Seeking Jesus

Seeking Jesus

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 9/17/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone. There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

                                                                                  John 6:22–29 (NASB95)

Thus far in John chapter 6 we have seen Jesus put His disciples to the test by asking them how they could buy enough bread to feed the crowd that followed Him. Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five barley loaves and two fish. From these meager resources, Jesus produced enough bread and fish to feed everyone, until they were full, with twelve baskets leftover. The people still regard Jesus as the prophet to come into the world, pitting Jesus against Moses, yet Jesus knows they intend to take Him by force and make Him their king. Jesus sends the disciples to Capernaum and withdraws to the mountain to be alone. During the night, as the disciples are rowing across the lake, a sudden and violent storm rages across the sea.

The disciples struggle to make headway and after they had rowed three or four miles, the disciples see Jesus, walking on the sea, coming towards their boat. Once they recognize Jesus, they take Him into the boat and immediately, they are at their destination. In our passage today, it is the next morning, and the crowd has become aware that neither Jesus, nor His disciples are anywhere in the area. Spotting a boat that was left on the shoreline, and knowing Jesus did not leave with His disciples, the crowd enters the boats that have arrived from Tiberias and begin Seeking Jesus. However, as we will soon see, the crowd is Seeking Jesus with wrong motives. We will learn that Seeking Jesus with the right motivation changes everything.

Seeing Jesus is gone, the crowd began Seeking Jesus because they ate of the loaves. But, in finding Jesus, they receive a challenge to work for food that leads to eternal life. The work they must do to receive this food is to believe in the One who has been sent by God – Jesus, the Son of Man.

In our faith, we will, at times be confronted with confusing signs. We may find that we are Seeking Jesus with misplaced motives, perhaps seeking a miracle or an easy solution, rather than doing the work that leads to eternal life – believing in Jesus, the Son of Man.

In this message we seek to understand why Seeking Jesus must be done with the right motivation.

Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are believing in the One whom God has sent – Jesus, the Son of Man.   

1). Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are seeking food that does not perish.

We are to seek the food that leads to eternal life – given only by Jesus, the Son of Man.

Our passage today, opens with the same crowd of 5,000 men, plus women and children, that Jesus fed with five loaves and a few fish. It is now morning, and the crowd is hungry, the loaves of the day before fresh on their minds. The crowd immediately realizes the boat they expected Jesus to take to meet His disciples is still on the shore, but Jesus and the disciples are nowhere to be found. The crowd knows that Jesus did not leave with His disciples, so they assume He has found another way to Tiberias. However, when boats from Tiberias arrive, neither Jesus nor the disciples arrive with them. They are confused about what they see before them, so they enter the boats and decide to cross over to Capernaum. This crowd wanted to see Jesus, and nothing was going to stop them.

In finding Jesus, they ask Him the question burning on everyone’s mind; “Rabbi, when did You get here?” I wonder if perhaps the real question wasn’t “How did You get here?” They saw the boat they expected Jesus to take to meet the disciples still on the shoreline, so, how did Jesus get to Capernaum? Jesus quickly rejects the excitement and rebukes them, stating, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” Traditionally we are taught that this is a rebuke for the people seeking material goods rather than the spiritual filling Jesus is offering. However, when we do this, we are reading something back into the text that is simply not there.

Not once does Jesus accuse the people of simply coming to have their physical needs met, rather than being interested in spiritual content – that is, their salvation. Jesus rebukes the people because they have come to Him, not because of signs, but rather, because of the miracle of feeding 5,000 plus people from the loaves and a few fish, from which they had their fill. This is a contrast between miracles and signs. Surprisingly, Jesus is saying the people are coming to Him because of His miracles, which are not enough. They must see the signs, for a sign always points away from itself to the thing or person that it signifies – in this case, Jesus.

The feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children, is a clear sign that Jesus has power over nature. He multiplies the loaves and the fish so that everyone might eat till they are filled. Afterwards, the disciples gathered twelve baskets full of leftovers. Where the disciples saw only man-made solutions, Jesus, the Son of Man, saw God-created solutions coming from a God-perspective. He sees things we cannot; He knows things we cannot; He understands things from a perspective we cannot. As the Son of God, Jesus has a heavenly perspective; as the Son of Man, Jesus can understand the needs of our humanity, thus giving Him a uniquely qualified perspective to supply a unique, God-created solution.  

There are going to be times when we find confusing signs in our faith. We may be praying about a move in our career and find we have signs that lead in two different directions, one to a position that seems the perfect fit, and one that says stay put! You are confused because you so clearly heard the Lord calling you to another place. It could be a ministry opportunity as well. Perhaps a mission’s trip or an opportunity within your home church. Both seem right but you are confused because you thought for certain you were being moved to be a travelling missionary. The key is to whom the sign is pointing. Does the sign point back to you and your personal desire to make a change or find a new and exciting ministry challenge, or does the sign point to Jesus? Sometimes our vision is clouded by our own desires or frustrations at work or in church. We must wait for our vision to clear and see who the sigh is pointing towards.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Is there a confusing sign you are struggling with during this season of life? If so, how are you handling your confusion?

What sign is Jesus using to try and get your attention during this season in life?

What is clouding your vision?

Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are believing in the One whom God has sent – Jesus, the Son of Man.    

2). Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are seeking to do the work of God.

We do the work of God when we believe in the One on which the Father has set His seal – Jesus, the Son of Man.

Once again, we are faced with a passage where the traditional teaching is off base. Most modern-day churches project a 16th century theology back into a 1st century Jewish document. The traditional teaching is that the crowds came to Jesus seeking to have their physical needs met. Even though the loaves of the day before are fresh on the minds of the people, this portion of our passage has nothing to do with having our physical needs met. Oh, sure, there may have been some who had this thought in their mind, but by and large, this is not what is happening here. Before we get into what is really going on here, notice the question that is asked of Jesus. “When did You get here?” I have to wonder if the people were really asking, “How did You get here?” The people realized the boat they expected Jesus was still on the shore. They also realized that neither Jesus nor the disciples were in the area. With the confusing sign of the boats at the shore, it seems this question is ripe with curiosity as to how Jesus got to the other side of the sea.

Jesus curbs the enthusiasm of the crowd but offering a rebuke and a challenge. He knows they have come to Him because they ate of the loaves, not because of the signs He has done. He challenges them to work not for food that perishes but to work for the food that endures to eternal life. Now here is where the traditional teaching goes off-course, most people have been taught that Jesus is telling the crowd to seek for spiritual provisions and not just earthly materials. Others use this as a passage to affirm that we are saved by faith alone, not works. But notice that Jesus tells the crowd to do the work of God, the Father. So, if the Father has work for us to do, how can this be works that lead to salvation? Simply put, it has nothing to do with works that lead to salvation.

So, what, exactly is happening here? Again, most Protestant churches are using a 16th century theology and imposing it on a 1st century Jewish document. The work that Jesus says they must do is to believe in the One whom the Father has sent – namely, Jesus! Remember, we learned back in chapter one that believing is more than a mental acceptance. Believing is to believe with an unswerving, positive faith, that accepts the reality that Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of Man. In accepting Him we serve Him in our deep love for Him for what He has done for us through His sacrificial death on the cross.

So, let me put this altogether for you. In ancient times people worked to receive a wage, just as we do today. However, in ancient times, people could be paid with money, or a combination of money and food. This is the fair-value exchange system. So, Jesus is using the familiar to imply something similar. Jesus is saying something along these lines: “Imagine yourself working, but only getting paid in perishable goods. Would your work be worth your efforts? Would you even be able to save or put anything aside?” Of course, the answer is no! So, Jesus is calling these people not to settle for less. He wants them to receive their due wages, not something that will perish, but rather something that will last. As for the work they are to do, the question the people are asking is really: “How can we remain faithful to the Covenant God of Israel?” The answer that Jesus provides, in this context, is: “You can be faithful to the Covenant God of Israel only by believing in His authorized representative.”

It is hard to change things that have been hammered into our heads since becoming Christ followers. It adds much confusion to our faith when we have a truth revealed to us, but this is part of becoming mature in Christ. Christians today tend to look at the gospel through an American lens. I can say this because I used to do the same thing. I believed everything that was taught in seminary without questioning it aloud, even though deep inside I had a sense that it just didn’t line up with what I was reading in Scripture. It is okay to question things that do not seem right. In fact, we are told to test the spirits to see if they have come from God the Father. So, freely take those questions and doubts to the Lord and lay them out before Him. Trust the Spirit to lead you into truth and He will guide you and direct you to the answers for your questions and ease your doubts.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you working for wages that perish of wages that endure to eternal life?

How are you being faithful to your Covenant God?

What doubt are you relying on the Holy Spirit to lead you into truth during this season of life?

Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are believing in the One whom God has sent – Jesus, the Son of Man.    

God has always had a remnant, set aside and protected for His holy purposes. I believe we are in one of those times God the Father is calling people back to the truth found in His word. This truth is what the original authors had in mind when inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the word of God. It is never easy to learn a truth that changes the way we think. and impacts our faith in unimaginable ways. But God wants us to live in His truth, not the truth the church has developed through rituals and traditions, or theology that was developed and read back into His word.

We are called to test the spirits to see if they come from God. This can only be done if we are found read, studying, and meditating on the word ourselves. I have told every church I have been in to test what I am teaching. Dig into the word and see if it lines up with Scripture. It is only recently that God has granted me to see His truth and not the truth taught through church tradition or an imposed theology that takes nothing from the original audience into consideration. Now, more than ever, you need to test the spirits, be in the word. Study, meditate, and be prepared to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, for He alone can lead you into the truth of God’s word.

We do all things to the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 6:30-40

The Names of God Pt. III

The Names of God Pt. III

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 9/10/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

                                                                               Romans 10:12–13 (NASB95)

Scripture tells us that “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).” But which name are you calling upon? Yes, that’s right, our Lord God has more than one name. The Names of God, which we are looking at today, are found in the Old Testament. Each name shows a different characteristic or attribute of God. These names are revealed to those who needed God, and a specific part of God, at that moment in time. There are some amazing things revealed about God in His names and those things will help the Christ follower develop a deeper faith.

This message will seek to help the Christ follower understand why The Names of God are important to develop a deeper faith.

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

1). The importance of the name El to the Christ follower.

El is the God we depend on.

The first name we will examine is the name El. El is the generic Semitic name for God. El means the Strong One. Ell is the God we can depend on, El will overcome all, for He is stronger than any false god. There are three Scriptures we will look at to help us understand the importance of El to the Christ follower. First up is Exodus 15:5:

“The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.”

                                                                                        Exodus 15:2 (NASB95)

This passage is known as the Song of Moses, a song of deliverance sung by Moses and the people after El, the strong One, had parted the waters of the Red Sea, allowing the Hebrew people to escape the army of Pharoah. Moses exalts the strength of El, calling Him “my salvation.” Not only has El uses His strength to defeat the armies of Pharoah, but He has shown He is the God Moses, and the people can depend on, for when things looked to be at the darkest, El made a way for His people through the waters of the Sea.

