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

Hearing the Son of God

Hearing the Son of God

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/9/2022

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.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true.”

                                                                                 John 5:25–32 (NASB95)

Who among us did get just a little bit irritated at a certain cell phone provider who continually beat our ear drums with one simple question? “Can you hear me now?” was the tag line throughout the commercial as the spokesperson walked around his neighborhood, city, state, and eventually the entire country…or at least it seemed that way. I guess it got the point across because here we are, how many years later and we still remember that burning question – “Can you hear me now?”

We have come to a time in history when we can hear another voice asking the same question, “Can you hear me now?” There is a big difference between the voices asking this question, however. The television commercial was asked by a spokesperson, an actor being paid to ask a question that would be seared into the minds of people obsessed with cell phones. The second voice asking this question has much more authority in the lives of people…all people, not just those looking for a new cell phone. Today, if you listen carefully, you should be Hearing the Son of God asking, “Can you hear me now?” for we are quickly approaching the time of His return, when He will have the power of life and judgment as the King of the Universe.

Jesus continues to respond to the charges of the Pharisees by explaining that one day even the dead will hear His voice. Because He has the power and authority to give life and to judge justly, Hearing the Son of God, some will be resurrected to life, while others will be resurrected to judgment. The Son does not seek His own will but the will of the One who sent Him.

Yeshua, the Son of God, will one day speak and even the dead will hear His voice. As the Son of God, He gives life and judges justly. Hearing the Son of God will determine the future of all people – some to eternal life, some to eternal judgment. As the Son of God, Yeshua does not do whatever He wants, He does only the will of the Father, the One who sent Him.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why is Hearing the Son of God is important for all people?”

Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because the Son does the will of the Father who sent Him.

1). Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because the Son has the power to give life and the power to judge justly.

The Son has the power of life or death; to judge justly or to pardon.

Jesus continues to address the charges of the Pharisees of being a Sabbath breaker and a blasphemer. There is an interesting structure used by John in his writing in verses 19-30. It is called a chiasm. This ancient literary design is used to help the interpreter clearly see where the unit begins and where it ends. In verses 19-24 Jesus talks about the Son doing what He sees the Father doing, Father and Son give life to the dead, Father gives all judgment to the Son, and they will hear and believe. Now in verses 25-30 we see Jesus talking about they will hear and live, Father made Son the source of life, all will rise from the dead, and the Son judges like the Father. The same points in reverse order.

Hearing the Son of God is to live. Last week we learned that to hear the words of Yeshua and to believe the One who sent Him is to have eternal life. We have moved from death into life. In verse 25 we hear that the dead are included in this hearing. The Father GAVE life to the Son, so the Son HAS life in Him. This is a continuation of the theme John started back in chapter one, “In Him was life…” We also learned that this life is the Light of all people, meaning that everyone has some light within them, everyone carries something of Yeshua within themselves. Every person carries some light. The Father has made the Son the Source of life.

This includes the Son being the source of judgment, repeating the statement of verses 22-23. The Father GAVE authority to the Son, so the Son HAS authority to judge justly. How does the Son judge justly? Because He does not seek His own will but the will of the One who sent Him…the Father. Here Jesus is repeating what He said in verse 19, “I am doing whatever the Father does.” Jesus states that He can do nothing of His own initiative, it must first be seen in the Father before the Son will do it, whether it is healing, giving life, or judging, He must first know it is the Fathers will.

There is something else here we must see and understand. The power to give life comes to Yeshua as the Son of God, while the power to judge comes to Jesus as the Son of Man. Why the distinction? As the Son of God, Yeshua, is uniquely qualified to talk about heaven, reveal the Father and has been given the authority of the Father. He alone can speak and act for the Father, for He alone has come forth from the Father. As the Son of Man, Jesus is the perfect representation of all we, as human beings, are meant to be. He is One who is qualified to stand before the Father to speak to all He has faced in His humanity, the One who has experienced all things human.

