You Have the Words of Life

You Have the Words of Life Chapter 1

You Have the Words of Life Chapter 1

June 8, 20170 Comments

The almost final editing of my latest book, “You have the Words of Life” continues here on Online Ministry Training:

I know that sometimes people skip the introduction and just jump right in at Chapter One. But if you skipped the introduction you need to take a moment and go back and read it. It explains the premise of the book and is important before you continue. Also, I want to encourage you to take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what He wants you to see as you read John Chapter One.

John Chapter 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn’t overcome it. 6 There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came as a witness, that he might testify about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light. 9 The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and those who were his own didn’t receive him. 12 But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in his name: 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about him. He cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me, for he was before me.’” 16 From his fullness we all received grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him. 19 This is John’s testimony, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He declared, and didn’t deny, but he declared, “I am not the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 They said therefore to him, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” 24 The ones who had been sent were from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then do you baptize, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize in water, but amongst you stands one whom you don’t know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, who is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I’m not worthy to loosen.” 28 These things were done in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.’ 31 I didn’t know him, but for this reason I came baptizing in water: that he would be revealed to Israel.” 32 John testified, saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I didn’t recognize him, but he who sent me to baptize in water, he said to me, ‘On whomever you will see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35 Again, the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you want?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come, and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother, Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which is, being interpreted, Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is by interpretation, Peter). 43 On the next day, he was determined to go out into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said about him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I told you, ‘I saw you underneath the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these!” 51 He said to him, “Most certainly, I tell you, hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

What do you want?

John 1:35-38
35 Again, the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you want?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), “where are you staying?”

As the two disciples heard John the Baptist proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God they started to follow after Him. Jesus sees them and asks them this amazing question, “What do you want?”.

I think that they rushed their answer a little. They answered His question with a question of their own, “where are you staying?” I would say they choked. The Apostle John has just spent the first verses of his gospel describing who Jesus is. Jesus is the Word, all things were created through Him. He is the light and life of men. This is the One who is asking the question, “what do you want?”

I think He is asking all of us that question. I am sure we can do better than “where are you staying”? So, what do you want?

Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

What is it that you think will make your life right? Win the lotto? Get in shape? Better relationship? No problems? More money? Better job? Better health? World peace? No fear? I think the answer that we need to grow into, the answer that will help us find real life is…”Lord, I want what you want”.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Our goal should be that our all of our life would actually become “spiritual worship” to God. That we would use our minds, our hearts and our bodies to live for Him. If we conform to the world around us, we will not experience the full and abundant life that Jesus wants for us. We need to be transformed. This is not about living by a bunch of rules about what “Christians” are supposed to do and not do. This transformation is about yielding to the Spirit and living for God. When we choose to live for Him, we begin to experience the amazing life He has for us.

You Have the Words of Life Introduction

You Have the Words of Life Introduction

June 6, 20170 Comments

I am including the almost final editing process of my book “You Have the Words of Life” as I complete each chapter here on Online Ministry Training.

Introduction

I didn’t grow up with the Bible. As a child my family didn’t attend church so I was not introduced to Bible stories or Bible characters. When I was nineteen a friend gave me a Bible. He had been telling me about Jesus and sharing the gospel with me, but when he encouraged me to give my life to Jesus I declined because I could not for the life of me see how Christians had any fun. It was then that my friend handed me his Bible and I took it.* Over the next five or six years I tried to read that Bible every now and again. But it just never made any sense. I would get bogged down and frustrated and close it and put it away. The problem wasn’t with the Bible, it was with me.

1 Corinthians 2
14 Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

When I was twenty-five I finally made the decision to give my life to Jesus. After that, reading the Bible was completely different. It seemed somehow alive and I loved to read it. The Bible hadn’t changed. I had. I now had the Holy Spirit leading and guiding me into truth.

John 16:3
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit in giving us this knowledge is called “illumination”. Illumination allows us to understand and to love what we are reading in the Bible. Before we begin our relationship with Jesus, our minds are clouded by sin which makes the truths of the Bible difficult to grasp or believe. In Christ, however, through the Spirit, our hearts and our minds are opened and tuned into the scripture so that we can understand.

