JOHN:THE BIG PICTURE GOSPEL
The Gospel of John is a fascinating and inspiringaccount of Jesus
life and ministry. It is very different from Matthew, Mark andLuke in
how it is organized. Still, there are powerful verses that haveimpacted
our lives and faith. The Golden Verse of the Bible, John 3:16, is
afavorite. John 14:6 is memorized by many, “I am the way, the truth, and
thelife. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And many more.
John’sGospel does not say, “I, John, wrote this.” Rather he refers
to himself onnumerous occasions as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We
will discuss this ingreater detail but there is little significant
disagreement with the idea that Johnwas the author of this Gospel. It is
generally believed that he wrote this latein life around 85 AD after the
other Gospels were written.
The otherthree Gospels are called, “synoptic,” which literally
means seen together. Theyinclude many of the same stories, often in the
same sequence, and similarwording. John wrote about seven sign miracles
and seven discourses (teachingmessages). His purpose is reflected in
John 20:30, 31. “Jesus did many othermiraculous signs in the presence of
his disciples, which are not recorded inthis book. But these are written
that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ,the Son of God, and that
by believing you may have life in his name.”
John wasone of three disciples who were considered the inner circle
along with Peterand James, his brother. They were fishermen along with
their dad, Zebedee, whenJesus called them to come and follow him. They
left the boat and their fatherand followed Jesus. Jesus called them,
Boanerges, an Aramaic word which meant Sonsof Thunder. They were
aggressive at first wanting to sit on the right and leftside of Jesus in
his kingdom and then wanting to call down fire on a villagethat did not
receive them. About ten years after the resurrection, James waskilled by
Herod by the sword. But John lived a long life. Jesus words aboutlove
and the Holy Spirit changed his personality to the Apostle of Love.
It wasJohn who saw and wrote about the Big Picture. That is, Jesus
was the Logos, theWord of God, present at Creation, and the divine only
begotten Son of God. Jesusgives life (zoe) and Light (phos). “God so
loved the world that He gave his Oneand only Son, that whoever believes
in him shall not perish but have eternallife.” Jesus is the “I am”…bread
of life, light of the world, gate for thesheep, good shepherd,
resurrection and the life, way, truth and life, truevine, and vine.
Jesus has given a new commandment that we love one another. Hesent the
Holy Spirit after He ascended. These are all things we do not hearfrom
the other Gospels but are central to our faith and theology from John.
Fromstart to finish, John brings forth evidence and testimony that
Jesus is theChrist. Along the way, some believe and some reject. But
none are left with thealternative that Jesus was a good itinerant rabbi.
The first chapter containswhat students call the Prologue. Verses 1-18
talk about Jesus, the Word, from thebeginning and then how the Word
became flesh and lived among us. The Word isJesus.
John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was theWord, and the Word was
with god, and the Word was God. He was with God in thebeginning. Through
him all things were made; without him nothing was made thathas been
made.”Even though he had spent almost every day with Jesus for 3 ½years
with Jesus, there were profound insights revealed to him in the
followingyears. He realized that Jesus was divine and present at
The two key words are “the beginning” and“the Word.” The beginning
refers to Genesis 1. “In the beginning God createdthe heavens and the
earth.” This is where human history starts…with God’screation. The Word
is the Greek is Logos.This word is used many times in the NT to
refer to speaking, reckoning, andhere with a specific article “The
Word.” This had meaning in the OT and in theGreek culture of the day.
The OT reference is first in Gen 1 where God spokethe world into
creation.v.9 “And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky begathered to
one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so.” The Greeksused
this word to explain the reason and purpose of the universe.
Hebrews 1:1,2 reminds us, “In the pastGod spoke to our forefather
through the prophets at many times and in variousways, but in these last
days he has spoken to us by his son….” Literally, Hehas spoken to us by
Son.” Jesus has been called The Living Word. Jesus in anintense
discussion with the Jewish leadership in John 8:58 said, “I tell youthe
truth, before Abraham was born, I am.” This made them mad and they
wantedto stone him but were unable. Jesus was more than a Jewish
itinerant rabbi, hewas the Son of God and divine and there in creation.
