“Come, and you will see.”

“Come, and you will see.”

John 1:35-39

Jesus’ ministry begins after he has been baptized by John the Baptist (No that is not a coincidence, that is why we refer to him as such). One day after John had baptized Jesus, John is with two of his disciples when they see Jesus coming. John proclaims to these two that Jesus is the Lamb of God, and John’s disciples leave his side and begin following Jesus. When I say, follow Jesus, I mean they are following him around town. They are stalking him. I can picture them hanging back, watching him interact with other people. All they knew about this man was John’s report from the day before (Come on, if John the Baptist tells you that he saw the Holy Spirit come down and rest on someone; you would go check it out too). There was a lot about this guy they didn’t know; in fact they probably had a lot of questions.

When Jesus notices that they are following him, he turns to them and asks them a question.

“What do you want?”

Can you imagine this mysterious man turning to them and asking what it was they desired of him? He actually asked them what they wanted. You know, this is much like our first contact with the Messiah. We are not forced into an interaction with Jesus. Something draws us to investigate who Jesus is. Jesus’ response to our curiosity is, “What do you want?” Do you want to continue life as usual? Or would you rather give your life to a cause? Would you rather live with purpose? Just like Jesus’ interaction with these two men. Christianity is not a religion that needs to be forced on people. It is a lifestyle that must be revealed to others through our actions.

The followers of John the Baptist must have been caught off guard by Jesus question, because they answer him by asking where he is staying! Although I believe I would perceive this conversation as a strange one, Jesus seems willing to humor them. When they ask him where he is staying, he tells them to,

“Come, and you will see.”

Our lifestyle should create curiosity in those around us. Our actions should lead others to ask why we live in the manner that we do. “Why are you so happy all the time?” “I know you are going through a difficult time, how do you handle it with such gracefulness?” “Why would you be willing to help me?” So that we may reply, “Come and you will see.” When you have shown interest in someone’s life… not a superficial interest but a real authentic interest; they begin to wonder what has influenced your life. And when you get that opportunity to share what Jesus has done for your life and for theirs that is when they begin to feel the urge to investigate what Jesus is all about. It isn’t about convincing anyone other than ourselves that Jesus will fulfill our desires. Not the desires for worldly things, but the desires ingrained deep within us that we try to satisfy with fleeting objects and experiences. Once we are convinced, the Spirit of God will change our lives so drastically that everyone around us wants to know what has happened.

When I think of the disciples’ question, “Where are you staying?” it reminds me of when someone asks Jesus to reveal more of himself to them. I did the same thing before I came to know Jesus. I wanted to know more about him. But there was only so much that I could learn before I had to step out on faith. There are many mysteries about Jesus that we can not understand until we decide to put the fate of our lives in his capable and scarred hands. These two disciples are just beginning their journey with Jesus, and they would later witness Jesus as the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world.

Did God Say?

And you thought it was an apple

Genesis 3:1-6

The first sin was the result of God’s Word being twisted and then brought into question. Satan, in the form of a serpent, approaches Eve with a question.

Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?

Eve answers by explaining that God has allowed them to eat from all of the trees except this one, and by this command God is protecting them because they will die if they eat of this tree. Satan responds by bringing God’s motives into question.

You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

This leads Eve to question what she has been told about this tree. She looks at the fruit, and it does look tasty. I doubt it was the temptation of a sweet meal that leads her to rebel against God. It is her desire to be like God. The temptation is greater than her certainty of God’s instruction, and she breaks God’s command. Then she passes it to Adam. Instead of standing up for God’s Word, he also sins. It all started with a distortion of God’s own Word followed by a lie.

So here we are. In a world of chaos. In a world that is consumed by distortions of the truth and outright lies. Sin began the same way that it continues today. It distorts the Word of God and lies to people. The distortions are turning people away from God. So called Christians meeting in their pep-rallies making each other feel better about their persecution (like the guy at Target saying Happy Holidays), while a single mother sits at home rocking a screaming, hungry baby to sleep right down the street. Guys in expensive suits on television promising financial prosperity, to the select few who will give up grocery money to feed their ministry. Or the guy driving the car with a Jesus fish bumper sticker who flipped you off after he pulled out in front of you. All around us we see the distortions and with every single one we are telling the world, “We are NO better off than you are.”
The Church is not meant to be a collection of people against the world, our purpose is not our own personal gain, and it certainly does not need to be advertised on the bumper of hatred! We are called to be the hands and feet of our Lord! We are sons and daughters of the Most High! We have been given grace, we have been given love, we have been given mercy, we have been given peace, and we have been given liberty! Let us not waste it on ourselves, but let us share it with the world that Jesus died for! We should be seeking the lost, the hurting, and the dying. We must represent our Lord and his compassion to the world!

