Good Questions Lead To Spiritual Answers

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John 6:25 – 40

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27  Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31  Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

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35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

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The last words of the final verse of our previous Bible study ended with the crowds going “to Capernaum to search for Jesus.”  That sounds great, doesn’t it?  Literally hundreds of people were going to great lengths to cross or walk around the Sea of Galilee because they were eager to find Jesus.  And yet we find out in this passage above that they were not spiritually motivated to find Him.

A dialogue ensues with the people first asking, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”  Actually, I think they were much more interested in knowing “how” He got there (remember that Jesus walked on top of the water to cross over).  And they may have implicitly been asking “why” he had left the other side of the lake to come here.  I mean, wasn’t Jesus at the peak of His ministry when He miraculously fed the multitudes?

    

But Jesus saw through that question and knew that the people were much more interested in the miracle than they were interested in knowing the One who performed the miracle.  Jesus then challenged the crowd with an answer that basically tells us that “working for bread” (i.e. the necessities of earthly things) pales in importance to the “spiritual bread” that is available and is equated with doing the works that God would be pleased with.

The people hear how Jesus tied this idea of “spiritual bread” which grants eternal life to this concept of doing “the works of God”.   And so their next question then (in wanting “bread which leads to eternal life”) is, “What works must we do?”  (This is an age-old question actually.  Many people believe that if we “do the right things” then we will be rewarded by God with eternal life.)

    

Jesus then answered as clearly and as bluntly as He can.  What God wants us to do more than anything else, is to put our faith in Jesus, the One whom God sent to earth to be the Saviour of the world.  The people still get stuck on the miracle of physical bread though, which their greatest prophet Moses gave them from heaven.  Jesus corrects this faulty thought to say that ultimately it is God who provides all things, both physically and spiritually.

Once more Jesus cuts straight to the heart of the matter and declares boldly, “I am the bread of life!”  In that statement, Jesus claims many things: 1) He, like the bread from heaven, have been sent by God; 2) all who want spiritual sustenance and eternal life must come to Jesus to get it; and 3) only by “eating” and “drinking” of Him (i.e. be fully dependent upon and immersed into a relationship with Him) can a person hope to gain eternal life.

    

And then Jesus openly declares the reason for Him being sent from heaven to earth, namely to reach out to those who desire to pursue this relationship with God.  And for those that do come by faith to Him, Jesus says he will not lose hold of them but by the power and authority of God Himself will raise these kinds of people back from the dead and grant them the gift of eternal life with God in heaven.

Friend, are you still outside of a relationship with Jesus and God the Father?  Consider what questions you have and turn to Jesus for some answers.  He will give them to you.  Are you ready to hear those answers and to follow after Him?  I hope you are, and I hope you do.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

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God’s Assignment – Part 3

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Expect Great Things From God

This article picks up where I left off a week ago which you can read here.  I felt rather discouraged when I left PNG in October, 2010.  I had thought that our plan for a five-week trip to Papua New Guinea would be sufficient time for us to be able to check the Gospel of Matthew in the W. language.  But with me needing at least 4 days to travel there and 4 more days to come back, plus an adjustment period of a few days, we really only had about three weeks to do the work.

And normally, that would have been plenty of time.  But as I wrote last week, there were the issues of illnesses and deaths that cast quite a shadow over our work and caused us to end our checking sessions earlier than planned.   So we only finished checking 20 chapters of Matthew.  And in light of this, Jill and I started asking ourselves different questions.

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One of the first questions we asked was, “Should I (Norm) try to plan a longer trip so that I can accomplish more, or at least do the same amount of work that I would normally get done after two short trips to PNG?”  It certainly would be financially smarter to do one long trip, rather than two short ones, because of how much airline tickets cost just to get there.

Another question we asked ourselves was, “Would my health hold up and could I manage well if I came to PNG for a longer visit?”  And related to that, “If Jill were not able to get all the time off to be with me on a long trip, could we get enough resources and help from people put in place to allow me to live and work over there without Jill?”

And so we weighed out these questions, while at the same time we considered the requests from the Branch for me to come back in early 2011 to help do the consultant checking on a number of New Testament books.  I was asked to help finish the book of Matthew in the W. language, then check up to as many as five Pauline epistles for a second language, and then the book of Hebrews in a third language.

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My decision was to say “Yes” to all these requests, for I knew how difficult it was to get consultants to do the checking sessions.  But considering that there were only about 13 weeks for me to get my prep work done, and there were 39 chapters to check (mostly epistle material), the chances were slim that I could do all the preparation before I headed over there.  I knew I would have to make some choices based on the priority and checking dates of each project.

So here is what I decided.  Even though it would be the last material checked, I prepared my comments and questions for the first 10 chapters of Hebrews.  It is a very fascinating book, and I really had no idea how difficult and complex it would be.  It took me over a month to prepare these 10 chapters.  I figured that the last three chapters could be worked on once I got to PNG.

