There is a popular message on bumper-stickers, bookmarks, etc. that reads, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” While I agree with the statement, I must ask, “Is this all Christianity is to some?” “Is this how we portray Christianity to others?” “Would a close examination of our lives reveal that this is the only thing that separates us from the world?” If someone asked you for a definition of what it means to be a Christian, what would you say? How would you define Christianity?
News from the churches?
The apostle John warns, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
This teaching concentrates on the need for believers to separate themselves from the world. What practical tips would you offer someone who is seeking to live out this message?
News from the churches?
Recently, a friend asked, “How do you keep your faith when you’re going through so much and you feel so alone even though GOD is always here?” How would you respond to this young woman, who has been through so much trouble and suffering? What advice would you offer?
News from the churches?
Appearing approximately 220 times in the holy writings, the word judgment captures the attention of the Daily Bible Reader and shows itself to be a major theme in scripture. As you consider the word judgment, what passages, teachings, experiences or thoughts come to mind?
News from the churches?
Life without Jesus is like a dry garden baking in the sun. It is foolish to want anything that conflicts with Jesus. What can the world give you without Jesus? His absence is hell; his presence, paradise
The warning [1 Corinthians 10:12, DH] amounts to this: Do not be smug in your firm stand for Christ. Keep alert lest you fall.
W. Harold Mare, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 10, p. 250
“Do you love me?” This question seizes the reader’s attention. Just prior to Jesus’ murder, Peter avowed that he would lay down his life for Jesus (13:37). Of course, the Lord testified that Peter would deny him (13:38). Chapter 18 reveals that Jesus was right and Peter was wrong. Now imagine after all of this, Jesus asking Peter, “Do you love me?” Did you know that the rest of Peter’s life answers this question? Yes, he loved Jesus. So how does your life answer this question? Think about it.
It wasn’t over! Death itself could not hold him. Jesus was alive! – raised from the dead. Life replaces death. Peace replaces fear. Faith replaces doubt. As Jesus’ mission is ending, he seeks to encourage his disciples saying, “Peace be with you” (20:19, 21, 26). Now it’s time for them to be sent just as the Father sent Jesus (20:21). Now it’s time for people, even though they are not eyewitnesses, to believe in the good news about Jesus, and that by believing they may have the present possession and future hope of eternal life (20:31). To believe or not to believe? – that is the question. Give it some thought.
David spoke of his tongue as a pen (Psalm 45:1) and his enemies’ tongues as sharp swords (Psalm 57:4). We learn that God hates a tongue which forms lies (Proverbs 6:17). Isaiah prophesied a future time so happy that it would cause “the tongue of the dumb [to] sing” (Isaiah 35:6). The ungodly tongue is described by Jeremiah as a “deadly arrow” (Jeremiah 9:8). James calls the unruly tongue a “fire” (James 3:6). (Read More at The Proclaimer)
After Jesus healed a paralytic on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him (5:18). Later this miracle appears to serve as the crux of controversy between Jesus and the Jewish leaders (7:19-32). Then finally, after much effort the Jewish leaders dream came true. Through the Jewish leaders’ determination and Pilate’s weakness, they crucified Jesus.
Imagine if you were one of those soldiers that repeatedly beat and mocked Jesus. Imagine if you were Pilate. Imagine if you were one of the Jewish leaders. What would it take to be one of these people? In a word, darkness, but these things are not written to make you angry, they are written that you may believe (19:35), and by believing you may have eternal life (20:31). Think about it.
Four events summarize this chapter: (1) Judas betrays Jesus. (2) The Jewish leaders arrest Jesus. (3) Peter denies Jesus. (4) Pilate questions Jesus. Either the people involved did not believe or in weakness chose unrighteousness, yet conversely, each event portrays Jesus as a faithful witness. If you watched these events unfold, what would you do? How would you feel? Where would you stand? Give it some thought.
Prior to his betrayal and arrest, Jesus prays to the Father in what has been described as the holiest chapter in the Bible. The prayer logically divides into three sections:
(1) He prays for the Father to glorify him (17:1-5).
(2) He prays for the disciples (17:6-19).
(3) He prays for believers everywhere (17:20-26).
The purpose of John’s Gospel is that readers might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing [they] may have life in his name” (20:31). “Life” refers to knowing God and his missionary, Jesus Christ (17:3). It is an intimate relationship with the Father and Son. It is a present possession (3:36). It is a future hope (5:28-29).
An intimate relationship with the Father and the Son is “eternal life”, the one and only way to have eternal life (14:6). Jesus’ prayer to the Father reveals their intimacy and challenges believers everywhere to have the same relationship with the Father and the Son.
In Revelation 22:6-21 the phrase, “I am coming soon,” is used three times (22:7, 12, 20) thus naturally serving as the theme for the Lord’s final reminder to the churches (22:16). Jesus himself makes this promise (see 3:11; 22:12-13, 20; cf. 1:7).
While different interpretations surround the expression, “I am coming soon” one thing remains, “He has come, will continue to come, and is coming!” Because of this, three challenging points emerge as one meditates on his coming:
1) Faithful or Unfaithful (22:7)
2) Reward or Punishment (22:12)
3) Ready or Not Ready (22:20)
As Jesus continues to prepare his disciples for his departure, he promises them two things. (1) They will be persecuted by unbelievers. (2) The Spirit of truth will come. He will prove the world wrong concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will guide the disciples into all truth.
Since chapter 12, Jesus’ attention has focused resolutely on his departure from the world to the Father. This appears to inspire his lengthy discourse with the disciples (Chs. 13-16). The final words appropriately summarize his entire message, “In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage – I have conquered the world” (16:33).
Anticipating his departure from the world to the Father Jesus prepares his disciples to continue his ministry. The continuation of this ministry depends on the disciples remaining in “the true vine” (15:1, 5). Remaining in the vine is to remain in Jesus’ love. Remaining in his love requires obedience to his commandments.
Chapter 14 challenged the disciples to believe and love Jesus. Now they are to love one another (15:12, 17; cf. 13:34-35). Their sacrificial love will protect them from the hatred and persecution of the world, because people will hate them just as they hate the Father and the Son.
According to this chapter, continuing the ministry of Jesus provokes at least two responses from people. Some will love you and some will hate you. Even so, we must continue our testimony about Jesus by teaching and practicing the Truth.