Tag Archives: Johns’ Gospel

What Color is That Dress?

Blue and Black or White and Gold?

   As many (if not all) of you recently saw the internet lite up with the controversy surrounding the color of a dress that was posted online. The debate continues even after the explanation of why we all didn’t see the same colors. The New York Times noted the debate and wrote about it extensively here.

   Apparently it all comes down to Light and Perception. But how upsetting it is to find out that we don’t all see the same color of the same thing at the same time. Makes you wonder what else we may not be seeing equally?! After all, if we can see shouldn’t we all see the same?

   But aren’t there many things we don’t see the same. Controversies and differences of opinion are widely apparent across political, social, religious and cultural plains. Yes we see the same thing but the light and perceptions vary greatly.

   Jesus healed many persons who could not see but also referred to those who do not and will not see the truth as being “blind”.  Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Matthew 15:14 KJV

   Likewise the Prophet Isiah wrote (Isa 6:10 and John 12:40) of those who would not accept Jesus saying

He (the devil) has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
so that they would not see with their eyes
or understand with their hearts,
and be converted, and I would heal them

   Jesus went on to say that He was the Light and that those who believed in Him would never sit in darkness. In the Old Testament we have a wonderful example of just how blind we are to the world around us.

   The King of Syria was perplexed by the King of Israels ability to out maneuver him. It was as if The King of Israel had a spy within the Syrian army telling him where to strike. In reality, the prophet Elisha was telling the King of Israel what to do and when the Syrian King learned this he sent an army of men on horses to capture him. During the night the Syrian army surrounded the small city where Elisha slept and the next morning’s events are recorded in 2 Kings 6:15-18

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.  And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

   Elisha’s servants eyes were opened to the true reality of the world around us. “for they that be with us are more than they that be with them”. I would have liked to see the servants face when he saw the multitude that were ready to defend Elisha! But how is this any different from what the Word of God tells us about “Greater is He (the Holy Spirit) within me (us) than he (the devil) that is in the world. Even if we can not see The Holy Spirit or the multitude of angels that surround us – they are there.

   We need not sit in darkness or struggle with perceptions or variations of light. We need not debate what we see verses what the world sees. We have the Word of God and Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit and all the angels.

Open Book NYPL B&W

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path

Ps. 119:105 KJV

 

The Old Man in a Commercial Van

   For over 30 years of my life I have been working in construction and that has meant that I have been driving some type of truck or van for almost all of that time. Usually these vehicles have been registered as commercial trucks and therefor are not allowed on certain roads or parkways. Even when driving on the roads trucks are permitted on, we are encouraged to stay out of the left lane of traffic.

   Years of obeying these rules of the road create a certain mind set. I plan my trips to and from job sites around the roads and traffic patterns that I am allowed on. It becomes second nature.

   Once in a great while I find myself behind the wheel of my wife’s nice SUV. It has all the bells and whistle. Remote control mirrors, GPS navigation, back up camera and heated seats.  It rides so smooth and the seat is like an arm chair. The radio sounds like a concert hall and it even has air conditioning! It is a world apart from my dusty noisy old work truck and it can go on any road it wants.

Yet I still drive like I am in that van!

Sad to say that this second nature mind set is not always limited to driving.

   Before coming to the Lord I was in a main stream religious organization that had it’s own rules and regulations and interpretation of God’s Word along with it’s own doctrines and dogma.  Being good and following rules was emphasized more than being in right relationship with God or regular direct fellowship with Jesus.

   Just like my truck diving mentality I was ingrained with certain religious beliefs that influenced my behavior. Likewise the early church had old beliefs, rules and regulations that had to be addressed.

