No Longer The Same by Robert M. Hinnen

Robert Hinnen

No Longer The Same by Robert M. Hinnen

So now what am I to do with this matchless mercy that freed me
I did not even know I was a sinner, so unworthy, without redeemable merit
Until the Holy Spirit removed the clouds before my eyes so that I could see
The matter of blood, forgiveness and righteousness, the poured-out Gift

How can I not be transformed by this Love so great
That I tried so hard to ignore, living like it did not matter
But I cannot escape the depths of this unfathomable grace
My long-parched heart satisfied only by this Living Water

Compelled by faith to share this Good News that has changed me
No longer content to live in darkness, but willing to count it all loss
For the bold light of truth and the joy of salvation are my living testimony
To the only One who cared so much to suffer and die for me on the Cross

Come now, Lord Jesus!

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

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How We Should Feel About The Bible by John Stapleton

pink pencil on open bible page and pink

YouTuber John Stapleton shares on How We Should Feel About The Bible. Be sure to subscribe to John’s Weekly Bible Blog.

We love the Bible so we can treasure the Bible.

1) 5 Reasons Why You Don’t Read the Bible

  1. You’re not “religious” (oppressive).
  2. Its boring.
  3. You don’t understand it.
  4. Its irrelevant.
  5. You don’t want to.

You are missing out on the single most rewarding piece of humanity – your ability to connect your soul to God.

Yes, we human beings can accomplish a lot on our own. We can dig deep and find strength. But there is something even richer. Your soul ponders things like, “Is there more?” “What’s the point? and “Why?” These answers are found in the Bible.

Your soul longs for completion, unconditional love, and peace. You can dismiss the Bible and say, “All I need, I can find within myself.” This is the beauty of God – He gives you free choice to do that. But I’m here to tell you, the way I would tell a friend who I could look squarely in the eye and with love and certainty say to you, THERE IS MORE. I can’t convince you to find it, but I will implore you to consider.” – Keri

2) 5 Wrong Reasons to Read the Bible

Superstition.

You believe it will make you a Christian, but it won’t. Jesus said in John 5:39-40: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” The Bible points to the reality of life that is found in Jesus.

Luck

You believe it will protect you from suffering. Ironically, the Bible not only records many stories about suffering, it tells us that we will suffer and it makes clear that God prefers to perfect his people by suffering, not get his people out of it.

Merit

You believe God will like you better the more you read it. However, God doesn’t simply favor some people over others because some have read more of the Bible than others. God actually tends to favor those who do what they read. Obedience is better than mere listening.

Selfishness

You believe reading it will make God do stuff for you. But God isn’t bought off by any of our good deeds, even reading the Bible. That’s manipulation, not worship.

Legalism

You feel as if you have to be respected for proving points and having all the answers. I used to be that guy and it is not worth it. Bible studies are more fun when we are curious students instead of lecturing professors.

3) 7 Biblical Reasons to Read the Bible

Life

Psalm 119:107 says, “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!”

The Psalmist is saying the God’s Word gives us life. That means we do not read the Bible just for information also but transformation.

Hope

Psalm 119:43 says, “Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.”

Rules are not oppressive; they give freedom.

Joy

Psalm 119:111 says, “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.”

Joy is the alternative to trying to selfishly manipulate God.

Comfort.

Psalm 119:52 says, “When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.”

God gives us comfort in affliction, not instead of affliction.

Motivation For Obedience

Psalm 119:120 says, “My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.”

Many of us like to skip to 2 Timothy 1:7 where it says that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but there is a healthy fear of God that the Bible gives us as we heed its warnings and learn from people who suffered God’s punishment because of their disobedience.

Promises About God

Psalm 119:122 says, “Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the insolent oppress me.”

God speaks through the Bible that contains his very promises.

Tears

Psalm 119:50 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.”

When we sin, God’s Word convicts us and sometimes we reap the consequences of our sins. We read the Bible to feel remorse for our sins. Without God’s special revelation, there is no way to understand the depth of how grievous sin actually is. Afterward, we should see the value of God’s Word because it can keep us from a lot of negative consequences if we live by it.

