Where Does Jesus Come From?

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John 9:24 – 34

24 The leaders called the man back and said, “Swear by God to tell the truth! We know that Jesus is a sinner.” 25 The man replied, “I don’t know if he is a sinner or not. All I know is that I used to be blind, but now I can see!”

26 “What did he do to you?” the Jewish leaders asked. “How did he heal your eyes?” 27 The man answered, “I have already told you once, and you refused to listen. Why do you want me to tell you again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 The leaders insulted the man and said, “You are his follower! We are followers of Moses. 29 We are sure that God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where Jesus comes from.”

30 “How strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from. 31 We know that God listens only to people who love and obey him. God doesn’t listen to sinners. 32 And this is the first time in history that anyone has ever given sight to someone born blind. 33 Jesus could not do anything unless he came from God.”

34 The leaders told the man, “You have been a sinner since the day you were born! Do you think you can teach us anything?” Then they said, “You can never come back into any of our meeting places!”

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This passage is the third segment of this story about when Jesus healed the man who had been blind since birth.  It is easy to see that this seriously rattled the religious leaders, the Pharisees.  It was their job to not only teach the Laws of God, as they were handed down by Moses.  But it was also their responsibility to guard the people from false teachings which could draw them away from God.

Thus, there was nothing wrong for them to start out by saying, “Swear by God to tell the truth!”  Now this is not the same as cursing or using profanity.  Rather, just as it was with legal cases, a witness was to testify under oath by the highest authority, namely God Himself, that his testimony that he would give was in fact the truth.

No, the problem here is that the Pharisees had already made a decision in their minds about Jesus, and they tried to force the man to agree with their assessment.  The leaders, who were so upset about Jesus breaking their religious ritual of not working on the Sabbath Day, made the conclusion that such a man must be a sinner, guilty of breaking a law of God.

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The man who had been healed though would not give in to this religious prejudice.  Instead, he simply stated what were obvious facts.  Before, he had been blind.  After Jesus touched him, then he could see.  And based on all the religious knowledge he had, the only possible conclusion for him is that Jesus had to have come from God.  That is, Jesus had to have the blessing of God and the authority of God to perform such a miracle.

You know, this story is filled with such irony.  The one who was blind could now see clearly that Jesus was a man of God.  And he challenged these leaders who should have been able to see, but were blind to the truth that was right in front of them.  There was a simple man teaching those who were thought of as the “Teachers” of their society the truth about where Jesus came from.

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As amazing as this story is, with all of its irony, I believe we still have people today who are very much in the dark when it comes to understanding who Jesus really is.  There are many people today that say that Jesus was a good man, and he was a very good teacher.  They consider all the good things Jesus did, and the ethical teachings he taught, but they cannot go further to say that He is “from God”.  Or more importantly, that He is God, the second member of the Trinity.

And yet, if we really look closely at all that Jesus said and did, I believe we cannot hold on to the claim that He was “just a good man, and good teacher”.  In the gospel accounts, Jesus claimed more than once that He would rise from the dead after being crucified on the cross.  (See Mark 8:31; 9:31 and 10:34)  He also made claims of being the Promised Messiah, and that in fact He is God.  (Read carefully John 4:25-26; 5:17-18; and 8:53-59)

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Now if you and I were in a courtroom and heard all the testimony which Jesus gave concerning himself, then we would have to agree with some Christian authors who have said that there are only three choices available to us.  Either Jesus was a lunatic, to believe such grand egocentric ideas that he could rise from the dead and call himself God.  Or he was a liar, who has deceived millions of people over the past two millennium.

Or we have to accept him as Lord, the One who truly has the power to overcome death and is in fact God who has come to live among us.  What we cannot believe is that Jesus was simply a “good man”.  For his claims have to be false, making Him a very bad man.  Or they are true, which makes Him God.  The Pharisees could not see this and accept this.  But the man who once was blind, was now coming to see the truth concerning Jesus and where He came from.  How about you?

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

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Jesus Is The Light Of The World

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John 8:12 – 20

12 Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.” 13 The Pharisees objected, “You are the only one speaking for yourself, and what you say isn’t true!”

14 Jesus replied: Even if I do speak for myself, what I say is true! I know where I came from and where I am going. But you don’t know where I am from or where I am going. 15 You judge in the same way that everyone else does, but I don’t judge anyone. 16 If I did judge, I would judge fairly, because I would not be doing it alone. The Father who sent me is here with me. 17 Your Law requires two witnesses to prove that something is true. 18 I am one of my witnesses, and the Father who sent me is the other one.