We call thispre-existence. Paul reaffirmed this in Phil 2:6 explaining,
“being in verynature God, did not consider equality with God something
to be grasped…”
John1:3, “Through him all things weremade; without him nothing was
made that has been made.” “In him was life andthat life was the light of
men.” Will discuss in a bit. DonCarson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity
School of Chicago translates the phraseof John 1:1, “In the beginning
was the Message.” God desires to communicate.There is great power in His
communication. Jesus was God’s Message in action.
God wants to talk to you and me today. Heis not silent. He is
speaking. His Love Message is Christ. He also sent theHoly Spirit after
Christ ascended. We are not alone or lonely. He is talking tous.
John 1:6 tells us, “there came a man who was sentfrom God; his
name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning thatlight, so
that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light;he
came only as a witness to the light…” This is speaking of John the
Baptistwho was the official witness who was part of the beginning of
Jesus’ ministry.There were some who thought John Baptist was the Prophet
or the One who was tocome but John vigorously denied it. “I am not the
Later in this first chapter, John Baptisttestified, “Look the Lamb
of God who takes away the sin of the world. This isthe one I meant when
I said ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me becausehe was before
me.’” John was one who gave official testimony about Jesus. He isthe
One. He is God’s Lamb. Listen to Him!
We who have believed are also witnessesof Jesus. Jesus told his
disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they receivedpower and then he
said, “you will be my witnesses.”Weare designated testifiers. We have
experienced Jesus’ life and light.
John 1:4 reminds us, “in him was life, and that lifewas the light
of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness hasnot
understood it.” Also verse 8, “He himself was not the light; he only
cameas a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every
man wascoming into the world.”
John speaks of life and light. Zoe is theGreek word for life. John
spoke of it extensively(36 x). It is eternal life. Itis life into the
ages. It is the life of God that begins when one believes inJesus (5:24
crossed over from death to life). It is the life abundantly, to thefull
(perisson). It is the life that brings freedom (whom the Son sets free
“That life was the light of men,” [light](Gr phos) Jesus is the
light and He enlightens everyone who believes in him.This is the
beginning of a stark contrast between light and darkness. There aremany
who want to portray many shades of gray. Jesus spoke of light
Verse 9 speaks of “the true light.”Compare 1 John 2:8, “the true
light is already shining.” Many claim to be thelight or enlightened. New
age teachers are projecting light. But Jesus is TheTrue Light! He is the
One and Only. (KJV Only Begotten Son), 14:6 “no one comesto the Father
except through me.”
Some are following lesser lights to theirdestruction. They are
false lights and really only darkness. False teaching isdarkness. V5
“The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has notunderstood
it.” Compare 12:35, “You are going to have the light just a littlewhile
longer. Walk while you have the light….” When Jesus walked this
earth,the brightness of God’s Light in Jesus was The True Light! But not
allrecognized it. Some did not get it.
In fact, God’s chosen people rejected thetrue light. V.11 “He came
to that which was his own, but his own did notreceive him.” John 3:19
records Jesus analysis, “This is the verdict: Light hascome into the
world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deedswere
evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into
thelight for fear that his deeds will b exposed. But whoever lives by
the truthcomes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what
he has done hasbeen done through God.”
This was a fulfillment of Isaiah’sprophecy. 53:3 “he was despised
and rejected of men…..”
V12 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he
gave theright to become children of God.” Believe occurs 98 times in
John. V14“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have
seen his glory,the glory of the One and Only (monogenous), who came from
the Father, full ofgrace and truth.”
Sarx-abody. Gal 4:4 born of a woman. Made his dwelling (tabernacled).We
saw theglory! Do you see that Jesus is the True Light? Do you believe on
him as theOne and Only? Have you left the dark deeds into his light?
Have you receivedlife to the full? You can by faith today.
PART TWO: THE WORD BECAME FLESH; WE
BEHELD HIS GLORY,FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.
The Big Picture Gospel is amazing
and inspiring. John wrote of 7 sign miracles and 7 discourses to show
that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.