4) 3 Practical Reasons to Read the Bible

Build The Habit.

Regular Bible reading is not natural to a lot of people and it is something that you will most likely not get around to if you don’t make a plan. Unless you put in on the calendar, its not real. It is the things that we do habitually and continually that form our character the most.

Imagine what kind of person you will be after 20 or 30 years of sitting under the teaching of the Bible? If you feel the right way about it, it will make you holier, no question about it!

Gain Better Understanding

Gain a better understanding of God and your relation to him.

To know his plan for your life turn to the Bible. If you want to better understand yourself, look at God as he revealed himself in the Bible and you will better understand yourself.

Respond To God

Lastly, we read the Bible to respond to God’s self-disclosure of himself.

Everyone who who hears the Word of God instantly is responsible for what they heard. Hearing God’s Word with no intention on doing the Word is evil. We must act on what we heard.

James 1:23 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (NIV).

5) 8 Ways We Feel After Encountering God’s Word

  • Love for God’s law (Psalm 119:48, 97, 113, 163, 165).
  • It holds our attention and our delight (Psalm 119:14-16, 24, 47).
  • We are eagerly excited to get back to it (Psalm 119:18).
  • We depend on and crave it (Psalm 119:18-19, 103).
  • It is the most valuable thing (Psalm 119:72).
  • We can fee secure by it (Psalm 119:72).
  • Our enjoyment of it should be for our lifetime (Psalm 119:92).
  • It is our constant muse (Psalm 119:97).

6) Our Imagination of God’s Word

It is treasure!

We treasure God’s Word because 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us that we are God’s treasure. The result of treasuring God’s Word is goodness (Luke 6:45), knowledge of the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:1-7), and wisdom (Colossians 2:2-3).

Most of us have heard the saying that we can’t take any of our stuff with us when we die, but we can send it ahead. The Bible tells how to store up treasure forever (Luke 12:33; 1 Timothy 6:18).

Meditation

The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160 ESV)

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Believers Salvation: The New Identity & Wellness in Christ Jesus by Grace Selah Penuel

Believers Salvation

Believers Salvation: The New Identity & Wellness in Christ Jesus

Believers salvation, the new identity & wellness in Christ Jesus is a tool for preaching the glorious, life transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

In this tool, believers gets to know:

  • how to get saved through faith in Christ Jesus
  • how salvation that is in Christ Jesus gives them a new royal and priestly identity
  • how their wellness for spirit, soul and body is provided for through salvation.

In the book are also heartily reflections, testimonies, prayers and confessions to glorify God and help new believers know who they are in Christ Jesus. This knowledge helps them develop their love for God and faith in God. Faith in God works by love.

Grace Selah Penuel

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Courage- Mark 15- John Stapleton

Mark 14 Faithfulness

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 15 – Courage.

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BIG IDEA

Jesus’ followers are often afraid with very little answers. Based on Mark 15:40 – 16:8.

1). The Women at the Cross (Mark 15:40-4147)

Once again, our outline follows another Markan sandwich. Jesus had just suffered and died. Some distance from the cross were some women who had followed him. They have no left Jesus, but they are a safe distance away. This act displays their faith and their fear. 

Interesting connections

  • When the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (verse 39)
  • Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. (verse 47)

2). Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:42-47)

Joseph was a religious leader who didn’t agree with killing Jesus (Luke 23:51), and was “a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (15:43). After he obtained the body, he buried it, and the aforementioned women are there watching where his body was laid. 

Connecting the kingdom of God with the death of Jesus

  • There were also women looking on from a distance. (verse 40)
  • Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God. (verse 43)

Joseph “took courage” (verse 43). The Greek word tolmao indicates daring to do something extremely difficult.

3). The Women at the Empty Tomb (Mark 16:1-8)

What I want to point out here is that when the women saw the empty tomb, “they were alarmed” (16:5). The angels tell them not to be alarmed, but to believe the promise Jesus had left them with: “He is going before you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (16:7). 

CONCLUSION

Mark’s gospel ends abruptly. It’s so awkward that later scribes wrote an extension to this gospel (vv 9-20). It’s also interesting that since Mark was the first gospel to be written, the other gospels fill in more detail about the resurrection, especially Luke and John. 

