Tag Archives: Truth

Sunday with John – Sabbath

John 9:13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)

What is the general theme of the passage?
If there was ever a passage that clearly shows the nature of man to dispute truth, even truth which is seen with their own eyes, this is it.  Over and over the Pharisees persist in looking for ways to disprove what they themselves have seen.  The man is repeatedly questioned.  The healing is questioned.  The process is questioned. His parents are questioned.  All the answers given have been questioned.  There is no answer the Pharisees can accept. What they were looking for wasn’t the truth but a way to justify their position against Jesus: “if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he [is] to be put out of the synagogue.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus has chosen the same dust of the earth that created life in the first place to restore sight to this blind man on this particular day.  He’s chosen the most elemental reduction of His power to let them “see” with their own eyes an act that might recall to their mind all the first acts of the Creator who spoke mankind and this day they call Sabbath into being.

What does it say about people?
The human mind and comprehension is shortsighted. We question the simplicity of how God first chose to reveal His power.  “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Is there truth here for me?
I want to recognize and acknowledge it’s because of that same elemental reduction of Jesus’s power that I know anything about the Sovereign Glory of God.  It was Jesus who spit on the muddy residue of my life without Him.  It was Jesus who gathered up that mud and chose it to anoint my heart with His own.  It was Jesus who told me where to find living water to wash that residue away.  It was Jesus choosing the elemental reduction of His power to restart my heart so I could experience this particular day with Him and see…THIS is Sabbath!

Exodus [The Road Out] – The Blood

Exodus 24:1-8

He [The Lord] said
Come —
Aaron, Nadab, and Abhiu, and seventy of the elders
and worship afar off.
Moses alone shall come near
and the people shall not come up with him.
Moses came and told
all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances.
The people answered with one voice
“All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.”

Moses wrote all the words of the Lord,
and built an altar at the foot of the mountain.
He sent young men of the people of Israel,
who offered burnt offerings
and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.
Moses took half of the blood,
he threw against the altar.
He took the book of the covenant,
and read it in the hearing of the people.
They said,
“All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”
Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people
and said,
“Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord
has made with you in accordance with all these words.” RSV

The contrast between the Lord’s instruction for some to come and worship “afar off” but that Moses alone should “come near” was the thing that caught my attention.  That separation is such a different idea than what we understand when Jesus says “Come to me ALL who are weary…”   My modern-day heart is looking for clues from this episode of “back to the future”  because I recognize that contrast still exists.  “Afar off” was the trigger phrase that reminded me these people are homeless, weary prodigals,  people who want, even need, to worship but they are lost in the circumstances of life. This is the Word of the Lord, and He’s the only one who knows the future.

Moses took half of the blood,
he threw against the altar.
Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people
and said,
“Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord
has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

The unpleasant visceral images of Moses’s application of that long-ago gory, blood sacrifice as part of worship have done their work in reminding me there are two important truths about blood sacrifice that have forever changed the future for ALL prodigals and I see the reality of them for today.  Jesus IS the Blood of Sacrifice that identifies both the PLACE of worship and the the PEOPLE who  worship there.

Exodus [The Road Out] – The Purpose of Plagues

This verse from The Message Bible impressed itself on me so completely on the last day of 2021 that I made the choice it was going to be the basis of my future posts.  No matter which part of the Bible I might be looking at whether my personal favorites, “everything from the New Testament,” or the “lead up” Scriptures of the Old Testament.  There’s irony involved in how God uses our own words to teach us.  I can imagine that He’s smiling [possibly chuckling] from His throne that the choice for our women’s Bible study at church for the next year is a study of the five Books of Moses to focus [me in particular] on recognizing their “lead up” is really Jesus “leading” from behind the curtain of the Old Testament.  My own words are my gentle, but needed, reminder that my heart is going to be repositioned to experience new “rhythms of grace.”

Exodus 7:2 You shall speak all that I command you; and Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you; then I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring forth my hosts, my people the sons of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” RSV

Part 1 of today’s peek behind the curtain: Frogs! It never occurred to me that “the plagues” might have any significance other than being a messengers of destruction until I learned “In ancient Egyptian religion and mythology frogs were a symbol of both childbirth and life after death.”  They actually had a “frog” goddess so “it’s unlikely that the Egyptians were afraid of, or repulsed by, frogs.”