Hearing the Son of God can, and does, impact all people. For the most part, there are two reactions to the name of Jesus. Either He is readily accepted and acknowledged as the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Messiah or Savior of the world, or the mere mention of the name Jesus will cause great division and derision. At the mention of His name, people are either filled with love, devotion, and acceptance, or they are filled with anger, bitterness, and hatred.

This really should not surprise us, for we see it throughout the Scriptures, we can see it in our country today, and we know in the days to come it will grow worse as we near the time of His return. With the chaos and division in our country today, it takes an ear that is bent to hear the still small voice of the One calling us in love and eternal life. While it may appear that evil has the upper hand, any student of the Scriptures knows this is but the beginning of what must come. We are called to persevere as we await His return. We have not been promised this would be easy, that we would be well liked, or that the world would simply leave us alone. In fact, we are told that if the world first hated Jesus, then we can count of them hating those who say they belong to Him.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you hearing the voice of Jesus calling out to you? If not, what might be causing the disconnect? If so, what are you hearing?

How has Yeshua, as the Son of God, given you life in recent days?

How is Jesus, as the Son of Man, representing you before the Father?

Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because the Son does the will of the Father who sent Him.

2). Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because who you hear will determine your future.

You will either hear the One who calls you in love to eternal life, or the one who calls you in deception to eternal judgment.

People will hear one of two voices calling out to them in our world. They will either hear the voice of Yeshua, the Son of God, calling out to them in love. Or they will hear the voice of Satan, the enemy, calling out to them in deception. There is no other option, there is no fence sitting, there is only one of two choices to make. To say you hear neither voice is to say you hear the voice of the enemy, for he would prefer all people to say they hear no one calling them. With a voice of indifference, people can feel free to live and make choices that please the most important person in our lives – self.

To hear the voice of Satan is to make the choice to commit evil deeds and live a life of evil. Oh, make no mistake, people do not believe they are making a choice to live an evil life. No, they are choosing to please themselves and in so doing, they commit evil deeds. Though we do not like to hear it, the choice to live an evil life is commonplace in our country. People choose to live together rather than get married. Gods’ ideal is for man and woman to live together in marriage, forsaking all others to be committed to one another. People prefer to have “casual sex” outside of marriage, rather than be “tied down” in a committed relationship. This is fornication…again, outside of Gods’ ideal.  

Conversely, to hear the voice of the Son of God is to live a life committed to good deeds. No, this is not earning our place in heaven. Rather, this is doing the right thing when it needs to be done because of your love for the Father and the Son. You feel compelled to love others because you have first been loved by Father and Son. You give your life for others because Jesus, the Son of Man, first gave His life for you. You are willing to be obedient to the commands of the Son because you have first seen Him being obedient to the commands of the Father. These choices and the voice a person chooses to hear, will determine the future of that person.

If they choose to hear the voice of the one calling them in deception, they will be deceived. This deception tells them they are in control, and they are making all the choices. The voice says to please yourself and live your best life now. To hear the voice of the One calling out in love is to make the choice to love others before self and to give of yourself freely and fully. The first voice is calling a person to evil deeds, while the second voice is calling people to good deeds. With the power to give life and to judge justly, Jesus will call all people to life again one day. Those who did good deeds to eternal life and those who did evil deeds to eternal judgment.

These two choices have always been around, from the very beginning back in the Garden of Eden to this very day. We still have only two choices. For the Christ follower it is imperative we hear the voice of the Son of God. The issue is fighting through the chaos and all the other distractions seeking to gain your attention. We know from the example of Elijah we must be still and listen intently to hear the still small voice of God. He will not howl over the chaos but wait for you to quiet your heart and your mind before He makes His presence felt. Oh, sure, there will be those times you get the cold slap across the face, but those will be the exception, not the rule.

The enemy is still the prowling lion, looking for someone to destroy, as he walks among people. He is not particular who they are or what they do, he simply wants to devour as many as possible before the return of Messiah. We must learn to hear the voice of Jesus in all our circumstances. We can hear His voice in the Scriptures. He can and does talk to us through His word, for He has already said that those who hear His words will have eternal life. We can also hear the voice of the Savior through other Christ followers as we meet together. We can communicate with Jesus through our prayers and devotional times. We can hear the voice of Jesus calling out through music, through our pain and suffering, and through our joy and the blessings poured out upon us.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you hearing the voice of Messiah today? Music, prayer, other Christ followers?

