The Problem of Sin, 3 John 1:11
At the end of his life, the disciple of John wrote to Gaius, a fellow believer, to compliment, encourage and warn. The warning was beware of those who refuse to follow God. There is this little problem of sin. Yes, some attempt to live and advance the position that sin just doesn’t exist and everything goes. Many claim they have the answer, just listen to them. This is John’s warning. Don’t listen to them, don’t imitate them. Life without Jesus leaves sin which brings emptiness, worry and sorrow.
Our inner self knows that action without responsibility just doesn’t make sense. So where is the source of truth and justice? Where do we find the answer to this question of what gives us joy and overcomes our fears. “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory….” 1 Cor. 15:57 Where is that God? God is here, now and forever and His eternal love through Christ guides us, leads us and always is and will be with us. John writes, “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:11
Question: Who is Gaius that John writes to in 3John?
Answer: The Epistle of 3 John is written to a man named Gaius who was a member of an unnamed church that John had the oversight of (3 John 1:1). John calls this man a “dear friend” (verses 1, 2, and 11). Gaius is commended for his hospitality to traveling preachers of the gospel (verses 5, 6 and 8); for his faithfulness (verse 5); for his love (verse 6); and for his walking in the truth (verse 3). According to tradition this Gaius may be the one whom John appointed as bishop of Pergamum.
Nearing death, Jesus looked at His mother and gave her care to the man that stood at her side. Who would you give the responsibility of caring for your mother when you faced death? That person would be someone you loved and someone who loved you. Jesus told Mary, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to John, “Behold, your mother!” John 19:26-27
John, who felt the warmth of the love of Jesus, brings us the beautiful message of God’s love. The Holy Spirit moved John to tell us the love story of all love stories. It goes this way. “ In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9 John’s truth of the love of God is given to us and we revel in its truth that exclaims we matter to God.
Question: The Greek language has four words for love with distinct meanings. The Greek words used for love are agape, eros, phila and storge. Which of these words is best used for the unconditional love of God?
Answer: The Greek word for the unconditional love of God is agape. It is used to refer to a general affection and a sense of “true love.” Eros is passionate love, philia is friendship as in “brotherly love,” and storge which means natural or family love.
Where Were You When I Laid the Foundations of the Earth? Job 38:4-7
Does the Alpha and Omega, the I Am Creator of this world exist? Has science proven that god is just a conjured bit of imagination that comforts those who cannot accept the inevitable conclusion that the world and us just happened. The Christian philosopher, Ravi Zacharias writes the opposite. “To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, “I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge.” Talk about being trapped in your own logic. Even though it is so illogical to think that our universe and life itself was just a fortunate accident, why is there so much hatred against those who believe in God? In our message we explore the meaning of life and the existence of God through the life and story of Job, a follower of God.
Question: What does it mean that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega?”
Answer: Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the “Alpha and Omega” in Revelation 1:8, 11;21:6; and 22:13. Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Among the Jewish rabbis, it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end. Christ, as the Alpha and Omega, is the first and last as the “author and finisher” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), signifying that He begins it and carries it through to completion. He is the fulfilling end of the Law (Matthew 5:17), and He is the beginning subject matter of the gospel of grace through faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). He is found in the first verse of Genesis and in the last verse of Revelation. He is the first and last, the all in all of salvation, from the justification before God to the final sanctification of His people.
Where is this New Born King? Matt. 2:1-3
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;” Numbers 24:17. A star, a special star announcing Jesus, described by Moses over 1400 years before the birth of Christ, drew scholars, wise men, from the east to Israel. This is how Matthew wrote about it: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.'” Matt. 2:1-2. Our question today, that we ask along with the sojourners from the east, “Where is this Christ?”
Theme Text: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem,2saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.”3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
Question: The words that Moses recorded in Numbers 24:17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;” were spoken by Balaam. Who was this man called Balaam?
Answer: Balaam was not an Israelite. He was a false prophet, a diviner. God used him to prophecy and speak about the blessings that would come to Israel.
There is no Sunday School or LifeGroups held on Dec. 30 and no New Year Services. On Jan. 6 we resume our Sunday School and LifeGroups at 9:15.