Mark purposefully ends the story here on the note of fear, a theme that’s been laced throughout this gospel. They don’t see Jesus but are left with a promise. The challenge to the women and to us who read is, will we still believe Jesus even though we are confused about some things?  

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The Power of Christ Like Thinking

Christ Like Thinking

The Power of Christ Like Thinking by Edward A. Morrison

As I begin to write, even now the words and the complexity of the subject that I have felt the need to express in these pages is immeasurable. Well beyond what a simple man like me can put into words. But I do believe that with the help of the Holy Spirit perhaps it can be inspiring. If not to others, then maybe to me.

I think we have all had our share of doubts as to why God would want to use a sinner like me to reach the minds of the few, let alone the masses. But it is with all humility and trust in Jesus that I write. In hopes that He can use these words to help someone else figure out what it truly means to think like our Lord.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly have not reached any kind of pinnacle in my spiritual walk with the Lord. These are merely a few thoughts on the subject. A subject that has been a part of my journey as a follower of Jesus Christ.

My life and journey with Christ have been one of many ups and downs.

I would like to share some of these personal experiences as a modern-day believer. With that, the many struggles and obstacles that we face particularly in North America where we are bombarded daily by the world views of a media-driven by plenty. So much so that our minds are consumed with the things which we can possess from cars to homes to beauty to sex only escalated by the day-to-day drama of the ones that society considers worth idolizing.

You know the ones that have it all, from sports to music, to acting, the gods of our popular culture, the ones our children idolize and wish they could become or at least dream about becoming. Even many of our churches have taken on these philosophies of narcissism, you can have it all, God wants to give you everything and anything that you so desire.

Preachers teaching congregations about the power of the mind and the laws of attraction.

If you just believe blessings, and I am talking about material and monetary blessings here, will rain down on you from heaven above. So my question is what does that do to the truths in the New Testament like Matthew 6:19-20 that talk about not storing up treasures here on earth where moth and rust destroy.

Many parts of scripture talk about wealth and poverty both in the Old and the New Testaments. If you do an extensive study on these two subjects you will find that wealth is looked upon very negatively, especially in the New Testament.

So, then, how do we deal with these conflicting philosophies as a Bible believing child of God? As in all instances, I believe the answers are found in the scriptures. So my goal in writing these few words is to come to a conclusion based upon scripture as well as personal experience.

1 Corinthians 2:16 says: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

Why Do I Feel A Need To Express My Views On Such A Subject?

On the other hand, what would I know about the power of attraction as so many refer to it today?

I’m not approaching this with blind eyes. I have read most of the books by the modern-day positive attitude gurus and, there are plenty of them, both Christian and non-Christian. The profession that I spent a good number of my adult years working in, many of these books were in some ways required reading. Probably the most well-known of these is “Think and Grow Rich” by famed author, Napolean Hill.

Don’t get me wrong I think there are some good qualities found in each of these authors and I really believe their intentions are noble, but I also believe they have led many a person down a road that is not very Christ-like but rather stresses some of the very things that scripture warns us about.

It is sad to see many churches taking on this philosophy as part of their spiritual doctrine.

How Does The Bible Deal With Material Things?

My first suggestion to anyone wishing and praying for wealth so that they can be happy is to read the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. Solomon was not only the wisest man to ever live, he was very likely the richest as well.

There are countless examples of individuals reaching the pinnacle of what the world considers success, only to be disillusioned by it. Yet so many of us think it to be all that truly counts in this world.

So, why would we, as Christians, even want to test the waters in this? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that all people who reach acquire this kind of status are bad. Contrary to that, I have met many people whom the world would consider wealthy who are wonderful giving and loving to others.

But here is where the problem begins to infect us. Our human nature is such that we become obsessed with what others have. So begins our downward spiral of wanting and covetousness. So if we begin to set all our goals and dreams upon the world and its materials and pleasures, what happens to our desire for God and the furthering of His kingdom?

The Controversial Topic: The Prosperity Gospel.