Last week, we began this series
from chapter one where he wrote, “in the beginning was the Word.” This
teaches us that Jesus was there with God in the beginning at creation.
All things were made by him.
God sent a man, John the Baptizer,
to testify and prepare the way for someone who would follow and baptize
with the Holy Spirit. Jesus came into a world of darkness as the True
Light, the One and Only Son of God, who wants to light every man.
Many did not recognize the light.
Even though Jesus came to the Jewish people, many rejected him. In fact,
whenever Jesus performed a sign miracle, there were those who believed
and those who did not.
From John we learn things that were
not explained in the other Gospels; God loved the world so much that He
sent his One and Only Son. Jesus revealed himself in 7 “I am….”
statements: -the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate, the
good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, truth, and the
life, and the true vine.
A strong message that the “disciple
whom Jesus loved,” wished to convey was that Jesus was not just an
itinerant rabbi, but the Son of God, the Christ!
Today, we want to continue in the
Prologue, 1:1-18, looking more closely at the rejection of his own
people, the word becoming flesh, he made his dwelling among us, we saw
the glory, and he was full of grace and truth. God wants His church
today to be full of grace and truth. This is a balance. There is hope
and forgiveness but it starts with honesty.
HE CAME TO HIS OWN; THEY REJECTED HIM
God’s chosen people rejected the
true light. Look at verse 11, “He came to that which was his own, but
his own did not receive him.” This was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s
prophecy, (53:3) “he was despised and rejected of men…..” John 3:19
records Jesus’ analysis, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the
world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were
evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the
light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the
truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he
has done has been done through God.”
Leon Morris, Australian Bible
scholar, translates it like this, “he came home.” It is the same
expression as is used in 19:27, “this disciple took her into his own
home.” “When the Word came into this world, He did not come as an alien.
He came home (Morris.p96).” Jesus did not come to another nation, but to
God’s own people. Consider Dt. 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the
Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples
on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession”
Compare the following references
from John that suggest rejection: 4:44 “no honor in his own country,”
5:16 “the Jews persecuted him,” 7:1 “purposely staying away from Judea
because the Jews were waiting to take his life.” 7:25 “Isn’t this the
man they are trying to kill?”v.30 “they tried to seize him…sent temple
guards to arrest him,” v.44 “some wanted to seize him,” 8:59 “they
picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from
the temple grounds.” 10:31 “Again the Jews picked up stones to stone
him…” 11:50 “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man
die for the people than that the whole nation perish,” 12:10 “So the
chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well for on account of him,
many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in
It continued …12:37-41 the
unbelief of the Jews was predicted by Isaiah 6:10-“he has blinded their
eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,” 18:3 “So Judas came to the grove,
guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials for the chief
priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and
weapons,” 19:6 “as soon as the chief priests and their officials saw
him, they shouted, ‘Crucify! Crucify’” 19:15 “’we have no king but
Caesar’, the chief priests answered.”
YET to all who received him, to those who
believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God….”
SOME WILL RECEIVE!
Think of Paul’s words 1 Cor.1:26,
“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you
were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were
of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame
to wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He
chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the
things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may
boast before him.” We must not stop sharing Jesus just because some
reject him because others will receive!
THE WORD BECAME FLESH
“The Word became flesh and made his
dwelling among us.” Paul said in Gal 4:4, ‘born of a woman….” Some who
had not seen Jesus physically thought he was God, an apparition, or a
spirit. 1 John 1:1 tells us “we heard,” “we’ve seen with our eyes,” “our
hands have handled.” John and the eleven were eyewitnesses of Jesus.
“He made his dwelling among
us.” This had overtones to Jewish ears of the tabernacle when the glory
filled the tent. In fact, John says, “we have seen his glory, the
glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and
truth.” Exodus 40:34 describes the tabernacle scene. ”Then my butt
covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the
tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of meeting because my butt
had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
God’s glory was revealed also when
King Solomon dedicated the Temple. 1 Kings 8:10 records the event, “When
the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, my butt filled the temple of
the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of my
butt, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.” Ezekiel also
experienced the glory of the Lord.
