Wednesday, May 23, 2018

EDUCATED


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In Christ, Mark
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.

The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not My own. It comes from the One who sent Me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about Him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law.

John 7:14-19a

This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

Jesus arrived in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles but He did so in secret, well knowing that the Jewish religious leaders were hoping they would find and kill Him. You’ll recall that Jesus’ brothers - James, Joseph, Judas and Simon (Matthew 15:35) - were already there, having gone ahead of Jesus. They had tried to convince Jesus to go with them, believing He wanted to be a public figure and so He needed to make sure He was visible to the public. They suggested that Jesus should do works for His disciples while at the Feast observance.

But Jesus did not go with them because He said it wasn’t the right time. He worked on the timeline set by God, His Father, and not His brothers or anyone else. This is why Jesus went later and did so incognito. That is, until halfway through the festival where as we see in today’s scripture passage, He started to do something He loved doing, teaching others because there was no doubt He was educated but not by way of conventional means. Look again at these words here:

Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.

The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not My own. It comes from the One who sent Me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about Him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law.”  John 7:14-19a

As Jesus taught the Jews in the temple, note their amazement at what they were hearing. They didn’t recognize Jesus as a Levite, one who was born into the priesthood and would spend His entire life tending to the temple and the religious lives of the people. They had also never seen Him in the company of the other teachers of the law and yet the teaching they were hearing was better than anyone else who had ever been in their presence. It left the temple crowd asking Jesus:

“How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

Jesus had no problem giving them the answer:

“My teaching is not My own. It comes from the One who sent Me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own.”

Of importance here, we see Jesus immediately not wanting to take credit for His education or the teaching He delivered. It was not of Himself but rather of God the Father, the One who had sent Him. In following God’s will, Jesus had arrived at the Jerusalem and the Feast of Tabernacles at the time God wanted to be there, He went to the temple at the time God wanted, and He delivered the teaching God gave Him to present.

You see, that’s the way it’s supposed to go. God dictates what His people should do and when they should do it. In turn, God’s people are expected to be obedient to His calling, doing what God desires at the time He dictates.

In other words, God’s people are to carry out the will of God.

What happens when they do?

Well, not only do they live in a way that honors God, in a way that is pleasing in His sight, but as Jesus lets the temple worshippers know, they can also gain the gift of discernment as to whether their teacher speaks on God’s behalf or their own.

Want to validate whether or not a teacher is valid and true in their teachings?

Stay connected to God and His will and word. False teaching will always be exposed when you do so.

This is a concept I always share with the adult group I teach at my home church. I challenge them to test everything I say to them by staying connected to God through the Holy Spirit and studying God’s word themselves. I never want them to take anything I say at face value.

As for my part of the deal, I never want to take any glory for any lesson I teach, regardless of the level of accolades given. This is because my teaching does not come from me but from God Himself. The same applies to all the devotions I have written, now numbering close to 2,800. In either of these situations, God sends me what He wants to be taught through the Holy Spirit. I write it down when teaching in church or type it into a document in the case of a devotion. The end product becomes what He has given and thus He, God the Father, can receive all the honor, glory, and praise. As for the teacher, they are a person of truth and there is nothing false about them. Their teaching can be trusted.

Conversely, look at what Jesus says about someone who speaks on their accord:

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory.”

This teacher is only about glorifying themselves. Perhaps they want everyone to know their name and are bent on gaining fame and renown. The focus of attention is always on themselves. Maybe you know some Christian teachers (to include pastors) like this. Jesus makes it clear. Self glorification is not of God’s will.

So what’s our takeaway?

The Lord is trying to make it clear that if you encounter anyone who seems to be amazingly educated in the ways of the Lord, a person who speaks the truth with no falsehood, it’s because that person is following the will of the Lord who has blessed them with their education.

I am grateful to be counted among that number and give thanks to God for educating Me and allowing Me to use that education to His glory. I pray that you in turn are blessed by His words.  

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Monday, May 21, 2018

SILENCE


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In Christ, Mark
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

However, after His brothers had left for the festival, He went also, not publicly, but in secret.

Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is He?”

Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about Him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, He deceives the people.”

But no one would say anything publicly about Him for fear of the leaders.

John 7:10-13

This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

The Feast of the Tabernacles was about to take place, a pilgrim observance commanded to be observed by God five days after the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement. All native born Jewish males were to head to Judea for the eight day celebration, also referred to as the Feats of Booths, a commemoration of how God provided for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt to the Promised. Land.

As we saw in the first verses of John, Chapter 7, Jesus’ brothers were in His company, imploring Him to go to Judea with them so the disciples there could see the works He could do. Assuming Jesus had the desire to be a public figure, they reasoned that no one with that ambition would ever remain in secret. Rather, they would show their abilities to the world.

