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Archive for October, 2009

Update Post

This week, I am not specfically focusing on a particular chapter of John within the Bible. Instead, I am thinking more about what I have learned within the past few weeks and how it has pertained into my life, as well as how I have been facing the ‘struggles’ that plague everyone. John talks to new believers a lot about why they should come to Jesus or how to begin their faith, but I am not a new believer. Granted, I was not born into Christianity, so I am relatively ‘new’ but I don’t think that it is quite the same thing. Lately, because of this, I have been thinking more about what the ‘not-so-new’ believers are to do when they feel that their faith is beginning to slow down. Everyone gets those fires and passions to do God’s will, but we don’t always feel those and I think, sometimes, that church and the entire Christian thing becomes more of a chore (for the lack of a better word) than a way of life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I am losing my faith or anything like that. Instead I am simply saying this. Lately, I have felt at certain times, where my faith feels minimal and I am doing the ‘bare minimum’ to be faithful and to seek relationship with God. So, I have decided to make more of an effort. I guess, some people have told me that they think I am doing plenty for my faith (with this blog, and my small group, and men’s ministry and worship ministry), but…is it weird that I want more? Is it weird that I want to strive for a more full relationship with Jesus?

I think that we all face the challenges of keeping our faith fresh and focused upon God instead of our churches, or our music, or whatever it may be, and I have heard it said by a lot of people that you can’t have those ‘God moments’ 100% of the time. Though that is most defintely true, I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to try and strive towards that or even want to feel it. It becomes a problem when people fall into the ‘blah’ moments and blame God for not showing Himself enough to them. If God showed Himself to you all the time, what would ever cause us to be excited after awhile? Wouldn’t it get boring and monotonous in our eyes…maybe even take it for granted?

That’s just been on my mind lately. I also realize that this is one of the few blogs in my class that hasn’t received any comments yet, and perhaps that is because people may not be able to relate to it. Perhaps not…I’m not really sure. But anyways, I guess my challenge for this week is to, well, figure out what your passion is. It is probably where you feels those ‘God moments’ the most…

 

Chris

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John 5

In the book that I have been using as a study aid for John 5, the author gives an explanation to how he used to watch lawyer shows on television when he was younger. The lawyer always found the ‘missing piece of evidence to rescue the innocent and convict the guilty.’ However, he also states that judges and juries often get things wrong and understanding that concept can help us to understand how Jesus was treated in John 5.

Granted, Jesus is simply facing questioning from the Pharisees, but he puts forth the idea of the difference between law and faith. Before Jesus died on the cross, humans faced the consequence of their sins. However, when Jesus died, He accepted the sins of the world upon himself and, essentially, changed how humans were to view the law. As Romans 5:13 states, “(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law)” (NKJV).

The Pharisees were people who followed the law so intently that everyone else couldn’t even come close. Granted, initially their intentions for following the law were righteous, but after they began adding law upon law, they lost sight of what they were initially trying to do (which was to live with God). Jesus comes and begins to ‘break the laws of the Sabbath’ that were (in the Pharisees’ eyes) put forth by God, but Jesus tells us that He is not breaking the laws of His father and the laws of man are completely different. The Pharisees had become a slave to following laws that were created by man, instead of living their lives for the glory of God and following the laws that God put forth.

Free life can be brought through accepting Jesus, for when that happens, people are no longer slaves to their sins, but set free. But it takes a choice in order to live following God, versus living how people tell you how you should live.

So, here’s the challenge: Think about what laws you may be following and are keeping you from doing God’s will. They may not be physical laws placed by humans, but they may be laws (or lies) that you have been telling yourself about God’s will…can you identify that?

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The verses within John 4 explain a major story in the Bible, the story of the lady at the well. For those of you that know this story, you also know that it is in other books of the Bible (such as Matthew), but since this is a chapter study of John, we shall remain engrossed within the chapter in order to better understand the meanings within this context.

Even though John 4 is a hefty chapter, and a bit long, I feel one of the most important stories within the new testament is the story of the lady at the well. Essentially, Jesus stops at a well in which a woman (who is an outcast of some sort, because she is getting water by herself and not with the other women in the town), begins to draw water. After starting a conversation with her, Jesus offers her ‘living water’ that will make no one thirst again. The woman, who doesn’t not see the metaphor for salvation and eternal life attempts to go about her business and get home…but Jesus continues to offer her water that will never make her thirsty again…

She has a moment of disbelief until Jesus ‘tells her all the things that she ever did’ (John 4:29) and her faith changes.

It is always a question as to why Jesus talked to this woman (who, in this culture, was not a person he should be talking with due to her race, culture, gender and class), but I think that it shows that no one is outside the walls for God’s kingdom. Jesus offers water to all those that are thirsty, and for those of us that are searching for a better way to live our lives, Jesus offers us salvation…but salvation doesn’t stop at a certain race, creed or culture…for anyone that accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and believe that He died on a cross for their sins, that is when their thirst begins to become quenched.

