Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday, March 31st

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 3-5
Today's scripture focus is John 3:1-21

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 to 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 the 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.”
 9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
   10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
   16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

John MacArthur had an interesting sermon on this passage.

Often people use either ignorance or difficulty understanding as the reason they do not believe in Jesus as the Son of God.  MacArthur says it's not either.

The reason people do not understand, or are ignorant is because they do not believe.  And they do not believe because they do not want to believe. And they do not want to believe because they love their sin. They love the darkness and do not want to be exposed by the Light.

And yet Jesus offers the invitation anyway.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  John 3:22-35
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Judges 6-7

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday, March 30th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Judges 1-2
Today's scripture focus is  John 2:12-25

12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
 18 Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
 20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
 23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.

This is one of two separate incidents where Jesus is righteously angry at the going-on in the temple.  Here he exposes the hypocritical religious posturing as a cover up for greed.   They were being religiously helpful, but out of love for money, not God.

And of course, Jesus again speaks with two meanings about the destruction of the temple (both the literal temple and His own earthly body) and that it would be raised again in three days (his own earthly body, and that He would then replace the temple as the new "place" to meet God).

Tomorrow's scripture focus: John 3:1-21
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Judges 3-5

Thursday, March 29 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 22-24.
Today's scripture focus is John 2:1-11.

1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
   4 “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[a]
 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
   They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “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.”
 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

I'm very sorry I'm a day late.  My sister and I took the kids to Fargo for a few days and we got home on Wednesday evening.  I spent the evening unpacking and then yesterday was a really busy day, so I didn't realize that I hadn't done my post until it was too late because I normally do it on Wednesdays!  Anyway, here it is, better late than never.

Instead of focusing on the miracle itself, even though it was Jesus' first miracle, I want to focus on Mary today.

Mary was Jesus' mother, and most mothers think their own children are extraordinary, but Mary had more legitimate reasons for her beliefs than do the rest of us!  However, Jesus had not yet performed any miraculous signs, so on what was her belief based?  In fact, other than the angels' visits before Jesus' birth and when he was a small child, the only story we have in the Bible of anything out of the ordinary about Jesus' life prior to the wedding in Cana was the time that his family had travelled to Jerusalem for Passover and Jesus stayed behind at the temple talking to the rabbis instead of leaving for home with his family.  Other than that, we have no indications of what his life was like for 30 years.  Were there things about him that his mother noticed that set him apart from everyone else?  Or did she base her faith in him on those long-ago events when he was born?  I mean, the events surrounding Jesus' birth would surely stick in her mind, having experienced them firsthand.

Either way, I thought it remarkable that she would, without hesitation, instruct the servants to do whatever Jesus told them because he would be able to solve the problem.  Jesus' mother may not have known exactly what he would do or how he would do it, but she believed in him.

While my personal feeling is that it is not beneficial to tell our children they can do or be anything they want or that all their dreams will come true, I do think it is important for them to know what some of their great qualities are individually.  I think it can do wonderful things for a child to know that their parents think they did something good.  Not necessarily something like a sport or playing an instrument or whatever the case may be, but something about their character, such as kindness, or showing compassion for others, or being truthful, or noticing that someone needs help with something and going to help them without being told.  Any thoughts?

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  John 2:12-25.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Judges 1-2.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday, March 28th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 19-21
Today's scripture focus is John 1:35-51

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

John's first testimony - He is here.  John's second testimony - behold Him for who He is.
John's third testimony - follow Him.  I am nothing, He is everything, don't just stand around here with me, follow Him.  And they did.

I love the summary of this passage by John Piper (I've added the verses he referenced in his lengthier description of each point)....

We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.
The glory of being the goal of John the Baptist’s ministry.
The glory of being the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. (v36-37)
The glory of being the giver of spiritual sight. (v38-39 - another example of how when people asked questions in the physical, Jesus often answered with spiritual meaning)
The glory of being of the Messiah. (v41)
The glory of being the one who changes our identity.  (v42)
The glory of being the one who unilaterally commands our allegiance. (v43)
The glory of knowing our external and our internal condition. (v45-48)

And from the fullness of this glory we have received grace upon grace.
Tomorrow's scripture focus:  John 2:1-11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Joshua 22-24

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday, March 27th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 16-18
Today's scripture focus is John 1:29-34

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

John MacArthur (emphasis mine)...
the Jews wanted a prophet and God gave them a lamb. The Jews wanted a king and God gave them a lamb because you can't reign with God until you're related to God. And you can't be related to God if there's sin in the way. And so God had to send a sacrifice to get rid of sin before there could be a relationship. And it's just that simple. Until you come to the point of sacrificially realizing...of realizing the sacrifice of Christ for your sin, there's no place for fellowship between you and God. And so God came to die on a cross as a lamb because He had to be a lamb before He could ever be a King because He'd have nobody to reign with if He didn't die for their sins. 