John said, ”we saw the glory. We
experienced it.” The other Gospel writers wrote specifically that Jesus
took Peter, John, and James up on a high mountain and there before their
eyes he was transfigured. Mark said, “his clothes became dazzling white,
whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” They saw two men,
Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. Then a butt enveloped them and a
voice came from my butt, (Luke 9:36) “This is my Son, whom I have
chosen, listen to him.”
They also saw the glory through his
public ministry…even to the crucifixion and the resurrection. They had
the front row seats. It was glorious and scary! To follow Jesus today
will bring adventure into your life. There may come scary times as you
trust Him to face the uncertainty of what is next. But also will come
the glory of God when you say, “wow, God you did it!”
THE MEANING OF GRACE AND TRUTH
The Word became flesh in Jesus. He
was full of grace and truth. Consider verses 14, 16 & 17. The
fact that Jesus became a man is an incredible act of God’s graciousness.
Grace is the favor of God that was not deserved by the people of the
world who were inclined not to believe. God loved them and Jesus loved
people. He was often moved with compassion. He reached out to sinners,
tax collectors, and lepers…those who were especially undesirable to
Verse16 reveals, “From the fullness
of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” Then
verse 17 continues, “For the law was given by Moses, grace and truth
came through Jesus Christ.” This grace is connected with receiving of v.
12. It is further connected to 3:16, God’s great love for the people of
John Baptist characterized Moses as
the giver of the Law and Jesus as the bringer of grace and truth. God
has always been a merciful God but when Jesus came, mercy and grace
surged! He was headed for the cross where He would be the Lamb and pay
the price for sin once for all! Also, the disciple whom Jesus loved
revealed the profound love of God in Christ (3:16).
But this grace is connected to
truth. Truth is very important to John. He used this word 25 times in
this gospel. It is the opposite of falsehood but even more. Truth is
linked with God and is completely reliable. He knows all, sees all, and
understands all. We must come to him in honesty and confession.
In John’s way of thinking, Jesus is
God’s truth and demonstrated it. He came, he lived, he died, and he rose
so that you and I can live. That’s the truth! Believe what you want, but
that‘s the truth. A.A. Corell explains truth this way, “There can be
only one meaning of a???e?a [Greek-alethia] in the Fourth Gospel: it is
the truth about the death and resurrection of Jesus, to which witness is
borne in 16:7 and 17:19. This is in accordance with the whole theology
of the Fourth Gospel, the central point of which is the ‘lifting up’ of
Truth must be embraced,
(8:31),”know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Satan, the
devil, is the opposite and has no truth in him. Consider 8:44, ”You
belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your
father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to
the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his
native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I
tell you the truth, you do not believe me.”
Jesus himself says he is the
truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through me (14:6.).” In his intercessory prayer, Jesus
spoke of the truth. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
Then before Pilate, “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. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. [Pilate]
‘What is truth…’”
Today, we know the truth. God calls
us to believe it with our whole life. Embrace Jesus. Confess your
sin to him. Receive his grace. Then listen to him and follow him!
God demonstrated his profound
love for the people for the world by sending his Son in flesh. But this
was not an arbitrary act. Rather His Son was going to live and die to
pay the penalty of sin. Some of the dear people whom he chose as his own
would reject Jesus in rebellion, but some would receive. By believing,
they would have eternal life in His name.
Randy Alcorn told the story of
how their church was protested for the first time in twenty five years
by two different groups. They were attempting to embrace both grace and
truth. Their story is told at http://www.sermoncentral.com/Articles/article_PrintFriendly.asp?ArticleID=1596.
Today we need to apply the message of
Jesus to our lives. The Christian Church and all followers of Jesus need
to love sinners and hate sin.
LORD OF HOPE
Over the past two weeks, horrific eventshave
taken place among us that once again shock and surprise us. We have
seenbad things happen over the last couple of decades near April 20th…Hitler’s
birthday in 1889. The Columbine massacre erupted in 1999 and the
Deepwaterexplosion in the Gulf of Mexico took place in 2010. This year,
on April 15, theBoston Marathon bombings shocked us as well as the
explosion in West TX on April17. These events have captured our hearts
and we have all felt pain again.