19 “Where is your Father?” they asked. “You don’t know me or my Father!” Jesus answered. “If you knew me, you would know my Father.” 20 Jesus said this while he was still teaching in the place where the temple treasures were stored. But no one arrested him, because his time had not yet come.

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Our passage above starts with “Once again Jesus spoke to the people…”  The event of bringing the woman caught in adultery (7:53 – 8:11) was a sidebar to the larger story which began in chapter 7 with Jesus standing up at the Feast of Tabernacles to teach the people.  We now return to some powerful teachings of Jesus while He was in Jerusalem.

From this point on, we will often come across topics and themes that have come up before within the Gospel of John.  It will not be difficult to see these major threads of divine truth that are woven through the book.  The bold statement of Jesus, “I am the light of the world” and that those who follow Him will “never walk in darkness” takes us all the way back to 1:4–5:

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

According to John, light equals life and darkness equals all that is sinful and evil.  The Pharisees who were listening heard this and immediately challenged Jesus.  They cannot accept Him as the ultimate source of light and life.  When they say this cannot be true and that Jesus is [wrongfully] speaking for Himself, they are actually challenging His authority to be able to make such a claim.

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In verses 14–18, Jesus goes on to give four reasons as to why He had every right to claim that He was the true source of Life for all mankind.  First of all, He knows with absolute certainty what His true origin is and what His ultimate destiny is.  Looking ahead to 16:28, Jesus said, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”  As God’s Son, Jesus had a divine origin and later returned back to His divine realm united with God the Father.

Secondly, Jesus’ standards for His moral life and His teachings have always been far above human standards.  In verse 15, Jesus basically says that we all will make subjective and flawed judgments when evaluating others and spiritual truth.  In the Greek, He literally says, “you judge according to the flesh.”  And the Bible is quite clear that the human flesh is flawed by being worldly and sinful.  But Jesus was never flawed in this way, and so He could speak about Himself with such divine authority.

Jesus goes on though to say that even if He were to condemn another, just like the Pharisees were trying to do to Him, Jesus is able to do it in a fair and just manner for He has God the Father on His side helping Him to speak and to do all that He came to do.  Even though Jesus left the realm of Heaven, the Father never left His side, and so as a fourth proof of His divine authority, Jesus stated as required by Jewish Law, that two witnesses (His own and that of God’s) qualified Jesus to be One who spoke the truth, that is, that He is the source of eternal life which becomes the Light for all mankind.

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Wow!!  This is powerful stuff!  Unfortunately for the Pharisees, they had never really developed a personal relationship with God.  So when they challenged Jesus with regards to His paternity (“Where is your father?”) they thought they might trap Jesus to admit to the popular scandal that He was born illegitimately by Joseph out of wedlock, but they in fact indict themselves that they know very little about who Jesus really is and who His real Father is, that is, God the Father.

The Pharisees were spiritually blind with regards to Jesus’ true identity and authority.  Jesus is the Light of the world.  He is the source of true spiritual Life.  At some point, every person will have to make a decision as to who Jesus is.  Human sinfulness continues to keep people blind to this spiritual truth.  But it does not have to remain this way.

My friend, have you come into the light of Truth and discovered Jesus’ true identity?  I’m glad you are reading this article.  But even better would be if you would open the Gospel accounts of the New Testament and read for yourself to find out who Jesus is.  He is calling even now, “Come to Me, and come into the Light of Life.”

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

Spiritual Life Comes From The Holy Spirit

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John 7:37 – 44

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.

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In this short passage, four things jump right out and ask us to look into them more closely.  What is this Festival that Jesus was at, and how important is it to what he says?  What is it that Jesus is actually offering to people who come to Him?  Why did the people think that Jesus might be the great Prophet they had been waiting for?  And why are they confused about Jesus’ identity?

Let’s start with this day of celebration in Jerusalem.  This was the annual Festival of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Booths.  This was the time when the Jews would remember the years of wandering in the desert and had to live in tents until they finally crossed the Jordan River and could live in houses.  At this Festival, thousands of Jews would come to Jerusalem and pitch a tent, or a covered booth, and remember God’s protection and provision to them in the past.

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On the very last day of the Festival, there was to be extra rejoicing as the end of the week commemorated their forefathers entry into the promised land of Canaan, the land which “flowed with milk and honey”.  At this climactic moment, Jesus stood up and boldly proclaimed, “Come to me whoever is thirsty.”  And to whoever would put their trust in Him, He promised them, “rivers of living water”.