Exodus 8:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs; 3 the Nile shall swarm with frogs which shall come up into your house, and into your bedchamber and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and of your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls; 4 the frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.”’” …6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

It’s no coincidence that the Lord uses circumstances of life to become intersections of faith at some point.  Many years ago we lived on a lake.  The highway between towns was the division between the lake and a swamp near us. Twice a year there was a frog migration impacted by some internal need that would drive them from one side of that highway to the other; once to the swamp and once toward the lake. There was a swath of the road that would be covered with hundreds of frogs crossing.  There was no dodging them as you drove.  The road turned into a smelly field of massacre as traffic became part of an unnatural selection process.  There was no way to escape the situation if you needed to get somewhere…and it “stank.”

Exodus 8:7 But the magicians did the same by their secret arts, and brought frogs upon the land of Egypt. 

Part 2 of the Peek:  Pharaoh was obviously a victim of his opportunistic and manipulative nature as he dealt with Moses and Aaron.  He’s an astounding example of mindlessly being driven by his own authority and power.  Repeatedly he called down double the trouble on his own people by asking his magicians to exercise their secret arts to duplicate the same plague on his people simply to prove he could compete with the Lord.  His power was the vehicle he could use do that, but that power couldn’t reposition his heart.

Exodus 8:9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to entreat, for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.

Part 3 of the Peek:.
15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and would not listen to them; as the Lord had said.

In verse 10 Moses clearly offered Pharaoh the cure for his irregular heart rhythm.  Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against the Lord’s truth but ironically he did still have power over his own truth.  This time “he hardened his [own] heart,” because of his desire to compete with God.  The one choice he could control was the one word spoken by Pharaoh that would unknowingly complete the Lord’s truth for his “tomorrow.”

Wednesday with John – Us and Them

John 1:35 The next day
John was standing with two of his disciples

36 and said “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
37 The two disciples
followed Jesus
38 Jesus turned and saw them following
“What do you seek?”
They said

“Rabbi, where are you staying?”
39 He said“Come and see.”
They stayed with him that day,
40 One of the two was Andrew.
41 He first found his brother Simon
“We have found the Messiah”
42 He brought him to Jesus.
43 The next day
Jesus found Philip and said…“Follow me.”
45 Philip found Nathan′a-el

“We have found him
whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote,
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathan′a-el coming to him
“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
48 Nathan′a-el said…“How do you know me?”
Jesus answered.

Before Philip called you
“I saw you.”
50 “You shall see greater things” RSV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Kingdom evangelism of others is pretty obvious, but I wonder if it’s something bigger, like “us and them?”  John sees Jesus walking and identifies him as the Lamb of God.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus notices.  He responds to their curiosity. He invites, “come and see.”
What does it say about people?
They’re curious. The two disciples have obviously already heard about the Lamb of God.  Maybe they’ve even heard of Jesus and what he’s done.  They know enough to call Him “Rabbi’ (which means Teacher).” They’re curious enough to follow Him.  Something has happened as a result of their simple curiosity and the time spent with Jesus that has convinced them He IS the Messiah.
Is there truth here for me?
God didn’t plan evangelism as busy-work for believers.  My human nature wants to narrow the scope of evangelism to reaching out to someone else. It’s simpler to believe sharing the truth I know about Jesus is all it takes to make Him attractive to others. It’s true that what I have recognized about Jesus can be enough to provoke curiosity in someone else.  The real truth is my faith has limited value to the faith of anyone else…but curiosity is catching.  The gift of curiosity and time, invested together with the invitation to “come and see” how Jesus will reveal Himself is what makes evangelism personal for “us and them.”

Wednesday with John – The Beginning

This week I begin two new group studies, one that includes the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy and a second less formal one using the book of John. “Cherry picking” taught me more than I’d anticipated. It was hard to pick fruit based on a word search without forcing the issue. The Message passage from Matthew is still going to be my guide.  Instead of a word, these four questions will be my jumpstarters to read and ponder for Wednesday posts from John and Sunday posts from those Old Testament books.

  1. What’s the general theme of the passage?
  2. What does it say about God [or Jesus or the Holy Spirit]?
  3. What does it say about people?
  4. Is there truth here for me?

Excerpts from John 1:1-18 RSV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life [Or was not anything made. That which has been made was life in him], and the life was the light of men…14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father…17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

This is the beginning of the relationship between God, Jesus and us. “In the beginning was [God], and the Word [Jesus] was with God.  God was first!  God did not create Himself and Jesus was not a product of God’s creation.  “And the Word [Jesus] was God.” God offered Himself as God-man so we might see “In him was life, and the life [of His own perfect image, Jesus] was the light of men” that darkness could not overcome. 