It is important that we remember that evenin
the most horrific and troubling events, God is still the Lord of
Hope.Earlier this year, on January 13, I preached a message from Romans
15 entitledHope by the Holy Spirit. Each year I seek God, pray, and ask
for a message toset the pace for the year. This year the message was
hope. God is the God ofHope and works in all situations by His Holy
Spirit. Even though there are sadevents taking place in our world and
the likelihood of more is high, God workseven in sad times.
One of the saddest times in Jewishhistory was
recorded in Jeremiah and Lamentations. Jeremiah 52 records the Fallof
Jerusalem. It was a sad and devastating event in Israel’s history. They
fellso far from the high days of King David and the Majesty of King
Solomon. Inv13, it is recorded that the commander Nebuzaraddan “set fire
to the temple ofthe Lord, the royal palace and all the house of
Jerusalem. Every importantbuilding he burned down.” They broke down the
city walls, broke up the bronzepillars, and took away all the valuable
furnishings of the temple. Theyransacked the place. Jeremiah witnessed
the fulfillment of the prophecies Godhad given him about this place.
Israel had not listened to him and so they hadbeen disciplined by God
through the Babylonians.
Jeremiah wrote 5 poems of sorrow. It
isreminiscent of David’s poem, “How the Mighty Have Fallen,” when King
Saul waskilled in battle. The title, “Lamentations,” in Hebrew literally
means “How…[blank]?”“How could this have happened?” Can you believe it?”
The pain was beyondaccurate descriptive words. Chapters 1,2, 4, & 5 have
22 parts patterned afterthe 22 consonants in the Hebrew alphabet.
Chapter 3 has 66 parts which is 3times the 22 letters. Chapter 3 is the
highlight. That is where I want to focusyour attention.
Inthe approximate middle of these poems is
the message of Lamentations 3:21 &22, “Yet this I call to mind and there
I have hope: Because of the Lord’s greatlove we are not consumed, for
his compassions never fail. They are new everymorning; great is your
The first twenty verses detail how badlythe
writer feels about the horrible events that have taken place. It is hard
tosummarize them especially when such descriptive language is used.
Jeremiah sawthese events as clearly directed by God because he was given
prophecies ofwarning to Israel that they would happen if Israel did not
turn from sin andwickedness.
I am the man who has seen affliction by therod of his wrath.
He has driven me away and mad me walk indarkness rather than
he has turned hishand against me
againand again, all day long.
has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
has besieged me andsurrounded me
withbitterness and hardship.
has made me dwell indarkness
likethose long dead.
walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.
when I call out orcry for help,
heshuts out my prayer.
has barred my way withblocks of stone;
hehas made my paths crooked.
a bear lying in wait,
likea lion in hiding,
me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.
drew his bow
andmade me the target for his arrows.
pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.
became the laughingstockof all my people;
theymock me in song all day long.
has filled me withbitter herbs
andsated me with gall.
has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
have been deprived ofpeace;
Ihave forgotten what prosperity is.
I say, "Mysplendor is gone
andall that I had hoped from the Lord."
remember my afflictionand my wandering,
thebitterness and the gall.
well remember them,
andmy soul is downcast within me.
There are some
powerfulphrases that particularly grab our attention. Verse 4, my skin
and flesh growold…broken bones. Look at v. 7- weighed me down with
chains. V.11- like a bearor lion, “he dragged me from the path and
mangled me…” Also v. 16- he hasbroken my teeth with gravel….” As a
result, v. 20- “my soul is downcast.”
happen topeople. Even followers of Jesus Christ experience bad things.
Even peoplefilled with the Holy Spirit experience bad things. Romans 8
indicates thatfollowers of Jesus will experience “trouble, hardship,
persecution, famine,nakedness, danger or sword.” But it will not
separate us from God’s love inChrist.
This does not
negateGod’s blessings of provision, protection, and presence. He will
take care ofus. He will send his angels to watch over us. He will never
leave us. But badthings will happen from time to time. Some are caused
by sin. Others are not.