Think about the picture of the ancient Israelites who wandered the barren deserts for forty years.  Their greatest need was to find water.  They found out very quickly that they had to trust God to supply their daily needs.  The most dramatic example of this is when God told Moses to “strike the rock, and water shall flow from it.” (Read Exodus 17:1-7)

What Jesus was saying to the people was that just like God Himself through Moses provided natural water to sustain their bodies in the desert, so now Jesus was by analogy saying that He was like God and could provide sustaining water to the people there in Jerusalem.  But not just natural water, but spiritual water that could refresh the hearts and souls of those who would put their trust in Him.

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No wonder the people began to say, “This must be the great Prophet,” which alludes to Deuteronomy 18:18 where God promised Moses that another great Prophet like him would one day come to help the people of Israel.  Some people went even further and declared that Jesus must be the Messiah, the specially anointed One whom God would send to save Israel.

And yet, when the people are so close to the truth about who Jesus was, and is, they became confused.  They had been taught that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem of Judea.  They had heard that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee.  They could not reconcile the rumours with their teachings.  What is sad is that both of these statements were true, for Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem, but then raised up in Nazareth.

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I believe that the situation today is not much different from that day long ago.  So many people are still wandering around in spiritually dry waste lands.  Many seek to fill this spiritual void in their lives, but they are looking in the wrong places.  Jesus is still standing before us all and saying, “Come to Me, and I will quench your spiritual thirst.”

When Jesus died on the cross, He opened the flood gates of God’s compassion and forgiveness for our sins.  That is, to whomever will accept Jesus as the One who paid the penalty for sin for them.  And when Jesus was raised from the dead and returned to Heaven, He was then able to release the power and the life of the Holy Spirit into all of our lives.

That is what is meant above about the Spirit not having been given yet.  While Jesus was on earth, He ministered directly to those who were immediately there before Him.  Remember that God is really three Persons-in-One, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  And God chose to limit His involvement with mankind as one Person at a time.  We all had to wait for Christ to ascend before the Holy Spirit could descend and empower and fill each one of God’s children.

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Consider what has been said here and ask yourself this: “Is my life spiritually dead and dry?”  Then I invite you to turn to Jesus who can forgive you of your sins and release the power of the Holy Spirit into your life.  And don’t be like some of those Jews who thought they knew who Jesus was and where He came from.  Read the Bible and find out for yourself.  God bless you on your journey for Truth and Life.

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

Jesus: Giver of Grace & Truth

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John 1:14 – 18

The Word Became Flesh

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.1

Stop!  Listen!  God’s Word is speaking powerfully here.  What we know to be true, and have heard many times, is a very profound truth.  Nine short words that say so much.  In fact, a large part of the Christian message is contained within these words.  What are these words you say?  They are the first nine words of this new section we are studying, brief and succinct but very powerful:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

As we learned from our first study (John 1:1-5), the “Word” was, and is, one of the eternal Persons of the Godhead.  This Person, the Word, was the Agent through whom all of the created universe came into existence and became real in time and space.  And now we find out that this Eternal Word stepped into our time and space to become a real human being and to live among us.

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Theologically, this is known as the “Incarnation”, where God emptied Himself of His own divine nature so that He could take on the form of man and share in the specific culture and language of a first century Jewish person.  He came and “dwelt among us”, which literally means that He “put up his tent for the purpose of living with us.”  He wanted to become one of us so that as a Man, He would be able to help save all men.  Only as an Insider could He do this, not as an Outsider.

This is one of the most important goals we aspire to as missionaries.  Though we could never really compare ourselves to Jesus, who left Heaven to become a human, we too must be willing to leave all that is wonderful and comfortable back in our home countries to go and live among some of the poorest and most neglected peoples of the world.  This is called “Incarnational Ministry”, where we go live among the people as one of them, just as Jesus modelled for us.

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As we look at our Scripture passage above, we see that Jesus modelled much more for us as well.  John writes “we have seen His glory”, which is another way of saying, “we have seen how marvelous and wonderful He is.”  And what had those early followers of Jesus seen?  That Jesus was full of “grace and truth”.  Along with the word “glory”, we have in this short passage three of the most complex and theologically loaded words of this Gospel, and of the Bible.