Our next Scripture is found in Numbers 23:22:

“God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox.”

                                                                                Numbers 23:22 (NASB95)

This passage comes after Balaam has been sent by Balak, the son of the king of Moab, to curse the nation of Israel, but Balaam is unable to curse Israel and instead, blesses the people. It is Balak, the one who wanted Israel cursed, who takes up the discourse of praising the God of Israel. The wild ox is a symbol of great strength, El uses His great strength to bring His people from Egypt.

Our final Scripture comes from Deuteronomy 7:9:

“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” 

                                                                             Deuteronomy 7:9 (NASB95)

This verse is found in the passage God has given the Hebrew people the command to destroy the Canaanites. El is preparing to purify the land He has given to the Israelites, and it begins with removing the evil Canaanites and their false gods. El is fulfilling His covenant to give His people a land flowing with milk and honey. Simply put, El is the God we can depend on, He is faithful in His promises and the covenants He makes. El is a God who keeps His promises! El overcomes all, including the evil in the land promised to the Israelites and the evil we face.

For the Christ follower, we need to understand the importance of El in our walk with Christ. We face, sometimes daily, situations that seem impossible to get out of or to find a way around them. Some storms we face seem as though we will never make it through them. As Christ followers, we need El to make a way through these situations and storms we face during our earthly days. Likewise, we need the strength of El to face the spiritual battles we face on a near daily basis. If we try to fight these battles in our own strength, we will fail miserably, and our faith may be shaken beyond repair. Finally, we need El to help us overcome our fears, doubts, uncertainty about the future, what lies ahead, and the spiritual battels we face. We may be facing evil itself, or evil coming through those around us, but we cannot overcome evil on our own, we need El to overcome for us!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is El making a way for you during this season of life?

How is El being your strength today?

What is El overcoming for you in this season of life?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

2). The importance of the name Immanuel to the Christ follower.

Immanuel is the name used to indicate that Yeshua is more than just a man.

The second name we seek to understand is the name Immanuel. We all know Immanuel is “God with us,” but it also means “I AM,” for Yeshua is God in our midst. Immanuel is the name that indicates Yeshua is more than just a man. We will examine two Scripture references from Isaiah, the first from 7:14, a passage we are all acquainted with:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

                                                                                           Isaiah 7:14 (NASB95)

We know this passage as the prophecy of the birth of Yeshua, the Son of God, born to the virgin Mary, a young woman engaged to Matthew, a carpenter from Bethlehem and the line of king David. Yeshua is the Word who existed from the beginning, in John 1. Later John would tell us the Word became flesh to dwell among us. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy from the perspective of John the apostle. Yeshua came to this world as a babe, born in the flesh of humanity to live with those He created in His image. Yeshua is “God with us,” revealing God the Farther to all humanity.

The second passage from Isaiah is found in chapter 8, verses 8-10:

“Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, It will reach even to the neck; And the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. Be broken, O peoples, and be shattered; And give ear, all remote places of the earth. Gird yourselves, yet be shattered; Gird yourselves, yet be shattered. Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, For God is with us.”

                                                                                       Isaiah 8:8–10 (NASB95)

The Lord is speaking to Isaiah, giving him a prophecy of the coming invasion of Judah, in which only Jerusalem will escape. This invasion will spread like the flowing waters of Shiloah. No matter how bad it seems the situation might be, Immanuel, God is with us, is present in the storm. No matter what the enemy may have planned, it will not strand because God is with us!

For the Christ follower the importance of the name Immanuel comes into sharper clarity in the New Testament, where we learn more about the mission and purpose of Immanuel, in Yeshua, the Messiah. It begins in Matthew with the long genealogy given to prove that Yeshua comes from the line of David and is thus qualified to be the King of Israel. When Matthew comes to the birth of Yeshua, an angel of the Lord tells Joseph that the Son Mary will give birth to will save His people from their sins.

Luke gives us further details to the birth of Yeshua when Luke recounts the story of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, in the village of Nazareth. Gabriel tells Mary she will give birth to a son, and she is to name Him Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David. He will sit on this throne and His kingdom will never end. Gabriel further tells Mary that she will conceive this son when the Holy Spirit comes upon her so the son born to her will be called the Son of God.

We, as Christ followers, must come to understand that Yeshua has come to save us from our sins, releasing us from bondage to sin, death, and the grave. Not only is He the King of Israel, but He is also the King of the Universe, and the King of our lives as Christ followers.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is Yeshua revealing “God with us,” during this season in life?

How is Yeshua, dismantling the enemy’s plan against you today?

How is Yeshua showing Himself as the Son of God in your life?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

3). The importance of the name Jehovah-Rohi to the Christ follower.

The name for Yeshua as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life.

The final name we will examine is the name Jehovah-Rohi. This is the name for Yeshua as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life. Jehovah-Rohi is the Lord my Shepherd, protecting, guiding, directing, leading and caring for His people; He is a strong and patient Shepherd. There are two Scripture references we will examine today, the first a very familiar passage, found in Psalm 23.

We will look at the first three verses of Psalm 23 today:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”

                                                                                     Psalm 23:1–3 (NASB95)

Jehovah-Rohi is my Shepherd, MY Shepherd. He is a personal Shepherd, He knows my every need, therefore, I will not be in want. My Shepherd protects me, cares for me, guides me, and directs me. He finds green pastures for me to settle down, quiet waters for refreshment, not just of my thirst but also my own sense of peace and calm. He guides me in paths of righteousness, He keeps me from wandering from the path the Father has prepared for me. This is my personal Shepherd who knows my every need and see to them faithfully.

Finally, we will look at Isaiah 53:6:

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.”

                                                                                         Isaiah 53:6 (NASB95)

Isaiah 53 is well known as a description of the Suffering Servant. One of the biggest issues the Jewish people had with Yeshua being the Messiah was the fact that He suffered. In the minds of the Jewish people the Messiah does not suffer! But, in fact, this Suffering Servant laid down His life for those who call on His name. It is by His suffering that we find our victory over sin, death, and the grave.

For the Christ follower, John 10 gives us the best dialogue on the Good Shepherd. Yeshua compares Himself as the Good Shepherd with the hired hand. The hired hand is not one to stick around when trouble comes upon the flock. The Good Shepherd will face any trouble that comes on the flock head-on. He will not turn and run but rather, He will stand and fight, putting His own life on the line for His sheep. The Good Shepherd also knows His sheep and His sheep know the sound of His voice. In addition, the Good Shepherd has other sheep He will bring into His sheepfold, becoming the One Shepherd for the entire flock.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is Yeshua being a strong and patient Shepherd for you today?

How is Yeshua, as the Good Shepherd, caring for your needs today?

How is Yeshua laying down His life for you during this season of life?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

Why are The Names of God important to the Christ follower? Each name of God reveals a new characteristic or attribute of our Great God. The three names we have examined today offer hope, encouragement, and strength for our journey here on earth. El is the God we can depend on. His strength will make a way for us through the storms of life and see us through the spiritual battles we face. Immanuel is God with us. Yeshua has come to save us from our sins. He is the King of Israel, King of the Universe, and King of our lives. Finally, Jehovah-Rohi is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life. He is my personal Shepherd.

In the weeks ahead when the storms of life come, call on the name El to make a way through those storms. When the enemy whispers in your ear that your sins are too much for God to forgive, call on Immanuel, God with us, for Yeshua has come to forgive and save us from our sins. When life seems to be throwing everything including the kitchen sink at you, call on Jehovah-Rohi, the Good Shepherd. Your personal Shepherd will guide, direct, and care for you, no matter what you are facing.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen,

Next Week: John 622-29

The Names of God Pt. II

The Names of God Pt. II

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 9/3/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

                                                                          Romans 10:12–13 (NASB95)

Scripture tells us that “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).” But which name are you calling upon? Yes, that’s right, our Lord God has more than one name. The Names of God, which we are looking at today, are found in the Old Testament. Each name shows a different characteristic or attribute of God. These names are revealed to those who needed God, and a specific part of God, at that moment in time. There are some amazing things revealed about God in His names and those things will help the Christ follower develop a deeper faith.

This message will seek to help the Christ follower understand why The Names of God are important to develop a deeper faith.

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

1). The importance of Adonai to the Christ follower.

Adonai is the Master and Majestic Lord; He is our Authority.

The first name we will explore in Part II of the series The Names of God, is Adonai. Adonai means the Lord or My Great Lord. For the Christ follower today, Adonai is the Master and Majestic Lord. Adonai is our TOTAL Authority. Adonai is the plural form of Adon, meaning Lord, and takes the place of YHWH. To help us see this and understand it better, we will examine a few Scripture references. First up is Psalm 8:

“O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

                                                                                    Psalm 8:1–9 (NASB95)

Psalm 8 begins and ends with the proclamation, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” This is NOT a question but a proclamation of the majesty of our Great God. Psalm 8 is a psalm of David to the majesty of Adonai. Adonai uses the weak to overthrow the mighty. David ponders the thought that Adonai has entrusted His creation to the dominion of man and then David ends with a note of praise.

Our next Scripture comes from the prophet Isaiah,

“A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. “Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

                                                                                   Isaiah 40:3–5 (NASB95)

Isaiah describes “a voice of one calling” to “clear the way” for Adonai and to “make smooth in the desert.” This passage has been attributed to the ministry of John the Baptist and we see this very description from the Baptist himself in John 1:23. This voice calls for the valleys to be lifted up, the mountains and hills made low, the rough ground made smooth, and the rugged terrain to become a broad valley – all of this for the Master and Majestic Lord of Creation.

The third Scripture we will look at comes from Ezekiel,

“Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord God.”

                                                                                      Ezekiel 16:8 (NASB95)

Here, Adonai enters into a covenant with His people, though they have acted like an adulterous woman. Many believe this is only for the nation of Israel, but if you read closely, Ezekiel makes his prophecy after he had entered Babylonian captivity with the rest of Israel. Ezekiel is speaking specifically to the HOUSE of Israel, not the NATION of Israel. What is the difference? The House of Israel is made up of the Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom, sent into Assyrian captivity long before the HOUSE of Judah went to Babylonian captivity. Time and space constraints do not allow me to delve fully into this subject, but the “Lost Tribes” of Israel have not yet fully returned to Israel, that is yet to be fulfilled. The point here is that Adonai is in covenant with these tribes as well, and the picture of the skirt covering the nakedness of the House of Israel is a symbol of marriage. Adonai will keep His promise to marry His bride at the return of His Son, Yeshua!

Our final Scripture comes from Habakkuk,

“The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.”

                                                                                Habakkuk 3:19 (NASB95)

Hinds’ feet refers to the gazelle, a sure-footed animal who climbs the “high places. In the same way, Adonai provides our strength and makes our footing sure as He calls us to climb the “high places” of our faith in Yeshua.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What do you praise Adonai for today?

How does your witness “clear the way” and “make smooth” for the coming of Adonai?

How is Adonai keeping His promises to you today?

How is Adonai your strength today?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

2). The importance of Jehovah to the Christ follower.