Bad things can
causegreat sorrow! Remember, God is the God of comfort. 2 Corinthians 1
reminds usthat He can comfort us in our troubles like no one else. Jesus
understands ourpain. He suffered the worst of all suffering.
GOD STILLLOVES US
There is trouble that we bring onourselves.
Sin and rebellion has horrible consequences. This particular
catastrophewas predicted by God’s prophets and warnings given. It came
in specificresponse to sin, apostasy, and wickedness. Hebrews 12:6 tells
us that “the Lorddisciplines those he loves.”
Even in this disciplinary action, Hislove is
prominent. God loves us and disciplines us for “our good, that we
mayshare in his holiness (10).” Furthermore, it will produce “a harvest
ofrighteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Not all trouble is discipline. Jobsuffered as
part of God’s Sovereign plan. Job lost his wealth, his family, andhis
health and argued extensively with his friends that he was righteous
anddid not deserve this.
God’s answer was Sovereignty. Here arehis
words. Job 38:3, “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you and
youshall answer me. ‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s
foundation?’”Also40:7, “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you,
and you shall answer me.“Would you discredit my justice? Would you
condemn me to justify yourself? Do youhave an arm like God’s and can
your voice thunder like his?”God is God and Hedoes not always tell us
why he does certain things or why certain thingshappen?
Paul adds in Romans 9:20 , “But who areyou O
man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed
it,‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right
to make outof the same lump of clay some pottery used for noble purposes
and some forcommon use?”
there are other reasons. Jesushealed a man born blind (John 9). As they
passed the blind man, “his disciplesasked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this
man or his parents, that he was bornblind?’”Jesus answered, “Neither
this man nor his parents sinned….but thishappened so that the work of
God might be displayed in his life.” God can beglorified in the healing
of sick people.
However this acceptance does not
meandepression, resignation, and a bleak future. On the contrary, with
God there ishope. God still loves us. Paul said in Romans 8 that we are
more thanconquerors. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nordemons, nether the present nor the future, nor any
powers, nether height nordepth, nor anything else in all creation, will
be able to separate us from the loveof God that is in Christ Jesus our
Lord.” Even in the middle of trouble andsorrow, he loves us!
HE CAN BRING BEAUTY FROM ASHES
Trouble and sorrow is not the end. Infact it
can be the beginning of new mercies. Lamentations 3:21,22 reads,
“Yetthis I call to mind and therefore I have hope; Because of the Lord’s
great lovewe are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are
new everymorning; great is your faithfulness.” This may not be in the
book of theAmerican dream, but it is in God’s book. Furthermore
the next verses add,
“I say to myself, ’The Lord is myportion; therefore
I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hopeis in him, to
the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for thesalvation of
the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is stillyoung.
Let him sit alone in silence for the Lord has laid it on him. Let
himbury his face in the dust- there may yet be hope. Let him offer his
cheek tothe one who would strike him, and let him be filled with
disgrac3. For men arenot cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings
grief, he will showcompassion, so great is his unfailing love.”
Our first challenge is to make theLord our
portion. Abide in Jesus. Cling to the Lord. Spend time in prayerand
silence. Listen for his voice. Sometimes we are complaining and whining
soloud and long that we cannot hear anything.
Our expectations of bigger, better,faster,
richer, and happier are not necessarily God’s plan of growth and
maturityfor us. Nor can we give in to self pity, depression, or blaming
others. God isthe God of hope!
He specializes in bringing beauty out
ofashes. Isaiah prophesies in 61, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me….to
proclaimthe year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our
God. To comfortall who mourn, and to provide for those who grieve in
Zion- to bestow on them acrown of beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness
instead of mourning, and agarment of praise instead of a spirit of
Thispast week, Focus on the Family had a
guest, Sheri Rose Sheppard, whoexperienced a traumatic childhood and
marriage. She shared her testimony of howGod helped her overcome it. Her
problems included an eating disorder. Beforeher high school prom, the
leader of the football team asked her if she wascoming because they
needed a beached whale. She then determined to be skinny.Her mother
never wanted her. One time she received a letter from her mothersaying
she wished she never had been born. Her long testimony includes how
Godhelped her forgive her mother and receive God’s forgiveness, overcome
marriagecrisis, and see her son raised to a healthy, godly life and
marriage. With Godthere is hope. Google her name for more details.