And so, John's first message [from yesterday's passage] is just simple. What is it? He is here. Watch his second message [today's passage]. Behold Him. Do you see the difference? Here He is, now look at Him and see Him for who He is. You see, that's the second step in salvation. Once you know that Christ is and that He's alive, the second thing you want to do is see Him for who He is. And who is He? The living Word and the Lamb of God. And when you see Christ as the Lamb of God, you recognize your own sin too, don't you? And so John says behold Him, the living Word, the dying lamb. My first message is He's here, my second message is look at Him and see Him for who He is. 

One thing that I found very interesting about this passage was that even though John knew Jesus as his cousin, he did not know that He was the Christ - until God told him!  And the reason we, too, can know that Jesus is the Son of God is because God tells us.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: John 1:35-51
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Joshua 19-21

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday, March 26th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 12-15
Today's scripture focus is John 1:19-28

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.”
 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
   He said, “I am not.”
   “Are you the Prophet?”
   He answered, “No.”
 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
 24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
 26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John the Baptist first makes it clear that he is not the Messiah, and he is not Elijah incarnate (though he is the Elijah-like prophet prophecied about in the OT).

Then, in v 26 & 27 he testifies to the amazing fact that yes, the Messiah is here.  He is among you and you haven't even noticed yet.  And He is so worthy that John is not even worthy to untie his sandals, a job that was for the lowliest of slaves.

John the Baptist - one of the greatest of all prophets - felt himself unworthy to even be Christ's slave!  When we know who Christ really is, all our own self-importance and pride just falls away.

That is how great Jesus is and how unworthy we are.

He is here.  That is John's testimony.  He is here.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: John 1:29-34
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Joshua 16-18

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday, March 25th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 9-11
Today's scripture focus is John 1:14-18

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
 15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

God is invisible (v18).

But God revealed Himself to us - first through the law of Moses (the law was a witness to grace and truth) and then through Jesus Christ (the fulfillment, not the contradiction, of the law of Moses).

So God became human, and dwelt among us - living among us, to have relationship with us.

Jesus shows us who God is.  When we know Jesus, we know God.  And we know that He is truth, He is real, and He is grace.

But Jesus didn't come just to show us about God and His truth and grace.  He came to give it to us.  But we must receive it!

John Piper .....

God doesn't just want to stock your head with knowledge about his truth and grace, he wants you to receive it and experience it..... he wants to give you personally a foundation of truth and reality to stand on so you won't cave in under stress...... he wants to treat you with grace—to forgive all your sins—all of them!—to take away all your guilt, to make your conscience clean, to help you with your problems, to give you strength for each day, and to fill you with hope and joy and peace. Isn't that the meaning of grace? And isn't that why he pitched his tent among us?
But note well the word: "From his fulness we have received grace upon grace." Don't spurn it this morning. Receive it. Welcome it for what it really is. And let it fill your heart with everlasting joy

MacArthur says that some consider John 1:14 to summarize the entire Bible....
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

we see in Jesus Christ the distant, the unknowable, the invisible, the almighty, the transcendent, the majestic, unreachable God reaching to man and becoming a man. And because God became a man God is no longer a stranger, is He? If you know Jesus Christ, is God a stranger to you? Not a stranger, He's a Father. And so we see the glorious Christ who reveals God, rejected by most, received by a few, witnessed by John and then presented to the world...the eternal, incarnate, heralded, unrecognized, all powerful, glorious Christ. That's what Christianity is all about. It's not a form of religion. It's not a system. Listen, it is this...a personal love relationship with Christ who is God in a human body who died and rose again and lives today. That is Christianity.

Isn't that awesome?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: John 1:19-28
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Joshua 12-15

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday, March 24- by Pamela

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 5-8
Today's scripture focus is John 1:10-13

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The first thing I thought of when I read the first part of this section of scripture was a passage I read earlier this week. In Sunday School, we were taking a look at some of the parables and I happened to come across this passage on the same page of my bible:

from Matthew 13:55-58

55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

How true it is that we sometimes we miss what is plain and obvious. What's that saying..."You can't see the forest for the trees"... and we fail to recognize what should be clear to us. Often we can miss or overlook what is right in front of us because we ignore it. It can be something so big and yet we don't see it. Have you ever done this test? (Make sure you follow the directions exactly)

So. Obvious. We overlook things right in front of us. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Jesus the son of God was not recognized and not received by the world-the people whom he created.

