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Archive for the ‘John 1-7’ Category

John 7

John 7 deals a lot with the idea of a person’s faith being tested. Throughout the entire chapter, Jesus is questioned in several different forms. The people question his authority, they question his knowledge from his education, they question his faith and they question where he is coming from.

I remember a few summers ago (actually my first summer being a Christian), where I felt that my faith was being tested. I was living with some people who definitely were not Christian and didn’t quite hold up to the same ideals that I had about things. It was difficult sometimes to talk with them because issues of ‘how my faith was wrong’ would always seem to come up. I ended up meeting with a friend of mine for coffee one evening and he told me, “The Bible doesn’t say you faith might be tested, or it could be tested….the Bible says that your faith will be tested.”

…it really put things into perspective…

People always speak about those ‘God moment’s’ where they feel really high on life and can feel God’s passion and will within their lives. That is great, beautiful and awesome, but I think that some people can often forget about God during their troubles in life. While some of us have trouble praising God when it is necessary and only look to him for a ‘way out,’ others of us have no problem giving him praise…but when life hits, deadlines get closer and closer and life gets stressful, we can forget about God.

We forget about asking God for wisdom sometimes…and sometimes we just need to remember James 1:5-8.

I think that one interpretation on John 7 is that Jesus is giving us an example that our faith may not only be tested by other people and those that are trying to condemn, but also…our faith can be tested by the weighing down of life itself.

So the challenge is: when you are feeling stressed, lost, overwhelmed…ask yourself if you have looked towards God and had a conversation…perhaps you need one.

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John 6

John 6 deals a lot with the concept of accepting the idea of Jesus being everlasting life. It is hard for the audience in this context to understand that Jesus is offering them the chance to never ‘thirsty’ or ‘hungry’ again, but this doesn’t refer to physical need, but emotional and spiritual need as well. John 6:27 says, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life” reminds me of a verse we discussed in my men’s minsitry last night, Romans 6:23. It states,”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The reason that I see these two verses as similar is because of how I interpret the Romans verse. I have heard that verse spoken aloud many times by many people, but no one fully explained it to me. Basically, the explanation I got out of it was, “if you sin, there is death…don’t sin because God gives you eternal life.” Granted, even though that is true, I felt that there was more behind it than simply that.

Here is what I think when I hear the word ‘wages’: I think of working a job and receiving a paycheck. The more hours you work at a specific job, the more money or ‘wages’ you will receive in return for working that job. Well, ‘the wages of sin is death’ works in a similar fashion. If you decided to be a slave and work for sin, the wages or payment you will receive is death (whether that is spiritual or emotional or death in relationships, whatever). The more you work, the more death you receive. However, the less work you do for sin, the less death you receive…we’ll come back to this in a minute.

The other half of that verse says, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When I think of a gift, I think of a Christmas present from a friend. Despite whatever my friend decided to give to me, there was nothing that I had to do in order to ‘earn’ that present (theoretically). The true meaning of a gift is receiving something from someone else without having to give them something in order to get it (for instance, I wouldn’t have to wash their car in order to receive a ‘free gift’). This means that the gift of everlasting life (aka, not death) is completly free from God. There is no work that I have to endure in order to receive that salvation from Christ.

So this is what I understand, overall, from the Romans verse….why would I ever want to be a slave and work for sin when all I receive is death when I could be set free from the bondage of sin and accept the free gift of everlasting life from God? When we accept Christ, God lifts us out of the bondage from sin, where it no longer has power over us…so why would we ever want to continue to work for it when we don’t have to?

I related this back to the John 6:27 verse, for it states, “do not work for the food that spoils, but for the food that endures eternal life.” It is the same concept. Why would I continue to do something that ends up being completely futile in the end, when I could do something completely different and get exactly what I was looking for? The entire point of John is to show the new Christian about how Christ can change your life, which includes no longer having to life in sin. I would much rather follow Christ and ‘never be hungry again’ over always searching for fulfillment.

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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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Chapter Two

Now to start the study of John 2. For this chapter, I am using two translations, the New King James Version (NKJV) as well as the New International Version (NIV). If you do not have reference to look on with, you can visit BibleGateway.com for any translation you would like.

This chapter is a bit shorter, at least in comparison to chapter one, and can be separated into two parts, verses 1-11 and verses 12-25. The overall idea of the chapter, I feel, is to start a person’s faith in Jesus. Today, our world constantly questions the qualifications of people…how they are able to do the job…what makes them special…why they are gifted in certain areas. I think we all can admit that we have been skeptical of people who claim absolute truths and I believe that it was no different in Jesus’ day. The first chapter in the book of John sets up the coming of Jesus and the announcement that He is the Messiah, but now that this is placed, it causes questions and doubt for new Christians. Essentially, it raises questions:

Why is Jesus the Messiah and not someone else?

What makes people think He is ‘our lord and savior?’

If He is so powerful, why doesn’t He prove it?

This is where chapter two of John comes in; it begins to combat with these doubts by explaining the occurrences in Jesus’ life.

Verses 1-11 take on the first part of the future miracles Jesus shows during his lifetime, at a wedding, He turns water into wine. Of all the miracles that Jesus could have first done in order to show who He is, such as raising the dead or healing the sick or the blind, Jesus starts small. He starts with turning ordinary water into incredible wine. When I first heard this story, it made me question the relevance of it. I didn’t see what was so great about turning water into wine. I mean, yeah it is a miracle, but what symbolism was behind it? In all honesty, it seemed kind of ridiculous to me.

But then I started to think about it. In other places of the Bible (such as the story where Jesus meets the lady at the well), He offers people the water of life, or living water, that will quench their thirst. During the last supper, Jesus offers up the wine and brings forth the tradition of communion, where the wine becomes the blood of Jesus. I feel that this miracle of turning water into wine was not only for Jesus to show His abilities as the son of God, but also to create a metaphor for offering water to quench our thirsts, which turns into His blood that He gave on the cross for our sins. When the bridegroom states in verse 10, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (2:10, NIV) it furthers this idea that Jesus has so much more to offer…He has what we thirst for.

Verses 12-25 also deal with later parts of Jesus life and shows Jesus as knowing about His final death. He states, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19, NKJV) and only a few verses later, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (2:21, NKJV). Jesus predicts His resurrection, for He knows His purpose in everything that He was doing and people followed Him for it. Jesus made people believe by talking and showing miracles. It makes me wonder, how was He able to do that?

It is mind boggling to me that someone could cause people to follow them with only speaking a few words to a person, or showing them a miracle that they do not understand. If you are still feeling skeptical about the miracles and words of Jesus, I would like to ask you to do two things:

First, re-read the post where we discussed chapter one and remember the insights you gained through that. Think about how those words made you feel and how do you feel now? What is making you feel that way? Is it the skepticism of water being turned into wine? If that is holding you up, try moving past that and working with the deeper meaning of it all.

Second, pray about your frustration. I think there are a lot of things in the Bible that we have trouble understanding and comprehending, so ask God to help you figure out the pertinence behind His word.

From what I have discovered though, it takes faith to help us understand the deeper meanings in the actions of Jesus. We can’t simply get caught up in the physics of a situation, for God doesn’t appeal to any physical bounds (after all, He caused a virgin to have a baby…I don’t think changing water into wine is much more of a challenge).

From the book I am using a resource for this study; I would like you to think about the following: “Ask God to change the stagnant water of your life into vibrant wine” (P. 14).

What stagnant water is in your life right now?

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