With God there
is hope. In all things, Imust cling to God for he promises “we know that
in all things God works for thegood of those who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose.” Godis the God of hope and works in all
situations. His ways are higher than ourways. He can bring good out of
bad. He can bring beauty out of ashes. We musttrust in him and cooperate
with him. God has spoke hope into the hearts ofleaders like Billy Graham
and he has hope for you and I. Let’s embrace it andgo with it!
James 1 challenges followers of Jesus to persevere through life's
challenges with joy, faith, and wisdom. It is typical
for followers of Jesus to face trials of many kinds. God is working on
our behalf to grow and mature us. As we deal with these issues, we are
admonished to ask God for wisdom.
Later in James' letter, he emphasizes the impact of persistent prayer
and group prayer. It is possible for the strongest believer to feel
overwhelmed at times. But God is our strength. Jesus told his disciples,
"abide in me." Stay connected to me like branches are connected to the
main vine and receive nutrition from the sap. The Jesus also said it was
very important that His words abide in us. We are continually dependent
on Him for life and vitality.
We also need each other.
Hebrews 10:23-25 reminds us that we are to encourage each other. To
successfully gain strength for today's challenges, we need to fellowship
with other believers. We are fellow pilgrims on life's journey to
glorify God and be with Him forever. We are not alone. We are part of
God's Forever Family and a chapter meets in your neighborhood.
We Have So
Much To Be Thankful For
Bible admonishes us to give thanks in all circumstances for this is
God's will in Christ concerning you. As we near this Thanksgiving
Holiday, we must remember that God has given us life. We have breath and
so we need to praise the Lord. We have the message of Jesus Christ and
He offers salvation to all who believe and receive HIm. We have His
presence with us at all times. Even in the uncertain world we live in,
God's promises are certain and He is realiable and faithful. Let's give
28:1 reads, "To you I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to
me." Psalm 27:1 reads, "The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall
I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom whall I be
afraid?" These powerful words remind us that God is
our Rock and strength. He is unchanging. He is stronger than our needs
We are to call out
to Him with our desires, needs, and requests. He hears, he loves and he
God Leads Us
The old hymn says, "God leads his dear children along. Some thro' the
waters, some thro' the flood, some thro' the fire but all thro' the
blood; some thro' great sorrow, but God gives a song; in the night
season and all the day long."
Psalm 23:1 says, "The Lord is my Shepherd." God wants to lead us along
like a shepherd. He leads in paths of his own choosing. Some are easy
and some are hard. But God is faithful. He will work together all things
for our good. We are to listen and follow and trust.
Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13 & 14, "Brothers, I do not consider myself
yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is
behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to
win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.." God
has called each of us to follow Christ and be faithful and shine as
lights in a dark world. But there are obstacles and troubles that can
get us discouraged. God wants us to press on toward the goal. Even in
summer, in rain and floods, or in economic difficulty, God is faithful
and we must also press on.
The recent ministry by the Milwaukee Teen Challenge Women's Choir and
our water baptisms on the Sunday before that reminds me of the heart of
God to bring back the prodigal and give new life to the dead heart. 2
Corinthians 5:17 tells us, "If anyone is in Christ; he is a new
creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
One of the first parts of a new beginning is to realize our own
sinfulness and need of a Savior...Jesus Christ. This can be a long
journey. We try to fix ourselves but fail. Jesus, the sinless one, died
for us who sin. By believing, we have life in his name. We place our
trust in Him and what he did on Golgotha's cross for us. It
is not by our own works.
God desires to
change us by His Spirit. He desires to make us new. Romans 6:4 says,
"...just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the
"Father, we too may live a new life." We must surrender to Him and
receive His Spirit. There is no sin He cannot forgive. He can pick up
the peices and give you a new start.