The second part of today's scripture reminded me of adoption. When we accept Jesus we are welcomed into the family of God with open arms. We are not an accident, we are chosen and accepted. Again, it reminded me of a video I saw recently. It was about the coming home journey of a family that adopted 2 children from Uganda (the video is at the bottom of the post and it is well worth it to watch it). Adoption is desired and represents true love and acceptance regardless of what has happened prior to joining the family. Pregnancy can be a surprise (don't I know it!! ;) but adoption is a choice. When we choose Jesus we are accepted into God's family. We are chosen. We are loved. We are desired. We become God's child and a part of God's family.

God has chosen us, and made it clear and obvious to us, will we accept his invitation to join his family?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Josh 9-11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: John 1:14-18

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday, March 23rd

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 1-4.
Today's scripture focus is John 1:6-9.

6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 

Here John is very careful to let the readers know that he himself was not the light, the light was Jesus.

My Life Application Bible says this....
We, like John the Baptist, are not the source of God's light; we merely reflect that light.  Jesus Christ is the true Light; he helps us see our way to God and shows us how to walk along that way.  But Christ has chosen to reflect his light through his followers to an unbelieving world, perhaps because unbelievers are not able to bear the full blazing glory of his light firsthand. The word witness indicates our role as reflectors of Christ's light. We are never to present ourselves as the light to others, but are always to point them to Christ, the Light.

Are we reflecting the light of Christ to the world?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: John 1:10-13
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Joshua 5-8

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday, March 22 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 32-2 4 & Psalm 91.
Today's scripture focus is John 1:2-5.

2 He was with God in the beginning.
 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.

Yesterday concentrated on the meanings to the Hebrews and Greeks of "the Word" and these verses carry on with "the Word," meaning Christ, being with God in the beginning.  A commentary on these verses from says:

By stating both positively and negatively that the Word is the agent of all creation (1:3), John emphasizes that there were no exceptions: the existence of absolutely all things came by this Word. Although with verse 3 we move from eternity to creation, we are still dealing with facts hard to comprehend. Until discoveries made in the 1920s, the Milky Way was thought to be the entire universe, but now we realize there are many billions of galaxies. Science is helping us spiritually, for it silences us before God in wonder and awe. But this verse also helps us put science in its proper place. The universe is incredibly wonderful, so how much more wonderful must be the one upon whose purpose and power it depends. "The builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself" (Heb 3:3).  (emphasis mine)

These statements make me think about the Francis Chan youtube videos about the universe and how unimaginably immense it is.  How can we not be in awe of a God who created something so huge and amazing that we can't even grasp it with our wildest imaginings?

Matthew Henry's commentary says the following:

What the evangelist says of Christ proves that he is God. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistence with the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made by him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as the life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This eternal Word, this true Light shines, but the darkness comprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyes may be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; and thus be made wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ.   (emphasis mine)

I know this gives me a lot to think about!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  John 1:6-9.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Joshua 1-4.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday, March 21st

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 30-31
Today's scripture focus is John 1:1

First I wanted to share an introduction to John from John MacArthur (emphasis mine).  Sorry it's long, but I thought it was excellent and had to share it!