If you want it, ask God for it and He will give it to you because you are, after all, a child of God. He is our father and He has given us the power to create our own lives just as we want it to be.

I agree that the mind is a very powerful part of our bodies and I also believe we need to think positively rather than the alternative. So, what exactly should we set our minds on? I would have to say that our wealth and comfort are not what God wants most for any of us.

I believe that we need to set our hearts on the things above, as taught to us by our Lord, not on the temporal materials of this world. Much of scripture warns us of the dangers of wealth and what it can do to our relationship with God. Jesus told us that we cannot serve both God and money.

Look, I don’t think being wealthy is a sin. I think when we become obsessed with it to the point we no longer consider God first in what we are doing with it, then it becomes a problem.

“Next time I will dig a little deeper into the philosophy of “The Law of Attraction”. Until then, God bless and stay safe.”

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Jesus and the Temple- S1E10- John Stapleton

Mark 14 Faithfulness

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 11 – Jesus and the Temple.

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Jesus is the reality behind all the signs in the Old Testament.

This passage deals with Jesus’ conflict with the religious leaders in the temple. Jerusalem has been a sign of conflict throughout this gospel. At times, the religious leaders would seek out Jesus to harass him. 

Mark 11 shows us a few key things.

The first being that the temple is as deceptive as a barren fig tree. This is the most intense conflict that Jesus had with the religious leaders. Moreover, the religious leaders have no basis for judging Jesus. Lastly, faith in Jesus can accomplish the impossible.

We’ll pick it up in verse 11: “He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple.” This may seem like a throwaway line, but it’s packed with significance.

Malachi 3:1-5 predicts the Lord coming to his temple to purify it.

Jesus “had looked around at everything” to see if the temple was truly serving its purpose and he didn’t find it the way he had hoped. That’s why the next day, he curses the fig tree. Jesus isn’t having a freak-out moment. Jesus is showing a parable, much like the Old Testament prophets.

The Fig Tree and The Dead Temple

The fig tree was full of leaves which means it was ripe with fruit, so it looked. Likewise, the temple seemed very lively,  filled with the traffic of pilgrims visiting for Passover, but the temple is dead. It has replaced the worship of God with commerce.

The way it worked was you had to bring an animal to sacrifice to pay for your sins (Leviticus 1:14; 5:7). The law even considered poor people that couldn’t afford lambs, which were more expensive. God’s intention was that nobody would be hindered from coming to his courts empty-handed. But the religious leaders were blinded by dollar signs and decided not only to set up shop inside the temple, but also to charge.

Guess who got excluded? The Poor.

This is why Jesus was so upset. This is why Jesus came to refine his temple, because the religious leaders “made it a den of robbers” (verse 17). Rather than repenting (which has been the heart behind everything Jesus has ever taught), they decide they want him dead, but they are politicians at heart, so they can’t act on their plans (verse 18).

Verses 20-25 explain the fig tree incident from the other day. His disciples wonder why it withered so quickly and Jesus uses this as a teaching moment. Moving mountains is a metaphor in the Bible for accomplishing the impossible and that’s all possible with faith in God, not in the temple, or religion, or their religious leaders. We can no longer look at the temple as the sign of God’s active saving power, its found in Jesus and in what he’s about to do on the cross.

The Confrontation

Verses 27-33 gives us the confrontation we’ve been waiting for. The entire religious system has ganged up against Jesus – the text says, “the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him” (verse 27). They aren’t approaching him in smaller numbers like they had before; they are scared of Jesus and the crowd, so they assume safety in numbers. Proceeding to question what right Jesus has to not only clear out the temple, bringing the day’s commerce to a halt, but also the right to teach and preach in general. In other words, Jesus’ entire ministry was in question.

But Jesus is infinitely wiser than the wisest scholar or philosopher, so he asks them a question in turn, like any good teacher in his day would do. “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” (verse 30). If they say yes, they are inditing themselves for not believing John (verse 31), if they say no, they will lose popularity and possibly their own lives (verse 32). If they can’t answer (and they can’t), they show that they have no right to critique Jesus’ ministry. This was an honor game and the religious leaders lost!

