A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Friday, December 21, 2012

John 5:39-40, 45-47 "A Sad Plight"

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life....“Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes.  If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.  But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

 In Jesus day, many religious leaders searched and studied the Scriptures.  They had a high regard for Scripture.  They believed and taught that Scripture was given by God and inspired by God.  So, they memorized Scripture and quoted Scripture and argued Scripture.  They immersed themselves in Scripture -and yet, they missed something vital that ended up condemning them instead of saving them.  They missed that the entire Old Testament was pointing to the coming of Messiah (Jesus).  As a result, they rejected Jesus, and having rejected their one hope of salvation, were by default condemned.  A sad plight.

Today, many Christians have a similar issue with the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Believing that all we need is Scripture, they immerse themselves in Scripture, memorize Scripture, argue Scripture, quote Scripture, and yet still deny what the Scriptures themselves tell us concerning the Holy Spirit.  Nobody reading Scripture could ever come to the conclusion that all we need for effective ministry and godly living is Scripture -the Scriptures don't teach that.  The Scriptures teach us and show us about lives lived in intimate communion with the Holy Spirit, receiving intimate and personal revelation through prayer, healing the sick through the laying on of hands, living in the everyday prophetic -words of knowledge and wisdom and insight, etc.  This is all part of what sets Christianity apart from every other world religion.  This is the difference between religion and relationship.  The Holy Spirit actually indwells us -lives in us.  Why would any Believer want to deny the awesome, intimate power that is inherent in the reality of God in us?

Scripture is wonderful.  It is God's word.  It is a gift from God.  It is useful for such things as teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  Scripture is from God, but it is not God.  It is not incidental that God's plan for His people includes the Holy Spirit in us ministering to us and through us.  This reality makes it possible for us to literally be the Body of Christ.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

John 5:17-24 "Was Jesus God?"

The Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules.  But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”  So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does....Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life."

The central issue of Christianity has to do with Jesus.  As Christians we believe that Jesus was/is the Jewish Messiah sent by God;  based upon the claims of Jesus and the eyewitnesses to His actions and teachings -and then later, our own experiences with God through Jesus, we also believe that Jesus was not merely sent by God, He was/is God.  Not that He is a different God than the Father or the Holy Spirit, but that all three persons -Father, Son and Holy Spirit comprise one God.

Many people assume that Jesus never claimed to be God.  This is wrong.  The religious rulers of the day decided that Jesus had to be executed because of these very claims.  In our passage today we hear Jesus saying that God is His Father, that He does everything that God does, that we cannot worship God without also worshiping Him, and that spiritual life is only found in Him.

Since Jesus made these outrageous claims, we cannot believe that Jesus was simply a good moral teacher.  Good moral teachers do not claim to be God.  Good moral teachers do not redirect glory and worship from God to themselves.  Good moral teachers do not claim to hold the power to forgive men's sins and offer eternal spiritual life.

Either Jesus was who He claimed to be -in which case He was a good moral teacher, a prophet, the Messiah, and God -or He was a treacherous liar of the worst kind.  I believe He is who He claimed to be.