How is the enemy trying to deceive you today?

How are you fighting the voice of indifference?

Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because the Son does the will of the Father who sent Him.

Hearing the Son of God is no easy task today. We have so many things that are vying for our attention. We have numerous screens that are screaming at us from several different directions. We have family obligations. There are always household chores to be done. There are children to consider and their busy schedules. There are meals to prepare, there are emails to be answered, there are phone calls to make, there are bills to be paid and in the background of this, there are two voices calling out to us. We must learn to turn-off the chaos and silence the voices that seek to deceive us and lead us away from the Savior.

We must be in the word, we must be in prayer, we must continue to meet for worship, we must be still and stop striving. I know, easier said than done. But take a lesson from Elijah and let yourself stop. Let God wash over you through His word, through your prayer time, through His people. We simply cannot do this in our strength or on our own energy. We will fail. We will find ourselves in the middle of burnout and before we know it, the enemy has sucker punched us right in the gut.

With the mission trip and vacations, we will not be meeting together as the full group until August 6. I will be posting a shorter message, but during this time I challenge you to listen for the voice of the Son of God. What is He saying to YOU? How are you hearing Him? Through music, prayer, His word, or other Christ followers? Use the Soul Care Sessions to help you focus your soul, your heart, your mind on the One who is calling you in love. When we return together on the 6th, I would like to know how you faired in this challenge. Keep notes if you must but learn to discern the still small voice of God through the chaos of the world and the distractions of the enemy.

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

Amen and amen.

Next Week: Romans 12:1-2

Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/2/2022

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 Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” 

                                                                                  John 5:19–24 (NASB95)

Growing up in the 70’s, whenever I hear the words Like Father, Like Son, I always remember the old anti-smoking television commercial of a father and a son spending the day together and the son doing everything the father does…including reaching for a cigarette when the pair stopped to rest in the park. I also like to watch This Old House, which also began in the 70’s. Not too many years ago This Old House began a spin-off show called Ask This Old House, a show where the stars of the show travel around the country answering viewers questions and helping with common household repairs.

Recently the show did an episode where the stars talked about those who influenced their lives and careers the most. To a person, each member of the show named their father as the biggest influence in their lives and careers. Each member followed in their father’s footsteps, including working with their fathers on the job. In effect, they imitated their fathers and used those skills to launch their careers and develop new skills and talents. To become successful they simply did what they saw their father doing. And this is exactly what we find happening in our passage this morning. Like Father, Like Son, Jesus is doing whatever He sees His Father doing, only this brings Him persecution before it will bring Him success.

Jesus answered the charge of breaking the Sabbath by explaining He is doing whatever He sees the Father doing. Like Father, Like Son, He has the power to give life and the power to judge. Those who honor Him, honor the Father, and those who hear the words of Jesus, believing Him who sent Jesus, move from death into life.

As Christ followers, we too must be doing whatever we see the Father and the Son doing – even if it means breaking the Sabbath. We point the way to the One who has the power of life and the power to judge. Like Father, Like Son, we honor the Son to honor the Father; having heard the words of Jesus and having believed He is the Son of God, we have moved from death to life.

In this message we seek to understand how the Christ follower is also Like Father, Like Son.

Like Farther, Like Son the words and actions of the Christ follower can help – or hinder – moving people from death to life.

1). Like Father Like Son, the Christ follower must be doing whatever we see the Father and the Son doing.

This might mean breaking the Sabbath because our love for people is more important than keeping the Sabbath.

After healing the man who been ill for thirty-eight years, the Pharisees bring charges against Jesus of breaking the Sabbath and being a blasphemer because He has made Himself equal to God. Our passage this morning is the beginning of the answer given by Yeshua that will last the remainder of chapter 5. In plain language, Jesus says “Look, I cannot do anything on My own. Whatever I see the Father doing, I do them Myself. I am only doing what I see My Father doing.” So, what exactly is Jesus doing? He is doing exactly what He came to do…reveal the Father to people…everyone including these Pharisees. In the end, Yeshua will reveal all things about the Father, but in particular, we see Jesus revealing the Father’s mercy, the Father’s grace, and the Father’s love.