All we need is Jesus. That’s the point. Everything else are pathetic substitutes for Jesus. We don’t need a temple and animal sacrifices because Jesus is the one who brings us to God by his own sacrifice on the cross.

Q&A

1) Is the Bible overestimated in its ability to establish faith in God?

There are two slogans that frame my answer sola scriptura and solo scriptura. One slogan teaches that Scripture sits on the highest shelf authority and it speaks with authority directly into our lives, answering the deepest questions about what it means to be human. The other slogan teaches that no truth can be found outside of the Bible.

I believe the first slogan. This means the Bible is not overestimated to establish faith in God. There is slight caution, however. Some people are like Pharisees who read the Bible because they think by knowing it better, they will inherit eternal life (John 5:39). More Bible knowledge doesn’t equal more power in life, it is only as good as what you apply (James 1:19; Hebrews 4:2).

If the Bible is used because we want to learn more about God, it’s power cannot be overestimated. Luther spoke of the Bible as the window by which the Holy Spirit can enter your life and interact with you. Without the Bible, we have our own guesses and whims, nothing concrete. Praise be to God for his Word!

2) What does “forgiving one another” mean in Ephesians 4:32?

The Greek word for “forgiving” has also been translated in other places in the Bible as showing favor, or giving freely, or canceling (in the context of debt). Here are a couple examples:

  • “When he could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both.” (Luke 7:42).
  • “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

Forgiveness is therefore cancelling the debt that people have against us. When teaching us how to pray, Jesus said it this way: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). This is Paul instructing us to “not keep a record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5, CSB). This is reminiscent of what Joseph told his brothers: “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19). To not forgive is to play god, acting like you rule over a small purgatory that the person has wronged you must suffer in until you consider them to be paid up. Joseph realizes he’s not God, therefore it is not his position to make those calls.

Forgiving is not only cancelling wrongs, but it gives something as well. It not only throws away the sin, but it gives grace. Another word for grace is favor or kindness. So forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean we are friends with those who wronged us, but that we are kind to them. That means we don’t hold any grudges.

3) Why do so many biblical pastors believe that the end times are imminent instead of just soon? Has society reached the end of Christ’s Olivet discourse that he taught the disciples?

Biblical prophecy works in such a way that it has a “far and near” application. The near application was the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. The far application is the story of what happens to nations that reject God’s rule.

Another thing to keep in mind is when the Bible speaks of “the last days.” I’d encourage you to do a study on the phrase. Here are some verses that lead people to believe that we are in the last days:

  • “Understand this, that in the last days there will be times of difficulty” (2 Timothy 3:1).
  • “Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” (2 Peter 3:3).
  • “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2).

These three facts are true today, which means we are in the last days. The last days simply mean the time from Jesus until the last day (which is the day of judgment; it’s the day that all the last days lead up to).

4) Where can the song of Moses be found in the Bible, and what does it mean? Should we learn it before we pass on so that we will be able to sing it too?

The song of Moses is mentioned in Revelation 15:3 and is from Exodus 15. This song praises God for being a warrior for the Israelites. God went to battle against the Pharaoh (an arrogant man who considered himself a god) by splitting the Red Sea for them to walk on dry ground to the other side while the Egyptians who pursued them were drowned.

The song of Moses appears again in Revelation (which already uses a ton of imagery from Exodus) to show how Jesus has conquered the beast (which is any government that opposes God).

5) If we already had the Bible, why did we need the Quran?

We don’t need the Quran for our holy book, but it is useful to understand the teachings of Islam better. Just like people disagree on what the Bible says, it’s best to just read the Bible. The same is true about the Quran.

I remember coming home from school one day (I was probably 13), and I saw a copy of the Quran sitting in front of everyone of my neighbor’s apartments. I took my copy and kept it for sometime to read it. My mom was scared I would convert so she wanted me to burn it, but it has always been my philosophy that you should never be scared of where the truth leads you; and I believe Christianity is exclusively true, so I’m going with that. Try to change my mind.

But it did give me a little bit more understanding of my Muslim friends.