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The Enemy

The lies are all around us. They have crept into our very homes. They are on our televisions, on our radios, and on our computers. Satan is using every means necessary to place the lies in front of us and in front of the people of this world. Every single day we are bombarded with his lies. Lies that say we are no good, that there is no loving God, that if we want to be better we have to do it all ourselves. Satan wants us to doubt God and doubt ourselves. He wants us to forfeit the power Jesus gave his church. Our young men and women are being taught lies about love, lies about religion, and lies about themselves. So how do we fight this? Do we need stronger Christian representation in Washington? Do we need to force the public schools to teach our beliefs? Is it the world’s responsibility to make us more comfortable in the world?

No. It is yours. It is mine. This war is not composed of physical battles, but spiritual ones. God has not called us to change the world by the world’s means, but by His means. Individually, personally, and relational. This is why I Love YouVersion. It puts into our hands everything we need to combat Satan’s lies and distortions. God’s Word. How do we change the world? By allowing God’s Word to change us. And by being ready to answer questions when people notice the difference his Word has made. God has supplied us with everything we need in our Bibles and through his Spirit. Read it, Know it, Live it, and Share it. Don’t allow Satan to distort the truth and lie to you. Allow God to cleanse you and make you contagious.

Writing A Blog – A Picture Essay

Someone asked me the other day how I come up with topics to blog about. I am new to blogging, but having written ten published articles (and quite a few that are not completed yet) I feel like I have created a process for writing an article that works for me. Caution, this article will be a little sillier than previous posts. Read at your own risk.

Sometimes an article just comes to me while I am reading or studying, and sometimes I have to put a lot of thought behind what I am going to write about. I have decided that I would like to publish at least one article a week. I do not always write the article when I first think of it. I like to think the topic over for a while.

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What can I write about today?

When writing a captivating blog, it is important to think through your topic and plan the direction you want the article to go. I always begin in my iPhone’s notepad or my computer’s word processor. I never submit my article before I have proofread and scrutinized what I have written. (except this blog…. Can’t you tell?) This allows me to work through my thoughts and leads to a much better article.

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I wonder if anyone would want to read about washing dishes…

Because I am a bit of a scatter-brain and jump thoughts often… there are times when I get a little lost in my thoughts and find myself “chasing rabbits” that make the entire blog so confusing and random that I just throw it away and begin again. (Kind of like the use of “chasing rabbits” in this paragraph). I find it difficult to stay on topic and sometimes one article becomes two or even three!

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Maybe I can write about rotating my truck’s tires…

However, there are times this brainstorming actually leads to a single good idea. Something that I can become excited about sharing, and enthusiastic about creating. I am often surprised that the article actually makes sense, and even more surprised that you take the time to read it.

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That is so crazy, it just.. might.. work.

And in that good idea something profound and maybe life changing may take place. A topic so encouraging, so motivating that I can not wait to get it published.

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Or I could write about how cheese puffs are the greatest invention of mankind!

Once the blog has been written, proofread, and submitted I usually take a moment to reflect on what has been written, and bask in the satisfaction of a job well done.

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Now THAT would be a good article…

If you are still reading this article, thanks for checking out my blog. Studying The Way has been created to be an encouraging and uplifting blog, and I thought I would have a little fun with my iPhone’s camera. Hope I was able to provide a little laughter to your day.

Jesus Desires…

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24

Jesus desires to see his followers with him. Heaven is not that old image from Looney Tunes with every one riding through the air on clouds playing harps. Heaven will not be boring for those who love Jesus. Heaven will be the most exciting experience. Seeing our savior will undoubtedly be overwhelming.

How humbling it is to know that Jesus; the Son of God, redeemer of the world, King of Kings looks forward to seeing us in his presence. Have you stopped to think of that? That Jesus thanks God that you will join him in Heaven.

I think we sometimes forget how much Jesus loves us. In this life we often feel as if our leaders care little for us and use us to accomplish their own agendas. But we are Jesus’ agenda. We are not his pawns in a game to beat the devil. Jesus came to redeem us, and to take us back to his home! He came to make us his brothers and sisters. He came to take us to our home.

Acknowledge that you are Jesus’ agenda. He came for you, and he came for me. What peace that should bring to our lives. Do not cower to your fears or anxieties. If your faith is in Jesus than you have been promised that no matter what happens in this life you will one day be with Jesus, who longs to be with you in the presence of our Father.

Why All The Arguing?

There are some things that we as Christians MUST dig our heels in and fight for. Some things are too important to compromise on. As an example, the Salvation Message of the Gospel. We can not waiver on the message of God’s Grace.