According to Newman & Nida, in Section III of Apendix II, “the word ‘truth’  in this Gospel refers primarily to God himself, though it may be extended to include the revelation of God or a description of persons who respond to that revelation.”2  In other words, our passage above is telling us that Jesus had complete knowledge regarding the very nature of God the Father.  For anyone who wants to truly know God, that knowledge comes through Jesus.  And verse 18 says that in fact that is one of Jesus’ great ministry tasks here on earth, to help us come to know who God the Father really is.

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Not only did Jesus come to earth full of the knowledge of the nature of God, but it says He also came “full of grace”.  One way of translating “grace” is “loving kindness”.  Using this definition, we see that Jesus came not just to teach us the truth about God (which we so often compartmentalize on just the intellectual level), but Jesus came to demonstrate God’s loving kindness towards us.  This I think is even more important.  As they say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

God wants to lavish His love upon us.  He sent His only Son (who would ultimately die for our sins) as His greatest act of love towards mankind.  So it is not surprising that in this short Scripture passage that speaks about Jesus coming to earth, and why He came to earth, that we find the words, “From His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Putting that another way, when Jesus came to earth, He came to shower “loving kindness upon loving kindness” on us.  Another Christian term is “blessings”, and so we can read this as “we have received blessings upon blessings.”  Isn’t that truly amazing?  Jesus, the unique Son of God, loved us enough to want to leave his glorious home in Heaven to live among us, to reveal God the Father to us, and to shower wonderful blessings upon us.

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My questions, dear friend, as you read this article are these: Do you know Jesus? Have you experienced His amazing love and forgiveness of your sins?  Do you want to know Jesus and invite Him into your life?  Write back to me if this is what you want and need to do in your life.  God bless you.

1  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 1:14–18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2  A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John. 1980, New York: United Bible Societies

Jesus – The Eternal Word

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John 1:1 – 5

The Word of Life

1 In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2From the very beginning the Word was with God.  3 Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him.  4 The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people.  5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.

This is a grand opening to this book, the Gospel of John.  It is very interesting to see how each Gospel (the Good News) begins from a different perspective in setting the background to the glorious entrance of Christ, who came as a baby and lived among us as the man named Jesus.

Mark begins his story with John the Baptist, whose preaching prepared the hearts of people to receive Jesus.  He came and was baptized by John to lead us by example to show the importance of being fully submitted to God.  Then we see Jesus being fully tempted as a man by Satan, but Jesus wins victory and shows that He will be the right Man to save all of Mankind from sin and Satan.

Luke takes us back at the start of his Gospel to the miraculous births of both John the Baptist and Jesus.  He narrates for us the simple and humble beginnings of the One who is King by having simple shepherds witness this divine birth in a lowly stable.  Matthew takes us back even further by starting his Gospel with a long genealogy to show that Jesus came from a line of kings, all the way back to King David, and was also the Successor of Faith having descended from Abraham himself.

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Of the four Gospels though, John takes us back the furthest of all.  He takes us back, not to the beginning of the earthly life of Jesus, and not even back to the beginning of the creation of the world.  No, John takes us back before the beginning, before there was even Time itself.  And in that place where only God existed, there also existed the Word.  And contrary to some philosophies and religions, this was not some impersonal or mystic force, but the equally divine and creative Second Person of the Trinity of God.

We start to see the personal side of this One who is called “The Word” in verse two.  Greek has three gender endings on most nouns – masculine, feminine and neuter.  This “Word” that was with God from before the beginning of time is written as a masculine noun, which implies a “person”, not an abstract “thing” was there with God in the beginning.

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There are many other important truths given to us in this powerful introduction that we must make sure we do not miss.  Not only was this eternal Word “with God”, but verse one tells us that “the Word was God.”  This is one of the greatest paradoxes and mysteries about God.  How can one God consist of two Beings?  (Actually three when we add in the Holy Spirit.)  Yes, this is a mystery.  And yet this is what the Bible claims.  And if the Bible fails to be true here, then it is in danger of falling in every other area of truth.  I’ll come back to this.

Another important truth in this passage is that the Word was intimately involved in the creation of all that we see in the Universe.  True, it is God who created the Universe (read Genesis chapter 1), but here we learn that it is through the Word that all things came into being.  In other words, the Word was the Agency through whom God himself caused all things to exist.  (Jumping ahead, we know that Jesus is the Word spoken of here, so we now know that Jesus Himself was intimately involved in creating us and everything around us.)

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Back to this puzzle about God being Three-in-One (the Trinity).  There is an analogy in nature itself that is helpful for us to understand this concept.  A brief description of light is shared in the book “Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations” which says:

Science tells us that light is constituted of three rays, or groups of wavelengths, distinct from each other, no one of which without the others would be light. Each ray has its own separate function.