6) Is the changing from glory to glory in II Corinthians 3:18 synonymous with “the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” mentioned in Romans 1:17?

Yes! When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he spoke of “being transformed into the same image” that we are beholding (which is Christ)… “from one degree of glory to the next.” Paul in Romans 1 speaks of God’s righteousness being from “faith to faith.” (Some translations say, “from start to finish.”). This is like the writer of Hebrews when he says that Jesus is the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

The idea in all 3 of those verses is that we are to look to Jesus (who he was, what he taught, how he lived) and as we do, we become a little more like Jesus.

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How can it be called “GOOD Friday” when Jesus died?

Good Friday

These 9 verses from Isaiah 53 explains it best:

4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
    yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
    And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
    he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
    that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
    for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
    and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
    he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
    and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
    he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
    and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
    he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
    my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
    for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
    because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
    He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

The Righteous Servant

Jesus, the Messiah, is the “righteous servant” talked about here.  It is sad all that Jesus had to go through to save us from our sins. But now that the price for our rebellion from God was paid in full, we are free to be joined in relationship with God, FOREVER, starting NOW, if we confess our belief in Him and follow Him as our Lord.

From our perspective, that is GOOD news.  From His perspective, that is also GOOD news.  He didn’t die to make us guilty, He died to make us free to follow Him. As it says in verse 11 above, Jesus will see all that He accomplished by His anguish, and be satisfied, because He sees all of us that He died for, following Him. That is why it is called, “GOOD Friday”. Are you ready to start following Him today?

For help following Him, contact me at godthefatherrevealed@gmail.com or at www.lewiserickson.com

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Photo courtesy of http://www.LumoProject.com at www.freebibleimage.org. Verses from the New Living Translation.  Used with permission of Tyndale House Publishers.  All rights reserved.

The Resurrection by John Stapleton

Mark 14 Faithfulness

YouTuber John Stapleton takes a break from his regular show to talk about The Resurrection of Easter.

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The Resurrection

Happy Easter

We will never get over Jesus because he is our life (Colossians 3:4)! Jesus has fixed our greatest issue, which is sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). If you have not given your sin to Jesus, God is still angry with you. God really does “hate all evildoers” (Psalm 5:5). God hates sin and it can be nowhere near him because he is holy. But the blood of Jesus has paid for this massive sin problem we have and now, by trusting in Jesus alone, we can “come to the Father” (John 14:6, NLT).

Today we examine the resurrection.

Paul boldly claims that Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Jesus died for our sins and then he rose from the dead to give us his righteousness. If Jesus stayed dead, there would be no proof that our sins have been paid for and there is no grace for us, only mercy. That will only sustain us for a while.

The good news, however, is that Jesus rose from the dead and “consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). In another place, it is written that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). I can’t stress it enough: it is extremely important that he is alive and reigning today.

In Luke’s Gospel

There are a few interesting events that aren’t recorded anywhere else. The scene opens with some of Jesus’ most devoted disciples going to the tomb to embalm Jesus. The women see a very peculiar sight – the guards are gone and the entrance to the tomb is wide open.

A voice cuts through their confusion: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:5-7). At that moment, it clicks for the women. They go and tell the men, the eleven disciples, “but they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11).

Jesus’ Sense of Humor

Later, Jesus spends the afternoon with two people traveling for more than seven miles. Jesus disguises himself and seems to be in a humorous mood. They are bummed out over the events of the crucifixion and Jesus pretends like he needs to be updated on the past events. Tell me Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor!

Then Jesus gets serious, rebuking them for their unbelief. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

I would love to have been a part of that Bible study, but my imagination and knowledge of the Bible will suffice until glory. I imagine that Jesus cherry-picked stories, systematically working through the Old Testament from Abraham, to Moses, to David, to the prophets; they all were pointing to Jesus!

Jesus unpacks this again for his disciples later

“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things’” (Luke 24:44-48).

Speaking of witnesses, the Apostle Paul has some thoughts found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, and this is what I want to think about after reading this. First, the most important thing is that Jesus died for sin and rose to give us grace. Secondly, everything happened according to God’s predetermined plan. Third, he appeared to over 500 people! Back then, eyewitness testimony was the most compelling evidence available. And he also appeared to his disciples who turned from cowards to courageous men who subjected themselves to horrible executions because they believed that Jesus is the life-giver who will raise them back from the dead.

