August 24, 2016

Today you should read: John 9:1-34

When God changes a life, it is one of the most exhilarating events for a Christian to witness. To see a new believer grow in Christ is an amazingly rewarding experience to be a part of. But the reality is this life-change does not always receive the same feedback from everyone, especially people who are not Christians. When God changes a life and the person begins to tell friends and family, the reaction is often not what that person expects the reaction to be. It is often received with skepticism and even push back. “Who is making you act like this?” “Why are you such a different person? I miss the way you used to be.” The reason for this is people who have not personally encountered Jesus Christ can’t truly comprehend the beauty of a transformed life. But one of the reasons God saves us is so others might be able to begin to comprehend this change of life, and God has used the witness of many to save their family and friends.

In our passage today there is a man who was born blind that Jesus ministered to. Jesus’ disciples had many questions about this man, and as they were asking them to Jesus, Jesus demonstrated what it looks like to minister to people. He spat in dirt and rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes (I would not necessarily recommend this exact strategy when you are ministering to others). After this man was healed, people began to notice the change in him. Many started asking what was at the source of this change, but few were vocally praising the change. Many were doubting and questioning the legitimacy of the change. There were religious people who chose to focus on the fact that Jesus decided to heal someone on the Sabbath (which they thought of as sin) instead of the miracle that a man who had been blind from birth had received sight! They simply could not believe someone could have such a change in his life; they did not fully understand (or want to accept) that God had power that they couldn’t comprehend.

There is much we can learn from this passage today.

  1. The main point of your tribulation is the glory of God.

The disciples wanted to know why this person was blind. They believed it was because of the sin of himself or his parents. But we see the reason for his ailment is not a result of the sin of anyone, but so God could show His power in healing him. Your sin is not necessarily the reason that you are in the middle of tribulation. It can often feel like that, but the truth is the main purpose of our afflictions is to show the faithfulness of God in redeeming our afflictions.

  1. Your sin is not the focus when Jesus cleanses you.

We see a way to redeem the sin in our lives is to shift the focus from ourselves and onto Jesus who cleanses us. Many people whom Jesus has saved once lived a life that so opposed the gospel that it can be difficult for them to truly accept that Jesus loves them despite their sin. Many people who mentally acknowledge that Jesus is Lord find it difficult to accept that reality for themselves because it is inconceivable that a holy God would love someone in the mess of sin in their life.

But the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus is the basis of our salvation and his saving grace reaches into the messiness of our sin. Jesus comes to us and instead of Him being infected with our sin, we are infected with His righteousness.

By: Graham Withers

August 23, 2016

Today you should read: John 8:48-58

When reading this passage, it is difficult for me to not find it pretty humorous. Not in a way that is making fun of anything; I just find it funny the way the Jews are coming across to Jesus. Jesus had just laid out to them the truth of their motives and that their hearts were wrong. He went as far as to say that they are children of the devil. What makes this humorous is that Jesus can see into their hearts, and He knows the true motives and desires behind their actions. They however do not see it this way, and their rebuttal to Jesus is to insult Him. They call Him a Samaritan who has a demon possessing him. Culturally this was them calling Jesus a heretic.  Jesus’ reply shows their ignorance. A demon would never look to exalt anything but themselves, and Jesus makes it very clear that he is not about Himself, but He is about honoring and bringing glory to His Father.

In reading this passage I am asking myself why I often question Jesus, and why I do not recognize that he knows me and my motives and I cannot argue with or question Him.

Jesus shows us that he is eternal with the next exchange with the Jews. Jesus told them that anyone who keeps his word will not taste death. They come back saying that the prophets died and Abraham died. The Jews were not seeing that physical death was not what Jesus was referring to. He even mentions that Abraham was excited to His day. He not only makes the claim that he was there with Abraham, He makes the claim that He is “I am.” Jesus is making known that He is God and He has always been and always will be. Jesus literally being the Messiah shares the Gospel with this group of Jews and their response is to stone Him.

How does this shape the way you view sharing the Gospel?

What comfort is there knowing that Jesus has always been and always will be?

How are you resting in the joy as a believer that you will never taste spiritual death?

By: Dakota Gragg

August 22, 2016

Today you should read: John 8:1-47

It’s one thing to be able to diagnose a problem, and it’s another thing to know how to fix it. Growing up working with old trucks, farm equipment, wood splitters, chainsaws, and a bunch of other mechanical things that constantly broke, I became pretty good at diagnosing the problems that might arise while we were working. The problem was I didn’t always know how to fix the problem. Especially as a youngster I relied on my dad and my papaw to come to my rescue and bring resolution to the issue. I needed them to point me to the solution. Being aware of my problem only showed me that I didn’t possess the ability to fix the problem on my own; I needed something outside of myself to resolve my issue.

