Jesus walked on water. Most people are familiar with this story. It may even be one of Jesus’ most remembered miracles, aside from rising from the dead or turning water into wine. But too often I read over it quickly and take it for granted. But this week I noticed a connection I haven’t seen before and I was able to see the profound message of the miracle in a new light.Continue reading “God Walks on Water, Jesus Walks on Water”
As Christians, we are called to bear one another’s burdens, especially when we experience suffering. Yet we often do not prepare for these moments and get tongue tied, speak with general spiritual platitudes, or avoid speaking altogether. But we must learn to comfort and encourage each other in suffering, because it is a natural part of life and a supernatural part of God’s plan (see Philippians 1:29). As we help one another, we can be instruments used by God to comfort those in need.
As we seek to speak to those who are suffering, we must avoid saying these four things:
Yes. I am afraid. Every time I begin to share about Jesus with someone, millions of thoughts run through my head about how I may offend or be received wrongly. Have you ever felt the same?
This is the log jam in the discipleship process and to fulfilling the Great Commission: evangelism. Sharing our faith. Why? Often times it is because we haven’t seen it modeled, or haven’t been taught “how.” Even in our rigorous attempts at discipleship have not fixed the problem, because discipleship has come to be regarded as a practice without the necessary component of evangelism training or practice. However, treating evangelism as a necessary part of discipleship helps to grow mature disciples, and is absolutely necessary. I read a great article recently highlighting 6 reasons why. Here they are: Continue reading “Six Key Benefits of the Necessary Evangelism Component in Discipleship”
The more closely we study ourselves, the more beneficent our Creator becomes. Look at the highest of God’s earthly creatures-man. We have plenty of reasons to say with the Psalmist, “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that I know full well” (Psalm 139:14). Everything about the structure of our bodies attest to the goodness of our Maker. How suited are our hands to perform work! How good of the Lord to appoint sleep to refresh our wearied bodies! How benevolent His provision to give to the eyes lids and brows for their protection! We could continue indefinitely!*
The goodness of God is also seen in the variety of natural pleasures that He has provided for his creatures. God could have decided to satisfy our hunger without allowing us to really enjoy the taste of it- yet how good is He that he gave us such flavors as those in meat, vegetables, and fruits! He has not only given us senses, but also things that will gratify our senses, and this too reveals His goodness. The earth could have been fertile as it is without its surface being so delightfully multicolored. Our physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful flowers to please our eyes with their colors, and our nostrils with their sweet perfumes. We might have walked outside without hearing the music of birds. Why then, is all of this loveliness so freely diffused over the face of nature? Because the tender mercies of the Lord “are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9).*
When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same (C.H. Spurgeon).
Gratitude and thankfulness is the return justly required from us, the objects of His goodness. Yet we often do not give it to God because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it!* We must labor to not allow this to be so!
Praise the Lord for His Goodness!!
*My translation from A.W. Pink’s “Old” English language (Attributes of God, Ch. 11, The Goodness of God)
At the very beginning of the story of the woman at the well, we see Jesus do something that yet again sets himself apart from most religious leaders at the time. We are told that he had to pass through Samaria (John 4:4). Most devout Jews would avoid Samaria on this journey to and from Judea, taking a much longer route, due to their racism and hatred of Samaritans. Jesus, however, walks right on through, and sits down for a divine appointment with a sinful Samaritan woman.
Jesus tells the woman,
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” -John 4:14
The woman suddenly makes a request for this water, but she does not understand what Jesus is saying. This is clearly shown in the latter part of her sentence, “..so I will not be thirsty
Jesus came to quench the “thirst” of those longing to know God. He alone provides the “living water” for us to be in a relationship with God and be satisfied with Him forever!
To aid the woman’s misunderstanding, Jesus helps her understand who he is by telling her he knows of her five husbands (4:18) and prophesying that people will eventually be able to worship anywhere (because God will no longer dwell on a mountain or in a tabernacle, but in the hearts of believers). When the woman tells Jesus that she knows that a “Messiah” is coming, he responds with what would be an incredibly dramatic scene in a movie by saying, “I who speak to you am he.”
I trust that at once the woman knew who Jesus claimed to be, and she believed- she drank of the living water.