Now each [of the gospels] has its own distinctness. In Matthew, for example, Jesus Christ is presented as the promised king and Messiah of Israel. Consequently Matthew's message to Israel and the world is this: Behold your king. Mark, on the other hand, does not present Christ as king, but presents Him as a servant/prophet. And that's the reason there's no genealogy in Mark because no servant had a genealogy that mattered. And so Mark's message to the world is behold your servant. And when you come to Luke's gospel you see that Luke presented Christ as the perfect man walking among the people of the world and so Luke's message is behold the man.
So Matthew wants us to behold the king, Mark wants us to behold the servant, Luke wants us to behold the man, that is the humanity of Christ. And now as we come to the gospel of John we see a completely dimension. We see when we begin the gospel of John that heaven opens up and the first thing that happens is the eternal Son of God descends. God and man, in one blessed and glorious person, the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ. And so John's message is behold your God. And his revelation was written to establish the truth of the divinity and the deity of Jesus Christ, that He is absolute total God of very God living in a human body. He is not half-God, half-man, He is total God and total man. And so the genealogy that John presents doesn't name any human beings. It goes right back to the time before time, the time of eternity, and says that He was there when it all began. That's His genealogy. He didn't start; he always was. So John presents to us God.
We can look at it another way. There is another unveiling in the order of the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the unveiling is very, very similar to the old Hebrew encampment. They had the tabernacle in the middle and all the tribes around. And in Matthew we find the writer surveying the theocracy, that is the rule of God in its entirety. In other words we see the whole camp surrounding the king and we see in Matthew God in the midst ruling all of them. And then as we move to Mark we move inside the outer court of the tabernacle, the place of service and sacrifice.
And that's Christ in Mark's gospel, the perfect servant, the perfect sacrifice. And then as we enter into Luke we move into the holy place where we find the candlestick of witness and the showbread of communion and Luke presents Christ in that picture carrying out His priestly work among men, witnessing and communing with them.
But when we come to the gospel of John we enter into the most sacred holy place of all, the holy of holies and we see God in person, God in flesh. And John ushers us into the holy of holies, the very presence of God. And so the fourth gospel is the gospel of all gospels. It is the holy of holies of the New Testament. It is almost as if we ought to take off our shoes for we stand on holy ground as we approach this gospel because it presents in the most magnificent glory the deity of Jesus Christ. It talks about His humanity, it talks about His servant hood, it talks about His kingship, but it presents primarily His deity. It is behold your God that John is trying to get across and we'll see it as we go.
Christ, then, becomes the theme of John's gospel just as He is the theme of John's three epistles and just as He is the theme of Revelation. Needless to say John loved Christ, also needless to say Christ loved John. There were no closer two than they two. And consequently when John writes he always writes about Christ. And the primary emphasis upon Christ in the gospel of John is His humiliation. And yet at the same time His embodiment of deity, whereas in Revelation it's His glorification. And as we read the gospel of John I promise you you'll really hear the beating heart of Jesus Christ. As we read the gospel of John and study it you're going to be able to lay your hands right on the nail prints of Jesus Christ and cry out with Thomas who said, "My Lord and my God," cause you're going to see Him for who He is. This is sacred territory.
And you know, the words of John are so simple that when you go to seminary or you go to graduate school to study Greek the first book that you ever translate is John. Why, because his vocabulary is so simple. You see he always takes the simple words and creates pictures of the most profound transcendent truths. That's John's way. And so John is plain but deep, so John is natural but mysterious. And John's gospel is as simple as a child and as sublime as an angel. John's gospel is as gentle as a lamb and as bold as an eagle. John's gospel is as deep as the sea and high as the heavens. It's sweeping and we present it with Jesus Christ, the blessed Son of God. And we're going to look into the face of Jesus Christ. We're going to stare into His face.
You say why, because as we boldly stare into the face of Jesus Christ Paul says, "We are changed into His image." I trust that when this time is over, even as it begins, we shall find ourselves being changed by the Holy Spirit because we are gazing face to face into the blessed Son of God. And so John presents the eternal word of God, Jesus Christ, and he presents what men did with Him. Some received, some believed, and some rejected and ignored. That's his message.

Now onto our passage or verse for today....

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

Simple words, yet incredible truth packed into them!

John 20:31 gives us the purpose of the book of John -  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
This is not a telling of Jesus' human life story.  It is a powerful argument for the incarnation and, as John Piper says (emphasis mine), John was writing to awaken faith in unbelievers and sustain faith in believers—and in that way lead both to eternal life. And there may be no better book in the Bible to help you keep on trusting and treasuring Christ above all. 

the Word was God.  The Word was and is Jesus.
In the beginning was the Word.  And the Word existed in the beginning - before creation!  The Word was the Creator of the universe. Macarthur: In the beginning of beginnings before beginnings even began God was.  He never came into existence because He always was.  Impossible for us to wrap our human minds around that.

Jesus was not merely human.  He was human but He was also God who existed before the beginning of time.  John wants to get across this incredible truth: the deity, the majesty and the power of Jesus.

This verse also gives us the truth about the trinity (though the Holy Spirit is not mentioned yet).
the Word was God means that Jesus is God.
the Word was with God means that Jesus had a relationship with God.
Jesus and God are distinct Persons that can have a relationship with each other, yet they is only one God.  One divine Essence in the form of three Persons.