   Three times Jesus showed Peter in a vision that what had been considered unclean was now clean and fit for eating. Jesus was using this occasion to teach Peter that the old laws concerning food were to be abolished and that the spread of the Gospel of salvation was to be broadened to the Gentiles as well as the Jew. Acts 10 (emphases on vss 10-16 and 34-48)

   But we are stubborn people and slow to change at times. Paul spoke out against the need for circumcision and following the old law.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Galatians 5

   Later in the same chapter, as well as elsewhere, Paul speaks of how this new found liberty is no excuse to sin. Rather this freedom should be the catalyst for good in that we are not bound by countless laws (well, 613 to be exact). Instead we have all the of the law summed up into one – Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Gal 5:14b/Lev 19:18

   Further on Paul elaborates by contrasting the Lawless Old Man with The Free New Man –

   Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Gal 5: 19-25 NKJV

AGAINST SUCH THERE IS NO LAW!

   Ever get in to trouble for being polite? Ever get a ticket for doing the speed limit? Ever get fired for doing the best job ever? I hope not. That’s because there’s no law against doing the right thing. Paul is telling us that as long as we lean on and follow the Spirit of God in our hearts, mind and actions we are not under the bondage of the law.

Live Love Pray

Love is the only Law

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2 NKJV

Let us not forgot what Jesus answered when they tested Him about the Law –

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:34-40

 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

John 8:36 NKJV

Stand in the glorious light of liberty that Jesus has purchased for you and shine that light of Love on all you see today. Thanks for stopping by and be blessed, Al

I do not know this man !!!!!

A little later others standing around the fire began saying to Peter, “You are, too, one of them, for you are from Galilee!” He began to curse and swear. “I don’t even know this fellow you are talking about,” he said. And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

And he began to cry.

Mark 14-70-72 Living Bible

Peter, Peter, Peter. Poor Simon Peter. The disciple who walked on water with Jesus and swore to keep Jesus from harm. The one who heard from Heaven that Jesus was the Son of God. It was Peter (along with his brother Andrew) who were the first to drop everything in a moments notice to follow Jesus. Now he is the one who denied Him three times – just as Jesus told him he would.

Peter reminds me a little of myself. I can tend to speak first without thinking. My enthusiasm can get me into trouble at times and like Peter, I lack a filter too often. Peter is almost child-like in his wide-eyed wonder of the world around him. With Jesus, James and John upon the mount of Transfiguration it was Peter who stepped forward with the idea of building memorials to Jesus, Moses and Elias.  But this spontaneous life-loving attitude of Peter will be used greatly in the Kingdom of God.

After 3 1/2 years of traveling with Jesus and suffering from foot-in-mouth-disease and after outright swearing that he doesn’t know Jesus, it is Peter who will stand up in public and preach the first sermon about the deity of Jesus and win 3 thousand souls to the kingdom.

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Peter’s denial of Jesus must have been a very dark time in his life. But having seen the resurrected Lord and being so lovingly forgiven Peter was free to return to his enthusiastic old self – only stronger.

Do not discount the gifts God has placed inside of you. If you see yourself as clumsy, awkward, uncertain or boisterous – just go for it! Be all that you are to the Glory of God. It is your destiny. It’s what you were made to do.

So if anyone asks you if you know Jesus don’t hold back. Stand up and tell them all about Him because He has your back.

Be blessed, Al

The Basin and The Towel

Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God.

So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself.

Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him. John 13:3-5 HCSB

Let me put this another way in hopes of showing the magnitude of this moment. Upon getting the news that you have been given all authority over everything and with the assurance that you will be going back to that glorious place of power that you came from. You take off your suit jacket and fill up a bucket with water and wash the dirty smelly feet of those who serve under you!

This is an unheard of concept in a “dog-eat-dog” world of business today. People vie for position each day just waiting for a missed step by the competition or an opening to outdo the other guy. Climbing the ladder of success almost implies stepping on the people under you. But Gods’ ways are not our ways (Isa.55:8) and we see each member of the Trinity placing the other above Themselves. Jesus always directed peoples attention from Himself to the Father (John 5:30, Luke 18:19). The Father praised the Son on more than one occasion (Matt 3:17 & 17:5). The Holy Spirits job description includes not speaking of Himself but bringing all things which Jesus said to our remembrance (John 16:13). It is just Gods way to redirect flattery and give praise to another before yourself. John knew this so well that he doesn’t even refer to himself, by name, in the Gospel he wrote.