In verse 28 we are told, “So the woman left her water jar and went away into the town..”
She left her water jar! This is not astounding to 21st century readers as it should be, because we do not understand the difficulties of retrieving water. Most women in the 1st century would walk some great distance to fill their jars for the necessities that the day held: cooking, bathing, drinking, etc. Also, the fact that the woman came at approximately noon is a possible indicator itself that she felt ashamed and didn’t want to be seen in public (potentially due to her having 5 husbands)- which makes it all the more interesting that this is the woman that Jesus speaks to. Nevertheless, what we do know for sure is that the retrieval of water was a big deal-so to leave the jar behind and return to town without it-was a big deal!
This is to say that the most important thing in the woman’s life at the time was dropped when she encountered Jesus. I believe she understood that she had encountered something far greater than a necessity for this physical life- she encountered the necessity for a spiritual life in God- Jesus.
You see Jesus offers this living water to us, it is ours for the taking. To trust him, to drink of the water that he offers, to be brought in relationship with Him, and to never thirst again- is the offer on the table. Will you take it?
If you are dying of thirst in a desert and you stumble upon a pool of water, would you look at it? Would you admire it? Would you try to understand how it got there? Or how you stumbled upon it? Would you memorize its color and study it? No- You would drink it at once!
The woman not only left her jar, she ran into the town, among the people she was ashamed to be seen by, and emphatically told them about Jesus. Her previous worries of being mocked or looked down upon were gone! She knew who she had encountered- the King of the universe. You can encounter him, too.
My friends, please drink of this living water! Drop everything else your worrying or thinking about. Nothing is as important as this- Have you accepted Jesus? Have you drank of the living water? Throw yourself upon Christ. He is waiting to quench your everlasting thirst!
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Jesus was very clear about the change that must take place in order to become one of his own and see the kingdom of God.
“You must be born again” John 3:7
Must I go to church? No, you must be born again. Must I pray a certain prayer? No, you must be born again. Must I give to the poor? No, you must be born again. Must I be baptized? No, you must be born again. Must I follow the law? No, you must be born again. Must I teach Sunday school or sing in the choir? No, you must be born again!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3
One of my spiritual heroes, C.H. Spurgeon, illustrated this truth this way (in my own paraphrase):
Suppose that in England, there should be a law passed that admission to courts, preference to office, and any privileges in the nation were only given to the natural born citizens of the country. What then, would court officials say if an native Indian man came to them and said, “I will change my name” or “I will change my dress” or “I will change my family, my friends,” or “I will learn the language” or “I will work for it!” You see none of these things could admit the man, for the law is absolute, the man must be an natural born citizen to obtain the privileges, and he is not.
This illustration also correlates with us as Christians. We cannot change our names (call ourselves Christians), change the way we dress, change our friends, change our behavior, learn to talk like Christians, learn to pray like Christians, give away our money, help the poor, or do any type of Christian service. For God’s statement is clear: “You must be born again.”
This new birth is a sweeping process which is more than a change, it is a creation. Not just reformation, but regeneration. Not just becoming religious, but being born. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefor, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; Behold, the new has come.”
Do you exhibit a different life than you did before? Do you now hate the very things you used to love? Have your desires changed? Do you have a hunger for reading and understanding God’s Word? Do you desire to be around other believers? Can you persist in sin? What is your attitude towards sin- are you brokenhearted over it? or are you still indifferent to it? To whom have you entrusted your whole life to?
We cannot bring about these changes ourselves, nor make ourselves “born again.” We are only born again of the Spirit, the power of God. Salvation is a magnificent work where a soul is saved and made completely new. Ultimately, Jesus is the only one who can bring about this new creation in us.
It is imperative to understand that he brings about this change. “Behold” says Christ, “I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Dear friend, you must be made new; you must be born again! I paraphrase Mr. Spurgeon again, “Christ can make you really pure in heart; he can make you a new creature, so that you shall be converted and become as a little child. “Oh!” say you, “how can I get it? How can I prepare myself for him?” You do not want to prepare yourself for him. Go to him just as you are; trust him to do it, and he will do it. That is faith, you know–trust, dependence. Can you believe that Christ can save you? Oh! you can believe that; well now, will you trust him to save you? Will you trust him to deliver you from your drunkenness, from your angry temper, your pride, your love of self, your lusts? Do you desire to be a new creature in Christ Jesus? If so, that very desire must have come from heaven. I could fain hope that he has already begun the good work in you, and he that begins it will carry it on.”