In today’s passage we see evidence that the religious leaders in Jesus’ day had no problem diagnosing the problems in people’s lives according to the law. They were masters in the law and unfortunately they didn’t always use that knowledge to point people to God. As is the case in our passage today, the Pharisee’s cared little for the woman caught in adultery. Their motivation was to use the law to trap Jesus in some type of infraction that they could use against Him when the time was right.

The example we see from Jesus in this passage is quite different from that of the religious leaders. While Jesus knew the law entirely, kept the law perfectly, and clearly used the law to show people their sin (diagnosing their problem), He also provided them with the solution, Himself. Look again at Jesus’ response to the woman caught in adultery:

[10] Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” [11] She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus responds with grace and truth. He doesn’t condone her sin, He forgives it. He also doesn’t dismiss her sin, He tells her to go and sin no more. His call is for her to repent and turn from her sinful lifestyle and devote her life to living for God. Jesus clearly diagnoses the sin in her life, points her to Himself because He knows that is exactly the solution she desperately needs. She, nor the law, is sufficient for her sin problem, only Jesus can resolve it.

The same truth applies to us today. We are all in a state of great brokenness because of sin, whether we are aware of it or not. Not only do we need to be made aware of our sin (diagnosed with our disease), we must be made aware that our cure doesn’t come from within and it doesn’t come from keeping a list of laws and rules. The only cure for our terminal disease is the precious blood of Christ, applied directly to our cancerous sin, bringing completely healing, restoration, and freedom for that disease.

  • Verse 36 of this passage is so powerful:
    [36] So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

When Christ sets us free from sin it is finished! The cancer is not returning, the problem is solved, and we are truly free to live. To live a life that doesn’t turn back to the sin that once enslaved us, but to go and sin no more in the power of the gospel.

By: Matt Mofield

August 20, 2016

Today you should read: John 7:25-53

Is Jesus really the One True God? Can Jesus truly be the prophesied Messiah and Savior? These questions have been asked since His birth until now. From different parts of the world to different generations of people, people have wondered who Jesus is and that question will not go away from peoples minds.

Early in Jesus’ ministry we see the people of Jerusalem asking this same question. They were amazed by His teachings and miracles and heard that the Pharisees wanted to kill him because of the movement that was starting around Him. He was considered a heretic to claim that He was God and many were starting to believe it themselves. Because of this belief, in verse 26 and verse 44 we see how they intended to arrest him and attempt to kill him but they just couldn’t do it.  

Jesus (as our Sovereign God) told them it wouldn’t happen because it was not His time yet (v. 30) but one reason that the crowd gave was because of background. There’s no way the messiah and savior will come from Galilee. The Messiah’s predicted birthplace is clearly Bethlehem like it says in Micah 5:2 (not knowing this is where Jesus was from). Nothing good comes from Galilee. Also look at his family background: His mother gave birth to him before she was married, dad is not in the picture anymore.

These accusations and excuses for why Jesus is not truly God and our Savior has changed over the years but they are still there.

  • Science disproves God.
  • Jesus was just a good man or a prophet and His followers took it a little too far.  
  • A loving God wouldn’t send people to Hell.
  • There’s no way all other religions are untrue.

People may not admit it upfront but whatever the reason or excuse there seems to always be conflict within themselves and each other within these questions. You see it in our Scripture today as they went back and forth trying to answer these questions and we see it in the world today. It’s why debates between atheists and Christians have seemed to intensify and how Christianity starts flourishing in once heavy Muslim areas or Agnosticism/Universalism start flourishing in once heavy Christian areas. Knowing this, how can we apply the truth that every generation and sub-culture will ask “Who is Jesus?” I think that answer starts within yourself and then to others.

First you must ask yourself, what questions and excuses may I have about Jesus? It’s ok to have doubts. John the Baptist did when he was in prison and about to die for his faith. Jesus praised Him and encouraged Him in his doubts. Sometimes those doubts really strengthen our faith. But we must do the proper research regarding the Scriptures and going to people we trust and who care for us modeling Christianity to help us with those questions and excuses. Next we ask, what questions and excuses can I answer for others about Jesus? Let’s study up on the answers to the world’s most common questions about Jesus.

As a church we will help you with this when we go through an apologetics sermon series this October. Until then pay attention to what your family members, friends, co-workers and classmates say about Jesus to learn how to answer their questions, doubts and excuses for Him.

By: Erik Koliser