Jehovah never changes and His promises never fail.

The next name we will examine is Jehovah, meaning “I AM,” or the “One Who is,” and the “Self-Existent One.” Jehovah never changes and His promises never fail. Jehovah comes from a 16th century German scholar who wrote the name YHWH using the vowels of Adonai – YaHoVaH. Our first three Scriptures come from Exodus, first 3:14,

“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

                                                                                     Exodus 3:14 (NASB95)

We have already discussed this name in some depth in Part I of this series. This is the name given to Moses as he is sent to the sons of Israel held in captivity to Egypt. Our second Scripture is also from Exodus, this time 6:2-4,

“God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them. “I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned.”

                                                                                   Exodus 6:2–4 (NASB95)

Once again, Jehovah is speaking to Moses, this time about the covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Though Jehovah has made covenants with each of them, He has not made Himself known to them. Yet, Jehovah has made Himself known to Moses, for this passage comes right before Jehovah unleashes the plagues on Egypt and His promise of action.

Our final Scripture from Exodus is 34:5-7,

“The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

                                                                                Exodus 34:5–7 (NASB95)

Once again, we find Moses talking with Jehovah, this time Jehovah has come down in a cloud and stood before Moses. Jehovah has come to provide a self-revelation as The Self-Existent One, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth. He is filled with grace, forgives sin, and yet remains a just Judge and King.

Finally, we have Psalm 102, which you can read for yourself, which is a prayer to Jehovah, written by a man in the midst of affliction. Verses 1-11 spell out his trouble before moving on to how he finds his confidence in the sovereign purposes of Jehovah (12-22), before he then concludes by contrasting the unchangeableness of Jehovah with his own fragile existence (23-28).

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is Jehovah making Himself known to you?

How is Jehovah giving you a self-revelation of who He is?

How is Jehovah revealing His unchangeableness to you during this season of life?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

3). The importance of El Roi to the Christ follower.

El Roi knows us and knows our trouble.

The final name of God we will examine today is El Roi. El Roi means “The God Who Sees me.” El Roi knows us and knows our trouble, He knows all our thoughts and feelings. The first Scripture we will look at is found in Genesis 16:11-14:

“The angel of the Lord said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.” Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.”

                                                                          Genesis 16:11–14 (NASB95)

El Roi appears to Hagar, the maid of Sarai, in her trouble and proclaims the birth of a son, Ishmael, and prophecies the trouble he faces in the future. Hagar declares, “You are El Roi – the “God Who Sees me.” We must also note that the name Ishmael means “God hears,” and the name of the well, Beer-lahai-roi, means “a well of the Living One who sees me.” El Roi is well acquainted with His people and their troubles.

Our final Scripture comes from psalm 139:7-12:

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night, Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.”

                                                                              Psalm 139:7–12 (NASB95)

This is a psalm of David. Here he focuses on four great attributes of El Roi: His knowledge of all things (1-6); His presence everywhere (7-12); His power in forming man (13-18); and His holiness, which destroys evil people and searches the hearts of the Christ follower (19-24). His presence everywhere is in focus with El Roi – the God Who Sees me, regardless of where I go. If I go to heaven – El Roi is there. If I go to Sheol – El Roi is there. If I take wing at dawn or dwell in the depths of the sea – El Roi is there. If darkness overwhelms me and night is all around me – El Roi is there.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What trouble does El Roi see you facing today?

Where are you today that El Roi is with you, in trouble, sorrow, pain or joy?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

The names of God are important to the Christ follower for they reveal a new attribute and/or characteristic of our great God. Whether He is Adonai, My Great Lord, the Master and Majestic Lord, our total authority; or Jehovah, the One Who is, the Self-Existent One who never changes and His promises never fail; or perhaps He is El Roi, the God Who Sees me, who knows me and knows all my troubles, the One who knows my thoughts and feelings, Our God is the Great I Am, He is who we need Him to be in our trouble, our sorrow, our pain and in our joy.

Turn to God, call on His mighty name, and know that He knows you, He knows your trouble, He never changes, and His promises will never fail you.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

Next Week: The Names of God Pt. III

Safe in the Storm

Safe in the Storm

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 8/27/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”

                                                                                   John 6:16–21 (NASB95)

If there is anything that can truly be said to be a universally shared human experience it has to be fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the dark, fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of dying, fear of not being loved, you name it, fear tops the list of shared human experiences. If this is true, then the desire to be safe is also true. We would all like to know that no matter what happens to others, or around us, we want to know we are going to be safe.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, we would admit that we are not unlike the disciples. Most of us have, at one time or another, sought some personal gain, much like Judas. We have all had our doubts about this faith things, much like Thomas. At some point in our lives, we have been brash, outspoken and impetuous, much like Peter. How many of us, in a fit of anger, have wanted to call down thunder from the sky, much like the Sons of Thunder, John and James. And like all of the disciples in our passage today, how many times have we simply wanted to know we would be Safe in the Storm?

It is evening as the disciples get into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. As they row towards Capernaum, a storm blows across the sea. As they are rowing, they see Jesus walking on the sea. Knowing they are frightened, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.” As the disciples receive Jesus, they are Safe in the Storm, and they arrive at the shore to which they were going.

As Christ followers, we will face the storms of life. In the surrounding storm, we will find Jesus, coming to us in the most unusual ways. As we rest in Him and receive His presence, we will find we are Safe in the Storm.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “How is the Christ follower Safe in the Storm in Christ Jesus?”

The Christ follower is Safe in the Storm when they believe in the name of Christ Jesus and trust in Him as their vessel of salvation.

1). The Christ follower is Safe in the Storm in Christ Jesus when we receive His presence.

Christ Jesus comes to us in unusual ways when we are in the darkness of the storm.

The disciples have left the sight where Yeshua fed the 5,000 and set off across the Sea of Galilee to row towards Capernaum. The Sea of Galilee actually a fresh-water lake, 9 miles long and 5 miles wide. It is between 684 – 700 feet BELOW sea level and its deepest point is 833 feet below sea level. There are some 25 species of fish found in the Sea of Galilee, thus the reason fishing was a major industry for the area. The lake is surrounded by mountains with cliff that allow winds to sweep over the water creating a very choppy sea. This also allows storms to sweep over the waters suddenly and violently. Which is exactly what we find happening to the disciples in our passage.

John tells us the disciples left at evening to row across the lake to Capernaum. It is, apparently, calm when the disciples leave and as it turns dark, a storm blows in creating rough seas. John also notes that Jesus had “not yet come to them.” Wait! What? Did the disciples actually expect Yeshua to meet them in the middle of the lake, after leaving without Him? In a word, yes! It is entirely possible that Yeshua sent the disciples ahead with the intention of taking another boat, later in the evening to catch up with them in the middle of the lake. As it turns out, Yeshua would meet them but not in the way the disciples expected.

The disciples have rowed three or four miles, according to John, so they are about a quarter of the way across the lake when they see an unusual sight. There is a man walking towards them on the water. It is dark and there is a storm raging around them, and they see a man walking on the water! Fear would be the natural reaction to such an unnatural event. Jesus had promised to come to the disciples, but this is not what they expected. When does Jesus come to us? He comes to us in the darkness as well. Perhaps it is literal darkness, at nighttime. Maybe you have had a bad dream or a nightmare. Many are the times we have such dreams and pray for the Lord to come to us. Maybe it is a literal storm that has knocked out power and the storm is threatening to do further damage to our home and us!

Maybe it is in any number of crises we might face. A health crisis for ourselves or a loved one. A financial crisis, which we have all faced at some time in our lives. Or maybe it is an emotional or mental crisis that calls for care beyond our means. Then, of course, there is the spiritual darkness we face from time to time. Perhaps it is a spiritual attack from the enemy that threatens to overwhelm us. It could be lies and deceptions from those who oppose us. Maybe a literal attack by people we know and thought cared for us. Or it might just be that inner struggle you are facing right now! Whatever the case might be, Jesus comes to us in the darkness.

Notice, it is only after Jesus has said, “It is I; do not be afraid” that the disciples receive Him. The Greek could literally be translated as “It is I Am.” If we listen carefully Yeshua, the Great I Am is speaking to us during the storm as well. Once He has spoken the disciples receive Him into the boat. For the Christ follower, it is to receive His presence in the storm. To receive is more than a mental acceptance. It is to believe with an unswerving, positive faith. It is believing that Yeshua is who He claims to be – the Son of God. It is to believe that Yeshua can do what He claims He can do. To receive His presence, we must first recognize His presence. We can only recognize His presence by spending time prayer, hearing Him speak to us and learning how to recognize His presence. We learn to recognize His presence by reading His word and spending time meditating on the word. We recognize His presence by studying His word to understand how He works, reacts, and acts when we are in His presence and the storm we are facing.

To receive His presence, we must know His presence as Messiah, the One who gave His life for ours. We must know His presence as the Light of the world, who invites us to walk in the light with Him. We must know Him as the Bread of Life and the Good Shepherd, the One who cares for our every need. And we must come to know His presence as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The only way to the Father, the One who reveals all truth and the One who is the source of and gives life to all. All of this will come from our time in prayer, reading, studying, and meditating on the word. There is no other way we can short cut the system, we must know Him personally and deeply.

Finally, Yeshua will come to us in unusual ways. He will come to us through His word, either as we are reading or when someone speaks that word in our presence. He will come to us through His people, or even an unbeliever. He can speak to us through music, movies, or books – remember, all truth comes from God, He is the ultimate source of truth, the means He uses to get that truth to us might vary, but He is the God of Truth. Jesus will also use our circumstances to get our attention and make His presence felt. He might use the surrounding darkness, a sudden and unexpected storm, our need, our despair, our pain, and even our joy. There is nothing that Jesus cannot use to make His presence known to us.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How have you felt the presence of Jesus in the darkness?

In what unusual way has Jesus come to you in the darkness?

How is Jesus trying to get your attention today?

The Christ follower is Safe in the Storm when they believe in the name of Christ Jesus and trust in Him as their vessel of salvation.

2). The Christ follower is Safe in the Storm in Christ Jesus when we trust in His provision.

Christ Jesus is the vessel for our safe passage in every storm we face.

As we have been walking through John’s gospel account, we have been learning how important the Torah is to John. Chapter 6, and this passage, once again have a tie-in to the Torah. Jesus has arrived at the boat carrying His disciples. In the darkness of the surrounding storm the disciples struggle with the oars to make headway against the wind and the waves. Suddenly, they notice a man walking on the water coming towards them. The disciples have a natural reaction to an unnatural event – fear. As Jesus nears the boat, He finally identifies Himself, “It is I; do not be afraid.” The disciples have now received Jesus into the boat; thus, they must trust His provision. If we are going to be serious in recognizing the importance of the Torah to John, then we must acknowledge the connection in this passage.