Jesus is the Son of Sinners. Matthew 1:1-17
Matthew includes the names of four women in the genealogy of Jesus. The names of the women are Tamar, Rahab and Ruth, and a certain “wife of Uriah”. Why did Matthew go against the conventional wisdom of the day by letting women into his list! Why these four instead of those with a better reputation such as Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel?” “Doesn’t Matthew remember that lineage is traced through men, not women? And that the function of a genealogy is to give solemn honor to the final descendant, Jesus? Matthew breaks both of these time-honored rules
At the heart of Matthew’s genealogy is this grand gospel. Jesus loves people who are victims as well as perpetrators of family dysfunction and deceit (Tamar); who feel used and worthless (Rahab); who bury loved ones and endure the pain of leaving their homeland (Ruth); and who are used by others for pleasure only to witness the death of so many dreams (Bathsheba). In the end, these four women’s lives are amazing testimonies to God’s love and Immanuel, God is with us.
Question: Who is Rahab, an ancestor of Christ?
Answer: Rahab was, according to the Book of Joshua, a woman, a prostitute, who lived in Jericho in the Promised Land and assisted the Israelites in capturing the city by betraying her people. In the New Testament, she is lauded both as an example of a saint who lived by faith, and as someone “considered righteous” for her works. Matthew’s genealogy records her as one of the ancestors of Jesus.
“Signs of Christmas”
Today the children of Word of Life bring us, the timeless message of the birth of “Jesus Christ (who) is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Heb. 13:8. When did the message, the signs of Christmas begin? Promises, signs and sites were given of a Messiah to come throughout the history of God’s people. The Scripture writers Mathew and Luke give us the lineage of the Messiah, the promise descendant of Abraham and David. People knew and believed that He would come. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14.” That time came with the angel proclaiming to the shepherds and us, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 Go with the shepherds to the babe wrapped tightly in swaddling clothes. Let the children lead us. Follow the signs, the signs of Christmas.
Question: When was Christmas first celebrated on Dec. 25?
Answer: The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336 AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.
Jesus is the Son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1
Abraham was told by God that he was going to have a son at age 90. When Abraham was 100 years, his son, Isaac, was born. Abraham’s wife Sarah was 90 years when he was born. When Isaac was around 20 years old, Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son. As Abraham was getting ready to kill Isaac, an Angel of the Lord told Abraham not to sacrifice his son, but to sacrifice the ram that was caught in the bushes. This ram was the substitute sacrifice that took Isaac’s place on the altar, just like Jesus who sacrificed Himself for us.
Life Received, Life Together, Life Giving- John 10:10
Question: Was Isaac Abraham’s only child?
Answer: Isaac was Abraham and Sarah’s only son. However, Abraham’s first child was Ishmael who was born when Abraham was 86 years old (Gen 16:16) and after Sarah died Abraham remarried and had many sons and we assume daughters. Genesis 25
Jesus is the Son of David. Matt. 1:1,6,17
Sunday we begin the Advent season with a series called, who is Jesus? What is your first thought, the first image that comes to mind, when you hear the name Jesus Christ? What if you only knew of Him as the one to come, the Savior promised in the ancient texts of the Old Testament? The inspired disciple Matthew makes that connection identifying that Jesus is the promised King. In Matthew 1:1 he writes, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ”. “Christ” is not Jesus’s last name. “Christ,” is a title. It’s the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah,” which means “anointed one.” The Old Testament foretells of a coming Messiah—a King who would be anointed with the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s mission. The Messiah would come from the line of David. He’d be born in David’s city and sit on David’s throne.
When Matthew writes his gospel, Israel had been without a legitimate king for hundreds of years. Now, Matthew declares, “a king has finally come to sit on David’s throne. It’s Jesus!” Matthew then hammers this truth home by citing ten specific Old Testament promises. The promised King, the Son
Of David, has come.
Question: Why is the genealogy of Jesus given by Matthew differ from the list given by Luke?
Answer: It has long been suggested that Luke gives the biological ancestry of Mary and Matthew gives the biological ancestry of Joseph. Many scholars believe a more accurate explanation is that both genealogies are Joseph’s with the difference being that Matthew’s list is the biological ancestors and Luke’s list gives the legal genealogy. (Where the brother dies before having a child and his brother marries the widow but the child is legally known as the child of the deceased brother.)
