Sunday, May 25, 2008

Get Help!

Monday, Memorial day, 5/26/08: Psalm 121:1 –3
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Background: many psalms were written by David, who was pursued by enemies and often faced overwhelming odds.
Do you seek help internally or externally? These can fail; but heavenly help is available 24/7 and only a quick prayer of faith away.

Tuesday, 5/27/08: Psalm 121:5 –8
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
What does a shade for the right hand mean? The strength of a person, metaphorically speaking. Once again, God is the one who protects our strength, which would otherwise falter.

Wednesday, 5/28/08: Proverbs 14:10
The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.
Background: Proverbs were written mainly by Solomon, wise in God. Continue…
Psalm 20:7
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
Who is never a stranger to the believer? The Lord Jesus Christ is never a stranger but is touched by our sorrows and joys. He is better than armor and weapons.

Thursday, 5/29/08: Psalm 46:1 –2
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
What should be our reaction to deadly trouble? Call on God instead of giving in to fear.

Friday, 5/30/08: Hebrews 4:15 –16
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Background: Hebrews is a letter written primarily to those Jews who believed that Christ was the promised Messiah.
What is the problem with trouble? We sin often as a reaction to it, instead of depending upon our high priest, The Lord. We are instructed to come before God boldly, in prayer. We will find help.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Commission and Ascension

Commission and Ascension
Monday May19, 2008: Mark 16:15 –18
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Background: John Mark’s account of the Lord’s last words to the disciples before the Ascension.
What differentiates the two types of people in the world today? Those who believe and are baptized and those who don’t believe, baptized or not.
What was the purpose of the signs? Proof that the gospel they preached was true. (This is before the New Testament was written.)

Tuesday May 20, 2008: Mark 16:19
So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
What was the implication of His being taken up? His work to clear sins was done; the disciples’ work as Apostles and witnesses and gospel preachers was just about to begin.
Wednesday May 21, 2008: Luke 24:46 –49
Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
Background: Dr. Luke’s account of the Lord’s last words to the disciples before the Ascension.
Why was it necessary for Christ to suffer and then rise from the dead? He took the punishment for your sins; it was now up to you to repent to have your sins erased. The other option: don’t repent and pay later.
Why did these eyewitnesses have to wait? Power! The Holy Spirit was promised to them by the Father.

Thursday May 22, 2008: Luke 24:50 –51
And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.
Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
Why were they so joyful if the Lord had left them? Their sins forgiven, their destiny was heaven.
Friday May 23, 2008: Acts 1:7–9
And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
Background: Dr. Luke’s sequel in Acts begins with the Lord’s last words to the disciples and the Ascension.
Did the Apostles travel to the ends of the earth with the gospel? Yes. Thomas was martyred in India.

What does Ascension mean? The Lord Jesus Christ left earth’s surface, went up and disappeared into a cloud.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spirit World

Spirit World
Monday, May 12, 2008: 2 Kings 6:15 –17 (NKJV)
And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Background: The book of 1 & 2 Kings is about apostasy and idolatry of Kings of Israel and Judah.
Prophets, like Elisha, reveal God’s will to the Kings. (Circa 800 B. C.) Elisha warns the King of Israel about ambushes. After being thwarted more than twice, the King of Syria seeks a traitor. He is told that Elisha, a prophet, informs the King of Israel of the most secret plans. The King of Syria sends a fierce army to capture or kill the prophet.
Were the eyes of Elisha’s servant open? His physical eyes were open; his spiritual eyes were shut.
How were the servant’s spiritual eyes opened? What was the result? Elisha prayed and asked God to open them. We can guess that the servant was stunned beyond measure-no response is recorded!
Are your eyes open or shut?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008: 2 Kings 6:18 (NKJV)
So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
Does blindness mean the Syrian force could not see? God sent a disconnect between their sight and their understanding: they couldn’t see that Elisha was in front of them.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008: John 20:11-13
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.
And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
Background: This is resurrection morning outside Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, saw the stone rolled away, and ran to tell others. Mary now weeps outside the tomb after the disciples Peter and John leave.
Were the two angels present when Mary first came to the tomb? They were there, but her spiritual eyes were not yet opened. Even then they were partially opened: otherwise, she would have seen their wings covering the stone slab. I believe Mary was privileged to see Cherubim.
Thursday, May 15, 2008: John 20:11-13
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
When Mary turned and saw the ‘gardener,’ were her eyes open? They were, but she still could not believe that the Lord had risen. Her mind of faith was shut. But the Lord opens her ears and she recognizes His voice!
Friday, May 16, 2008: Luke 24:22 –24, 30-31
Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
Background: It’s Resurrection Sunday on the road to Emmaus. Cleopas and another dejected disciple of Jesus Christ are walking back to their home. The Lord joins them but their mind of faith is shut.
What do their words reveal? They reveal their lack of faith in what the Lord had told them.
(After a scripture lesson, they reach home, understanding that Messiah had to suffer the cross.)
There at dinner, what happened to the eyes of their understanding? Their spiritual eyes are opened and the Lord vanishes, His purpose fulfilled.
Are your eyes and ears shut? Are you shutting them willfully? Will you allow them to be opened?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mothers in the New Testament

Monday May 5, 2008
2 Timothy 1:3-5 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
Background: the second letter to Timothy, 37years after the resurrection, was Paul’s last letter. He was imprisoned under harsh conditions as a common criminal under Nero and was soon decapitated.
*How does Paul link faith to service? Genuine faith leads Paul to serve God with a pure conscience, upholding Timothy, Eunice and Lois in prayer night and day.
*What do faithful mothers’ do? They pass on their faith to their children, who can tell what’s real.
Tuesday May 6, 2008
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.
Background: Forced by unbelieving Jews to leave Thessalonica after just a month of establishing a church there, Paul sends Timothy back to get news. Timothy returns with good news of faithfulness that prompts Paul to write this letter to the fledgling Assembly of believers.
*How does Paul use a nursing mother to present his message with similes’ and metaphors? 1. A baby is born: imparting the gospel of God leads the faithful to become a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17)
2. Cherishing the newborn: Paul states he was gentle among them. 3. Mother sleeps lightly: Paul says he imparted his life 24/7 to them. 4. Mother’s love: Paul states they have become dear to him.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Matthew 12:47-50 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
Background: this is the beginning stage of the Lord’s ministry.
*Was this statement dishonoring to the Lord’s family? No, it was to make the point that following God’s will makes one a part of the family of God. John 3:16 clarifies this will as whoever believes in the Son has everlasting life. There is no indication that the Lord did not meet later with His family.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Matthew 20:20-23 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
Background: this is the late stage of the Lord’s ministry.
*What did the mother of James and John want for her sons? Misunderstanding Christ’s kingdom as earthly, displacing the hated Roman rule, the mother wanted her sons to be the left- and right-hand men of the Lord. They concurred and later became martyrs for their faith.
Friday, May 9, 2008
John 2:3-4 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
John 19:26-27 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
Background: this is the beginning and end of the Lord’s ministry.
*What was Jesus Christ’s concern? It always was to do His Father’s will-to die for the sins of the world, having none of his own, and thus provide salvation for those who believed in Him. Even on the cross, however, he was concerned for her welfare.