This began back in chapter 1 of John’s gospel account where he says that “grace and truth have been realized” in Jesus. In verse 18 John tells us that Jesus, the only begotten, has explained God. This explanation of the Father begins with the rest of chapter one. We find Yeshua, the Son of God being revealed as the Lamb of God, the cure for sin; we see how the Father draws even the most skeptical of people to Him and into fellowship with His Son. We see how the Father rewards those who step out in faith to trust Him when He intervened at the wedding in Cana; we see how the Father cares about worship in His house at the cleansing of the Temple, the clearing of the money collectors and merchants from the Court of the Gentiles, the only place they are allowed to worship the Father.

In chapter three we see the care and concern the Father has for those who diligently seek Him, regardless of their current position or status, in the conversation with Nicodemus. At the end of chapter three we see how the Father works to reveal things to those He has called by the bold testimony of John the Baptist. In the Samaritan woman we see the compassion of the Father for those who are hurting in ways we cannot see; we find how the Father rewards the obedience of those who trust His spoken words. In chapter five, we see how the Father seeks to bring people to wholeness in the man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. And in our current passage, we see how the Father rewards those who are utterly dependent upon Him.

It is through the example of the Son doing what the Father is doing that the disciples learn from Jesus to do as He is doing. Though they are slow to learn at time, they do indeed learn from Jesus. A prime example of this is chapter four when the people of Samaria come out to meet Jesus. Jesus has told the disciples they are about to enter into someone else’s work. Part of this work is the work of the Father that the Son has seen Him doing and has Himself done with the Samaritan woman at the well. Remember, Jesus was compelled to walk through Samaria…because His Father was already walking there, working to draw people to Himself.

As Christ followers, we must be willing to do whatever we see the Father and the Son doing. This would include doing those things that take out of our comfort zones and make us feel a little bit uncomfortable. We just might even find ourselves with dirty hands at the end of the day! Throughout the Scriptures we see both the Father and the Son having compassion on people as if they were sheep without a shepherd. We too must have that same compassion for those who are lost and searching for a shepherd. We also see both the Father and Son offering unconditional love throughout the Scriptures. In fact, the greatest act of love is found in the Father giving His only Son to be crucified that we might have eternal life. We must have this same kind of love for the lost in our world.

We also find the Father and Son communicating at all times. Jesus spends much time in prayer, communicating with His Father. He prayed before selecting His disciples. He prayed before feeding the two large crowds. He prays before and after sending His disciples out into the world. He prays after a lengthy day of dealing with the large crowds that follow Him. Throughout the New Testament we hear Jesus saying He heard something from His Father. He also talks about how the Father reveals things to Him. And here we read that the Father loves the Son and is showing Him (Jesus) all He (the Father) is doing. Communication between Father and Son is at a premium. We must have this same commitment to communication with the Father and His Son, our Lord.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

When was the last time you “saw” the Father and the Son doing something and started doing this same thing?

How are you showing others the mercy, grace, and love of God found in Christ?

How is your communication with the Father and His Son, our Lord?

Like Farther, Like Son the words and actions of the Christ follower can help – or hinder – moving people from death to life.

2). Like Father, Like Son the words of the Christ follower have the power to bring life or cast someone into judgment.

A word of encouragement can bring life to a lifeless soul, but a harsh word spoken carelessly might, unintentionally, sent cast shadows of judgment.

Because of His absolute dependence on the Father we see Yeshua given the ability to do all things the Father is doing. The Psalms tell us that God alone judges. Daniel and Jeremiah tell us the Messiah will have authority to judge. In John we see Jesus claiming and demonstrating His authority to judge. Isaiah tells us God alone heals. Isaiah also tells us the Messiah will have the power to heal. In John we see Jesus demonstrating His power to heal. In Genesis, Deuteronomy, 1 Samuel, and 2 Kings, we find that God alone gives life. Isaiah tells us that the Messiah has power to give life. In John we see Jesus claiming and demonstrating His power to give life.