One of the key stories in the Torah is Noah’s Ark. God’s provision is clearly seen throughout the story of Noah’s Ark. From the instructions on building the ark to the animals, and everything in between, God provides for Noah and his family. When the rain begins and the fountains of the deep open up, it is God Himself who closes and seals the door of the ark. But perhaps the most important part of the story is the safety of Noah, his family, and the animals within the ark. Even during the storms that rage and the waves that toss the ark, the ark glides over the waters of judgment. In this passage, we see Yeshua, the Son of God, walking on the water, like the ark, Yeshua glides over the waters of judgment.

The disciples are about to be the recipients of another the provisions of Yeshua. As Jesus enters the boat, not only is the storm calmed, but the boat lands at the very shore to which the disciples were going. Is this another of John’s literary tricks? Did John simply leave out the rest of the trip? I think the answer to both questions is no. The disciples have already been witnesses to Jesus turning water to wine and turning five loaves and two fish into enough food to feed 5,000+ people with twelve baskets full leftover. This is an example of the provisions of the King of the Universe – Yeshua has power over nature, the wind, and the waves, but He also has power over time, for the boat is immediately at the shoreline.

Like the disciples, we too as Christ followers, must trust the provisions of Yeshua. We must trust His provision as Savior for our salvation. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, it is a free gift of God through His Son, Yeshua. He is also the provision for our righteousness. Our right standing before God has nothing to do with our personal achievements, accomplishments, or status, it comes because of our faith in Christ Jesus alone. He is also our sanctification. We have been set apart for God in Christ. Again, there is nothing in us that makes us set apart, save for the presence of Christ.

We must also trust the provisions of Christ as Lord. In Him we have our daily bread, the material needs necessary to live from day to day. We also have all we need for physical health, for He alone knows us better than any earthly doctor. He is our provision for our spiritual needs as well. His word provides strength, guidance, wisdom, and discernment in a world filled with lies and deception. Finally, He is our provision for emotional health and strength. Jesus has suffered all things human, including the emotion rollercoasters we face in everyday life. Jesus as been there, He knows your need and stands ready to fill the needs you have.

Finally, Yeshua is our vessel for safe passage. He is the ark for our passage through the stormy waters of judgment. He is our Good Shepherd as we face the struggles of daily life. He is the Bread of Life in supplying our needs for each day. He is Living Water that supplies the cool, refreshing water that becomes streams of living water within us. He provides our daily peace as the Great I Am. He comes to us with the reminder that He is with us, and we need not be afraid. And as the Son of God, He provides our safe passage through spiritual battles as the armor of God. He protects us from head to foot, from the lies of the enemy to the fiery arrows shot to cause us harm.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is Jesus acting as an ark in the storm you are currently facing?

How has Yeshua shown Himself to be King of the Universe to you?

What provision of Yeshua are you most aware of at this season in life?

The Christ follower is Safe in the Storm when they believe in the name of Christ Jesus and trust in Him as their vessel of salvation.

When the storms of life come, and they will come, it is difficult, at best, to trust someone you cannot see. It is difficult to trust in a resource that you have no idea from where it will come. But this is what our faith calls for us to do – trust what is not seen. May people accuse Christ followers of having a blind faith, but this is simply not true. We have an informed faith that is not perfected, true, but it is anything but uninformed or simply blind. People can try to refute the Bible all they want, but they simply cannot refute your personal experiences in Christ. Those who know you best will see the changes and become aware of how you have been affected by Christ. They will notice changes in your actions, and words; your attitudes and in the way you carry yourself. Those things simply cannot be denied or explained away.

We are not called to a timid faith. We are called to be bold, confident, and to speak out against evil and injustice. This doesn’t mean we are mean, degrading, or arrogant, it simply means we fully trust the One who has called us to fellowship and has promised us to give the words to speak at the right time. This is, perhaps, the most important of the provisions we find in Yeshua. He has promised to be with us at all times and to provide for us the words we need to speak at the right time and place. We have all experienced, to some degree, the other provision spoken about in this message. Now it is time for the true Christ follower to trust this provision, the presence of Christ with us and His promise to give us the right words to speak boldly, confidently, and in humility that others might come to know Yeshua as we have.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: The Names of God Pt. II

God’s Provision

God’s Provision

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 8/20/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”

Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.                                 

                                                                                     John 6:1–15 (NASB95)

I think it can be safely said that the past 2 ½ years have been difficult for everyone. What began as a simple virus similar to the flu, turned into a world-wide pandemic, closing schools and businesses around the world. From there, we moved to essential workers only allowed to resume work, and travel for others was limited to essential needs only. Slowly things began to open once again but fear still held a grip on most people. Mask mandates were put into place but did little to quell the fear. Our supply chain has been broken to the point where we now find ourselves with increasing inflation and shortages of just about everything on our grocery store shelves, including the workers to stock those shelves.

As Christ followers, none of this should be surprising – it doesn’t make it any easier, but it should not be a surprise. If we are reading our Scriptures closely, we know the world will experience illness, famine, and disease as we grow ever closer to the return of Christ Jesus. What does make a difference for the Christ follower is that knowing in Jesus, we have God’s Provision, and more importantly, we know that Jesus is enough.

Jesus tests the disciples to see how they would provide bread for the natural need of hunger. The disciples immediately seek a solution through the worldly perspective of simply buying enough bread. But Jesus has a divine perspective as He gives thanks for the loaves and fish found among the people. After everyone is fed and twelve baskets of leftovers have been gathered, the people seek to force Jesus to be their king because of the sign that God’s Provision is always enough.

Yeshua tests the faith of the disciples by challenging them to feed the large crowd that follows Him. The disciples seek a man-made solution to obtaining enough bread to feed the people. But Jesus has a God-made solution, blessing what is found among the people, to feed those who follow Him. The disciples gather the leftovers into twelve baskets and the people have a worldly reaction as they seek to force Jesus to be king, missing the lesson that God’s Provision is always enough.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “How is God’s Provision always enough for the Christ follower?”

God’s Provision is always enough because it is a God-made solution coming from a divine perspective.

1). God’s Provision is always enough for the Christ follower because it comes from a God-made solution.

Man-made solutions always fall short and leave us feeling frustrated.

John moves us from Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee with the words, “After these things…” After what things? Well, all of the things recorded in chapter 5, from the healing of the man ill for 38 years to the long discussion of Jesus as He defends Himself against the charges of blasphemy and Sabbath breaking. While we do not know why John does not include any of the events from Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee, there are several things of which we can be certain. First, we can safely assume that John expected this gap to be noticed. John’s letter was intended to be read aloud in a communal setting, given this, we can be certain the gap would have been noticed and addressed. And we can safely assume the events of chapter 6 happen in the springtime. In verse 4 John tells us the Passover Feast was near and Passover happens in the spring.

Why does John tell us about Passover being near and why is it important? First, the crowds are larger as they travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. This would also serve to heighten the anticipation associated with the promise of the coming Messiah. Secondly, Passover is followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits. These feasts have a rich, deep meaning for the Jewish nation and all three will find their fulfillment in Yeshua. Finally, though the lessons will be missed by the crowd, Yeshua will teach that He is the bread of life and that He, Yeshua, as God’s Provision, is enough.

In addition to this background information, there is something else about Yeshua of which we must take notice. Yeshua sets Himself up as a “Moses-like” figure. Verse 2 tells us there is a large crowd following Yeshua. This is the first clue as to what is about to take place. Like Moses, Yeshua has a large crowd following Him. Next, we see that Yeshua “went up on the mountain…” Like Moses, Yeshua teaches from a mountain. Next Yeshua asks how they can feed the large crowd who follows Him. Like Moses, Yeshua provides food for those who follow Him. And finally, Moses teaches the Torah, the Law of Moses and like Moses, Yeshua teaches the Torah. All of this ties into the Passover Feast as the Feast draws ever closer. 

Now we find Yeshua testing the disciples – how to provide bread for the large crowd that is following Him. John tells us in verse 6 that Yeshua knew what He was intending to do. The disciples immediately seek a man-made solution to the test by Yeshua. I am also convinced that Yeshua knew exactly how the disciples would answer and thus, the test in the first place. The disciples first look to money as the answer. Philip says 200 denarii would not be enough to buy bread for everyone. The denarius is equivalent to a day’s wage during this time. Next, we see Andrew looking for resources on hand. He finds the lunch of a young boy, five barley loaves and two fish.

Before we can condemn the disciples, we should first take a look in the mirror. How many times have we turned to man-made solutions for our problems? How many times have bemoaned the fact that there just doesn’t seem to be enough money? Or how many times have we searched high and low for all the resources, whatever they might be, that we have on hand to try and fix our issue? When we should be turning to the God of all resources, we find ourselves running around like a “chicken with its head cut off,” seeking an earthly solution for our problems.

When we have exhausted our resources, when we have expended all our strength, when we have come to the end of our rope – just when it seems things are hopeless, we have finally arrived right where God wants us – fully dependent upon Him and a God-made solution. It is difficult when we are caught in the middle of the storm, but we must learn to shift our focus from the man-made to the God-made solution. God can see things coming that we do not and cannot. We can only see those things directly before us, by putting our trust in the God of all resources, we move from dependence on ourselves to being fully dependent upon God Himself.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Where is Yeshua testing you today? What was your immediate reaction?

In the middle of the storm, are you seeking man-made solutions, or do you look for a God-made solution?

What situation are you facing that requires a God-made solution?

God’s Provision is always enough because it is a God-made solution coming from a divine perspective.

2). God’s Provision is always enough for the Christ follower because it comes from a divine perspective.

The worldly perspective seeks only material things and earthly satisfaction. 

In verse 10 John gives us a piece of information that helps us put things in perspective. John tells us the crowd numbered 5,000 men. Why did John give us this information and why is it important? First, is the most obvious, this number only includes men. Ancient tradition only included men when counting crowds so this number would be considerably larger than the 5,000 John records. Secondly, archeological evidence tells us the village of Nazareth had a population of no more than 200 people, leading us to the third point, this indicates the following of Yeshua had moved from the local level to the regional level.

With this in mind, we now find Yeshua, as always, teaching His disciples. This time we see something different in Yeshua, something He wants for His disciples. Within this passage we find four different types of faith. We see a 1) pessimistic faith; 2) an optimistic faith; 3) a positive, unswerving faith; and finally, a materialistic, worldly faith. Philip exhibits the pessimistic faith. It is no surprise we see this from Philip for he is from Bethsaida, a town that rejected Yeshua and is, ultimately, cursed by Yeshua (Matt. 11:21-22). A pessimistic faith only sees human resources and money. It sees only the available resources and stresses the hopelessness of the situation. It stresses the impossibility of the situation and despairs the meager resources. A pessimistic faith does not see God or the power of God.

The next faith we see is found in Andrew, an optimistic but questioning faith. Andrew searches the crowd and finds five barley loaves and two fish but immediately questions the sufficiency of what he has to present. An optimistic faith lays what it has before God, no matter how small or how poor the quality but questions that what is offered is enough. An optimistic faith doubts whether there is enough, complains about the problem, is anxious about the quantity of the offering and grumbles and gripes over the quality of the offering. In this case, the fish comes from a boy’s lunch, meaning they are likely small, and the barley loaves are the bread of the poor. It is the cheapest to make or to buy.