Paul encourages us to humble ourselves as we care for each other – Bear one anothers’ burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Gal 6:2-3 NKJV

Lovely Impatient

Finally, when you consider that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples after eating the Last Supper with them, knowing the humiliation and pain that was just outside the door, it amplifies the event. Rather than feeling sorry for Himself or encouraging His disciples to take care of Him because He was about to be beaten, ridiculed, mocked and put to death, Jesus performed the act reserved for the lowliest of servants. Humbling Himself before giving His life for us was an act of love and an example for us all to follow.

This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 

No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 

You are My friends if you do what I command you.

John 15:12-14 HCSB

Counting the Cost – Part 2 of the Hard Words Hard Work Series

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you

Matthew 5:44 KJV

Really? How? Why? The answer to these questions can be found in the next verse recorded during our Lords’ address which came to be called – The Beatitudes.

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (vs 45-48)

This is also where we find the famous “turn the other cheek” quote as well as “go the extra mile” and, as we see from the verse shown above, if you do these things we will be perfect! Ok, so maybe this doesn’t answer the question of How? and Why? But it does put to rest any doubt that this is a commend from God. Jesus said it and He meant it. Elsewhere our Lord tells us that if someone steal our coat we should find him and give him our shirt also. Yes. Really. Just such an example is illustrated in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel in which an ex con (Valjean) is taken in by a benevolent Bishop (Myriel) and returns the hospitality by stealing the silver that night.   When the police capture Valjean, Myriel pretends that he has given the silverware to Valjean and presses him to take two silver candlesticks as well, as if he had forgotten to take them. This act of Christian kindness is the catalyst for Valjean to change his life and live for God. This is a fictitious example of what our Lord admonished us to do but an example nonetheless.

So, How do we do such a thing? Well, the answer may be found in the acceptance of the truth that we are incapable of doing such things. Yup, that’s what I said. Hard as it is for us to hear, we are limited in our ability to do anything that the Lord has asked us to do – BUT that’s because we try to do it in our own strength.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Without Me (Jesus) you can do nothing. Nothing. Hard to hear that isn’t it? So how have we done whatever it is we have accomplished so far? Well, perhaps, with the help of God you have done things you thought you couldn’t do even if you didn’t ask for his help. But to answer angry with love, to give to someone who stole from you and to love those who hate you takes help. Help that is available 24/7 and is only a breath away.

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But what about the question – Why? That’s an easy one – because He said so. But if it helps, try to remember that we battle not against flesh and blood. Meaning, our fight is not with the people we see. It is a spiritual fight against the invisible forces behind them. Spirits of fear, addiction, anger, poverty, perversion and such can influence and control people to do things that can hurt us. Jesus knew this and encourages us to love because Love will conquer all.

If we can love them we will be the children of your Father which is in heaven

How wonderful is that???

Who do you say I am?

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”“But you,” He asked them, who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:13-15 HCSB

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM ?

I am going to bet that everyone has a family member or knows someone, friend, colleague or neighbor who knows Jesus. Growing up I had friends at school whose parents were preachers and classmates who were “born again” and met many a stranger who wanted to know – “do you know Jesus?” Because of these associations I heard what they had to say about who Jesus was to them. I never really gave Him much thought but did have an opinion about Him that I supposed I collected from what others said mixed with liberal amount of ignorance and arrogance. But when push came to shove I had to admit I knew nothing of who Jesus is.

“Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine.”

Liar, Lunatic or Lord

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”- C.S.Lewis, Mere Christianity

Eternity

So, either Christ is Who He says He is or He is a Liar or a Lunatic. The evidence, that is clearly recorded in the Bible, should remove all doubt. The only thing left to do is reach a verdict for yourself. Disregard what anyone else says about Him and look only at the Word of God. Read Johns Gospel and then ask yourself – “Who do I say that He is?” But, I would strongly urge you to not reach your decision too quickly or lightly. Eternity awaits your decision both with open arms.