It all sounded logical but there was only one problem. Jesus wasn’t like any man who had ever walked the earth before. This is because no other man had ever been sent from heaven by God to do His work and will.

Given this, Jesus refused to go to Judea because it simply wasn’t the time to do so which really meant that it wasn’t the time that God had set for Him to go.

And so, Jesus remained behind in Capernaum as His brothers departed for Judea.

Would Jesus remain behind? Or would it be God’s will for Jesus to still head to Judea?

The answers are in today’s scripture passage as we continue to study John 7. Look again at these words here:

However, after His brothers had left for the festival, He went also, not publicly, but in secret.

Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is He?”

Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about Him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, He deceives the people.”

But no one would say anything publicly about Him for fear of the leaders. John 7:10-13

We read where Jesus remained behind initially as His brother went off for Judea but then went to the festival incognito.

Why?

Well, because the Jewish religious leaders were on the lookout for Him and as we saw in yesterday’s devotion, they were looking for a way to kill Jesus (John 7:1).

And so Jesus remained in secret and while there, He heard first hand the widespread whispering about Him. 

“He is a good man.”

“No, He deceives the people.”

It was obvious that people weren’t sure how to grade Jesus but one thing that was common among the people, no matter what their view, was that they kept their opinions as secluded as Jesus was. They remained silent in regard to telling others about Jesus publicly.

I wonder how Jesus might have felt about this. And I wonder how many people, who had professed their belief in Him, fell silent when the chips were down.

This led me to wonder how Jesus would see things playing out in present times. If He disguised Himself and observed the daily life of believers today, I wonder what He would see.

Would He see Christians telling others about Him, even if it meant they might be persecuted for their actions?

or

Would He see professed Christ followers remaining silent when facing possible persecution for speaking out and sharing the good news of salvation through Him?

Finally, what do you think He would see in your own life?

My prayer is that He doesn’t hear silence.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

IN THE RIGHT TIME


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In Christ, Mark
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill Him.

But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to Him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that Your disciples there may see the works You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world.”

For even His own brothers did not believe in Him.

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because My time has not yet fully come.”

After He had said this, He stayed in Galilee.

John 7:1-9

This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

How many times do people expect Jesus to act in accordance with their terms, not His?

Too many, I’m afraid.

You see, so many people fail to see Jesus for who He really is, the Son of the Most High God, the God who is the Master and Maker of everything, the God who delegated authority over all heaven and earth to His Son.

Think about that a moment.

Jesus has been placed over everything in heaven and on earth. And that includes all people. So who has any right to demand or dictate anything to Jesus? Who?

The point is that no one has the right. Jesus works in His time frame and in His perfect way. We are expected to place our hope and trust in Him, waiting patiently and faithfully for Him to move in our situations. For Jesus knows best as He is One with God the Father.

This matter of trying to command Jesus isn’t a modern day problem by any means. For as we see in today’s scripture passage from the opening verses of John 7, even Jesus’ own family tried to tell Him what He should do. Look again at these words here:

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill Him.

But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to Him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that Your disciples there may see the works You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world.”

For even His own brothers did not believe in Him.

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because My time has not yet fully come.”

After He had said this, He stayed in Galilee. John 7:1-9

You’ll recall that Jesus had been in Capernaum through most of Chapter 6, going there after miraculously feeding the 5,000. In Capernaum, we found Jesus trying to teach a group of Jews who had followed Him after the great feeding as well as His own disciples. You’ll recall that both the Jews and the chosen Twelve had difficulty understanding what Jesus was trying to convey, so much so that many of the Jewish followers abandoned Jesus. The Twelve remained faithful to their Master.

As Chapter 7 opens, we find Jesus still in Galilee, the region where Capernaum was located on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee. We read where Jesus intended to stay in Galilee, fully knowing that the Jewish leaders in Judea were looking for an opportunity to kill Him and it was not yet time for that to happen.

Jesus remained in Galilee even when the Feast of the Tabernacles was drawing near, a sacred observance that God had commanded Israel to observe five days after the most sacred day on the Hebrew calendar, the Day of Atonement. The Feast of the Tabernacles started and ended with a Sabbath rest, and included the six days in between. It occurred around the time of the fall harvest and because it was considered a pilgrim feast, native born Jewish males were expected to make the journey to Judea for the observance.

With this as the backdrop, we find Jesus’ brothers encouraging Him to go to Judea with them to observe the Feast and so that His disciples might see the works He could do. The brothers tried to use worldly reasoning with Jesus, telling Him that “no one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret” and so He should “show (Himself) to the world.” Note here that it’s no surprise the brothers would make such a suggestion because they didn’t believe He was who He said He was and so they would not have seen Him as God’s Son and respect His judgment as divine and well above their own.