“”Oh! make me a new creature!” If you have said that from your heart, you are a new creature, dear brother, and we will rejoice together in this regenerating Savior.” (Spurgeon, A New Creation, published July 15, 1915.)
Most people have heard about Jesus turning the water into wine, but do they really know what it means? Do you really know what it means?
If you have not read this portion of scripture, please read John 2:1-12 now so that we may be taught of the Spirit together as we analyze this passage! This miracle of Jesus packs a deep meaning that radically sets the stage for the rest of his life, ministry, and purpose.
First, its important to know the setting for where He performed his first miracle. We see that he performs it at a wedding feast (John 2:1), one of the most treasured celebrations in 1st century Jerusalem. He is attending with his mother and a few of his disciples, and it is brought to his attention that there is no more wine to be served. To us, this doesn’t seem like a big issue, but the point of all Jesus’ miracles is to demonstrate spiritual truth, and what a amazing truth he reveals through this miracle!
Key Point: Jesus uses the ceremonial cleansing jars to create the wine. (John 2:6)
We need to note what Jesus used to turn the water into wine. He used ceremonial cleaning jars, which probably already had a decent amount of old water sitting in them. The Jews would use these water jars to purify themselves: to wash themselves, and make themselves “clean” before God. By using these jars, Jesus is giving us a sneak peek of what is to come. Jesus is showing us that the cleansing of His blood (as we know, in the Bible, the blood of Christ is represented by wine -Matt 26:28) is far greater than any ritual washings – and the transformation of this very water into wine symbolizes the transformation of Judaism.
The fact that Jesus changed the ceremonial washing water into wine proves that he will do away with the rituals of Judaism, and that we will be made clean before God through his blood. Jesus filled the containers to the brim (John 2:7) to show that no space is left for ritual washings after his sacrifice.
Jesus instructs the servants to take a pitcher of this water to the master, and so they did. We don’t actually know when the water turns to wine, but when the master of the feasts takes a sip, he says, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). Is this recorded just to show us that Jesus should start a new career as a wine-maker? Certainly not. The Spirit is showing us something here:
The statement made by the master of the feast implies this: That typically, the best wine is served first, so that the people “get their fill” (get drunk) and can’t tell when a cheaper wine is introduced. In the same way, The Jews had been “drinking wine” (aka. performing their ritual washings) for so long that they weren’t able to recognize when something better came along (Jesus)!
Jesus conveys this truth again in the same chapter when he drives out the temple. He exclaims, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Jesus was talking about his own body, and it was through the “destroying of it” and his rising from the dead that was able to accomplish this new system, where his blood covers our sin, not our ritual washings or other works.
Jesus came to make everything new, and he clearly demonstrated that by turning old water used for bathing into brand new wine. He also came to make the heart new. We will see that tomorrow in John 3!
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This year, my family, some friends and I are reading through the book of John counting down to Christmas. Each day we are reading a chapter and I am writing an analysis. Please join us! Today is John Chapter 1.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, He was in the beginning with God.” (verses 1-2).
In the very beginning of the book of John, we are given a clear representation of who Jesus is. From these first two verses, what are we told? That in the beginning, the Word was there, with God, and was God. So who or what is this “Word?” None other than Jesus himself! Skim down to verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Aha! Now we can read these “Word” verses with this knowledge in mind. Lets summarize what this section tells us about Jesus:
- In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. (v.1)
- He (Jesus) was in the beginning with God. (v.2)
- All things were made through him (Jesus), and nothing was made without him. (v.3)
- In him (Jesus) is life, and he is the light of men. (v.4)
- Jesus put on flesh and dwelt among us (v.14)
Is this odd that John starts with these deep truths about Jesus right at the beginning? Why would he do that? I believe he was intentional about it, because he believed it was absolutely crucial to understand that Jesus was God in the form of a man, to understand the gospel at all!