In fact, Jesus has stated plainly that He CANNOT do anything on His own.  Notice that Jesus did not say He WOULD NOT but rather that He cannot do something the Father is not doing. Unless He has seen the Father doing something He cannot do it Himself. Think about the implications for what we have seen in John alone. Jesus turned water to wine meaning He saw the Father doing this exact same thing. Jesus cleansed the Temple of merchants meaning Jesus saw the Father doing this same thing. Jesus showed compassion, mercy, healed, gave life, and is in the process of judging all because He has seen the Father doing the same things.

Everything the Son does is meant to bring honor to the Father. Yeshua does not step outside of His Fathers influence, protection, or instructions. He will only do what the Father has shown Him or made known to Him. He honors the Father that others might also honor the Father, either directly or through honoring the Son, Yeshua. Every healing is meant to honor the Father. Every life returned to someone is meant to honor the Father. Every rebuke, command and teaching are meant to honor the Father. Through honoring the Father comes judgment.

Jesus states that those who hear His words and believe One who sent Him will have eternal life. But it is the second part that should truly capture our attention…those who hear and believe do not enter into judgment but pass from life to death. Jesus clearly has the power over life and death and now He has added the power to judge or to keep someone from judgment. There can be absolutely no doubt that the Father and Son are equal, sharing the same power to give life and to judge. The Son has been sent by the Father as His representative, equal in power and able to speak with authority for the Father.

In John chapter 5 we see the Son doing as the Father is doing…judging, healing, and giving life. We too can and must be willing to do all of this in gentleness and love. It is a mistaken thought that we are NOT to judge. This is not at all what the Scriptures teach us. The Scriptures say we are not to judge HYPOCRITICALLY. What this means is we do not judge someone’s sin while at the same time keeping the same sin hidden from others. We also cannot and must not judge someone’s heart or motives, this task is best left to the Lord. We must also be aware of how we speak to others for our words can judge, bring life and healing, or tear a person down, even if it is done unintentionally.

We forget the power of the spoken word. How many times have you been having a day that could go either way…good or bad, and then someone pops off a comment that completely sends your day in a tailspin? Or how many horrible days have been turned around by a simple word of encouragement from someone who had no clue you were having a bad day? One word cast shadows of judgment while the other word brought life to a hopeless day. What parent hasn’t snapped at their child and then felt the overwhelming guilt for speaking without thinking? How many people can you think of that have spoken kindly to you and influenced your day, week, month, or even your career? We must never forget the power of our words.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are your words bringing life and healing to others? Or are they casting shadows of judgment?

What do you hear the Father and/or the Son speaking to you?

Can you think of someone close to you that needs to hear an encouraging word today?

Like Farther, Like Son the words and actions of the Christ follower can help – or hinder – moving people from death to life.

Doing what we “see” the Father and the Son doing is never going to be easy, but it is what we are called to do. We have been set apart for the holy purposes of a holy God. At times, that will mean, we will be moved beyond where we are comfortable, and we will need to get our hands dirty at other times. But in doing what we see the Father and Son doing will come great reward. Imagine how the disciples must have felt when they looked up to see the people of Samaria coming out to meet Jesus. Imagine the work they must have put in as they kept coming and coming. Jesus made a point of telling them they were going to reap where they did not sow. They took part in that great soul harvest of the Samaritan people. We are called to take part of the soul harvest in our sphere of influence.

We are also kept from judgment as long as we continue to hear the words of Jesus and believe the One who sent Jesus. We have moved from death into life, walking in the Light of Christ Jesus. Now it is our responsibility to show this same love to others who do not know Jesus. Yes, this is a scary prospect, and the work is not going to be easy. But we have an advantage, the promised Holy Spirit, sent to help us remember the teachings and commands of Jesus, to walk with us through everything we face and to bring us the right words at the right time, in even the most difficult of situations.

This will not be easy, nor should we expect it to be easy. But the rewards far outweigh any suffering or persecution we might suffer. Time is growing short so keep your eyes open and your ears tuned for the Father and Son will surely be showing us where they are working and how we can work beside them in the coming day, weeks and months.