Will you put your trust in Jesus?

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What Do You Want?- S1E9- Mark 10 by John Stapleton

Mark 14 Faithfulness

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 10- What Do You Want?

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What do you want from Jesus?

In Mark 10, we see various individuals coming to Jesus with requests and questions. The gospel writer has shifted his focus from the large crowds to individuals who have different reasons for coming to Jesus. Let’s see how this unfolds.

The Pharisees came to Jesus to test him (verse 2). Parents bring their children to Jesus to bless them (verse 13). A rich man wants to inherit eternal life from Jesus (10:17). James and John (the two brats from earlier) want the seats of honor next to Jesus in glory (10:37). Last of all, there is Bartimaeus who is blind and wants Jesus to restore his sight.

What’s interesting is that Jesus responds to everyone (except the disciples who rebuked the parents) with a question. These questions guide the conversation to where Jesus wants it to go and it reveals more about the person asking it then how Jesus is going to answer them.

The Pharisees

The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus and they wanted him to agree with their harsh treatment of their wives, so they asked him if its legal to divorce their wife for any reason. Jesus asked them to recall the law of Moses and then he explains that yes, it is legal, but this was not God’s intention when he instituted the marriage union.

The Children

The parents wanted Jesus to bless their children (who wouldn’t?). But the disciples rebuke them and Jesus, in turn, rebukes the disciples. We learn here that Jesus values children because of their faith (and really, that’s been predictable throughout this gospel). “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (verse 15). This is not childish faith, exhibited in James and John, but childlike faith that believes God without restriction.

The Rich Young Man

The rich young man comes to Jesus because there is a hole in his soul. He has a lot of possessions but is in spiritual poverty.

(This is a good place to be, by the way, because Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:3].)

I believe this is why “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (verse 20). He first asks the man why he calls him a “good teacher.”

People that have called Jesus a teacher (though he is) don’t believe anything Jesus says; they have covert motives. But this man is interesting because he is the only person that puts “good” in front of that title. Whether this man was insincere or misguided, Jesus rejects this greeting for a few reasons.

  • First, this man shouldn’t call Jesus good without calling him God.
  • Second, Jesus’ reply is going to come straight from God because “no one is good except God alone” (verse 18).
  • Thirdly, Jesus is about to guide the man’s attention away from his works to his heart by giving him something to do that will reveal to the man the condition of his heart; and the man can’t walk away from his wealth because he’s attached to it. He doesn’t have wealth; wealth has him. What’s Jesus’ conclusion? “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (verse 23).

But then Peter reminds Jesus that “we have left everything and followed you” (verse 28). This is no small thing. Peter left a wife and possibly kids (1:30). He left a business (1:16). He left his house (2:1-4). Peter (in Matthew’s gospel) asks the question we all would ask: “What then will we have?” (Matthew 19:27).  Jesus’ reply gives them hope for the future. Essentially, whatever we gave up for God is small compared to what we will gain in the next life (verses 29-31).

Next up we have James and John.

Do you remember why Jesus called them the “Sons of Thunder” (3:17)? It’s because they wanted to torch the towns that rejected Jesus (Luke 9:51-56). Shortly before this, John tried to stop someone who was casting out a demon because “he was not following us” (Mark 9:38). Does he need an exclusive membership to exorcise demons? John and James were not always the mature older men we are used to when reading their epistles. They started out as hotheaded young men who benefit from the gentle correction of Jesus.

“James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you’” (Mark 10:35). Couple things: They call him teacher, not Lord; this reveals their motive which is more fully expressed in their question. This is clearly a trap, the kind of trap that little kids use to ensnare their parents. Jesus is patient and asks them, “What do you want me to do for you?” (verse 36). They want the best seats in glory next to Jesus and Jesus tells them, “You don’t know what you are asking” (verse 38). They aren’t ready to suffer and greatness looks to them a lot different than Jesus’ vision of greatness.