In Yeshua we see the third kind of faith, a positive, unswerving faith. This is the kind of faith Yeshua wants for all of His disciples. A positive, unswerving faith gives what it has, does what it can, and then trusts God to do the rest. Yeshua took what He had and gave thanks; He accepted the offering of resources as they were. Yeshua trusted God the Father to multiply the resources; and He gave the resources to the disciples to distribute. There is no grumbling, no complaining, no doubting that what is offered is enough, even though Yeshua was likely able to place this offering in the palm of His hand.

The final faith is seen in the reaction of the crowd as they seek to force Yeshua to be their earthly king. This is the materialistic, worldly faith. Notice the people claim Yeshua is the Prophet foretold in Scripture, this is a purely Mosaic position, once again, pitting Yeshua against Moses. The expectation of the people is an earthly Messiah that would meet their personal needs by providing food for their hunger; healing for their sickness; deliverance from their trials; comfort for their sorrows; plenty for their wants; peace for their disturbances; and victory over their enemies.

As Christ followers, we have all likely experienced each of these stages of faith in our walk with Yeshua. We must remember our faith is a life-long journey, we will not perfect it quickly, but we must continue to seek to grow our faith and maturity at every opportunity. When the storms of life come upon us it is easy to throw our hands up and panic, but take a beat, let the first wave of panic wash over you but do not allow it to hold you under! Come up gasping for air if you must but come up and remember you know the One who calms the storms!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What stage of faith are you experiencing in this season of life?

When was the last time you gave all you have without grumbling and complaining?

How are the storms of life trying to “hold you under?”

God’s Provision is always enough because it is a God-made solution coming from a divine perspective.

The disciples gathered up twelve (12) baskets of leftovers. John tells us this was happened “when they were filled,” so we can rest assured no one went away hungry. But what, exactly, is the significance of the number twelve (12)? Most people simply focus on twelve (12) because it is the number of the tribes of Israel, and that is a fair point. Some try to reach further and say it foreshadows the gathering of Israel at the end of time – but, like I said, that is a reach.

The number twelve (12), considered to be a perfect number, is the symbol of God’s power and authority, as well as serving as a prefect governmental foundation. In this passage, it indicates that Yeshua is enough, not only for the Galilean Israelites in our passage, but also for those residing in Judea, and also for all of Israel – all twelve (12) tribes – including the Samaritan Israelites. Make no mistake here, what we see is God’s Provision coming in abundance, but we cannot look past the fact that this provision came through Yeshua, the Son of God. The point should be clear – Yeshua is enough!

This is true for the Christ follower today as well. When we have come to the end of our strength – Yeshua is enough. When the situation seems hopeless – Yeshua is enough. When it seems what we have to offer is cheap and worthless – Yeshua is enough. When our perspective is blurred and out of focus – Yeshua is enough. We can rest peacefully at night, not because of anything we have done, but simply because – Yeshua is enough.

Yeshua is God’s Provision because – Yeshua is enough!

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 6:16-21

The Names of God

The Names of God

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 8/13/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

                                                                         Romans 10:12–13 (NASB95)

Scripture tells us that “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).” But which name are you calling upon? Yes, that’s right, our Lord God has more than one name. The Names of God, which we are looking at today, are found in the Old Testament. Each name shows a different characteristic or attribute of God. These names are revealed to those who needed God, and a specific part of God, at that moment in time. There are some amazing things revealed about God in His names and those things will help the Christ follower develop a deeper faith.

This message will seek to help the Christ follower understand why The Names of God are important to develop a deeper faith.

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

1). The importance of El Shaddi to the Christ follower.

The first name of God we will explore is El Shaddi. El Shaddi means “The All Sufficient One, The God of the Mountains,” and “God Almighty. This is the name God used when He confirmed His covenant with Abraham. Consider what we read in the following Scriptures:

In Genesis 17: 1-5 we read these words to Abraham:

“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.” Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.”

                                                                               Genesis 17:1–5 (NASB95)

“Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel. God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you. “The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”

                                                                            Genesis 35:9–12 (NASB95)

“Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed. Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’ Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.”

                                                                               Genesis 48:1–5 (NASB95)

“From the God of your father who helps you, And by the Almighty who blesses you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.”

                                                                                 Genesis 49:25 (NASB95)

 “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”

                                                                                  Psalm 90:1–2 (NASB95)

I mentioned we would see some amazing things about our God, and it begins in Genesis 17 when God called Abraham to walk before Him and be blameless. God Almighty promised to make Abraham the father of a multitude of nations. All of this has happened in Abraham. He walked blamelessly before the Lord and has certainly become the father of a multitude of nations. God Almighty continues to call His people to walk blamelessly before Him. In the New Testament we read the words,

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

                                                                                 Matthew 5:48 (NASB95)

God Almighty has blessed His people and continues to bless them today. He has blessed them with the blessings of heaven. Paul tells us,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”                                                                   Ephesians 1:3 (NASB95)

God Almighty is the eternal One who has also given birth to the mountains. But perhaps the most amazing things seen in the name El Shaddi happens in Genesis 35 where Jacob is given the name Israel. He is commanded by God Almighty to go forth and multiply and then God makes an incredible statement that becomes a prophecy fulfilled in our time. God tells Israel a nation and a company of nations shall come from him.

In Genesis 48 Israel claims the sons of Joseph as his own and blesses them. Israel crosses his hands as he blesses Ephraim and Manasseh, placing Ephraim, the younger, before Manasseh, the older. Manasseh becomes the nation destined to be the greatest nation in the world, while Ephraim becomes the company of nations destined to be the greatest empire ever seen. Why is this important? Because the United States, the greatest nation the world has ever seen, is from the descendants of Manasseh. The company of nations was fulfilled in Great Britain, the greatest Empire the world has ever seen, comes from the descendants of Ephraim.

El Shaddi – the All-Sufficient source of our blessings. No problem is too big for God.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

In what area of your life is El Shaddi calling you to walk blamelessly before Him today?

How has El Shaddi blessed you in this season of life?

How is El Shaddi revealing His eternal existence to you during this season of life?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

2). The importance of Jehovah Jireh to the Christ follower.

The next name we will examine is Jehovah Jireh. The name Jehovah Jireh means “The Lord Will Provide.” This is the name used by Abraham when God provided the ram for the sacrifice instead of Isaac. Consider the following Scriptures:

In Genesis 22 we read,

“Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.”

                                                                           Genesis 22:13–14 (NASB95)

Psalm 23 is another Scripture where we can find Jehovah Jireh as He provides for all of our needs throughout that beloved Psalm.

The Lord will provide for all of our needs, no matter how great or how small. Yeshua, the Son of God, came as the Bread of Life and our Passover Lamb, providing for all of our needs – physical and spiritual. In addition, as our Shepherd, God provide for all of our needs – rest for the body; peace in chaos; restoration for the soul; guidance in our daily lives; comfort in difficult times; strength and courage in the face of adversity; discipline and correction when needed; food for physical health; protection against spiritual attack; we leave blessings, grace and mercy wherever we go; and an eternal resting place.

God meets all of our needs, including sending His Son to die for our sins.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is Jehovah Jireh providing for you today?

Is there an area of your life that needs the provision of Jehovah Jireh?

What is the provision of Jehovah Jireh you are most aware of at this season of life?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

3). The importance of Yahweh to the Christ follower.

The final name of God we will examine in this message is Yahweh. Yahweh means “I AM, The One Who Is,” and “The Self-Existent One.” This is the personal name of God given to Moses. It is translated as LORD in English versions of the Bible. Consider the following Scriptures:

“Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

                                                                              Exodus 3:13–14 (NASB95)

“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”                                                                Malachi 3:6 (NASB95)

God is who we need Him to be – His name my change given our circumstances and our needs. Throughout the Old Testament, the name of God corresponds to the needs of the people, or the person, at that moment in time. God does not change – He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Our needs change and thus a new characteristic or attribute of God is revealed to us in that need.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Who is Yahweh for you today?

What is Yahweh revealing to you about Himself in this season of life?

What area of life do you need Yahweh to speak into today?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who has called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

These are but a few of The Names of God but now that you have a better understanding of them, I pray you can call on His name in a more personal and profound way. As He speaks into your life, may you sense His presence in a new way, His provisions in abundance and His love for you in all things. Pay close attention as Yahweh reveals a new part of His attributes or a new characteristic that you may soon be needing. He is who we need Him to be, God Almighty, the Lord who will provide.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 6:1-15

Words of Testimony

Words of Testimony

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 8/6/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”

“I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” 

                                                                                  John 5:33–47 (NASB95)

Before we dig into today’s passage, let’s do a short review of what we have already learned in chapter 5 of John’s gospel account. Chapter 5 revolves around the healing at Bethesda, at a pool near the sheep gate. A man who has been ill for 38 years awaits the stirring of the waters in the pool in the hope that he might find healing. In An Unlawful Healing Jesus heals this man who has been ill for so very long. What makes this healing unlawful? The healing takes place on the Sabbath! The scene is now set for the rest of chapter 5 to unfold before us.

Naturally, the religious elite take exception with this healing, claiming it is illegal to heal on the Sabbath, and for carrying his bedroll, the man is now a Sabbath breaker. After a short conversation with Jesus, the man returns to the religious elite and identifies Jesus as the man who healed him, thus making Jesus the Sabbath breaker. To further compound the issue, Like Father, Like Son, Jesus says He is only doing what He sees His Father doing. The religious elite now add the charge of blasphemy to their list of charges and seek to discredit Jesus from being a potential Messiah.  The underlying issue is found in the fact that Jesus performed this healing at a pagan worship site, thus shattering the false promises of a sham religion.

Jesus continues His defense by addressing several key issues. As the Son of God, Jesus is only doing what He sees His Father doing; also, as the Son of God, Jesus has the power to give life; as the Son of God, Jesus has the authority to judge justly, and finally, when He speaks, Hearing the Son of God leads to belief and eternal life. Jesus does nothing on His own initiative, He seeks only to do the will of the One who sent Him – God the Father. Which brings us to today’s passage and the impact of Words of Testimony.

Jesus continues to respond to the charge of being a blasphemer and Sabbath breaker by establishing witnesses on His behalf. The Pharisees sent to John the Baptist and his Words of Testimony are truth, but there are still others who testify about Jesus. God the Father, the words and works of Jesus, the Scriptures, and Moses, all give testimony to Jesus, and yet, the Pharisees refuse to come to Jesus to have life.

Like John the Baptist, as Christ followers, our Words of Testimony must also speak the truth of Yeshua. This truth is affirmed by the Father, the teachings and examples of Yeshua, the Scriptures, and Moses – all affirm that Yeshua is the only way to eternal life, and yet, far too many will reject this gift from Yeshua.

In this message we seek to understand how Words of Testimony can impact the witness of the Christ follower.

As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony must be consistent with Scripture and affirm that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

1). As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony are affirmed by the works of the Father and the message of the Scriptures.

Jesus completed the works the Father sent Him to do and the Scriptures affirm that Jesus gives eternal life.