Thankful for What? Psalm 136:1
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever is how Psalm 136:1 reads in the King James Version. As we say that prayer we acknowledge, proclaim our source of what we are thankful for. God is our source. He is good.
On Thanksgiving later this week we have a special day to share, enjoy, give thanks, reflect on His mercy and relish His goodness. What will Thanksgiving mean and bring to you? For some it will be especially challenging. A quick answer for many is family, food and festivities! For all it depends on what we bring to the table. As children of God, recipients of His love, we bring a legacy along with the food, family and friends. It is the legacy of life that each have received. It is a part of us and we will pass it on. By God’s grace, by His faithfulness, our legacy has led, is leading and will continue to lead.
Question: When did Thanksgiving become a national holiday?
Answer: Thanksgiving, a national holiday in the United States, is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” and set the day to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, with a proclamation byGeorge Washington after a request by Congress.
The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days, and—as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow—it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. Thanksgiving services were routine in what became the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607, with the first permanent settlement of Jamestown, Virginia holding a thanksgiving in 1610.
Eagerly Awaiting- Hebrews 9:24-28
Hebrews can be a challenging book to understand. It was written by an unknown, but clearly a gifted, led by the Spirit, individual who thoroughly knew the Old Testament. Throughout Hebrews the author shows us how Jesus is the One who fulfills the entire Old Testament.
Dr. Kari Vo writes, “In the verses we’re looking at today, the writer is referring back to a special custom that started in Moses’ day. There was a single man in Israel who was the high priest. Once a year it was his job to ask God to forgive the sins of the Israelite people. He did this by washing and dressing up in special clothes. Then he would take a bowlful of blood from a sacrificed bull and carry it into the Holy Place, where the Ark of the Covenant was. With his finger he would sprinkle the blood in front of the Ark, and God would forgive the sins of the people.”
This Day of Atonement, the sacrifice of the High Priest in the Most Holy Place, was repeated year after year. The blood of an animal could only be offered by the High Priest and as such it followed God’s command and pointed to the Messiah that they eagerly awaited. Our Hebrew text for today make it clear that Jesus came as the Highest High Priest and concurrently as the offering for our sin. Jesus’ blood was shed and then He appeared as the High Priest not in the earthly Holy of Holies of the Temple but rather in the Heavenly Temple before God the Father. The sacrifice of this High Priest took away our sins totally, completely and He will come for us who are eagerly awaiting Him.
Question: What was the Tabernacle?
Answer: The Tabernacle was a tent, a traveling sanctuary of Yahweh among the children of Israel from the time of the Exodus from Egypt to the building of the Temple by Solomon 440 years later. The outer court was enclosed by curtains supported on pillars. The altar of sacrifice (bronze altar) was within the court, facing the entrance located on the east side. The Tabernacle itself which was divided by a veil into two chambers, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place contained the Table, Lampstand, and Altar of Incense. Only priests were allowed into this section. The Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement.
Life Together with Jesus, Psalms 133:1:
Peace, unity and love are compelling truths and desired by all. So why is our world so malicious with hatred towards others? Does Jesus have a message for us that can lead us out of this murky quagmire that we live in? Is there a way in which we can live together with love towards each other?
The difficulty in attaining this unity within a family much less a church is obvious. Yet the Scriptures promise us a reward if we do, guidance in reaching this goal and in fact instructs us to do so. It is not a question whether we are part of a community, we are as we have faith in Christ. Do we want to increase the depth, the actual components that brings fellowship, life together? Of course, but how is this done?
Attitude, goals, discipline, new routines bring changes in areas of physical, financial, and intellectual growth. Is the answer to growth in these areas also how we learn to increase our ability live together? Is it just a matter of setting new resolutions? Remember, Jesus said, “I came that you might have life abundantly.” How does Jesus do that in this area of living life together? How is Christ the force that moves and guides us before any of our self- proclaimed aspirations can be realized?
Life Received, Life Together, Life Giving- John 10:10
Question: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945) was a German pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential. What did he write about Christian community?
Answer: From 1935 to 1937 Dietrich Bonhoeffer served as pastor, administrator, and teacher at an underground seminary at Finkenwalde, Germany (now Poland). Bonhoeffer insisted that if seminarians were to learn about and lead within the Christian community – the church – they must also enter into and learn the practical disciplines of the Christian faith in community. This led to the formation of a community house where those involved in seminary education would share life together. The book, Life Together, record’s Bonhoeffer’s reflections on that experience.