Interesting note in my Life Application Bible about "the Word"
What does John mean by "the Word"? The Word was a term used by theologians and philosophers, both Jews and Greeks, in many different ways. In Hebrew Scripture, the Word was an agent of creation (Psalm 33:6), the source of God's message to his people through the prophets (Hosea 1:2), and God's law, his standard of holiness (Psalm 119:11).  In Greek philosophy, the Word was the principle of reason that governed the world, or the thought still in the mind, while in Hebrew thought, the Word was another expression for God. John's description shows clearly that he is speaking of Jesus (see especially 1:14) - a human being he knew and loved, but at the same time the Creator of the universe, the ultimate revelation of God, the living picture of God's holiness, the One in whom "all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17). To Jewish readers, "the Word was God" was blasphemous. To Greek readers, "the Word became flesh" (1:14) was unthinkable.  To John, this new understanding of the Word was gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

MacArthur explains it even better I think (sorry, this is getting so long!)....
Why did you call Him the Word? Why doesn't he say in the beginning was Christ? Why the word? Well it's interesting. Two reasons: number one, the Jews would understand that and number two, so would the Greeks because both of them used that concept of the Word....

In the Old Testament it was the word of God by which God created the universe. The universe was created by the word of God's mouth, see, and everything that God did, His power, His will, His mind was directed toward men and it was always called "his word". And the word of God came into so and so, and the word of God spake, and all that which emanated from God in terms of His power and His will and His mind and that means anything that came from God and contacted man was called the word. And so the Jew was very familiar with that concept because all through the Old Testament there was that reality of the word...

Jesus Christ was the embodiment of the Old Testament concept of the Word. If you want to see the Word that brought the universe into existence, if you want to see the Word that gives the mind of God to men, if you want to see the Word that transmits life and light to the soul look at Christ, He is the embodiment of all that God is. And in the Old Testament all the power and the mind and the will of God that came from God was called His Word, but that which comes from God in the New Testament is His Son embodying that same thing...

 the Greeks had an interesting concept. Let me just put it to you very simply. They believed in a super power. We'll call it God. They had to; it was obvious. And they believed that, that God had power and had a mind and had reason, and you know why they believed that, because men had a mind, had reason, and had power. So they believed it had to come from somewhere.
So Greek philosophers like Heraclides, Philo, Stoics, etc. they believed that God's mind and will was existing somewhere in space floating around and it gave man the ability to reason, and it gave man the ability to act and respond intelligently and have some kind of power. God's mind, then was alive and moving around somewhere. It was impersonal; in no way was it a person, it was just the instrument through which God made the world. It was sort of a philosophical power....
The Greeks called it something. You know what the called it? The Word. Interesting. They called it the Logos. And Logos is a Greek philosophical term expressing the identity of this power of God that makes things do what they do and creates and thinks and reasons...
You see, so he's saying to the Greeks Christ is the answer to what you're looking for. He's saying to the Jews Christ is the embodiment of all that God was for you in the Old Testament ... And so the Greek knew all about the Logos and so did the Jew. And John by using the Logos is saying for centuries you've been looking for the Word of God, Israel, you've been looking for the Word of God, Greeks, there He is right there in the form of Jesus Christ.
All that from one verse!

Tomorrow's scripture focusJohn 1:2-5
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 32-34, Psalm 91

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday, March 20th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 28-29
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 13:22-25

22 Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter.  23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.  24 Greet all your leaders and all God’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings. 25 Grace be with you all.

Can you believe today is our last day in the book of Hebrews!  I`ve definitely learned a lot about Hebrews from our study.

John Piper has an excellent summary of just some of the things Hebrews has to say....
I have seen Christ and savored his supremacy over and over again. I have come near to him and spoken with him and enjoyed him and worshipped him
*as the final Word of God in these last days (1:2),
*as the Creator of the heavens and earth whom angels worship (1:6,10),
*as the Pioneer of our salvation who was made perfect through suffering (2:10),
*as one who became flesh that he might die in our place and free us from the fear of death (2:14f),
*as one superior to Moses as a son is superior to a servant (3:5f),
*as a sympathetic High Priest who opens the way to the throne of grace (4:14-16),
*as one who saves for all time those who draw near to God through him (7:25),
*as the Mediator of a new blood-bought covenant to secure that our sins will be forgiven and the law will be written on our hearts and that God will be our God (8:10-12),
*as the one who by his blood purifies our consciences from dead works to serve the living God (9:14),
*as the one who put an end to all sacrifices by putting away sin once for all through the sacrifice of himself (9:26),
*as the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of God until all his enemies are made a stool for his feet (12:2; 1:13),
*as the one who suffered outside the gate that he might sanctify the people by his own blood (13:12),
*as the one who will never leave us or forsake us but will help us forever by the power of an indestructible life (13:5-6; 7:16).