Jesus continues His defense with the Judean Jews by establishing His witnesses. The first witness mentioned is John the Baptist whom the Judean Jews have sent to, and John witnessed to the truth. But Jesus does not stop there. He continues with the witness of His works; works He has been sent to do by the Father. Many wondered if John the Baptist were the much-anticipated coming Messiah, thus the reason the Judean Jews sent to John. People saw the works of John and excitement flooded the land. Jesus, however, has a greater testimony than John because His works declare He has been sent by the Father. Jesus has already established His power and authority, power to give life and authority to judge justly, and now He states that His works are a testimony to the power of God as a seal of approval.

Jesus has already established that He is only doing what He sees His Father doing. Jesus sees the Father giving life. As the Son of God, He too has been given the power to give life. Jesus sees the Father healing, so the Son heals. Jesus sees the Father judging justly, so the Son has the authority to judge justly. The point is this, the works that Jesus does are works that have been given to Him by God the Father. Jesus is the One who can say He is truly on a mission from God. This means the works of the Father are the works of Jesus. The Father is the originator, the planner, and the architect of the works He has given the Son to complete. Jesus will complete these works perfectly. Thus, these works prove that God the Father sent Jesus, the Son, for these are works that have never been done, or would ever be done, by others.

The next witness Jesus establishes is the words of the Father, the Scriptures. The Judean Jews are the experts in the Scriptures. They are supposed to be the one teaching Israel about the Scriptures and the coming Messiah. But they mistakenly, or maybe not, think that in the Scriptures they will find eternal life, while missing the One who truly gives eternal life, standing right before them. These Judean Jews do not have the words of God abiding within them, for if they did, Jesus tells them they would believe the One whom He sent – Jesus! Jesus is clear here, the Scriptures are bearing witness to Him – the promised Messiah, the Son of God and the Son of Man – and yet these religious elite refuse to come to Jesus for life.

If the words of God were abiding in these leaders, they would know God in a much more personal way. They would believe what has been spoken through the Scriptures and they would accept what God has to say, thus, these leaders would believe that Jesus is the Son of God sent by the Father. These leaders have the word abiding among them but not in them. They study and read the word, it is on the clothing they wear and placed on their body’s, but it is not hidden in the hearts of these leaders. The abiding word would be allowed to come into their minds and hearts, they would be clinging to the word as if their very life depended upon it, never allowing it to leave! The abiding word is living and active; it causes growth and maturity, brings love and compassion; it causes a person to believe and trust in the Son of God, Jesus the Christ as Savior and Lord.

And so, the Christ follower must have works that establish the truth they have been sent by God. Our works do not save us, they affirm that we have been changed from the inside out, by a loving God who has given us a new birth. Our works are to be consistent with the Scriptures and how God works in people’s lives. We need not embellish the Scriptures, for they are powerful enough on their own to change even the hardest of hearts. We work because we love the Father and the Son and we want others to know this same love and receive the same free gift of eternal life.

We too must have the word of God abiding in our hearts. The Scriptures must be our first and final authority in all areas of our life. We must hold nothing back but freely give our lives over to the power of Scripture to make us a new creation in Christ. The power of the abiding word must be working to cause spiritual growth and maturity in Christ. It must be working to show how we treasure the word in our hearts and minds as we freely love others and show them compassion, even when it means we might get hurt. It works to show how we have come to believe and trust in the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, as our Lord and Savior.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are your works showing that you believe in and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior?

Is there an area of your life you need to allow the Scriptures full access to change and cause growth and maturity? If so, what is holding you back?

How do people know the word of God is abiding in your heart and mind and ruling your life? If they do not, what steps do you need to change this?

As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony must be consistent with Scripture and affirm that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

2). As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony affirm that Jesus receives glory from the Father and was foreshadowed in the writings of Moses.

Jesus is the single thread, woven throughout the entirety of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation – Jesus is the Golden Thread from beginning to end!

Throughout the Scriptures, from beginning to end, there is one common theme, written by many authors over the course of thousands of years. Many call this single thread the Golden Thread of Scripture, this thread is, of course, Jesus. Jesus is active in creation, many affirm He is the angel of the Lord seen in many places in the Old Testament, even Moses writes about Him. Jesus mentions Moses in this passage because the Judean Jews have placed Moses on a pedestal, and we have already seen how Jesus explained why Moses held the serpent up during the desert wanderings. And there will be several more times Moses will make an appearance in John’s gospel account, mostly as the crowds who follow Jesus, pit Moses against Jesus.

The Scriptures speak loudly and clearly about Jesus, but no matter how much we read them, no matter how much we study them, no matter how much head knowledge you have of the Scriptures, it will not matter if you do not have them in your heart and ruling your life, and most importantly, none of this will matter if you reject Jesus as the only source of eternal life. The Judean Jews refuse to come to Jesus for eternal life even though the very Scriptures they search point directly to Him as the giver of eternal life. This goes back to the word abiding in the hearts and minds of people, leading people to believe in and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. The testimony of the Scriptures is clear, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Man – Lord and Savior of the world.

Jesus seems to make an odd statement here saying He does not receive glory from men or people. Why would Jesus make such a statement now? First, He is making a contrast between the glory He receives from the Father and the glory the religious leaders seek from the people. But there is something deeper going on here. During this time period there are other people groups besides the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Samaritans. The statement Jesus makes is most likely referring to a group of people active in Lower Galilee, they are Israelites and the dominant group in the area. They also did not engage in the teachings of these Jewish authorities in Jerusalem.

What is happening here is the Jewish authorities are attempting to discredit Jesus as a potential Messiah. They are using every means they have available to do this, including stating that Jesus gets His glory from people. Going deeper still, there is a derogatory term used to describe these people that is translated as “people of the land.” They are seen as less than in the eyes of the Judean Jewish authorities. We have also seen that it is in Galilee where Jesus has been widely accepted, and the people are ready to make Him Messiah. So, it is entirely possible that what Jesus is saying here is that He is not getting His glory from the Galilean Jews, not all people in general. The glory Jesus has, comes from the Father alone.

Let me bring Moses back into the picture here for a moment. In Exodus 33:18 Moses asks God to show him His glory. God places Moses in the cleft of the rock and allows Moses to see His back but not His face. In Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9, and Luke 9:28-36 we read the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This is where Jesus pulls back His humanity and exposes the glory He receives from God. Moses is there as Jesus reveals His glory, finally, Moses sees the full glory of God and can now bear witness to the glory of Jesus, coming from God the Father.

As Christ followers we must let the Scriptures speak for themselves by not adding to or taking anything from the Scriptures. For those who are seeking with their hearts and minds open, God will allow the Scriptures to speak plainly to them. It is our job to always be pointing the way to Jesus the Christ – Lord and Savior of the world. In addition, we must be about reflecting the glory of God the Father and Jesus the Son. We must never put ourselves in the place of glory, for we are but fallen humans just like everyone else who seeks and comes to Christ. It is through our changed lives that we reflect the glory of Christ as He lives in us and causes our spiritual growth and maturity. Our lives must bear witness to this glory found in Christ.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are the Scriptures speaking to you during this season of your life? If they are not, why the disconnect?

Are you seeking the praise of the people around you or are you seeking the praise of God the Father?

How are you reflecting the glory of Jesus in your life?

As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony must be consistent with Scripture and affirm that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

Life as a Christ follower is not easy, especially in the current state of our nation. But we have the many promises of God on which we can stand, including the promise He has made to never leave us or forsake us but rather, He has promised to be with us always even till the end of time. Those are encouraging words as we seek to learn and grow into maturity in Christ as we read and study the Scriptures. We must be in the word consistently, so the word is abiding in us and we in the word. We must also allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves, not adding to or taking anything away from them.

We must never seek the applause and praise of people, for that will, in the end, be our only reward. Instead, let us seek to glorify the Father and Son, reflecting the glory of each as our lives grow more and more dependent upon them for our every need. It is our responsibility to continue to point the way to Jesus, living our lives in such a way that others are drawn to Him, that they believe and trust in Him as Lord and Savior. Our words of testimony can be a powerful statement as people see us living out those words in our actions towards others, actions that show the mercy, grace and love we have received in Christ.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 6:1-15

Knowing the Spirit of God

Knowing the Spirit of God

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/30/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

                                                                                    1 John 4:1–3 (NASB95)

I cannot think of any Christ follower who has ever been able to say they were fully satisfied with their faith. There always seems to be something missing. The most common thing I hear Christ followers saying they wish they could do better or knew more about was hearing God speak to them. There always seems to be this lingering question or feeling of doubt. How can I know for sure it is God speaking and not the enemy trying to trick me? How can I be sure this is God’s will and not my own agenda? There is only one way and John tells us how we can do that in today’s passage.

This letter was written by John the apostle when he was much older and at the Church of Ephesus. There was much happening in and around the church including the existence of the Temple of Diane, false teachers and prophets attempting to infiltrate the church and knowing, living, and understanding true Christian faith. Knowing the Spirit of God is the only way any Christ follower will ever be able to know and identify those false spirits sent from the spirit of antichrist, and to know beyond a shadow of doubt, they are hearing the voice of God as He speaks to them.    

John encourages the church at Ephesus to know the Spirit of God, for by Knowing the Spirit of God, they are able to test the spirits, for only those spirits who confess Jesus has come in the flesh are from God – the rest come from the spirit of antichrist.

As Christ followers, we are to know the Spirit of God, for by Knowing the Spirit of God, the Christ follower is able to discern those spirits and false prophets who come from the spirit of antichrist – a spirit already in the world filled with lies and deception.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why is Knowing the Spirit of God important to the Christ follower?

Knowing the Spirit of God allows the Christ follower to understand which spirits come from God and which are spirits sent from the spirit of antichrist.

1). Knowing the Spirit of God allows the Christ follower to understand which spirits confess Jesus has come in the flesh.

Test the spirits to see if they have been sent by God!

John unlocks the key to Knowing the Spirit of God with a single simple statement, “Do not believe every spirit but test the spirits…” Why should Christ followers test the spirits? To see if they are from God! Where else might a spirit come from, if not from God? Once again, John tells us in no uncertain terms, false prophets. And, according to John, there are many of them now in the world.

John calls them prophets because, technically, a prophet is the mouthpiece of some spirit. And as we know all too well, among prophets, or any other group for that matter, there will always be frauds. We must understand that as John is writing this letter, the house churches of his day were scattered throughout the city. Our modern understanding of the church gathered together in one spot skews our understanding of the early church and how they functioned and gathered. In addition, there were no formal creeds to help guide in doctrinal issues and few copies of the Scriptures were available, unlike today. Therefore, oral communication was essential for the early church.

The early church relied on messengers from their leaders to relay information quickly and accurately so other communities would have the same information and were taught the same this information in the same way. The issue that has arisen for the church at Ephesus is the arrival of teachers or prophets claiming authority that is not theirs to claim. Unfortunately, with many of the churches being young and not yet fully established in faith, they fell prey to these false teachers and prophets. We find Paul addressing much of this same thing in his letters to the churches he started and played a leading role.