The first originates, the second formulates, illuminates or manifests, and the third consummates. The first ray, often called invisible light, is neither seen nor felt. The second is both seen and felt. The third is not seen but is felt as heat.

Mysterious and yet very simple at the same time.  Just as we can accept that there are different components that make up light, but altogether is still just one light, so too we can accept by faith that God is three Persons with different kinds of interaction with us, yet God is still only One in nature and reality.

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One other quick insight on a truth here is in the contrasts found in vv. 4 and 5.  The Word is the source of life and light, which are the complete opposite of darkness and death.  We learn in other verses that Satan, the demon ruler of Hell, is the source of darkness and death.

So we have right here at the beginning of this book a sharp contrast and battle shaping up between the life-giving Word who illuminates us with all that is spiritually true, and the death-dealing demon lord and his realm of darkness.  But praise God, we are told that the Word is forever shining (present tense verb) and Darkness has never been able to put out that life-giving source of life, who is Jesus.

Hallelujah!!  What a great way to start this book.

God Provides Oases – Part 2

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This article will cover the second part of chapter eight of Mark Atteberry’s book, “Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel.”  The title of this chapter is, “Enjoy Every Oasis.”  The premise of this chapter is that no matter how difficult the road you are on may seem, there will still be many moments when griefs and sorrows, worries and anxieties will be suspended for a moment and we can experience again joy and hope that brings refreshment to our souls.

I have already summarized the first two of four sources that Atteberry says can help provide spiritual refreshment for us.  You can read about that by clicking here.  The last two sources are ones that all of us should look to, namely Refreshing Scriptures and a Refreshing Savior.  There are many ways in which these can be expanded, and Atteberry provides some good stories and illustrations of people who are at the “end of their rope” (i.e. spiritually destitute) and who find Scripture that speaks to them, and a Savior who cares about them.

Both of these examples are critically important, seeing as we would like all people to turn to God and to Scripture to find the Truth and be made spiritually whole.  But I want to take Atteberry’s ideas and apply them to fellow Christians, those who have given their lives to the Lord, but for some reason have found themselves on a hard-road journey and who also need this kind of spiritual refreshment.

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It is my hope that Christians in general do not view Scripture (the Bible) as simply the source book for preacher’s messages nor as just an evangelistic tool used to present the Gospel to unbelievers in order to “get them saved”.  This kind of view can easily result in Christians owning a Bible, but never reading the Bible on a regular basis.  Sadly enough though, there are many “Family Bibles” which are merely house ornaments, or place holders on book shelves.

In sharp contrast to this, my view of the Bible and its ability to be a source for spiritual refreshment rests upon the idea that the Bible is our Guidebook for Life, and is meant to be opened and read and reflected upon on a regular, if not daily basis.  Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16,”All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

I believe it is important for my fellow brothers and sister in the Lord to realize and accept that difficult times and dark days are a part of life.  But if we have been in the habit of reading God’s Word, and allowing it to soak in to the deeper parts of our being, then when these troubled times come our way, we have a pool of Scriptural knowledge to draw upon and to apply to our life.  Often, it is in these very times that we come to see the Truth of God’s Word come alive for us in a fresh and very personal way.

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Let me now turn my attention to Atteberry’s last point, that Jesus Christ is the very best source we can tap into to find our spiritual refreshment.  It is amazing, and almost shameful, to realize that for many Christians who are going through difficult periods in their lives, that often the last person they turn to for help and encouragement is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Shouldn’t He be the first Person on our “Emergency Contact List”?

And yet so many of us today get so frustrated and flustered and tied up in knots over the events and circumstances of our lives.  In fact, we allow ourselves to be held hostage to our circumstances, our personalities, and our old nature.  When we do this, we take Christ off the throne of our hearts and we put ourselves there instead.  We must reverse this, remember who Jesus is and what He has done for us, and let Him be Lord again in our lives.

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Now contrary to popular belief, when we truly give our lives over to Christ and let Him be Lord that we are most free.  I know this sounds contradictory, but it is through submission to Him that we gain our freedom.  To understand this, we must realize two aspects of our freedom:  there are certain things that we are “freed from”, and similarly there are certain things that we are “freed to”.  Let me explain.

