yes” the Pharisees will regard him as a supporter of Rome, and untrue to the Jewish Nation. If he says “no”, the Herodians will regard him as a traitor and have him executed. (NIV footnote 22:15-17)

Jesus turns this attempts to trap him, into a moment to teach the Pharisees and the Herodians by taking the high ground. He doesn’t advocate ignoring one or the other and gives a “yes and yes” answer in verse 21 and says ….. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” In short, he reminds them that there are two kingdoms. There was the kingdom of Caesar with earthly rules, where all needed to give as required, or face the consequences. Likewise, there is the Kingdom of God that is often ignored, and has its’ consequences for ignoring.  One of the reasons I feel we often ignore the kingdom of God is because, we don’t understand the consequences of ignoring the kingdom of God.  In many cases there is no immediate consequence. By avoiding immediate consequences we feel there are no consequences at all, but eventually the consequences catch up with us. However, we must all admit that as soon as the consequence of ignoring Caesar or God hits, and trouble visits out door, we run back immediately to the kingdom of God for help.

Jesus reminds both groups that as Caesar had a standard, God has a standard. In this text, both groups of men were Jews who were there very knowledgeable of the Scriptures, noting that only the Old Testament existed at that time. They were very familiar with and understood Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Does it sound familiar to you? Of course it does because it is the foundation for Jesus’ statement “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. But, seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “  Matthew 6:31-33. In other words for Christians, seeking God is the standard to all life. Seek the higher ground. Seek the “Jesus Way” first as Jesus was the representative of his Father in heaven.

The strange thing about this text is that in attempting to trap Jesus, the Pharisees and Herodians had to be complimentary. “They had to admit, however unwillingly, that Jesus was candid, faithful in speaking God’s truth, fearless before any man, whether a mob or king. “ (TIB Vol 7, pg 517-18). In Matthew 22:16, The King James Version states “… Master, we know that though art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men”. In the same verse, The Revised Standard Version says “….’Teacher we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. ‘…. However, I like the way the New International Version shows it in saying “….Teacher, they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance to the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are….” Here, the key is “a man of integrity”.

In this passage, the English word integrity is translated from the Greek word alethes. The Greek word alethes, when it translates to the English word integrity, has five attributes or descriptions and they are True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid.  A highlight of these attributes in Jesus, gives us examples of how we as Christians can strive to be “Jesus Like”.

  1. True – Jesus was true. There is nothing false about Jesus. In John 1:6-9, The Apostle John wrote about, Jesus to distinguish Jesus from John the Baptist. The Apostle said There is a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The TRUE light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. “ Who is the TRUE (non false) light? Of course it is Jesus.
  1. Genuine or Actual – Jesus is true with nothing false about him as he was the ACTUAL Son of God. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Who was the Genuine/Actual Son of God? Of Course, Jesus.
  1. Reliable – Jesus can be trusted because he is not only God’s Son but God’s agent. Jesus is reliable because his source is reliable. In John 8:26 Jesus said, “I Have much to say about judgment of you. But he who sent me is RELIABLE, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” Who had reliable information because he had a reliable source? Of course, Jesus.
  1. Trustworthy Able to be trusted to do or provide what is needed. Who can you depend on in a time of need or a time of joy? Who is there whenever you call on his name? Of course, Jesus. Have you ever depended on Jesus and He let you down? No!
  1. Valid – Valid is the quality of being officially acceptable. Jesus is officially accepted as God because He is God. John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John the apostle opens his gospel with a clarification of who Jesus is. Jesus is the official, factual son of God. John said it, the Bible consistently proves it and I believe it.

Referring to Jesus as a man of integrity was meant to be a trap. But, He is a True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid Jesus. With the attributes of True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid, we can only reach one conclusion. Jesus on Earth, was definitely a man of integrity. The Pharisees and Herodians, in their attempts to be tricky, were more correct that they ever knew. Jesus was and had to be an earthy “man of intergrity” because, He is in fact the God of integrity. Psalm 118:29 says Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; and his love endures forever.” The God of integrity is the source of honesty, the source of morality, the source of righteousness, the source of truthfulness and the source of sincerity. Jesus, the son of God was honest, moral, righteous, trustworthy and sincere. He was not only full of integrity, He is the God of integrity. He is the only one that Father God accepted as a “purification for our sins” (Hebrews 1:3). He is the Jesus, crucified, died, buried and arose from the dead. Jesus was a man of integrity because he is the God of integrity.

1. Edward W. Goodrick and John R Kohlenberger III, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance, Zondervan, 1993                                                                                          2.The NIV Study Bible, The Zonvervan Corporation, 1995

Born of the Spirit – John 3:1-36

 

Why Should We Be “Born Again?”

Matthew 3:11, 13 15-17, John 3:1-18 NIV Study Bible

Matthew 3:11 (John the Baptist)  I Baptist you with water for repentance.  But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with Fire.

Matthew 3:13 – Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John (15) …Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all of righteousness.”  Then John consented. 

Matthew 3:16 – As soon as Jesus was baptized he went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. (17)  And a voice from heaven said, this is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased.

John 3:1-8 – (1) Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish Ruling Council.  (2) He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.  For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.  (3) In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. (4) “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “ Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born!”  (5) Jesus answered, “ I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  (6) Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to Spirit.  (7)  You should not be surprised at my saying, “you must be born again”.  8.  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or, where it is going,  so it is with everyone born of the  Spirit.

Respectfully Submitted by

M. E. Stokes, D. S.W.

 

 

 

Testimony – John 1:6–8, 19-51

Are you being a good witness for God?  Are you providing a good and accurate account of God’s Grace and Mercy?  Looking at the scripture, John 1: 6 – 8; 19 – 51; the focus is on John the Baptist, as he testifies and witnesses of the coming of The Messiah.  In verses 6 – 8; he states; “There was a man sent by God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light.  He came only as a witness to the light.” This gives us insight into the mission of John the Baptist, concerning the coming of the Messiah.  Through his testimony and witnessing; a road map has been provided as to how to be a good witness for God and to insure that your testimony is edifying God’s Grace and Mercy.  The next time that you are reading this chapter of John; think about some things that you can input, improve, and express when you are witnessing and providing your testimony of God’s Grace and Mercy, in your life.