Thus, early Christians must be ready to address these false teachers and prophets. But how can young Christian’s fight against these false teachers and prophets? John makes the point that the Spirit of God will equip the Christ follower to identify the Spirit of God in others. These Christians, young and old, were to objectively weigh the words of the prophets with what they have already been taught. They are to spend time in prayer, seeking the wisdom and discernment of God, to help identify those spirits that come from God, from those that come from the spirit of antichrist. This is the only time the Greek word for “test” or “testing” appears in John’s writing, so we must take note that this is a serious issue that must be addressed and is important enough that John spends time teaching on the subject.

As Christ followers today, we too have our share of false teachers or prophets in the modern church. Most of us have at the very least, heard about the prosperity teachings of modern pastors, but what about those who preach only that God is love, while neglecting the other attributes of God such as holiness? What about those who claim to be Christ followers who claim that Jesus is not the only way to heaven? This goes against the very words of Christ and yet they claim to follow Him. What about those who preach and teach that Jesus was only a great teacher and example for us to follow? The list goes on and on and I could name dozens of others, but I think the point is well taken. We face the same issue in the modern church.

We must learn to identify and know the Spirit of God, or the enemy will eat us and spit us out. Remember he has been called craftier than any other creature God created. He knows the Scriptures and has the profound ability to twist them just enough to cause you to doubt. Once doubt creeps in, it takes very little to spread throughout your entire faith system and cause erosion and decay. We become confused and uncertain which voice we should be listening for and then the questioning begins anew and the process of causing doubt starts over, a successful attack by the enemy to twist, confuse, and eventually, destroy your faith.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How does your understanding of the modern-day church skew your thoughts on the early church and how they faced issues we face today?

What potentially false teaching are you struggling with today? If none, how are you combatting false teaching?

How did you come to know the Spirit of God? If you do not, what steps do you need to take to know Him beyond doubt?

Knowing the Spirit of God allows the Christ follower to understand which spirits come from God and which are spirits sent from the spirit of antichrist.    

2). Knowing the Spirit of God allows the Christ follower to understand the spirit that comes from the many false prophets now in the world.

This is the spirit of antichrist – filled with lies and deception.

What, exactly, as Christ followers are we to try and understand about the spirits that come to us or against us? We need to understand what they say about Jesus Christ. How do they view Jesus? Is He the Son of God come in the flesh or just another great teacher? Remember we said earlier that a prophet is the mouthpiece for some spirit, so what the prophet or teacher has to say about Jesus is the first clue to where the spirit is coming from and how to understand them. If they are unable to say the Jesus came in the flesh, then this is a spirit coming from the spirit of antichrist. Now, perhaps they will not say these exact words but something within the same vein. Perhaps something like Jesus is fully deity, or Jesus was a great prophet. What a prophet or a teacher has to say about Jesus will make them a true prophet or teacher, or a false prophet or teacher.

The key is to remember the Spirit of God will always glorify Christ Jesus. The true Spirit of God will always confess that Jesus came in the flesh, fully man and fully God. There are many in the pulpits and pews today who try to say that Jesus was EITHER fully man OR fully God, but He could not be both. What a person has to say about Jesus reveals much about the spirit behind the person. The Spirit of God can only confess the truth, therefore, anyone who confesses to be of God must be able to confess the same truth. In this case, that Jesus did come in the flesh, fully man and fully God. A spirit sent from God will confess Jesus as the Savior. The true spirits sent from God will confess Jesus as Messiah. The true spirit sent from God will confess Jesus as the Son of God. Anything less means the spirit has been sent from the spirit of antichrist.

Behind his words, John is really encouraging three things about our faith. First, that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Word of God. This is the first point John makes in his gospel account, taking measure to make certain all who would read his gospel account would understand beyond the shadow of doubt, that Jesus was the Word of God. Second, that Jesus was and is fully divine as well as fully human. Again, in reading through the gospel account of Jesus one cannot come away from this reading without being forced to make a decision about Jesus. John writes so that all may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and make certain to show the full humanity of Jesus as well. Finally, Jesus is the only source for eternal life, and He alone reveals the Father to us as the only source to remove our sin.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you struggling with false teachings that seek to draw you away from Jesus? If not, how are you combating these false teachings.

Are you learning to distinguish between the spirit sent from God and those who come from the spirit of antichrist? If not, what steps do you need to take to learn the difference?

Where are you struggling with your faith today?

Knowing the Spirit of God allows the Christ follower to understand which spirits come from God and which are spirits sent from the spirit of antichrist.    

John was at the church in Ephesus during his old age, likely right before he went to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Many Christ followers today are aware that the letter begins with a view of the Risen and Glorified Christ and then contains letters to seven churches in Asia Minor. The church at Ephesus is included in those letters. Can you imagine how John must have felt as he heard Jesus begin to address this church? You can find this letter in Revelation 2:1-7. Jesus commends the church for its deeds, toil, and perseverance. Jesus commends the church because they cannot tolerate evil men and they tested those who called themselves apostles but were not. This church persevered for the name of Jesus.

It is clear that this church continued to struggle with false teachers, false prophets and false doctrine because Jesus warns them to remember from where they have fallen and to “do the deeds they did at first.” In so doing, this church will be granted the right to eat from the tree of life in the Paradise of God. This church obviously took the message of John to heart and tested the spirits, the teachers, and the prophets in which they came into contact. This is a message Christ followers must take to heart as well. We would do well to remember the deeds we did when we first came to Christ and worked to show His mercy, grace, and love to others. We would do well to call out those who come at us with false doctrine that has been perverted or twisted by false teaching.

While it is true that we should love all people, we do not need to tolerate evil or evil people. We must draw our proverbially line in the sand make a stand against evil. The first place to start is by refuting those who claim Jesus was just a man, a great teacher, or a great prophet. Jesus came to the earth He created in the human form, in the flesh. He lived all things human while fully divine, fully God. Without this truth, without Jesus being the Son of Man and standing before God as the perfect representative of human being, without Jesus being the Son of God and fully representing and revealing the Father here on earth – our faith is useless. Today is the day to draw your line in the sand. Stand firm in your belief that Jesus is the Son of Man, the Son of God – fully human and fully God. He is the only way to the Father and eternal life, for He is the only One who has defeated sin, death and the grave.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 5:33-47

Light in a Dark World

Light in a Dark World

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/23/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,”

                                                                      Philippians 2:14–15 (NASB95)

It seems we live in a time when everyone has something to be grumbling about or is disputing something. No one ever seems to be happy anymore. Granted, there are times when the grumbling and disputing are justified, but those seem to be the exception now instead of the rule. It seems everyone wants to “have their cake and eat it too.” We want high wages with a light workload. We want nice cars with no payment plan. We want nice clothes at cheap prices. But the biggest thing we want is for everyone to agree with our point of view and not argue with us because we won’t see their perspective.

Paul addresses the conflict in the church at Philippi where the body of Christ seems to be at odds with each other. There is grumbling and disputing within the body, just as there is in the world around the church. Paul calls the church to humility and unity so they might be Light in a Dark World, living as innocent and blameless children of God, so they might combat the evil found in this world.

Paul urges the church at Philippi to do all things without grumbling and disputing. By doing this they are Light in a Dark World, blameless and innocent children of God, living in contrast to a crooked and perverse world.

As Christ followers, we do what has to be done without complaining. We are Light in a Dark World, contrasting the evil in this world with the goodness of God the Father.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “How is the Christ follower to be Light in a Dark World?”

The Christ follower is Light in a Dark world, contrasting the evil of this world with the goodness of God then Father.

1). The Christ follower is Light in a Dark World when they do what needs to be done without complaining.

The world is full of those who are grumbling and disputing, while the body of Christ is to be filled with peace and unity.

The church at Philippi has become a fractured body, living at odds with fellow members of the body. The conduct in this church is not up to par with what Christ wants from His body, and Paul is reminding them they are a witness to the world around them. Their conduct, then, must be worthy of the gospel of Christ and this calls for humility and unity. The call is to do all things without grumbling or disputing. “Grumbling” comes from a Greek word that means muttering, murmuring, or complaining. It is a secret debate among people of displeasure or complaining. This is against those in the body of Christ that arises out of selfishness.

“Disputing” in the Greek means an inward reasoning, an opinion, or an argument. However, this Greek word suggests separation from other reasoning, opinions, and arguments. The end result is separation within the body of Christ, not the unity that Christ seeks. Finally, the Greek word used for “without” means apart from. In other words, Paul says to do all things apart from the complaining and arguments you find in the world. The body of Christ is to be unity and at peace, an exact contrast to the world around them filled with grumbling and disputing.

It is interesting to note here, that Paul as a Pharisee, is well versed in the Scriptures. He uses the Greek language very well to bring to mind the grumbling of the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. In fact, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Greek word used by Paul is the same word used for the grumbling of the Israelites. Paul has two things in mind here. First, the church at Philippi, though Gentiles, are now members of the family of God. As such, they are to be mindful of their relationship with God the Father. This will lead to Paul’s comment about working out their own salvation. Secondly, Paul reminds the church that in grumbling against one another, they are, in essence, grumbling against God. Paul believes that the believing community found in Philippi is part of the new people of God, and they now stand in continuity with Israel of the Scriptures and should learn from the example found in Scripture.

As Christ followers today we have an excellent opportunity to reflect the mercy, grace, and love of God found in Christ Jesus. We have been called, by the Father, into fellowship with His Son. We belong to the body of Christ where each member plays an important role. Each Christ follower must live, work, and serve within their respective roles. But what is most important about serving in our roles is that we do it without grumbling and without disputing. We serve because our love for Christ, and those in the body of Christ, overrides any sense of entitlement we might have. We love because He first loved us, but we also serve because He came to serve others and has left us the example of servant leadership.

We do what has to be done with a unity and peace that is not seen in the world. We do not argue amongst the body, we have open and honest conversations. Complaining, arguing, and creating an atmosphere of separation should not be found in the Christ follower, and certainly not within the body of Christ. While it is true that there will always be “troublemakers” within the body, it is also true that the body does not have to simply accept the “troublemaker.” Far too many Christ followers have simply adopted the slogan, “Oh, that’s just so and so. We have learned to ignore him or her.”

This is a major problem in the church in this country. We do not know how to gently correct a Christ follower in love, so we simply do not do it, we “simply ignore them.” We do an injustice to anyone who claims the name of Christ and does not act like they are a new creation in Christ, and then do not hold them accountable. Is it any wonder the world thinks the church is filled with hypocrites? As a new creation the old person has gone away, ceases to exist, and the new person, the new creation in Christ has come. This includes humility and peace with others.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What are you grumbling and disputing about within the body of Christ? If you are not, what are you doing to keep within the body?

How are you helping promote humility and peace within the body of Christ? If not, why?

Are you living to your full potential as a new creation in Christ? If not, what steps can you take to change this?

The Christ follower is Light in a Dark world, contrasting the evil of this world with the goodness of God then Father.