So what else is unique here? (besides John the Baptist, I will write of him in a later post). Look at this verse, “No one has ever seen God, the only God, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” (verse 18). What does this tell us? The 2nd time the verse says “God,” it is referring to Jesus! Some older manuscripts read “The only Son…..has made him known.” We could also read this verse now thinking of Jesus: “No one has ever seen God, but Jesus, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”
So Jesus has come to make God known, and so that we can know Him! As we read on in John, we will see that because of our sinful condition, this was the only possible way that we could be made right with God. The Bible calls this “knowing God” eternal life; “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
We will see as we continue reading that Jesus came to accomplish this very purpose, to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). But first he must live a life of perfect obedience, offer up his life by being nailed to a cross, and rise from the grave to do so. I hope you will join my family and me as we continue to read the gospel of John this Christmas season, as we strive to know God through the amazing gift he has given us: Jesus!
This morning I was reading in Mark 6, where Jesus returns to his hometown, Nazareth. The people have heard of Jesus’ miracles and authoritative teaching, yet when he comes back home, they utter, “How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?…And they took offense at him” Mark 6:2-3.
Jesus replies that he is honored by people everywhere else except for his hometown, a reoccurring theme that has happened ever since the ancient prophets taught in Israel. The verse that struck me, however, was verse 5 and 6, “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” This is the first time in Mark’s gospel that we see that Jesus’ power can be limited for those who do not believe. This is not to say that he could not physically do any miracle that he wanted, because, him being fully God, he had the power to do so. He simply could not bring himself to force his miracles on a hostile, skeptical audience.
Knowing myself, if I was in Jesus’ place, the Nazarenes’ skepticism would have actually prompted me to work miracles, to prove them wrong. Yet, this is another example of our Lord’s great humility. He has no desire to prove himself right, to put people to shame, or to prove them wrong by obvious miraculous works. Instead, he keeps teaching and preaching, drawing those to him who truly believe.
My sincere worry, though, is that other believers and myself sometimes become like Nazareth. How many times do we say ,”Well God doesn’t do that anymore,” or “Well I don’t think God would do that.” How many times do we offer our requests up to him, yet we know in our hearts that we doubt that he will do what we ask! How many times do we enter into a situation without first consulting him! How many times do we make a decision without first asking his guidance! I believe that the reasons we do such things is from a lack of belief. My heart aches to wonder how many times we have limited God and his power by our unbelief!
Do you doubt that God will provide for your family financially? Do you doubt that he can turn your brother, sister, son, daughter, or mother’s life around? Do you doubt that he can bring revival or healing in your church? Do you doubt that he can take your weary and tired heart, and set it ablaze for him? Do you doubt that he can reunite your family, or place you in the job that he wants you? Do you doubt that he can speak to you? Do you doubt that he can heal your cancer, give you a child, or draw your friend to salvation?
My friends! I beg you to please ask him to help our unbelief. An easy believism has plagued our society and culture, that has drawn us to use God as nothing but a cherry on the top of our lives. O, how we could feel his presence and see his miraculous hand if we would only believe!! We must draw ourselves close to him, through the reading of his Word and through prayer, with an open heart, saying, “Lord, help us to understand and to believe!” My friends, I ask you to start this journey with me! I will not stop until I feel the Lord’s presence and see him working! Pray for belief!
Mark 9:24, “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
“Heavenly Father, would you please work in our hearts and help us with our unbelief! O, how the inner longing of our hearts is to know you and to see you work in our lives! Do not let us be like your hometown, but lead us to a heightened, stronger belief in you and in your power! Do not withdraw your mighty hand from us O God! We need you to bring us to this belief, for on our own, we cannot come to you. Please strengthen us, speak to us by your Spirit, and prompt us to the reading of your Word and to prayer, that we might draw nearer to you, and that our faith may increase. Oh Lord, I beg you to help us with our unbelief!”
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, KJV)
To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins–egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion–are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy.
They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel. I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the church visible. Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice….
Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. We may as well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment.
“Oh Lord, do that ‘work of God in destruction’ within me today. I am indeed ‘crucified with Christ.’ I pray this morning that the cross would obliterate the self-sins in my life and let me live only for Jesus Christ and His glory. Amen.” (Tozer on Christian Leadership, November 15)