So my question for this week is as follows (and I get this from the Connelly resource I am using for study):  What does this concept of ‘living water’ mean to you and if Jesus offered it to you…would you take it? Or would you be skeptical?

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John 3

Starting over…that is the title of the section of “John: The Way to True Life” resource book I am using within my study of the book of John. Last week, I decided to only focus upon John 3:16, so this week, I felt that it would be important to expand upon what the rest of the chapter is saying.

Starting over often is referred to, in Bible lingo, as being ‘born again’ or experiencing a spiritual rebirth aftering coming to Jesus. But, beyond simply being born again as a Christian, I think the idea of ‘starting over’ goes much deeper than that. It is not just starting over spiritually in a walk with God, but it is also about starting over mentally and emotionally, where coming to Jesus can provide you with life, when before, the only guarantee anyone had in this life…was death.

A bit dreary I know, but in Romans 5:17, the Bible tells us, essentially, that in one life we die while in the other (the life that has Jesus) we live. John 3:36 speaks of the same thing, however it puts it a different way. Instead, it shows us the alternative to not pursuing a relationship with Jesus. It tells us that whoever belives in Jesus receives life, while those who do not will not will receive life but wrath.

I believe this is the entire purpose of John 3…simply to help people realize that God is there, willing to give them everlasting life. The things in this world that we always turn to, whether it be money or the things we own or our house or job…they are all material and everything breaks down at some point. God doesn’t break down. He doesn’t crumble. His foundation doesn’t split. He isn’t taken away or stolen from us. God lasts forever. He gives us, if we accept it, to start our lives over. We can cast away sin so that it no longer has power over us and live a fulfilling and rich life through the power of Jesus.

For those of you that are not believers in Christianity, I would ask you to think about what it would mean to you if you accepted God and had the chance to start over…what would that look like.

For those of you that are already believers, what are the ways that Jesus has power over your life and how has He shown that sin has lost its power?

Have a great and awesome week!

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John 3:16

This week I am writing a different than normal. This is a little bit more of an update about what is going on in my life and how pieces of John Chapter 3 are influencing me. This week is not a full out description of what each section means, but a little bit more of a testimonial of what it is meaning to me. As always, if you would like to follow along with my reading, you can visit BibleGateway.com for any translation you seek.

I would say that the main focus of John 3 is to discuss the idea of everlasting life, given through the salvation of Jesus and the Lord. Granted, there are other important ideas within this text and the chapter literally cannot be summed down into one sentence, but I believe that for the purposes of this blog that is all that needs to be mentioned.

One of the most famous verses from the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” A very powerful phrase, I think most people would say. This week I decided to focus on this one phrase and what it means in my life. However, that took a little bit of research (for I didn’t know what ‘begotten’ meant). Begotten is the past participle of beget, which means, literally, to father or to sire (most definitely adds a little bit of emphasis on how important Jesus’ relationship to God was, and vice versa).

Lately, I have been getting a bit more involved with my church. I am still part of the worship team (and I am actually playing this weekend) which is still a blast. But I have also gotten more involved with a Bible study on Monday nights and a Men’s ministry on Thursday nights. I’ve noticed, in each of these places the concept of everlasting life and God’s relationship with us is always coming up. Many of us are seeking to find, understand and have an effective relationship with the Lord. Even some of us are still trying to get our heads wrapped around this idea that ‘God so love the world.’ We do not understand this because some of us have never experience a relationship that has unfailing love.

John 3:16 always causes me to question my relationship with God. I see that God has a complete devotion to me, so I ask myself, “Do I have a complete devotion to the Lord?” Then I realize that the following lyrics seem important to me:

Closer by Sanctus Real

I’m not satisfied in this lifetime
I’m following you to the other side
There’s nothing that can change my mind
You’re all I need

You’re the only tie that binds my heart
Away from you I’m falling apart
We need to be closer than we are
You’re all I need

So what can I do to get closer?
I know there is more my heart can bear
I give you control ’cause I need you
To take me there

Like a bird flying southI’m seeking you out
And there’s no rope that can tie me down
I’m running home, I’m a slave set free
You’re all I need

So what can I do to get closer?
I know there is more my heart can bear
I give you control ’cause I need you
To take me there

I am waiting
Draw me closer
I am waiting
Make me stronger
I am waiting
Draw me closer

So what can I do to get closer?
I know there is more my heart can bear
I give you control ’cause I need you
To take me there(2x)

I am waiting
Draw me closer

I feel that there is a lot more to unpack with John chapter 3, but I think the task right now is to focus upon our own personal responses to an idea of everlasting life and an unconditional love. So, how does this verse affect your life and what is your response to hearing that “God Loves You” ?

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