Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: March 2019 Page 1 of 6

A Weighty Matter

March 30 – Today’s Readings – John 17-18 and Psalms 90

Two thoughts struck me today in our Gospel of John reading.

1) In John 17, Jesus makes a direct link between the unity of believers and the world “believing” in Him. In other words – we have a direct role to play – even without saying a word. Our responsibility is to be one, united in one purpose, in our love for God and for each other. Aside from this, we must also be united in our love for the lost and in “showing” God to the world.

2) From John 18 – verse 37 there is an exchange between Pilate and Jesus – “You are a king then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”…

We often overlook a simple but weighty matter. Jesus is King. In fact, He is the King of all kings – but more importantly He is MY King. Here on Earth, there is no such thing as a “benevolent dictatorship” style of government. A good monarchy could come close if the king or queen were all-powerful, yet full of wisdom and unfailing in their love for the citizens of the nation. The king’s word in an old-style monarchy was absolute and final. Once the king made a decision, that judgment was binding. Here’s the kicker – my King’s choices and decisions concerning MY LIFE are absolute – His will becomes my focus and my desire. What Jesus says goes – so when Jesus tells me to forgive those who trespass against me or tells me to do good to those who despitefully use me – or He tells me to love my brother – I’ve only got one option and I go there enthusiastically.

How do we marry this thought with another teaching of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29? – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In this passage, we see The King of Kings telling us that it’s not burdensome to follow Him and to be His servant. How can this be? – There seems to be so many things we should be doing if we are to be “good Christians”. The answer of course lies in the person of the Holy Spirit. He makes it so easy – we listen and follow – we keep in step with Holy Spirit – we pray and obey. Too little is made of the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit. When God decided it was time to change the world (and save the world) He sent Jesus Christ – AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, the work of Jesus would have gone nowhere. The Apostles would have never preached the Gospel with authority or worked miracles – and you would not be a Christian today. Walking with the Spirit is what makes the yoke easy and the burden light.

Questions:

1. What is your role regarding “unity” in the Church?

2. If Jesus is “absolute monarch” in your life, what role does your will and decision making play in your life?

The Very Heart Of God

March 29 – John 15-16 and Psalms 89

It’s amazing to me how Jesus could so easily simplify concepts – and yet use such rich language doing so. Twice in this reading He insists that His simple command is; “love each other”. Seemingly, in these three words, Jesus sums up all the Commandments, the Law of Moses, all the other ceremonial laws – in fact the entire Bible. Think of it – the Spirit of the Book is “love each other” – the heart of God is to “love each other” – God’s heart for the world is “love each other” – God’s will for family and spouses is “love each other” – God’s desire within His church is “love each other” – God’s command in the workplace is “love one another”! How simple. How profound. How IMPOSSIBLE without God’s Holy Spirit!

To love is to invest in – to love is to die for – to love is to serve – to love is to be kind to – to love is to obey – to love is to cling to – to love is to be respectful of – to love is to be patient with – to love is to forgive. The list can go on and on but the heart emotion we feel from all this is that Biblical love is a far cry from what is portrayed so often in the world around us. I truly believe that it is impossible to love like God loves unless you have God in you.

He is the one who dwells in you by the Holy Spirit through whom you have a new capacity to love – not only those who are naturally close to you but also to love those who are more “unlovely”. It is God’s love that leads us to engage people in conversation in order to lead them to the Lord. It is God’s love that leads us to invest our lives in the cause of the Kingdom of God – and – it is God’s love that keeps us doing the right thing when it would be very convenient not to. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:17-20 reads, “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

Here is the secret then. We were made agents of love when we were born again – not the shallow kind of love that the world knows, but the God kind of love that put Jesus Christ on the cross – love that comes from an eternal understanding of things – love that comes from the depths of God’s heart towards His children as well as the lost and dying world.

Questions:

1. Which part of the “love on another” command is the hardest for you to follow – and why?

2. How does “love one another” affect your personal evangelism?

Staying “Clean”

March 28 – Today’s Readings – John 13-14 and Psalms 88

Talk about two lessons in one! First Jesus teaches the disciples that they should be humble servants to one another – to the point of washing one another’s feet – but then He also instructs us about how to remain “clean”.

Verses 6-10 of Chapter 13 gives the account of a verbal exchange between Peter and Jesus – Peter unwilling to let Jesus wash his feet and Jesus replying that if He didn’t wash his feet, Peter would have no part in Him. In typical Peter style, he then insisted that Jesus should wash his whole body. Jesus uses the opportunity to teach a very important lesson – vs.10 – “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.”

What could Jesus have possibly meant? The answer is a spiritual one – when we receive Christ as Lord and Saviour, welcoming salvation, we are made clean – completely washed. Our spirits are united with God’s Spirit and we who were once “dead” are made alive in Christ – we who were once slaves of sin have become slaves of righteousness. One way or another however, we will get our feet “dirty” as we go about our daily lives and we need Jesus to wash them regularly so that our whole body can be clean. We don’t need to get “saved” over and over again, but we certainly need forgiveness every time we fall short and end up with mud on our feet. It is inevitable that saints will sin – but it also inevitable that Holy Spirit will correct us, sit us down, and bring us to the place of greatest humility when He once again “washes our feet”. What a wonderful illustration of our living relationship with the Lord. If He’s going to wash our feet, then He’s also going to continue an intimate relationship with us. How is He supposed to wash our feet if we never draw near enough to let Him do so? – and – as Jesus said to Peter – if He doesn’t wash our feet we have no part of Him. If Jesus so forgives us on a daily basis, should we not be forgiving others in the same way? Imagine all the Churches of the world practicing spiritual foot washing. As friends sin against us, we forgive – as enemies sin against us, we forgive – as family members sin against us, we forgive.