John’s witness is to show us we are like those people he speaks of; often content to NOT know more, because we think we already know.  That’s the darkness Jesus has come to shed His light on. The good news is “but to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”  The truth is the “light” we beheld is now the light held within usa because Jesus has become part of our flesh.

“No one has ever seen God;
the only Son, who is in the bosom [heart] of the Father.”
“He has made him known” to us.

a Matthew 5:14

Poetry by the Book – Galatians 4:8-20

Poetry: Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style, rhythm and structure.a

Brethren, I beseech you.
Become as I am, for I also have become as you are.
I bear you witness,
I preached the gospel to you at first
because of a bodily ailment.

My condition was a trial to you.
You did not scorn or despise me.
You did me no wrong,

but received me as an angel of God,
as Christ Jesus.

You know
you would have plucked out your eyes
and given them to me

if possible.

Formerly, when you did not know God,
you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods,
the weak and beggarly elemental spirits,
whose slaves you want to be once more.
I am perplexed about you!
What has become of the satisfaction you felt?
You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years!
Have I then become your enemy
by by telling you the truth?

I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.
They (the Judaizers) make much of you,
but for no good purpose.

You have come to know God,
or rather to be known by God,

for a good purpose.
It is always good to be made much of
and not only when I am present with you.
My little children,
until Christ be formed in you,

I am again in travail!

a My poetry structure was created from the RSV Bible using sentences and phrases verbatim.

Poetry by the Book – Galatians 2:11-21

Poetry: Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style, structure and rhythm.a

When Cephas came to Antioch,
he used to eat with the Gentiles.
Certain men came from James.
When they arrived,
he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles.
He was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
I opposed him to his face,
he stood condemned.
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy,
even Barnabas was led astray.
They were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel.

I said to Cephas in front of them all,
“you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs
yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.”
We Jews find ourselves also among the sinners,
doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? 

Absolutely not!
A person is not justified by the works of the law.
Through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker
because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles,
we too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus
that we may be justified by faith in Christ.
Do not set aside the grace of God!
Christ died for nothing
if righteousness could be gained through the law.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

a Structure taken from the NIV Bible

Poetry by the Book – Galatians 2:1-10

Poetry: Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style, structure and rhythm.  

After fourteen years
I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas.
I took Titus along also
meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders
in response to a revelation.
I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.
I wanted to be sure I was not running,
and had not been running, my race in vain.

Some false believers had infiltrated our ranks
to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus
to make us slaves.
Yet not even Titus, who was with me,
was compelled to be circumcised
We did not give in to them for a moment,
so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved.

God does not show favoritism
for those who were held in high esteem.
They recognized
I had been entrusted with preaching the gospel
to the uncircumcised
just as Peter had been to the circumcised.
For God,
at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised,
was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 

Those esteemed as pillars,
they agreed.
James, Cephas and John,
gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship
when they recognized the grace given to me.
We should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.
The very thing I had been eager to do all along
was that we should continue to remember the poor.a

NIV scripture used

The Journey of Love

3 John ESV
1 The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are,
6 who testified to your love You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. 

To the beloved Gaius
whom I love in truth,
I pray that all may go well with you
in good health as it goes well with your soul.

You are walking in the truth.
I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth;
to hear that my children are walking in the truth…
I have no greater joy.

It is a faithful thing you do
for these brothers, strangers as they are,
who testified to your love.
In a manner worthy of God
send them on their journey.

Reality Check

Recap 1 John
1 John 2:18 antichrist is coming
1 John 2:22 This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:3 spirit of the antichrist here already

Untruths from the antichrist a
The end of time is too far off to be concerned about now
The end of time is too close to care about tomorrow
Lawlessness and sin are a sign of the church’s failure
It’s too late to pray or work for revival
a gleaned from John Piper

Ideas to ponder:  
Is the “elect lady” a church?
Are “her children” the believers?
This love letter is a warning.

Now read all of 2 John 1 pondering the
Recap, the Untruths and the Ideas

1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth,  2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us for ever: 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. 

4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children following the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father. 5 And now I beg you, lady, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.  6 And this is love, that we follow his commandments; this is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you follow love.  7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you[we] have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son. 10 If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting; 11 for he who greets him shares his wicked work. 

12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink, but I hope to come to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your elect sister greet you.  RSV