2). The Christ follower is Light in a Dark World when they are above reproach.

We live among a crooked and perverse generation as blameless and innocent children of God.

After the call to humility and peace within the body, Paul tells us why we are to be living as Light in a Dark World – to prove ourselves as blameless and innocent children of God. To be blameless is to be without blame from any source. The world cannot point their finger at the Christ follower who is blameless and accuse them of practicing evil as the world does. To be innocent is to be unmixed, that is, the absence of foreign material. In the case of the Christ follower, this foreign material is the evil so prevalent in the world. Specifically, grumbling and disputing as those in the world complain and argue amongst themselves.

The witness of the Christ follower is to be so powerful no one is able to say they are to blame or have been corrupted by the world system. This means the Christ follower must not think or act as those in the world. Our thinking is to be like the mind of Christ, fixed on the things of heaven and the Kingdom of God. Our action as to be loving and serving other, putting their needs above our own. We are to be wholly different than what is seen in the world. The Greek word for “prove” means to come into being, to happen, or to become. At one time, the Christ follower lived as the world, having the same mindset as the world. To prove we are innocent children of God is to become something we were not, we are coming into being an innocent child of God, by our thinking and actions make this come into being.

We prove we are innocent children of God so that the Christ follower will be above reproach. To be above reproach is to be without blemish and without blame. Once again, the Christ follower’s way of thinking and way of acting are to be a contrast to the dark world in which we live. We are to be innocent and blameless as a contrast to the crooked and perverse world in which we live. The Greek word for “crooked” is the same word where we get our word scoliosis, meaning curved or winding. In our context within the passage, it means morally crooked and perverse.

Perverse is understood as to distort, mis-interrupt, corrupt or twist. The worlds way of thinking and acting are morally crooked, distorted, corrupt and twisted. This is the generation in which we live, the world in which we are called to be light, the world where Christ once came, lived among, and died to save. And yet nothing surprises the Father or the Son. This is the very reason the Holy Spirit was sent to be a guide for those who call on the name of Christ. Left on our own, we too would likely fall prey to the enemy and fall into the ways of thinking and acting like the world.

As Christ followers we are to be a contrast to the world – a very visible contrast to the world. Our way of thinking and acting is to be so different they shine as light in this dark world. Like the moth drawn to your porch light, those in the world should be drawn to you – to your way of thinking and acting – because they are so vastly different from the everyday norm of the world. Obviously, this will not be easy, but it is what we are called to do and to be. We are called to be different – set apart – from the rest of the world. We are called to be light – innocent, blameless, pure, and holy – in a world running after sinful thinking and ways of acting.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Can you stand before the world as a blameless and innocent child of God? If not, what steps must you take to correct this?

How are you struggling against falling into the worlds way of thinking and acting? If you are not, what steps have you taken to fight this?

How are you a light shining in this dark world? If you are not, what steps must you take to become light to the world?

The Christ follower is Light in a Dark world, contrasting the evil of this world with the goodness of God then Father.

As a Christ follower, we must all be willing to step out in faith, even though the challenge may seem overwhelming, and shine as light in a world growing ever darker. Now is the time to fully trust in Christ for the right words to speak at the right time. Trust in the Holy Spirit to guide you in gentleness any time you must rebuke someone for the sin in their life. Trust that God has started a good work in you that is not yet finished but grows stronger each day – a work to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. This is our challenge; this is our calling. Difficult to say the least, but we do not face it alone or in our own strength – we have the power of God at our disposal.

We do all thing to the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: 1 John 4:1-3

Living the Set Apart Life

Living the Set Apart Life

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/16/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

                                                                               Romans 12:1–2 (NASB95)

Now, more than ever, the world is seeking to conform the minds of people to a single point of view. If you do not fully agree with this point of view, you are dismissed, canceled, and called intolerant. Those who think for themselves are being singled out more and more, and if you are a Christ follower, well, the anger, bitterness, and wrath of the world are unloaded in an unending stream that gets more and more violent each passing day.

Life is difficult for everyone, no exceptions to that rule! But let’s face it, as Christ followers we have the added difficulty of seeing things through the lens of Scripture. Christ followers are called to be Living the Set Apart Life as an example to the world around us. This has become much more difficult the past several years. As Christ followers we are to have the Bible as our final and full authority, we are to live our lives according to the commandments of God and the example of Jesus Christ.

Paul urges the church at Rome to present their bodies as living and holy sacrifices. He warns them not to be conformed to this world, but to renew their minds and urges them to be Living the Set Apart Life, changing the way they think and act, allowing them to prove the will of God – that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

As Christ followers, we are to offer our bodies as living and holy sacrifices. We are to be Living the Set Apart Life, changing our way of thinking and acting, through a mind that has been renewed, allowing us to discern what God calls good, acceptable, and perfect.

In this message, we seek to understand how the Christ follower is Living the Set Apart life.

The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life when they understand the will of God through a transformed mind, changing the way they think and act.

1). The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life as a living and holy sacrifice.

The entire body of the Christ follower is used in our spiritual service of worship.

By now most Christ followers know that, whenever they see a “therefore’ in the Scriptures, it is time to pay close attention. In our case, “therefore” finds its foundation in all that has been written before chapter 12 – chapters 1-11. Paul urges Christ followers to present their bodies as slaves to God (6:13), in obedience and righteousness (6:19), and Paul warns against self-centered use of the body, without the rule of a mind controlled by the Holy Spirit (1:24; 6:6 & 12; 7:24; 8:13). Now Paul shows how the Christ follower can choose in their minds to present their bodies for the service of the greater body – the body of Christ. When the Christ follower offers their body as a sacrifice, they are imitating Christ, whose death Paul has presented as a bloody sacrifice (3:25;5:9; 8:3).

Paul describes the sacrifice of the Christ follower as living, holy, and acceptable. The Old Testament sacrifices were made with inanimate objects, such as crops, or slain animals. In contrast, the Christ follower offers their body while living as they embrace the death of Christ while still living. The Christ followers sacrifice is holy, that is sacred and set apart to God. As Christ followers, we are set apart for God. Our sacrifice is to be acceptable, that is, “so as to please” God. The Christ follower is to make their sacrifice to please God alone. While the Old Testament sacrifices were made with physical objects, with the death of Christ, the Christ follower is no longer required to make a physical offering, our offerings are to be in the spiritual realm.

In John chapter 4, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well a time has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The word Paul uses for spiritual means reasonable or rational. The sacrifice of the Christ follower is to be intelligent in contrast to those offerings made in ritual and through compulsion. This is the Christ followers divine service or divine worship. When we worship the Father in spirit and truth, we are offering Him divine worship.

Paul says we are to offer our bodies as the sacrifice. The word Paul uses indicates the entire body is included in this act of worship. That means, not only are we the hands and feet of Christ to those in the world, now we are to use our hands and feet in service to the Father in our sacrifice. Obviously, Paul also has the mind in view here as well. We must be intelligent in our worship of the Father, with minds fixed on Him and who He is and what He has done to be the only One worthy of our worship. Our minds must be properly prepared to focus on and worship the Father alone.

In addition, we keep our eyes fixed on the Father during our worship. We must not come into worship with eyes that wander, looking around the sanctuary or checking to see how others worship or if they are noticing how we worship. We must also guard against coming to worship with eyes that are drowsy or sleepy from lack of sleep or staying out too late the night before. Clear, well rested eyes can focus on the Father and what He has done for you the past week and where He is leading you in the week ahead.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you coming to worship with the full intent of giving your entire body as a sacrifice to the Father?

How often do you find your eyes wandering or feeling sleepy during worship? How can you correct this? How do you fight against this?

How are you preparing your mind for worship? If not, why?

The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life when they understand the will of God through a transformed mind, changing the way they think and act.

2). The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life because they are able to discern the will of God.

This can only happen through a mind that has been transformed.

Paul now switches from our divine worship of God to how we get to this divine worship we offer God. Paul first warns us about being conformed to this world and the worlds way of thinking and acting. The Greek word used for “conformed” means to assume a certain form; to fashion or shape one thing like another. This world is temporary, changeable, and unstable, as Christ followers, we are to be conformed to the mind of Christ, thus our minds are complete or durable, not merely a form or outline. The mind of Christ is stable, unchanging, and permanent. It never wavers for it is the mind of the Father.

When this happens, we are transformed, the Christ follower undergoes a complete change which will find expression in the character and conduct of the Christ follower. Here we begin to take on the genuine resemblance of Christ – we begin to become Christlike. This is not the superficial resemblance the world is seeking when we become conformed to the world, but a genuine resemblance, or likeness of Christ Jesus. What Paul is really saying here is, “Do not be squeezed into the mold of this world.” The renewing of our minds is the means to being transformed.

In chapter 1 verse 28, Paul tells us what will, and is, happening to those who reject God; “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper…” The passage goes on to describe the rest of what happens, but we need to concentrate on verse 28, you can read the rest of the passage on your own. A depraved mind is one that is not standing to the test, it has been rejected. This is the mind that has fully rejected God and does not seek His will or to understand the will of God.

Paul tells us we must “renew” our minds. The Greek word used here means the adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to align with the mind of God. The purpose of this “renewing” is to “prove” the will of God. The Greek word Paul used means to examine, to test. As Christ followers, we are to understand and agree with what God wants of us, with a view of putting it into practice. This can only happen if we “prove” the will of God – test it, examine it, to understand it and agree with it. Let’s face it, the enemy’s attack starts with the mind to influence, first our thinking and then our actions. We must use the weapons at our disposal to fight every attack sent by the enemy – beginning with the renewal of our minds.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is your mind “like the mind of Christ” right now? If not, why?

How is the enemy attacking your mind to “squeeze you into the mold of this world?” If he is not, what are you doing to combat this?

How are you “renewing” your mind daily? If you are not, what is stopping you?

The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life when they understand the will of God through a transformed mind, changing the way they think and act.

How do we “renew” our minds? We read and study the word of God. There are any number of good Bible reading formats to help you read your Bible more. There are also helpful word studies, topical studies, and book studies available to the Christ follower today. Use whatever fits your schedule and level of comfort, but by all means, find a way to get into the word more!

We learn to apply the word of God to our lives. Any good study you find will give you examples to help you apply the word in practical ways. Do not overthink what you are learning or trying to apply. Remember, as a Christ follower, you have the Holy Spirit to help you apply the word! We pray and ask God for strength, wisdom, and discernment. We meditate on the word and what we hear God saying to us. These last two points go hand in hand. When we pray, we should be listening carefully to what God is saying through His Spirit, then we must take time to meditate on what we are hearing. Meditating will allow us to discern if what we are truly hearing is from God or a false word from the enemy.

All of this is done to change wrong ideas that lead to wrong actions. As Christ followers, we are to transform – to adjust or change – the way we think about everything. This means we change our way of thinking in accordance with the newness of life we have been given in Christ. This is a lifelong journey, a lifelong process, by which our way of thinking and acting becomes more like God wants us to think and act – more like Christ.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

Next week: Philippians 2:14-16