Children

 

Mark 10:13-15 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

Mark 10:23-27 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

The culture, including the disciples, seen children as less important. Jesus gets angry with the disciples because they were trying to push away the children. Jesus contrasts the culture around him and reaches down and hugs, touches, and blesses children for who they are and not for what they can give. To enter into the kingdom of God one must become like a child (have a dependence upon God like a small child depends on his mother for everything). It is impossible to ever make it into heaven on ones own merit. It is God that does the saving.

Immediately following the children episode, as Jesus gets up to go on a journey a rich man runs up requesting spiritual knowledge on how to obtain eternal life. Jesus shows him how only God is good. The rich man came with the preconceived idea that he was a model citizen and this assured him eternal life. Yes, he had kept most of the Law (outwardly) since his youth. Jesus loved him and hugged him and said there is one thing that he is lacking, “Sell all of your possessions and follow me.” The rich man than realizes all of his shortcomings. His true God is his possessions. The rich man leaves without the eternal life that he so searched for. If he would have left his earthly treasures and he would have been given a hundred fold return on his investment (10:30). Jesus than speaks about riches, how it is impossible for a rich man to enter into heaven. The disciples are amazed and figured there was no chance that any of them could have eternal life. In verse 24, Jesus reminds them of the incident with the children. He calls them “children“. With your own works it is impossible to obtain eternal life.

Man is powerless, helpless, and with out ability, when it comes to saving himself. God alone has the ability and power to give the person eternal life. An individual must come to God like a child to receive the kingdom of God. He must realize that it is God who gives the free gift of eternal life. Those who try to obtain eternal life by man’s “good works” will never ever enter into the kingdom of God. It is Christ alone that saves.

Go Serve

Today, I was reminded of a friend throughout elementary through high school. He would talk big about going out for the football team and the baseball team, but every time the week of tryouts came, he would have something on his body wrapped with an ace bandage. He would use the excuse that he ‘pulled’ a muscle at home. So of course, he never tried out for any sports, but he would complain and explain how he would have done it if he played that position. What made me remember this friend was what I heard on a Christian radio station. A lady called in and talked with the host about random stuff. Towards the end of the conversation, she said with guilt, that she had not been going to church for a long time because she could not find one she liked. The radio host said that the largest denomination out there right now is ‘church looking’. They kinda laughed about it. That just amazed me, how Christians use that as an excuse to not get involved in service for God. They are no different than my friend in school who used a lame excuse to not be involved in school sports.

Okay, I know that I have ruffled some feathers out there. Yes, I know that going to church does not save you. Churches are full of people who think that showing up is what gets them into heaven. You are only saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9). Immediately, once you have asked Christ to be your savior, you are baptized into the body of Christ. You are now part of “The Church” (1 Cor 12:13). I am not going to say that you have to attend a local church to be right with God. Although, I know many many ‘Christians’ who do not attend a church, but honestly out of that group, none of them are a strong influence for the Kingdom of God. When many logs burn together, they burn brighter. Pull one of those logs out, it will slowly die out. That is what I have seen with them. They might have a mediocre relationship with Christ at first, but it does not grow and eventually it dies out. If they are married, their kids follow that same theme and usually want nothing to do with Christ. I have found that these two groups are the hardest to talk to. They have all the right answers, but there is no fruit in their life to prove that they know God.

Most people are looking for the perfect church. If any of us ever found one, we should not attend it, because we would mess it up. After I was saved, my family and I started looking for a church. We got involved in one church as occasionally we would look into others. The first Sunday that we attended the church we are at now, the pastor gave his notice which began a series of events that caused a huge split in the church. We did not pick sides, but we seen needs and started filling them (others did too). The first need that we filled was to start a children’s church. The church was totally messed up for many years, but faithful men and women got involved and started taking the church in a positive forward direction. It has taken a while, but now it has been eleven years and now the church is strong and growing. Is my church perfect or anywhere near what I would want in a church? Absolutely not! Not kidding, I have a list a mile long that I would love to change about it. Our church faithfully preaches the Word. We send out workers and missionaries. We have solid lyrics with our music (these three may not always be done how I like, but they are done and done faithfully).