Ephesians 1:17-18
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit applying God’s revealed truth in the Bible to our hearts, so that we understand for ourselves what the scripture is saying. With this is mind I want to introduce to you the idea of what I call “illuminated reading”. Illuminated reading is inviting the Holy Spirit to guide you in your daily reading to see what He wants you to see. As you start your Bible reading time, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the scripture to you. I actually pray along these lines:

“Holy Spirit, as I read through the Word today, would you show me what you want me to see.”

And then as I begin to read, some passage or verse will usually stand out from all the rest. It is almost as if the Holy Spirit highlights a verse or passage as I am reading. When that happens, I like to take time throughout the day to reflect on what jumped out at me. In this book, I am going to work through this process with you in the Gospel of John. As we read each chapter, I will take some time to reflect on the verse or passage that I felt was illuminated to me by the Spirit as I read. My hope is that this process will help develop in you a solid Bible reading habit that is filled with life, excitement and joy.

Before we get started with our Bible reading journey I want to give you some background information on the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John. In the first chapter John the Baptist makes an appearance beginning in verse seven and because of this people are often mistaken into thinking that John the Baptist was the author of the Gospel. Clearing this confusion up early will be helpful as you read through the Gospel. The writer of the Gospel of John is the Apostle John, not John the Baptist.

John was the youngest of the apostles when he was called by Jesus and he lived the longest natural life. He was called by Jesus to be a follower while he was mending fishing nets with his father and older brother James by the lake of Tiberias.

Matthew 4:21-22
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them. 22 They immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him.

John, his brother James, and Peter were perhaps the closest to Jesus during His ministry. The three of them were privileged to be with Jesus during some critical times in His ministry.

Mark 5:37-42
37 He allowed no one to follow him, except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 He came to the synagogue ruler’s house, and he saw an uproar, weeping, and great wailing. 39 When he had entered in, he said to them, “Why do you make an uproar and weep? The child is not dead, but is asleep.” 40 They ridiculed him. But he, having put them all out, took the father of the child, her mother, and those who were with him, and went in where the child was lying. 41 Taking the child by the hand, he said to her, “Talitha cumi!” which means, being interpreted, “Girl, I tell you, get up!” 42 Immediately the girl rose up and walked, for she was twelve years old. They were amazed with great amazement.

Matthew 17:1-3
1 After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain by themselves. 2 He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light. 3 Behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with him.

Matthew 26:36-39
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and severely troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch with me.” 39 He went forward a little, fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; nevertheless, not what I desire, but what you desire.”

The Apostle John states his purpose in writing the gospel in John 20:31:

John 20:30-31
30 Therefore Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

It will be helpful to keep this verse in mind as you read through the gospel of John. I suggest that you read through this book by reading one chapter each day. Over the course of the day, reflect on what you read and how it impacts your life. When you are done with this book, my hope is that you will continue reading the Bible with this method. Read one chapter each day, ask the Holy Spirit to “illuminate” what He wants you to see and then take time throughout the day to reflect on what He shows you!

*All these years later and I still have that Bible.  That it stayed with me through all the various trials and journeys of my life is amazing to me.  I am including a picture for you below.  The highlighting that you see was in the Bible when my friend gave it to me.  The fact that it was his personal study Bible was not fully appreciated by me until my own journey with Jesus began six years later.

Illuminated Reading

Illuminated Reading

May 16, 20170 Comments

I am hoping to finish the final editing my latest book, “You Have the Words of Life”, here on Online Ministry Training. I have had the chapters and basic ideas mapped out for over a year but I don’t seem to be able to sit down and get it all put together. Perhaps, adding it here will give me a little motivation to get it finished. This book will be another “devotional” book but this time I am hoping to help people learn a Bible reading method that they will find helpful in their Christian walk. I like to call the method, “Illuminated Reading”. In short, it is about inviting the Holy Spirit to illuminate a verse or passage as you read through a chapter of scripture. And then, take that illuminated verse or passage and think about it throughout the day. I will be using the Gospel of John for the reading and then I will explore whatever I felt had been illuminated to me as I was reading. If I can get busy and complete a chapter a week, I should be able to have it published by Christmas.

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