There are some things, however, that are more tradition and preference than Biblical theology. Does the Bible foretell that a single translation will one day be completed and that all others are Satan’s attempts to water down the Gospel? Does the Bible tell us that God prefers hymns, traditional, or contemporary music in our church services? Come to think of it, does the Bible instruct us to have church services? These things are tradition and preference. None of the choices go against anything in the Bible (our only source for God’s will). But some people become too passionate about these things and are too critical of their brothers and sisters who disagree. I have seen bumper stickers that attack Christians who disagree on some of these matters. This is not Biblical, and it is not helping. It is spiteful, arrogant, and uncalled for.

Romans 14:1, Welcome all the Lord’s followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don’t criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours.

Romans 14:4, What right do you have to criticize someone else’s servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.

God has big plans for his Church. There are things that we are supposed to be accomplishing. We have become so distracted by our little disagreements that we have lost sight of our mission. We need to put our differences aside. Stop criticizing each others’ preferences, and start changing the world again. We must remember that we will give an account some day of what we have or have not done.

Romans 14:7-8, Whether we live or die, it must be for God, rather than for ourselves. Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:12-13, And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do. We must stop judging others. We must also make up our minds not to upset anyone’s faith.

Romans 14:17-19, God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be respected by people. We should try to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith.

Brothers and Sisters, let us stop this arguing about things that have no eternal consequences. Let us focus on pleasing God in our own lives, sharing the message of His love with the world, and helping one another to grow in our faith.

Let There Be Light

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Genesis 1:3-5

God Created The Light

After creating the universe (the heavens) and the earth, God began to shape the earth. Notice that in his account of creation, God creates everything from nothing simply by speaking it into existence. On his first day of creation, God illuminated his canvas.

How appropriate that creation of mankind’s temporal home would begin with the light. Scripture is full of references to light. Light is used to describe God, Christ, Heaven, and all things good. Our world began taking shape when God uttered the words, “Let there be light.”

It is important to note that this light does not come from our solar system’s resident sun. This is not the light of the stars that illuminates creation. Those celestial beings will be created on the third day of creation. This light is the light of God that illuminates the world.

 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

 1 John 1:5

Day One? So you believe in six literal days of creation?

When studying Genesis you might find that there are differing views on how long it took God to create the universe that mankind resides in. The earliest belief was in a literal six 24-hour days and God rests on the seventh day. This was the most popularly held belief until the Darwinian era of scientific theory became popular. At this point the church did something that should have been considered heretical. They started inferring man’s assumptions of the earth’s age into the scripture. And so men began to imagine theories such as the “Day Age” and “Gap” theories. 

The Day Age theory states that God did not create everything in six 24-hour periods, but within six collections of time, maybe thousands or even millions of years. These day/ages allow for all of the fossilized remains of extinct plants and animals to be found in the rock layers that the scientist of their time said were millions of years old. (We will talk about fossils when we get to Genesis chapter seven).

The Gap Theory says that after God created everything in Genesis One, he realized that creation was not very good and scrapped everything previously made (creating the millions of years worth of death in the rock layers) and started all over with Genesis chapter two. 

The first problem we should have with both of these, views or theories, should be that they infer something into the text of Genesis that is not found. If God were sharing the creation of the universe with mankind by having someone write it down, why would he leave out details that he knew we would find on our own? Doesn’t that create distrust in our creator? I do not believe God would do such a thing. Secondly both theories include the death of millions of plants and animals before the curse of sin. In Genesis chapter three we will look at the curse that is brought onto the earth by Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God. Why would God tell them death was a consequence of their rebellion if it already existed? 

These views exist as man’s way of trying to rationalize his theories and assumptions of what he sees around with God’s account of history. These views are not supported by the text and should not be considered as possibilities. 

There are three reasonings behind the six days of creation being literal 24-hour periods. 

First, the reading of the text very clearly means a single 24-hour period. Genesis one says, “The evening and the morning were the first day.” How can that be confusing? We have an evening and then a morning… that is a day,

Second, the Hebrew word used for day in Genesis chapter one is yom. In Hebrew, yom always means one day. The only time yom does not mean one day, is when it is preceded by a numeral. So, six yom would mean six days.

And third, God will rest on what Genesis says is the seventh day. Later, when God separates the Hebrews from the many people of the world he calls them to observe a Sabbath on the seventh day of the week just as he had rested on the seventh day of creation. It is clear that God was not instructing them to rest every seven hundred thousand years or every seven million years.

The Gospel

God began his creation by creating the light and the light is the first to be deemed good by God. It is a truth of humanity that we associate light with goodness. We picture our heroes wearing bright colors or maybe as a white knight, while the villain is often seen dressed in black.

 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

 John 1:9

When John wrote his gospel about the life of Jesus, he used the metaphor of light many times. He saw the correlation between Jesus our hero and the light of our world. Jesus came with a spiritual light. He is a light that has the power to illuminate mankind’s souls. He came to our world to offer us relief from spiritual darkness that plagues our lives. In him, and him alone, we can find the light that our souls desire.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

 John 8:12

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