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

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 5:25-32

An Unlawful Healing

An Unlawful Healing

Home Church Service 6/25/2022

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.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day.

So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”  

                                                                                    John 5:1–18 (NASB95)

Being a diabetic, I am always aware of new research and findings in how to deal with or manage diabetes. For many years it was the “company line” that diabetes was not reversable once a diabetic, you were thought to be a diabetic for life. Those diagnosed as diabetic were immediately put on drugs to “control” the symptoms and keep the glucose, or blood sugar, in the body at manageable numbers. In addition, patients were told to avoid carbs and lose weight. As research began to come out, many would jump to the latest and greatest diet or “wonder pill” to cure their diabetes and allow them to return to a normal life. As you might have guessed, most of those “wonder pills” simply did not work.

Finally, research is available that proves diabetes can be reversed. This is not good news for the big pharmacy companies, and in many cases, the doctors that prescribe the drugs to control diabetes. The simple fact is the American diet has caused this dreaded disease to spread throughout our country and a reversal of our bad choices when eating will help reverse this disease. Like the Pharisees in our passage today, the big pharmacy companies will find this to be An Unlawful Healing, taking away the power of big pharma and ruin their reputations and make their position of power tenuous at best.

Jesus attends a feast of the Jews in Jerusalem, while there He walks among the afflicted at the pool of Bethesda. Here, He meets a man who has been ill for thirty-eight years. When asked if he wants to get well, the man offers a complaint as an excuse. Jesus performs An Unlawful Healing, commanding the man to get up, pick up his pallet, and walk. When questioned the man points to Jesus who claims to be working just as His Father is working, causing the Jews to seek to kill Him for breaking the Sabbath and making Himself equal to God.

As Christ followers, we too may find ourselves among the afflicted and find ourselves facing the question, “Do you want to get well?” We may deflect the question or find ourselves making an excuse not to move or seek healing, thinking ourselves unworthy of such a healing. At times our pride will get in the way of the healing touch of Yeshua, fearing that we cause Him to perform An Unlawful Healing, yet Yeshua wants to work in us just as the Father is working in us.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is the impact of An Unlawful Healing on the faith of the Christ follower?”

An Unlawful Healing shows the care and concern of Yeshua for those who call Him Lord.

1). An Unlawful Healing will refute any excuse the Christ follower might be able to make.

We must be willing to move beyond our own preconceived ideas about healing and the power of Yeshua to perform healings.

We find Yeshua walking among the afflicted at the pool near the sheep gate called Bethesda. Until recently it was thought this pool did not exist or that the gospel account of John might have been completely inaccurate. Now, however, both pools mentioned in John’s account have been discovered, making John’s account reliable and confirming the accuracy of the biblical writers. There is also evidence to prove that this pool was situated within the walls of Jerusalem and found not far from the Temple and the Temple cleansing pools used by the priests during their time of priestly duty. Further evidence points to this pool being associated with the Greco-Roman god Asclepius – the god of well-being and health.

The daughters of this god were Hygeia and Panacea, you can hear in their Greek names our modern words hygiene and panacea, key concepts associated with modern medicine. Snakes were also a key characteristic of Asclepius and his healing pools. Even today, modern medicine uses the snake wrapped around a pole as its symbol. Yes, this symbol dates back to the time of Jesus! The pool at Bethesda was likely part of the Greek culture being brought into Jerusalem, along with other Roman projects such as the Roman theater and the bathhouse. This would mean that the pool of Bethesda was not a Jewish site, but a Greek site associated with Asclepius.

The name Bethesda means “house of mercy” in Hebrew. This pool was thought to be fed by a natural spring but the discovery of the pool, and its location, makes it more likely the pool was fed by pipes. Priests associated with the pool would open the upper pipes and allow water to enter the pool through the lower pipes, thus stirring the waters of the pool. In the NASB the last part of verse three and all of verse four are in parentheses, indicating that this portion of Scripture is not found in the earliest and best manuscripts of the Scriptures. It is likely that a scribe unfamiliar with Asclepius but very familiar with the Jewish preoccupation with angels has added this portion of Scripture to add clarity for the reader.