In these months together in Hebrews, Christ has revealed himself to us again and again for our encouragement and our hope and our perseverance, so that we might have strength and love to meet together and stir each other up to live well and to die well by faith, which is the assurance of things hoped for.

Moving on to today`s passage...Verse 25: "Grace be with you all."

In other words, as I take leave of you, I hand you over to the abundance and power of future grace. The grace of divine peace, the grace of a deathless Shepherd who guards and guides you, the grace of an eternal covenant that secures an unbreakable relationship, the grace of God's commitment to equip us with all the resources we need to do his will, and finally - lest any of his own ever be lost - the grace of God to work in us what pleases God. This grace be with you.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  John 1:1
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Deuteronomy 30-31

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday, March 19th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Deuteronomy 24-27
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 13:20-21

20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

These verses speak so much truth!

We have a God of peace.  He is at peace with Himself and with us.
Jesus is our Shepherd.  A Shepherd who came back from the dead and therefore cannot die again and can never be defeated.
We are bound to God by a blood-bound covenant.  John Piper says (emphasis mine)....When Christ died, he sealed for God's elect a covenant that will last forever and will never be broken. It is God's pledge to give us eternal salvation (5:9), eternal redemption (9:12), and eternal inheritance (9:15). And what makes it eternal and unspeakably superior to the old covenant is that God swears on the blood of his Son that not only will he keep his side of the covenant, but our side as well.
We have a God who equips us to do His will.
God works in us what is needed to please Him.

He does everything!
He wants to leave us with no mistake and no uncertainty that our covenant relationship with him is eternal. So he reminds us that the very essence of the new covenant, and what makes it new, is that God keeps his side, and God keeps our side.....You are secure not because you are strong, but because God is sovereign and because God is faithful to his new covenant promises.

Our Christian growth has nothing to do with our own power.  It`s God working in us.
MacArthur (emphasis mine)....
God puts down the orders, and then God's the only one that can do them in me, as I yield to Him. And the question of the Christian life is the question of yieldingness. 

God does not do a good work in everyone.  He does a good work in everyone who is willing to yield to Him.

But make no mistake.  The power is not ours.  It is God`s and God alone.  And therefore, the glory is also God`s and God`s alone!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 13:22-25
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 28-29

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday, March 18th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 21-23
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 13:18-19

18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon. 

Our Christian leaders, pastors and ministers need our prayers.  They are susceptible to pride if their ministries succeeds, depression or anxiety if it fails, and constant attacks by Satan along the way.  It is our responsibility and privilege to pray for our Christians leaders.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 13:20-21
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 24-27

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday, March 17th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Deuteronomy 17-20
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 13:17

17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. 

The leaders/pastors/elders of a church are placed there by God and they are servant leaders who lead the congregation in God's stead, imitating the example of Jesus Christ.  What a tremendously sobering responsibility for those in leadership!  That is huge!

And, as the congregation, our job is to obey their teaching and submit to their authority.

At the same time, all the previous teachings of Hebrews is true as well - which means that we are not to be drawn away by false teachers.  There will be some elders or teachers who become corrupt and deceived - so their authority is not absolute, nor is it above limit or correction.

This means that those of us not in leadership positions are not to be slackers or unconcerned with doctrine.  Rather, we have the responsibility ourselves to be dedicated to learning God's Word, comparing what our preachers say to what the Word says, so that we will not be deceived.

John Piper.....a church should have a bent toward trusting its leaders; you should have a disposition to be supportive in your attitudes and actions toward their goals and directions; you should want to imitate their faith; and you should have a happy inclination to comply with their instructions.

Now you can hear that these are all soft expressions: "a bent toward trusting," "a disposition to support," "a wanting to imitate," "an inclination to comply." What those phrases are meant to do is capture both sides of the Biblical truth, namely, 1) that elders are fallible and should not lord it over the flock, and 2) the flock should follow good leadership.
Where these two truths are working, it is a beautiful thing. We have tasted it and we should pray with all our hearts that God preserve it and deepen it among us for the good of the people and the glory of his name in this city and around the world.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 13:18-19
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 21-23