During the same account Jesus also taught the disciples; “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Vs. 34&35) This “love” business is amazingly simple, yet so powerful that it becomes a great tool of evangelism. How can the world receive Christ if His disciples don’t get along with one another? How can the people of the world know we are Christ’s disciples if we do not love and forgive one another? This is the strongest evidence of Jesus in our lives – that we actually get along – that our relationships are strong.

Questions:

1. Give an example of how we can wash one another’s feet.

2. Give an example of how genuine love between Christians led to someone trusting in the Lord.

Politics

March 27 – Today’s Readings – John 11-12 and Psalms 87

When the Jewish leaders heard that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, one of the things they said about Jesus’ popularity was that the Romans would come and “take away both our place and our nation”. Later in John 12:25 Jesus declared, “The man who loves his life will lose it”. Later still, in verses 42-43 of the same chapter, this statement is made concerning the Jewish community; “because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praises of men more than the praise of God.”

The implication for you and I is simple – in order to truly follow Jesus we must be willing to take a stand for what we really believe about Him. If we are consumed with fear concerning “position or status”, we won’t be followers of Christ. If we are caught up in this present world we won’t be able to become citizens of another world very easily. If we aren’t afraid to lose out when it comes to worldly pleasures and positions of power, then walking the “narrow way” will not be very appealing to us. If we fear men and the consequences of being “public” Christians, then how can we fear God enough to stand up for what’s right and oppose ideas or ideologies? The fact of the matter is that Jesus was not on a “popularity kick” – He was on a mission to plant a different kind of kingdom into the hearts of men and women. This path requires that God, and only God be the focus of our lives.

Deuteronomy 5:7 reads, “You shall have no other gods before me”. This is what our passage today is all about. It’s forsaking this present world in pursuit of another kingdom – It’s selling all we have in order to buy “The Pearl of Great Price”. Paul, the Apostle said, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” [Philippians 3:7-8]

This attitude is what changed the world in Paul’s time and it is the same attitude that will change our world in our generation. To “have” Christ is to have all things that are important in life. Once we decide that all we have belongs to Him then we can really start living. What we say, do and think becomes an extension of His purposes in this world. Yes, the world’s system will “take away both our place and our nation” but we have another “place” and another “nation” that is far superior. Yes, you will “be put out of the synagogue”, but you have another “synagogue” that is eternal – the synagogue of Christ. What a trade – “the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”. I’m in!

Questions:

1. What are the practical implications of “losing your life for Christ’s sake”?

2. How much is your heavenly citizenship worth to you? Please comment.

Waiting In Prayer

March 26 – Today’s reading – John 9-10 and Psalms 86

Chapter 9 once again recounts the miracle of the man who was born blind. Jesus heals the man, creating great debate amongst the Jewish leaders, with the conclusion that “this man (Jesus) is a sinner”. What really intrigued me was the link between this man spending between 12 and 50 years blind and begging, and “the work of God (being) displayed in his life”. Sometimes we get very impatient with God for not answering prayer immediately. There seems to be many instances in Scripture where God waits a long time (in human terms) before answering a prayer. Jesus said that this man had not sinned even though he was in this disabled condition. He no doubt had asked God every day of his life from childhood to have mercy on him and heal him. The miracle came, but only in the sovereign timing of God.

How many years did Israel cry out to God from their captivity in Egypt before Moses was called from the desert? How many times did Joseph cry out to God for deliverance in his circumstances? How long did Abraham and Sarah have to wait until Isaac was born? How many times did Paul plead with God to remove his “thorn in the flesh”? How long did Martha wait till Jesus arrived after Lazarus had died? How long did Noah make a fool of himself, building the ark before the rain finally came?

The accounts of “waiting” in Scripture go on and on. There seems to be timing in God that is often not in keeping with what we mortals would like. “In the fullness of time” the Scripture says, “God sent forth his son”. Some of the promises of God are not instantaneous – The book of Hebrews teaches that some of them are not received until we get to heaven. Patience is the art of walking with God and loving Him even though things aren’t quite the way we would like them to be. I’m sure that the man born blind learned long-suffering and that he was very grateful when God’s promise was fulfilled in his life.

What lessons of patience are you learning as you walk with God? Does it seem that

God turns a deaf ear to you on when you pray about certain things? This is one of the mysteries of life in God. There seems to be many things we will not know the answer to till we see Him face to face – and then we really won’t care about any unanswered prayers – we will be enveloped in love and understanding.

In the meantime, the worst thing we could do is to believe God does not care or that

“He doesn’t hear my prayers!” This kind of thinking drives a wedge in your relationship with the Lord. When you believe you are not being heard or that God doesn’t care, you can easily slip into an unthankful, ungrateful attitude and lose closeness with the Lord. Be thankful in all situations and wait on the Lord He is faithful even if we don’t see the results we want immediately. Some prayers are not supposed to be answered our way!

  1. Recount an example of “waiting” in prayer.

 

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