Life Received from Jesus, John 3:6-7
How do you receive life? Nicodemus came to Jesus during the night and simply stated, “Rabbi, we know you are from God…” and Christ gave the answer to life. Walter A. Maier, the first Speaker of The Lutheran Hour wrote, “To start your life again with blessing you must follow the clear-cut direction Jesus gives in John 3:6-7. “He tells Nicodemus, and us, ‘Ye must be born again. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.’”
Maier continues, “In this moment, the Savior is appealing to you personally and directly, as He once spoke to Nicodemus; and when He promises, “Behold, I make all things new” (see Revelation 21:5), offering you the beginning of a new life, don’t reject the mightiest blessing God can ever give you, but clasp your Savior tightly, lay your sins at the foot of His cross, pray the ancient plea for merciful renewal, and the holy angels in heaven will rejoice as you are reborn, Spirit-born, into everlasting blessedness. God grant you this radiant rebirth through Jesus, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”! Amen.”
Question: Who was Nicodemus?
Answer: We know of Nicodemus in the Bible from the Gospel of John. In John 3:1, he is described as a Pharisee. The Phariseeswere a group of Jews who were fastidious in keeping the letter of the Law and often opposed Jesus throughout His ministry. Jesus often strongly denounced them for their legalism (see Matthew 23). John 3:1 also describes Nicodemus as a leader of the Jews. According to John 7:50–51, Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the ruling body of the Jews. Each city could have a Sanhedrin, which functioned as the “lower courts.” Under Roman authority in the time of Christ, the Jewish nation was allowed a measure of self-rule, and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem was the final court of appeals for matters regarding Jewish law and religion.
Philip the Deacon Acts 8:4-5
Philip the Deacon, not to be confused with Philip the disciple, was one of the original seven deacons selected to serve in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:5). When the “great persecution” arose in Acts 8:1, Philip left Jerusalem and went to Samaria and proclaimed Christ (Acts 8:5–12). Many were baptized and Peter and John joined them and prayed for them. Philip was then told by an angel to go south to a road leading to Gaza where he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, the queen of Ethiopia. Philip found the Ethiopian official sitting in his chariot, reading Isaiah and trying to understand the prophet’s words. Philip offered to explain, and was invited by the Ethiopian to come up and sit with him. As Philip explained the prophecy of Isaiah, the Ethiopian believed in Christ and asked to be baptized (Acts 8:26–39). Immediately following the baptism, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away to Azotus, where he continued to preach the gospel in the towns from there to Caesarea (Acts 8:40). Twenty years later, Philip is mentioned again, still in Caesarea (Acts 21:8–9). Paul and Luke and others were traveling to Jerusalem, and they stopped at Philip’s home in Caesarea. They stayed with Philip for several days. Philip had four unmarried daughters at that time, all of whom had the gift of prophecy.
Question: Why was the role of deacons in the Jerusalem church needed?
Answer: The church was, as a regular practice, providing “daily ministration” for all the needy widows. But a cultural division in the church created a problem. Some of the early Christians in Jerusalem were Grecians (that is, Hellenistic Jews) and some were Hebrews (that is, Jews fully Semitic in their cultural background). Although intensely loyal to their Hebrew traditions, these Grecians were distinct in many ways from Jews whose forbears in recent centuries had stayed within the Holy Land. One key difference was language.6 The Grecians spoke Greek as their language of choice. If the Hebrews knew Greek, they preferred not to use it. Their language of choice was Hebrew if they belonged to the class of trained rabbis. Otherwise, it was Aramaic. Soon the Greeks started to complain that the daily handout to the poor was neglecting their widows.
To solve the problem, the apostles decided to appoint seven men as deacons whose duty was to serve tables, overseeing the program assuring that widows had enough to eat and enough of other necessities.Perhaps they would manage other practical affairs of the church as well. The new office freed the apostles to devote themselves wholly to spiritual ministries, especially prayer and ministry of the Word.
One Thing I Ask of the Lord!” Psalm 27:4
What did David ask for as his prayer request as he considered all his needs, concerns and responsibilities? Continue reading Life Notes One Thing I Ask of the Lord!” Psalm 27:4