All churches are not up to par because there are many needs in each church. There are many talented musicians, teachers, givers, administrators, … that are leaving holes in churches to be filled by others lesser talented people who are multitasking just to make it work. I remember recently in college, my original degree said that I had to take Music Ministry in the Church. I took it and I had to learn to conduct music and lead music for congregations. That is not my gift (and everyone who has heard me sing is saying ‘amen’). I made a joke that if I was called to a Church that is expecting me to preach and do the music: The church is dead. There would be no reason for me to go there. Sadly, there are many dead churches, because ‘Christians’ are not serving in the needed roles. Local churches are there to help equip the believer, and so we can encourage and pray for each other to be a bright light in this dark world.

Christians, quit warming the bench. It is time to get in the game and play. You have a God given talent that you can do better than anyone else out there. You need to find what that is and start serving in a local body. Get plugged in a church so it will be more equipped to reach your city for Christ.

Mark 10:43-45 “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

James 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

The True Vine

In Jesus’ last ‘I am’ statement in John 15:1, He calls himself the ‘True Vine’. Jesus’ figure of speech here shows the believers that they are the branches, Jesus is the vine, and the Father is the gardener. The branches that do not bear fruit, God removes. Every branch that bears fruit, God prunes. “The word translated ‘prunes’ (kathairo) literally means ‘to cleanse’, ‘to purge’, ‘to purify’. The verb was commonly used of ceremonial cleansing. It is not the normal word for pruning but is used here because Jesus was talking about people rather than vines.”1 There are only two kinds of people, those bearing fruit and those not bearing fruit. The ones that bear fruit are the ones who abide (remain/continue Friberg) in Christ, because without Christ ‘you can do nothing’.

Is there fruit (action/evidence) in your life that proves that you are connected to the True Vine: Jesus Christ?

John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

1. J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 270-271.

The Way, the Truth, & the Life

As the disciples were still in the upper room, Jesus gave the first reference of the rapture. There are places that are being prepared for believers and Jesus is going there. In John 14:5, “Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’” Jesus claims to be the ‘the way’ in the next verse. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” One has to come through Jesus to get to God; He is the only way. “As ‘the truth’, Jesus is the word of the Father addressed to men.’…God’s redemptive truth has its ultimate realization in and through the Person of Christ. Truth is found in Jesus.”1 Jesus also claimed to be ‘the life’. Being God, He has the power to give life; physical and eternal.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

1. J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 256.

Resurrection and the Life

Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that His good friend, Lazarus of Bethany, was sick. Jesus did not go to Bethany right away. He waited two days before leaving to see Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus was already dead and had been in the grave four days. Martha questioned why He did not come earlier, but she knew God was still in control. To comfort Martha, Jesus reminded her of the resurrection that believers will receive, by saying, ‘Lazarus will rise again.’ Jesus then makes his fifth ‘I am’ statement in John 11:25, announcing that He is the ‘Resurrection and the Life’. The one who believes in Jesus will live even after he dies. There is eternal life waiting to the one who believes in His Name. Verse 35 shows Jesus’ humanity as he mourned for the lost of his friend. Then Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the grave to show his divinity and to display the glory of God. What a beautiful picture to show that there is life after death.

John 11:20-27 nasb Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

The Good Shepherd

Jesus announced that he is the Good Shepherd. He describes how the Good Shepherd would die for the sheep because of the love He has for them, in contrast to the hired hand that would flee because he does not care about the sheep. “The hired man looks like a shepherd and sometimes even acts like a shepherd. But in times of danger, he cannot be relied upon. There is no protection or security for God’s flock apart from the protective presence of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who loves the sheep.” 1 Jesus is the Good Shepherd that loves and cares for us. He came so people could have life more abundantly, by giving them a hope and a future because of the eternal life that can only come through Him.

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 190.