Before I move on much further, let me address the matter of Jesus’ brothers because the scriptures do discuss them. Look at this verse from the Gospel of Matthew:

“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?”

Now most people know about James because he has a book in the New Testament but not much is known of the three others. Of interest, Jesus had sisters too but we never find out their names in the Bible. We only get to know about his brothers, the brothers Jesus addressed with these words in response to their suggesting He should go with them to Judea:

“My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because My time has not yet fully come.”

Jesus knew His Father’s will which included everything He should do and when He should do it. God had purposed His Son for things in their perfect time and Jesus, obedient to His Father, would not allow anyone to sway Him from what God wanted Him to do, when He wanted Him to do it. Indeed, the world, including the Pharisees and Sadducees, hated Jesus for calling them out for acts that were evil and He knew the Jewish leaders intended to kill Him at the first chance they had. This is why it wasn’t the right time for Him to go to Judea.

As for the brothers, they didn’t have such a problem and so they could go ahead and do as they had planned without their brother who chose to stay behind in Galilee.

As we are going to see, Jesus will make an appearance at the feast but at the time He deems appropriate, the time His Father would send Him there. He has moved in every circumstance since then in the same way and He always will.

This is why we are to wait on the Lord Jesus and wait patiently, trusting that He will move in the right time, in God’s perfect time to fulfill the Father’s will for His people, all the way up to when He returns and comes a second time, this time to bring eternal life to all those who placed their belief.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

TO WHOM HAVE YOU GONE?


Can I pray for you in any way?

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In Christ, Mark
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** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

From this time, many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray Him.)

John 6:66-71

This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

Jesus had done His best to try and explain the relationship required to gain eternal life, a relationship requiring someone to be completely connected and invested in Him. He had made it clear that God and God alone was the One who led people to His Son and once led there, they had a choice to either accept Him or reject Him, to follow Him or someone/something else.

The choice is still that today. Nothing has changed in over 2,000 years. God still leads His people to His Son Jesus and once there, they are given the choice to remain with Him or reject Him for anyone or anything else in the world, to include themselves.  

This leads us to the main question of today’s devotion as we look at the closing verses of John 6:

“To whom will you go?”

Or in other words, “To whom will you cojoin yourself in life?”

In today’s scripture verses, we see that there are several options found in the actions of the Jewish contingent who followed Jesus to Capernaum after He fed the 5,000 and His twelve chosen disciples. Look again at this passage here:

From this time, many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray Him.)  John 6:66-71

Here we see three outcomes presented in response to the question, “To whom will you follow?”.

First, we read how a certain number of the Jewish followers decided to abandon Jesus all together. They were either unwilling to understand what Jesus had told them or unwilling to commit to surrendering their worldly lives to live fully in Him but whatever the reason, they chose to turn back, return home, and no longer follow Him. God had led them to their Savior but they chose to decline the invitation to eternal life so they could pursue and follow other interests.

Secondly, we turn to the Twelve, the first disciples Jesus chose to compose His inner circle. After the initial defection of Jewish followers, Jesus turned to His chosen ones and simply asked:

“You do not want to leave too, do you?”

Why would He ask this?

Because as you will recall, the Twelve had been grumbling among themselves, just as the Jewish party had done over the teaching Jesus was providing.

Well, as one might predict, Peter didn’t waste any time becoming the spokesperson for His fellow disciples, saying:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Indeed, to whom would the disciples go? Who else was like Jesus, the One they had spent so much time with, the One who had performed miracle after miracle in their presence, the One they cad come to believe was the “Holy One of God”?

Through his declaration, Peter was announcing the allegiance between the chosen dozen and Jesus because there was no one else greater than Him to follow. Unfortunately, Peter did not know that one of his peers would not hold to this commitment and that leads us to the third outcome, one that so many other people have selected since then.

For Judas, one of the Twelve and ironically the one who was the group’s treasurer, would opt to sell out His Master for money. Sinful greed became a stronger attraction than the Savior who had dedicated His life to His betrayer. And here’s the thing, Jesus knew Judas was going to do it well before it happened. He knew that one of His trusted followers was nothing more than a devil.  

Friends, Jesus knows where your heart is inclined as well. He can see deep into the recesses of your soul, into places no one else can. If He would look there today, what would He see? Would He see a heart that is devoted to Him, the Holy One of God, or would He see someone who has abandoned or even betrayed Him?

To whom do you go in life?

My prayer is that it is Jesus but if it’s not, know it’s not too late to go to Him today. He’ll welcome you in love with open arms.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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