Then I switched to doing checking preparation on the other epistles (Eph., Phil., Col., Philemon, and Jude)  for the T. language group.  Now by just looking at my weekly average of doing prep work, I was certain I could do the first three epistles before flying down under.  Philemon and Jude would have to wait until I got into the country to finish them.  And as for Matthew, I knew the translation team quite well by this time, and so I told them that I could work with them without having the written VE (Vernacular-to-Englush) texts.  I would depend on listening well to an oral back-translation of the text.

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And so the checking sessions started on February 3rd with the T. language team.  It was amazing to see how quickly we were able to do the checking of the three larger epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians).  It took roughly two days to check each book.  Mind you, the average length of all the chapters of these books is about 25 verses.  So that means we were checking on average about 8 verses per hour.

The team wanted to get back a bit early, so we didn’t try to check Jude or Philemon.  They will have to wait till later.  That gave me a two-day rest before working with the W. language team on the last 8 chapters of Matthew.  And again, we did the work in just over 6 days of work.  Did you know that Matthew chapter 26 (75 verses) and chapter 27 (66 verses) are the 2nd and the 5th longest chapters in the New Testament?

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After spending a month in the highlands of PNG, then Jill and I flew down to the main city of Madang on the north shore where our mission office is located.  We enjoyed a few days of rest and a bit of relaxing beside a swimming pool, and then I dove into the checking sessions of Hebrews with the A. language team.  It was delayed slightly, which didn’t surprise me, as it is always so difficult for the nationals to walk, float, drive or even fly out of their villages to get to town.

Since this was the first time I worked with this language group, I allowed up to 12 days to get the entire book checked.  And again, God gave us all the strength, wisdom and insight to check and revise the material in just 8 days.  This allowed me to get some other language catch up work done, and to get rested before I started my long journey back to Canada.

So now we are reflecting on the questions that I wrote about above.  Are longer trips better?  How would I do health-wise?  What should we plan for future trips?  I think you can see that things definitely went well.  And the future holds great promises, of which I will write about next week.  So stay tuned.  🙂


My New Year’s Resolution

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What do the Scriptures say?

It is the tradition of many people to make “New Year’s Resolutions” on January 1st each year.  These commitments or pledges are often made with very good intentions.  But for many people, it seems that whatever they had promised to do, or not to do, it isn’t long before they have broken that promise.  And thus, their resolve to do good or to not do something bad gets eaten away and the next year ends up looking a lot like the previous year.

It is because of this rather normal human tendency that I have not made New Year’s resolutions as a general rule.  But this year, I want to try my very best to make and to hold to a good commitment.  I want to be able to make and to hold to a promise.  But I’m going to ask for your help to do what I have in mind.  I am going to turn to my readers to keep me on track.

What is prompting my thought is my reflection on Acts 17:11.  This verse says:

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

It is my desire to study Scriptures on a regular basis, and to reflect on the truth and the application of these Bible passages.  Then, I want to be able to share them with you, my audience.  I have always found over the years, that the Bible comes more alive when you study Scripture and then seek to share what you have learned with someone else.  Just ask any preacher, Sunday School teacher or leader of a small group Bible study, and they will say the same thing.

I have had a number of opportunities to share with all of you what I have called “Bible Truth Nuggets”.  As God gives me insight into a passage or a verse, often a story or an application will come with that, and so I write it down and share it with you.  And I am glad to be able to share these things with you.  But what I write about might not hit home with you at the time I write an article because you may be in a different place in life than I am.

What I want to do, is to try to match my study of Scriptures with where you are at in your lives.  There might be a verse or passage that you wished you understood better, or might have a question as to what it means or how it applies to your life.  It’s possible that if you were to write to me about your questions or thoughts on God and His Word, that the Spirit could guide me to give you a good response that would be helpful for you at the very time that you need it.

So my proposal and my resolution is this:

Ask me a question, and I will find out what the Bible has to say about it.

I have no idea if some, or any, or none of you at this time have a question that you would like me to research to see what God’s Word says regarding your thought or question.  But it is my desire to make “The Listening Post” a place where we can dialog together and with each other discover more about what God is trying to tell us.

In other words, “The Listening Post” is meant to be a place where I listen to you and you listen to me, but most importantly, we all listen to God.  These articles will naturally be more “my stories” which I share with you.  But if you will take me up on my challenge, then what I write and share with you can be guided by the questions and thoughts you have for me.  And I will always keep it confidential as to who wrote the question.  And I will not divulge details that in any way would compromise your anonymity.

To get in touch with me, all you need to do is to look up my name in Facebook.  Even if you are not on my Friend list, you can still send me a message.

I look forward to hearing from many of you over the months that lie ahead of us in 2011.  Remember, we are all in this journey together.

As one of His servants,

Norm Weatherhead