Door of the Sheep

John 10:1-9 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

 

A ‘sheepfold’ is a walled enclosure where the sheep are put at night for protection. It was not uncommon for many shepherds to share a sheepfold. By doing this, their sheep would get mixed with other shepherds’ sheep. In the morning, the shepherd would walk through the only door of the sheepfold to call his sheep. Sheep knows their masters voice and they will follow only him. “Jesus gives this figure of speech to teach the people how this sheepfold represents Israel. “He will lead His sheep out of Judaism (the sheepfold) out from under a legalistic system.”1 He will call out to His sheep and they will hear Him and follow Him through the door. Jesus claims to be the door, declaring that ‘the sheep’ has to go through him to be saved. This is a build up to show the people that he is the Good Shepherd who enters through the door and calls His own sheep by name.

Again, we see here that we have to go through Jesus to be saved.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

1. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Vol 4 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1981), 431.

Light of the World

“The Feast of Tabernacles was over, but the memories of the celebration were fresh. In the court of the women in the Temple were four golden candelabra 1 that were lit in the evening during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkah 5.2). It was said there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect the light (Sukkah 5.3).”2 With this image of the Shekinah glory still in the minds of Jews, Jesus walks into the temple and makes the statement in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

The Pharisees did not like what Jesus had to say. He was testifying about Himself without the typical two or three witness that was needed in the Jewish court of law (Duet 19:15). Again, Jesus claims to come down from heaven and to have a special relationship with the Father. Jesus claimed equality with God the Father when He said, “His Father sent Him, and if anyone knows My Father, he would know Me.” If anyone follows Him, they will not walk in spiritual darkness, but will have the one who brings eternal life.

Jesus is the bright light in this dark world that brings eternal life to those who believe in him.

Acts 16:31 (nasb) They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

1. According to the Talmud, these candlesticks were 50 cubits (75 feet) high.

2. J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 158.

Bread of Life

After the feeding of the five thousand (John 6), the crowds were going to try to make Jesus their king (v. 15). Jesus withdrew to a mountain and the disciples headed toward Capernaum. Jesus went to the boat later that night walking on the water (v. 19). Once in Capernaum, the crowd that followed was there at the feeding of the five thousand; they were seeking Jesus for more physical food. Jesus tells them that they should be seeking the spiritual food that comes down from God and gives eternal life. The crowd also wanted to know what kind of work they were supposes to do to get eternal life. “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’ (v. 29)” The only work they had to do was believe.

The crowds begin to boast how their fathers ate the manna the Moses provided. Jesus corrects them by reminding them that His Father was the one who provided the manna (v. 32). The true bread is the bread that comes down from heaven. Jesus now makes his first “I am” statement in John 6:35. He calls himself the “bread of life” who came down from heaven to do the Father’s will. Jesus said in verse forty, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” The Jews grumbled about this statement because Jesus was claiming to come down from heaven. Also, Jesus was clearly claiming to have a unique relationship with God and claiming to have attributes of God by raising people up on the last day (v. 40).

The only access to God is through believing in Jesus and by doing this you will receive eternal life. Christ is the spiritual food that nourishes the soul like regular food is for the physical body. Jesus is the only bread that can satisfy your soul. Whenever you try to satisfy your soul with anything except Christ, it will leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied.

True Love

One of the most basic words used for Valentine’s Day is “love”. A simple word; it seems, but unfortunately a very confusing word. After all, look at the many different ways we use it in English. We say, “I love ice cream; I love my girlfriend/ boyfriend/ spouse; I love football; I love my Mother; I love God.” Each of these phrases is a different use of the word “love.”

How do we reach its deepest meaning?
The Bible tells us that God’s love has been poured out upon us (Rom 5:5). While we were yet sinners, God demonstrated how he loved the world by sending His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ loves us so much that He died on the cross to save us from our sins. He first loved us: unconditionally, even if we do not love Him in return. This is the essence of true love: unconditional self-giving. We give ourselves away for the other person, even if it means (and especially when it means) sacrifice and suffering for us. The greatest symbol of love is not the heart; it is the cross!
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Remember three things:

1) The picture above with the guy dressed like cupid was wrong (funny, but wrong) lol.

2)True love has no conditions. If someone says they love you, but expect something in return. They are not showing true love, but rather selfishness.

3) Jesus showed unconditional love by giving himself for the benefit of others. True love looks out for the other person, not for self.