The last example in this chapter is Bartimaeus.

He is blind and he cries out to Jesus as the Son of David. There’s a lot to unpack in this story and we might need to revisit this at a later time, but the thing that is impressive about him is that he is persistent even though people are against him (verse 48). Then the funny part is that people actually change their mind about him when Jesus expresses interest in the man (verse 49). The man expresses pure faith and Jesus asks him the same question he asked James and John.

“What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:50-52). Bartimaeus is named because he is more than likely an eyewitness. In stark contrast to the rich young man, Bartimaeus follows Jesus “on the way” (verse 52) which is significant because this is the first way of describing the Christian faith. Jesus not only described himself as “the way” (John 14:6), but in context, this is also the way up to Jerusalem where he is about “to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45).

What are you coming to Jesus for?

Q&A

1). In Romans 9:24-25, Paul totally rapes Hosea 2:25 in applying it to Gentiles and lying about the meaning and context of Hosea all the way back to Hosea 1:1. Why should we believe anything that Paul claims about Jewish scripture?

I believe you have more work than I do in supporting your brazen assumptions about Paul’s interpretation. It’s not a far reach at all what he’s doing. He makes the connection by showing us how God treats people who reject him. Israel rejected God and so does everyone else because “no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:11). It would also benefit you to keep reading Romans 9.

Paul anticipates your question when he says, “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works” (Romans 9:30–31).

You have to keep the overall storyline of the Bible in view. God always intended on saving Jew and Gentile alike!

2). Why did Matthew write about Jesus?

Matthew was hated by his fellow Jews (understandably so) because he was a tax collector. But Jesus invited him to follow him and he did! Jesus totally changed his life and now he wants his fellow Jews to see that Jesus is really the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. That’s why his gospel is laced with quotes, references, and allusions to the Old Testament. His goal is evident in the opening line of his gospel, that Jesus really is the descendant of David and Abraham (Matthew 1:1).

3). My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19) Was John the Apostle and brother Peter slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to anger? Why?

You are thinking of James, not Peter; they both have a similar story, however. Peter, James, and John were impulsive young men with serious anger issues. James and John thought that they were better than everyone else (Mark 10:35–37). Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder” because they wanted to blow up a town that rejected him (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:54).

You’ve probably heard of Peter as well – bold and stupid a lot of the times. By default, he would speak before he thought (Luke 9:33). He was violent and impulsive (John 18:10).

After being with Jesus, they matured. You’re right to observe that the way they sound in their letters is not how they sound in the gospels.

4). Is it possible that the Qumran and the Bible were once the same or part of the same book?

Not a chance. Humanly speaking, the Bible was written by at least 40 different people and the Qumran was only written by Muhammad. The Qumran was written 500 years after the completion of the New Testament. They also cannot be the same book because they teach opposite things in many places such as the character of God, the identity of Jesus, the status of Abraham’s sons, the way biblical events take place are different, and biggest disagreement is whether or not Jesus died on the cross. No, not the same book at all.

5). How many years ago was the Bible written?

My answer is going to be layered. The New Testament was written over 2,000 years ago; the rest of the Bible is over three to four thousand roughly (about 3400 years), and the Bible itself records 1,500 years of history.

6). Why does the gospel tell us that we must endure trials with joy in James 1:2?

Because life is a trial. What I mean is that good and bad things happen simultaneously and continually. I always go back to what Jesus said about worry in Matthew 6. Why worry about the things you can’t control? It’s only going to ruin your health, your quality of life.

James here is explaining what Jesus taught. If we aren’t going to worry, our other option is to have joy. If you don’t, you’ll never enjoy the good things in your life. Wedding and funerals happen all the time, but are we going to avoid the joy of weddings because people are always dying? Of course not!

Pain in life is very real and the Bible isn’t minimizing that. But as Solomon said, there’s “a time to weep, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). It’s healthy to allow yourself time to process grief, but its not healthy to stay there. We are always toggling back and forth between the spectrum of our emotions and this is how we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). We can grieve, but not as people that have lost everything, because our hope is ultimately in God and not in our situation.

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