When Jesus died on the Cross and we gave our lives to Christ, there were things in the Past, in the Present and in the Future that Jesus freed us from.  From the time of Adam until now, there has been the inherited nature of sin, and the consequent penalty for sin that we could do nothing about ourselves.  In the Present, as much as we would like to not commit sinful acts, in our own strength we still do that.  And without Christ, we would face the fear of death and eternal punishment.  But Christ saved us from all that.

When Jesus died to pay for our sins and we accepted Him by faith, then the old nature was done away with and we became new persons in Christ.  By the power of his Holy Spirit within, we have found we can live a life of righteousness.  And we can look forward to everlasting life with God and an eternal reward for those who serve their Lord well.  That is what Jesus freed us to.

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And what is my point here?  Namely this: when we who are Christians find ourselves in the midst of difficulties and the trials of life, then we must more than ever before turn our focus upon Christ, who has saved us from so much that is evil and saved us towards all that is good.  And if we can keep our eyes on this “Bigger Picture”, then we can ride through these storms of life so much better.

Knowing God’s Truth

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A Devotional Thought from Great Commission Ministries

written by Sharon Harms

Searching

“One of the dogs in my house is obsessed about playing fetch.  He is a very mellow, 9 year old Australian shepherd.  Mellow that is until you take a tennis ball out. This dog will chase a ball forever. You throw it, he brings it back, you throw it, and he brings it back. He never gets tired of playing with a ball.  You throw it and he searches until he finds it and brings it back to be thrown again.

This is how we are to be in our Bible: Searching the Scriptures.  Act 17:11 “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  There are so many false religions in the world today.  When we hear something, we need to go to the Bible to see if what we hear has any truth to it or not. 

How do you evaluate sermons and teachings?  The people in Berea opened the Scriptures for themselves and searched for truths to verify or disprove the message they heard.  Model your life after the Bereans – search the Scriptures for the truth.  John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

The truth into which the Holy Spirit guides us is the truth about Christ. The Spirit also helps us through patient practice to discern right from wrong.  As my dog chases after a ball, chase after the Truth. Always compare what you hear with that the Bible says.”

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What a great picture this is: just like Sharon’s dog would hunt after and dig for the ball, so we as Christians ought to hunger after knowing God’s Truth and dig at it until we find it.  Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds, since we live in an age where we expect instant service for everything, and in some ways, we don’t work hard for anything.  Hmmm…..do you think it’s time to change this?

Now I want you to know that I am saying these words to myself as well.  For the most part, each morning as I have my breakfast, I open my Bible (actually I turn on my Kindle) and read the day’s Scripture according to my 2-year reading plan.  Many days, I see some wonderful truths contained in the verses I’ve read.  But to be honest, there are probably too many days that I simply read the passages, and then mentally put a check mark on my daily “To Do” list.

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I know it was not always like this.  In fact, the period before when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior was a very intense time of searching the Scriptures.  In one of my early articles, “For My Tears, Jesus Died”, I wrote about how I came to know for the first time that God was real.  What I did not tell you is what I did in the following months.

It was September when I went to that Youth Conference and God started tugging at my heart.  I had been attending church on and off throughout my growing up years.  But now I had more reason to be looking into the Christian faith to see if what was being preached and taught about the Bible and about Jesus was true.

At that time, our church was looking for a new pastor, and the President of the nearby Bible College was often filling in to bring the sermon.  He seemed to me to be a wise and knowledgeable man, and so I did the only thing that seemed reasonable at the time.  I would listen to the sermon and write down all the questions I could think of.  Then after the service I would stand there asking the preacher to answer all my questions.

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When I think back to that period of my life, I laugh at the image of a little 12 year-old boy standing in front of this adult and bombarding him with questions.  Thankfully, this man was very patient and did his best to give me good answers.  I did this for almost six months straight.  And at the end of that time, I was quite satisfied that the Bible really was true, and Jesus was who He said he was.

Now you might think that this was all just an intellectual investigation that was going on between me and the man.  But that would be true only if you were a nearby observer looking at what was happening on the outside.  On the inside, the more I talked with the preacher, the more that he answered my questions from Scripture, the more my inner spirit resonated with what was said, and I knew the message had to all be true.

It’s sort of like what happened to the two men on the road to Emmaus after they had been talking with Jesus for quite a while.  When they recognized Jesus, and after He disappeared, they said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  That was what it was like for me in my discovery process of making Jesus my Lord.

Now the challenge is to rekindle this inner desire to search the Scriptures daily with excitement and anticipation.  I believe that if we can come to the Bible and appreciate that it is “alive and powerful” as it says in Hebrews 4:12, then we will eagerly want to spend time in the Word of God.

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