Jesus finds a man at the pool who has been ill for thirty-eight years, hoping to find a way into the pool when the waters are stirred up. As Jesus approaches him and finally addresses him with a question, “Do you wish to get well?” the man can only make an excuse for not being healed. For someone who has come with the hope of being healed, this man’s answer is anything but hopeful. We find a man who has been in the context of a deeply religious environment – a Greek religion – he is a man with a deep personal need, in a place filled with human suffering, without any hope. The man deflects the question without ever truly answering the question put before him, “Do you wish to get well?”

I want to make this perfectly clear, what I am about to share comes from my personal experience during my time in ministry. I am aware that this may not be the experience of others and not everyone will feel or believe what I am about to share. I have found that most people who call themselves Christians have a limited or narrow understanding of healing. The belief that I have found to be common among these people is healing means to be cured, to be living, active, and fully recovered from what ailed them. Anything less is a reflection on the person’s life, beliefs, or a general lack of faith in that person. If healing does not come as they understand healing, then their prayers and time spent praying have been for nothing, or Jesus is unable to heal this person for some unknown reason – a part of God’s plan we do not need to know.

The man at the pool made the excuse that he had no one to help him into the pool, we make excuses that the person did not have enough faith, or it is part of God’s plan and we don’t need to know that plan. Others think that Jesus could not heal that person, or perhaps His power was limited in some way because of the disease. Again, these are things I have experienced during my time in ministry. It is sad to think the people of God have such a limited knowledge and experience of God’s power in their lives that they truly believe Yeshua, the King of the Universe, cannot heal someone or His power is somehow limited.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you experiencing the power of Jesus in your life?

What excuses have you made when Jesus tries to work in your life?

Do you find yourself doubting the power of Jesus? If so, how?

2). An Unlawful Healing is meant to draw us into a deeper faith and away from fear and doubt.

We must remember when God works in us, He leaves us with a warning so that nothing worse will happen to us, moving us away from fear, doubt, and superstition.

Despite the man’s excuse, Yeshua heals the man with a simple command, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” That seem pretty clear to me, but then again, I thought the question was straight forward, “Do you wish to get well?” how much clearer could that be? I mentioned earlier that there are two pools mentioned in John’s account. This pool at Bethesda and the pool at Siloam. This healing is different from the healing of the blind man at Siloam. Here, Jesus does not command the man to go and wash in the pool, He simply commands the man to get up. In the healing of the blind man, He commands the man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash himself. The difference? The pool of Bethesda is a pagan place while the pool of Siloam is associated with the Jerusalem Temple.

There is something else happening here that we need to be aware of. Remember I told you how important the Old Testament is to John and his gospel account, especially the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. What we see here is yet another echo of Genesis. John begins his gospel account with the familiar words, “In the beginning.” When we read those words in Genesis, we are told that God began to create and He created through His spoken word, the Word, of course, being Yeshua, Jesus. Through the spoken words of Jesus order is brought out of chaos and the heavens and the earth are created. Jesus is walking in a place of human suffering, there is sickness – the symbol of human chaos – and through the spoken word of Jesus order is brought out of chaos and the man is healed. Why is this important? Because the Royal Son of Israel’s God has come into a pagan place and healed a Judean man without any magic spells or formulas, He did it by simply telling the man to get up and walk. Jesus healed this man just like Israel’s God created the universe, through His spoken word.  

Jesus finds the man in the Temple and tells the man to see that he does not sin anymore that nothing worse will happen to him. We can say we have no idea what this sin might be, but if we keep within our context, it appears Jesus is warning this man, a Jew, not to give in to adulterous involvement in Greek religious worship. It appears these words have something to do with where Jesus found him. The next action taken by this man is to run to the Jewish religious authorities and report that it was Jesus who had healed him and told him to carry his pallet. Could it be this man is upset at the rebuke of Yeshua about his Greek worship habits, which truly amount to idol worship?

Now, you and I know this is An Unlawful Healing because Yeshua healed the man on the Sabbath, something that is strictly forbidden by the religious elite in Jerusalem. But the Greek word that is used for “breaking” the Sabbath can be translated a different way; it can also be translated as “setting the Sabbath free.” But there is something more here than simply breaking the Sabbath. In the ancient mind, to worship a divinity and honoring a divinity were NOT the same thing. Jesus has gone into the Greek temple and performed a healing where the god Asclepius was worshiped, or at least honored, by many in Judah who went there for healing. What has happened is that Yeshua has declared His redeeming and healing Kingship over Israel by physically healing one of the lost sheep of Israel, demonstrating His full authority over sickness, and putting to shame the false claims of pagan worshipers and those among God’s people who had joined their beliefs in silence that condones the behavior.

This man was steeped in idol worship and superstition. He turned from the God he claimed to love and served. He missed the visitation of the One who holds the universe in the palm of His hand, the King of the Universe, the One who holds all things together. The very presence of Jesus, His teachings, and His signs were spelling trouble for the Jerusalem Temple elite. They simply are not ready for this type of Messiah among them or the people they hold within their power. So, the make-up false accusations against Him, claim He is a blasphemer, and ignore the sins of the people, all to quiet the words of the Son of God.

We face these same things in our world today. People turn from the God they claim to love and serve only to run to have their palms read, or get a card reading, or turn to astrology and horoscopes. People deny the claim that Yeshua has on their lives, especially those in the church. Far too many are rejecting the commands of Jesus, they remove the hard sayings of Jesus but readily accept the “soft touch” gospel that waters down those things they do not fully accept. When this happens, we limit the power of Yeshua, we limit Him to His humanity, making Him like us so we do not have to obey those things we disagree with. Our doubts, our fears, and even our superstitions drive us away from the One we are to be drawn closer to, to grow deeper in faith, love, and service.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you limiting Jesus in your life today? If not, how are you keeping yourself from limiting Him?

How is the enemy planting doubt and fear in you today?

Where do you need a “healing” today?

An Unlawful Healing shows the care and concern of Yeshua for those who call Him Lord.

With this healing, the Judean Jews authority, their popularity, and their community influence are threatened to the core by this unprecedented challenge issued by Jesus. We find this happens often in life. Any time a pioneer in any field takes a strong lead over others in the field, the challenged and threatened establishment attempts to launch an attack against the challenger’s character. In our faith, this happens almost every day. Somewhere, someone is trying to refute the validity of our faith, the Bible, the existence of God, that Jesus is the only way to heaven, or that Jesus or the Father has power to change people, the world, and remove our sin.

When we doubt, we open the door for the enemy to plant further seeds of doubt. He then begins to twist the Scriptures to water those seeds, so they grow and take root. In some way, we have all experienced the power of Jesus in our lives. It may be a healing, it might be in protection, it might be in the removal of people or things that cause us to drift from Him. Everything that comes our way is meant to test us, to help us grow in faith, trust, and devotion to the God we serve. They serve to remove any excuses we might be able to make, excuses that try to explain away what has happened as a natural occurrence. Granted, in some cases, that may be exactly what it is, a natural occurrence used by God. The point is, we have no more excuses. We have been called and drawn by the Father to His Son. He has brought us into the family of God through His spoken word in our lives.

God works in us to draw us closer to Him, to help develop the hunger that only He can satisfy. He wants us to leave our fears and our doubts behind and depend upon Him fully for all our needs. Continually He is calling order out of chaos in the lives of those who call Him Lord and Savior. Yeshua has the power to refute the false claims of pagan idols and false gods. He has the power to rebuke those who love Him so nothing worse might happen to them. He has the power to work in us just as the Father is working in us. He is the King of the Universe, and He alone holds all things together. There are no more excuses to be had or made. Now is the time to be bold in your witness, bold in your faithfulness, bold in your declaration that evil has no place in your life, bold in the declaration that sin has no hold on you, bold in the claim that you stand in the victory of Jesus over sickness, death, the grave, sin and the enemy.

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

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 5:19-24